Interview

 
 
Place: New York

A Conversation With Jodorowsky

Art Categories:  Film, Movie

On July 14, 2017, destiny manifest. In a bright room in the offices of ABKCO Music & Records in New York City, I sat with maestro Alejandro Jodorowsky, director of the legendary films “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain”. Mr. Jodorowsy was visiting New York to promote his new feature “Endless Poetry,” which opened in limited release on July 14, and will expand on July 21 and 28, and is a sequel to his previous autobiographical film “The Dance of Reality.”

 

Endless Poetry” begins with the last scene of “The Dance of Reality,” with the young Jodorowsky leaving his home of Tocopilla to go to Santiago, Chile. Whereas “The Dance of Reality” focused on the relationship between the child Jodorowsky, Alejandorito (Jeremias Herskovits), and his repressive father Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky), “Endless Poetry” tells the story of the adolescent Alejandoro’s (Adan Jodorowsky) journey within. While his family pressures him to go to medical school, 20-year-old Alejandro leaves home with a growing passion to become a poet. Meeting many different artists including Nicanor Parra (Felipe Rios), Stella Diaz Varin (Pamela Flores), and Enrique Lihn (Leandro Taub), communicating with poetry, making puppets, anarchism and theatre, Alejandro explores his true self and realizes a self-esteem about living.

 

Endless Poetry” is a personal film, yet the journey it portrays is universal. Humans have a history of separating themselves by nationality, race, age, gender and social status, putting themselves all into boxes, and because of this separation and categorization, conflict and friction arise. However, Mr. Jodorowsky expands the possibilities of humanity through his artistic experiments in film, comics, and the tarot, and dedicates his life to pursuing beauty, poetic truth, and kindness. Now, the 88-year-old maestro Jodorowsky speaks in front of me, and shows me a limitless cosmos within myself.

 

Alejandro Jodorowsky © Taiyo Okamoto

 

 

“You’re free, because you’re like a river”

 

 

Very nice to meet you. My name is Taiyo.

Taiyo…

 

It’s a Japanese name.

Japan. Where in Japan are you from?

 

Kyushu. Do you know Kyushu? It is an island in the southwest of Japan.

Jeremias Herskovits

Ah, yes. Myself, I had a Japanese master, Zen master Ejo Takata. I went to Japan four times. What I love is the ancient Japanese culture, the kōan, the haiku, the Zen, and Dōgen. Maybe, I know more of Japan than you.

 

Probably!

Because for years, I was studying haiku, I was studying the samurais, I practiced karate, I went to Japanese professors. I love Japan. I love.

 

At the same time, I know, Japanese are very cruel—in the wars, it’s terrible, no? Japan has a philosophy that is against the little individuality. The samurais have their masters, and there’s no argument—the master is the master! It was a very interesting civilization for me.

 

I’m aware that Zen philosophy influenced your life and films…

It especially influenced my first film very well known here in America, “El Topo.” My character El Topo is a bandit, and in the end is a Zen monk. I took this influence into myself, it came into me. I cannot copy the Japanese style now, but there are a lot of Zen feelings.

 

In “The Dance of Reality” there is a sense of the older, wiser Jodorowsky comforting the child Jodorowsky. But this time in “Endless Poetry”, the older Jodorowsky is almost leading the young Jodorowsky to a magical path. Could you talk about this change?

Jeremias Herskovits and Alejandro Jodorowsky

Life is like that. Because the child has no sexual problem, no? He doesn’t think about that. But an adolescent, my adolescent Jodorowsky, is he homosexual or not? It’s the first thing he knows because his father, who is a communist, a Stalinist, a homophobic person, says, “You will lose your life, your money. You will be homosexual. This is terrible!” And then the adolescent feels guilty of his sensibility. He needs to find himself.

 

That is the first problem he has as an adolescent: to be who he is. I am to be what I am, and not what the other person wants me to be. I don’t want to be like my father wants or like my mother wants; I want to be myself. That is the search. I want to be whatever I want. If I am homosexual, I will be homosexual. If I am not, I will not be. But I will be what I am. And that is the search there. Through the entire film, he is searching, he is searching.

 

As the sculptor Carmen says to Alejandro’s cousin Ricardo in the film, “Take off your mask. Be bold! Be bold!” finding your true self is a theme of “Endless Poetry.” What does finding your true self mean to you?

Adan Jodorowsky

When I was with the Zen master, he said to me a kōan, a sacred question they ask to you that’s difficult to answer in order to break your mind, “Doesn’t start and doesn’t finish, what is it?” I couldn’t find the answer. What will I say: God? What will I say: Nothing? And then finally I said to my intellect, “Die!” Die, like the intellect, and don’t be tied with remorse. Go under the words. Go to what really you are. To think, and not to think about words. To think is to receive what you are: emotionality, sexuality, creativity, and action. Receive what you are! Do what you are! Be what you are! That is to be the real ego.

 

The artificial ego—self-conception—comes first from the history, then, for you for example, from your Japanese society, then it comes from the society where you are acting, then from your family. And then, you are in a little cage of self-concept. But you are not a Japanese person, you are not homosexual, you are not this, you are not that—you are what you are. Today you are something; tomorrow you can be whatever you want. You are free. You are what you are. You’re free, because you’re like a river. You are not fixed. You do not say, “I have this nationality, I have this age, I cannot do that and another thing.” You are not limited.

 

So it’s like, you are transparent, or you have every color.

Alejandro Jodorowsky © Taiyo Okamoto

Yes! And every color is a multiplicity. And the multiplicity comes together and goes to unity. Then everything is a unity; that, you need to know. Everything is a unity. And in the unity, we are the multiplicity. But in you there is only unity, in you is all the cosmos. If it’s not in you, it’s not anywhere. We need to understand we’re multiplicity and unity.

 

 

 

“Whatever you can find in yourself,

the other has, but they don’t know”

 

 

As the film depicts, in your life, you’ve met so many artists. So what kind of door did art open for you?

It opened everything. If I were not an artist, I would suicide myself. Because workers, street workers, prostitutes, dance, drugs, everything that you think is the real life, it’s not the real life. When I wrote my first poem, my life changed. Because I wanted to be a poet, I wanted to be free of all that. And from that poem, as I show in the picture, I found friends, I found the artist, I found my real world. After a year, I found myself.

 

Everything I say to you, I really did. It’s my experience. I said, “I don’t believe nothing. I will experiment. I will do.” I wanted to know if I was homosexual. So then I met a homosexual and I said, “Rape me, maybe I will be.” And when he started to go with his penis in my anus—aaah! This is not for me. But I tried to make the experience. I wanted to know if it really excited me or not, without judging. I made the experience really to know. How can you know if you have sexual desires if you don’t try?

 

Or, what is illumination? I need to go to meditate. With Ejo Takata I meditated seven years. Seven years, we slept only half an hour everyday. For a week, meditating. Only meditating. Ten minutes to eat, ten minutes to go to the bathroom. Meditating. And then sleep half an hour. Meditate. Seven years. I was getting crazy. Getting crazy, eh?

 

I like to think about that, because I don’t usually speak about that. I speak of movies or… but in reality, it’s endless poetry. We need to think about what is poetry, no? And for me, what is art? For me, art is to discover within you beauty, truth and kindness. What you discover in you is not like you think you are a bigger thing, no; you discover some kind of human treasure that you want to show to the others because the others have the same. Whatever you can find in yourself, the other has, but they don’t know. You want to tell, “I was there, and that is the thing.” That is the thing. Discover yourself. Be yourself.

 

Yes. And be a magician.

Adan Jodorowsky and Alejandro Jodorowsky

That’s right. With the tarot, the magic exists. For fifty years I’m doing the tarot, and I’ve seen a lot of miracles. I’ve seen a woman searching for a man, and she chose the L’Impératrice, The Empress. I said, “If you found L’Impératrice, you will find the man.”  And in myself, in my interior, I prayed, “Choose The Emperor.” She chose The Emperor. I prayed, and she did it. A lot of times that happened to me.

 

I met a person who needed to find La Jugement, Judgement, card twenty, which equilibrates family. And I could tell she didn’t want it. I said, “Search! Show me card numeral twenty.” I knew she would not show. In the end, it took twenty cards before she showed this card. It happened. Then I discovered there is a complete connection with the reality. You are connected with the reality, and your thoughts are changing some minimum in the reality.

 

A person who has an accident maybe was searching for the accident for years. You are provoking, and the reality will answer to you. When you have a conception of the reality, the reality will take the form of what you are projecting. That is magic.

 

 

 

“We are in crisis:

humanity can change or die”

 

 

We have a history of wars and destroying nature, and all those horrible things. But when I think about it, I always have this question: are humans just doing that, or is the consciousness of the earth doing it, or is it something we don’t even know? There is probably no clear answer, but what are your thoughts?

Brontis Jodorowsky, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Adan Jodorowsky

I think humanity was created by the universe. The universe has a goal; it is to become conscious. Consciousness, the consciousness we are doing, it’s what the universe wants. A stone is a consciousness; it’s information. The stone, the matter, has the human being within, or the matter produced you. And then, we’re animals, but we are animals in gestation. We are not perfect now. We were monkeys, we were apes; now we are coming to a mutation. A mutant relation, no? So in order to become what we are today, we needed to develop rational thought. But now, no more. This rational thought perishes. It is not good now. It is old. At the moment we need to mutate to a new way to think, which is to open the rationality to emotionality, to sexuality, to action, to make a new way to live.

 

Alejandro Jodorowsky © Taiyo Okamoto

It’s a very nice moment because we are in crisis: humanity can change or die. If we don’t change, the universe will kill us, and will start a new experience. Who knows, maybe it will experiment with another thing. But this is a good moment. The sign of this moment is the end of the politics. The politics is at an end, because nobody believes. The president is something crazy now. He is a very dangerous child with atomic bombs in the pocket. It’s very, very, very, very dangerous—very, very! The search for oil has broken the planet. We are destroying the planet. It’s very dangerous.

 

But we, you and me, and a million people are conscious of that now. And the new babies are very genius. We cannot change the world; we only can change ourselves and give our change to the others. The world will change with the multiplication of this mutation. And it can happen. The young person will do it. And the old person, like me!

 

 

Text & Interview by Taiyo Okamoto

Production photos courtesy of ABKCO Films

 

“Endless Poetry” opened in New York City and Los Angeles on July 14, and will expand on July 21 and 28.

 

 

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“The Mother of the Voice in the Ear” – Leonor Caraballo and Matteo Norzi’s “Icaros: A Vision“

“Resistance of Lost-War Boy” – Nobuhiko Obayashi’s Retrospective

“The Dawn of Artificial Sensitivity” – Lucy McRae

“Endless Loop of Curiosity” – Godfrey Reggio’s “Visitors”

“Big Waves of Joy Wash Over Us” – Stephen Silha and Eric Slade’s “Big Joy”