Lunch With Three Guests

This is the question:
"If you could spend an afternoon with any three people (living or deceased) who would they be?"

April 27, 2006


Gurdjieff, Ayn Rand, Alain de Benoist -
discussing the heroic possibilities of humanity's evolution of consciousness
(Assembled from a good picture of each of them)

Here are my thoughts and process of my decision:
"Project in Process"

I got up around 4:30am, with busy thoughts in my head. I tried to go back to bed, but I am too excited about this project. The next 52 Figment in the series is "4.16.06 :: If you could spend an afternoon with any three people (living or deceased) who would they be?"

So I woke up thinking about this, happy with my prospects.

I thought, making a universal language translater available, that a most fascinating conversation would break out between these three people. That is, unless they all clammed up and said, "I have nothing to say to you!" No, let's assume they are all feeling in a mood to debate, and explain their viewpoints. Shy me probably wouldn't have to say a word, just listen and take notes.

That said, I'd put these three people and myself at a round table with an interesting lunch appropriate to each person's taste, and listen and ask questions to get them all debating: Gurdjieff, Ayn Rand and Alain de Benoist. Benoist and Rand together should be most interesting. Rand, the emigré from Russia to the USA, fiercely capitalistic and pro USA, Benoist, the socialist, quite critical of the USA, but with a good understanding of religion, should be rather at odds with each other. The atheistic Rand, with her concept of rational self interest, well Benoist would get her to thinking. And Gurdjieff would only have interesting points to add. This is one conversation I'd LOVE to hear!

They would each agree with Gurdjieff that "the evolution of man is the evolution of his consciousness," but from there, the fur would fly.

Two Russians and one Frenchman, yes, we'll get that translater busy. Gurdijieff is the oldest, in 1866 he was born in Alexandropol in the obscure town of Kars, on the Russo-Turkish frontier. Rand is the next oldest, born in St. Petersburg, Russia in February 2, 1905. And Benoist is the youngest, December 11, 1943 in Saint-Symphorien (Indre-et-Loire) in France.

As I've said, they would agree this much with Gurdjieff that "the evolution of man is the evolution of his consciousness."

Rand would start off, "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

I would ask, "What constitutes consciousness. Certainly, reason is part of it, but what happened to the intuition? Isn't that important?"

Gurdjieff might answer:

Faith of consciousness is freedom
Faith of feeling is weakness
Faith of body is stupidity.

Love of consciousness evokes the same in response
Love of feeling evokes the opposite
Love of body depends only on type and polarity.

Hope of consciousness is strength
Hope of feelings is slavery
Hope of body is disease.

So the two Russian born are both saying, don't go so much with the emotions. But what is consciousness? Doesn't it include the emotions? Maybe some nice clarification will result.

I think they will all agree with Gurdjieff:

"WILL IS A SIGN OF A BEING OF A VERY HIGH ORDER OF EXISTENCE as compared with the being of an ordinary man. Only men who are in possession of such a being can do. All other men are merely automata, put into action by external forces like machines or clockwork toys, acting as much and as long as the wound-up spring within them acts, and not capable of adding anything to its force."
VIEWS FROM THE REAL WORLD, p. 71

On the nature of man as a heroic being, using the focus of his will to surpass himself, they will all agree with Benoist:

"When it comes to specifying the values particular to paganism, people have generally listed features such as these: an eminently aristocratic conception of the human individual; an ethics founded on honor (”shame” rather than ”sin”); an heroic attitude toward life’s challenges; the exaltation and sacralization of the world, beauty, the body, strength, health; the rejection of any ”worlds beyond”; the inseparability of morality and aesthetics; and so on. From this perspective, the highest value is undoubtedly not a form of ”justice” whose purpose is essentially interpreted as flattening the social order in the name of equality, but everything that can allow a man to surpass himself. (From On Being a Pagan, Chapter "False Contrasts", p. 21)" - Alain de Benoist

So they would have enough in common to make a conversation possible, and enough different to make it very lively.

I assembled a good picture of each of them, and will put them at a dinner table. I think this shall be a very interesting project. To fully do it right, I will need to study more in depth their writings, to know just how they would answer each other. So this will be an ongoing project, not just the short one, in which I sketch them at a table, and give the basic snippets.

Sources of quotes and info:
http://www.gurdjieff.org/
http://www.aynrand.org/
http://www.alaindebenoist.com/
Benoist via Ensio Kataja: http://ensiokataja.blogspot.com/2006/04/on-being-pagan.html

© Joan Ann Lansberry
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