1969 Talk Transcript

I suppose you, some of you have read the book that I have written, so I thought, perhaps I should give you a background, the things that I did not include in the book, perhaps that would be a good way to start.

I have critics that they have criticized me for not including the cultural milieu in which this thing took place. And I didn’t do it, I didn’t do that because I was not sure where to place it. Uh, the person with whom I worked is a Yaqui Indian. The Yaquis live in northwestern Mexico. They are a very peculiar group of people. There are 90000 of them today, and they have lived where they are today since before the Spaniards came to the new world. 1,04

Uh, I don’t … I think it was around 1718 that they voluntarily, no 1680, around 1680, they voluntarily allowed the missionaries to come to Sonora. And voluntarily underwent mission-ization with them. And they kept the Spanish missionaries for 80 years. And then one day they burned the churches and killed them all. And ever since that time they have been on their own. Make them a very strange … that makes a very strange concoction, of the Catholicism of the time, 1600s, and whatever was ancestral to them. And today it’s really an impossibility to entangle that; to disentangle that incredible process, what was the results. 2,12

But at any rate they involved themselves after the missionaries were expelled in a very (what would be the word, uh, uh) let’s say in total war against the Western man. And they have had one hundred years for instance of solid warfare.

After the Mexican gained its independence, they inherited the Yaqui problem. And they coped with it finally around the turn of the century by moving you see in full force, the Mexican forces, and taking the total Yaqui population, and putting them in trains and boats, and shipping them outside of Sonora. Uh, they shipped them to southern Mexico, to the states of Yucatan, and Oaxaca, and Veracruz.

Don Juan was very young at that time. Don Juan is the man I worked with, the shaman I worked with. And he was very young at that time, he was a child, and he was caught in this uh mishmash. And he and his father were shipped to Veracruz, and then later he moved to Oaxaca. 3,30

So it’s very ah ah; I feel today that if I want to place this shamanistic tradition in a cultural milieu, I would have to make again the sort of uh, uh  … I would have to mix whatever is Yaqui and something in central Mexico. 4,06

Don Juan learned his tradition, or rather what I call his tradition, he learned his knowledge, his sorcery, in Oaxaca. That’s where he goes every year, to Oaxaca in order to collect some hallucinogenic mushrooms that are very important in elucidating his knowledge. 4,26

Those mushrooms are not grown in Sonora, they grow exclusively in Oaxaca. And the whole tradition of mushrooms, the mushroom cult, comes from that area.

He uses also a cactus, the Lophophora williamsii, the peyote, commonly known as peyote, which grows in the northern part of Mexico. And it is my belief that Don Juan has make again, like taking perhaps a Yaqui format or syncretism, since the Yaquis already have made this incredible process  of amalgamating Catholicism or whatever was ancestral to them. Perhaps this is a facility for them at that level; to intake from different areas, and make a conglomerate. So perhaps this knowledge is, it could be classified as belonging in essence to the Yaquis. It’s the Yaqui espirit.

The Yaquis as I was saying and perhaps I should continue this. They are 5,35 they are warriors. … and at the turn of the century they were defeated by the Mexican forces, in actual battle, and after they lost the battle, then they were disintegrated as a nation.  5,53

They stayed in central Mexico for forty years. And then after the war – uh you know Mexico is sort of a herald of democracy among Latin nations, and what was very critical at the time after the war, was what had happened in Europe; Hitler moving populations, you see, displacing them. And then all of a sudden the Mexicans realized that they had done the same thing with the Yaquis. So they brought’em back again to Sonora. (ha ha)

They round them up again and back to this reservation. It’s a large area, but it was constructed as a reservation. And uh … (walking out, laughter)They have maintained you see the original land, the Mexican government allowed them to come back again to the core of their ancestral land; and it’s composed of eight towns.

But by the time, you see the Yaquis had been gone forty years, the Mexicans had encroached on the land, they have subdivided it, it was open for colonialization or something like that. 7,49

And now you have the problem you see of Mexican populations living next to Yaqui population. They do not mix. The Yaquis are very uh, let’s say famous for their sense of aloofness. It’s very hard to get to them. You have to know them. It’s very hard to work with them. 7,40

It was especially hard for me; because although I come from Latin America, you know I’m . I look like a Mexican to them. I’m a Mexican.  And they call them Yoris. It’s a very deceptive term, it’s a terrible word. And it’s very difficult for me to get … it would be easier for an American anthropologist, for an Anglo Saxon as far as to come to the Yaqui land, than it is for me. For me it’s nearly an impossibility. And the only way that I have ways to enter into it is through the auspices of Don Juan, and his son. 8,24

And they half-way tolerate me. They don’t know what I’m doing anyway. You know, they have this weird conception that I may be a spy from an American mining company. The funny thing is that that mining company has been trying to get into Sonora, to get the ores, at the copper ores that are in some of the Yaqui mountains, uh since 1947 when the Yaquis came back.

And the strange story is that there is no mining company there that tries to exploit the ores. It’s just an illusion in the Yaqui mind. But anyway I’m the spy of that imaginary company. 9,09 So they uh, they tolerate me in some ways. You know … But by now I think don’t bother them too much. But it’s terribly hard to get to know the Yaquis. And I think it’s the result, the reason for it is their endemic warfare against the Western man. But that’s the Yaqui Spirit. They are truly warriors … not soldiers, because they are not disciplined in that sense. It’s another concept.

