autobiography


MY ANNUAL LETTER/EMAIL TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS 

There will be no further updates as of 21/2/'16 made to this webpage except in relation to my pancreatic cancer which is discussed in the diary link below.

Part 1:

You can read my annual letter to family & friends for each of the 6 years, 2011 to 2016, at this link: http://www.my-diary.org/read/d/465760  My annual letters are found at that link, on the left side of the access page at that site. Readers must scroll-down to my posts for the years: 2011, 2012, 2013,  1/'14 to 6/'15, 7/'15 to 1/1/'16 and 1/1/'16 to the present/today.  Then you simply click-on the annual or part-annual letter of your choice. Read as much or as little as you like if, indeed, you want to read any of these annual letters at all.  I update my health at the above link; you can access that link at the bottom, that is, the end, the last of my diary entries at the link I have provided above. Part of the reason for these online up-dates is that: (i) I am not a phone person, don't take personal calls and have not done so for several years; nor do I text or fax, and (ii) I don't socialize to anything like the same extent I did for decades. I have come to socialize even less in the last 7 months since my health has seriously deteriorated, and since I have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late August. For a video and text on pancreatic cancer go to: http://www.medicinenet.com/pancreatic_cancer_pictures_slideshow/article.htm

People often ask me what I do to deal with my medical infirmities. My first line of defense is medical professionals.  I define medical professionals in some detail at the above link.  My second is the Baha'i teachings and a small circle of family members and friends as support. My last two annual letters were for the year 7/'15 to 12/'15, and 1/1/'16 to 14/3/'16.  My annual letters for 2015 & 2016 will give you all the details you need on: (a) my health, (b) my activities & those of several others in my family, & (c) some general retrospective information on my life-narrative, as well as my prospective plans and projects. I am no longer answering emails in the kind of detail I once did, if you write to me personally in the months and years ahead. Except for my occasional brief reply, my responses have become minimal. As of 14/11/'15, when I arrived home from my week in the hospital in Launceston, it was obvious to me that I no longer had the energies and the general health to engage with others in the kind of depth and detail I had done for years in both cyberspace and in real space.

Part 2:

Do not write to me, then, as you may have done in the past unless, of course, you are happy with my brief replies.   Everyone has their own preferred MO for communicating in this new, this 21st century. To each their own!  I no longer write detailed and lengthy responses to the posts of others.  Although this has been and is often useful in cyberspace,  it is simply not possible for me to continue that practice. My annual letters or emails, which I have been posting online for 6 years now, contain all the information anyone requires who is interested in my daily life.

Yet another link to my letters over a lifetime is found at: http://bahai-library.com/letters_memoirs_poetry_autobiography ......and so begins this autobiographical sub-section of my website which, it also goes without saying, you are free to read as much or as little as you want if, indeed, you want to read any further at all.  You can also access my annual letters on my website, & leave a response on my website should you wish at the following link. Should you wish to send me your annual letter to family & friends, or some other extended correspondence to give me a more than brief & casual outline of what is going on in your life, I am always happy to read it, but I will not be responding in detail any more. I will reply within 24 hours, as I have done in the past, but not in lengthy detail. You will only receive, and just to reiterate, short and pithy replies. This began to be the case when I came out of the hospital in early September 2015.  Here is my email address: ronprice9@gmail.com.  Here is the link to my website: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com if you want to make your replies on my website. A final link for those interested in my thoughts on mental health and my life with bipolar disorder go to: https://www.google.com.au/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&rlz=1C1CHMO_enAU561 My contact and interchange with people now is virtually entirely by email, except for a small circle of family members and friends.

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL PERSPECTIVE

"Find me through what I believe in and try to live with " -Ralph Waldo Emerson(1803-1882) 


Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures as they then existed in society. He disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States. I disseminate my thoughts primarily through the medium of cyberspace and its myriad channels of communication. I have been doing this since the beginning of my retirement years in 1999, after a 50 year student and employment life: 1949 to 1999.

I post the following paragraphs in this autobiography sub-section of my website as a general response to the literally 1000s of posts that now come in at the hundreds of internet sites at which I post my writing and interact with others. Facebook is but one of these sites. If those who come to this part of my website, and the annual letters which can be accessed here, want to write to me on some topic of interest, I am only too happy to reply. My email address is: ronprice9@gmail.com


ON WRITING

“Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts is like the man who uses an iron for ironing, but it is an iron which has cooled, & it no longer has enough heat to do the job.  Such a writer cannot inflame the minds of his audience. Such a writer has enough trouble inflaming his readers, even when he and/or that iron is on hot."-Ron Price with thanks to Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862). 

To quote Thoreau again: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away that music is, however intense and close that music is, or however different it may be to the notes and rhythms of the music heard by others."

QUOTATIONS:

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. ~ Nietzsche

To wish you were someone else is to waste the person that you are. You, more than anyone, deserve your love and respect. Self-love it would appear, from the history of human experience, is kneaded into the very clay of man; ironically it may also just be that self-mastery is, in fact, rooted in self-forgetfulness.-These words are a digest from 3 sources cut-and-pasted together, indeed, synthesized, FYI, dear readers

A man accustomed to hear only the echo of his own sentiments, soon bars all the common avenues of delight, and has no part in the general gratification of mankind--Dr. Johnson

"I live in that solitude which is often painful in youth but is, for the most part, delicious in the years of maturity. --Albert Einstein 


We have to create ourselves as a work of art.-Michel Foucault(1926-1984), French philosopher, social theorist, historian of ideas, and literary critic. For more on Foucault go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault

MY ANNUAL EMAILS

Part 1

Readers of my annual letters or emails will certainly come across what I believe in, as well as an update on the comings and goings of my wife and I, and the 'significant individuals' in my life as they say in psychology. Go to this link to read my most recent & my previous annual emails: http://www.my-diary.org/read/d/465760  My annual letters are found, on the left side of the access page at that site, by scrolling-down to my posts for the years: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014-15, and 2015-16. Readers can then click on the annual letter of their choice. Readers will also come across a general statement of my life-narrative, as well as an updating with respect to the significant others in my family.

Readers will also learn about my beliefs and values, morals and mores, ideas and standards,  codes and conducts, attitudes and convictions, as they go from section to section of my website, if they are so inclined.  There is now the equivalent of 60 books with 80,000 words per book at this my website, and much of it, indeed, most of it, has little or nothing to do with me, except in the sense that all of one's writing & all of one's interests reflect a certain autobiographical aspect of one's life.  I also post at literally 1000s of internet sites & interact with others as little as possible. I make this point because, if I took interaction with others seriously, made every effort to respond to all who post messages at sites where I am registered and write, that is all I would do all day long.  Still, & just to reiterate, those who want to write to me about some topic of interest or personal concern, & not just post passing information for me to read, should feel free to write.  Generally I reply to personal emails within 24 hours. My epistolary life is still one in which I have the time and the circumstances to reply to all those who, for some reason or another, want to write to me personally. But, as I say above and just to reiterate, my replies will now be short and sweet.

I DON'T LIKE USING THE TELEPHONE

When it comes to phone communication vs. written communication with known or unknown people in my business and professional, personal and private life, written communication always wins.  This is true except with my wife and son who I frequently communicate with by phone and in person. Many people prefer using the telephone to keep-in-touch.  After as many as 50 years of extensive telephone use, 1950 to 2000, I came to prefer emails & visiting people in person. I rarely answer the telephone any more, and leave that to my wife who is an active telephone and text user.  As I got into my 70s my visiting of others, as many as 20 different homes in the course of each year throughout my late 50s and 60s, has diminished considerably. Solitude came to be preferable to sociality.

I never, ever want to hear the product pitches on a phone call; I don’t want to return someone's call asking me anything at all. I don’t want to be involved in brainstorming ideas with anyone on the telephone. For the love of God, and out of appreciation for my preferred communication style, and my MO, I encourage others to take two minutes beginning with my e-mail address online, and send me a quick note, a quick email; It’s less intrusive and in this way the person will actually get a response within the hour &, at the worst, within the day. I'm not into Tweeting or Facebook, texting or phones of any kind: cell, mobile, smart, hand-held, cordless, public, text-message-types, digital, high-speed, landline, iPhone, iPad, Nokia, Apple or Samsung, inter alia. Send me an email if you want to say anything and have a written communication, a literary chat.


I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW TO LIVE

Part 1:

It's rare in Jane Austen, one of the masters of English prose, and it is also rare in my own writing, for a piece of moralising to go unmoralized upon. Austen had learned, & I am slowly learning, from that ingenious Samuel Johnson arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history, that we are never more foolish than when we're telling other people how to live.  Most of us engage, though, in this foolish activity from time to time over our life-span &, if we acquire some wisdom & understanding, we come to be able to engage in this activity to the benefit of others & ourselves. “He who pleases is of more importance to his fellow man than he who instructs,” Edgar Allen Poe wrote. This is certainly true in these days of celebrity, ratings-oriented TV, and infotainment. Poe found his voice by opposing the literary establishment of Boston & aiming to entertain. I have found, but am still refining, my voice in quite a complex of pomp and circumstance, influences and interests, as my life-narrative heads through its 70s from 2014 to 2024, and my 80s, if I last that long.

What makes Austen a novelist, and not a writer of moral tracts, is that she is forever alive to how time changes what we believe and how one event dramatically alters the complexion of another.  Nothing is once and for all true, everything is in flux.  To put this another way: there is an immense relativity to truth.  One cannot judge all the spaces of one's life, one's lifespan, or the life of another, until you have breathed your last breath, or walked in the shoes of another, both very long term exercises if not impossible occurrences.  One's last breath, of course, is more than possible; it is an inevitability, but whatever judgement takes place at the moment of the soul's ascension, assuming of course that there is a soul, that is one of life's great mysteries.

Part 2:

Of course, we all do judge and interpret, criticize and evaluate, & we are likely to continue doing so until the last syllable of our recorded time. This judgement and analysis needs to be exercised, though, with caution and perspicacity, wisdom and intelligence.  It is also not adviseable to deride another's susceptibility to flattery, to anger or to dishonesty, and not, at the same time, to notice the extent that you are susceptible yourself to all these emotions and character traits, to say nothing of a host of other qualities, in varying measures.

“The unexamined life is not worth living,” said Socrates. Those lives Jane Austen cares for most in her novels are all prize-winning self-examiners. I often think my own life comes under the seering light of self-examination far too much. It's not too much for myself, being the compulsive introspector that I am, but I'm sure it is often too much for many readers as they get entangled with my prose & poetry.  In this world of print-and-image glut, we each have to work-out our own particular diet of prose and poetry, of images and experiences, of beliefs and values, as we all travel the road, talk the talk and walk the walk.  We also have to work out what to think, and what we want to say and write. "I want what I write to pass the test of sayability," as one of my many literary mentors Clive James once put it. To write in a clear and comprehensible way is a simple courtesy to the reader, writes Clive James, and it's hard to do, he adds.

As I have advanced into the evening of my life, now going through my 70s, I care far less than I did in my youth & younger years of adult life, about convincing or converting others.  This was true of the poet, W.H. Auden, as Frank Kermode points out in his review of The Complete Works of W.H. Auden, Vol. 3: Prose, 1949 to 1955( Princeton UP, 2007, 800 pages).  Kermode died on 17 August 2010 at the age of 90; he was the author of many books, including Romantic Image(1957), The Sense of an Ending (1967) and Shakespeare’s Language (2000). He was the Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London and the King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University. He inspired the founding of the London Review in 1979, and wrote more than 200 pieces for the paper. 
For more of Kermode on Auden go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n03/frank-kermode/with-slip-and-slapdash

CLIVE JAMES AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY

James says he's always been a show-off and loves writing about himself. James has written five volumes of autobiography. Unreliable Memoirs, Falling Towards England and May Week Was In June cover his early life in Australia, time in London and at Cambridge University, while North Face of Soho and The Blaze of Obscurity canvass his later adventures in the media. His most recent works, the Poetry Notebook 2006-2014, his collection of verse Sentenced to Life and his recommendations on favourite books Latest Readings are autobiographical in another way. They include many poems about death and ones of atonement for infidelities (he and his wife are on much better terms and dine regularly, he is pleased, if careful to report). This is a life constructed through a voracious exploration of literature. Over the course of our conversation, we roam from the ancient Romans Catullus and Ovid, to the Balkan and Levant Trilogies of Olivia Manning via Evelyn Waugh. Anthony Powell and Billy Bunter. He reads some poetry and we look out the window at the little Japanese maple tree about which he wrote last year. The tree was a gift from one of his daughters and his poem, Japanese Maple, achieved a giddy amount of attention , going viral and creating a best seller out of Sentenced to Life. For more go to: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandarts/a-late-afternoon-with-author-and-broadcaster-clive-james/6797740

THE SELF AS NARRATOR

Part 1:

In the very month that I took a sea-change, an early retirement, not far from the Great Southern Ocean at the bottom end of the world, the book Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography by Susanna Egan(North Carolina, 300 pages, September 1999) appeared. Inga Clendinnen wrote a review of Egan's work in the London Review of Books in March 2000.  Inga Vivienne Clendinnen(1934- ) is an Australian author and historian, anthropologist and academic. She wrote as follows:

"Homo narrator: the creature who tells itself stories about itself. As soon as we have language we embark on that lifelong interior conversation by which we salve abraded egos and make tolerable sense of intolerably muddled experience; by which we draft and redraft the secret histories of our lives.  Once we learn to write we can confide our observations and our performance in the world to a journal; this can, of course, arouse the suspicions of the skeptical. The apparent innocence of the literary record enters the world of autobiography.  I have been guilty of writing autobiography now for over 30 years. Autobiography drapes itself across the space between history and fiction, head and hands on one side, feet precariously hooked on the other. Remember Anaïs Nin and her ‘liary’. Remember Jack Kerouac, living dangerously so he could dash back to the quiet of his mother’s house, sit down at his boyhood desk, and write his rough living down." And Clendinnen, this historian academic, continued:

"Nonetheless, until recently there has been an expectation, quite often met, that the autobiographer would try to tell it more or less as it was, or at least as he or she remembered it.  There was also the expectation that the reader would get a reasonably honest insider account reasonably free from conscious distortion, invention and too much narcissistic fiddling.  Readers have come to expect an intimate view of an individual who, by the act of writing an autobiography, declared themselves remarkable, and therefore worth the reader’s time & attention: they would cast caution aside, and tell all. If Rousseau was possibly the first to think of this brilliant reader-snaring device – ‘I will tell you all my secrets, especially the shameful ones, and I will hold you spellbound’ – he was certainly not the last."

Jean-Jacques Rousseau(1712-1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th century. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological, and educational thought. Rousseau's autobiographical writings, his Confessions which initiated modern autobiography, and his Reveries of a Solitary Walker which exemplified the late 18th-century movement known as the 'Age of Sensibility', featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection that later characterized modern writing, and certainly has characterized my own. 

Part 2:

If I was teaching a graduate or an under-graduate course on autobiography in 2015, as I head through my 70s, the book Mirror Talk, would be an invaluable asset. This book and Timothy Dow Adams’ Light Writing and Life Writing: Photography in Autobiography would be at the very centre of my syllabus, if I was free to articulate the syllabus myself.  I would subtitle the course: "Textual and Visual Self-Representations." The course would include film, photography, and comics alongside the literary texts. Egan’s book would be invaluable not only for its very fine readings of some of the works I would want to discuss, but also because her work would serve as an intellectual project originally and rigorously conceived, meticulously executed, and engagingly presented. I learned much from both this work and the several reviews of its contents. For more on Susanna Egan and Mirror Talk go to: http://canlit.ca/reviews/the_selfs_others If this link is not successful, then go to the Canadian Literature Review Journal.

In the opening chapter of Egan's book, a chapter entitled "Facing Off: Genres of Life & Death," Egan guides the reader through the by-now densely populated territory of autobiography theory and criticism in order to arrive at her central concerns. Many of the driving issues in the field converge in Egan’s study: self and/as narrative; the relationship between crisis and the autobiographical imperative; the question of reference; the challenges that deconstruction and feminism have posed for more traditional conceptualizations of the self; the body both as inscribed by the variables of its cultural production, and as "the ground from which personal inscribing begins"; the possibilities of resistance; the reader’s implication in the autobiographical project. Readers with the interest can look-up terms which I use here, and with which they are unfamiliar.  I had to do this. The field, the sub-discipline, of autobiography is a parallel universe with a language unto itself, as is the case now with all disciplines of study which have burgeoned into labyrinths of complexity to/for the unitiated.

Egan’s approach to the genre of autobiography is inclusive and polysémie. Commenting on the recent proliferation of terms to designate particular discourses of the self—Stanton’s auto-gynography, Gilmore’s autobiographies, Perreault’s autography, Lorde’s biomythog-raphy, Lionnet’s autoethnography, Couser’s autopathography, Miller’s autothanatogra-phy—Egan suggests that we regard them not as "separate or contested territories but as significant features of the landscape." Such an approach makes it possible for her to cast a wide net.  Egan examines a wide range of what you might call 'originary configurations of instability'. Chapter Two—with sections on Hemingway’s Moveable Feast, Meigs’ Lily Briscoe,   and Breytenbach’s Mouroir—establishes a genealogy for contemporary "mirror talk" by linking experimentation in self-representation with the beginnings of modernism. For more of this excellent review in Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism & Review( #172, Spring, 2002, Auto/   biography, pp. 164 - 166) go to: http://canlit.ca/reviews/the_selfs_others

READ THE FOLLOWING TEN PART MESSAGE: Part 1.1 To Part 1.10

The following "10-Part-Package" of information and comment is primarily written for the 100s, indeed, 1000s now who come across my writing all across the internet. They come across it at the literally dozens of social networking sites(SNS) of which the very popular Facebook site is but one. The myriad cyberspace sites at which I write, post my writing and interact with others, are a vast panoply and pageantry of information and dialogue with enough reading and interaction to keep me looking at print & writing forever, indeed, ad nauseam. I must continue to reiterate that, as of early September when I came out of the hospital, my online writing across the internet has diminished considerably. As I have moved through the last weeks of winter 2015, and my health seriously deteriorated, readers simply can not expect detailed responses to their emails and internet posts.

Part 1.1:

One of the reasons I took an early retirement in 1999 at the age of 55 was that "the heat was in me," to use the words of the man I mentioned above who is arguably the first environmentalist, Henry David Thoreau.  Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist. For more on Thoreau go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_David_Thoreau  

Those annual emails from 2011 to 2016, to which I referred above, are also found at the links below. You might want to access them after you have read more of this thread.  I have placed these annual emails in the broader context of: (a) my website and (b) this sub-section of my website on the subject of autobiography for those who are interested. I keep the last two of these annual communications, these annual letters/emails, updated from time to time, the most recent update took place on 19/2/'16 Downunder.  The summer season in the northern hemisphere where I spent the first 26 years of my life, in both Ontario and in many of the northeast parts of the USA where I used to visit and travel from time to time, is now over and winter is 2 months old. Readers who are interested in details about the weather both here in Tasmania & in Ontario can Google to their heart's content. Readers who want to read my several annual letters or emails need to: (i) scroll-down many paragraphs on this page of my website to the relevant links, or (ii) click on the above link located several paragraphs above on this page, at "the online diary" where I keep the 5 annual emails or letters to family and friends: 2011 to 2016.

Part 1.2:

I post the following two paragraphs at 'the autobiography sub-section' of my website as a general response to the literally 100s &, in the last several years, 1000s of incoming posts which have been sent & continue to be sent to me on a monthly basis in cyberspace. These posts, or emails, come into my computer directory's inbox, as well as onto the threads at the 8000+ sites at which I am registered, post my writing & interact with others as time & circumstance permit.

I make no attempt to respond to individuals unless, of course, they write to me directly about some matter of interest and concern. If they just send me information, or say things like: (a) I like this or I don't like that, (b) I poke you or here is a photo of me and my dog, Harold, or, again, (c) happy Naw-Ruz, happy New Year, happy birthday, or happy Valentine's Day...I rarely, if ever respond.  If I replied to all incoming posts at all the sites where I am registered, and to all the emails that come into my 'incoming-email-box' on a daily basis, that is all I would do all day long.  I make this point several times at this autobiographical part of my website in order to emphasize: (a) to those who post on the literally 1000s of pages and 1000s of sites at which my writing is found in cyberspace, of which SNS like Facebook and MySpace are but two, & (b) to all those who send me emails, that they should not expect a direct response to what they post at these sites. There are, of course, many old friends and family members who write to me directly, and I always respond within 24 hours. You can also access my annual letters on my website, and leave a response on my website should you wish at this link: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/welcome.html  You can leave your comment by pressing on the "Leave a Comment" button at the very bottom of that website page, that link, as well as at the bottom of any one of dozens of other of my webpages. With pancreatic cancer, an illness I've had for 6 months, I hardly write at all.

The "look at me", the "I like this," the endless "product ads," the "I poke-you," the endless aphorisms, the 100s of quotations and messages from within pop-culture, as well as the invitations from men and women at dating and hospitality-friendship sites---all of this is just so much flotsam and jetsam.  I have come to ignore it all after the passing of nearly a dozen years, 2004 to 2014, when I took part in this frenzy of online activity. All this passing information, which often asks for my personal response, hopes for a response, or implies that a response would be appreciated, I have out of necessity come to ignore.  I gradually came to ignore all this essentially distracting written and oral, visual and photographic data little by little during the years 2009 to 2014, the first six years of my retirement & life on two old-age pensions.  The Facebook, twitter, email world was, as I say, an uninterrupted stream of distractions, and I gradually released myself from the need to tap into this visual feast and fodder, this endless variety of consumption in the first several years of my pension life.  I still keep a Facebook-page & a Twitter-page in order to publicize my writing online. I respond to those who write to me on Twitter and Facebook, but the frequency of the incoming posts at these two SNS has decreased significantly after I turned 70.  I utlize Twitter and Facebook to promote my literary efforts and that is all. I am not into all the trending-on-twitter, as one of the uses of social media is called.

Part 1.2.1

By my 71st birthday on 23 July 2015 I had refused more than two dozen requests for me "to be someone's friend"; I also had 'unfriended' some 150 of my former Facebook-friends in order to free myself from that essentially distracting form of communication. Those former Facebook friends who wanted to access my Facebook-page could do so at: https://www.facebook.com/ronprice9  In the seven years, 2009 to 2015, as I was freeing myself from as much as possible of the entertaining and amusing, often shrill and strident, message-oriented-mix of pop culture and infotainment that occupied so much of cyberspace and internet activity; as I was engaging in this necessary form of avoidance, the readership of my online writing climbed into the millions.  This readership was found across the vast landscape of cyberspace at over 8000 websites. I would not have believed this possible far back in the last years of the 20th century when the first edition of my website went online.  

I include below some of the content from The Evelyn Waugh Society website which I came across a year ago now in the last weeks of winter Downunder, in September 2014. That content, at least some of it, from that website devoted to the life & writing of Evelyn Waugh(1903-'66) contains a few words which place my present internet & literary life, my social and community life, in what I trust is a helpful perspective for any readers who come to this part of my website. Waugh was an English writer of novels, biographies and travel books; he was also a prolific journalist and reviewer of books. As a writer, Evelyn Waugh is recognised as one of the great prose stylists of the English language in the 20th century.

Members of my family, or any old friends, who write to me from time to time will gain quite an accurate view of my daily MO from what is written below, from what I have quoted about Evelyn Waugh and the particular life-style he had cultivated in the evening of his life, as well as his writing life from in his middle-age onwards, from the 1940s until his death in 1966. The Daily Mail online edition for 16 September 2014, more than one year ago now as I write this update to my webpage on autobiography, reported the offer for sale of the Easton Court Hotel in Chagford, Devon. This was the place to which that 20th century novelist Evelyn Waugh retreated to do much of his writing, including his most popular work Brideshead Revisited.  This retreat provided him with the peace & quiet he needed away from distractions of his family and friends.

I, too, began my retreat by my 60s in 2004, and I had fully retreated by my 70s in 2014. This full retreat was as much of a retreat, a withdrawal, as possible given my several responsibilities as: (i) a husband of an active, socially involved and committed wife; (ii) a father of three adult children now in their 30s to 50s, and all living within cooee, (iii) a grandfather of 2 children, 1 adolescent, & 1 young adult; (iv) a friend of more people than I can count in cyberspace and real space combined, & (v) an active member of many online communities, as well as an active member of the Baha'i community at the local, cluster, regional, national and international levels. All of these five areas of my responsibilities, both the 5 in the Baha'i community & the five in my personal & family life require now, as they have required for many years in the past, varying degrees of interaction & activity.  As I go through my 70s and 80s(if I last that long), therefore, it is not possible for me to be completely reclusive, nor would I want to be anyway. There has always been a social dimension to my life even when I was an only child of older parents in my pre-school and early childhood years in Ontario in the 1940s. As I have mentioned above, though, the serious decline in my health in the last 4 months month(1/9/'15 to 1/1/'16) has begun to prevent me from engaging in extended and extensive online correspondence.

Part 1.3:

Occasionally, something and/or someone from within the great morass of visual and auditory, photographic and personal, advertising & aphoristic material in cyberspace, that parallel universe that has enriched my literary life in so many ways, still grabs my attention, in some way or another, & I write a response.  Sometimes, someone sends me a u-tube item or makes some pertinent or provocative point at one of the websites at which I am an active participant in the discussions, & I was moved to respond in writing, sometimes in extensive detail.  This is no longer the case.

Occasionally, too, someone writes a quite detailed letter, and I add that person, if it is someone who has never written to me before, to my list of correspondents. That list now numbers more than 200.  As I have indicated elsewhere, though, I do not initiate letter-writing any more; I only respond to those who write to me first. This keeps a fairly regular and minimal correspondence as part of my life on a daily basis.  What does take place with any particular individual continues in some detail, sometimes for a day or two, sometimes for as long as a week or a month or so; sometimes it even continues for several years, and only on the rarest of occasions for more than a decade. On those several occasions when my correspondence with someone has lasted for more than a decade one of several things eventuates: (i) the person dies, (ii) the person simply disappears from the radar for reasons unknown to me, (iii) the person tires of writing, again, for reasons unknown to me, or (iv) the person and I continue our relationship of correspondence in cyberspace and our life-narratives remain entwined.

There is, as I say above, a very small handful of people to whom I have been writing for a decade or more since the years of my retirement from FT, PT and most casual-volunteer work in the years 1999 to 2005. There is even a smaller handful of my personal correspondents from my young adulthood(20 to 40), and middle age(40 to 60) from whom I still get the occasional letter/email.   Since beginning my activity in cyberspace in 1990, some 25 years ago, I have come to have, as I say above, in excess of 200 people who like to write to me on occasion. This is quite enough of a literary-letter-email-writing life as I head through my 70s from 23 July 2014 to 23 July 2024.  The decade of my 70s, 2014 to 2024, and the decade of my 80s, 2024 to 2034, and 90s(again, if I last that long), will develop patterns of their own which only time will tell.

Part 1.3.1:

This letter writing, email pattern, which I have outlined above, is a common one, at least for many of the generations including the baby-boomers, & the silent generation, generations that, for the most part, are not particularly enamoured with the Facebook-twitter age and style, format & manner, mode and means of human communication.  There is also the Greatest Generation, also known as the G.I. Generation. This is the generation that includes the veterans who fought in World War II. They were born from around 1901 through 1924, and came of age during the Great Depression. Journalist Tom Brokaw dubbed this the Greatest Generation in a book of the same name.  

Generational markers have become more complex in recent years; there are now markers, each with their own names, going back generation after generation several hundred years. For more on this topic of generations go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation......By my 71st birthday on 23/7/'15 most of those 200 people whom I have referred to above now write to me relatively rarely.  My annual emails, or posts, to which I have also referred above, as well as this lengthy thread, this sub-section of my website in cyberspace, act in some ways, as invitations to those in this new parallel universe of cyberspace who would like to reciprocate, to respond to my annual emails which I now post on the internet.  

Anyone who wants to read these annual letters now has access to 5: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, & 2015 at: http://www.my-diary.org/read/d/465760  Those who would like to send me more detailed updates on their lives, some of their thoughts on society, or a comment on some of their personal problems and challenges in life, are invited here to do so.  Readers who would like to write about some aspect of our globalizing, planetizing world, an aspect that interests, worries or concerns them, are given here a welcome-mat to write to me as often as they like. This general invitation in this sub-section of my website often results in a response;  it is for this reason that I keep this invitation posted here. This general invitation also has the function of making it clear to me just who are the few who come to this part of my website, and who actually want or like to write more than the terse and pithy, concise and succinct, posts that are part of the Facebook-Twitter age and MO.

Part 1.4:

This invitation provides an opportunity, as I say above, for others to write to me.  This invitation is extended to those who want to write: (i) more than the short and pithy one-liners, (ii) more than the jokes and jests, (iii) more than what I call the 'wee-wisdoms', the 'amazings' and the 'look-at-this' sort of stuff, (iv) more than some post inviting me to participate in a cause or contest, a crusade or campaign, as well as (iv) more than the videos & myriad messages that are the core of many people's online writing.  That online writing and contact with family and friends, that is the basis of so many people's Facebook style and idiom, is not my MO.  To each their own in cyberspace and in real space. My words here in this part of my website also provide others with an opportunity to communicate in more detail, as I say above, about their lives. Reciprocation in this way, of course, is just an option. This message, these paragraphs, are not intended to impose an obligation to reply on those who are, or become, the recipients of my annual emails. Those who read this now lengthy part of my website are, it goes without saying, free to do as they so wish.  We each and all work out our own MO for dealing with the vast expanse of knowledge and experience, peoples and places, that the WWW opens before us.

I am happy to hear from those who want to write, and I am equally happy if others prefer just to read what they want at this website, and/or at the 1000s of others sites--& the literally millions of words---that I now have spread across cyberspace like a vast jig-saw puzzle.  I also understand when those who come to this part of my website find that they tire of reading my writing.  Many readers will simply not be interested in what I write. That is a normal experience that all writers have. Writers, indeed all people, can only interest and please some of the people some of the time.  I only get a coterie of those 7..4billion people on the planet, less than half of whom exist in cyberspace.  The number of people on the planet who now use the internet passed 3 billion in November 2014. The number of websites also exceeded the 1 billion mark in November 2014.  Of that part of the world's population who come to my writing, and would like to write to me about some issue, I invite them to contact me at my email address at: ronprice9@gmail.com, if they so desire.  A summary of my correspondence over the last 55 years, 1960 to 2015, is found at this link, FYI: http://bahai-library.com/letters_memoirs_poetry_autobiography

Part 1.4.1

Those who come across my annual emails below are, as I say, invited to engage in an ongoing dialogue about whatever matter they so choose. Of course, I am more than a little aware that the internet is a cornucopia of information.  The print and image-glut which we all face, to greater or lesser extents, is militating against extended & extensive personal correspondence. The world of cyberspace is making Facebook-type communication & texting the dominant, perhaps the most dominant, forms of written-interchange now taking place in the world.  My email address, as I say, is: ronprice9@gmail.com for those with the interest in more lengthy forms of written communication.  Many people prefer using the telephone to keep-in-touch.  After as many as 50 years of extensive telephone use, 1950 to 2000, I came to prefer emails & visiting people in person. I rarely answer the telephone any more, and leave that to my wife who is an active telephone and text user.  As I got into my 70s my visiting of others, as many as 20 different homes in the course of the year throughout my 60s, has diminished considerably. Solitude came to be preferable to sociality.

My son bought me a cell-phone in 2013 to communicate with him, his wife and my grand-daughter;  I also use it to communicate with my wife when necessary, and for some essential business and commercial activities.  As the 21st century advanced incrementally millions began to use Facebook and/or texting but, again, I leave this to my wife & my children, my grandchildren and my friends. I continue to use email with a little, a very little, telephoning and visiting in person, as I say above.  By my 70s in 2014, the many visits with family and friends which had been part of my retirement since leaving the world of paid-employment in 1999, and going on two old-age pensions in 2009, had been reduced in number.  My life-style had become similar to that of my maternal grandfather whose circle of social life narrowed as he got into his 70s & 80s; I remember him well visiting my parents and I back in the 1950s when I was a child, and then an adolescent, before he passed away when I was in my early teens.. 

Part 1.4.2:

I look forward though, in spite of appearances to the contrary in what I have witten above, to hearing from anyone, members of my families, my former and my present affinal families, and my consanguineal family, as well as friends and associations of all kinds who have come into my life in the last 8 decades: October 1943 to October 2015.  With more than 200 email-messages coming in everyday: (i) into my computer directory, and (ii) at the multitude of sites at which I now post my writing, I have no personal need for more emails, for more correspondence.  For those with the interest in a written and continued exchange, though, you can be sure of a response sent to you within 24 hours, if you write to me directly.  In the last 7 years, as I say above, since going on two old-age pensions at the age of 65, I have slowly worked-out a modus operandi, a MO as they say in the who-dun-its, for my world of written communication. It is a communication: (i) with all those to whom I already write & have written for years, and (ii) with all those who have been gradually coming into my personal and private world of written correspondence: (a) since the arrival of the internet in the early 1990s; (b) since I first registered at the literally 1000s of websites at which I now post and have posted my writing beginning in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and (iii) since I created, with the help of my son, my own website in cyberspace nearly 20 years ago in 1997.

Part 1.5

I post the following general explanatory response to all those soliciting my interest & concern, sympathy & attention.  I only utilize SNS, Facebook and MySpace, among the literally 1000s of other sites, like dating and hospitality sites, at which I am registered, to promote my writing, and not to interact with friends, known & unknown.  If you want to write to me directly, as I make clear in the above paragraphs, you can do so at my email address: ronprice9@gmail.com ......Literally 100s, even 1000s now, post messages and information, send me requests & invitations for my comment and, if I tried to respond to them all, that is all I would do all day long.  I am not interested in cultivating relationships with people in all sorts of categories, categories I list in the following somewhat lengthy paragraph. These categories involve:

(a) sex or sinning, a date or a dalliance, romance or finding a soul-mate, (b) the support of, or lending help to, any one of literally 100s of causes and campaigns, catastrophes and crusades, (c) helping others win contests or challenges, prizes or puzzles, tournaments or tests, (d) playing online games, engaging in diversions and races, sports and events, or taking part in what has become the endless and quixotic tournament and litany of internet activities, with their frollicing and their festivities; (e) getting and spending at online shopping, purchasing and e-commerce sort of stuff; (f) wishing 'happy birthday' or celebrating the work or wedding anniversaries of friends old & new, 1000s now in cyberspace (g) responding to what people are doing in their daily lives: cooking and cleaning, eating and engaging, displaying photos of themselves having fun & games, & being involved in various forms of entertainment and enjoyments; (h) looking at photos of people with their furniture or their friends, their food or their fodder, their fixations or their fashions; (i) obligating me: (a)  to read people's books or blogs, their essays or expositions or (b) commenting on the details of their political or philosophical enthusiasms, their religious or psychological interests, their planetary, regional, transcontinental, national, or local worries & concerns; (j) helping people with their money-making business or their endorsements; (k) receiving help for my website & or my online literary business; (l) assisting others with their in extremis personal positions and situations across the face of this earth from refugee camps to mental institutions; (m) receiving money or gifts, materials or products, services or skype from others for any one of dozens of possible reasons or motivations; (n) watching videos and/or movies, being entertained by amazing visual scenes and celebrations, delights & distractions, sports and games, fun and frolicing; (o) writing articles or essays, chapters of books, indeed, any literary pieces that others request and/or, in the process, helping others with their online search activity; and, finally, (p) all sorts of other categories that could be extended virtually and infinitely if I gave the subject more thought.

If you want to contact me, though, for some personal reason of interest or concern---& just to reiterate---my email address is: ronprice9@gmail.com. I will be happy to hear from you.  I will respond within 24 hours out of a sense of courtesy or obligation, or both, or simply because I do want to communicate with you. You can also access my annual letters on my website, and leave a response on my website should you wish at this link: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/welcome.html

Part 1.5.1

I have written here, in this sub-section of my website, some 150 thousand words of explanation and elucidation, description and commentary. On the many pages above and below I provide a quite detailed response to the myriad requests & invitations, direct & indirect, that come my way. I now have many 1000s of friends in cyberspace, known and unknown, as I say above, & literally millions of readers. I can not possibly attempt to respond to them or my pen would be kept busy day and night, & my life would involve nothing else. Occasionally, of course, I do respond to some incoming item. That item is usually from: (a) some old friend or one of my family members, and (b) some one with an urgent request which, after some reflection on my part, requires a response.  Even here I have to be judicious in my responses because the internet is now full of people sending urgent messages for all sorts of reasons as the heat continues to rise in our planetary civilization. Trying to put out individual fires in the great conflagration now spreading across the planet could, indeed, keep me busy night and day.

On many occasions it is courtesy or obligation on the one hand, or the simple desire to communicate on the other, that produces my response. But given the multitude of incoming posts from family and friends, old and new, that come in on a daily basis, my responses are relatively rare, & I have been keeping it that way for several years now.  As far as is possible, given the inevitable constraints and obligations that come one's way in life, & since I went onto two old-age pensions in 2009 at the age of 65, I keep my life free of the immense quantity of detritus that the internet pours into my visual space. It is a space that, in other ways, has provided a readership for my writing and one for which I am immensely gratified. Writers like to have readers, in similar ways that talkers like to have listeners. I have come to like my readers very much even if I try to communicate with them all as little as possible. I am on all-ahead full communicating in my several roles as an: author and writer, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, reader and scholar, online blogger and journalist, friend and colleague.

Part 1.6

The annual emails or letters which I have placed in cyberspace for several years, 2011 to 2015, are sent to friends and family, as well as to a wide variety of associations, known and unknown, who have come into my life particularly in the last two decades. During these last 20 years I have had a website and, since 2009 as I say above, I have been on two old-age pensions. I have reinvented myself as a writer & author full-time.  A whole new readership of my literary products has been acquired after decades of writing part-time before the internet was part of my daily activity.  I began writing letters & essays in my late teens, 1959-1964, at the beginning of my experience as a Baha'i, and the beginning of my travelling-pioneering for the Canadian Baha'i community which I joined in October 1959.

Emails, and my responses to these emails, started to appear in my now wide & varied literary landscape in the last 25 years, 1990 to 2015, from the age of 45 to the age of 70.  Internet posts became part of my literary life, especially in connection with my website, as well as at other sites in cyberspace, in the last 19 years from 1997 to 2015.  In 1997/8 I was just about to take an early retirement from FT paid-employment. Now, in 2015, I have been fully retired from FT, as well as PT, and most casual-volunteer work, for a full decade.

Since going on those two old-age pensions 6 years ago, in July 2009, I rarely initiate correspondence any more.  My letter-email writing life consists, for the most part, of responses to those who write to me directly.  People write to me as a result of seeing my writing at SNS like Facebook, My- Space, as well as at the 1000s of other sites where I am registered, in the form of emails and internet posts.  Responding to the incoming posts that are sent to me directly, & not just posted as passing information on my myriad profile pages in cyberspace, occupies a small portion of my weekly writing activity. I try to keep this new form of correspondence, a form that has really only emerged for me in these first years on my old-age pensions, 2009 to 2015, to a minimum.  

Part 1.7

Letter writing has taken-on a whole new context and meaning in cyberspace for me after some 50 years of writing letters in real space: 1959 to 2009. Since going on two old-age pensions in 2009, I never write snailmail letters.  I had a decade of writing only the occasional letter in real space from 1999 to 2009. These were snailmail items which went to friends in that first decade of my retirement. They were friends who did not have an internet connection and/or who prefered to write letters and not emails. In 2009 my last snailmail correspondent went onto email & I have not written a hard- copy snailmail letter in the last six years.

Emails emerged for me when I was a lecturer at what is now a polytechnic in Perth Western Australia.  They came into my life by degrees from 1990 to 1994.They then flowed like a gushing waterfall in the last two decades, 1995 to 2015.  This electronic communication in many forms: internet and iphones, ipads and faxes, texting and tablets, has revolutionized literary communication in cyberspace & communication in real space.  In some ways, these new forms of literary exchange are not unlike previous decades and centuries when letter writing was one of the major forms of communication in society. At least this has become true for some writers like myself, who utilize cyberspace as their central medium of publicizing their literary wares: books and ebooks, essays and expositions, posts at internet sites and narratives, letters and posts, details and accounts in a myriad modes and manners, styles and forms.

Part 1.7.1:

I could spend all my time now writing emails and posting at internet sites. I could be writing: (i) short and pithy posts of a line or two; (ii) posts of medium length, say, a paragraph or two, (iii) long pieces of a page or more, and (iv) articles, essays and assorted pieces as requested by: (a) many old friends and new, as well as (b) those who are registered at the over 8000 internet sites at which I am registered. Since I have many literary interests, since I have reinvented myself in recent years; since I am now a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor & researcher, online blogger and journalist, reader and scholar, I try to keep those forms of communication to a minimum. I spend as little time as possible writing: (a) emails and responses to Facebook-type communication and (b) letters & responses to others in cyberspace who post at sites where I am registered and where I post my writing.

If family and old friends wonder why I do not send them the short and snappy emails that I used to send to them at their email address, or at their Facebook-page, or at some other internet site, as I did for 15 years from 1994 to 2009, the year that I went on two old-age pensions, this is the reason. It is a reason I elaborate on in some detail in the above paragraphs and those below. This explanation is, in part at least, part of the general outline of my literary-business plan, of my literary industry, of my cyberspace MO. It is this MO that has come to occupy my leisure-time in these my years of retirement as I now go through my 70s, from 23 July 2014 to 23 July 2024.

Part 1.8

Anyone wanting to read about the general goings-on in my life, its activities & engagements, as well as the lives and goings-on of those central people in my family's inner circle--some of the significant others as they say in psychology--can read the general picture I now provide in the 5 annual messages which I have in cyberspace: 2011 to 2015.  My 2013-2014 annual email is now in its fifth and final edition.  I updated this part of my website, my autobiographical webpage, in Australia on the 23rd day of October in Australia.  
My 5 annual emails or letters to family & friends had received more than 25,000 hits by 23 October 2015, far more than I had ever anticipated.  I stopped counting the actual number of those who clicked on my annual emails over two years ago, and now provide only a guesstimation. 

Part 1.9

Having a total of some 25,000 hits for the first five of my annual emails over the four year period, 3/12/'11 to 3/12/'15, is and was one measure, the main type of internet quantifier, of the extent to which these posts have been clicked-on if not read and, if read, not necessarily in their entirety.   Some 25,000 hits at sites which had hit-counters, & sites which did not, was plenty of action, as far as I was concerned, in relation to the readership of my annual emails over the 4 years from 3/12/'11 to 3/12/'15.

If I did not enjoy writing and reading, and engaging in online blogging and journalism, as much as I do; and recognizing, as I also do, that fame and wealth will always elude me, I'd pack-up my literary bags & take on a different life-style.  I'd work in the garden with my wife, do more cooking and cleaning, bust-my-britches with more exercise, engage perhaps in some sporting activity, involve myself with some fancy, or not-so-fancy, hobby aparatus, watch more TV, and do more socializing with and without my wife.  

If I had more money and assets on which to draw, in these my retirement years from the world of paid employment, and on 2 old-age pensions since 2009, I would also do a little travelling with my wife, a little more than the short trips to places in Tasmania that are our lot in these days which are the evening of our lives.   Like some of my family members, some old friends, & some new ones whose financial income, whose monetary package to draw on, far exceeds my own, I would probably join those grey nomads, or some of the jet-setters. My wife and I would go around in caravans, or annually visit various places on various continents, as tourists. Sadly, or perhaps not-so-sadly, fame and wealth will always elude my wife and I. "Such is life," as the famous or infamous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly is reported to have said on his way to the gallows in NSW 135 years ago--in 1880.

Part 1.10

At various times toward the end of those fin de siecle years of the last century, say, 1995 to 1999, human character changed again.  At least that is how some social theorists in the fields of sociology and history, psychology and anthropology, have expressed one of the results of all the new technology that has avalanched into our lives in the last two decades.   Human character, or at least human interaction, began in those last years of the 20th century to undergo a metamorphosis that is still not complete. But it is profound!  It is also troubling and challenging for many. This revolutionary change in communication patterns is scarcely understood in its historical context.  But, it has become part of the very air we breath, seductively or not-so-seductively insinuating itself into our daily life, we who are connected to some or all of the new technologies.

When I think about those late 1990s, as I was retiring from the world of paid employment and student life which had occupied me for half a century, 1949 to 1999, it seems like a 100 years ago, another age, another epoch.  Whenever that last moment was, before most of us were on the internet and entering the email world, before we had mobile phones and cell phones, smartphones and iphones, that moment and those years seem like the end of another era.  A technological paradigm-change has certainly taken-place in the last 20 years or so, at this climacteric of history, as the 20th century closed and the 21st century, the third millennium, came into our lives. Back in those pre-epochal change years, before those fin de siecle years of the late 20th century, letters came once a day, predictably, in the hands of the postal carrier. News came in three flavours: radio, television, print, and at appointed hours. Some of us even had a newspaper delivered every morning. For more on this theme, & a stimulating overview of the recent changes in communication patterns in the last quarter-century, 1990 to 2015, go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n16/rebecca

ONE'S WRITING, ONE'S ART AS/IS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL

Section 1:

Perhaps as a result of the lingering Symbolist inheritance, the aesthetic notion of most potency in the last 30 years, is the idea that the work of art is in some sense about itself. The starting point of the Symbolist movement is the inner vision of the artist. For a context for this movement go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v06/n11/barbara-everett/somebody-reading

Even in the fine arts, apparently most in love with the visible world, the great painter will be said to paint himself in every portrait. The exquisite old lady reading in a pool of light holds the stillness of Rembrandt himself as he paints, & Velasquez looks back at us through the eyes of a court dwarf. I mention Rembrandt and Velasquez, two very famous artists, but I could just as easily have named any two of literally 100s, indeed, 100s of 1000s of others. The artist, the poet, the creative personality, all recreate themselves as they go about their artistic work.

