Taussig using Benjamin and Burroughs to make sense of Colombia

I sat down to read a few more pages from My Cocaine Museum. The prose on page 16 is hallucinatory.

I’m struck by the reliance on European thinkers to attempt to make sense. In addition to Walter Benjamin and William Burroughs, Taussig calls upon Reichl-Dolmatoff and Goethe. This is a very Teutonic collection.

I’m also struck by some small errors in copy editing. Tangier misspelled in a footnote and gracias used when gracia was the correct word.

The word peasant is used often. It refers to a class of people who are powerless. I wonder how it works on me. I have tried to exorcise my own use of that blanket term as it robs individual specificity. I once used peon, the Spanish colonial term that simultaneously means pawn and poor — or peasant.

I feel like I have to take care while reading this book. It sat on my bookshelf next to Wade Davis’ One River.

Taussig uses a transposition at the end of the first chapter. He locates Cocaine sniffing dogs at the entrance of the gold museum. He is echoing the dogs he encountered in customs, at the airport. This is either a cheat or a literary figure. The dogs at the entrance to the Banco de la Republica are more like sniffing for explosives than for drugs.

In a purely academic sense Taussig is being dishonest and creating a false impression of reality. In the front-matter, though, he advises that truth and fiction are interchangeable at this location.

Is this an allusion to magical realism? Is this journalism with pretense of scholarship? Is Colombia so powerfully strange that authors have to resort to hallucinatory Impressionism?

I’m holding memories of Juan Gabriel Vazquez’ Sound Of Things Falling as I read.

I have to work on something else now.