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The clothing visionary who refuses to buy fashion magazines – Sydney Morning Herald

Posted: August 14, 2020 at 11:56 pm

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Its a damp February afternoon in Tribeca. Arbiters of style from around the world are jostling for front-row seats at New York Fashion Week. But Carmen Busquets, arguably one of the greatest fashion visionaries of them all, is not among them. Instead, the Venezuelan entrepreneur is sharing her thoughts about the future of luxury from a sofa in her apartment a few streets away.

I used to go to a lot of shows, says the Net-a-Porter founding investor, tucking a Gucci-sneakered foot under a silk-trousered leg as she sips a Cuban coffee. But Im less and less interested in the kind of fashion where dictators say, Here you are, these are the real fashions, this is in and this is out.

She also refuses to buy fashion magazines, disliking their promotion of unhealthy ideas about physical perfection. In fact, she confesses: I dont think Im a true fashion person. Im more interested in the stories behind peoples lives.

You might not expect such admissions from someone who has made a fortune from fashions next big things. But many things about Busquets are unexpected. For those in the fashion world, her name is synonymous with luxury and profit; for those who know her, she embodies seemingly opposite priorities, such as sustainability and detachment from material possessions.

Her web of businesses has its main centres in London and New York; her main homes are in Verbier, Barcelona, Paris and Miami. (This is just a short-term let, she explains, gesturing at the curved glass walls of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed apartment she rents with her boyfriend, the television executive John Skipper; the same applies to their pied--terre in London.)

Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet (left) and Carmen Busquets.Credit:Courtesy of Carmen Busquets

Her public persona is that of a slightly ditzy fashionista; in fact, she has one of the sharpest brains in business. And while her partial deafness means that she has an idiosyncratic way of speaking all three of her languages (I speak Carmenese, she jokes), she is an inspiring communicator.

Most of her successes have been achieved behind the scenes. She started investing in internet companies in the 1990s, sold just before the tech bubble burst in 2000, and used the profits to double down on her main remaining investment, in Natalie Massenets Net-a-Porter. By the time it was sold to Richemont, in 2010, she had achieved a 1600 per cent return on her investment, and received another big payday in 2015 when it was merged with Yoox in a 1.45 billion ($2.66 billion) deal.

By then Busquets was well into her next wave of investments. CoutureLab, which sells luxury products made by artisans and craftspeople around the world, was launched in 2006 and evolved into an investment vehicle now subsumed into for disruptive start-ups in fashion and luxury.

Since Net-a-Porter, she has invested more than 50 million in fashion-tech companies that include Farfetch, Moda Operandi, The Business of Fashion, PS Dept, Lyst, Figue and Flowerbx creating more than 10,000 jobs and a portfolio of non-traditional ventures whose trophy brands include Cult Beauty (curated beauty products) and Maison de Mode (luxury ethical fashion).


Her recent emphasis has been on sustainability. Fashion is one of the worlds most profligate industries, generating more than 400 billion of wasted clothing each year. Busquets-backed ventures such as Armarium (online fashion rentals), Flont (jewellery rentals), Unmade (bespoke knitwear) and Villageluxe (peer-to-peer fashion sharing) suggest a way forward that is not predicated on further overproduction.

It sounds idealistic, but in 2018 it earned Busquets an award from the United Nations-linked Fashion 4 Development group for recalibrating the fashion industry to the benefit of people and planet. She has also proved herself, yet again, to be ahead of the commercial curve. Bain & Co forecasts that in five years rentals will account for 45 per cent of the luxury market.

Who is this woman, who senses so surely the pull of fashions big currents? Born in 1965, she grew up in Caracas, the eldest daughter of two political exiles. Her father, a metallurgist, fled Francos Spain after the civil war. Her mother, a social anthropologist, fled Cuba after Castros revolution. Both understood, and emphasised, the transience of material possessions. They knew you could lose everything.

Busquets father became one of Venezuelas leading industrialists; the family became wealthy. But their real interest was in values I think the first word I learnt was freedom and in spiritual matters. The couple were disciples of the mystic philosopher George Gurdjieff, and their children three girls and a boy learnt to meditate from an early age.

Carmen was a quiet, thoughtful child. When she was 12, she told her father, We need to talk, adult to adult and demanded that, to become my own self, she should be sent to boarding school. She was: first to a Sussex convent (Hogwarts without the magic), which soon expelled her, then to a school in Toronto, where she became a fitness fanatic and, for a while, struggled with anorexia. It took her 30 years to resolve the underlying body dysmorphic disorder.

I dont think Im a true fashion person. Im more interested in the stories behind peoples lives.

Despite this, she says, I was a happy teenager. But I didnt fit in. Much later, she learnt why. In addition to her partial deafness (spotted in her late teens after her younger sister was found to have the same problem), she suffered from severe dyslexia (diagnosed in her 40s, at the prompting of a friend with a dyslexic son). The combination hampered her interaction with the world around her. I just dont hear that much. I missed a lot of things.

She learnt to express herself through fashion and painting, and won a scholarship to study art at Parsons School of Design in New York, but instead, at her fathers insistence, went to the University of Miami, where she partied hard and studied marketing and advertising.

Then came the great trauma of her life, a tragedy she rarely discusses, but did mention in a blog interview in 2016; her brother died during a game of Russian roulette. She rushed back to Caracas, where the family tried to put back together its broken world. Busquets was shown the ropes of her fathers businesses, in a series of boring roles: in accounting, in a factory; and in the import-and-export department, where she learnt that import tariffs were about to be slashed. She persuaded her sceptical father to invest in an import venture of her own a boutique selling high-end fashion from Europe.

Her father was a tough investor: If he invested $10,000, hed refuse to invest more until hed got $20,000 back. But her boutique, Cabus, which opened in Caracas in 1990, thrived. The ambience echoed Chanels store in Paris; the clothes came from more than 50 designers.

The clientele quickly became international, and Busquets provided a service to match. She would visit shows in Europe and use DHL to send her customers sketches, Polaroids and detailed descriptions of garments she thought they would like. Thats why I knew Net-a-Porter would succeed. I had already been providing an analogue version of what Natalie wanted to do.

Her first forays into e-commerce, in the mid-90s, were linked to wellbeing. Both flopped. But Busquets never doubted the internets potential to make retail more intelligent. In Toronto she had devoured the visionary writings of Marshall McLuhan, prophet of the global village. When the worldwide web got going, she was ready.

My greatest privilege was that my parents empowered me with their values. They taught me not to get attached to things.

Venezuela, on the other hand, was in turmoil. Hugo Chvez, who had led a failed military coup in 1992, was elected president in 1998, then re-elected on a revolutionary platform in 2000. A plummeting currency threatened to make Cabus unviable, and when the press reported some anti-Chvez remarks that Busquets had made, her shop was attacked. The spray of bullets broke three windows. Thank god we were having lunch out the back.

After much soul-searching, the family decided to leave. Busquets and her father sold their businesses. The family settled in Switzerland. Busquets has not seen her homeland since.

She believes that all these experiences contributed to her success. I was lucky that I had money to risk. But my greatest privilege was that my parents empowered me with their values. They taught me not to get attached to things, because sometimes you have to let go of your roots. And they taught me to value spiritual things.

She laughs often and infectiously; she is much more human in person than her perfect, designer-clad image. Yet beneath her frivolous manner you can sense the inner strength. In boardroom battles, she is fearless; equal parts angel and pit bull, in Massenets admiring words. She has turned her partial deafness into an asset, which sharpens her visual perceptions, distances her from conventional thinking and frees her to empathise with consumers. Sometimes, in a long meeting, I lose track and just disconnect. A lot of things come to me in those silences.

Most of her energy now goes into charitable work, notably with Bhutan for Life (the state-endorsed program that has made Bhutan a world leader in environmental conservation), Glasswing International (which works with vulnerable children in Latin America) and the Oslo Freedom Foundation, through which she has supported victims of repression in Venezuela. Shes also on the council of the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Busquets during a visit to a Bhutan nunnery in 2019. Most of her energy now goes into charitable work.Credit:Courtesy of Carmen Busquets

The work takes her to some exotic and sometimes dangerous places: Guatemala, Colombia, El Salvador. It reminds her, too, that as an unmarried woman without children (I never wanted the responsibility), she defies the conventions of many cultures, especially in Latin America.

Young girls say to me, Youre not married? Is that an option? Its amazing to be able to help children by empowering them to make a choice. In other respects, however, she finds being a philanthropist much like being an entrepreneur. I want to apply the same ideas. Think big, start small. Work closely with the people you invest in. Only fight battles I can win. Look for ways to empower people.

And the future of luxury? Her money is on further growth in the sharing economy, not just in fashion, but also in, for example, shared living spaces and luxury experiences. The growth will be driven by mindful consumers, whose choices at the luxury end of the market may inspire a wider trend for minimal waste fashion. Consumers can change the world, she says. You can already see it happening with beauty products, with what we eat. Consumers are dictating the way we do things, and big companies are changing.

Theres always a place for luxury, for beautiful things, she adds. But they dont have to own you. Theres a difference between luxury and the accumulation of luxury. Accumulation is like eating caviar every day: whats the point?

The sun is setting over the Hudson. Its rays stream through the floor-to-ceiling windows, lending a golden glow to Busquets pale hair. For much of her life she obsessed about her appearance, but the need to put herself out there in support of her campaigning forced her to confront her fear of having her imperfections exposed.


I realised that, in todays world, anybody can take a picture of you: when youre not in a good place, when youre doing weird faces, when you look like theres no Botox in your face. You cant control your image.

Around the same time, she was diagnosed with coeliac disease, which disproved her belief that, through meticulous attention to diet and exercise, she could control her body. Then it dawned on her that her 30-year internal war with body dysmorphia was over. Anorexia is about control. You cant control the world, so you control your body. But we cant control anything. Its all an illusion.

