Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff's 'The Forest Within' explains what the rain forest looks like to a people who have been part of it for thousands of years and for whom the forest is not nature but culture.
It has been suggested that nature is hostile, violent and unpredictable, and that the Indians try to bring order into this confusion by categorising it. This may be so in some cases and some societies, but from what we have learned from the Indians, it is man and his basic impulses: food, sex, power,security, which are chaotic and must be controlled, while nature,far from being disordered offers many practical models for human behaviour and adaptation. Nature has its definitive structures and rules, its periodicities, the Milky Way, plant growth, animal behaviour, crystals and flowers, colours and odours. The chromatic scale of the rainbow, a phosphene perceived in a drug-induced trance, a seasonal fishrun or a bird migration, a meandering river in the forest; they are all models which offer security together with a wealth of intellectual and emotional stimulation.The following images are all remarkable photographs of swidden fields that give a good feel for their, to us, chaotic appearance. Amazonian gardens are part of the forest, not separated from it.