Ecotourism: Notes on Con-temporary Travel

Ecotourism: Notes on Con-temporary Travel

Thomas Cohen

Thomas Cohen on ecotourism in Bolivia and discovering the post-humans of the past.

What does it mean to tour, today, the outer reaches of the empire - which is an unnamed empire (America will not do, nor the West, and so on - as if some programming encompasses, now, this series of terms and its one-time others) legislating time and fashion as well as economy? When we go, say, as pleasuring witnesses to whatever still bears the trace of a certain otherness: a cultural imprint (Andean natives), the laws of a climate (tundra), a history so marked by recent disfiguration that we, today, seem to find comfort in the commodity of a readable catastrophe. Unlike several decades if not years ago (but what, now, is a “year”?), it is so easy to travel, to transfer oneself for brief episodes to distant points - which, in turn, appear woven, then, more firmly, as the mock-aura of a frontier of any sort recedes. What does it mean to write travel, today - and is not every genre of such invoked, every narrative twitch (anecdote, observation, description, rumination) mobilized, as obstacle, at the first rustling of intent?

Let us suppose that what the traveler seeks is not another place, another co-ordinate on the same mapped surface, but an other to the very idea of place itself. Since we must keep in play the interface between the burned out remnants of a romantic tradition of travel - actively emptied - and a more technical, more semiotic problem which attends a rewiring of memory “today,” a theoretical point of reference may be of use. Walter Benjamin makes reference to a concept of history that breaks with the familiar notions of the term. As we know, he was given to taking familiar terms (allegory, cinema, dialectics, translation) and submitting them to a process of disinvestment. He called this “translation”: a site where the word passes through its own formal properties, emptied of “meaning” or interiority, and is then returned (unmarked) to usage in a sabotaging form void of subjectivity. Allegory becomes the other of the literary historical term; “materialistic historiography” dispells any echt marxian hue; dialectics is unprogressive and anti-narrative, and so on. Typically, “history” survives this procedure - which aims to empty out all interiorist traces - only to re-emerge within a different referential model. Rather than implying historicist echoes, Benjamin invokes a non-human “history” that will be gestured to under the misleading rubric of natural history - a history, we may add, with different, proactive folds of time. It is misleading, because it has no overt connection to nature as physis, or nature as the antinomy of language. What lies behind the hypothesis that the culture-traveler seeks not anthropological difference but an escape from anthropomorphism altogether?

It is difficult not to address sympathetically that doomed product of the industrial world’s middle class, the culture-traveler. Unlike the colonialists of the late 19th century or the tourists of the post-war (WW II) economic booms, screened by serviceable ideologies, what becomes possible in recent decades of budget plane travel is unexampled - and parallels the transformation of the perceptual topographical and political mapping of the world into a “global” field of interstices itself detached, in turn, from the latter’s performative role as earth. This traveler - who we will artificially bracket from the tourist, with all sorts of ironic conditions - pursues a certain self-canceling quest that parallels and partakes of the transformation of all points on the map into system outposts. He (though “his” gender is systematically neutered in this) turns into a communicative and contributing viral agent of the very modus he or she more or less passively hopes to avoid. It is part of the system: create a need, a hoped for drug, in the remnant of a certain imaginary of the commodified “other” or exotic, that will generate the phantom of its (already remembered) consumption, then proceed beyond the detritus of this excess. The anti-promise of travel, if only by inference, partakes of a double logic: the pretense of a quest for the non-originary, for something disappeared or disappearing, masks the lure of a rape or intervention by which one’s present itself would (be) buckle(d).

There are, perhaps, two types of travelers - those who want to know the language of their destination, to maintain the illusion of communication (mostly commercial), and those who are not determined by the latter need, and who, in the process, locate themselves in a certain nexus of “translation” in which their own words, sounds, and gestures operate on the same plane as alien ones, in the open, without special contents or interior. It is only at the latter point that certain questions can be posed - once the pretense of retrieved meaning, or “experience,” is suspended.