This self-involvement may all the more readily be found in literature since most writers, and even more, poets tend to be experts on themselves. I write all this since my writing is overtly & explicitly, openly & directly, autobiographical. I am drawing here, in this brief analysis & description, on a book review in the London Review of Books, Vol. 6 No. 11, 21 June 1984 when I was just beginning to be published in the print media and also beginning to write my autobiography at the age of 40. The book review in question was by Barbara Everett. Everett is a British academic and literary critic. Her review is of a book by the famous poetry critic, arguably the most famous and erudite of poetry critics now alive, Helen Vendler entitled: The Odes of Keats(Harvard, 1984).

Section 2:

Everette writes in her discussion of the famous poet John Keats: "Outgoing and unegoistic as he was, John Keats shows himself in his letters to be endlessly articulate in relation to himself and his writing. John Keats(1795-1821) was an English Romantic poet.  Keats's poems, too, can be read as something like works of literary criticism, criticism of self and others, society and peoples' values, beliefs and attitudes, in a word, their philosophy and/or religion.  I mention Keats in this context because he has been one of the many models of my prose and poetic writing in the last 25 years: 1990 to 2015.  In the early 1990s I was a lecturer in English Literature at what is now Polytechnic-West in Perth Western Australia and John Keats was part of the syllabus. I had come across Keats for the first time in the early 1960s as a student of English Literature but, at that time, I was more  engaged in sport, in getting high marks, in having fun, and in controlling my libidinal urges. Thirty years later Keats made more of an impression on me when writing poetry had become part of my interest inventory as I was about to turn 50.  Like Keats, I write extensively about my writing, my prose and my poetry, some 200 thousand words of online commentary. John Keats(1795-1821) was an English Romantic poet, one of the main figures of the 2nd generation of Romantic poets along with Lord Byron & Percy Bysshe Shelley despite his work having been in publication for only four years before his death. 

Although his poems were not generally well received by critics during his life, his reputation grew after his death, so that by the end of the 19th century, he had become one of the most beloved of all English poets. He had a significant influence on a diverse range of poets and writers. Jorge Luis Borges stated that his first encounter with Keats was the most significant literary experience of his life. Keats' letters were first published in 1848 and 1878. During the 19th century, critics deemed them unworthy of attention, distractions from his poetic works. During the 20th century they became almost as admired and studied as his poetry, and are highly regarded within the canon of English literary correspondence. T. S. Eliot described them as "certainly the most notable and most important ever written by any English poet." Keats spent a great deal of time considering poetry itself, its constructs and impacts, displaying a deep interest unusual amongst his milieu who were more easily distracted by metaphysics or politics, fashions or science. Eliot wrote of Keats's conclusions; "There is hardly one statement of Keats' about poetry which ... will not be found to be true, and what is more, true for greater and more mature poetry than anything Keats ever wrote."

WRITING FICTION AS IF IT WAS FACT: A TYPE OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Part 1:

There are many ways of writing autobiography.  My way could not be more different than the modus operandi of famous American novelist, Norman Mailer.  Norman Kingsley Mailer(1923-2007) was also a journalist, essayist, playwright, film maker, actor and political candidate. "The Strange Powers of Norman Mailer," is an article which appeared two years ago as I write this update of my autobiography page on my website. In the 21/11/'13 issue of The New York Review of Books Edward Mendelson(1946-), a professor of English and Comparative Literature & the Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, the literary executor of the Estate of W. H. Auden, & the author or editor of several books about Auden's work, including Early Auden (1981) and Later Auden (1999), wrote as follows:  

"The famous American writer Norman Mailer spent much of his life reporting facts as if he were writing fiction, and performing—for an audience of gossip columnists and shockable reviewers—a fictional version of his life as though it were fact."  Mailer's latest biographer, J. Michael Lennon, has just published: Norman Mailer: A Double Life, Simon and Schuster at 950 pages. Mendelson also reviews:  
Mind of an Outlaw: Selected Essays by Norman Mailer. This volume was edited with a preface by Phillip Sipiora, & an introduction by Jonathan Lethem, Random House, 600 pages. I do not write autobiography in fictional form as if it were fact; I write it as fact in several forms: poetic, narrative, essayistic, memoiristic, analytic. The whole question of facticity, of factual accuracy, is a topic unto itself which I will not deal with here. The subject of "what is a fact" has kept sections of the social sciences busy now for decades.

Mendelson also wrote in that same article: "Mailer's whole career was a search for transcendence. The sixteen-year-old Harvard freshman, on the eve of WW2, hoped to be an aeronautical engineer but became, instead, the mystical prophet thundering against: technology, plastics, synthetics, birth control, and computers as a form and cause of cancer in individuals & nations.  His last book was a transcript of his talks with Lennon, On God: An Uncommon Conversation (2007).  Lennon’s biography makes clear that the same habits of mind that kept Mailer from writing a great novel were the ones that made him a great journalist.  Mailer was less interested in human beings than in the quasi-divine forces they embodied, and in the vast unconscious currents that shaped political and cultural history.

Part 2:

I, too, will never write a great novel or, indeed, any novel.  Mailer and I do share, though, an interest in transcendence. This is a complex topic which I leave for the philosophy and religion sub-sections of this website.  I rarely thunder against anything, preferring a more moderate enthusiasm and expression of passion especially now in the evening of my life.  As W. B. Yeats(1865-1939), the Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature, wrote in his poem 'The Second Coming' composed in 1919, and first printed in The Dial in November 1920, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity." This was quite a natural poem to write after millions had just died in the trenches and western civilization looked like the end had come. Little did that civilization know that the end would come again and again and again.


I only mention Mailer here for the same reason I often mention many others both on this page of my website and on virtually every other page in what amounts to over 100 web-blogs. They are one and all, other writers and thinkers, poets and scientists, and they provide useful comparisons and contrasts that help me articulate the nature of my own life and style of communicating.  For more on Mailer go to:  http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/nov/21/strange-powers-norman-mailer/

Part 3:

Writing autobiography has become, in the last several decades, a popular sport. Back in the 1930s Virginia Woolf pondered the silence of women when it came to autobiography.  Adeline Virginia Woolf(1882-1941) was an English writer and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway(1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own(1929), with its famous dictum, "A woman must have money & a room of her own if she is to write fiction." Woolf suffered from severe bouts of mental illness throughout her life, thought to have been the result of what is now termed bipolar disorder, and committed suicide by drowning in 1941 at the age of 59.

Women are no longer silent when it comes to autobiography or, indeed, anything else 80 years after Woolf pondered the subject of women and a host of other subjects. Woolf was more than a little conscious of "the fictitious self which I carry like a mask around in the world."  Fascinated by the gap between her outer self and her secret self, she wrote voluminously to express the secrets in that gap. In the last several decades, 100s of autobiographies have been written by women and readers here can Google this subject to their hearts' content, if they have the interest. There are several links which explore this recent explosion, as well as providing useful outlines of the history of autobiography. The following two links are good examples: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_autobiographies  and  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobiography

SAMUEL JOHNSON'S VIEW OF LIFE


Section 1:

Samuel Johnson(1709-1784), often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory, and has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history".  He is also the subject of "the most famous single work of biographical art in the whole of literature": James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson. Life, for him, hoped to be preparation for a future life: a living for ever by other means. I find this view expresses, in part at least, my own view of life. Such is both my hope and my belief.

One of the most striking things about Samuel Johnson is the depth of his urge towards piety: not spirituality at every moment, but what we might today call ‘mere’ piety. His private diaries are written in the margin of the Christian year: feasts and fast-days provide a grid for his moral thought, his meditations shade into his journal, and anniversaries chime with acts of remembrance and contrition. He was, of course, a good Protestant.  As a loyal Church of England man, he became habituated, not just to Anglican rite and usage, but also to the calendar set out at the head of the Prayer Book. He absorbed as second nature the lessons proper for holidays, the proper psalms on certain days, the tables of vigils and days of abstinence. I include this detail about a man who was born nearly two-and-a-half centuries before me.

I, too, was a Protestant, a member of the Church of England, but only for about one year at the age of 13 or 14 in 1957-8.  My mother always had somewhat eclectic religious tastes and inclinations, and I often accompanied her to the various churches in what was, back in the 1950s, the little town of Burlington in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe.

Section 2:

At the age of 15, on an autumn day in the early evening in October of 1959, I joined the Baha'i Faith, a religion which claimed to be the newest of the Abrahamic religions. My spiritual autobiography is a bit serendipitous. The engine behind it was curiosity born in skeptical wonder, gradual association, and a certain mystery of attraction. As I moved through the years, I questioned my faith more, not less. Almost all of that questioning concerned whether or not my Baha'i faith was particularly suited to the institution of the Baha'i administrative order. This was unsettling in my most difficult of times, and in my first 15 years, from the age of 15 to about 30, I had some difficult times. Difficulties, of course, continued, but full acceptance of the Baha'i teachings was not questioned after the age of 30. This is not to say, of course, that I was able to live, to put into practice all of the advice and admonitions in the Baha'i writings. It is also not to say that I stopped asking questions, nor that I developed a fixed or final point of view regarding a host of issues. I have always found fundamentalist attitudes somewhat disturbing and, generally, I seek creative solutions rather than dogmatic assertions regarding  the many human problems confronting the individual and humanity.

I would like to point out here that I regard myself as a writer who happens to be a Baha'i, not a Baha'i writer.  In making this point I am reminded of the famous novelist Graham Greene who objected strongly to being described as a Roman Catholic novelist rather than as a novelist who happened to be Catholic.  Catholic religious themes are at the root of much of his writing, especially his four major Catholic novels. Baha'i themes are also at the root of much of my writing.  This Faith has provided the grid for my moral thought, and the Baha'i teachings come in time and time again at this website. For more on Johnson in the above context go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v05/n18/pat-rogers/holy-padlock

PRE-NATAL, BIRTH, NEONATAL, TODDLERHOOD AND EARLY CHILDHOOD

Part 1:

In Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett by James Knowlson(Bloomsbury, 872 pages,1996), and in Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist by Anthony Cronin(HarperCollins, 645 pages, 1996) both biographers point out that, in Beckett’s terms, ‘life’ begins before birth. Beckett claimed to have largely disagreeable memories of the pre-natal period.  According to Peggy Guggenheim, he ‘retained a terrible memory of life in his mother’s womb’. References to the pre-natal condition abound in his work, between them Knowlson and Cronin list: Murphy, All that Fall, Company, the poem ‘Sanies 1’. Yet, however unpleasant life had been in the womb, it was as nothing compared with the catastrophe of his birth.

This is a view Beckett shares with Job, Sophocles, and Schopenhauer whose remarks on the ‘crime of having been born’ are reproduced almost verbatim in Beckett’s early essay on Proust and Nietzsche. This essay appeared in the fable at the beginning of the Birth of Tragedy, according to which the ‘best’ is ‘never to have been born’; and the second best is to die quickly. Beckett gives a novel twist to this venerable tradition by extending the curse from birth to conception in Murphy.  Murphy was first published in 1938; it was the third work of prose fiction by the Irish author and dramatist.  It was published at the start of the Baha'i teaching plan, a plan I have been associated with now for 60 years.

Neary, a central character in the book, and an eccentric from Cork who has the ability to stop his heart, curses first the day he was born.  Then, ‘in a bold flashback’, he curses the night he was born.  This novel also provides Beckett with the opportunity to write about the ante-natal period of his life which was ‘the only endurable, just endurable, period of my enormous history’. Beckett is, for millions, a challenging writer, so challenging that most readers pass him by. If I have whetted the appetite of some readers, they might like to go to the link below to begin their literary journey with this tragicomic writer whose outlook on human nature is often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.
  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Beckett

Part 2:

I have included the above, not because I have any memories of my pre-natal 9-months life beginning at conception, nor of my neo-natal life, the first weeks after my birth but, rather, because my mother nearly died giving me birth. Giving birth to me was one of the crises of her life. In her more difficult moments in life, and on some occasions of serious reflection on the state of the world,  she said she often wished I had not been born.  My mother told me, though, before she died in 1978 at the age of 74, that in the first month after birth she got down on her knees and said to God: "If you heal me, I will give my son to You." 

My first memory was when I was nearly four years old. Toddlerhood(1-3) was behind me, and some difficult emotional life according to the son of my mother's sister who told me, when he was in his 70s, that I had often been a difficult child for my mother to deal with.  I was in the early years of early childhood(2 to 7) when what became my first memory took place. It was making a mud-pie in the early spring of 1948. 

Part 3:

It has become part of conventional thinking that the early socialization of a child has an important role in determing the overall life-trajectory, the total life experience of a person over the lifespan. I have written a brief statement and analysis of my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood to provide some explanatory framework for my life.  In some of my childhood years and adolescence, the ages 9 to 19, and the first decade of my young adulthood, 20 to 30, the years 1953 to 1975, the seeds of what I now regard as, and what I firmly believe to be, a divine knowledge were sown in the soil of my heart.  It was a heart which had a degree of receptivity to things outside the small-town culture in which I was immersed.  

By the age of 31, with my years of youth behind me,  my sense of conviction in what one could call the unseen creative force of the universe, in God, was firmly implanted in my being. His act of Self-Revelation through a chosen human instrument occurring periodically in history, and most recently in the Person of Baha'u'llah, was also part of this conviction.  The hypothesis that man's social evolution is due to the periodic intervention in human affairs of the creative force of the universe, in the form of especially chosen souls, the Founders of the great world religions: this hypothesis is at the centre of the Baha'i Faith;  this Faith provides fresh empirical evidence for this assumption for those with the interest in the subject.  This Faith also provided a core, a compass, a framework, for my moral and intellectual universe as it evolved through my teens and twenties. And it continues to do so more than four decades later as I head through my 70s from 23/7/'14 to 23/7/'24.

MY LIFE AND THE BAHA'I FAITH

Section 1:

For many reasons I kept the divine knowledge to which I refer above hidden, and still do, at least mostly, due to the disinterest of those around me in the content of that divine knowledge, that hypothesis, that assumption.  Their unwillingness: friends and family, co-workers and the associations who were part of my world in the 1950s and 1960s, to investigate, to search-out the claims of this new world Faith became a pattern that has existed all my adult life.  I go public, that is, I let others know about my convictions, from time to time when it seems appropriate to do so.  I have kept my energetic evangelism, my enthusiasm, quiet and unobtrusive due to the cultural conservatism, the customs and mores, the social milieux in which I have lived from the 1950s to this second decade of the 21st century.

In the last decade, though, with literally millions of my words spread across 1000s of internet sites, my public face as a Baha'i has become much more overt, more explicit, more "public."  Still, I wear my enthusiasms and convictions far from the aggressive proselytizing of many political and religious groups. There is often, too, an aggressive advocacy which impells many in our largely secular society to be stridently propagandistic in relation to their many views and causes, interests and enthusiasms.

Section 2:

People's interest in sport and gardening, in entertainment and having fun, in job and family often has an enthusiasm, indeed, an excitement which occupies people's lives in ways very similar to religion or a philosophy of life.  As one famous theologian, Paul Tillich, once put it, everyone has what might be called 'a ground to their being'; everyone possesses a certain set of values, beliefs and attitudes, which is the centre of his or her life. Call that centre their religion or their philosophy, if you like.  If you don't like those terms, that use of words and views, you can call their centre: secular humanism, agnosticism, atheism, theism, or any one of a number of other words which attempt to capture the core of people's value and belief system.

When one gives some serious thought to these sorts of questions, the subject becomes quite complex, and it can not be dealt with in a sentence or a paragraph.  The subject often is dealt with briefly, and in a dismissive line or two, due to people's incapacity or their disinclination to discuss such fundamental aspects of their lives in any detail. Often when one scratches the surface of someone's belief system, and when one gets them to start asking fundamental questions about what they in fact believe, a bag of worms is let loose. Questions of historicity, belief in magic, the complexities of prophecy, understandings of history and sociology, psychology and philosophy, all become just too much and it is often better to retreat into talking about the weather and sport, gardening and family, inter alia.

After more than 70 years of living, I am more than a little aware of the fragility of the beliefs of millions,& of a general inability of those same millions to seriously discuss what they believe.  The underpinnings of belief often lack rigorous and rational, systematic & serious, thought. This is in spite of strong convictions and even a sense of certitude. The difficulty people have of engaging in serious dialogue is due to all sorts of psychological and sociological sources, historical and philosophical factors. Those sources and those factors could make a separate book in itself especially since fragility of beliefs at one end of the emotional-intelllectual spectrum is balanced by intensely and passionately felt beliefs at the other end. I'll leave that discussion for another time.

Section 3:

That knowledge, and those convictions that I have been associated with now for more than 60 years, and officially espoused for well over half a century, were also kept hidden from others most of the time. This was because the emotional reorientation that others needed to assimilate the new truths of this Faith, if truths they be, almost always seemed too great.  Most of those who came across my path never joined me in my spiritual journey in this Cause which I have now been associated with, as I say above, for more than 60 years. 

The philosophical and religious inertia, if inertia it was, of others, the hardening of attitudes, other interests which captured people's time and their enthusiasms, their resistence to fundamental change in their religious and philosophical perspectives and orientations; the nature, extent, and the emotional strength of their existing assumptions; the very complexity of not only the issues involved, but of the great shifts & changes in the wider society itself with its myriad of religious & political groupings in recent decades, as well as many other difficulties which others had & have in even investigating this new Faith from a distance---this all resulted for most people who crossed my path in too much of a wall of words and ideas, concepts and attitudes. People's belief systems are complex affairs, and it is often simply better and safer, and certainly easier, as I say above, to discuss the weather and sport, gardening and eating, health and hygiene, et cetera, et cetera.

Section 4:

This has been true for me in relation to most of the people in my life, except for a small handful of youth and adults, from the 1950s to 2010s. After living in some 2 dozen towns, travelling to more than 100, and dwelling in more than 3 dozen houses in the years 1943 to 1999, my life as a travelling teacher and tutor, lecturer & adult educator-pioneer now takes place in cyberspace from the comfort of my study: 1999 to 2015.  I have had dozens of other roles in life, roles I expand on in my autobiography available in 6 Parts at this link: http://bahai-library.com/price_autobiography_conclusion_1  My life-style now, as I head through my 70s, is a highly sedentary one similar, in many respects, to that of my maternal grandfather whose autobiography has inspired my own memoiristic literary efforts.

The challenging & revolutionary perspective at the centre of this new world Faith, what seems to me to be a fascinating picture of reality & a unique approach to history, man and society, have resulted in my being the only Baha'i in virtually every work-place, and every educational institution, of which I have I been part.  In the wider world though, which grew from about 2.3 billion when my parents met in the early 1940s to the current 7.3 billion in 2015, the Baha'i community grew, during those same years, from approximately 100,000 members globally to some 5 to 8 million adherents.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica the Baha'i Faith is the second most widespread religion on the planet. Traveling and teaching, telling others about this new Faith, has been on the agenda of Baha'is for a century-and-a-half, and it will be on their agenda for some time to come in the international Baha'i community which exists now in over 240 countries and independent territories. The new Baha'i culture of learning and growth which has been in operation now for two decades, 1996 to 2015, has altered the focus and the mode, the manner and the style, the nature & nurture within the Baha'i community as I had experienced it from the 1950s to the early 1990s.

Section 5:

As I say above the very complexity of the spheres of religion and philosophy make acceptance of Baha'i teachings difficult for many.  One example is, as follows:  The Baha'i Faith teaches that all the great religions are of divine origin, & they differ only in non-essential aspects of their doctrines.  If such is the case there should at least be agreement regarding each founder's teachings on God. However, just the opposite appears to be the case:  Krishna taught that God is pantheistic; Buddha appears to be agnostic & indifferent to God's existence; Muhammad was monotheistic and intensely so; Jesus taught of a triune God. Either these founders contradict each other making it impossible to discern between a true founder and a false one, or the nature of God is contradictory which is self-defeating and absurd, or the Baha'i Faith is false. To reconcile these various views requires of the seeker to do much study of the various religious faiths and this requires, for many, too much study. It also requires much interest in the subject of the religious beliefs of the historic religions.  Many simply do not possess that interest. I could site many examples of the intellectual problems assoicated with the investigation of the Baha'i Faith, but the above will suffice.

A SENSE OF DESTINY

Part 1:

A belief in destiny or fate is a belief in a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or in relation to an individual. It is a concept based on the belief that there is a fixed natural order to the cosmos. Although often used interchangeably, the words "fate" and "destiny" have distinct connotations. Traditional usage defines fate as a power or agency that predetermines and orders the course of events. Fate defines events as ordered or "inevitable" and unavoidable. Classical & European mythology features three goddesses of fate dispensing their spirit and ideas. They are known as Moirai in Greek mythology, as Parcae in Roman mythology, and as Norns in Norse mythology. They determine the events of the world through the mystic spinning of threads that represent individual human fates. In Islam, fate or qadar is the decree of Allah.

Destiny is used with regard to the finality of events as they have worked themselves out in history.  That same sense of "destination", projected into the future, becomes the flow of events as they work themselves out in daily life. In Hellenistic civilization chaotic, unforeseeable, turns of chance gave increasing prominence to a previously less notable goddess, Tyche. Tyche literally means "Luck".  Luck embodied the good fortune of a city and all whose lives depended on its security and prosperity, two good qualities of life that appeared to be out of human reach.  The Roman image of Fortuna, with the wheel she blindly turned, was retained by Christian writers, revived strongly in the Renaissance-& it survives in some forms today.

Part 2:

In daily language, "destiny" & "fate" are synonymous, but with regard to 19th century philosophy, the words gained inherently different meanings. For Arthur Schopenhauer, destiny was just a manifestation of the Will to Live. This Will to Live can be: (i) living fate & (ii) the choice of overrunning fate by means of Art and of Morality. For Nietzsche, destiny keeps the form of amor fati, the Love of Fate, through an important element, the "will to power" in Nietzsche's philosophy.  This will to power is the basis of human behavior, and it is influenced by the Will to Live of Schopenhauer. But this concept may have even other senses although Nietzsche, in various places, saw the will to power as a strong element for adaptation or survival in a better way than in the past. Nietzsche eventually transformed the idea of matter as existing in centers of force into matter as part of centers in the will to power. He saw mankind’s destiny in terms of loving its fate, amor fati. The expression amor fati is used repeatedly by Nietzsche to mean accepting one's fate, but in such a way that it becomes another thing. It becomes your choice. Your choice is your destiny.

I first came across the concept of fate in the novels of Thomas Hardy.  Thomas Hardy(1840-1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels & in his poetry by Romanticism, especially William Wordsworth. Charles Dickens was another important influence. Like Dickens, he was highly critical of much in Victorian society, though Hardy focused more on rural life in a declining society. Thomas Hardy expressed a fatalistic view of life in his tragic novel The Return of the Native, a novel I studied in 1961/2. He depicted human actions as subject to the control of an impersonal force which he saw as destiny or fate.

Chance and coincidence were also strong forces in life, and man has no right to change its way. In this aspect we find that the vision of life that Hardy gives in Return of the Native is tragic. It is a view filled with ultimate despair.  In characterization Hardy is similar to the Greek tragedians. For more go to:http://www.literary-articles.com/2010/02/role-of-fate-in-thomas-hardys-return-of.html  I also came across the concept of fate in my late teens in my early studies of Baha'i: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art180563.asp See also "fate in Islam" at: http://islamiclearningmaterials.com/fate-and-destiny-in-islam/  For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destiny

GLUCK AND ME: 1963 to 2015

Two Different Leagues in the Sea of Poetry

Part 1:

As far back as I can remember, and my memories go back to the late 1940s when I was still in early childhood, a period usually defined by developmental psychologists as the time period from the age of two until at least the age of five years, I have found that the people in my life had a wide-range of attitudes to, and beliefs about, me. This is a common human experience, is hardly surprising, & should not raise any eyebrows.  In the last 50 years, 1965 to 2015, years during which I have had my poetry and prose published in a great variety of contexts, this same range of attitudes & appreciations existed: from high praise & even delight, to outright indifference & disinterest, to intense criticism, abuse & even villification.  In my reading about Gluck's life & her writing, I came across a similar range of reactions to her life & work as to my life & work.  The following prose-poem is about the reactions of others to both her life and work, and the reactions of others to mine.

Part 2:

“A Glück poem is determined to wrest meaning from circumstance, to force a pattern over the chaos of a lived life.” So writes Irish poet & novelist, Nick Laird(1975- ), about the poetry of Louise Gluck.  I could write in the same vein about some of the purpose of my own prose-poetic output over the last thirty-five years, after a hiatus of some 18 years(1962-1980) when I did not bother to save and collect my few poetic or prose offerings.

Gluck wrote in her introduction to The Best American Poetry 1993: “poems are autobiography, but are divested of the trappings of chronology and comment, the metronomic alternation of anecdote and response.”(1)  In the case of my poetry, though, the trappings of chronology & comment are part and parcel of my modus operandi and style.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) Nick Laird, “The Triumph of the Survivor”, a review of Louise Glück’s Poems 1962-2012 in The New York Review of Books, 21/3/’13.

Part 3:

Louise Elisabeth Glück was born 15 months before I was, & not that far as the crow flies on this planet that is gravitating into a neighborhood---from where I was born.  We both belong to that generation ‘the-war-babies’.  She is an American poet & has been publishing her poetry since 1968.  I had hardly scratched the surface of my poetic life by 1968, but I had begun to have the kind of experiences that, in part, led to the kind of poetry that was the Gluck trademark: suffering, depression and alienation. My experiences and my poetry, my philosophy and my religion, as well as my suffering and depression, took my life and my writing in very different directions. By my late teens I began to suffer what psychiatrists came to label "a mild schizo-affective state." During my periods of depression it was like 'a-sickness-unto-death' as one writer has expressed its downside.

Gluck, a most famous member of the modern American poetry community, was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2003, after serving as a Special Bicentennial Consultant three years prior in 2000.  I am not in Louise’s poetic league having only published poetry on the internet for the last 15 years: 2000 to 2015, and my prose in the last 35 years(1980-2015) to any significant extent.  My fame is measured in nanoseconds across the 1 billion websites, and their 3 billion users.  Gluck’s fame is measured across more than 40 years of published  work, as well as being found in the praise, the opinions, and the opprobrium of many. My writing shares some similarities to her style & content, but we are very different people and poets.

Part 4:

The fragmentation of your work hints
at a mind trying to order itself…wrest
meaning from circumstance, & that’s(1)
what I’ve been trying to do for years!! 

Our poetic works record a movement
from emotional instability to regained
control, and so much else. My poetry,
too, is self-centred, often colloquial &
in an idiom of ordinary speech. I write
of both a fallen world as well as a new
one that is embryonic, just been born:
an embryogenesis, vivid planetization,
globalization...a sense & sensibility of
one world, one humanity, one religion.

(1) Few poets have sounded as depressed or as alienated as Gluck; poetry and the visionary are intertwined; part of her impetus is Greek & Roman mythology; she writes poetry that leads readers to their inner world; it is poetry that uses straightforward language and can be understood by readers; it is close to the diction of ordinary speech, but it is far from colloquial. Her poetry is self-centred and comes directly from her life, her losses and tragedies, her inner life. She is the poet of a fallen world.  Her work explores the agony of the self, failed love-affairs and existential despair.-Ron Price with thanks to Poetry Foundation:http://http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/louise-gluck

Part 5:

In Brian Henry’s review of The Seven Ages (2001) by Louise Glück in Contemporary Poetry Review, entitled “Louise Gluck’s Monumental Narcissism”, 8/7/'03, he writes: “Very few lives are interesting, & even fewer are sufficiently interesting to spawn nine books of autobiographical poetry. Louise Glück’s life might be richer than most, but in her continued fetishization of her life and her self--not the self that eats and sleeps and pays bills, but “Louise Glück The Poet” self--she demonstrates a disconcerting inability to find her way out of the cul-de-sac of subjectivity.”

“She has forgotten how to imagine, or even re-imagine, her life. Instead, she looks upon her past in The Seven Ages (2001) and assumes it’s of interest solely because she is Louise Glück. Only poets accustomed to thinking of themselves as Poets would try to get away with this.  In The Seven Ages Glück views herself not as a person but as a protagonist, the world not as a place but as a stage, as Shakespeare did in his “all the world’s a stage.”  Whether or not this poetic introspection of Gluck's is the result of her years of psychoanalysis, her posturing becomes tedious.  Increasingly at an imaginative loss, Glück mines her private life in a way both exhibitionist and narcissistic.(1)

Part 6:

Is my poetry a form of exhibitionism
as it solicits interest? Is it narcissistic
as it presumes the interest?.....Is it a
brand of obsessive self-reflection or
self-love?   Has its very self-scrutiny
become ridiculous in a perseverance,
and cavalier in a set of assumptions?  

Are these poems just a memoir?
I use this genre to try to explain
my life…explore my experience.

Does my writing depend on my
identity to be interesting?....My
poems are successful to me but
only, I’m sure, to a few readers. 

My poetry is, it seems to me, a
matter of a certain marketing: is
this art?  Well, it is to me, and a
few others who read my work.
 
My poems embrace spheres well
beyond the self, transforming my
life into a rich imaginative realm
which illuminates the vast field of
the psycho-emotional, and in the
process I construct, as I travel
this literary road: a life, society,
a religion, a cosmology, & even
a raison d'etre for my very being.

Part 7:

(1) Brian Henry has published poetry and criticism in numerous magazines around the world including: the Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, Harvard Review, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, American Poetry Review, New American Writing, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Stand, Overland, and Threepenny Review. His first book of poetry, Astronaut, appeared recently in the UK and in Slovenia in translation. Astronaut was published in 2000 in the US by Carnegie Mellon University Press. His second book, Graft, was published in 2003 by New Issue Press and by Arc in England. He has edited the international magazine Verse since 1995, and was a Fulbright scholar in Australia in 1997-98, where he was Poetry Editor of Meanjin. He teaches at the University of Georgia.

Ron Price
10/4/’13 to 20/11/'13.

BABIES

As we examine our lives we have often ignored those small creatures who do not seem to hold out much scholarly promise as we have defined the ethnographic imagination.  At a theoretical level babies constitute for most of us a non-subject, occupying negative space that is virtually impervious to the anthropological gaze.  Moreover, those studies that do privilege infants have been sidelined from mainstream conversations in cultural anthropology.  Infants still occupy a marginal place in academic literature and in autobiographies early childhood usually gets only a passing nod while middle and late childhood get a more deserving place.  The ethnography, the study of infants is still in its infancy.

Discussion of the social matrix of children’s lives appears to be developing rapidly in several fields of the social and behavioural sciences.  From the early work of  Philip Aries in 1962, history and sociology are especially fertile grounds and signal encouraging paths for emerging discussions of children as culturally situated.  Developmental psychologists routinely define ‘‘infancy’’ rather strictly as the period encompassing birth to the onset of ‘‘toddlerhood,’’ which in their definitions normatively ends at the age of three.  The transition from the end of the second year to the beginning of the third is taken by psychologists as a benchmark of the latest date at which the young child begins to understand and respond to linguistic communication and can walk effectively without constantly falling. I will include more here about this part of my life, given its crucial importance.


THE CONCEPT OF COMMUNITY

Section 1:

There are a myriad notions of community that lie behind my activity in cyberspace. The Aristotelian idea of community understandably approved the classical duty incumbent on men no less to love others than themselves.  Not all philosophers saw community as Aristotle(384-322 BC) did. Machiavelli(1469-1527), the Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance, was very pessimistic about human nature and, consequently, about community. Others, philosophers and thinkers of many ilks, saw people as naturally induced to seek communion & fellowship with others.  Some thinkers are optimistic souls, some pessimistic, some practical realists, some utopian. Each thinker and philosopher has their own take on things, their take on human nature and existential reality, their take on the nature of community and the individual. Of course, this is just saying the obvious.

Section 1.1:

Michel de Montaigne(1533-1592), one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance, known for popularising the essay as a literary genre, and commonly thought of as the father of modern skepticism, echoed an Aristotelian perspective. "There is nothing for which nature seems to have given us such a bent as for society," he assured his readers.  Aristotle wrote that good lawgivers have paid more attention to friendship than to justice.  Friendship is the "peak" of a "perfect society." (Montaigne, Essays, pp. 92-3). In these secular terms, friendship was generally esteemed. Etienne de la Boetie(1530-1563), a French judge, writer, anarchist, and one of the founders of modern political philosophy in France, advised that "our nature is such that the common duties of friendship consume a good portion of our lives" (Charier, A History of Private Life,  p. 21).

Section 1.2:

The idea of "duty" is important in many conceptions of friendship. For many, the idea of friendship was immediately idealised, in classical terms, as a matter of responsibility to fellow members of the community. In his Book of the Governor, Sir Thomas Elyot(1490-1546) defined the good magistrate as one who was a "plain and unfeigned friend." The secular aspect was, then, intimately related to classical models of public and civic association. James Harrington(1611-1677), an English political theorist best known for his controversial work, The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656), described friendship more in terms of agricultural settlement and rural life than in terms of ideals of Roman civic governance. His views were firmly based on received models of citizen "virtue." Indeed, as John Pocock(1924- ), a writer and historian of political thought, noted, the importance of Oceana lies precisely in its translation of classical ideas of association into a world determined by the jurisprudence of the common law. 


Since many readers who come to this sub-section of my webpage come here as 'friends' from a multitude of internet sites at which I post, you might enjoy a book published in 2006 by one of the English speaking world's finest essayists, Joseph Epstein.  The book is entitled: Friendship: An Expose. This is a rambling, shambling, highly personal survey of a universal relationship. It is a relationship whose fluidity and changing nature---through history and through the stages of a single life---make it rich pickings for an erudite essayist of Mr. Epstein’s caliber. A review of that book is found at this link at The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/26/books/26grim.html

Section 2:

Many successful and oft' frequented sites, as well as many internet entrepreneurs, moderators, and administrators, in addition to a host of others, aim at a maximization of their readership through a range of what some call 'search engine optimization techniques'.  In the process many get millions of hits, and millions of readers.  If I was into popularity, fame and wealth, as I say above and on my home page &, just to reiterate, I'd pack up and invest my time in other activities than writing.  Realising that fame, celebrity status and wealth will always elude me, I write for many other reasons having to do with things like: the sheer pleasure of writing, the desire to communicate with others, my general health problems which limit my physical activity and socializing, and a host of other reasons, reasons I write about at many places in cyberspace, both on this my website and at dozens of sites in cyberspace.

The first edition of my online annual email for 2011-2012 will have been in cyberspace for four years on: 3/12/'15.  I have kept it accessible to readers at this link: http://www.theforumsite.com/users/ro.../journal/80828  
That first annual email or letter, for 2011, was a survey of my activities and the activities of some, but not all, of my family members.  I have had three families in my life: one consanguineal, that is birth family, and two affinal families, families by marriage. The 2nd edition of that online annual email was written as both a survey of 2011, and an introduction to the, then, up-coming year 2012.  That 2nd edition can be found at the following link; it is an upate on the lives of the significant others in my life, a term used in psychology, as I have already indicated. Go to: http://www.my-diary.org/read/d/465760 

Section 2.1:

My first annual email for 2012-2013 is found at: http://mnemotechnics.org/blogs/ronprice/summer-edition-of-ron-prices-annual-email-for-201213-3113.html  The 5th edition of my annual email for 2013-2014, an email which does NOT contain an update on the significant others in my life, is now available at the following link: http://www.my-diary.org/read/d/465760  Readers have several options if they want to connect with my annual emails in the years 2011 to 2015.

MORE ON MY ANNUAL EMAIL

A. CONFIDENTIALITY AND THE PERSONAL

The information contained in my annual emails is not intended to be confidential. This annual missive, a type of report, does not need to be protected by privacy acts or any other legal rules. The retention, dissemination, distribution or copying of this epistolary note is not strictly prohibited.  I place a link to it in cyberspace at my website for ease of access by readers since it provides a personal aspect to my website, a website which already has a strong autobiographical flavour. The curtain of discretion behind which I guard my days is, of course, one of my own making.  There may be, indeed, I am sure there are, many readers who see some of my autobiographical writing as having strayed far too much into the territory of the personal. Many of my values and beliefs, my attitudes and standards, morals and mores, are clearly on display for the discerning reader. Some of this introspection will help readers understand the person who is doing the writing, at least those who are interested and for what it is worth.

What makes my thoughts my thoughts? One answer is that I have what philosophers sometimes call “privileged access” to them. This means at least two things. First, I access them in a way others cannot.  Even if others could walk a mile in my shoes, others can’t know what and how I feel in the same way I can:  I see me and my thoughts from the inside so to speak. Second, I can, at least sometimes, control what others know about my thoughts. I can hide my true feelings from others, or I can let others have the key to my heart. For more on the issues of privacy & security, freedom & authority go to this link:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/22/privacy-and-the-threat-to-the-self/

To be an autonomous person is to be capable of having privileged access, in the two senses defined above, to information about my psychological profile: my hopes and dreams, my beliefs and fears, inter alia.  A capacity for privacy is a necessary condition of autonomous personhood. I only let some of the cats of my bag, so to speak. Readers can read about the cats I do let out: (i) in these 4 annual emails, & (ii) in the form of what are now some 60 books at my website at 80,000 words per book. This is to say nothing of the several million words that I have now posted across some of the 1 billion sites where more than 3 billion readers are found as of the mid-point of the second decade of this 21st century.


B. AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL FOCUS

The autobiographical focus at my website is obvious to any reader who spends much time at my site, a site I have now had for the last 19 years.  My website is now more than 4 years into its 4th edtion. This 4th edition opened on 21/3/'11, 'went live' as my website design company put it.  I recommend that anyone not wanting to receive my annual emails or posts, the ones found at the above links, simply delete them from their mail box, if I send it/the link to them for some reason or other.   It goes without saying, of course, that those who are not interested in these annual communications, and to whom I do not send them personally, will simply not click on the above links.

At my website I try to make of myself: a person, a character, one that is a much more fully contextualized person than the typical ones found at SNS like Facebook or, indeed, the millions of other sites where people write and interact with others.  I have provided a more fully detailed and outlined, contextualized and described, person since I began writing seriously in cyberspace more than a decade ago, & since I began to publish my writing in real space as far back as the 1960s.  That context was built, for the most part though, over the years 2001 to 2015 in cyberspace; it was built on a foundation of some four decades of my published writing from 1961 to 2001. It was also built on another dozen years before 1961 when I engaged in my first writing from 1949 to 1960.  Over that half century and more, I wrote notes and essays, letters and poems, as well as an assortment of pieces on the Baha'i Faith, & a host of other subjects for teachers & students, professors & lecturers, and the print and electronic media.

B.I MY MEDICAL PROBLEMS

I have written a personal and idiosyncratic, medical and clinical study of what some life-study students call a chaos narrative. This study focuses on an aspect of my life involving several mental health issues, mainly bipolar 1 disorder. This account is now in its 15th edition. In my retirement, the years from 2001 to 2015, I have revised the account each year producing what became a new edition each year. This book has 15 chapters; the last chapter contains ten appendices which, with the main text, provide what I hope are helpful perspectives for others who suffer various traumatic experiences in life. This is a Two-Part account at Baha'i Library Online, & it deals with two-halves of my life, from conception to age 35 in Part 1. Part 2 deals with the last half, age 35 to 71 with some overlap between the two periods: 1943 to 1980, and 1981 to 2015. For our world of print-and-image glut, I advise many readers to simply skim or scan to portions of the book relevant to their own experiences. For the entire story go to: http://bahai-library.com/price_mental-health_history_autobiography-memoir

As I say in my annual letters, in summarizing my present situation, I have 3 children and four grandchildren all living within cooee.  I also have a small circle of friends, and many an internet correspondent. I could give you a dog's breakfast of problems that people in this quite personal world of contacts experience.  I see 9 doctors for my several maladies: (i) a psychiatrist for my bipolar disorder, (ii) a GP for scripts, hearing tests, blood tests for my diabetes 2 among other purposes, and an assortment of 2nd opinions in relation to my general medical problems; (iii) a urological surgeon for my enlarged prostate, (iv) a renal physician for my moderate chronic kidney disease and cholesterol problems, (v) a gerontologist for diverticulitis, gastroscopies and colonoscopies when required, (vi) a podiatrist for foot fungus and other foot problems, (vii) an opthamologist &/or optometrist for my cataracts, retinopathy for diabetic eye-disease, and annual eye examinations for vision and prescription glasses, (viii) a dentist and dental technician for my 6 teeth and 2 partial plates, and (ix) nurses in clinical pathology units where diagnosis of disease based on laboratory analysis of bodily fluids such as blood and urine take place. Goodness---my story is as long as your arm. I aim on a daily basis to write & read as much as possible except for 2 hours after taking my seroquel for my bipolar disorder which psychiatrists also give to war veterans with PTSD. My several medications keep me: (i) pain free, (ii) in a comfortable condition to go through the 12 hours when I'm not in bed on a daily basis, and (iii) the 12 hours I am in bed for an 8 hour sleep each day.


C. MY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITING

I wrote reports and notes, essays and reviews first for teachers and tutors, lecturers and professors, friends and students in the 1950s and 1960s. I then wrote for newspapers and magazines, journals and various inhouse and community newsletters in the 1970s and 1980s.  I have been involved in these various forms of writing since as far back as my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, ostensibly, to let others know “where I was coming from," as they say these days, among other reasons.  I now shape the “I” in my writing through a range of techniques and skills, literary crafts and practices. Reading my work demands of readers a constant choice between two equally compelling personal portraits: a Ron Price who is a little raw and vulnerable as well as moderately confessional; and a Ron Price who is somewhat calculating, a little theatrical, and---to use a phrase I sometimes like to apply to my prose--totally in control. 

To put this another way: there's a trembling quality to my literary & public self, a misleading fragility that acts as the surface tension to whatever depths that exist in my inner and private self.  But I do not have the problem a novelist has & which one famous writer expressed thus: "All novel writing in relation to character is a presumption since no one knows what it is like to be another human being." My writing is just about entirely autobiographical like my maternal grandfather's.  I don't have to force it as some writers do; there is no agony and self-flagellation, but there is some compulsion, some obsessiveness.

For me there are several places where I transcend the tribalism in society and its daily politics: one is through my writing, and the other is through the internationalism of my religion. I try to avoid preachiness, the self-righteous tone, and the making of my knowledge the annoying knowingness that I so often find in other writers & individuals in the daily round. From 1949 to 1999, from the age of 5 to 55, I chose ordinary human entanglement in real life, largely I think in retrospect, to deal with school & family, friends & jobs, community and society.  On retirement, though, in my mid-50s, I slowly began to reinvent myself as a writer and author; I chose a virtually exclusive devotion of my time to the literary arts.  It is impossible for me, though, to be totally reclusive since: (i) I am a husband of an active and socially committed wife, (ii) I am a father to three children, now adults, and four grand-children; (iii) I am a member of a large extended affinal and consanguineal family here in Australia and in Canada, (iv) I am an active member of the Baha'i community at the local, cluster, regional, national and international levels; (iv) I also have friends both in real space and cyberspace, and (v) I also participate in a number of interest groups both online & in real space.  As I now go through my 70s, I tend to increasingly limit the social dimensions of my life as much as it is possible; part of the reason for this more solitary life-style is a range of infirmities that are part of my bipolar disorder and other medical problems.


D. THE WORLD'S ESSAYISTS AND WRITERS

The world has had, and now has, some fine essayists.  I am not in the same league as the finest, but they set the bar for me. An essay is an experiment, not a credo.  It is something made up in response to an excited imagination; it is a short story told in the form of an argument or a history or even, once in a very great while, an illumination. These are not my words, but the words of Cynthia Ozick, one of the many fine essayists whom I have come to read in these years of my retirement without 60 to 70(& often more) hours a week of job, family & community responsibilities breathing down my neck. I don't mean to imply that job, family & community were not good for me. I would not want to have missed that half century of wall-to-wall people, say, 1949 to 1999, for the world. But now that those 5 decades are gone another me has begun to emerge, and it is emerging in the roles of writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, online blogger and journalist, reader and scholar.

There are many writers capable of creating those often glittering and sometimes quite bewitching contraptions, pieces of prose, known as essays. It has taken me many years to come up with a short list of the best, at least the best from my point of view, of the myriad people who now write, and who once wrote essays. This is only one literary form; the world is now the home of a pantheon of literary forms which will keep me happily occupied until the roll is called-up to the proverbial "yonder." Clive James has a list of some very fine essayists and some of their essays at: http://www.clivejames.com/text/prose-finds

E. MY ANNUAL COMMUNICATIONS

I have been writing an annual communication to friends and family since 1967 when I left southern Ontario for Baffin Island.  I grew up in a part of Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. At the age of 18 I began my pioneering-travelling life for the Canadian Baha'i community and moved to several places in that Golden Horseshoe before I married and went to live on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic.  In late August 1967, in the first two weeks of my first marriage, I went to live in Frobisher Bay at the southern end of Baffin Island, the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island in the world.  

Since 1967, some 47 years ago, I have been writing to friends and family most years, but not to everyone in my family and not to all my friends. There were people, both in my family and among my friends, who liked to write and our correspondence became more regular. Some of these people only wrote a paragraph or two each year; others wrote a page or more, and a small handful wrote, like me, a great deal.

