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REMINISCENCES OF MY WORK WITH GEORGES GURDJIEFF

DIANA FAIDY

Published as a means of honoring Dianas wishes


that her story be of use to others

Original typed manuscript digitized by J.I. Humphres

CONTENTS
Contents
Introduction*
Prologue
History of the formation of the Chicago Gurdjieff Group
First Meeting with Mr. Gurdjieff Winter of 1932 - Chicago
Second Meeting The Night Following
Third Meeting About Two Weeks Later, as I Recall
Gurdjieffs 1934 visit to the Chicago Group - Summer
Meeting With Gurdjieff in New York January 1935
Gurdjieff in NY 1935 or 1936 I am unsure about the year
Epilogue
Historical Background *
Profiles*

Introduction*

The text appearance has been retained as nearly as possible to that of Dianas document as she
typed it. The way in which she typed conveyed more than just the words. For example her use of all
caps and underlines in certain instances. This introduction and the Historical Background and Profiles
sections are not a part of Dianas document but have been added by the editors.

Josephine Campbell (18991983) became a noted modern dancer and choreographer who was professionally known as Diana Huebert. About 1939 or 1940 she married the well known Chicago architect Abel
Faidy and her public performances came to an end near that time. No record has been found of any children born from this marriage.
Diana became a member of a Chicago Gurdjieff group in 1930 and spent time with Georges Gurdjieff there
and in New York on several occasions. According to one group member Diana was still active in the Chicago group in 1952 and was said to be beautiful, quiet and much respected by other members.

Dianas reminiscences telling about her experiences as a Gurdjieff student were typed, apparently, on a
manual typewriter by Diana herself, first in 1974 and then retyped in 1977. Exactly how these pages were
given to the Gurdjieff Foundation is not clear.
Olgivanna Wright, a student of Georges Gurdjieff, became her 'second teacher in the work', as she puts it,
in 1953.

PROLOGUE

When I first made the decision to set down in writing as faithfully and
vividly as memory allows of those highly personal experiences lived within
the orbit of Georges Gurdjieff whom Destiny designated to be my first
teacher along the path of inner development, I had no thought that they
might reach publication. I set myself the task to record these episodes as
a means of clarification and evaluation of Gurdjieffs role in my life and
my growth toward reality.

But as I wrote, it occurred to me that this personal record covering a


short time span of a little over three years might in fact add to the legend of Gurdjieff and indeed might have value in that it reveals a specific
method of approach which Gurdjieff employed when time was a major factor.

Others

such

as

Ouspensky,

Bennett,

M.

and

Madame

de

Hartman,

Walker,

Nicoll, Nott, Hulme, Anderson, Orage, Popoff and Peters have all told
their story. In each case their contact with Gurdjieff covered a wider
span time than did mine. In later years however, 20 years after my first
4

meeting with Gurdjieff, a 12 year close association with my second teacher, Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright, Olgivanna, one of the three women disciples
whom Gurdjieff, as I understood, designated to carry on his work, helped
to cement the work already begun. Indeed, it was my work with Mrs. Wright,
which enabled me to cast off the artificial personality masks which had
accumulated over the years. It was through her counsel that I gained perspective and insight into the interior world wherein Gurdjieff had planted
seeds for my future development as an objective conscious act which he
foreknew were to have later flowering.

Each of the fore-mentioned writers have written of the powerful presence


of Gurdjieff, the man. The towering forehead and great dome of the head
shorn of hair, arose above fiery black orbs radiating an over-powering
consciousness which pierced with a seers vision into the interior world
of anyone upon whom they rested, laying the soul bare.

Here indeed was a man merited from boyhood for the unique role he was to
play on the planet Earth in the all but doomed twentieth century. And, as
John Bennett has so profoundly and brilliantly recorded, it is quite possible before the century has run its course, that we may discover that the
sage

Gurdjieff

having

squarely

defined

mans

place

in

Great

Natures

scheme, may prove to be an avatar sent from on high to awaken mankind to


the responsible role he must assume if the planet Earth is to continue its
course in the Cosmos.

It is evident that all those whose destiny it was to personally contact


this extraordinary man, who studied his cosmology and precepts, and who
made some serious effort to overcome their mechanicality, and to make some
headway

in

developing

their

higher

being

bodies,

felt

particularly

blessed, favored by Providence in having encountered in this life a man of


so great a stature, no matter what suffering each was called upon to endure in the firing and fashioning of the clay. Each who remained in the
work was prepared to bear that painful and inevitable remorse of con5

science when due to laziness, inattention or lack of real wish, a backsliding into sleep overtook him.

Gurdjieffs work as a teacher assumed many forms depending upon the state
of development of the pupil, his actual possibilities for growth, and the
time span Gurdjieff had in which to work.

The time Gurdjieff could spend with the Chicago group was limited, thus
the initial work of breaking through the crust exposing the personality
masks in order to reach the Essence had to be achieved quickly by way of
shocks. It was the Masters task to expose even to the raw those features
of the personality which kept the pupil captive bound to the wheel of
mechanicality, ignominy and annihilation at death.

Gurdjieffs first work was to prepare the soil, to expose the stubborn
rocks and ugly weeds. Thus his methods were stringent, harsh, uncompromising and catastrophic. He had to risk much to prepare a small plot of
ground which eventually when seeded could produce the sacred grain and
flower.

Each member of a group who was singled out by the master for a shock, a
blow, in the beginning at least was able to survive the barrage. Was he
not favored by the complete attention of the Master? Were not these taunts
and withering comments directed at his uniqueness although they ostensibly
pertained to the negative or destructive features of his nature? A few, it
is true who were less bold in nature wished at all cost to avoid an encounter, and as quietly as possible retreated to an anonymous corner. But
who could escape from Gurdjieff? Their very timidity exposed them. More
than half the time, however, Gurdjieff employed the technique of indirectness. Aiming his verbal onslaught at one person, the message was in truth
meant for another, if indeed the other was awake and clever enough to perceive the ruse. In this way some outrageous attack could be accepted if it
filtered through another personality. And by this method we were forced to
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do some serious soul - searching. Could Gurdjieff have aimed this arrow at
me? Am I guilty of this defect, this weakness, this crippling mental
block?

Some members did not survive the shocks and turned from Gurdjieff forever
as a teacher. Others were so badly shaken in the upheaval that it was some
time before they were able to confront the weakness which Gurdjieff had
attempted to expose and uproot with such force.

Fritz Peters has recounted the story of one couple who followed Gurdjieff
to New York shortly after his last visit to Chicago, giving up their jobs
and uprooting their lives to continue their work in closer proximity to
the Master. Their young daughter of fourteen accompanied them and it is
quite possible that their move was prompted in part in order that she at
an impressionable age would have this early exposure to Gurdjieff and his
work.

Mr. Peters did not relate certain facts bearing on the case. But Gurdjieff
was aware of the innermost weaknesses and immaturities of their individual
natures which had caused each to take a lover although ostensibly holding
the marriage intact.

Thus when Gurdjieff suggested in dead seriousness and with all the innuendo and subtlety of which he was capable that their daughter become his
mistress, they being blind to their own inner state were dealt a blow in
the area of the erotic by means of the daughter. Their prurient horror of
this base suggestion shattered their faith in Gurdjieff as a teacher which
was echoed by another couple, members of our group, who were aunt and uncle to the young girl. To my knowledge, the parents were unable to face
their reflection in the mirror and never returned to group work after
their hasty departure. The second couple I learned later had become members of the theosophical society.

It was Fate which decreed that I would be especially privileged beyond


that enjoyed by other members of the Chicago group to spend a good deal of
time in Gurdjieffs company. This was due in part to a seasonal lag when I
was fairly free of professional obligations on the two longer occasions
when Gurdjieff visited us. I was eager to be of service in many small matters and at hand to accompany Gurdjieff on excursions and shopping expeditions. Thus there were more occasions, more time for my person to be under
the scrutiny of the Master. It was fairly evident however, that Gurdjieff
had taken a special interest in me from the onset, finding perhaps in my
particular individuality a high potential for development by means of his
work. It may be also that he thought of me as a possible candidate whom he
hoped to prepare to carry out one phase of his work in the future. Thus
his invitation that I join him in New York.

Before Gurdjieffs coming our leader Jean Toomer had directed our efforts
in two important phases of the work, that of observing the division in the
three aspects or bodies of our nature, the moving part, the feeling part
and the thinking part, and the detecting of the chief feature around
which the individual bodies (missing unknown word) hovered each battling
for supremacy on any given occasion, enslaving the personality side of Man
and preventing the slumbering Essence from awakening and developing.

The

separation

of

the

personality

from

essence

which

Gurdjieff

stated

takes place around the age of five years in our present civilization we
accepted on faith as factual. It was self-evident that Being, the substance of the Soul develops only by way of Essence growth and Essence
growth can only be achieved if the personality clamors are brought into a
state of quiescence, even death. This is the sacrifice that all religions
require of the aspirant. This is the crucifixion that all those who have
entered upon the Path must endure to be reborn, transformed in preparation
for the building of a permanent I- I am One with the Father.

In our observance of the personality masks and in the recognition of the


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autonomous character of the three sides of our nature, we were enabled to


view objectively the split, the divisive state which kept us enslaved.
Thus in detaching the inner self from this constant battle by the process of non-identification, essence could be awakened and commence functioning. By observing that it desires, it is motivated, it feels, it
thinks, Real I could grow and in time command obedience from all three
centers to work as a cohesive Whole in order to achieve Essence aims and
growth of Being.

HISTORY OF THE FORMATION OF THE CHICAGO GURDJIEFF GROUP

The Chicago group had had an interesting inception. Both Margaret Anderson
and Jane Heap co-editors of the famous LITTLE REVIEW had become ardent
supporters of Gurdjieffs work and philosophy. Mark Turbyfill, a Chicago
poet and dancer whose poems had often appeared in the Little Review, and
whose long mystical poem A MARRIAGE WITH SPACE was about to be published
by Pasval Covici received a letter from Jane Heap in October 1926 in which
she spoke of the imminent arrival of Jean Toomer, also a contributor to
the Little Review. Mr. Toomer had received Gurdjieffs permission to instigate the formation of a group in Chicago and become its leader. Jane
Heap had spent the summer at the Prieure, Gurdjieffs INSTITUTE FOR THE
HARMONIOUS DEVELOPMENT OF MAN, and while there had encountered Jean Toomer
who had just completed a year of intensive training under Gurdjieff.

Upon Jean Toomers arrival in Chicago he was met by Mark Turbyfill and
Helen Dupee, known to her intimate friends as Yvonne. Yvonne Dupee was
known to be an enthusiastic sponsor of little Theatre and Art movements,
and was equally attracted to the mystical and the occult. It was Yvonne
Dupee who took Jean Toomer and his task of forming a Gurdjieff group in
her large embrace, and became in fact the mother to the growing membership gathered together mainly through her efforts. The group work began
sometime in the early months of the year 1927.
9

I, however, had not made contact with the group until the end of 1930, a
year after my return from a three year professional experience in New York
to Chicago where I began to seriously build a dance following with classes, lectures and recitals.

