Included in the 1958 translated collection of ‘Songs of the River’ (most of which emerged around 1939), many query whether ‘Rung’ actually belongs there. Its inclusion is thought to be due to editors giving it only a cursory reading, which of course does reveal the word ‘river’ on the second line. The real meaning of the work though is more obscure and seems to centre around a kind of uncanny appearance of the relatively newly developed telephone technology -hence ‘rung’. Initially it seems to indicate a state of pre-telephone innocence ruined by its advent though as it progresses this interpretation becomes less clear. The confusion tends to centre around the line ‘singing this song for his will to be done’ which has been taken to mean that there is something divine voice of the telephone, that it some how enables a teleology in the system (Seranoga’s Hegelian inclinations have been noted elsewhere). Having said all of this the German repeating section and the last curious stand alone verse have proved confusing to many. Speculatively one can look at the poem as beginning with the afore mentioned innocence, dissolving into an uncanny dread of the device before the realisation of its divine nature. This divinity is sung by the strange exuberant desire for the phone that the alternatively rhythmed final section displays. The German shows the hesitation and eventual acceptance of the whole work in miniature for the reader.


Lie me down softly and sing me to sleep,
There’s fog on the river and fires to keep,
I never was lonesome I always felt glad,
What happens this season is solid and sad,

And you sing me all alone,
And you sing me all alone,

Komme, noch nicht,
Komme, noch nicht,
Komme, noch nicht, komme.

Holding the bone rim, the gift of the maw,
Mouthing the tone ring, the see and the saw,
Waiting in morbid state here for the call,
Enchanted bells in the dim of the wall,

Embalming me now ‘neath the concrekerly town,
Calming me now ‘pon the merry go round,
Reaching in awe for the empty stone stair,
Coming and going the embers draw care…

And you sing me all alone,
And you sing me all alone,

Komme, noch nicht,
Komme, noch nicht,
Komme, noch nicht, komme.

Pressing compressing the tinniest noise.
Voices in turmoil the endless of choice,
Emptiness filled with the message of one,
Singing the song for his will to be done,

And you sing me all alone,
And you sing me all alone,

Hey mamma singer, hey pappa singer,
Bring me the ‘phone,
Hey copper singer, hey hopper singer,
Bring me the ‘phone,
Hey clapper singer, hey trapper singer,
Bring me the ‘phone,

Oh bring me that ‘phone to me!

By Jim Meirose

Gotten out already his big forceps, he clamped onto the thing and pulled it free—advantaging the fact that the subject is far past killing—and as he swung the device—looking even more large, out free of its host—out over and into a stainless pan, its metallic nature was made known immediately by its the clank. Clearly this is a foreign object.

That’s a foreign object, is it not?

Obviously—and the thick shreds of stomach all th’ came ‘way with it, indicate that, most likely—most certainly—this is a top candidate for the cause ‘o this-mann’s final death.

How did it get there? How could one—as he prodded the gadget with a long rib-spreader lying by handily—ingest such a thing, after all, and by Peter, it’s two or three baseballs big.

Quite frankly yah yes, but—no. t’was not ingested as stated—had to become there by some unnaturally means. But—of its function, Doc—of what could that these, or those, if multiplee’ they be, what does it do. Can we tell?

Uh. It could not have grown there, ‘cause he’s not been ‘ver no machine. So, wipe that. It could not’ve been swallowed ‘cause of its immensity, and its grasping sharp appendages would have snagged it back, way up hiss throatwise most ‘mmediately. So, wipe that. Lastly was it implanted. Before dissertizing on that, maybe we got to nail down, 1. Surgically implanted? Ah, no, he’s no surgical scars. 2. Planted in, disguised as food or drink? Noah. Same quis’etty as swallowed. So, since there’s nothing else, what have we mis-guessed priorly back out ‘bout some coupla’ hunnerd’s ‘o words? To wit, I have just scanned all previous possible reasons down, once. And again, twice. And, again, once over one last time. And no.

Into the sudden breaking wave if silence was said aloud, So. We’ll never know?

Non no never eck—but it is what killed him.

That thing that there—oh, wook! Where did ye place it?

Right there—oh no, maybe?

No! Where did it go? No games, please.

I am not gaming. It was—I don’t know, look under these ‘n that’s.


‘fter thoroughly scanning ‘der every these and that’s maybe-kimbo the whole room, eh.

I don’t get it.

Me neither, Chuck.

Eck, the masters, what should they be told?

A magic technology. Programmed to disappear if discovered. Like—like—like—the story at the front ‘o them olde tyme Mishdey-ing, if at all Posstibule, ‘terentainmenty shows.

Hic. What is that?

Oh, as the child you are here, you could not possibly remember. So never mind. But it is not your fault ye’re young as you are. You will grow up, someday.

