Churton, Deconstructing Gurdjieff

There is a new book, Tobias Churton’s Deconstructing Gurdjieff. I can’t pretend I think it’s worth reading. I don’t like his writnge: it’s rather a smart-aleck style – “that particular stool has now lost so many legs, it ain’t no stool no more and no use for milking” (50). I don’t have much respect for his research: he has far more on occultism than on Gurdjieff. How you can write a new book on Gurdjieff, which attempts to speak about his teaching, but does not have the transcripts, the early talks, The Reality of Being or Becoming Conscious with Mr Gurdjieff in its bibliography is beyond me.

I am stumped by the cavalier way he says that idea X in Gurdjieff is from e.g. Gnosticism, without showing that Gurdjieff could have known of the Gnostic idea he thinks Gurdjieff adapted (one of those which he quotes was not discovered and translated within Gurdjieff’s lifetime, see p. 107), let alone comparing a Gnostic system to Gurdjieff’s. The idea that Gurdjieff borrowed from Gnosticism is absurd: that will appear if one reads the systems as a whole. A lot of people have made a sort of idol out of the Gnostics. A more repellant group of texts is hard to imagine. The reason they did not win their battle for the spirit of Christianity is because they were barking mad fanatics. Try reading Pistis Sophia and you will see what I mean. But there is a lot like that in this book.

I will not go on: I am presently working on an academic article taking his book as a case study. Not recommended for any purpose.

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