Today she is at peace. She still loves to dress exquisitely. Otherwise, she puts her faith in her mothers top beauty tip: to love yourself. Her enthusiasm for her work does the rest. I love the feeling that Im empowering people to change their lives, she says, blue eyes shining. Every night I say to the universe: If you dont need me any more, take me in my sleep. If you need me, wake me up. If I wake up, its because today Im meant to do something.

Edited version of a story that first appeared in The Times, UK.

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The clothing visionary who refuses to buy fashion magazines - Sydney Morning Herald

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August 14th, 2020 at 11:56 pm

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Full Album Stream: In the Company of Serpents – "Lux" –

Posted: May 16, 2020 at 1:43 pm

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Nearly a decade into their existence, Denvers In the Company of Serpentsled by guitarist and vocalist Grant Netzorg and drummer J.P. Damron (Vermin Womb, Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire)are changing things up. In the Company of Serpents recruited guitarist and bassist Ben Pitts to round out the lineup forLux, the Denver trios fourth and most-developed album to date.

Luxis a riff-driven affair, something In the Company of Serpents make very obvious from the first second of mammoth opener The Fools Journey to the dark spaghetti western sounds so present on The Chasm at the Mouth of All and album closer Prima Materia. The combination of influences gives In the Company of Serpents a unique sound; the droning sludge trio have riffs for days, but its the thoughtful inclusion of spaghetti western music that elevatesLuxto a new level.

In the Company of Serpents will officially release Luxtomorrow, May 15, butDecibelhas an early album stream as well as a track-by-track walkthrough with Netzorg about the albums themes, special guests and more. It becomes quickly apparent: there is more toLuxthan meets the eyeLux is heavy with spirituality and esoterica, each lyric and decision carefully weighed. Pre-order the album here.

This record is titled Lux, i.e. light in Latin, and one of the central ideas behind it is the notion of a Prima Materia, or fundamental root essence behind everything in the manifest universe, Netzorg explains of the albums theme. Philosophers, hermeticists, alchemists, occultists and all manner of different wizards have speculated what that Prima Materia, or root essence, is, but the three chief analogies Ive employed in this record are: All is sound All is mind and, critically, All is Light.

With that in mind, we are employing a wealth of Solar imagery with this record, both in the front cover, and lyrically. The cover is essentially an artistic re-imagining of The Sun arcana from Tarot. This ties into the broader solar & light themes at play in the album, but the title, cover, and broader theme is also uniquely personal to me. Lux is the etymology of my daughters name, Lucia. So, while this album functions as form of esoteric prayer on one hand, it also serves as a message to my 2-year-old, who, as they say in the clich, is the light of my life.

The basic idea of this song is that a tarot reading was done on the fate of humanity should we continue to follow our current trajectory, and it spelled bad news in no uncertain terms. However, divinations like this only portend future events should we not change our path in any way, and we ultimately have the agency to avoid negative outcomes should we decide to change our course when we foresee them. As such, the message here is not so much that were doomed, but that we stand at a critical juncture where we have the opportunity to ultimately change things for the betterment of all. But this will require us to act. The second half of the song appeals to that agency. On the heels of the tarot reading corresponding to the initial doomed question, a second question is posed: What can we do about this? The result points to our own fundamental ability to self-empower.

The title of this song is a nod to the tarot. In many decks the Fool is depicted as a young individual who is carelessly about to step off a cliff. This metaphor is often used to describe the first steps of a persons magical initiation, but it is also represented in the lyrics which begin, Were standing on the precipice of our own demise, laughing in its face. It will ignore our cries.

I like the idea that our understanding of time is fundamentally flawed, and the implication that, if we can use tools like Tarot to glean the shape of things to come, it also empowers us with the agency to shift fates. Yes, the world is a bit of a dumpster fire on the broader level, but on an individual level we can affect positive change. As the writer and host of the Rune Soup podcast, Gordon White, has been quoted saying several times, Optimism is a Spell! The song closes with a quote from Jodorowskis The Holy Mountain, a film rife with tarot symbolism relevant to this song and album.

The imagery here is of the weighing of ones heart/soul against a feather in Egyptian mythology. The scale was calibrated by Maat, and if you had lived a just, good life, your heart would be lighter than the feather. If you lived an unjust, evil life, you would be cast into darkness. The principle theme here is that we are all judged by our deeds, actions and sympathies. The closing lyrics which feature guest vocals from Ethan Lee McCarthy of Primitive Man, Vermin Womb and Many Blessings and Ben Hutcherson from Khemmis and Glacial Tomb to this song are, When were gone well be consumed by the maw of the all. Will we have been a worthy vessel for the light of the void?

This centers around themes of life, birth and rebirth, and general cycles of renewal. It is the first of two instrumental pieces on the album featuring my friend, Paul Primus, of the Colorado Symphony, performing the Viola DAmore, a type of viola which uses drone strings beneath the fingerboard to vibrate in sympathy with the other strings. It is tuned to the somber tuning of DADFAD with A=432hz. That tuning is known to guitarists as the Skip James tuning, as that bluesman was famous for utilizing it to wonderful, eerie effect in his songs like Hard Time Killing Floor Blues and Crow Jane, and its the tuning which four of the albums songs employ. However, it bears mentioning that it is said in certain esoteric circles that A=432hz is the vibration at which all of creation resonates, and thus is sometimes called the God frequency. This whole album was recorded with our tuners calibrated to A=432hz, and this is meant to consciously tie in to the theme of Prima Materia, or a fundamental root-essence, that runs throughout the whole record.

The overarching theme of Prima Materia and the All is Sound/All is Mind/All is Light current I mentioned above are chiefly whats at play here. The title of the song, and the opening lyric, We live in Chasm at the mouth of the All, is meant to confer that we live in an embodied, living universe, or God, if you will. The second line, Her lips are wet with venom and her quarry will fall, is both a homage to a vinyl-only bonus track from one of my all-time favorite records, SunnO))) and Boris Altar, as well as an assertion that, if we live in an embodied universe and it is all of God, God gets what it wants.

There are other themes at play as well here: in the second verse we have the lines, The sky above is the celestial womb; the soil beneath us the seed and our tomb. This is playing with a Nuit/Hadit dynamic from Crowleys infamous Book Of The Law, which he posited he had received telepathically from an angelic entity after performing the Headless Rite from the Greek Magical Papyri in the chamber of the great pyramid. The themes of Sex/Life/Death are all fairly intertwined here, and this could function thematically as a sibling of the earlier tune, Scales Of Maat. On that same theme, we all know that our journeys will end in death, and the reality is we must navigate that.

In Qabalah, the sephira, Binah, is associated crossing the void of death, and one of its alternate titles is The Great Sea, and this is what Im referencing in the lyric, Born unto the universe, The Great Sea we must traverse. Ive since come to realize that themes of life and death are utterly intertwined for me and this record. One rather unsettling example of this is that, on the day (and probably down to the hour) that we finished recording this album, we unexpectedly lost my wifes father. The later track, Nightfall, on which my friend Paul Primus once again performs Viola DAmore, was used during the memorial service, and is thematically about death and the ends of cycles.

This is the song that is most directly a message to my infant daughter, in terms of the broader themes of this record. With the lyrics, Child of Light, Blessed of inner sight, I am playing with the etymology of her name once again, but also the broader theme of the Prima Materia being something that could be described as light, and that her capacity to look within is a blessing. The next line, Your mind is larger than you think; divinitys within your reach, is playing with the notion that, if everything is of the All, and it All is divine, then we are each microcosmic reflections of the All experiencing itself, and thus divinity is not some abstraction that is apart from us.

As above, so below is one way this notion is usually articulated. Another way that the root essence has often been described is all is love or that love is fundamental to the operation of the universe. This idea manifests in lyrics like the one that ends the song, Inflame thyself with reverence, a love supreme enthroned which is both a nod to Coltranesclassic album, A Love Supreme, as well as the instruction to inflame thyself with prayer that is commonly quoted in occult discourse as a reminder that passion begets results.

This is running with the Gnostic idea that were trapped in a spiritual prison of sorts, and that the demons/prison wardens (the Archons of the song title) are constantly engaged in keeping us thoughtless, disengaged sheep. The lyrics are a call for us to engage directly and presently with our lives, and thus regain some semblance of what lies in our true spirit. The chorus (if you want to call it that) of the first half of the tune is, The machinations of control, Hiding in plain sight, Gilded Bars upon our cage, Slip them and take flight, and is very much in line with that notion. The mystic Gurdjieff remarked that most people are dead, or asleep, to their own innate spirituality and/or our souls. Only by directly engaging with the world around us, particularly when the gilded bars of our cage are so lovely and comfortable, can we regain our sense of spirit.

As mentioned earlier, this is the other tune which features Paul Primus on Viola Damore. Its meant as a somber mirror of the earlier tune, Daybreak. The compositions are almost identical, but this is thematically more about death, fall, and the end of cycles.

This is the most simple, direct version of the overarching theme of a fundamental root-essence which runs throughout the rest of the record. It plays with the three iterations of that notion mentioned above: All is Sound/All is Mind/All is Light in verses that are meant, on one level, as devotionals. The last part of the tune just lays that all out in caveman termsLight pervades allPrima Materia.

Full Album Stream: In the Company of Serpents - "Lux" -

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May 16th, 2020 at 1:43 pm

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Jean Toomers Odd, Keening A Drama of the Southwest – The New Yorker

Posted: March 23, 2020 at 2:50 pm

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On late afternoons, after his work was done, the modernist poet, novelist, religious omnivore, and occasional playwright Jean Toomer observed a ritual that he called deserving time. Much of the latter half of his life was spent in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia, on his property, Mill House. On the grounds, alongside his family, Toomer housed a revolving retinue of devotees who came to learn his home-brewed adaptation of the spiritualist George Gurdjieffs mystical practices; the students also performed manual labor, a classicand, for Toomer, quite convenientaspect of Gurdjieffs Work. At four oclock, when the teacher had finished his writing and his charges had finished with their chores, theyd gather in the main house, where adults made drinks and children had cookies and ginger ale.

The placid hour wasnt only for idle fun. Toomera brutally intense, relentlessly abstract, comically vain man who took every quotidian moment as an opportunity to philosophizewould ask probing, pointed questions, turning conversation into a kind of Socratic extension of his teaching. (In 1937, he tried to sell a book of dialogues with one young student. Talks with Peter was rejected by several publishers.) Later in his life, deserving time devolved into a grandiose cover for Toomers encroaching alcoholism. Ive been working very hard, he wrote in a teasing letter to his wife, Marjorie Content. Dont you think Im deserving? Dont you think I might stop at that tavern and put my head in just to see if they have any beer?

During these virus-haunted days of padding around the house, anxiously taking in news and visiting my friends via video chat, I keep thinking about Toomers afternoon ceremony. A Sabbath atmosphere not unlike the one at Mill House has sprung up between my wife and me: we sit around reading and cooking and listening to music, contemplating work more than doing it, calling our moms, pushing each other fruitlessly to extrapolate on figures (testings and infections, hospitalizations and deaths) that neither of us fully understands. Cocktail hour starts a bit earlier than usual, and ends a bit later.

One of the little tortures of the moment is the sudden disappearance of live theatre, and the thought of all the plays that had been scheduled to open, some of which, barring an economic or logistical miracle, will go all but unseen by large audiences. Ive tried to console myself by turning to plays that have seldomsometimes neverbeen seen, but which I love nonetheless. Some are intentional closet plays, meant for reading rather than seeing; others are simply interesting attempts, still waiting for their turn onstage.

One such strange but promising specimen is Toomers odd, keening 1935 play A Drama of the Southwest, written, Im sure, between many deserving times but never completed. Id love to see it staged someday, perhaps clipped into a one-act and presented on a bill with Toomers other little-known plays. He was an earnest dramatist; the knotty contradictions of his life and his ideas seemed to rhyme with the dialectical possibilities of playwriting. Still, his attempts at having his plays produced were failuresas were many literary endeavors after his classic 1923 work, Cane, a quilt of poems, prose, and drama set in black Georgia.

Two versions of the manuscript of A Drama of the Southwest were skillfully collaged in a 2016 critical edition by the scholar Carolyn Dekker. In her introductory essay, Dekker presents the Toomer who, having firmly abandoned his identification with the Harlem Renaissance, black Americans, and the South, continued to rove the country, yearning to find a locale fit to birth what he imagined as a new race in America. The play, which is semi-autobiographical, chronicles his attempt to manage this trick among the cacti and adobe houses at the Taos art colony, in New Mexico.

Tom Elliot, the plays leading man, is not unlike Toomer: cruel, curious, nave, self-involved, cluelessly sexist, an essentialist obsessed with racial and regional admixture, a vague but expansive theorizer even when the moment calls for concision. He and his wife, Grace, have arrived in Taos, where theyve rented a house. Theyve been to New Mexico before, magnetized by its small but vibrant artistic scene; theyve come to visit with friends and to frack spiritual energies from a land that, to them, feels fresh. Tom and Grace are mirror images of Toomer and Content, who were acquainted with the scene in Taos thanks, in part, to their friendship with the wealthy arts patron Mabel Dodge Luhan (a fellow Gurdjieff disciple who fell rapturously in thrall to Toomers high talking) and with Georgia OKeeffe.

The play is a test of that groups guiding, if often unspoken, principle: that, owing to a places intrinsic, elemental featuresblue sky, red mud, brown folksit might work as a symbol of the American future and as an enabler for art. This was familiar territory for Toomer. Cane ends with a play called Kabnis, which portrays a Northern teacher who has come southward, to Georgia, his tourism the outer sign of an inner quest. Where Kabnis is poetic and mysterious, in places hard to follow at all except by rhythm and deftly enjambed nighttime images, A Drama of the Southwest is unsubtle in its study of oppositions.

Before Tom and Grace show up in Taos, after a lush stage description that works better as a guide to Toomers psyche than as an inducement to set design (try staging this: Then silence again... and life becomes existence again . .. and existence, focused for a time in a group of singing men, expands to the mountain and the close stars), we meet a pair of Taos locals named BuckterT. Fact and Ubeam Riseling. They sit on a roof and talk about all those art colonists descending on their corner of the country. Riselingwhom Toomer describes, cryptically, as being above artis rhapsodic about the visitors; Fact, a butcher who is below art, is more cynical. Through their patter, Toomers own unmistakable voice is sometimes awkwardly audible:

UBEAM: The spirit of the Indian still lives in and dominates this land. Disappearing elsewhere, it is vital here, vital like these hills.... To this little cluster of earth-built houses the entire world comes.

BUCKFACT: Comes and goes as fast as it can.... And why? Whats to be seen here? One bank, one newspaper, grocery and drug stores like you can see anywhere, an armory, a baseball field, a fish hatchery, bad roads, the plaza, and a dump heap. Why should anyone come all this way to get dust in his eyes? As for me, it means a job.

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Jean Toomers Odd, Keening A Drama of the Southwest - The New Yorker

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March 23rd, 2020 at 2:50 pm

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Interview with Luis Amman, author of the book "Self- Liberation – Pressenza, International Press Agency

Posted: March 16, 2020 at 1:44 am

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03.03.2020 Buenos Aires, Argentina REHUNO Humanist Network of Health News Luis Ammann is a journalist, with a degree in Modern Languages and specialized in Linguistics. He has been a member of the Humanist Movement since 1969, where he formed and directed human structures of volunteers in 11 countries during 37 years. He has made different theoretical contributions to the current of thought of New Humanism, founded by Mario Luis Rodrguez Cobos, also known as Silo. He is the author of the book Self-Liberation, first published in Barcelona, Spain, in 1980 and published in more than 10 languages.

REHUNO spoke with Luis as part of the 40th anniversary of the launch of the first edition of the book Self-Liberation, which proposes personal work practices that have been used by thousands of people around the world.

The method of Self-Liberation is conceived as a response to the deepest needs of the human being; the overcoming of suffering. In this perspective, Self-Liberation is a tool that allows this objective by modifying behaviors, as the author explains.

REHUNO: How was the process of putting together this book? What is the relationship that the book has with Silo, founder of the Humanist Movement?

LA: This book was first published in 1980, but it was finished in February 1979. The materials that gave rise to it were notes of work carried out by groups of people in what was called Bases. These were six-month retreats where they carried out self-knowledge and research. They began in a place called El Arenal (Jujuy, Argentina) in 1966 and continued in different places in Argentina. In 1972, in Yala (Jujuy, Argentina) a first compilation of these works was made, entitled Siloism. Silo gave some clues in direct talks, notes were taken and work was done in groups, and there were many working with that until the 70s. The central ideas were always from Silo; we never added our own ideas to the text, only suggestions for implementation. After 72 there were new topics collected in unofficial notes and they were written from what some of us researched, such as transferences, for example. In other words, the intellectual author is Silo and the rest is the work of many people. Thats how it was. I always try to explain in that way, a teamwork, of many people, but in the end all the intellectual conception is Silos.

REHUNO: The book Self-Liberation is organized in two parts; the first covers relaxation exercises, psychophysical practices and self-knowledge practices. The second, called Operative, proposes works of catharsis, transference and self-transference. What is the origin of these works, did you create them?

LA: The work with the centres of response that is in the part of Psychophysics, for example, comes originally from Gurdieff (George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, Russian Master, creator of the Fourth Way) and the one who exposes for the first time for the West is Peter Demianovich Ouspensky in his book Psychology of the possible evolution of Man; but they did not develop those themes.

They explain only the cenrers, the parts and sub-parts, but they did not establish, or did not reach us, the exercises to determine what corresponded to each part and sub-part. And this is precisely what was done in the bases and fields before I entered in January 1969. Gurdjieff is also the one who discovered that it is fundamental to relax the face and the head in order to produce a good relaxation. Starting from the top is important for the subject of relaxation, but he did not leave a written work that could be followed to practice relaxation; that is what we developed. As far as Transference and Self-Transference are concerned, Silo explained the theory, gave a guide and many of us worked and made observations. This happened at a meeting with Silo in Corfu, a Greek island, in 1975. From there in Argentina two research groups were formed. One was coordinated by Juan Jos Pescio, who worked with Siloists from Buenos Aires to the South and the other by me, who worked with groups from Cordoba to the North. We coordinated several groups to work on transference. It was not written how the transferences were done, we had nothing more than the central idea discussed with Silo, a general guide. And we began to practice based on those central ideas, discovering new situations, solutions for those situations, understanding which were the paths that were not to be taken and where it was appropriate.

REHUNO: In the 1990s edition you explained that the system of Self-Liberation is not a therapy, nor is it a medicine, but it is a tool for personal development. Today, modern science is increasingly confirming what was said by the most ancient medicines such as Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine, which in turn are derived from philosophical systems. They knew that breathing correctly, keeping the body relaxed and meditating are fundamental practices for good health.

LA: Self-Liberation is based on a central thought of Silo that is the overcoming of human suffering, a thought of clear Buddhist root. The Buddha basically proposes this and creates a school of psychology, not a religion, although later some transform it into a religion. Today we could say that Buddha was an atheist, because the theme of god does not appear anywhere; his contribution is more referred to the theme of suffering, to the possibilities of coming out of the cycle of the different incarnations and everything else. Silo, in The Inner Look faces, in his books basically, the theme of the meaning of life and transcendence, that is, the overcoming of death. Silos work is more mystical, Self-Liberation is a translation, its made for a more western thought. Its the same central nucleus of overcoming suffering but its made for a more western mentality; its more like a cookbook (laughs) with the different things to do on that path of overcoming suffering. The overcoming of suffering has to do with health, psychophysical health, mental health, which is something that has been talked about more in the last 20 years and that Silo had already explained 50 years ago.

