- POPULAR CULTURE
- MENTAL HEALTH
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
- APPLIED SCIENCES
- PRINT & MEDIA
Zoology is the branch of biology which relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct. The term is derived from ancient Greek. The history of zoology traces the study of the animal kingdom from ancient to modern times. Although the concept of zoology as a single coherent field arose much later, the zoological sciences emerged from natural history reaching back, as natural history does, to the works of Aristotle and Galen in the ancient Greco-Roman world. These ancient works were further developed in the Middle Ages by Muslim physicians and scholars such as Albertus Magnus. During the Renaissance and the early modern period, zoological thought was revolutionized in Europe by a renewed interest in empiricism and the discovery of many novel organisms.
The use I make of zoology is, for the most part, metaphorical. I often refer to the animal, for example, the animal that each of us still is in so many ways. The field of zoology is full of metaphor for understanding the human condition. Some of this understanding is found, I hope, for readers in the following prose and poetry. Some of my internet posts are found at the following links. If you brag that "the world's your oyster," you're using a metaphor from Shakespeare, who knew a thing or two about figures of speech.
metaphor / simile
Both make comparisons, but a metaphor compares one thing to another straight up, while a simile uses "like" or "as." Continue reading...Good writers know their way around ametaphor, where you make an analogy between two things to show how one resembles the other in some way. When a character from Shakespeare calls the world his oyster, that's his boastful way of saying that all the riches of the world are his for the taking, like plucking a pearl from an oyster shell. Shakespeare also wrote, "All the world's a stage." Oyster? Stage? Come on, Will, get your metaphors straight!Definitions of metaphor. A figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity.
A metaphor is a figure of speech that refers to something as being the same as another thing for rhetorical effect. It may provide clarity or identify hidden similarities between two ideas. Where a simile compares two items, a metaphor directly equates them, and does not use "like" or "as" as does a simile. One of the most commonly cited examples of a metaphor in English literature is the "All the world's a stage" monologue from As You Like It:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances[...]
—William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2/7
This quotation expresses a metaphor because the world is not literally a stage. By asserting that the world is a stage, Shakespeare uses points of comparison between the world and a stage to convey an understanding about the mechanics of the world and the behavior of the people within it.
http://www.wherelightmeetsdark.com/index (scroll down the access page to see my remark on the thylacine in context)
THE FIRST ANIMALS
Tonight I watched David Attenborough's The Life of Mammals on ABC1 TV, 8 October 2013. Sir David Attenborough is Britain's best-known natural history film-maker. His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly five decades and there are very few places on the globe that he has not visited. Over the last 25 years he has established himself as the world's leading natural history programme maker with several landmark BBC series, including: Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials of Life (1990), The Private Life of Plants (1995), The Life of Birds (1998), The Life of Mammals (2002) and Life in the Undergrowth (2005). The final chapter in the Life series is Life in Cold Blood.
Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their lives. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and independently. All animals must ingest other organisms or their products for sustenance (see Heterotroph). Most known animal phyla appeared in the fossil record as marine species during the Cambrian explosion, about 542 million years ago. Animals are divided into various sub-groups, including birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and insects. For more detail go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal
THE CULTURAL, INNER, AND FEELING LIFE OF ANIMALS
Tim Flannery has written a review in The New York Review of Books(8/10/'15) of two books: (i) Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina(Henry Holt, 460 pages, 2015); and (ii) The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins by Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell(University of Chicago Press, 400 pages, 2015). Tim Flannery(1956-) is an Australian mammalogist, palaeontologist, environmentalist and global warming activist. He was the Chief Commissioner of the Climate Commission, a Federal Government body providing information on climate change to the Australian public. On 23 September 2013 Flannery announced that he would join other sacked commissioners to form the independent Climate Council, that would be funded by the community. Flannery was named Australian of the Year in 2007 and previously, until mid-2013, was a professor atMacquarie University and held the Panasonic Chair in Environmental Sustainability. For more on Flannery go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Flannery
Flannery begins his review as follows: "The free-living dolphins of the Bahamas had come to know researcher Denise Herzing and her team very well. For decades, at the start of each four-month-long field season, the dolphins would give the returning humans a joyous reception: “a reunion of friends,” as Herzing described it. But one year the creatures behaved differently. They would not approach the research vessel, refusing even invitations to bow-ride. When the boat’s captain slipped into the water to size up the situation, the dolphins remained aloof. Meanwhile on board it was discovered that an expeditioner had died while napping in his bunk. As the vessel headed to port, Herzing said, “the dolphins came to the side of our boat, not riding the bow as usual but instead flanking us fifty feet away in an aquatic escort” that paralleled the boat in an organized manner.
