"In the center of the horror, 
of the civilization, there is the happiness to be alive." —Jodorowsky (1999)

alejandro_jodorowsky

“YOUR BRAIN IS A CRAZY GUY”
Visionary Poly-Artist ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY talks with Jay Babcock about 
psychomagic, shamanism, video games and Marilyn Manson—as well as his 
spirit-bending films and comics.

originally published in Mean Magazine #6 (Dec ’99-Jan ’00)

A man holds all the universe within him; and art is his view of it. But in 
the work of some artists spiral  vast galaxies of meaning and imagination 
that dwarf by many magnitudes the plebian earthbound work of others. 
Seventy-year-old Alexandro Jodorowsky—post-Surrealist filmmaker, author, 
puppeteer, Tarot expert, post-Jungian psychological theorist, playwright, 
novelist—is one such artist.

Screen Jodorowsky’s El Topo or The Holy Mountain, read The Incal or Metabarons comics, or listen to one of his interviews or lectures, and you 
encounter a one-man spiritual multiculture at play: the anthropological 
erudition and enthusiasm of Joseph Campbell roughhousing with an outrageous 
artistic sensibility that begins at Bunuel, Beckett and Breton and ends in 
some psychedelic sci-fi super-space: the kind of man who can screenwrite 
”He lifts up the robe and draws a pistol” and then comment Talmud-style in 
the margins, “I don’t know if he draws it from a gunbelt or from his 
unconscious.”

Unfortunately, for all but the most clued-in and hooked up in the 
English-sqawking world, most of Jodorowsky’s artistic and philosophical 
output of the last 30 years has been tantalizingly unavailable: films have 
gone unissued on video, comics and other written work have gone 
untranslated or dropped out of print. But, finally, at the turn of the 
century, the situation is changing.

Jodorowsky’s “lost” 1967 film Fando & Lis has been reissued on DVD by San 
Francisco-based Fantoma Films (who have generously included a director’s 
commentary track by Jodorowsky and the excellent, full-length ’95 French 
documentary La Constellation Jodorowsky), The Holy Mountain has been released for the first time (legally) on video, and, perhaps most 
significantly, the U.S. branch of Humanoides Associes has begun an 
ambitious program of printing English-language editions of Jodorowsky’s 
prodigious graphic novel output.
So the time seemed right to give the endlessly aphoristic, giddily 
profound Mr. Jodorowsky the kind of forum in American publications he 
enjoyed in the early ’70s when El Topo and The Holy Mountain were consecutive 
midnight movie successes and the Chilean-born director was regarded by many 
surviving counter-culture types (John Lennon, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper 
among them) and journalists as The Guy Who Just May Have the Answer.

We 
rang Alexandro in Paris at midnight recently to find out what he’s up to, 
what he’s thinking and get him to reflect a bit on his long and storied 
career, even if he once said, “As soon as I define myself, I am dead.”

That said, let us attempt a synopsis for the new initiates.

Born in 1929 to 
Russian Jewish parents, Jodorowsky grew up in Iquique, Chile, a barren, 
rocks-and-pebble seaside village where (Jodorowsky claims) it has not 
rained for 300 years. As a child he developed a love for fantastic films 
like Flash Gordon, Zorro  and especially The Hunchback of Notre Dame and 
Frankenstein (“I love the monster!” he says), encountered ethnic 
differences and (he was circumcised, his friends were not) and witnessed 
the goings-on you’d expect of a port town with a prostitutes’ 
avenue-although his story of seeing  a dead sailor’s penis in a box (which 
he and his friends buried in the surf) sounds like the kind of experience 
only a Jodorowsky (or a Fellini) could have.

Jodorowsky studied philosophy and psychology for two years at the 
University of Santiago before quitting; “I hated university, so I made 
puppets,” Jodorowsky says on the Fando y Lis commentary track, 
matter-of-factly explaining his transition from student to marionette. By 
the time he left Chile in 1953, Jodorowsky had a 50-person company devoted 
to radical ideas about theatre (“Artaud was my Bible”) and a host of new 
ambitions. Over the next decade, Jodorowsky studied with the mime guru 
Etienne Decroux in Paris, mimeographed Marcel Marceau’s famous “The Cage,” 
toured the world, and directed the legendary Maurice Chevalier in the 
theatre.

By the mid-’60s, Jodorowsky had formed a loose, outrageous conspiracy of 
post-Surrealist, Absurdist artists like playwright and author Fernando 
Arrabal they jokingly dubbed the Panic Movement. The Panic Movement, 
Arrabal explains in La Constellation Jodorowsky, “was based on the 
explosion of reason. We knew what has become obvious for science today: 
that we are unable to explain the world solely through the means of reason. 
We are not soldiers for confusion. What we are for is uncertainty, the 
impossibility to explain the fact that time and space is an illusion.” The 
Panic artists’ most infamous event was 1965’s four-hour “Sacramental 
Melodrama,” perhaps the world’s first “happening”: a live performance 
involving nudity, self-flagellation, turtles, gelatin, live rock n roll, 
raw meat and plenty of leather.