REHUNO: What is the key you found about relaxation and breathing?

L.A.: Few people paid attention to Gurdjieff about the importance of relaxation of the face, and we started there. The head, the face, the eyeballs, the two parts of the nose, the corner of the lips, all that is well stopped in our relaxation. And then the breathing as a concrete thing that serves basically for everything, from calming down before going to a job interview, for example, to facing any other situation or starting an internal work practice or a ceremony. Looking a little bit deeper into the theme of allegorical and symbolic that are in the transference chapter of the book, the connectives between one situation and another, one wonders:- And what are the connectives? It can be an image of a bus trip, or any image that has to do with going from one place to another, where you take advantage of it to close what you have already done and prepare for what is to come. Then relating that content to psychophysics: -How can you take advantage of a connective? -Making a muscle relax? -Impossible many times! But you can relax in a short interval with your breathing. Because breathing is the way we reach the internal organs. I can work the external muscles from the outside: I tense and release the muscles and they relax, but the internal organs how? Basically its with the air, through breathing. The air in turn is emotion, so it does not only helps you physically, but also neutralizes you emotionally, leaves you in a good tone, neutral. So its all very intertwined, and those exercises are synthetic.

REHUNO: The structure of how a transference is made, for example, the different elements that are analyzed allegorically such as the connectives, attributes, continents, contents None of this was previously theorized?

L.A: The idea, for example, that one had to work on three planes of images (high, medium and low), that is explained by Silo. What is there in each plane as significant? That wasnt established, we found that and Silo ordered it. For example, The luminous city at the top, which is a recurring image, we also found a luminous city at the bottom, so we thought, how can that be distinguished? Which is located at the top and which is located at the bottom? In short, all these explanations were given by Silo. We discovered that there was all that, and he helped to put it in order, to make sense of it. In other words, to a great extent it was a collective work, there was participation by many people. Everyone who entered the Movement at that time went to the field and grassroots work and that was related to the testing of the centres of response to the world. We all went through that, and that is how this manual was put together.

REHUNO: And at that time you also wrote what would later become Psychology 1, 2 and 3, which were precisely the notes from Corfu and the Canary Islands. Is it correct to say that in those years the main theoretical basis of Silos work was developed?

L.A: Yes, totally. Corfu in 1975 and the Canary Islands in 1976 and 1978. Then Self-Liberation was published in 1980, the year in which the mission of the 80s was launched, and that closed a whole stage, a stage of a lot of research, of very good work, other diffuse and disparate works, that is, materials of different levels, but all that is the basis of the subsequent stages.

REHUNO: And, do these works remain then as a synthesis of the internal work of the previous stage?

L.A: And yes, precisely the first two official books were published: The Inner Look and Self- Liberation, both in the 80s. Until that moment we didnt have official books, they were just notes.

REHUNO: In general, it is not part of Western culture to meditate, to know oneself, and even less so 40 years ago. How was the acceptance of that book at that time?

L.A.: Silo proposes meditation on oneself, he always insisted that you dont need teachers, but that you do need to reflect. Of course, this result can be quite different among people, first of all because almost nobody meditates. And those who do meditate already have a lot of co- presences, experiences and beliefs from their previous formation, so to really meditate on the present without the noise of the past and the expectations of the future, is something very difficult. Silo had already discovered and exposed in The Inner Look the key: nothing has meaning in life if everything ends with death. And how do Westerners who wants to do something with themselves, how do we translate that which Silo had discovered? Then Silo puts together a psychology too, and that psychology creates elements that are key, core elements that are exposed in the prologue of the first edition, creates a series of exercises that have interesting antecedents. For example, what Gurdjieff had left were techniques that this Master supported in art, in music, in dance, very elaborate things. I have spoken with music specialists who say that the work Gurdjieff had developed was very elaborate, with the theme of metrics and scales. That is, there is a lot of knowledge but it has to be passed on to people in a simple way.

REHUNO: Was that a concern in the book?

L.A.: Exactly! Yes, to make it as simple as possible. And later, Silo makes it even easier in The Message.

REHUNO: How do you propose to work with the book Self-Liberation? How often should people work with these practices?

L.A.: If you are looking to synthesize, the work in that book could be done once in a lifetime. If you do it well, working with the whole system of Self-Liberation could be only once in a lifetime. But then one wonders what you do with the new situations that arise, or in the face of things that you thought you had overcome and are not overcome. For example, very difficult situations that require elements of reconciliation. And not only with others! I have discovered that the greatest difficulty is in reconciling with oneself, with images in which one feels that one has failed, or feels that one has done something harmful to others or to ones own process. It is not easy. So for that I think you have to reach self-transference to reconcile yourself, self-transference to overcome certain internal conflicts, in short, self-transference to balance contents. Because the ideal for the consciousness is that there are no too dazzling contents that become a kind of food for secondary dreams. That you have balanced your life, your mission and that you can transfer some of it to the outside, to those closest to you, or wherever you can get to. And with the issue of health I think there is a very large field of application.

REHUNO: The basic model of psychological work that we have today is basically that of a patient and a professional, whether it be the therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. Does Self-Liberation have that intention of proposing work that can be done alone?

L.A.: What we permanently recommend is to work with others. If you want, there are many practices that can be done alone, but the work is much richer if its in a group. Everything in Siloism points towards the relationship with one another, or with others. The Principles, for example, speak of valid action, of actions that end in others, that one would repeat, that make one grow internally. Always in a relationship of parity, our works do not contemplate the therapist and the patient, always horizontal.

REHUNO: One part of the research you were doing was during the dictatorship in Argentina. How was that?

L.A.: We went through two dictatorships, and suffered the lack of freedom, the clandestinity, but without major consequences because we were very much infiltrated by the intelligence services. They knew we had nothing to do with the violence, they had our materials, they knew what we were doing because they were investigating us. We did suffer arrests and many of us were imprisoned, some in very harsh conditions and there were even friends killed in La Plata, but this was mainly during the rise of a parapolice gang called Triple A (Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance). In 1975 some friends from Crdoba, including my partner and I, were imprisoned in very harsh conditions in the clandestine detention centre D2. But fortunately here we are.

REHUNO: Would you change anything in a future edition of the book?

L.A.: In the chapter on psychophysics there is an explanation of the response centres (intellectual, emotional, motor, vegetative) and we decided to put only the examples of the intellectual center with parts and sub parts, of the others there are no examples, there is only the detail of the intellectual centre. I recently found a work that is quite well done, contributed by Mara Anglica Soler, and in a next edition of Self-Liberation we should make a call citing that work, for those who want to go deeper, because she develops it more and better. Another question that we should improve in a next edition is the subject of the bibliography. Although Silos work is very original, and for that reason it is difficult for us to put together a bibliography, since we dont have one, these books are not taken up in universities. That would have to be done, although we cant detail each part, since its a work that arises from experience, we would have to put those previous references.

REHUNO: What are your future projects?

LA: Im working on two projects. I want to develop the chapter on self-transference, which is a part of the book that many people end up not using because it seems complex, and I am writing a paper on conflict resolution. From dtente we are focusing on a part of the most serious conflicts, but we are going to expand it. The conflict has three vertices formed by a visual image of a problem, another is the muscular tension that this image produces and the third is the corresponding emotion. For example: a person is being harassed by their boss in front of their colleagues. There is the image of the boss saying I dont know what, and then the colleagues around them laughing, others feeling sorry, etc. And the person feels a terrible muscular tension, which is not always in the same place, it depends on the person. If you work only the muscular, physical tension, you can achieve relaxation to a great extent, but you can also achieve relaxation by changing the image of the situation that caused such tension. If you start working on the image, introducing elements that were not there, for example, curtains, a funny picture of a man with a moustache, imagine that while the boss is scolding and degrading their pants are falling down, that changes the scene, it is no longer the same scene, then the physical tension and the emotion associated with that image dissolves. That helps a lot in the resolution of conflicts, whether they are of childhood, adolescence or the present moment. The idea is to give new tools.

REHUNO: Luis, thank you very much for that interview and congratulations on the celebration of the books 40th anniversary.

L.A.: No, please, thank you very much. To know more: Response Centres: An educational perspective on psychophysics. Maria Angelica Soler. Original article in Spanish

Translation Pressenza London

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Interview with Luis Amman, author of the book "Self- Liberation - Pressenza, International Press Agency

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March 16th, 2020 at 1:44 am

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Arts, culture, fun in London this weekend and beyond (March 12-18) – The London Free Press

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Alexis Gordon stars in Room at the Grand Theatre. Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press)

Whats happening in and around London this weekend and next week:

Chaucers Pub: Runa, Wednesday, doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets $25 advance, $30 at the door; 122 Carling St.; 519-319-5847 or visit

Eastside Bar and Grill: The RJ Conspiracy, Friday, 10 p.m.; Blues Jam, Sunday, 3 p.m.; Eastside Open Jam Night, Wednesday, 8 p.m.; 750 Hamilton Rd.; 519-457-7467.

Fox & Fiddle: Three Penny Piece, Thursday, 9 p.m.; Karaoke, Friday, 9 p.m.; 355 Wellington St., 519-679-4238.

Jimbos Pub And Eatery: Karaoke Party hosted by Maggie, Fridays, 10 p.m. and Tuesdays, 8 p.m.; Free Latin dance with host DJ Tavo, Saturday, 10 p.m.; 920 Commissioners Rd. E.; 519-204-7991 or visit

London Music Club: Acoustic Open Mic, 7:30 p.m., Mike Evin, 7:30 p.m., Friday; A.M.S. (Ask me Somethin), Saturday, 6 p.m.; SOUP Ukulele Jam, Wednesday, 6:45 p.m.; 470 Colborne St.; 519-640-6996.