The remarkable incident raises questions that lie at the heart of Carl Safina’s astonishing new book, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel. Can dolphin sonar penetrate the steel hull of a boat—and pinpoint a stilled heart? Can dolphins empathize with human bereavement? Is dolphin society organized enough to permit the formation of a funeral cavalcade? If the answer to these questions is yes, then Beyond Wordshas profound implications for humans & our worldview. Beyond Words is gloriously written. Consider this description of elephants: Their great breaths, rushing in and out, resonant in the halls of their lungs. The skin as they moved, wrinkled with time and wear, batiked with the walk of ages, as if they lived within the creased maps of the lives they’d traveled. Not since Barry Lopez or Peter Matthiessen were at the height of their powers has the world been treated to such sumptuous descriptions of nature. For more go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/oct/08/amazing-inner-lives-animals/
Micro Monsters with David Attenborough is about a secret world of disguise and espionage, social networking and courtship, rape and pillage, parenthood and relationships. It is right beneath our feet in the world of the terrestrial arthropods – the bugs. They are the most dominant animals on our planet. They outnumber us in their hundreds of billions and have survived for 500 million years. They have outlived every catastrophe Earth has thrown at them, seen the dinosaurs come and go and even witnessed our own arrival. They are so intrinsic to the natural world that without them we would struggle to exist. Sir David Attenborough takes viewers deep into the macroscopic world of bugs that deeply fascinates him. He uncovers their marvellous adaptability from the primitive evolutionary design of the millipede through to the graceful apex predators that exist today. We descend with Attenvorough into the watery depths to witness aquatic battles, explore intricate spider webs and get closer than ever before to the fangs and claws that create this fascinating world.
David Attenborough employs the latest technologies to explore the violence, rivalries & deadly weaponry existing within the world of bugs. This first episode examines the survival tactics of its terrifying residents including killer ants, trap-setting spiders and beetles with the ability to shoot boiling chemicals at their enemies. For more details on the several episodes in this series go to:http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=Micro_Monsters_with_David_Attenborough
Flying Monsters 3D is a natural history documentary about the pterosaurs. It was written and presented by David Attenborough and was produced by Atlantic Productions for Sky 3D. Originally broadcast on Christmas Day 2010, it was the first 3D documentary to be screened on British television and was released in theatres and IMAX cinemas the following year. I saw the program in Tasmania on 6/1/'15 on ABC TV from 8:30 to 9:40 p.m. This doco Flying Monsters 3D went on to become the first 3D programme to win a BAFTA award. Flying Monsters 3D is a groundbreaking film that uses cutting-edge 3D technology and CGI to bring the story of giant flying monsters and their prehistoric world to life. Audiences of all ages will be in awe as they enter the world and experience, as never before, real Flying Monsters in 3D.
For 1000s of years, humans have believed that there were once flying monsters. But human beings were never sure of their existence, only in their wildest imaginations. Gradually, though, in the 19th and 20th centuries paleontologists pieced together the paleontological story. Paleontology or palaeontology is the scientific study of life existent prior to, but sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BC. The science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier's work on comparative anatomy, and developed rapidly in the 19th century. The term itself originates from a Greek word palaios, meaning "old, ancient"; ontos meaning "being, creature" and logos meaning "speech, thought, study".
Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of morphologically modern humans. It now uses techniques drawn from a wide range of sciences, including biochemistry, mathematics and engineering. Use of all these techniques has enabled paleontologists to discover much of the evolutionary history of life, almost all the way back to when Earth became capable of supporting life, about 3,800 million years ago. As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialized sub-divisions, some of which focus on different types of fossil organisms while others study ecology and environmental history, such as ancient climates. for more on this science go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleontology
Yes, indeed: 220 million years ago dinosaurs were beginning their domination of Earth. But another group of reptiles was about to make an extraordinary leap: pterosaurs were taking control of the skies. The story of how and why these mysterious creatures took to the air is more fantastical than any fiction. This is the story that Attenborough tells in this doco.
In Flying Monsters 3D Sir David Attenborough, the world’s leading naturalist, sets out to uncover the truth about the enigmatic pterosaurs, whose wing spans of up to 40 feet were equal to that of a modern day jet plane. Attenborough works with scientists to understand the incredible story of the evolution of the pterosaurs, a story that unfolds in such stunning locations as New Mexico, the Jurassic Coast of Lyme Regis in Britain, an ancient pterosaur landing site in Southern France and a fossil pit in Germany where near perfect pterosaur specimens have been found.
The central question and one of the greatest mysteries in palaeontology is: how and why did pterosaurs fly? How did lizards the size of giraffes defy gravity and soar through prehistoric skies? Driven by the information he finds as he attempts to answer these questions, Attenborough starts to unravel one of science’s more enduring mysteries, discovering that the marvel of pterosaur flight has evolutionary echoes that resonate even today. For more of this story, related docos like: Flying Sky Monsters, The Four-Winged Dinosaur, Dinos in the Air, Flight of the Pterosaurs, and Last Day of the Dinosaurs, and videos to boot---go to:http://www.atlanticproductions.co.uk/productions/flying-monsters-3d/
Dinosaurs are a diverse group of animals of the clade Dinosauria. They first appeared during the Triassic period, 231.4 million years ago, and were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for 135 million years, from the start of the Jurassic (about 200 million years ago) until the end of the Cretaceous (66 million years ago), when the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event led to the extinction of most dinosaur groups at the end of the Mesozoic Era. Until the late 20th century, all groups were believed to be extinct; however, the fossil record indicates that birds are modern feathered dinosaurs, having evolved fromtheropod ancestors during the Jurassic Period. As such, birds were the only dinosaurs to survive the mass extinction event.
