Re: Carlos Castaneda, The teachings of Don Juan

Mark Richer (
Fri, 24 Jan 1997 13:57:01 -0700

On 22 Jan 1997, Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa wrote:

> Ward Churchill has written an excellent essay on this topic: "Carlos
> Castaneda: The Greatest Hoax since Piltdown Man" in 'Fantasies of the
> Master Race', Common Courage Press, 1992. He begins with a quote from
> Gary Hobson:

Yes! I have a deep respect for indigenous cultures everywhere, and an
abiding remorse because of the savage injustice of the Europeans (I thank
Cultural Survival Quarterly for keeping me apprised of relevant news on
the world scene). Perhaps for these reasons, even as a teenager, something
about Castaneda's books made me uncomfortable. Somehow I just couldn't
swallow it ... to me, the books just didn't have the ring of honesty.
Then, ten years after I had read the books, I found Ward Churchill's
amazing essay in the book Rachel mentions. I read that essay right in the
bookstore and my heart soared. It was an incredible awakening ... some old
clouds had finally lifted. Apologists for Castaneda claim that his books
should only be interpreted as fiction, which may be okay if he called
them fiction!

Ward Churchill's critique is devastating. If Churchill's criticism is
accurate, and I have no reason to believe it's not -- that Castaneda made
the whole thing up, stole pieces of old writings, etc -- then Castaneda is
a complete and total fraud. I would like to hear Castaneda defend himself
against Churchill, but as far as I'm aware he simply ignored the critique.

The original poster definitely picked the wrong group to advertise
Castaneda in.


Mark Richer

here's another relevant quote:
There seems to be absolutely no limit to the strangeness white people
want to attribute to Indians. There's no limit on the number of nuts who
get rich masquerading as Indians, or Indian experts, or friends of the
Indian, or whatever... No matter how absurd the story, and sometimes I
think it's a case of "the more absurd the better," publishers and movie
producers in America gobble it up for public consumption. And no matter
how many times you prove what's being promoted as "truth" to being
nothing more than a pack of lies, it just keeps going on. Today, we've
got Carlos Castaneda, Chief Red Fox, Jamake Highwater, Ruth Beebe Hill
and a whole bunch of others all becoming millionaires on the basis of
out-and-out lies. And we've shown over and over again that they're lying
through their teeth ... It seems the only thing that white people in this
country are interested in hearing is lies. Now, I don't know what you
call that, but I call it insane.
- Janet McCloud 1987
(quoted by Ward Churchill in Fantasies of the Master Race, Common Courage
Press, 1992, page 67)