Author/Artist: James Moore
Publisher: Gurdjieff Studies Ltd
First published: 2005
James Moore finally breaks his personal silence of fifty years. Crafted both as an exercise in self‑interrogation and as a warm tribute to Gurdjieff’s magnetic pupil Henriette Lannes, the text necessarily illuminates and populates a secret world.
It is equally a book for those who relish Moore's zestful writing; for social historians of Western esotericism; and for all who would enter, even by proxy, into the way of Gurdjieffian search.
Because Moore's pilgrimage had been through a habitat shared with cherished friends, and strewn with Gurdjieffian totems and taboos, self-revelation was problematical. He hesitated. He consulted. Yet the stimulus he finally received was unsolicited: "More than a bravo on the extract about your own childhood" volunteered Peter Brook, "It's wonderfully evocative and deeply moving. Don't stop!"
Moore did not stop – hence this unprecedented memoir.
Buy through Gurdjieff Studies Website or from
By the Way Books
Moore, James. Gurdjieffian Confessions: a self remembered (London: Gurdjieff Studies Ltd, 2005).
Ordering information: Gurdjieff Studies Ltd., PO Box LB220, London WC2N 4EB
Reviewed by Seymour B. Ginsburg
Students of Gurdjieff’s teaching will not be disappointed with James Moore’s new book, Gurdjieffian Confessions: a self remembered. The prose is clever and elegant as readers of Moore’s previous studies, Gurdjieff and Mansfield, and Gurdjieff: The Anatomy of a Myth, a biography, would expect. This is reflected immediately in the subtitle, “a self remembered” the clever and dual meaning of which will be understood by Gurdjieff students.
The book is a memoir, an account of Moore’s personal experiences in his early life and afterward, during his many years in what has become known among Gurdjieff students as “the Work,” and especially in what is now recognized by students as the Jeanne de Salzmann lineage of the Work. As such it is chock full of tidbits of information about Gurdjieff group work and the many colorful characters who passed through Moore’s life because of his association with the Work.
Numerous institutional difficulties to which Moore was privy, but which have been glossed over in more traditional circles, are disclosed. These include, for example, the difficulties and deficiencies in Peter Brook’s attempt to bring Gurdjieff’s book, Meetings with Remarkable Men to the screen. Moore is often critical about leading figures in the Work, but his honesty in disclosing his feelings is refreshing. For example, he describes Michel de Salzmann, who inherited the mantle of leadership of the de Salzmann lineage of the Work from his mother, as a “power possessor of new formation” (p. 155). He also highlights the failings of Work luminaries as, for example, John G. Bennett’s amazing naivety at giving away his Coombe Springs Work estate to Idries Shah.
Many of Moore’s own difficulties, I suspect, have to do with coming to terms with his own “false personality”, as he honestly, and in many instances painfully, recounts his difficulties in this book of confession. Ultimately Moore discloses the reasons for his “effectual excommunication” from his lineage of the Work in 1994, with the concomitant ostracism by former friends who play this game. These difficulties resonated with me and will, I think, resonate with other students involved in group work.
In spite of his difficulties Moore was fortunate to have had as his teacher in the Work, the long time Gurdjieff group leader, Henriette Lannes, to whom he dedicated his earlier biography of Gurdjieff. She played straight with him and was his unerring guide, telling him almost from the beginning of their relationship: “We have to recognize a master in ourselves. We are alone in the face of this as we shall be alone in the face of death …” (p. 260).
What a cast of characters we are, of strange three-brained beings, in this Gurdjieff Work! It makes one laugh as it makes one weep. I enjoyed the book immensely as, I am certain, will other students of Gurdjieff’s teaching.
Seymour B. Ginsburg, United States
1) 'Subterranian' - because the text is a long and winding gossip in psychedelic style, devoid of any ideas, let alone 'higher' ones.
2) 'Homesick Blues' - because this is the only book in the world which mentions more than 60 people that I have known (of which over 20 my friends).
I just wished I could have enjoyed the book, but alas, like Moore himself, I found the reading of it painful!
James Moore was in contact with the Gurdjieff Society for some 35 years and a long time in a group led by Madame Lannes with many of the 'top people' in the Society. He took part in all kinds of activities and got to know many people.
Was this all in vain?
There is a 'groupie'-feeling in Moore's attraction to the 'Crocodile Dundee Malcolm' Gibson and to Bill Dixon, who both were members of the group.
There is an attitude of no respect towards the 'Nicoll-people', like Sam Copley and Magnus Wechsler and others.
The wiseacring and the negative attitude give a crooked picture of the people and of the Gurdjieff Society in 1956-1980.
If James Moore's aim with this book was to continue on his "Way of Blame" there is no doubt that he will achieve it.
Reijo Oksanen, Switzerland