Dinosaurs are a varied group of animals from taxonomic,morphological and ecological standpoints. Birds, at over 10000 living species, are the most diverse group of vertebrates besides perciformfish. Using fossil evidence, paleontologists have identified over 500 distinct genera and more than 1000 different species of non-avian dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are represented on every continent by bothextant species and fossil remains. Some are herbivorous, others carnivorous. While dinosaurs were ancestrally bipedal, many extinct groups included quadrupedal species, and some were able to shift between these stances. Elaborate display structures such as horns or crests are common to all dinosaur groups, and some extinct groups developed skeletal modifications such as bony armor and spines. Evidence suggests that egg laying and nest building are additional traits shared by all dinosaurs. While modern dinosaurs (birds) are generally small due to the constraints of flight, many prehistoric dinosaurs were large-bodied—the largest sauropod dinosaurs are estimated to have reached lengths of 39.7 meters (130 feet) and heights of 18 meters (59 feet) and were the largest land animals of all time.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaur
Still, the idea that non-avian dinosaurs were uniformly gigantic is a misconception based in part on preservation bias, as large, sturdy bones are more likely to last until they are fossilized. Many dinosaurs were quite small: Xixianykus, for example, was only about 50 cm (20 in) long.
Although the word dinosaur means "terrible lizard", the name is somewhat misleading, as dinosaurs are not lizards. Instead, they represent a separate group of reptiles that, like many extinct forms, did not exhibit characteristics traditionally seen as reptilian, such as asprawling limb posture or ectothermy. Additionally, many prehistoric animals, including mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, and Dimetrodon, are popularly conceived of as dinosaurs, but are not taxonomically classified as dinosaurs. Through the first half of the 20th century, before birds were recognized to be dinosaurs, most of the scientific community believed dinosaurs to have been sluggish & cold-blooded. Most research conducted since the 1970s, however, has indicated that all dinosaurs were active animals with elevatedmetabolisms and numerous adaptations for social interaction.
Since the first dinosaur fossils were recognized in the early 19th century, mounted fossil dinosaur skeletons have been major attractions at museums around the world, and dinosaurs have become an enduring part of world culture. The large sizes of some groups, as well as their seemingly monstrous and fantastic nature, have ensured dinosaurs' regular appearance in best-selling books and films, such as Jurassic Park. Persistent public enthusiasm for the animals has resulted in significant funding for dinosaur science, and new discoveries are regularly covered by the media.
A SOLDIER’S SCREECH
For the last 15 years, October 1999 to June 2014, I have been watching the masked lapwing or spur-winged plover(vanellus miles: Latin for soldier) walk on and fly over the streets, lawns and properties of south George Town in the vicinity of Pipe Clay Bay where I live. These birds, these soldiers, accompany me now in the evening of my life, my retirement from FT, PT and casual-volunteer work. They became fully protected by an Act of government and a Wildlife Regulation in 1999(1) just as I arrived in this oldest town in Australia to begin my years of full-time writing and editing, poetry and publishing, journalism and independent scholarship.
In these last 15 years we’ve done a lot of walking these plovers and I. When in full-gate the little legs of these birds move like olympian runners trying to break a world record. These soldiers of the streets and lawns, driveways and byways, also have a loud and penetrating call, so piercing that it is enough to wake the dead. They often startle me out of my mental fatigue and somnambulence in the midst of my stroll along these streets in the afternoon, early evening or just after nightfall.
Stretching my limbs after several hours of reading and writing, I find these daily walks have become crucial to my energy state, my persistence and my need for relaxation. After a late lunch or an evening meal, in order to ready myself for more writing and reading, I head out for my half hour walk, my daily constitutional, in the company of these little chaps who hustle and bustle about, making way for me as I head for the edge of this small old town, the oldest in Australia. After an evening meal with my wife, a late night snack after midnight and a daily consumption of two hours of television on average in the evening before going to bed between 1 and 2 a.m. I make a mental calculation to see if I have attained my eight hours of serious academic work that day. -Ron Price with thanks to (1)“Native Plants and Animals,” Department of Primary Industries and Water, 25 October 2010 to 8 October 2013.
They’re bold birds these soldiers
of the sky and streets….the only
troops I’ve seen here in 15 years,
in pairs, these parents protecting
their young and their territory…..
Their little legs move faster than
Olympic athletes in a 100 metre
race covering their territory from
birth to death on that same patch
of lawn and road---back and forth
they go for generations--and they
have been that way since Caesar’s
day, indeed, way back to tertiary
years and its several epochs from
65 MYA to 2 MYA in geological time.
They swoop to defend their young,
ward-off intruders bluffing as their
instincts dictate--& we are advised
to wear a hat & glasses in a swoop
zone, but I just walk on by & gaze.
I, too, am a soldier of the street and
sky. I am an Olympic athlete on my
patch of territory bustling from one
town to town, from birth to the end
of my days on this mortal coil as I
put one foot in front of the other.