On his return to Mexico in the late-’60s, Jodorowsky wrote three novels, 
started writing and drawing a subversive weekly comic strip (“Panic 
Fables”) in the right-wing newspaper The Herald, and formed a popular avant 
garde theatre company that performed the works of Beckett, Ionesco, Adamov, 
Strindberg and their absurd ilk. Eventually, in 1967, Jodorowsky adapted 
one such play, Arrabal’s Fando y Lis, to film, substituting his typical 
resourcefulness for his lack of formal training in cinema: he tied himself 
to his cameraman with a rubber strap in order to spontaneously place shots, 
employed a non-professional cast that included his wife, his friends, local 
thieves and prostitutes, a physician, and a group of underground 
transvestites, and shot without license on weekends in an abandoned mine 
with a budget of $100,000.

The result was a surreal parade of sacrilege: sex foreplay in a cemetery, 
on-camera blood-drinking, Mexico’s traditional white-haired matron depicted 
as a lascivious gambler and a bizarre scene involving baby serpents and a 
female toy doll. By the time the film had passed the one-hour mark during 
its premiere at the 1968 Acapulco Film Festival, most of those in 
attendance had left the theatre, outraged by what they had witnessed on 
screen. Afterwards, Jodorowsky escaped the rock-throwing rabble that had 
gathered outside the theatre by hiding on the floor of a getaway limo. Some 
of the film’s “actors” sided with popular opinion against Jodorowsky; 
meanwhile Mexico’s most famous film director declared that he was prepared 
to murder Jodorowsky as a point of national honor. The film was soon banned 
in Mexico; a severely edited version was eventually released in the U.S.
Jodorowsky was now committed to film.

“Vishkin [the next film’s would-be financier] and I got together on a 
Monday,” remembers Jodorowsky. “I had nothing thought out and Vishkin 
didn’t have a penny. And we said, ‘Let’s make a film.’ Then I found the 
idea and Vishkin found the money.” Nine months later, El Topo was 
completed. This one-of-a-kind Eastern-as Western metaphysical allegory, 
which Jodorowsky scripted, designed, directed, scored and starred in, was 
an immediate hit on New York’s nascent midnight movie circuit , playing to 
a sold-out Elgin Theatre for seven straight months.

Celebrity enthusiasts for El Topo included Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan, Sam Fuller, 
Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, a young Peter Gabriel, and Yoko Ono and  John 
Lennon. It would be Lennon who would secure the $1 million budget for 
Jodorowosky’s next film, via ABKCO, the financial management company 
for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones run by the notorious Allen Klein.

“It was very easy to do [El Topo],” said Jodorowsky in a 1971 conversation, 
published in El Topo: A Book of the Film, that outlined his radical 
theories of cinema in general and his ambitions for his next film (1973’s 
The Holy Mountain) in particular. “I think we had a kind of communication 
working among us, a very magical communication. When you live the picture, 
when you are not acting, there is no dichotomy…no alienation. What you 
are doing is real. Because I think that if you want a picture to change the 
world, you must first change the actors in the picture. And before doing 
that, you must change yourself. Right? This must be done. With every new 
picture, I must change myself, I must kill myself, and I must be born. I 
must kill the actors and they must be born. And then the audiences, the 
audiences who go to the movies, must be assassinated, killed, destroyed, 
and they must leave the theatre as new people. That is a good 
picture….When I direct a film, everybody-myself included-falls into such 
trances that there is dead silence, because our lives are at stake.”

For The Holy Mountain, a film (very generally) about the quest for 
enlightenment and immortality, the director underwent a long series of 
training in different spiritual arts and rituals that included a week 
without sleep under the supervision of a Zen master, LSD trips with a 
hippie guru, etc. The film’s crew lived together in isolation under 
Jodorowsky’s direction for one month. And finally, they were ready to make 
what is arguably Jodorowsky’s cinematic masterpiece, a pulsing, 
mindbending, unforgettable fantasma of metaphysical ideas and extravagant, 
super-real tableaux.

“Jodorowsky is insanely talented,” says Arrabal in Constellation. “Quite 
literally, he’s talented to the point of madness. But as with all madmen 
there’s a method to his madness. He’s a mathematical madman. He’s a divine 
madman. He’s a constructivist madman.”

So if Jodorowsky’s films are created in a trance—he says he cannot 
remember his intention, that it is essentially all intuition,  that he is 
speaking from his unconscious to the audience’s unconscious, using a 
culturally loaded symbolic language—but they are also, at least to 
Jodorowsky, eminently translatable. “You ask me about any symbol you like,” 
he says in El Topo: A Book of the Film. “I know the meaning of every symbol there 
is. So do you, because the meaning of every symbol is recorded in your 
brain cells. It’s already been written down. Everything can be read. 
Everything is a book. You can read a hat, shoes…an umbrella.”

