God’s World

Edna St. Vincent Millay – 1892-1950

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart. Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year.
My soul is all but out of me, let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in Rockland, Maine, on February 22, 1892. A poet and playwright poetry collections include The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver (Flying Cloud Press, 1922), winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and Renascence and Other Poems (Harper, 1917) She died on October 18, 1950, in Austerlitz, New York. (Poets.org)

God Reminds Angels That Helping Struggling Baseball Teams Their Number-One Priority

God Almighty

July 29, 2020 (theonion.com)

THE HEAVENS—Admonishing His flock for concerning themselves with human affairs beyond the ballpark, God, Our Heavenly Father and the Creator of the Universe, reminded angels Wednesday that helping struggling baseball teams was their number-one priority. “If I don’t see you giving a lackluster batter the strength to hit a home run, I’m shipping your ass out,” said the Lord Our Savior, clarifying that MLB players experiencing family strife, which could be solved with a World Series win, should receive priority status. “I understand some of you are new here and want to help poor and sick people, but you need to understand that we focus on scrappy ball clubs. That’s the point of religion. Sure, every now and then I’ll grant a dying child’s wish, but that’s for Me to worry about. You should spend most of your day distracting elite baseball teams, so tenacious underdogs can score off errors.” At press time, God banished six angels from His heavenly kingdom for gambling on the Yankees.

The Coronavirus Update

(image) WIRED Coronavirus Update Logo

07.29.20 (wired.com)

Russia claims it’s on track to approve Covid-19 vaccine by mid-August. But speed of process raises questions

Russia is trying to be the first nation to approve a Covid-19 vaccine—and it plans on doing it in less than two weeks. But the country has not released any scientific data on the vaccine’s effectiveness or safety, causing widespread concerns over releasing it to the public. Officials say the vaccine will be approved for the public on August 10, with frontline workers getting it first.

Moderna’s vaccine protects monkeys from Coronavirus, study shows

A new trial study showed that Moderna’s vaccine candidate built immunity to Covid-19 in monkeys. According to the report, monkeys that received two doses of the vaccination showed “robust immune response and protection.” Experts remain cautiously optimistic as the vaccine enters final human trials.

Yes to Life, in Spite of Everything: Viktor Frankl’s Lost Lectures on Moving Beyond Optimism and Pessimism to Find the Deepest Source of Meaning

“Everything depends on the individual human being, regardless of how small a number of like-minded people there is… each person, through action and not mere words, creatively making the meaning of life a reality in his or her own being.”

BY MARIA POPOVA (brainpickings.org)

Yes to Life, in Spite of Everything: Viktor Frankl’s Lost Lectures on Moving Beyond Optimism and Pessimism to Find the Deepest Source of Meaning

“To decide whether life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question of philosophy,” Albert Camus wrote in his classic 119-page essay The Myth of Sisyphus in 1942. “Everything else… is child’s play; we must first of all answer the question.”

Sometimes, life asks this question not as a thought experiment but as a gauntlet hurled with the raw brutality of living.

That selfsame year, the young Viennese neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (March 26, 1905–September 2, 1997) was taken to Auschwitz along with more than a million human beings robbed of the basic right to answer this question for themselves, instead deemed unworthy of living. Some survived by reading. Some through humor. Some by pure chance. Most did not. Frankl lost his mother, his father, and his brother to the mass murder in the concentration camps. His own life was spared by the tightly braided lifeline of chance, choice, and character.

Viktor Frankl

A mere eleven months after surviving the unsurvivable, Frankl took up the elemental question at the heart of Camus’s philosophical parable in a set of lectures, which he himself edited into a slim, potent book published in Germany in 1946, just as he was completing Man’s Search for Meaning.

As our collective memory always tends toward amnesia and erasure — especially of periods scarred by civilizational shame — these existential infusions of sanity and lucid buoyancy fell out of print and were soon forgotten. Eventually rediscovered — as is also the tendency of our collective memory when the present fails us and we must lean for succor on the life-tested wisdom of the past — they are now published in English for the first time as Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything (public library).

Frankl begins by considering the question of whether life is worth living through the central fact of human dignity. Noting how gravely the Holocaust disillusioned humanity with itself, he cautions against the defeatist “end-of-the-world” mindset with which many responded to this disillusionment, but cautions equally against the “blithe optimism” of previous, more naïve eras that had not yet faced this gruesome civilizational mirror reflecting what human beings are capable of doing to one another. Both dispositions, he argues, stem from nihilism. In consonance with his colleague and contemporary Erich Fromm’s insistence that we can only transcend the shared laziness of optimism and pessimism through rational faith in the human spirit, Frankl writes:

We cannot move toward any spiritual reconstruction with a sense of fatalism such as this.

“Liminal Worlds” by Maria Popova. Available as a print.

Generations and myriad cultural upheavals before Zadie Smith observed that “progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive,” Frankl considers what “progress” even means, emphasizing the centrality of our individual choices in its constant revision:

Today every impulse for action is generated by the knowledge that there is no form of progress on which we can trustingly rely. If today we cannot sit idly by, it is precisely because each and every one of us determines what and how far something “progresses.” In this, we are aware that inner progress is only actually possible for each individual, while mass progress at most consists of technical progress, which only impresses us because we live in a technical age.

Insisting that it takes a measure of moral strength not to succumb to nihilism, be it that of the pessimist or of the optimist, he exclaims:

Give me a sober activism anytime, rather than that rose-tinted fatalism!

How steadfast would a person’s belief in the meaningfulness of life have to be, so as not to be shattered by such skepticism. How unconditionally do we have to believe in the meaning and value of human existence, if this belief is able to take up and bear this skepticism and pessimism?

[…]

Through this nihilism, through the pessimism and skepticism, through the soberness of a “new objectivity” that is no longer that “new” but has grown old, we must strive toward a new humanity.

Sophie Scholl, upon whom chance did not smile as favorably as it did upon Frankl, affirmed this notion with her insistence that living with integrity and belief in human goodness is the wellspring of courage as she courageously faced her own untimely death in the hands of the Nazis. But while the Holocaust indisputably disenchanted humanity, Frankl argues, it also indisputably demonstrated “that what is human is still valid… that it is all a question of the individual human being.” Looking back on the brutality of the camps, he reflects:

What remained was the individual person, the human being — and nothing else. Everything had fallen away from him during those years: money, power, fame; nothing was certain for him anymore: not life, not health, not happiness; all had been called into question for him: vanity, ambition, relationships. Everything was reduced to bare existence. Burnt through with pain, everything that was not essential was melted down — the human being reduced to what he was in the last analysis: either a member of the masses, therefore no one real, so really no one — the anonymous one, a nameless thing (!), that “he” had now become, just a prisoner number; or else he melted right down to his essential self.

