Scene4 Magazine — International Magazine of Arts and Media
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february/march 2009

The Spiritual Journey of
Alejandro Jodorowsky

The Creator Of El Topo
by Alejandro Jodorowsky
Published by
Park Street Press

 

by Griselda Steiner

"…if we really want our life to change, we must undergo a mutation of the mind,  opening the doors of intuition and creative energies so that our unconscious becomes an ally…"    —Alejandro Jodorowsky

In his memoir, Alenjandro Jodorowsky, famous for his 1970 cult classic film "El Topo'", portrays his struggle to conquer his ego, painful childhood and toxic effects of hallucinogens to gain enlightenment and share his vision with the world.

A Chilean exile, Jodorowsky initiated his multifaceted career as a playwright, theatre director, comic strip author and film producer in Mexico City infiltrated with hippies in the 1960's.  Now 79 and living in France, his reputation has re-ignited.   Because of a feud with his producer Allen Klein, his films virtually disappeared for over 30 years.  After a recent reconciliation, "El Topo", "The Holy Mountain", "Fando y Lis" and "la Cravate" are now available in a DVD set distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment and can be appreciated by a younger generation. 

As Jodorowsky weaves his memories, the fine line between outrageous imagination and real life is shattered by unbelievable encounters with Zen Master Takata, women magiciennes, spiritual wise women and eccentric artistes who appear like bizarre apparitions on his road to self-discovery. The true-life existence of surrealist painter Leonora Carrington, healer dona Magdalena, flamboyant actress La Tigresa and Gurdieff's daughter Reyna D'Assia, becomes credible only after viewing their photo portraits throughout the book.   In his relationship with these exceptional women, he succumbs to their healing and sexual powers with varied results. Only after several chapters does the reader learn that he has a wife and may wonder if he disavowed marriage as a holy sacrament.  

Jodorwosky's practice of Zen Buddhism involved an extensive study of koans. "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"  Once resolved, these riddles with no logical answers, became his guide to everyday existence as well as facing conflict.  His long friendship with Japanese monk Takata, filled with love and surprise, is pivotal to his spiritual quest.   In Jodorowsky's Mexican production of his play "Zarathustra", Takata sat on stage in his robes meditating in stark juxtaposition to the naked actors. 

In Jodorowsky's films, where human drama merges with the supernatural in wild settings that mix pageantry with eclectic religious themes, his intentions may seem as difficult to decipher as a stranger's dream.  Rather than clarifying the meaning of his imagery, this book only inspires readers to enjoy its 'mystery'.  "The Spiritual Journey Of Alejandro Jodorowsky"is a worthy read, filled with growing pains and personal crisis that end in artistic triumph and achievement of wisdom and compassion.

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©2009 Griselda Steiner
©2009 Publication Scene4 Magazine

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Griselda Steiner has written book reviews, drama and poetry published in Scene4. Her new book is on KINDLE, Amazon.Com's Wireless Book Reading Service, is My Take ... Your Take (Cultural Reflections).
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives

 

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