Jodorowsky’s other films, with the exception of 1989’s return-to-form Santa 
Sangre, have been disappointments: his now-legendary 1975 version of Dune 
was scotched after pre-production; a children’s fable entitled Tusk was 
such a disaster that all prints were quickly destroyed; and 1993’s The 
Rainbow Thief was strictly a work-for-hire affair (“It was like receiving 
300 blows with a stick every day! I hated Peter O’Toole! I wanted to KICK 
Peter O’ Toole!”)

But to fixate on Jodorowsky-as-filmmaker is to substitute a melodramatic 
lost-master career arc for the truer—and far more interesting—story. The 
disaster that was Dune (for more details, see the unedited Q& A below) led 
directly to Jodorowsky’s involvement in European comics via French artist 
(and Dune storyboarder) Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud. The two initially 
collaborated on The Incal, a science fiction romp doubling as a journey of 
self-discovery. Many more Jodorowsky-scripted graphic albums—with both 
Moebius and other big-name European comics artists like Zoran Janetov, Fred 
Beltran and Juan Giminez—have followed since.

Meanwhile, Jodorowsky has cemented his reputation as one of the world’s 
leading interpreters of the Tarot, written novels and plays, given a series 
of free weekly lectures since 1981 called The Cabaret Mystique, and 
developed a post-Jungian system of psychological therapy he calls 
”psychomagic.”

 “It is a continuation of my artistic work, and I don’t see why an artist 
shouldn’t be interested in therapy,” Jodorowsky says in Constellation. “All 
of our problems originated from the way we were born. And the way we were 
born depends on the emotional relationships between our mother and 
father…I realized that we had a family unconscious… I am a thinking 
family. My illnesses are created by my family. My behavior, the way I live, 
my conception of money, my emotional and sexual relationships are all 
created by my family. Indeed the psychological and genetic field I come 
from marks my whole life… If I want to understand my self, I have to 
understand my family tree, because I am permanently possessed, as in 
voodoo. Even when we cut ties with our family, we carry it. In our 
unconscious, the persons are always alive. The dead live with us.

“Exploring the family tree means engaging in a fierce battle with the 
monster, like a nightmare, so that the monster can give you the treasure. 
The family tree is a real nightmare where we find sadomasochism everywhere, 
narcissism everywhere, self-hatred everywhere. So with the excrement that is 
the family tree, we have to produce the treasure gold.”

Following is a slightly edited transcript of my midnight phone conversation 
with Jodo, integrated with a few follow-up email exchanges. Special thanks 
to Dorna Khazemi for helping with translation and transcription. 
 

  
 
Jay Babcock: YOU ARE UP AT MIDNIGHT?
Alejandro Jodorowsky: 
Yes, I work. I do not sleep.


YOU WORK AT NIGHT?

Yes, I like that. There are no sounds from the street. It is better. 
[snip] 
I will try my best because I don’t speak English—I speak like Speedy Gonzalez. 


OK. I’VE JUST FINISHED READING THE INCAL FOR THE FIRST TIME. I GUESS THE 
BOOKS THAT ARE COMING OUT, WHICH I HAVEN’T YET READ, ARE RELATED TO ‘THE 
INCAL.’ 

Yes, I write a whole universe. The characters I developed, those 
characters, that society. This moment of the galaxy… 


THE METABARONS—


The genealogical tree of the MetaBaron, of his family…And then I 
developing another series The Pantechnologist..the Technopriests, I develop 
that. And some other books. 


IT’S THIS WHOLE UNIVERSE THAT STARTED OUT OF THIS COLLABORATION WITH MOEBIUS? 

With Moebius, and then with Giminez, Beltran, Janjetov… Not only Moebius.


BUT THOSE WERE THE INITIAL BOOKS. 

The initial, yes, Moebius. 


A LOT OF AMERICANS KNOW YOU ONLY FOR YOUR FILMS, NOT YOUR COMICS. 

Yes, I know.


BUT YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN COMICS, RIGHT? 

Always, before I make movies, I do comics. I like that. For me it’s an art 
as movies. It’s an activity. I don’t see who is better. It’s a way of 
expression, no? For me the modern novel are graphic novels, no?


AND WITH FILM, YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO WRESTLE WITH THE STUDIO—
With the studio, the producer, the industry, the money. You cannot express 
yourself.


AND WITH COMICS, YOU’VE FOUND IT MUCH EASIER—
Yes! Because you have only the artist, you and the editor… 


AND THE LIMITS OF YOUR IMAGINATION. 

And nobody to put on limits. The only limit we have is to faith. Because is 
a more expensive than to publish a novel. It is original film, you cannot 
continue it. I am liking Europe very, very well. It is better than other 
countries, in Europe. France.


YOU ARE LIVING IN PARIS, NOW? 

Yes. 


HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN THERE?

Oh, 20 years.


YOU’VE LIVED ALL OVER THE WORLD—
Yes. I don’t know what nationality I have! I was born in Chile but when I 
think about myself, I don’t have a nationality. 


IS IT GOOD TO NOT HAVE A NATIONALITY?

