Saturday, January 06, 2007


I've just finished Hélène Clastres The Land-Without-Evil (trans. Jacqueline Grenez Brovender) Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995 (orig. 1975). As an account of the Guaraní and Tupí cultures, it seems very conceptual, reflecting the Parisian critique of commodification. But there are many very interesting asides that suggest alternative narratives for first contact. It appears that the Guaraní have a belief in the Land-Without-Evil (yvy marä ey), which is a distant place to the east, across vast waters, where humans can achieve immortality. Their history has been marked by prophets (karai) who have led tribes to find this land, always with disastrous consequences. When they encountered Jesuit priests, they found in the Christian story of the hereafter a version of their own utopianism, but kept a convenient distance from this world. They adopted these priests as their new prophets. Well, that's one story.

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