35. DREAMS/ VISIONS:

INTRODUCTION

Copyright Marco Abrar

In The Baha’i Holy Year 1992-1993 I began to collect my dream experiences. That Holy Year was, as the Universal House of Justice stated, "an opportunity…for inner reflection on the part of the soul." My dreams before 1992 had virtually disappeared from my memory except for perhaps six major dreams and dream sequences going back to the beginning of my Baha'i life when I was fifteen. In 1992 I also started collecting notes and photocopies from various sources, various commentators on dreams, that were relevant to the search into my dreams and their meaning. Now, after nine years of recording some of my dreams, keeping notes on dreams and providing a succinct summary of the previous thirty-three years of my dream life(1959-1992), I have established a base of understanding, a base for the integration of my dreams into my autobiography. What I will actually do with this base, though, is another question. Perhaps I have made a start with some of my poems that allude as they do to dreams and my dream life. Three of these poems can be found below.

I wrote the following 'statement' as an introduction to my personal file on 'dreams' on April 25th 2001:

Freud says dreams are the royal road to one’s inner life, but there is a tangle of thought and feeling in dreams. Jung said he was helped to overcome the egotism inherent in autobiography by the dream process. He also felt dreams helped us contact the shadow self or, what Adler saw as, the antithesis of common sense and reality. Alfred Adler also saw dreams as the arch-enemies of common sense and reality. Our life-style is vulnerable from reality and common sense and dreams lessen our contact with this reality. Scientifically-minded people seldom dream it is said. This hard-nosed realism, as an approach to dreams, stands as a sharp contrast to many of the other interpretations that see dreams as glimpses of immortality, fragments of a fable, an archtype, et cetera. For that reason I find it attractive as an interpretive system or non-system.

Brian Finney says that dreams arouse "expectations of significance that remain unfulfilled because of their private and indirect nature." 1 The following pages2 will reveal some of these expectations and some of my radical departures from common sense and reality, throwing light, I trust, on this autobiography. I find, too, many of the quotations from various sources relevant to my understanding and experience of dreams. I read them from time to time when I am trying to sort out a dream and its meaning. In these first nine years of description, comment and analysis it would seem I do not often plunge into my dream world with my pen in hand, only when some leftover affect stays in my mind on waking, perhaps two or three times a year on average. So, although I am told that I dream every night, my remembered-dream-life is not a busy one. And when I do remember a dream I often, if not usually, do not record it in my file.

I hope this material, some of my thoughts, now in a file marked Dreams, will be of use to whomever comes upon it. It is certainly of use to me periodically as I begin these years of retirement in late middle-age. It provides a pleasurable resource from time to time as I play with the stuff of my dreams as it slips into my waking life from REM and non-REM s

sleep.3

2 The following pages of my 'file on dreams.'

3 REM sleep was discovered in 1953. This was the first empirical breakthrough in dream science. (John Holt, "Does Sleep Make Sense?" The Australian, 19 January 2000, p.29)

1 Brian Finney, The Inner I: British Literary Autobiography in the Twentieth Century, p.206.

Dostoevski: Wrote and published a diary for two years in 1876-7. One of many writers to keep a diary. My own diary, now in four volumes, is not on this webpage. It is unlikely that I will publish it in my lifetime.

DREAMS PAINT

In Hamlet we have the personification of human nature, namely Hamlet himself, brooding over its own weaknesses and corruptions, endless suggestiveness, nothing wholly explicable, the utterance of thought in solitude moving slowly in verse, the timidity which we all experience in the many corners of our life. For we are all Hamlet, at least some of the time. We are presented with vivid intellectual activity and inert conduct juxtaposed. Ron Price with thanks to Claude Williamson, compiler, Readings on the Character of Hamlet, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1950.

It is in desire, clearly defined

and strongly felt,

the exercise of power

derived from a connection

with the chord of divine reality,

the shout of Ya Baha'u'l-Abha

and so much more

that we overcome the dichotomy

of the active and the contemplative sides,

the irregularities and unexpected turns

in the gorgeous and not-so-gorgeous

oriels of many coloured thought.

Melancholy comes and, God-willing,

its antidote humour. And for some,

a poet's soul, dreams paint thought

with wonder and mystery,

the unexplained and inexplicable

singularities in all of existence.

Ron Price

16 November 1997

_______________________ 

OPENING THE HUSHED CASKET OF MY SOUL

Fame....dotes the more upon a heart at ease-

She is a Gipsey (and) will not speak to those

Who have not learned to be content without her

-John Keats, "On Fame" in Selected Letters of John Keats, editor, Robert Pack,
Signet Books, NY, 1974, p. 164.

 

When I open that hushed Casket of my soul1

and seek the shelter of Thy protecting wing;

and that forgetfulness divine slips silently

into morning’s early story,

its memory of sweet emptiness,

a disappearance like some magic act,

where some foundation, instrument,

some obscure yet orienting revelation,

token, has taken place,

I seek the day, the good of this world

and the next, some illumination of my inner being,

some grace amidst the darkness,

content without fame’s voice,

turning the pages of life’s book,

a lake unmuddied, unclouded,

by some vexing gloom,

a temperate blood, a clear,

a limpid pool

surrounded by those trees of wondrous glory.2

 

Ron Price

24 May 1997

 1 John Keats expression from his poem about sleeping, idem.

2 "Trees of wondrous glory" is Baha’u’llah’s expression for the result in our lives of possessing a certain attitude in human lives. It is found in His Hidden Word: Know ye not why We created you all from the same substance......

 

STAGGERING TO MY DEATH IN DREAM'S LABYRINTH

The approximately eight hours of sleep, getting to sleep, getting up, waking up, the rise-and-shine are a world in themselves. This poem is about the most common of occurences: getting up and going to the toilet. I see it as a metaphor for death: the human being, drunken on life, staggers to peaceful oblivion, back to a world, often inhabited by the dream. There are many views of the dream. I have surveyed some of them in a file I keep on dreams, a record of my dreams over a lifetime. In sum they seem, as Shakespeare said, "as thin of substance as the air", but a strange intimation of another life, of eternity. --Ron Price with thanks to Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene IV, line 99.

I get up at night like a man half drunk,

half dead, staggering to relieve himself

from midnight's collection,

dark night, dark side, blackness

and I hustle back to bed

where I can slip into oblivion

in a dark emptiness of my mind,

sweet death in all its aloneness,

profoundest solitude, silence, peace

and dreams, product of vain fantasy,

some magnificent apparatus

which forces the infinite into my brain.

 

Ron Price

18 October 1998

 

OLD DREAMS DIE AND NEW ONES ARE BORN

As I watch the Arc being completed in the year 2000 and 2001, I am reminded of the words of Winston Churchill when assessing the prospects of WWII for England and the western allies after the battle of El Alamein: ‘This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. This is only the end of the beginning.’ -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 2000.

As the dream of modernity1 collapsed,

its ghost exorcised; as its most devout,

vigorous and gallant champion,

pious to the point of simplicity;

as its grand design became unstuck

and its kingdom of reason and haromny

demonstrated that it had never been thus;

the past, the decades, descended

to their grave in disgrace.

 

One could see the workings

of an Invisible and not-so-invisible Hand

in this dark passage of the Age of Transition.

1 See Zygmunt Bauman, Intimations of Postmodernity, Routledge, London, 1992, p. 180.

Ron Price

20 January 2000

FEVERISH DREAMS

Yes, Roger, this liquid rushing world often overwhelms me and this equilibrium where my heart’s frail craft coasts unperturbed. I try to deflect life’s dips and swings that from time to time threaten to fling me uncontrolled to perilous brinks. And here at this Baha’i World Centre I see some of what I chose long ago, unbeknownst: this shrine, these gardens, this pen, this comb, this world of beauty—and this wringing of the spirit, this remorse. I have spent seven days with pilgrims who have traversed, only partly consciously, a tumultuous rapids in their nine day greed. Yes, Roger, there is a storm of tenderness that threatens to sweep them out to sea, beyond the boats, where with their full consent they would drown. But they would not speak of it. -Ron Price with thanks to Roger White, "Sightseeing," The Witness of Pebbles, pp. 74-75, 11 June 2000.

There is so much that pulls us,

holds us onto the shore,

holds us high up on this hill,

firmly planted on terra cognita,

that will keep us from dreaming

on this hot summer afternoon.

 

This liquid rushing world

and our heart’s frail craft

are kept so busy with each other,

with the everyday, the quotidian

simplicities and complexities

that any threat of drowning,

any thought of sinking in the sea,

any incipient committed rapture

is kept within appropriate bounds.

 

For dedication, especially dedication,

has its limits for the heart, the mind;

and the tongue can only speak so far

and tell of its love and its feverish dreams.

