Known for his surrealist films, his unique approach to tarot, his symbolic comics, and his shamanic therapeutic method of psychomagic, Alejandro Jodorowsky has accomplished an extraordinary amount in his more than 80 years. In this book, we get an intimate look into the inner workings of the cult figure of Jodo. What is revealed is a man who has evolved since his groundbreaking films of the 1970s, El Topo and The Holy Mountain, a man who has grown from a sacred trickster, a shaman of psychomagic, into a brilliant spiritual maverick of the 21st century. We get to see Jodo's own reflections on his remarkable life, including the initiatory failure of the Dune film project, which combined the talents of a multitude of creative greats, including Moebius, Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, and H. R. Giger. We learn about Jodo's years with Marcel Marceau and with great masters such as Ejo Takata, whose Zen training featured strenuous physical and mental ordeals; the sorceress Pachita, who performed psychic surgery on Jodo; and the mysterious Carlos Castaneda. From sacred trickery to the path of kindness, Jodo's radical wisdom discerns the timeless within the immediate and gauges the everyday by the measure of eternity.
It was many years ago that I first viewed Alejandro Jodorowsky with admiration, tinged with fear . . .
I must have been seventeen years old when a substantial article in Rock and Folk made me aware of the existence on this planet of a madman determined to put the world of Frank Herbert’s initiatory novel Dune onto film.
I was seventeen, then, and aching to rediscover the trail of some Far West of my consciousness, leading in some direction in which I could go adventuring, filled with the confusing forces of adolescence. And here was Alejandro Jodorowsky, revealing himself as a dancer of the frontier, a cosmic clown shaped by immemorial wisdom and futuristic imagination.
At first what I admired in him was the multi-voiced creator, the panic-instigator, the burlesque sorcerer, the picaresque character traveling through the shimmering network of traditions and forms of expression, gathering beams of light and mixing them in his cauldron in order to concoct an elixir of awakening, of which we were allowed a few sips.
I wandered into an art/experimental cinema where El Topo and The Holy Mountain were playing. This Jodorowsky was manifestly not a stunted intellectual, but a heroic figure. I became determined to meet him and gave him a prominent place in the midst of my little personal pantheon.
In matters of human contact, haste is a bad guide; therefore I did not seek to bring about the meeting, convinced that it would occur on its own.
And behold, at the beginning of 1989, propitious for so many revolutions, Marc de Smedt asked me to find this man for the magazine Nouvelles Clés, in order to pick his brain regarding his interactions in Mexico with Carlos Castaneda, another heroic figure surrounded by his own smoky halo.
Telling myself that these two sorcerers must have had an understanding between them, I picked up the telephone and found myself listening to a melodious voice that told me to come to Vincennes immediately if I wanted a chance to conduct my interview. “You see, I leave tomorrow. I take the airplane at two o’clock in the afternoon . . .”
“Could we not meet in the morning?”
“No, tonight I have my lecture, then I have dinner with my family, and I go to bed at four in the morning. Tomorrow, I sleep until eleven and I take the airplane. So you must come now.”
Understanding that this devil of a man was not one of those people who live riveted to a schedule, and that with him it was best to act on the spur of the moment, I hung up the phone and caught a taxi for Vincennes where Jodorowsky lived with his family.
The First Interview
Alejandro, you seem to me such an extraordinary person, one of those characters who are found in adventure stories. You are a filmmaker, a theater person, a master of the tarot, a novelist, but you escape all these labels to travel further, into a space where the fantastic pervades the everyday. . . . If I am not mistaken, you are sixty years old today?
Sixty years exactly! At sixty years of age, Alejandro Jodorowsky, who are you?