And what I have been trying to do with the book that I published and the whole work that I done, is trying to get into the cognitive system; first of all of Don Juan because that was the person I worked with. And see if by doing that I would have been able to determine let’s say a cognitive map for what is, the Yaqui spirit. 10,18 Whatever Don Juan talks about as the spirit, a warrior’s spirit. 10,23

But I did not have that aim in mind when I went to do my fieldwork. This is a post facto, upon reconsidering 10,34; finishing my fieldwork and sitting on my desk. 10,37 I have reconsidered the whole process, and I have said: this is a very good thing if I would try to look for a cognitive map, it’s totally a post facto rationale. What happened to me in the field is something else. 10,55

I went to .. my interest in Don Juan was a fortuitous affair. I was interested in collecting medicinal plants, when I was an undergraduate, as an undergraduate student and I conceived that the way to move in the ladder you see of scholarship is to publish, of course. And I said that the easiest way to get something publishable would be to collect medicinal plants (laughter …”very clever you see) .. ya, you know, all you have to do is first record the name 11,34, procure your valid specimens, have them identified in the Botanical Gardens, and write whatever they say about it! 11,42 (large, long laughter)

I thought I was a very clever young man. (laughter again) And that was my interest. But I didn’t know any Indian!  That’s the problem. (laughter) I knew a guy who know Indians though, which in my mind was as good as knowing an indian. I was unsophisticated let’s say in that way. So I had a friend, a very good friend of mine, who lived in Arizona at that time. And he claimed you know that he knew a great deal about Indians and plants. So I went to … I paid him a visit one summer and I stayed with him for a long time. 12,25

And I collected any of his plants of course and his descriptions. 12,32 And he said that you could check this with any Indian around here. 12,35 And they tell whatever they tell you, that’s what they do with them. And then he said to me at that time, there’s however one old fogy, some crony that lives somewhere around there that knows a great deal about peyote, and perhaps you know we should go and talk to him, maybe we should look him up. 12,54 So we drove around, you know and asked for directions to get his address; and they misled us deliberately and we wound up in some hills in no man’s land.

It was about the time to go home for me, so I gave it up, you know it was nonsense you know, to look for this old fogy that knows a great deal about peyote. 13,13 So I was about to take the bus to go home, when this old man walked into the Greyhound Depot. And this friend of mine says, ahiii!, that’s him!! 13,27

And he went and talked to him. Uh this friend of mine and i we really have this strange relation. He pretends to speak Spanish. He’s uh of course a liar, you see, he just talks in tongues. And then over a period of years, you know at first it was a joke, you know, and I tagged along you know, telling him, answering him in Spanish when he’s just you know really just yakking, talking in tongues to me, pretending that it was Spanish so that somebody else could hear and think that he speaks Spanish. 14,04

Now first of all it was a joke, but then he believed that he was speaking Spanish. (huge laughter) He got to really believe that. And he’s embarrassed me to no end I’ll tell you , to try to trick me you know with people that I (you know) important people perhaps that I don’t want to fool around with, and he speaks to me in Spanish (muttered laughter), horrendous! 14,27

And that day he did do that, he made a, he launched his pitch. He went and talked to this old man… in Spanish. 14,37 And Don Juan laughed, you know. I left him there you know. I mean it was pretty funny, what he said, it was preposterous, I mean he was making up words. Then uh, he just left me. He talked to him, in quotes he ‘talked’ to the old Indian in Spanish, and he turned around and left. And there I was standing with this old man. And he was laughing, you know it was very funny. I like him, I know that he had a nice sense of humor. (huge laughter)

And then I made my pitch, my Anthropology pitch at that point. I decided perhaps that was the man I could turn into a key informant. (laughter) But how do you proceed? You’ve got to be serious. So I decided that the only way to do it would be to sell myself. 15,30 And tell him that I knew a great deal about peyote. And I told that, I said, listen I said, I know all there is to know about peyote. Perhaps it would, you know, be convenient for you, it would be advantageous for you, if you talk to me. (laughter, 15,46).

And the guy just looked at me. He just looked at me, and laughed!! But there was something very peculiar about him, the way he looked, that was quite exciting, I thought. So you see I’m a little persistent, perhaps because I’m short, you see. You need a crash, where you learn very funny mechanics, you see. 16,10

So  I’m very persistent, and I’m not dissuaded too easily. You have to clobber me on the head to dissuade me. But this guy stopped me! By looking at me. That was WEIRD! There was something wrong there, and I felt that I could call on, rather 16,34 my body recorded something wrong, very weird. 16,37

You see I’m not given to uh, I’m not a mystic man, at all, I’m very pragmatic, I proceed in a specific way. See I’m not scared that easily.  So how could this guy stop me just looking!! That was something strange. And then he said yes perhaps you could come and see me sometime, and we could talk in my house. And then, and then this man said ‘Oh! There’s my bus.’ And he just got up, there was no bus out there, he just said that to me. (Laughter. ‘He left!’ laughter continues) He cut me off. (laughter)17,11

So I came back to see him because he interest me. Personally. He was interesting personalistically. And I came back in six months later. I came back and looked him up, and he had moved, from Arizona to Sonora, and I found him, and we got to talk, and he was very amenable, a very amenable man. 17,36

There was some very peculiar sensation of control about him that I noticed at that time. It’s very nice to be around Don Juan. Uh, I don’t know what it is; but he makes me feel complete, very nice, concise, there’s no loose ends. There’s no fretting, no excitation  … unnecessary excitation. 18,03