While still in New York I had met through Dr. Arnold Genthe, the erudite
German father of photography, the Greek dance artist and mimes, Vassos
and Tanagra Kanellos. It was Tanagra Kanellos, when she learned that I was
about to commence my artistic life in Chicago, who told me of Yvonne
Dupee, a most influential and charming patroness of the arts, to whom she
subsequently wrote a letter of introduction which she suggested that I
hand to Miss Dupee in person. It was almost a year before I felt free
enough to telephone Miss Dupee and arrange a meeting. It was at this fateful first meeting that Miss Dupee told me of the Chicago Gurdjieff group
lead by Jean Toomer, author of CANE. I needed little urging to attend the
next meeting, and so I had become a dedicated member of the group.

10

FIRST MEETING WITH MR. GURDJIEFF WINTER OF 1932 - CHICAGO

Our Chicago group was in a state of extreme excitement. Gurdjieff was coming to visit us and thus give direction to our work. The Master himself
was taking a personal hand in our destiny and our future growth. We all
wondered how we would measure up, each member had secret hopes in this initial encounter with the Master, hopes that a new dimension would be
reached, new capabilities discovered, new truths fathomed. But fear was
present as well. Fear that Gurdjieff might find the clay of too poor a
quality with which to work.

One man, David Fuller, who attended our meetings sporadically, but who had
visited and known Gurdjieff at the Prieure asked to be the host for a rather formal reception. We dressed formally, and friends as well as group
members were to attend. A few possible patrons were included. Gurdjieff
made his appearance in the company of Dr. Stjernvall, a disciple-friend
who had accompanied Gurdjieff when the great trek was made out of Russia,
years earlier. Both men wore great black overcoats of broad - cloth with
black astrakhan collars. Both wore Cossack fur hats to match. They formed
a startling pair. Dr. Stjernvall wore the patriarchal beard and mustache,
and Gurdjieff sported great handlebar black mustaches whose points directed ones gaze to the great fiery black orbs, flooded with intelligence.
Their coats and hats were removed with grace and fine flourish, and the
introductions began. When I was introduced to Gurdjieff he studied me
carefully, with a rather marked attention, then turned to Dr. Stjernvall
remarking

that

resembled

Mme---------,

The

name

may

have

been

Mme.

Ostrowska, his deceased wife, whom I learned had also been a blond.

Those who were near enough to Gurdjieff trained eyes and ears to catch any
psychological observations he might choose to make. One I learned of later, was made to Berta Ochsner, also a dancer, but who was not a regular
11

member of our group. Gurdjieff studied her closely, then pronounced, I


know shape your other nose, nose below. Bertas own nose had been long
and pointed, and she had had surgery performed for a more aesthetic proportion. There was a hardly perceptible fine scar at the end. Bertas answer to this rather outrageous remark was as pointed as her original nose,
how clever of you to know more of my insides than I myself.

In the main Gurjieffs behavior was that of the honored guest. His manner
was gracious as that of the patriarch surrounded by the clan. He was jovial and sometimes playful with the men who clamored around his person, and
he made charming remarks to the women who were somewhat more detached.
Withall I felt his serious appraisal of the group. He was evaluating the
quality of the clay with which he was to work. I was content to watch him
and study his magnificent eyes and his graceful carriage and to note his
great stature, his Being, which permeated the entire room.

12

SECOND MEETING THE NIGHT FOLLOWING

A general meeting had been arranged at the spacious home of Mr. And Mrs.
Allen on Michigan Avenue on the near north side for the Chicago group,
their friends and prominent people whom it was thought might become interested in Gurdjieffs work and philosophy. I had invited a number of dancers, my confreres, among them was Mildred Pearce who after the reading
commented on the remark made by Gurdjieff in regard to the intent with
which I had listened to his words which he said, revealed the very image
of my soul. This surprised me greatly, since in the fairly large group of
some one hundred fifty people, I hardly believed that one person could
have stood out. I had no idea that these words had reference to me.

At the end of the reading which consisted of excerpts from Gurdjieffs


manuscript, ALL AND EVERYTHING, or BEELZEBUBS TALES TO HIS GRANDSON, in
paying my respects to Gurdjieff he surprised me by inviting me in his ingratiating oriental manner, and in broken English, to visit him a little
later at his hotel suite, saying, I play music just for you. Highly
pleased and inwardly charmed to be thus singled out, I thanked him, agreeing to come, thinking that other group members would also be invited. But
later in speaking to Jean Toomer, our group leader, I learned that he had
not been invited, nor had any others that I could discover. This turn of
events startled me and set up a chain of inner conflicts. Thinking that
Gurdjieff may have been attracted to me personally, even erotically, I
suffered grave misgivings. For two years as a member of Gurdjieffs Chicago group I had heard tales of this extraordinary man, of his heroic exploits, his mastership of esoteric knowledge and his wizardry in reading
and directing the soul state of those who crossed his path. My soul harbored visions of the spiritual growth to be reached under the guidance of
so great a teacher, of the challenges to be met and the obstacles to be
overcome. Already deeply moved by Gurdjieffs arrival and overwhelmed by
his presence, I feared emotional involvement, conscious of my womans sus13

ceptibility to the erotic. Wishing the relationship between master and


disciple to remain on high platonic ground, untainted and untroubled I decided to avoid any possible danger, by canceling the appointment.

To the knowing teacher, this decision to be sure, in retrospect, revealed


my vulnerability. It also revealed that I was not pure of heart, and
therefore suspicious. Bit it also indicated an essence wish for an ideal
relationship between teacher and disciple.

I telephoned Gurdjieffs hotel and in asking for his suite, learned that I
was talking with his niece who was part of his entourage. In some embarrassment I told her of the situation. She assured me that it was all right
to come. By all means to keep the appointment. But having made my decision, I left my regrets. The next morning I was shocked and dismayed to
learn that Gurdjieff, who had planned to stay with the Chicago group for
at least three weeks, had changed his plans and returned with his entire
entourage in haste to New York, no one knew the reason.

14

THIRD MEETING ABOUT TWO WEEKS LATER, AS I RECALL

A few days later our group was informed that we were to expect Gurdjieffs
return on a certain day. Our group meetings had been held at my studioliving quarters, and we prepared to receive him there. I was happy in his
prospective return and was gratified that it lay within my power to provide a suitable setting for his work and his person. Fortunately, the appointments in my studio were entirely oriental in key. A long sideboard
was strung with a Japanese runner the entire length. Its pattern was an
all over geometrical design, the colors were slate and gold. A very fine
gold Buddha with attached halo rested upon a gold wooden stand composed of
stacked carved frames, five in all. It was centered on the sideboard between twin lamps whose bases were formed of oxblood vases with matching
canopied shades. A clay statue of a Chinese court lady formed the base of
a small lamp resting upon a black desk. A fourth lamp whose base was
formed from a Chinese column vase in off - white with matching shade rested upon a low circular black table backed by a two - paneled Japanese
screen of silver-leaf squares, the squares bordered by a black - lacquered
wood frame. A Tibetan painting consisting of the heads of saints was the
only wall decoration. Seven oriental rugs were strewn on the floor. (They
had been borrowed for the occasion from my indulgent landlady.) The furniture and drapes were black except for two chairs upholstered in a bright
Chinese red.

I as hostess greeted Gurdjieff, inwardly disturbed and apprehensive, looking covertly for a cue as to his reaction to my refusal to visit him. He
acknowledged my greeting graciously and quietly, but he gazed at me silently with a look of deep hurt, so marked that I was stricken with remorse for my previous conclusion as to his motives in inviting me.

Jean Toomer and others took turns reading from BEELZEBUBS TALES TO HIS
GRANDSON, with interruptions from time to time by Gurdjieff who wished to
15

stress certain ideas. After the reading I served wine and light refreshments. I personally offered a glass to Gurdjieff, but he shook his head
and thanked me, but again his long silent gaze engulfed me. Members of the
group crowded around him, some were emboldened to pose a question, but
Gurdjieff in top form moved among the members, making keen observations
about this or that personality. These observations were so fitting the we
all realized that his work with us had already begun. The stripping away
of the personality masks was the first task he set himself, in order to
uncover the essence if indeed there was any essence at all to lay bare.
Gurdjieff, in taking leave spoke of the beauty and atmosphere of my studio. His appreciation and gracious words relieved to a degree my heavy
spirits, but remorse of conscience remained until our next meeting.

The following morning with some trepidation I visited Gurdjieff in the


early morning at Childs restaurant at Van Buren and State streets. Dr.
Stjernvall was seated with Gurdjieff at a table, streams of customers
passed to and fro. It was the custom to await Gurdjieffs recognition before seating oneself at his table. After a little while, Gurdjieff who had
been writing, looked up, nodded to me and pointed to a chair. He then made
some observations to Dr. Stjernvall evidently about me. Rather startling
ones: She all spoiled - Emotional Body masturbation. She already
spoiled. For those who have not read Gurdjieffs own writings and those
of some of his disciples, it will be recalled that any excessive or wrong
use of energies of the three bodies, mental, emotional or instinctual,
Gurdjieff termed masturbation or wasteful. I was not to learn further
about this pronouncement until a year later when a fuller explanation was
given.

I had had no particular question of burning significance when I decided to


visit Gurdjieff at Childs, which as he said, was his office where any
one of the group could join him for coffee and question him. I had wanted
to be in his presence as much as possible, and to pay him deference and to
indicate in some way the remorse I felt. But it was as if the episode had
16

never occurred, and that he was meeting me for the first time. Gurdjieff
was moot, and kept on writing and now and again made some remark in Russian to Dr. Stjernvall who shortly departed. I remained seated quietly,
studying Gurdjieff when able to do so without him being aware of too close
a scrutiny. He was absorbed in his writing, now and again looking off into
space as though trying to capture a thought or a phrase in which to couch
it. I was completely ignored. The silence, the lack of communication suddenly became heavy and oppressive. I finally blurted out, Mr. Gurdjieff,
I think your observation right but mostly emotional center spoiled. He
looked up startled as though taken unaware by my unlooked for agreement.
He grunted and said Why you not order coffee? I thanked him but suggested that others would be seeking him out, and indeed two members were already approaching the table. Thinking they would want privacy I made my
departure.

