Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Fri Aug 26, 2016 9:52 pm

<< Week of August 26, 2016 >>
Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
26 Day Month

27 Day Month

28 Day Month

29 Day Month

30 Day Month

31 Day Month

1 Day Month





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Don Juan Matus and Don Quixote - Messianic Hoax in Castaneda and Cervantes 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 4969
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1614
Thanked: 1616 times in 1221 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Don Juan Matus and Don Quixote - Messianic Hoax in Castaneda and Cervantes
We all want to be saved. Okay, many of us don’t care. Those of us who wish to be saved also often wish to know what salvation means. Some with a passing interest in the meaning of salvation also often want to know how we may possibly obtain salvation, and may even have an interest in who is the real messiah.

This desire for ultimate answers is a central problem of human psychology. It keeps shamans and tricksters in business, peddling the snake oil of hoax and fakery to gullible suckers. The art of the messianic hoax, explaining once for all the true path of eternal life, is a central standby in world literature, based on the observation that nothing improves the credibility of fiction like claiming it is fact.

Those of a scientific rational mindset often consider that modern physics has largely solved the secret mystery of the universe. Methodical observation and analysis continually expands the frontier of our knowledge of truth, with science providing the basis of progress. Anything else, including all metaphysical speculation about salvation, looks very much like huckstery against the real achievements of materialist science.

Yet, so many people yearn for something more. The Bible tells us that God’s only begotten Son was made flesh and that believing in him provides eternal life. Miguel de Cervantes picks up this yearning for an enchanted world of eternal life with his masterpiece Don Quixote. Cervantes spins an enchanting tale of how our imagination can reach so much further than our observation if we cut loose from moorings in reality. Don Quixote is a moral parable of why we should not believe fanciful tales, however confidently they may be told. Cervantes establishes his lesson by mocking the beguiling confidence of the hoaxters who passed off their romances of chivalry as historically true. If these charlatans are so unreliable, what does that say about all the other claims that people believe on equally flimsy evidence?

We may be tempted to see tales of chivalry as just light entertainment. Cervantes says there is something more, because the old stories of knights in shining armour reflect a coherent narrative vision of the world, an underlying mythology. Their stories tell of who is good and who is bad, what to do and what to avoid. They establish a mythic theory of value. But the values of chivalry are an unreliable guide to life. The mockery of the medieval value system in Don Quixote was an early indication of an emerging modern rational worldview that culminated in the scientific enlightenment with David Hume’s condemnation of ‘monkish virtues’ and Immanuel Kant’s covert secular atheism, framed by the moral law within and the starry heavens above. Kant, the all-destroyer, completed the mission of disenchantment started by Cervantes. The determination of Descartes to only believe clear and distinct ideas provided a parallel in philosophy to the sceptical narrative that Cervantes had pioneered in literature.

I must here confess a guilty secret. I have a sentimental fondness for the idea of the mythic enchantment of the world. Further, for me this sense of enchantment is expressed most vividly in the philosophical system articulated by Carlos Castaneda, author of the The Teachings of Don Juan and numerous subsequent books. Since I was given a dog-eared copy of Castaneda’s Tales of Power in 1982 - by Leif Christiansen, a German hippy visiting my home town Sydney, living in my girlfriend Sue’s terrace house at 100 Wigram Road in Glebe, - I have avidly devoured every book by Castaneda that I could lay my hands on. The consistency and beauty of the cosmology of the nagual somehow sucked me in from the start. This moral universe, described with such compelling elegance, provided a separate reality for me, and for millions of other readers. Carlos’s explanation of the lost secret wisdom of indigeneity seemed to establish a philosophy that could rival the heartless path of science and logic.

Last week I bought a book called The Don Juan Papers – Further Castaneda Controversies, by Richard de Mille. This collection of essays is devoted to the argument that Castaneda is a fraud, that Don Juan is a fabulous concoction dreamt up in the UCLA library, that the claims are just a fictional confection of European philosophy, eastern mysticism and native American mythology, designed more to be plausible than to be true. Despite this condemnation of the books as a farrago of lies, de Mille observes that to Castaneda’s credit as a shaman, he stuck consistently to his story until his death. Measured by scientific criteria, the stories of Don Juan seem totally incredible, and UCLA looks like gullible dupes for giving Castaneda his doctorate in anthropology based on a work of fiction. By social standards, Castaneda displays an evangelical confidence to rival Billy Graham.

It is interesting here how easily the will to believe can overcome reason when ideas are packaged to respond to our desires. For me, with a romantic interest in indigenous spirituality and alternative philosophy, Castaneda seemed entirely credible, despite the suspension of disbelief required to follow the fantastic events he relates. In the jargon, his ontology of the tonal and the nagual seemed to reinforce the phenomenological critique of linear analytical reason, explaining the error of disenchantment. I am still interested to return at some point to a comparison between Castaneda’s magical ideas and Martin Heidegger’s theme of nothing as a problem for reason.