The idea of a “natural history” with its perverse invocation and dismissal of science is, here, part of a shift from a representational and imperial logic into a materialist and virtual politics of the temporal. Seeking a non-human Archimedian point irreducible to the programming of an inhabited cultural semiosis, the cultural-traveler like Walter Benjamin’s flâneur brushes against this logic of an alternate zone or real - where the disposition of concretized history threatens to return to a moment of its own virtuality, and projects, beyond this, the possibility of alternative pasts and futures. This fantasm, which opens as a ghostliness of the present that faces any traveler whose eye lights on the zones of evisceration and transformation that mark the “global” today (the accelerated obliterations of rain forests, bio-diversity, indigenous economies…), is more than just the aesthetic by-product of a deceived quest for the drug of “otherness,” even where that is already derived from the purportedly nascent culture (the media generated norms, say, of American urban images, sounds, advertisements, sanctioned interpretations). The trick of the system that produces and erases in advance the motif of the culture-traveler, with the latter’s echo of declasse tourism always yapping at its heals, adheres to the programmatic quest that travel or transport announces - what makes multiculturalism, removed from the spur of justice, a design to efface rather than celebrate difference. (We will forego, for the moment, asking what transport itself may or may not entail today: whether the figure of such movement, itself metaphorical, does not more often than not greet the idea of acceleration with the shrinkage and consumption of putative frontiers, markers of passage, movement itself.) The trick is: if what the culture-traveler seeks is a certain late notion of what had once gone by romantic indices of “experience,” what remains is not an otherness to be documented, coded, stored for an anthropological imaginary no longer functional as other than a centralized mnemonic archive or informatrix; no longer the surprise of species and cultural forms one may witness at the crest of their disappearance (for fifty years either way means nothing), or at a momentarily different historial imaginary than our own that adheres to indigenous peoples. Such a traveler, concealed beneath the businesses and relays that have sprung up to accommodate and anticipate him or her, only exists from time to time in excess of his or her inscription in the system that promotes this parody of “escape” for its own viral purposes. One can well note the non-times - in a market, say, or indexing protocols of recognition with a new companion - where one is nothing but their puppet. It remains to be seen if this traveler is not a kind of walking inversion of the museum, inside-outed, to whom instantly commodified specks of otherness adhere, mortified for collection, rather than whose semiotic imprinting is revived, reprogrammed, or recalibrated by a too calculated “return.”

This would be crosser of boundaries and states soon learns, for instance, that every new site visited has, at first, the dank taste of a return. (But, in truth, “crosser” presumes a certain arrival: one might rather be termed a carrier - as with drug smugglers - accepting the double role; and one could, at the same time, do away with the pretext of arrival, or the surprise that attends it: survey any iconic airport or station in this regard - Lima will do, but the smallest frontier town replicates this - and the competing hordes of agents, cab-workers, travel-hawkers and connectors have all and very precisely been expecting “you,” in replica and continually, as though announced.) If the conceit of “travel” errs in presupposing the experience of movement - which, if anything, is given the lie in “cinema” itself - this error conforms to a foreclosure of “experience” that precedes it. The con-temporary, con-temporal carrier, if and where he exists, seems distinguished by accepting this foreclosure in advance. If the term travel suggests, first of all, the transport of figurative language or displacement (as do trains in Hitchcock, say), the perversity of the term’s survival, in this instance, may be that what its desert-mode quests would relieve us of, perhaps, is its own motive: the prefigural.

1. Sorata - May, 1996; or, Bad Timing

What the traveler craves, in the space afforded by alien settings whose historial trajectories are differently situated (or “presented”) than our own - in technology, in linguistic ritual, in temporalities - is not “surprise,” otherness, the different. This last a French backpacker asserted on the ferry crossing Titicaca, noting a commodifiable preference for “Asia” to “South America” for the European on this basis (a South America in which the Euro-eye still encounters the grotesque flowering of his belated seed, siphoned through, and very much against, the “indigenous” soil, history, backdrops). The so-called traveler is the tourist who exceeds his role as “late capitalist” agent of transformation or use, and is marked by this excess. He romanticizes it not by being eco-friendly or knowing how to “contact” the other - but by seeking out in predatory fashion the jugular vein of differential temporal strata, faults in historical models and occurrences, displaced or foreclosed turns in seemingly decided trajectories, junctures that conjure still virtual turns in the system from which he perpetually seems on the point of arrival without. This sort of traveler, then, is at once vampire and mock-hunter willing to parody his role as consumer to excess - like the science fiction agent sent back from a future to acquire a once extant element or knowledge to counter or forestall the coming plague or catastrophe. Only since these two time lines also are co-incident, and since the system one derives from is also, inevitably, going to be that which transforms and ruptures whatever economies, othernesses, and “realities” one has oneself come to siphon off, one is aware of a parallel complicity and chronographic loop.

In the Residencial Sorata they show videos at night. Copied from cable TV in La Paz, the titles are not announced until late afternoon to give the manager, Luis, time to assess his mood or constituency. Dave, The Fugitive, Blade Runner - which last drew out the wine bottles and a fire in the immense “colonial” reading room where the VCR is locked. An old mansion at the edge of the square in this town set beneath glacial ridges and Andean villages and at the top of a valley stretching scores of miles down to the Amazon basin - passed on in the German family from early days when Sorata sat on the gold transit route, until those when the proto-nazi patriarch, well-entrenched with the Bolivian elite, died (too soon) in ‘42 - it has immense rooms deteriorating around the once finely detailed edges, haphazardly plied with beddings of different sorts, each utterly individual, the half-restored rooms of past intrigue or power housing the disreputable comfort of backpackers.

The time of the valley simulates “natural” time - a factor that haunts one, peaking on occasion, down the valley road during the requisite visit to “the cave,” a stooped destination in which a rancid underground pond and squealing alarmed bats greet one in anti-climax. But the point of the walk and its telos is other: to be marked, and situated within, the shifting co-ordinates of innumerable cliff faces, vistas, protrusions, lines, and absent gazes. Bolivia, like an effaced metacommentary on the Peruvian earth-inscriptions (great etchings in the hillsides or desserts meant for hypothetical non-eyes), is too hectic in the challenge of its surfaces to read up close. The Inca, who could putatively exist in some unreproduced relation to stone and topography, letting in the powers of the non-human by not-writing - by becoming a form of inscription themselves - make one aware as do few others of alternate virtual trajectories, alternative mnemonic systems cut off or paths not taken in “subsequent” human time.

The Sorata valley briefly mimes an alpine setting - which must have influenced the German patriarch. Earlier, the Aymara Indians in furious rebellion, were said to have stopped up the glacial rivers above, to flood out the Spanish. Mist effaces the white peaks often, making it seem like the stone mounts across the valley dominate the stony outcroppings and rises until the clouds disperse - whereby the peaks again assert utter power and domination. This ritual of surprise is repeated daily. Across the ridge, more gold mining - down in adjacent jungles, and across the mountain. Some mines wash out the gold from Inca burial sites. Considering “Bolivia’s” place in the continental and metaphysical map, one is aware that this scene will be transfigured again from without: the Japanese financed road from La Paz beyond Coroico - replacing a legendary terror-road along sheer cliffs (and of which we just heard the latest report: an Israeli got out of his bus at a stop and went right over the edge at night). This lane begins two processes: one, to divest the selva of its timber, and two, to enhance Bolivia’s use as a transit country between Brazil and the Pacific. A straw placed into the continent’s heart to be sucked on by global industrial and commercial needs.

The gold mining - distant echo of the early lure of conquistadors - is an old example of the parasitism of future space witnessed elsewhere, by the clash of different times. It is the “Indians’ ” role to keep the standard of difference for this: the one connected to the earth, to village and subsistence economies, to the pre-Christian and pre-Columbian, trace-figures of anonymous catastrophe, black holes of illegible re-assurance, ghost commodities. Thus one encounters “gold mines” on the altiplano that are set over Inca tombs and graves, whereby the gold that floats up comes exclusively from trinkets. (I have noted a relief I experience in the presence of mountain people, with whom one can have little overt “communication,” and whose environmental molding already postulates abysses of difference in lungs, ability, memory - one can imagine different settings for all of this had another European patron “discovered” the then “new” world rather than the Spanish and its attendant Catholicism; it is nonetheless a pretext of communication: as if imparting gestures to people across such temporal gulfs promises more contact than using the paranoid rituals of coded English among professionals at a universit).

There is an urge, at once duty and a banal romanticism, that clings like a fragile coat to travel of this sort, to witness. Not to consume or vampirize alone - what is a form of eating, or negating, what one seeks to alter. That is, the mountain heights, infinitely individuated teeth purveying the tears constitutive of all horizons, and which formed one core of worship for the older cultures - in contrast to which the grotesque imposition of the crucified Jesus appears as a historical theft (the decaying god, corpse exposed, killed by men) - recall us to a non-human rift divesting one (including the consumers, vampires) of all kinds of faux mourning: as if less for some undesignable past where a catastrophe had already been decided that has yet to reach full disclosure, than for an “earth” itself. It recalls our inability to remap or chart the surfaces of this today, or to predict more than the end of a certain phase of anthropomorphism with the nullification of bio-diversity and bio-systems. So “witnessing” can be confused or have a double logic: one cannot simply witness a passing or disappearance, if one is the tomb and trace of that (without knowing what it was that passed in the act of disappearance); at the same time, the gesture of witnessing returns us to a formalized stance that mimics already a non-human site or position. One seeks in part, “today,” a vantage point, a bit to the side of the human (which language, ultimately, provides while bracketing). One recalls bladerunner, where the photo-memories retain connections to pasts that cannot be affirmed, identities that may be defense-fostered, or where “animals” themselves are prized as token, simulated generally as rarities. The face of ecotourism itself seeks sightings of “animals” in proximity to virtual extinction (river otters); peasant livelihoods that are pre-industrial, aping indistinct structural memories, at once pre- and post-individual; medieval orders bracing with their theatrical displays of humans caught in transparent yet permanent machines (Potosi’s mines, with their slave-like workers, which my French friend, Christophe, told me he refused to visit, though passing through on a train, suggesting it would be like a zoo)… For what “one” encounters is, to some degree, the dissolution of witnessing: not the pretense of partaking of a feasting (or vampiric) gaze, but the loss of the pretext - not the post-human one desires to glimpse and which is all around one (in the image of the Inca, the “prehistorical” post-historical), but a kind of pan-zographics, what displaces the effect of life-death. (Christophe, it should be noted, I later met: he and two partners wanted to do a quick three-day trek to glacier lakes - having to catch a plane - and relied on the services of a shady “mountaineer club” proprietor: connections were not made further up, the guide delayed and route altered, the tent inadequate to the freezing nights: “and they brought only tea, no coffee. Can you imagine, for a Frenchman, ‘tea’!”)