And yet he’s capable of exerting himself dramatically. To a fantastic point, which is the opposite of what I find in my parents, or what I am. I fret. I’ve been described by friends of mine as being as nervous as a cockroach. You see I do that, I’m very nervous, and yet there is no conciseness about me. Perhaps that’s the reason why I like don Juan. 18, 29 I like his touch, and I came to see him over and over for a period of a year. 18,35

And I had developed in, in, in this year this theme song, this slogan: every time I saw him I said ‘when are you going to teach me about peyote.’ And he laughed you know, discarded my question. 18,50 Until one day he took me up. And that was the beginning … of this strange thing, that was this apprenticeship. Apprenticeship … uh, to his knowledge, or I become an apprentice, not, not, not quite of, his apprentice actually, an apprenticeship to a system 19,13 … to a way of being. 19,18

And uh, after four years I withdrew from it because it was getting threatening.  Too uh, anguishing. And they, they, they … perhaps you know for ones who have read this book that I have written, Don Juan used three hallucinogenic plants in order to teach his knowledge. Now. He used the, the cactus, Lophorii williamsii, called peyote, Jimson weed, it’s one of the Datura plants and he used hallucinogenic mushrooms, one of the species, one of fourteen species of hallucinogenic mushrooms that grow in central Mexico, and belongs to the genus Psilocybe.20,06

Now. What the, what the … the reason for my withdrawal, as I see it today was very simple. We have a picture of the world that has been given to us through praxes of socialization. And then we have a preconception, already ingrained in us of what the world is like and we call that reality, the reality of everyday life. This is the world taken for granted, that we assume it’s there.

What’s more we assume that we could give ourselves consensus on the elements of that world from now to the day we die. 20,55  And I, like for instance, taking this to an extreme, I don’t need anybody any more to be a person, a social entity. I can be all by myself. And I have myself and the idea of the group, you, you’re absent, I’m all by myself in the universe, in the world. All I need is the idea of you & that serves as, that allegedly makes a group 21,22 Meaning, I could give myself consensus because I have already learned all of the consensuses that came from you the group at one time in my life, the praxes of socialization, my growing up. And at this time I’m an adult. I assume that I need nobody else to tell me what is real. 21,44

So the, the, the force of the world taken for granted … is, is, is tremendous. We never doubt that.  However on the very uh, precarious, time sometimes perhaps circumstances, very precarious circumstances, we get to doubt. And that is … a blast. What happened to me was precisely that. Don Juan had steered me, he had guided me to this edge. You know I mean he pushed me, you know I went all the way. 22,22 And I begun to doubt. I began to, let’s say, to lose the certainty that the world of everyday life is something I could account for. And that of course is madness. Not being sure of that, and before I lost my mind I thought I better quit! And I did, I withdrew from the apprenticeship uh uh voluntarily. And I never came to see don Juan any more. 22,55

Then after that I had time then to sit around and rehash my notes, 23,02 and ‘arrange’ them, in quotes. Because the arrangement is not mine. The arrangement is inherently, I presume it is, I wish it would be at least, the inherent order of some cognitive units which guided don Juan in order to present his system as a coherent unit. 23,24

And uh uh I I I saw don Juan later after I had .. I didn’t see him for nearly three years. And after the book was published I paid him a visit. Because I wanted to show him the book, because I told him I was going to write one. So, I, I went to central Mexico, I didn’t, I couldn’t, have a way to let him know that I was, or letting him know that I was coming to see him. 23,52 But I did … I found him.  And uh, he was in this town, in central Mexico. And I take the book, and I showed it to him, he looked at it, he liked it and everything, flipped the pages, and then I got a surge of pride and I said: I want you to have it. And don Juan says, I better not, you know what we do with paper in Mexico. (huge laughter) 24,14 And that was his opinion of the book. I thought it was great. I thought it was a lovely touch. (Laughter)

So ever since that time, you see I have a … felt you know that I have, that perhaps you know my fear of losing my mind was a little bit, little bit of an exaggeration. I mean that, of course under certain circumstances you know we would tend to exaggerate our importance dramatically and that was one of the occasions for me.  I felt you know that I was losing something terribly important, my mind. (laughter) And then I felt compelled to withdraw. 25,03

But later on, it was three years in between, I changed many of my views, so I have come back again you know to see Don Juan, to visit him, not to be in, not to participate in his apprenticeship, but rather to uh, to, to, to talk to him. But it’s very difficult to talk to a sorcerer, you see you’re playing with fire. So he hooked me again you know into, into following his, his way of being probably; I could say perhaps that what’s enticing about him, is that his view of the world is very exciting, it’s so new, it’s so, I feel that it is so much more functional, perhaps more rational than mine.

In, in, in the last time between, when I withdrew completely from the apprenticeship until the time that I went back to see him again, I grew a little tired of rehashing myself again. Because that’s what I’m condemned to do, if I’m left to my own devices. 26,16 I rehash my meaning over and over. And I come up with the same results.  I’m looking at myself, and I’m very boring. When it comes to that … terribly boring.  So I got tired you know, looking at me. 26,29 And perhaps that’s one of the very key factors at this point why I went back to see, to see Don Juan. 26,40

And he hooked me with an abstract, this time. The first time you know I, I, I had no idea of what he was doing. This time I went to him willingly, I have let him guide me … it’s interesting at this point, because he’s teaching me the difference between looking at the world, and seeing. 27,06 He makes the semantic difference between looking and seeing.

Now. His interest is, as I see it, in giving me a series of memories of: (colon) blank. Now when he says for instance that one, or that a sorcerer could turn into a crow, he’s giving me a unit of meaning – turning into a crow – for which I have no equivalent. And his teaching consists in forcing me to acquire, and I say to acquire, a series of memories, of turning into a crow, that is, to presuppose that at a given moment my brain is going to assemble other units and turn it into what in the phenomenological jargon we could call it a ‘gloss.’

An example: I say to you ‘tree’, and apparently I make sense. However if you ask me what I mean by a ‘tree’, I would spend the rest of my life trying to figure out what I mean by a ‘tree.’ In order to give you a series of historical facts about a tree, historical facts that I have learned as I grew up, I could give you the analogy of the trees I knew, the works, you name it.

But the assumption is that I have never apprehended the phenomena tree. It may be there but it looks that it isn’t here.. 28,56 because I am interpreting and I am interpreting the phenomena tree through a set of concise preordained mechanics, preordained units that I have learned, that I have been taught to perceive trees. And at this point my assumption is that I have never seen it. Perhaps I’ve seen trees, once, twice but I could tell you in all sincerity that I have never seen an elephant. Because when did I see an elephant when I was let’s say two years old, six months old. Never! 29,33

The gloss elephant has come to me fully formed. Now. through what processes I could say elephant, so that it makes sense? We really don’t know that. We are not even concerned with that yet in the social sciences. We’re just beginning to now. Like the gloss elephant to me is an addition. Not the gloss tree because it is obvious that I saw trees, when I was what … two days old, three days old, whatever. Before I learned the gloss tree, I have seen the gloss room, before it became a gloss. And my assumption is that at a certain time in my life I may have walked into a room, and even may have known the other room, but I didn’t know the total gloss room. It requires a series of memories of walls, chairs, floors, ceilings to complete the gloss. And what Don Juan is doing as I see it is giving me again the processes of glossing. He’s teaching me the mechanics of glossing. That’s the thesis that I wanted to throw out for feedback. 30,55

Now. My crucial point is this. In his effort to teach me to see, Don Juan says that seeing consists in training your eyes, of course through the use of hallucinogenic plants, the hallucinogenic [Martin: in the whole indigenous culture, there is no ‘gloss’ of “hallucinogenic” (as in English); rather it is a ‘spiritual experience’.] plants are alleged to give you the speed to apprehend quote ‘a fleeting world.’ Without that hallucinogenic plants you would degenerate, your body would deteriorate. You could do it, in the terminology of the, let’s say the quest of the American Indian, the quest for a vision, you could do that. Don Juan took me already for ten days to the desert over there. And in those ten days I was incapable of seeing anything I promise you. And you see it was just a horrendous experience. Because I was tired, fatigued. 31,51 And I’m weak, you see I don’t have the stamina of an Indian. So I think I collapsed after the second day. But the thing prolonged itself for ten days. And I found that I suffered tremendous loss, I lost weight, in the first place, losing of moisture in the tissues. It’s deleterious, to your health. 32,16

And Don Juan says that, on the other hand, when you use an hallucinogenic plant, you suffer no deterioration. And you have to know what you are looking for. Like to use an hallucinogenic plant for enlightenment, is absurd in Don Juan’s terms .. to use it for kicks, it’s a crime to yourself 32,39 because it does something to you, that is irreparable. 32,42 and he would never venture to anything like that, and I asked him, you know, what would be his feeling about taking LSD, if I have procured some for him to use, so he can watch and smell it, and he reacted in horror, he says it’s terrible, take it away. [Did this happen?] 32,59 See, he didn’t want anything to do with it, because he had no, no rationale for it. He didn’t have directions for it.

You see oOn the other hand with his plants he seems to have a very exact direction, exact procedure that he has commanded, where he feels at home, he feels safe. 33,19 So the aim of an hallucinogenic plant is essential in seeing, because it allows you the speed to apprehend the fleeting world. 33,28 But what it the ‘fleeting world’? What is he talking about? I say that he is talking about a process of reglossing. He’s teaching me to gloss the same way that my progenitors, and my fellow men taught me as a child the ordinary glosses, the, the, I suppose there is an infinite number of glosses, for like the gloss room, it’s either an infinite number 35,59 of concrete glosses that we use, or it is a pattern of glossing that we have learned, and then we apply it to everything we perceive. Either way. 34,10 But Don Juan, what he’s doing now, as I say, as a social scientist that is, I say that he’s teaching me to regloss. But he, alluding that one could see, he is alluding that it is possible to see an ultimate reality. And that of course we know, it can not be true. At least we as social scientists know that that is bunk. (laughter) That there is not an ultimate reality. And, I, I, I don’t know at this moment, uh, what will be the end result of all of it; all I can say is that I’m going to try to apprehend what he calls the ‘fleeting world’ and see that perhaps, or find out whether it is really is a process of re-glossing that, and I hope that I am sober enough to realize that it’s a process of re-glossing, or if there is a possibility of ‘seeing’, in quotes, or apprehending, an irreducible reality.

