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A conversation published in Chicago by “The Monthly Aspectarian,” September 1998

The Monthly Aspectarian:  Monty, there’s been a spate of metaphysical novels coming out lately, but NAKED INTO THE NIGHT has been my favorite.

Monty Joynes:  Well, I’m grateful for that.  Thank you.

TMAI read it at a time when I really needed it…and I’m highly recommending it to all of our readers.

MJ:  I’ve gotten some letters, and curiously, women read the book and find it important and useful to them.  Then they beg their husbands to read it.  I’ve had some testimonial letters from the husbands who have said that the book was important to them and that they had come onto the book by their wives.

TMA:  Now I don’t imagine that you, at any point, went naked into the night yourself?

MJ:  No, but it was a fantasy.  I’m a man with three children, you know; it was a fantasy.  Not only how could it be pulled off…when Winn Conover could have been arrested by the first police car that happened down the boulevard.

TMA:  He was lucky to have left on garbage night.

MJ:  Well, those are the contrivances of a novelist.  We wouldn’t have a book, would we, if he didn’t find clothing somewhere and avoid the law!  The serious question was, and the thing that I really wanted to explore (and my books are self-discovery for me as much as they hopefully are discovery for the readers) what I really wanted to explore is, could a man raised in Western culture and who had had material success with all that that does to the ego, could such a man remake himself as a human being and get into touch with spiritual reality?  Was it possible that he could overcome all the prejudice and all the conditioning and make himself into a new person who could practice a righteous kind of behavior?  I think that’s a real question for everybody who has a serious mind.

TMA:  He pulls it off admirably.

MJ:  It’s a constant struggle…I hate to use the word “struggle,” but that’s what it is.  It’s a constant state of mind to be observing your own mind…so that you can quiet that mind, and so that your behavior actually comes out of the silence of the mind and not its chatter.  For him, you see that struggle in his lamentations in the subsequent book, LOST IN LAS VEGAS, where he completely blows it, and his mind takes over again, and he reverts to that driving character who wants to solve problems by his intellect and the power of his persuasion when he tries to talk White Wing into coming back to his tribe as a spiritual prodigy, and then he laments that.  That is really a breakdown, a loss of the state of grace that he had achieved in the quiet mind.

I’ve told some people, “You can’t go to a seminar, no matter how powerful it is, and become a spiritual person or find an instant enlightenment.  That lasts hardly through the week or through the month.”  The commitment to living a righteous life and to finding truth in life and in nature is in living every moment with that intention.

TMA:  That realization of the self beyond or above the mind is no small accomplishment.

MJ:  A teacher asked me, “Who were you before you had thoughts about yourself?  Was there anything there?  Was there a being there?  Was there an identity there?  Prior to thought, was there something there?”  I think you have to say, given logic, yes, there was something there.  There was something there in the womb, there was something there prior to conditioning.  Well, what was that?

TMA:  When you have silence in the mind, who hears the bird sing?  Or the wind in the trees?

MJ:  And who knows that there’s silence in the mind?  Sometimes there seems to be three or more of us.  It’s the person doing the seeing, what he is seeing, and who is seeing him see.  And that’s the paradox of life itself when you want to explore the inner life, the inner human being.

TMA:  The first book in the series is NAKED INTO THE NIGHT, and then there’s LOST IN LAS VEGAS.  Are you going to continue from there?

MJ:  Yes, there’s a third book that’s already been accepted by the publisher.  He’s intending to publish that in April of ’99.  It’s called SAVE THE GOOD SEED, and it involves the adoption of a Pueblo Indian infant who was raised in the white world and in middle age wants to come back to the reservation to find out who he is as a human being, as a Native American.

I’m now at work on a fourth book called DEAD WATER RITES, and this is an explanation of the metaphysical nature of water.  It involves all of the same characters.  We begin to explore a triad cultural situation in a very unique environment in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico.  The protagonist, Anglo, finds this culture, this mixed Hispanic culture that’s been there almost 400 years, the Spanish land grant people who are mixed with the Indians…and then there are counter-cultural types who are accused of being leftover Hippies and Granolas but are serious people who come to choose that way of land-based life.  They are trying to survive and preserve their culture against the geocultural global economy.  The question in that book is, can these kinds of cultures survive in the race to materialism that the world seems to be running to?  Can spiritual values survive?

TMA:  Some would say that if we don’t stop global warming, they may be the only cultures to survive.

MJ:  True.  When I meet these people on their own ground, I’m just excited all over again.  Encountering the Indians and going through the Indian history was devastating emotionally.  The history I was taught in American universities is not the truth about what our government has done.  I think there’s a great need for healing in our country.  I have discovered another whole layer of wonderment out there in the West in the Hispanic culture.  How these cultures interface has a unique place in the United States and is a very good place to see the microcosm of the world and cultures at large.

I have made some wonderful plans out in New Mexico and I would like to go back and spend at least a month every year re-exploring and being reintroduced.  There are thousands of stories out there.

