THE ART OF DREAMING by Carlos Castañeda


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 The eighth--and one hopes the last--book about Castaneda's apprenticeship with the Yaqui Indian sorcerer Don Juan Matus. By now, Castaneda's bestselling engine is running on empty, at least to judge by this lackluster entry, which adds fuel to the argument that the Don Juan books are fiction and that their author has passed his creative prime. Gone is the vivid sense of wonder as Don Juan escorts Castaneda into a new world of mystery and magic; gone the crisp presentation of esoteric ideas; gone the crackling tension between teacher and student. What remains is a token representation of Don Juan, guffawing at Castaneda or smacking him on the back, and a cloud of confused teachings about the world of dreams. Taking control of one's dreams, says Don Juan, is the key to a sorcerer's power. But what kind of sorcerer? Don Juan makes a distinction between the ancients, who manipulated the world for personal power, and moderns--such as himself--who ``search for freedom.'' Castaneda must thread his way between these two opposing camps, balancing his thirst for truth and his personal ambition. In so doing, he passes through three ``gates of dreaming'': becoming aware of falling asleep; waking from one dream into another; seeing yourself asleep. Castaneda barges through these portals in his typically bumbling fashion, all the while communicating with--and being used by--``inorganic beings'' that look like thin tree trunks and give the sorcerers their secret knowledge. His journey ends with a perilous confrontation with a ``death defier,'' a Methuselah-like male sorcerer in the guise of a woman. Castaneda is rescued from this and other dangerous encounters by his fellow apprentice, the beautiful Carol Tiggs, who at book's close vanishes into the world of dreaming. Will Castaneda rescue her in the next volume, playing Orpheus to her Eurydice? Tune in, if you care. The Art of Dozing is more like it.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-017051-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1993