Uh, Ludwig Wiggenstein in his life (35,27) you know attempted to, to, to resolve the problem. And he found … I think, he talk about language, the trappings of natural language, and I think Wittgenstein’s dilemma 35,36 was that he arrived to an edge that it was an impasse. You have the phenomena there that you want to describe. Is the phenomena and the description, two things, or is the description part of the phenomena? 35,56 When as a social scientist, as an anthropologist, I’m going to study primitive cultures, what can you say about my descriptions, and my conclusions, about the primitive culture I’m trying to study. Is it part of the primitive culture? Or is it a phenomenon in itself? Wittgenstein never resolved the problem. He felt it was the trappings of language, he called it natural language as opposed to philosophical syntax. There was a time in which the idea was that perhaps we could develop a language which was exact, a language of philosophers. 36,36 And we would be able to agree without doubt about what we are talking about in terms of philosophizing. And that seems to be an impossibility. The question is that we use language, and the meaning of the language is arbitrary. 36,53 STOP

So we are filled with words in Wittgenstein’s terms. And there is nothing in here except vocalization. So is that all I am? Just words? Of course for Wittgenstein that’s all we are. Words, words, words, words. He saw no possibility of breaking, or flipping, through this barrier of natural language. However Don Juan – very strange, this is coming from the outside, you see, I, I we should tend to believe that only us as Europeans are capable of rational thought. We’re the only ones who think. The rest of them are just greasy Indians, you know, Nothing. But we have not considered them, seriously. And, it’s a very strange, uh, uh, development. 37.48

I have read – in fact you know I have finished this manuscript, of seeing, and I like to start it by quoting 37,59 the inquisitors, the Spanish inquisitors that came to the new world in 1572. And he wrote a fantastic treatise in how to exterminate idolatry. And he says that the American Indians they did proclaim to have powers to divine. 38,20 They had some diabolic scenes. They really succeeded in divining things, he said. It takes knowledge, in fact he cites three cases in which they really corroborated divination powers. 38,32 And then he concludes with a parenthetical statement, he says, however the Lord Jesus Christ is missing in this system and I must conclude that it is the work of the devil, and must be exterminated. And he throws it out of the window.

But, oddly enough, we do the same thing today. With our scientific methods, and the idea that trivial models equivalent to how many angels sit on the head of a pin, should be thrown out because they are meaningless. And then by some process unknown to me, we lump everything that is being done by non-Europeans in the realm of the trivial model, and out they go. 39,14

39,13 That’s what the American Indian have done. We don’t take it seriously, not really, it’s an abnormality. Not as serious as Kant. Not as serious as Cassirer or Wittgenstein. Never, never, And my proposition was that perhaps, maybe we should attempt to take them seriously. 39,34 Like what don Juan is posing to me as a man. You see, the crux of the matter is that I am a man who’s going to die. I can not avoid that. Therefore my very short period of consciousness, is terribly important to me. And as a man who’s going to die, this is what Don Juan is proposing to me, is monumental. Because perhaps he gives me the opportunity of breaking the barriers of natural language.

Don Juan, 40 10, I have been criticized, for this book that I have written, he says that its hardly believable that an Indian would speak that way. Perhaps it is me who concocted all this. I mean did he really say that? That is the question. And I, I say: he said that. It’s very simple, Don Juan deals with an area he calls seeing, an area of ambiguity from the standpoint of natural language. In that area of ambiguity there are no glosses that he could use, to describe or to analyze. If there are no glosses at his disposal, he has to make use of metaphor, therefore art, in order to convey meaning. 41,02 Therefore he speaks beautifully because he doesn’t know what else to do! with that area he calls, quote, ‘seeing’.

And maybe that’s, that is the crux of the matter, in terms of the trappings of natural language. Perhaps we arrive to an area for which we have no gloss, we’d be able to flip (sound of coin landing) the coin. Bypassing the impasse that supposedly had finished all the philosophers. Because they all arrive to the same vicious circle. Some of them are wise, quote, ‘wise’ enough to say, let’s just stop here. And let’s just consider our gains. And Santa Ana calls that; he says I know that what I am doing is right, because of animal fate. And that’s the end of it. But he doesn’t want to go beyond that because he knows that he will be again you know in a vicious circle, going around and around, without any solution. And I say that that extends on the fact that he, or all of us, we are rehashing  glosses that we know so very well. 42,13

Maybe its high time to ”see” quote, or to envision life from the point of view of an Indian culture that has given us the solutions which is non-European. Perhaps don Juan has given me a series of shamanistic glosses. Or maybe not. Maybe what he’s teaching me to do is “de-gloss”. So that’s the thesis that I wanted to propose to you for your examination. To see what you say about it.

Now you may ask me some questions. You have my mode of xxx voice.

Is that man don Juan a man living in Western or Indian culture? Xxx predominate in Mexico. But he’s able to function within that alien Indian culture. Now when you’ve gone down, you said that he teaches you to rehash glosses, or perhaps get you to a point where you don’t have to make glosses anymore (ya) and just have the experience. And you factor it as more exciting and perhaps more rational than your own. (Yes) Now did he teach you anything that in fact, you said that you went away from it, even though it was more exciting, and more actual than your own. Have you learned to experience things differently? ..