It’s good, but not at the moment. [laughter] Maybe in two more centuries it 
will be good. Now is very good for me, but to live in the world is 
difficult, because now the world is like the Olympiad–you need to have a 
country. But in my mind I don’t have a country.


YES. CAN YOU TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THE PANIC MOVEMENT?
That was a moment of my life when I want to…this is in the ’60s, eh?…I 
was going to the Surrealist group with Andre Breton. And at this time I was 
fortunate to meet good artists—Arrabal and Topov. And right then I leave 
the Surrealist movement—in that time, Andre Breton was very old. He had a 
lot of limits now, because the Surrealists were a Romantic movement, and 
they didn’t like science fiction, they didn’t like rock, they didn’t like 
pornography, they didn’t like a lot of things of the world, no? We started 
to go further than this and we made the Panic. 


WHAT WAS THE MOVEMENT? THERE WERE HAPPENINGS? WHAT DID THE PANIC ARTISTS MAKE?

We made Happenings. Before the Happenings, we make a that was called 
..ephermis…ephemeral. Which was something like performance, no? In 
that time we did that. We thought the Panic artist, he make everything: 
movies, comics, poetry, painting, everything, no? Poly-artist! 


THE NAME COMES FROM THE GREEK—
The word Pan means “totality.” 


AH. NOW WHAT HAPPENED WITH THAT MOVEMENT, DID IT JUST END AFTER A COUPLA YEARS? 

No. Because this movement was a joke! We didn’t believe in that. We made 
that in order to laugh at our culture. People speak about Panic…we never 
make meetings, only we went to restaurant and laughed. We loved making 
jokes. Later we have a lot of Panic followers…painters, writers, people 
say they’re Panics. But for us it was a real joke.


OK. SO THAT WAS AFTER THE SURREALISTS. YOU WERE EMBRACING ALL THE THINGS 
THAT WERE EXCITING YOU IN THE POPULAR CULTURE. 

Yes.


ROCK N ROLL, COMICS…

All that in that time, yes. We liked books, Little Richard, things like, 
no? [laughs] 


DO YOU FOLLOW WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE POPULAR CULTURE RIGHT NOW?
Now in the pop culture I have a big interest in the interviews of Marilyn 
Manson. I like this guy. I find him very interesting when he make 
interviews. I think this is one fellow who is interesting for me. What he 
says, he is very artistic. His clips [videos] are very artistic. Some 
person cannot misunderstand this guy. I don’t know what is his musical 
value, but I like his optical values. He always is breaking limits, no? In 
what he says. I think he is not good for the moral and things like that, 
no? Art is always amoral. And he seems apersonal, this person. You cannot 
know who he is! Evil doesn’t exist there. He is like a product, he is not 
like a human being. He’s something who is further than a human being. And 
that is important. He’s supposed to have a mask, no? All the time he is an 
actor, he’s a transvestite, but not woman, he’s a transvestite of something 
that is not human. And then for me, it is especially artistic, what he does.


SIMILAR TO DAVID BOWIE IN THE ’70S? 

Further than David Bowie. David Bowie is still human. You can identify 
David Bowie, who he is. There’s no mysteries, now. 


YES, NOW. BUT IN THE ’70S—

In the 70s he was very interesting. He was important in the 1970s. Now he 
is … 
Marilyn Manson is going further–his interviews are literally fantastic. I 
think he is a kind of genius, literally… 


YOU’RE ALMOST 70 NOW, RIGHT?

Almost, yes. But I am not senile! At all. 


ARE YOU TREATED NOW LIKE ONE OF THE WISE OLD MEN FROM YOUR FILMS? 

Listen, life is very, very beautiful. [laughs] In the center of the horror, 
of the civilization, there is the happiness to be alive. This is a 
happiness, when you can create a world, no?, and you have a public, it is 
fantastic. 


SO YOU’RE FEELING VERY HAPPY THESE DAYS? 

I always were happy. [laughs] I think I am idiotically optimistic. 


DO YOU STILL FEEL LIKE YOU ARE LEARNING THINGS? 

Yes! I am learning all of the time. 


WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING RIGHT NOW? WHO ARE YOU LEARNING FROM?

I am making a big, big study… Art? I don’t need to study art. No? Because 
art you are doing, it’s the way you develop. But in another way, you can 
study things. Like the Tarot, the meaning of the Tarot. From there I went 
to psychology, and I worked with the magic and psychology. I invented 
Psychomagic. 


CAN YOU TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THAT, BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT 
YOUR WORK THERE?
It’s a very, very long to speak about that… 


IT’S OKAY.. .
In Mexico, I knew a lot of old men…in the city of Mexico there are a lot 
of popular persons who, healing persons, no? They make phony miracles, no? 
But—even if what they do is not real, the person who are in this, 
believes, they are good for the peoples. 


SO EVEN IF IT IS NOT REAL, IF IT HAS A GOOD EFFECT—

Yes, they do it. Better than medicine! Because they use faith. Then I start 
to study psychological method they use. And I apply that to psychoanalysis. 
I create a therapeutic path that is Psychomagic. I use the—how to say? 
English is very difficult for me—I use the actions which the people use in 
the superstition, I use the actions, I use the same elements that we know 
is phony. We know that, no? That is the art. That is the language to speak 
to the unconscious of the person. It is magical-like.


