I spent the earliest days of my life with A. R. Orage and his family in Hampstead. I was born in Hampstead Heath on Buckland Crescent, up the hill from Swiss Cottage in a house that Orage had found for my mother. Orage and his wife Jessie and son Dick sailed for New York City the day I was born, 31 December 1930. For reasons never explained to us, my mother sent my sister Eve to live with Stanley and Rosemary Nott and me to live with the Orages in England while she was occupied in Paris. We did not live with them permanently, but for long stretches of time that included holidays. When Orage died on 6 November 1934, I was in Paris with my sister and mother. I have few memories of the times I was with the Orages. The most vivid memory I have of him was his lifting me onto his shoulders so I might have a good view of the Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
In the later course of my life reading Orage’s works and listening to the interminable stories about him by his good friends that lived near us in Connecticut in the 1940s and early fifties I realized that my infantile perch from his shoulders figured his voluntary task to improve the emotional, intellectual and spiritual lot of others. Orage lifted many people to view themselves and the world about them from a better position than they had had before knowing him. Daly King was one member of Orage’s New York group that saw far from his perch. Like many members of New York City groups, King was a personal friend of Orage. Many people loved Orage, and he replied warmly to their affection and attention.
My mother was a follower of Orage’s and I knew many of them in the early 1940s. I met Daly King for the first time during the war when Daly was working for a doctorate from Yale. He and his wife Mildred drove down the twenty miles from New Haven to Westport often to visit Sherman and Ilse Manchester who lived near me, and I profited from listening to their stories of Orage and Gurdjieff. One evening, Daly presented my mother with copy number 13 of The Oragean Version, his synthesis of Orage’s teaching in which he had participated in over the years of Orage’s stay in New York from 1924 to 1931.
King recorded what he heard from Orage much in the same manner in which Ouspensky had recorded Gurdjieff’s teaching in Russia from 1925 to 1917. Orage had listened to Gurdjieff from October 1922 until late December 1923. What Orage learned and passed on to his groups complemented what Ouspensky had heard and repeated to his London group. That is to say that Gurdjieff was teaching in France and New York ideas that were distinct from much he had taught in Russia. Ouspensky complained in London that Gurdjieff had moved from a teaching the ideas of a brotherhood for ideas of his own. In his In Search of the Miraculous, Ouspensky repeated faithfully Gurdjieff’s talks, but it is fair to say that what Daly King repeated of Orage’s talks was not so much was Orage heard from Gurdjieff as what Orage understood of Gurdjieff’s teaching. The distinction is important, if only because Gurdjieff and Ouspensky shared a common language, while Gurdjieff gave talks to Orage and others in France and, later, inn the United States, in a foreign language. The ideas of Gurdjieff that Orage formulated in English filtered through Orage’s intellect and expression. In this respect, Orage’s “reading” of Gurdjieff has great authority on its own. It is true that Orage “alters” Gurdjieff’s diction, preferring “voluntary suffering” for “intentional suffering,” for example; and he reverses Gurdjieff the order of work from observation to self-remembering, by having self-remembering prior to observation. These changes, and many more, make sense considering the audience and the context of Orage’s teaching. Orage’s notes on Gurdjieff’s talks in France in 1922 and 1923 are extant among the papers of Jane Heap at Two Rivers Farm in Oregon, and they can be compared to King’s synthesis of Orage’s talks in New York to trace the development of Orage’s own “version.”
King not only took careful notes of Orage’s talks, but he was entrusted by Orage to conduct group meetings himself. Other followers of Orage, Jean Toomer and Louise Michel Welch, have published records of his talks. Others cite Orage’s teaching frequently in their letters. Manchester, John Riordan, Larry Morris are among those who have left notes they compiled of Orage’s talks, particularly his explication of Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. Stanley Nott published Orage’s explication of Tales, but only Daly King has set down objectively in publishable form what Orage digested of Gurdjieff’s teaching.
Besides this treatise, as he calls it, King wrote several works of note that combined his Psychological interests with his knowledge of Orage’s ideas. His Beyond Behaviorism (1927), published under the pseudonym Robert Courtney, echoed Orage’s negative view of John Watson’s Behavorism. He co-authored Integrative Psychology (1931), and his States of Human Consciousness was published in 1964, the year after King died in Bermuda. King was better known to the general public for his mystery stories written after Orage left New York in 1931. These include Obelists At Sea (1932), Obelists En Route (1934), The Curious Mr. Torrant (1935), Obelists Fly High (1935), Careless Corpse (1937), Arrogant Alibi (1928) and Bermuda Burial (1940), after which he ceased writing fiction. Most were composed in Bermuda where he resided except for the time during the war when he studied at Yale. Besides being a writer of extraordinary skill, he was a man with a great sense of humor that I appreciated when I was too seldom and too briefly in his company.