In Cannibal Metaphysics, Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro argues that to achieve ‘the permanent decolonisation of thought’ Western philosophical tradition must realign its ontology with the ‘multinaturalism’ and ‘interspecific perspectivism’ of Amazonian and other Amerindian peoples. Seeking to radically shift our concepts of subjectivity and otherness, Viveiros de Castro relates that in these societies all manner of plants, animals, tools, geological and astronomical phenomena are perceived as human agents that live in parallel worlds to mundane humans and which see us in more or less the same way as we see them. In this system of thought, the shaman is an interspecies diplomat who can adopt the perspective of other types of human in order to resolve conflicts and maintain harmonious existence. One consequence of a multinatural perspective is the evaporation of the distinction between nature and culture, as all aspects of the material world, living or not, appear and behave according to their specific culture. From this assumption, all aspects of (human) human life are arranged in ‘relation’ to other types of human. Importantly, the subject of Western metaphysics becomes irrelevant, as each entity is understood and defined only in relation to the other humans in its environment. Viveiros de Castro argues that the West should relate to these mythic modes of thinking not as an anthropological curiosity but as a legitimate philosophical position, with the potential to reinvent our relationships to others, our ecosystems and the planet as a whole.


Image: Anicka Yi, still from The Flavor Genome, 2016, single-channel 3D video, 22 mins. Courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York.

Trava Mista Cano Alto

Ned Reilly is a London-based Western Australian artist and writer who has shown in group exhibitions at Success, Fremantle, and Gallery Central, Northbridge. He has an Advanced Diploma of Visual Art and Craft from Central Institute of Technology and recently completed a Bachelor of Design (Fine Art and History of Art) at the University of Western Australia.

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