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Radio interview with Carlos Castaneda - 1968
"Don Juan: The Sorcerer"

начало / конец

Q: I thought the passage in the book where these very different orientations toward reality that you had, and don Juan had, the point at which it came through most clearly to me, was the point in which you question him about
your own experience of apparent flight. And you finally came around to asking if you had been chained to a rock, would don Juan feel that you still had flown, and his answer was, in that case you would have flown with the chain and the rock.

CC: He alludes, you know, that, I think what he means, what he meant to say is that one never really changes. As a European my mind is set, my cognitive units are set, in a sense. I would admit only a total change. For me to change would mean that a person mutates totally into a bird, and that's the only way I could understand it. But I think what he means is something else,
something much more sophisticated than that. My system's very rudimentary, you see, it lacks the sophistication that don Juan has, but I cannot pinpoint actually what he means like, things like what he means that one never changes really, there's something else, another process is taking place.

Q: Yes, it is difficult to focus on this. I think I remember don Juan's line was, you flew as a man flies. But he insisted that you flew.

CC: Yes.

Q: There's another remarkable statement he makes. It is in a discussion of the reality of the episode. He says, that is all there is in reality, what you felt.

CC: Uh-huh. Yea, he, don Juan's a very sophisticated thinker, really, it's not easy to come to grips with him. You see, I had tried various times to wrestle with him intellectually and he always comes the victor, you know. He's very artful. He posed once the idea to me that the whole, the totality of the universe is just perception. It's how we perceive things. And there are no facts, only interpretations. And those are nearly, I'm merely paraphrasing him as close as I can. And perhaps he's right, the facts are
nothing else but interpretations that our brain makes of stimuli. So that such whatever I felt was, of course, the important thing.

Q: Now, one of the aspects of what we normally call reality that seems most important to us is that of coherence or consistency from experience to experience, and I was impressed by the fact that the experiences you had under peyote seemed to have in your recordings a remarkable coherence from experience to experience. I'd like to question you about this. There is an
image that appeared in the experiences which you called mescalito. And it seems as if this image appears again and again with great consistency, that the general sense of the experience, the sound of it, the feel of it, is very much the same from time to time. Am I accurate in saying that?

CC: Yes, very, very much.

Q: Well, how do you make sense of that fact?

CC: Well, I'd, its the, I'd have two interpretations. Mine being it's the product of the indoctrination I went through, those long periods of discussions, where instruction was given.

Q: Did don Juan every tell you how mescalito was to look?

CC: No, no not that level. Once I constructed, I think, the composite in my mind, the idea that it was a homogenous and totally a protector and a very sturdy deity, may have held me to maintain that, that mental composite, or perhaps the deity exists outside of ourselves as he says. Completely outside of me, as a man, as a feeler, and all it does is manifest itself.

Q: Now, I thought your description of this image, of mescalito, was very vivid and very impressive. Do you think you could possibly, just to draw out one aspect of the book, describe what this figure seemed like to you?

CC: It was truly an anthropomorphic composite as you say. It was not truly a man, but it looked like a cricket, and it was very large, perhaps larger than a man. It looked somehow like the surface of a cactus, the peyote cactus. And that was the top looked like a pointed head, but it had human features in the sense of eyes and a face. But it was not quite human either. It was
something different about it and the movements, of course, were quite extraordinary because it hopped.

Q: Now, when you described this experience to don Juan, how did he deal with it, was this the right image.

CC: No, no. He didn't care at all about my description of the form. He's not interested at all. I never told him what the form, he discarded it all. I wrote it down because it was quite remarkable for me as the man who experienced it. It was just extraordinary. It was truly a shocking experience. And as I recalled everything that I experienced, but insofar as telling him, he didn't want to hear about it. He said that it was unimportant. All he want to hear was whether I had, how close he let me come in this
anthropomorphic composite at the time I saw it, you know, let me come very close and nearly touch him. And that, in don Juan's system, I suppose, was a very good turn. And he was interested in knowing whether I was frightened or not. And I was very frightened. But insofar as the form, he never made any comment, or he didn't even show any interest in it.

Q: I'd like to ask about one particular set of experiences. We don't have to go into them in detail here. I think we might simply tempt the listeners to look at the book, and read the actual details of the experiences. But, your final experience with don Juan is one of extreme fearfulness. Why do you think he lead you into this final situation, at least final in your relationship with him in which, I mean, he very literally just scared the hell out of you. What was the purpose of that. It seemed almost as you record it, it seemed at points almost deliberate cruelty. What do you think he was up to when he did that?

