Biblio-Musings

Traubel's Cosmic Consciousness

Wednesday September 23, 2020

Horace Traubel was a close associate of Walt Whitman and one of his executors. This is his contribution to the book Cosmic Consciousness by Maurice Bucke:

May, 1889. That overwhelming night, as I leaned over the railing of the ferryboat, lost this world for another, and in the anguish and joy of a few minutes saw things heretofore withheld from me revealed. Those who have had such an encounter will understand what this means, others will not, or will perhaps only realize it by intimation. I could not separate the physical and spiritual of that moment. My physical body went through the experience of a disappearance in spiritual light. All severe lines in the front of phenomena relaxed. I was one with God, Love, the Universe, arrived at last face to face with myself. I was sensible of peculiar moral and mental disturbances and readjustments. There was an immediateness to it all—an indissoluble unity of the several energies of my being in one force. I was no more boating it on a river than winging it in space or taking star leaps, a traveler from one to another on the peopled orbs. While I stood there the boat had got into the slip and was almost ready to go out again. A deckhand who knew me came up and tapped me on the shoulder. "Don't you intend going off the boat?" he asked. And he added when I faced him and said "Yes:" "You look wonderfully well and happy to-night, Mr. Traubel." I did not see Walt till the next day, evening. In the meantime I had lived through twenty-four hours of ecstasy mixed with some doubts as to whether I had not had a crack in the skull and gone mad rather than fallen under some light and made a discovery. But the first words Walt addressed to me when I sallied into his room were reassuring: "Horace, you have the look of great happiness on your face to-night. Have you had a run of good luck?" I sat down and tried in a few words to indicate that I had had a run of good luck, though not perhaps the good luck he had in mind for me at the moment. He did not seem at all surprised at what I told him, merely remarking, as he put his hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes: "I knew it would come to you." I suggested: "I have been wondering all day if I am not crazy." He laughed gravely: "No, sane. Now at last you are sane."

Conge Facing G

Thursday September 17, 2020

Many a time I found myself alone face to face with him, as he used to say, "for a good cup of coffee and to talk about this and that," without having any precise question to ask him. Then I would say to myself, "This is a moment I mustn't let slip by." I would hunt around for some question to put to him. In the end I would say to him, "Sir, how should one understand this or that?" And then the most extraordinary part was not his answers, it was his silences. ... They would last for minutes on end. ... Then everything inside me would fall apart, my fine words, my eagerness to get an explanation, my wish to profit from being with him, and then ... I found myself all alone. Many others had the same experience. There were those extraordinary silences in which one felt like some poor fool asking the wrong questions or putting the right questions in the wrong way. It gave tremendous depth to the talks with him. It brought out the, "knowing-understanding" sequence ... and suddenly something was there. One must experience the tête-a-tête with one's self to feel that one is most of time being passively towed by ones intellectual and emotional functions, but what is important is “to go and see for one's self." Gurdjieff did not answer, and by not giving an answer he answered much more.

Michel Conge; from Facing Mr. Gurdjieff in Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections on the man and His Teaching, p. 361

Indenture

Tuesday September 8, 2020

This text from Johann Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship is referred to in the novel as the Indenture – “Here is your indenture. Take it to heart, it is of weighty import.”

ART is long, life short, judgment difficult, opportunity transient.

To act is easy, to think is hard; to act according to our thought is troublesome.

Every beginning is cheerful; the threshold is the place of expectation. The boy stands astonished, his impressions guide him; he learns sportfully, seriousness comes on him by surprise.

Imitation is born with us; what should be imitated is not easy to discover.

The excellent is rarely found, more rarely valued.

The height charms us, the steps to it do not; with the summit in our eye, we love to walk along the plain.

It is but a part of art that can be taught; the artist needs it all.

Who knows it half, speaks much and is always wrong; who knows it wholly, inclines to act and speaks seldom or late. The former have no secrets and no force; the instruction they can give is like baked bread, savory and satisfying for a single day; but flour cannot be sown, and seed corn ought not to be ground.

Words are good, but they are not the best. The best is not to be explained by words.

The spirit in which we act is the highest matter. Action can be understood and again represented by the spirit alone.

No one knows what he is doing while he acts aright; but of what is wrong we are always conscious.

Whoever works with symbols only is a pedant, a hypocrite, or a bungler. There are many such, and they like to be together. Their babbling detains the scholar; their obstinate mediocrity vexes even the best.

The instruction which the true artist gives us opens the mind; for where words fail him, deeds speak. The true scholar learns from the known to unfold the unknown, and approaches more and more to being a master.

Tracol in English

Saturday February 1, 2020

I wanted to put this brief bibliography together mostly to help resolve confusion around the contents of the three main books of Henri Tracol’s writings in English. The main point is simple, the most recently published, The Real Question Remains, Morning Light Press 2009, contains everything from the previous publications, except for one piece which originally appeared in Parabola.

However, in the interest of recording the bibliographic details, here is a rundown of the contents of each English publication in book form. Many of the pieces appeared separately in periodicals. I have not captured all of these details.

Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: Man's Awakening and the Practice of Remembering Oneself. Bray: Guild Press, 1968, 19 pages.

                Second edition: Bray: Guild Press, 1968, 19 pages.

                Reprinted, 1977.

                Revised edition, Pembridge Design Studios, 1987, 18 pages.

 

Man, Heaven, Earth. Bray: Pembridge Design Studios, 1980, 13 pages.

 

The Taste for Things That Are True: Essay & Talks by a Pupil of G.I. Gurdjieff. Shaftesbury: Element, 1994, 137 pages.

Contents:

Foreword (by Tracol)

The Taste For Things That Are True

The Mystery of Rebirth (Originally in Parabola, Vol. X, No. 3, Fall, 1985; Not in The Real Question Remains)

A Born Seeker (Originally appeared as Introduction to Search: Journey on the Inner Path, edited by Jean Sulzberger.)

Birth of a Sculpture

Individual Culture

In Search of a Living Culture

Why Sleepest Thou, O Lord?

Thus Spake Beelzebub

Testimony

Gurdjieff and the Science of Being

Between Flights

A Question of Balance

Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: Man's Awakening and the Practice of Remembering Oneself

Interview (With Robert Amadou for magazine Question de, No. 50, 1982)

 

Further Talks, Essays and Interviews. Bray, The Guild Press, 2003, 71 pages.

Contents:

A note on the use of the word ‘master’

Yes, Memory . . .

Memory and Forgetting

The Study of Traditions

The Master

How to Remain Open?

At Gordes

In New York: The Critical Mind

In New York: Work on Oneself

At Armonk: Morning Talks

A Life  . . .  A Search

Let Us Not Conclude

 

The Real Question Remains: Gurdjieff: A Living Call. Sandpoint: Morning Light Press, 2009, 228 pages.

Contents:

Foreword (by Tracol)

I: Disillusion and Dissatisfaction:

The Taste For Things That Are True

II: Studies and Questions on Culture and Traditional Perspectives:

Man, Heaven, Earth

A Born Seeker

Birth of a Sculpture

Individual Culture

In Search of a Living Culture

Why Sleepest Thou, O Lord?

Thus Spake Beelzebub

III: The Discovery of a Teaching:

Questions put to Henri Tracol by Luc Dietrich

Testimony

Gurdjieff and the Science of Being

Between Flights

Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: Man's Awakening and the Practice of Remembering Oneself

Interview (With Robert Amadou for magazine Question de, No. 50, 1982)

A Question of Balance

Yes, Memory

Memory and Forgetting

The Study of Traditions

The Master

How to Remain Open?

At Gordes

At Armonk: Morning Talks

In New York: Work on Oneself

In New York: The Critical Mind

Impressions

The Work in Life

IV: An Afterword:

A Life  . . .  A Search

V: The Real Question Remains . . . :

Some Reflections on What is Specific to Gurdjieff’s Teaching (Tracol’s contribution to Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections on the Man and His Teaching; in Further Talks,  Essays and Interviews as Let Us Not Conclude)

MWRM True First

Wednesday January 8, 2020

Meetings with Remarkable Men by G.I. Gurdjieff was first published in 1963 in London by RKP and in New York by Dutton. I assume the London came first. The Dutton edition states "First published in the U.S.A, 1963" and "Printed in Great Britain". Dutton reprinted at least three times. I have seen Dutton printings that state "fourth printing". 

Sometime, I assume later than the fourth Dutton printing, in the late 60's or early 70's it was reprinted by University Books, a publisher specializing in inexpensive reprints of metaphysical, occult and religious titles. The University books edition appears to have used the first Dutton plates with very minor modifications. The only difference in the printing is that the University books edition states "Printed in the U.S.A." at the bottom of the copyright page and there is a standard "No part of this book may be reproduced..." blurb in the middle of the page. The title page states "Dutton/1963" and the copyright page still states "First published in the U.S.A, 1963" with no other printing information. So it is understandable that many people mistake it for the first. 

The only other differences are in the binding, the paper size and quality, and the jacket.

  • The first Dutton has "Dutton" printed on the bottom of the jacket spine. The University Press edition has no publisher on the jacket spine.

  • The Dutton has quotations from reviews, most notably, including Frank Lloyd Wright, on the back of the jacket. The University Press edition has a listing of books from the "Library of the Mystic Arts." The one fact that should make people question the authenticity of the reprint: it states "University Books (logo) New Hyde Park, New York" on the bottom of the rear of the jacket.

  • The Dutton has a price of $6.95. The reprint price is $5.95.

  • The first Dutton measures 8 3/4' X 5 3/4' X 1 1/8'. The reprint measures approximately 8 1/2' X 5 3/4' X 1 1/4'.

  • Finally, the cloth of the reprint is a pale blue with white threads in it, it is a coarse cloth and has Gurdjieff's signature embossed in the front in gold. The first Dutton cloth is solid deep blue with the cover plain.