I do this as fast as I can go to get
out of their way, or to get others
out of my way, and occasionally
letting-out an almighty screech
at life’s slings and arrows of
outrageous and sad fortunes!
13 August 2007
Updated from: 25/5/’10 to 21/6/'14.
BOOKS AVAILABLE ON VIRTUALLY ANY ANIMAL IN ZOOLOGY'S WORLD
Here are two on spiders; one is by David Attenborough: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/may/01/queens-of-the-web/
ECHIDNAS ARDREY AND PECKINPAH
My wife likes to listen to the radio while she falls into sleep at night. The radio often stays on until morning. So it is that when going to sleep or waking-up at night I often hear the stuff on this chirping box. Last night I heard a story about the sex life of echidnas, a mammal which inhabits the island state of Tasmania in Australia where I live. This prose-poem will not outline in detail the mating habits of this member of the mammal family or, rather, the mammalia class, montremeata order and tachyglossidae family. Readers here can google in fine detail what scientists have discovered in the last four years(2007-2011) about these randy little chaps who often engage in group sex. Those humans who would like to explain, or perhaps justify, their own sexual proclivities outside the bonds and bounds of faithfulness, outside what is still the normative monogamous nuclear family structure dominating our civilization, can turn to this egg-laying mammal who diverged, according to the fossil record, from the platypus about 25 MYA who was the last common ancestor about 160 MYA.1
I could not help but reflect on my exposure in the 1960s and 1970s to: African Genesis(1961) and The Territorial Imperative(1967), two of Robert Ardrey's(1908-1980) most widely read works, Konrad Lorenz’s On Aggression (1966), Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape (1967), and Erich Fromm’s The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973). These books were key elements in the public discourse in the 1960s and early 1970s on the subject of the origins of and the explanations for conflict. Of course, as in most subjects outside the most popular of popular culture, these books were read and discussed only by a coterie. The anthropological assumptions on the Stone Age roots of human aggression, indeed, the entire intellectual milieux that examined aggressiveness and conflict in the human species both in history and in contemporary society was part of the immense backdrop in the social sciences and humanities for my work as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and editor in the 1970s.
By the time I began teaching in high schools and post-secondary educational institutions in Australia in the years 1972 to 1974, and engaging in that embryonic community-building in/for the Baha’i Faith in the dry outposts of South Australia,2 these books had become part of that ongoing dialogue. But like most dialogue in the last half of the 20th century in which I grew into the various phases of adulthood, the lance and parry became increasingly complex. Perhaps that dialogue always was complex, but my life of memory did not begin until 1947. Did these books and these writers have things to say to help explain the anti-authoritarianism of the new generations of students I came into contact with by the 1960s? As a teacher of trainee-teachers in Tasmania, and then of other students training for different professions, I drew on these books, albeit in a cursory fashion because I was a generalist teaching many subjects in the humanities. Ardrey's ideas notably influenced many others: Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick in the development of 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as American filmmaker Sam Peckinpah(1925-1984) who made the Western epic The Wild Bunch (1969).3 –Ron Price with thanks to (1)“Echidna’s Sex Life Under Study,” Science Daily, 28 August 2007, (2) especially the port-city of Whyalla, and (3)Wikipedia, 12 January 2011.
The sex life of echidnas has resulted
in this prose-poetic reflection on half
a century of living and reading, and
of teaching and my sex life, a little of
Audrey and Lorenz, of Morris and
Fromm with a touch of Kubrick and
Peckinpah thrown-in just for good
measure. It has been a wild bunch
of years, of decades, right back to
my first memory in 1947 in a wet-
spring in southern Ontario with the
mud-pie and mechano-toy making
things tidy and even------as I have
been trying to do ever-since over
more than sixty years into this the
evening of my life and, I’m sure,
the syllables of my recorded time
that are still yet to live on Earth!!
12 January 2011 to 22 June 2011
THIS PROSE-POEM IS NOT ABOUT ANIMALS
I have given the following prose-poem the title UNDISPUTED ASCENDANCY. It is not about the animal world of zoology; it is about the animal world of civilizations with a focus on, first, Rome, and then western civilization. There can be nobody so petty or so apathetic in his outlook that he has no desire to discover by what means and under what system of government the Romans succeeded in....bringing under their rule the whole of the inhabited world. -Polybius, Histories, 1.1.5.
Between 220 BC and 168 BC the whole world fell under the undisputed ascendancy of Rome....It was a phenomena unprecedented in the annals of the European theatre of civilization. -Polybius in A Study of History: Vol.3, Arnold Toynbee, Oxford UP, 1954, p.313. Roman history is still too much like a great endless jigsaw puzzle with most of the pieces missing. -Keith Richardson, Daggars in the Forum: The Revolutionary Lives and Violent Times of the Gracchi Brothers, Cassell, London, 1976, p.xi. The world empire of Rome was a negative phenomenon: the result....of an absense of resistance....It would be quite untrue to say that the Romans conquered the world. They merely took possession of something that was lying about for anyone to pick up. -Oswald Spengler, Der Untergang des Abendlandes, Vol.1, 1920, p.51.
