The reality of Castenada...

Thu, 3 Mar 1994 16:49:00 PST

Mizrach writes in reply to a brief comment I made regarding Castenada:

" But I see no reason to condemn him for "confusing a culturally
constructed reality" with "objective reality." If you consider yourself not
liable to make the same mistake, please explain to me why you (and not
Carlos or I) are gifted with this ability."

First, I was offering a brief synopsis of what I understand to be the
criticism raised againt Castenada, not my viewpoint of Castenada's work.
(We overlapped here at UCLA--I was a graduate student in mathematics
interested in anthropology, he was a graduate student here in
anthropology--and we used to talk about his ideas, anthropology etc. I
always found him to be an engaging and intriguing person.)

Second, if in the context of a dissertation one were to take
a cutural assertion such as "the shaman turned himself into a
leopard" as equivalent to objective reality (i.e., were there a video camera
present, then one could review the transformation and see the
transformation), then one is open to the criticism of confounding culturally
constructed reality with objective reality. As a native I certainly often
take culturally constructed reality as if it is real; as a (scientific)
anthropologist I am expected to make the distinction--even if the in practise
the two sometimes become blurred.

D. Read