AND THIS WAS SUCCESSFUL? 

Very! Very, a big success. I think because I make a book, Psychomagic: The Transformative Power of Shamanic Psychotherapy. I 
have a lot of followers of that, in Europe, in Spain, in Chile, in Mexico, 
in France, in Italy. A lot of the Gestalt therapists used that now.  From 
there I start to study a lot of things like that, no? 


NOW, WHEN WERE YOU DEVELOPING THE PSYCHOMAGIC? THE ’70S? 

No, no, the ’80s. 


I’M SORRY, I DON’T KNOW ALL OF YOUR HISTORY.
You are not obliged to know! [laughter] 


SO WE ARE ALMOST TO THE YEAR 2000—
When I was in the year 1980, I make nothing when I went to 1981. We went 
one year to the other, this is all. Now there is this craziness. When we go 
from 1999 to the year 2000, is to go from one year to another. It is same 
thing–is nothing! Is nothing! It is going from one year to the other. 
Because time is not divided into millenniums–that doesn’t exist. For me, 
it is very natural. I am going from one year to the other year, so what is 
this thing. It doesn’t mean nothing to me! I am not proud to be in the 2000 
year. What the difference? It’s a number! 


IN THE INCAL BOOKS, YOU SAID YOU READ MICKEY SPILLANE FOR INSPIRATION AND 
GUIDANCE—

I read all the book of Mickey Spillane. Because I want to have that rhythm, 
I want to have something there. Reading Spillane, I got the tempo of The 
Incal.

THE STRUCTURE OF IT—
Yes, yes.


SUSPENSE—

Yes.


AH.

For other series I did, I had other inspirations. For The Metabarons, I 
read all the tragedies, the Greek tragedies. I read from that. Then I make 
The MetaBarons, because that is a tragedy. It’s a tragic thing. A Greek 
tragedy from the future. But Incal is more than a thriller, but this is why 
I read Mickey Spillane. 


WHAT ABOUT THE TECHNO-PRIEST BOOKS? 

The Techno-Priest I write about the whole new industry of the cd-rom, the 
new games in the world. The world is going to be dominated by the games, 
now. Video games. But more advanced than video games. They are audiogram 
games, no? The games directs the galaxies, and the ruler of the galaxy are 
the businessman, who is the Techno Priest. Business became religion.


I THINK WE HAVE THAT IN AMERICA, NOW. 

Yeah, you have that and you don’t realize. [laughs] In America the god is 
the dollar, no? That is God. At one time the dollar will be sacred. And the 
industry will be the Church. That I am doing. Then the Techno Priest is the 
history of the high priest of that church, that industrial church. You need 
to learn to know how to make games, how to use the humanity, how to conduct 
the humanity to make the games, and to buy the games, etc. It is very 
interesting. 


ARE YOU INTERESTED IN DESIGNING VIDEO GAMES YOURSELF? 

Yes. Last year I did in L.A. They’re doing that now. I went there and 
proposed, I say, Listen, I want to make this type of story, are you 
interested? They said, Yes, sure. I made two games of, and I am making a 
game of the Metabaron, then they are doing. I think, “There is a new 
artform.” Very interesting.

AND IF YOU COMBINE THE GAME WITH THE INTERNET—

Yes. It is normal. Why is important? Because in the future world, the 
humanity will work less and less. And will have more and more time for 
them, the games. And then we will get bored. See my meaning? We are 
animals, we are bored. And then the games will be the most important thing. 
You know now, the world, no? All the world we have are games. We see the 
world through television, like games. You are in America, you know that. 
You have the live television—when a person is killing somebody, you see 
that on the television, you can follow that. Life is becoming a show, a 
game, no? More and more.


SO YOU HAVE TO DESIGN A BETTER GAME—

Yes I think it is important. An artist needs to go there. 


WHAT IS THE KEY TO MAKING A GOOD VIDEO GAME? 

A video game …you need to realize there is not only one style of video 
game. You need to know all the different types of video games, the 
different constructions. You have the video games—you need to kill all 
kind of things. You are a killer. Rat-a-tat-tat. [laughs] Then there are 
the combat. You are fighting, and playing, any kind of fight. That is not 
interesting. Then you have the game where you need to discover how to go 
from one side to the other, no? You need to choose the way A, the way B, 
the way C. You have chosen, like a tree. You go to the right or to the 
left. You construct if like a tree. There are other games where you make a 
universe, and you put inside characters and then they start to move as a 
world. That is interesting for me. 


THAT WOULD SEEM TO BE THE GAME FOR YOU—
You create a universe, but you do not direct the characters. They will 
attempt to move. And then there is the content of the games which is very 
important. In the future you will have one million players in a game, or 2 
million, or 20 million playing that game. There also the game you make 
distant worlds where you are another living in the life in another world, 
you know? 
You need to choose what kind of game you want to do. 