Beginning on 3 December 2011 nearly 4 years ago as I update this webpage, I placed my annual email, the annual update on my personal life with some comments on society, at 3 internet sites.  At two of these sites I had been posting my writing for several years. At one of the sites my writing was posted infrequently. Readers click on whichever site and thread they like if, indeed, they want to do any clicking & reading of my annual emails.


WHY HAVE THIS EMAIL ONLINE

Part 4

In placing my annual email online for each of the five years from 2011 to 2015, as well as my having a website, I follow the advice of that encyclopaedic British historian Arnold Toynbee (1898-1975), whom I began reading while at university in the 1960s during my 2nd year in a history and philosophy major.  Toynbee wrote that:
"It is a paradoxical, but profoundly true and important, principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it."  I leave it to readers who come to this site to work out some of my many and more ambitious goals beyond what may be obvious here, beyond what I write here, both in this section of my website and in its entire compositions. Some of my goals will be obvious to readers, and some may be as obscure to them as they are to me.

MY RESPONSE TO INVITATIONS AND REQUESTS FOR ME TO COMMENT 
              FROM INDIVIDUALS: (I) AT SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE(SNS), (2) AT OTHER INTERNET SITES, AND (3) VIA DIRECT EMAIL

Section 1:

We are all dwelling in cyberspace, coursing through the wires, becoming cyborg and becoming human, alone at the keyboard, together online. We are subjects of a realm which offers new ways of envisioning Self & Other.  Cyberspace is a type of parallel universe where a global cyberculture is in the process of creation. Cyberculture is devoted to an examination of the new subjectivities & collectivities that are emerging. As a member of this new technological society I am interested in the cultural and political, philosophical & psychological, historical & economic issues engendered, on all levels of the social.  Of course, it must be remembered that over half the world's peoples have no access to this new technology as I write these words on 22 June 2015. 

The spectacular introduction of what are called the new technologies into the production, diffusion, distribution and consumption of cultural commodities, of which literary works of all kinds are but one of these commodities, is in the process of transforming culture.  This is true, as I say, of the culture within which I live and have my being, but it is not yet true for all the peoples of the world in our planetary culture. This process, this transformation, was beginning to occur just as I retired from a half century student-employment life, 1949 to 1999. The result is that, for me, reinvented as a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, scholar and reader, online blogger and journalist, in the years 1999 to 2009, I was able to find literally millions of readers.   In 2009 I was on two old-age pensions and fully retired from the demands of FT, PT and casual paid-employment; by then, by the age of 65, I had also limited my social and family life as well as my community resonsibilities to a bare minimum, and this was increasingly the case by the age of 71 in 2015.

The Latin expression "mirabile dictu"  applies to my online experience now as I go through my 70s; I learned the phrase in high school Latin more than 50 years ago, and I leave it to readers with the interest to Google it, as they say more and more these days.

Section 2:

The categorization, classification, and analysis of my new roles is partly the result of observation of the visual scene in my study, my being in this place at a series of times, and partly the result of this personalized report on my life. Being somewhat of an amateur sociologist and cultural anthropologist, I could say the following about a series of personal observations of life in my study from 1999 to 2015.  These are my observations and they have resulted in what sociologists call ethnographic vignettes. The language used by sociologists is often somewhat obscure, as you will see in the following lines:

"These observations and the resulting vignettes are accounts of a series of observations made over the course of time. The visual order in which my observations are embedded is a linguistic order. This is especially true for a writer and author, poet and publisher like myself. 
This linguistic order that I use is the basis of my role categorization.  My ongoing activities of observation, and categorization, produce a visual scene which is linguistically constituted & linguistically organized from within. The result is a categorial order which is realized, just to reiterate, via my observation of the visual scene. Such considerations have a general relevance for sociology because sociologists approach visual settings as members of the self-same society they study, using the same common-sense methods that other society-members use."

The above ten lines are typical of the language found in sociology and cultural anthropology; for most people, such language obscures rather than clarifies and turns them off, rather than on, to these academic disciplines. Not all of the language of sociology and cultural anthropology is obscure and difficult, but readers who enter these fields need to be warned of the language problems should they enter their waters.

Section 3:


Time is a created thing. To say: "I don't have time," is to say: "I don't want to."--Lao Tzu, O Magazine, Jan. 2007.  Lao Tzu lived in the 6th century BC. He was, and is, the founder of philosophical Taoism, pronounced "Daoism."  In relation to virtually all of the following categories of incoming posts, these words of Lao Tzu apply to my reason for not responding in writing to these requests and invitations, except on rare occasions when for some reason, out of courtesy or necessity, I actually do want to. With 200 emails coming in everyday to my inbox, and from the many internet sites to which I belong, I have become highly selective in so far as to whom I respond. I am also selective and cautious insofar as: when, why and how I respond.

Section 3.1:

I want to thank Jenna Wortham for her article "Facebook Made Me Do It" in The New York Times, 15 June, 2013.  Jenna Wortham is a technology reporter for The New York Times.  She covers the world of the internet and digital culture, mobile communication and digital convergence. She writes on internet technology scene for the Bits Blog, and does feature-length pieces for many productions in the print media.  Her stories focus on novel ways consumers are using technology in order to enhance their daily lives; she also focuses on emerging Internet-based business models, and the personalities shaping this new and vast start-up industry.
 
In that article, as the winter of 2013 in Australia was about to begin, Wortham wrote about what she called the feedback-loop of positive reinforcement that is at the centre of social media sites like Facebook.  She says that this feedback loop is part of, if not the key, to the addictive element of social media.  All the tweets and retweets, the likes and favorites, the I poke-you and jokes, give millions a little daily boost that pushes them to keep coming back for more.  

I am not into this sort of posting, nor am I into the typical social media fodder of lush vacation pictures & engagement announcements, the 'I like this' and 'I don't like that' sort of thing, or: 'here is a picture of me and my dog' or 'here I am with my son Harold', nor do I venture into realms that showcase my most daredevilish antics and risqué behavior. There is, of course, nothing wrong with these Facebook-type exchanges, but it is not my style and MO. I use social media to showcase my writing; I use sites like Facebook, among a host of other locations in cyberspace, to market my literary wares and get more readers.  Writers like to have readers in similar ways that talkers like to have listeners.

Section 3.2:

In the popular imagination, the internet is conceptualised as an environment that, at its best, functions as a repository of knowledge that provides an educational benefit. It allows the user to develop skills that facilitate expansion of knowledge and social and civic involvement. Lack of access to the internet is justifiably equated with exclusion. Some are aware and feel this exclusion; some are happy to be excluded since they have no desire to use the internet. Some wish they had access to cyberspace and much of the affluence of western & developed countries.  

Access to the internet, though, is not synonymous with possessing the skills to use the technology effectively. The gap between the potential of online interaction for education & learning, and the actual way in which people use the internet is very wide. This is obvious through examining patterns of internet use.  A fairly conservative pattern of use, not surprisingly, is primarily defined by pre-existing interests and preferences. The huge diversity of possible activities and contents is only slowly being taken-up.  The familiar use and practices in cyberspace tend to involve: (i) television programmes and popular music groups, (ii) sport & fun, (iii) entertainment & game-playing, (iv) jokes and trivia, & (v) sending aphorisms   from religion and philosophy, psychology and popular culture, among a host of entertaining and personal, private & often trouble-oriented subjects and activities. The educational domains in cyberspace are slowly permeating humanity's masses in the last two decades, & I am confident this will continue in the decades, and perhaps even centuries, ahead depending, of course, on the nature of the changing technology and our changing society.

 
Section 3.3:

The growing collective compulsion to document our lives and share them online, combined with the instant gratification that comes from seeing something we are doing or thinking, believing or experiencing, gets a near-immediate approval from others online.  Our documents, our posts, also get plenty of disapproval and indifference; they are, perhaps, mostly ignored and criticized, without our even knowing it. Such is the price a writer pays for popularity: vast quantities of indifference and being ignored. In a space, the internet, with more than 3 billion users at last count, all a writer ever gets is a small slice of the potential readership cake.

T
he result, though, for many writers like me, is a vast amplification of their actual readership.  Portions of the swarms, the billions, who occupy the interstices of cyberspace can be accessed.  A single person like me can and does reach millions in ways that I never dreamed possible before the world-wide-web, after slowly developing for a decade or more, really took off in the early years of the 21st century.  Most people, who use sites like Facebook, have a small circle of family and friends whom they wind-tightly around themselves. Such people make a small personal and friendly world that they can call their own. 

This process of frequent Facebook communication raises the stakes for all online activity at that site. This is true whether one's circle is small as is the case for most or, whether one's circle is large, as is the case with a relative few. This is also true if one's circle is vast, as is the case with my online publishing & many other writers who now utilize the benefits of cyberspace to acquire readers.  For 7 years, from 2007 to 2014, I slowly accumulated some 150 friends on Facebook. By my 71st birthday, 23/7/'15, I had 'unfriended' them all since I found my Facebook's-friends-page to be a source of distraction.  In the first 12 months since that 'unfriending' took place, 8/7/'14 to 8/7/'15, only one of those 150 asked to be taken-back into my Facebook-friend world.  I was more than pleased to be rid of this daily distraction with, and from, what I found in the end to be too trivial, too quotidian, for words. Occasionally someone, from somewhere across the vast landscape of cyberspace, asks to be my friend and I now courteously decline with some explanatory words.

Section 3.4:

I am, and have been for the last dozen years or so, my own publisher and editor, marketing man and publicist. I could use a graphic design person with extensive IT skills, and even one or two people to assist with my search engine optimization activity, which is one of the terms for one's own marketing and publicity work.  I do the whole ball-game of getting my writing out to readers by myself. In the end I only have to please myself while aiming--with one eye on sections and sub-sections, coteries and circles of my vast readership--to find a place in the minds and hearts, emotions and imaginations, memories and souls of my readers. 


The process involved in my online writing has been taking place by sensible & insensible degrees since the inception of my website in cyberspace in 1997. This process has many features, one of which is performative, &  is based on the power of social approval. Sharing content and interacting with others online feels like I'm taking part in a vast collective, even if I am at home alone, as I am now in my retirement years going through my 70s, and with an empty nest.  There is now, and since the early years of the 21st century, only my wife with me around the house to share in my most important personal and real-life micro-world. I do a little socializing most days, but it is rarely more than about one hour/day. The endless meetings and wall-to-wall people who filled my life for decades has now been reduced to the rarest of occasions. I keep it that way for many reasons of health & hygiene, personal proclivity and the literary activities associated with my new roles, the reinvention of myself in these years of my late adulthood, as I head through my 70s from 23/7/'14 to 23/7/'24.

Section 3.5:

Writers & authors, poets & publishers, online bloggers & journalists, editors & researchers, readers & scholars like myself get a lot of motivation out of knowing that other people will respond to what they are publishing online.  Knowing, as I do, that hundreds of thousands and, since about 2009 when I went on 2 old-age pensions at the age of 65,  that literally millions can see what I'm writing over my dozen years or so of writing-and-publishing online is a very powerful motivator.
 The popularity of my writing exists because of social media and the vast number of sites on the Internet.  But my popularity, like anyone's, needs to be placed in a context;  I do that here in this autobiography sub-section of my website.

When one exists, when one's writing exists, in a place like the internet with its 3 billion users, 1 billion sites, some 100 billion webpages, and 200 billion posts, emails, & messages sent everyday----popularity is a relative term.  Some 99.9% of those who use the world-wide-web do not know me and will never read my writing. But .1% is 1/1000th of 3 billion and that makes 3 million readers, & .01% is 1/10,000th of 3 billion, or 300,000 readers. That, of course, is a very rough guesstimation and, when one is dealing with these sorts of numbers in cyberspace, it all becomes somewhat mind-numbing, and irrelevant beyond a certain point. My guesstimation of readership is, at a minimum, several million.


Section 3.6:

The inscriptions left on rocks in the desert for thousands of years, during the hunting and gathering stage of human, of cultural, evolution are, to some extent, "the Facebook-wall & the great abyssal region of cyberspace, the internet, of an earlier era in human communication.  It's a kind of geoliterature left in place for others to discover,” as one recent writer put it. Those inscriptions were & are relatively rare; whereas, all this Facebook and internet, twitter and cyberspace, fodder is like a great avalanche, a Niagara Falls of stuff that will keep future historians and analysts, literary archeologists and critics busy in perpetuity making some meaning out of it all.

Petroglyphs, also called rock engravings, are pictogram & logogram images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving and abrading. Outside North America, scholars often use terms such as "carving", "engraving", or other descriptions of the technique to refer to such images. Petroglyphs are found world-wide, and are often associated with the prehistoric peoples of the hunting & gathering phase of evolution which can be studied in cultural anthropology. The word comes from the Greek words "petra" meaning "stone", & glyphein meaning "to carve." The word was originally coined in French as pétroglyphe.

I leave my literary petroglyphs all across cyberspace for future cultural anthropologists and scholars of all types for whom my writing holds some interest. If, indeed, any such students of history and writing can be found who do take some interest in my literary effusions, I will be more than pleased. Of course, by then I will be long gone from this mortal coil, and it is quite possible I will take no interest in what happens to the products of my pen. During my short stay on this earth, and my even shorter stay in cyberspace, I will have written many millions of words which, I am given to understand, will last well into the future after I am gone. Just how interested or uninterested I will be as I am "pushing up the daisies" as they say colloquially, I have no idea.  It is difficult to assess just what the nature of one's experience is beyond the grave, assuming that one experiences anything at all.

 
Section 4:

I have written this 150 thousand-plus word response, in the paragraphs above & below to the many who send me messages. I have written it into some 50 sub-sections over the 3 year period 3/12/'12 to 3/12/'15.  I addressed this statement initially: (i) to the many people making requests and sending me invitations to comment on their posts at SNS, (ii) to the multitude of requests and invitations I get from people at other sites where I have registered in the years: 1997 to 2015, (iii) to the many people who send me unsolicited emails on a host of topics and issues, concerns and interests, and (iv) to the many people, mostly women, seeking a relationship of some kind: romantic or sexual, a partner or a soul-mate, a date or a dalliance.

Given the staggering array of social and political issues, economic and cultural issues, religious and psychological issues, now numbering in the 1000s, it has become simply impossible to deal with them as if in some quixotic tournament. One of the main reasons I now have this website with its division into some 100+ sub-sections is to help me deal with those who send me requests & invitations to comment. I try to point others to some relevant part of my site. I have given more than a little reflection to many subjects over many decades, and I leave it to readers with the interest to engage with my website in those sub-sections which concern them. For me, this is a more thoughtful and reflective way to deal with many complex issues & questions that come my way by the bushel-full over the weeks and months. The Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran & Iraq, Afganistan & Australia, Canada and Cambodia, love, sex and marriage, inter alter, inter alia, and ad infinitum---all need to be contextualized for serious & relevant comment. Where possible, and within the limits of my knowledge and expertise, I try to deal with the world's complexities all over my website & I invite readers to examine my thoughts if they have the interest.

My main aim in writing this lengthy piece, as I say, in the above paragraphs and those below is to indicate, directly or indirectly, to those who send me messages, why I usually do not respond to their posts.  Occasionally, of course, I do reply to their messages, especially to old friends, & many   others in situations of extreme distress, or when the context of the incoming message, after a little reflection on my part, seems to warrant my response. Real space and cyberspace have many similarities. We each decide, after a little or a lot of reflection: what to do, what to say, and even what we should feel and imagine.  If I tried to read what everyone posted in their items of interest on my profile-access pages across the 8000+ sites at which I am registered, that is all I would do all day long and every day.  This is even more true if I tried to reply in writing to such people. 

Section 4.1:

During these last 15 years: (a) I have retired from FT and PT paid employment, and most casual-volunteer work; (b) I have reinvented myself as a writer & author, poet & publisher, online journalist and blogger, editor and researcher, reader and scholar, as well as my own office-assistant, CEO, and cleaner;  (c) I have had a website which functions as the hub for my online writing & publishing, as well as the general marketing & promotion of my writing; and (d) I have registered at more than 8000 internet sites where several million people are registered.  I post my writing, and respond to the posts of others, at several 1000 sites in cyberspace. My responses, though, I keep as limited as possible in order that I can spend my time in writing, in personal literally work.  I could spend virtually all my time, as I say above, responding to others; in the process, I would be taxing my limited faculties.  I would also not be engaging in the creative writing that is important to me & which now occupies a good deal of my time in the evening of my life.


Section 4.2:

My personal website is now more than four years into its 4th edition. I began my consultation more than 5 years ago, in September 2010, with the web design company, Define Studio, in Mosman NSW. This consultation took six months of email exchanges and telephone calls to finally determine the exact layout of my site before "going live" to use their term. By the 21st century, in 2001, I was sent some 200 emails & posts from various sites & points on the internet every day. These emails & posts were & are sent to me, mostly unsolicited, with a request or invitation to do something. This request is sometimes indirect and sometimes direct.  In nearly all these cases, at least as few as possible by 2009, I did not respond in writing.  Part of the reason, if not the main one, why I get such a host of emails is my relatively high profile in cyberspace with millions of my words, and 1000s of my posts, spread across more than 8000 sites. 

Having a high profile on the internet, of course, is a relative term in a space that passed the 1 billion sites mark in 2014. The current number of sites can be found at:  http://www.internetlivestats.com/total-number-of-websites/ with 4.5 billion pages, and over 3 billion users.  Cyberspace is the notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs.  In the two decades I have been active in cyberspace, the uses of the internet, networking, and digital communication have all grown dramatically and the term "cyberspace" was able to represent the many new ideas and phenomena that were emerging. 

The parent term of cyberspace is "cybernetics", derived from an ancient Greek word for steersman, governor, pilot, or rudder.  It was a word introduced by Norbert Wiener for his pioneering work in electronic communication and control science. As a social experience, individuals can interact, exchange ideas, share information, provide social support, and conduct business. They can also take direct action, create artistic media, play games, engage in political discussion, and so on, using this global network. Active participants are sometimes referred to as cybernauts. The term cyberspace has become a conventional means to describe anything associated with the Internetand the diverse Internet culture. 

Section 4.2.1:

As I say above, 1/100th of 1% of 3 billion readers is 300 thousand readers. I have given-up trying to count the number of readers I have who take a look at some of my literary wares.  I am more than a little pleased to have 100s of 1000s, or millions, of readers. 
I get dozens, 100s and even 1000s of requests and invitations, posts of information & advertising of various kinds, over the years. They come in, directly & indirectly, invited & uninvited, and I am often asked to do things.  There are many reasons for these requests & invitations, & they come in many different ways, in more ways than I could ever have imagined when this process began back in those fin de siecle years of the 1990s.  

I have categorized these different ways, these different forms of requests for comment and response, under some 50 separate, individual, headings below.  They are outlined below, in a post, a thread, indeed, a type of essay or report that is quite long.  This essay-report will be far too long for most readers who come to this part of my website.  To readers who prefer the short & pithy Facebook style posts, I encourage you to skim or scan the following outline.  Of course, you can just stop reading now; that goes without saying.  For many to stop reading now would be best because the following is a lengthy and detailed exploration and explanation of why I do not send responses to just about everyone who places messages and information at pages and internet sites at which I am registered.  But, if you have some curiosity as to why I rarely respond in writing to the plethora of posts that come my way on a daily basis, then read on to your heart's content.


Section 4.3:

When a person is registered at over 8000 websites, as I am, sites whose membership totals many millions, there are an inevitable batch of daily emails and posts that come in from these sites. This is to say nothing of the posts that come in from sites at which I am not registered, and from individuals who, for some reason or another, want to contact me. The vast majority of these individuals I do not know and, indeed, I have never had contact with in any way. I am quite happy not to know these people personally or my life would be an inundation. I have had my years of social inundation.  I am now enjoying, and looking forward to, a much more solitary life with little of the wall-to-wall contact that was part and parcel of my student, my employment, and my social-community life from, say, 1949 to 2009, when I went on two old-age pensions at the age of 65.  I use the internet, in the main, like a library and only, to a far-lesser extent, to publish my writing-----and even to a far-far lesser extent to send emails & posts to people at sites like Facebook, or the 1000s of other sites at which I write, post my writing in cyberspace, and interact as little as possible. By my 71st birthday, as I say above, I had 'unfriended' between 100 and 200 of my friends at SNS like Facebook to free myself from what had become a source of interminable distraction.

Due to the millions of words, 1000s of posts, & literally millions of readers that I now have in cyberspace, I am sent all sorts of messages. Although I now have a life characterized in the main by solitude, I have become, ironically in some ways, more known than I ever was before the age of 65. This is due to the internet and cyberspace, and the reinvention of myself as writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, online blogger and journalist, reader & scholar, with the equivalent of 60 to 80 books on the world-wide-web and their millions of words at 1000s of websites. I am known, as I say, to a much wider audience or readership than I ever was before the age of 65.  I keep that readership, that audience, at a psychological as well as physical distance or my days would have continued to be, as I say above, an inundation.

Part, indeed nearly all, of the over 200 emails & posts that come in daily, must be deleted, &/or ignored.  This only takes no more than five minutes, especially if one has, as I do, a spam filter, and a bin for useless posts.  The few incoming posts that need to be answered personally, need to be separated from the unimportant. This process is not always simple and, when simple, it is not necessarily easy. Generally, though, I have the sifting process down to only a few minutes each day. The written responses, of course, take longer. As far as possible, though, my writing and my reading involves as little time as possible when dealing with my email world with the exception, as I say, to the few emails which require a more considered response on my part.

Section 4.4:

In these years of being on an old-age pension, and being retired from FT, PT & most volunteer-work, the years from 2009 to 2015, I have reinvented myself, as I say above, as: a writer and author, poet and publisher, on line journalist and blogger, editor and researcher, scholar & reader. As I have also indicated in several places on my website, I am my own receptionist and office-assistant, CEO and cleaner, publicist & marketer of my literary work.  I have limited my social life to an average of less that one hour each day, although my wife occupies a position at the centre of my existence and social life, not only in the 12 hours I am not in bed, but also in the 12 hours that I am.  In 2013 we finally acquired separate beds. They are side-by side, as my parents were when I was growing-up in Ontario, and living at home from the early-1940s to the early-1960s. Perhaps twice a month that one hour of social interaction per day---is extended to three or more.  Due to the medication I take for my bipolar I disorder, I go to bed after these few hours, and leave my wife to deal with the social responsibilities involved with whoever has come to visit: family members or friends, one or more others, associations of all sorts, and members of the Baha'i community. Baha'is visit us from our northern cluster, the sector of the Baha'i community of Tasmania into which Tasmania is divided for administrative and community reasons. They also visit from other parts of Tasmania, from Australia's mainland, as well as other countries in our increasingly planetized environment.

I have been associated with the Baha'i community now for more than 60 years: 1953 to 2015, but no longer take part in the lengthy talk-fests that once characterized my life in the many Baha'i communities where I lived from the 1950s to the first years of this 21st century.  My years of extensive interaction in a wide variety of groups began in 1949 when my quiet pre-school life with a few playmates and family members came to involve many other children at a primary school in Burlington Ontario. Organized sport teams and informal social groups, classrooms and church, a variety of religious, political and social groups, family and friends, conferences & cluster-meetings, assembly meetings & formal social activities, committee meetings and children's classes, youth events and student groups, all sorts of yin-and-yang, kept me at the centre of a social and community world from childhood to late adulthood, from the age of 5 to 65.

Section 4.5:

I belong to the first generation of Western writers for whom a university education in the liberal arts was the norm.  But I was never able to earn my living by writing for several reasons which I discuss in detail at this site in several of its 100+ sub-sections. From my teens & 20s, in the 1950s to the early '70s, to my fifties in the 1990s & early 2000s, I earned a living in a variety of ways, mainly as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator, among a variety of other employment-roles. 


I enjoyed my childhood, adolescence, and a single-life to the age of 23 in a nuclear-family, at least most of the time. Mine was, in the main, a happy time growing-up to adulthood. I have written about life's inevitable ups-and-downs during its first 21 years in my autobiography, and so I will not comment on those years in more detail here. Mine was a family in which I was the only child of older parents, a mother who was 40, and a father who was 55, when I was born in 1944.  I married in 1967, and I remained for seven years in what was a two-income-no-kids family: from 1967 to 1974. In 1975 I entered a second marriage.  It was a one-income family from 1975 to the present.  In that second marriage, that second affinal family, as such collectivities are called in sociology, my wife & I raised three children.  By the early years of the 21st century, the 3 children had become adults and had left the nest, so to speak.  My wife and I now have four grand-children, all within cooee, as they say in Australia.

From the age of 55 to 65 I gradually took an early retirement, by stages, first from FT,  then PT, and finally casual-volunteer work. Little by little and day by day, I headed for the world of a writer and author, and the roles I have listed above.  By the age of 65 in 2009,  I was able to go on two old-age pensions, one from Canada where I had worked at FT & PT jobs from 1950 to 1971.  My 2nd pension is from the Australian governnment.  I worked in Australia from 1971 until I was able to gradually free myself from the 60 to 70 hours a week which were involved in my FT employment from the early 1970s to the end of 1990s. Those 2 old-age pensions, as well as income from a small group of stocks and investments, now bring-in some $34,000/annum.

Section 4.5.1:

This $34,000 that now comes in to our coffers annually is enough for my wife and I to live on since: (a) we have our home completely paid-for; (b) we have little debt, and (c) we live frugally.  In 2012, three years ago now as I write this update, we took-out a $20,000 reverse mortgage, our only debt now, in order: (i) to pay-off all our other debts, & (ii) to be able to handle big-ticket-cost items like: car expenses & household repairs, gifts for needy family members & birthdays for many members of our immediate & extended family, big doctor & dentist bills, as well as the occasional bit of retail therapy. Such a form of therapy, retail therapy, also and arguably western civilization's most popular art-form, has especially been the case for my wife who has taken-care of our domestic & family requirements during our 40 years together, 1975 to 2015.  I earned the money, & she organized the spending of it; this was & is an arrangement I have always been happy with, & an important part of what has made our marriage last some of the inevitable tests of time.

Of this $20,000, to which I refer above, some $3,000 remains as of this 22nd day of June 2015 Downunder.  We also own a handful of stocks which have a net-worth of some $3000 to $4000 depending on their currently fluctuating stock market values.  In addition, we own a house and property valued at $270,000 to $330,000, again, depending on the market. We also have a guesstimated $25,000 in 'other assets' like: fixtures and furniture, art and antiques, plant and equipment, an assortment of business and electronic equipment, car and clothes, intangible assets like this website and my other online writing. It's a miscellany of memorabilia & domestic necessities. Several studies have shown that households of those people now in their 70s in Australia have enjoyed a significant increase in their wealth; compared to generations X, Y, Z, or alpha, war-babies like myself have had a good run.  I don't want to go into the fine details comparing the financial life of the generations in Australia going back to, say, the Silent Generation, and the previous generations. Suffice it to say, my wife and I are comfortable with our pensions and our home paid-for, even though our money-in-the-bank does not allow us to go on expensive trips, or engage in extended retail therapy. For an excellent overview of the advantages of the generation I was born into go to this link: http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/2/7/economy/baby-boomers-have-failed-doomed-generation

Section 4.5.2:

I'm sure some readers will find it a little surprising that I even provide this brief outline of the financial state of my wife & I.  The general convention, for most people I have known over the last several decades, is to keep such information confidential, except to a few close friends and appropriate family members.  As I indicated above, though, my website has a strong autobiographical flavour. In addition, the internet has opened many doors into the private lives of people who utilize the world-wide-web. Given the nature of my highly memoiristic writing, I'm quite happy to have such doors open.  This open-door policy into one's inner and private world is not the MO, not the style, of everyone.  As I often say, though, there is much in my life about which I have no intention of writing. To each their own, in cyberspace, as in real space.

As the famous Russian novelist and poet, Boris Leonidovich Pasternak(1890-1960), once wrote: "a life without secrets is simply unimaginable." Not everything that a man knoweth should be disclosed, and not everything that can be disclosed is timely, as a famous poet once said.  I am in charge, as we all are, of what I deem suitable for the ears of others. In cyberspace, & in real life, sometimes other people decide what is appropriate to tell about my life. Total control of one's interest inventory & personal experience is increasingly difficult in our interconnected, more & more integrated, & interdependent world. Of course, to each their own insofar as all the relevant privacy & publicity issues are concerned.

Section 5:

In the last two decades, 1995 to 2015, my world of letter-writing and personal correspondence, has been transformed. I slowly had to learn how to deal with some 200 emails and internet posts which, by the first year of this 3rd millennium, 2001, came in every day.  It took me most of the next 10 years, 2001 to 2011, to deal with those emails efficiently & effectively.   I had to eliminate, as far as was possible, the distraction that was the reality of so much of the activity in cyberspace.  I had to eliminate as many incoming posts, from as many people as possible, in order to eliminate one of the many potential distractions in life, distractions from what was, & is, for me the serious business of being an author & writer, a poet & publisher, an online blogger and journalist, an editor and researcher, a reader & scholar.  I slowly came to realize, especially over these first 7 years of my full retirement from FT, PT & most volunteer work, 2009 to 2015, years in which I have continued to respond to the literally 1000s of incoming emails & posts on an annual basis, that much internet activity is a distraction from my main and personally important activities in life. 

I have only so much time in the day to engage in literary and intellectual interests after: (i) 12 hours spent for rest, sleep & hygiene, (ii) 3 to 4 hours involved in domestic work like cleaning, washing dishes & emptying the garbage; taking care of basic needs like food & drink, comfort & recreation, as well as (iii) 1 to 2 hours of the inevitable and necessary social activity with my wife, family and friends.  After more than half a century, some 60 years, of varying degrees of intensive & extensive social involvement, from 1949 to 2009, an average of 1 to 2 hours a day of interaction with others is all I desire and need.  This leaves me, on average, 6 to 8 hours each day in a variety of literary pursuits.

Such is my life-style now that I am on two old-age pensions. I have begun the last decade(70 to 80) of late adulthood(60 to 80), according to one model of human development used by psychologists.  At this point in time, I am looking forward to old-age which begins, according to that same model of human development, at the age of 80.  There are 3 stages now for people who reach 80, using yet another model of human development. For those who live until the age of 100 there is now: early old-age(80 to 90), middle old-age(90 to 100), and late old-age(100+). Time will tell just how my life-narrative will play itself out in relation to these three stages. Here in Australia it is predicted that by 2060 there will be many thousands who will live to the age of 100. Life-expectancy has been, is, and will continue to be on the rise.

Section 5.1:

I have tried to eliminate as much as possible from the 50 categories of the following incoming posts & emails, messages & invitations, appeals & requests, calls for my help and a wide variety of solicitations found below in this Section 5.  Over some 3 years 3/12/'12 to 3/12/'15, I have been working on what has become this 150,000 statement. It is a statement to those who come to this part of my site, & who post messages at sites in cyberspace where I am registered. I will continue to work on this statement in the winter and autumn of 2015 here in Australia.  This post of some 150,000+ words is an elucidation of my reasons for not responding to the 100s, indeed 1000s, of posts that people place at the profile-access pages of the more than 8000 websites at which I am registered.  Readers are advised to skim or scan these paragraphs below, or just stop reading now unless, of course, they have a serious and intimate interest in my literary and cyberspace life.  

Section 5.2:

If, as I indicate above, readers have some special interest in why I have not responded to their invitation, their comment, or their request to reply to one or more of their internet posts, then read-on to your hearts' and minds' content.  The posts that come my way, and to which this long essay is a response, come in: (i) as a result of the writing I place at SNS like Facebook and MySpace, (ii)  at my inbox as emails, or (iii) at some other internet site, one of the more than 8000 sites in cyberspace, where I post my writing and interact with others.

Some readers, of course, will wonder why I write this lengthy post at all.  In some ways, this lengthy statement is just part & parcel of my marketing or literary-business plan which, by 2009, had resulted in a readership of millions spread-out across the cyberspace landscape, an alternative universe known as the world-wide-web. In other ways, the above and the following lengthy thread is merely a gesture of courtesy explaining why I rarely reply to much of the food and fodder that comes into my life on the world-wide-web.


Section 5.3:

The above, and what follows below, might seem to some readers as yet another lifelong student-academic, career-&-now-retiree, desperately trying to reassure himself that his work & his life had & has some consequence. As my professor in Greek philosophy emphasized in the autumn of 1964, more than 50 years ago when I was in a double-major at university, in history and philosophy, and when I was also, at the same time, enduring the low-end of what was, then, one of the earliest manifestations of my bipolar 2 disorder: "you pays your money and you makes your choice."  I made many choices in my: social activist and religious commitment, political engagement and community, sports and leisure, life from the dozen years of my childhood through adolescence, and continuing into the more than 50 years of adult life since then.  This is to say nothing about the many, the infinite number of, choices in the following specific domains: marital and sexual, social and psychological, physical and spiritual, inter alia. 

BAHA'IS AND POLITICS

Part 1:

This brings me to the specific question of political activity.  The conviction of the Bahá’í community that humanity, having passed through earlier stages of social evolution, stands at the threshold of its collective maturity; its belief that the principle of the oneness of humankind, the hallmark of the age of maturity, implies a change in the very structure of society; its dedication to a learning process that, animated by this principle, explores the workings of a new set of relationships among the individual, the community & the institutions of society, the 3 protagonists in the advancement of civilization; its confidence that a revised conception of power, freed from the notion of dominance with the accompanying ideas of contest, contention, division & superiority, underlies the desired set of relationships; its commitment to a vision of a world that, benefitting from humanity’s rich cultural diversity, abides no lines of separation—these all constitute essential elements of the framework that shapes the Bahá’í approach to politics set out in brief below.

Bahá’ís do not seek political power. They will not accept political posts in their respective governments, whatever the particular system in place, though they will take up positions which they deem to be purely administrative in nature. They will not affiliate themselves with political parties, become entangled in partisan issues, or participate in programmes tied to the divisive agendas of any group or faction. At the same time, Bahá’ís respect those who, out of a sincere desire to serve their countries, choose to pursue political aspirations or to engage in political activity. The approach adopted by the Bahá’í community of non—involvement in such activity is not intended as a statement expressing some fundamental objection to politics in its true sense; indeed, humanity organizes itself through its political affairs. Bahá’ís vote in civil elections, as long as they do not have to identify themselves with any party in order to do so.  In this connection, they view government as a system for maintaining the welfare and orderly progress of a society, and they undertake, one and all, to observe the laws of the land in which they reside, without allowing their inner religious beliefs to be violated.

Part 2:

Questions regarding the posture held by Baha'is everywhere towards political activity has taken on greater significance to their fellow citizens in recent years. To assist others in understanding the framework that shapes the Baha'i approach to politics, I have written the paragraphs above and below. The principle of the oneness of humankind has begun, and will in the decades and centuries ahead, infuse the collective consciousness of humanity. Such a principle calls for the complete reconceptualization of the relationships that sustain society. It imples an organic change in the very structure of society. What I am writing about here is complex and does not lend itself to simplistic thought. It requires, on the part of readers, some personal study and analysis.  I leave it to readers, with the interest, to pursue this study and analysis, if they want to take the Baha'i teachings on this subject at all seriously.

Baha'i law requires that Baha'is avoid making any comment about the partisan actions or statements of politicians, their parties & their supporters. This is particularly important at election times when everyone is likely to witness an inflamed political environment with heated tempers and divisive comments in the media, in the workplace and, perhaps, among one's family and friends. This non-involvement does not mean that Baha'is should ignore the great public issues that engage the minds and hearts of their fellow citizens.  Nor
 does this mean that Baha'is are naive about political processes in the world, and make no distinction between individuals, betweeen just and unjust rule, and between the myriad complexities that face both the governors and the governed. Again, this subject is complex and serious. Only readers with a serious interest in the Baha'i teachings need to bother themselves with the issues involved.

The rulers of the earth have sacred obligations to fulfil towards their people, who should be seen as the most precious treasure of any nation. Wherever they reside, Bahá’ís endeavour to uphold the standard of justice, addressing inequities directed towards themselves or towards others, but only through lawful means available to them, eschewing all forms of violent protest. Moreover, in no way does the love they hold in their hearts for humanity, run counter to the sense of duty they feel to expend their energies in service to their respective countries.


Part 3:

In an April 2014 newspaper article in the USA we read: “the Baha'i faith encourages its members to be politically active and vote in elections if they are allowed to do so by secret ballot.” The article does not give a source, but seems to be reflecting these words of Abdu’l-Baha: "Thou hast asked regarding the political affairs. In the United States it is necessary that the citizens take part in elections. This is a necessary matter and no excuse from it is possible. My object in telling the believers that they should not interfere in the affairs of government is this: That they should not make any trouble and that they should not move against the opinion of the government, but obedience to the laws & the administration of the commonwealth is necessary. Now, as the government of America is a republican form of government, it is necessary that all the citizens shall take part in the elections of officers and take part in the affairs of the republic."-Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha, Vol.2, p. 342.

The same newspaper article quotes Glen Fullmer, a spokesman for the Baha'is of the United States, as saying that "members of the Baha'i Faith take part in political advocacy work, championing environmental stewardship & the advancement of women's rights, among other causes. What the Baha'is want to avoid, he said, is the divisiveness that tends to arise especially during election campaigns.  It's not like there's a complete aloofness of the political process," Fullmer said of the faith. "It's more of wanting to avoid the disunity we see in the political world."

Many Bahais, in the past and in today's world, have taken a stance of complete aloofness from the political process. Each Baha'i is free to exercise his or her wishes when it comes to voting. The Guardian, the leader of the Baha'i faith appointed from 1921 to 1957, expressed the basis on which a Baha'i casts their vote in an election as follows. "Voting", he wrote, "should be on the merits of the individual rather than because he belongs to one party or another." (See: Political Non-Involvement and Obedience to Government: A Compilation of some of the Messages of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice, compiled by Peter J. Khan, Baha'i Publications Australia, 1992(1979), p.21.)

The approach, the strategy, the Bahá'í way of going about things, with the simple but often little understood set of parameters outlined in the foregoing paragraphs enables the community, in a world where nations and tribes are pitted one against the other, & people are divided & separated by social structures, to maintain its cohesion and integrity as a global entity and to ensure that the activities of the Bahá’ís in one country do not jeopardize the existence of those elsewhere. Guarded against competing interests of nations and political parties, the Bahá’í community is thus able to build its capacity to contribute to processes that promote peace and unity without becoming part of, & getting enmeshed in, the tortuous partisan politics which threaten to derail so much that is good in contemporary society. They make every effort to avoid getting caught-up in the polarizing and competitive game and battle that is politics in our modern world.


WHY DO I WRITE THIS STATEMENT

I need no reassurance that my work and my life has had some consequence. But the answer to such a question is complex, & difficult to deal with in a quick sentence or two.  As is the case with many places on my website, I will return to the above question and its answer in the months and years ahead.  As this website evolves in the remaining years of the evening of my life, there will be many opportunities to add & to edit what I have written. The last decade of late adulthood, 70 to 80, and old-age 80+ lie ahead, to use one model of the stages in the lifespan used by developmental psychologists. Writing has gradually become one of the central foci in my life since I retired from FT paid-employment in 1999 at the age of 55; there will be more to say here on this subject of why I write at a later date. Readers can now begin reading at Section 5.4 below, and the first of the 50 categories of incoming posts which I have come to rarely respond to in writing in these my retirement years on old-age pensions, 2009 to 2015.

Section 5.4:

(i)   Part 1:

Every year, as the 23rd of July comes around, I get sent more than 1000 happy-birthday-wishes: (a) from members of my present affinal family, (b) from members of my previous affinal family and my consanguineal family, (c) from friends near & far, & (d) many people I do not even know. Mostly, though, these annual greetings come (e) from some of the more than 8000 websites at which I have registered in this 21st century.  I was born into a sub-culture of southern Ontario in the 1940s in which the birthdays of children & adolescents were celebrated.  Once people in my particular section of my family of birth, in the Hamilton Ontario region of the Golden Horseshoe of southern Ontario, became adults say, 21 & above, birthdays, the gift-giving as well as the parties and dinners associated with them, came to an end.  Of course, the family conventions of other parts of my family of birth, and the millions of people in southern Ontario back in the 1940s to 1960s, to say nothing of the conventions of the 100s of thousands of families across Canada's vast landscape were, in all likelihood, highly varied.

By my late 20s & early 30s, though, I had travelled Downunder to take-up a teaching job in South Australia. Australia is & was a birthday-celebrating culture, for all ages, virtually everywhere.  I have now lived and/or travelled in every state & territory of this vast country in the 44 years I have lived Downunder, & I have found birthdays are big events everywhere.  "When in Rome," it is often said, "do as the Romans do."  I have bitten-the-bullet, so to speak, and take part in this cultural practice, "as the Romans do."  Increasingly, though, as Australia becomes more and more multi-cultural, other nationalities come to Australia, like my Ethiopian daughter-in-law, who do not celebrate birthdays with the same enthusiasm and activity, making my non-celebrating practice, therefore, more acceptable in this culture with its inevitable cultural conventions.

(i) Part 2:

To deal with this event, my birthday, in my internet life---I have placed a few notices on sites like Facebook, to inform all these 100s of people who want to wish me 'happy-birthday,' that I will not be thanking everyone individually. Close family members, close friends, people I hardly know, and site administrators, will not get individual replies to the online birthday wishes they send to me: (i) wishes placed "on-my-wall" at Facebook, (ii) wishes sent to me from websites, and (iii) wishes sent to me by dozens of individual members of the 1000s of sites where I have been part of the cyberspace woodwork for years. This is the raison d'etre for this particular part, this opening section, of my 150 thousand word statement here. These words about the celebration of my birthday are intended to open the specifics of this 150+ thousand word general response to the myriad number of posts I get: (i) at sites where I am registered, (ii) as a result of placing my writing at SNS like Facebook, & (iii) at many other locations on the world-wide-web. Given the persistence with which some send me their 'happy-birthday' wishes I, not infrequently and out of a desire not to offend, thank the person sending me their wishes.

(i) Part 3:

Related to the celebration of birthdays is the celebration of: Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Valentines Day, Hug Day, Washington's birthday, & Independence Day. The list of such celebratory & commemorative secular days is virtually endless. I am sent an extensive array of posts in connection with this plethora of days, posts to which I never reply any more. Part of my attitude to all these days is that: (i) I am retired from the world of paid employment and the holidays I used to get in relation to such days no longer apply in my personal life, and (ii) I have always had strong reservations in relation to this expanse of days, some of which a person gets a day off from their employment, and some which they do not. The celebration or commemoration of days in our increasingly secularized society is now vast: the Queen's Birthday, Labour Day, International Tigers Day, & on & on goes this litany. I try, as much as possible, given the cultural conventions & proclivities in relation to all these days which I have listed, and which are now found in fine detail on some calendars, to totally ignore all the song & dance associated therewith. 

(i) Part 3.1:

There are, in addition, a vast array of religious celebrations & commemorations. Embedded as I am in what has become essentially a post-Christian secular culture or, perhaps more accurately, a highly pluralistic & individualized, a globalizing literary & social milieux, I get vast numbers of posts   associated with: (a) Christmas in its secular dress: gift-giving and shopping, Santa Claus & reindeer; (b) Easter with its chocolat & sweets, its bunny rabbits and holiday fun, and (c) many-many other days. Wikipedia lists 45 pages of such days in association with the major religions of the world & the innumerable sects and cults, denominations and isms, wasms, wannabes or hope-to-bes. Go to this link for the list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Religious_holidays 

(i) Part 3.2:

I have been associated with, and a member of, the Baha'i Faith for over 60 years. I celebrate and commemorate special Baha'i days listed at: http://bahaical.org/calendar.aspx . There are also days which I celebrate in connection with the United Nations. Go to this link for information in connection with these special UN days:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Day   Go to the following link for dozens of essentially secular days across the 200+ nations of the world. All these days generate a wealth of posts in cyberspace especially, of course, days in Australia & Canada where I have lived & had my being for the last 70 years. The vast majority of all these days of celebration & commemoration are not part of my MO, my interest inventory although some of them, inevitably, were during my employment-working life when a holiday from my work was involved. Here is that link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_commemorative_days

(ii) Part 1:

The second category of incoming posts to which I rarely reply any more is concerned with people asking me to help them with their financial and business life. Considering I have had no experience in business, and recognizing the fact that my wife now handles all incoming monies from our pensions and loans, stocks and investments, and virtually all outgoing monies, & has done so for the more than 40 years we have been together since April 1974, I am the last person anyone should ask for help in these areas of life. Money is like life-blood or bed-rock to draw-on two useful similies.  Without money to take care of one's basic expenses life can be highly stressed, and so I can understand the interest and enthusiasm that is found in these requests from others for my financial help.

(ii) Part 2.1:

Looking back over 7 decades of living, I have arrived at old-age pension time in a comfortable financial state, but it is only comfortable if my wife and I live frugally and keep big-ticket items to a bare minimum.  I am certainly in no position to help others with their business and financial life in the form of either advice or actual cash.  I am certainly far from the heroically generous person that, say, the famous novelist Evelyn Waugh was to private persons in need when his own finances were perilously stretched. In my now extensive autobiographical work I provide the occasional illuminating portrait of my financial life over more than 70 years. Each decade has brought its own monetary, economic and fiscal picture into my daily life. Probably the best pecuniary position I enjoyed was in my first marriage when my first wife & I were both employed as teachers in Canada, and then in South Australia, during the period from late 1967 to late 1973.  We had no children, no debt, and could induge ourselves as much as we wanted.  Even then, of course, we were both Baha'is and my financial generosity extended then, as it does now, to the Baha'i Faith and its myriad commitments around the planet. Charities, needy friends and family and, by 1975, taking care of a wife and children have absorbed much of the income generated by my paid-employment.

(ii)  Part 2.2:

In cyberspace in the years, say, from 2006 to 2015,  people have asked me if I would like to start-up my own business, or just earn money from working at home in any one of dozens of ways. Here are three examples that came in during the first four months of 2013: (a) "Email Advertiser Jobs has helped thousands of people worldwide to earn money by advertising emails for the biggest companies available on the internet. Our members are currently earning on an average $250+ per day by doing email advertising work. You work for just 30 minutes to 2 hours every day;" (b) "Are you looking for a powerful & simple way to make money from home without having to spend a lot of time or money to do it. You have an opportunity to secure many people on your team.  Be sure to order now to secure your new team members;" and (c) "I just found a new program that shows you how to make $3000 a month online just by answering simple surveys."

I have no interest in trying to make any money during these years of my retirement from FT, PT & most volunteer work, after 55 years of trying. From 1950 to 2005 I worked at FT, PT and casual paid-employment.  I also applied for some 5000 jobs. To read the story of my 5000 job applications over 55 years, 1950 to 2005, scroll-down at either or both of these two links: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2344530 ,or: http://www.gradconnection.com.au/forums/list/user/599729/.  I was engaged in many types of paid-employment during that half-century.  Readers can access my CV in cyberspace, if they so desire, and can go to this link for a detailed outline of my money-making over that 55 year period: https://www.google.com.au/?gws_rd=ssl#q=Ron+Price+resume

(ii) Part 2.3:

For several years, from about 2005 to 2010, my wife declined the many offers that came her way in cyberspace; she now deletes all incoming "make-money-at-home" posts.  In 2010 I stopped sending her any examples of internet money-making opportunities that came my way in cyberspace, opportunities whereby she could work from home for some extra money. We have enough money: for food and shelter, for the upkeep on our car, our home, & our computers, as well as for the basic expenses in living. I also have a serious involvement in poetizing & publishing, in writing and editing, and in the other roles and activities I have mentioned above. We probably would seriously entertain the idea of working from home and engaging in one or more of the many online job opportunities that are now advertised in cyberspace on a daily basis, if the above factors did not exist.

My writing commitments require time and concentration, and as much of my physical and psychological resources as I can possibly invest in their related activities. These activities include: editing and research, online blogging and journalism, poetizing and publishing, scholarship & reading.  I can not seriously consider taking-part in any of these many money-making opportunities that come my way on the net since they would detract from what really interests me in academic and literary activities in these retirement years, espeically now as I go through my 70s.

(iii)  Part 1:

People ask me to assist them in some way or other with their romantic or marital, their sexual or relationship, life.  Since I taught human relations & interpersonal skills for more than 3 decades; since I have learned a few things about maintaining relationships having been married for 5 decades; and since I now have the leisure to reflect on more than 70 years of living, this kind of request is reasonable.  I usually suggest, though, that those who write to me go to professional people for help & advice both on and off the internet.  My photo and profile are now found on dozens of internet sites and, because of this, I get requests from many dating sites, requests with photos of women wanting a relationship, a partner, a date or a soul-mate. For the most part, I ignore these requests but, from time to time, I encourage these women to go to my website.  I tell them that, if they want to write to me after reading some of my website, they are free to do so.  Usually, I do not hear from them again; (i) when they find out that I am not interested in any kind of romantic or sexual, marital or partnered, companionate or soul-mate relationship, and, finally, (ii) when they find out that I am already in a permanent relationship, and have been since 1975. Before 1975, I was in my first marriage from 1967 to 1974.

Online dating scams were the number one scam for financial losses in Australia in 2013, with almost $28 million reported in lost revenue by participants. And that’s despite making up only three per cent of all scam reports. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has released its latest snapshot of scams.  Online chat rooms and dating sites have become, say some analysts of the internet, the singles' pubs of the nineties & previous decades. They are a place where young people, indeed people of any age, can go to meet new people, build friendships, find romance, and have safe sex in a variety of relationships over time. They may find safe sex now, & if not right now, then later as the relationship develops. Cybersex, also called computer sex, Internet sex, netsex, mudsex, TinySex and, colloquially, cybering or conversex is a virtual sex encounter in which two or more persons connected remotely via a computer network send each other sexually explicit messages describing a sexual experience. In one form, this fantasy sex is the result of the participants describing their actions in writing, and responding to their chat partners in a mostly written form designed to stimulate their own sexual feelings and fantasies. For all you need to know about internet dating go to: http://www.startsatsixty.com.au/living/relationships/the-truth-of-online-dating

(iii) Part 1.1:

This type of activity is not for me, although I have often been invited to form all sorts of relationships at dating-sites, and to engage in some form of cybersex.  I tell those who send me invitations in their many forms to go to my website and read my writing.  I rarely hear from such women, and sometimes even men, after sending them this advice. For more on this subject go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybersex  Sometimes, due to in extremis situations in which those who write to me find themselves, the exchange continues. Some women, and men, are in such bad personal situations that their sense of need is extreme; they are reaching-out with some urgency for a helping hand, any helping hand.  Some just want to show me how good they look in the context of asking me for my help. Often, the initial overture comes in the form of a friend request.  I now have literally 1000s of 'friends-in-cyberspace', all part of my participation at over 8000 websites, and all part of the promotion of my writing. I deal with all these 'friendships' in as cursory, & as detached, a way as possible or I would drown in interchange with people I do not know  & do not particularly want to know and interact with.  I have enough interaction to keep me busy into perpetuity. In 2014 I stopped: (i) taking-on new friends, (ii) following others, and (iii) accepting requests from others who wanted to "follow me" or "be my friend."

Sometimes, as I say, I write a personal reply to such invitations and requests when, for some reason or other, it seems appropriate.  Eventually, though, after two or three emails in which the person continues to tell me about their problems and their needs---the exchange ends.  But I have to be insistent. Most people who receive such requests from the needy and the destitute, it seems to me, simply delete such incoming posts.  The internet is awash with these sorts of requests. This simple deletion process is often, if not always, the simplest, most honest, & most realistic way of dealing with such requests for assistance. This particular domain of romance and dating, & in extremis posting for all sorts of reasons, is also a world of scams. Readers of this part of my website need to be warned about such deceit, such stratagems or swindles by means of online tricks.


(iii) Part 2:

The following two posts are good examples of recent incoming posts of this type: (a) "I read your email and I understood your explanation of why you can be of no help to me.  It's shameful that the bad people in cyberspace do not allow people like yourself to help those who are really in need of help. Please do not take me to be like those whom you explained to me when you sent your initial reply.  I desperately need your help to start a normal life as a human being.  You are & will be like a father to me; you deserve to be my Daddy, I would like you to treat me like your daughter even if it means to adopt me. Please bring me out from this situation I am in here in this refugee camp; there is little food & good water here in this place; life here is just like a prison; my life is rotting in this place"; and (b) "I just bought a gorgeous new 2-piece bikini for this summer, & just had to show it off.  I hope it doesn't make me look fat.  Maybe you could take a quick peek, and tell me if I look good in it or not?"

(iv)  Part 1:

People want me to play some part in their personal activities like: winning or taking-part in a game or a contest, receiving some prize or special retail commodity, taking part in a lottery or in an online betting program.  Sometimes the betting involves money; sometimes the exercise is just a game of gambling for fun; sometimes I am informed that I have won a prize for doing nothing. Here is an example: "We hereby inform you that you have won a jackpot of £950,000.00 pounds." 

Since I am a writer & author, poet & publisher, I also get many emails in connection with winning writing contests that I am invited to enter. I rarely enter such contests any more. For some 20 years, from 1981 to 2001 approximately, before my active involvement on the internet, I entered many writing contests. Some of these contests were for remuneration or some prize, and some were just for one of many forms of recognition.  I even won two or three times but, by the 21st century, I came to realize that such exercises were, for me at least, a waste of my time, time that could be spent on writing.  And so it is that, in at least the last dozen years or so, 2002 to 2015, the first years of the 21st century, I enter no such contests. I also enter or take no part in online games or contests unless, as I say above, courtesy or necessity requires a response. As I entered my 70s in 2014 these sorts of requests became, thankfully, rarer and rarer.

(iv) Part 1.1:

I was a big player of games in my childhood and teens from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. By my mid-to-late 20s, though, I rarely played sport or participated in games: board games, card games, art games, or video games; the list of types of games seems endless.  An art game, arthouse game, or less commonly auteur game, is a work of interactive new media digital software art.  A game could also be defined as: a structured play, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool.  It is distinct from work and is, for the most part, a use of a person's leisure-time; sometimes the game is carried-out for remuneration & sometimes not.  Some games are seen, as I say above, as art.  The list of games is endless: Mahjong and Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and role-playing games, Parcheesi and some 43,000 video-games, solitaire and snakes & ladders, as well as a seemingly infinite number of name games and online games.  From the beginning of my middle age in 1984, to these years of my late adulthood in the 21st century, games virtually diappeared from my radar-screen. For the most part, this presented no problem to others who occupied, who shared, my social and community, family and marital life.

(iv) Part 1.2:

Using the above broad definition and description of games, though, I played many types of games in the 50 years of my adult life, 1965 to 2015. Beginning as that adult life did in 1965 until this year, 2015, I played(at various times): golf and gadget-type games, baseball & bingo, volleyball & volunteering, baby games and basketball--usually with some member of my family or friends, my work colleagues or associations of many kinds. In my 20s and 30s I often played Scrabble until I found that I always lost, especially when playing my second wife. Occasionally I played Monopoly with my wife, children or friends, but others usually lost their enthusiasm when they came to realize that I had virtually memorized the entire Monopoly structure & moves. By my 50s in the mid-1990s, the last decade of my middle-age all this game-playing ceased.  I took little interest in playing games or watching them being played except: (i) with my son as he grew into his early 20s in the late 1990s, and (ii) for a few minutes on TV with and without my wife and son.  Games and contests in cyberspace are of absolutely no interest to me. In the last 20 years I have only taken-part in cyberspace games: (a) out of courtesy to an old friend, or (b) when I felt the relationship which I had with the person was of such a type that it required my participation. This was usually in order to exercise some degree of kindness, and let the person down gently, so to speak. With the arrival of new & young grandchildren in the second decade of the 21st century, baby games & ball games returned to my agenda.


(iv) Part 2:

The following are two examples from the worlds of winning at games for prizes, and gambling for money, that had nothing to do with writing. They appeared in my incoming emails in the last week of February 2013: (a)"Sign up today for your chance to win a year's supply of wine. By becoming a member of this club, you will enjoy their exclusive wine deals everyday. Entries are limited at the moment, so don't miss out!"; and (b) "You can qualify for a 200% welcome bonus at our casino, named Ruby Palace, when you sign up today. You will also be able to enjoy, the unlocking of casino credits over 450 top-flight casino games.  I usually ignore all of this type of activity, except when it comes in from family and friends and then, as I say only out of courtesy, I respond as briefly as possible.

(iv) Part 3:

Since becoming a grand-father and step-grandfather more than 4 years ago, games have made a reappearance in my life. There are a wide-range of games I now play with my grand-daughter, Grace, and my step-grandson, George. When time permits, and as these two children grow into their teen-age lives, I will describe these games here in this sub-section of my website, if I can remember to do so and if I can be bothered.
 
(v) Part 1:

People want me to join them in their concern for, or their interest in, a staggering variety of topics: from meditation to those moshi monsters which I mention elsewhere in this now extensive list of items about which I have little to no concern or interest, from music to the Moscow circus, from   yoga to yahoo, from yesterdays to yin yang, from the treatment of kiddies to kitsch, from cars to character, from types of food to fashion, from Bolivian miners to breast cancer, from poverty to paypal, from rags to riches, from crime to criminals, and on and on goes the litany. For the most part I do not reply to any of these requests or invitations to comment, unless they come from friends or family members in some form of their social activism, or simply because they contact me. Their contact requires, usually out of courtesy if nothing else, my response.  I try to keep my responses, here as well, to the barest of minimums. For the most part, though, I do not comment.

Since people like to eat and cook, since they like to look good and to be happy, since they want to show others that they are having fun or partying, I get emails and posts telling me about these aspects of their lives. I am sent emails and posts about people's food and their fashions, about the pleasure they are having with their pets and their personal positions, their friends and their families.  There is an endless litany of photos & posts from people in connection with these subjects I have just mentioned, and I am invited to comment. 

(v) Part 2:

Millions of people now utilize the internet to clarify their career direction, to advance their careers in some way or another, or to change their career direction.  They also want to enroll in all sorts of academic and vocational programs with credentials at the end of the line.  There is now an endless list of programs of study, at all levels of the educational enterprize, from neo-natal and baby, to toddler and pre-school programs, fromschools for seniors to programs for retirees. There is something for everyone from before-the-cradle to after-the-grave, so to speak, & these somethings come my way by the bucketfull.  Here is one that came in more than two years ago on 2 March 2013: "You can now study for The Royal Agricultural College MBA in Global Food Industries online. No need to take a career break. Study this internationally recognised MBA program online, and receive expert tuition as well as support from the UK's online learning specialists."

I retired from my own 50 year student-and-paid-employment career, 1949 to 1999, and took no interest in furthering that career by the 21st century. I have reinvented myself, as I point out at this part of my website, but my career-redirection is one in which I do not draw on any of the advice from academic institutions seeking larger enrollments.

(vi) Part 1:

People want me to express my enthusiasm for, or my interest in: their social activity or their family life, their domestic activity like cooking or cleaning, catching fish or catching pests, their partying or their pets, their poverty or their public profiles.  Sick family members or friends, sick pets or sick partners, someone or some group of people who died or were killed recently in their town or city, or some foreign city, some global trauma or national disaster: all of these things elicit many a post that is sent far and wide in cyberspace. Dozens of these missives land in my incoming-email-box, on my Facebook profile page, or at some other SNS, internet site at which I am registered or even ones at which I am not registered. Here is an example: "Dear Mr Price, I am a great need of help, and I would be grateful if you could assist me in some way.  We had a big flood disaster in town; 25 people died, and we lost all our clothes--everything, please help me." This is only one sample, and the range and variety of posts that come increase with every passing day.

This section, these subjects I mention here, are similar in their content to section number (v) Part 1 above, but I have added this section (vi) to include all the comments I receive on the subject of celebrities, people of fame or renown, some of whom I know and some of whom I do not.  People can't resist commenting on the lives of celebrities as well as highly publicized events in our society. Our society is the society of spectacle, as one social theorist calls our society, and millions get caught-up in the frenzy of renown, the frenzy of the big-events.  

Many people's personal agenda is so highly media-focussed that their personal agenda seems to contain nothing but stuff from popular culture and the mass media, from TV and radio to the internet's now vast landscape. This is not surprising given the print & electronic media focus which brings billions of us together now in one way or another.  A good deal of my writing has what you might call 'a populist-focus' in the form of articles and essays, online posts and responses to the writings of others.

(vi) Part 2:

People's health issues or their having fun, their having anxiety or having babies, among a list of personal concerns that could fill Wikipedia with 1000s of pages, all come into the cyberspace-tube like an avalanche. I get invitations to comment on a pandora's box of the peculiar, polyform and public positions that people hold and have in life. I rarely reply to these invitations and requests for comment unless, as I frequently say in these paragraphs, they are sent to me directly by family members or old friends and, out of a personal sense of obligation and duty, I reply directly.  As the years go on these direct requests from family and friends are coming-in less and less, as my message is getting out to others in cyberspace, little by little and day by day: "Don't bother Ron with this sort of stuff," I hope I can hear them say.  Still, SNS like Facebook bring in all sorts of passing posts involving: (a) problems people are having in connection with their work and their welfare, (b) their personal activities involving fun and fashion, animals and advocacy, (c) their beliefs and values, philosophies and attitudes, and (d) much-much more in a bewildering array.

(vi) Part 2.1:

I have many interests that are obvious to anyone who spends a little time at my website, and there are many who share these interests.  There are many, too, who enjoy my writing and are part of my world.  But they are all, or at least for the most part, on the far periphery of my life, & I am happy that they stay there.  When one has millions of readers in this new parallel universe of the world-wide-web, one has to keep one's distance or one would literally drown in the verbiage of this verisimilitude and virtue, truth and literary tiffany.  After more than half a century of wall-to-wall people in my personal and professional life, circa, 1949 to 1999 and, perhaps, 2009, some 60 years, I am happy to keep all the hosts, the millions & billions, of those in cyberspace out of arm's reach, or very far from my eyes---so that I can get on with reading what I want to read, on a reading agenda I have set for myself out of pure interest and habit, curiosity & pleasure and, to as little an extent as possible, out of duty, & some sense of obligation. For years, indeed, decades, as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator, out of necessity, I had to read immense piles of crud, and I have no intention of continuing to read it in the form of endless internet posts on every topic from anagrams to zombies, dogs and disasters, cats to kangaroos.

(vii) Part 1:

People want me to take part in an increasing and endless litany of surveys; for example, the following came in on 19/2/'13: "Did you know that companies spend more than 1 billion dollars on market research every year? Companies are constantly developing and improving products, and they need something to make sure that it works. Do you know what they need? They need your opinion. That's right, and they are willing to pay money for it.  By offering your opinion on new products like: cars or candy, electronics or energy, it helps companies develop products that people are happy with!"  Many times, such survey people will simply ask me to fill out a form/survey about their new product. 

(vii) Part 2:

One type of survey of some little interest to me is a feedback, formalized and specific, which I receive in relation to my writings. Such survey-form-feedbacks range from high praise, to outright indifference and criticism. This is the same range of feedback that I have received from anecdotal and live-personal feedback in the last 40 years: 1974 to 2014---years since my writing was first published to any significant extent in real space, in newsletters and newspapers among other genres and literary forms. As I point out at the following online link, I have now had feedback in relation to my writing coming-in for more than 60 years. I tell the story of this feedback at this link: http://www.shadowedrealm.com/medieval-forum/blog/11/entry-236-dealing-with-criticism-a-post-on-ron-prices-blog/

REQUESTS FOR DONATIONS AND DALLIANCES

(viii) Part 1:

People ask me for donations or some form of support in relation to more causes and charities than I ever knew existed. I could write a small book: (a) on the sheer diversity of causes to which I could donate, (b) on what seems like an infinite number of charities soliciting funds, as well as (c) on fund-raising sites where I could get involved in helping others financially with their causes and charities. Often the causes and charities are noble and worthwhile. Since my wife and I already get requests over the phone and at our door, and we already have a list of charities and organizations to which we give money and have done so for decades, I courteously decline all these requests.  

(viii) Part 2:

All the money that stands between my wife and I & the cold-cold world, as they say, is our pension money coming in every two weeks, the remains of that reverse mortgage which I have referred to above, and those assets and stocks.  I feel my response, therefore, my refusal to give any money in relation to all of the above requests, is a reasonable one. The reverse mortgage, as I indicated above, is used to pay for: big car expenses, big doctors' and dentist bills, big household maintenance jobs, gifts for needy family members and for birthdays to family members, & a few friends, as well as other big-ticket items like: a new computer or a new household item such as an electric drill or some garden supplies.  With the back-up money that this reverse mortgage provides, my wife and I should be able to go into our old-age, the years beyond 80 in 2024, & survive the financial world and its many demands. As I say, though, and it must be emphasized, our financial comfort depends: (a)  on there not being too many 'big-ticket-items' in the years ahead, and (b) on our continuing to live frugally.

(ix) Part 1:

People send me photos of themselves online, as I mentioned above, after seeing my photo at one of a multitude of the 8000+ sites at which I post my writing. They live in the hope that we might have a date or a dalliance, a sexual relationship or just a discrete friendship.  They say things like: "no questions asked....." or "I saw your photo and your profile at......"   I get invitations to join menage a trois and group sex, as well as from individuals at online sex and dating-sites, same-sex sites and even the occasional nudist colony. They say things like: "you might like to try this", or "if you are free and easy..."; "I'm back from Bali.....", or "I just broke-up from my boyfriend"; "I'm in town and I thought we..."....inter alia.

These requests and statements come in from more dating services than I ever knew existed like: Anastasia International Dating Services, Speed Date, City Sex.com, and LookForSingles.com. Seeking Discreet Married Dating Affairs? MarriedButLonely.com is a secret married dating site that caters to married women seeking men. I am sent statements like: "Sex starved wives are home chatting online right now. Begin your discreet adventure here and get in contact with 1,000’s of real wives looking to flirt & hookup.The following email arrived in my inbox in February 2013: "members of this group can get access to exclusive features like instant messaging, private email, live chat rooms, video profiles, personality matching and a fantastic feature you won’t find anywhere else: astrological compatibility analysis......", and on and on goes yet another litany of services that could line me up with a date or a dalliance, a sexual relationship or all sorts of other arrangements in the mating-and-dating game, the romance and soul-mate search worlds.

(ix) Part 2:

I try to respond to as few of these requests as possible. When I do respond to some incoming email, that email usually expresses some high degree of anxiety or special pleading. I reply with honesty and courtesy, tact and kindness.  Honesty and courtesy are difficult qualities to combine, but I do my best to let people down, usually women but more recently even men---and even the occasional person with transgender proclivites---as easily as I can.  Usually, I do not reply at all. I clearly state my marital status, that I have been married for 48 years, and that I am not interested in another relationship of romance or sex.  I sometimes indicate my general life-style involving as it does writing & publishing, editing & research. I encourage these people to go to my website, if they want to know more about me. For the most part, all these people are looking for some kind of mating-or-dating relationship, and I can be of no help to them.

(x) Part 1:

People ask for my support in some social-activist enterprise.  Such requests seem to come in batches as people suddenly get worried about dogs or disasters, cats or kangaroos, crime or ciminals, wars or women. The litany of causes has burgeoned in recent years due to the fact that causes are now globalized with the existence of internet sites, like Facebook, which promote and encourage the involvement of as many people as possible in support of these causes. By the time I was 71 on 23/7/'15, I had unfriended more than 150 Facebook friends, and declined the friendship of another 3 dozen people(circa)  So it was that the many requests for my support in relation to this particular source of causes had virtually ceased.  Still, the occasional request came into my daily incoming box of emails.

Sometimes all that I am required to do, by some keen social activist, is to tick a box in support of someone's request for my support in their social activism activity at a SNS.  At other times I am asked to send a copy of the email that a person has just sent me, with its activist-focus, to: (i) all my friends, or (ii)  as many others as possible in the hope that, by a chain of posts, everyone in the world will be aware of the issue. Given the immense number of causes now occupying SNS, and a plethora of non-SNS places in cyberspace, these social activists are increasing with every passing day. But, again, as I say above, I have now freed myself from one of the main sources of this type of social activism requesting of my involvement.

(x) Part 2:

To people whom I have known for some time, and several other very keen and active cause-enthusiasts I usually reply directly within 24 hours. After several years of supporting a plethora of causes all over cyberspace, I had declined---as I say above---all invitations.  This took place 15 months ago as I update this part of my website.  This is especially true for those causes that come from Facebook, a SNS which has a special sub-section devoted entirely to a myriad causes in the world & that quixotic tournament. On rare occasions, I responded to a family member or a friend in their social activist concerns, largely out of courtesy. This is because the litany of concerns, in that seemingly endless tournament which takes place in our global society, is giving publicity to more problems than anyone ever knew existed. Before the world-wide-web joined us all together in one happy and not-so-happy family, most of these causes were unknowns. If I begin to get too many posts, too many petitions to sign, and causes to get involved in, I occasionally send a message to everyone to "stop sending me such requests." In the last half a dozen years of this popular internet-cause-activity, I have only sent such a message of closure once.

(xi) Part 1:

People ask for my help at special internet sites devoted to special topics like: literature & love, religion & rebels, philosophy & fetishes. I offer my advice based on my own experience and ideas, but I rarely actually ask anyone to do anything.  After half a century, 1950 to 2000 approximately, of asking literally 100s, perhaps 1000s, of people to do things, I now confine such requests: (a) to a small circle of those with whom I interact in real space: family, friends, and the occasional person in one of my many interest groups, and (b) to as small a circle as possible of those in cyberspace.

(xi) Part 2:

To those who are very keen to have my help with some personal problem, or who have high expectations regarding what help I am able to offer to them, I try to be especially kind & considerate, not wanting to damage a long-standing relationship, or any particular, special relationship in real space.  I usually respond to their concern in writing, and usually within 24 hours. Hopefully I will never hear from them again in relation to such requests.  Of course, there are always the persistent few who want: (a) to get into my space for some reason or other, or (b) to take part in online social-activism with a special fervour.

(xii)  Part 1:

People ask me to take an interest in my salvation through Jesus or Muhammad, Moses or some other old or new prophetic figure.  In addition, there are many swamis, gurus, zealots and religionists who invite my participation and involvement.   I get invited to become a Christian or a Muslim, a Jew or an adherent of some other religion, sect, denomination, ism or wasm.  Various religious people comb the bloggosphere asking if I would like to: (i) attend some church or religious services in my community or online, and/or (ii) become a believer in some branch of a religion or, as I say, some sect or cult, denomination, ism or wasm.  I get requests to respond to many kinds of religious or philosophical, psychological or sociological messages, messages which are aimed at obtaining my attention and interest, and sometimes my commitment and special enthusiasm. Given the immense variety of religious groups on our planet, to say nothing of those philosophies, psychologies, sociologies and societies, much is sent my way in this category, what I call 'the-message-conviction-evangelize category,' over the weeks and months.

Requests for my prayers also provide a steady stream of emails from friends and relatives, associations and people I have never heard of in my life.  The following is an excerpt from two recent requests; they are both from people I did not know at all: (i) "I hope all is well with you. I'm really not doing too well right now. I've been having an extremely rough week. I found out last Sunday night that my friend Barbara passed away very unexpectedly from a blood clot. I know Barbara from one of the 12 step programs of which I am a member. Your prayers would be appreciated;" and (ii) I seem to attract cats which have no homes; they just come to my house. Please pray for me and my cats."

(xii) Part 2:

Meditation and yoga are also big spinners of evangelical enthusiasms with a host of different programs available for both the initiated and the uninitiated. There is also a host of people, some I know and some I don't know, who send me information on these two subjects. Many meditation and/or yoga courses are advertised soliciting my interest and involvement first in cyberspace and, eventually and occasionally, in real space.  Meditation and yoga courses have been all-the-rage in the last several decades. The 'Be Here Now', living in the here and now, which first came into my life from Ram Das in the 1960s and early 1970s, has been getting a new lease on life in the last decade or so, or so it seems to me.  

A number of schools of thought involving: breathing, creative visualization, a quieting of the emotions, exercises which could be summarized by the word 'mindfulness'---are now found in cyberspace. There are so many various techniques for meditation; almost as many as there are for prayer.  And just like with prayer, there are many people who say that the way they do it is the only way. This link summarizes my approach: http://onebahai.blogspot.com.au/2009/12/prayer-and-meditation.html

(xii) Part 2.1:

As early as 1971 Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean psychiatrist who is considered a pioneer in integrating psychotherapy and the spiritual traditions, noted that: "the word 'meditation' has been used to designate such a wide variety of practices, practices that differ so much from one another, that it has become difficult to even define what meditation is. Of course, this has not stopped people from trying.
Yoga came to the attention of an educated western public in the mid 19th century along with other topics of Hindu philosophy. In the last half century, 1963 to 2013, there have been at least two major yoga booms.  Yoga enthusiasts can be found all over cyberspace.

Sometimes I simply send the above four paragraphs to those who contact me in relation to either meditation or yoga. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, as it were. Some topics, as I point out many times in this long thread, I am happy not to discuss any more, and put them to bed, so to speak.  Hence this thread.


(xiii)  Part 1:

People ask me if I would like to engage in some retail or commercial, financial or economic type of online service or activity. These services and activities range from: (i) buying items on the stock-market to obtaining a new credit card, (ii) from buying a new life-insurance package to taking advantage of some new banking deal or debt reduction scheme,(iii) from winning a holiday-hotel package to getting some free groceries, and (iv) from winning a travel or holiday package in some exotic place like Bali or Bermuda to finding the cheapest flights or the cheapest fashions.

(xiii) Part 2:

Here are 5 examples of subjects dealing with online loans and debts that came in during the February to April period 2013: (1) "The Microelectronics Technology Company stock is now selling at $0.0163. The target: $.10. A 'huge short squeeze begins tomorrow! Building a strong support for a push higher!";  (2) "Best Credit Cards: 0% Intro Apr, Low Annual Fees, Huge $ Rewards!", (3) Trust Financial service is a unit of Secure Trust Bank; it is registered under the FSA.  You can search the link below for the catalogue of banks listed by FSA;"(4)  You might be interested in our "Government Approved Debt Management Program!" We know that when you're in debt, it may seem hard getting out; with the right debt relief solution and a committed team to support you, getting out of debt is a lot easier;" and (5) Do you need an urgent loan facility to help you meet up with your immediate needs?  Our company is based in USA, and we've been into the financial business for over 17 years now with a low interest of 2%,

(xiii) Part 2.1:

Here are 5 examples of online buying and selling: (1) For sale: A pair of genuine certified 0.25 carat round cut 14K white gold diamond stud ear-rings; and a tourmaline ceramic flat iron from Avanti + a 1 year warranty. (2) 3 Options for the purchase of dead-sea-skin-whitening-cream(DSSWC): A) $14 for One Tube of DSSWC, B) $24 for Two Tubes DSSWC, or C) $30 for Three Tubes of DSSW-Taxes Included (Up to $183 Value); (3) Stone chips, cracked windows and scratches are frequent problems. Your car is a reflection of you and all these things contribute to the impression that your car makes about you. We provide an inexpensive service; (4) My name is Celina and I’m from Standard Screen Printing, a custom t-shirt printing company. If you’re interested in getting a quote on t-shirts, I’d be happy to help. Check out my website at: www.standardscreenprinting. You can design your own t-shirt, view pricing and check out reviews! Finally: (5) "We bring great offers from low cost Online Tours Agency. We are offering flight ticket, hotels, booking, car rental & different tour packages."


(xiii) Part 2.2:

People want me to respond to some area of the human services. Human services refers to a variety of delivery systems such as: social welfare services, a wide range of education, mental health services, and various forms of healthcare. Human services professionals now provide advice and services directly to clients or help them with their problems. Human service professionals also manage agencies that provide these services, and these agencies send me emails. They are often involved in policy development and advocacy, and want my assistance. The academic discipline of human services educates these professionals at the associate, bachelor's, graduate, and post-graduate levels and they contact me since I used to work in the delivery of human services education.  Some HS agencies contact me due to my relatively high social profile in cyberspace.

(xiii) Part 2.3:

I am now registered at over 100 mental health and health care websites and contribute frequently to discussions due to my having had to deal with bipolar disorder, among other mental health issues for decades. Due to this fact, I often get emails in connection with all sorts of questions associated with mental health. Here is a typical email which came in during the first week of March 2013: "As part of our ongoing mission to empower health activists, WEGO Health, a popular mental health care site, will be holding a paid, virtual focus group for active members of the online schizophrenia & mental health communities.  We hope you will join us to share your story." I often reply to such requests because of my own experience with mental health issues. But I don't reply to all incoming posts in this domain.  If I did, I would spend far too much time at the more than 100 sites at which I am registered, and at which there are literally 1000s of members, each with their own concerns in the 100s of mental health issues which proliferate our global society.

(xiv) Part 1:

I get people asking me if I would like to utilize their services in: (a) hypnotherapy and hydrotherapy, (b) clairvoyance, caffeine and cafe-culture, wine drinking and viticulture, (c) tarot-card reading and telepathy, (d) the paranormal and parapsychology, (e) self-esteem and self-image psychology, (f) many a health issue and migrants, (g) a wide range of alternative treatments and diagnoses for the prevention of disease and illness, and for the enhancement of health and hygiene, as well as (h)  weight loss & women's issues. Weight loss is a popular item in cyberspace as it is on television. It is often connected with various exercise programs and exercise equipment which one can buy for what is always 'a reasonable price.' Women's issues will also be with us for some time as the third(or is it the fourth?) wave of feminism washes our shores. I could include several examples of incoming posts in relation to women's issues but I shall desist. I am sure readers here are not in need of any examples.

(xiv) Part 2:

Health care in its many forms, of course, is just one of a multitude of service and interest areas in which I am contacted by people on the world-wide-web. To list, even to summarize, the myriad of other service areas here would lead to prolixity. Here are four that came my way in during 2013: (a) "Melt Fat Away - Drop 11-lbs in 7 Days!"; (b)  "Find an Affordable Dental Plan to Meet Your Needs," (c) "Remove up to 15 Moles or Skin Tags with Dermatend “Ultra”, and (d) here is the Tissue Resource Centre and Using our Brains donor program Newsletter.

(xv) Part 1:

People who are in desperate straits ask me for help.  The troubled poor and destitute, indeed, people in unbelieveably difficult situations. There are now millions of people who utilize the web, who would like me to help them with their in extremis personal troubles with: poverty, educational deficiency, some medical problem, some personal, marital and often life-threatening situation. Many of these people are engaged in scams, and some of these people have legitimate real-life concerns.

(xv) Part 2:

The emails I now receive in relation to those who want to give away their money, their investments, and/or their assets are often beyond belief. In many cases they are better not to be believed or taken seriously. I could give several dozen examples that have come in since I went on an old-age pension in 2009 at the age of 65.


(xv) Part 2.1:

Sometimes, indeed, rarely, I reply.  I have come to virtually ignore the above types of requests.  As my years in cyberspace are now going through their 3rd decade, I find I could spend many an hour dealing with an immense variety of: (i) troubled and anxious souls, (ii) souls with a variety of simple desires and wants, concerns and wishes, hopes and aspirations, and (iii) souls reaching out on the world-wide-web for something, for someone, or other.  I limit my internet helping-mode to small packages of time so that I can get on with my life, my commitments and concerns. We all have to work out our own MO, as they say in the who-dun-its, for dealing with those who want to: (a) give us advice, (b) give us, share with us, entertaining bits of information, visual or oral life, or (c) ask for our help in connection with an incredible array of things of interest or concern to them.

I'm sure that many who have asked for my help in the last several years, in any one of the 50 categories of requests above and below, are now embarrassed that they have even asked. Knowing, as some of these people now do, the general perspective in which I have placed their specific request in question, they may be disinclined to play the internet game. For it is a game, the internet is a game, among its many other functions like bonding and advertising of self and others.  Cyberspace has a myriad functions for the millions, and now billions, of people on the planet who utilize the world-wide-web.

(xvi) Part 1:

People in one or any of the now several hundred thousand: international and national, regional and state, provincial and ethnic as well as specific cultural groups solicit my attention.  While international and national groups are somewhat easy to define, an ethnic group is a socially defined category based on common culture or nationality.  Ethnicity can, but does not have to, include common ancestry, appearance, cuisine, dressing style, heritage, history, language or dialect, religion, symbols, traditions, or other cultural factor.  Ethnic identity is constantly reinforced through common characteristics which set the group apart from other groups. Tribal, clan, and cultural groups, as distinguished from ethnic groups, are just as, or even more, numerous. From bikie groups to banana lovers, from apple growers to alcoholics anonymous, from cat lovers to kangaroo-meat eaters, from dog lovers to diamond lovers, these cultural groups proliferate the bloggosphere, the commentariat, and cybersphere.

(xvi) Part 2:

People approach me from within these groups with all sorts of requests for my interest in, my enthusiasm for, or my help with some aspect of their culture or sub-culture, their ethnic or traditional, their international or national, their tribal or clan identification/group.  Sometimes, when this request comes in from some internet site at which I am registered, I respond briefly but I try to avoid such interchange as much as possible.  Indigenous cultures all around the world are utilizing the internet in a wide variety of ways to assist in helping make their many programs more successful, and meet their group's needs: Indians and Incas, Ethiopians and Eskimos, Aborigines and Aztecs, and on and on goes yet another of the many cyberspace litanies.

(xvii) Part 1:

People send messages to my profile pages at SNS like Facebook mainly for bonding, a type of what some analysts call "social capital".  Others use such SNS for bridging which is a second type of social capital. People use Facebook mostly to maintain already existing strong-tie relationships, such as with good friends and family thereby gaining, what those commentators on SNS call, bonding social capital.  Sites like Facebook are also used to keep contact with people with whom a person has loose ties such as with coworkers or old associations, as well as new 'friends' they have acquired in their cyberspace SNS lifetime. Some SNS analysts call this second use of Facebook, as I say above, "bridging social capital". There is, for most users of SNS, a high level of overlap between their offline and the online social networks.

(xvii) Part 2:

For the most part I do not use SNS for either of these purposes. I am, as I say several times in this 150 thousand word explanatory package of words, a writer and author, poet and publisher, researcher and editor, online blogger and journalist, scholar and reader, my own office-assistant and marketing manager.  I use SNS to advertise my writing, to gain an increased readership and, in the process, I acquired more than 150 'friends' at Facebook. As I indicated above, I 'unfriended' them all by my 71st birthday &, in the process, eliminated what I found to be an annoying distraction from what are now my serious online activities related to my literary activity.  I still have 1000s of friends at 100s of other sites, but these sites do not impose the source of distraction that Facebook had come to be in my daily-life with its endless posts from the serious to the trivial, from the important to the totally irrelevant.

All these 'friends', both at Facebook and at other sites at which I am registered, are people whom, for the most part, I do not know personally. If I did know them all personally, and felt an obligation to write to them all when they sent me messages, I would be swamped with people from wall-to-wall. I had people from wall-to-wall, and in community for half a century, 1949-1999, before I retired from teaching and student life, as well as an extensive involvement in the Baha'i community & other interest groups. I am still an active member of the Baha'i Faith, but I attend fewer planning & publicity, teaching & consolidation, meetings than I did from the 1950s to the 1990s. Indeed 1 meeting in every 19 days is all I take-part in, now, during these years from 70 to 80, the last decade of my late adulthood as one model of human development calls the years from 60 to 80.

(xviii) Part 1:

People send me messages: (a) to help me improve the marketing of my website, (b) to help me with my online blogging skills or online journalistic activity, (c) to help increase traffic to my website, and (d) to help me with my writing skills.  Since I now have literally millions of online readers, partly due to my website, partly due to my many blogs in cyberspace, and partly due to my profilic writing and publishing, I often get requests: (i) from web design & development people, some in Europe and North America, some in India and Australia, (ii) from people in the blogging industry who offer their help & their skills, and (iii) from others who just want me to submit my writing to their site, their publishing house, or some online writing group. Here is a sample: "We have published 2,000+ manuscripts in our portal and for 2,000,000+ visits. The International Journal Research Publications Pty. Ltd., invites you to submit a manuscript for publication."

There are a range of services I could use, if I had the money, to enhance both my website and my readership, and to make my blogging more successful by attracting more readers and improving the design of my blogs at many a website. The help I am offered includes: search engine optimization techniques; and help in utilizing the many search engines like: Google, Yahoo and Bing, among a host of other search engines, to market my writing. I am also offered advise to take several specific steps to help ensure that my website is discoverable by Google, Yahoo and Bing. In the process, I am informed that this will help optimize my on-page content for search engines.

(xviii) Part 2:

I have been working with the website design and marketing site, Define Studio, in Mosman NSW for 5 years: 9/'10 to 9/'15. The Art Director, Daniel Sullivan, and his team at Define Studio have designed this 4th edition of my website. This 4th edition has now been online for 4 and 1/2 years as I write this webpage update on 23 October 2015.  From September 2010 to March 2011, some 7 months, Define Studio worked with me to get the design of my website in a form that suited my desires and tastes. I am happy with the services of this design company, and I do not have the financial resources to extend my site through any one of the many other design companies which contact me from time to time, however much I might like to do so.

Internet service providers(ISPs), organizations that provide access to the Internet, are found by the truck-load and gallon measure in cyberpsace. These ISPs directly connect clients to the Internet using copper wires, wireless or fiber-optic connections. Like telephone companies they all have their special package-deals. I utilize the ISP, Internode, and its Broadband Plan, but other ISPs are on the prowl to solicit me as a customer. There are also false ISPs which contact me claiming to be my provider, asking me to update my package & to send them money. These are only one such area of dozens of scams which everyone has to watch in their cyberspace life.

Hosting ISPs are centres or locations in cyberspace that lease server space to small businesses, and to people like myself.  My hosting service with Define Studio is free, and so I have no need of the service of other hosting sites. One variety of ISPs, known as Transit ISPs, provide large amounts of bandwidth for connecting the host ISP, like the one I now have, to other access ISPs.  Internet service providers may be organized in various forms, such as commercial, community-owned, non-profit, or otherwise privately owned. There is a batch of incoming emails from these sources on a weekly and monthly basis that I have to deal with in one way or another---usually by just deleting their post.

(xviii) Part 3:

The internet is awash not only with website design & marketing services, ISPs, but a vast landscape of web browsers, security systems, & an array of technology for the home-computer-user like myself.  Browsers are software applications for retrieving, presenting and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web.  An information resource is identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI/URL) & it may be a web page, image, video or other piece of content. Hyperlinks that are present in resources enable their users easily to navigate their browsers to related resources. Although browsers are primarily intended to use the World Wide Web, they can also be used to access information provided by web servers in private networks or files in file systems. 

The major web browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari. Some have been around for 20 years; Netscape is but one example. There is also the fast-growing mobile-phone web-browser market, being preinstalled on over 40 million phones. It is also available on several other embedded systems, including Nintendo's video game console. The most recent major entrant to the browser market is Google Chrome, the most widely used web-browser. It still has lower usage than all versions of Internet Explorer combined.  I am a serious browser & user of the web, and remaining secure is always an issue. No system is perfect, and there are always ways to improve the already outstanding security in the open source browser with add-ons.  I get a package of emails every month in relation to this complex computer technology. I ignore it all. I have come to rely on several people in the real world to assist me with my use of computer technology. My son and my wife are the two most important sources of IT assistance in my private and public worlds.

(xix) Part 1:

Since I am a writer and author, poet and publisher, and since I belong to literally dozens of online writing and poetry, magazine and journal, as well as book and manuscript sites, I get another load of emails in connection with writing and editing, poetizing & publishing. Here is one example sent to writers and authors, poets and publishers: "BookWhirl has sent you the following message: 'Dear Author, have you ever had the feeling your book could use some extra push?  Bookwhirl.com’s Add-On Services could give you that boost!  With CD Archive you can manage your email notification settings on Author & Book Event Center by visiting http://bookeventcenter.spruz.com/member."'

(xix) Part 2:

Here is a second example: "Elevate your art of digital storytelling with filmmaker and social entrepreneur Mikey Leung.  This is a highly practical session for reaching supporters using people-powered media. Visit our conference website for a full program overview. This way you can save with the early-bird discount; you can also be in the draw to win a prize worth $500!"

(xx) Part 1:

I have to deal with all these incoming emails in such a way: (a) that I don't spend time on items that, in the end, are going to cost money, money that I do not have, (b) that I don't end up reading alot of material that is totally irrelevant to my writing and publishing life online, and (c) that I don't take part in some online learning program for which I have no need.  I already have millions of readers after a dozen years of online work to promote and market my writing.  I still get many incoming emails offering to help me get more readers at my website, emails like this one: "Each week we send registered bloggers and publishers a summary of the social traffic and engagement on their site that originates from AddThis tools. These analytics emails will help you stay on top of the pages which are bringing the most traffic back to your site, so you can make data-driven-decisions and do things like optimize content and compare pages."

(xx) Part 2:

I could spend much of my time responding to an increasing range of promotional, marketing, advertising & publicity material sent to me because I am a writer and online publisher.  Of course, I am always interested in increasing my readership. But, once one has millions of readers, further promotional activity, at least for the present time, is not on my agenda.  If I had a band of little-helpers, I might engage in such popularizing of my writing, and extension of my readership.  But I am a one-man-band, and  I have only so much time and energy in the day;  I spend this time writing not dealing with endless incoming emails and posts which, in the end become essentially distractions away from my primary goals.

(xxi) Part 1:

People ask me if I would like to take part in one of the online games like: organized crime simulation with gangsters, with tactical turn-based combat, games where I can take the role of a fresh-from-the-boat immigrant with dreams of the big life; games where the player can work his way up the criminal hierarchy of 1920’s Atlantic City, or the 1930s in Chicago; games which start with small jobs where the character recruits a gang and expands his empire by taking territory from other gangsters, eventually having his own crime syndicate and becoming the de facto ruler of Atlantic City or Chicago. This sub-section (xxi) is similar to another sub-section in this essay or report. I have given it a special place here since it seems to be a special type of game, a type that is increasing on the internet.

(xxi) Part 2:

An online game is often a video game played over some form of computer network, using a personal computer or video game console. This network is usually the internet or equivalent technology, but games have always used whatever technology was current: modems before the Internet, and hard wired terminals before modems. I played 2 or 3 times with my son in the mid-1980s when computer-games first came out. I realized quickly that such games were not for me especially after several games with my son in which he won hands-down. His sensory-motor skills had become finely-tuned and were faster than mine would ever be and I had little desire to hone my skills in the video-game world.


