SEEING CASTANEDA: Reactions to the ""Don Juan"" Writings of Carlos Castaneda by Daniel C.--Ed. Noel

SEEING CASTANEDA: Reactions to the ""Don Juan"" Writings of Carlos Castaneda

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This collection Of reviews, essays, interviews and debates on the Don Juan tetralogy--most previously printed, but with new and thoughtful introductions by the editor--is an enterprise doomed from the outset to an intrinsic futility, but one which offers a signature to our culture at its current crossroads. The intellect yearns apprehensively for its annihilation in the arms of the Unconscious--and these writers on Castaneda reenact one after another the logical absurdity of trying to use reason to sanction the step beyond reason, to think about the literally unthinkable. As a result virtually nothing interesting is said about the Don Juan books themselves, though the three difficult essays that. close the volume compare the old sage of the sagebrush to Jesus, the Buddha, and Wittgenstein. On the other hand, here are anthropologists, novelists, critics, political scientists and philosophers all testifying to what Castaneda's books represent: the readiness of Western culture to abandon its ethnocentric pride, its rational categories and its subject-object dichotomy and to recognize that personal perception itself shapes the world. Well, the almost readiness--since most of these writers (excepting a few cranky holdouts for rationalism) have one foot on each shore, a dilemma editor Noel usefully, characterizes as ""post-modern."" Hence the obsession, proclaimed irrelevant yet guiltily indulged, with whether the books are fact or fiction (unresolved). In an interview, Castaneda himself refreshingly comes in on the other side, restoring reason's balance to our heartsick passion for a numen he knows all too well.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1975
Publisher: Putnam