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Mount Analogue


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I recently read a book by a Gurdjieff student, René Daumal (b. 1908 - d. 1944), which sadly ends in mid-sentence, as he died rather young from tuberculosis.

However, I would like to share with you my notes from this book:


Mount Analogue

The author begins his story by referring to an article he has had published, in which he described the myths about a mountain that reaches heaven. He describes this mythic mountain as “the connection between Earth and Sky. Its highest summit touches the sphere of eternity, and its base branches out … into the world of mortals. It is the path by which humanity can raise itself to the divine and the divine reveals itself to humanity.” Its summit must be inaccessible but its base accessible …” i.e.,“…The gateway to the invisible must be visible.”


Yet, the entirety of Mount Analogue and the land on which it lies is invisible to most of humanity. The narrator is contacted by a character called Pierre Sogol (“Logos” backwards), who would like to organize an expedition to this mountain. Sogol is probably based on a combination of Gurdjieff and one of his students, Alexandre de Salzmann, who introduced Rene Daumal to Gurdjieff’s teaching.


The character of Sogol is an unusual person who would “treat human history as a problem in descriptive geometry.” The narrator (René) visits Sogol in his laboratory, where they “meander down a pebble path through plants and shrubs, among which are dangling hundreds of little signs, ‘the whole of which constituted a veritable encyclopedia of what we call human knowledge, a diagram of a plant cell … the keys to Chinese writing … musical phrases … maps, etc.” Sogol recounts how he had once joined a monastery where he applied himself to inventing instruments, which rather than making life easier, would rouse men out of their torpor. Two such examples were a pen … that spattered every five or ten minutes, and a tiny portable phonograph equipped with a hearing-aid-like earpiece that would cry out at the most unexpected moments: “Who do you think you are?” [Note: I found these descriptions rather delightful!] Sogol describes the power of thought as a “capacity to grasp the divisions of a whole.”


To explain how Mount Analogue could be invisible to humanity, Sogol deduces that the mountain lies behind a shell of curved space: (from prologue) i.e., “a scientifically embellished metaphor for Gurdjieff’s explanation of how esoteric knowledge is not truly hidden but simply imperceptible to those who are not seeking it."


Sogol and his 7 crew members take a ship to find the mountain, on which “The difficulties of daily work, in which everyone played his vital role, reminded us that we were (here) of our own free will, that we were indispensable to one another, and that we were on … a temporary habitation meant to transport us elsewhere …”


To sum up their discovery of how they find the mountain, (from prologue): The crew of the narrator’s boat penetrates the envelope of curved space by doing nothing except being ready.


In the port where they lay anchor, the narrator describes “the strangest fleet ever seen. In the inlets along the shore, crafts from all epochs and countries were lined up in rows, the oldest encrusted with salt, algae, and barnacles …” i.e., all the people through history who have been ready for this journey and have arrived.


When they reach the base of Mount Analogue, they are questioned by a local village leader. “Each of his questions, although quite simple – Who were we? Why had we come? – caught us off guard and shook us to the core. … Tell one’s name and profession? What good would that do? But who are you? And what are you? …”

How to repay the metal tokens, which are given to them as an advance for initial expenses? On the mountain one finds “a clear and extremely hard stone that is spherical and varies in size – a kind of  … curved crystal … called a peradam. The clarity of this stone is so great and its index of refraction so close to that of air that … the unaccustomed eye hardly perceives it. But to anyone who seeks it with sincere desire and true need, it reveals itself by its sudden sparkle, like that of dewdrops.” Some people give up the search for peradams and stay in the villages, plying their trades.


At the beginning of the journey, Sogol relinquishes his leadership. He finds in himself “ a little child awakening” who needs “help to become what he is without imitating anyone”, and right then, he discovers a peradam.


And this final description reminds me of something Michael has said, where somewhere later in our journey, we turn around to help the energy ring behind us (if I remember that correctly):

As they move their base camp provisions up into the foothills of the mountain, they see a plume of smoke in the distance. “… this distant smoke was particularly moving to us, this greeting addressed to us by strangers climbing ahead of us on the same path. For from now on the path linked our fate to theirs, even if we should never meet.


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Thank you @ihynz for the summary on the Daumal book. I had not been aware of this book before and may now read it. Also, the Gurdjieff explanation “of how esoteric knowledge is not truly hidden but simply imperceptible to those who are not seeking it." is perfect. 


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