Ron Price

11 June 2000

   JUST RIGHT

The technical perfecting of a poem is an act of at-one-ment, a setting at one, a bringing into concord, a reconciling, a uniting in harmony. Yeats said that a poem comes right with a click like a closing box. Eliot said that when poets found the best arrangement for their words they might experience exhaustion, appeasement, absolution, something near annihilation, something indescribable. -Ron Price with thanks to Geoffrey Hill in The Force of Poetry, Christopher Ricks, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1984, p. 319.

 

There are too many experiences for me to say

that getting a poem just right feels like ‘this’

or ‘that’ or ‘the other’. Sometimes it is like

getting dressed, getting your clothes on, snug

and ready for another day. Sometimes it’s like

tidying-up the true or the beautiful,

translating a feeling into an experience, into meaning;

it’s like bringing all my faculties into play and then

I stop at some point, some word, some thought,

which feels right from convenience,

some indefineable rightness,

or some defineable rightness

that would take too long to define.

For a short time in this place by the fire

I both get outside of myself and inside myself

in a journey down a road of words playing with my dreams.

Ron Price

12 June 1996

DREAMS: AN INTRODUCTION

One day I will integrate my dream experiences into my autobiography. Dreams have their own language and are, as Freud put it, a royal road into one’s inner life. But the process is not simply and easy. There is a certain tangle of dream experience which is difficult to untangle. Dreams helped Jung overcome the egotism inherent in the autobiographical act They help us contact what Jung calls the shadow self or what Frued cals the unconscious. I’m not so such what they help us contact but they certainly give us a taste of the afterlife, of the eternal. Inner vision sometimes can explode into the outer world and the writer tries to give it meaning. Dreams offer glints of immortality, fragments of a fable, a myth, which is never fully revealed. I would argue the fullness of the revelation of the modern myth for modern man lies in the metaphorical nature of both physical reality and Baha’i history and here, rather than in dreams, lies the fullness of vision we look for.`

 

Dreams offer for some a type of access to the child, to some kind of lost harmony, some immortality, some wholeness that consciousness separates. But my inclination, though, is to place dreams on the perifery of my autiobiography due to their powerful emotive content, a content which can unbalance the reader and arouse "expectations of significance that remain unfullfilled because of their private and indirect nature."(The Inner I: British Literary Autobiography in the Twentieth Century, Brian Finney,. p.206)

 

But I would not want to ignore the dream life because there is significance there. There is a connection with some eternal, universal man and the experiences simply enrich the story, hopefully meaningfully.

SETTING AFLAME THE WORLD

You can do anything in poetry you want to. -Robert Frost in Their Ancient Glittering Eyes: Remembering Poets and More Poets, Donald Hall, Tichnor and Fields, N Y, 1992, p.40.

A writer holds his reader by his temperament. -Ford Maddox Ford in Alan Judd, Ford Maddox Ford, Collins, 1990, p.4.

To unite or not to unite: that is the question.

In this intricately complex world of endless

slings and arrows what will be our source

of order? And when we die will there be a

dream beyond that hole where we speak no

more, beyond this mortal coil? And what of

dreams in these multifarious states? What of visions?

The native hue of will and resolution is fatigued

with pale thought and action’s name is sullied

by the poisonous winds of greed. Will our

universe be darkened with the dust of death

forever? Will these desolate lands see

no rain of grace? Will it grow green again?

So few are the champions to kindle these veins

and set aflame the world, but it will be done;

it will be done.

Ron Price

5 October 1995

TESTING THE BEST

The Book of Daniel was composed about the year 165 BC. Chapter VII was one of the earliest visions or dreams of an apocalyptic nature, composed during the Maccabean revolt of the Jews against the Greeks. There are four beasts in the vision, symbolic of four world powers who would rule in Israel until the time of the end: Seleucid-Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Western.-With thanks to Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium, Granada Publishing Co., 1970(1957), London, for a helpful overview of millennarianism over two millennia.

All these biblical verses are so arguable,

aren’t they Norman? The four beasts

have been given such different names

as men have sought the millenium,

the time of the end, a golden age,

a messianic kingdom, the last days.

 

He would come, it said in Daniel,

with the clouds of heaven,

and to the Ancient of Days...

And there was given him

dominion, and glory,

a kingdom, that all peoples,

nations and languages

should serve him.*

 

This is no phantasy

some obscure revolutionary

eschatology-although

it has been since 165 BC-

this is the New Jerusalem,

the kingdom of the saints,

the beginning of the kingdom

of God on earth,

millennarianism’s true home,

after such a tortured road,

most people got lost by the wayside.