Illustration by Margaret C. Cook for a rare 1913 edition of Leaves of Grass. (Available as a print.)

In a sentiment that bellows from the hallways of history into the great vaulted temple of timeless truth, he adds:

Everything depends on the individual human being, regardless of how small a number of like-minded people there is, and everything depends on each person, through action and not mere words, creatively making the meaning of life a reality in his or her own being.

Frankl then turns to the question of finding a sense of meaning when the world gives us ample reasons to view life as meaningless — the question of “continuing to live despite persistent world-weariness.” Writing in the post-war pre-dawn of the golden age of consumerism, which has built a global economy by continually robbing us of the sense of meaning and selling it back to us at the price of the product, Frankl first dismantles the notion that meaning is to be found in the pursuit and acquisition of various pleasures:

Let us imagine a man who has been sentenced to death and, a few hours before his execution, has been told he is free to decide on the menu for his last meal. The guard comes into his cell and asks him what he wants to eat, offers him all kinds of delicacies; but the man rejects all his suggestions. He thinks to himself that it is quite irrelevant whether he stuffs good food into the stomach of his organism or not, as in a few hours it will be a corpse. And even the feelings of pleasure that could still be felt in the organism’s cerebral ganglia seem pointless in view of the fact that in two hours they will be destroyed forever. But the whole of life stands in the face of death, and if this man had been right, then our whole lives would also be meaningless, were we only to strive for pleasure and nothing else — preferably the most pleasure and the highest degree of pleasure possible. Pleasure in itself cannot give our existence meaning; thus the lack of pleasure cannot take away meaning from life, which now seems obvious to us.

He quotes a short verse by the great Indian poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore — the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize, Einstein’s onetime conversation partner in contemplating science and spirituality, and a man who thought deeply about human nature:

I slept and dreamt
that life was joy.
I awoke and saw
that life was duty.
I worked — and behold,
duty was joy.

In consonance with Camus’s view of happiness as a moral obligation — an outcome to be attained not through direct pursuit but as a byproduct of living with authenticity and integrity — Frankl reflects on Tagore’s poetic point:

So, life is somehow duty, a single, huge obligation. And there is certainly joy in life too, but it cannot be pursued, cannot be “willed into being” as joy; rather, it must arise spontaneously, and in fact, it does arise spontaneously, just as an outcome may arise: Happiness should not, must not, and can never be a goal, but only an outcome; the outcome of the fulfillment of that which in Tagore’s poem is called duty… All human striving for happiness, in this sense, is doomed to failure as luck can only fall into one’s lap but can never be hunted down.

In a sentiment James Baldwin would echo two decades later in his superb forgotten essay on the antidote to the hour of despair and life as a moral obligation to the universe, Frankl turns the question unto itself:

At this point it would be helpful [to perform] a conceptual turn through 180 degrees, after which the question can no longer be “What can I expect from life?” but can now only be “What does life expect of me?” What task in life is waiting for me?

Now we also understand how, in the final analysis, the question of the meaning of life is not asked in the right way, if asked in the way it is generally asked: it is not we who are permitted to ask about the meaning of life — it is life that asks the questions, directs questions at us… We are the ones who must answer, must give answers to the constant, hourly question of life, to the essential “life questions.” Living itself means nothing other than being questioned; our whole act of being is nothing more than responding to — of being responsible toward — life. With this mental standpoint nothing can scare us anymore, no future, no apparent lack of a future. Because now the present is everything as it holds the eternally new question of life for us.

Another of Margaret C. Cook’s illustrations for the 1913 English edition of Leaves of Grass. (Available as a print.)

Frankl adds a caveat of tremendous importance — triply so in our present culture of self-appointed gurus, self-help demagogues, and endless podcast feeds of interviews with accomplished individuals attempting to distill a universal recipe for self-actualization:

The question life asks us, and in answering which we can realize the meaning of the present moment, does not only change from hour to hour but also changes from person to person: the question is entirely different in each moment for every individual.

We can, therefore, see how the question as to the meaning of life is posed too simply, unless it is posed with complete specificity, in the concreteness of the here and now. To ask about “the meaning of life” in this way seems just as naive to us as the question of a reporter interviewing a world chess champion and asking, “And now, Master, please tell me: which chess move do you think is the best?” Is there a move, a particular move, that could be good, or even the best, beyond a very specific, concrete game situation, a specific configuration of the pieces?

What emerges from Frankl’s inversion of the question is the sense that, just as learning to die is learning to meet the universe on its own terms, learning to live is learning to meet the universe on its own terms — terms that change daily, hourly, by the moment:

One way or another, there can only be one alternative at a time to give meaning to life, meaning to the moment — so at any time we only need to make one decision about how we must answer, but, each time, a very specific question is being asked of us by life. From all this follows that life always offers us a possibility for the fulfillment of meaning, therefore there is always the option that it has a meaning. One could also say that our human existence can be made meaningful “to the very last breath”; as long as we have breath, as long as we are still conscious, we are each responsible for answering life’s questions.

Art from Margaret C. Cook’s 1913 English edition of Leaves of Grass. (Available as a print.)

With this symphonic prelude, Frankl arrives at the essence of what he discovered about the meaning of life in his confrontation with death — a central fact of being at which a great many of humanity’s deepest seers have arrived via one path or another: from Rilke, who so passionately insisted that “death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love,” to physicist Brian Greene, who so poetically nested our search for meaning into our mortality into the most elemental fact of the universe. Frankl writes:

The fact, and only the fact, that we are mortal, that our lives are finite, that our time is restricted and our possibilities are limited, this fact is what makes it meaningful to do something, to exploit a possibility and make it become a reality, to fulfill it, to use our time and occupy it. Death gives us a compulsion to do so. Therefore, death forms the background against which our act of being becomes a responsibility.

[…]

Death is a meaningful part of life, just like human suffering. Both do not rob the existence of human beings of meaning but make it meaningful in the first place. Thus, it is precisely the uniqueness of our existence in the world, the irretrievability of our lifetime, the irrevocability of everything with which we fill it — or leave unfulfilled — that gives our existence significance. But it is not only the uniqueness of an individual life as a whole that gives it importance, it is also the uniqueness of every day, every hour, every moment that represents something that loads our existence with the weight of a terrible and yet so beautiful responsibility! Any hour whose demands we do not fulfill, or fulfill halfheartedly, this hour is forfeited, forfeited “for all eternity.” Conversely, what we achieve by seizing the moment is, once and for all, rescued into reality, into a reality in which it is only apparently “canceled out” by becoming the past. In truth, it has actually been preserved, in the sense of being kept safe. Having been is in this sense perhaps even the safest form of being. The “being,” the reality that we have rescued into the past in this way, can no longer be harmed by transitoriness.

