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I have picked these passages out because they relate to my own notion of what she was trying to do. She says in the discussion that she read a lot of philosophy and Heinz, as we have seen, said she had many books on the subject. Since I have no means of knowing much about this I have to go on what has come my way, without being absolutely sure of how important it was to her. But it was through Alice that I was introduced to the school, or schools, of P.D.Ouspensky and G.I.Gurdjieff, beginning with Ouspensky's book The Psychology of man's possible evolution. As I remember it, she initially lent this to Neil Shawcross but Neil was never much of a one for that sort of thing and passed it on to me. It made a big impression on me and had me wanting to know more. I subsequently read Ouspensky's account of his time with Gurdjieff - In search of the miraculous - and Fritz Peters' Boyhood with Gurdjieff which, together with its sequel Gurdjieff remembered, are among my all-time favourite books. Alice herself lent me her copy of the first volume of Maurice Nicoll's Psychological commentaries on the teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. She died before I could return it and I still have it in my possession.

At the risk of attaching too much importance to something that might only have been marginal to Alice (but I don't think it was) I will say a few words about Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.

Peter Demianovich Ouspensky (1878 - 1947) already had a reputation in Russian circles interested in the interface between science and religion prior to his meeting Gurdjieff. In 1912 he had published his book Tertium Organum. This argued for consciousness of a 'fourth dimension' which (to quote the account by his biographer J.H.Reyner) 'must not be considered as merely an additional aspect of conventional space. It should be regarded as applying to a realm which embraces the phenomenal world but which cannot be comprehended by the logic of the senses.' (30) Tertium Organum had a considerable influence in Russian 'avant garde' circles. Malevich and his friend, the composer and art theorist Mikhail Matyushin, both conceived of their art as a means of gaining consciousness of Ouspensky's fourth dimension. (31)

(30) J.H.Reyner: Ouspensky - the unsung genius, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1981, p.20.

(31) I discuss this in my essay on Malevich - The classic study is Linda Dalrymple Henderson: The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1983. A revised edition was published by the MIT Press in 2018.

After some time wandering in search of a philosophy that would make sense of the world (a search that produced his major study, more or less independent of Gurdjieff, A new model of the Universe) Ouspensky met Gurdjieff in 1915 and felt that he had at last come into contact with a solid and reliable body of knowledge. Gurdjieff (1872? - 1949), with an Armenian mother and a Greek father, came from a part of the world where Greek, Turkish, Armenian, Georgian, Persian cultures all interacted with each other. He recorded his own wanderings through this world and further east in not always quite believable form in his book Meetings with remarkable men. A somewhat toned down version is given in the film of that name by my near namesake Peter Brook. Ouspensky was not the only person with an already well established reputation to be won over by Gurdjieff. There was Alfred Richard Orage, founder editor of the influential early twentieth century journal The New Age; Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, founder editors of the US based 'avant-garde' Little Review, the first to publish extracts from James Joyce's Ulysses; Maurice Nicoll had been a pupil of Carl Jung and a pioneer in the treatment of shell shock; and there was the already well established Russian or Ukrainian composer, Thomas de Hartmann, friend and ally of Kandinsky. De Hartmann's music has been largely responsible for keeping my own interest in Gurdjieff alive.

Ouspensky however separated from Gurdjieff in 1924 believing that, although his own teaching was still based on what he had learned from Gurdjieff, Gurdjieff himself had gone wrong. The two schools - Ouspensky and Gurdjieff - continued with very little mutual contact for the next twenty years. It was only towards the end of his own life that Ouspensky allowed In search of the miraculous to be published. 

Put very crudely the difference between them is that while Ouspensky's teaching was highly systematic and intellectually interesting, Gurdjieff's teaching was wantonly chaotic. Ouspensky only took pupils whom he judged capable of advancing to higher states of consciousness (a concept that has nothing to do with drugs!); Gurdjieff was willing to take anyone, regarding, or pretending to regard, all Western Europeans or Americans as being on much the same generally low level of potential for development. Both had the same explicit intention, and here we can evoke what Alice had to say about Yeats ('Look at yourself, you're just the same, do something about it'). They both taught that modern humanity was in a state that could be likened to sleep, operating like automatons on the basis of well-ingrained habits of mind that condemned them (condemned us) to constantly repeat the same patterns of behaviour. Hence for example the constant recurrence of wars. Both taught a course of 'work' that aimed to break these habits. In the case of Ouspensky this was accompanied by an intellectual argument, originally taught by Gurdjieff, aimed at understanding the structure of the mind/body relationship, seen in terms of four 'centres' - intellectual, emotional, moving, instinctual. 

This is largely the subject of Ouspensky's Psychology of man's possible evolution and Nicoll's Psychological commentaries. Gurdjieff, however, had come to see Ouspensky's very methodical presentation as a trap - mastery of the ideas becoming just another complacency-inducing habit. His own method was a matter of inducing experiences that would prevent the person he was helping from settling into any comfortable habit of mind. He had resolved 'no matter whom the person I met for business or for any other reason, whether I had known them for a long time or not, no matter what their social level, immediately to identify the "most sensitive of the corns on their feet" and to stamp on it without a moment's hesitation.' (32) It is Gurdjieff's erratic or disconcerting behaviour that makes Peters's books, seen from the viewpoint of a child and then adolescent who just happened to be there with no desire to attain higher levels of being, much more entertaining than anything that could be produced in the circle of Ouspensky.

(32) G.Gurdjieff: La vie n'est réelle que lorsque "je suis", Eds du rocher, 1983. This is my translation from the French though I think the French is a translation of an English version published in 1975.

Gurdjieff did teach a highly structured system of dance (he described himself on occasion as a 'dancing master') - music written in collaboration with de Hartmann. But though difficult it was also extremely impersonal. The dancers all move with clockwork precision - it rather puts me in mind of a Busby Berkeley musical except that everything is slow and no-one is smiling. Again we might be reminded of Yeats, who wanted his actors to be wholly impersonal, with the Japanese Noh theatre as an ideal to be aimed for. The Lyric probably went further than most in attempting this but it was a little difficult in a circle in which everyone knew everyone else.

The Gurdjieff/Ouspensky teaching goes under the broad common title of The Fourth Way. The other ways are the way of the fakir (the ascetic way), the way of the monk and the way of the yogi. These all imply a certain separation from the world. The Fourth Way is the 'way of the householder' and entails an engagement with the world. But the purpose - put in its broadest terms the realisation of higher states of being, greater consciousness of what lies beyond the horizon of the senses - is the same as the other ways. Thus one of Gurdjieff's pupils, J.G.Bennett, developed a lively interest in Sufism and, of particular interest to me, Ouspensky's Psychology of Man's possible evolution refers to the classic of Orthodox Christian monastic literature, the Philokalia. Ouspensky's secretary, Evgnia Kadloubovsky and another of his followers, G.E.H. Palmer launched the process of translating the Philokalia into English, publishing a first volume - Writings from the Philokalia on the prayer of the heart (Faber and Faber) in 1951. What wouldn't I give to know if Alice possessed a copy!