Absorbed in some tradition or heresy,

cult, sect, ism or wasm:

egalitarian, communistic,

self-immolating, peasant revolt,

urban insurrection, all elaborating,

interpreting, vulgarizing

the apocalyptic lore to transform

and save history, in cataclysm,

in quasi-religious salvationism,

deviant medieval mysticism,

self-divinization and anarchism

in secular dress: it is not surprising

you missed it since it grew up quietly

in an orgy of violence and complexity

that would test the best as it still is doing.

Ron Price

26 September 1995

*The Bible, Book of Daniel, Chapter VII, verses 2 to 14.

THE EARLY BUDS ARE OUT

If this unearthly Love has power to make

my life immortal and to shake ambition

into some fitting portal where I brim

my measure of contentment and with merest whim

search, poorly, after fame, then ‘tis a Love

that I shall keep ‘til the call from above-

and then...

-With thanks to John Keats, Endymion, lines 843-47.

These things of beauty will be joys forever

and their loveliness will increase far down

the centuries and ages. Eras will not see these

wonders pass into nothingness. Dreams and

quiet places sweet and still will fill these

marbled-flower gardens binding us to

primal points of holy seat made for our searching.

Such beauty moves us far beyond incipient sadness;

takes this young sprouting freshness canalized

in energy-lamps everywhere in the vineyard.

Such grandeur cools in the hot season and

sprinkles our air with musk-rose blooms,

strengthening our loins in submissive worship.

And such wonder, too, for and with the dead

who have entered the garden of happiness

and now circle ‘round us in mystic intercourse.

 

It is all so dear, now, all that circles here;

even the moon which haunts then cheers as light

and seems to bind our very souls clear and tight.

This place, I prefer it have no name, its music

brings a joy to valley, mountain, plain.

The early buds are out now, milk in pails

is coming down the lane while lush juicy

fruits are being brought in by sail

in little boats-I’ve got one-I steer

in many quiet hours down deeper streams

where I hear bees hum in globes of clover.

Autumn brings its universal tinge of sober gold

to this world on mountain side wherein I hold

such thought that can only be described as bliss.

 

The trumpets have already blown and, now, my path

is dressed in green, in flowers, indeed a marble bath.

Those assembled ‘round the shrines had looks of veneration,

‘twould be here for many years to come, each generation

would have its awed face, companions in a mountain chase.

I therefore reveal unto thee sacred and resplendent tokens

from the planes of glory to attract thee into the court of

holiness and nearness and beauty, and draw thee to a station...

And I had been drawn into gardens of such fruit, such orient lights.

 

For here is the heavenly abode in the Centre of earthly realities

and here I am, as if led by some midnight spirit nurse of

happy changes toward some magic sleep, toward some

soaring bird easing upward over the troubled sea of man.

The words found here sound a strange minstrelsy, have

tumbling waves in echoing caves: a silvery enchantment

is to be found in this mazy world with its new song,

its upfurled wings which renovate our lives. Try them!

You may open your eyelids with a healthier brain.

Some influence rare goes spiritual through this Damsel’s hand;

it runs quick, invisible strings all over the land.

 

Ron Price

26 May 1995

VAPOROUS ILLUSION

...The full dimensions of his being were not to be found even in private...dreams were too unreliable, too sporadic and uncontrolled. -Thoreau, Journal, Vol.1 in Dark Thoreau, Richard Bridgman, U. Of Nebraska, Lincohn, 1982, p.3.

I saw him run away so clear,

way off across a field.

The field was white; he had a gun.

He did not like what I had said.

He disagreed most violently,

but in a dream, ‘twas done.

 

I wondered long what it had meant,

but could come up with no answer.

So much of life is like this dream,

like some mirage in a desert.

You wish it water fresh and pure

but all it is is vapour.

 

There is no need to chase it far

across the white snow down there.

No need to worry about that gun;

it has no power to hurt you.

‘Tis only a fleeting shadow in your mind,

more like some illusion.

 

So I put the dream down on the sheet

and wonder if one day it shall tell me

something deep and meaningful:

right now it seems like not.

The memory is there; I won’t forget.

Perhaps one day it will reveal

some sweet insight on this desert;

and perhaps it will remain as is

some vaporous illusion.