Yes, that’s a very xxx.  No, no, no, no. Oh no. (Would you like to?) Well I would like to. I would like to. But you see at a certain level the power of natural languages to solve is frozen . . (But if he knew better xxx than you did. )

But you see perhaps, maybe the trick is that he doesn’t have to contend with the richness of my world. My world is super-rich. I have the xxx of the scientific method to back me up. (laughter) In the back of my mind. Like I was saying some place, when I arrive to some place of, fatigue, a real fatigue, when my mage disintegrates barriers, like walls you know, what do I do, I become very religious. 44.34

But what for instance don Juan has shown me in a very pragmatic-dramatic way, this deity called Mescalito which inhabits the peyote button, or rather that you see through the element of imbibing it. I can even touch it! It’s alive like this blackboard to me. It should be proper to say that I am affiliated with it, because it happened yesterday, very recently. But no, whenever I am very tired, I become what I call a Jesus boy. I fall to my knees, and I become a dull as a Catholic! I confess my sins, the works, the works, its as strange as writing a song, this and this, when the reality is that I am a Jesus boy. (ha, ha, ha) That’s the thing. You see, I cannot break away from the trappings of natural language. Maybe an Indian has more facility than I do.

xxxx. Are you xxx to the Socratic method, where there are two actors xxxx reality xxx reality xxx? reality

No! No, no. I have not been in this relationship at all. 46.01

But xxx xxx ?

I refuse to see at this point any relationship, because I .. I’ve become when you start comparing, I lose tonality, and I become let’s say, a biased xxx xxx I use the knowledge, I’ve become a biased ….

Xxx xxx xxx to

I, I, I haven’t done what you are proposing there, I wouldn’t know how. It kind of attracted me.

Xxxx xxx prove xxx.

The only person who ever talked to me about natural language is Ludwig Wittgenstein. That’s what I like him. See that’s the reason why I b®ought it. Otherwise I wouldn’t xxxx. But he’s the only one who gave us a clue, the entity? Xxx. 46,57 Because otherwise I have to accept that my conclusions about my work are nuts. (They are) a powerful phenomena. They are xxx, they are truthful. 47,10 They could really give me, let’s say, the entry to understand the phenomena. But I haven’t done anything with my conclusions that really give me an entry to understand anything. I die at this point. 47,21 Yo estan escuchas  Xxx xxxx xxxx at this point thanks to Ludwig Wittgenstein I’m in a terrible mess. (audience laughter). 47,30

You’re concerned about the trappings of language, being vulnerable Xxx xxx almost xxx xxx almost the same as Western man? 47,40

Ya. Certainly. Certainly. I backed up today about this a lot. Don Juan, don Juan’s been telling me this for years. The idea that I have to lose importance. The importance of my self is infinitely xxx in my case, perhaps not in yours, in most things to whining. I whine like the devil. All my life I’ve being whining. Nothing is right. Everything is wrong.  I don’t know why with don Juan. (making crying boohoo sounds). Nothing is right! 48,10

This kind of mentality affects things that are not on the best terms for me. And I think that is very closely related to the idea that ego-centric involvement, that I’m involved with my importance; not totally in the sense xxx … Don Juan insists that’s the proper is to lose importance. 48,41 To lose your sense of importance. You know he claims to have lost completely his sense of importance about his teachings (feelings) ego. … And yet he is incapable of functioning in the world .. aware via another unit of meaning 48,59 that’s truly incomprehensible to me, and he attempts to explain it to me. He calls it controlled folly. And he says that the only was that we could be involved in the xxx is through the means of controlled folly. And he told me this in 1964. And I never never never seize upon the idea. Until now, now in 1969, only four or five months ago, I read my notes, my old notes, and I went back to ask him. I said, don Juan, what IS controlled folly? And he xxx back laughing, he grabs me. “I have been waiting for you to ask for so many years. And yet if you had never asked, it wouldn’t have mattered.” 49,46 If what this I pretend I act as though it is important and it matters. And yet I know it doesn’t really matter. That is controlled folly. 49,56

Give me the idea. Give me. The idea that he deliberately involved himself in an act,in an act truthfully, not in a phony way. The acting, one of the keys of the act it’s not that easy. I be walking. I involve myself in an act. If it doesn’t work to my satisfaction. Nice! 50,27 It’s like politics.

Did Don Juan have a xxx?

Yes, yes, yes.

And he xxx?

That’s the assumption, that’s the assumption.

Xxx contact xxx but there’s no xxx. Do you regard xxx as a thing that you yourself xxx or xxx suggest?

No, I xxx. I’ve been working with Don Juan many years now. All I have xxx as xxx, towards his methodology. By the time I learn codes to see, I would have the full-fledged method. Xxx I would have acquired all the mechanics of glossing as a shaman truly does. So we will make ourselves happy. Or perhaps, I’m in Anthropology now, perhaps I’m learning what he xxx. Don Juan xxx xxx xxx xxx reality. One could do it, as he suggests. Given that the xxx is self-evident. I I I don’t know, I don’t know the reason. 52,05

(1st woman) xxx Don Juan the Mescalito,was very fond of you and that one could use to see him. (Ya, ya.) And yet from what you said, I don’t feel that I have understood Mescalito that you are connecting and trying to understand the phenomena. Why do you think that Don Juan says that Mescalito likes you. 52,35

Well, I don’t know. Perhaps I begin going back to this idea xxx. I ask Don Juan, in order to understand this, I asked Don Juan if controlled folly means that the act is the act of an actor. He had no sincerity to do that. And he said, now that’s an act of acting that’s not sincere. And then I said, I told him, I said look that, when do you exercise this folly? And he says, all the time. And I said, with who. And he says, with everybody! I mean that’s really weird. Does that mean that you don’t care whether I live or die, whether I live or not. And he says: No, I don’t care. And that really struck me, you know like a, out of my wits because I, you know being a European xxx I have learned to move in order to be liked, or disliked. If somebody likes me personally I think it’s fine, I am gorgeous. But if somebody does not like me, oh, terrible. 53,41

