Esotericism, Secrecy, and Hiddenness in Plain Sight
Carole M. Cusack
Peter Brook’s Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979) was a watershed in Fourth Way history, in that it was a public, visual, and dramatised version of G. I. Gurdjieff’s search for wisdom, presented to uninitiated film audiences as a model of the esoteric spiritual quest. A decade later the Internet shifted from geeks’ domain to popular playground, via the introduction of Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web interface. Since 2000 Fourth Way schools and websites (official and unofficial) have proliferated as the official and unofficial Work lineages in the “meat world” have diminished. The outcome of this cultural shift is uncertain; it may be, as some online teachers aver, that “real” spiritual work can be done in virtual environments, but it is equally possible that the tsunami of Fourth Way schools, books, DVDs, CDs, and journals will result in Gurdjieff’s teaching being co-opted by what Guy Debord termed “the Spectacle.” The commodification of a powerful esoteric teaching with high spiritual aspirations due to the viral replication of online material is one possible future for the Work. Alternatively, Internet schools may transform the Fourth Way, affirming its importance for the “digital native” generation.
G. I. Gurdjieff; Internet; Work; Fourth Way; esotericism; commodification; the Spectacle