In the remainder of the slender and splendid Yes to Life, Frankl goes on to explore how the imperfections of human nature add to, rather than subtract from, the meaningfulness of our lives and what it means for us to be responsible for our own existence. Complement it with Mary Shelley, writing two centuries ago about a pandemic-savaged world, on what makes life worth living, Walt Whitman contemplating this question after surviving a paralytic stroke, and a vitalizing cosmic antidote to the fear of death from astrophysicist and poet Rebecca Elson, then revisit Frankl on humor as lifeline to sanity and survival.

Aliens Issue Statement Asserting That Sex with Them Does Not Spread the Coronavirus

By Andy Borowitz July 29, 2020 (NewYorker.com)

Silhouetted aliens in the woods
Photograph by Martina Badini / Shutterstock

OUTER SPACE (The Borowitz Report)—In a rare public statement by beings from another planet, a group of prominent aliens declared on Wednesday that having sex with them does not spread the coronavirus.

In the statement, which the aliens published on Medium, the space creatures expressed concern that the dissemination of pseudoscience about sex with demons and alien DNA might cause some Earthlings to erroneously conclude that intimate relations with aliens were in some way a health risk.

“We can assure you, based on years of research, that it is perfectly safe for Earthlings to have sex with aliens,” the aliens wrote. “In this, as in all matters, it’s important to follow the science.”

The extraterrestrials added that the coronavirus pandemic had caused them to rethink their planned invasion of the planet Earth, which had been pencilled in for later this year.

The aliens indicated that they would now limit their invasion to places like Canada and New Zealand, but would avoid the United States.

Andy Borowitz is a Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes The Borowitz Report, a satirical column on the news.

Translation works: Federal officers to pull out of Portland in a major reversal for Trump administration

Oregon’s governor says local police will guard the courthouse as the president says the pullout will not begin until the city is secure

Federal agents attempt to clear protesters gathering at the courthouse in Portland, Oregon.

Federal agents attempt to clear protesters gathering at the courthouse in Portland, Oregon. Photograph: Amy Harris/Rex/Shutterstock

Chris McGreal in Portland, Oregon Wednesday 29 Jul 2020 19.28 EDT (theguardian.com)

The Trump administration is to pull federal paramilitaries out of Portland starting on Thursday in a major reversal after weeks of escalating protests and violence.

Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, said she agreed to the pullout in talks with Vice-President Mike Pence.

Brown said state and city police officers will replace Department of Homeland Security agents in guarding the federal courthouse that has become the flashpoint for the protests.

“These federal officers have acted as an occupying force, refused accountability, and brought violence and strife to our community,” the governor said. The head of the US homeland security department said agents would stay near the courthouse until they were sure the plan was working.

Donald Trump said the pullout will not begin until the courthouse is protected.

“We’re not leaving until they secure their city. We told the governor, we told the mayor: secure your city,” said the president.Advertisement

But the announcement is a significant retreat by the administration after Trump sent federal forces to Portland at the beginning of July to end months of Black Lives Matter protests he described as having dragged the city into anarchy.

Instead of quelling the unrest, the arrival of paramilitaries fuelled some of the biggest demonstrations since daily protests following the killing of George Floyd, a Black American, by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May.

The situation escalated particularly after agents in camouflage were filmed snatching protesters from the streets in unmarked vans.

Far from imposing order, the federal force, drawn from the border patrol, immigration service and US Marshals, was largely trapped inside the federal courthouse they were ostensibly there to protect, emerging each night to fire waves of teargas, baton rounds and stun grenades in street battles with the protesters. But the demonstrators retained ultimate control of the streets.

Anger at the presence of the paramilitaries brought thousands of people out each night and acted as a lightning rod for broader discontent with Trump, including over his chaotic and divisive handling of the coronavirus epidemic which has killed nearly 150,000 Americans and shows no signs of abating.

Najee Gow, an organiser for Black Lives Matter, gathers with other protesters at the courthouse.

Najee Gow, an organiser for Black Lives Matter, gathers with other protesters at the courthouse. Photograph: Amy Harris/Rex/Shutterstock

Although the protesters will claim victory in achieving the demand of their nightly chant, “Feds go home”, the demonstrations are likely to continue with the focus shifting back toward the Portland city police with which there had been running battles before the arrival of the federal agents.

It is not immediately clear what impact the pullout will have on Trump’s threat to send federal forces to other cities, ostensibly to quell violent crimes.

The mayors of Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and 11 other cities accused the president of deploying federal law enforcement officers “for political purposes” amid suspicions that Trump is more interested in creating conflict than ending it in the run-up to the election.

In a letter to the White House, the mayors said they were disturbed at the actions of federal agents in Portland, calling their failure to wear proper identification and the snatching of protesters off the streets “chilling”.

“These are tactics we expect from an authoritarian regime – not our democracy,” the letter said.

Although the arrival of the federal forces reinvigorated the protests for racial justice in Portland, the nightly battles also distracted from them. Tensions have been building between the demonstrators focused on storming the courthouse and those leading more peaceful protests for reform after Floyd’s killing.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Portland warned that the Black Lives Matter movement was being co-opted by “privileged white people” pursuing other agendas, such as anti-capitalism. It said they were playing into Trump’s hands by provoking nightly confrontations with the federal forces.

On Tuesday night, Najee Gow, an African American organiser for Black Lives Matter, waded into the group of a few dozen young white people taunting the federal agents. He accused them of racism for being more invested in fighting at the courthouse than pushing for racial justice.

“What are you doing? This is the racist shit we’re talking about. You don’t push a black agenda and do this,” he shouted at the white protesters who pulled back, but later returned.

“They want to destroy property. They are tarnishing the Black Lives movement and they are making a mockery out of Portland on the fucking world stage,” a furious Gow told the Guardian.

New: Mars In 4K

ElderFox Documentaries A world first. New footage from Mars rendered in stunning 4K resolution. We also talk about the cameras on board the Martian rovers and how we made the video. The cameras on board the rovers were the height of technology when the respective missions launched. A question often asked is: ‘Why don’t we actually have live video from Mars?’ Although the cameras are high quality, the rate at which the rovers can send data back to earth is the biggest challenge. Curiosity can only send data directly back to earth at 32 kilo-bits per second. Instead, when the rover can connect to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, we get more favourable speeds of 2 Megabytes per second. However, this link is only available for about 8 minutes each Sol, or Martian day. As you would expect, sending HD video at these speeds would take a long long time. As nothing really moves on Mars, it makes more sense to take and send back images. Credit: NASA Music from Epidemic Sound

(Contributed by William P. Chiles)

Red herring

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important question.[1] It may be either a logical fallacy or a literary device that leads readers or audiences toward a false conclusion. A red herring may be used intentionally, as in mystery fiction or as part of rhetorical strategies (e.g., in politics), or may be used in argumentation inadvertently.

