Carlos Castaneda

The place not for Burroughs but for the Burroughsian -- Scientology, Lemurs, Weapons, Mind Control...

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Carlos Castaneda

Post by Scout » Tue Dec 06, 2005 10:10 pm

Johnny's response December 6th in the 'James G. Cities of The Red Night' topic prompted me to post this new one about the late Carlos Castaneda. Johnny was talking about character, and a writer's ability or at least the intention to make a character "leap off of the page". Burroughs mentioned Castaneda in several of his books, and he is of interest in this particular regard as an author who "literally" succeeded in creating a character that for many people became a real figure, -- Don Juan, an old shaman living in Arizona near the Mexican border, initiating the stunted Western college student Carlos into a supposedly centuries-old native tradition of "sorcery". For a time these books were pure candy for the psychedelic generation of the late 60's and early 70's. Little of Castaneda's prose is memorable in of itself, that's to say as pure language, but the images conveyed have a uniquely convincing quality, especially unique in that they describe the most outlandish events, -- men flying in the air, changing into various nonhuman forms, etc. -- succeeding at least in the initial volumes because they are presented from a nonfiction standpoint of academic research. Castaneda always insisted everything he wrote about in his books had actually happened. He not only convinced the general reading public but the college he submitted the books as to as well, who gave him a doctorate in anthropology after accepting his third book as his thesis. Now Castaneda went on to become the center of a personality cult in the line of L. Ron Hubbard, or Li Hongzhi for a contemporary example. But I do think he is relevant here in many regards to Burroughs, -- one for the general fact of Burroughs claiming a great affinity with him, and second for the specific fact of writing a character into the world, into reality, to a degree that no other writer I know of has quite achieved, with arguable exceptions in religion, yes the big JC for example. "Don't write like a writer, -- write like a sorcerer," Don Juan advises his student at one point.
....Interesting too that Burroughs had a tendency toward hopping on several 'new age' fads, -- Reich, L. Ron, Streiber, etc. I wonder if he ever tried to contact Castaneda like Fellini did. I wonder too if Castaneda ever read Burroughs.... Probably not. Castaneda was pretty conservative in his own way. --Well, if anybody has any thoughts....
P.s. I certainly don't want to open up some big Carlos Castaneda discussion, that is, without his relevance to our man Burroughs. Leave that to the millions of 'warriors' out there doing 'Tensegrity' at universities on Friday nights, why not. --I just thought it might be a worthwhile connection.

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Carlos Castaneda

Post by johnny » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:58 am

Burroughs has said that there IS a magical universe, but that the world we are livng in is very anti-magical. Castaneda had certainly tapped into the magical universe.

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