Bueno . . . . That question is both very simple and very complicated. In general one regards oneself from a fixed point at which one has decided to stay. But one may look at oneself in, so to speak, a prehistoric manner, trying to see who one was before birth. . . . One may judge oneself from the point of view of a dinosaur, a river, a tree, or the magma that one once was. One may judge oneself from the point of view of the creator. One may also consider what one will be after death. . . . One may see oneself at a thousand years old, ten thousand years. . . . One may see oneself with the characteristics of an eternal being. As for me, see myself as an eternal being. I have surpassed death, and I see myself as the collective being that I will be, belonging to universal life. That is how I judge myself, which comes down to saying, that I do not judge myself! I love myself! I have a great love for myself. Not a narcissistic love: I have a great love for myself as a divine being. I feel continually amazed when looking at this life that I am, in the present moment, here and now. I am amazed by this splendid illusion. Therefore, in fact, I have no age. . . . But I do not have any name either: that is the truth. In fact, I am not a human being, but a particle, a fragment of totality. You understand this is a question of point of view. Everything depends on where I place myself. You tell me I am sixty years old, but who is sixty years old? The universe is not sixty years old; it is millions of years old. My age can be an instant, or sometimes a million years. I speak sincerely. I know that all this may appear as a sort of madness, but when one works on oneself, when one pushes back one’s mental limits, one ends up feeling these things. Of course, there is a clown in me: this clown is sixty years old. He is a poet, an acrobat of life. I love him very much and feel a great deal of compassion for him. I also feel compassion for my body. I feel like a prince dressed as a toad. I see myself get wrinkles and grow fat. It is a phenomenon that I watch happening as if I were looking at a landscape. I believe that I will view my death in the same fashion, as a marvelous natural phenomenon.
Alejandro Jodorowsky is a playwright, filmmaker, composer, mime, psychotherapist, and author of many books on spirituality and tarot, and over thirty comic books and graphic novels. He has directed several films, including The Rainbow Thief and the cult classics El Topo and The Holy Mountain. He lives in France. In 2019, Alejandro Jodorowsky was cited as one of the "100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in the World" according to Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine.
“In this collection of interviews spanning 15 years, readers are confronted not just by Jodorowsky and the many hats he has worn, but by a man that is perhaps most defined by his dedication to the "path of goodness." Farcet includes a number of interviews with people whose lives have been profoundly affected by him. Perhaps interest in this book will begin with cinephiles, but it would be unfortunate if it did not find a much wider audience.”
– Publishers Weekly, February 2016
“No one alive today, anywhere, has been able to demonstrate the sheer possibilities of artistic invention--and in so many disciplines--as powerfully as Alejandro Jodorowsky.”
– NPR Books
“Alejandro Jodorowsky is a demiurge and an interpreter of our stories, always exploring further the understanding of both the beauty and complexity revealed by humankind.”
– Diana Widmaier Picasso, art historian
“Jodorowsky is a brilliant, wise, gentle, and cunning wizard with tremendous depth of imagination and crystalline insight into the human condition.”
– Daniel Pinchbeck, author of Breaking Open the Head
“Alejandro Jodorowsky seamlessly and effortlessly weaves together the worlds of art, the confined social structure, and things we can only touch with an open heart and mind.”
– Erykah Badu, artist and alchemist
“One of the most inspiring artists of our time. . . . A prophet of creativity.”
– Kanye West, recording artist
“The Dance of Reality begs to be read as a culminating work. . . .”
– Los Angeles Times
“The Dance of Reality [film] is a trippy but big-hearted reimagining of the young Alejandro’s unhappy childhood in a Chilean town. . . .”
– New York Times Magazine
“Manual of Psychomagic is great . . . like a cookbook of very useful recipes that can help us to understand our life and the universe we live in.”
– Marina AbramoviÄ?, performance artist
“His films El Topo and The Holy Mountain were trippy, perverse, and blasphemous.”
– Wall Street Journal
“The best movie director ever!”
– Marilyn Manson, musician, actor, and multimedia artist
“…Jodorowsky reveals how intentionally practicing small acts of generosity and goodness can have a profound effect on your spirit, infusing life with a wealth of happiness. Jodo’s radical wisdom discerns the timeless within the immediate and gauges the everyday by the measure of eternity.”
– Common Ground, Sarah Cirillo, May 2016
“Sacred Trickery and the Way of Kindness is a fascinating and frustrating view into the life and self-presentation of a curious figure. Fans of Alejandro Jodorowsky will undoubtedly find it enjoyable…”