Unlike their European predecessors, many Latin American and North American authors turned to hallucinatory substances as elements of their own hemispheric heritage. The twentieth-century narratives analyzed in Visionary Art of the Americas: Hemispheric Transculturations, Hallucinogens, Politics, Aesthetics, and Mass Consumer Culture in the United States, Mexico, and Colombia acquire their true depth only within a much wider realm of visionary traditions spanning Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Socially and culturally marginalized alongside users, hallucinogens—simultaneously a colonial anathema and a sacred pre-Columbian ritual—have gained increased mainstream acceptance. The various films and texts analyzed in this book attest to the true heterogeneity of hallucinogenic experience in the Americas at a time when scholarly attention to hallucination and visions as a survival adaptation of organic intelligence is crucial to understand its differences from A.I.
Juan David Cadena Botero is professor of language and culture at the Universitaria Agustiniana in Bogotá.
Introduction: Hallucination, Psychedelia, and Visions in the Americas and the Arts
Chapter 1: The United States of America
Chapter 2: Mexico
Chapter 3: Colombia
Epilogue: A Tradition Debating the Real
Navigating the estuaries where the streams of psychedelic countercultures meet the ocean of hallucinogenic traditions, Juan David Cadena Botero’s book reveals the crucial but unrecognized role that visionary knowledges and practices played in everyday living and worldviews, fine arts and pop cultures, and political and social movements across the continent in the 20th century. In its pages, the flight of the shaman, the trance of the mystic, the chant of the healer transmutes into the awe of the poet, the illumination of the artist, the utopia of the rebel and become indistinguishable. An inspired work of aesthetic analysis and cultural history, a must-read!
This book offers us a brilliant, engaging, thoughtful, and extensive exploration, with encyclopedic documentation, of the eventful historical convergence between indigenous Latin American thought based on communication with visionary power plants and Anglo-American psychedelic counterculture in the second half of the twentieth century. More than influences, transculturation, or syntheses, this grand cultural fresco of our recent past traces complex heterogeneous mixtures of ancestral and modern trends confronting each other in the decolonizing drama of the present.
For Cadena Botero, the hemispheric tradition of countercultures is found in hallucinogenic experimentation, a transversal way of exercising criticism. This book illuminates specific cases of artists from Colombia, Mexico, and the United States and their relationship with consumption and the criticism of capitalism. An extraordinary aesthetic and cultural history to see how, in the second half of the 20th century, certain aesthetic forms were immersed in transcultural experiences (class, ethnicities, languages) through the creation of visionary art.
Few authors manage to untangle the cultural and political intricacies of hallucinogen use in the long term as skillfully as Juan David Cadena does here. Magnificently written and carefully argued, Visionary Art of the Americas uses transnational history to decenter the study of stimulants consumption from the mainstream narratives crafted in the 1960s. Cadena convincingly shows that the analysis of psychoactive substances across the Americas should go beyond the well-known histories of cartels and violence, highlighting the cultural and aesthetics dimensions of visionary knowledge.