(?1866-1949) Armenian philosopher of Greek descent, composer, mystic, teacher and author, in Russia proper (Armenia being a Russian territory) from 1912, in Turkey and mostly in France from 1920; his birth date is insecure, with 1872 and 1877 also being suggested. His doctrine of the Fourth Way – which seems essentially to apply "scientific" expressions of mystical intuitions with the aim of providing models of harmonious selfhood for his followers – deeply influenced figures like A R Orage (1873-1934) and P D Ouspensky (1878-1947). He is of sf interest for the posthumous All And Everything trilogy, the second and third volumes of which mostly comprise mystico-philosophical essays and meditations, though with some narrative elements. But the first volume of the sequence, All and Everything: Ten Books in Three Series, of Which This is the First Series (trans from ms 1950) [for vts and revs see Checklist below], which was initially composed in 1924-1935, may or may not be a consciously Equipoisal attempt to marry metaphysics and sf; it is, however, sufficiently unsettling to register as such an effort. The narrative focuses on the figure of Beelzebub, who while en route to another planet in his Starship synopsizes for his grandson's benefit the history of planet Earth and of its "three-brained" inhabitants, ie Homo sapiens.
Gurdjieff is several times referenced in Brian Aldiss's Barefoot in the Head: A European Fantasia (fixup 1969); Doris Lessing's Canopus in Argos series, explicitly influenced by Sufism, less intimately but clearly shows the mark of Gurdjieff's kind of teaching. [JC]
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff
born Alexandropol, Russian Empire [now Gyumri, Armenia]: ?13 January 1866
died Neuilly-sur-Seine, France: 29 October 1949
All and Everything