The Andes, for all the mysticism of its peoples, is starkly “material” in this sense. Not as producing the commodified otherness of cultural humanism (as if this rested on visiting alternate “cultures”) but by recalling the ant-swarm of human creatures over primeval land-masses. From the “point of view” of undoing the life-death dyad - and perhaps it is the latter’s maintenance today, Western bio-centrist, that imperils the whole show - one peers beyond the parallel human investment in a ruinous ideology of meaning, the management of reserves. “Bio-centrism” - that is, the mimetic reflex on behalf of the linguistic endowed organism to misinterpret, by analogy to semantics or property, the effect called “life” as what must be stored up against armies of others it is only a variant logic of, inserted in the opposite sheath of logic: evisceration, accelerated cancellation. Let us call this bio-centrism which itself mimics a kind of paranoid semantic the ultimate “political incorrectness” - a techno-ideology dependent on what is neither living nor dead (language) to fabricate and protect a mock-interior, an unwittingly deadly home or host territory. This “beyond” is not apocalyptic, though it inherits the logics of everything that had converged about the organizing models of apocalyptics from millenarians to visions of atomic waste. Mt. Illumani - like the sacred Salkantay on the walking route to Machu Picchu - purveys a certain caesura when the mists fall: not the anthropomorphized deity of a dead culture as “we” imagine it (“the Inca”), but the de-anthropomorphized site that constitutes such events as non-humanist clearings. They do not “look” at the present juncture from the point of view of a memorialized past - the Inca vision or sacrifice romanticized - but with the same trace-chains of genetico-semiotic effects that preceded dinosaurs or pre-mammalian epochs. The trace, of course, is neither alive nor dead (nor necessarily terrestrial), but threads this folding of space-time - informing the effect, and affirmation, of “life” as nervous variant of the inorganic, the receding glaciers of Illumani. The narrativized after-human, even as the waste of current bio-systems, will be another systematics indifferent to Illumani - because “nature” never existed (quite) to be avenged, betrayed, extincted. “Nature” was never other than the active and proto-mimetic chemical war of traces poised in relations of camouflage, strategic and entirely sign-oriented networks of predation and evasion, reading technologies. (Today, it is interesting to hear theories of the earth’s reception of a “life” germ from Mars or elsewhere - a culture dish of bacterial logics.) For the human epoch it would seem a certain view of language, a certain historical error in this regard, represented a catastrophic turn within “natural history” that masked or deferred the conceit of catastrophe by projecting the specter of a narrative axis. In his own misleading way, Heidegger locates this in “Plato” (but Plato, in fact, may have tried to dissipate or erase this pressure, much as Heidegger re-implants it as an icon to stage himself against - hence re-installing it). Mimesis, representation - the compulsive disorder, installed like an itch, programmed supposedly at a perpetually unfindable before and after of the Greek fold, that wishes for and practices the “as if” of a cancellation of signs en route to referents, that desires to store and consume reference as mnemonic ground, that conceals in the ideology of referentials and its legitimizing ghost, nature, the sleight-of-hand involved with the covert control (still medieval) of the past, of difference, of that anteriority through which all signifying passes and which bracketing spawns, it seems, the illusory maw of interiority. What the Inca, clearly, lacked any corruptive relation to (what accounts, strangely, for the deformations of stone resisting abstract symmetry - for whom only prefigural inscription, numeration, and the sheer aesthetic formalism of stone mattered. Aesthetic formalism being, for them, the direct and violent access to divine ecology, a theogonic theater. Mimesis - which confutes and confuses “nature” with reference, reference with reserves, reserves with capital, capital with deferred yet controlled wealth. (Before “capital” - mimesis.) So, one travels - who one, not to be “one”? - to dislocate, elude, systems of mimetic imprinting (places, that is, where this apparatus has been installed faultily on which one’s relation to language and mock-self culturally depend)? To elicit cracks and caesuras, errors or lapses in the historical calculus, that can be strategically pursued? That can, still, open or imply uncalculated or virtual “futures,” alternative temporalities, or keep such as Archimedian points for alternative systems of reference, terra-culture, varieties of active rather than passive mimesis (without model or copy)? The virtuality of these alternate logics should not be under-estimated: their non-existence or non-presence would not have any less power than the grotesquely doomed existents one is familiar with or surrounded by at “home.” As if such home - like language - were from before the start already alien, compelling a disinhabitation of signs, advertisements, air, water, personae. What does one commune with, if the humans are not even human anymore - but the post-humans of the “past”? Of “Bolivia”? What we learn in and of the non-system we are now emissaries of (and can only be marked as by the looks and remarks we draw, by the value of our business), is that what comes, by accident, force, historical shifts, to occupy the “place” of the real may (or must) itself be non-existent. Like the array of non-ideas or non-truths, non-icons and non-thoughts that traverse the tele-screen of American English. “Poverty,” here, is an ascesis imposed aesthetically as the allegory of the Andean. It is a commodity.