But what about this? Why—

Concept of Eggs
Seranoga (trans 1974 from Collected Rhymes)

Into the cold flat
Wandered the stranger
Distant from me
And yet still filled with hunger

Contemplates dinner
Penultimate meal
Fried imperfection
The unholy round

And as the liquids boiling sear
He thinks of protein filled with fear
The lies of man behind the box
The slice of death that darkness locks

Alien blackness
Potential nothing
Hopeful of life
Yet so sinful the supping

Feed me on high
Lest I  fall from the sky
I have no bite left…
Only my bark

And as you fry without a care
I  wasn’t really anywhere
The name of God is oh so flat
Behind these lines that I am trapped

Calmly Considering what Clothing to wear Tonight.
Jim Meirose

Was cause of death not determined immediately, no no, after death as the law requires? I am not sure I need to know this is a special case more before I proceed no this is down from the top but this is highly irregular very much so Doc, listen, don’t; no st’, wait—I’ve been licensed on the condition now listen this is from the top, Doc that I work just do the autopsy according to the law okay buh’ listen the sooner you are done huh why and we get out of here the better off all concerned will be. Okay?

During this debate the mysterious men stood firm, so—angry still, but knowing there was no point, Pig gathered the necessary tools around him; plugged in his saws, counted out his scissoring scalpelsharps, and bellied up and; yes and; as always when gazing on the subject to be opened, all fell away and he bent down braced ‘gainst the table and began to cut. Cut and snip trim and spread push out of the way this and push out of the way that all smelling of alcohol ‘r formaldehyde or perhaps simply picklejuice, but no time for reflection, because this man—which he ’mmediately had to admit might no’ be so—such was the state of its faulty preservation—the tissues organs some fat ‘n some shriveled, were hard to cut—and as he went through the steps for this day’s lesson, which day was quite long back ‘ctually, he recalled them all ‘round him ‘n human anatomy twelve, lab group five, so remarked to Lavender boy, who was just finishing up gowning, Christ, in the real world where the meat’s super-fresh, will the cutting be this hard? This’s all pickled-down brittle like this—Lavender boy stepped up but the answer came ‘ctually from Venisienne which said she loud, as she usually louded out this way when in mid-slice ‘n slash, no, those ought to be butter-like eh, knives o’er butter, and Lavender boy leant in, saying, Yes, but, if in fact those we do in the future protest in such a rock-hard way, they will need to be put in their places, like this! And he randomly slashed o’er the pickleydown organmass, and, Like that! as he stabbed deep, direct a’ blow, to the random masse of stale hard meat before them, and; he said; and they all three agreed; the best line of work for us after we get th’ fat hanging sheepies, would be to skinny down as pathologists, or funeral stab-slashers, or what have we, you, them, or how out our anyhoots, you can’t kill the dead fuck up so what have a bad day and fuck up, so what, have a few too many whatever night’s prior and fuck up, so what—he gang, silly! ‘f ya can’t kill ‘em they can’t die! And, way back that day’s wave of hilarity washed over a rogue wave actually and in their hilarity, they stab, slice, eyes closed ‘r eyes open, so what? Push, shove, test the sharp of this knife off the sharp of that there, how far in the heart can we stab? We stab? Come out the other end, the encore being a prick down the leg of the long eh eh, so what? And that we the best day Pig had God bless Chester, Venisienne, and this random dead person, who meant to help humanity by their selfless sciencestiffic donation of their whole entire body, all babyfat still hung there, nor there, no issue—and Pig smilingly sliced some big hard lumpy thing with a knife, expecting the usual slimy nameless mass of a closeup shot, down into a bowl of pork and beans, or perhaps something else entirely, but—there’s a spidery metallic manylegger of some grasp of a thing there, all-stead, hey. Plainly deadly ‘ffn y’all ask me Doc. Hup.

They pulled back agape.

What the hell can this be?

What I want to consider here is the term ‘power’ as used by Castaneda and consider how this fits with various other types of experience. To qualify my use of treating Castaneda with this level of seriousness I would point out that I do not naively take the contents of the books to depict actual events, though neither do I deny that they might. What I do find important in the books is the way in which (to me at least) concepts like power make a massive amount of sense. This feeling though, as we shall see, serves as a ambiguous kind of evidence for the general thesis.

Power in Castaneda is both an impersonal and personal force. Basically it is what is responsible for any incredible things occurring. Persons wanting to cultivate occult ability need to acquire ‘personal power’. The chief manner in which this is achieved is through ‘impeccable’ living. This simply means doing ones best at everything and not wasting time on endless thinking about what to do, thought is functional so that it leads to action and it should lead to action (not more thought). The notion is that by tidying up ones life one stops leaking ‘power’ and becomes able to retain it. The distinction between the personal and impersonal is something of a false one. Incredible things that occur are ‘for’ specific people insofar as they brought them about themselves. Jungian synchronicities could be seen as examples of such phenomena though events in the books are far more extreme. Power can present itself as something that might seem incredibly impersonal, yet the possibility of viewing the event at all turned on whether one had enough ‘personal’ power to do so.

Another key feature of power is the ability of more powerful individuals to lend power to others. Don Juan frequently tells Carlos that some of the things he is able to witness are only because of his (DJ’s) power and not Carlos’. Some entities that Carlos sees in the hills and Carlos’ initial dreaming success are both ascribed to Don Juan’s power and not Carlos’. It is this feature of power that has captured my attention.