SO I ASSUME YOU’D BE INTERESTED IN THE GAME WHERE YOU CREATE THE WHOLE 
UNIVERSE—

I prefer the games which are a mystery. You give to the person a lot of 
choice. But you limit the choice in some way. It’s a new way to tell a 
mystery. It’s a multidimensional mystery, it’s a new way to construct a 
mystery, because in the novel, the comics, the movies, you have one 
mystery, no? In the video game, now, there is another possibility: you will 
choose the point of view from where you will see the picture. No? We are 
coming to a new way to tell these stories. Humanity never knew that way to 
tell stories. You can tell a mystery from different point of view in the 
same moment. It’s important, it’s a real revolution. 


WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS SO IMPORTANT?

Because all the life we have is made with the mind. The world is what we 
think the world is. No? Revolution doesn’t exist, because the revolution is 
fake. It’s a failure, revolution. You change one thing for another thing. 
Humanity cannot evolve with revolution. Humanity cannot evolve without 
mutation, you know? With Transformation. The games will change, will open 
the mind of the individual or the citizen, will give a freedom from the 
world. There is change now. It’s important. But these things are good or 
are bad. The personal telephone did all kind of things — open the way of 
communication, no? I want to open a way to feel the world, to act in the 
world. What I am saying now is important. We will very soon be rid of 
television. Television will die in order to be born another kind of 
communication who will be more complicated than television. It is very 
exciting, very nice–very dangerous, also. Because you can be manipulated 
very easily. You can lose your freedom. Everything will change. Life will 
change, politics will change, economy will change. We are going through a 
mutation.


PEOPLE WILL EXIST IN THIS SPACE RATHER THAN INSIDE A COUNTRY, RIGHT?

Yes, right. Now in this moment, I am speaking with you. We are very, very 
far and we are speaking. I am there and you are here. In the net you can 
make music, you can do that today–different countries! You can write 
books! You will be able to do things human beings have never been able to 
do before. That is good! 


YES. NOW, I READ THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON A FILM WITH CARO?

I did the screenplay. My work is finished, I wrote the script. 


WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

He wanted to make something impossible–an actor who gets lost in the 
universe. And that is all! Like one actor. And then I say, “Well, is 
difficult to make a picture for only one actor.”


BUT THAT’S WHAT YOU DID WITH MARCEL MARCEAU—

Ah, well…When I write it for Caro, the one actor multiplies himself in 
the time, no? [Caro] says, “This is impossible to do.” So, I did it. I 
write it. 


IS THE FILM GOING TO BE MADE? 

They will do it, but the picture takes four years til they do it. It’s a 
question of time, from the script, from the early phase, there is a lot of 
time.


RIGHT. WHAT ELSE ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

Listen, in just this moment, I am very busy making the comics because it is 
a big success. And then I make seven series, different series. Every month 
until the end of the year, I have a book who’s coming, one book every 
month. And then also I write novels—they’re going very well in Spanish, in 
French and in Italian, and German, no? You will know my books in the United 
States one day maybe. Also I finish a theatre play they will show in Italy. 
A lot of things like that. I have my therapies. I have not time to make 
other things. Maybe I will start another picture, I will do another 
picture, but is difficult to do a picture. First, it takes a whole year to 
do it, no? Then you need to fight against studio people because the 
industry doesn’t want a personality to make a picture, they want a product. 
And more and more the goals are collective struggles, no? And more and more 
expensive! It’s difficult, but it’s possible that the capital, the money, 
is difficult to obtain, you need to have agreements with televisions and 
bankers and they will change your script and you cannot doing what you 
want! That is the thing, no? I admire the person who make Matrix or 
Starship Troopers, things like that, no? Pictures like that I like a lot, 
myself. They are industry products, but they are good.


THEY HAPPEN IN SPITE OF THE INDUSTRY, NOT BECAUSE OF THE INDUSTRY. 

Yes! That is not for me now. 


WILL THERE BE A SEQUEL TO ‘EL TOPO’? I’VE SEEN THE TITLES “SON OF EL TOPO” 
AND “EL TORO” MENTIONED—
It won’t do a conventional “Part II.” I wrote a script named Abelcain, which 
could be the story of the Sons of El Topo. I’ve been looking for five years 
for a producer to invest five million dollars in the project. Impossible. 


AH. YOUR COMICS ARE SET IN THE FUTURE, WHEREAS EL TOPO AND HOLY MOUNTAIN 
WERE APPARENTLY IN THE PRESENT—

No, you see now, there are still, they are not old, because the present was 
not a real present. It was the same world—like a fairy tale, was out of 
reality. I don’t like to make an art that’s in reality. Realism I don’t 
like. I don’t like! I dislike. I like in the future. 


FOR SOME REASON WE CAN’T SEE HOLY MOUNTAIN IN THE UNITED STATES… 

This is because Allen Klein.