At the Residencial Sorata the Blade Runner tape (director’s cut, no voice over, wide screen) was jammed twice. Once when Deckert sat before his piano, covered with photographs that preceded his own life-span - aggressive “implants” that did not take - the artificed human, for whom the mimetic testimony of a past, the mnemotechnics of identity, ran to the excess of innumerable shots back to the earliest days of the camera itself. Shots, substitute-ghosts of others’ memories, what in the (other) replicants persist as implants but here run to excess (recalling, in fact, the tourist’s hopeless addiction to the redundant and impotent violence of the camera). These replicants, more human than human (we hear), would be erased in the end. A second jam - bad timing - when Roy was winding down: where only the “copy” can experience “death.” When the tape stops, Bolivian television intervened with a Spanish version of Dirty Harry. Caesura within a caesura… - the trace of Illumani through the elaborated circuitry.

2. Selva - or, Recollecting Genre

More anecdotes? It was several years before that I visited the Huorani in Ecuador - months after the death of my mother by lung cancer, a long and transformative death-rite that presented the opportunity of escort right to the portals, the retrieval of one’s hands still marked by the spaces into which they had to be extended, like a theft. So it was marked by this non-aura that I wanted to go to a frontier, cross the bridge in Coca where one gives up one’s passport, and do so alone. Marked, only, by the comedy and scheming incompetence that mediate such abstract desires - what are calculated by some, but bridge other terrains. Having arrived in Coca sleepless from the over-night bus from Quito over the Andes and with the fever of a flu, I negotiated transport ineptly. I wanted, surveying the map, to go down (East) the Rio Shiripuno, to be taken to a remote park system. The purveyors, a local family business controlling access to the Huorani - the reknowned Aucas (“wild ones”), one of which branches had only two years before speared a high prelate who had come to mediate their problems with Shell Oil - would deposit me at a camp they supported. The daughter who made the arrangements didn’t like my payment in Ecuadorian currency and punished me by depositing me with this camp, who would only take me in the wrong direction, where the rivers dried up soon and where gasoline would not have to be wasted. When I called this to their attention in the boat, they claimed the other direction had “hostiles” in it (Bravos), making it dangerous and impassable - which was probably untrue. I spent a week around and beyond the camp, getting to know the Huorani who were in this middle-space: already blighted by the Christian identity-codes, they existed away from the traditional villages (about five miles walk into the jungle, forbidden unless you bore the appropriate gifts), yet not yet in the town system. They were at a peculiar, in ways stereotyped scenario, more interesting for me than the river trip I had planned. Living still off the forest, from which they would daily bring in birds and pigs, they were constructing a wooden building in the clearing, in which there would be a canteen - furnished by the family business who had brought me in. (When the Huorani found a baby tiger, the latter took it back to Coca to sell to the zoo “for them,” and so on). Not far away, the group tourism had burgeoned where the oil-camps with their disease and drugs had allowed. I was deposited into a parenthesis, which is what I could handle or absorb, a cross circuitry of virtual pasts and impaled futures, a camp in mid construction in the jungle overlooking an exceptionally low, mid-October Rio Shiripuno.

The players of my theater involved several principals - the son of the family, about 17, who boasted of his fortunes with girl tourists; Eugenio, the chosen future point-man with the “tribe” who was trying to learn some English words; Canno, an irrepressible Huorani with the long ear extensions that traditional males bore, yet who wandered from jungle town to jungle town in sexual exploits without commercial purpose - a pioneer Huorani. At the end, there was added Majo, a smaller but older, entirely mad figure, whom everyone called loco, yet whose laughing face was struck with the madness of a transition that could never be explained or absorbed. He would laugh incessantly, and one time, when a coral snake was pointed out, he pursued it laughing until the terrified snake found its hole and disappeared.

