Jodorowsky at SXSW: my open letter to Alejandro Jodorowsky + special bonus full video of his panel

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This year at SXSW I had a remarkable experience: I witnessed a conversation with Alejandro Jodorowsky. If you don’t know him yet: he is one of the most influential cultural figures of our times and you should get to know him better. His speech has been a great inspiration for me, at least as great as Bruce Sterling’s closing remarks have been cautionary for me.

This post is in fact a segway from this previous one about how to Avoid the evil in technology.

I give you below a letter that I wrote to Alejandro with something important for him, but also for you. Oh, and in the middle of the letter you will find the full video of his talk. It’s unmissable stuff, seriously.

Alejandro Jodorowsky at SXSW

My open letter to Alejandro Jodorowsky

Dear Alejandro,

it’s great to be able to share the video of your appearance at SXSW.

I was so excited to see your name on the program and was so surprised to see that your event was hosted in a small room and it was restricted to the movie section of the festival. Fortunately my badge allowed me to get in.

Alejandro, you see SXSW is a great movie and music festival, but for me the most interesting part is called “interactive”. This is the section of the festival devoted to people that do stuff other than music and movies: people that create software, build companies, enable connections digital or otherwise.

During this part of the festival people (we call ourselves Geeks and Nerds) come together to share ideas, to exchange skills, to show each other digital experiences, apps, sites that can become lasting businesses or forgettable misses.

I heard your talk from many points of view. I have been lucky enough to experience psychomagic first hand, have read and practiced tarot following your blueprint and watched at least one of your movies.

But the best thing is that I am an entrepreneur. I consider an entrepreneur to be an artist that works with ideas and people. Its works of art are products and companies. And I feel that entrepreneurs like me can apply your teachings also in their everyday work.

Let me underline a few things that you said. You were talking about movies, about art and about psychomagic, but those concepts are universal and can be very well applied to us “interactive” people.

1. We need technology that heals, that allow us to remember ourselves.

I quote, a bit freely, some of your inspired words: “The value of art is to heal. We make art because our society is evil and we need to heal it. Can we really change the world? We can’t. We can only start to change the world. To be able to do that we need to be alive, by being alive we can give the world something that nourishes it. What I give the world is not something to escape yourself, but to remember yourself, to remember your values.”

Only just recently we experienced the mass adoption of great new technologies that we call “social”, “mobile”, “ubiquitous”, “virtual”. Those technologies tend to concentrate on our desire to escape, to forget ourself, to be someone else. My first Jodorowsky Interactive thought from SXSW Interactive on technology is to think about technology as the artist Jodorowsky thinks about art: as something that needs to remind us that we are here, that we are us, that the we have needs, that we need to remember who we are in order to do good in the world.

2. We don’t need technological labels

At some point you said “No tenemos etiquetas”, we don’t have labels. At another point you raved about not having flags, not defining us by where we come from.

It seems that our technology today wants us to increasingly deal with labels. Our social sites want to know where we are from, what we like and assigns all sorts of “etiquetas” to us. We need to go in a different direction.

My second Jodorowsky Interactive thought is that good technology does not create new labels, and even helps us get rid of previous flags, definitions and labels.

3. Technology is married to freedom of expression

You raved about the ability to digitally remaster your older pictures and even to shoot your new movie “The Dance of Reality” in “numerico”, digital format. With this new technology you could always exactly “get the color you wanted”.

We are living in a technological world were computers are everywhere, but each computer is limited to a specific task, a specific purpose. Computation is everywhere, but is locked down, simplified in such a way to strongly limits what we can do with it.

My third Jodorowsky Interactive thought is that we need to use only technology that stimulates our freedom of expression, that allows us to reach exactly the goals that we want.

4. We are what we do and if we can transform our ideas then failure does not exist

About being a director you said: “I am not a psychomagic person, I do these things.
The person who makes comics in one, the one who does psychomogic is another, the one that makes movies in another. Every aspect that I do, I put all my human being inside.”

And further you said: “If you can’t do a thing in one form, you can always do it in another, if I can’t make The son of El Topo as a picture, then I can do it in a comic. You can’t fail. This is good news!”

A lot of entrepreneurs strive to be just a single, completely focused creature that is trying to obtain one very complex goal. With your art you teach us that we need to be one, but not need to limit ourselves to one goal. My fourth Jodorowsky Interactive thought would be to do many different things, and to be ourselves in what we do, in the moment we do it.

These are my thoughts from your brilliant talk. I have published on YouTube for everyone to see. I hope you don’t mind that I have put the logo of my company in front of it. You see, your movie is called “La Danza de la Realidad” (The Dance of Reality), and my company is called “La Fabbrica della Realtà” (The Reality Factory).

Alejandro, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Come and visit the interactive community. We need more of you and maybe, after writing, directing pictures, writing books and comics you want to express yourself with a psychomagic app or a network where everybody is allowed to be exactly who they are.

I send you the most intense hug that can pass through digital bits.

Yours truly,
Matteo

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