WHAT IS THE DEAL? THAT GUY SEEMS LIKE A VERY BAD MAN—

He’s a bad man. Listen, I don’t know why he hate me. He want to kill El 
Topo, he want to kill The Holy Mountain. He tried to kill that, but it’s 
impossible because it’s full of pirates, the world. And all the world see 
my picture in pirate. Pirates everywhere! Now there are pirates in England, 
very good copies. He cannot stop that, he tried for 20 or 30 years he tried 
to stop this picture, he cannot do it.


HE’S A REAL SCOUNDREL.

Yes, he’s a monster! 


HE SEEMS TO HAVE DONE THIS TO A LOT OF PEOPLE.

I think he has an illness of power. No? And then he came with an ego trip 
with me. He wanted to talk to me, he wanted me to make pornographic 
pictures. And then I went out. I say No, he want me to make a pornography, 
so I escape from him. And then he says this: “You don’t want to work for 
me, we kill your work.” That is so! For me, he’s a criminal. When you try 
to kill a art, you are a killer, a criminal. For me I condemn him to be 
killed! Really! He deserves that, to be condemned to be killed! 


KENNETH ANGER IS ALSO UPSET WITH ALLEN KLEIN FOR SOME REASON— 

He’s a criminal! Allen Klein is a real criminal, he needs to be killed. 


UM. YOU CAME INTO CONTACT WITH THE GUY THROUGH JOHN LENNON, RIGHT? 

Yes, John Lennon liked El Topo. He saw El Topo in New York at the Indian 
Theatre. And then it started. And then through Allen Klein, because Lennon 
have Apple…He had Apple give me one million dollars to do The Holy 
Mountain. That’s what happened. 


I ALSO WANTED TO ASK YOU ABOUT—
How, where you will put all that, it’s impossible! 


WELL, WE HAVE A SPECIAL MAGAZINE…
Ah! Well, okay.


I DID HAVE A COUPLE QUESTIONS FROM FRIENDS…ARE YOU STILL A CHILEAN CITIZEN?

I went out of Chile in 1953 and then I was 40 years without  go. And then I 
went out to Chile before Allende and I came when Pinochet was finished. Now 
I go, every year I go for ten days, because they publish my books there. 
And every year they publish one book, I go to Chile. I am hero in Chile! 
[laughs] Also I am French. I have dual nationalities. 


NOW, A LOT OF YOUR FILMS AND COMICS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH DRUG USE. 

Drug use? Listen. Mmm. That was the culture. The drug culture was the ’60s, 
was like that. But that is not my world, you know? I am not a drug artist. 
I was always…in very good health! [laughs] I never use….Sure, I take 
LSD twice. And hallucinogenic mushroom twice. That is all!


DID YOU FIND THESE TO BE ENLIGHTENING, INSIGHTFUL EXPERIENCES?

When I take the LSD, I hired a guru who give it, who guide the experience. 
It was also insightful from the [Inca?] training. He came to Mexico and I 
make two sessions of him of eight hours. That was a guru. The guru was 
Oscar Ichazo. He used to promise his followers that he would give them 
enlightenment very quickly, using the best from the Eastern techniques as a 
cocktail. He called it the Arica training. He wanted to be a new 
Scientology, but they failed. But anyway, was interesting. I didn’t make 
that in order to have fun! I wanted to open my mind in order to make The 
Holy Mountain. This kind of drug doesn’t give you illumination, but shows 
you how your brain is a crazy guy. Because we live inside a crazy world 
with our brain. And that open you to your own craziness inside. You can see 
there are possibilities. And when you see the possibilities, and the toxic 
effects have gone, you know where you can go. 
  
  
 

YOU’VE SEEN HOW YOU CAN CHANGE YOURSELF—
You see that, you see what is fixed, what limits you have. And it’s a help, 
in one moment of the life, it’s a big help, one experience like that. But 
you need to do it with a master! Because if you do it alone or with other 
persons, you will obtain nothing! It needs to be some kind of sacred 
experience. That is the reality.


CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT OTHER EXPERIENCES YOU’VE HAD THAT YOU CONSIDER SACRED 
OR IMPORTANT TO PEOPLE IN DEVELOPING THEMSELVES? 

It’s important for me myself to go to primitive cultures and to have a 
contact because there you will know another way to think, another way to 
see the universe, the world.

ARE THERE ONES IN PARTICULAR—

I did that a lot in Mexico, also in Chile with the Mapuches, the 
Chilean Indians. I went there to study with the medicine woman in Chile 
from the… There, the shamans are women. It was very interesting for me to 
go. I take for myself an excursion there. In Mexico also there are the 
brujos, the shamanic…it’s important to know the shamanic experience. In 
Brazil, for example. But it’s not important because some person in Mexico 
make confusion, to take peyote, to take ayahuasca, to take drugs. That is 
not important. What is important is to be in contact with another way to 
feel natural in the world. It is important to go out of the city. 
I make a lot of Zen meditations…Chinese philosophy…Kaballah. I was 
searching because I was afraid to die. I was searching how not to die! 
Really…But when I start to die, I stop the mystical search, no? Really, 
when you start to live is when you accept to die. Then you are really in 
reality. Hmm! [laughs] Not before.