(xxii) Part 1:

People ask me to respond in some way or other to a wide variety of pieces of information or entertainment, items intended to be either funny or surprising, amazing or simply informative, I hope that readers enjoy the following paragraphs that are intended to serve as a general response to such people. This little bit of prose which follows is a digest of the twenty-one page, 10,000+ word, essay that did NOT make it into Dr. Funwisdum's new book Human Communication in the Twenty-First Century, editor, Harry Funwisdum, Oxford University Press, 2002. Go to this link: http://www.volconvo.com/forums/general-discussion/21037-funnies-wee-wisdoms-genre-internet-communication.html


(xxii) Part 2:

There is now a massive quantity of information conveyed in the form of videos, u-tube items, and other visual forms. Many people learn more from audio-visual experiences than they do from print.  Movies, being physically active, and socializing all engage many people's minds and emotions much more than the print media: books and journals, articles & essays. Due to this fact, I am sent great quantities of audio-visuals. The term audiovisual (AV) may refer to works with both a sound and a visual component. Slide-tape presentations, films, and television programs are examples of AV presentations, as are live theater productions. Business presentations are also often AV oriented. In a typical presentation, the presenter provides the audio by speaking, and supplements it with a series of images projected onto a screen, either from a slide projector, or from a computer connected to a projector using presentation software. In the developed world, there has been a huge uptake of computer-based AV equipment in the education sector, with many schools and higher educational establishments installing projection equipment and often using interactive whiteboard technology. This vast gamut of AV resources is sent my way on a daily basis.

Often such material takes much time to watch and, so it is and for the most part, I ignore this slather of incoming material.  If the material is sent by friends, I try to deal with it as courteously as possible, & in such a way to discourage them from continuing the practice. This is not a simple exercise, though, dealing with the AV enthusiasms of others; many people send these AV goodies as if they were the hottest stuff on the block; they emphasize, in the process, that I would greatly benefit from such viewing. The process reminds me of my 50 years of life as a student and teacher when I was on the receiving end of endless advice on: what to read, what to look at, what to think, and what to do.

(xxiii) Part 1:

People ask me if I would like to join some group of professionals, some kind of group associated with all sorts of cause, organizations, businesses, or commercial enterprizes, a vast array of professional & semi-professional associations, inter alia. Sometimes I am invited to join an advisory panel for some online community, or to be a moderator at some site where I post and interact with others.  Although this is flattering in some ways, it involves me in far too much work like (i) periodically participating in surveys on products, topics or trends within the marketing and advertising industry, & evaluating the posts of others. I got the following emal in 2013: "You were recently selected as a candidate for publication in the prestigious Top 100 Executives of 2013 Magazine.  It is my distinct pleasure to inform you that your candidacy has been reviewed and approved by a special committee; your biography may soon be featured in this extraordinary professional magazine. The most accomplished, distinguished, & high-achievement  men and women are considered for this honor & there is NO COST or obligation to be listed. After confirming your acceptance, your space within the magazine will be reserved. Our professional writers will then craft an articulate, interesting and informative biography that will be both a treasured legacy & an impressive addition to your professional résumé. Only your prompt response is required to ensure your inclusion." Go to this link for an example of the above: http://www.executivename.com/

(xxiii) Part 2:

In the end such proposals and offerings cost too much of my time, or they cost money; they always mean a phone call from someone to confirm the above. I have found, after being sent several examples of this type of solicitation, that it always involves me, as I say, in spending money, and in a complex set of negotiations in relation to the group concerned. Hopes rise based on false promises, and it is a total waste of my time. When posts come in of this type, they are simply deleted.


(xxiv) Part 1:

I am sent advertisements for products like viagra as well as ads for sex toys; these ads are less frequent than they once were about a decade ago. There are objects or devices, sites and information sources that are primarily used to help people facilitate their sexual pleasure in a host of ways.  Companies concerned with my libido and penis enlargment contact me by email.   There is an increasing range of popular sex toys, designed to resemble human genitals; they may be vibrating or non-vibrating toys. I could add here an extensive description of the resources now available.

(xxiv) Part 2:

Cybersex, also called computer sex, Internet sex, netsex, mudsex, TinySex and, colloquially, cybering or conversex is a virtual sex encounter in which two or more persons connected remotely via some computer network send each other sexually explicit messages describing a sexual experience. In one form, this fantasy-sex is accomplished by the participants describing their actions and responding to their chat partners in a mostly written form designed to stimulate their own sexual feelings and fantasies. Here is a sample of an item that came in during February 2013:  "Male Libido Secrets Revealed! Test-X Free 14-Day Trial." I have quite naturally been interested in sex, and the functioning of my libido all my adult life, but I have never been interested in the enlargement of my penis, nor in the range of products connected with sexual stimulation, but ads and messages come my way anyway.  

By the time I came to finish writing this extensive statement as a general feedback to those who send me emails and internet posts, I had turned 70. I had been in two marriages for a total of nearly 50 years. By my 70s there were plenty of hugs & kisses on a daily basis, lots of touching, kindness, gentleness and humour. I have been married for several reasons: legal, social, libidinal, emotional, financial, spiritual, and religious purposes.  For a comprehensive overview of marriage go to this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage  Sexual intercourse, coitus or copulation, is the insertion and thrusting of a male's penis, usually when erect, into a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. This is also known as vaginal intercourse or vaginal sex. This libidinal aspect of my marital relationship has decreased in importance in recent years. For a quite detailed anatomical description of the several varieties of sexual intercourse go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_intercourse  

(xxiv) Part 2.1:

Sex is not the only thing that makes marriages last, at least that is the view of most.  Sex is not what has made this, my second marriage, last. This is not to say that sex has not been important in my nearly 50 years across two marriages.  As the English actress Helen Mirren says, echoing my views and my experience: "Communication is so important and we do talk a lot."  Like Miss Mirren, my wife & I do a great deal of talking. Often, too, my wife does not want me to talk, or to ask, yet again, "how are you today?" After forty years of being together, 1975 to 2015, there are many things I enjoy about my wife, and she me.  Our bodies, their shape, & their sexual delights, once crucial to our experience of each other back in the mid-1970s when we were both in our late 20s and early 30s, no longer occupy centre-stage. Our relationship in its initial stages, its first years, back in the mid-1970s, involved sexual intercourse in a/the central place of experience in our lives together. Now, in our late 60s and early 70s, this is no longer the case.


(xxv) Part 1:

People contact me, not only in the real world, but also through all sorts of telemarketing and online telephone services. There are more telephone companies, and internet service providers than I knew existed: AAPT, ClubTelco, Dodo, EFTel, Engin, Telstra, Internode, and on and on goes yet another litany of companies with their package-deals, and special services.  There is marketing of telephone companies on or to a mobile device, such as a cell phone. Mobile marketing can also be defined as “the use of the mobile medium as a means of marketing communication”.  Telemarketing can also be defined as: “distribution of any kind of promotional or advertising messages to customers through wireless networks.” 

A more specific, or just another, definition is the following: “using interactive wireless media to provide customers with time and location sensitive, personalized information that promotes goods, services and ideas, thereby generating value for all stakeholders". Here is a sample of a telephone ad that came my way: "Go green & save with refurbished phones" I try to avoid all these systems and campaigns both over the phone, on the internet, and in real space. The many emails that come my way in connection with all this new and old technology I have come to avoid by degrees over the last dozen years.  

(xxv) Part 2:

Since 2009, my wife answers all incoming calls. After 60 years of heavy telephone use, 1949 to 2009 approximately, I decided to use email as my main method of communicating. Telephone calls became a distraction taking me away from my literary focus, and often adding unnecessary complications to my life, complications for the most part I could do nothing about. From 2005 to 2009 I slowly weaned myself off the use of the telephone. I used cell phones and mobile phones as little as possible, and most of the new technological devices associated with new means of communication. There was one exception.

My only son Daniel was born in 1977, the same year that Steve Biko, Groucho Marx, Robert Lowell and Elvis all died, by which time Queen Elizabeth had been on the throne for nearly a quarter of a century. Daniel and his wife and daughter live some 50 kms away; he bought me a cell phone in 2012 to communicate with his little family.  I also use it to talk to my wife when necessary, & to make the occasional business, commercial, service, and professionaI call.  I try to use this phone as little as possible since it is not my preferred means of communication.  All those who want to communicate with me: (a) send me emails, (b) read my writing, or (c) visit me in person. In this last category there are now very few: (i) several family members, (ii) the occasional person who lives in this little town or in some nearby community, and (iii) a small circle of Baha'is who live in the northern or southern Tasmanian Baha'i clusters.  

My life with wall-to-wall people in my home, & at endless meetings, over the decades as far back as the 1950s, has been cut-back significantly. I like it that way; indeed, I have planned it that way in the last dozen years or so since my retirement from FT and PT work, & since going on a new series of medications for my bipolar 1 disorder---also in the last dozen years.   I used to visit in some 1 to 2 dozen homes, in the course of a 12-month period, as I say above; it was a pattern involving what Baha'is called Home Visits but these, too, have been discontinued for the most part recently. My pattern of social interaction in the first 15 years of my early retirement, say, 1999 to 2014, had been: (a) short visits of usually an hour or less with a few people in this little town over a 12 month period, (b) visits with a small circle of family members and friends in nearby towns, and (c) participation in an average of two-to-three formal and informal Baha'i activities per Gregorian calendar month.  Thus, I maintained a modicum of my previously active social life, a social life that went back as far as 1949 and into my late 60s.

These were all people who, from 1999 to 2014, were: (i) part of my family or (ii)  those I had got to know during the last 15 years of my life in this little town on a river by the sea where, in 1999, I took an early retirement. This was a sea-change as it has come to be called in Australia.  By my 70s, from 2014 to 2024, much of this interaction had ceased, and I gradually came to have a lifestyle quite similar to my maternal grandfather who interacted with: (i) a small circle of family members, and (ii) an even smaller circle of friends.  As I recall, back in the 1950s when I used to visit in his home, and he in the home of my parents and I, that his friends became books, as they already were to a significant extent. This pattern has become true for me as I go through my 70s from 2014 to 2024. Who knows what lies ahead in my 80s, if I last that long.

(xxvi) Part 1:

People send me what has become an endless list of concerns for animals: for dogs and dolphins, cats and kangaroos, birds & bulls, calfs & cows, fish and foal, apes and armadillos, baboons and badgers, bats & beavers, & on and on goes the list. The present list of species that are threatened by extinction is so extensive, that the problems and crises that threaten the human community are in some ways dwarfed.  It is estimated that 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct. Mass extinctions are relatively rare events; however, isolated extinctions are quite common.

(xxvi) Part 2:

Tied-in with this concern for animals, of course, is habitat degradation which is currently the main anthropogenic cause of species extinctions. The main cause of habitat degradation worldwide is agriculture. Urban sprawl, logging, mining & some fishing practices close behind. The degradation of a species' habitat may alter the fitness landscape to such an extent that the species is no longer able to survive and becomes extinct. This may occur by direct effects, such as the environment becoming toxic, or indirectly, by limiting a specie's ability to compete effectively for diminished resources or against new competitor species.

The litany of concerns about animals, and a myriad of living creatures in the plant and animal kingdoms, could keep me busy for the rest of my life. The Baha'i approach to all of this is that the human community needs to work together, globally and acting locally, but the system needs to be an integrated, interdependent and interrelated community. The quixotic tournament of one here and one there, concern for chickens today and chinese roosters tomorrow, whales today and whooping-cranes tomorrow, while of some use, takes part in no overall global strategy. For the most part, then, I ignore all the emails sent to me in connection with this vast territory on incoming emails.

(xxvii) Part 1:

People and academic institutions send me information about various academic programs in which I might like to enroll. After more than 50 years in primary schools and high schools, colleges and universities, in-house and distance-learning, 1949-2005, as a student and teacher, lecturer and adult educator, I no longer have any interest in enrolling or participating in any form of institutional learning. I have mentioned this above.  Such learning is associated with formal educational programs. Here is a sample from among the many that came in during 2013: "Flexible programs-get them now." This is the most succinct of incoming posts in this genre. 

(xxvii) Part 2:

Readers can go to the following link for an outline of my academic activity during my student-and-working life: http://www.google.com.au/#hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&gs_rn=4&gs_ri=psy-ab&cp=16&gs_id=5z&xhr=t&q=Ron+Price+resume&es_nrs=tru

(xxviii) Part 1:

People and organizations, retail outlets & music sites send me more information about music & musical instruments than I ever knew existed. They want me to buy an instrument or a musical package. This item came in in February 2013: "We're Featuring An Amazing High-Fidelity Instrument Cable From Tecniforte Cables. "high Fidelity Instrument Cable That Last A Lifetime. In addition, check out our range of guitars." 

(xxviii) Part 2:

In some ways, at least a portion of these incoming messages are due to my participation in many online music sites at which I post my writing about music. I now have access to more music than I ever have had in my life and listen to any piece of music I want on line. I ignore all these emails, as I do 99% of all the emails that fall into the 50 sub-categories above and below. If I want to listen to any music, sites like u-tube among several others provide me with any piece of music I wish with only 2 or 3 clicks of my mouse.

(xxix) Part 1:

Players and clubs, agents and coaches in the sport world from all around the planet began recently to send me emails. There is one internet site where they all can communicate in order to offer their services or to publish their requests. I received this email in the last week of February 2014. "SoccerMercato covers all levels of competition, and all age categories of men's and women's soccer. It is available in more than twenty languages, and each ad is automatically translated into the visitor's language. As soon as you find an interesting ad, you can immediately get the contact data of the responsible person. SoccerMercato does not intervene in user-to-user exchanges."

(xxix) Part 2:

As I pointed out above, I stopped playing organized sport in 1962, and only played with family and friends occasionally in the next 52 years. I take little to no interest in sport and any email that comes in and has some connection with sport is deleted automatically. This sub-section overlaps with sub-section (iv) Part 1.

(xxx) Part 1:

People send me newsletters and journals, online publications and online programs of many types & purposes.  Usually they are marketing some online publication or just wanting me to come to some website to examine their offerings.  Many new online journals are sent to me for my possible purchase.  On an old-age pension, and having little money to spare, I never buy journals and rarely buy books. Cyberspace provides all the print I need for my reading tastes, and I read it for free except, of course, for the cost of my internet provider each month, the paper I use for printing, the occasional printer-cartridge, and an assortment of various office supplies.

Often, too, the incoming item is from the world of news. "The news" has been part of the core of the print and electronic media, especially since radio and TV came into the lives of citiziens in western civilization from the 1920s to 1950s.  Now all sorts of internet sites, to say nothing of the radio and television as well as a wide range of print resources and genres, dispense news on a 24/7 basis; this is yet another category of stuff I have to delete in order to read: (a) what has been on my personal agenda for weeks, months and/oryears, and (b) what I want to watch or listen-to as a result of my own volition and interests.

(xxx) Part 1.1:

Due to the fact that I belong to literally thousands of websites dealing with everything from Korean society to the kitchen sink, as well as: local, regional, state, national & international information sources,  I get information sent to me about motor-cycles or manners, cars or karst topography, white-goods or weight-loss, furniture or fashion, and on and on goes yet another litany of retail and commercial products, of news and information. I could spend a great deal of time browsing, examining and reading material that has no relation to what I am writing, & no interest to me personally. I was 71 years old on 23 July 2015; I already know what I want to read; indeed, I have a great list of material waiting for me. I have no need to increase my reading agenda with the endless scattered-gun stuff that is sent to me on a literally endless list, and on a daily basis.

This list to which I refer involves everything: from murders to mayhem, massacres to moshi monsters, from new cars to new calendars, from Russian roulette to regional recreation, from extra-terrestrials to extra-entertainment, from the global catastrophe ahead to the global catastrophe we have faced and are now facing, from tornados to typhoons, from tropical cyclones to hurricanes, and on and on goes yet another refrain and recitation of concerns that flood the cyberspace air-waves. They then land in my incoming email box or at any one of the 1000s of websites at which I am now registered. 

(xxx) Part 2:

These areas of incoming emails sometimes require a judicious decision-making stance on my part but, mostly, a simple decision to delete the incoming post is all that is required.  Nearly all incoming material of the nature I have described above is ignored & deleted by pressing one key. There is also a great deal of fake, counterfeit, phony or fraudulent products being offered on the cheap. They are flooding the market and I get my share from online enthusiasts. There are dozens of examples. Here are two packages that came in during 2014. "We have just about every pharmaceutical you could possibly need...."  Here is a program that came in partly, I assume, because of all the talk recently about gun-control & the public's use of fire-arms. It came in on the last day of February 2014: "Our world has changed, & how we train people has changed with it. We need to maximize our training-time and conserve the use of ammunition. With that in mind, we take a look at using .22-caliber guns for practice as well as taking training-classes with them. Are you interested in our programs?"

(xxxi) Part 1:

People send me news of employment positions. The following are two examples: (i) “Trust Group is glad to announce an opening for the position of a customer-relations manager. The main part of the job is to function as an intermediary between our clients in other countries, and our head office in Canada. Your main task would be to accept the monetary deposits from our clients, and then arrange for the subsequent transfer of these assets to our head office. You will not have to pay any tax or postal expenses. All these costs will be covered by our Trust Group.  Our offer is, as follows: 'Post-Customer Manager; salary-up to $75,000 USD/year; region-Canada; business trips-2 to 3/year at the expense of the company.  Requirements: resident of Canada, 21 years old, and older; basic English. If you are interested in this job opening, please send your resume in DOC or rich text format to our email address.'"  And (ii) We bring you very good chances to register and apply for more jobs. Employers & recruiters post 1000s of job opportunities and they get more candidates at our site for free.

(xxxi) Part 2:

I applied for jobs for 50 years, 1955 to 2005, & no longer take an interest in FT, PT or casual employment. Perhaps due to my experience applying for jobs, people ask me if I can help them get a job. Sometimes they ask me if I can help them get a visa, and settle in Australia.  In either of these cases I tell them I can be of no use to them. Occasionally, though, I tell them about some of my story, some of my experience running the gauntlet of the job-hunting world. My story is one of persistence, a quality most people need as they try to get a job. My hope is that my story will be a source of encouragement at:  http://www.gradconnection.com.au/forums/list/user/599729/

(xxxii)  Part 1:

People send me information about old movies and new cinema releases, about television and radio programs, about videos and u-tube items. The world is now awash with a wide range of visual stimuli and I am kept up-to-date with all these audio-visual productions, should I want to keep up-to-date.  For the most part, I just delete the incoming message; I rarely actually watch or listen to internet material.  I did for the first decade of my active internet participation: 1997 to 2007. Here is a freebe which came in as recently as November 2013: "Use your free month of Quickflix to stream hit HBO shows, classic movies and blockbuster favourites!  Instantly stream movies and TV shows to your computer, smart TV, tablet, Xbox, PS3 and more!  Gradually, I came to realize that most of this material was outside my main interest inventory, an inventory that concerns writing and poetizing, publishing and editing my own literary products.  Watching and listening to this vast agglomeration of stuff can be one of the most time-consuming internet products. It can also take me away, as I say, from my reading & writing agenda, an agenda which I take seriously & which occupies me for 6 to 8 hours on a daily basis, & will do so for as far into the future as I can see.  I turned 70 more than one year ago on 23/7/'14. 
(xxxiii) Part 1:

People send me emails asking me or inviting me to read: (a) some document or website, some column or blog, some book or ebook, inter alia, (ii) their MA or PhD thesis, or (iii) the latest book they have written. Often these requests take the form of asking me to edit their writing since they know that I had an editing role for years, and have taken-on the role of editor in these my retirement years.  Many also know that I served as an editor in several of my many jobs, my positions of paid employment from 1955 to 2005, to say nothing of the 100s of thousands of pages of: (a) the writing of my students which I edited, or corrected, over 32 years, and (b) my own writing which I have now edited for more than half a century.  Part of the reinvention of myself after retiring from FT, PT and most volunteer work, after 50 years of various types of paid employment, using yet another time-line, 1955 to 2005, is editing and research work on subjects that I have chosen. I do not need others to send me material to add to the already long list of stuff I actually want to read. I invite people to read my work, but I try not to impose any sense of obligation on others to read my books and essays, internet posts and letters.

(xxxiii) Part 2:

My reply, therefore, to all these requests is a courteous "no,"  if I reply at all.  If, of course, I feel some obligation to the person concerned, then I reply.   I spent decades, as I say, reading what I had to read as a student or teacher, from 1955 to 2005, & editing literally 1000s of pages of student work. Now I read only what I want to read. I also have an extensive personal correspondence with literally 100s of people who write to me on occasion.  I write to all these people as little as possible, & I try to keep this correspondence to a minimum, or I would spend my time writing emails far too much of the time. This would detract from my roles of writer and author, poet and publisher, reader and researcher, online blogger and journalist, scholar and editor of my own writing.  I know I have repeated myself somewhat here, in the above paragraphs,  but I do this to emphasize to those who come to this part of my site why I hardly ever reply to incoming emails.

(xxxiv) Part 1:

Since I belong to dozens of sites organized by Baha'is and, since I have been associated with, or a member of, the Baha'i Faith for more than 60 years, 1953 to 2014, I get dozens of posts over the weeks and months in connection with the Baha'i teachings & Baha'i history, Baha'i administration and Baha'i community life. These posts come into my incoming email directory and at SNS like Facebook.  I reply, sometimes out of courtesy, and sometimes out of interest but, again, to deal with all this incoming material would take me away from my main tasks in this the evening of my life. "No man knoweth what his own end shall be," wrote some poet, and I want to use the time I have remaining on this Earth wisely--not attending to more distractions than ever existed before the internet got going.

(xxxiv) Part 2:

And so it is that I aim to devote myself to tasks, to agenda items, that I have set and are not set by others.  I would not have to do this, if I had not cultivated such a relatively high profile in cyberspace. This profile has resulted in the over 200 emails that come in every day, and in my presence at over 8000 internet sites where some aspects of my writing are posted.

(xxxv)  Part 1:

There are an increasing number of sites where I can connect with old friends from: (a) the pre-primary and primary, secondary or post-secondary schools, colleges and universities which I once attended, and (b) previous work-places in factories and offices, mines and mills, as well as transport facilities like taxi & truck companies.  Virtually any group I belonged to as an employee, as a volunteer, or in connection with my use of leisure-time in organizations like the Lions Club or the Red Cross, in my 70+ years of living, now has their own internet site. 

(xxxv) Part 2:

I did take an interest in the above type of activity and the relevant incoming posts in connection with these old friends for the first 16 years of my internet and website activity, say, 1997 to 2013.  But I now ignore these incoming posts. Only on rare occasions do I contact someone from my life-narrative when I actually know & remember the person concerned from some group, club, or organization I used to belong to, who wants to keep-in-touch. The days gone by at the dozens of collectivities I once belonged to are now deja vu, and this vast tract of cyberspace does not entice my involvement, except on the rarest of occasions.


(xxxvi) Since there are between 4000 and 5000 other 'Ron Prices' in cyberspace, I get messages intended for one or more of them in my email box or at some site to which I belong.  There are now special sites in cyberspace with lists of people who have the same name.  These special sites & some of the numbers of Ron Prices back in 2012 included: MyLife.com(30), Intelius.com(55), ZoomInfo Business People(65), Linkedin,(25) 192.com(200), 123people.com(200), How Many of Me.Com(150), PeekYou(2223), White Pages USA(912),  and Pipl Search(40).  People also contact me at these sites: USA People Search, Epsilon, People Lookup, Rapleaf, Acxiom and MyLife thinking I am some other Ron Price whom they know. In nearly all of these cases I do not respond to the incoming post or request for contact.


(xxxvii to XLII) There are, inevitably, many other categories of incoming posts and emails.  To take even a little seriously this additional range of material would detract from the prime activities in my life which I have listed above.  Some of these other categories include: (a) geneology & family histories, (b) extra-terrestrials and the coming catastrophy, (c) partisan politics, political parties and who to vote for, (d) websites which seek to increase the participation at their sites, (d) product advertising, especially: food and drink, clothes and furniture, sport and games, inter alia(The advertising that comes my way is as extensive as that on TV, if not more so); and (e) travelling and hospitality especially for people who want to travel to places around the world & see me as a possible contact point down at this end of the world for accomodation, information and assistance.

(XLIII to L)

I still receive many categories of spam, at least a dozen or more, but on a list too extensive to include here. Thankfully, though, emails concerned with the length of my penis, with any ejaculation problems I might have, with satisfying my wife sexually or with satisfying other women have decreased in recent years. Still, spam proliferates the bloggosphere of this immense commentariat.

I CAN'T HELP YOU

Given some greater specificity of category and definition, these 50 categories of incoming posts, could be extended ad infinitum, certainly as far as 100, the symbol "C" using the Roman numerals I could use above.  But there is no more need for me to outline in detail any additional categories.  Readers who come to this part of my web-site, and have read this far, should by now get my main message. It is a message which says in plain-terms: "Ï can't help you with your request or invitation." The many, the seemingly infinite, number of incoming requests & invitations for comments and responses, for me to do something, or take an interest in something, all of which come my way over the days and weeks--just do not exist on my interest inventory and personal agenda, crowded as that agenda already is with more to read and do than I have time for in the remaining years of my life, as I go through my 70s in the years 2014 to 2024, and 80s, if I last that long.

If I do not respond to these myriad incoming messages, readers here should now understand fully why I don't.  I have effectively gone off-line to those who send me items within this vast bulk of incoming emails/materials that fill the spaces of cyberspace to overflowing.  My email-incoming directory, and 100s of internet sites at which I post have finally come to exist as places to which I assign no weight, and which, in turn, create no pressure on my psyche to respond in any way.  I add my own material by the bucket-full to the print & image-glut that now faces human beings; the cornucopia that exists to enrich peoples' lives or endlessly distract them, or both, I leave to readers who have persisted through this 150,000 word document. For those who would now like to continue to 'the-bitter-end' of my general response, you can now go to the paragraphs below which make more general comments on the subjects concerned above, and do not continue outlining specific categories of incoming posts to which I do not respond.

THE INTERNET AND DEEP REFLECTION


Part 1:

Glenn McLaren, a lecturer at Melbourne's Swinburne Institute of Technology, wrote in an issue of the electronic online journal Cosmos and History that: "What we’re experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: we are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters & gatherers in the electronic data forest. The internet is destroying the conditions for civilization & replacing it with conditions for barbarity.

In our western and westernizing global civilization we are increasingly a world, a society, of data hunter-gatherers. This will, he continues, not be one conducive to the practice of philosophy. There is also an increasing, an extensive & impressive, body of research in psychology, neuro-science & philosophy to reveal the internet to be detrimental to the development of abilities for deep understanding & concept formation. His main argument draws on relatively recent research which reveals our brains to be highly plastic.  He suggests that Marshall McLuhan was right and those arguing that technology is neutral are wrong.  The medium of the internet, & not just its content, is changing its user’s brains in ways which may undermine the conditions for civilization.

Herbert Marshall McLuhan(1911-1980) was a Canadian philosopher of communication theory. His work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries. Go to this link for more on McLuhan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_McLuhan


Part 2:

The internet, McLaren argues, does not provide the conditions for deep self-reflection.  In the slow & gradual evolution of human beings, engaging in deep reflection was an unnatural activity. Deep reading and comprehension was also not a natural activity for human beings as they evolved from tribe, clan, & city state to nation state.  It was also unnatural because reading requires & required the relatively secure & quiet conditions provided by a civilized society to enable deep concentration without distraction, a condition associated mainly with print technology. Such technology has only been available to humans for a relatively short period of our history; for a mass public for a period of about 200 years. 

The internet is a technology designed to continually distract us. It's ‘an ecosystem of interruption’, as Cory Doctorow terms it.  Doctorow(1971- ) is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the weblog Boing Boing. He was born the very week I arrived in Australia from Canada and he has been a prolific writer in the last decade. The ability of the digital screen, says McLaren, to be sectioned into multiple presentations of information makes it a medium in which the deep participation of continual decision-making is required. It makes it, as McLuhan famously argued, an extremely ‘cold’ medium. McLaren draws on the work of N. Carr and his book: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 2010. I don't go all the way with these writers, but they make the same point about distraction that has concerned me for the last decade. For more on this theme go to:http://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/292/462


INVENTION: A GROUP PROCESS

So much of what I do as a writer and author, poet and publisher, online blogger and online journalist, reader and scholar, editor & researcher, draws on the writings of others. Although I appreciate the importance of individual creativity in my life, I am also aware of what the following writer, a Mark Lemley, has emphasized.  Mark Lemley(1966-) is the director of the Stanford University program in Law, Science and Technology. He teaches law in the fields of intellectual property, computer and Internet patent, as well as antitrust law.  He has pointed out that the myth of the sole inventor in the history of science and technology is largely unsupported. "The canonical story of the lone genius inventor," he writes, "is largely a myth.

Surveys of hundreds of significant new technologies show that almost all of them are invented simultaneously or nearly simultaneously by two or more teams working independently of each other. Invention appears, to a significant extent, to be a social, not an individual, phenomenon. Invention is not a discontinuity, but an incremental step in an ongoing process. Inventors are working with the tools they are given & trying to improve those tools or use them to make something new.  Invention by one & only one person or group is exceedingly rare. Far more common are different groups struggling with the same incremental problem, and achieving the same solution at roughly the same time. 

Prior empirical evidence suggests that inventions rarely occur in isolation. They are socially-derived in significant respects. They build closely on what came before. And inventions are quite often made by multiple actors at about the same time. The reason I point this out on my autobiography page, is partly to emphasize that my own writing derives significantly from the writings of others.--Mark A. Lemley, “The Myth of the Sole Inventor.” Stanford University Public Law Working Paper No. 1856610. July 21, 2011, retrieved  on July 3, 2012.


AMBITION AND MY LIFE

"Ambition is the last refuge of the failure" quipped Oscar Wilde. The quip appeared in a spectacularly unsuccessful undergraduate magazine in 1894, as a half-serious jab at the Victorian celebration of private self-improvement and public progress. Wilde had not given up his wish to associate himself with the lonely pursuit of intensity that he had encountered in Walter Pater's subversive aesthetic writings twenty years previously. He was back then a student in Magdalen College in Oxford. Pater(1839-1894) was an English essayist, critic of art and literature, and writer of fiction.

Wilde's parents' generation had been much less single-minded about the value of ambition than it suited him to acknowledge, and he had scarcely been able to free himself from their contradictions. Wilde was a restlessly ambitious man, more susceptible than most to the appetite for fame & wealth. The tradition of viewing ambition as an unmanageable virtue, when it is seen as a virtue at all, has a long history.  Aristotle, whose Nicomachean Ethics was among the texts Wilde studied at Oxford, identifies the dilemma: ‘We blame both the ambitious man as aiming at honour more than what is right and from wrong sources, and the unambitious man as not willing to be honoured, even for noble reasons. But sometimes we praise the ambitious man as being manly and a lover of what is noble, and the unambitious man as being moderate and self-controlled’.

The literature on the subject of ambition is burgeoning and its role in my life is far too complex to deal with here in a sentence or two. In the Bahaí literature the word distinction is often seen. I deal with this topic from time to time at this website. I first read part of those Nicomachean Ethics in the 2nd year of university in 1964/5 when I was enrolled in a history and philosophy four year program. They were heavy reading and I advise readers here to stay clear of that book; indeed, leave Aristotle right out of your daily literary fodder.


I CAN'T SEE ME STOPPING

Part 1:

For the great writers in history retirement has usually not been a career option. As long as the fire, the heat, was on, and a certain obsessiveness sometimes, they wrote to the end, There have always been writers, like Thomas Hardy and Saul Bellow, who kept at it until the very end, but there are many more, like Proust, Dickens and Balzac, who died prematurely, worn out by writing itself, other aspects of outpouring energies, and the exigencies of their health.  I was worn-out, burnt-out, before I took-up writing seriously in the 1990s. My health was bad, having suffered from bipolar disorder, and its associated burn-out, for decades. I was fatigued from years of teaching & endless meetings both in the schools & colleges where I taught, and in the various volunteer activities that made listening and talking the core form of action.

I gradually turned to writing and retirement, to solitude and a literary-academic life to rest my spirit.  During the first 16 years of my retirement, and the first years of the 21st century, 1999 to 2015, I went on a series of medications that restored both my energies and my spirits, but I lacked the stamina to work for many hours at a stretch.  I could still get-in as many as 6 to 8 hours each day, on average, on literary work of various kinds during these years. These hours, this work, though, was accomplished in small chunks; I called it "the Swiss-Cheese Method" of activity and literary production or, as the Persians proverb puts it: "Kam Kam, Ruz Beh Ruz": little by little and day by day.

In 2009 Margaret Drabble(1939- ), an English novelist, biographer and critic, at the age of 69, announced that she was calling her writing-life quits. I am now in the last three months of my 71st year, and I feel as if I have just made a start after more than 60 years of varying degrees of extensive writing: 1955 to 2015, and more than 70 years of varying degrees of formal and informal educational & literary involvement: 1943 to 2015. Ms. Alice Munro, a three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction, and a perennial contender for the nobel prize, announced at the age of 82 that she was calling it quits. She said that she was encouraged by the example of Philip Roth who declared, in 2012, that he was done, as he was getting ready to turn 80. Perhaps in another dozen years I'll feel like Roth or Munro or Drabble; we shall wait and see.

Part 2:

For the last several years and beginning in 2001, as I say above, I've had a series of medication cocktails for my BPD.  With the pleasure I find in solitude and music, reading and writing are giving me a new lease on life, a life which was centred on the social & varying kinds of what you might call "people responsiblities" for decades. The fact that I don't write novels, literary exercises that require a good deal of stamina and energy, also keeps me at the literary coal-face on a daily basis, about 6 to 8 hours a day, on many different writing and reading, editing and researching, online blogging and journalism genres and topics.  

Paul Haines(1970-2012) was an award-winning New Zealand-born horror and speculative fiction writer. In November 2011 he announced that his writing career was over. He died four months later. He had been writing successfully since 1999.  Every writer has their story, their life-line, their career trajectory. I leave it to readers with a serious interest in my writing to read more about my literary career & the literary careers of other writers to provide comparisons and contrasts to my own.

The literary life of Charles Dickens, for example, was one characterized by restlessness and obsessiveness. He travelled in his restlessness in his last years, as documented in Tomalin’s biography. His travels & his life in those last years show a man whose life had no centre, obsessively driven and deeply divided. They show that he had no plan for achieving any kind of stability in the future, as though the only life he had really believed in was already over. That he wrote 2 more wonderful novels in these circumstances, Great Expectations & Our Mutual Friend, the latter a kaleidoscope of exclusions and inclusions, is a tribute to his genius and energy. But his eventual collapse and death in 1870, aged just 58, was something many had foreseen.  I mention Dickens, as well as Haines, because both these writers throw light, throw useful perspectives, on my own writing life which could go on for two or three more decades, or could end quicker than the twinkling-of-an-eye.

Part 3:

I travel, too, but virtually entirely now in my head; whatever restlessness I have is channelled into my reading & writing, my poetry & my publishing. My energies and my emotions are also moderated and channelled, with 11 to 12 hours spent in bed each day keeping me well-rested and ready for more literary work the next day. My centre, my psychological and spiritual centre, my literary and philosophical centre, my obsessiveness and my passions, have a focus which, if my health stays with me, I hope I am destined to keep to the end of my days, whenever that end may be.  Some writers who deal with human passions, especially the successful ones like the who-dun-it specialist Iris Murdoch, perfect a certain literary tone, possess witty throwaway symmetries of accident and insight, and artfully balanced rhythms and geometries. They deal with passion and form as the literary masters which they are.  I am not in that league of masters.  My literary accomplishments compared to such literary talents are of a very minor key. I am a graduate of little league baseball; I was a MVP, a most-valuable player, in the league, and a home-run king in a little town at the age of 15, but I never had the ability to play in "the show", as the major leagues in North American  baseball is often called. After the age of 18 I also lost any interest in playing in the minor leagues: class-A, double-A, or triple-A, indeed any of the farm-clubs. As I go through my 70s, it is obvious that I am at best "a minor poet", a "minor writer" in a vast network or major and minor player-writers.
 
I was born in the midst of the concentration camps, and the atom bomb was part of the first year of my life.  As that famous American writer Norman Mailer writes, in one of his most famous essays, "we will probably never he able to determine the psychic havoc of the concentration camps and the atom bomb upon the unconscious mind of almost everyone alive in those years."  The 72 years of my life have witnessed a tempest unprecedented in its magnitude, indeed, appalling tragedy, sweeping the face of our planet. The psychic effect of all of this lies at the basis, as the motivational matrix, of my writing; such is part of my literary and causal hypothetical. There are, though, many other reasons why I now write as extensively as I do.  I have written about this subject of why I write a great deal. I will end this subject of why I write, though, in this part of my website with the following sections beginning with some events from the life of Henry James:

Part 3.1:

The autobiographical roots of the late shift in Henry James's style explain, in part, the autobiographical shift in my own life.  A series of events including the death of his sister, Alice; the suicide of a close friend, and the public humiliation he suffered when his play "Guy Domville" opened to boos in 1895----all this conspired to make James look into the abyss of mortality and terror. It lead to a darkening of his vision and an embrace of "a host of labyrinthine depths and devices that have since been signally associated with literary modernism. This is the way Cynthia Ozick explains the direction that the writing of Henry James took. I, too, had a series of events in my own life that conspired to send me in the direction of a certain autobiographical and memoiristic writing. I write about this in many places in my literary oeuvre; I will leave it to readers with the interest to answer this question for themselves.

I now live, as far as any casual passer-by might be concerned, an unadventurous life in a small town down at the end of the world, Downunder. I live at the bottom end of that Downunder on an island state known as Tasmania. It's about as far away from where I grew up, the place I once called home, as one can be & still be on the planet. I live a life, as I now head through my 70s, like 'a movie inside my mind'.  It is a rich, highly variegated, highly dynamic life with many moments of literal, of literary, joy.  But I play-down my intense happiness; anyone among my family and friends has no idea of my sense of celebratory joy with its thankful gladness, or that solemn consciousness which is the wellspring of that joy.  I go about my days quietly with my wife, keeping-up my end of the domestic side of life and its responsibilities for: cleaning & cooking, eating & drinking, washing dishes & emptying the garbage. I'm also engaged in a modicum of social and family life, and more than a modicum of time in bed--some 12 hours/ day due to my several medications.


WHOM DO YOU WRITE LIKE?

Writers can check "what famous writer you write like" with a new statistical analysis online tool which analyses their word choice and writing style.  The tool then compares their writing to the writing of famous writers. This is a somewhat questionable, but handy and fun, tool that invites casual browsers to paste in their latest blog post or journal entry, some portion of their writing; it then uses its online, on-site, robot brain to break down their literary material. Further analysis from yet another tool at Metafilter’s "qxntpqbbbqxl" site reveals that Nabokov writes like Dickens, Emily Dickinson like Lovecraft, Lovecraft like H.G. Wells, Dan Brown and himself; the King James Bible is like Shakespeare. Go to this link for more: http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2010/07/15/christopher-tayler/i-write-like-dan-brown/

AUTO/BIOGRAPHY: MORE POPULAR THAN EVER


Publication of Australian edited & authored biography and autobiography titles has been on the rise all my life(1944-2015).  Instead of declining with the end of cultural nationalist government funding, & the rise of multinational publishers, Australian auto/biography has increased strongly over the past three to four decades, with a rapid growth in such titles accelerated at the end of the 1990s, as publication of novels levelled off.  Although the rise of Australian auto/biography has slowed somewhat in the 2000s, publication continues to increase while that of novels is declining. For more on this theme go to:http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/csrj/article/view/1710/1841

MEMORIES AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Section 1:

In 1993-4, after taking a decade to write the first edition of my autobiography, I celebrated my fiftieth birthday. In those early 1990s I started to experience a curious, but quite delightful, phenomenon—the spontaneous, unsolicited rising of early memories into my mind, memories that had lain dormant for upward of thirty to forty years. Not merely memories, but frames of mind, thoughts, atmospheres, and the passions associated with them, especially, during my childhood and adolescence in Ontario Canada after World War II and up to the early 1960s.

Moved by these memories, by the increasing delight in my senses, especially the sense of sight, & fully stabilized & compliant with the medication for my bipolar I disorder, I spent the next 25 years, 1991 to 2015, writing prose and poetry, memoirs and autobiography. I had not been happy with the first edition of my autobiography; indeed, I found that first edition so tedious and uninspiring that I had to take a very different approach to the subject. That approach, the 2nd to the 7th editions evolved sensibly & insensibly over the 20 years from 1994 to 2015, & it is still a work in progress. I have tried for over 40 years now to balance the use of understatement, which can be a powerful literary tool, with overstatement, which like an optometrist’s overcorrection, can compel greater perception. 

Section 2:


My general autobiographical impulse which had begun, it seems to me now in retrospect, in the early 1980s as I approached the age of 40, has been stimulated, rather than sated, by my autobiographical writings in the several decades from 1983 to 2015.  I am now launched on a seemingly endless journey, project, writing exercise. Losing conscious memory of what I had written in those first 20 years, say, 1983 to 2003, I can always look up some aspect of my personal lifespan and its events in my computer directory. It is recorded for me, and for posterity, in my computer hard-drive.  I discover my themes afresh each time, and they often seem new. The poet, Coleridege, had an enormous reading capacity, a retentive memory, a talker’s talent for conjuring and orchestrating other people’s ideas, and the natural instinct of a lecturer and preacher to harvest materials wherever he found them. While I possess neither the memory nor the reading capacity of Coleridge, I do harvest many an idea and often even the words of others. Sometimes I acknowledge the source and sometimes I do not.

"How queer," the famous writer Virginia Woolf once observed, "to have so many selves." In her novels and essays, not to mention nearly 4,000 letters and a 30-volume diary, Woolf left behind her a voluminous anatomy of self. In the years since her 1941 suicide, biographers and critics have created a succession of further portraits.  I, too, am more than a little conscious of my many selves, selves manifested over the 70 years of my life-narrative. My now voluminous anatomy of self is found in: my 7000+ pieces of prose-poetry and several 100 essays, my several 1000 letters, emails and internet posts, my 5 volume, 2600 page autobiography, as well as my 7 volume diary or journal. In the years after my passing from this mortal coil, should there be any biographers & critics interested in creating further portraits, I leave this literary corpus, oeuvre, in cyberspace for anyone interested in such a literary excavation.

Section 3:

Literary borrowing was commonplace in the seventeenth century—Shakespeare borrowed freely from many of his contemporaries, as did Milton. Friendly borrowing remained common in the eighteenth century, & Coleridge, Wordsworth, & Southey all borrowed from one another. Sometimes they even published work under each other’s names, according to Richard Holmes in his two-volume biography of Coleridge. My type of forgetting and re-remembering, restructuring and reconfiguring, may be necessary for a creative or healthy cryptomnesia, one that allows old thoughts to be reassembled, retranscribed, recategorized, given new and fresh implications. You can Google this complex phenomenon, 'cryptomnesia', at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptomnesia   Oliver Sacks discusses this phenomenon at this link: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/feb/21


PASSION

Desire is a flame that has reduced to ashes uncounted lifetime harvests of the learned; it is a devouring fire that even the vast sea of the accumulated knowledge of the learned could never quench.-Abdul-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization,  Baha'i Pub. Trust, Wilmette, 1970(1928), p.59.

Part 1:

The historian Edward Gibbon wrote the following regarding the sexual element of passion in a man's life:  "I understand by this passion the union of desire, friendship, and tenderness, which is inflamed by a single female, which prefers her to the rest of her sex, and which seeks her possession as the supreme or the sole happiness of our being."  I write below of "this passion" as it has been expressed in part of my life, the part "inflamed by a single female." I also write about "this passion" as it has found expressed in other contexts in my life and in society in general.

In Australia's winter months four years ago, June through September 2012, I wrote at this sub-section of my website what I tried to make, and what I thought at the time was, a useful and quite detailed expose of the above passion in my life.  I did this a dozen years or so after the internet had got going in the late 20th century and in the first years of this 21st century.  I last updated this piece of writing on 23/10/'15, six years after I had fully retired from 60 years of my student-paid-employment-and-disability-pension life, 1949 to 2009.  In 2009 I went on two old-age pensions, one of which I got from the Canadian government since I had worked at FT and PT jobs in Canada from 1950 to 1971, & one of which I got in Australia where I was employed at another range of FT and PT jobs until I went on a disability pension in the early years of the 21st century.

Much more overt & explicit accounts of people's passions, in several areas of the emotions, began to be found in print once the internet began to be the immense resource it had become as the years of this third millennium advanced incrementally. What are your passions?  What sparks you and makes you feel alive?  A list of the passions has been drawn-up by Saint Peter of Damaskos of the Russian Orthodox Church. The list is a very long one, & I leave it to readers with the interest to access that list at this link: http://www.orthodox.net/confess/a-list-of-the-passions.html This list adds a whole new dimension to the concept and discussion of the passions.

Part 1.1:

The word "passion" comes from the Latin verb 'patere' meaning 'to suffer'.  It is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion, compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything. The term is also often applied to a friendly or eager interest in, or admiration for, a proposal, cause, or activity or love. It is applied, as well, to a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion, a positive affinity or love, towards a subject.  It is particularly used in the context of romance or sexual desire though it generally implies a deeper or more encompassing emotion than that implied by the term lust.  Go to this link for more:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passion_%28emotion%29

In the last 16 years, after I took an early retirement at the age of 55, a sea-change as it is often called these days, the internet has come to be gushing & oozing, flowing & flooded, teaming & streaming, with print accounts & visual depictions of one particular passion in all its forms. Those forms are found in what some call virtual reality(VR). Typical discussions of VR fixate on technology as a provider of sensory stimulation of a certain kind.  The most common conception is a shallow one according to which VR is a matter of simulating appearances. Yet there is, even in popular depictions, a second more subtle conception.  According to this more subtle conception VR is seen as a means of facilitating new kinds of interaction.  In fiction, we can find two conceptions of VR: one according to which VR merely simulates interactive experience & another according to which VR fosters new kinds of interaction. For a useful and extended analysis of the complexities of VR go to: http://www.fecundity.com/job/vr.html

Part 1.2:

My story below is very tame &, since I am not a celebrity nor do I have any fame or special status, what I say or reveal, is not likely to raise any eye-brows, or catch the special interest of readers. Still, I post this account as part of my online autobiography. Readers with the interest are invited to browse through my 5 volume, 2600 page, online autobiography. To access that autobiography such readers need to type the word 'Price'(my last name without the single quotation marks) at this link:http://bahai-library.com/author, and then click on the word 'Search.' This will enable readers to gain access to 62 documents, 6 of which belong to Tom Price, one of the international Baha'i community's more popular speakers. The other 56 documents are autobiographical statements of many sorts which I have written over the last quarter-century, 1991 to 2015.

