What are we to make of Tommy Orange’s There There, with its story of a Powwow interrupted by violence? Why is that the event where the book’s interlinked narratives connect? Orange is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, as is his character Dene Oxendene, a young documentary filmmaker collecting stories from Native people in his hometown. Dene is thus a version of Orange himself, allowing the novelist to comment metafictionally about the politics of representing one’s community, particularly when one is a member of an oppressed people. Can the one allow the many to speak? Can the many speak through the one?
What media have been most effective at capturing the “both/and,” always otherwise, always incommunicable truth of the psychedelic experience? It is, after all, only by way of a medium that one may “re-present” the self-presentation of Being. Immediately upon posing the question, one must add that the matter is more complex than this, for one’s memory of the experience, however degraded or distorted, leaves one disabused of any former conviction regarding representation’s usefulness. Yet one also acquires an expanded capacity for love. After the experience, one desires not to return to reason’s fortress, but to join with others outside it. And yet, there one is, at the end of each experience, returned to the same base condition as a slave of capitalism. One wants to treat wounds, one wants to tell one’s fellow slaves: “It’s okay, it’s just a game, there are others.” But with psychedelics, effects vary. Some nights, profound terror; other nights, goofy auditory hallucinations: farts, burps, bells, whistles.