A group meeting was held at the palatial home of Mara Biggs, one of our
members, the wife of Joseph Biggs, the head of an old and established catering firm of that name. Mrs. Biggs served a number of exquisite dishes,
more of the luncheon variety, topped by a dessert of individual molds of
ice cream in variegated hues, coffee and liqueurs. I had expected that for
a dinner honoring Gurdjieff, that a roast sucking pig or at most a quarter
of roasted lamb would have been appropriate and in order, since it was
known

that

Gurdjieff

was

superb

cook

and

lavish

host.

looked

at

Gurdjieff in dismay that he was quite innocently to be subjected to this


elegant party food. He caught my expression completely and one eye closed
and quickly opened, a veritable wink. Gurdjieff sat at Mr. Biggs right
hand, the place of honor, Mr. Biggs at the head of the table and Mrs.
Biggs at the foot. I must record that Gurdjieffs manners were impeccable
in this rather courtly formal atmosphere. On this occasion he allowed Mr.
Biggs the role of host.

After the repast we adjourned to the elegantly appointed living room.


Again Beelzebubs Tales to his Grandson were read by various members, and
17

again Gurdjieff enlivened the reading with his personal comments. We all
felt that this palatial home a splendid setting for the Master surrounded
by his eager disciples, and were indeed grateful to Mr. And Mrs. Biggs for
their gracious hospitality. We had learned that Mrs. Biggs was the proud
owner of one of the manuscript copies of ALL AND EVERYTHING. Upon acquiring it Mrs. Biggs requested of Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright that one of the
young architects at Taliesin undertake a cover design for the protection
and enrichment of this large volume.

*I wrote these memoirs in July of 1974, and at this re-typing of June of


1977, I report that I am now the happy owner of this veritable treasure.
Maria Biggs, my friend of forty-five years who has reached the venerable
age of 95 bestowed it upon me recently. Only 102 copies of this typewritten manuscript had been reproduced.

It may have been on the latter occasion that I was again invited to Mr.
Gurdjieffs

hotel

to

hear

him

play

his

music

on

the

harmonium.

Dr.

Stjernvall was the only other guest. It must be recalled that I had been
introduced to Gurdjieff as a concert dance artist. The melodies he played
covered a wide range, varying from Eastern folk songs and Temple dances to
the plaintive nostalgic songs of the heart singing of sorrow and loss, or
of the soul immersed in prayer. Each melody penetrated deeper into my
breast until heart and soul were flooded. Finally the emotional burden became so great, and so ardent was my desire to express all of this feeling
in movement that I burst out, Oh, if only I could dance to this divine
music. Gurdjieff said, Then dance dance. But I who was encased in a
tight fitting dress felt encumbered, and I did not want my movement to be
compromised. I spoke of my inappropriate attire. Gurdjieff said, Then
strip strip off - dance nude. I wanted to dance and especially for
Gurdjieff. But I was mortified, knowing that to strip off my dress leaving
me in a slip was equally inappropriate, and to dance in Natures garb unless reverence were present, truly only a vehicle designed to arouse the
erotic. Since Dr. Stjernvall had joined Gurdjieff in urging me to dance I
18

felt that I was being baited. I wanted to dance, but I was ashamed to
dance because of the irreverent turn the urging had taken. I also felt
lowered, as though my instinctive desire to respond to Gurdjieffs music
had been misunderstood. Was this Gurdjieffs way of bringing to consciousness the conflict raging between the different Is? I was not happy in
the denouement, I felt it a waste that this magnificent music and my high
emotion were left unexpressed. But I was left with a feeling of inner disquiet. I felt that the master had used the circumstances and the occasion
to point out a defect in my nature, that he knew wherein my house was divided and was bringing it to my consciousness. Could it be that my soul
yearned for purity of vision, but that the erotic side of my nature wished
for attachment involvement?

19

GURDJIEFFS 1934 VISIT TO THE CHICAGO GROUP - SUMMER

Our Chicago group learned that Gurdjieff would pay us an extended visit
and requested that we find him a furnished apartment located conveniently
where he could prepare luncheons and dinners for our members. Fred Leighton found an apartment on Superior Street close to Michigan Avenue, an
ideal location. The furnished apartment needed extensive cleaning, since
it had not been occupied for some time. Since I was fairly free of professional commitments at the time, I volunteered to do the cleaning and put
it in shape for our teachers requirements. I had three days time only and
worked continuously ten hours a day. I dont recall having a vacuum cleaner, thus accomplished all with broom and carpet sweeper and pails of suds
and water. I envisioned Gurdjieff running his hand over sills and doors,
and mad sure that every nook and corner contained no dust. My labor was
indeed a labor of love. I had not engaged in such house cleaning in all
the 34 years of my life taken all together.

The

other

women

agreed

to

prepare

the

dinner

on

the

first

night,

Gurdjieffien type dinner, and the men as a body met Gurdjieff at his
train. I had been working up to the very last and had to return to my
apartment some blocks away to bathe and dress. On arriving home I began to
experience discomfort and soon learned that the menses had arrived prematurely due to the great physical strain of the past few days. When I returned I found that all the members were seated at the long dining table,
Gurdjieff at the head. The master greeted me, Oh Miss Huebert, you finally come? We wait dinner for you. You to sit in place of honor, and he indicated the chair on his left. This deference and honor were entirely unexpected, a great surprise. I had no thought that Gurdjieff would make inquiry who clean and make ready apartment for me? I glowed with happiness and pleasure. Gurdjieff continued to shower me with attention, and
my cup runneth over.

20

After dinner, the women cleaned up and I was ushered into the living room.
But I soon found that I was in a great distress and pain. The reading from
Beelzebub was about to begin. I was seated opposite to Gurdjieff on a
large upholstered couch at one end, trying to so position myself that less
strain would fall upon the abdomen. I very slowly settled back into the
corner cushions and raised my legs slightly from the floor, so that I was
in a half-sitting, half-reclining position. I felt a little relief when
Gurdjieff sprang to his feet and in regal anger shouted HOW DARE YOU SIT
THIS WAY IN MY PRESENCE? I was crushed, annihilated, less humiliated than
appalled that I had given offense, and had apparently shown disrespect for
our teacher. I jerked myself erect and listened with downcast sorrowful
eyes to the reading which had already begun, so lost in mental suffering
that my body pains were no longer felt.

After the reading I decided to make my departure, approached Gurdjieff,


assured him that I meant no disrespect and begged to take leave. He looked
at me curiously, but said nothing. I retired to get my coat and went to
the front door where to my astonishment I found Gurdjieff waiting. I again
assured him of my respect for him and told hm that I had been suffering
great pain, due to menses brought on by physical effort. (I thought it
best that the Master know the facts.) He looked at me kindly and gently
took one of my hands and said, Better in this case, that you excuse yourself and lie down for time. My contracted heart leapt to life again. I
gazed at Gurdjieff in gratitude for his paternal compassionate gesture.
The Master understood all he had seen the pain in my heart.

A night or two later when seated at the dinner table, again on Gurdjieffs
left, he suddenly turned to me and in his most ingratiating manner, and
elaborating in much detail he said, Miss Huebert, for long time I been
studying you I much puzzled it take me much more time to solve - but
finally I put all together and now I know about you it all clear it
was strange thing in your personality it has to do with centers:

21

Your instinctive, moving center DEAD ALL USED UP.


Your emotional center, ALMOST DEAD ALMOST USED UP.
Your mental center, STILL INTACT HARDLY USED AT ALL.

NOT YOUR FAULT that moving center used up. Fault of your upbringing
your elders. When still young, still growing, you exposed to much
physical and nervous strain when young girl needed rest. NOT YOUR
FAULT. I AM SORRY FOR THAT."

This was a bomb shell which had descended upon me. I, a dancer, who needed
above all a body with energy and strength for performance. I took this
heaven pronouncement as Gospel truth. I pondered over it long, worried a
great deal. Long afterwards it came to me that this may have been a warning, that I must economize instinctive and emotional centers. I must not
allow them to become dissipated. This is what Gurdjieff had meant a year
ago when he said "emotional and body ALL SPOILED. My mental center began
to function with readings of philosophical works, works to which I was
naturally drawn, and which I used as an inspiration for some of my dance
themes.

The astounding thing was that Gurdjieff had penetrated my background, my


earlier formative years. I had told no one in the group any of the facts.
My father had had two leisure activities in which he took much pleasure.
One was his violin playing in which I accompanied him on the piano, and
the other was as a dancing professor, having grace of body and delight in
dance movement, he taught two private clubs the social dances then in
vogue such as the Maxixe and the Tango. Needing an apartment in which to
demonstrate the various movements he called upon both my sister and myself, still in our early teens. We were therefore kept up until midnight
twice in the mid-week because after the lesson we served as partners for
some of the unattached men in the classes. Since I had strong muscles I
prided myself on guiding my partners through the various steps, but I accomplished this by a concentration of muscular strength, as a tour de
22

force, with great expenditure of energy. I recall falling to sleep in my


English class in High school around two 0-clock on those days following
the midnight hours. How had Gurdjieff discerned the precise circumstances?
The above episode tied in with another observation Gurdjieff made which
indicated his keen perception. One time when he had my complete attention
he stood rather formally before me and went through a rather elaborate
gesture of lifting his foot from the ground and pointing it even as a
dancing master might have done as part of a dance step. This amazed me
greatly because it was the exact gesture my father often made when standing in front of one of his classes. Evidently while standing or sitting, I
must have made a somewhat similar gesture completely unconsciously, of
course. But Gurdjieffs wizardry continued to astonish us all.

After one of the dinners prepared by Gurdjieff for our group, the women as
was the custom repaired to the kitchen to clean up and put all in order,
while the men retired to the living room for a smoke. A long hallway separated the dining room from the living room. On this occasion a young woman
was returning the glassware to a cabinet which adjoined the long hallway.
She failed to close the doors to the cabinet, and had not proceeded two
steps when the thunderous voice of Gurdjieff burst upon us all. SHUT
THOSE DOORS. The young woman had frozen in her steps, but after recovery
returned to the cabinet and meekly closed the doors. She admitted to us
later that this shock administered by Gurdjieff so awakened her awareness of self that in all her work involving moving center she became
aware of her movements. At that time she was employed as a maid in a hotel
and one of her duties was to make beds. She had often been corrected by a
supervisor for her shoddy work, but these admonitions had made no impression on her thought it meant a job loss. She continued to dream away. Her
entire attitude towards any work changed after this.

Gurdjieff informed us one day that he was to receive Mr. And Mrs. Frank
Lloyd Wright for dinner and an overnight visit at his apartment, and that
we were to participate in the event. This announcement engendered consid23

erable excitement because we had heard much about Olgivanna Wright who had
joined Gurdjieff and his work in Tiflis at the time Gurdjieff had brought
450 of his followers over the Caucasus from Russia into Turk into safety.
It was known that she and Mme. Ostrowska, Gurdjieffs wife were the two
finest performers of his so called movements and dances. We had heard
other tales from Americans who had visited the Prieure as to Olgivannas
work ability and of the economy and fitness of her acts and speech. Here
was an opportunity to observe and learn from one who was an exemplar.

