Language and Syntax
The language used, the terms used and the sentence structures are so simple as to be almost deceptive, and a person with an advanced education with all its sophisticated terms and jargons is almost certain to dismiss the whole work as childish imagination. That is the magic of this work and its underlying metaphysics - one has to come down to the very basics of life and human existence, to the point that at the very least we realise that today even with all the technology around, we are living a deceptive existence that is only alienating us further and further from our essence.
Despite the simplicity of language,
the dramatic and romantic quality of the dialogues
is unique. The presenting style and sequence, all combine to create
an unfolding drama of
magic and intrigue that shatters all of one's preconceptions of reality,
( providing there is room for it) forcing one to revaluate all one has learned.
"As a rule, he always concluded each of our sessions on an abrupt note; thus the dramatic tone of the ending of each chapter is not a literary device of my own, it was a device proper of Don Juan's oral tradition. It seemed to be a mnemonic device that helped me retain the dramatic quality and importance of the lessons."
In the first few books, since no technical words are used, the sentence structure is very simple. So simple that for most of the time, the reader has to generate the mood and the context of the conversation.
Every word has many possible meanings behind it, so it is imperative on the part of the
reader to able to figure out the most appropriate one, for the work to be useful. As an
example, lets look at the usage of a deceptively simple word like 'power'.
'Power' in its most common usage means 'strong' or 'forceful' or 'influence and control over other people or situations', but don Juan's use of this word has a very different context to it. Rather the possible contexts in which this word is used are extremely wide, but relate to one's personal situation and control. In short it applies primarily to the ability to have discipline and control over one's own faculties, rather than the ability to influence others. In the later books don Juan uses the term 'personal power' rather than 'power' but also says that this power is not that which is owned by the person or belongs to the person as such, rather it is something that is only a sort of temporary beholding that actually commands the person's actions instead of the person commanding the 'power'.
Again, the usage of the word also depends upon the topic of conversation. For instance when Carlos is asking about the effects of the devil's weed, don Juan uses the word 'power' in the specific context of the 'powers' of the devil's weed itself, rather than 'power' as is generally applied. Carlos is confused......
DJ : The root gives them an effect of pleasure, which means they are strong and of
violent nature - something that the weed likes That is the way that she entices. The only
bad point is that men end up as slaves to the devil's weed in return for the power that
she gives them. But those are matters over which we have no control. man lives only to
learn. And if he learns, it is because that is the nature of his lot, for good or bad.
CC: You said the root is used for power only, but I see it's used for other matters besides power. Am I correct ?
He looked at me for a very long time, with a steadfast gaze that embarrassed me. I felt my question had made him angry, but I couldn't understand why. ( Here Carlos fails to understand the correct context of Don Juan's use of the word 'power'. )
DJ : The weed is used only for power, ( he finally said in a dry, stern tone ). The man who wants his vigour back, the young people who seek to endure fatigue and hunger, the man who wants to kill another man, the woman who wants to be in heat - they all desire power. And the weed will give it to them. Do you feel you like her ?
Now compare this with other sentences in which 'Power' is used :
Personal power is all that we have in this magnificent world.
Everything we do, everything we are, rests on our personal power. If we have enough of it, one word uttered to us might be sufficient to change the course of our lives. But if we don't have enough personal power, the most magnificent piece of wisdom can be revealed to us and that revelation won't make a damn bit of difference."
It must therefore be kept in mind that although simple and unsophisticated language has been used, it needs a peculiar mood and a particular state of mind to grasp the dramatic points that Don Juan makes. A scientific, rigidly logical, or even religious framework will not lead to any comprehension or usefulness of the work
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