The Baha'i World Order also grew like a great endless jigsaw puzzle. Although most of the pieces were still missing after the passing of a little more than a century and a half, the pieces would come together over time. Its undisputed sovereignity would be established, an unprecedented phenomena in the history of civilization on the planet, in the coming centuries. The process would be, for the most part, a positive one. There would be an immense resistance, in some places cruel and insidious, from foes now impossible to predict. But the unity, built up over several centuries, would be impossible to resist. The divisions of the 'tribes of the defeated'(1) would lead, in the end, only to confusion. -Ron Price with thanks to (1)Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, 1974(1938), p.17.
Well, you could say the pieces
were, for the most part, all there.
It only required the masses to enter.
The Arc had been built and now the
animals had to come in: by ones, by
twos, by threes, by more and more!!
Unity was in fact, the major event,
an accomplishment of that first....
century-and-a-half and that unity
would be an indestructable force.
The most perfect Being ever to
walk on the earth had come and
gone and His charismatic Force
had been fully institutionalized.
The vineyard of the Lord was ready
and we waited all around the planet
for people to come in to our garden.
We waited to take possession of a
something that had been lying in wait,
to be picked up, for decades, for our
civilization had long lost its soul and
this small, peripheral fluctuation would
soon be amplified in this global, complex,
dynamical and unstable system, loading
the dice of change toward an undisputed
global shaking-reverberating sovereignity.
15 October 2001 to 26 May 2011.
THIS PROSE-POEM IS ABOUT THE ANIMAL WHO IS ME
INTENSITY AND DRIVENNESS
Poetry, for me, is a means of defining myself, my community, my philosophy and religion to a world which, for the most part, has given me respect and acceptance, a sense of achievement and even affection, but which has also been, for the most part, indifferent to a religion, a movement, that has been at the centre of my system of commitments, the very raison d’etre of my life. My poetry is the autobiographical story of a man who has been a homefront and an international pioneer of the Baha’i Faith. It is my story, my interpretation, of the religious community I have been associated with now. and the society in which I have lived, for more than six decades.
My writing, which is for me an art form, is also a beautiful world of poetic intensity. After decades of writing, initially only for a readership of a few, I now share it with millions in cyberspace. I have created something, in some ways, out of nothing; in other ways, out of a whole world of ideas, people, nature, animals, minerals, every atom of existence and the essence of all created things.(1) “Creativity is following the urge of the human soul,” said Geoffrey Bardon(1940-2003) a famous Australian school teacher, “that tug we probably all feel.”(2)-Ron Price with thanks to (1) Baha’u’llah, “Persian, Number 29,” Hidden Words; and (2) “Mr. Patterns,” ABC TV, 8:30-9:30 p.m., January 12th 2005.
After 200 years you began(1)
to put it all down, for you had
to define, describe all that had
gone on since the beginning of
time and especially recent time.
Yes, there was an intensity;
I know what you mean, Geoff.(2)
There was an artistic drivenness,
a compulsion, an obsession to
house the inspiration of soul,
to follow the urge, that tug of
the heart and mind, the story,
your story, at least since those
fifties and the sixties, and my
story too, my own story too.
(1 and 2) The Aboriginal tribes of the Western Desert in Australia put their story down in art. That art became the Western Desert art movement which began in mid-1972. Geoffrey Bardon was an Australian school teacher who was instrumental in creating the Aboriginal art of the Western Desert movement, and in bringing Australian indigenous art to the attention of the world.
January 12 2005
THE REST OF THIS WEBPAGE IS NOT ABOUT ANIMALS
When this website came into being more than 3 years ago I did not have enough material to have a whole page on zoology. I hope to add more on zoology in the months ahead. In the meantime thew following material, autobiographical in the main, will serve my purposes.
ONE OF LIFE'S TEMPTATIONS
Periodically, over almost 50 years, starting with Confessions of Two Brothers in 1916, John Cowper Powys(1872-1963) wrote works that present his personal philosophy of life. These are not works of philosophy in the academic sense, and in a bookstore the appropriate section might be self-help. Powys describes A Philosophy of Solitude (1933) as a "short textbook of the various mental tricks by which the human soul can obtain ... comparative happiness beneath the normal burden of human fate". It might seem that Powys's various works of popular philosophy were mere potboilers, written to help their finances while he was working on his novels, but critics like Denis Lane, Harald Fawkner and Janina Nordius believe that they give insight into "the intellectual structures that form the metastructures of the great novels". For more on Powys go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cowper_Powys
"How different from one another," writes John Cowper Powys, "are the wandering erotic desires of mortal men."(1) From a very early age, perhaps as young as five or six, I found the feminine form immensely attractive. As far as the expression of an impersonal lust is concerned, I'm sure it surfaced by my tenth or eleventh year. Partly amorous propensity, partly romantic tenderness, partly an indulgent staring, gazing and thinking undisturbed at female charms, partly an obsession with attractive and desirable forms as they walked, sat, talked or did just about anything, partly a giving myself up to beauty, partly a simple visual entertainment, partly convoluted twists and turns of an erotic perversity, partly a barren and sterile search for the satisfaction of a fastidious eroticism: my desire, my lust, for what I saw as a ravishing female loveliness absorbed my whole being from time to time. I found women, except for the few who possessed some repellent psychological or physical eccentricity that was subjectively off-putting, of an absorbing mental interest.-Ron Price with thanks to John Cowper Powys(1872-1963), British novelist and lecturer, in his Autobiography, Picador Books, London, 1967(1934), p.310.