De Mille says that as a shaman, Castaneda has an ambivalent moral standing. His brilliance in getting away with systematic deception may be justified in some way by the moral content of his ideas, which he could certainly not have conveyed to such wide popular acclaim without the device of the narrative of Don Juan as a plausible story. The question of the moral content is separate from the morality of packaging them in a format designed to convey them to as wide an audience as possible.

A similar argument can be applied to the New Testament, whose authors avow that their sole purpose is to get readers to believe them. There is no evidence that the Evangelists wrote the books to provide an accurate historical story, as is often assumed. In fact, it appears that like Castaneda, the Evangelists were motivated more by credibility than by accuracy, given the complete absence of any evidence for the historical existence of Jesus Christ. Like Castaneda’s successful deception, the Gospels may well have perpetrated a successful messianic hoax. It seems the shamanic authors of the Gospels accomplished an impeccable feat in presenting a tale that billions of people would accept as credible over thousands of years. Their sandwich method, locating wise moral teachings within a believable narrative, seems just as morally ambiguous as Castaneda’s Yaqui sorcerer Don Juan Matus, whose teachings of impeccability present a similarly coherent morality.

Jesus and Don Juan are both a bit like Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a messianic figure who preaches a salvation derived, in his case, from following the dream of knight errantry. Although Cervantes bores his readers with his repetitive statements that his tale is completely historically true in all respects, as do the acolytes of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Carlos, Cervantes provides a modern ironic narrative twist, in his obvious confession that he has made it all up as fiction.

The spirit of modernity involves the refusal to accept ideas on face value. Scepticism makes the mainstream of modern culture largely impervious to messianic hoaxters, especially since the Germans fell for Hitler. But it leaves me wondering, this sceptical, even cynical, sense of disenchantment leaves us without any vision of ultimate purpose and meaning and belonging in the universe. Is there a risk that our postmodern ironic detachment is missing something essential? Is salvation really just so last millennium?



Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:07 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Brilliant

Bronze Contributor 2

Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 674
Thanks: 17
Thanked: 20 times in 15 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Canada (ca)

Post Re: Don Juan Matus and Don Quixote - Messianic Hoax in Castaneda and Cervantes
Interesting I always identified Jesus with the Zarathustra figure. Showing that the rest of use are and will remain hopelessly mundane, utterly human.

Could Quixote be considered more than human?



Sun Jun 27, 2010 3:15 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 5526
Location: Berryville, Virginia
Thanks: 1380
Thanked: 1386 times in 1083 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Don Juan Matus and Don Quixote - Messianic Hoax in Castaneda and Cervantes
Robert Tulip wrote:
Although Cervantes bores his readers with his repetitive statements that his tale is completely historically true in all respects, as do the acolytes of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Carlos, Cervantes provides a modern ironic narrative twist, in his obvious confession that he has made it all up as fiction.

The literary explanation for Cervantes' narrator making these droll remarks about the absolute truthfulness of Cide Hamete Bengeli's manuscript is simple. Cervantes is aware that he's employed a device that is implausible: the Moorish author would have had to stick to both Don and Sancho like glue to know the things he tells of. I believe Cide even does a certain amount of omniscient narrating. It is this self-consciousness that prompts Cervantes to have his narrator say at several points that, in effect, he realizes that Cide had to be making stuff up. The narrative conventions that later came to be accepted in fiction were still under development in Cervantes' time.

Quote:
de Mille observes that to Castaneda’s credit as a shaman, he stuck consistently to his story until his death.

Are you sure about this, Robert? I have a memory of reading an interview with Castenada in which he proclaims, "Man, I am such a bullshitter!"


_________________
No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Last edited by DWill on Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:06 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 4969
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1614
Thanked: 1616 times in 1221 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Don Juan Matus and Don Quixote - Messianic Hoax in Castaneda and Cervantes
DWill wrote:
interview with Castenada in which he proclaims, "Man, I am such a bullshitter!"


http://www.nagualism.com/carlos-castane ... rview.html

Quote:
enigma wrapped in mystery wrapped in a tortilla



Sun Jun 27, 2010 11:59 pm
Profile Email WWW
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Links 
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Info for Authors & Publishers
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!
IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

Featured Books

Books by New Authors


*

FACTS is a select group of active BookTalk.org members passionate about promoting Freethought, Atheism, Critical Thinking and Science.

Apply to join FACTS
See who else is in FACTS







BookTalk.org is a free book discussion group or online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a group. We host live author chats where booktalk members can interact with and interview authors. We give away free books to our members in book giveaway contests. Our booktalks are open to everybody who enjoys talking about books. Our book forums include book reviews, author interviews and book resources for readers and book lovers. Discussing books is our passion. We're a literature forum, or reading forum. Register a free book club account today! Suggest nonfiction and fiction books. Authors and publishers are welcome to advertise their books or ask for an author chat or author interview.



Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2016. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank