Classic EssaysRevilo P. Oliver

Is There Intelligent Life on Earth? (part 7)

“Spiritual” hoaxer Carlos Castaneda

by Revilo P. Oliver

Through the Looking Glass

EARLY IN 1969, while looking over the ordure on a newsstand, I noticed a paperback, The Teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui Way of Knowledge, by Carlos Castaneda, and I squandered $1.25 on it. It purported to record the investigations of a graduate student in anthropology in the University of California in Los Angeles, who had spent five years with the Yaqui Indians studying their culture, chiefly by drugging himself with massive doses of peyote and absorbing true Wisdom from a squalid medicine-man named (of all things!) Don Juan. I read it through and said “hogwash.”

I could not judge the author’s descriptions of the hallucinations he claimed to have experienced. They differed greatly from the ones described to me years before by a young anthropologist who had visited an Indian tribe in Oklahoma and drugged himself on peyote (with disastrous results to himself a few years later), but hallucinatory drugs create illusions from what is already in the mind of the individual, so anything is possible. I could not judge the accuracy of the occasional references to the customs and daily life of the Yaquis, for I had seen them neither in their native habitat in Sonora nor in the clutches formed by the ones who hopped across the border into Arizona; I only knew that they had been more Savage than the Apaches and had exhibited both cunning and obstinacy in their raids on the Mexicans, with whom they still considered themselves to be at war. And I did not think it worthwhile to look up one of the few books about them.

I did know, however, that no illiterate and filthy Indian sorcerer had read volumes of the sociological trash now fashionable, and I recognized the purpose of the fiction writer, who was vending a slightly novel form of the hokum about the “paranormal.” Writing with some of Defoe’s realism surcharged with masses of pseudo-philosophical verbiage, he portrayed the wonders of a “nonordinary reality,” accessible through peyote and every bit as good as our dull and stupid “ordinary reality” — in fact, much better, since it is “completely beyond the scope of the concepts of Western civilization.” In the “nonordinary reality,” revealed by peyote as elucidated by the profound mind of the sorcerer, “space does not conform to Euclidian geometry, time does not form a continuous unidirectional flow, causation does not conform to Aristotelian logic, man is not differentiated from non-man or life from death, as in our world.” This, of course, is simply a formula of insanity, but the book was written too cleverly to be the work of an insane man. It was, therefore, a hoax and just another piece of wonderful garbage for the dolts who will believe anything, provided that it is not true.

I did not take the trouble to ascertain whether the purported authors of the glowing blurbs with which the publishers had surrounded the text really existed. I tossed the book into a bin in which I collect such symptomatic rubbish, certain that the fiction would soon have a sequel on the newsstands. It did ––a whole series of them. The creator of Don Juan, like the creator of Sherlock Holmes, had found an unflagging market.

It was from the second issue of the Skeptical Inquirer (then called the Zetetic) in 1977 that I learned that the hogwash had been the “research” for which the five ranking Professors of Anthropology in the University of California in Los Angeles had proudly bestowed the degree of Ph.D. on their most brilliant pupil. I found that sapient Professors of Anthropolgy in other universities had hailed the revelation, saying they “could not adequately convey the excitement” of their “thrilling experience” when they discovered that “our own world is a cultural construct,” no more valid or real than a great many others, such as the one you enter when you are three sheets to the wind on peyote and have an Indian medicine-man talking wisdom into your ear. And one of these burbling behemoths of the intellect had even written a book with the modest title, Reading Castaneda: A Prologue to the Social Sciences. Yes, Castaneda’s fiction was to be taken as the “epistemological foundation” of all the “social sciences” — a disparate assortment of disciplines, from history and genuine psychology to slightly disguised propaganda of the Marxist cult, put together for the convenience of the managers of the various factories in the diploma business.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, reputedly great “anthropologists” had joyously believed — or at least endorsed — Margaret Mead’s balderdash. It is now accepted that, as the writer in the Zetetic said, Castaneda’s Don Juan is just an audacious hoax, of which the author had not even taken the trouble to inform himself about the actual customs and quotidian life of the Yaquis, as reported by men who had really observed those savages. And quite a few academic cheeks, if not protected by beards, are probably blushing red now. It would be nice if the gullible “anthropologists” in the University of California and half a dozen other once-respected universities had learned something from Castaneda after all — but I dare not hope.

Perhaps we can learn something, if we inquire why all those supposedly erudite men, safely lodged on university payrolls, not only walked the plank, but danced out on it to dive overboard. The obvious answer is not, I think, adequate.

