Gurdjieff, mystic, seer, metaphysician, was a peripatetic guru who wandered mysteriously through the Middle East, fled from the Russian Revolution, briefly set up a study-house in Fontainebleu (""the Prieure"") and drifted, virtually unknown, through the metropoli of the West, instructing the initiate. As a legacy he left one anointed disciple, and two arcane books, Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson and Meetings with Remarkable Men. These ""Early Talks,"" reconstructed from notes taken by various anonymous listeners, are presented as an allegedly simple and plainly expressed ""introduction"" to the Gurdjieffian vision of the knowing self in a dynamic but mechanistic universe. Thus we have a rather complicated model of ourselves as consisting of three machines (body, personality, essence), with four corresponding centers (motor, sexual, mental and emotional) which we must control and integrate (there are no diagrams to make the schemata clearer), intermixed with thoughts about emanations, body movement, ritual, art, dance, love, morality, conscience, harmonies, energy, telepathy, influences. ""It is impossible to be impartial. . . to reason calmly and objectively without being touched on the raw,"" but self-mastery can be a goal if one makes a special effort. Gurdjieff posed as a Master with a Way but it is only for believers or the already sympathetic.