Review of DU lost and found
Finally found my old review of Bennett’s The Dramatic Universe (there are so many editiions, it was lost for several years)
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Hyparchic Future Shock, April 23, 2002
By John C. Landon “nemonemini” (New York City) – See all my reviews
This review is from: The Dramatic Universe: The Foundations of Natural Philosophy (Paperback)
I recall coming across this book while living briefly with some students of Gurdjieff, who never seem to open it. And I recall reading the first volume without putting it down,in a blind heat, then the whole four volume set three times. The experience was a powerful one, but before long the curious effects of this eerie metaphysical drug composed of dodecads and general relativity wore off and became an oppressive mental burdern,as I simply moved on, almost with a need to simply forget it. Gurdjieff burned his way through two mathematicians in his bizarre schemes to launch the perfect trojan horse into Western Culture. Ouspensky was the first, and being to mentally club-footed, Bennett was the second, it seems. And he was a brilliant man in many ways. Anyone who can spot Kaluza-Klein theory in the thirties and attempt to redo Ouspensky’s six dimensional universe game makes one scratch one’s head in some curiosity. Clever folks, but in vain. The work as a whole is almost endless in its scope, and contains a fascinating but hopelessly flawed series of incompatible ideas stuck together in a way that doesn’t jel. That said, Bennett’s idea of ‘being, function,will’ is quite engaging, as is his conception of this in relation to the dimensions of time, eternity, and hyparxis. Neat, for a while, few New Age texts are this ingenious. However, this is metaphysics, not science, and to pretend otherwise is dangerous medicine for passive disciples if it is made the focus of a cult, beyond criticism of one’s peers. Still, Bennett was no rote disciple, and he must have sensed the handwriting on the wall with the ‘work’ and moved to bring his system within the scope of science, there to founder at once as an attempt to escape reductionism that can only end as the best grounds for the reductionist enterprise. The rubble is still interesting in a distant way, although the work is entirely treacherous and filled with erroneous curiosities. For the whole vision is a phantom. What a phantom however. His idea of the hyparchic future, unverifiable, unfalsifiable, is nothing but ‘science fiction’ by another name. Yet it is on that basis a curious and compelling notion, before it crashes. I was asked to comment on this work by a Gurdjieffian. I could not do so here, but I would point to the core strategy behind this surface brilliance,the statement of intent in the first few pages to replace the categories of Kant with his dodecad, a hopelessly quixotic foundation of quicksand. A clever jack, but a poor student of philosophy. He must have feared Kant in his bones.
One should note that the triad of being, function,will, is reminiscent of Schopenhauer, a point Bennett seems to sense, but a Schopenhauer as if redone by a Hegel, gosh forbid. This ‘metaphysics’ of the will can never be as profound as it seems, and is a permutation of an old game. Still, if you have a week, check this book out, if only as science fiction. But only a week, and then move on. Any esoteric pretensions are bunk. Never lend your scholarly talents to a Gurdjieff.