This lust, so insatiable,
some mad craving,
some sensation creator,
I keep in its place like
some kind of animal
waiting to break out
from its cage, as I
sink my mind into
all that is this life.
I thank the many men
and women I have come
to know especially books
and generations of their
progenitors while keeping
my secret thoughts pure,
dealing with all of life's
(1) The Universal House of Justice advises we 'arise and struggle' with 'the many temptations and faults that a human being must strive to overcome.' (Lights of Guidance, Helen Hornby, editor, New Delhi, India, 1983, p.270.)
11 May 2002
CELEBRATION: THE TASTE OF VICTORY
In the seven days(20/7/44-26/7/44) surrounding the day of my birth, 23 July 1944, there was a significant turn in the fortunes of the allies in the drama that was WW2. This turn of events followed in various stages after the Normandy invasion beginning on 6 June 1944. The assassination attempt on the life of Hitler on July 20th; the suicide of general Rommel; the British push, code-named Cobra, in the western sector of the front with some 3000 aircraft support beginning on July 25th; the million men in the allied force on a 50 mile front in northern Europe: these all contributed to the disintegration of the German army during the period July 15th to August 21st with the fall of Berlin. It looked as if the war might be over by Christmas, or so Eisenhower thought. Sadly, it would take another year.-Ron Price with thanks to ABC TV, “The World at War,” 5:00-5:50 pm, 27 June 2004.
It was a hot summer--
aren’t they all after
those cold winters
especially when a million men
are lined up over a 50 mile front
and there are bodies--men’s
and animals’ all over the place
rotting, smelling, but with the
taste of victory in everyone’s
mouth and minds at long last.
And that little man in Haifa
celebrating the end of the
beginning or was it the(1)
beginning of the end?
With his gift to the Baha’is
of the world--that great
achievement of his mind(2)
and for us a vision: the
majesty and meaning
of 100 years of history
& its ceaseless sacrifice.(3)
1 The end of the first of the Plans, Seven Year Plan: 1937-1944
2 His great work: God Passes By
3 The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p.70.
4/7/'04 to 8/10/13.
Lara, in the film Dr. Zhivago, says that you and I are "like the first two people, Adam and Eve, just as unclothed and homeless." It seems to me that, since 1844 or thereabouts, perhaps since Shaykh Ahmad came out of Bahrain in about 1793 or, as the modern historian might argue, since the French Revolution in 1789, humanity has slowly been acquiring clothes and homes. There is a sense of new beginnings for people everywhere, of the immeasurable distance we have travelled as a species in both time and space, once quite contained, but now infinite. There is a sense, too, that we may finally be coming of age, part of the planetization of humankind. At the same time, Lara is right. There are millions who are homeless and unclothed, although not in the sense that Lara intended. We are all faced with these two paradoxical realities among a host of others: enigmatic, puzzling, troubling.-Ron Price with thanks to Richard Freeborn, The Rise of the Russian Novel, Cambridge UP, 1973, pp.278-9.
There's been a rise to greatness
in our age: a pleasure, for some,
in a cunning tenacity of mind
even while suffering from life.
Of course, it's not new all this
resilience & animal toughness,
this persistence, this endurance
of men like Dostoevsky & Badi,
TO MENTION ONLY TWO.
This over-flowing vitality, this
explosion and excess of health,
this intensified reality, sensibility,
temperament, faculty, & capacity,
something titanic, some wholeness
of conception, & outpouring effect
is discussed and analysed and, then,
some power, some influence which
shatters the cup of speech, as those
engineers fail to dam the sea,
creates new categories, new
wondrous faculties for the mind,
but somehow, strangely, I find
after all these years of holding
this power in my hands, these my
critical faculties prevent me from
even approaching its outpouring
effect: much greater and beyond.(1)
(1) Horace Holley in The Ocean of His Words, John Hatcher, p.3.
27 March 2002 to 26 May 2011
THE WHO I AM
Carl Jung postulates that most human beings are not as virtuous as they appear, either to themselves or others.(1) We all manifest the seven deadly sins much more than we like to think. What the Baha'i writings call the lower self, Jung calls the shadow. 'Abdu'l-Baha says, in a similar vein, "the souls of men are ravening wolves and animals with blinded eyes; they are either deadly poison or useless weeds."(2) And Baha'u'llah writes in the Long Obligatory Prayer that, if people were honest, aware and articulate in relation to their inner life, they would admit that their backs were "bowed by the burden" of their sins and their very "heedlessness" at the base of their personal destruction."(3) Given some of these perspectives on the nature of man as a starting point, I have composed the following poem. -Ron Price with thanks to Anthony Storr, Jung, Fontana Press, 1995, p.58; 'Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings, Haifa, 1978, p.72; and Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Prayers.
And so it is, and so we are,
as I must admit in my poetic
generally therapeutic more
than confessional work
which recreates my silent
past, as I springboard-dive
into the rest of my life in a
quite intricate way, mediated,
as the process is, by meaning,
by my feelings, & alot of stuff.
My moral intentions have been,
so often, the germ of life from
which I have grown. Some inner
biography, some idiosyncrasy,
explains so much, and it is I who
must explain it, if it is ever to be
explained at all, even if so much
of it I do not choose. Personality,
constitution, temperament, and
predispositions, & the who I am,
which determines my philosophy,
myself, my all in all these words.
10/3/'01 to 8/10/'13.
The certitude of one's interpretations of the past can never be demonstrated. All one can hope for is that one interpretation is more probable than another, that one's analysis of the events is a judicial consideration of alternative and opposing views, that the analysis is as comprehensive as possible, that it is fruitful and possesses explanatory power, that is possesses an internal coherence and does not violate reason and is compatible with the general context of the narrative.
At this stage, the 7th edition of my life-narrative, I am not inclined to delve too deeply into thorough and detailed analyses of events such as my divorce, my remarriage, my sex life or lack of it, or my knowledge of zoology or botany or, as I point out in another context, popular culture.(1) I possess the general desire to know and understand my life, my society and my religion---and what I experience in these several domains. This search for explanations is what sustains me, what propels and gives logic to my various drives to write.(2) -Ron Price with thanks to: (1) Ray B. Browne, "An Interview," Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture (1900 to present), 2002. This article outlines the progress in the study of popular culture since the 1960s when it became a part of the academic curriculum; and (2) J. Lacan, The Berkeley Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture, 1985. Lacan says he is sustained as much by what he knows as what he does not know.
Wanting and needing coral, pearls and rare salts the student of autobiography so often gets shells and sea-weed and cloudy water. I hope my autobiography, which is as much a study of the genre as it is an account of my life, furnishes more than sea-weed, more than shells. I hope those that walk along the beach of this autobiography find rare ocean gems of imperishable value. That is what I hope readers will find here. That is what I looked for in the autobiographies of the famous, the rich and the daring. But, they could not satisy nor appease my hunger and, in the end, I got a small collection of beach detritus, smooth rocks, pieces of fish bone and coloured glass. Needing to be oceanographers, needing degrees in acquatic zoology or botany, we so often have to settle for building sand castles in the sand and strolling casually along the beach with our brains addled by minutiae. Needing more than the sun-warmed sand we seem to stand in our separate solitudes, strangers in so many ways.
Sex Sells and So Do the Violinists
In our burgeoning and mushrooming world with so many things going viral, with an intensification, an optimization, a multiplication, an easy availability of stuff from all over the humanities, from every inch of the creative and performing arts, the expanding and expansive physical, biological and applied sciences, information by the truckload, no one can keep-up with it all. One dips into the pot, the pot-pourri, and takes out what one knows about, what interests one, what comes one’s way by planning or serendipity. There are millions, indeed, billions, of downloads taking place in cyberspace across a digital divide that covers everything imaginable.
After a light lunch today, during the last month of summer in Australia, during the 14th year of my retirement from a 40-year job-life, during the middle years, 65 to 75, of a late adulthood which human development psychologists call the years from 60 to 80, enjoying a new medication for my bipolar disorder and also enjoying a retirement which, in many ways, is like one long holiday, I said to my wife “why don’t we see what’s on the TV?”
Who should hit our visual emporium with only 3 changes of the channel, but a 35-year- old Dutch violinist.1 In this Dutch documentary film, Janine, conductor Paavo Järvi, with whom Janine Jensen recorded the Beethoven and Britten concertos, enthuses, “She plays like she is. She’s a person of genuine warmth, genuine feeling, genuine expression. There’s nothing fake, nothing manufactured or prepared. The expression feels like it’s happening now and it’s honest. It’s like a child.” There was something special about this violinist beside her charm and beauty even for me, no knowledgeable commentator on music classical, on the violin, and on that world of music which has won the hearts of millions for centuries.
Back in the eighties it was exciting enough to Western punters that a violinist should be a tiny, pretty infant, with talent as a bonus. When the nine-year-old Sarah Chang burst on to the scene, that excitement was offset by Yehudi Menuhin's ecstatic accolade, "the most perfect violinist I have ever heard". In 1991, when Chang was 10 years old, she recorded her first album, Debut; it was released by EMI Classics on August 18, 1992 and quickly reached the Billboard chart of classical best-sellers.
Chang quickly rose to fame and became known on an international scale, performing up to 150 concerts a year. When Chang acquired feminine curves, marketing men presented her in an overtly provocative way; luckily, her playing was good enough to transcend that. I did not hear about her until I retired from my 60+ hour work week as a teacher, and my other hours of responsibilities as a secretary of the local Baha’i community, as a husband and parent with three kids and several social demands that came my way, and still dealing as I was with the rigors of a bipolar disorder. Back in 1992 I was just turning to writing and poetry as much as was possible given the demands from the other areas of my life.