Oliver Whitehead

London Wine Bar: Oliver Whitehead, Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., no cover; 420 Talbot St.; call 519-913-3400 for reservations or e-mail; walk-ins welcome.

Mustang Sallys: Askher, Friday, 9:30 p.m.; Acoustic Jam with Alan Lynch, Bobby Keener, Jack Coveney, Don Oullette and Friends, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.; Lonnie Chicago, Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m.; 99 Belmont Drive, 519-649-7688.

Richmond Tavern: Ball of Light, Fiends, Drug Rug, Dream Seer, Saturday, 9 p.m.; Karaoke Sundays, every Sunday, 9:30 p.m.; 370 Richmond St.; 519-679-9777.

Rum Runners: Onyx (Fredo Starr & Sticky Fingaz) with JD Era, Tef Zee, Rizzy Rio, Thursday, 8 p.m., $25; 178 Dundas St.; 519-432-1107.

St. Regis Tavern: Musical chairs with a St. Paddys-ish evening with Irish Stew, Saturday, 9 p.m., pay-what-you-will; 625 Dundas St.

Taproom: Popup Weekend, Friday, 5 p.m. and Saturday, 3 p.m.; Beerlab London, 420 Talbot St., 519-859-8853.

Wortley Roadhouse: Bluetonium, Friday; Journeymen of Soul, Saturay, HiLife, Sunday, 4-8 p.m.; 190 Wortley Rd.; 519-438-5141.

Come Dancing: With Patricia and Robert, Friday dance from 8 p.m. till 11 p.m. to ballroom, Latin and swing music; free cookies cheese and crackers; still only $10 per person and all are welcome, call 519-421-7234; at the Polish Hall London, 554 Hill St.

Royal Canadian Legion Lambeth: Dance to the music of Joan Spalding, Saturday, 2-5 p.m., free admission; 7097 Kilbourne Rd.; 519-652-3412.

Royal Canadian Legion Victory: Dance to the music of Guy Melanson & Band, Saturday, 8 p.m., $10 at main floor door; everyone welcome; The County Road Band, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., $5 at main floor door; 311 Oakland Ave.; 519-455-2230.

Singles Dance Party: Saturday, 8 p.m. with DJ Wolfeman host; $13 per person, snacks on the tables, all welcome; 1738 Gore Rd., 519-433-2579.

Tuesday Tunes:Old time fiddle and traditional style country music, every Tuesday, 1-3:30 p.m. at Seaforth Community Centre, 122 Duke St.; singers, musicians, dancers and listeners welcome, bring your own musical instruments; admission by donation; 519-357-1016.

Film screening: The Seekers of Truth, a film by Jean-Claude Lubtchansky documenting a life spent seeking and the philosophy of G.I. Gurdjieff, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; admission free with RSVP; Museum London, 421 Ridout St.

The Amazing Corbin: The Magic and Mysteries Show, Saturday, 1 p.m.; for kids of all ages, this will be a great event to end your March Break, children must be accompanied by an adult; to register, visit or call 519-661-5169; cost: $15 per person including children and adults; Interpretive Centre, Eldon House, 481 Ridout St.

Art Emporium: Featured artists for March are Deb Dicker, Ethel Mitrovic, Jacqueline Kinsey, Robin Baratta, Christa Oglan, Judy Ross, Michelle Boyer; hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekends only or by appointment, parking is free; 177 Main Street, Port Stanley, 226-658-1888.

Artlab Gallery: Together We Average As Zero- Take 1, extended to March 14 at John Labatt Visual Arts Centre at Western University; hours: Monday to Friday, noon-6 p.m., Thursdays till 8 p.m.; open to the public.

Art with Panache: Featured artists for March include Paul Snoddy and Robert Armstrong (until March 13) and Lynne Pinchin (March 16-27); the Gallery Artists also present The Alex Colville Challenge with their own interpretations on display; Talbot Centre, 140 Fullarton St.; 519-870-7218.

Aylmer-Malahide Museum: In Service Of, a look at the local service clubs, fraternal orders and community organizations and the impact they have on their communities, runs till May 29; hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., evenings and weekends by appointment; 14 East St., Aylmer; 519-773-9723.

Eldon House: Londons oldest residence contains family heirlooms, furnishings and priceless treasures of the Harris Family; hours: Thursday to Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; admission by donation; 481 Ridout St. N.; 519-661-5169 or visit

Excavo Fine Art: Carpe Diem Multiplos, runs till April 4; hours: Tuesday to Saturday, noon-5:30 p.m.; 711 Central Ave.; 519-719-3190 or visit

Gallery in the Grove: Faces, Places, and Spaces: A Canadian Perspective, juried exhibition, runs till April 25; Justine Goulets glass art on display in Gift Shop; 2618 Hamilton Rd. at Wildwood Park, Brights Grove; visit

Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre: Wings, mixed media images of birds by David Vancook, runs till March 29; hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Sunday, 1-4 p.m.; 125 Centennial Lane, Victoria Park, Ingersoll; 519-485-4691 or visit

Jill Price, Landscape on Table at Westland Gallery.

Jet Aircraft Museum: Cold War era jet aircraft and historic displays honouring Canadian aviation heritage; hours: Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; admission by donation; 2465 Aviation Lane, Unit 2; 519-453-7000 or visit

McIntosh Gallery: Accountability: solo exhibition by Kelly Greene, runs till April 9; Listening to Trees by performance artist Johannes Zits, runs till April 9; hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, noon-4 p.m.; Western University, 1151 Richmond St.; 519-661-2111 ext. 87576.

Museum London: Realisms: Canadian Art, 1850 to the Present, runs till May 3; Dean Carson, runs till May 17; 100 Years of Nursing Education in London, runs till May 24; hours: Tuesday to Sunday, noon-5 p.m., Thursdays till 9 p.m.; admission by donation; 421 Ridout St. N.; 519-661-0333 or visit

Portside Gallery: Miniature Show and Sale features more than 150 little treasures on display, runs through March; hours: daily, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; 187 1/2 Main St., Port Stanley; 519-782-7066 or visit

Wallaceburg & District Museum: Giant Indoor Vendors sale, Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 505 King Street, Wallaceburg, for information call 519-627-8962.

Westland Gallery: Abstraction: new exhibition by Sharon Barr, Jill Price, Maggee Day and Bryan Jesney, runs till March 28; hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, noon-4 p.m.; 156 Wortley Rd.; 519-601-4420 or visit

Woodstock Art Gallery: Plates of Printers, runs till March 28; Given Her Due: Oxford County Women Artists 1880-1980, runs till June 27; Walk On: ongoing sculpture project of John McEwen, runs till June 27; 449 Dundas St., Woodstock; 519-539-6761.

Gardening in the City: Fruit Tree Maintenance, learn the basics of growing your own fruit in your garden, Thursday, 7-9 p.m.; London Public Library, 251 Dundas St., 519-661-4600.

Sarnia Horticultural Society: Monthly meeting, Wednesday, 7 to 9 p.m. with guest speakers David Hughes & Brian Corsault, Project Monarch, everyone welcome, free admission. 2020 memberships available to purchase, valid until Dec. 31, 2020; for more info, call Barb Toye 519-332-5837; Lochiel Kiwanis Centre, 180 College Avenue, Sarnia.

Amy Helm

Amy Helm: With special guests Altameda, Monday, 8 p.m.; tickets $30 advance, $35 at the doors; Aeolian Hall, 795 Dundas St., visit or call 519-672-7950.

El Sistem: Aeolian concert, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.; free admission, donations accepted; Aeolian Education Campus at Cronyn, 442 William Street, visit or call 519-672-7950.

Lenten Noon Recital: Claire Jones-Fright, violin and Lauren Thomson, piano, Friday, noon; lunch following $8 per person; freewill donation; First-St. Andrews United Church, 350 Queens Ave.

Lenten Organ Recital Series: Sandra Young-Tangjerd, Wednesday, noon; $10 per person includes soup, sandwich, dessert and coffee/tea; contact Dave Mathers at 519-631-3503 or; Central United Church, 135 Wellington Street, St. Thomas.

Matthew Good: Moving Walls Tour with Ellevator, Friday, 8 p.m., $39.50; London Music Hall, 185 Queens Ave.; 519-432-1107.

Opera Gala: Favourite Scenes, the annual opera gala includes scenes from opera and musical theatre, Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Paul Davenport Theatre, Talbot College, Western University, email or call 519-661-3767 or Grand Theatre Box Office at 519-672-8800.

Parkhill Carnegie Concert Series: Londons Grace Lou and her ensemble, will play traditional Chinese erhu music and will wear traditional costumes, Sunday, 2:30-4 p.m. at the Gallery, 233 Parkhill Main St.; tickets are $12 which are available at the door.

The Dreamboats: Friday, 8 p.m.; tickets $30 advance, $35 at the door; Aeolian Hall, 795 Dundas St., visit or call 519-672-7950.

Crinklaws Maple Products: Watch the maple sap being made, runs Thursday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 4570 Westminster Drive, 519-690-1086.

Fort Rose Maple Company: Saturday and Sunday, runs till April 5 and March Break Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 27382 Coldstream Road, Parkhill, 519-232-9041.

Jakemans 4-H Pancake House: Take a horse-drawn wagon ride, runs Saturday and Sunday, till April 5, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; 454414 Trillium Line, Sweaburg, 519-539-1366.

Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush. File photo

Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush: Get outside and enjoy the tapping of the trees, runs Saturday and Sunday and March Break, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., till April 5; Lakeside Drive, Thorndale, 519-461-1073.

McLachlan Syrup and Sugar Bush: Learn about how our family makes maple syrup; hours: daily 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed Mondays, runs till April 11, open all of March Break; 10279 Lamont Drive, Komoka, 519-666-1846.