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Virginia Festival of the Book, 1999, questions and answers from a panel appearance on the subject of Visionary Fiction

Q:  There is a new genre of novels now being recognized formally by sectional signage in bookstores.  Since three of your novels have been called Visionary Fiction, can you provide a definition?  What exactly is Visionary Fiction?

MJ:  For me, the Visionary Fiction genre includes novels which deal with shifts in awareness that result in metaphysical understanding by the central characters.  The plot of the novel is generally more concerned with internal experiences than with external.

The work is also “visionary” in the aspect that the authors sometimes (or often) employ non-rational means such as dreams, or extrasensory perceptions to develop the content of the book.

In my own experience, I explore the cultural separation of the rational and intuitive approaches to reality.  Much of what the characters do and say come from an intuitive perspective.  Since I am a cultural man of the Indo-European tradition with its system of logic and reason, I must depend on visionary experiences to give me insights into the intuitive.  The experiences are not intellectual.  They cannot be professionally researched, or forced by will into expression.  The altered reality comes through surrender, not aggressiveness.  It is always beyond the mental resources of the author.  It is a humbling experience which, in its appearance on the page, can only be acknowledged as a gift.

Q:  But what about the craft of writing Visionary Fiction?

MJ:  Sure, all this being said, a good novel is still a construct requiring writing talent and an apprenticeship to the craft of writing.  One must learn and practice the trade to be able to employ the visionary material in a meaningful way.  Visions alone do not spontaneously turn non-practicing writers into novelists.  The novel, by definition, is a form.  It has literary forebears and craft standards.

It occurs to me that much of the literature of the industrial age to the present has been a medium defining the chaos of the “modern” human condition.  I hope that visionary fiction breaks from the angst of the past and shows its authors and its readers a more enlightened passage into the future.  In this regard, visionary fiction may be truly visionary.

Q:  But why the novel?  Why not non-fiction testaments to visionary viewpoints?

MJ:  The good novel has penetrating power to individual awareness because it involves the reader in the deep process of human character.  The good novel is more than information, more than entertainment.  It is a pathway to the reader’s subconscious mind.  Hawthorne called this achievement “the single effect,” that indescribable feeling one experiences on reading the last page of an important novel.  If the reader has immersed himself or herself in the process of the character, the experience is more than vicarious; it is profoundly real, and within the subconscious mind, the reality is not separate from feelings which actually occurred to the reader in his or her physical domain.

Q:  What do you hope to accomplish with your Visionary Fiction work?

MJ:  If you allow yourself the reflection, has there not been a book in your life that altered your awareness, a reading that you mark as a turning point in your own life?  What facts in that book were responsible for your feelings about it?  Is it not the intuitive qualities that resonated within you from the reading that prompts you now to cite its importance in your personal life?  Can you enumerate the altered chain of choices that you made thereafter?  I hope that my literature changes lives by providing an altered awareness.

Q:  Aren’t you afraid that your books might be branded as “message” books?

MJ:  Who needs more messages in this sensory bombardment of the information age?  I hope that Visionary Fiction becomes the medium for metaphysical experiences on a deeply personal level and that the content transcends momentary emotionalism, and initiation to the occult, to lead the reader to his own visionary experiences.

I set out in a series of novels to explore the possibility that an individual caught up in a western material environment could, in fact, remake himself as a human being.  His exploration, and mine, hopefully become the reader’s as well.  And in that process, we share a vision which leads to future visions of our common humanity.

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From a platform appearance at Appalachian State University’s Multicultural Studies Program, 1998

QHow can an Anglo offer a perspective on American Indians?

MJ:  It is presumptuous for non-Indians to speak as experts about Indian matters.  We can try only to raise our awareness of Indian culture so as to have a greater understanding and appreciation for them as a people.

QWhat are some of the problems that you encountered in your research?

MJ:  The first problem in talking about Indian people is which Indian people?  There were more than five hundred tribes in North America when the Europeans arrived.  Each was an individual nation, some as different as Britain is from France in language and culture, others as different as the British are from the Chinese.  Sign language came into being because Indians never shared a common language.  They needed hand signs to trade with each other.

American Indians are not a homogenous group.  Few generalizations apply from one tribe to the other.  The grave mistake that our ancestors made was that they put all Indians into one category, one class.  The name of that class was…savages.

In reality, Indian cultures were very complex in every way that we now measure civilizations.  In government.  In religion.  In the arts.  In earth sciences.  In many tribes, the success of the Indian societies was superior to the European societies who judged them.

Q:  What were some of the judgmental mistakes?

MJ:  When European white men first heard Indian drumming and singing, for example, they considered it non-musical, a form of savage screaming.  In fact, the music had an eastern scale, not a western one.  The fact that Eurocentric musicians could not notate the Indian songs was due to their deficiency, not to lack of merit of the Indian composition.

In nearly every aspect of Indian culture, the Europeans missed the significances.  They dismissed what they could not understand.  Any humanistic impulse was sacrificed to greed—greed for land, greed for gold or silver, and now for uranium or water.    

