Gurdjieff Ideas Wiki

Diaries of J.G. Bennett and Elizabeth Bennett "Idiots in Paris"


The arrangement of the table was formal. Gurdjieff sat at the far end and beside him on his left was the Director of the feast. The Director had to see that everything went smoothly, that no one was without food or drink, etc.; he had to look after Mr. Gurdjieff, changing his plates and carrying out his instructions about various details, giving the toasts in a clear voice when the time came. The ritual of the toasts was drawn from what Gurdjieff called the "Science of Idiotism".

He made constant use of the idiots in his teaching.

On the Director's left sat the man responsible for pouring drinks and distributing them to the guests. He was known as the Verseur. He had to remember what each person was drinking, so that each glass could be refilled correctly when the time came. At right angles to Mr. Gurdjieff, at the narrow end of the table on his right, sat Monsieur Egout. "Egout" means a drain or sewer, and this position was usually occupied by what Gurdjieff called an esteemed per¬son. He was given, in addition to his own plate, various extra foods and tidbits by Mr. Gurdjieff, and these of course he was bound to eat. If he was given more than he could eat, he was allowed to pass his own plate, or some part of its contents, to Monsieur Poubelle (dustbin) on his right. Round the corner of the table, at Poubelle's right and therefore opposite to Mr. Gurdjieff, sat Bouche d'Egout, the "mouth of the sewer." He was often offered various bonne-bouches by Mr. Gurdjieff across the table. Egout pour Sweet had a special function —to eat Mr. Gurdjieff's pudding or dessert if he did not want it himself. He would call for Egout pour Sweet if he needed her, and from whatever place she was occupying she would reply, "presente, Monsieur" and come forward for her treat. This role was usually played by a young woman.

James Moore – Gurdjieff: A Biography

Page 353

14. Toasts to the Idiots (p. 281) Gurdjieff's 'Toast to the Idiots', with its 'Science of Idiotism', was perhaps his strangest and most innovative method of teaching. At regular ritualistic meals which he hosted, formulary toasts were drunk to successive categories of-'idiot', sometimes with improvised 'additions' illuminating the specific idiocy and type. The toasts were proposed by 'the Director', generally a man but sometimes a woman, seated on Gurdjieff's left (of these, Bernard Lemaitre was the most notable during Gurdjieffs last years). All guests – excepting of course those in the particular category being saluted - were then obliged to drink the toast in Armagnac or vodka. As well as the Director, other participants assigned specific roles at these meals were Verseur, Poubelle, Egout, Bouche d'Egout and Egout pour Sweet. (For an evocative seating plan, see Rina Hands The Diary of Madame Egout Pour Sweet, Two Rivers Press, 1991, p. 3.)