One can be almost certain that all of the slap-happy professors are “cultural anthropologists,” evangelists of the gospel by which Boas and his trained housewives (with unlimited financing and the deafening applause of all our domestic enemies) subverted the science of anthropology. “Cultural anthropologists” know that all differences between individuals are caused by environment. They know that it is streng verboten to see the innate differences. They know how to turn frogs into princesses: you just put the frog in a bed with silk sheets, feed her pâté de fois gras, hire maids to comb her tresses, and equip her with a splendid wardrobe and diamond rings: presto! a beautiful princess. So it is obviously the fault of Society that princesses are in short supply.

The True Believers of the egalitarian gospel are bound by their premises, as are the apostles of the Flat Earth Research Society. I have not studied the lucubrations of the latter, but I know how they guard their Faith: if you see evidence that the earth is not flat, that proves Satan’s got you by the neck. Likewise, if you see evidence of hereditary differences between individuals and genetic differences between races, you’s a wicked “Fascist,” maybe even a diabolical “Nazi.” So shut up before you’re burned at the stake.

It is easy to conclude that persons who swallowed Margaret Mead’s camel were ready to gulp down Castaneda’s zebu. But that does not explain everything. I think that what captivated them was their discontent with Euclidean geometry and “unidirectional” time. Science has exasperatingly failed to show how Alice got behind the looking glass without breaking it, and it is consoling to know that that is because our research has been hide-bound by that nasty old “cultural construct of Western civilization.” Now in an equally real world in which Euclidean geometry has been repealed and time goes in spurts and in as many directions as the squibs from a St. Catherine’s wheel, falling off a log wouldn’t be any easier than getting through a looking glass to hob-nob with that great philologist, Humpty Dumpty, and dine with the very archetype of a “Liberal intellectual,” the White Queen, who can believe six impossible things before breakfast any day.

As the statistics about “E.S.P.” I quoted above show, the practitioners of legitimate sciences were only a little less likely to have been taken in by Castaneda’s tale. The scientific achievement of the past century seems to have resulted in an etiolation of common sense, even — or particularly — among persons with scientific training. We seem to have come to the point that the Hindus reached centuries ago and without effort, the belief that anything is possible, i.e., that the world we perceive about us is just Mahā Māyā, the Great Illusion.

Common sense deals with the world in which we must live. It does not argue with the hylologists who assure us — correctly, so far as I know — that matter does not exist, that there is only emptiness with widely scattered and almost infinitely small vacuoles of energy here and there. Common sense merely reminds the nuclear physicists that if they will bang their heads against a brick wall a dozen times, they will be convinced that matter is solid enough for all practical purposes. Common sense does not quarrel with the mathematician who proves that there may be as many dimensions as you can shake a stick at, and it does not dispute the Lorentz contractions or the sacred equations of Relativity. It merely insists that we put men on the moon without sending them through a fourth dimension, and that we did it by Newtonian (not Einstinian) physics. Gödel has conclusively proved that arithmetical relationships are not mathematically demonstrable, but common sense will go right on believing that two and two make four — not just sometimes, but all of the time — and to Hell with Gödel’s Proof! And when someone squeaks that that attitude is “anti-intellectual,” common sense invites him to be intellectual in some other world than ours.

The trouble is that the “intellectuals” have taken over, and it is common sense that is being exiled.

* * *

Source: Liberty Bell publications; transcribed by Racial Idealism

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15 May, 2019 4:12 am

I recall reading Castenada as a child, and even then it was obviously fiction. The fool on his journey was a common trope at the time. Hard to imagine that the PhD (Piled higher and deeper) from a UC was awarded over such obvious bullshit. But the little man(Castenada was a twirp) had several of his female (and no longer young) acolytes toss themselves on his funeral pyre after he finally expired. Turns out the little one had his own little cult of SJWs. We can only hope the current crop will take care of themselves in a similar way once the reality of their situations becomes clear

Arch Stanton
Arch Stanton
23 May, 2019 12:02 pm

I found Castaneda’s description of the predatory “flyers” a perfect description of the Jew. What’s more, his response to Don Juan in this matter is the classic response of witless white morons confronted by the revisionist exposure of that great lie known as “Holocaust.” To wit – “Yes, it infuriates me,” I retorted. “Those claims are monstrous!” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Don Juan said, “You have arrived, by your effort alone, to what the shamans of ancient Mexico called the topic of topics. “I have been beating around the bush all this time, insinuating to you that something is holding us prisoner. Indeed we are held prisoner! This was an energetic fact for the sorcerers of ancient Mexico.” “Why has this predator taken over in the fashion that you’re describing, don Juan?” I… Read more »