Ron Price

11 June 1995

RESOLUTION

Part of my purpose here is to resolve the tension between the trivial and the serious, the light-hearted, facile optimism that denies tragedy and the heavy-souled realism that knows tragedy and searches out an appropriate spirituality. Part of the resolution is in the comic, the self-mocking, a necessary detachment; part is in a poetic vitality and variety. Part is in my vocation, my avocation, my solitude and my community. For it is in these places that I dwell with my dreams, test out their substance, attempt to resolve those tensions that are resolvable and accept the unresolvable. -Ron Price with thanks to Peter Raby, Oscar Wilde, Cambridge University Press, NY, 1988.

The mind bites on with a familiar fatigue:

been this way before it says knowingly.

A thousand times I’ve sat there giving

it my best shot and still missing the target.

How many times do you keep going on

trying, always trying? Forever, with the comic

and the necessary trivia, the self-mocking

wearing the ego down, keeping it down,

learning that detachment through a series of

infinite steps, largely unseen. Here, here are

my dreams and their acid test, the tensions,

resolved and unresolved. Do I have

the wisdom to know the difference?

 

Ron Price

24 February 1996

PRISONS: OLD AND NEW

The metaphor of imprisonment haunts Australian literature. -Randolph Stow, West Australian Novelist.

We’re used to being ill-at-ease,

we in Canada and Australia,

in our garrisons and prisons1

from sea to sea, wall-to-wall,

fated by our history, preoccupied

un-beknownst with distant echoes,

resounding into the present,

in our strategic locations,

especially the pioneer, archtype,

putting down roots,

roots that go all over a continent,

in a new prison

of our coursings through east and west.2

 

You don’t escape the prison of the past

that easily even in these days of tourism,

candy-floss, take-aways and endless engines.

It’s fitting really: a new prison

can now be found across this land,

this hall of mirrors and vapours in the desert,

far from those old prisons and forts,

far from those Indians, the indigenies,

who were hardly-not even-human,

from exile and expulsion, here on the verandah,

here where new dreams are born,

where strangeness is removed from the heart

and laid with gold,

brought by a loyal lover’s caravan.

And around this house, its intimate space,

place of dreams, sign of new spirituality,

home for a new Revelation, no darksome well,

but place of burning desire, hazardous, tortuous,

narrow: no facile pop-psychology here,

no pseudo-political jargon--

one level above the ordinary

with the lover seated in the heart3

and one level below the ordinary

where we court restlessness, failure, difficulty,

more and more urgency and eagerness,

quicksilver-like, astir, aflame.

 

Ron Price

2 November 1996

1 Gillian Whitlock compares the early history of Canada and its garrisons to Australia and its prisons. She goes on to compare the Arctic to the Outback. See Australian/Canadian Literatures in English, Russell McDougall and Gillian Whitlock, editors, Methuen, Melbourne, 1987, pp. 49-67.

2 ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Haifa, 1978, p.236.

3’Abdu’l-Baha in Four on an Island, Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, George Ronald, Oxford, 1983, p.67.

 

ACID RAIN AND A RAVISHING VINE

Price's quiet commitment to his own search for understanding and expressing the realities of his experience and the experience of his coreligionists; his own need for solitude, privacy and detachment in creating his poetry which would seem to be for the few, at least in the short term; his frequent alternation between inadequacy, humility and understatement on the one hand and a feeling of exaltation, glory and overstatement on the other; his assurance, his sense of the inevitability of the achievement of peace, order and world harmony contrasting with his personal feeling of frequent exhaustion, a desolation of hope and a quiet sorrow; his poetry which seeks to contain all that poetry can contain but which is often not seen as poetic in traditional thought: all of this must be seen as a backdrop of themes, realities and sources for the tone, the content and the philosophy behind his poetic expression. -Ron Price with thanks to Rebecca J. West, Eugenio Montale: Poet on the Edge, Harvard UP, Cambridge, Mass, 1981. My own poetry is not much like Montale's at all, but Rebecca West's analysis stimulated my own attempt, one of many in the last several years, to place my poetry in a general perspective and analyse my own efforts. In the words of E.M. Forster: how do I know what I think until I see what I've said?

I said I would not serve today

after five years as secretary. I

got rubbed raw, bone dry, paper-thin,

had it up-to-here, you've been there?

You know what I mean? Retiring for

awhile, a year, or more, who knows?

 

No more letters-in-and-out, agendas,

minutes, phone calls, remembering the

new address of Mrs. F. Briggs and her

daughter Harriet, just turned fifteen

and in need of a youth reaffirmation card.

