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Colombia's Forgotten FrontierA Literary Geography of the Putumayo$
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Lesley Wylie

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846319747

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846319747.001.0001

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‘Fragments of things’: the aesthetics of yagé

‘Fragments of things’: the aesthetics of yagé

(p.183) Chapter Seven ‘Fragments of things’: the aesthetics of yagé
Colombia's Forgotten Frontier

Lesley Wylie

Liverpool University Press

This chapter will focus on the important Amazonian hallucinogenic drink – yagé, also known as ayahuasca. It discusses, in turn, oral and written accounts of yage by indigenous Amazonians, Creole, and non-Latin American story-tellers and writers, including José Eustasio Rivera and William Burroughs. Prominent in all these Putumayan yage-narratives are descriptions of out-of-body experiences – of people traversing underwater and aerial dimensions, metamorphosing into animal form, or seeing far-off events. The narratives are characterized by fragmentation and non-linearity, and often try to convey heightened sensory perception through montage and synaesthesia. By comparing the content and, in particular, the style of these narratives, this chapter argues that there is, so to speak, a ‘yage aesthetics’ – a way of writing or speaking about the drug which transcends national, cultural, or linguistic borders.

Keywords:   yagé, ayahuasca, synaethesia, montage, José Eustasio Rivera, William Burroughs

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