Gurdjieff had spent many hours in the kitchen in preparation for this special dinner. We gathered at the apartment around seven in the evening. The
Wrights were expected about eight oclock. But it had started to rain and
very soon the skies were flooded and there seemed to be no let-up. Eight
oclock arrived, then nine oclock but as yet there was no sign of the
Wrights. Gurdjieff repaired to the kitchen a number of times to be certain
that the dinner was kept hot. At nine-thirty the doorbell rang and I hurried to receive the Wrights. Their coats were, and they both looked somewhat strained and frazzled after their five-hour drive from Taliesen in
Wisconsin. Gurdjieff appeared and in his suave oriental and most ingratiating manner welcomed them exclaiming: We all wait dinner for you, our
most honored guests. Now we can sit down to special prepared feast. All
was kept hot.

FLW

"Sorry Mr. Gurdjieff, had my dinner, Dined at Taliesen. Always eat a

certain hour have stomach trouble lots of gas.


G

Showing great consternation, You not wait for dinner here? Special

dinner prepared just for you? You, honored guest You drive 5 hours, time
to eat again, special dinner.

FLW

Nope, never eat after dinner sorry will sit with you at dinner

and talk.

24

Mr. Gurdjieff continued to remonstrate as the Wrights were ushered into


the dining room. Gurdjieff seated Mr. W. at his right, and Olgivanna sat
on FLWs right. The salad bowls were already placed in position. Gurdjieff
spoke of the special salad dressing he had prepared. Very good to start
digestive juices. Mr. W. you eat salad good for your stomach. I know, I
great physician I know chemistry of body. This is just right for you.

FLW

Nope, wouldnt dare eat it, it would upset me for an entire night.

This sauce I prepare is for kings, special ingredients, this sauce

a symphony of flavors. Only I can make. You taste only.

FLW

Nope, sorry, wouldnt dare.

Now showing exasperation and seemingly much angered.

"I COME FROM EAST GUEST IS MUCH HONORED PERSON. HOST MUST PREPARE BEST FOOD YOU
HONORED GUEST, BUT YOU NOT HONOR HOST I PREPARE FOR YOU, BUT YOU NOT HONOR ME."

This burst of anger startled Frank Lloyd Wright into an awareness of


Gurdjieffs feelings as host, so abandoning his inflexible position and
his preoccupation with his digestive troubles he compromised to the extent
of saying. To please you, I will taste the sauce.

Gurdjieff beamed happily, and FLW continued to taste and to eat the salad.
The armor had been pierced and FLW said. Yes the sauce is good, it may
create gas I manufacture so much gas that the generator at Taliesen
could be run with it.

Responding in kind Why Mr. Wright, I also produce gas. He demon-

strated with a roll of guttural blurbs. "Why I could produce enough gas to
run the whole Worlds Fair.

We had all been amused with this exchange, this play of wills, and mascu25

line humour. We were amazed at the outcome. I had glanced at Mrs. W. and
saw that she was greatly tensed. This was the first meeting between her
teacher and her lord-husband. It had taken her three years to achieve this
meeting between the two men who had helped shape her life. Both men masters in their own rights.

Gurdjieff now served the main dish. As I recall it was a succulent goulash, laced with condiments, whiffs of whose aromatic herbs for over two
hours had tantalized our nostrils and whetted our appetites. FLW ate it
without being urged.

After dinner in the living room FLW said, Now Mr. G. I am not interested
in your philosophy, but I am interested in your music Olgivanna has
played some of it for me on the piano. I would like to hear you play on
your harmonium.

Gurdjieff still beaming took out his harmonium and played a great range of
melodies which wrung our hearts and penetrated to our very essences.

Olgivanna Wright previously as a matter of course had come to the kitchen


to help. I remonstrated, saying that she had so little time to be with
Gurdjieff. She smiled but shook her head, There will be time enough.

I was not to know the outcome of this meeting until twenty years later
when Olgivanna Wright whom I had sought out in 1953 became my guide, my
second teacher in the work.

Mrs. Wright told me the facts:


During the night around 2 a.m. Mr. Wright awakened with violent pains,
moaning and cursing Gurdjieff, his devilish oriental dishes, his wifes
insistence the he meet with Gurdjieff, and cursing his fate in general.
Mrs. Wright desperate and wrought up herself by this disastrous turn of
affairs found a hot water bottle and after about two hours Mr. Wright had
26

some relief. Mrs. Wright told me that this was the first time in all the
seven years she had known Gurdjieff that she had doubts about her teacher.
She was appalled at the result.

At 8 oclock the next morning Mrs. Wight was shaken out of a fretful sleep
with a cheery Good morning Mother, wake up and prepare me a breakfast of
bacon and eggs. I feel wonderful.

The master had been successful. The various condiments and herbs he had
employed had stirred up the gall bladder, inflamed it to be sure, but had
forced it to empty its contents. Gurdjieff had carefully inquired as to
FLWs symptoms when he had talked with Mrs. Wright before their coming. He
had planned it all. That is the reason that he had to employ any and all
desperate means to get FLW to eat his special dishes.

Mrs. Wright told me that Gurdjieff had affected a permanent cure. The congestion and blockage of the gall-bladder which had caused so much discomfort never reoccurred. From then on Gurdjieff and FLW were firm friends.
At the time of Gurdjieffs death FLW delivered a memorial address at unity
Church in Madison, Wisconsin which he had designed. His opening words were
to this effect. We are here to pay homage to a great man, the greatest
man who has lived in this century.

On the above occasion Mrs. Wright told me that she remembered me very
well. That I was the only woman whom she had remembered. This early recognition of my individuality surprised me. Coming from my revered second
teacher it also pleased me very much. Mrs. Wright related how she had
achieved this meeting. For three years she had made many efforts to bring
these great men together. But FLW had been jealous of her association with
Gurdjieff and had always avoided the encounter. One day Mrs. Wright said
to him in a reflective and coaxing manner, Frank, wherever we have gone,
all over the world, you have always been first, WOULDNT IT BE AN INTERESTING EXPERIENCE FOR YOU TO BE SECOND? FLWs response,
27

WHY YES MOTHER, I THINK THAT COULD BE AN INTERESTING EXPERIENCE.

Gurdjieff wished to visit the Worlds Fair and he asked me to accompany


him. I was very happy to do so, thinking it a privilege to be near at hand
should he voice his thoughts concerning the exhibits. I met him at his
apartment and we walked to the elevated-subway. He paid the fares and I
preceded him, sitting on one of the side seats close to the entrance door.
He sat down beside me, but almost immediately sprang up and crossing the
aisle, sat in the side seat opposite. This strange rather bizarre behavior
startled me. It looked as though Gurdjieff didnt wish to fall into the
usual man-woman relationship, the man squiring the woman. This behavior I
didnt accept an affront to my womanhood, nor to the conventional courtesies. I was so amused by it that I had to turn my head to gaze out the
window, my hand raised to my face to hide a smile. Gurdjieff continued to
regard the advertising, and now and again would extract nuts from his coat
pocket,

throw

them

into

his

mouth,

and

crunch

away

with

considerable

noise. I felt however that Gurdjieff was aware of all my reactions.

Arriving at the Fair grounds, Gurdjieff paid the entrance fees and immediately discovered a billboard giving the location and directions to the
various exhibits and the mechanical exhibits demonstrating the new machines

connected

with

industry.

We

found

these

displays

and

Gurdjieff

looked around for a vendor or a small consignment which might have nuts
for sale. We found nothing, and turning to me he said, Misa Huebert, you
think you can find? I thought surely this was no great problem and accepted the 50 cents he offered me. He said he would remain at the exhibits.

I walked around for two or three blocks, finding neither a machine or vendor. I despaired. But close by I saw an Oriental rug display and thinking
the proprietor might be able to direct me I entered the pavilion. The rugs
were on exhibit but no one was in sight. I moved to one end where I noticed a small office, and entering came upon two oriental gentlemen smok28

ing

the

water

pipe

and

drinking

Turkish

coffee.

The

proprietor

arose

thinking I was a customer. I soon dispelled this idea telling them that I
was in the company of a great oriental sage, a philosopher who very much
craved nuts. Could they direct me? They assured me that nuts were not to
be found except at the restaurants many blocks distant. I did not want to
disappoint Gurdjieff and was emboldened to request of them that they accommodate this great man and sell me a few of their own store. They looked
at each other in wonderment, but finally the proprietor nodded and went to
a cabinet, took out a jar filled with almonds, and scattered some on a paper. Thanking him for his courtesy I left the 50 cents on the table and
hurried back to Gurdjieff, handling him the almonds triumphantly. He studied the opened paper containing the almonds, almonds of the finest quality, and said, Where you find? I told him the whole story. He shook his
head in some doubt saying. Naive you nave Miss Huebert. He shoved the
nuts into his pocket after offering me a few.

Gurdjieff had received an invitation from Mr. And Mrs. Wright to visit
them and the Taliesen fellowship for as long a period as he could spare
from his work with us. Gurdjieff decided to go fro one week, so on the
following Sunday morning at 8 oclock our entire Chicago group gathered at
the old Polk street station to see him off. About 50 minutes remained before the train pulled out and everyone hoped to have a few private words
with the Master. Gurdjieff approached me and said, Miss Huebert, I not
take time to purchase herbs before trip I need badly I will cook for
fellowship every day I cannot cook without herbs. Will you do great favor for me and find before train leave?

Time was precious. I had about fifty cents in my purse besides carfare. I
did not wish to ask Gurdjieff for money, so I said, I will try. He cautioned me, You must have before train leaves.

Anyone who knows that part of Chicago will have an idea of the hazards I
was up against. It is an industrial section, thus on a Sunday morning res29

taurants would not be opened. A grocery store without clients would hardly
be opened, if indeed any such existed at all. I practically ran the entire
time, first away from the railroad environs, then passing factories and
small businesses. Everything appeared shabby, there was no life whatsoever. I then ran up and down the side streets and must by now have gone a
half mile from the station

Finally I saw a small corner restaurant, Greek to be sure. I ran to the


kitchen where the owner was making his morning coffee. He looked at me as
though I were a ghost. I blurted out my story, A Greek philosopher, our
teacher was waiting at the station for his train. All of his pupils were
there to see him off. He is to visit a very famous host and his wife and
since he is an accomplished cook he will do some of the cooking but he
needs some Greek herbs, would you supply a few?

