My Cocaine Museum

Taussig, Author, Michael T. Taussig, Author, Michael Taussig, Author University of Chicago Press $27.5 (336p) ISBN 978-0-226-79009-1
If Hunter S. Thompson had been trained by Boaz in anthropology, Engels in economics and Arendt in philosophy, he might write something like Taussig, whose ninth book follows on the heels of Law in a Lawless Land, and is a further study of the ways and means of south Colombia's poor communities. Taussig literally imagines his book to be a""cocaine museum""; it's a conceit that brings Taussig's first-person outsider's perspective together with Colombia's major cash crop, and with the things that people make and use around it. Short chapters riff on a particular person, place or thing--town officials who clap out death warrant-like denuncias on manual typewriters; citizens who distill the lighter fluid-like drink biche as their only income-generating activity; children who mine gold by hand and can go years without finding any--and then spiral out into the entwined histories of slavery, drugs and colonialism, as well as into philosophical speculations.""Transgressive substances,"" Taussig writes,""make you want to reach out for a new language of nature, lost to memories of prehistorical time that the present state of emergency recalls."" A book of""spells, hundreds and thousands of spells, intended to break the catastrophic spell of things,"" Taussig's virtual museum feels as real as the hot, damp rainforest where it's set.
Reviewed on: 05/01/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
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