The name of Alejandro Jodorowsky might not be familiar, yet you’ve probably been exposed to his work one way or another. His career, spanning over 70 years, has taken many forms. He’s, among other things, an actor, a mime, a puppeteer, a writer (essays, novels, movie and comics scenarios) and a movie and theator director. At almost 90 he’s still active, having recently released his movie Endless Poetry.
He’s also a therapist, famous for having revived tarot reading (check out the NY Times article), using it not as a divination tool but as a way to interpret and clarify the emotional and mental state of the person who consults him. At the root of his creative work lies his need to heal and help others grow. The suffering he experienced during his childhood urged him to go beyond the limited vision of the individual that society offers. He’s dedicated to what he calls “the expansion of consciousness”.
To reach his goal, he’s used many different medias. Symbolism is a huge aspect of his creation. His most notable work includes comics like The Incal or Alef Thau and movies like The Sacred Mountain. Yet, his most ambitious cinematographic work, the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, never saw the day. The story of this unique adventure is related in a documentary, Jodorowsky’s Dune. This project planted the seeds for many of our sci-fi classics.
Born in a Jewish Ukrainian family settled in Chile, the mixing of cultures and traditions is at the heart of his universalist message. His artistic career led him from Chile to Paris to Mexico to Paris again. Throughout the years, he studied and been exposed to western philosophy and mysticism, alchemy, Kabbalah, Zen Buddhism, psychoanalysis, tarot, gypsy magic, chamanism, Yoga, martial arts… The list goes on. But he doesn’t limit himself to a bland syncretism. He seems to have absorbed those different elements in a way that allow him to state his views in a very matter of fact, non esoteric way.
To put it in a nutshell, he states that the different forces that shape the individual throughout his life (family, culture, society) are restrictive. He defends the idea that, through the development of consciousness, anyone can overcome those limitations to find the essential being, what lies under all those layers imposed on the individual. This is the foundation of his whole work, the subtext of all his creation.
Influenced by his study of meditation under a Zen master for five years and his psychoanalysis with Eric Fromm, he devised a therapeutical method called psychomagic. The key principle is that instead of resolving unconscious issues by using conscious language, like traditional psychoanalysis, the unconscious could be contacted through symbols. According to Jodorowsky, a poetic, symbolic art can help untie un rational conflicts, mostly led to the family history of the consultant. His observation of family dynamics led him to develop meta genealogy.
Of course, one could say that the thing that interests Jodo the most is himself, his work being centered mostly around his life and experience. That is true in a way. But his intentions seems very altruistic. He looked for a way he could enrich his life and help other do the same. As an example for twenty years, he read tarot for free in Parisian cafés. He also ran the Cabaret Mystique, a weekly free conference attended by hundreds of people with live demonstration of psychomagic and metagenealogy with people chosen from the audience. His collaboration with his family, the Jodorowsky constellation, is also a good example of the collective aspect of his work.
There are many doors to Jodo’s universe. They all lead to the same place. Pick yours.
Enjoy. Spread the love.