A verdadera parodia. Joseph Lichy went to see Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune at Phoenix Picturehouse on a Wednesday night. The psychedelic cowboy flick El Topo was Thursday’s enchanted viewing while the pièce de résistance Holy Mountain (funded by John Lennon) was saved for Friday night. Jodorowsky documentaries, interviews and YouTube clips: they all got sandwiched between shifts at the day job. The result? Perhaps foreseeable. Lichy is a medium, an easy conduit. Lichy is Jodorowsky.
You know some people went to the cinema to see the recent film Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune thinking it was my Dune: ‘the greatest science fiction film that was never made’ as they say. They were probably disappointed to discover that instead they were watching a feature-length documentary by Frank Pavich.
I hope they enjoyed the film though, and you know, I trust Pavich: he speaks for me because my words are in his hands, so it’s good there’s some complicity between us. I am the product, by that I mean that I am the subject and that is good. If Pavich had focussed on my failure – my failure to film Frank Herbert’s 1965 bestseller (though of course there is no real failure in the life), then Pavich as my abogado, my mouthpiece, would have done me a grand disservice.
I’m not delusional you know. I’m not like Timothy Treadwell in Grizzly Man, and I’m very sorry, but I’m glad that Pavich is not oblique like your very own Louis Theroux; anyway Louis is welcome to try to expose me, and as what? A Charlatan? A failure? A deviant? I have been exposing myself my whole life jejeje je je. Seriously though, I am not Michael Jackson or Jimmy Saville, actually they should have gone to one of my Psychomagico workshops, it might have helped them to align their disinclination with their inclination, their drive with their hearts. It’s very sad you know; if you don’t make this alignment it’s so very destructive, actually then it’s not a life, it’s just la marioneta, el títere. But this is what the film is all about; me, the young Jodorowsky, gathering – like a shepherd – a dream team of spiritual warriors who’ll help the humanity be in alignment. Mick Jagger, he joined us because our eyes met across the room at a party in Paris, we were drawn to each other like a magnet; Dalí because I offered him $1000 a minute to be in my film, money is just energy and though I had none, I knew it would come. And Pink Floyd too, they could not turn me down, though I still don’t know why they were all eating hamburgers when I was giving them the greatest opportunity of their lives. I think I will never know. I could of course offer the role of the obese Baron Harkonnen to none other than the great Orson Welles himself, who eventually agreed after I swayed him with fine wine and food: that is the secret to all agreements in this life you know, they first get digested in the belly; I know this because if the deal doesn’t work out then you say it all goes ‘belly up’.
As I gathered these chess pieces, these spiritual warriors, I felt like Kambei gathering his swordsmen in [Akira] Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Kurosawa decided rightly that the villagers in his film should have no money, and so in the story all they were able to offer in return for protection was some rice; so the villagers had to hire hungry samurai. Like those villagers I too had no money and unfortunately my warriors were not particularly hungry (except Orson Welles, he was always hungry), but this did not stop me. Nothing could stop me. I paid my warriors in knowledge. I remember seeing David Carradine as shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu, I thought to myself: ‘this man truly represents humanity’s spiritual potential, I must meet him’. I was of course not surprised in the slightest when Carradine agreed to be in my film.
Anyway, they were to be the outward face of my group of spiritual warriors, my cavalry and infantrymen. But I still needed my tacticians: my architects and planners. So for behind the scenes H.R. Giger joined us for the set design, he went on to work on the Alien films but before I met him he was a nothing. It all happened very quickly, they arrived one-after-another like a wind had blown them to me. Next Jean Giraud or ‘Moebius’ as you might know him came knocking on my door; he too joined us. Jean was already a big man in the world of comics but he was lost, so I turned him on to the books of Carlos Castaneda – the guru of knowledge – who, just like me, came from South America to Mexico. Jean, he also went to Mexico but to pester the local Shaman for 20 years jejeje je je. Finally the wind blew Dan O’Bannon onto my path. Dan would go on to write the screenplay for Alien and Total Recall but when we met he too was fresh. By then I had stopped even asking people to join me; an invitation is just a formality after all, and is not needed if you truly hear the call to arms. Dan joined our apostolic group almost without any words spoken, and so now we were almost complete, almost a whole flock and I was their shepherd.
You know we had to reinvent ev-ery-thing! Nothing of what we inherited was without dry rot; we had to develop our own secret weapon to counter the war in Vietnam and the bomb, and for this reason I decided upon child labour, a child soldier in fact for our missing link. This was because we needed a spiritual warrior who was pure enough for the job. So, so I did what was necessary: I trained my 12 year-old son Brontis – in meditation and in Jiu-jitsu – for 6 hours a-day for 2 years. Brontis was to portray Paul Atreides – the benefactor of Dune, so you see he needed to be strong, and pure too. Many people said it was cruel this amount of training, but it was not cruel! It was a gift for my son. But [….] I had trained him for everything except rejection unfortunately: the studios said my Dune was too long; they had no vision, no vision! I needed it to be 40 hours long or nothing. I could go down to 22 hours, 19 hours – absolute minimum. But they said no, ‘your film is still too long’ they said. 20 years later they had the idea of the mini-series. And the pioneer of the mini-series was David Lynch and his Twin Peaks of course. I was 20 years ahead of my time! But you know who they chose to eventually direct my Dune? It was David Lynch! And you tell me if that was just a coincidence! Anyway David, he knew it was wrong to direct my Dune, he knew it. David didn’t even want to put his name on the credits, did you know that? He called himself Alan Smithee out of shame.
When Hollywood rejected me it was ego-death; the tarot card I drew was The Wheel of Fortune no less. Your own John Lennon gave me a million dollares to make my Holy Mountain film (this was a few years earlier), and I did make that film actually, but after Dune everything was taken from me – my credibility. But you know, when you see Pavich’s film, you will see I am philosophical about that – the wheel of fate and fortune is itself always in revolution: when we cannot change something, we have to accept it. In another interview I was asked who I would choose for a dream team nowadays: I say myself, I am the only spiritual warrior left je je jeje.
Then I want to tell you about Ian Sinclair: a philosopher and a historian of sorts who interviewed me recently. Ian he is looking at the transitional spaces in-between train stations and the patterns of sewerage pipelines and movements of Russian émigrés here in London; I like that. Why? Because it is movement, and that is the law of the universe. Here in the city we don’t look up at the sky, or down at the underground pipes full of our shit. From the pattern of these pipes – and stars too – a constellation is drawn and we see our place in that configuration. This is not easy to see however, especially when we cannot even see ourselves: Yes and I am talking about our eyes: they’re looking outwards and not inwards. But if we do try to look inwards, then in that constellation we will see our place and have the gracia to receive the cards which we are dealt. You know Ian, he wanted to talk with me about the Tarot and T.S. Elliot: T.S. Elliot knew nothing about the Tarot! It has taken me 50 years and I still know nothing! Really I think Ian really wanted to talk about writers; he was starting to get uncomfortable in that interview talking about the universe je je. Ok, you know Aleister Crowley, a great Englishman! Crowley, he understood the Tarot, he was the original hippy and originator of the avant-garde. He created Thelema religion because he understood that it was needed; a religion that re-united man with his pasión and his creativity, and his mind with his desire. It united all the great teachings: Zen Buddhism and the secrets of las pirámides. Crowley was 50 years too early, just like me of course, and a real superhuman. It is what we need right now, we need super-humanity rather than Superman.