Metafiction? Castaneda maintained ‘I invented Nothing'
by Corey Donovan Corey@sustainedaction.org
It seems that the comfort zone for many who have been bombarded by what has been revealed to date about false statements at the workshops and in the books is that, of course, Castaneda was writing meta-literature.
Castaneda consistently claimed, "I invented nothing." Here are the key statements by Castaneda over the years with respect to whether don Juan and his other characters were storytelling fictions:
1972 - Psychology Today interview with Sam Keen:
SK: "As I followed don Juan through your three books, I suspected, at times, that he was the creation of Carlos Castaneda. He is almost to good to be true—a wise old Indian whose knowledge of human nature is superior to almost everybody’s.
CC: "The idea that I concocted a person like don Juan is inconceivable. He is hardly the kind of figure my European intellectual tradition would have led me to invent. The truth is much stranger. I wasn’t even prepared to make the changes in my life that my association with don Juan involved."
March 5, 1973 - Time Magazine cover story
Castaneda tells Time correspondent Sandra Burton, "I have not lied or contrived. To contrive would be to pull back and not say anything or give the assurances that everybody seeks."
[In this article, BTW, he also says that his fourth book, Tales of Power, will be "the last thing I ever write about Don Juan. Now I am going to be a sorcerer for sure. Only my death could stop that."]
March 1994 - Details Magazine contains Bruce Wagner’s "The Secret Life of Carlos Castaneda: You Only Live Twice."
Quotes, of couse, Castaneda’s infamous statement: "I do not lead a double life. I live this life: There is no gap between what I say and what I do." (Bruce also characterizes Florinda and Taisha’s books as "bona fide chronicles of their initiation and training.")
March/April 1994 - New Age Journal contains Keith Thompson’s "An Interview with Carlos: Portrait of a Sorcerer."
Castaneda: "To deliberately alter don Juan in my books so he would appear consistent and meet the expectations of this or that audience would bring ‘subjectivity?to my work, a demon that, according to my best critics, has no place in ethnographic writing." He also claims: "My books are . . . a chronicle of specific experiences and observations in a particular context, reported to the best of my ability. But I do plead guilty to knowingly committing willful acts of ethnography, which is none other than translating cultural experience into writing. . . . . The main thing is, I stand by my work."
Replica Watches Replica Watches
December 26, 1995 - L.A. Times Interview with Castaneda by Benjamin Epstein and article about the Chacmools and Tensegrity and the Anaheim workshop.
Q: "Some of your biggest fans will say you’ve contributed great literature, even great anthropology, but would never call it nonfiction. Others would say you’re laughing all the way to the bank."
A: "I invented nothing. Somebody once told me, ‘I know Carlos Castaneda. . . .?I said, ‘You met Carlos??He said, ‘No, but I saw him in the distance all the time. You know he admitted he made up all that in an interview.?I said, ‘Really? What interview, you remember??He said, ‘I read it, I read it. . . .?quot;
March 1-3, 1996 - Castaneda at the Women’s Workshop at UCLA
Carlos said, " People used to say I made Don Juan up!" Then, sweeping his arm, pointing to the first row where the witches were sitting, he said, smiling and looking aghast at the same time, "Well, I couldn't make up these creatures! Make up Carol Tiggs!! I'm scared to death of her!"
February 1997 - Interview with Castaneda published in Uno Mismo (in Chile and Argentina), "El Mundo de don Juan al Alcance de Todos," by Daniel Trujillo Rivas
Castaneda: "We live according to the premises proposed by don Juan and we never deviate from them. Don Juan Matus gave us the formidable example of a man who lived according to what he said." He also responded to a question that mentioned "[t]he belief that your work is merely the product of our literary talent," by claiming, "For thirty years, people have accused Carlos Castaneda of creating a literary character simply because what I report to them does not concur with the anthropological ‘a prior,?the ideas established in the lecture halls or in the anthropological field work. . . . . I’ve been working for more than thirty years in the cognitive world of the shamans of ancient Mexico . . . ."
Also from the L.A. Times December 1995 interview: Q: "Talia Bey, seminar organizer and president of Clearwater, Inc. (sic), seems to stick pretty close to you. Are you two a couple?"
A: "We are ascetic beings. No relationships of a sexual order. This is very difficult, a difficult maneuver for us. Don Juan recommended that I had to be a conserver of energy, because I don’t have much energy. I myself was not created under conditions of great sexual passion. Most people are not. . . . [Talia] was born with enough energy that she can do what she wants." [Elipsis and brackets in the original.]