Noone to check my spelling, grammar,

what has not been done, left out, avoided,

forgotten, done so many times that the

fingers found paper itself like some kind

of disease, plague, illness, catch-a-cold,

a virus, part of the rag-and-bone shop of the

heart's desert where the soul feeds insatiably

on a thin soil now barren of life.

 

But, ah, life renews itself under the warm

blue sky and floating clouds; it springs up

intractably like those wildflowers here in

this vast estate at the end of this spiritual axis*

after a burning summer with temperatures

soaring and frying those eggs forever, knowing

each person cannot do everything and all persons

cannot do the same thing**, while love rapaciously

makes its season in my fevered dreams and I taste

its wet leaves on my tongue, so young and new.

Love and joy thrive in this desert and the acid rain

falling on my finger tips from the 304th set of minutes

and their attendant paraphrenalia is neutralized in a water,

a ravishing vine and its green and wily succulence. Where

next will despair's bleached skull find a socket of emptiness?

 

Ron Price

21 April 1996

* Western Australia

**Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1990, p.5.

Note: I have tried in the above to convey as accurately and honestly as I could the experience I had of being relieved of secretarial duties on an LSA after declining to serve as an officer.

FIN DE SIECLE

We are now in a period of decadence growing steadily more and more acute. The old gods are falling about us; there is little to raise our hearts and minds to. In literature it is called the Decadent Movement. Verlaine(1844-1896) was its inventor in verse. Many saw it as a fin de siecle disease. -Ron Price from The Symbolist Poem: The Development of the English Tradition, Edward Engelberg, editor, E.P. Dutton and Co., NY, 1967, pp.195-197.

Another fin de siecle, a spiritual

celebration, deep reflection, solemn

consciousness, thankful gladness,

dazzling prospects, immense challenges,

radiant years, accelerating forces from

His revolutionizing mission, transforming

social and political forms, arousing my

delight. That most precious Being ever to

draw breath inspires my dreams and stirs

my expectations as I walk this long, slippery

and tortuous path through this dark heart of

an Age of Transition, in this fin de siecle, in

these years of dynamic synchronization as we

search for contexts to examine fundamentals.

Ron Price

19 October 1996

RIVERS RUN

A lava of images poured out of his deepest self, his past experience, his education, to overheat and exhaust him by end of day. His ego was carried away, exploded. He had no fear of madness because he had known madness, his own variety, often enough. This was no madness. These images were the essence of sanity, nowhere near madness. This was controlled, though obsessive, creative life. Exhaustion, daily, late in the evening, was but a pause, necessary for further work. -Ron Price with appreciation to Jacques Catteau, Dostoyevski and the Process of Literary Creation, Cambridge UP, NY, 1989,pp.15-16.

The perilous visions of entire worlds are

not my gifts, nor magical luxuriant gardens,

whole towns being born and dieing before my eyes,

nor dreams taking on flesh, bone and body.

But simple thoughts, abstract notions

act on me like some potions to set afire

a line of thought where trees burn in the

night sky, legacies, trustee that I am of a

culture of learning, a massive heritage, a

unified vision of man and society, foundation

for a global civilization, synthesis uniting people

of genius everywhere, now and in history, whose

rivers run through me now, then, tomorrow,

searching for an inner man who is changing.

 

Ron Price

17 April 1996

DREAMS PAINT

In Hamlet we have the personification of human nature brooding over its own weaknesses and corruptions, endless suggestiveness, nothing wholly explicable, the utterance of thought in solitude moving slowly in verse, the timidity which we all experience in the many corners of our life. For we are all Hamlet-or at least some of us. We are presented with vivid intellectual activity and inert conduct juxtaposed. -Ron Price with thanks to Claude Williamson, compiler, Readings on the Character of Hamlet, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1950.

 

It is in desire, clearly defined,

strongly felt, the exercise of power

derived from a connection with

the chord of divine reality,

the shout of Ya Baha'u'l-Abha,

that we overcome the dichotomy

of the active and the contemplative

sides of life, the irregularities

and unexpected turns

in the gorgeous and not-so-gorgeous

oriels of many coloured thought.

Melancholy comes and, God-willing,

its antidote humour.

 

And for some, a poet's soul,

dreams paint thought

with wonder and mystery,

the unexplained and inexplicable

singularities in all of existence.

 

Ron Price

16 November 1997

FASCINATION

We had the experience but missed the meaning,

And approach to the meaning restores the experience

In a different form, beyond any meaning

We can assign to happiness.

-T.S. Eliot, quoted in The Composition of Four Quartets, Helen Gardner, Faber and Faber, London, 1978, p.29.