This notion of acquiring power from others seems related to a common experience people have when reading texts, or even reading about texts. Certain texts to certain individuals can feel so persuasive that they feel overwhelmed by them. In the case of philosophy this may result in becoming ‘a Heideggerian’ ‘a Deleuzian’ ‘a Wittgensteinian’ etc. This kind of acolytehood no matter how temporary can be seen through the above lens in two ways: i) as the power of the author to bring you under their fold ii) as the power of the individual to comprehend the text. The second interpretation features in a similar manner in CC’s work. There are instances of certain explanations that are literally impossible to understand without a certain level of ‘personal power’.

I tentatively want to argue for a heuristic division of ways in which texts strike us. This split I would label as rational and intuitive (for want of a better word). Furthermore this division is not intended as always occurring in an absolute manner, all instances will no doubt be blurred. Neither should we think that the rational understanding of a text is denigrated. This is the attempt to understand the arguments presented and follow the authors steps through to their conclusion. I am not saying that this results in truth; lurking underneath this tendency are still affective factors -as suggested here.

What I am suggesting though is that it is when an intuitive tendency takes over, that one is more open to the double motion of being-controlled and suddenly-grasping. Being-controlled is as such,, only insofar the author has exerted power through the text. Being-controlled is the sense that the work is so powerful that one must push this agenda and adhere to it. This is what elsewhere referred to as being-an-agent, that is even if it is not for a particular thinker, one might be an agent for e.g. idealism. As someone ‘persuaded’ of this truth, one works for idealism, to further its status in the world etc. Suddenly-grasping can be separated from being-controlled insofar as it does not entail that one agrees with what one has suddenly grasped. Whilst I could also concede that suddenly-grasping does not entail that one has suddenly-grasped correctly, in the sense of power that we mean here, in a way it does. Suddenly-grasping as an act of power is an actual comprehension brought about fluidly from the text in a very natural unfolding as opposed to hard cognitive work.

Let’s be clear, this is an occult thesis offering a parallel interpretation to more normal ways in which we think we understand things (we read something, we take in the information and weigh up). Power is not understood to have an agenda, the actions of power are completely mysterious. Why was a given person suddenly able to understand the text? Simply because they had enough power to receive that information. End of story. We can render power in this sense, slightly more cogent by thinking that unconscious forces in operation are motivated towards certain ends and as such will reveal text that suits their ends.

Being-controlled can be thought of in a similar way, though it can also be comprehended as being literally taken over by an alien conceptual body. The thoughts that we have that agree with, (indeed argue for) this stance seem like our own but really we are simply being partially controlled through lines connected to the relevant theory accretion/psychic structure. Whilst, at first this suggests a sense in which there was a ‘me’ that is now partially controlled in its theoretical doings by an external accretion. A more sensible way of looking at it would be that there was either no or very little ‘me’ and in fact all the thoughts present in this region were just the external plugins of all manner of different kinds of accretions. The ‘me’ could be better understood as the system of filtering rather than the ideas themselves, as it is the system of filtering that actually is local whereas all the ideas are essentially out there and in this case very literally ‘out there’.

Another instance of this kind of usage of ‘power’ is a therapeutic one. We can conceive of a therapist as someone who lends some power to their patient. This is a specific kind of action in a sense. It is not the kind of action that normal healthcare uses as the modern western system externalises power into the action of the medicine and not the healer and psychologically increasingly the the technique and not the therapist.

A psychological type therapy though is the best kind of relevant example as the aim is very similar to the Don Juan/CC relation, that is, one seeks to alter the way of perceiving things of the other. In the therapeutic setting, if we allow for an occult concept like power to have force, then the action is literally one of lending some power to the patient. Now the being-controlled notion takes on a different edge. Here being-controlled would be a deliberate allowing oneself to be-controlled. The therapist plugs the forces for which they are an agent directly into the patient. ‘Power’ here is ability to do so, to lend your ‘stable’ mind to the patient and attempt to nuture autonomy of the stability-implant so that the connection can be eventually mostly severed. This would also suggest that power is the power to control ones own filtering system and other people’s filtering systems.

Lest this sound too reasonable statement, the extreme version of ‘filtering system’ here would be the alteration of seemingly solid reality. The line between what looks like simply perceptual alteration and actual ontological change would also be totally blurred.

The meaning of the ambiguous force of Castaneda’s own works as evidence for the thesis is probably fairly clear now. The ambiguity is of course our old friend the agnostic disjunction -is power ontologically real or purely psychological? On the strong (occult) interpretation CC’s works themselves are capable as a power source capable of altering the filtering system of readers. This is certainly a common enough effect of reading the books just as being infected by the 23 phenomenon is with RAW/Burroughs’ work. Power in this way operates in a certain circularity. Its comprehension requires sufficient power itself. This is almost the strangest heart of agnostic disjunctive territory for only by allowing power to be power could it show itself in this wise. A constant refusal to do so will reveal it only in its psychological dimension which will view its occult counterpart as total bunk. This does not even say the psychological reading is wrong, it is consistent within itself.

It is not called an agnostic disjunction for no reason.