I think all this interest in Amazonian shamanism and ayahuasca is
fundamental, taking into consideration what Serge Gruzinski calls the “colonization of the imaginary” by the Western paradigm which still dominates on this side of the Atlantic. In other words, this interest tends to amplify the horizons of experience and knowledge for diverse human societies and, to some extent, helps diversify the conceptions of meaning which have so often been silenced by the global consent to Euro-American culture. But on the other hand, there seems to be a clear process of reification, mercantilization and distortion of "traditional" Amazonian knowledge, since the foreign viewpoint (especially that of the literate urban middle class) tends to be a bit desperate in its mode of relating with alien experiences. By this I mean: the relationship, specifically with indigenous peoples, tends to take place more in a superficial or idealized mode, in an attempt to find quick answers or outlets for curiosity and unilateral angst, as opposed to a relationship that emerges from dialogue, conviviality or deep affective encounters. Amazonian shamanism is a complex, ancient, heir to an
ontological configuration that is radically distinctive from Western bases of thought and experience. It’s not something that can be understood or accessed overnight. The topic revives a whole series of assumptions going back to modernism and up through the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 70s. Which is to say, indigenous shamanism becomes a metaphor for our
dilemmas – reintegration with nature, rediscovery of the self, religion as a lost totality, overcoming the problems associated with neurosis and solipsism, among others – rather than being understood according to that which is original and specific to itself.