I’ve fallen in love with a thousand

women, beauties they were, of youthful

freshness, right to my heart, at least my

eyes—like the one this morning whose

long brown hair fell on her breasts and

stole my eyes discreetly a thousand times.

I married her during our animated

conversation and contorted comfortably,

passionately, on satin sheets. She was one

I would not let go, free and unencumbered

at last, making it at last, making it at last.

 

Fantasy’s dream, she shook my hand and

I gazed into her eyes beyond colour, her

soft lips that had moved for three hours

with such vivacity, dancing over curves

that slipped into the dazzling daylight—

divorced and into oblivion, never to be

seen again, for such is the nature of

love’s fascination, empty, bearing the

mere semblance of reality, the thirsty

dreams as water and calls it love.

 

Ron Price

1 October 1997

FLOODING THE WORLD WITH LIGHT

In some obvious and explicit ways the movement that we call modern art begins with Turner. By 1844, his fascination with light, his purely personal and intuitive approach to painting, his aim to create sweeping movements and general atmospheres, to imply rather than describe, his increasingly idiosyncratic style became a source of ridicule by some of his contemporaries. To modern eyes his work, over twenty-thousand pieces, is seen as great, as prescient. -Ron Price with thanks to Bruce Cole and Adelheid Gealt, Art of the Western World: From Ancient Greece to Post-Modernism, Summit Books, NY, 1989, pp.227-228.

Where did all that light come from in the

evening of your1 life as your art, your form,

your world, dissolved, flooding with radiance,

lifting beyond sense, past doubt and why and

how into a bright Presence; and His2 light arose

unraveling perplexing mysteries from that chamber

bedecked with flowers redolent of the loveliest

perfumes, so overpowering was the sense of delight

and so subtle the ray of light that fell upon that lap

that the world’s fleeting vanities continued to beguile

the many; and dreams and wonders richly impregnated

with sweet savours of holiness drew close the few. A new

world of indescribable impressions flooded existence linking

humankind with the mystic bond of the spirit in an ocean of light.3

 

Ron Price

7 July 1997

 

1 Joseph William Turner(1775-1851), English painter.

2 The Bab’s

3 Some of the references from lines six to fourteen come from Nabil’s Dawnbreakers, pp. 19-52.

HERE IS THE REVOLUTION

History is taking place at a velocity that is unbearable. Tremendous movements begin and end in a year or two, or even a week or two. The revolution in Russia in 1917 gave hope for, what, at least twenty-five years; the hope in China lasted from 1949 until, say, 1966; there was the Spanish Civil War, Viet Nam. If you go back in time to 1688, 1775 or 1789, you find revolutionary movements that gave history a mileage in hope for many decades, even centuries. For millions, now, hope and promise have been sucked out of them by repeated dissillusionments and by the chaos of fury and confusion that bears the signs of universal anarchy. -Ron Price with thanks to Arthur Miller in a 1980 interview in Conversations With Arthur Miller, editor, Matthew Roudane, University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, 1987, p. 317.

 

Here is a revolution that you could say

goes back to 1793 when Shaykh Ahmad,

filled with dreams and visions and a

crushing sense of responsibility, came out

of Bahrayn; today, there are thousands,

millions, with that same sense, with

irrepressible yearnings: over 200 years

of the slow growth of a prophetic force

that has only in the last few years stuck

its head above the ground, no saviour-

in-a-hurry, but a vital role to play in

bringing about a consensus gentium

in a world that is bursting at the seams;

where hope is renewed softly in its garden

of existence with a fragrance as gentle as the

good trees which grow slowly for the eyes

of men, giving off their fruits of consecrated joy,

as unobtrusively as my quiet back yard garden

where the Japanese Pepper Tree gracefully grows.

Ron Price

14 January 1997

 

UNRESOLVED CRISIS—STILL!

There was a crisis at the heart of the American soul in which millions of Americans suspected that their dreams of the good life were founded on false circumstances. The 1960s make hardly any sense without an understanding of the preceding years. -Ron Price, a paraphrase of Charles Lemert's "Goffman" in The Goffman Reader, Blackwell Pub., Oxford, 1997, p.xxiii.

The American Baha'i community stands at a most critical juncture in its history. The country of which it forms a part is passing through a crisis of extreme seriousness, a crisis which the superficial observer dangerously underestimates.

-Ron Price, a paraphrase of Shoghi Effendi's "American Baha'is in the Time of World Peril" in Citadel of Faith, Wilmette, 1965, p.124.