This good man went to his shelf, found a small bag and sprinkled various
herbs from a number of jars, mixing them all together. I poured out my
thanks, left him the 50 cents, and again ran the entire way back to the
station. I had great fear that I had missed Gurdjieff, that I had failed
him in this small task. But, no, as I approached the station, I saw the
group still gathered around the Master, his head towering over theirs,
looking for some sign of my return. I was grateful for his concern. I
panted up to him and handed him the small bag. He looked at it in wonderment, What you find? I said yea, but they are all mixed together. He
looked again at the bag in disbelief, and then with a grunt of satisfaction stuffed it into his pocket. The train was coming. Gurdjieff gracefully swung himself aboard, and waved to us as the pulled away. I was hearbroken to see him go. How I wished that I could have accompanied him. I
had no glimpse into the future and could never have fathomed that 20 years
later that I too would be traveling along this same route to Taliesin, and
that I would be making this trip by train or by car over a hundred times
to be with Mrs. Wright my second teacher.

30

There is an aftermath to this story. I learned the details 20 years later


from one of the members of the Taliesin fellowship when I told him of the
task Gurdjieff had given me. He laughed uproariously and said, Why Mrs.
Faidy, Gurdjieff brought with him an entire satchel of herbs, herbs of
every kind from all over the world.

I also would like to relate an episode which concerns Mrs. Wright, although this episode might well be included in her memoirs. She told it to
me herself.

After Gurdjieff had prepared his first meal at Taliesin, it was a luncheon, a meeting had been set up for the entire fellowship to meet with
Gurdjieff in the large family living room where he would talk to them and
excerpts from Beelzebub would be read. All gathered as planned and sat in
circles at the feet of the Master, there must have been at least 70. Mrs.
Wright

was

talking

with

Gurdjieff

while

each

found

his

place.

When

Gurdjieff began to talk with the group, Mrs. Wright thought that this
would be a splendid opportunity to catch up on some of her own work, work
long neglected, especially since the readi9ng would be a repetition for
her, and without anyone noticing (so she thought) she disappeared through
a side door. After 2 hours time she thought she had better return before
the reading was quite over. She slipped back through the same side door
and was about to take a seat when Gurdjieff said, Well Olgivanna, now
that you are here, we can begin the reading. Gurdjieff had kept everyone
enthralled for two hours, but the reading was not to start without the
presence of the hostess, the mistress of Taliesin. Mrs. Wright told me she
had learned her lesson.

Gurdjieff had brought with him from New York about 200 copies of his paperbound book The Herald of Coming Good, which had recently come off the
press. He had written it in the form of an enlarged prospectus expounding his principles, his precepts and his aims for re-establishing his
school at the Prieure, Fontainebleau, France. He anticipated its wide dis31

tribution by all of his former pupils, present adherents and interested


people in general with sufficient funds raised in this manner to underwrite the publication of his great work. ALL AND EVERYTHING OR BEELZEBUBS
TALES TO HIS GRANDSON.

I had obtained a copy of it and had read it within a day or two so ardent
was I to contact his thoughts and plans. I was however, hardly prepared to
answer a serious question Gurdjieff put to me a few days after his arrival. He asked my opinion if I found anything objectionable in it that
might cause him to withhold it from a public distribution. I realized the
serious import of such a decision and the far-reaching effect it would
have. I reflected a few moments then ventured a few remarks. I said that I
hardly felt competent to utter an opinion. That I had some reservation
about his activity as a professional hypnotist being understood by those
who had not as yet contacted his ideas and work. That certainly all of his
disciples would encompass that phase of his search and his work. This was
in 1934 it must be recalled, when the practice of hypnotism was not a
standard method of treatment, and when the charlatan was apt to participate in fraudulent schemes by this method. Gurdjieff listened to me carefully, and it was a day or two later after having had conferences with
some of the men in our group whose opinions he respected that he made the
decision to destroy all of those volumes. They had been stored in my studio before distribution and Gurdjieff gave me the solemn task of personally burning them in my incinerator. I was appalled at the task, but of
course would faithfully follow his decision. Before taking leave of him I
gathered up enough courage to say, Mr. Gurdjieff, I possess nothing at
all of your writings, and I request that I be permitted to withhold a copy
for myself. I will treasure it. Mr. Gurdjieff studied me long and then
smiled. He did knot give me verbal permission, but I felt that my request
had been granted.

On one occasion, at the termination of a meeting, one of our male members,


who had been following the lore of planetary configurations approached
32

Gurdjieff who was standing at one side and in some trepidation broached
the subject of the horoscope and its influence upon the life, hoping for
an opportune moment to elicit from Gurdjieff the all important natal data
of the Master. As I recall, Gurdjieff smiled enigmatically, observing that
astrology was a long lost art, tho truths known practiced in the Babylonian times, that only fragments remained.

Only recently when talks as remembered by his Russian students came to


print,

did

his

definitive

statement

concerning

the

horoscope

come

to

light. The horoscope Gurdjieff said was our limitation. In lieu of the
work it might be considered a blue print of those subjective traits, inherent weaknesses which must be transformed by way of conscious effort in
order to realize a larger more objective frame of reference, a cosmology
which could embrace all 12 signs of the zodiac. Only then when the ego is
free of its highly personal eccentricities might it be said that the Essence has grown in stature and approaches the Godhead.

Some time during Gurdjieffs stay after noticing a number of food stains
which had accumulated on his vest and coat, I wanted to supply him with
some kind of cover-all to be used while preparing our meals. I could not
visualize Gurdjieff in an ordinary butchers apron. His Being and his presence required a more formal, professional uniform. My European doctor had
worn a black alpaca coat, similar to that worn by the Rabbi, and I thought
that this would be acceptable to Gurdjieff.

I approached him on the subject and he was touched by my concern but said
that he allowed the stains to remain intentionally, intentional suffering because by nature he was fastidious of dress and person. I do this
to oppose slavish fastidiousness. This was an object lesson for me and
others. Tho Master was continuously using every means as a reminding factor. Work on inherent mechanicality.

On a number of occasions Gurdjieff asked me to accompany him on shopping


33

expeditions. I remember that we found a Greek grocery on West Chicago Avenue where the proprietor was asked to kill two chickens freshly while we
waited. We also found Greek Yaourti and Rose Jam, that delicious jam made
in Greece from Rose petals. The aroma was unmistakable. It brought back
memories of my Greek trip made in the summer of 1932.

Gurdjieff asked me if I could find a wooden bowl for his use in making
salad. I had to go to many stores before I found one. When presenting it
to him, he grasped it in such a way that I knew that he was experiencing
instinctive, sensitive nature consciously. This awareness made an impression upon me.

Upon Gurdjieffs return from his visit with Mr. And Mrs. Wright, he stayed
at the apartment of Max and Shirley Grove, two of our members, for a few
days, preparing dinners for the group in their kitchen. Gurdjieff asked me
if I would be free to help him. And if so to come early in morning. As
soon as I made my appearance Gurdjieff asked me if I knew the kind of vegetables that he liked to prepare salad. You know exactly what kind I
use, Miss Huebert? I assured him that I did. I found all the vegetables
that he generally used, but noticed some luscious red radishes. I thought
that Gurdjieff might be pleased with this addition. Upon my return in
sorting out the vegetables he started to swear in Russian, a veritable
stream of invectives, and in great anger and in disgust threw both bunches
of radishes to the floor. You stupid, you not observe. And more swearing
in Russian. I was aghast, so vehement was his anger. To be sure I had diverged from explicit directions. I was sound asleep. I did not fathom until long afterwards the reason why Gurdjieff never included radishes in
his salad.

It was Gurdjieffs custom to make a great deal of salad, so that it could


be used on the next or even the following day. The dressing acted as a
marinade and always tasted fresh. One day I myself had some left over salad, which however had contained radishes. I found that the radishes had
34

deteriorated over night and had spoiled the remaining salad greens.

After his cooking preparations were complete. Gurdjieff retired, as was


his custom to his bedroom for an hours rest. I myself was very sleepy
since it was a particularly hot and humid day, and asked Gurdjieff if I
might rest on the living room sofa. Of course you rest, rest one hour. I
fell asleep immediately and after a sound sleep was suddenly alerted by a
noise, and set up, hardly knowing where I was. As I was getting my bearings, I noticed Gurdjieff staring at me with astonishment. SO THAT IS
WHAT YOU ARE. It was Gurdjieffs emergence from his room, which had awakened me, and he had had a glimpse of my Essence, before I had had an opportunity to assume any mask. I think Gurdjieff was pleased with what he
saw.

At dinner that night Gurdjieff told us a story, He spoke of the night


scavengers those lowly men who had the abysmal and sordid task in the
dead of night, I believe this was in Persia, of gathering the human excrement from the out-houses, packing it in bags or skins and carrying it away
on their shoulders.

He drew a parallel of the shifting contents of the bag and the various
contours thus formed during the labored walk to the shifting nature of
one of our women members. One who had no direction, who change with the
wind, and who has no aim. This was directed at one we all honored and
loved. It was to this woman one went if anyone had a special problem to
talk over. We were all abashed, and a little horrified.

It may be that Gurdjieff did aim his shaft at this woman and the circumstances of her life might have confirmed this appraisal. She had come from
an old Chicago family of some wealth and status. The wealth had suddenly
disappeared, other members of the family had faced the reality of their
situation and had taken jobs, but this woman lived from day to day interesting herself in little Theatre and Art movements. One prominent society
35

woman who had often been appealed to in regard to the above used to say
Miss------- is always engaged in lost causes But this is the negative
aspects of her endeavors. On the positive side she had a very definite
role in helping many a young artist to obtain a patron and financial help
which started him on the road to success in his career. As a matter of
fact it was this woman who practically initiated the Chicago Gurdjieff
group, introducing Jean Toomer, the leader Gurdjieff himself had appointed, to potential members.

Earnings from these sporadic attempts to obtain support for her various
enterprises were very minor and did not sustain her life. Thus in a sense
she might be considered a dilettante who was unwilling to face reality
because she was perpetually dependent upon other members of her family

On the other hand Gurdjieff may have aimed the shaft at us all. The Chicago group in the main were notoriously poor except for two or three members. A number including myself were engaged in the arts. It is quite
shameful to admit that it was some months after Gurdjieffs departure before the rent for his apartment was settled. Gurdjieff made the remark on
one occasion, Chicago group, none can made business, none can do,

But as Gurdjieff well knew from the thousands who were attracted to his
ideas and work, perhaps over 50% were mis-fits in life, in the outer
world, and their disillusion and disappointments thus suffered in failure
caused them to search for other values, the values of the inner life, its
growth and fulfillment.

It takes many years of self discovery by self observation to be able to


combat mechanicality whereby the outer conditions may be altered. And it
is that man who has achieved center of gravity who can hope to do, who
can have aim and can direct his will consciously, to achieve that aim.

A meeting was to be held at my studio at 919 Rush Street, a new location


36

from that formerly visited by Gurdjieff. We women were to prepare the dinner while the men accompanied Gurdjieff to a Russian steam bath. Dinner
was ready waiting their arrival, and soon we heard their masculine conviviality, delighting in their unusual experience with the Master, and secretly gloating over the fact that the women were excluded.

