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Tony Grist

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The Doors Of Perception [Feb. 3rd, 2007|10:02 am]
Tony Grist
Remember Carlos Casteneda- the guy who turned us on to the druggy wisdom of the native American shamans? There was an hour long documentary about him last night. Turns out he was the worst kind of  fraud;  he faked his research, he made millions out of his ersatz spiritual teachings, he set himself up as a guru and fucked people up.  What does it say about religion in general that every prophet you examine turns out to have been in it for the sex? Castaneda was the sort of abusive shit who would tell a disciple that in order to exorcise the demons of her past he would need to shag her in her childhood bedroom.  In old age he lived in Hughesian seclusion with a quartet of female bodyguards who believed he was going to turn into a being of pure light and take them with him into "Infinity".

Unfortunately he died of liver cancer before he was able to get round to it.

And the girls he'd left behind drove off into the desert and either shot themselves to death or died of exposure.

Anyway, the programme was talking about peyote and Ailz says, "We've got some of that." What! "Yes, those little buttony things. They're peyote. That's why they cost so much." But it turns out the peyote cactus is legal- even though its derivative- mescaline- is a Class "A" drug. 

I resisted the impulse to rush into the kitchen and eat the house plants.

Peyote is endangered in the wild. It's a very slow-growing plant and- thanks to Casteneda- the fuckin hippies are stripping it out of the desert faster than it can reproduce.
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Comments:
From: (Anonymous)
2007-02-03 11:15 am (UTC)

chekhov

I know it's not about weird cults etc, but thought I'd let you know I got a Chekhov short story collection from the library. Now to read it ....I have lots of other things to do, but I'll let you know how I get on with it....
Jenny
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-02-03 04:19 pm (UTC)

Re: chekhov

Excellent.

I look forward to hearing how you find him.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2007-02-03 01:08 pm (UTC)
I thought this bozo had been exposed as a fraud back in the 70s.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-02-03 04:17 pm (UTC)
That's probably so. But there are still true believers- including some in the academic community who regard him as a bona fide anthropologist.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2007-02-03 06:38 pm (UTC)
One of the most - perhaps one of the few - enlightening courses I took at university was one based entirely on the works of Carlos Castaneda, taught by the chairman of our anthropology department. The professor dismissed at the outset any discussion of whether or not the man was a fraud, whether indeed a Yaqui curandero by the name of Don Juan Matus existed or was merely a literary device. It was enough, in our prof's opinion, that Castaneda's world view was complete in itself, internally consistent, and comparable to that of other cultures around the world.

I am not a "true believer", by any means, yet I have never been too troubled about the "reality" behind the man or his books. It was enough that they provided a gateway through which I could explore a ready-made spiritual landscape. Though my own studies and interests took me far from the myths Castaneda conjured into existence, that is still undeniably where my journey began.

Perhaps it just doesn't matter. The quality of the journey itself, what it teaches, where it takes us, this is important. The fact of that first step taken matters far more than what motivates it. We all looked pretty silly at the outset of our physical lives. Why should our spiritual lives be any different?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-02-03 11:29 pm (UTC)
As my old High Priestess used to say, "if it works, use it."

A person can be a complete shit and still write and teach true things.

One thing I'd love to know about Castaneda is how much he actually believed in himself.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2007-02-10 07:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes! Him.

I read him with wide-eyed amazement in the--what?-seventies?--when I believed everything anybody told me...I believed him, too.

But the Power Spot---I still believe in that, and some of his teacher's ideas were pretty--heavy and wonderful.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-02-12 10:54 pm (UTC)
It seems he mainly got his ideas from books.

I never read him. I think he probably had considerable literary gifts. What a shame he didn't use them honestly.
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