Palmers Maple Syrup Shanty: Join us for a tour of the syrup shanty, learn about both modern and traditional methods of making maple syrup, runs till March 29; 34308 Lake Line, Port Stanley.

Saturday Morning Walks: Walk through The Coves, meet at Greenway Park, 50 Greenside Park, first car park on right; walks are approximately one hour; families with children are welcome, no dogs please; John Clark, 519-641-0442 or visit

Ska-Nah-Doht Village & Museum: March break fun, guided nature hike and tour the village, from March 16-20, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., one hour in length, dress for the outdoors; Longwood Road Conservation Area, 8348 Longwoods Road (Mt. Brydges) just 6.5 km west of Delaware or 10 km east of Melbourne, 519-264-2420.

Springwater Maple Syrup Festival: Enjoy wagon rides through the Springwater Forest, weekends and March Break, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., runs till March 29; 8079 Springwater Road, Aylmer.

An Evening with Samra Zafar: Author of A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose, Thursday, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; Western University, Faculty of Education, Auditorium room 1050; 1137 Western Road, 519-661-4040.

Book launch: When Poverty Mattered, Then and Now with author Paul Weinberg, Thursday, 7-8:30 p.m.; the event is free and copies of the book will be sold; Bread and Roses Books, 870 Dundas St., call 519-697-4132.

Art Show: Exhibition features acrylic, oil, and water colour paintings by London artist Richard Thompson, runs till April 1 at Hillside Londons cafe space, 138 Thompson Rd.; free admission.

Genesis An Exhibition of Quilts: Encounters Art Quilt group from Israel will display their work, opening reception Thursday, 7-8 p.m., runs till April 2; hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; London Jewish Community Centre, 536 Huron St., visit, 519-673-3310.

Jeff Dunham and Peanut

Jeff Dunham: Comedy show Seriously!?, Wednesday, 7-9 p.m.; tickets $69; Budweiser Gardens, 99 Dundas St., 519-667-5741.

*CANCELLED* Wearable Art Show and Sale: A show of original, unique pieces that can be worn, including garments, purses, hats, scarves, jewelry, and more, Friday, 5 to 9 p.m. with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 12 to 3 p.m.; First-St. Andrews United Church, 350 Queens Ave. at the corner of Queens and Waterloo; all works are hand made by London area artisans, no admission charge, church is fully accessible, free on-street parking; more details at

Women in Business Fair & Variety Show: Keynote speaker Carole Eriksson, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; tickets $10; Goodwill Industries, 255 Horton St.

Grand Theatre: Room by Emma Donoghue, runs till March 28 on Spriet Stage; 471 Richmond St.; 519-672-9030 or visit

London Youth Theatre Education: Guys & Dolls, runs March 18-22, evenings 7 p.m., matinees 2 p.m.; Palace Theatre, 710 Dundas St.; tickets available at box office, by calling 519-432-1029 or online at

A.N.A.F. 393: St. Paddys Day Celebration with Derek, Frank & Jimmy Saturday, 4 to 7 p.m., dinner served at 6 p.m.; 649 Colbourne St. (Colbourne & Pall Mall), 519-434-5130.

Canadian Celtic Choir: An Irish Celtic Celebration with special guests Dan Stacey & Kyle Waymouth, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; tickets $25 advance, $30 at the door, available at Centennial Hall Box Office, Long & McQuade (725 Fanshawe Park Rd W), The Village Idiot (Wortley Village), Creation Bookstore (900 Oxford St E), and or; Royal View Church, 218 Clarke Rd.

Eastside Bar and Grill: Daves Not Here St. Paddys Day Bash, Saturday, 10 p.m.; 750 Hamilton Rd.; 519-457-7467.

Fox & Fiddle: St. Patricks Day Party, all day, entertainment by Three Penny Piece, special menu & prizes, Tuesday; 355 Wellington St., 519-679-4238.

The Irish Rovers, from left, Gerry OConnor, Morris Crum, Davey Walker, Fred Graham, Sean ODriscoll (front), Geoffrey Kelly (rear), George Millar and Ian Millar, bring their farewell Saints and Sinners tour to London March 12 and Chatham on St. Patricks Day. (Supplied)

Irish Rovers: Wasnt That a Party, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; tickets $49; Centennial Hall, 550 Wellington St., visit or call 519-672-1967; Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., Capitol Theatre, Chatham-Kent, tickets available at

Mustang Sallys: St. Paddys Day Party, Saturday, 9:30 p.m.; 99 Belmont Drive, 519-649-7688.

Royal Canadian Legion Byron: Celebrate St. Patricks Day early, join us for Paddy-rama with celtic singer Tara Dunphy, Saturday, 1-6 p.m.; Corrigan School of Irish Dancing performing; 1276 Commissioners Rd. W., 519-472-3300.

Royal Canadian Legion Dorchester: St. Patricks Day party with Three Penny Piece, Saturday, 1-5 p.m. at 1227 Donnybrook Dr., Dorchester; free admission; 519-268-8538.

Royal Canadian Legion Lambeth: Jiggs Dinner to celebrate St. Patricks Day with corned beef and cabbage dinner, 6 p.m. followed by dancing with music by May & Company, Saturday, $20 per person; 7097 Kilbourne Rd.; 519-652-3412.

Getty Images

St. Paddys Day Celebration: With Derek, Frank & Jimmy, Tuesday, 5 to 9 p.m.; Kelseys, 900 Oxford St. E. (Oxford & Gammage, across from the Superstore), 519-455-9464.

Calgorm, a group comprised of Mike Mulhern, Kate Emerson and Wayne Carroll. File photo

St. Patricks Concert: Wear your green and celebrate your Irish; Calgorm, a trio of musicians featuring Mike Mulhern, Kate Emerson and Wayne Carroll will get your toes tapping to traditional Irish music; Sunday, 2-4 p.m.; admission is $10 at the door; all proceeds to Inn out of the Cold, Centrals Music Fund & Veterans Poppy Fund; Central United Church, 135 Wellington Street, St. Thomas.

St. Patricks Day Dance: Kracker Jax Band, Saturday, 8 p.m.; $10 per person in advance available online at or $12 at the door; German Canadian Club, 1 Cove Rd., 519-433-2901.

St. Regis Tavern: St. Paddys Day Celebration with Irish Stew (Adair, Derek, Frank & Jimmy), Saturday from 9 p.m. to midnight; 625 Dundas St.

Wortley Roadhouse: Ken OThorne, Tuesday, 4-9 p.m.; 190 Wortley Rd.; 519-438-5141.

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Arts, culture, fun in London this weekend and beyond (March 12-18) - The London Free Press

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March 16th, 2020 at 1:44 am

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Learn to spin a hula hoop or jam with fellow musicians at these sessions in Bengaluru – Bangalore Mirror

Posted: December 18, 2019 at 2:46 am

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Let it flow

Dive into the magical world of flow arts manipulate objects, create illusions and learn new tricks with the super versatile Eshna Kutty from New Delhi. While she will teach you how to seamlessly dance with hula hoops, Yacobeh from Bengaluru will teach you to effortlessly spin poi through geometric and rhythmic patterns. At Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Wilson Garden, from 7pm to 10pm, on December 18 & 19, (fee) `700 for single class and up,

Draw like a pro

Dance to heal Named after a contemporary mystic, Gurdjieff is a sacred dance, whose beautiful and charismatic movements are believed to create a magical feeling inside you. This dance session seeks to bring attention to neglected and subtle facets of your lives at the most fundamental levels of existence, and will make use of movement, contemplation and conversation. At Shoonya - Centre for Art and Somatic Practices, Lal Bagh Main Road, from 6.30pm, on December 18, (entry) `2,000 onwards

Picture perfect

Are you looking for some artistic inspiration to get you through the week? Then browse through some great works of photography by Reuben Kataria and Porus Kharghat that are on display at the Bon Voyage show. It also features a selection of artworks from Shaun Heffernan and Vijit Pillai.

WHERE: Floor L1, JW Marriott Hotel, Vittal Mallya Road, Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar WHEN: 11 am onwards, on view till December 31 CALL: 8067189999

Make music

Singing or listening to music. Who doesnt like that? So take a musical break at this meetup called Music Jam. Bring your cheerful selves along with a musical instrument, that is, if you play one, and join the gathering to jam, make music and learn new tricks. Listeners are welcome to join. At Lahe Lahe, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, from 7.30pm, on December 18, (entry) `177 onwards,

Sing a song Belt out your favourite tunes and channel your inner karaoke superstar this evening. Whether your go-to is a power house pop number, a Hindi ballad or rock and roll classic, KJ Jonas got you covered. So clear your throat and sing and dance at the Karaoke night with a bunch of buddies.

WHERE: Hard Rock Cafe, St Marks Road WHEN: 8pm onwards, December 18 CALL: 41242222


Plan Ahead

70 and going strong United Nations Childrens Fund, or UNICEF as it is better known, is celebrating its 70th anniversary in India. On this occasion, Grammy Award winner and celebrity advocate Ricky Kej will perform at a concert this week. Among his many hits, he will also perform a song that he has composed to mark this moment. The lyrics of the song, titled Wake up! For Every Child, has been crowdsourced from more than 40 child advocates across the country.

Kej needs no introduction. He is a Grammy Award winner, UNESCO Global Ambassador for Kindness and a renowned environmentalist, who has performed at prestigious venues in over 35 countries.

His past repertoire of work includes 16 studio albums released internationally, over 3,500 commercials and four feature films, including the natural history documentary Wild Karnataka narrated by Sir David Attenborough. During his long musical career, Kej has associated and collaborated with artists such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Peter Gabriel, Philip Lawrence (Bruno Mars), Roger Waters, Amitabh Bachchcan, Shankar Mahadevan, Rick Allen (Def Leppard), Patti Austin, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, etc.

