part one  Stopping the World


Carlos recapitulates his first meeting with don Juan "never had his momentum been stopped so swiftly" as by the look he was given when he tried to bluff about his knowledge about plants.

Saturday, 17 December 1960

Carlos confesses his deviousness at the first meeting but now claims to be much more knowledgeable. don Juan laughs and assures Carlos that there was really no way to prepare for their meeting. He likens it to a story of a persecuted people learning to pronounce certain words like their persecutors to avoid recognition. He puts his own spin on the story by telling of a young man who confesses to spending six months learning the key word.  When an official has forgotten it, he replaces it with another word that the young man does not know. The young man is killed.

Carlos says he may sound stupid but is really interested in learning about plants. 

Don Juan: I like to walk a great deal. Let's take a hike in the desert. 

Carlos offers to pay don Juan for his help. 

Don Juan: Pay me for my time with your time.

Carlos takes notes on a pad inside his windsheeter not wanting to disturb him by writing in front of him. 

Don Juan: If you want to write, write. You don't disturb me.

They hike. They stop by some large bushes. 

Don Juan: Plants are very peculiar things. They are alive and they feel.

A strong gust of wind blows. 

Don Juan: The wind and the leaves are agreeing with me. 

Carlos thinks this an eccentricity. They walk on. They rest on a rock. Carlos asks again for don Juan to become his informant in exchange for some monetary reward. 

Don Juan: You don't have to pay me. You can ask me anything you want I will tell you what I know and then I will tell you what to do with it.

Don Juan: Perhaps there is nothing to learn about plants because there is nothing to say about them.

An Air-Force jet agrees with him.

Carlos asks where don Juan is from... 

Don Juan: I live here now but I am really a Yaqui from Sonora. You are who you are, from wherever you are and I am a Yaqui from Sonora.

Carlos says he is made to feel as if he has been caught in a lie and experiences a peculiar sensation of guilt.

They return home which makes Carlos feel a little better but not quite relaxed and he feels somehow threatened.

Carlos offers to buy a drink.  Don Juan says he never drinks beer which Carlos disbelieves as he has heard that don Juan spends most of his time plastered out of his mind but he really does not mind thinking that don Juan is lying as he likes him.

Don Juan says he used to drink in his youth but that one day he simply dropped it.

"People hardly ever realise that we can cut anything from our lives, at any time, just like that", said don Juan snapping his fingers. 

Carlos: Do you think that one can stop drinking or smoking that easily ? 

Don Juan: Sure smoking and drinking are nothing. Nothing at all if we want to drop them.

The coffee pot boils. "See the boiling water agrees with me. A man can get agreement from everything around him."

Their first session comes to an end. Don Juan says he can come anytime but will not arrange specifics and says he will be in whenever. Carlos asks to bring a camera and recorder next time but is told that that is out of the question. "Forget it. And if you still want to see me don't ever mention it again."

Carlos complains weakly that pictures and recordings are indispensable to his work. Don Juan says that there is only one thing which was indispensable for anything we do. He called it the spirit. "One can't do without the spirit. And you don't have it. Worry about that and not about pictures."