ARE YOU INTERESTED AT ALL IN AFRICAN CULTURES? 

Yes, a lot. I study very very much the voodoo, a very spectacular religion. 
Because in the voodoo what is important is the possession. The possession. 
How you go into a trance, how you are possessed. That is very important 
because it’s another way to feel nature. Hollywood makes the voodoo zombies 
and evil and idiocy like that. But voodoo is very respectable religion. And 
very wise. And is important to know that. The basis, the root of voodoo is 
African. Very important. The African religion of the possession, you can 
learn a lot. So I did it. 


DO YOU BELIEVE THE PEOPLE ARE LITERALLY BEING POSSESSED BY SPIRITS, OR IS 
IT JUST IMPORTANT THAT THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE BEING POSSESSED BY SPIRITS? 

No no no, I don’t believe that! Listen…you see they are possessed by not 
anything, no? No, it’s not like that. In the voodoo, every god have a 
conduct, have his own movement, his own dress, his own rhythm, his way to 
act. And then it is a kind of sacred theatre. You are possessed. He is a 
mythical character who come in you. You can call that ‘archetype.’ Because 
in the unconscious you have archetypes. You have the archetype of Moon, of 
the Sun, you have the archetype of the warrior… They may come to you, the 
archetypes from inside the unconscious, they rise by the building up of 
realization, no? I don’t believe in gods, I believe in energies. There are 
different psychological energies you can awake. 


THAT YOU CAN AWAKE FROM WITHIN YOUR OWN UNCONSCIOUS—
The criminal archetype..the criminals, the serial killers, they are the one 
who are possessed by energies, by negative and criminal energy, no? The 
saint, he have another energy. The artist have another energy. You have the 
energy of love… But in this unique expression of the human species, you 
have ways of..um..merde! 


YOU CAN FIND DIFFERENT METHODS– 

Different energies—

OF BRINGING THESE DIFFERENT ENERGIES TO– 

Yes, that’s it. The average man has only one energy…Only his family, his 
school, his town…these are one energy. But there are a lot of other 
energies you can discover! And that is good to break some limit in the 
mind. But it’s dangerous also, because you can broke your energies and you 
can be possessed by the shape and try to destroy you. And in order to go to 
study the possession you need to be a very balanced person. 


RIGHT. GOING BACK TO WHAT YOU WERE SAYING EARLIER: I SUPPOSE USING THE 
VIDEO GAMES CAN BE ANOTHER METHOD OF BRINGING FORTH… 

Yes, but we have a problem now in video games. Because we are in the 
prehistorical moment, eh? The prehistorical person in our history has to 
eat, has to fuck, has to fight. These things we know. They are primitive. 
Why the game like that, how to kill, how to fight, how to fuck…These are 
the games. Very basic, no? They are bad energies at the moment. We need to 
bring to that good energies, but this will take time. Because need to 
develop that new moment. We are in the basic moment, and then the kids, the 
boys, they learn violence, they’re learning how to kill. This is what they 
are doing, no? But in the same moment they learn how to direct the game, 
how to be polyvalent, to have very quick reaction… that is good also. 


PERHAPS THE PEOPLE MAKING VIDEO GAMES SHOULD EXPERIENCE SOME SHAMANIC 
TRADITIONS! 
The people that are making video games are technicians now. They are not 
artists. This is why the new three dimension, the product, The Antz, the 
3-D film, are so awful. They are not made by artists, they are made by 
technicians. One day the artists will learn all that and the artist will 
know the new techniques. Now I have an artist named Beltran and he make a 
comic with me—


YES, HE USES COMPUTERS—
Yes. It’s fantastic! And we have an enormous success! Because it’s new, 
it’s artistic, it’s the first time an artist is also technical, but is an 
artist. He’s the only one in Europe now. We need more! 


I HAVEN’T READ TECHNOPRIESTS YET…

Ah. This is a book I made for boys of 13 years old, 14-year-olds…eh? I 
like a lot, eh. 


WHAT AUDIENCE DID YOU WRITE THE INCAL FOR?
The Incal? Adults. Children can read it, but they’re for adults. “Adult.” 
What is an “adult”? 17 year, 18 years? I think. Maybe in America now you 
have 13 years. It changes all the time. Now I read an American girl of 11 
years has 17 lovers! And I don’t know how…[inaud] [giggles]


DO YOU COME TO AMERICA VERY OFTEN?

I was there in Los Angeles, preparing this opening of comics.With what bad English I have, how can I make an interview? I swear to you I 
am more intelligent than that. I speak like an idiot, you know….

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in JTHomesteader.com with Stephanie Smith.

2 thoughts on “"In the center of the horror, 
of the civilization, there is the happiness to be alive." —Jodorowsky (1999)

  1. Pingback: The Sunday Papers | Rock, Paper, Shotgun

  2. nice interview! in addition to the myriad of talents that we were all already aware of, jodorowsky ALSO has a keen grasp of bowie’s irrelevancy (and obsolescence) more of a visionary than i thought … that said, marilyn manson?

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