“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
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.
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.