Bartholomew Dean Critical Re-Vision: Clastres' Chronicle and the Optic of Primitivism
Readers are treated to lively accounts of how the Aché Guayaki hunt for coati and forage for honey and grubs; told in great detail about their sexual lives (including why girls are ﬂagellated with tapir penises); and warned of the dangers of vultures, venomous serpents and demonic forest spirits. Starting with childbirth, and continuing through descriptions of initiation ceremonies, hunting adventures, matrimony, gruesome retaliatory violence, sickness, death and mourning, Clastres concludes his Chronicle by pondering the nature of Guayaki anthropophagy. At times, Clastres’ depictions of nature, such as his vivid accounts of pouncing baipu or jaguar, tend to eclipse his representation of society. Nonetheless, his experience of the shared hardships and joys of life enables Clastres to eventually recognize the Aché for their ‘piety, the gravity of their presence in the world of things and the world of beings’ (p. 347).