The term was popularized in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, who told a story of having used a strong-smelling smoked fish to divert and distract hounds from chasing a rabbit.

Logical fallacy

As an informal fallacy, the red herring falls into a broad class of relevance fallacies. Unlike the straw man, which involves a distortion of the other party’s position,[2] the red herring is a seemingly plausible, though ultimately irrelevant, diversionary tactic.[3] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a red herring may be intentional, or unintentional; it is not necessarily a conscious intent to mislead.[1]

The expression is mainly used to assert that an argument is not relevant to the issue being discussed. For example, “I think we should make the academic requirements stricter for students. I recommend you support this because we are in a budget crisis, and we do not want our salaries affected.” The second sentence, though used to support the first sentence, does not address that topic.

Intentional device

In fiction and non-fiction a red herring may be intentionally used by the writer to plant a false clue that leads readers or audiences towards a false conclusion.[4][5][6] For example, the character of Bishop Aringarosa in Dan Brown‘s The Da Vinci Code is presented for most of the novel as if he is at the centre of the church’s conspiracies, but is later revealed to have been innocently duped by the true antagonist of the story. The character’s name is a loose Italian translation of “red herring” (aringa rosarosa actually meaning pink, and very close to rossared).[7]

A red herring is often used in legal studies and exam problems to mislead and distract students from reaching a correct conclusion about a legal issue, allegedly as a device that tests students’ comprehension of underlying law and their ability to properly discern material factual circumstances.[8]

History of the idiom

Herrings “kippered” by smoking, salting and artificially dyeing until made reddish-brown, i.e., a “red herring”. Prior to refrigeration kipper was known for being strongly pungent. In 1807, William Cobbett wrote how he used a kipper to lay a false trail, while training hunting dogs—an apocryphal story that was probably the origin of the idiom.Continental WarWhen I was a boy, we used, in order to draw oft’ the harriers from the trail of a hare that we had set down as our own private property, get to her haunt[9] early in the morning, and drag a red-herring, tied to a string, four or five miles over hedges and ditches, across fields and through coppices, till we got to a point, whence we were pretty sure the hunters would not return to the spot where they had thrown off; and, though I would, by no means, be understood, as comparing the editors and proprietors of the London daily press to animals half so sagacious and so faithful as hounds, I cannot help thinking, that, in the case to which we are referring, they must have been misled, at first, by some political deceiver.

William Cobbett, February 14, 1807, Cobbett’s Political Register, Volume XI[10]

There is no fish species “red herring”, rather it is a name given to a particularly strong kipper, made with fish (typically herring) that has been strongly cured in brine or heavily smoked. This process makes the fish particularly pungent smelling and, with strong enough brine, turns its flesh reddish.[11] In this literal sense, as a strongly cured kipper, the term can be dated to the mid-13th century, in the poem The Treatise by Walter of Bibbesworth: “He eteþ no ffyssh But heryng red.”[12]

Prior to 2008,[11] the figurative sense of “red herring” was thought to originate from a supposed technique of training young scent hounds.[11] There are variations of the story, but according to one version, the pungent red herring would be dragged along a trail until a puppy learned to follow the scent.[13] Later, when the dog was being trained to follow the faint odour of a fox or a badger, the trainer would drag a red herring (whose strong scent confuses the animal) perpendicular to the animal’s trail to confuse the dog.[14] The dog eventually learned to follow the original scent rather than the stronger scent. A variation of this story is given, without mention of its use in training, in The Macmillan Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Famous Phrases (1976), with the earliest use cited being from W. F. Butler’s Life of Napier, published in 1849.[15] Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1981) gives the full phrase as “Drawing a red herring across the path”, an idiom meaning “to divert attention from the main question by some side issue”; here, once again, a “dried, smoked and salted” herring when “drawn across a fox’s path destroys the scent and sets the hounds at fault.”[16] Another variation of the dog story is given by Robert Hendrickson (1994) who says escaping convicts used the pungent fish to throw off hounds in pursuit.[17]

According to a pair of articles by Professor Gerald Cohen and Robert Scott Ross published in Comments on Etymology (2008), supported by etymologist Michael Quinion and accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary, the idiom did not originate from a hunting practice.[11] Ross researched the origin of the story and found the earliest reference to using herrings for training animals was in a tract on horsemanship published in 1697 by Gerland Langbaine.[11] Langbaine recommended a method of training horses (not hounds) by dragging the carcass of a cat or fox so that the horse would be accustomed to following the chaos of a hunting party.[11] He says if a dead animal is not available, a red herring would do as a substitute.[11] This recommendation was misunderstood by Nicholas Cox, published in the notes of another book around the same time, who said it should be used to train hounds (not horses).[11] Either way, the herring was not used to distract the hounds or horses from a trail, rather to guide them along it.[11]

The earliest reference to using herring for distracting hounds is an article published on 14 February 1807 by radical journalist William Cobbett in his polemical periodical Political Register.[11][18][10] According to Cohen and Ross, and accepted by the OED, this is the origin of the figurative meaning of red herring.[11] In the piece, William Cobbett critiques the English press, which had mistakenly reported Napoleon’s defeat. Cobbett recounted that he had once used a red herring to deflect hounds in pursuit of a hare, adding “It was a mere transitory effect of the political red-herring; for, on the Saturday, the scent became as cold as a stone.”[11] Quinion concludes: “This story, and [Cobbett’s] extended repetition of it in 1833, was enough to get the figurative sense of red herring into the minds of his readers, unfortunately also with the false idea that it came from some real practice of huntsmen.”[11]

Real-world usage

Although Cobbett popularized the figurative usage, he was not the first to consider red herring for scenting hounds in a literal sense; an earlier reference occurs in the pamphlet Nashe’s Lenten Stuffe, published in 1599 by the Elizabethan writer Thomas Nashe, in which he says “Next, to draw on hounds to a scent, to a red herring skin there is nothing comparable.”[19] The Oxford English Dictionary makes no connection with Nashe’s quote and the figurative meaning of red herring to distract from the intended target, only in the literal sense of a hunting practice to draw dogs towards a scent.[1]