 

We laid a foundation back then,

in those unobtrusive fifties, on an

architectural form and institutional

matrix, crowded with events and

exploits, stirring and momentous,1

one that noone really saw, or just

about noone. Well, I saw and my

folks saw, in that home of immense

religious conservatism2 and the crisis

which noone then could put words to,

except men like him,3 gradually became

an open sore of spiritual, moral, social

and political darkness on a road of hard

stone, tortuous twists and turns in our time.

Ron Price

16 December 1997

1 Shoghi Effendi's comment on the years 1894-1954 of Baha'i experience.

2 Will van den Hoonaard, The Origins of the Baha'i Community of Canada, Wilfred Laurier University Press, Waterloo, 1996, p. 278.

3 Shoghi Effendi saw the crisis and analsysed it in many of his letters, not just to America but to other countries. His 22,000 letters make an interesting base of analysis in terms of this theme.

VISION AMIDST COMPLEXITY

In the visionary poetry of the west since the early 1950s, say since 1953 when the Baha’is say the Kingdom of God on earth began, there has been a thoroughgoing rejection of contemporary society; there has been a search for a new non-culturally dominated vision with an emphasis on personal meaning. "Dreams press us on all sides" said Robert Bly, but for many of the so-called visionary poets it was not the wide socio-political world around them where the vision found its chief expression. It was with the dying self, its inner sensations and fears, with withdrawal, with private experience that their vision was incarnated.

As the Shrine of the Bab and the Mother Temple of the West were finally completed in the early 1950s; as the Guardian continued to expatiate on his vision of both our present society and its future; and as the Baha’i community expanded significantly in those same 1950s, the vision took on greater and greater specificity. By the 1990s, after three decades of visionary exegisis by the Universal House of Justice; after a burgeoning publishing thrust that established a massive literature filled with an increasingly elaborated vision; after magnificent architectural constructions, an unfolding splendour from Mt. Carmel and the confluence of continents to the mid-most heart of the ocean; and after the continued and steady growth of the community, the vision that stood before the believers and the seekers among their contemporaries was enthralling. -Ron Price with thanks to Hyatt H. Waggoner, " Prospects", American Visionary Poetry, Louisiana State UP, Baton Rouge, 1982, pp. 200-207.

Amidst a staggering complexity,

fragmentation, division, multipicity,

proliferation, interdependence,

eclecticism, globalization, sensory

explosion, knowledge bubble-baths,

strains and stresses of incredible

magnitude, post-traditional experiment,

absurdity, brain heat, white-hot, blackness,

dark heart of mysterious transitions, post-

modernism, poststructuralism, pentapolar

political orientations, impoverished psycho-

emotional mental sets in a plurality of

conceptual perspectives: phenomonology,

hermeneutics, psychanalysis and critical theory:

 

mutually contradictory, mutually exclusive,

complementary, independent, beyond arbitrary

mixing, varying temperaments, problems with

deep intellectual shafts that cannot be settled—

all of this lies behind and above this vision

which has been growing so unobtrusively in our

midst and now stands before us like a dream: so new,

so various, so dazzling, so alive, amidst this tumultuous

transition—going forward now as never before. 24/8/97.

MUCH SUBSTANCE

Shakespeare's Hamlet contains themes which are particularly useful to relate to the global enterprise that the Baha'i community has been undertaking since 1937. Hamlet's soliloquy in Act III Scene I, "To be or not to be..." is especially relevant in providing a context for the analysis of the teaching function so paramount in the everyday life of the Baha'i. In Hamlet chaste constancy is pictured at the centre of reality. In a world of appearances, only what endures is real. Teaching the Cause is intimately connected with what endures, with what is real for the Baha'i. -Ron Price with thanks to Marilyn French, "Chaste Constancy in 'Hamlet'", Hamlet, editor, Martin Coyle, MacMillan, 1992 , p.106.

To teach, or not to teach-that is not the question.

For teaching is the passion of our lives as we suffer

the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and so

by testing be tested. One day we die and sleep no

more and so end the heartache and the thousand

natural shocks that flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation

devoutly to be wished. For in that day of a trillion days

we will dream the dream that was our life when we did

teach amidst the storm and strife before we shuffled off

this mortal coil to that undiscovered country from which

noone returns. Now we seek to teach in these enterprises

of great pitch and moment so that our minutes, days, our life

will not lose the name of action, be sicklied over with the pale

cast of thought and give those future dreams much substance.

 

Ron Price

14 June 1998