But the labyrinth of real and mock primality (let me allude to this as a trope), of a certain non or counter-origin, that is the romanticist side of the lure for a kind of contact is suffused with specular options: open this door, and one re-enters the programmed formalism which the jungle, with its other languages, knows too; open that, and one returns to a site of recurrence exemplified by the self-replicating groves in which the outsider can, stepping the wrong way, get lost without moving twenty feet away. What the “jungle” as a trope contains as a secret, as the mystery that is projected on it, is quite material and pro-active: the chains of predatory mimic wars between plants and animals, animals and animals, involving camouflage and anticipatory mimesis breaks with the Western logos not by retreating to some “primal” miasmus preceding the imposition of law, but the reverse, by partaking of a rigorous network or system without boundaries, utterly aesthetic, from which the “logos” itself appears a double parenthesis. If representation creates the appearance of a past by relying on a linguistic trope, mimesis, that posits a referential order of the word (that effaces the pastness involved), the active “mimesis” of what cannot be troped any longer as “nature” in some Enlightenment sense, involves linguistic systems of extraordinary transformative prowess that are pro-active rather than re-active. The chameleon, say, who drinks up color transformations from his environment to shield and enhance his predations, possesses, alone, a technology beyond what any human account can mark - and it does so as a retro-anticipation, a bio-transformation that reshapes the “biotic” itself as prosthesis. What the Huorani gave me without giving was as a “trip” that began, as the word suggests, as a stumbling repetition anyway.

Narrative pretexts (again) for the extinction of narrative. These took place over two treks in from the river system. The first occurred after I found our canoes mired in low waters, having gone up instead of down stream. Here we camped, happily, but I required an “aim” and talked them into going to the village which was a seven hour walk inland across numerous gulches harboring many culebra. This plan was hastened by the arrival at the river bend of a hunter with his family, an Indian woman and mysteriously blond baby (the hunter, at least, was of the neighboring Shuar, once-headhunters and still alienated from the Auca), setting off depth-charges to fish. I had been given rubber boots two sizes too small, however, which became apparent about three hours into the hike - when my feet were left bleeding, and swollen. I fell repeatedly into muddy gulches crawling with furtive movement, laughing out loud each time from the wet brush when seeing my companions looking down with curiosity. I had not mastered walking across the fallen wet logs, and each fall was about six to eight feet. I was intimidated by the idea of four hours more and a return walk the next day and decided to turn back. This cut off my second attempt to rescue my mere presence in the forest with this group of people by applying an aim to it. The boatman was happy to see us: having come upon a tiger just begun dining on rodent, he preserved the latter, headless, for dinner, and didn’t have to hunt. (Behind him, a hunting family in a canoe coming up river - curiously blond child, let me try very long blow gun on a dead chick [perfect], forced drink of chicha: then surprisingly began to set off charges in the river’s bend from which fish [mostly pirhana] floated up.)

On the trip in which Majo chased the coral snake, I had insisted on going to a black laguna in the forest - a hike supposed to take five hours that no-one wanted to do. So they made it a hunting trip. En route, a boar was spotted and shot at - wounded, to a squeal, and the three hunters scampered into the brush looking for it. I was left alone, only to hear the creature, shot in the shoulder, huffing in the shrubs behind me. We made it to the first laguna, where a little caiman floated with his head alone on the surface, which supposedly had electric eels. I stood amidst a bunch of giant ants and, after a minute catching my breath, was casually told to move. Congas, whose bite makes you feverish and sick - you must break them and squeeze their body juice onto the bite to ease it. I touched a leaf, and tracks on my hand swelled up with poison - which my guide dismissed, as indeed it went down ten minutes latter. It was very hot and airless. Tiger tracks were near the water. The next laguna would only replicate this. We turned back and stopped only once, when Majo turned to a tree. His mother died there. It was the “sign” for me to go. The forest was sheer technology. Zographics. It would seem one travels to “discover” - that is, learn to reread - technicity. The voice of the one I had, when “living,” called mother had already dismissed the anthropomorphic in advance and presented me with this non-riddle. Catamnesis. Khora.

Writing “travel” - outside of (the) genre? Redoubling it? Not yet. Even where this program, and from the first, had included all variant logics and already been (as such) over; heard, today, as the precording of some other’s present.