Friday, September 17, 2021
The War Against Sleep     Source
The Philosophy of Gurdjieff

The War Against Sleep

The life and work of one of the most influential psychological theorists of modern times. George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff is one of the most enigmatic figures of our time. He attracted legends as easily as disciples. But behind the Gurdjieff myth lies a solid corpus of thought, the importance of which is only now being generally recognized. At its heart was the idea of “the war against sleep”, the fact that man, in Colin Wilson’s words, is like “a grandfather clock driven by a watch-spring”. This brilliant and much praised examination of a psychologist and teacher of genius has established itself as the most important and accessible account for the general reader of Gurdjieff’s life and work.

The War Against Sleep ♦ Review at New Dawn Magazine

Introductory Note

It was in 1951, a year after the publication of In Search of the Miraculous and Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, that I first came across the ideas of Gurdjieff. I was instantly aware of being in touch with one of the great minds of this century. I wrote about him for the first time in 1955, in the concluding chapter of The Outsider, where he figures (with Ramakrishna and T.E. Hulme) as one of the few men who have glimpsed a solution to the ‘sickness of man in the twentieth century’. Since then I have written about him in several books — notably The Occult and Mysteries.

When the publishers of the present book suggested that I should write about Gurdjieff, I experienced misgivings; it would involve repeating a great deal that I have already written. But then, my own views on Gurdjieff have changed and evolved over the years, and the idea of getting them between two covers was an interesting challenge. So I brushed aside my doubts, decided to repeat myself where necessary, and wrote the book. And in repeating myself I discovered an entirely new set of meanings and implications in Gurdjieff.

It was an interesting lesson in the difference between ‘grasping’ and merely ‘knowing’ — a distinction that lies at the heart of Gurdjieff’s thought.

Which is why I make no apology to those who have read me on Gurdjieff before. His ideas will bear repetition.

Dedication & Acknowledgements

For Cyril Tilburn, whose help was invaluable.

Acknowledgements

I wish to acknowledge the kindness of Messrs Routledge and Kegan Paul for permission to quote from the works of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. I also wish to thank Turnstone Press Ltd. for allowing me to quote from John Bennett’s Witness and Gurdjieff: Making a New World. I also wish to thank Victor Gollancz Ltd. for permission to quote from Fritz Peters’s Boyhood with Gurdjieff.

Contents

Introductory Note

1—The Magician

2—The Early Years

3—Moscow and St Petersburg

4—The Deluge and After

5—The Awakening of Courage

6—New Directions

7—Gurdjieff versus Ouspensky?  

Bibliography

  

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About the author

Photographs
Prieure
The Prieuré from the Lime Avenue
Gurdjieff
Gurdjieff in later life
Kosshah
Gurdjieff’s ‘Kosshah’ in the Study House at the Prieuré
Bennett
J. G. Bennett
Ouspensky
P. D. Ouspensky
Copyright

The War Against Sleep
The Philosophy of Gurdjieff
by
COLIN WILSON

AQUARIAN
THE AQUARIAN PRESS LIMITED
Wellingborough, Northamptonshire