The use of herring to distract pursuing scent hounds was tested on Episode 148 of the series MythBusters.[20] Although the hound used in the test stopped to eat the fish and lost the fugitive’s scent temporarily, it eventually backtracked and located the target, resulting in the myth being classified by the show as “Busted”.[21]

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring

Evolution wants us to hide from the truth | Donald Hoffman Ph.D. | Waking Cosmos

metaRising Is consciousness the fundamental nature of reality? Neuroscientist Donald Hoffman discusses his theory of “conscious agents” on the Waking Cosmos podcast. EPISODE SUMMARY For all of science’s impressive advancements, one problem has stubbornly eluded us: Why do we have consciousness? How does inert unconscious matter give rise to the light of conscious experience? Neuroscientist Donald Hoffman has been pondering this question throughout his career. His thinking has gradually led him to a surprising possibility — that consciousness itself is fundamental to reality. Donald’s theory, however, differs from that of the growing number of other scientists and philosophers now arriving at this conclusion. The fundamental nature of reality, Donald theorizes, is comprised of an infinite network of interacting conscious agents. Uniquely, Donald offers a precise mathematical definition of a conscious agent. He believes the theory may be used to reconstruct the universe and existing scientific discoveries purely through the interaction of these units of consciousness. As Donald has gradually become “a student of the math” his theory has led him to consider fantastic possibilities, including the existence of infinitely great minds which exist beyond our realm of perception. Among other possibilities, Donald believes “conscious realism” leaves the door open to life after death. In my conversation with Donald we explore the surprising implications of his theory, and what it suggests about our own place in reality. Please consider supporting Waking Cosmos on Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/wakingcosmos Pick up Donald’s book “The Case Against Reality” (also on Audible) here: https://amzn.to/2T31Kes SEO TAGS~ Donald Hoffman Consciousness The Case Against Reality Donald Hoffman Ted Consciousness Creates Reality Conscious Agents Conscious Realism Reality Reality and Consciousness Waking Cosmos Waking Cosmos podcast Science and NonDuality SAND Idealism Panpsychism Quantum mind Quantum consciousness Entangled minds

‘Spiritual Climate Change’; A Fourth Way Perspective.

 BY JOSHUA DENNY NOVEMBER 1, 2019 (hermes-magazine.com)

~ Introduction~

The topics that are to be focused upon in this series of articles, which is to be presented over the course of the next three months, will be: ‘Ecology’, the ‘Environment’, and the ‘Axis Mundi’ or ‘World Soul’.

These topics will be looked at from the perspective of the ‘Spiritual’ teaching called ‘The Fourth Way’. This is the teaching that was brought to the modern ‘western world’ by the Greek-Armenian ‘Mystic’ G.I. Gurdjieff (1) around a hundred years ago today. There are various books available that present the teachings and ideas of Gurdjieff and ‘The Fourth Way’; the main corpus consisting of the books written by Gurdjieff himself (2) and those written by his immediate students. Some of the books which are considered to compose the main ‘canonical’ material will be referenced in these articles (3).

The intention behind the articles is to provide contemplative material regarding the topics discussed, as well as presenting an introduction to the ‘Gurdjieffian’ perspective on these particular topics and a basic introduction to the overall body of teachings and ideas called ‘The Fourth Way’(4).

We will consider questions such as: What is the nature of the current apparent ‘environmental crisis’? What does the presence of this situation say about the nature of Man and Existence? What can be done in the present situation and current conditions, what is called for from those concerned? What is the nature and meaning of ‘Ecology’? What is the nature of Man’s relation to the ‘Natural’ and ‘material’ worlds, his potential and possible responsibility towards such? What is the ‘Axis Mundi’ or ‘World Soul’? What is the relation between the ‘natural’ and ‘material’ worlds, and the ‘Divine’ world? Is there a ‘Divine’ purpose to Life, and particularly to the Life of Man?

 ~ What has ‘Crisis’ got to do with it? ~

Well then, ‘Dear Reader’, it appears that I have set my task and aim before us both. But, having done this now, how am I to actually proceed next?

The question, apparently ‘ages old’, appears; ‘’Where, and how, to Begin’’? In asking this question, it appears that in order to ‘Begin’, I have to ‘Begin somewhere’. This seems like some kind of ‘limitation’, does it not? Though it is also seen to be necessary. Having set my aim and task, I am immediately met with the appearance of a limitation, and this apparent limitation seems to be connected with the nature of the ‘medium’ and ‘means’ through which the aim and task is to be realized and achieved.

This situation of having an aim and wish, and also having a present limitation in the ‘means’ and ‘medium’ to the realization of such, can be considered as a ‘problematic’ or at least ‘concerning’ situation. It is a situation which appears to require some degree of attention and effort in order to address and resolve. If there is also some realization of a sense of uncertainty as to how to proceed in the face of such limitation, so as to achieve one’s aim, then this situation can also be considered as a ‘Dramatic’ one.

The presence of a wish, aim, or need, in conjunction with uncertainty as to its achievement and completion, gives rise to a dramatic situation, and this situation can also be considered as a ‘Crisis’. In my own task and efforts here, I may be in the midst of my own crisis, though some might well agree that the word ‘crisis’ would appear as a great exaggeration when used in this particular context.

The exaggeration would appear to be related to two aspects; one being the level or degree of apparent ‘need’. This meaning that the ‘need’ for me to achieve my task and aim here appears to be relatively small, if considered as a ‘need’ at all. A second aspect is that of ‘value’, and this to say that the possible ‘value’ present in the achievement of my aim appears to be of relatively little value. If I achieve my aim or not appears to be of little ‘real concern’, because ‘failure’ doesn’t appear to give significant consequences and neither does ‘success’. However, at least in terms of ‘subjectivity’, this situation may indeed be experienced by me as a ‘great crisis’.

A study of the history of the word ‘crisis’ itself, can reveal various connotations to its meaning and use. Crisis has not simply been used to refer to a ‘bad’ and/or ‘unwanted’ situation, it has also been used with connotations of ‘opportunity’. Crisis can refer to a moment of real change, whether actual or potential. The change, or possible change, that comes with crisis can give different outcomes; one of which is related to the idea of ‘loss’ and one of which is related to that of ‘gain’. Typically, crisis is regarded in a ‘negative’ way, in the sense that the ‘best’ possible outcome from it is seen as simply the ‘re-establishment’ or ‘preservation’ of the ‘given’ or ‘status quo’ etc. There is not generally the sense of the ‘positive’ potential and ‘opportunity’ that crisis brings.