You know, and I believe that don Juan liked me personally. Before I trusted him. And if I learned that he didn’t, really care, this horrendous loss xxx telling me, xxx xxx, no! And I said but why do you want to teach me then? 54,03 And he said, I don’t, I don’t care, it’s not my business. You were pointed out, to me, by this deity contained in peyote.  And he said, I don’t know his reason. 54.17  He must have some reasons for it. Therefore it’s none of the business of Don Juan. Don Juan’s business is to acknowledge this supernatural evidence and proceed according to his beliefs, you see it’s not from him. But, but, but it’s not, not even his will, it’s not his volition. And the reason why I I I’m not, let’s say, perhaps the trappings of the European, my European socialization, my Western manifestations xxx is so profound that there’s no way to break this 54,55 except intellectually.

Now if I knew that I would spend my life in a classroom teaching, and never went back in the desert, I could say anything I want. But you see after I talk to you, next week I’m going to see Don Juan. Imagine the massive discontinuity xxx, 55,14 the commitment, the action xxx of life. 55,17 And I don’t see, I’m incapacitated to construct anything on my own. And if I don’t understand, if I’m not, if I have no affinity to the deities he’s talking about, I better say that I have no affinity to them because it is something that is very unnatural for me. 55.39 Maybe I didn’t answer the question … Yes. 55,42

Do they … is a sort of spirit happening, like maybe what’s interesting to . … but they do happen. (Yes.) … in the whole world, that would have a unity… 56,15

No, you know, maybe you could find if there’s an attempt to an explanation, in the mythology of the Siberian, where shamanism comes from, allegedly the total syndrome, or something like this. 56,35 Before he becomes a shaman they say you know a shaman goes to another world, after becoming a shaman, and finds a spirit-healer … eats the flesh out of his bone. 56,49 One way of cleaning the place  … man. What would … mean? What would happen to a sorcerer who is accused of rob a legion? If he learns to construct a legion. He becomes a de-humanizer. No longer a human being because of that … no longer a person. 57,22 that are important to us. 57,32 You are aligned to meaning. Otherwise you couldn’t (dis?) function. Xxx However Don Juan has no allegiance to meaning. He does have an allegiance to a super aura.… , but we don’t know that. I think that I know, my judgment would be that his allegiance is to a super-aura, to a shamanistic super-aura. 57,57 That, the problem xxx in that for me, is that he says, that’s not so. That he has no allegiance, that nothing is more important than anything else. 58,10

He said nothing is more important .. I said, when he said that, do you mean that everything is worthless?  Go back to my cognitive deduction. Supposedly important is having equal import; not in that order! He says: No, I didn’t mean words. I’m important. I’m important because we’re equal. That’s only through the auspices of controlled folly, because it has to have a reduction. 58,45

That’s the … that’s a beautiful thing. But I have not really understood what he meant? I I I rendered as exact as possible what he said, in hope that he could come up with some … 59,00

59,02 (brief, quick question from man: xxx)

Perhaps he has! (laughter) Well I have, I was described by this astrologer as a, as a or course, xxx xxx weak (59,13), I’m a Capricorn. Capricorn’s are mensche weak (effete) xxx, weak men and strong women. (laughter from audience)

59,25 … I’d have to say xxx controlled folly now?

No! And this is, of course he had a xxx 59,31

59,36 You already said that. I understand that. Controlled folly

No, no, no. 59,39 I really don’t understand how one actually does this; intellectually of course I understand what you do. I understand what don Juan’s is saying. 59,50 He’s verbalizing something that is unique. However let me proceed then, and embark myself on xxx point. 59,59 xxx fell flat on my face. Because I can not rob importance 1,00,04 I am passionately involved.

(is that xxx xxx?)

I, I, constantly

(man) To tell the truth that I allow society xxx  – I or xx – xxx

Maybe I didn’t explain it correctly. 1,00,38 For me to know something means that I could teach that xxx knowledge. 1,00,51 If I want to proceed exercising controlled folly, I couldn’t even go to the corner. I xxx immediately xxx. I can not even conceive, you see that xxx there is one instant in which I do not find the instance meaningful. That’s what I meant to say.

(very unclear man question)

1,01,38 I xxx don Juan has already accomplished a system, that allows him to choose, literally. I have no idea what drives don Juan to make a choice. 1,01,51 I know that his ground is that he want to take a path with heart. And whatever is that. Whatever the choice is, it has to be a path with heart. Meaning that in a total sense what is amenable to us 1,02,07 in a synthesis with which you could identify without xxx to himself. And then he follows it; because it is something that is xxx anyway. Yes, yes, yes.

(man)(audience interaction, laughter) … what it means to our spirit … why is it that that constructed reality …)

Well that, that, I can’t understand that, you know, 01,03,15. I have really learned to understand the world in the specific terms. And whenever you decide a new xxx affecting the accountability for the xxx reality, you are mad. 01,03,34 That’s what I’ve been told. And I have to xxx exactly ….

(man in audience: xxx)

Well I don’t know how, don’t know … do you mean to say that perhaps we could fill up an arbitrary rationale? (xxx there is a reality …)  Yes, it’s madness. From a strict .. (one leg..) That’s the only leg I have … (bla bla bla) Intellectually I could. Emotionally I’m still xxx. Yes.