I try in the following paragraphs to provide a context for passion as it is, was, & probably will be found in my life experience.  I hope at some future time to deal with many of the passions listed on that link above. There is much more to the subject of "the passions" than the sexual, but what is found below has, for the most part, this more narrow focus. The original focus was on the sexual when I first discussed the subject of the passions three years ago on this thread at this sub-section of my website.

Among the many causes of personal problems, at least in the more than 60 years that I was aware of, & interested in, the opposite sex, is the huge emphasis put on the sexual-physical aspect of a relationship; that was certainly true for me as I entered my teens in the summer of 1957 &, then, my first significant sexual relationship more than 50 years ago in the northern hemisphere's late winter months of 1965.  High expectations can have a positive effect; people need, or at least usually have, a high bar to stretch towards in the sexual domain.  But the intensity and pleasure or, for that matter, the disgust and repulsion, of the sexual experience can colour people's initial relationship, to say nothing of the colouration that sex has for a person's entire life. People are often precipitated into a relationship that often needs to be more tempered, at least initially. I think many millions have placed the bar far too high insofar as the emphasis on sex is concerned. What the stimulation does is that it often colours the relationship in ways that require other colouring. I, like millions of others, know about this only too well. 

Why is sexual desire a problem, why has it become for us a problem like no other, fraught with particular anxiety & special perplexity?  Is the main aspect of the problem one of establishing and maintaining principles according to which this desire can be regulated, guided, temporised? The change in relations between the sexes and the concomitant change in relations between members of the same sex, this double alteration that has come over us in the last two or three generations, the generations that have been my life, makes a certain kind of intellectual investigation possible for the first time. The impure hush that was part of the experience of previous generations, certainly when I was growing-up from the 1940s to the early 1960s, has ended; the tongues of desire have been freed. Texts that were formerly read selectively, through a haze of anxiety, or feverishly perused for the legitimation of proscribed longings have at length entered ordinary scholarly discourse, & everyday life, at least for many millions.

Part 1.3:

Sexual pleasures are sought after in a great variety of ways in our global society. Polyamatory relationships are those involving the practice, desire, or acceptance of intimate relationships that are not based on an exclusive one-to-one partnership.  The individuals concerned have more than one sexual or intimate relationship, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Often abbreviated as poly, such relationships have been described as consensual, ethical, & responsible non-monogamy.  It may or may not include polysexuality, that is, attraction towards multiple genders and/or sexes. The term 'polyamorous' can refer to the nature of a relationship at some point in time, to a philosophy or relationship orientation much like gender or sexual orientation. The word is sometimes used in a broader sense, as an umbrella term that covers various forms of multiple relationships, or forms of sexual or romantic relationships that are not sexually exclusive.

Polyamorous arrangements are varied, reflecting the choices and philosophies of the individuals involved, though there is disagreement on how broadly the concept of polyamory/ous applies. An emphasis on ethics, honesty, & transparency all around is widely regarded as the crucial defining characteristic. As of July 2009, it was estimated that more than 500,000 polyamorous relationships existed in the United States. People who identify as polyamorous typically reject the view that sexual, relational exclusivity is necessary for deep, committed, long-term loving relationships. Those who are open to, or emotionally suited for, the polyamory may embark on a polyamorous relationship when single or already in monogamous or open relationships.

Part 1.3.1:

The type, functions, and characteristics of marriage vary from culture to culture, and can change over time. In general there are two types: civil marriage and religious marriage. There are also, and typically, marriages that employ a combination of both. Religious marriages must often be licensed and recognized by the state, & conversely civil marriages, while not sanctioned under religious law, are nevertheless respected. Marriages between people of differing religions are called interfaith marriages, while marital conversion, a more controversial concept than interfaith marriage, refers to the religious conversion of one partner to the other's religion for the sake of satisfying a religious requirement. 

Polyandry, where a woman has multiple husbands, occurs very rarely in a few isolated tribal societies. These societies include some bands of the Canadian Inuit, although the practice has declined sharply in the 20th century due to their conversion from tribal religion to Christianity by Moravian missionaries. Societies which permit group marriage are extremely rare, but they have existed in utopian societies such as the Oneida Community. For more on types of marriage go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types  There are now many who are happily married, but they live in separate but connected houses. Sociologists call this arrangement LAT, for Living Apart Together. Is this paradise or a paradox? 

The primitive pleasure of sexual release has, for humans, evolved into the possibility of sexual ecstacy.  We can assume, with some degree of assurance, that no other known creature experiences ecstacy in this way or, indeed, any other way. The exploration of the possibilites of this ecstacy has become, for millions now, a touchstone and measure, a standard and yardstick, for the realization of at least one of life's major goals &, indeed, for the experience of part and parcel of what human happiness is all about.

Part 1.3.2:

I am a 'War-Baby', born between 1939 and 1945.  Since I was born in the middle of 1944, I am sometimes included in the 'Baby-Boomer' generation that was born following World War II.  Sometimes that generation of these so-called baby-boomers is considered, is defined, as going as far back as 1943, & up to the early 1960s. This was a time marked by an increase in birth rates. Baby-boomer is a term sometimes used in a cultural context.  It is difficult if not impossible, therefore, to achieve a broad consensus on a defined start and end date for this generation.  The previous generations up-to-1943 were not as inclined to go as public about their private life as the generations which followed: the baby-boomers, & generations X,Y, Z, and alpha.  Yes, now we're onto the Greek alphabet. The alpha generation begins with those born in and after 2010.  It has been predicted that they will be the most formally educated generation in history, beginning school earlier and studying longer. The children of older, wealthier parents with fewer siblings, they are already being labelled materialistic.

Of course these patterns to which I have referred above were not true of everyone. Readers with the interest can delve into the literary works that were available in the years before 1943, if they so wish. One good example is an alternative view of the Victorian era by Peter Gay. It is a view with which the French sociologist, philosopher, & social theorist Michel Foucault would have concurred.  Gay has written about this subject in The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud - 5 vols, 1984-1998.  These volumes included: The Education of the Senses and The Cultivation of Hatred.

I have enjoyed the writing of some novelists of previous generations who wrote about sex. The 'Silent Generation' born, as that generation was, between 1925 and 1942, or the 'entre deux guerres'(1919-1939) generation as it is sometimes called, had several examples of extended discussion of sex for the reading pleasure of the public: Edmund Wilson, Henry Miller, Gore Vidal and Anais Nin.  I have no desire to try and emulate or imitate either the style or the content of this diverse range of writers.  I have also enjoyed some of the detailed, informed, discussion to the topic by a range of social scientists: psychologists & historians,  sociologists & psychiatrists. I leave it to readers to extend their reading & study, their exploration, of the topic by writers whose knowledge of the history of sex and sexuality far exceeds my own, and whose ability to write on related topics is also far greater than mine.  I lack not only the experience of such writers, but I also lack their literary and analytical skills. Peter Gay, as I say above, is a good example of such a writer. Gay(1923-) has been the Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University for the last 30 years, & he is also the former director of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers (1997–2003).  Readers might like to learn more about him, and his analysis of the sexual experience of several previous generations to my own at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Gay

Part 1.3.3:

The vast increase in the knowledge base does not seem to have benefited the discourse on sexual ethics. The freedom to discuss sex without circumlocution has enabled millions of people to elaborate on this appetite & assist in helping them with their self-definition.  This freedom has not been that useful in helping them, though, in the regulation of the sexual urges.  The general recognition, and institutionalisation, of the variety of sexual experience has had a relativising effect on traditional morality.  That morality was a morality that privileged & circumscribed a single idea of sexual relations. Cross-cultural & trans-historical comparisons, comparisons which made it possible to characterise the still obscure features of our possibly changing sexuality, have tended to compound this relativism. For a brief period in the 20th century the struggle for liberation from the constraints of morality, traditional and other, appeared to provide an ethic for sexual behaviour. But the utopian vision of sexual liberation has degenerated in practice into a set of hedonistic precepts that hardly constitute a moral system at all.

There are now lists of organizations and institutions of professional sexologists and sex researchers, sexual behavior scientists and philosophers, to say nothing of the myriad of non-professionals from a vast range of religious and secular perspectives, for people to draw-on, at least those with access to the vast landscape that is cyberspace. There are now self-help groups, social groups, indeed, all sorts of groups of enthusiasts who deal in the muddy, although sometimes clear, waters of sexology. There are now many websites on the subject with their various reading agenda to keep people occupied with this subject in perpetuity.

Part 1.4:

I have entered both my marriages with a commitment to faithfulness, to a relationship which I hoped would endure. It seems to me, in retrospect, this is the first condition for a healthy & truly satisfying sexual relationship, at least when viewed over the long-term of decades.  I am more than a little aware, though, of the complexity of this last statement, and its need for unpacking, for an extended and extensive nuance. It is a complexity which many books now unpack in their discussions of contemporary marriage and of serial monogamy, of bigamy and of polygamy, of polygny and polyandry, of companionate marriage and group marriage, as well as what are sometimes called polyfidelitous families formed by two heterosexual couples who become a four-some and live together as a family.  The type, functions, & characteristics of marriage vary from culture to culture. They can and do change over time, as anyone with only a little familiarity with history is only too well aware. One example is marriage and the family during the Roman republic and empire. Over the more than 1000 years of this civilization there were many changes.  Back in the 1990s I taught Roman history and I became aware of these changes. For a general overview of types of marriage now and in history, and just to repeat, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_marriages

The brain's sexual circuitry results from the sex drive which is a purely physical and animalistic entity. This circuitry played a strong role in my life for decades. Helen Fisher, in her book Why We Love, argues that there is also an attachment circuitry which comes into play in relationships which
are long-term commitments of the couples involved.  It is this pair-bonding, this other circuity, says Fisher, which brings the greatest amount of sexual satisfaction. After nearly five decades in a total of two long-term relationships, I have become more than a little conscious of this 2nd type of circuitry. This attachment circuitry seems, for me at least, to be quite independent of the sex drive & its essentially animalistic circuitry. For more on Helen Fisher and her ideas go to: https://www.ted.com/talks/helen_fisher_tells_us_why_we_love_cheat/transcript?language=en

Part 1.4.1:

There are many vague terrains, though, in our sexual life; one of those terrains is the habitat of eros.  Eros in Greek mythology was the Greek god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid. Some myths make him a primordial god, while in other myths, he is the son of Aphrodite. For more on Eros go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eros Science has failed to frame and tame Eros, this subtle carnivore.  Reading about the mythological origins of Eros in the West provides a complex context for the struggle implicit in the concept.  Now it is philosophers and other members of the cognoscenti who take the field of dealing with what was long ago the domain of mythology.  I leave it to readers with the interest to take a fresh look at Greek & Roman mythology for the potential insights into love and lust, sex & sin, passion & pederasty as we now experience these terms in the West in our globalizing and planetizing civilization.

In Sexual Desire, Roger Scruton is bent on recapturing eros in the name of the old morality and restoring eros to his proper place in the ethical zoo. No relativist Scruton; for him the sexual project, descriptive and prescriptive, the correct analysis of the nature of sexual desire, needs to give rise to appropriate rules of behaviour.  Without some framework of rules, philosophy really cannot help.  Philosophy itself should be concerned, argues Scruton, not to explain the world so much as to be at home in it; it should recognise the occasions for action, the objects of sympathy & the places of rest. I write about Scruton and his views below, before leaving his ideas to readers with the interest. He is just one of an increasing pantheon of writers & analysts on the subject. Readers can, of course, find writers on the subject to reflect their own views & biases, preferences & proclivities. Across the spectrum from an extreme liberalism in relation to matters sexual, to an entrenched and traditional conservatism, there are now writers and experts to chose from who reflect whatever a reader wants a writer to reflect.

MORE FROM ROGER SCRUTON

Roger Vernon Scruton(b. 27/2/'44) was born five months before me. He is an English philosopher who specialises in aesthetics. He has written over thirty books, including Art & Imagination (1974), The Meaning of Conservatism (1980), Sexual Desire(1986), The Philosopher on Dover Beach (1990), The Aesthetics of Music (1997), Beauty (2009), How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism (2012), Our Church(2012), and How to be a Conservative (2014). Scruton has also written two novels & a number of general textbooks on philosophy & culture, and he has composed two operas. For more on Scruton go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Scruton  Scruton bases a conservative sexual ethic on the Hegelian proposition that "the final end of every rational being is the building of the self—of a recognisable personal entity, which flourishes according to its own autonomnous nature." This process involves recognizing the other as an end in itself.

Scruton argues that the major feature of perversion is "sexual release that avoids or abolishes the other," which he sees as narcissistic and often solipsistic. His list of perversions includes: masturbation, bestiality, necrophilia, pedophilia, sado-masochism, homosexuality, incest, and fetishism. Scruton considers homosexuality a perversion because it does not involve sexual difference: desire directed towards the other gender elicits its complement, but desire directed toward the same gender elicits its simulacrum. In his view, normal sexuality involves not only giving recognition to the other's person in and through desire for him or her, but also according them accountability & care in the process. Scruton argues that sex is morally permissible only if it involves love and intimacy. Scruton criticizes psychoanalytic theories about sexuality.

Sexual Desire is described by Alan Soble as "certainly by a long way the most interesting and insightful philosophical account of sexual desire produced by analytic philosophy", while Christopher Janaway notes that Scruton's work challenges the conventional boundaries of that branch of philosophy. Norman O. Brown writes that Scruton correctly sees Baruch Spinoza as his philosophical antagonist.  Sociologist Jonathan Dollimore sees Scruton's philosophy of sex as open to many possible objections. He finds Scruton's writing to be jargon-ridden, believing that its Hegelian language & talk of otherness bestows "a spurious profundity on a normative sexual politics which is at heart timid, conservative, deeply ignorant, and out of step with much contemporary thinking. He also believes that, notwithstanding Scruton's attack on psychoanalysis, his defense of sexual difference is to some degree indebted to psychoanalytic theory, commenting that, "Although Scruton's frame of reference is a philosophical one, & despite the fact that he roundly attacks the psychoanalytic perspective on sexuality, his own defence of sexual difference owes more to that perspective than he admits."

Philosopher A. J. Ayer dismissed the book Sexual Desire as "silly." This dismissal led Scruton to reply that he honestly believed his work cogent. Mark Dooley, a philosopher, praises Sexual Desire as "magisterial". He writes that Scruton's objective is to show that sexual desire trades in "the currency of the sacred." For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Desire_%28book%29  In our modern world we can all find writers and thinkers, philosophers and analysts, who support and reflect our own views, no matter what they may be.  One just has to do some Googling and focus on the subject that is our concern for as long as it takes to find the intelllectual support structures we require.

Part 1.4.2:

For the late Michel Foucault the problem was just the opposite: to separate the several components of eros and psyche, desire and love, sex & the passions. Among his aims was to locate the historical moment, the time in history, when sexual desire became a particular focus of moral attention. ‘What is philosophy,’ he writes, ‘if not the endeavour to know how and to what extent it might be possible to think differently, instead of legitimating what is already known?’  Foucault, sadly, is not easy reading. Go to the following link to get some background on this French thinker, this social theorist, intellectual, philosopher, historian of ideas, philologist and literary critic who passed away more than 30 years ago, in 1984: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault

The first volume of his history of sexuality was entitled The Will To Knowledge. It was published in 1976 just as I was settling-in to the first full year of my second marriage, after a warm-up of some 8 years in my first marriage, 1967 to 1975.  His book was not published in English until 1978 by which time I was getting ready to move to Tasmania for a second time.  I was dealing at the time with yet another episode of bipolar I disorder. I knew nothing of this French thinker although back in the mid-1970s, I was teaching several of the social sciences to students working on their B.A., B.Ed., and B. Sc. among other tertiary credentials. I was teaching and lecturing at what is now the University of Ballarat in Victoria Australia.

Foucault’s analysis, which I first came across in the 1990s when I was teaching a course on sociological theory, appeared to conform to the vision of his earlier work on the origin of the modern world.  In that earlier work he had traced the emergence of what he called ‘desiring man’ to a point between the late 17th & 18th centuries. That 'desiring man' had antecedents in the specialised confessional disciplines of Christian monastic life. Foucault also discerned in the age of reason a new, a sinister, shift of interest to the sexuality of children and the relationships between sexual behaviour, normality & health.  Sadly, for most students Foucault is not easy reading.

The second volume of his history of sexuality was entitled The Use of Pleasue.  It was followed by The Care of the Self both published in 1984. By then I had began to work on my own autobiography and my bipolar disorder was stabilized by lithium which seemed to have a positive effect on my literary and creative life. I was 40 years old in 1984.  It would be another decade before this French thinker came onto my intellectual radar screen. Foucault explained that the form of his investigation by the 1980s had changed. That investigation was now taking him further into the European past than he had expected in pursuit of the practices by which individuals were led to ‘decipher, recognise and acknowledge themselves as objects of desire'. This change of direction for Foucault brought into play a certain relationship that allowed people to discover, in desire, the truth of their being, be it natural or fallen’.  Foucault was interested in the creation of the sexual subject and how the individual was constituted. In The History of Sexuality, he argued that in the western world during the 18th and 19th centuries, people's identities became increasingly tied to their sexuality. The problem for readers of Foucault was and is that, not only is he a difficult author to understand, but readers usually have little knowledge of the 2 & 1/2 millennia which had come to interest Foucault, in round figures: 600 BC to 1900 AD.  As I said, Foucault is not, and was not, an easy read.

Part 1.4.3:

This second volume, The Use of Pleasure, the first of what came to comprise his trilogy, is a study of Greek medical and philosophical texts on the proper conduct of sexual activity; the last two, Care of the Self and Confessions of the Flesh, not yet translated, continue the same inquiry through Roman and Patristic literature to the Christian era, concluding, rather than opening, on the threshold of modernity. The brilliant obscurities and grandiloquent gestures that make much of Foucault’s writing so exhausting, exhausting in the main due to the language he uses, are subordinated here to detailed exegesis and explications de textes. In a striking departure from previous practice, Foucault makes full use of current scholarship in the areas in question and gives generous acknowledgment to the work of others. Readers, at least most who come to Foucault, get lost in the verbiage. For a simple overview, though, readers can go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_History_of_Sexuality

I recommend to readers with the interest, and the peristence in investigating this subject, reviews of the following books: (i) Sexual Desire by Roger Scruton(Weidenfeld, 450 pages, 1986); (ii)The History of Sexuality. Vol. II: The Use of Pleasure by Michel Foucault(Pantheon, 300 pages, 1985); (iii) Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past & Present Times by Philippe Ariès & André Béjin(Blackwell, 200 pages, 1985); (iv) No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States since 1880 by Allan Brandt(Oxford, 250 pages,1985); and (v) Jealousy, Nancy Friday (Collins, 600 pages, 1986).

Part 1.5:

Erotic literature has always had the power to arouse the reader sexually. Indeed, that is often its primary intent. This literature is found in the form of: novels, short stories, poetry, true-life memoirs, and sex manuals. A common feature of the genre of erotic literature is sexual fantasies on such themes as prostitution, orgies, homosexuality, sadomasochism, as well as many other taboo & fetishistic subjects all of which may, or may not, be expressed in explicit language. ​The availability of literary themes involving sex in non-fiction and fiction, as well as in imagery in audio-visual and electronic forms in the last 15 years, since I retired from a 50 year student-&-paid-employment life(1949-1999) now dwarfs what was available in the 20th century and before.  It dwarfs the following three sources of the depiction of sexual activity in its many forms that had existed before the invasionso to speak, of the internet:

(i) the graphic depictions across vast slathers of the print & electronic media in all their forms in the previous half-century, 1949 to 1999, especially since the 1950s with Playboy and other men's lifestyle magazines that featured photographs of nude women. The sexual revolution of the 1960s & the pill really kick-started that half century;
(ii) the immense quantities of sexually explicit fiction & non-fiction written in the previous 200 years,1748 to 1948, from Cleland's Fanny Hill:Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, an erotic novel by English novelist John Cleland first published in London in 1748, to the slow evolution of permissiveness from the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age to the making of birth control legal by the end of WW2; and
(iii) the erotic literature found during the centuries in the long history of humankind before the modern era, a history which readers can accesss at the following link.  For more details on this history of erotic literature go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erotic_literature

Part 1.6:

As I look back from my 70s at the deficiencies & problems I've had in my nearly 60 years of marital & pre-marital sexual activity, I see my own lack of knowledge as a crucial factor underlying my tests and difficulties. Despite early inroads of school-based sex education, most of the information on sexual matters in the mid-20th century when I was moving through childhood, adolescence & young adulthood was obtained informally from friends and the media. Much of that information was deficient or of doubtful value. This was especially true during the period following puberty when my curiosity about sexual matters was the most acute.  For me this period was from the mid-to-late 1950s to the early 1960s &, in retrospect as I gaze back at those years, my knowledge was very limited & my anxiety significant. The deficiency of my knowledge had all sorts of implications. So was this true in the wider society. This deficiency became increasingly evident by the increasing incidence of teenage pregnancies, especially in Western countries after the 1960s. Of course, readers here need to keep in mind that the sexual experience of the two billion who existed in my world in 1944, and the sexual experience of the more than 7 billion now on the planet, is immensely, staggeringly, varied.

As part of each country's efforts to reduce such pregnancies, programs of sex education were instituted, initially over strong opposition from parent and religious groups.  My sex education both within the family and in-school hardly existed, at least as I now recall after the passing of half a century. Knowledge & practical information, compassion & understanding are each crucial ingredients in relation to knowing what sex is all about, what are its true dimensions and its relationship with other aspects of especially long-term marital/partner relationships. From my own experience & reading it seems to me that, for advice to be useful at all, it needs to be preceded by and contextualized with compassion and understanding, and practicality and knowledge. Since the 1930s & 1940s, as my parents were first meeting, and as I came into their world, there has been an increased knowledge of the physiology & the psychology of sex.  Alfred Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, Shere Hite and, in the last two decades, many others can be added to the significant scholarship.  This scholarship has begun to provide those who want to know with an increased knowledge and understanding of sex in all its dimensions: physiological and psychological, sociological and cultural, economic and legal, historical and scientific.

Part 1.6.1:

Clive James has written an informative & entertaining review of Belle de Jour, author of a blog called Diary of a London Call Girl.  That diary and that blog had been a mystery for some time. Journalists, always excited by mysteries, strove to find out who she really was. Was she really a woman at all?  Surely no mere female could concoct a diary so exactly fulfilling male fantasies.  The book was turned into a television series.  For more of James' clever commentary of that diary go to: http://www.clivejames.com/point-of-view/series6/belle


I mention the above essay by Clive James because, if it is the explicit that readers want in the domain of the sexual, they should go elsewhere in cyberspace. Readers will not find here an account of my sex life as a great-hearted Don Juan with women waiting in every city.  I create no story which will result in a whiff of leering admiration, particular delight, or special reading-erotic-pleasure for that matter.  My account is clearly not a tale that inspires skepticism about the nature of my sexploits due to some braggadocious, some boastful, tendency on my part.  Readers, who are interested in the sex lives of others, now have access to a rich tableaux of detailed narrative across the landscape of cyberspace, to say nothing of what is available in other forms, especially the graphic-and-visual forms, of electronic space.  Readers might like to start, for example, with Jackie Kennedy's sexual ins-and-outs set in a delightful literary context by Colm Tóibín(1955-).  Toibin is an Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic & poet. As far as the graphic and the visual aspects of the sexual are concerned, readers here are in need of no advice on how to access such aspects, such depictions.

Tóibín is currently the Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. He succeeded Martin Amis as professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester. Go to the following link for Toibin's essay in the London Review of Books back in 2002 on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v24/n11/colm-toibin/how-to-be-a-wife Readers can also go to a myriad other locations in cyberspace, as I say above, to satisy their voyeuristic and inquisitive, their amorous and prurient, tastes and interests.

Part 1.7:

Sadly or, perhaps, not-so-sadly the whole page, the several paragraphs that I had placed here back in this southern hemisphere's winter in 2012, were lost.  I reported the loss to my website design and development people at Define Studio in Mosman NSW. This company tried to correct the fault, the dropping-out of the material, but they were not able to correct the fault, to retrieve what was lost.  My design company and I decided in consultation early in December 2012, two-and-one-half years ago as I write this, that they---the web design company---Define Studio, would do a back-up of all the material at my site every two weeks. And so it would be that, if what I wrote dropped-out again, it would not matter because the entire site would be backed-up every fortnight.

I rewrote the material that was lost, and readers who had been waiting, and who were keen to read my story will, I trust, be rewarded in these paragraphs below at my website.  Readers should not get their hopes up too high, though, for like many writers I discuss my sex-life largely by indirection. Readers will find in these paragraphs a great deal written about my sex-life, if they are willing to read on to the end, before the subject changes to deal with other aspects of my autobiography at the many paragraphs below.  I also write about the sex-lives of others, as I make some general comments about sex and sexuality, the libidinous & the lewd, the erogenous and the erotic, the hot & the horny. The voyeuristic, those interested in pornography, and those who like to read about the sexually explicit, will be disappointed, though.  If readers expect any personal gratifications in the above areas to which I have referred, areas to satisfy their needs for the sexually explicit and the graphic, they will not find them here. Wikipedia has an excellent overview of the subject of pornography which I discuss further below. Meanwhile readers can examine that useful overview of the subject, if they wish, at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography

Part 1.7.1:

I don't try to hide aspects of my sexlife. But whatever reticence I do exhibit is partly a result of my respect for the only two women with whom I have had lengthy relationships and who became my wives for 8 and 40 years, respectively.  My general attitude to confession in general, & the exposure of the more intimate aspects of my personal life in particular, an attitude which derives from the Baha'i teachings, a religion I have been associated with now for over 60 years, is also a reason for my reticence in discussing the fine details of my marital intimacies from 1967 to 2015.  I have no extra-marital escapades to report on of any substance, and these paragraphs do not deal with my pre-marital sex life in the 1950s and 1960s except in very general terms. As the famous poet and novelist Robert Graves(1895-1985) once said in an interview: "I'm on simple hugs-and-kisses terms with several friends. That's all right. But promiscuity seems forbidden to poets." He went on to say "I do not begrudge, I do not feel any sense of judgmentalism, toward any nonpoet for what might be seen by others as their promiscuity." I gradually came to see myself as a poet, by sensible & insensible degrees beginning in the 1980s. As far as this poet is concerned, sexual promiscuity is something I have tried to keep under control, for the most part successfully, since the sequence of events in my pubertal development occurred by sensible and insensible degrees from, say, 11 to 17, 1955 to 1962.

I have to frankly admit that I have felt a strong susceptibility to the beauty of women, both before and after marriage.  In spite of this susceptibility,  I exercised a self-control during my 48 years in the marital scene which perhaps luck, circumstances, & those mysterious dispensations of a watchful Providence, enabled me to pass the tests of trial and temptation.  I am and was able to claim the mantle of faithfulness, loyalty & trustworthiness.  In the two years between marriage number 1, and marriage number 2, between the time I left the home in which my first wife and I lived, and the time I had a ceremony with a marriage celebrant celebrating my second marriage, between October 1973 and December 1975, I also have to frankly admit to a very complex 26 months for my several erogenous zones. Those 26 months are a separate story which I do not deal with here. Perhaps I will at a future time.  My fantasies and dreams, my wishes and wants, my desires & passions outside my formal and official, my direct and explicit one-to-one marriage bond are not the subject of this now lengthy essay.  My sexual experiences before marriage number 1 in August 1967, and in the interval of separation from my first wife, and before marriage number two are dealt with in my now lengthy autobiography and in my journal or diary. This journal may or may not be published by my literary executors. I will make some general comments below, though, in relation to these pre-marital periods. These were periods in my life before the age of 32 in 1976.

Part 1.7.2:

Readers will learn little to nothing about how many orgasms I now have per week or month now in my 70s, or how many I had in my sixties, or in any decade back in the earlier stages of my lifespan. Readers who would like to watch an interesting talk about orgasms and, in the process, learn much more than I could tell them about my orgasms, can do so at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jx0dTYUO5E&index=19&list=PL7  Readers will also learn little about how old I was when I began to masturbate or, indeed, any of the details regarding my personal history of this seemingly and increasingly popular activity.  Masturbation is the self-sexual stimulation of the genitals for sexual arousal or other sexual pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation may involve hands, fingers, everyday objects, sex toys or combinations of these.  Masturbation that is mutual & manual involves stimulation of the genitals between partners. It can be a substitute for, or coextensive with, sexual penetration. Readers who feel they are missing-out by my reticence to outline this aspect of my sexual history, might enjoy an excellent overview of the subject. This overview will provide readers with much more information than I could possibly provide about my life in this particular sexual domain. Readers can enrich their learning at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masturbation

I do not discuss the actual sexual activity I had with wife numbers one or two.  Nor will readers learn about my sex-life, as I say above, before my first marriage in August of 1967. Neither of the wonderful women to whom I have been married would appreciate having such details aired-in-public, and I have no intention of discussing such details before my reading public.  I am no scholar of sex and sexuality, anyway. Nor do I write about or utilize sex in a humorous way as many now do with much success.  Readers will find that those writers who do have such literary skills may be able to entertain them with pleasure and delight, if their literary interests of readers lie in this now vast and it would appear, expanding domain. With a little Googling, a visit to a good library, or to an online book-shop like Amazon, such readers can read on in perpetuity. Here are two good links to the sex lives of all sorts of people. The internet is awash with such links: https://www.google.com.au/?gws_rd=ssl#safe=active&q=sex+of+famous+people+wikipedia  and http://www.lrb.co.uk/v26/n24/wayne-koestenbaum/call-it-hollywood

Part 1.7.2.1:

Sex is often the brunt of jokes. In relation to the world of cyberspace, sex is often discussed by analysts & academics, sexologists & sex gurus. It is viewed by voyeurs and perverts, sexual sleuths and the scopophiliac
, and millions of ordinary men & women. There are millions of ordinary people looking for stimulation of many types from many sources in cyberspace. Sex is, not only a source of immense pleasure-bonding, but also of great frustration and conflict. This has been true in my life, and in the lives of many whom I have known: fellow students & teachers, friends & relations; the lives of millions both now and throughout history have experienced troubles and problems in this intimate part of their lives.

The lives of people I do not know, will never know, and don't particularly want to know, all have their own stories of their sexual highs-and-lows, ecstacies and tragedies. The primary sex organ of the human being, as testified by many psychologists & sexologists, is the brain. Our rich mental associations, imaginations, fantasies, and conceptualizations, have transformed human sexuality tremendously at least for the affluent and leisured millions on the planet. That is one of the many points raised by the French critic & writer Michel Foucault as well as other analysts of human sexual experience.

Part 1.7.3:

One of the most explicit diaries exposing the sexual adventures & misadventures of an individual was that of Samuel Pepys. It was first published in a very readable form in 1971 by R.C. Latham & W. Matthews. I had just arrived in Australia at the time, and was far too busy to concern myself with Pepys or, indeed, any of the romantic & erotic literature then available. I was working more than 60 hours a week as, first, a primary school teacher & then a high school teacher. I was also the secretary of the local Baha'i community.  I was living, at the time, in a dry-dog-biscuit of a city, in the semi-desert region of northern South Australia, in the seaport of Whyalla. 

I became familiar with Pepys when I retired from a 50 year student and paid-employment life of half a century, 1949 to 1999.  He was a prominent civil servant & kept a diary for a decade in the 1660s. It was a diary of over a million words. He wrote in detail about his unfaithfulness & his sexual peccadilloes; perhaps he thought that a lively carnality was a necessary dynamic of greatness. What seems extraordinary, at this remove of more than three centuries, is that Pepys was never exposed during his lifetime. His diary could easily have been seized and, as Robert Latham says, ‘his enemies would have been only too delighted to open to the world this Pandora’s box.’  As the 1960s advanced incrementally 300 years after Pepys kept his famous diaries, & as yet another stage in the unfoldment of the so-called permissive society made its entrance, Pepys was joined by many others.  As the year 2015 heads through its 10th month, the literary room which deals with sex & sexuality in the great & luxurious hotel of prose and poetry is filled with men & women whose writings provide a detailed historical, & a contemporary, perspective on the subject of people's sex lives.

Part 1.8:

It is important for anyone reading this part of my website to know that it is almost impossible to isolate the physical, sexual relationship of a couple from the dynamics of other aspects of their life together. Through misuse, abuse and manipulation our sexuality can lead to distancing and troubles in a relationship. My nearly five decades of marriage have not been characterized by deep and satisfactory sexual intimacy for all of those months and years.  As the philosophically inclined Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius once wrote: "the sexual embrace can only be compared with music & with prayer." When my sex-life was good I found Aurelius's words, or the words of a number of other writers, and their equally felicitous phrases to be true. The sexual revolution in my lifetime, though, opened a Pandora's box, & our society has not been able to put the lid back on that box. Social attitudes towards the discussion & presentation of sexuality have become more tolerant in many, if not all, countries; legal definitions of obscenity have become more limited, leading to an industry, an increasingly vast industry, for the production & consumption of pornography in the latter half of the 20th century and the early 21st--a subject I discuss below. 

The wild experiment, the fascination with sex, & the overly liberal philosophy on matters sexual, society's permissiveness as well as its puritanical aspects, have juggled themselves in the complex backdrop of my life. The mixture has not always brought me sexual peace. The revolution in social, as well as print and electronic, technologies has further fed into my human sexual appetites, interests & possibilities. This has been true in my life beginning, say, (i) with men's magazines in the 1950s & 1960s, like Playboy and Penthouse, which always existed far-out on the perphery of my somewhat conventional and conservative, sport loving and academically ambitious, childhood and adolescence, and (ii) with the 1960s & "the pill" coming into use in 1960.  In 1960 I was 15; I had once thought that I completed puberty at the age of 13 in 1957. A study of human development, though, informs me that boys usually complete puberty by ages 16–17.  For a useful and detailed overview of puberty go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puberty

Puberty which starts earlier than usual is known as precocious puberty, and puberty which starts later than usual is known as delayed puberty. I am not sure whether my puberty was early or late, although I recall: (i) having norturnal emissions, ejaculations, or what are colloquilally called wet dreams in my adolescent life, & (ii) strong sexual urges as early as 12/13.  I came to know, especially in my study of human development in the '90s, that the 1st ejaculation for a boy is, on average, 13.  My 1st ejaculation is not part of my memory-bank. In all likelihood it passed unnoticed by me, if not by my mother who washed the sheets.  I do have a memory, though, of 'wet sheets' in 1964/5 at the age of 20 when I was a student in my 2nd year of an honours history and philosophy BA program at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario. In all likelihood I had wet dreams much earlier than the age of 20, but I don't remember. I certainly recall with sharp and graphic memories the push and pull of sexual or carnal desires, libidinous or concupiscent urges, erotic or prurient attractions, as well as lust or licentious inclinations in the day, and what is called nocturnal penile tumescence at night, all as part and parcel of my adolescence.

Part 1.9:

The following paragraphs draw on the expertise of several writers.  The first is the sex therapist Dr David Schnarch & his book Passionate Marriage.  Schnarch asserts that the greatest sexual pleasure in life is possible in one's middle & later years, when a mature sense of self has been achieved and genuine intimacy is possible with another person. Dr Schnarch shows how the details of one's sexual style, from kissing to daring erotic behaviors, are a window into your life, your partner's, and your relationship.  Passionate Marriage is the sexual "road less traveled," an erotic "Care of the Soul" that integrates sexuality and spirituality in deeply positive ways.  It is about real passion and wet sex. It's about how relationships are spiritual journeys. It's pragmatic, explicit, practical, and erotic, but it's not simplistic and doesn't focus on technique.  It takes a down to earth, "in the trenches," unglamorized, honest view of relationships. I like the thrust of this book, and I will report on the success of its philosophy and modus operandi in this section of my website at a later date as I go through my 70s from 2014 to 2024, and my 80s beyond 2024, if I last that long.

A good marriage is not smooth, and marriage is not reducible to a set of skills, at least that is one way I would express the overall context & texture of the marriage bond, the experience of marriage. People have difficulty with intimacy, such has come to be my view, because they're supposed to, at least when viewed over an entire lifespan.  It's not something to be "solved" and avoided.  Problems with sex and intimacy are important to go through because this process changes us. These are the drive wheels and the grind stones of intimate relationships. The solution is not a simple 'going back to the passion of early relationships' because what that is, and was, is sex between strangers;  it's about going forward to new passion and intimacy as mature adults or, at least, adults striving to be mature.  If we use relationships properly they make us grow into adults, capable of intense intimacy, eroticism, and passion. This is about having sex with our hearts and minds, & not just with our genitals. For more on Schnarch's views, and an interview with him go to:http://www.sheknows.com/love-and-sex/articles/1423/an-interview-with-dr-david-schnarch-the-sex-therapist
 
Part 1.10:

No discussion of sex and sexuality, mine or anyone else's shoud leave out Lloyd deMause(1931-).  He is an American social thinker known for his work in the field of psychohistory. He did graduate work in political science at Columbia University and he later trained as a lay psychoanalyst. A lay psychoanalyst is defined as a psychoanalyst who does not have a medical degree. DeMause is the founder of The Journal of Psychohistory. I first came across deMause in 1974 when I was a senior tutor in human relations at what is now the University of Tasmania. This highly focussed writer has made major contributions to the study of psychohistory. This field involves the study of the psychological motivations of historical events. It seeks to understand the emotional origin of the social and political behavior of groups & nations, past and present. Its subject matter is childhood & the family, especially child abuse, & psychological studies of anthropology & ethnology. For more on this provocative thinker go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_deMause and on Psychohistory go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory

Part 1.11:

No discussion of sex and sexuality, mine of anyone else's, should leave out Anthony Giddens' The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies(Polity Press, 1992, 200 pages), & Erotic Welfare: Sexual Theory & Politics in the Age of Epidemic, Linda Singer (1993, Routledge).  Anthony Giddens has written a book full of insight and hope for the present and future development of relationships between women and men in contemporary society. He writes of the possibilities offered by what he describes as "plastic sexuality", that is sexual expression freed from the needs of reproduction. This, he argues, is an essentially modern embodiment of a search for personal fulfilment and intimacy over & above the physical relationship of sex. He contends that this could and should lead to a "democracy in personal life" and, moreover, contribute to what he describes as a "reflexive view of self".

He talks of the emergence of a pure relationship, which is part of a "generic restructuring of intimacy"(p.58). He examines the various social and ideological factors that have contributed and do contribute to these changes.  Among these factors, he cites the emergence of toleration of homosexuality. He examines what he calls "intimacy as democracy" in which he lists the characteristics of democracy which could/should be salient in pure relationships. These are essentially to do with the idea of personal autonomy.  Such autonomy is the capacity of individuals to be self-reflective and self-determining (p.l85). He outlines the limitations & obstacles, both ideological & structural, that hinder the achievement of these ideals. He says that the characteristic trend of development of modern societies is towards their realisation. (p.188). Giddens asserts that intimate social relationships have become 'democratised', so that the bond between partners, even within a marriage, has little to do with external laws, regulations or social expectations, but is based on the internal understanding between two people. It is, he says, a trusting bond based on emotional communication. Where such a bond ceases to exist, modern society is generally happy for the relationship to be dissolved. Thus we have, he continues, a democracy of the emotions in everyday life.'(See: Anthony Giddens, Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping Our Lives. London, 1999, p.8)  For more go to: http://www.reading.ac.uk/RevSoc/archive/volume10/number2/10-2g.htm

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW: AND SEX

Part 1:

We find the following remarks about George Bernard Shaw(GBS) in the London Review of Books(Vol. 11 No. 19, 12/10/'89) by Frank Kermode. This is a review of: Bernard Shaw. Vol. II: The Pursuit of Power by Michael Holroyd(Chatto, 400 pages, 1989). Kermode begins: "It is an important part of Michael Holroyd’s argument, in the 2nd volume of his biography of GBS, that Shaw sacrificed one notable avocation, or kindly satisfaction, namely, sex. At the beginning of this volume we find GBS, the hero, newly married but sick. A suspiciously long series of accidents and illnesses postponed the consummation of his marriage for so long that abstinence became the very basis of the union, and so it remained. Holroyd has a good deal to say about the relation between Shaw’s negative marital practice, and his abundantly positive theory, which had of course to allow for occasional sex. In fact, he was in his way extremely interested in sex, not only, as it were, philosophically, as in Man and Superman and other plays, but in the ludic side of it in real life.

He thought society, rather than he, was in an absurd muddle about sex.  And it seems that he himself found more enjoyment in writing self-sending-up love-letters, supplemented by occasional moments of teasing dalliance with actresses & other devotees, than in doing what others would regard as the real thing.  It is touching, therefore, that Love, outlawed by his metabiological programmes, had its revenge, striking him down, with Murdochian violence, when he contemplated the attractions of Mrs Patrick Campbell.  He had flirted with other actresses, but did not carry the pursuit to its end; with Stella, his first Liza, he committed himself, but this pursuit also failed and she slipped from his grasp. Despite his theoretical contempt for ‘romantic’ love, he seems to have been quite badly hurt. In a way it is a comfort to know that once, at any rate, love had been a deeply melancholy experience.

Part 2:

I say 'comfort' in that last sentence, though, because hurt and melancholy, GBS's experience, are also part of what happens to people like you and me, and millions of our fellow humans. Joy and tragedy lurk below the surface of millions of relationships, both within the marital bond and without. The total picture, though, is far from simple; indeed, the complexity across the planet, both now and in history, has a staggering diversity.  This diversity is so extensive, that I'm not sure one can enunciate a set of principles that apply across the board to ensure the greatest happiness to the greatest number.  Of course, this has not prevented many writers and thinkers, philosophers and religious enthusiasts from trying to textualize and contextualize such principles and guidelines.

I post the above paragraphs because in my nearly 50 years of married life, and in another dozen years when I was not married, sexual fulfillment was a rare, or at least a periodic, experience. Fulfillment in my life has come in many forms, although not 24/7 year in and year out: in marriage and in career, in home & hearth, in religion and philosophy, in the literary and in leisure, in sport and study, in friendship and in fun, in community and in culture.  In the area of the sexual-instinctual & the carnal-erotic I have experienced many a test. Fulfillment & attainment, realization & achievement has not been the case in my libidinal & erogenous zones, except:  (i) for periods of time in the early months and years of both my marriages; (ii) for short periods of time later in those two marriages, and (iii) periods of time measured in months in two pre-marital relationships, and measured in weeks in two other relationships.

PHILIP LARKIN

Sexual intercourse began, if the poet English Philip Larkin is your man, in 1963.  It was a year before Top of the Pops in the U.K. and it was off the back of the Lady Chatterley trial & the Beatles’ first LP.  I discuss Lady Chatterley below for those readers who are enjoying this part of my website. Larkin, of course, was writing about the greater public discussion of sex, and its easier availability for the mass public in the West.  There was a strange dance of the permissive with the banned in many areas: child abuse, sexual expression's openness, paedophilia, inter alia.  That dance is far from over. For an article on sex in the corridors of the BBC go to this link:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n21/andrew-ohagan/light-entertainment  The questions surrounding that dance, sex in the corridors of the BBC, and the public accounts of people's private sexual experiences all the way back to Samuel Pepys are legion. Child abuse, has also come onto the public and popular culture agenda in the last decade or so.  Such abuse is the physical, sexual or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children.  In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, as well as the Department for Children and Families, both define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. Child abuse can occur in a child's home, in the schools and organizations, groups & communities in which the child interacts. There are four major categories of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological or emotional abuse. Go to this link for more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_abuse

MORE ON PEPYS

Why Pepys risked being exposed by keeping such a self-incriminating archive of confessionalism is hard to fatho.  It inevitably raises the question of why he needed to keep a diary in the first place. Was it an exercise in sheer vanity? Was it the compulsion of a born record-keeper? Was it a bid for posthumous fame? Was it the basis for an autobiography? Was it a deliberate confessional?  Did he have a secret desire to be found out? Was it done out of sheer devilry, or fun? I could ask these same questions about what and why I write here about my sex life.

Was there even an element, for Pepys, of that ineffable bombast which drove the French philosopher Jaques Rousseau in his Confessions to write: ‘Whenever the last trumpet shall sound, I will present myself before the sovereign judge with this book in my hand & loudly proclaim “Thus have I acted, these were my thoughts, such was I ’?  I could say these same words about my thoughts.  I have asked many questions about why I write, why I write what I do, why I only reveal a moderate confessionalism, and why I am obsessed if, in fact, I am--as my wife informs me and as I often think I am. The world of obsessiveness and compulsiveness is a topic unto itself, and I shall make only one or two remarks about it here. As I go through my 70s, & as I view my eight decades of living, I find the whole question of my obsessions and compulsions quite a complex subject, too complex to deal with here. I also feel fortunate, partly due to luck and/or good management, to have escaped not only many of the intensities of OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, but also much of the potential tragedy that lies at the heart of the permissive society, a tragedy with many facets: interpersonal and intrapersonal, sexual and social, psychological and sociological.

SEXUAL HEALTH

In an attempt to promote sexual health and a dialogue among all interested parties, the U.S. Surgeon General, David Satcher, in 2001 issued a call to sexual health and responsible sexual behavior. This Call to Action provided an evidence-based foundation for developing a public health approach to sexual health and responsible sexual behavior. It identified the problems and then discussed the risks and the protective factors. Numerous intervention models that had been evaluated and shown to be effective, as well as some that were promising but not yet adequately evaluated, were also presented. The last step, implementation of effective interventions, depended heavily on individual communities and their members.


This call to action, to sexual health & real dialogue in this complex personal and interpersonal domain, has been slow to be taken seriously in the last dozen or so years. Local and regional, state and national governments, as well as relevant international NGOs, all have to deal with problems in this domain of social & cultural life.  Most of the 200 to 250 national and territory governments around our emerging planetary civilization deal with the vast complexity of problems in this area by fits and starts, policies here and there, plans and programs, usually responding to some crisis or emergency. A crisis is any event that is, or is expected to lead to, an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society. Crises are deemed to be negative changes in the security, economic, political, societal, or environmental affairs, especially when they occur abruptly, with little or no warning. More loosely the word 'crisis' is a term meaning "a testing time" or an "emergency event". The story, the subject, of sexual health is becoming more and more exposed, described and discussed in the print and electronic media. Go to this link for more on this topic: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44216/

Serious discussions of sexual health over the decades have often been framed in terms of abstinence, not the most sophisticated approach.  In the U.S., the prohibition of sex among children and teenagers, and its expression among the poor and the many categories of the disadvantaged, has become in recent decades a financially rewarding enterprise for politicians, religious groups, community organizations, and researchers. Perhaps the 20th and early 21st centuries will be remembered for, among many other things, a vast tableland of sexual expression in a society drowning in its myriad manifestations.  I make no attempt to deal with and discuss this great matrix and milieux of sexual intimacies and issues in this part of my website.  The internet is awash, though, with reading material for anyone wanting to update themselves on the morals and mores, the crises and catastrophes, have have been part of the human condition in relation to sex and sexuality in both recent decades and further-back in history.

THE CONCEPT OF WOMEN

The concept that a woman should be a brood-mare, an old concept, was certainly still prevalent back in the 1940s and 1950s when I was growing-up, but men who were smart at the level of teachers or advertising executives, lawyers or business-men, among other categories, had already begun to question this view, this image. When Marilyn Monroe swivelled her hips in Niagara, a 1953 thriller-film noir, released by Twentieth Century-Fox and starring Joseph Cotten and Jean Peters, there were already plenty of men who knew such blatant sexuality was a joke. By the early 1960s the ideal of blatant sexiness had already given way to something far more subtle in the mind of any man who could read and think, ponder and try to understand what goes on below the surface, below the visual, reality of life. Still, physical beauty & sexual attractiveness have continued to hold millions of people, men and women, in the tight grip of what you might call 'fascination.'


Millions of ordinary men and women have long been heard to say things like: "I am too tired to have sex; can we do it before 10 pm?  Do I have to take my socks off? Can I just lay here while you do the work? Wait 'til the children are in bed." These types of lines have been part of my life and the lives of billions both now, and in the long history of the amorous and the amatory. Millions go through the motions. The novelty and the lust of the early years of a partnership are often, some would say usually, replaced by familiarity and routine and, hopefully--as it happened in my case---by a new intimacy, one resulting from decades of memories, of raising children, of being a grandparent and suffering the slings and arrows of life, as well as the inevitabilities of the aging-process. This is certainly part of my story.  

I could be writing the story of Everyman, although I am only too aware that, on a planet of 7.3 billion, sexual expression, and relationships are immensely varied across the 200++ countries and territories of the planet, and across the entirety of the life-span. To tell the story:(i) of the history of sex and sexuality, (ii) of the contemporary expression of sex in our global society, and (iii) of the details, the permuations and combinations, of several decades of sex in my own life, would require several volumes. This brief survey will have to suffice for readers who have the interest in my views and my experiences in the sexual domain. There are now many writers who are providing readers with such detail, & readers here can Google this subject to their heart's content.


SEX IS NOT LOVE

Sex is not love--we often need to remind ourselves; the two are often confused.  I am told by a Japanese friend that partners, husbands and wives, in Japan do not say: "I love you." They limit such emotional overtures to: "I like you and I like this."  Of course, this is obviously not true of all the 125+ million of Japanese. There are many messages that the sexually eager adolescents and young adults need to hear; these messages are often equally applicable to older adults. We can love our sexual partners and enjoy the intimacy that comes from knowing someone for years, but not feel like having sex. We may not feel like having sex on a daily or weekly, monthly or even annual, basis.  The variation here is immense.

That said, someone has found a scientific connection between love and sex among heterosexual adults. Data from a 1992 survey indicated that U.S. heterosexual women who usually, or always, achieve orgasm experience greater emotional satisfaction and physical pleasure in their relationships than do their partners (Waite and Joyner, 252).  An increase in the frequency of sex has a similar effect.  However, whether heterosexual men always or usually achieve orgasm has no effect on the level of emotional satisfaction or physical pleasure they or their female partners experience (Waite & Joyner, 258).  For those who prefer to learn about sex from TV documentaries rather than books, the recent series examining the work of Masters & Johnson was educational.  Go to this link for more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_and_Johnson#Dramatic_production There are, of course, many programs in the media which provide both the young and old with a knowledge that was difficult to obtain until, I would say, at least the last half of the 20th century, and even more was this the case by the 21st century. Knowledge of this subject in all its forms is burgeoning.

ORGASMS

Men's and women's orgasms are, from some people's point of view, overrated. But the sort of data that results in, or provides the raw information about, people's sex lives & their sexual proclivities is compounded by 100s of studies for those who take the interest in this popular subject, at least popular to some.  Indeed, the literature, the formal-scientific and the unscientific, studies on the subject of human, men & women, sexual activity is enough to fill libraries. Readers with the interest can now Google in perpetuity.

Dennis Altman(1943-), an Australian academic & pioneering gay rights activist, argues that social, political, & economic forces shape the everyday experiences of sex. His global perspective and persuasive writing link such diverse issues as adolescent sex in Uganda and Thailand, Japanese pornography, Irish women seeking abortions abroad, the Fiji NGO Coalition on the Right to Sexual Orientation, and the "gay marriage" issue in the United States.  I highly recommend readers obtain a copy of Altman's book Global Sex.  It's a good book to read from cover to cover for a global context on the subject.  In our world of print and image glut, though, I do not expect all those who come to this part of my website to take up my suggestion with enthusiasm. To each their own in the print and electronic media world, and in just about every other world.


MY SEXLIFE

The 2nd edition of what I wrote about my sex-life is found both above and below.  It has been so extensively revised in the last 3 and 1/2 years, from 3/4/'12 to 3/10/'15, that what is found here amounts to a 3rd edition.  As I say above, though, for the voyeuristic & for those desiring explicit details about the sexual erotic-exotic, the sex in my life from 1943 to 2015, disappointment will be experienced as they read.  I must add, too, that disappointment was experienced by me, as well, from time to time over all those years.  Anyway, after all the waiting, especially by those who now consider themselves my faithful readers, waiting for the paragraphs on the subject of my sex-life, I hope that at least some of the readers who peruse these paragraphs will find my sexual expose, my analysis and commentary, worth their wait and their effort.  

My personal revelations are made largely by indirection, with some made by commentary on the generalities and ambiguities of these epochs in this age that are the years that constitute my life.  These epochs of my sexual activity will certainly not cause the cherubim, the seraphim, indeed, the entire angelic hierarchy to be embarrassed. Those beings who occupy the 1st sphere of angels in the Christian angelic hierarchy, & who serve as heavenly counselors will, I would think, most likely yawn at whatever mention I make of my sexual peccadillos and improprieties, indiscretions & defects.  Any sense of shame or inadequacy, deficiencies, flaws or failings that I have had in life will not topple the towers of cities or arrest the sun's climb.  I do hope, though, in the months & years ahead, to discuss the place of sex in society and in my life in more detail here. I hope to update this description and analysis as the months and years go on through my 70s, and into my old-age, the years beyond 80 in 2024 again, as I say above, if I last that long.  

MY LIFE AS A BAHA'I

During my life as a Baha'i, in the periods before both my marriages, I have had to reconcile what are clearly the conflicting views and standards of this Faith, like "no sex before marriage," with the values and standards of a society that sees sex before marriage as in no way inappropriate, even the norm. It is important to understand that the Bahá’í community does not seek to impose its values on others, nor does it pass judgment on others on the basis of its own moral standards. It does not see itself as one among competing social groups and organizations, each vying to establish its particular social agenda. In working for individual and social justice, Bahá’ís try to distinguish between those dimensions of personal and public issues that are in keeping with the Bahá’í Teachings, and which they actively or not-so-actively support, and those that are not.  Baha'is do not necessarily oppose personal and public issues that are not in keeping with the Baha'i teachings, although they do not promote them.  

The Bahá’í teachings maintain that a person must rise above certain material aspects of human nature.  They must do this in order to develop and manifest inherent spiritual qualities that characterize their true selves.  The Baha'i Sacred Texts contain laws & exhortations that, in many instances, redirect or restrict behaviours that arise from impulses, tendencies, & desires. Whether inborn or acquired, these desires, like sex before or outside marriage, taking part in online porn or engaging in flirtatious behaviour, particularly when married, among several other social & psychological activities, are discouraged.  

Some of these impulses and desires are physical, while others are emotional or psychological. Yet, whatever the origin of the resulting behaviours, it is through their regulation & control that one's higher, spiritual nature is able to predominate and flourish. Those who are not Bahá’ís may have no cause to take into account such considerations.  A Bahá’í, however, cannot set aside the implications of the Baha'i Sacred Texts & the teachings of their Faith. He or she must endeavour to respond, to the best of his or her ability, though it be little by little and day by day. In so doing, all believers face challenges, although the specific type or extent of a test may, indeed, usually does, differ.  Baha'is try to act with faith in Bahá’u’lláh’s words as follows: “Know assuredly that My commandments are the lamps of My loving providence among My servants, and the keys of My mercy for My creatures."  Baha'is try to respond to His call, “Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty.”

PORNOGRAPHY

Section 1:

In the late 20th century and the early 21st century an explosion of pornography took place just as I was retiring after a 50 year student-and-paid-employment life, 1949-1999.  There is much in society that I do not approve of, but I acknowledge its existence. I comment on the subject of pornography briefly below, after alluding to it occasionally in the above paragraphs.  Life is what it is, warts & all. Sex is part of life, indeed an essential part. Without sex, none of us would be here. Biologists suggest that the pleasure of sex ensures that the younger generations will keep at it, in the process, replenishing the species. It is obviously a useful, and often essential, glue in any long term marital relationship. Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, sexual and other, are acknowledged. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal. For more on marriage go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage

Pornography may be, indeed it unquestionably is, presented in a variety of media including: books and magazines, postcards and photographs, sculpture and drawing, painting and animation, sound recording and film, video and video games, inter alia. The term applies to the depiction of the act usually in some visual form. The term is generally not used to include live exhibitions like sex shows and striptease. The primary subjects of pornographic depictions are: (i) pornographic models who pose for still photographs, and (ii) pornographic actors or porn stars who perform in pornographic films. If dramatic skills are not involved, a performer in a porn film may also be called a model. The scholarly study of pornography, notably in cultural studies, is limited, perhaps due to the controversy about the topic in feminism. The first peer-reviewed academic journal about the study of pornography, Porn Studies, was published in 2014. For a detailed, a comprehensive, but succinct overview of the topic go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography

Section 2:
 
Internet use grew rapidly in the developed world from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, and from the late 1990s to the present in the developing world. In 1994 only 3% of American classrooms had access to the Internet, while by 2002 that figure was 92%. I leave it to readers with the interest to examine the fine details of the history and development of the internet in both the developed and underdeveloped world. In the brief amount of time from, say, 1995 to 2015, the Internet has become a prevalent source of sexually explicit material for a significant portion of the population in developed nations. Cybersex is a rapidly increasing problem within society. Sexual activity on the Internet is growing at such an exponential rate that researchers are scrambling to maintain current data.  

Due to the relative accessibility and the anonymity that the Internet provides, online sexual activity appears both alluring and safe. More homes are now equipped with Internet access and current safeguards do not always sufficiently protect against the ever-present plethora of sexually explicit material just a click away. People who would never consider walking into an adult bookstore or entering into an adulterous relationship can now act out sexually in the privacy of their own homes or offices. While the Internet presents itself as harmless, the effects of cybersex activity can be as detrimental to relationships with both man & God as the more classically defined forms of adultery, fornication, and lust. 

Section 2.1:
 
The addiction and obsession/compulsion models of cybersexual behavior label what a person does & experiences. For millions now cybersex has achieved a measure of acceptance. A cybersexually active person often does not want to continue in his current pattern, but at the same time, his desires & motivations appear to be uncontrollable. This sense of powerlessness may aid in the belief that cybersexuality is not something we are responsible for; the fault lies outside ourselves; so goes one of the many arguments that analyse sex in cyberspace. The truth regarding this misconception is two-fold. First, a person is accountable for his thoughts & actions, even the ones that initially appear to be unmanageable. Human beings often attribute their failings, their sins of omission and commission, to outside sources. It is important to recognize that a person can change their thoughts and actions; they can alter their behaviour and each person has to work-out their own method of doing so. For millions, of course, people watching pornography is not an everyday experience, or at least it isn't an essential element of their lives. For millions, too, porn is not a moral issue at all.  It is simply, as I indicate above, an accepted part of life.

Internet sex addiction, also known as cybersex addiction, has been proposed as a sexual addiction characterized by virtual Internet sexual activity that causes serious negative consequences to one's physical, mental, social, and/or financial well-being. It may also be considered a subset of the theorized Internet addiction disorder. Internet sex addiction manifests various behaviours: reading erotic stories;viewing, downloading or trading online pornography; online activity in adult fantasy chat rooms; cybersex relationships; masturbation while engaged in online activity that contributes to one's sexual arousal; the search for offline sexual partners and information about sexual activity. For more on this subject go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_sex_addiction

Theories regarding addiction and obsession/compulsion(OCD) do not reach peoples' souls. Some spiritual conviction can assist a person in dealing with his or her failings. Our sins of omission and commission run deeper than life situations, chemistry, patterns of behavior, and experiences. The answer that satisfies goes deeper than medication or counseling regarding traumatic childhood experiences, addiction or OCD. These methods only lead to surface change and, at best, generate more socially acceptable, self-absorbed behaviours. Outward change requires, as well, a change of heart, of inner emotion and attitude. Cybersexual activity itself is not the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem is that the cybersexual addict turns away from what might be called his "higher self" and he then follows his "lower self," the idle fancies and vain imaginings that dwell in his own heart. Such a discussion becomes more & more complex in a pluralistic society with a myriad set of values, beliefs, attitudes, conventions, morals and mores. For the Baha'i, though, what constitutes the higher self and the lower self have many clear parameters.

Section 3:

I would like to give readers a brief summary of how Norman Mailer dealt with his autobiography. This provides a clear indication of how I deal with mine. "The famous American writer Norman Mailer spent much of his life reporting facts as if he were writing fiction, and performing for an audience of gossip columnists and shockable reviewers.  He often wrote a fictional version of his life as though it were fact." Mailer's latest biographer,  J. Michael Lennon, has just published: Norman Mailer: A Double Life (Simon and Schuster, 2013, 950 pages) Mendelson also reviews:  Mind of an Outlaw: Selected Essays(Random House, 2013, 600 pages). Norman Mailer was the most famous writer of his generation. People who never read a word that he wrote knew who he was, whether because of his fame as a novelist or journalist, or his notoriety because of his many marriages and affairs.

I mention Mailer because, unlike Mailer, I do not write autobiography in fictional form as if it were fact; I write it as fact in several forms: poetic, narrative, essayistic, memoiristic, analytic. The whole question of facticity, of factual accuracy, is a topic unto itself which I will not deal with here. I do not engage in a blatant, a strong confessionalism; my confessionalism is modest or mild and, for the most part, it is found in my journals which I have left in the hands of my executors to deal with on my passing. I'm sure, though, that some of my more conservative and traditionally minded friends would regard even my modest confessionalism as "going too far." To each their own in cyberspace and real space.

Section 3.1:

I deal with the several battles I have had with sex and sexuality, among other inner battles, in my journal to be published as I indicate above, if my literary executors decide to do so, after my passing.  Of course, given the increasing secularization and sexualization, pluralism & moral relativism, fracturing and splintering, indeed, some would say, collapsing and shattering of society, the increasing hype and the increasing desire for more and more stimulation, as well as the increasing materialism and sensory-sensate nature of daily life in developed countries, porn for millions is not an issue. It is just part of the air people breath & is not something to be avoided. "To each their own", goes a popular adage, and "if it turns you on, then go for it" goes an aphorism. The Baha'i writings indicate that "if we spontaneously desire to acknowledge that we have been wrong in something, or that we have some fault of character....we are quite free to do so."(Lights of Guidance, p.138). My spontaneity in relation to my sins of omission and commission is found from time to time in my now extensive and public autobiography. My confessionalism is, though, it seems to me anyway, a moderate one. Not all my friends, and not all who view what I write here, will regard my confessionalism a moderate one.

With the extension & proliferation of dating sites in the 21st century, individuals can get a date or a dalliance, have a one night stand or virtually any form of sexual relationship, discretely and in whatever setting is practically accessible, with just a little Googling, a little online searching.  The more conventional and conservative, the more traditional and, perhaps, somewhat cautious members of either the Baha'i community or members of many other communities in society I'm sure would never utilize these dating sites. But there are many who would and do. My story, however brief, may help others find the courage to deal with their battles. Most of my story is found at the mental health sub-sections of my website. As I say above, too, the more intimate aspects of my confessionalism is to be found in my unpublished journals.

The world of sex and the availability of sexual experience has been transformed in recent years, as the 20th century was coming to an end, and in this 21st century. Due to my extensive online publishing, a readership now in the millions, and my registration at over 8000 internet sites, I have had offers of sex from literally dozens of women over the months and years. Due to the fact, though, that I am married and regard sex outside of my marital relationship, as something to be avoided: (a) I invite these women to go to my website and read my writing; (b) I send them a detailed explanation of why they should go elsewhere to satisfy their sexual interests & desires; or (c) I simply delete their email or internet post.  I provide a quite detailed explanation of how I deal with this subject on this page of my website.  I outline, in the process, how I have acquired a readership in the millions.
 
Section 3.2:

Couples need not feel they have to have sex a certain number of times a week in order to have a good sex life. It’s really about compatibility, say many sex therapists. One therapist recalls a pair of married scientists who came to see her about the frequency of sex in their marriage because they were afraid they were freaks. They came in saying, ‘We have sex twice a year, once on Christmas and once on his birthday. Is there something wrong with us?’  The sex therapist and the couple discussed the couple's marital relationship in detail; the therapist found that the couple didn’t really want to change. They were coming in to see her out of cultural pressure. Their true joy lay in doing what they were doing together in the lab. They liked each other; they didn’t fight. Sex was not a high priority for either of them. They were real cerebral types. They met with the therapist twice and she then sent them home. The therapist said, "I’m not going to push you folks in directions you feel no need to go; I think you fit very well together.’'

The above scenario has parallels with my wife and I.  After 40 years together, I am more than a little happy with the fit. Sex, coitus or copulation, has not been part of the life of my wife and I for many years.  At first I found this very frustrating and I'm sure, in retrospect, it was part of my turn toward porn in my early 50s especially with its easy availability in cyberspace.  I did not let it consume inordinate amounts of my time or my attention, any more than I had done so in relation to any other problems I have had with the sexual domain since it was initiated by the bucket-full into my life at puberty by: (i)  the hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads or testes, (ii) the associated nocturnal penile tumescence as erections are sometimes called, and (iii) by my sensory energies, enthusiasms, ardors and activities.

Section 3.3:

As I look back over eight decades of living it is clear that sex & the sensual have been for me one of life's testing areas. But it has been only one testing area. Other testing areas have included: family & friendships, calling & career, health mental & health physical, money & meetings, as well as the several tests, challenges, and tensions that are associated with each stage in the lifespan according to developmental psychologist Erik Erikson's theory of psycho-social development.  Readers can go to this link to get an overview of the various tests that must be embraced and understood in the several stages of the life-span of each human being according to Erikson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Erikson#Erikson.27s_theory_of_personality


From the inception of Playboy magazine in 1953, when I was 9, an American men's lifestyle magazine that featured photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction, to the easy accessibility of porn in cyberspace by the mid-1990s, when I was in my 50s, pornography was not a world in which I took much of an interest.  Countless studies of, and concern with, porn connect it with a new & negative attitude to intimate relationships, & neurological imaging confirms it. Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, used MRI scans in 2010 to analyze men watching porn. Afterward, brain activity revealed, they looked at women more as objects than as people.

Section 3.3:

The DSM-5, published in May 2013, added the diagnosis "Hypersexual Disorder," which included compulsive pornography use.  Repetitive viewing of pornography resets neural pathways, creating the need for a type & a level of stimulation not satiable in real life. Users are thrilled, then they are doomed because the circumstances of their real life cannot provide the same level of sexual gratification. But the evolutionary plasticity of the human brain makes this damage reversible.  In The Brain That Changes Itself psychiatrist Norman Doidge writes about patients who overused porn and were able to quit, cold turkey, and change their brains back. They just had to stop watching it. To use the language of brain plasticity, peoples' brain maps with their new, exciting sexual images weakened. To put this another way, as problematic neuronal networks weakened, peoples' appetite for porn withered away.

Such a 'no-shenanigans' approach to hypersexual disorder, and addiction to porn, has become protocol in recent years. Pornography needs to be seen as a brain disease, not a moral failure. To some, especially those with serious religious proclivities like myself, it was and is both.  Among the young people who have been asked in surveys, only teetotalism worked. Otherwise, as one man put it, "the creep creeps back." Teetotalism is the best.  Given the spectrum of online porn activity "from very heavy-to very mild-to none-at-all" there are now hundreds of millions caught in the jugular by online porn. Of course, as I say above, millions have no moral problems with porn; it is accepted as part of the air they breath. Porn simply does not test their values and beliefs. Although it once tested my religious scruples, that is no longer the case.

Section 3.3.1:

The rehabilitative mental process, though, to which I refer above, it turns out, is a lot like the one we use when we fall in love and fall out of love, & when we get over one person and meet someone new. First we have to "unlearn" old pathways, cutting and rewiring billions of connections in our brain. Then we make fresh ones; I did this 40 years ago between marriage # 1 and marriage # 2 in 1974/5.  I did this yet again in 2013-14 in relation to porn.  Love can actually conquer all, and any degree of of porn. addiction can be conquered.  Please tell the nearest teen and young adult for whom "breaking-up is hard-to-do," as the song says. In addition, tell those who are addicted to porn, if they have any close friends who are that close that they can trust and confide in them, that porn too can be conquered if, of course, they see it as a problem.

I leave it to readers with the interest to examine some of the avalanche of porn-statistics, but I will site several general stats as follows: (a) 70% of 18-to-34-year-old look at porn regularly in the USA. This is according to a recent survey of cyber-pornography by that authority Cosmopolitan magazine; (b) fully 94% of therapists in one 2014 survey reported seeing an increase in people addicted to porn; (c) 70% of Internet pornography traffic occurs between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m; (d) 72% of companies that have addressed Internet misuse reported that 69% of those cases of internet misuse were pornography-related; (e) leading software publishers estimate as much as $83 billion a year in lost productivity due to on-the-job porn useage; (f) researchers showed, drawing on large samples, that one in six employees was now having trouble with sexual behavior online. For millions now, porn has become a whole generation's sex education, and could be the same for the next; the young are fumbling around online, not in the back seat.  One estimate now puts the average age of the first experience of cyberporn viewing at 11.  The online dating sites are also providing sex education in all sorts of new ways for adolescents and young adults, to say nothing about middle-aged and old adults. For an excellent overview of the effects of pornography go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_pornography

Section 4:


According to the American Psychological Association, pornography is to be found in all sorts of places in our increasingly sexualized society. The premature sexualisation of girls, for example, places them in increased danger of becoming victims of prostitution, violence, and unwanted forms of pornography. This is deeply concerning; many a women’s forum now considers this situation warrants immediate action by government & various community organizations. For a more detailed discussion of this subject go to: http://www.womensforumaustralia.com/significant-issues/premature-sexualisation-of-children

There is, for some, an erotic preference for "ordinary" people having sex, rather than the glamorised bodies of commercial porn. There are now 100s of different kinds of "home-made" heterosexual porn sites for those who want to view it.  Of the 7.3 billion people on the planet only a small fraction are into home-made porn. What attracts "real people" to star in their own sex videos? What explains the consumer interest in this product? I leave these questions to others with the interest; there is ample opportunity for readers here to discuss this and related topics in cyberspace ad nauseam.

I was hardly aware of the world of porn, as I say, until the Internet made it readily available in the late 1990s, & I was retiring from a 50 year student and paid employment life, 1949 to 1999.  By then, by the last years of the 20th century, I was in my mid-50s. The Internet was, by then, awash with porn. Porn was accessible to me, and to billions, at a few clicks of my mouse for the first 15 years after I retired from FT paid-employment. I have never had, nor do I now have, an Interest in sit-coms, reality TV, or popular celebrity magazines. I take an interest in aspects of popular culture as a window into what are the more serious academic & intellectual, historical and sociological, psychological and philosophical questions. But for some time in my 50s & 60s, I got grabbed, so to speak, by internet porn. As I say above, though, I did not let it grab too much of my time & attention; it was only one of the many temptations and faults that I as a human being have had to deal with and had to strive to overcome in my lifetime. I did not over-emphasize the problem. I gradually worked on it as part of a whole spectrum of qualities that I had been aiming to develop in the 8 decades that have been my lifespan. Porn is now far out on the periphery of my interest inventory in another galaxy. It is a temptation conquered with a little help from time and circumstances and, arguably, those mysterious dispensations of Providence.

Section 4.1:

The conquering of my enthusiasm for porn was assisted by a medical condition I developed by degrees in my late 60s. The condition was called benign prostatic hyperplasia(BPH). This, in simple terms, is an enlarged prostate.  In 2013 I began to take a medication called duodart. The effects of this drug are several: (i) impotence, (ii) inability to achieve an erection, (iii) a decrease in libido or sex drive & (iv) a difficulty with ejaculation. More than two years down the track since beginning this medication in February of 2013, I have absolutely no desire to get an erection, to ejaculate, and my interest in porn has withered away. I had already gone cold turkey, as they say, by 2013, but I now have no desire to return to the stimulation that online porn provided.

In our postmodern world many of the pictures and photos in cyberspace, or other spaces like newsagents and magazine-shelves, are filled with sexualised images of female and male beauty, of virile youth and various images of bodily perfection. These images have become part of the air we breathe. Like them or not, we cannot ignore them; we constantly respond to them in both conscious & unconscious ways. Sometimes we choose to emulate the images we see; at other times, we may reject them as ideals. Several decades of extremely intense pressure on ordinary people to emulate the increasingly fabricated images they see around them are beginning to produce a backlash. The taste for the ordinary can be seen as a reaction to the glut of glamour media images with which we are all constantly bombarded, and reality genres are, at least in part, bound up in this.

Serious discussion of pornography almost always takes place as a debate about the legitimacy of free expression as a defense of pornography. The debate is sometimes about the impact of pornography on social relations, particularly on the status of women.  All too often in these debates clarity loses out to stridency. Even when claims about pornography are carefully weighed, and the complexities of pornography are discussed, these conversations often take for granted how pornography is experienced by its audiences. What constitutes pornography in the first place is also taken for granted. Pornographic experience is ambiguous; this very ambiguity opens pornography to a range of possible interpretations.  For me, pornography has ranged from the stimulating to the boring; this has been true in the last 60 years since it first came into my life in the mid-1950s with the arrival of Playboy in the news stands.

For the most part, pornographic experience guided strictly by convention closes off many possible interpretations; it habituates viewers to see sexuality in terms of a consumer commodity. Pornographic experience is mundane in the sense of relying on presuppositions & a taken-for-granted stock of knowledge about social relations. For the articles “Pornographic Experience,” The Journal of Mundane Behavior, V. 3, No. 1, 2002, and "Pornographic Experience" The Journal of Mundane Behaviour, Vol.3, No.2, 2/2003, & a brief CV of the article's author, Chris Nagel, go to: http://www.csustan.edu/philosophy/nagel

Section 5:

With rape scenes and incest, with overt and graphic homosexual and lesbian sexual imagery, indeed, with just about any form of SM and porn now available in the cinema, on TV or on the internet---for those who want to consume such material---the account of my experience both above & below will offer little. Those who enjoy visual and graphic sex depicted for their viewing pleasure; those who get exposed by film-makers and artists to depictions of the sexual-life of humans by those wanting to push or extend the envelope of conventions & customs, mores & moralities, will find little here except the analytical and the explanatory, a type of dispassionate discussion.  A society drenched in the sexually explicit, and individuals wanting to savor the explicit, will find nothing here to titillate or entice, arouse or stimulate their sensory emporiums except, perhaps, a moderate indeed from my point of view, a very moderate confessionalism.


There is and has been a schism developing in the last two or three decades involving autobiographical reportage.  On the one-hand there exists the sexploits of the author and, on the other-hand, there exists the actual modernist concept of the writing of erotic fiction as a craft. Eroticism is inherently caught up with the visceral, the imaginary, with the fantasy-life of individuals in our wide-wide-world.  So much of the appeal of eroticism is neither intellectual nor dispassionate.  In the case of my writing about sex in the paragraphs both above and below---I'd say my writing about sex tends toward, as I say above, the intellectual and the dispassionate, the analytical and the psychological.  

Many a modern----from the silent generation, through the baby-boomers to the generations X,Y, and Z---with Internet access and with TV, with video, DVD, and radio, as well as magazines and journals, newspapers and a wide genre of visual and auditory sources, will find little here in what I write both above and below, if they are looking for the sexually explicit. The sexually explicit is readily available to those who want it, who are looking for it, by the bucket-full and the gallon-measure; the list of writers of the sexually explicit alone numbers in the 100s on Wikipedia.   I provide only a thimble-full, not enough to provide any thrills and excitement for the lean & hungry.  I leave it to readers to find out what has been said, & what can be said about how to write, about love, specifically how to write a good sex scene. Elizabeth Benedict has written an excellent guide, The Joy of Writing Sex.

LADY CHATTERLEY and ME

Section 1 on Lady Chatterley:

The French film Lady Chatterley was released in the UK in August 2007.(1)  I saw a small part of this film on 4/12/'11, more than four years later on SBSTV in Australia.  There have been several film versions(2) of this novel by English writer D. H. Lawrence(1885-1930) Lady Chatterley’s Lover, none of which I had seen. The original novel was published in 1928, when my parents were in their 20s and 30s, and more than 15 years before I was born.   It was published in Italy, and was not available in the UK until 1960 due to censorship restrictions. In 1960 my life was completely occupied with: sport and school, having fun and earning money.  I recall, even after all these years, of hearing about 'Lady Chatterly', but it was somethikng quite vague and on the far periphery of my life-experience at the time.

In 1960, I had just joined the Baha'i Faith. I had been attending Baha'i sponsored activities for six or seven years with my mother.  I was enjoying my first summer-jobs of paid employment: doing gardening jobs, having a paper-round for the Hamilton Spectator and, for a few weeks, working for the A & W Root Beer Company in one of its local take-aways. Reading novels, erotic or otherwise, was not on my agenda, unless they were part of the school curriculum, and Thomas Hardy and Shakespeare was about as risque and erotic as it got in the secondary school curriculum of Ontario schools in the early 1960s.

I remember hearing about the notoriety of Lady Chatterley while I was finishing high school in those early 1960s, during my years at university in the early-to-mid-1960s, and at the beginning of my marriage and my teaching career, during the late 1960s.  I was not into reading novels at the time, as I say, for many reasons, not the least of which was that I had my hands full getting through: (a) the academic demands of Ontario’s secondary school curriculum, (b) summer jobs to pay for my education, (c) an intense engagement with sport, (d) the first decade of my life with a new religion (3), (e) four years of a B.A., B.Ed. combination, (f) the complexities of my adolescent and early adulthood love-life and, then, the first year of marriage and the beginning of a career in teaching, (g) as well as the psycho-social, psycho-sexual demands of the first episodes in my life-narrative and of what came to be called, in 1968, a schizo-affective disorder.

Section 2 on Lady Chatterley:

When I chanced upon this film on television I had been retired from FT, PT and all volunteer-teaching, for half-a-dozen years & was enjoying life on a pension. I had just finished my late night snack, after a busy day of writing, of dealing with an assortment of reading and email tasks, & after taking-care of various domestic duties. My wife of nearly four decades, was away babysitting her 15-month-old grandchild, & my step-grandchild, George, a little chap about ten weeks old.  After some 20 minutes of watching this 146 minute award winning film with its cinematography, highly verdant in texture and enough to turn-on the visually sensitive, I had to go to bed because I could not keep my eyes open. The medication I took for bipolar disorder made me sleepy under many conditions, one of which was watching TV.

I am pleased to say that, by 2012, I had worked-out what to do with the immense barage of incoming emails and messages, all wanting me to do something.  By 2013, I had also freed-up my time from what could have been a never-ending consumption of in-coming messages, all possessing an urgency for each of their senders. By 4/12/'11, nearly 4 years ago now as I write this update, I had also been on a new, a soporific cocktail for my BPD.  By two hours after I had taken the entire cocktail, that is, by 11:30 in the evening, I had become so sleepy and quasi-euphoric, that about all I was good for were the sedating effects of TV-land, or the land of bed. By midnight I was usually in bed and asleep.

One critic called this film of the old D.H. Lawrence novel: a liberating, fresh, vital & a modern interpretation of Lawrence’s famous literary work. The segment I watched contained one of the six highly sensual sex scenes with its admixture of wildflowers, sunshine and fresh air, making sex look like the sublime, nearly mystical, event it is cracked-up, desired, to be but, for most people most of the time, is far from either.  Reading about the physical intricacies of Naomi Wolf's technicolor orgasms, in extreme detail, in her new book, Vagina: A New Biography, may help, though.  It may not help me, but it may be of interest to readers with a high sex-drive and an enthusiasm for explicit sex in their literary diet.

Section 2.1: Naomi Wolf and Lady Chatterley

D.H. Lawrence had an obsession with gendered bodies, & this obsession had & has its downsides. These downsides were perhaps best articulated by second-wave feminist Kate Millet who, in her 1970 book of literary criticism Sexual Politics, famously and brutally took a cleaver to Lawrence's critical reputation. The castration metaphor there is a propos. Millet's central contention was that Lawrence worshipped the phallus as an embodied totem of power and authenticity. For Lawrence, Millet observes acidly, "the possession of a penis is an accomplishment of such high order" that the main character in his 1928 novel Lady Chatterly's Lover has his "divine nature revealed & established through this organ alone." Thus, insistence on the centrality of gender runs easily & inevitably into an insistence on the truth of gendered hierarchy. For Lawrence, Millet shows, men dominate and women are dominated; men are individuals, women are selfless absences.

Naomi R. Wolf(1962- ), an American author and former political consultant, published the 1991 bestselling book The Beauty Myth. This helped to make her become a leading spokesperson of what was later described as the third wave of the feminist movement.  Wolf was born in 1962 in those early months of my pioneering and travelling for the Canadian Baha'i community. I knew nothing of Wolf until the last years of my teaching career & the last years of my travelling, as the 21st century opened.  By 2001 & the opening of the 21st century I had retired, taken a sea-change, settled into a life of writing and editing, and begun my online blogging and journalism. I had reinvented myself as a researcher and reader, scholar and editor, after half a century in classrooms as a teacher and student.

Wolf wrote about the orgasm as follows: "when it's going right, there's a post-coital rush with a sense of vitality infusing my world, of delight with myself and with all the world around me."  I've had some of this delight in life since my first orgasm while I was studying history and philosophy in February 1965 at the age of 21, just four months before my father died.  Studying history and philosophy with their heavy-reading lists, lectures and tutorials, as well as experiencing clinical depression, and a degree of loneliness, sent me into the arms of my first real girl-friend in life. It was here that I tasted my first orgasm; it was not enough of an experience for me to worship my phallus, or the phallus in general as was the case with D.H. Lawrence, but it certainly was a big buzz.  My girl-friend, at the time, was a sociology student several years older than I, divorced with one child. In retrospect, nearly half a century later, I think I got my orgasms all tied-up with the sociology studies of my girl-friend.  In the end I got my degree in sociology, but the girl-friend was gone by the time my father died in May, just four months after that first orgasm.  I have never seen that first girl-friend in all the years since those first sensory delights. Orgasms can certainly cement a relationship but, as millions of men and women have found out through history, they provide no guarantee to the longevity or to the type of intimacy of those relationships.

Section 2.2---More On Lady Chatterley and More On Naomi Wolf:

Following surgery to correct vertebrae problems in her lower back, Wolf wrote that: "sexual discovery for me was like that transition in The Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy goes from black-and-white Kansas to colourful, magical Oz."  As I reflect on these words of Naomi Wolf, I can already hear and, indeed, feel the earth moving.  What I hear is the stampede of women rushing to the nearest osteopath to get their spinal cords checked. -Ron Price with thanks to: (1) SBSTWOTV, 11:25-1:45 a.m., 3rd and 4th of December  2011; (2) 1995, 1992, 1981, & 1946; and (3) the Baha’i Faith.

Some said you were just a pornographer;
others had the view you were the greatest
imaginative novelist of that generation; &(1)
still others said you told a story of how sex
and its chemistry became love, how some of
us have to endure the savage pilgrimage of
life travelling from place to place in search
of a home for the mind, heart and spirit as
you did in the pre-war and inter-war years
before your death. But you seem, strangely,
still alive in your letters, memoirs and novels.,(2)
at least to me now that I have stopped my own
travelling from place to place and job to job.

(1) E.M. Forster said this of D.H. Lawrence
(2) I have taken an interest, as well, in Lawrence’s poetry, his free verse. His verse possessed no rhyme or metre and was, therefore, little different than prose. Such has been the type of poetry I have written by the bucket-full in the last quarter-century: 1990 to 2015.

Ron Price
6/11/'11 to 6/3/'15
 


 
SEX AND PORN

Part 1:

In the 25 years, 1990 to 2015, since I began to use the internet: to send and to receive emails, to have a website & to read virtually everything that I do read online, cybersex, also called computer sex, Internet sex, netsex, mudsex, TinySex and, colloquially, cybering or conversex has become pervasive. This is, of course, only true for the portion of humanity that has access to computers. A virtual sex encounter occurs when 2 or more people are connected remotely via a computer network. These two people send each other sexually explicit messages describing a sexual experience. In one form, this fantasy sex is accomplished by the participants describing their actions and responding to their chat partners in a written and a visual form designed to stimulate their own sexual feelings and fantasies.

Although I have never had a conversation with a female to stimulate either myself or the female in cyberspace, I have been on the receiving end of dozens of posts from dating sites. A photo of myself is found at many Internet sites, and this results in the sort of exchanges I have described in one or two of those 50 categories of posts I rarely if ever read. Should I wish, I could easily make private and discrete arrangements to have a one night stand, a sexual relationship of a few days or weeks, with a man or a woman. Such is the potential use of modern cyberspace technology, I could have a woman in every port, if I wanted to make an extended and extensive use of the dozens of cyberspace dating sites now available and, of course, if I had the money and the phyical agility required of such an exercise. But, alas and alack, I am happily married and regard faithfulness to my wife as a virtue of some importance.

I have provided above what I hope is a useful summary of the immense variety of exchanges in relation to the immense variety of posts which I have received in this 21st century.  I have done this for many reasons: some literary, and some explanatory, some to do with my online literary business, and some to do with explaining some things to my vast online readership. It is a readership which I now spend little to no time dealing with because of the 100s, and now 1000s, of requests and questions, comments and posts that are sent my way from week to week, month to month and year to year......For more on the topic of Internet sex and the activities of millions now in cyberspace, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_sexual_addiction , and to:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybersex

Part 2:

In the more than 60 years since the first issue of Playboy hit the news-stands when I was 9 years old: sexual imagery, simulated sex, sex toys, and sex sites have multiplied beyond the imagination of previous generations.  Porn is ubiquitous. The sexual commodification of women's and girls' bodies is so commonplace as to pass scarcely noticed. TV or Internet porn are accessible at the push of a button, at the click of a mouse, as they were to me increasingly as the 1990s turned into the 2000s, and the 2000s into the 2010s.  We don't yet have the "feelies", Huxley's cinemas in Brave New World(1932).  In that book the cinema spectator was titillated by the images and by what sounded, from the description, like a vibrating seat.

My life, beginning as it did in October 1943, has been lived against this backdrop of what one might call the increasing sexualization of society, of the young, of the human quotient.  Although I've never bought a copy of any of the many men's or women's magazines, celebrity or pop-culture magazines, with their colourful and stimulating images, with their explicitly and sexually stimulating people of either sex, it is just about impossible for some of these images not to be part of one's visual field from time to time: in newsagents & on TV, on the internet & in real space. Wikipedia has 42 pages of such magazines. For more on this subject of titillating print sources, like magazines and tabloid newspapers, that are available in and for popular culture---go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Celebrity_magazines 

Part 3:

Many, indeed, millions, now worry that society is becoming an increasingly pornified, hyper-sexualised, culture in which women are objectified, in which they objectify one another, and in which they are encouraged to objectify themselves. Even children are sexualized. Parents, professionals and governments have become increasingly concerned about a media industry that exploits children & adolescents to sell products.  The commercialization and sexualisation of children & adolescents can occur even from an early age. If a child is exposed to sexually provocative media, whether it’s a music video on TV or a computer game, they can learn distorted concepts about themselves, affecting self-esteem and the development of a healthy body image.  This negative impact on children’s self-image may affect their life expectations. I leave it to readers to Google this subject, and its related pedophila and pornography.  But I will give these readers a head-start below:

Pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 years or younger.  As a medical diagnosis, specific criteria for the disorder extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13.  A person who is diagnosed with pedophilia must be at least 16 years of age, but adolescents must be at least five years older than the prepubescent child for the attraction to be diagnosed as pedophilia. The International Classification of Diseases defines pedophilia as a sexual preference for children of prepubertal or early pubertal age. It is termed pedophilic disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-May 2014) and the manual defines it as a paraphilia in which adults or adolescents 16 years of age or older have intense and recurrent sexual urges towards andfantasies about prepubescent children that they have either acted on or which cause them distress or interpersonal difficulty. For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophilia

Part 3.1:

Porn Studies is an interdisciplinary journal informed by critical sexuality studies & work exploring the intersection of sexuality, gender, race, class, age & ability. It focuses on developing knowledge of pornographies past & present, in all their variations & around the world. Pornography studies are still in their infancy. They involve discussions that focus on theoretical approaches, methodology and research ethics.  In addition to articles, the journal includes a forum devoted to shorter observations, developments, debates or issues in porn studies, designed to encourage exchange and debate. 

An academic and a student of the work of George Orwell, Richard Rorty, wrote about what he called "the most hideous thing about George Orwell's vision of 1984."  Orwell's world, his vision, was a world in which human solidarity was made impossible. When we objectify someone sexually – that is, when we treat someone as less than human – then human solidarity is surely impossible wrote Rorty.  Perhaps, if Orwell were alive today, he might be writing about that. I don't think he would say: "I told you so."  I think he'd say: "This is far worse than I imagined." Any survey of my sexlife in the seven decades since the early 1940s would inevitably include my attitudes toward, my experience of, my values and beliefs in relation to, the opposite sex, and my own sexuality. Some of this survey is found here for those readers who take an interest.

Part 3.2:

By the time I had retired from FT, PT and most volunteer work in 2005, after more than half a century, of extensive, intensive, sometimes exuberant, sometimes exhausting, social life, Internet chat was not attractive to me.  I knew it would not be the exhilarating thing that it was for millions.  In the first, say, 20 years of posting my writing online, say, 1995 to 2015, I continued in the social domain that my life had been before retirement. These people in my social, post-retirement, life were not in chat rooms. They were in a controlled environment: real space.  In my more than 70 years of real life, that is, in non-computer-mediated existence, my social interaction was part of my: job-life or family, student-life or leisure-social interests. I was able to control part of my life, my real life, to some extent, but real life can only be partly controlled.  So much of real life is many things: subtle and spontaneous, unpredictable and uncertain, delightful and downright testy.  It's the kind of stuff that would test the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job.  I was neither Solomon nor Job, and I have found that life, especially in its sexual aspects, has tested me to the limit.

The sheer vastness and vitality of the chat scene was not something I wanted by the time it first became available to me in cyberspace in the early years of the 21st century.  I had had half a century of chatting, both the deep-and-meaningful, and the shallow and trivial.  I had had enough verbal interchange for a lifetime. I wanted solitude. I became, by degrees in the last five years of my FT paid employment life, from the age of 50 to 55, and the first two decades of my retirement, from the age of 55 to 75, a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, reader and scholar, online blogger and journalist.  These activities were not essentially social sports. But I also wanted readers, & so I assiduously cultivated an online readership which by 2009, the year I went on an old-age pension, was in the millions.  I became my own marketing manager & literary self-promoter. I became my own CEO, office-assistant and cleaner. By my 70s in 2014, I had a social life-style not unlike that of my maternal grandfather who used to visit with my parents and I in the 1950s. He did a lot of reading & walking, & he had a minimal social life.  My life is much like his as I head through my 70s from 2014 to 2024, and my 80s in and after 2024, if I last that long. That grandfather lived to the age of 86; that would also be for me a fine innings. It would appear, though, that my pancreatic cancer will bring a much earlier deminse.

