Notes on the 1992 Revision of The Tales

The Revision of The Tales

[An Excerpt from To Fathom The Gist, Vol 2 – The Arch Absurd]

The Use of Hyphens

There is a distinct difference in the use of hyphens between Gurdjieff’s original work and The Revision. In Gurdjieff’s text there are 1153 occurrences of words joined together by hyphens. In the revised version there are merely 273.

The Revision uses hyphenation in ways habitually used in written English. It uses them in compound adjectives like: full-blooded, God-sent, high- strung and so on. It uses them in the titles of heavenly characters including God, Archangels, Cherubs, etc., such as: All-Autocratic, All-Embracing, All-Quarters Maintainer, and so on. It uses them in Gurdjieff’s many neologisms and names, for example: Lav-mertz-nokh (Lav-Merz-Nokh), astralnomian-protoëhary (Astralnomonian-Protoëhary), Choon-Kil-Tess (Choon-Kil-Tez) and so on. Often the words in The Revision do not agree exactly with Gurdjieff ’s original text (shown in parentheses) and often the hyphenation does not agree either.

There are two areas of hyphen usage where there is a distinct disparity between Gurdjieff’s original version and The Revision. The first is in Gurdjieff ’s use of hyphenation to link-up a descriptive phrase or sentence such as: law of the ‘reciprocal-maintenance-of-every-thing-that-exists’ or the ‘laws-of-the-fixing-and-unfixing-of-ideas-in-localizations.’ In The Revision the hyphenation is totally absent in these examples although the sentence is still wrapped in quotes, as follows: ‘reciprocal maintenance of everything that exists’ and ‘laws of the fixing and unfixing of ideas in the localizations of beings.’

Setting aside the fact that The Revision has changed the words a little, there appears to have been a decision by the revision team to suppress Gurdjieff ’s use of hyphens. Hyphenation is a standard typographical technique in English for connecting words together so that their meaning is considered as one. Gurdjieff did not invent it, he just used it extensively—most likely because of the limitations of the English language in expressing concepts that he regarded as important. As we previously noted, in explaining the intoning of the words “I can, I wish, I am” in Life Is Real Only Then, When ‘I Am,’ Gurdjieff felt obliged to explain in detail the meaning he intended for all the three elements: I can, I wish, I am, because of the limitations of the English language.

Gurdjieff uses hyphenation in The Tales so that the reader will consider the combination as a single entity. Omitting the hyphens obscures the meaning. This is also the effect with the shorter collections of words that Gurdjieff hyphenates, such as: being-confrontative-logical-mentation, being-love-of-knowledge, being-objective-conscience and so on.

As regards such hyphenated groupings, The Revision lacks consistency. To get an idea of what was done we examined all hyphenated word groups that began with the word “being.” The word “being” is of particular importance in The Tales. Gurdjieff frequently uses “being” as a noun adjunct to qualify a capability or activity, indicating that it relates to the development of “being.”

In a small number of instances where “being” is hyphenated in this way, The Revision is almost consistent with the original, e.g. being-afalkalnas (being-Afalkalna), being-autokolitzikners (being-Autokolizikners). This tends to occur where one of Gurdjieff’s neologisms is involved. But in such instances The Revision spells the neologism in a different way or fails to use an initial capital.

Aside from those there is no agreement at all. Gurdjieff ’s original work has 35 hyphenated groups that include “being-” and 9 hyphenated groups that include “beings-” which do not occur identically in The Revision. These groups are:
being-active-elements, being-age, being-Aimnophnian- mentation, being-apparatuses, being-articulate-sounds, being- aspects, being-association, being-associative-mentation, being-bird, being-blessings, being-body-Kesdjan, being-capacity, being-confrontative-associations, being-confrontative-logical- mentation, being-consonance, being-Egoaitoorassian-will, being-Havatvernonis, being-labors, being-logical-confrontation, being-logical-mentation, being-logical-reflection, being-love-of- knowledge, being-Mirozinoo, being-necessities, being-objective- conscience, being-obligolnian-strivings, being-particularities, being-pondering, being-productions, being-sane-mentation, being-self-appreciation, being-self-shame, being-snakes, being- vocal-chords, being-world-outlook, beings-chiefs, beings- devils, beings-Greeks, beings-members, beings-men, beings- Microcosmoses, beings-monsters, beings-of-the-same-blood and beings-subjects

The Revision uses “being-” 25 times and “beings-” once, in ways not used in Gurdjieff ’s original. These groupings are:
being-chiefs, being-comprehension, being-conclusions, being-confrontative, being-customs, being-discernment, being- faculty, being-illnesses, being-intelligence, being-inventions, being-judgment, being-love, being-needs, being-notions, being- obligolnian, being-partkdolgduty-duty, being-perceptiveness, being-power, being-representations, being-significance, being- sound, being-sounds, being-will, being-world-view, being- members and beings-apparatuses.

This disparity is bewildering to say the least. It is as though The Revision was deliberately constructed so that it differed word by word with Gurdjieff ’s original. And if we analyze a number of these word groupings, this impression is reinforced.

Sometimes The Revision simply omits the word “being.” So, where the original has “being-blessings” The Revision has just “blessings,” where the original has “being-age” The Revision prefers “age,” and where the original has “being-capacity” The Revision has “capacity.” In other situations, The Revision omits hyphens. Thus “being-love-of-knowledge” is written as “being-love of knowledge” and where the original has “being-confrontative- associations,” The Revision has chosen “being-confrontative associations.”

Sometimes The Revision just rearranges the words. So “being- Egoaitoorassian-will” is “egoaitoorassian being-will,” “being-body Kesdjan” is instead “kesdjan body of a being,” “being-articulate-sounds” is usurped by “articulated being-sounds,” “being-Aimnophnian-mentation” becomes “aimnophnian being-mentation” and “being-bird raven” becomes “bird- being, ‘raven.’” Incidentally in this last example, The Revision has, for no obvious reason, wrapped the word “raven” in quotes.

In yet other cases The Revision makes more radical changes. Where the original has “the following being-consonance ‘Chrkhrta-Zoorrt!’” The Revision decides on “the following being-sound “tchoort-zoo-oort!’”; so a being-consonance is now a being-sound. Where the original has “being-active-elements called ‘Piandjoëhary’” The Revision decides on “specific ‘active elements’ called ‘being-pentoëhary.’” Where the original has “illnesses and all the strange what are called ‘being subjective vices” The Revision prefers “being-illnesses and strange ‘subjective vices,’” thus inventing its own concept “being-illnesses.”

These strange manipulations of Gurdjieff’s words are disturbing, to say the least. Gurdjieff invented the use of the word “being” as a hyphenated noun adjunct for a specific purpose. There can be little doubt that he did so because of the paucity of the English language for expressing concepts related to being. The revision team appears to have decided that almost every time Gurdjieff uses the literary mechanism that he himself invented, he is doing so incorrectly.