CC: When he had previous to that last incident, or right before it, he taught me some position that it's proper of shamans to adopt at moments of great crises, the time of their death, perhaps. It's a form that they would adopt. And it's something that they would use, it's a sort of validation, a signature, or to prove that they have been men. Before they die they will face their death and do this dancing. And then they will yell at death and die. And I asked don Juan what could be important, you know, since we all have to die, what difference does it make whether we dance or we cry or scream or yell or run, and he felt that the question was very stupid because by having a form a man could validate his existence, he could really reaffirm that he was a man, because essentially that's all we have. The rest is unimportant. And at the very last moment, you see, the only thing that a man could do was to reassert that he was a man. So he taught me this form and in the course of the event, this very frightening set of circumstances, or actions, I was forced nearly to exercise this form and use it. It brought a great amount of vigor to me. And the event ended up there, "successfully". I was successful. And perhaps staying away from death, or something like. The next day, the next night he took me into the bushes, and what I was gonna do was, he was gonna teach me how to perfect this form, I thought was neat. And in the course of teaching me, I found myself alone. And that's when the horrendous fear attacked me
really. I think what he had in mind was for me to use this form, this position, this posture that he had taught me. And he deliberately scared me, I suppose, in order for me to test that. And that was my failure, of course, cause I really succumbed to fear instead of standing and facing my death, as I was supposed to as a, let's say apprentice of this way of knowledge, I
became a thorough European man and I succumbed to fear.

Q: How did things actually end then between you and don Juan?

CC: They ended that night I think, you know, I suffer a total ego collapse because the fear was just too great for my resources. And it took hours to pull me back. And it seems that we came to an impasse where I never talk ever again about his knowledge. That's almost 3 years ago, over 3 years ago.

Q: You feel then he had finally lead you up to an experience that was beyond your capacity to grapple with?

CC: I think so. I exhausted my resources and I couldn't go beyond that and its coherent with the American Indian idea that knowledge is power. See you cannot play around with it. Every new step, you see, is a trial and you have to prove that you're capable of going beyond that. So that was my end.

Q: Yes, and over the 6 year period don Juan lead you through a great number of terribly trying and difficult experiences.

CC: Yes, I should say, I would. But he does nothing that I haven't, that I finished, I don't know, by some strange reason he has never acted as though I'm through. He always thinks that this is a period of clarification.

Q: Did he ever make it really clear to you what it was about you that lead him to select you for this vigorous process.

CC: Well, he guides his acts by indications, by omens, if he sees something that is extraordinary, some event that he cannot incorporate into his, possibly his categorization scheme, if it doesn't fit in it, he calls it a portentous event or an extraordinary event and he considers that to be an omen. When I first took that cactus, the peyote, I play with a dog. It was very remarkable experience in which this dog and I understood each other very well. And that was interpreted by don Juan as an omen, that the deity, mescalito, peyote, had played with me, which was an event that he had never witnessed in his life. Nobody has ever, in his knowledge, nobody has ever played with the deity, he told me. That was extraordinary, and something was pointing me out, and he interpreted it as I was the right person to transmit his knowledge, or part it or whatever.

Q: Well, now after spending six years in apprenticeship to don Juan, what, may I ask, what difference this great adventure has made to you personally?

CC: Well it has, certainly has given me a different outlook in life. It's enlarged my sense of how important today is, I suppose. I think, you know, I have, I'm the product of my socialization, I, like any other person of the western world, I live very much for tomorrow, all my life. I sort of save myself up for a great future, something of that order. And it's only, it was only, with the, of course, with the terrible impact of don Juan's teaching that I came to realize how important it is to be here, now. And it renders
the idea of entering into states of what I call non ordinary reality instead of disrupting the states of ordinary reality, they render them very meaningful. I didn't suffer any disruption or any disillusion of what goes on today. I don't think its a farce. While I'll say I tended to think that it was a farce before. I thought that I was disillusioned as I was an artist to do some work in art, and I felt, you know, that something was missing with my time, something is wrong. But as I see it, you know, nothing is wrong. Today I can't conceive what's wrong anymore. Cause it was vague to begin with, I never thought exactly what was wrong. But I alluded that there was a great area that was better than today. And I think that has been dispelled completely.

Q: I see. Do you have any plans of ever seeking out don Juan again?

CC: No, I see him as a friend. I see him all the time.

Q: Oh, you still do see him?

CC: Yes I do. I'm with him, I have been with him lots of times since the last experience that I write in the book. But as far as seeking his teachings, I don't think I would. I sincerely think that I don't have the mechanics.

Q: One final question: you make a heroic effort in the book to make sense of don Juan's world view. Do you have any idea of whether don Juan took any interest or takes any interest in your world, the one you're calling that of a European man?

CC: Well, no I think he's versed, don Juan's very versed in what we, the Europeans, stand for. He's not handicapped, in that sense, he makes use, he's a warrior and he makes use of his, he sets his life as in a strategic game, he makes use of everything that he can, he's very versed in that. My effort to make sense of his world is, it's my own way of, let's say, paying
back to him for this grand opportunity. I think if I don't make the effort to render his world as coherent phenomena, he'll go by the way he has for hundreds of years, as nonsensical activity, when it is not nonsensical, it's not fraudulent, it's a very serious endeavor.

Q: Yes. Well the outcome of your experiences with don Juan is a really fascinating book and, after reading it myself, I can certainly recommend it to the Pacific audience. It is an adventure in a very different world than we ordinarily live in. I'd like to thank you, Mr. Castaneda, for making this time available to talk about the book and about your adventures. This is Theodore Rosack.

CC: Thank you.

начало / окончание


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