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Learn to spin a hula hoop or jam with fellow musicians at these sessions in Bengaluru - Bangalore Mirror

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December 18th, 2019 at 2:46 am

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From Brixton to Japan and back: Zelda Rhiando and the Brixton Bookjam – BrixtonBuzz

Posted: December 1, 2019 at 4:42 pm

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Phil Ross talks to author Zelda Rhiando, and learns some local history as well as the difference between pavements in Japan and pavements in Brixton.

Ive just spent the morning researching my Aunt Dorrie, who appears to have been a serial killer.

Dublin born Zelda Rhiando, author and founder of Brixton BookJam sits relaxed but upright. Her smile radiates as the magnitude of what she has just said settles in my mind.

She murdered six husbands, Zelda continues, Three in Ireland and three in the USA.

She has been trying to find out about Dorrie (Dorothy), her grandmothers aunt. But there are no family records, they were all destroyed in the Post Office, along with everyone elses. Shes referring to the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule when much of Dublin was destroyed.

Were having coffee in Cafe Tana on Brixton Hill, and although Zelda is sitting perfectly still her eyes and her words bubble with excitement and information. Much of what Ive pieced together comes from stories from my grandmother Kitty, and Dorries letters to her sister, she explains. I was moved around a lot as a small child but I was mostly brought up by Kitty, she says. My interest in literature and philosophy comes from her. She was a great storyteller and a great unpublished writer.

We lived in a six storey Georgian house in Merrion Square, which was a Knightsbridge-type place, it probably still is. Shes describing one of Dublins grandest garden squares, where the distinguished residents have included Barons, politicians, and writers. Number 39 was the site of the British Embassy until it was burned down by a 20,000 strong, angry mob protesting the Bloody Sunday shootings in 1972, the year before Zelda was born.

We lived hand to mouth, and I was often sent out to sell marmalade or freshly laid eggs to rich neighbours, she says with a twinkle in her eye. We would buy past-it oranges from the market, and make the marmalade in a bucket. My grandmother taught me that there was always something I could do to get by.

Her hands cup the warm coffee mug as I sit transfixed. We had loads of weird and eclectic tenants: fashion designers, a plastic surgeon, a yacht salesman, she says. And Kitty ran the Dublin branch of The Gurdjieff Society. Like the tip of an iceberg, Zeldas statement indicates an underlying mass of knowledge. This time shes talking about George Gurdjieff, the Armenian Greek philosopher, composer and mystic.

He taught that everything must be questioned and Nothing is to be believed until verified by direct experience. So I was sent several times a year to a spiritual commune in Yorkshire, she says.

Zelda whose mother married Guilford based racing driver and designer Max Rhiando, also spent a great deal of time traveling as an unaccompanied minor from Dublin to London. Later winning a scholarship to a girls school in Baker Street and eventually a place at Clare College, Cambridge.

Whilst at school, a teacher who had links with an Ashram arranged for her to visit India to teach English. It was here, at Full Moon Parties, that she first heard the Goa Sound the music which would draw her to Brixton. I would come every weekend to Goa Trance parties at The Fridge and Club 414, she starts to reminisce. It was the early 90s and we partied hard, but it led me to return to India and travel when I finished Uni. Mostly supporting myself by hair wrapping.

Perhaps its these early experiences, combining self-sufficiency, travel, learning and questioning, that account for the fearless research she undertakes for her writing. Or does it go a little deeper?

Fact-finding for her 2012 debut novel, found her narrowly escaping death after accidentally swimming with piranha fish, while living with headhunters in the Amazon basin. The initial idea for Caposcripti came to me in a dream when my grandmother was visiting me at my flat by The Telegraph in Brixton Hill. She laughs, Mushrooms might have been involved, it was 97-ish. I was doing a lot of raving.

Zelda pivots to allow three ladies to squeeze into the adjacent table. I also spent a lot of time playing pool with ex-convicts, she confides. The Telegraph was the closest pub to Brixton Prison, and the first place many would head to when they got released. Im a pretty good pool player.

Starting off faxing and making coffee in Cyberia, Londons first Internet Cafe, Rhiando would observe customers when they came in with clients to pitch their digital ideas. Gradually, she picked up enough jargon to eventually Jump in at the deep end.

I got my first digital job basically because I could spell better than the creative director. It was an exciting time in digital media, everything was new and everyone was learning. And each night she would slowly work on her book, until at last the first draft was complete.

We decide to leave Cafe Tana and walk up the hill. The story was written but I just couldnt imagine the Amazon. I knew I had to go there, she tells me. I thought who can I approach? So I wrote to the Peruvian Embassy, and the Governor sent me a letter of introduction that I could show people.

Returning to London, Rhiando realized that she had not only avoided the various jungle and mountain perils, but that she had also missed the worst of the dotcom crash. Working as a digital freelancer not only gave her the time and space to rewrite and restructure the book but, after 27 rejections from publishers, she now had the tools and knowledge to self publish.

It seems slightly counter intuitive that after such an arduous and often dangerous journey to complete Caposcripti, that she would have a fear of The whole book launch thing, talking to people, signing and stuff.

But thats exactly why Rhiando decided to set up the first Brixton BookJam, as a means to introduce her debut novel. And its been going ever since, she says slightly incredulously. Weve had about four hundred writers come, give readings and sell their books. We even had a Radio 4 crew come down to do a feature.

Our walk has brought us to Windmill Gardens. And as we sit enjoying the late September sun, Zelda explains how it was winning the Kidwell E-Book Award for Caposcripti and its 10,000 prize, that funded the research trip for her next novel Fukushima Dreams (2017), and took her to Japan.

In March 2011, the Worlds fourth most powerful earthquake ever recorded moved the Earths axis by 10cm. It triggered a series of tsunami waves, that in places reached 40m in height and speeds of 700km/hr, killing approximately 19,000 people. Subsequent damage to three of the Fukushima Power Plant reactors resulted in the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

There was so much re-construction going on, she recalls, So it was really hard to find accommodation. There was a big exclusion zone around the reactor. Her beaming smile fades to a more sombre expression. I remember walking the streets in Koji, a grim place with cold rain, that Id looked up in an internet cafe. Id arrived by train on a Japanese Rail Pass. I was hand-to-mouthing it and it didnt quite work.

Apart from the language barrier to cross, there was also the spontaneity barrier, as she calls it. Only a year after the disaster it was a very difficult topic for people to discuss, she says. There was lots of Thorntons Tea. And smiles to smooth things over. But Rhiando persevered and in Kagashima for example, she befriended a Japanese guy who made things easier. He had lived in New York and spoke some English. We made a connection playing pool. She laughs. All that pool playing in The Telegraph came in handy, the smile has returned to her face.

The little park has filled with parents and small children so we decide to continue our walk. Agents and publishers were very nervous about the topic, she tells me. But it seems that the meticulous research paid off when a famous Japanese novelist wrote to her after reading Fukushima Dreams. They said they couldnt comment in public. But they were astonished that Japanese literature had birthed a new child overseas and they loved it. Zelda is beaming again.

As we meander up Lyham Road, I wonder how many novelists go to such lengths. What do you think you gained by going to Japan? I ask. The smells, the tastes, she responds immediately. The colours of the pavements, what people say in the morning. The small subtle cultural differences. The pavements? Its my turn to laugh. Tell me about the pavements.

Japanese pavements have a thin yellow brick line for blind people, she replies. And braille outside on the door frames. These are the kind of details you dont notice unless you visit a place. Its a fair point I concede, so how would you describe a Brixton pavement? I ask.

Relishing the challenge, Zelda pauses for the slightest instance that it takes to draw a breath and replies Brixton pavements are streaked with dirt and littered with fragments of chicken bones. Reeking of weed and piss.

We stop walking and we both laugh. Weve come to the part of Lyham Road where the looming walls and windows of Brixton Prison dominate the immediate neighbourhood.

We have found ourselves standing by a blue, spray painted, circular piece of graffiti on the brown bricks of the prison wall. Designed to look like one of Londons famous English Heritage blue plaques, the graffiti is headed Irish Heritage and it reads: Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor & MP, Died on hunger strike in HMP Brixton after 74 days, 25-10-1920.

Oh, theyve put this here, she is surprised. I havent seen this plaque before, she says. He was a writer and a poet, a very sensitive man.

He helped form the Celtic Literary Society, she tells me. And the Cork Dramatic Society, where he put on his plays.

MacSwiney also helped form the Irish Volunteers, and was elected to the first Dil as a Sinn Fin representative for Cork. Shortly before his arrest in 1920, he was elected Lord Mayor.

His death in Brixton Prison shocked the World, particularly in India where both Nehru and Gandhi were influenced by his style of revolution, blending cultural and political with military resistance.

Zelda and I stand respectfully by the plaque for a moment, and I wonder if my silence betrays my embarrassment. I feel ashamed at my lack of Irish history. I find myself saying, Why have I never heard of such an important person?

But how could you, she states. Hes not part of the narrative. Terrence MacSwiney doesnt fit the British version of Irish history.

We walk on, tight-lipped for a while. So, on the subject of Ireland, I say, in a clumsy attempt to resume the conversation. What about Aunt Dorrie and Dublin. Youre writing the book, yes?

Ill definitely write the book, but further down the line. She grins. A fact-finding trip might be necessary. Probably to California, where she killed her last three husbands. It needs a lot more research. Public records, land registries and stuff. From her letters, I think she owned a saloon there.

Of course, I remember, Nothing is to be believed until verified by direct experience.