(Invitation wise, … great when you started out with your hypotheses and with your methods, with your glosses intact  … your intent. And if you go out to the field with these methods to gain data to fulfill the hypothesis that you had foreplanned. And you find in several of them that you are not accepted by the culture or person that you are dealing with as fact. But what your attempting to do is to sink into it the world view. Now what happened. Now what would happen if you could see & could utterly see into this other alien world 01,04,48 to your model. So that you’d be able to see the xxx  – Well, you see, – xxx translate a bare facsimile of what he’s trying to say).

01,05,04 Perhaps, perhaps if you want to be truly scientific, you could think of this possibility. 01,05,10 Or actually you could map the system of glossing which is proper for us the Europeans. 1,5,19 And then the system of glosses would map the other culture we’re studying. And we could see where they overlap. Maybe that is the only thing that could be accessed is that overlap. Cause I go already with my preconceptions. The prejudgment about the world is set for me. My glosses are there. And I’m going to go and judge the glosses of people alien to me through my own glosses? That’s absurdity.

You end up with two sets of glosses.

Perhaps if you could map them, you could overlap them perhaps, somehow. 1,5,54 Maybe there is a way of overlapping them. The code of the overlap is the only thing that could be acceptable. That’s it, that’s the proposition, you see, the xxx of .. of deciding, at least for me, of deciding alternatives from anthropology. Yes.

Are there speculations  …..

Ha, ha, ha. Maybe because I’m short and dumb? 1,6,26 (laughter) I don’t know. Yes.

I haven’t read your book. (You haven’t! (laughter)) What it says about. I don’t know about a teacher that xx. But I would like to ask a question about xx. … and he is a man who knows about your way, isn’t he? You seem attracted to this man’s knowledge. (Oh yes, yes.) And he seems xx Yaqui xx America and other places, because you never know if he knows enough …

No, no, no. I am a European. I’m not interested in assessing how he looks.

As a human being, maybe you’d like him to be President of Mexico, or America.

No. Or President of the world! (laughter). No. 1,7,36

What would happen if he left? How long does he last?

I wouldn’t want that. (laughter) However Don Juan says 1,7,54 that you know, he says that his life is an exercise in strategy, as a false man who can exercise his meaning. I don’t xx. I don’t plan my life in strategical terms. That why I get clobbered every time by the world. I haven’t even gotten my Ph.D.! 1,8,18 I doubt if I’ll get one. Xx complete.

Seriously, in the sense of not really setting up my world in strategic terms. 01,08,29 For Don Juan that’s unthinkable. Don Juan would . he would attack the problem of disseminating his knowledge, quote. He would tackle it from the point of view of a strategy. Not a saint. Not a philosopher. Just a strategy (from the start?). I ask him once, you who live so strategically, what would happen to you if somebody is waiting for you with a powerful rifle, with a telescopic sight, you see, ready to ambush you. You have no chance. And he said: I won’t come around (pronounced amusingly). (laughter). 1,9,2 Well that was it, you see. And he gave me a very exciting unit of meaning. Not to be accessible. Think about that. Because I am accessible. … stick my neck in chocolate. Well, that’s what we do, we stand in the way, we act to get clobbered. Don Juan is not accessible. Not to be on the road, the Spanish translation. You know … not to place yourself on the road. 01,09,37 So I suppose that he would not go … I don’t think that he would tackle being the President of Mexico. Because that (would not allow him) to live in a strategic matter.

Is that because 01,09,52

You are telling me what I know. 1,10,8 You’re telling me the European rationale. You see, that’s what I know of the European you’re asking the same thing. I think Don Juan does something entirely different. Why I can see I’m probably holding you back here. Seems like, don’t resent me because …. I haven’t anything to do. (laughter) If you want to leave, I mean please. If you want to stay, you can ask me, I’m yours. So … 1,10,42

(woman questioning)(He would like to teach what?) Why would he want to teach?

What? I don’t think he would want to. In my case it was something fortuitous. It’s a very … it’s a lucky chance. And I don’t think he would take it up.

(man) You said you talked to him about LSD, did you have a dialogue about any other hallucinogenic substance?

No, no, no. He doesn’t know any hallucinogenic … no, no, no he doesn’t know marijuana either.

Is it correct to say that you were trying to analyze the cognitive process, with the cognitive process? Ya, impossible. (more)Did Don Juan xxx or was it the Yaquis.


No, no. He doesn’t try to analyze as a theory. He’s not trying to analyze what he has experienced. He was simply, I think I, like I said, he has no natural language to cover it. So he remains with the phenomena for himself. (DJ say that it was possible…?) No, no, no. That’s my problem. Literally mine. I wouldn’t know how to stop. That’s my problem. (stopping the internal talk, stopping the world, I think) 1,12,17

How long did you take … arrive at the teaching using your own cognitive structure l ..l.

I suppose, I suppose. That’s would be a good … I don’t know. Yes, yes.

(… other Yaqui friends running around)(other people like Don Juan)


Ya, I am with him. I am with a Mazatec shaman. I know the Yaqui shaman, the man who has only one arm 1,12,55 And then I know now a Mazatec, in the central area of Mexico, who is even better than don Juan. He’s more knowledgeable. He is quote of “a higher order.” And he may very well be. He’s a very astounding man. He’s sixty-five years old. 1,13,16

(Do they ever get together? Is there any order, structure?))

Ya, they do get together. They all have meetings, all those peyote, those people who attend the peyote meetings are all shamans.

We’d like to thank you Mr. Castaneda xxx. Thank you. 1,13,46