I must confess that I secretly envied them, but at the same time I was intuitively aware that men must retain the masculine, patriarchal prerogative of experiencing activities and rites together.

A woman of about thirty five who lived out of town had recently joined our
group. She attended this dinner and had brought with her a devoted young
woman pupil of 17 to meet Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff lavished attention upon
this

young

girl,

and

who

had

enjoyed

rather

marked

attention

from

Gurdjieff at meetings, indeed between meetings as well, and felt somewhat


privileged, for the first time felt a pang of jealousy. In retrospect, I
must say it was only the second time in my life that I had experienced
this devastating emotion.

This feeling augmented throughout the dinner and evening. Many toasts were
drunk to the various idiots and a number of glasses of Armagnac were
left one-third empty. I felt a kind of desperation mounting and recklessness, and asked two or three members if I might finish their glasses. They
consented, regarding my unusual behavior with growing curiosity, quite
aware of the masters purpose. I began to feel slightly unsteady not accustomed to more than a small glassful.

We learned that the young girl had the same birthday as mine. February
22nd, and I exclaimed, Then we are twins. Gurdjieff remonstrated, shaking his head and said, You not to make comparison, this is innocent young
girl.

There was no reading that evening, and around eleven oclock all the mem37

bers had left. My head was swimming and I was glad to fall upon the bed
partly dressed. During the night I was deathly sick. At nine oclock in
the morning, still feeling very shaky I was surprised to find a woman member at my door. Gurdjieff knew that I would be ill and had asked her to go
to my aid. I recovered fairly well during the day and appeared at his
apartment for dinner that night, pale and wan. His comment, You not need
spirits, Miss Huebert, you already high, no drink liquor.

This woman from out-of-town, the teacher of the young girl mentioned above
had a tragic future, and a tragic end. We had all noticed her extreme inner tension which remained constant. Her brown eyes were filled with fire,
and this foreboded insanity as a number of us were aware. Indeed at one
of the first meetings she attended during Gurdjieffs visit he enunciated,
nodding his head, She to experience force of Moon. Cannot prevent. He
was smiling at her at the time, and I do not think she was aware of this
implication. Fritz Peters has recounted her story and her end in his book
Gurdjieff Remembered.

On one of our excursions Gurdjieff stopped off with me at my apartment for


coffee and a short rest, it being one of the hottest days of the year. After climbing the long flight of stairs I noticed that Gurdjieff was suffering and panting from the heat. He loosened his collar and sat down. I
quickly found a small Turkish towel and immersed it in cold water, and
brought it to him, placing it over his domed head and face. He refreshed
himself by brushing it over neck, head and face, and in returning it to me
he said, rather touched by my concern and motherly attention, I not know
this side of you.

At

another

time,

again

while

on

an

excursion

after

group

meeting,

Gurdjieff asked me if I knew some colorful coffee house to visit for enlivenment.

was

not

very

knowledgeable

in

these

matters

although

should have been living for a number of years on Rush Street, which now
claims the most nightclubs per mile than any other spot in Chicago. I re38

membered that a new restaurant had opened on Ontario Street; I had however
never visited it. I thought it might be a colorful spot since it was run
by Greeks. We entered to a completely empty room not a customer in
sight. Gurdjieff however took a table and though hesitant I sat down, appalled at my choice. The waiter hurried over and almost fawned before us,
so impressed was he by Gurdjieffs stature. We had coffee in dead silence.
There was no cheer, nor new impressions, nor interesting personalities to
study. I was completely staggered with my fateful choice, especially because I wished in every way possible to see Gurdjieff relaxed and enjoying
himself, relieved from the pressures and responsibilities of his work. He
gazed at me almost expressionless, perhaps unbelieving that my naivet
could be so abysmally dense.

Our last meal with Gurdjieff before his departure for New York was arranged by Fred Leighton at the Athenaeum, a famous Greek restaurant situated at Lake and Wabash Street now long torn down. We had met Gurdjieff
and escorted him as a group, happy that he was to have a little diversion
and respite from his hours in the kitchen. We arrived around two oclock;
only a few customers were finishing a late lunch. Gurdjieff was ebullient
and playful; the men were sparkling with humor and the women pleased and
expectant. Two or three tables were placed end to end and the waiters hovered

over

us

waiting

to

take

orders.

Special

dishes

were

ordered

by

Gurdjieff for us all, and the kitchen help put to work. Gurdjieff ordered
a

Greek

wine

which

we

sipped

leisurely

while

awaiting

the

dishes.

Gurdjieff was in fine form, and all were relaxed and in a happy mood. Suddenly Gurdjieff exploded in thunderous tones of such intensity that reverberations sounded throughout the large room. Our dishes and glasses seemed
about to burst in the explosion, which continue to mount until all the
waiters came running frantically to learn the cause. Gurdjieff was complaining about the service, the delay. The waiters rushed back to the
kitchen to prod the cooks. The small waiter who had taken the orders from
Gurdjieff, a very slight man unusually small in structure hovered over
Gurdjieff wringing his hands in despair, assuring Gurdjieff in a strained
39

high voice that all would be ready shortly for the master. His distress
was so great that I was appalled. The group to the man had frozen from the
impact, especially since the harangue remained unabated. I alone in the
group thought this explosion so outrageous; that I couldnt believe that
it was real. The time wait had not been that great to warrant such an outburst. I looked at Gurdjieff appraisingly, curiously. He caught my look of
disbelief, and one eye opened and closed, even during the continued explosion. Of course, he was acting, for what purpose? It was seen very soon.
The poor little frail waiter became a spectacle of pity, so completely had
he been annihilated. He continued to wring his hands and walk around the
long table as though to bring some assurance that the meal would shortly
be served Gurdjieffs act came to an end as suddenly as it had begun. The
dishes were soon served, and all began to eat, subdu8ed and reflective.
Only Gurdjieff continued with his jovial bonhomie as high in spirits as
before. At the completion of the meal, all the waiters appeared bowing to
the Master, the frail little wraith standing close by. Gurdjieff called
him over paying him the amount of the bill, showered him with compliments,
praised the food and the service, and then handed the dazzled frail little
man an enormous tip which he looked at in disbelief. We departed and every
soon were reflecting upon the spectacle of a man without center of gravity destroyed by an accident, a happening in life with Gurdjieff acting as
the instrument. This object lesson staged by Gurdjieff for the benefit of
his disciples was catastrophic in nature. It was Gurdjieffs final lesson
before his departure. I felt great pity for the frail little man who had
been sacrificed for our benefit.

Before Gurdjieff took leave of us, he spoke privately to a number who had
requested an interview. I recall vividly my talk with him. He studied me
for a long time then asked me if I would follow him to New York and remain with him for some time. I was deeply touched, and somewhat torn, and
overwhelmed with the implications of his offer. But I had no overpowering
conflict in making my decision. I told him that I was deeply appreciative
of his interest and care for my growth possibilities under his supervi40

sion, but that I had a sense of mission in my own work in the dance, and
that I must follow this path, wherever it took me. He looked at me kindly
and accepted my decision. He respected my autonomy of choice. I realized
my decision was a fateful one. That my Destiny had chosen.

In the three visits Gurdjieff mad to his Chicago group very little direct
teaching was made, very little exposition or clarification of precepts.
The reading out loud of All and Everything by one or another member of the
group was the central theme of our concentration and reflection. While
Gurdjieff himself listened carefully to the English translation and occasionally interrupted with a small correction or addition, he was aware of
each members attention and reactions to the great ideas enunciated. Our
smallest gestures were noted. Gurdjieff himself was the Great Exampler.
His complete awareness, his towering consciousness gathering us all in its
wide embrace suffused the room. The Baraka, the spiritual Essence flowing
from the Master enveloped us. Heightening our own awareness and widening
our vision. We were transported into another domain, a higher dimension of
Reality. We felt blessed.

But we all felt an inner urgency to make haste. The awful realization that
there was a limited amount of Time in which to break through the thrust of
habit, prejudices, abject laziness and ego satisfactions and to begin the
long struggle gripped our minds. DO YOU WANT TO DIE LIKE A Dog? coming
from Gurdjieff in thunderous tones descended upon us like an avalanche
freezing our hearts and minds in the terror of our situation.

Thus for a fleeting moment we had a glimpse into that Fate which awaited
us unless we were in possession of a permanent I, a Soul which could
withstand the ravages and death of the body. Thus Gurdjieff was able to
raise the level of our awareness and the level of our response. Our efforts at self-observation became more intense and our moments of selfremembering increased over a longer span.

41

After Gurdjieffs departure, our Chicago group meetings were somewhat sporadic in nature. Jean Toomer, our leader who was a writer had met a woman
writer whom he shortly married. His wife, Margery however attended our
meetings during the months before the birth of their child. She was to
lose her life in giving life and Jeans world for a time fell apart. Fred
Leighton and his wife had moved to New York, moving their business, The
Indian Trading Post to the East. They became active members of one of the
New York groups.

Gurdjieff during his Chicago visit had created a great rift. Two or three
members had been struck at chief feature and not being able to accept
the

blow

to

their

vanity

or

ego

no

longer

were

active

in

our

work.

Gurdjieff had separated the wheat from the chaff. He had made the serious
observation to us all that he had noticed strange thing in psyche of each
one of us, very one sided, very bad, and evidence of wrong work. That we
had centered our attention on observing the personality, 'it wants' 'it
does not want' 'it is this one time, and that another time.' But that
there was no concurrent work on I" I AM I WISH I CAN, therefore Essence remained asleep, undeveloped. This of course was a negative reflection upon Jean Toomer, our leader. Group work ended all together when jean
Toomer moved to New York, having met and married a second Margery whose
home was in New York City.

42

MEETING WITH GURDJIEFF IN NEW YORK JANUARY 1935

Around Christmas time, 1934 I had the inspiration to wire Gurdjieff whom I
learned was still in New York. I asked in my telegram if he could make use
of a suckling pig for his New Years dinner. If so I would have my father
send him one refrigerated by plane. He responded by wire. Suggest you not
send pig and come yourself.

This so delighted and encouraged me that I made a special effort to raise


the fare to New York. To economize I had to take a bus, traveling 18 solid
hours, having wired Gurdjieff in advance of my coming. Arriving in New
York about 8 in the morning I immediately checked into a hotel somewhere
in the vicinity of Gurdjieffs apartment. I was in a state of profound exhaustion, body and nerves frayed to the core. I could not even think of
telephoning Gurdjieff, I was only half alive. Throwing myself on the bed I
slept a few hours and early in the afternoon telephoned Gurdjieff. He remonstrated, Misa Huebert, why you not come directly to me from bus? I reserve room for you with landlady. I wait all night for you. I was completely bowled over to think that the Master had been so thoughtful of me
and my comfort. I went to his apartment immediately and upon arrival he
again chided me for my delay in not coming to him. I hardly had any words
of explanation. I was overcome by his sense of care, a disciple who had
refused his offer, who had chosen to go her own path.

