On 'The Ticket'
by Paula Jansen
G.I. Gurdjieff (1872?-1949) was born in Russia as George S. Georgiades.
He was schooled for both the priesthood and medicine, but ultimately
left the academic path "to engage him in a quest for ultimate answers"(1).
He spent about twenty years in Asia and the Middle East to find these
answers and returned as Gurdjieff. He was especially interested in ancient
traditions and upon returning to Russia in 1919, he established 'The
Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man'. Soon, he had many
pupils, most of whom were intellectuals. After some wanderings, he and
his pupils went to Fontainebleau in France and remained there.
Amongst his pupils were many leading artists and intellectuals of that
time from England and the United States, such as Katherine Mansfield
and Maurice Nicoll. His most valued student was probably P. D. Ouspensky,
who also translated Gurdjieff's ideas into easier, more understandable
language. Gurdjieff went to America in 1924 and gave a series of public
performances on sacred dances. Around 1934, he settled definitely in
Paris and his group of followers continued to grow, even after his death
Maurice Nicoll is the only obvious connection I have found between Gurdjieff
and Scotland. Nicoll was born in Kelso, Scotland in 1884 and died in
Great Amwell near London in 1953. He studied with Carl Jung and wrote
one of the first books on Jungian dream interpretations. While he was
in England as personal representative of Jung, Nicoll met P.D. Ouspensky
who was talking about Gurdjieff and his ideas. Nicoll was immediately
taken by his ideas and became one of Gurdjieff's followers. About Nicoll
and his relation to Gurdjieff's teaching, the following is said: "Maurice
Nicoll's special contribution to the Fourth Way is that his teaching,
by leavening the method transmitted by P.D. Ouspensky, helps people
to value the Work. Where Ouspensky presented truth precisely, Nicoll
in a more relaxed manner showed how to see the good of it."(2)
Coming back to Gurdjieff, there are two possible ways to see him. One
way is seeing him as a guru, almost a God-like person even and the other
view is that he is a charlatan. From this sonnet, it seems that Morgan
wants to show us that he believes Gurdjieff belongs to the last category.
He describes Gurdjieff's teaching as an Inaccessible Pinnacle (line
5-6) and with that implies that Gurdjieff sees his teachings as something
God-like. The Pinnacle could then be seen as some kind of idol.
The sonnet clearly shows that if you try to follow Gurdjieff's aspirations
it is destructive, and to lend weight to this idea Morgan turns the
scene into a 1920s horror film. The demons mentioned in line 5 may refer
to one of Gurdjieff's books: Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson: an
objectively impartial criticism of the life of man. It seems as
if, by comparing the "Gurdjieff religion" with a horror movie,
Morgan implies that however destructive it may be, the film can be stopped
Morgan also shows the way Gurdjieff was influenced by other religions;
by naming the "caftan" (line 13) he links Gurdjieff with eastern
religion. Also he shows the comparison with the pagan tradition and
especially the notion of sacrifice if we look at "juggernaut-time".
I did not find a reference of Gurdjieff visiting Glasgow.
(2) Hunter, Bob, Combining Good and Truth, Now: An
hommage to Dr. Maurice Nicoll, http://www.gurdjieff.org/hunter1.htm
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