Journey to Ixtlan

Many readers of Carlos Castaneda stop reading after A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Some read on to A Separate Reality. As I’ve stated before, Castaneda admits later on that his compulsive obsession on non ordinary reality as produced by hallucinogenic plants was the wrong area to fixate, and in Journey to Ixtlan, he recapitulates on many of the notes previously discarded.

It is in this wonderful story that Carlos introduces many concepts, or rather elucidates on many concepts, which Don Juan had introduced since their initial encounter; not-doing, stopping the world, living as a warrior, and dreaming.

What baffles me the most is that skeptics-and I was one-fixate on the impossibility of the story without so much as trying any of the prescribed techniques.

I remember being a small child. When I went to my grandparents’ house, I used to spend countless hours just lying on the couch staring at the popcorn ceiling. After a while, the ceiling appeared to invert and the little pieces of stucco, or whatever, seemed to be holes rather than protuberances. When I did that, all my regular thoughts slowly subsided until I had none whatsoever…that was my not-doing, and I think we forget those kinds of incidents. Furthermore, we obsess over the information that we only use some 10% of our brains and ask ourselves what can we accomplish if we focus the totality of ourselves on only one thought? Well…that is what stopping the world entails; shutting off our constant description of the world as reiterated by all those around us for just long enough to focus on nothing at all…or to focus ourselves on just one thing.

Yes, I think the teachings are real. No, I don’t think they apply to all of us in particular. We are all so very different and unique, that nothing is truly the same for any us. If you have not read any of these books, you may want to consider doing so. If you have read them and think they are phony, you may want to consider quieting your mind tonight when you lay down in bed, and try to find your hands in your dreams. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you can accomplish.

Here’s another on of those little exchanges that pleases me to no end:

“What’s the use of having beautifully polished crystals if you never find the spirit giver of power?” he said. “On the other hand, if you don’t have the crystals but do find the spirit you may put anything in his way to be touched. You could put your dicks in the way if you can’t find anything else.”

The whole story is replete with power, emotion, revelations, and touched lightly with such grace and humor that it is just so pleasant to read over and over again. I also like Juan’s counterpart, Genaro. His antics and personality are so like myself that I cannot help but love the character. In later books, Juan describes that there are only so many kinds of men, and that Genaro is a man of action. This doesn’t mean much to those who have not read any of the books, and it doesn’t mean much to those who only give the stories a cursory read, but I promise you, if you find your path with heart, you will see plainly that it doesn’t matter how much of the story is real; the people’s names, the area in question (both of which Carlos admits were made up in an effort to follow Juan’s instructions), the point is that many of us are plain dormant. You can keep doing everything you do. Maybe you’re happy, maybe you’re not, but why not try something new and see if the universe can’t show you something unknown?

Thanks for reading.

Create

Life isn’t about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

Only a writer can be recipient to lines like that…

I think all of us-writers-whether poets, novelists, play wrights, etc., have a bit of a deeper feel for the universe.

You can call it God, or spirituality, or sliced peaches for all I care, but writers tend to be tuned in to some vibratory force from sights unseen, and it spills into our works.

You see it when a hero reaches in to find some aspect of himself he did not think he possessed, or when a villain is exceptionally evil, or even when cold winds blow over tall grasses forcing them to sway as though dancing to an aria of despondency.

We-the fiction writers-set off to create something from nothing, and yet that nothing is actually something just outside the scope of tangible. Our craft, if we’re good at it, is to relay that something intangible to our audience.

Sometimes it’s humorous, other times it’s horrifying, or elating, valiant, etc. Regardless, we want our readers to feel what we feel, and we feel deeply.

Give every writer a chance. Leave preconceived notions at the door, and if we don’t blow you away within the first few pages, know that we tried.

Thank you.

Truth in the tale

Ever read a story and thought, “Man, what is this, a how to manual?”

Conversely, ever read one and thought, “Holy cow, that is not how that works!”

So, how much research is too much?

From a scifi perspective, I try to incorporate as much reality in my biology, environmental procedures, and technology; I mean, spaceships need some kind of fuel, right?

Is it better to use an endless supply of 100% energy output ElementX, or is it better to utilize zero-grav propulsion and provide a slight description of how it works?

Maybe a combination of the two is best, and my suggestion is if a long description is absolutely pertinent, put in dialogue. Make it fun, not a study guide.

Not everything is scifi, though. Sometimes, stories utilize history or criminal methodology.

Research is always important. The last thing you-as a writer-want is a review from a reader stating that you don’t know what you’re talking about. It can really affect your reader base, and as a reader, the last thing you want is to find a wholly inaccurate depiction of something in which your well educated.

It’s a delicate balance, no doubt, but I wanted to put it out there. Research is important; researching a town, a culture, history, science, whatever, but it can’t overshadow the plot, characters, or story in general. Beta readers are a great way to find out what the right balance for your particular story is, and it can vary based on the length of your work as much as your portrayal of the study.

I’d love to know if anyone can share an experience, a reader or writer, on this topic.

Have you written a story and received comments regarding your research?

Have you read a story and found it to benefit/detract because of the level of research implemented?

Thanks, everyone. You’re all aces in my book.

Stopping by Woods

In my quest to understand poetry I found myself along a familiar path; the road taken, if you will…

My cold and dreary journey brought me to Robert Frost; I remembered him from like ENC 1102 in college.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

and miles to go before I sleep,

and miles to go before I sleep.

They told me that he means death when talking about sleep…He also uses woods or forests a lot…and snow. Nothing is colder in temperament to me than a freezing pine forest on an overcast day. I can easily equate a life of hard times and wanting, needing some peace, but having too much still needing accomplishments to a numbed foot trudge in a snowy vale.

Sometimes I get tired, but I too have miles to go before I sleep…

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

So far, I like all of his poems. Some of them are better than others, and some are still down right shrouded in mystery to me.