Sunday, December 16, 2007

gurdjieff and peace studies: the dark side in history

From his appearance in Moscow in 1912, the Graeco-Armenian magus George Gurdjieff created a unique contribution to Peace Studies discourse, obscured by second generation interpreters and derivative movements. Gurdjieff drew upon an extensive study of early neuro-physiology, hypnosis and religious traditions to construct a perspective (dubbed "the Work" or "the Fourth Way" by participants) on self-work and cultural recovery. His 'action research' was a precursor to the current interest in the Gaia hypothesis, memetics, ethno-political conflicts and transpersonal psychology. Gurdjieff's legacy offers a re-evaluation of the cultural history of Peace Studies and how contemporary activists can fall prey to group dynamics, technophilia, excessive role-identification and other forms of "consensus trance" (Charles T. Tart). Gurdjieff's techniques, in the tradition of Plato's cave allegory, offer contemporary peace activists an "unmasking psychology" to dis-identify from external events and attitudes, even when these "norms" are part of activist discourses.

I am not interested in who wins war. Not have patriotism or big ideas about peace. Americans with ideals, kill millions of Germans. Germans kill--with own ideals--English, French, Russian, Belgian--all have ideals, all have peaceful purpose, all kill. ~~ George Gurdjieff, Paris, 1944