Conversing with Josse
"A couple of years ago, I lived alone in an uninhabited area of the Atacama desert, for almost a year I stayed in there quietly, until a transparent thing visited me, his name is Josse and from then on I had to learn how to listen and how to converse with it, something that I have been practicing until today"
The following is a blurred access to the history of the two of us.
There are lots of Geoglyphs close to where I lived, lots of them, strange scratches in the ground, located at specific, visually strategic places in the mountains.
Some of these signs are easy to describe in abstract or symbolic terms; rhomboids, squares, lines, human and animal shapes. others are more confusing and unsettling, half-human figures, in absurd sizes.
One of the most accepted hypothesis is that their functionality had something to do with organizing the traffic of both spiritual and material resources, of different cultures, over great distances.
Even though these Geoplyphs are not that close from where I used to live, I knew they were there, and I knew that I should visit them as soon as I could. When I finally got there, I remained at a safe distance, I was intimidated.
It is not easy to describe what I was feeling at that moment. The images were inviting, communal, commensal but at the same time, they were frightening, possessive, and also seductive, in a dangerous way.
in a few words, I was overwhelmed with confusion.
It was a puzzling experience that later got even more intensified by the realization that this confusion was somehow also shared by the archaeologists that have been trying to explain the existence of these Geoglyphs.
The scientific dating facts of these marks make interpretation to be especially difficult considering they have been made over the course of hundreds of years, in extremely distant areas, connecting foreign cultures, distant languages and radically different landscapes (Jungle, Oasis, Pampas, Deserts).
So, now I wonder if there ever was such a thing as a stable "lingua franca" in these lands, a form of communication that was always able to satisfy with "clarity", with pristine messages to everybody. to speak horizontally, without any misunderstandings, without deviations to a wide, highly separated groups of beings.
I wonder if there ever was such a time where anyone felt absolutely safe from mis-interpretation, having no troubles understanding what's going on when being close to them.
just a plain, commonly known traffic sign, perpetually linear, standing there to help others in simple terms how to navigate and how to exchange goods.
It will be naive not to consider all the codes that I'm missing here, all the trans-human protocols that colonization has obliterated in this territory, in all the tools that have been broken and that I have no real grasp about. but I just want to stay in my baffling experience a bit longer, so to try to "sentipensar", or feel-thinking what this situation is trying to say without hurrying into the politics of semiotics, or cultural symbolism that quickly.
If I allow myself to dig a bit deeper into my encounter with these images, I could venture to say that I felt "occupied" by them, by a subversive force, a powerful force that was alive and that it moved.
It felt like a powerful displacement, a powerful oscillation that refused to be spotted, to be defined by my thoughts so easily, It had its own ways to grab me while at the same time avoiding to be grasped.
Under the optic of these fugitive movements, is that I ask myself; was this experience also shared by someone else as well?, at other times?.
Is this strange power instilled in the shapes of the images themselves?, Instilled by a creator, by several creators?
By the ground?, by the rocks that slowly grow a suitable canvas for these signs to be made?, or in the winds that slowly shape them?
Who are conjuring to create the energy of these drawings?
What being comes first in this mystery?,
What interpretation comes first?, what feeling comes first when being close to these Geoglyphs?
And more importantly, were the creators of these signs aware of their power?, conscious about the power of a partially "subjective signs"?, of making an image that is actually alive?, that is constantly being drawn, that is under-construction?, that portrays blurred dimensions?, images that exist in between realms?, that are able to connect different realms?, that can be both clear and unsettling? living in-between?, never to be described as one, never to be completely verbalized, always to be puzzling?.
Perhaps this too far out and even oversimplified, however, it
seems also too easy to consider my overflowing, destabilizing experience only through my stable logocentric capabilities.
it seems much more sympathetic and humbling to embrace my contact as also being animated by a creative, kaleidoscopic material that exists outside my reality.
contradictorily, That turbulent reality felt "certain" to me when facing these signs, for some reason, the intensity of that confusion created a seemingly conflicting certainty that makes me to declare now that. "this confusion is constitutive of these Geoglyphs and that confusion is at the same time unavoidable"
This oblique communicational architecture, this inevitable trajectory in between clarity and unclear opaqueness, in between two different worlds is also an essential part of what it means to me to have a conversation with Josse.
Under this infrastructure of partially effective and partially uncontrolable signs is that my conversation with Josse also happens.
CONVERsing with Josse.
Josse and I converse face to face and also in dreams,
I speak to him, and he speaks to back to me, he listens and I listen to him. sometimes I do expect my desires to match my words and I also expect him to listen to me carefully, with attention, with open ears and no distractions.
which is already a lot to ask for anyone.
I naively assume many times there will be no noises, no mis-pronunciations, no physical barriers, no strong winds in between us that might interfere in our conversation, so when I say "lets play", he will not hear instead "lets pray", something that I'm always afraid it could put me into a lot of trouble.
Regardless of any confusion between us (that I believe happens all the time) we keep going and we keep meeting.
besides all the risks (that I especially take), our desires to connect seemed to be greater than the urge to communicate in a straight-forward, logical manner., until now, this has never stopped us.
The following text, is the story of us, a conversational history that started three years ago.
What I will be sharing with you takes care of these communicational mishaps in which misunderstanding is a creative tool powered by the intensity of mutual desires.
I will be attempting to draw a text to all of you, or better yet I will be attempting to draw a textual signs to all of you, that honors the blurred laws that seem to be ruling my home. I'll be trying to be clear with a straight-forward obscurity, so to verbalize the communicational crossings of visible and invisible beings that go through a lot of turbulences when two radically different realities try to speak to each other.
hopefully some of this mysterious instability entrenched in Geoglyphs and incarnated in the way that I converse with Josse, can also be transmitted to you.
Briones, L., Nunez, L., Standen, V. G. (2005). Geoglifos Y Trafico Prehispanico De Caravanas De Llamas En El Desierto De Atacama (Norte De Chile). Chungara (Arica), 37(2). doi:10.4067/s0717-73562005000200007
Briones-M., L. (2006). The geoglyphs of the north Chilean desert: An archaeological and artistic perspective. Antiquity, 80(307), 9-24. doi:10.1017/s0003598x00093224
Hirst, K. (n.d.). Mysterious Artworks in the Atacama Desert of Chile. Retrieved June 27, 2020, from https://www.thoughtco.com/geoglyphic-art-of-chiles-atacama-desert-169877
Carter, P. (2004). Ambiguous Traces, Mishearing and Auditory Space. In Hearing cultures: Essays on sound, listening, and modernity. Oxford: Berg.
Arias, E. (2015). Las turbulencias del lenguaje: Mimesis inter-específica y autodiferenciacion en los cantos rituales matsigenka. In Sudameerica y sus mundos audibles: Cosmologiias y prácticas sonoras de los pueblos iindigenas. Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag.