When Myths Break Down: An Observation on Language
by Lonnie Brown, lbrw@swcp.com

When myths break down, the sacred words begin to detach from what was felt as their inner life. The gloss turns to glossalalia, gibberish:

"Energetic Fact"

The second law of thermodynamics is an "energetic fact," one that we all experience as we age. There is no duality, here, between energetic and actual fact. The second law of thermodynamics is the "energetic fact" that ties all other "energetic facts" irrevocably to history.

"Seeing energy as it flows"

The information carried by electromagnetic (or any other type of propagating-) energy contains the image of its source and the image of "energetic events" that have occurred in transit: i.e., this information is "historical." Any percept constructed from this blooming, buzzing, chaos of dancing wavefronts necessarily results from a process of selection whereby information about certain "energetic events" is retained while information about the rest of the "energetic history" is discarded.

This process also relates to the second law of thermodynamics because the "objects" that we "assemble" in order to create a coherent view or "world" represent a small, highly constrained area within the space of all possible messages carried by the "energy as it flows."

Having "seen energy as it flows" myself, to varying degrees, I'd have to say that Castaneda's "Seeing" really refers to something else. Also, the information that arises in this "Seeing" is difficult to translate--the "meaning" of this "Seeing" when interpreted (from accounts I've read on the list, here, and in the books) seems to be so abstract that it doesn't always translate at all.

The more descriptions I read, the less it seems like any kind of direct knowing.


This word is extremely compelling to many of us. There is a level of intentionality in attention--attention is consciously directed. Even passive perception is "intentional" in this sense--it is directed. The idea of intent is complex and multileveled.

Whether Intent is the felt result of complex and multileveled processes, or whether it has a more abstract, transcendent, Platonic origin is once again, for me, an open question.

Another hallmark of the breakdown of a myth is the way in which language that was originally descriptive comes to be used in ways increasingly prescriptive--if not downright judgmental and moralistic.

A warrior never . . . etc.

Increasingly, discussion breaks down into ad-hominem attacks embedded within politically correct insults--masturbation, flyer mind, banal concerns, etc., etc., etc.

Replica Watches  Replica Watches

I don't say these things in order to assert the supremacy of reductive science. But if Carlos or anyone else wishes to borrow terms with well defined meanings (like energy, for example) and apply them to phenomenological descriptions of his own devising (possibly in order to take advantage of their rhetorical weight in this scientific age), then he needs to supply the discourse that will show (a) why his use of the term is different from the term's conventional meaning, and (b) why his use of the term is similar enough to its conventional interpretation to justify its use rather than another's.

Otherwise, the inconsistencies that arise from his descriptions are (imo) fair game.

Personally, I'm grateful to Carlos Castaneda for his books and the insights that I "saw" in them. I'm sorry I never got to meet him, but I'm grateful that I didn't sacrifice anything of value in order to follow him (or anyone else). That was more a matter of luck than it was of foresight.

As far as the possibilities of human life, in my mind it's an open question. The probabilities are well known.