The next Brixton BookJam is on Monday 2nd December at 8pm At The Hootananny, Brixton, 95 Effra Road, London SW2 1DF The closest tube station is Brixton (Victoria line) Buses 2, 3, 415, 432, 196

Authors reading extracts from their work will be: Gail Thibert, Be Atwell, Martin Millar, Garth Cartwright, Kevin Cummins, Chris Roberts, Eamon Summers and Zelda Rhiando, with more to be announced

If youd like to read or propose a reader please email:

[Zelda portraits by Svenja Block] [Other photos by Phil Ross]

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From Brixton to Japan and back: Zelda Rhiando and the Brixton Bookjam - BrixtonBuzz

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December 1st, 2019 at 4:42 pm

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The Mystic and the Priest: The Gurdjieff Ensemble Performs Komitas – Armenian Weekly

Posted: September 19, 2019 at 6:43 am

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Gurdjieff Ensemble (Photo Andranik Sahakyan)

Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies.G.I. Gurdjieff

At first blush, it may seem like an odd pairing: Gurdjieff and Komitas. The father of modern Armenian music, Komitas Vartabed the itinerant priest who recorded thousands of Armenian ballads before the onslaught of the Catastrophe and G. I. Gurdjieffthe mystical guru of experimental notation, part fakir and yogi, Buddha and charlatan, the man with the famously thick moustache and shaved head, inventor of a supposed Fourth Way. The son of a Pontic Greek father and an Armenian mother, Gurdjieff was born in cosmopolitan Gyumri in 1866. His writings were esoteric like those of his contemporaries such as the anthroposophists Anna Blavatsky and Rudolf Steiner, and they drew their inspiration from Christian, Hindi and Muslim traditions from the proverbial East and West. And while his music was itself minimalist and mystical, his personality was outsized: he was a great teacher but also prone to fits of rage. A description of his living quarters that I remember reading about in my late teens made a great impression on me, like some garish mixture of an opium den and a Middle Eastern bordello lined with oriental carpets. I remember looking around sheepishly at my freshman dorm room and thinking how sparse they seemed in comparison, how dreadfully boring!

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The Yerevan-based Gurdjieff Ensemble was founded in 2008 by music director Levon Eskenian in order to play Thomas de Hartmanns ethnographically authentic arrangements of the composers wonderfully esoteric music. In addition to Eskenian, other ensemble members include Davit Avagyan, Armen Ayvazyan, Norayr Gapoyan, Eduard Harutyunyan, Emmanuel Hovhannisyan, Mesrop Khalatyan, Avag Margaryan, Aramayis Nikoghosyan, Vladimir Papikyan and Meri Vardanyan. The group has won consistent praise in the music press; their first album Music of Georges I. Gurdjieff on ECM Records was awarded the prestigious Edison Award in the Netherlands. In the September 27 concert A Night to Honor Komitas at New Yorks Symphony Space, the Gurdjieff musicians, accompanied by Lusine Grigoryans gorgeously plangent piano soloswill perform a few of his works including The Spinners, Trinity, and Asian Songs and rhythms, Numbers 11 and 40, as well as Narekatsis lovely tenth century Havik and Tagh, both transcribed by Komitas.

150 Years of Komitas

As the program title indicates, the bulk of the evening will honor the lilting and beautifully sonorous works of Komitas Vartabed. Many of these pieces can be found on the Gurdjieff Ensembles second album Komitas (also on ECM Records), which explores the ties that bind Armenian sacred and secular music. Born Soghomon Soghomonian in 1869, Komitas was also an ethnomusicologist, choral conductor and teacher. He miraculously survived deportation, but he suffered greatly from the horrors that he witnessed during the Armenian Genocide. He was interned for the last 15 years of his life in a mental hospital in Paris. The songs that he collected in his youth describe simple lives of work, love and family life in Western Armenia before the dreadful events. It is no exaggeration to say that much of Armenian music history would have disappeared into the conflagration of the Medz Yeghern had it not been for Komitas painstaking work of transcription and interpretation.

More than Just Kanonikal

The Gurdjieff Ensemble will perform a full program of Komitas classics, including the popular Kele, Kele and Antsrevn egav (The Rain Arrived). Several dances from the Shushi region are also included (Shushi Unabli and Shushi Marali) as are Karouna and the lovely Msho shoror from the Mush region. Like Komitas before him, Eskenian is especially committed to keeping the original character and sound of these compositions alive, so the Gurdjieff Ensemble renditions are in a very real way a voyage back through time: I would like to emphasize that the program we are playing besides being musically pleasant to the ear is also historically informative, Eskenian explains. Take Msho Shoror, for example, a series of pieces that used to be played at pilgrimages to St. Karapet Monastery, one of the main Armenian pilgrimage sites before the Genocidethis is something that every Armenian should have the chance to hear at least once in their lives. To achieve this unique sound, the Gurdjieff ensemble plays over 16 instruments: some like the duduk, the oud and the dohl will be familiar to listeners knowledgeable in Armenian and Middle Eastern music. Then there are others still, which carry such wonderfully resonant names as the tmbuk and the pku. The least that can be said when listening to these delicately-rendered compositions is that whatever these Armenian-trained musicians are doing, it works!

Have a listen to the Gurdjieff Ensembles heavenly duduks, delectable kanons and a sound that is as rich as it is heartfeltthen rush to Symphony Space to experience it live. Komitas and Gurdjieff: music to be honored, music to be savored.

Christopher Atamian is a noted writer and creative producer of ItalianArmenian background and the grandson of Armenian Genocide survivors. He is an alumnus of Harvard University, Columbia Business School and USC FIlm School, a former Fulbright Scholar. Apart from creative endeavors and professional activities as a senior executive in leading media companies and consultancies (ABC, Ogilvy & Mather, J.P. Morgan), Atamian has concentrated on community activism. He is the former President and a current board member of AGLA New York and in 2004 founded Nor Alik, a non-profit cultural organization responsible for producing the First Armenian International Film Festival. Atamian also co-produced the OBIE Award-winning play Trouble in Paradise in 2006, directed by Elyse Singer, as well as several music videos and short films. Atamian was selected for the 2009 Venice Biennale on the basis of his video Sarafians Desire and received a 2015 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. He continues to contribute critical pieces to leading publications such as The New York Times Book Review and The Huffington Post, Scenes Media and The Weekly Standard, while working on other creative endeavors in film and theater.

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The Mystic and the Priest: The Gurdjieff Ensemble Performs Komitas - Armenian Weekly

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:43 am

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For Peter Brook, the Experimental Showman, Nothing Is Ever Finished – The New York Times

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The French windows onto the balcony have been left open. But since it is August in Paris, in a quiet neighborhood, there are none of the usual, urgent noises of urban street life, and when I look out the window from where Im sitting, all I can see is sky.

You know, Mr. Brook says, since Ive been living here I have this uncanny feeling, although what I normally think of as Paris is just a 15-minute drive from here, that Im in another country.

In a way, another country is always where Mr. Brook has aspired to be.

The London-born son of Russian-Jewish scientists from Latvia (his father patented a popular medicine called Brooklax), the young Peter dreamed of becoming foreign correspondent, to have the joy of being sent all over the world, month after month, to dangerous struggle spots anywhere just to say this world is not the little world of middle-class London.

As a student at Oxford University, he also thought he might become a painter, a composer, a pianist and, most particularly, a filmmaker. (He did indeed go on to make movies that include Lord of the Flies and Meetings with Remarkable Men, adapted from a book by Gurdjieff.)

And all the while, he says, he was tasting a bit of everything on offer in culture, in sex, in drugs (though he was blessed, he says, with a natural resistance to addiction) and in religion.

He had been confirmed as a member of the Church of England when he was 16. But this at once led me to think why why is this better than Islam? So I read that, and I read Buddhism. And that led me to India. But all of this was, again: Taste, test, question, and never reach a conclusion.

His supreme affinity, always, was for storytelling, he says. And in the theater, he found its most congenial, and universal, application. At 21, he directed an effervescent production of Shakespeares Loves Labours Lost at Stratford; at 23, he was named the producing director of the Royal Opera House; both his interpretations of Shakespeare and of sleek comedies (The Little Hut), costume dramas (Ring Round the Moon) and even musicals made him the toast of the West End.

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For Peter Brook, the Experimental Showman, Nothing Is Ever Finished - The New York Times

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:43 am

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New to this Work? Start Here – George Gurdjieff | Be Community

Posted: July 31, 2019 at 4:43 am

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Degrees of Attention

We go through our day in varying degrees of attention. Most of our daily tasks call for minimal attention, such as dressing ourselves, eating or interacting with friends and family. Some tasks require more attention; such as reading a book, drafting an email or attending a job interview.

We can perform the first group of actions while simultaneously performing others: dress ourselves while speaking on the phone, eat while chatting with our friends or interact socially while sending and receiving text messages. However, we cannot perform tasks that require attention alongside other tasks without harming our performance. We cannot read a book while speaking on the phone, draft an email while chatting with our friends, or attend a job interview while texting. We function in varying degrees of attention.

Our attention is subject to our will. If we desire, we can perform any task more attentively.We can bring attention to dressing, sensing the fabric of our clothes,matching the colors of our shirt to our slacks and shoes,etc. We can dine intentionally, tasting each bite, each sip, etc. But we neednt be professionals in any field to verify that we can bring more or less attention to the simplest actions, and this demonstrates that: Our attention is subject to our will.

Dressing inattentively is effortless; dressing intentionally requires effort. Eating inattentively is effortless; tasting the food requires effort. Directing attention through will requires effort.This explains whyGurdjieff called his methods of self-development The Work.

Directing attention is not the end of the Work; it is a means by which, we become conscious. Few teachings make the distinction between consciousness and attention, and this is where the Fourth Way differs from most other systems. The Workis not only about being attentive; it is about being conscious, and consciousness is self-awareness. George Gurdjieff called this self-remembering. Peter Ouspensky called it divided attention. More recently, it has become popularly known as being present.

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New to this Work? Start Here - George Gurdjieff | Be Community

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July 31st, 2019 at 4:43 am

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