If there is the potential for something ‘more’ than just the ‘re-establishment’ and ‘preservation’ of the ‘status quo’, the potential for actual real ‘gain’, ‘progress’, or ‘development’ through the engagement of crisis, then it need not be regarded in its ‘typical’ negative fashion. The realization of this possible ‘positive’ potential that is inherent to crisis, does not simply consist of a change of in ‘perspective’, in the sense of ‘seeing the glass as half-full instead of half-empty’. The realization is more along the lines of a practical grasp of how reality itself operates, and this gives the motivation and means for a different kind of approach and engagement of reality.

If crisis, and the opportunity therein, is actually seen to be something like a basic means or mechanism of operation for reality, then this seeing can give knowledge and direction as to how to engage reality in a more ‘fruitful’ way; in regard of realizing one’s aims by utilizing and working with the mechanism and laws of reality. This shift in ‘perspective’ is not one that is simply an ‘emotional’ ‘re-alignment’, it is also a shift in the understanding and practical engagement of life.

~ Have We Begun Yet? ~
Now, Dear Reader, you may quite rightly be asking ‘Why on Earth is he talking about ‘beginnings’ and giving a convoluted ‘definition’ of ‘crisis’?

Well, the line of thinking appears to be something like this; one of the questions to be asked here in these articles is ‘’What is the nature of the present Environmental Crisis, considered from a ‘Fourth Way’ perspective’’? This question itself could be seen to be ‘leading’, in the sense that it implies that there is in fact such a ‘crisis’, that the present situation in regards to the ‘Environment’ can indeed be defined as a ‘crisis’.

Why highlight and appear to question whether or not the given situation, in relation to the Environment, can actually be defined and classified as a crisis?

In the majority of the Religious and Spiritual teachings, Man is depicted as being in a situation or state of crisis. This crisis may be placed in the past, present, or future in the various conceptions of the different teachings, but such crisis is still ‘there’ and present in some form, having a significant role to play. This is still the case in teachings where crisis itself may be regarded as an ‘illusion’. Crisis is given a different role and domain in different teachings.

In some teachings, crisis is regarded as something which only applies to Man, only being present in himself, and thereby, his immediate realm of experience and action. In other teachings, crisis is stated to be something which is also present in ‘higher realms’, something that is a concern and reality not just for Man. This may be portrayed in terms of saying something like ‘higher beings’, such as ‘Angels’, ‘Devils’, ‘the gods’, and so on, are also subject to crisis in some way. In other teachings, crisis is extended further by being applied to the ‘Supreme God’, ‘Godhead’, or ‘Absolute’ itself. Creation itself can sometimes be depicted as arising due to the presence of a crisis. This may be seen to be a different attitude towards God than that which is more common today, where God is seen to be ‘unlimited’ and not subject to such things as a could be called a ‘crisis’. Here we can see notions suggesting that Creation is not only ‘purposeful’, but also ‘needed’ and ‘necessary’, if not ‘vital’, for/ to something.

The crisis, or realm of crisis, that is specific to Man is mentioned in terms of such things as ‘Sin’, ‘Egoism’, ‘Maya’, ‘Karma’, ‘Samsara’, ‘Sleep’, and ‘Ignorance’ in various traditions. Here, crisis is expressed as something which can appear to be both the property of Man himself, his given nature and functioning, and also the property of the ‘world around him’. This latter aspect being related to the idea that there are ’Laws’ of existence and reality which Man is subject to. The ‘world around Man’ also includes factors related to the idea that Man is subject to actions coming from ‘higher beings’ etc.

If the majority of the traditions and teachings give some significance to crisis, then what can be learnt about crisis, itself, through their study? If the present ‘Environmental crisis’ is just part of a larger working of Man and reality, just one expression of a larger action, then the concern can become that of Man’s understanding of crisis itself, its reality and role, so as to develop the means to meet all and any crisis that may occur in a more effective way. If crisis is something which is pervasive to Man’s experience and reality, then it may be the case that the common approach towards resolving a crisis, which often involves ‘dealing with one problem at a time’ so to speak, may not be effective or suitable. If the nature of crisis is something that is ‘systemic’ to reality, then it requires a similar kind of systemic approach in order to be addressed.

There is the idea that Man’s ‘problems’ come from his form and level of ’intelligence’, so the ‘solution’ to his problems may then be considered as impossible to find whilst he is still operating according to the same form and level of intelligence. The kind of ‘thinking’ that we may consider to have led to the problems in the first place, may be seen as ineffective when used to attempt rectify those problems. In the various Religious and Spiritual teachings and traditions, a common feature to the crisis to which Man is subject is expressed in terms of Man’s own ‘perception’ and ‘conception’ of reality and truth. This is seen to be ‘faulty’, askew, and at odds with reality and its actual operation and purpose.

This ‘mal-functioning’ of Man, combined with the fact that the ‘world’ around Man is one which appears to permit, and to operate via, change, limitation, and uncertainty, means that Man’s actions can have the tendency to ‘make things worse’ rather than being either ‘preservatory’ or ‘developmental’. Actions taken to rectify or resolve an apparent problem or crisis, will tend to produce consequences that lead to further problems and issues. These latter consequences will often be unforeseen, and even when they are directly present, they can be missed. Man has a limitation is seeing the consequences to his actions that may not manifest or actualize until a future occasion, and he also has limitations in seeing the immediate present effects of his actions that are counter to his intentions.

If we took a ‘technological metaphor’, we could say that Man is said to have too little a ‘capacity’ and ‘processing power’ when it came to handling and processing/computing the ‘data’ of reality. Man may not be able to ‘keep up’ with the ‘pace’ of reality and its change, in regard of negotiating apparent emerging crises and the consequences to his actions and aims. Not only may Man ‘mis-perceive’ and ‘mis-conceive’ the nature and reality of a given crisis, he may also be ‘too slow’, and thereby ‘impotent’, to act positively upon a crisis even when it is seen for what it is.

Though there is then an element of Man’s crisis that may be removed or addressed, at least to some degree, and this being that which is considered as part of his own given nature and functioning, there is still the previously mentioned aspect of crisis that it considered to be ‘ever-present’ and not something which is to be completely ‘banished’ or ‘conquered’ etc. Man may be able to develop in relation to his own functioning and nature, and thereby address and resolve a certain amount of what would be ‘unnecessary’ issues and problems. However, there may still be a present reality of crisis, and so the common picture of ‘Spiritual’ or ‘Religious’ work, as something which will remove or solve all crises and issues and produce a ‘Utopia’, may be a misleading representation of the nature of ‘Religious/Spiritual work, its true character and aim/result.

If the different traditions and teachings point to the reality of crisis, then they may also point to the reality of what can be done, and to the means of the development of Man that may possibly be required. In the further content to the articles, we will go more into the specific ideas and teaching of Gurdjieff and ‘The Fourth Way’ regarding the crisis of Man. We will discuss the ideas in the Fourth Way that concern Man’s relation to the Material, Natural and Spiritual/Divine worlds, his relation with God and Creation, and his possible ‘Spiritual’ development and potential.

In terms of the topic of ‘Ecology’ and the ‘Environment, it can be said that Gurdjieff was one of the first to bring the idea of ‘systemic action’ to the West, at least in ‘modern language’. He was to bring a new, ‘systemic’ way of looking at the world, the world of nature, science, and Spirituality/Religion. This was part of the movement that led to looking at such as nature and the living world in terms of relationships rather than in terms of ‘things’ (5). The study of systems of relationship and exchange led to the notion of the mutual inter-dependence and reciprocal maintenance of existing phenomena.

Gurdjieff was one of the first to bring an idea of a ‘Spiritual Ecology’ and ‘Spiritual Food Chain’, suggesting that Man, Nature, the Material world, and God were all united and connected according to a form of mutual, systemic, inter-relation and inter-connection. Not only was nature mutually interconnected through an intelligent relationship and action, but Man was also called to play an intentional and conscious role towards the material and natural worlds, not to mention having a ‘spiritual’ role and direction of work as well. Gurdjieff suggested a ‘materiality’ to ‘spirituality’, using what can appear to be a ‘material science’ kind of outlook and approach to ‘Spirituality/Religion’ (6).

Man’s experience itself was considered to be composed of energies which were used for the running of the Creation and the fulfilment of its purpose. In this sense, there was an ‘alchemical’ approach to the various ‘substances’ of experience, to the ‘substance’ of thought, feeling, sensation, and states of consciousness etc. There was the requirement for the ‘economic’ use of the ‘substances’ and ‘energy’ of the experience and consciousness of Man. Man had a responsibility not just towards his outer actions, but also to his inner states. He had to be ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘carbon-neutral’ in both his ‘inner world’ and his outer world in order to fulfil his potential and serve his purpose.

A Soul, for Gurdjieff, was something that was not given to Man, but was instead something which had to be ‘made’ by the Man himself, though requiring some kind and degree of ‘help’ of course. The ‘Making of a Soul’ was seen to be the result of an action that could be expressed as something like ‘internal eco-friendly action’. This meaning that the substance of experience was transformed and utilized without needless waste. There was such as the ‘up-cycling’ and ‘re-purposing’ of experience, the means of the ‘processing’ of experience were developed. The Soul, rather than simply being taken as some kind of ‘eternal’ or ‘immortal’ ‘possession’ or ‘state of being/existence’, was considered in terms of a possible function and purpose, and not as something that was ‘merely’ there to ‘please’ Man or even simply to ‘save’ Man himself alone.

 The ‘Fourth Way’ has been expressed as the ‘Harmonious’ and ‘balanced’ means of development for the modern Man in his given conditions of life. In this direction, the teachings and ideas therein have been considered to include and embrace those of the various other Religions and Spiritual teachings. To this extent, ‘The Fourth Way’ may be considered as something like and ‘ecology’ itself, an ‘ecology of Spirituality’, an ‘ecological approach’ to Religion and Spirituality. This allows for diversity, novelty and richness, co-operation and creativity, rather than ‘dogma’ and ‘stagnation/degeneration’ in the Religious and Spiritual Environment.

In the teachings and ideas of the Fourth Way itself, the value and reality of ‘diversity’ is emphasised. One expression of this, is expressed in terms of the idea of there being ‘different worlds’ or ‘different cosmoses’ that reality is composed of. These different worlds or realms each have a value and role, and each also has a degree of independence, though they are also mutually related and inter-dependent in a certain fashion. Man participates in these different worlds and has different a different action to perform in each, and balance is here again emphasised.

All these different aspects highlight a ‘dynamic’ and ‘evolving’ perspective on the nature of Man, God, and Reality. Gurdjieff gave a simple expression to his aim for his writings and ideas, which was to provide Man with a ‘New Conception’ of God, Man, and Reality. This ‘New conception’ was intended to provide Man with a means and basis for the ‘Creation’ of a ‘New World’. This ‘New World’ certainly concerned Man’s relationship to nature and the material world, but also went beyond this into addressing Man’s relationship to God and to the larger Creation and its purpose. Man was called to come to participate more consciously in the very running of the Creation, to have more responsibility and participation in the running of the Creation at every level.

The teaching of the Fourth Way is one which highlights the real threat of the possibility for the loss of ‘meaning’ and ‘value’. In the teaching, it is said that those with some degree of ‘Wisdom’ are responsible for the preservation and development of such, as well as its transmission and sharing. This wisdom could be ‘physical’ or ‘spiritual’ in nature, and simply concerned something which was of present value and worth.Those with a knowledge that was considered as valuable had a responsibility to preserve this knowledge, because reality was seen to operate according to periodic crises which could lead to the destruction of what was valuable and needed. The preservation of this knowledge needed to be done in various different forms, in order to give multiple forms of expression and varied means of possible engagement and transmission of this valuable knowledge. Not only were new and varied means of expression needed to be found, but there was also the need to develop an understanding of how Man himself received and processed meaning and information. This being needed so as to have an understanding as to how to best preserve and communicate information in a form that would be able to be understood; with as little a chance for mis-understanding, mis-translation, and error etc as possible (7).

A quintessential ‘myth’ of crisis can be seen in the tale of Noah and the Ark. Such a ‘myth’ would seem to be particularly relevant, considering the given topic of these articles, as there is particular blending of ‘Religion/Spirituality’ and what could be called ‘climate change’ involved in this tale. Part of Gurdjieff’s intention in his writing was to help form a corpus of people who were ‘sensitive’ enough to the given times and conditions such as to be able to see what was actually needed, what was most relevant and valuable in the given times and conditions. This required the development of the means of ‘perception’ and ‘conception’, the overall development and utilization of the various faculties and capacities of Man. After seeing what it was that was needed in a given time and place, or sphere/field of action, the work was then in order to preserve and promote this.

The Fourth Way Work was in order to produce intelligent, sensitive, ‘units’ that were in ‘sync’ with the needs and conditions of the times, and who could utilize the opportunities presented in order to work in accordance with a ‘higher intelligence’ and the greater action present and active in the purpose of Creation. This could be pictured in terms of a development of a ‘sensitive’ layer of material, such as living skin or organs, which could be responsive to some form of stimulus, calling it to grow. We could picture the change from ‘bare’ living ‘flesh’ to ‘sensory organ’. The development of Man was to provide a more ‘coherent’ and ‘ordered/organ-ised’ material through which the Divine could act and realize its purpose. In terms of the ‘Eco-system’, we could look to the nature of such as soil, a material between the ‘living’ and the ‘dead’ realms, between plant and rock. Its intermediary nature makes it dynamic and gives it its potential to be a means and support for ‘higher’ life, such as plants, animals and humans.

