Jodorowsky films at The Castro, El Topo and Holy Mountain and some psychomagic updates

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This is a pure web teaser! There is no Sons of El Topo project to see in the cinema, the proposed sequel to Jodorowsky’s cult classic El Topo. But both this 1970 oddity-masterwork (which was the beginnings of the midnight movie due in part to Lennon and Yoko Ono) and Holy Mountain are screening at Castro theater this weekend, which means something must have recently occurred in the film’s legal status…having been locked up in a decades-long struggle with producer Allen Klein. While we may or may not get to the bottom of that story, we can spread a little of the more recent reports and possible scenarios in case you haven’t checked into this extraordinary psychomagician’s historical paths and/or current incarnations:

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Like any great arts + psyche sojourner, Jodorowsky has had multiple personas over the years, surrealist, filmmaker/ritual experimenter, graphic novel collaborator, shaman. Years ago we were introduced to his film works through a magick-practicing theater group in Berlin called Hundert Fleck, which took the Holy Mountain film as its initiating “stage door” and philosophical platform, and drew in many collaborators over the years to perform “theater of cruelty” rituals in various locations including a newly accessible Third Reich bunker at Potsdamer Platz on the heels of the wall coming down and an insane asylum in Italy. This fairly dark portal intro produced a character image in the brain that hardly matched the true life Jodorowsky, who visited San Francisco just 2 years ago as a guest of C.I.I.S. For those who have followed his work and heard of his Tarot group meetings in Paris this was not a surprise, but this was the first such appearance in the U.S. There he came in the role of teacher and sage, as warm and approachable as this picture of him with his cat. And he performed incredible psychomagic feats merely through demonstrating the powers and possibilities of psychoanalysis, tarot, and an intuitive and intimate knowledge of human beings needing to be untangled from their various histories. He introduced himself primarily as a healer and proceeded to unveil perhaps a culmination and praxis of his many art forms.

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pics from A.J.’s official site and hotwierd’s Jodorowsky page

A friend recently handed us the situationist Raoul Vaneigem’s ” A Cavalier History of Surrealism” on AK Press …a quick autopsy of Surrealism’s initial triumphs and ultimate and residual failures. He writes,

” Gradually as economic rationality created a cultural market, transforming books, pictures, or sculpture into commodities, the dominant forms of culture became ever more abstract,eventually calling forth anti-cultural reactions. At the same time,the greater the sway of the economy, and the more widely it imposed its commodity system,the greater was the bourgeoisie’s need to update its spectacular ideological free market as a way of masking an exploitation that was ever more brutal… ”

And:

“Little by little, as the dream of revolution broke upon the reefs of nascent Stalinism, but also as the society of the spectacle and of the commodity system inevitably co-opted anything that could be called artistic, Surrealism retreated to the heights of pure mind. From a fortress open to every wind blowing in from the old world, it began–after the fashion of the Romantics reinventing an idyllic Middle Ages, complete with valiant knights, in the very shadow of the stock exchanges, banks and factories–to entertain the fantasy of a powerful myth, stripped of any religious overtones, that would combat the poverty of the spectacle and that would draw its strength from a reconsecration of human relationships modelled on the reconsecration of art.”

And:

“If there is any truth to the notion that the drowning see their whole life replayed before their eyes in a few short seconds, Surrealism may well be described as the last dream of a foundering culture.”

So while we might still attribute the term “surrealist” to directors say like Lynch or Fellini, after seeing El Topo in its full screen ( and public theater space) entirety, this now wholly-stuffed relic of art history language hardly captures the essence of a work which subjects the maker himself to a violent transcendance. The remarkable Act is that this is only A Film for those who have no orientation to find their way out of the empty shells of dead art. For Jodorowsky, one may rightly suspect that El Topo – the film – is just a vehicle for combustion, and is left behind as some social commitment to leave a trail for an audience trapped in its burning theater, and secondly as a shed skin. It is perhaps the closest one can come through a (distancing) film medium to an Artaud-like refusal to become a trophy-head in the spectacle/commodity clubhouse.

And while there is still a disparity in terms of political engagement between Vaneigem’s “revolution of everyday life” and Jodorowsky’s very personal deconstructing, these embers reappear from a clear beginning of the cinema imploding, and are still living signposts far beyond the fences of the artworld.

More coming on psychomagic, Holy Mountain and the rumours and scenarios of his new “metaphysical spaghetti gangster film” King Shot with Marilyn Manson and Nick Nolte.

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