eye of the cyclone

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Archive for the ‘Gurdjieff’ Category


Posted by patchouli on February 11, 2013

formatory apparatusFormatory apparatus resembles a hired typist who works for a firm and has a large number of stereotyped replies for external impressions. She sends printed replies to other centers who are the ‘directors’ of the firm and who are strangers to each other. Wrong replies are often sent, as the typist is asleep or lazy.” Gurdjieff.


“In the intellectual centre, the mechanical part includes in itself all the work of registration of impressions, memories and associations. This is all that it should do normally, that is, when other parts do their work. It should never reply to questions addressed to the whole centre, it should never try to solve its problems, and it should never decide anything. Unfortunately, in actual fact, it is always ready to decide and it always replies to questions of all sorts in a very narrow and limited way, in ready- made phrases, in slang expressions, in party slogans. All these, and many other elements of our usual reactions, are the work of the mechanical part of the intellectual centre.

“This part has its own name. It is called a ‘formatory apparatus’ or sometimes ‘formatory centre.’ Many people, particularly people No. 1, that is, the great majority of mankind, live all their lives with the formatory apparatus only, never touching other parts of their intellectual centre. For all the immediate needs of life, for receiving A influences and responding to them, and for distorting or rejecting influences C, the formatory apparatus is quite sufficient.

“It is always possible to recognise ‘formatory thinking.’ For instance, formatory centre can count only up to two. It always divides everything in two: ‘bolshevism and fascism,’ ‘workers and bourgeois,’ proletarians and capitalists’ and so on. We owe most modern catchwords to formatory thinking, and not only catchwords but in modern popular theories. Perhaps it is possible to say that at all times all popular theories are formatory. OUSPENSKY-Pychology of Mans Possible Evolution


“Beelzebub’s Tales produced a powerful effect, but that is not to say it was readily grasped. There were layers of meaning that people were touched by, but could not in any way formulate…Could one listen, as Orage advised, without giving way to constant verbal associations and unrelated imagery? …Much of the narrative was addressed to different levels of perception in people (Gurdjieff had said seven). The task was to respond with the whole of one’s mind, and not just with what Gurdjieff called the ‘formatory apparatus’, that part of the brain which was busy classifying ideas and objects, putting them into pigeon holes, and thereafter returning mechanically to them as statements of truth. This was all before the days of the computer, but his description of the conclusions of the formatory apparatus bears a close resemblance to computerized thought”.

(Louise Welch , ‘Orage With Gurdjieff In America’: pg. 47)


“This is precisely what people do not understand. Therefore their aim must be the development of the activity of the emotional center. The emotional center is an apparatus much more subtle than the intellectual center, particularly if we take into consideration the fact that in the whole of the intellectual center the only part that works is the formatory apparatus and that many things are quite inaccessible to the intellectual center. If anyone desires to know and to understand more than he actually knows and understands, he must remember that this new knowledge and this new understanding will come through the emotional center and not through the intellectual center.”

MR. O. Our formatory centre takes everything too literally and immediately begins to put its own associations and we cannot think right. It spoils the whole thing.


MR. H. What is the real use of formatory centre?

MR. O. Registering, recording.

MR. O. You have to study what is given, not to speak just by opposites. This is a most formatory thing. What is given in diagrams must be studied, not just by trying to find what is opposite.

MR. O. Generally false values. Lunatics cannot have right discrimination of values. A lunatic always runs after false values. He is always formatory. Formatory thinking is always defective, and lunatics are particularly devoted to formatory thinking; that is their chief affection, in one, another or a third way. There are many different ways to be formatory.

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