As I recall, Gurdjieff at that time was not involved with group meetings,
and I remembered that I was surprised not to encounter more members from
the various groups. I believe that many were visiting family or friends
during the holidays. Some had left town. I also had some time to visit old
friends whom I had known during my three year sojourn in New York from
1927-1939 when my professional career was in full swing after my year of
study and performance in Europe.

43

Once Gurdjieff questioned me as to whether I had ever had any experience


in foreseeing future. It seemed to me that his spirit was troubled, that
he was preoccupied, as though waiting for some sign to come to a decision.
He said that young person, was ideal subject for foreseeing future. I
told him that I had no gifts what-so-ever as a medium, that I had myself
consulted one on two occasions. He dismissed the whole subject*

* John Bennett in his recent work GURDJIEFF MAKING A NEW WORLD, has
thrown light upon the inner state of Gurdjieffs spirit at the time I visited him in January of 1935. He had experienced a great shock in the untimely death of Orage in November of 1934, having made plans for the
spreading of his ideas and work with the help of Orage who was the only
disciple whose experience in the work, persuasive powers, and dedication
to Gurdjieff personally particularly fitted him for this role of harbinger. I sensed Gurdjieffs inner questioning, and his indecision and doubt
as to the next step to take, thus his desire to have a glimpse into the
future, through mediumship, were I gifted in this direction.

During this visit Gurdjieff went to elaborate pains to instruct me to carry out a small task for him. I was to telephone an old friend, Rominy Marie at her coffee house to give her a certain message. Nothing more. I
was able to reach her in the afternoon, and I gave her Gurdjieffs message. She seemed a little confused and asked me a question in French. In
my faltering French I told her that I was following Gurdjieffs explicit
directions and could not elaborate further. Later Gurdjieff followed very
closely what I had said, how I had carried out his instruction. I felt
that he was testing me. I had diverged from his exact directions in the
matter of answering in French.

Later that evening Gurdjieff took me to Rominy Maries colorful coffee


house. She greeted him in the manner of an old friend. Gurdjieff seemed to
be very relaxed in her company and later I learned that he had known her,
a gypsy in Central Asia.
44

I have no memory of taking leave of Gurdjieff, but my stay was a short


one. I had to return to Chicago to prepare for a concert at the Art Institute of Chicago.

45

GURDJIEFF IN NY 1935 OR 1936 I AM UNSURE ABOUT THE YEAR

I had left for New York on a professional mission, to try to make connection with some film company to record in film and sound the great dance
drama and solo dances of the leading contemporary dancers. I had already
written Martha Graham, Dorio Humphrey, Charles Weldman, Tamiris, and one
or two others to learn if they were interested in my effort, and if so to
authorize me to make the preliminary contact. I was greatly concerned that
these magnificent early works might go unrecorded and that future generations would be deprived of them, the works of the great pioneers in the
movement. I had felt it a catastrophe, an irreparable loss that the works
of a Pavlova, and an Isadora were forever lost.

I had one dance drama of my own the WHEEL

OF

REBIRTH inspired by my contact

with Gurdjieffs work and Eastern philosophy in general, relating to the


idea of repetition, which I felt worth of recording on film. I also had a
few solo works which I thought significant for perpetuation

Upon my arrival I had interviews with each artist, speaking of the possibilities. I began to make telephone calls and was interviewed by a number
of executives. I was not making much headway since the art dance had not
made a great impact upon them. Someone directed me to Mr. ------- the artistic director of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. He was a man of culture and
vision who had on many occasions brought the great contemporary artists
and their companies to the museum. Thus his interest was immediate. He
committed himself, his own money, to the project to 50% of the costs, if I
could interest a film company to underwrite the remaining 50%. I was
enheartened. But my time was running short.

One afternoon I was walking along Fifth Avenue when I recognized Jean
Toomer approaching me. He was as equally surprised to see me, as I him. He
questioned me if I had come to New York to see Gurdjieff. My astonishment
46

in learning of Gurdjieffs presence was my answer. I told Jean of my professional mission. He said on parting that he would telephone me after
speaking with Margery his wife to see when they could receive me.

I immediately went to Childs restaurant, I think it was at 57th street. I


found Gurdjieff seated alone at a table and approached him. He looked up,
but did not seem to recognize me immediately. But finally he connected me
with the Chicago group when I told him of encountering Jean Toomer. He
asked me to have coffee with him and was most gracious. Soon three young
men,

disciples

of

his

joined

us,

Gurdjieff

making

the

introductions.

Gurdjieff was very jovial and said that I must accompany them to dinner
at famous Assyrian restaurant. I sensed that the young men resented my
unexpected presence, and I told Gurdjieff that I had already had dinner at
another Childs restaurant down the street. Gurdjieff said, Pig eats and
is finished, man can always eat. You come with us Miss Huebert. Because
of his insistence, and my great joy at seeing him again, and in spite of
the disapproval of the young men I agreed, saying that I would have coffee
and dessert with them.

We took a cab to the restaurant which was situated in an old neighborhood.


Gurdjieff was received with much respect and aplomb by the proprietor and
the waiters. We ordered a special lamb dish, and himself went to the
kitchen to give orders and to inspect. He also ordered the head of the
lamb, and when it was served he took out an eye and offered it to me, saying it most delicious part. I could not accept this dainty tidbit, but I
did consume the roasted lamb and proved that man can always eat. The
dinner

was

very

gay,

the

young

disciples

vied

with

each

other

for

Gurdjieffs attention and approval. Gurdjieff told stories. When the bill
was present to Gurdjieff he remonstrated loudly over one or two items. We
wondered if those who had showed such respect for him could have taken advantage of his known generosity. The waiter bowed in chagrin, agreeing to
go over the bill once more. He made a change. With that Gurdjieff beamed
at him, paid the bill and handed the waiter a handsome tip. The waiter was
47

overjoyed and bowed many times. Gurdjieff invited me to visit him at his
apartment the next day. I was happy to accept.

I arrived at Gurdjieffs apartment as I recall around 3 p.m. He received


me and said to go to front room and be seated. A few minutes later he
appeared, looked at me in an hypnotic way and proceeded to go through the
following maneuvers.

Keeping his eyes fixed upon me he stealthily approached the high wall
bookcase, looked around the room as if to see if anyone else were watching
him, and climbed up the bookcase on certain vacant spaces on the shelves.
Again

he

looked

at

me

and

reached

onto

one

of

the

high

shelves

and

stealthily from a hidden corner drew forth a box of chocolates. He


thrust the box to his breast and climbed down, came over to me who was
wrapt in astonishment, proceeded to pen the box very slowly, thrust the
box toward me, and in sepulchral tones pronounce O N E. I extracted a
chocolate and Gurdjieff shut the lid with a great noise, climbed back in
the same stealthy manner, put the box in its corner, and coming down approached me. If you not watch carefully, you to suffer liver complaint,
such as my own Mother suffered. This come on you later in life.

The message could not have been more explicit. I as well as most dancers
craved sweets, especially chocolates, and had always over-indulged. Sugar
we know to be a quick means of supplying energy, and exhausted dancers always turned to this source for quick replenishment.

This dramatic episode made a considerable impression on me. I am still reminded of Gurdjieffs elaborate means to warn me. Twice when I went beyond
all caution, I went without candy of any kind for three years. I have not
limited myself to ONE but I have cut down considerably.

Gurdjieff made inquiry as to the businesses which had brought me to New


York I told him of my film project, and that I had borrowed $150.00 in or48

der to make the trip. He asked me what results I had had, and I told him
of the status of things. He asked me if I intended to remain longer to see
it through. I said that I had about exhausted my money, and that I must
return to Chicago in any event in a few days because of an up-coming concert. Gurdjieff observed that I not stick with aim long enough to make
success. I agreed that this was so, that circumstances demanded that I
complete by letter any unfinished business. He invited me to visit him
again the following day.

I arrived around the same hour as before and again was told to take seat
in front room. Shortly afterward I was greatly surprised to see Jean
Toomer ushered in by Gurdjieff, and also told to wait. Jean Toomer eagerly
inquired if I knew the reason why we had been invited. I had no idea, but
as I studied Jean I noticed a certain embarrassment and disquiet. I do not
think he relished being placed on the same footing as myself, two disciples waiting their turns to be interviewed by the Master. Jean, as leader
of the Chicago group had always felt his authority and had preserved his
ascendancy with the group members, which from hierarchical standpoint was
quite natural. Still, it was known by his intimate friends that Jean had
to be cock of the roost and it would seem that Gurdjieff in this episode, so carefully arranged by taking advantage of my presence in New
York, was striking at chief feature. By putting Jean in galoshes so to
say, Mr. Gurdjieff had employed one of his favorite devices of leveling a
person

to

size.

In

any

event,

whatever

Gurdjieffs

motives,

Jean

was

called in first and after about twenty minutes Gurdjieff ushered me into
his working quarters.

I was very grateful to have this interview, because I had a pressing problem on my mind on which I wanted Gurdjieffs ultimatum. On many other occasions when in Gurdjieffs company alone and when there was adequate time
to ask questions, I was usually hesitant or embarrassed. Gurdjieff never
made it easy. One had to have a burning need. On two occasions when I had
spoken from real need from my inner self Gurdjieff had responded direct49

ly and succinctly.

I had brought my portfolio of dance photographs with me. I had hoped that
Gurdjieff might examine them while posing my question. Gurdjieff sat at
his desk in one corner some fifteen feet distant from the table where I
stood sorting out my photographs. But perhaps the Master would not deign
to look at them, thinking them irrelevant.

I began my story. I told him that I had begun my dance career much later
in life than most solo artists who generally start as early as seven years
of age to prepare for an arduous career. I told him that I had had seven
years of the ballet beginning at 13 years of age, but had found my own medium in the Contemporary idiom after having witnessed Isadora Duncan in
solo performance and had gone to Europe to seek her out as a teacher. Not
making the contact I had remained in Paris studying and performing with
Raymond Duncan, her brother, and upon returning to America had begun my
own explorations and by now had achieved recognition in the Chicago area.
My problem was this:

Although my work was progressing, and that my body performed all that I
required of it technically, that it seemed that I was left in a state of
extreme fatigue after a long rehearsal or a concert, and I was beginning
to have doubts as to the strength of my body for a career in dance, and if
I would be able to continue to muster the strength and endurance that creative work in this medium would demand, as the years mounted. I wondered
if I had started too late in life.

As I was talking, looking over my photographs, I noticed that Gurdjieff


had risen from his seat and with great curiosity peered toward my photographs, but when he noted that I had caught this gesture, he immediately
sat down as though completely disinterested. I continued however as though
I had been unaware of this gesture.

