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Carlos Castaneda: Academic Opportunism and the Psychedelic Sixties Paperback – May, 1993

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Millenia Pr; First Edition edition (May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0969696000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0969696001
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,643,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My latest book, Unknown Huichol: Shamans and Immortals, Allies Against Chaos, summarizes what I learned from four shamans; by making many pilgrimages with them to sacred sites, observing their rituals and translating many of their songs and myths. I hope my 2010 book, Unknown Huichol, will disseminate little known truths about shamanism. Accurate and insightful understanding of esoteric oral traditions is rare in today's world, which is still dominated by sensational & self-aggrandizing stories about shamanic practices.
As an undergraduate I was inspired by the books of Carlos Castaneda. After completing my doctorate in anthropology at the University of Michigan I wrote an expose: Carlos Castaneda, Academic Opportunism & the Psychedelic Sixties. During my research some professors threatened me with lawsuits. My first publisher, Madison Books, abandoned publication of my Castaneda expose because of threats of litigation made by Peter Furst. I sued Peter Furst but my case was dismissed by New Mexico's Supreme Court.
On my website--www.jayfikes.com--I invite readers to decide what if anything is missing for waterfall jumping in Mexico, as described by Furst, Myerhoff and Castaneda, to be defined as fraud and conspiracy. The 2007 BBC film documentary called Tales from the Jungle, Carlos Castaneda is my favorite sequel to my expose.
As a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. I participated in a coalition dedicated to restoring religious freedom after the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Smith. As part of that lobbying effort, I began writing a biography of a prominent Native American Church leader, which was later published as Reuben Snake, Your Humble Serpent. Since 1999, teaching social anthropology students at Yeditepe University in Istanbul has given me an opportunity to learn more about symbolism and ritual while preparing lectures for them. I have continued doing research with Huichol shamans, including making pilgrimages, that I began in 1976 in Santa Catarina. See my website, www.jayfikes.com for updates about my research and books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 1997
Format: Paperback
As an undergraduate I was heavily influenced by the books of Carlos Castaneda. After I began learning first-hand from Huichol healers and singers, the problems with Castaneda's version of American Indian spirituality became evident. I was amazed at the amount of indifference and hostility I encountered among academic anthropologists as I did my investigative research. Some professors threatened me with lawsuits. My first publisher, Madison Books, abandoned publication of this book because of threats of litigation. When I and two other Huichol scholars sent complaints about the professor who made those threats the Ethics Committee of the American Anthropological Association did nothing. In fact, the Ethics Committee is now defunct and there are no professional standards enforced among American anthropologists. I guess that means academic freedom is unlimited. Although I did more than 20 radio interviews nationwide, Carlos Castaneda, Academic Opportunism and the Psychedelic Sixties has been curiously neglected by the mainstream print journalists. I deduce from this that debunking sensational and misleading accounts of American Indian shamans and ceremonies is less "sexy" than publishing them was almost 30 years ago. I am convinced that eventually the truth about authentic Indian shamans will be more widely disseminated. The net is a great way to bypass the academic censors and official reviewers.
I apologize to readers for the technical elements in my book. I look forward to doing another edition of this book.It will include the failure to deal with ethical issues within the profession of anthropology. This must be seen as an important public issue.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By kaioatey on January 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an attempt to address an interesting socio-spiritual phenomenon that raised its rainbow head in the late 60ies - Carlos Castaneda's 'Yaqui mysticism' and use of hallucinogenics as an aid to spiritual growth. Fikes claims that Castaneda, together with a couple of other UCLA antropologists (Barbara Myerhoff and Peter Furst) unscrupulously took advantage of the yearning in the popular culture by basically delivering a product designed to sell.

One of the main claims in the book is that Castaneda's Yaqui sorcerer was mirrored on Ramos Medina-Silva, a Huichol would-be shaman; secondly, Fikes believes that anthropologists studying Huichols in the 50-60ies misrepresented H. culture and Huichol shamanism in order to fill in the gaps created by Castaneda books. However, the fact that Furst and Myerhoff refused to share field notes with Fikes is not especially surprising, given Fikes' obsessiveness, belligerence and misanthropy exhibited on the pages of "Academic Opportunism". Specifically, his contention that Castaneda modeled his don Juan upon Medina Silva appears spurious and contrived. Much is made of the information that Castaneda (along with dozens of other anthropologists) met Medina-Silva, yet there is little evidence for (and lots of evidence against) the idea that Huichols were any inspiration for Castaneda at all. Well, we don;t even know if it was Carlos who wrote those books in the first place.

Fikes' book has other weaknesses. First, it is badly written. There is little editing - the same two points are recycled over and over, literally dozens of times, sometimes even with same wording. Personal attacks on Furst and Myerhoff become, to someone not involved in the controversy, wearisome.
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Yes, Castaneda's mystical system works for many people. However, I think it is important for people to realize the inconsistencies in his system and what actual Native American shamanic systems are. I do not believe this book was meant to denounce people who follow Castenada's mystical system, instead it was meant to denounce his unprofessional academic behaviour. It is important for scientists to report the truth about their research, and this book goes into how Castaneda was dishonest with the academic community. The people giving this book one star remind me of the fundamentalist types who denounce anyone who says that the history in the bible isn't 100% accurate.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By World Traveller on May 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
There are seven one-star reviews for this book and six of them say the same thing: it is irrelevant whether Castaneda ever met "Don Juan" or indeed whether his books are accurate in regard to Yaqui customs.

This would be true if Castaneda and the Regents of UCLA had not published his book as a non-fictional work of ethnography. Instead, they engaged in a major fraud and made a great deal of money in the process. The truth is his books would have sold far less if they had been presently honestly as philosophical commentary.

Some reviewers claim that Castenada "told us" this but I see nothing in his most famous books that tells the reader to doubt he had ever met "Don Juan".

Do the one-star reviewers think such fraud is OK or do they just want to hang onto their faith in Castaneda?

The issue here is even bigger than Castaneda. It is about the academic community and in this case the way anthropologists in a major University refused to address their own failures. Why and how did Castaneda get a Ph. D. in anthropology for this work when he clearly misrepresented his field work?

That is the theme of this book and it deserves to be taken seriously by those of value intellectual honesty in the pursuit of truth, which should be the overriding goal of the academic community
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