in his pupils, he himself indulged a speculative ‘Eternal
Recurrence’ paradigm which overcast his spirits. The
Gurdjieffian ‘System’ – progressively reduced by Ouspensky
to an intellectual construct and expropriated as teaching
material – slipped finally from his hands. He died lonely,
childless, and disappointed. And yet, and yet...
from Gurdjieff. The ensuing polarisation was far from a
philosophic abstraction. It affected many people’s
destinies. It confronted them with hard questions and
existential choices. It created a powerful current
in which, despite turbulence, Gurdjieff’s Work has thriven.
In the final analysis this is arguably Ouspensky's
essential, if unplanned, contribution.
From the bewildering
historical canvas of human experience some lives stand out
as notably unfortunate and pitiable. Yet even of these
a fraction qualify as ‘tragic’. This emphatic adjective is
licensed only by the totemic stature of an individual and
the irony of his fate. Ouspensky once possessed such a
stature. Sixty years after his death he remains –
notwithstanding his frailties – a figure to be taken very
Copyright © James Moore 2007
(For James Moore’s fuller-length account