Man may be something like a ‘soil for the Divine’, for the Divine purpose at work in and through Creation. Such ‘natural metaphors’ used for expressing the nature of Man, God, and Reality, may not have been used by our ancestors simply because ‘they were the only forms of metaphor and expression that were available for such things’. They may have been used because they expressed a direct perception and understanding of our ancestors, that was natural to be expressed in such ways. The purpose of Man and working of reality may have been directly seen as present and active in the soil, field, and wheat etc. Not seen as something that was an ‘abstracted’ conception, which was then clarified/concretized and expressed through recourse to a natural means of metaphor, based upon natural processes etc.

In the further articles, we hope, if you are still with us Dear Reader, to address more of the specific ideas and teachings contained in the Fourth Way, devling more into the particular terminology used, and also looking to some of the Fourth Way’s attendant history and characters in the context of the subject and intention of these articles.

-References:

1) George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff,  1866/77?-1949. Born in Alexandropol and trained in Kars as both a priest and physician. Opened his ‘Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man’ in 1922 in France.

2) Gurdjieff’s own writings; ‘Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson: An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man’ published 1950 Routledge & Keegan Paul, ‘Meetings with Remarkable Men’ published 1963 Routledge, ‘Life is Real Only Then, When ‘I am’ published Routledge & Keegan Paul 1975.

3) Some ‘canon’ material: ‘In Search of The Miraculous’ P.D. Ouspensky, published 1949 Routledge & Keegan Paul. ‘A.R. Orage’s Commentaries on Gurdjieff’s All and Everything: Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson’, published Two Rivers Press 1985, first present in C.S. Nott’s ‘Teachings of Gurdjieff’ Routledge & Keegan Paul 1963. Maurice Nicoll’s ‘Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky’, published Vincent Stewart 1952. ‘Gurdjieff: Making a New World’ J.G. Bennett, published 1976 Turnstone Books. ‘Deeper Man’ J.G. Bennett 1978 Turnstone Books. ‘The Dramatic Universe’, published Hodder and Stoughton 1956. ‘Talks on Beelzebub’s Tales’ J.G. Bennett, published 1977 Coombe Springs Press. ‘The Reality of Being’ Jeanne De Salzmann, published Shambhala 2010. Fritz Peters ‘My Journey with a Mystic’, Tale Weaver publishing 1986.  ‘Towards Awakening’ Jeanne Vaysse, published 1979 Arkana. ‘Reflections on Gurdjieff’s Whim’ Keith. A. Buzzell, published 2012 Fifth Press. ‘The Intelligent Enneagram’ A.G.E Blake, published Shambhala 1996. ‘Gurdjieff and the Women of The Rope’, published Book Studio 2012. ‘Gurdjieff’s Early Talks’, published Studio Books 2014. ‘G.I. Gurdjieff: Paris Meetings 1943’, published Dolmen Meadow Editions 2016.

4) ‘The Fourth Way’ was the name given to the spiritual tradition from which Gurdjieff was said to have gained his ideas and teachings. The term was first recorded in Ouspensky’s ‘In Search of The Miraculous’. The term references the idea that the Fourth Way varies from the tradition three ways which have hitherto been openly available to Man. These three ways were related to the practices and teachings of the ‘Fakir’, ‘Monk’, and ‘Yogi’. Each of these three ways was centered in one of the aspects of body, feeling, and mind. The Fourth Way was said to vary to these three ways by virtue of being a way which incorporated the simultaneous study and development of the three sides of Man.

5) See the notion of ‘Gaia’, as per James Lovelock. The Gaia hypothesis proposes that living organisms and inorganic material are part of a dynamical that shapes the Earth’s biosphere, and maintains the Earth as a fit environment for life. In some Gaia theory approaches, the Earth itself is viewed as an organism with self-regulatory functions.

6) See Gurdjieff’s idea of the ‘Trogoautoegocrat’ and ‘Reciprocal Maintenance’ in ‘Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson’, such as for example in the chapter ‘Purgatory’. The notion of the materiality to all existence, to a scale of materiality, is not new to Gurdjieff and may be seen in such as the Patonists and Neo-platonists etc. Neither is the idea that Man is created to perform a service and role in the Creation and its maintenance something that is new to Gurdjieff, it can be found in such as the ideas of the Mespotamians and Zoroastrianism etc. However, Gurdjieff’s particular presentation may be seen to connect these ideas in a new way; one which brings together the ideas of the Monotheistic religions and those of the Ancient worlds in a new synthesis which also gives room for the ideas of modern science and psychology. A brilliant exposition of Gurdjieff’s ‘Theo-Cosmology’ can be found in ‘Gurdjieff: Making A New World’ by J.G. Bennett.

See also the idea of the ‘Noosphere’: ‘’The “noosphere”, is a philosophical concept developed and popularized foremostly by the biogeochemist Vladimir Vernadsky. Vernadsky defined the noosphere as the planetary “sphere of reason”. The noosphere represents the highest stage of biospheric development, its defining factor being the development of humankind’s rational activities. The word derives from the Greek νόος (‘’mind’, ‘’reason’’, or to ‘spin the thread of the mind’) and σφαῖρα (sphere), in lexical analogy to ‘’atmosphere’’ and ‘’biosphere’’. The concept cannot be accredited to a single author. The founding authors Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin developed two related but starkly different concepts, the former being grounded in the geological sciences and the latter, in theology. Both conceptions of the noosphere share the common thesis that together human reason and the scientific thought has and will continue to create the next evolutionary geological layer. This geological layer is part of the evolutionary chain. Second generation authors, predominantly of Russian origin, have further developed the Vernadskian concept, creating the related concepts: noocenosis and noocenology.’’ – Wikipedia

7) See Gurdjieff’s idea of ‘Legominism’ in ‘Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson’ as present in the chapter ‘Art’. ‘Legominism’ was a method of transmitting valuable and higher information to future generations. It could be seen in the light of the idea of ‘coding’ and ‘de-coding’ information. ‘Legominisms’ were created by conscious individuals and there was the notion that ‘error’ and ‘inconsistency’ were intentionally implanted into such creations. The recognition of these ‘errors’ and ‘inconsistencies’ served as a means to ‘de-code’ the Legominism and to enable connection with the deeper meaning within it. See also ‘Conscious Art’ as mentioned in ‘In Search of The Miraculous’ by P.D. Ouspensky.