50

When I had finished, Gurdjieff came away from his desk and moved toward
me. In very emotional tones he said the following:

Where I come from, in the monasteries, there are great many dancers, all
stages of development, al ages. But only older dancers permitted to dance
in the temples. Only they who have gone through years of apprenticeship.
Only older women dance the rituals. And they all fire, all perfection,
movements beautiful, all performed with precision. All these women old,
over sixty. They dance like Goddesses.

I left Gurdjieff feeling very relieved, very grateful, and very humble. My
teacher had been completely honest with me, completely objective in his
advice. I was left free to continue my path, in a sense with his blessing.

I had one more interview with Gurdjieff, and it was to be my last in this
life span. It may have been the following day, and I was about ready to
purchase my bus ticket back to Chicago. I could not delay any longer.

Gurdjieff greeted me and immediately went into great lengths to describe,


Great celebration in his honor at home of woman disciple, some five days
hence. You Miss Huebert must come, you stay and attend, very important occasion. All New York groups would attend. Great feast in my honor. You also must honor. You meet all New York people.

I was embarrassed because I wanted very much to please Gurdjieff, but felt
that I could not spare another five days away from my rehearsals. In spite
of all Gurdjieffs pleadings, and of the many devices he employed to make
me change my mind, I was resolute. Gurdjieff showed his disappointment,
but he finally desisted.

Gurdjieff asked me at what time I would depart. After telling him he said,
Then come for coffee at restaurant before you go. I agreed.

51

My minutes with Gurdjieff at coffee the following day were few. He greeted
me, pointing to a chair. He continued his writings and I studied him, conscious of his great presence and reflecting upon my fateful good fortune
in having had these unexpected interviews, one in particular which had so
relieved me from the burden of doubt in regard to my career, and another
interview of a private nature in which he had outlined specific directions
for me to follow. Gurdjieff finally looked up and said, So you go? I
nodded my head yes, a little sad that I had been unable to change my mind
to stay for his celebration. Gurdjieff held out his hand and as I arose
and faced him he uttered a few words weighted with meaning. Their significance became explicit only later. I bid him goodbye not knowing that this
was the last time I was to se Gurdjieff on Earth.

Upon taking leave of Gurdjieff I had no fore knowledge that a breach between teacher and disciple was about to take place, due to a strange and
eerie chain of circumstances which arose originally by my innocently harbored

false

assumption,

an

assumption

that

Gurdjieff

could

never

have

fathomed. Had the experience resulting in the rupture not been of so serious a consequence it might have been termed a comedy of errors. The teacher works with the disciple in the inner world of the Soul, and only god is
the privileged onlooker. Suffice to say that because of my naivet in
failing to understand Gurdjieffs explicit directions, I was subjected to
a traumatic experience, sufficiently acute to fling me out of the orbit of
his person and active work effort for a number of years.

The teacher with objective conscience pays his debt to Great Nature and is
an aid to god in His endless labors by his conscious implantation of seeds
which take root and flower as the individual Destiny of the disciple unfolds. The particular division in my nature upon which Gurdjieff directed
his shocks and blows over the three year period of my contacts with him,
for thirty years now has not been in evidence. The wholeness for which he
aimed came about gradually, partly because Gurdjieff exposed the division
to my consciousness and to conscience, partly because of the suffering to
52

which life itself exposed me.

I sit sipping coffee at Aesops Tables, a Greek restaurant close to my


apartment, writing these final lines with a background of Greek melodies
calling to mind Gurdjieffs heritage from his father, and his great image
and powerful presence come strong and vivid before me as though he still
lived on earth. It is as though a breach had never occurred between teacher and disciple. But having occurred, the circumstance and trauma of the
breach having long been understood and the healing complete, I reflect upon the meaning Gurdjieff had in my life, and can affirm in confidence and
faith that all his actions toward me were consciously directed with objective Love as their base.

As I meditate upon the above experiences with Gurdjieff, the fruit of my


personal contact with this first Great Teacher, I am aware of the impact
he made upon the fibre of my Being, the awakening and growth of which lay
the foundation for the possible building of a Soul, that finer body which
survives death itself.

53

EPILOGUE

The writing of these reminiscences covered a span of two weeks. During all
these days and late into the night my entire Being seemed to be enveloped
in the Baraka of the Master. Gurdjieffs presence was so strong, so palpable that indeed I might have touched his person. I am not given to visions, I have had only a few during my lifetime, thus the Reality of the
following experience has validity for me. The night had been one of the
hottest of the summer. I had been in deep sleep when suddenly I was conscious of Gurdjieffs arm extended over me as though in a blessing. I being greatly moved, reached for his hand and drew it to my lips. Gurdjieff
was touched by this demonstration of devotion. He had been standing behind
me, but now he came in front of me, seated himself near me for just a moment as though to give recognition, then arose and went on his way. The
experience was so powerful, so pregnant and palpable that I awakened completely. This state of heightened awareness and of wonderment lasted for
many minutes, but the reality of his presence, of his appearance, blessing
and recognition of me in his Kesdjan body remains fresh and vivid as a
living reminder.
Historical Background *

*This part was added by the editor and is not a part of Dianas document.

1930: The Great Depression. Mob rule in Chicago.

1931: Al Capone is sentenced to eleven years in prison for tax evasion.

Jean Toomer starts an experimental group in and around an isolated cottage


in Portage, Wisconsin with a half dozen people and as many as two dozen
visitors from Chicago.
Jean marries Margery (biracial). When Margery becomes pregnant they leave
Chicago and go to California.
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1932: One out of every four families in the US is on relief.

March 1: An unknown person kidnaps Lindbergh's son aged 20 months from


their residence in Hopewell, New Jersey.

1933: Hitler comes to power in Germany.

1934 July 22: Public enemy number one, the notorious John Dillinger, is
gunned down and mortally wounded by FBI agents at the Biograph Theatre in
Chicago.

1939 1945

Second World War killed 62 and a half million people.

Einstein letter to FDR suggesting construction of the atomic bomb.


Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing 150,000 people.
1941 First use of penicillin.
1950 1953

Korean War. Two and a half million to three and a half million people
killed.

1961-1973

Vietnam War two million three hundred thousand to three million eight hundred thousand people killed.
Profiles*
*This part was added by the editor and is not a part of Dianas document.
Abel Faidy
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Dianas husband and a noted architect in the Chicago area. One of his best known pieces
of work is the Skyscraper Chair.
Mara Biggs

Helen (Yvonne) Dupee


Martha Graham
A well known modern dancer in 1910, 1920 who set the style of modern dancing with
her strong pelvic contractions and rugged technique.
Jane Heap

(18871964) Born in rural Kansas, daughter of the warden of a mental institution. A coeditor of The Little Review and lover of founder Margaret Anderson. Both Jane and Margaret were arrested and finger printed for printing excerpts from Ulysses (considered
obscene by the U.S.A). Margaret was later convicted and paid a fine. Jane later became
a well know leader of the Gurdjieff work in London.
Dorio Humphrey

Tamiris

Helen Tamiris (1905- 1966) choreographer, modern dancer, and teacher (also known
as Helen Becker). Interested in establishing modern dance as an art form, Tamiris was
active in organizing the young artists through the Concert Dancers League, Dance Repertory Theatre, Dancers Emergency Association, and American Dance Association. She
also played an essential role in establishing the Federal Dance Project under the WPA.
Jean Toomer

(1894 1967) writer and philosopher, was born Nathan Pinchback Toomer in Washington, D.C., the son of Nathan Toomer, a planter, and Nina Pinchback, the daughter of
Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback, governor of Louisiana during Reconstruction and
the first U.S. governor of African-American descent. Like his parents, Toomer could easily pass for white, his heritage comprising several European and African bloodlines. Indeed, throughout his formative years until age eighteen, he lived alternately as white
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and as African American.


Works: Cane, The collected Poems of Jean Toomer, The Black Man, Reapers.
Toomer learned from Orage the beginnings of Gurdjieff's system. Later he was given instructions by Gurdjieff, while visiting the Prieure, to begin a group in Chicago. After Chicago Toomer began a group near Taliesin in Wisconsin. After living in California and New
Mexico Toomer left became a Quaker and instituted some of Gurdjieffs ideas into the
Quaker system. In time he came back to Gurdjieffs way.
Mark Turbyfill

( 1896- 1991) Remembered today mainly for his contributions to the worlds of avantgarde verse (in 1926 the vanguard magazine Poetry devoted an entire issue to his writings) and dance (in the 1920s and 30s, he was a principal dancer with Allied Artists and
partnered with legendary Chicago choreographer Ruth Page), Mark Turbyfill was also an
accomplished visual artist. Seeing continuity in all his creative endeavors, Turbyfill at
times utilized texts lifted from his own poetry in both figurative and abstract paintings
and drawings. With evocative titles such as "Yellow Calligraphic Poem," "Green Oracle,"
and "Sibylline Head," his visual work also gestures toward a mythic literary past. This
intimate exhibition features representative works on paper from the late 1940s to the
mid 1960s, drawn from the Smart Museums permanent collection.
Charles Weldman

A modern dancer.
Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright (Olgivanna)
(1898 1985) was of Serbian birth, born in Montenegro, part of the previous Yugoslavia. She was the grand daughter of a famous Serbian/Montenegrin writer, tribe leader,
Montenegrin duke and hero Marko Miljanov. She was the third and last wife of the well
known architect Frank Lloyd Wright and 33 years younger than Frank Lloyd. She was ac57

tive in the Gurdjieff work from the early thirties until late in her life. She sailed with
Gurdjieff on his final trip in the spring of 1949 from NY to France.
While still married to Miriam, Wright had met Olga Milanoff Hinzenberg, known as
Olgivanna, 33 years his junior, at the ballet in Chicago in 1924. A native of Yugoslavia,
Olgivanna had studied under Soviet occult teacher Georgi Gurdjieff at his Institute for
the Harmonious Development of Man in Paris, France. She was the estranged wife of a
Russian architect named Vlademar Hinzenberg, and together they had one daughter,
Svetlana, born in 1917. In February of 1925 Wright had invited Olgivanna and Svetlana
to move into Taliesin with him. Two months later she obtained a divorce from
Hinzenberg, and by the end of 1925 Frank and Olgivannas daughter Iovanna was born.
Almost three years later on August 25, 1928 they were married.
In 1950 the de Hartmanns moved to New York City where they settled on the upper
west side of Manhattan. Thomas received occasional offers to lecture and teach. He went
to London where he gave a series of lectures that outlined his belief in the interrelatedness of the arts. Frank Lloyd Wright received word of these lectures and invited de
Hartmann to come work with the students at Taliesin West, Wright's architectural commune in Arizona. Wright believed that composing music and drawing architectural designs were closely-related skills. De Hartmann happily accepted the position which included

58

comfortable

accommodation

and

access

to

Steinway

grand

piano.

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