Today, sadly, non-Indian America still does not understand the values of American Indian culture.  We continue to dishonor them, to call for their surrender into our culture.  Historically, our government has perpetrated a genocide against American Indians, and to this very day, we deny them treaty rights and elemental justice that negates our own Constitution and honor.  If we study, with an open mind and an open heart, the treatment of Indians in our country, we will weep tears of shame.  As a nation, we do not live up to our professed ideals. In many acts of our government, American Indians are still treated like prisoners of war, or even more humiliating, as children.

Q: What was your motivation for writing novels with Native American characters?

MJ:  I did not set out to study or to remedy the errors of the ugly history with regard to American Indians.  I was both blind and ignorant to their plight.

In writing a novel that engendered visionary experiences, that is, content that presented itself apart from my research or intelligence, my principal character took me to Santa Fe and to a Pueblo Indian traditional community.  I didn’t ask why.  I followed the character and did the research he required to function as a multidimensional personality.  His path led on and on, for years and years through the writing of four separate novels.  He now beckons me to a fifth.  Along the path, I read more than fifty books and traveled to the places the character wanted to go. 

My consciousness was altered in the process.  I became a more intuitive person.  I believe that my attention, focus, and contemplation of the American Indian world helped me become a better human being. 

Q:Are you an Indian wannabe?

MJ:  It was not necessary (or desirable) to become an Indian wannabe in my process.  I can never be an Indian.  But I can learn.  I can improve myself through respect.  I can honor what I respect.  And I can promote what I honor.

Q:  Don’t you run into hostility when you research among Indians?

MJ: Sure.  For very good reasons, Indians are angry.  Indians distrust wannabes and non-Indians who want to study them.  The record of betrayal by white missionaries, anthropologists, and writers is an outrage that causes them to shun us with suspicion.  I am disappointed when my sincerity is questioned, but I understand what causes the reaction.  We have not earned their trust.  Time and time again, our culture has failed to keep its word, its promises.  We are viewed as just the most recent exploiters.

Q: There is that conflict, but don’t Indians also have problems among themselves?

MJ:Yes, there is turmoil at the tribal level.  Who is qualified to be a tribal member?  What percentage of Indian blood?  Who rules the tribe—traditional elders or tribal politicians?  In many tribes, economic control is given precedence over preserving the language and spiritual traditions.  Most tribes are split along these lines.  In some places, violence is common in the battle for tribal resources.  Full-blood, traditionally oriented Indians are in the minority.  Often they battle for cultural preservation against those who have seized political control of the tribal identity.  It is almost impossible for non-Indians to play positive roles in this struggle.

Greed on the reservations may be the ultimate killer of tribal languages and sacred ceremonies that contain unique knowledge important to humankind.  And when it is lost, it is lost forever.  Most of the understanding of reality contained in the languages and traditions of the five hundred original tribal nations has already been lost.  It is a great tragedy to human evolution.  Humankind cannot afford to lose the few that may yet be saved.

Q:  Your books have a strong ecological point of view.  Can you talk about that?

MJ:  Indo-European culture based on Greek logic and the objectification of nature is killing the planet.  Its warped reality requires an intuitive balance for us to survive as a species.  We Indo-Europeans desperately need the insights of the intuitive, land-based human cultures.  In destroying them, we cut ourselves off from our Earth Mother who will, in the fullness of time, reject our exploitation of air and water and allow us to pass away.

Here’s a bumper sticker:  “Right Brain.  Left Brain.  Get it together!”

Evolution is about how the division of basic cultures perceive reality.  Rational Man vs. Intuitive Man.

Rational Man, which represents the objectification of nature as reality, is now the dominant culture of planet Earth.  The land-based intuitive peoples of the planet are being forced into extinction.

American Indians are a great treasure.  We must honor them, respect them, and seek justice for them if we, too, are to survive.

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From an interview with psychotherapist Kathy Brown published in the May, 1998 issue of “Aquarius”

Q:  Tell me about your visionary experience.  How did you write the kiva ceremony in LOST IN LAS VEGAS?

MJ:  I got to the point in this book where the elders would make a decision about how to respond to the loss of White Wing.  They knew he was in Vegas, but they don’t make decisions very quickly.  They purify themselves in prayer and take about three days just in preparation.  I knew there were kachinas that were very old and sacred, but I didn’t know what they were and I didn’t know the ceremonies associated with them.  A ceremony just came to me in one three-hour writing period in which all the elders danced the kachinas.  In a very dreamlike vision, I saw them dancing and described the scene.  It wasn’t automatic writing, but I was totally absorbed in it.  I knew I had to bring out a decision that Anglo would be sent to Las Vegas to find White Wing, but how that was going to happen I had no idea.  Then that scene came out, and when it was over, I was drained and awed by it.

I gave the pages to my wife Pat, who read them and then asked, “How do you know this?"

I told her that I didn’t know.  Then eighteen months later, I read a book which contained secrets of the Hopi and Pueblo tribes.  This required a conscious decision on my part, as the secrets had pretty much been stolen from Native Peoples, and exposure to them should not be taken lightly.  I read the book out of my desire to avoid writing anything which would violate the secrets of the tribe.  In it I found a description of the kachina dancing ritual that had come to me in the vision.  I wept when I saw it.

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