Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mystery of the Ages

This is the first time I've seen someone saying what I've been thinking for years:

"No one these days can read about the ghastly George Gurdjieff and his sidekick Piotr Ouspenksy without wondering how on earth so many sensible, educated people of the mid-20th century came under the influence of such a disreputable pair. Peddling a hodge-podge of Hinduism, the occult and some rather embarrassing dancework à la Isadora Duncan, this unlovely duo expertly fleeced their wealthy followers." --"A Spoonful for Bile: Review of Mary Poppins She Wrote: The Life of PL Travers by Valerie Lawson," Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian, December 3, 2005.

Gurdjieff created a concoction of unchallenged untruths and sentiments that resonate to this day in new age circles. Part of Gurdjieff's genius, if one can apply such a label to a con man, is that he described a world inhabited by those awoken, i.e. his followers, and the rest of us robots going on about our business. Thus, Gurdjieff and his believers could dismiss criticism as ignorant and incoherent ramblings. One of these days I am going to see if I can find out if Charles Manson had ever read any of Gurdjieff's books.


Steve said...

I never would have known there was so much back story to Mary Poppins. I didn't read the books as a kid.

I always thought there was something not quite right with Mary. She was such a bossy know it all in the movie.

Geoff Davis said...

Oh dear, I obviously wasted 22 years of my life then. I was in a group led by a couple who had known Gurdjieff and they seemed to me to be very kind and perceptive people even into extreme old age. Strange then that, on balance, I consider it an extremely positive experience that actually strengthened the already close ties I had with my parents, other family members and friends. My gullibility must have allowed me to delude myself.