Then, just three or four years ago, came the notorious Vanessa-Mae, whose playing had less potency than her looks. She had a techno-classical style. A former child prodigy, she became a successful violinist with album sales reaching several million, making her the wealthiest young entertainer in the United Kingdom in 2006 at the age of 28. Vanessa-Mae came to my attention thanks to my wife who bought one of her CDs when I was 65 and going on to two old-age pensions.
And after her was Leila Josefowicz, a first-class fiddler temporarily knocked off course by being made the face of Chanel's Allure perfume. She was born in 1977 in Mississauga, Ontario Canada, just a few miles from where I was born. I had not heard of her until today as I researched this little piece on violinist prodigies. Debate is currently raging over the 24 year old Scottish prodigy Nicola Benedetti who has won many awards and had honorary degrees conferred on her.
Jansen's sex-kitten marketing is not surprising and par for the course. In reality she's a tall, commanding 35-year-old with a down-to-earth manner that she ascribes, with a laugh, to her nationality. She's a consummate musician. By never forcing her tone, she forces our close attention on every note; she shapes her phrases with infinite subtlety, and her sound can be as sweet, sad or sexy as the occasion demands. In chamber music, she's a natural leader, urging on her colleagues with fiery glances, in response to the cues in the score. She's also a leader in another sense: when she presented her Vivaldi Seasons several years ago at the Wigmore Hall her father, brother and then boyfriend, Julian Rachlin, were all playing in the band.
In between a globe-trotting concert career which this doco splices into at many a city and concert-hall, Jansen has made many recordings for Decca, including Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, several of the major concertos, a new disc featuring French repertory, and on and on goes the list of recordings by this queen of the consumer downloads. Sales have probably not been hurt by the glamorous CD cover photos where she looks less like one of the world’s great violinists and more like a Vogue model.
Her music-making, though, is taken very seriously: in 2003, she received the prestigious Dutch Music Prize and in 2009 the equally distinguished Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award in the Britain.2 In concert, she comes across as intensely committed to the music, yet also authentic and approachable. In this doco we see Jansen before and after her performances of Violin Concertos with the London Symphony Orchestra or one of many other orchestras. We locate her in her dressing-room in the cavernous concrete bunker that is the Barbican Hall backstage area. She puts her Strad in its case; she greets you and many others with a smile. She’s wearing casual, comfortable clothing now, and then some glamorous statement outfit, flattering, a range of colours, cuts and styles. She looks like a trend-setter, tall, athletic and very beautiful.
Jansen was born in Soest, a Dutch town in the province of Utrecht. To say that she grew up in a musical family is like saying that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart grew up in a musical family: music is at the heart of her family’s culture. Jansen’s father is an organist and harpsichord player, as is one of her brothers; her mother is a singer, and another brother plays the cello in a Dutch radio orchestra.
"All my first memories are musical - I remember nothing else," she replies. "My grandfather conducted a church choir, my father was his organist, and they used to give concerts every Saturday afternoon, so I was in church a great deal of the time. I was singing in the choir before I could read, standing next to my mum."
At home, the family made music all the time, with harpsichords, a piano and an organ filling every available space. "My elder brother played the cello, and as I looked up to him I wanted to play it too - and it's still one of my favourite instruments. But they decided it would be nice to have somebody playing a different instrument, so that we could play together.
"One day I went to a concert of children playing the violin, and became instantly hooked - I knew for certain that it was going to be my instrument. But that didn't stop me doing normal things, like playing soccer with the boys." Her English is impeccable, and her delivery measured.
The sales of her music clearly depend on a number of hooks, only one of which is the quality of Jansen's playing. The images of this body-beautiful Jensen bring in millions: she's pictured leaning seductively back in an armchair and tossing her violin over her shoulder, as though she has more exciting things in mind; another image is a pose provocatively on a carpet, her violin again an afterthought. We get the point, and the ping of the cash register is just about audible.
She brushes away all talk of prodigies - "That word means nothing to me" - and disowns her touched-up commercial photos: "The promoters may see them as an image of me, but I do not." But when I ask how she has avoided the unsightly scar that most violinists collect under the left side of their jaw, she confesses to having once done some touching-up of her own.
Prodigy or not, her trajectory via the Utrecht conservatory has been uninterruptedly smooth, with honours and prizes raining down. Vladimir Ashkenazy was one of many conductors who were instantly smitten - "In my opinion, this young woman has everything." When one prize brought in some serious cash, she spent it all on lessons with the chamber pianist Menachem Pressler: "That man is pure receptivity - he is the music."
I’ll let readers here find out for themselves the details of Jansen’s career beginning at age six, her first teacher, her grounding in the basics along with a love for chamber-music making, the mutual admiration between teacher and pupil, the exciting and inspiring lessons, and learning how to just let go and play the way she wanted and the way that she felt. “The central lesson,” Jansen says, “is that there’s no right way, there’s no perfection. These are just things that don’t exist.”
I’ll also let readers google to their hearts’ content to learn more about these wonderful violinists. It’s time for my afternoon walk in the bush and my evening meal. I went for sport back in my childhood and adolescence. Some of my parents’ classical music taste, though, is still in my blood.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Janine, SBSONE TV, 2/2/’13, 1:00-2:05 p.m.; and Janine Jensen, Wikipedia.