Part 3.2.1:

I have had to do much self-promotion all my life, in one way or another. I had to promote myself, as it were, as a: child & adolescent, as a student & scholar, a teacher & tutor, an adult educator & lecturer, a parent & party-goer, a husband & handyman, a friend & foe. Indeed, I was involved in self-promotion in more roles than I could possibly list, or should I say, want to list, here.  Until recently I would not have even used the word "promote". This Facebook-Twitter age has made me more than a little conscious of the realities, subtle & not-so-subtle, of the myraid ways & means of self-promotion, of image creation.  From my childhood in the 1940s, until my late adulthood in this second decade of the 21st century, I have attempted to avail myself, as Abdul-Baha puts it in His Secret of Divine Civilization, of "all those means which will attract the hearts of men."(1975, p.55)  In some ways I was successful; in some ways I was not. I've had many people who thought I was the ants' pants, as they say, and many who had a very low opinion of me. I have known what it is like to be both very popular and very disliked. And so have millions of other people on this planet of ours.

Part 3.2.2:

I have been much more engaged, though, in marketing and self-promoting since the first years of the 21st century---in relation to my writing.  By registering at 1000s of websites and by interacting with others, as well as by posting millions of words across cyberspace, my use of the word "promote" myself is clearly apt.  In many ways, I am my writing.  I often deal with this complex topic in my essays and poems, my autobiography and my many brief narratives. This interaction in cyberspace has taken-place in a much more controlled way than at chat-rooms. The interaction process for me in cyberspace is like this: (i) I write something or say something; I read something or do something; (ii) then someone writes back to me; (iii) then I write to them, and (iii) this exchange goes on for a day or days, a week or weeks, a month or months, sometimes even years. It can also cease after one exchange. This process involves very little immediate back-and-forthing, the pattern characteristic of chat-rooms.

I was not interested in the chat-room-gigantic-party style of Internet intimacy with its tens of thousands of rooms. I had no interest in parties in real space, to say nothing of one that never stops, that included people from all over the world that was, or so I was told, totally safe & non-threatening. Those chat-rooms let you put on any disguise, be any age or gender or appearance, and talk in half a dozen rooms simultaneously.  Occasionally, I got caught in some on-line chat at sites like Facebook but, after one or two extended backs-and-forths, I extricated myself from such experiences as fast as possible, and as often as was necessary. I am not against chat rooms on principle; they are simply not part of my interest and activity inventory.

CYBERSEX

The first form of cybersex is computer-mediated interactive-masturbation in real time. In this form of cybersex, users type instructions, descriptions & stories of what they are "doing" to each other and to themselves while masturbating. The second form of cybersex-chat is the computer-mediated telling of interactive sexual stories (in real time) with the intent of arousal. These sexual stories are sometimes based on reality, sometimes on pure fantasy; either way they are almost always very detailed and highly erotic.  These forms of cybersex are often satisfying enough that they can evoke physical orgasm for many of the participants. These two forms of cybersex were available by the time I retired in the late 1990s, and the early years of the 21st century.  Perhaps, if I was younger, if I was a member of the X, the Y, or the Z-generation, I might have found this attractive.  By my late 50s & early 60s, though, as the 20th century was turning into the 21st, I neither had the technical skills to initiate such activity, nor the interest even if I had had such skills.

Cybersex is commonly performed in Internet chat rooms, and on instant messaging systems. It can also be performed using webcams, voice chat systems like Skype, or online games and/or virtual worlds. The exact definition of cybersex—specifically, whether real-life masturbation must be taking place for the online sex act to count as cybersex—is up for debate. It is also fairly frequent in online role-playing games, though approval of this activity varies greatly from game to game. I have never gone to a chat room in the two decades they have been available.  I studiously avoid chat-rooms, although I have often engaged in an online conversation at many an internet site in relation to a multitude of topics in the ways I have already described. These conversations do not take place at or in chat-rooms, but at internet sites like Facebook or any one of the 1000s of sites at which I am registered. I've had 100s of such back-and-forthing, as I say, over varying lengths of time on all sorts of topics, but 99% of its has had nothing to do with sex, or topics involving human sexuality.  For more on cybersex go to:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybersex

THE LOVE SONG OF J ALFRED PRUFROCK                       
 
Section 1:

A poem which is often the first in a collection of T.S. Eliot's Collected or Selected Poems, 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' was conceived in 1910, completed in August 1911, the very month 'Abdu'l-Baha began His first Western tour.  It was published in 1917 at the same time as 'Abdu'l-Baha was penning His Tablets of the Divine Plan.  This work of Eliot's could be seen in terms of a comparison and contrast with the Baha'i experience in the last century. 
 
To put the above idea a little differently, I could view my own life, of which my sex-life was but a part, and the life of my religion and society in terms of the varied images and metaphors Eliot uses in his famous poem.  The following essay and commentary plays with this poem of Eliot's, with my own life experience over some 60 years, and with my understandings of life, society, and sex. -Ron Price with thanks to T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," T.S. Eliot: Selected Poems, Faber and Faber, London, 1988(1954), pp.9-15.
 
The poem begins:
 
    Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…..
Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?'
Let us go and make our visit.
 
Section 1.1:

There is intensity here, pathos, fragility, even a certain comic tone. At least that's how I read the poem, a poem that has been read and reread, analysed and reanalysed by Eliot and others for a hundred years.  What Eliot is writing about, here, has not been the experience of every person all the time. These opening lines capture, at least for me, some of the essence of what has happened to me in my life.  I first came across the poetry of T.S. Eliot in 1963 out of necessity since his famous poem 'The Wasteland' was on my matriculation syllabus. I had no idea what Eliot was on about. Eliot was one of the many poets that turned me off poetry for years. He and other poets who wrote with obscure themes have now turned-off several generations of students from the rich realms of poetry.

But Eliot now, in the evening of my life, gives me an insight into my days and the many communities I have been part of, beginning in my late childhood, a nine-year-old, in 1953. The poem has no narrative progression, no organized geography, but is characterized by a dramatic interior monologue in the mind of a single man. That man, of course, is Eliot himself, but it is also the reader of the poem to the extent that the reader can engage in his or her own interior monologue reflecting on Eliot's words as he or she reads his poem.  Millions never came to do any inner reflection due to, thanks to, the obscurity and metaphor, the abstraction and complexity, of Eliot's poems. Inner reflection, though, became more and more the rage, it seems to me, as 'the-me-generation' came to characterize all the generations born in and after the entre deux guerres generation, the 'between the wars' generation, and as the 20th century advanced decade by decade, and turned-into the 21st.

Section 1.1.1:

Having been a teacher and lecturer in Australia for 3 decades, 1971 to 2005--with several years off doing other forms of work---I am more than a little aware of the disinclination of many to engage in a serious and psychological, intellectual and abstract, interior monologue. Australians, it has been my experience, and of course I am generalizing here, are doers more than thinkers. They are people who prefer the concrete not the abstract; they are pleasure-seekers for whom the meaning of life is found in activity, doing things, not philosophizing.  Of course, the subject can not be covered by this simple dichotomy. It is far too complex a topic for that. The Australian clinical psychologist, Ronald Conway who died in 2009, has gone a long way to analysing the Australian psyche in several of his books. The subject, though, as I say, is far too complex to deal with in detail here.
 
To return to Eliot's poem, I would like to emphasize that I identify with the poem very strongly after more than 70 years of living, and after more than 60 associated with a religion which believes it has an important role to play in the unification of this planet.  I believe, I interpret, Eliot as describing so much of the world I have had to deal with, first in Canada until my mid-twenties, and then in Australia from 1971 to the present time, the 21st century, more than 40 years; first as a student, then as a teacher; first as a single man, then as a married man; first employed, then on the dole; first in my teens, then in my 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and now 70s.
 
Section 2:

I first came across the poetry of Eliot in 1963 in my final year of high school in Dundas Ontario at the centre of what was and still is called the Golden Horseshoe. It was right at the start of my travelling-pioneering life for the Canadian Baha'i community.  Frankly, at the time, I found Eliot just about incomprehensible but, then, so had millions of others, and millions since, who have tried to decipher his poetry. In the last century Eliot's poetry has been one of the many enigmatic poetic threads for modern man to deal with, at least those who have come across Eliot's poetry out of necessity or pleasure, or both.   But now, in the second decade of my retirement from teaching and lecturing, after teaching and studying English literature in various school and college curricula in the last sixty or more years, and after some two decades of a serious study and writing of poetry myself, Eliot seems strangely, subtlely, curiously, complexly, relevant. It is relevant to my experience of life and society, & how I have experienced sex over some seven decades in my lifespan.
 
"Let us go then, you and I", Eliot opens his poem and so I did, so did we: myself, the significant others in my life, and the many communities, both Baha'i communities at the start of what you might say was the second generation of pioneers in the context of the Plans,[1] and other communities I was a part of then.  I was young, just eighteen 'when the evening was spread out against the sky' when I first read Eliot's poetry.  Little did I know, then, as I know now, that the world around me was like "a patient etherized upon a table."  Of course, the world was many things, but it was also that etherized patient we find at the start of this poem of Eliot's.   
 
Section 3:

If I had read the Baha’i Writings more, by 1962 when I was 18; if I had studied Eliot's poetry beyond his famous, arguably the 20th century's most famous poem, The Waste Land in 1962, under the tutelage of a sensitive and imaginative teacher, I would have realized that the world I was entering in that springtime of my life in my late teens was asleep and the image of the etherized patient was more than apt; it was a brilliant use of metaphor.  Of course, a reader who comes across metaphor has to give the meaning to the symbol, and millions of readers who have read this poem could not put themselves symbolically or metaphorically into the context of the poem. Indeed, the poem has had no meaning at all to many who came to Eliot's poetry since early in the 20th century. 

Baha'u'llah, the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, had told me about this etherized patient; so had Abdul-Baha & Shoghi Effendi in many a passage from their writings.  I was far too busy, though, back in the 1950s and 1960s, just trying to make the academic grade, connect with the opposite sex, deal with my bipolar 1 disorder, and figure-out my career and my marital future. Reading the metaphors of poetry, & giving them personal meaning, was far out on the periphery of my young life. Those metaphors only came into my life, initially, when they were on a school curricula.
 
Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Bob Dylan had arrived on the scene by 1962-3, as I completed my matriculation in readiness to enter university in the autumn of 1963.  We were on our way to outer space in that decade of preparation for space exploration; the population was moving quickly toward four billion; TV was in its second decade of information dispensing and entertaining the masses to death; the sixties looked busy both then & now in retrospect. The Founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah, had given me many an analysis of the culture I was part of in North America. So, too, had His commentaries, and many analysts since, on a host of aspects in relation to the individual in society. The world was asleep and a revolutionizing process was slowly awakening it from that sleep. Eliot's poem 'Prufrock' reinforces these ideas through the use of a subtle, but quite graphic, metaphor defining the world as a patient etherized upon a table. Eliot accomplishes much else in this poem, published as western civilization was dieing in the trenches of Europe and being born again in ways humanity little understood, such is my view.
 
Section 4:

Eliot wrote his poem as the old order on which Western civilization was based was about to collapse, as I say, in the holocaust that was World War 1. A great tempest was blowing through the soul of humankind, and shaking it to its very foundations. That old order is still undergoing a process of collapse and a tempest is still blowing. Eliot's words still resonate a hundred years after they were first conceived.  In 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock', Eliot describes both the committed and uncommitted mass of human beings that I have been trying to teach for as long as Moses was in the wilderness.
 
Prufrock is paralyzed, the world is asleep, there is little movement toward the great transforming Revelation except by a discouragingly meager few, & so we could see our lives as measured with coffee spoons, as if we had spit out all the butt-ends of our days. It was as if we were scuttling across the floors of silent seas in ways similar to those first sea creatures several hundred million years before.  Eliot's depressing metaphors are useful to describe our experience. His metaphors reflect our experience, at least mine and the experience of millions of others. Eliot is conveying in his poem his experience; it is also the experience of many of his readers.  But this reflection is only partial, at the low end, the sad end, perhaps the realistic end. Thankfully that is not all. There is more to the meaning of life since 1917 than Eliot conveys in Prufrock.
 
Section 4.1:

The problem of communication between souls seems fraught with problems or, as Eliot writes in the poem, "That is not what I meant at all./That is not it, at all."  To teach someone one must penetrate their soap bubble, their subjective space.  Eliot uses endless metaphorical language, and I'm sure the meaning I find in Eliot's metaphors will not be found by everyone, maybe only by a few.  Part of the beauty of poetry, indeed its core, is that the reader has to find the meaning.  Eliot writes in the last lines of this 130 line poem, Prufrock:
 
I shall wear white flannel trousers,
      and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing,
     each to each.
 
I do not think that they will sing to me.
 
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
 
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
 
Section 5:

Prufrock tastes of some visionary experience here in the world of his imagination, perhaps in his dreams. The futility of life seems, for the moment, to disappear. Something of life's activity awakens Prufrock, awakens this same mass of humanity I have been working with, planting the seeds of this new Revelation.  Eliot is confident about a great deal in life, symbolized by his white flannel trousers; he knows where he is going, at least temporarily, to walk upon the beach.  He has been granted some intense sensory experience: "I have heard the mermaids singing".  But, for some reason, he does not think that they will sing to him.  He has lost hope, even though he sees the mermaids, the sea-girls, riding seaward on the waves. Perhaps he heard, for a few instants, 'Abdu'l-Baha penning His immortal Tablets of the Divine Plan.  Perhaps this was the source of the mermaids singing. This is a quite personal interpretation, and not one I'd venture in some essay for an English literature lecturer. There are some literary conventions one must adhere to when writing essays.

The reader, though, does not have to use a spiritual or social-political interpretation of the metaphor. He or she could use a sexual metaphor or interpretation. I certainly heard the mermaids singing when I first had an orgasm, and when I had my first series of them in my early twenties just before my father died in the spring of 1965, as well as before and during the first year of my marriage. Indeed, I drowned in those orgasms. The sensory experience was so delightful, I wanted more and more.  I often felt, though, especially as the long years grew to the end of that first marriage, and into my second marriage in 1975, that those mermaids would not sing for me, due to the frustrations that accompanied those orgasms and much else in my marital relationships. Eliot's first marriage was fraught with frustration. Vivien, his wife, was mentally-ill. Her brother, Maurice, had her committed to an asylum in 1938. There was no joy for Eliot in his life and in that first marriage.

I had my white flannel trousers, my BA in my pocket by the age of 23; I had begun my career and successfully negotiated a marriage, at least the start of one. By the age of 30 I had a job as a tutor in what became the University of Tasmania. Eliot, too, had great success and fame; he had on his "white flannel trousers." But he had much else and the poem tells of that much else.
 
DECONSTRUCTION AND PRUFROC

Section 1:

J. Hillis Miller(1928- ) is an American literary critic who has been heavily influenced by—and who has heavily influenced—deconstructionism. Go to this link to get an overview of this literary theory: http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Deconstruction+%28literature%29  Miller writes that "Prufrock's infirmity of will is not so much a moral deficiency as a consequence of his subjectivism." (2) Eliot has put it thus:
 
   And indeed there will be time
……..
And time for all the works and days of hands
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred decisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
 
    In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo
 
David Spurr(1949- ) whose doctorate is in comparative literature at the University of Michigan, & who taught at the universities of Illinois in Chicago, and Neuchâtel, now teaches modern English literature from the 18th to the 20th centuries, literary theory, & comparative literature. His publications are on modern literature in English and French, with a particular interest in the relations between literature & the cultural and philosophical contexts of modernity. Spurr wrote, in his analysis of this poem of T.S. Eliot, that the poem's language conveys a disordered experience, expresses an imprecision and aimlessness, with speakers trapped inside their own excessive alertness.  Their shy, cultivated and overly sensitive awareness seems to be part of the poem's very fragmentation(2). The world we all have to deal with, certainly the one I've dealt with since the late 1940s & '50s when I, too, was shy and, as I look back in retrospect, overly sensitive, has been fragmented. This hardly needs saying.
 
Section 2:

My experience has not been the same as Prufrock, but the poem speaks to me and to some of the struggle I have had all the way back to the mid-twentieth century.  A great deal has happened in my last seven decades, a great deal of conflict and confusion. frustration and faded colours. I have had my joy and delightful pleasure in the sexual experience, but I have also had the fading of its rich colours and the accompanying frustration. In teaching in both the classroom and the Baha'i Faith I have often:
 
                   …………gone at dusk through narrow streets
                   And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
                  Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?….
 
                   …………
                   ………..I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
                   ………..
                   I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker
 
There are so many more lines I could include here. But I will close this exercise of the interpretation of Eliot's lines with some words from a recent online journal article on Eliot's poetry. Eliot may be worth reexamining, having a second look at, if you ever looked at him at all, dear reader; he may be worth reading for the first time, if his words and lines have never crossed your eyes. He may just speak to you for the first time, a poet who for some was one of the twentieth century's greats. I could use more of this poem and filter the meaning through my experience of sex from my teens to my sixties. But I will leave that exercise for now.

[1] The first generation being 1937 to 1962. My pioneering life began in August 1962.
[2] J. Hillis Miller, Poets of Reality: Six Twentieth Century Writers, Cambridge, MA, the Belknap Press of Harvard UP, 1965.
 
Section 3:

“Every poet starts from his own emotions,” writes Eliot. Every poem I write starts with some emotional connection with an event, an idea, a personal experience. What I write here about my sex-life starts with my struggle to transmute my personal and private aspirations and agonies, experiences and thoughts, into something rich and strange, something universal and impersonal.  Eliot also acknowledged the revolutionary poetic vision of the romantic poet, a tradition from Wordsworth on, and he concurred with Wordsworth’s insistence on the use of language reflecting common speech:
 
"While poetry attempts to convey something beyond what can be conveyed in prose rhythms, it remains, all the same, one person talking to another...the immediacy of poetry to conversation is not a matter on which we can lay down exact laws. Every revolution in poetry is apt to be, and sometimes even announced itself to be, a return to common speech. That is the revolution which Wordsworth announced in his prefaces, and he was right".(1)
 
Section 4:

In his essay “Eliot as Philosopher”, Richard Shusterman points to Eliot’s attempted fusion of tradition and interpretation, comparing it with the hermeneutical philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer……He states that: “Eliot recognized, with Wittgenstein, that since language depends on social use, its meaning changes over history through the changing situations and applications which it must address’ (Shusterman, 2006: 41)(2). Thus, in the perceived unfamiliarity of a new age, a new poetic form is deemed essential. Eliot’s poetry was indeed a new form, and mine, my poetry, is my personal idiosyncratic rendition of my experience, my voice, as it is sometimes called.
 
According to Helen Gardner, one of the earliest commentators on Eliot’s work, the poet has ‘effected a modification and an enrichment of the whole English poetic tradition’ (Gardner, 1972: 2)(3)  Poems such as “The Waste Land”, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, “Four Quarters”, and “The Hollow Men”, wrestle with the uncharted territory of social and individual disenchantment and dissolution, the eclipse of personal and collective meaning and purpose, and the alienation of the subject from previously assumed sources of direction and support. I do the same or, to put it a little differently, I do it in my own way.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) T. S. Eliot, Selected Prose of T.S. Eliot,  Harcourt Inc., Orlando, 1975, p.111; (2) Richard Shusterman,  “Eliot as Philosopher” in The Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot, ed. David Moody, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006, pp. 31-47; and (3) Helen Gardner, The Art of T.S. Eliot, Faber and Faber Ltd., London, 1968.

 
                                                       REAL TOUCH
 
This organization of formed words, this noble energy, which comes to rest in this apparently natural, but partly artificial and mysterious place; formed words which attempt to know the meaning of humankind and the world with clarity and form, beauty and with choice, uses the most succinct, memorable and affective speech. That speech is the poem or, more specifically for me, the prose-poem. The engine of this process is the imagination and it tends toward greatness when it is inspired by a systematic vision of civilization, global civilization, what Jung called the big vision.

Strangely, we know the real poem when we touch it.  Of course, for each person the experience is different, and for millions they have no experience at all of the world of poetry, at least the printed variety on pages of poetry books or on the internet. But, like sexual intercourse, explaining poetry and writing it are only remotely connected, are only tangentially connected.  The poet, this poet, writes poetry for the experience, the reality, the joy, for the same reason that he has engaged in sex since his late teens. -Ron Price with appreciation to Dave Smith, Local Assays: On Contemporary American Poetry, University of Illinois Press, 1985, chapter one.
 
There’s not the tactility,
hunger not as pitched,
taken up & up, always
more to touch and feel,
to excite, those feelings
play with the brain in so
many ways....this brain
massages, moves out,
over, over and up into
unpredictable spaces,
places, surprise by joy.

I know what is coming;
feels like rich and high;
when you look at it, and
you can look at it, it can
leave something behind
beside wet excrescence
and rumpled old sheets.

There’s a fullness, and a
detumesence, a relaxed
ease, a feeling of coming
close, of arriving, but it's
only for this minute, only
a second, at a place of a
real satisfaction.....a real
point-like, instant, touch.
 
Ron Price
7/6/'96 to 25/4/'13

MORE THAN SEX GOING ON HERE
 
Sexual intercourse began
    In 1963
Between the end of the Chatterly ban
    And the Beatles' first LP.
   -Philip Larkin, Annus Mirabilis, quoted in Margaret Drabble: A Reader's Guide.
 
Sexual activity began
   In 1962
Between the beginning of my pioneering
   And the complete institutionalization
Of charisma in the conveyance
   Of authority in an emerging world religion,
   A religion which claimed to be the newest,
   The latest of the Abrahamic religions............
   -Ron Price, Untitled Poem, written to convey a different perspective to Larkin's, a personal perspective.
 
The year that I became a Baha'i
Lady Chatterly's Lover went(1)
on trial, 4-letter words were ok,
sex was opened to more public
discussion, indeed, endlessly.

The unsayable became sayable
and pornography began long
travels in rivers to the sea of
our lives........The permissive
society was well on its way.

Betty Friedan published her
Feminine Mystique, and the
tenth stage of history made
its entrance in the greatest(2)
drama in the world's spiritual
history unbeknownst to most.

I tasted my first depression,(3)
hungered for sex,  and was
initiated into the mysteries
and secrets of pioneering,
both sexual and religious,
in another epoch and age.

Ron Price
1/8/'98 to 25/4/'13.
-----------FOOTNOTES----------
1  The first year of my experience as a Baha'i was October 1959 to October 1960.
2 The tenth stage of history is part of a Baha'i paradigm of history. It began in 1963.
3 This outline of the early 1960s is found in many places. I drew on Margaret Drabble: A Reader's Guide, Valerie Myer, Vision Press, NY, 1991, pp.13-14.


WRITING ABOUT SEX: IN MY REAL LIFE AND IN FICTION

Part 1:

In my real life, from the 1960s, if not before from the late 40s, sex was a part of my life. In fiction some of the characters have sex. Fiction writers, as well as myself in this part of my website, have to decide how they will present sex in their work, their writing.  The topic of sex in fiction, and in memoiristic writing like my own, is important for writers. Are the sexual acts explicit or implied?  Do they happen off the page, and behind closed doors? How often do the characters in fiction, and how often do I, indulge? Is a character’s personal sex-life, or mine, integral to the story, the life-narrative in my case, or merely part of the background?  How can writers write sex into their stories in a way that fits the character, the story, and the readers' expectations? How can I do so in my autobiographical work?

Choosing to include the sexual activities of characters is a significant decision for writers. And once that decision is made, writers are faced with dozens of related decisions. So, where does the writer start the decision-making process? I’d normally suggest going with what the story demands, but writers thinking about putting sex into their fiction should really consider something else first, something before plot or story.  What do the readers expect from a novel in the way of sex scenes? Are they necessary, a requirement, or can a good book get by without them? What about the length of scenes? How much do readers expect to see? How much detail do they want? What is the publisher looking for?  What words are called for? 

Do you go with solid & basic Anglo-Saxon choices or choose euphemisms? Are there limitations? How far is too far with sexual practices? How do you know if you’ve included the right number of scenes with the right degree of detail? These sorts of questions are also ones I need to consider if I am to write about my sex-life and make it public. I have given some thought to these questions, but readers will have to wait until my death to read my published journals if, in fact, they are ever published. I have left this question in the hands of my literary executors.

Part 2:

At one end of the spectrum in romance fiction there are the inspirationals. Explicit sex? Not likely, not necessarily.  Maybe not even an allusion to lovemaking. Some novels, however, have pushed the limits because of the needs of the story. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers covered incest, rape, and prostitution. She also incldues gentle and not so gentle loving, and rough-and-tumble stuff between committed couples. The story was eventually about redemption, but the sex was clear & graphic. This book would be considered an inspirational romance by most, but it differs from mainstream inspirationals in its frank portrayal of sexual issues and explicit sex scenes.  There are inspirational stories in which the hero & heroine don't have sex together, but because the characters are indeed humans with healthy bodies, they took care of their own needs. A heroine with a drawer filled with sex toys probably wouldn’t be accepted in an inspirational romance. But masturbation has been done. It has been done by me but not here in this online account of my sex-life, at least not in detail.  As I said at the start of these paragraphs, readers with high expectations of explicit revelations of my sex-life will court disappointment. As I also indicated, my journals may one day be useful in this regard, especially to readers who are enthusiastic about my writing and, as this 21st century has advanced incrementally, there are more and more readers clicking on my internet posts.

Part 2.1:

On the opposite end of the romance spectrum from inspirationals is erotica. Books in this sub-genre might include a higher number of sex scenes than what’s found in traditional romances.  The type of sex is typically both more adventurous and graphic. Scenes in erotica might include bondage, dominance and submission, both heterosexual and homosexual sex, and multiple partners. Other sub-genres of romance typically fall between the 'no sex of inspirationals' to the 'abundant sex of erotica'. The average, the typical, writer, does not write about their own personal sexual activity, and neither does your average autobiographer or memoir-writer.  By 2014, though, the internet and real space provided a myriad exceptions. Rape scenes had begun to come into cinema as did incest, SM sex, same-sex, & paedophilia as the 1990s turned into the 21st century. The envelope of convention and custom in relation to sex was pushed further and further for reasons of art, the values and beliefs of the film-maker or artist, the desire to shock, inter alia.

Sci-fi, fantasy, westerns, adventure, and literary novels may or may not include mentions of sex. Again, the plot’s timeline is key here. If the lead characters are under tight time constraints, they’re not likely going to spend an hour having sex. If they imagine they face the end of the world, however, all bets are off.  If sex can reveal character, and/or advance plot and/or increase tension, and if the genre allows or encourages or permits sex, then the writer thinks about including sex in his novel.  I've thought about the subject and I discuss it both above and below. I'll come back to this subject in the months and years ahead, all being well, and readers can expect the gradual evolution of the content at this part of my site. My journals are the real key for keen readers, for details that are more fully explicit, but such readers will have to wait, as I say above, until after my demise. Even then there are no guarantees as my executors decidew what to do with the increasing mass of my unpublished writings.

Part 2.2:

By the time I came to complete this extensive statement as a general feedback to those who send me emails and internet posts, I had turned 70.  I was in a marriage that had been subject to the law of diminishing sexual returns during my 50s, 60s, and now in my 70s.  The defining feature of the law of diminishing returns is that as total investment increases, the total return on investment as a proportion of the total investment decreases. This may have been true insofar of sexual intercourse was concerned quantitatively, but it was not true insofar as the total relationship was concerned.  In microeconomic theory, to draw on a subject which I have often found quite bewildering since my young adulthood, the opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone.

This 'opportunity cost' applies in a situation in which: (i)  a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives and (ii) there are limited resources. Assuming the best choice is made(and I assume that loyalty, faithfulness, and persistence in my second marriage has, in fact, been the best choice), it is the "cost" incurred by not enjoying the benefit that would or could have been had by taking the second best choice available; namely, leaving the marriage and trying another relationship.  The New Oxford American Dictionary defines this as "the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen".  For more on this subject go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_cost

Part 2.3:

As I say above, though, there have been plenty of hugs and kisses on a daily basis, lots of touching and kindness in the context of the best choice having been made. Sex is not what makes marriages last; at least that is the view of many; sex is not what has made this my second marriage last. This is not to say that sex has not been important in my nearly 50 years of marriage, to say nothing about my years before marriage from my late teens to early 20s back in the 1960s.

As the famous English actress Helen Mirren says, and as I pointed out above, echoing my views & my experience: "Communication is so important, and we talk a lot."  Often my wife and I simply share solitude; my wife does not want me to ask, yet again, "how are you feeling today?" This is especially true if she has not been feeling very well, and when she is being plagued with various physical infirmities. For those with an interest in the fine and explicit, intimate and cherished, details of my sex-life over nearly 50 years of marriage, as I say, you will have to wait until my journals are published after my passing if, indeed, they ever are.

COURTESAN?
 
Section 1:

As I was heading into the last five years of my life as a full-time teacher in the years 1994 to 1999, two biographies of the life of Pamela Harriman appeared(1994, 1996).  A film was released, and a TV doco, about her life both came out in the USA(1998) just six months before I left classrooms forever, after half-a-century in those little boxes.  Tonight I saw the doco Churchill’s Girl released in Australia on ABC TV; it had been on Channel 4 in the UK in November 2006. 
 
I write this prose-poem about the life of one of history’s greatest courtesans, arguably modern history’s, the twentieth century’s, greatest courtesan next to Clare Boothe Luce(1903-1987), the first American woman appointed to a major ambassadorial post abroad.  A versatile author, she is best known for her 1936 hit play The Women.  I should qualify my words, I suppose, not being a particular authority on the subject of courtesans in modern or ancient history.  After reading Blair Schulman’s fine article at the Divas internet site, I think Schulman may be right when he says: "calling Harriman a courtesan may be just a 'cheap & easy answer', a simplistic explanation, a sort of psychological reductionism, an oversimplified analysis of a woman with an incredible life story and many talents." -Ron Price with thanks to ABC TV, 8:35-9:30, 21 June 2007 and Blair Schulman, “Pamela Churchill Harriman,” Divas Internet Site, 21 June 2007.
 
Section 2:

I first came across the term
courtesan while teaching
ancient Greek history in my
last years in the classroom...
 
And Pamela Harriman, I confess,
I had never heard of until tonight,
as this solstice passed into history
on a cold Tasmanian winter night.
 
A glittering jewel adorning the veneer
of high politics with a pervasive and
exploding sexuality, patina of wit and
charm-heavyweight courtesan-champ.
 
Right at the start of our Seven Year Plan(1)
she began--at 16--to wow the men & they
came running all her life.  Oh Pamela!!!
Too bad you did not write your memoirs.
 
On time’s long road,  in 1992/3,  perhaps
your biggest year, getting Clinton elected;
then you were off to France as our Holy
Year ended in May of 1993, completely(2)
passing you by, Pamela—you missed it all—
the most precious Being ever to draw breath
on this planet and at that high water mark in
our history you were enmeshed in politics.

Power, prestige and wealth were on your
agenda as they always had been with much
success—you were the best, Pamela, & I’ve
got to hand it to you, one of the best. I wish
you well in Shelley’s Undiscovered Country.

Has it continued for you in the last 10 years
in that land of lights: all that power & glory?
Or was the after-life a bit of a downer with
those courtesan skills of little use therein.
 
1  1936/7
2  Pamela Harriman began her role of Ambassador to France in May 1993 as the Baha’i Holy Year ended.

Ron Price 22/6/'07-19/2/'13.


ROGER WHITE AND APPLESAUCE

I always liked Roger White's poem "Applesauce"(1) and its light, humorous and quite clever comment on sex and sexuality.  Roger sent it to me 30 years ago when my wife and son and I lived in Katherine, one of the main towns in Australia’s Northern Territory, a town of three or four thousand at the time.  I was working as an adult educator and getting a good deal of education myself—little did I know.” –Ron Price with thanks to (1)Roger White, Applesauce in Whitewash, a privately printed first draft of poems, Haifa, Israel, 1982, p.8.)
 
APPLESAUCE
 
I tire, Eve, of innocence,
Let's kiss and grow contented.
Suppose we touched, where I protrude
And you're cunningly indented.?
 
       Oh Adam, what a sweet pastime!
       I'm glad that I consented.
       Tell me, dear, what shall we call
       This game that we've invented?
 
With half my heart I'd call it love
And not have it repented;
The other half would name it sin
And urge it be prevented.
 
         Had I not led you to the fruit
         Guilt would be circumvented.
         My punishment's to have my crime
         Eternally resented.
 
Spake the snake:
                                                           
All Adam's sons are cursed to woo
A maid and gently take her;
But after they've made applesauce
They'll like as not forsake her.
And down the centuries men proclaim:
We'll take the pleasure, she the blame.
Let posterity lament
That mother Eve gave her assent;
In slithering wisdom I rejoice
That she gave birth to slippery choice.     
 
----Roger White---
 
And so, I wish you all, dear readers, many happy delights in the years ahead in the early, middle or late adulthood of your life—with whatever level of Applesauce is yours. I may come back to this part of my website and document, poetically, some of the experience of the sex-life of famous writers and poets, as well as others from the many walks of life.
 
Ron Price


SUPREME ACHIEVEMENT IN LIFE---IN THE ARTS

Supreme achievement in the arts is such a rare thing that to try to explain why talented people fall short of it can seem as futile as identifying geological conditions that fail to produce diamonds. Impediments lie everywhere. Supreme achievement is also an enigmatic and often paradoxical thing to describe and define in our world of instant celebrity, the knowledge explosion and the very complexity of existence. For an interesting discussion of this theme, of the transition from potentiality to actuality, go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/apr/26/working-dark/

WRITING: A GIFT AND A SOLITARY OCCUPATION

Part 1:

Writing and reading, editing and publishing as I do and have done on a daily basis for the last dozen years has involved long continuous stretches of unbroken solitary concentration.  In the 12 to 13 hours I am not in bed, and in the 6 to 8 hours of that 12 to 13 that I am involved in this solitary occupation, I aim to be as free of distractions as is possible.  Distractions need to be kept at bay, kept from tugging at me like the sound of some mouse scampering invisibly nearby. Writers are not most people and, after decades of extensive social activity, I see writing as a gift. It is a gift that I utilize and that is appreciated by a coterie of the 7.5 billion people on the planet. But this is true of all writers. All authors only get a small slice of the total readership of the planet; some get bigger slices, of course, than others. Sometimes I write at night, while I'm in bed, but it is only to give me a reminder for something I might forget in the daylight hours. “I put a piece of paper under my pillow," says Thoreau, "and when I could not sleep, I wrote in the dark.” I only send myself reminders; writing in the dark, for me, is too difficult.

The American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright
e.e. cummings(1894-1962) wrote the following back in 1962 as my own writing life was in its embryonic phase. "In a world trying to make us into anyone but ourselves, writers write to be no one but themselves."  And so it is that I try to write from that place where I do not own a cellphone, and I do not answer the phone. This is how I came into this world, and this is how I will one day leave it.  I'm fully aware that a cellphone is unavoidably implied and sometimes specified in many a job description today. If one is speculating with one's savings, and selling stocks and bonds at a moment's notice, such a piece of technology can be crucial. 

I am retired from being jobbed and have little need for a phone.  I have been in this desireable state, retired from FT, PT and most casual-volunteer work, for the last eight years. Stocks and bonds, and my financial affairs in general, are handled by my wife with my increased appreciation as the years go on. 
I am also happy to rely on other pieces of technology that have only come into our world, into my world, in recent decades, say, the quarter century from 1990 to 2015: the computer by the 1980s and the early 1990s, the internet in the mid-to-late 1990s, and millions of readers all over the WWW for my literary offerings in the 2000s & 2010s.  I now find it quite unbelieveable, but very pleasing of course, that so many people click on my offerings on the world-wide-web. Writers like to have readers in similar ways that talkers like to have listeners. I have no illusions that I will ever be famous or rich because, in cyberspace, my writing and I are a needle in the proverbial haystack.

Part 2:

I keep my wants and needs to a bare minimum, with my appetitive nature, its passions and itches, its longings and lusts, also kept as low as I can go.  Given the ever-present, or should I say, the periodic pull of my several instinctual needs: hunger & thirst, warmth & shelter, companionship & recognition, achievement & appetites of all kinds, love and lust or, perhaps more accurately, sex and safety, I have plenty to keep me busy in the 12 to 13 hours I am awake.  My literary life occupies most of my waking hours, but I must attend to hygiene and domestic needs: cleaning and cooking, dishes and garbage, eating and infotainment, the social & the solitary. I do not have that hunger for success that drives many great artists, although I acknowledge my desire to get readers. It's part of my job as publisher and publicist, marketer and manager of what I sometimes call my literary business.

Of course there is much more on the psychological & sociological spectrum of life that I need to concern myself with in various degrees of intensity and frequency: from avoidance and aversion, to engagement and entertainment.  I base my life on breath and memory, thought and imagination, & so much more. This wonderful moment, each of life's wonderful moments, in all their unique texture & shading, nuance & news, tedium & ticking away as always---is the now of writing and its associated intellectual-artistic activities.


ANOTHER WRITER AND ME

Part 1:

I want to thank Richard Bernstein for his article "Being Nice or Rotten in Writing" in The New York Times published on 3 October 1989 just as I was settling-in to the city of Perth Western Australia, into the last college I would teach at before retiring in 1999. The article by Bernstein is a comment on, and an analysis of, the latest book by Cynthia Ozick(1928- ). Ozick is a novelist, short story writer and essayist who in 1989 was just 60 years old. "You might not think in first meeting Cynthia Ozick," writes Bernstein, "that savage literary thrusts & volcanic flows of shrewd observation could emerge from her pen or, as she has put it, from ''the wet substance, ink or blood'' of this gentle figure of a Jewish mother."

Bernstein was at the time, back in 1989, reviewing Ms. Ozick's latest book The Shawl.  The book was being treated by many critics, he says, as her most powerful and tragic work. She is unbearably shy and lives, as she says, "an unadventurous life in the suburbs of New York City. It's a life, as she puts it, ''a movie inside my mind.  I don't have to do anything real with real people.'' I was struck by these comments from a person who seems to compensate for her shyness and her isolation, her living inside her head, with intellectual boldness. Ever since she started receiving notice for her writing about 1970, after laboring unrewarded and unpublished from the 1950s onward, her characters have appeared, says Bernstein, to be quite opposite to herself. They are crabby, bitter, uneasy, spiteful, full of acid observations about a discomfiting world. But, because they live in the shadow of the Holocaust, she says, they are also understandable and sympathetic, rotten vs. nice.

Part 2:

''I have a writer friend and we talk about this life in writing & life, everyday life", Ms. Ozick said the other day over tea in a Manhattan hotel. "And   the question we put to each other was: 'Is it better to be nice in life and rotten in writing or rotten in life and nice in writing?'"  I found this question a provative one; it was a question that got me thinking about how I have been in my more than 70 years of living. There is little doubt that, for the most part, I have been nice in both my life and my writing. I've always seen myself as the kind, the nice, Canadian with a face like the back of a spoon. Occasionally I break out of the mould, but that has for the most part been due to the problems associated with my bipolar disorder. Sometimes, too, the simple lack of control when my patience has been worn thin by people and circumstance has taken me out of my normal mould, my normal-everyday self.

Both Ms. Ozick and I have had a lifelong concern as a writer and a thinker---indeed as a human being living in the years after WW2---with the moral meaning of life. Ms. Ozick deals with the bitter residue of the Holocaust, the residue that clogs the spirit of its survivors and disrupts their passage through the alien landscape, in her case, of her home in the United States. Her characters struggle with the vexations of memory, with one another's infuriating foibles and with the ahistorical fuzzy-mindedness of American life, its sybaritic blandness, its ignorance of evil.

Part 2.1:

Ozick is preoccupied with the Holocaust and the Hebrew contribution to human civilization in the last several thousand years. With no history of personal suffering in the Holocaust, why did she decide to write about such things?  ''If you're talking about why do I write about people affected by the Holocaust, it's because I believe that after the Holocaust, and through knowledge of it, everybody is a witness, not just those who went through it and came out alive,'' she said. ''For the Jews of Poland before the Holocaust, the Spanish Inquisition was a full presence in their lives,'' she said. Ms. Ozick recalled the memory of a grandmother weeping and beating her breast ---''yes, literally beating her breast''---after hearing about the British White Paper in 1939. The British Government, reacting to Arab pressure, used the White Paper to justify the decision to deny European Jews further immigration rights to Palestine, thereby cutting off the only escape route existing for German Jews. ''Maybe I was born to be a witness,'' she said. ''I got it from my grandmother. I grew up always as a witness---of the Inquisition, of the pogroms, of the Crusades, of the Holocaust, all at once.''

I've had a 60 year long association with the Baha'i community and its Babi-Baha'i history going back into the late 18th century and its two chief precursors. In Iran, the Babi-Baha'i history is a complex and bloody affair which has only hit the media to any extent since the 1950s, and then only significantly, say, in the last 30 years or so.  My own life as a Baha'i has been far from bloody. In the West, in Australia and Canada where I have spent my life, most people could not care less whether I was a Baha'i or a Baptist, a Buddhist or a Believer-in-Nothing, as long as I wore my deoderant, observed the normal courtesies of life & did my job. The world I have lived in is a secularized one, for the most part, and as different from Iranian cultural life as it can be. I have not been obsessed, though, by the treatment of Iranian Baha'is as Ozick has been of the Jews in the Holocaust.

Part 2.2:

A second inspiration for Ms Ozick, was revealed in a long evening spent with the novelist Jerzy Kozinski who, she said, spoke of the richness of the Polish language. She realized, in listening to Mr. Kozinski, that there was something amiss in the typical image of the Eastern European Jews as ''shtetl Jews,'' people who were strangers in their own country. There were some prewar Jews who were highly assimilated and extremely cultivated not in Yiddish but in other languages & cultures, like Polish.  ''All the Jews that died rend our hearts, our sense of mercy & of justice,'' Ms. Ozick said. ''But I think the Jews who went to their deaths not knowing why, but knowing the meaning of their lives as Jews, were in some sense more redeemed in the eyes of history than those who went with a sense of mistaken identity.

''Because those who went as universalists have not really understood that the moral life has 'a habitation and a name,' '' she said, quoting Shakespeare. ''It's what Isaac Bashevis Singer means when he says every writer has an address. Everybody is born into a civilization, and if you want to live the life that can best bring you into a sense of being a civilized person, then you have to seize it through your own culture.''
I have certainly done this, but I write here of Ozick because of the contrast her writing is to mine, of the contrast between why and what she writes, and why and what I write. Ozick is, as I say, obsessed by the Jewish experience. I have some degree of obsession with the Baha'i experience but, it seems to me, my obsession has quite a different degree of intensity and expression.

My writing has often been criticized in cyberspace for all sorts of reasons. At many sites one has to write as a Christian or Muslim, or as a Y or Z generation person using the F word, using jokes & what you might call the vernacular, the colloquialisms of those at the site. Before I have been banned from some sites, I have been accused of not being in touch with my readership at the site. Sometimes I bend and sway to the house, the site's style; sometimes I joke and play fast and funny, but I usually stay true to my own convictions and writing style rather than to the tastes and preferred style of others; I continue to write what I want to write. The following link tells readers how I deal with criticism: http://www.shadowedrealm.com/medieval-forum/blog/11/entry-236-dealing-with-criticism-a-post-on-ron-prices-blog/

THE DEATH AND LIFE OF 'THE AUTHOR'

Authors in cyberspace have grown and multiplied in direct proportion to academic dismissals and denunciations of their presence. With the arrival and utilization of the internet in, say, the last 15 years writers are now ubiquitous. The more roundly and confidently authors have been dismissed as a myth and a construction, an act of bad faith, by writers and literary critics like Roland Barthes, the more strongly they have emerged. This has been especially true in the 30+ years since his death. Barthes(1915-1980) was a French literary theorist, philosopher, linguist, critic, and semiotician who explored a diverse range of fields and influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiotics, social theory, anthropology and post-structuralism.

Barthes long ago pronounced the death of the author in an essay most people did not read, even fewer understood. The recent surge in personal websites and blogs, though, rather than diluting the author concept has, in fact, helped to create a tyrannical authorship presence, where the elevation of the personal and private to the public level has only compounded the cult of the author. We are all authors today at least millions of us in cyberspace. We are all auteurs. We are all writers and some much more, much much more, than others. The field of writing, the vast landscape of the literary and the academic, the intellectual and the philosophical, the religious and the social, the scientific and the popular, is now so immense that it has the effect, among other effects, of sending millions and billions into the arms of the audio and the visual, the arms of an endless list of leisure activities from gardening to galivanting, from sport to social conversation, from cooking to cleaning, from expensive hobby-apparatus to inexpensive exercise programs, from TV to telemarketing, et cetera, et cetera.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: CONFESSIONALISM

Jean Jaques Rousseau(1712-1778) was a major Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism.  Readers who would like to have some idea of the meaning of the term 'Romanticism' can go to this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanticism should they desire. Rousseau had a political philosophy that heavily influenced the French Revolution, as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought. For more on Rousseau go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau.

Rousseau wrote at the beginning of his novelistic Confessions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessions_%28Rousseau%29 “I am not made like anyone with whom I have ever been acquainted, perhaps like no one in existence.”  Although I think this is true of each of us, I make no effort to sustain some illusion of my preternatural extraordinariness. Far from it.  At this website, now in its 17th year on the world-wide-web, and in my writings in general, I make more of an effort to sustain the view that each of us has more in common with others than the differences. The differences, of course, are often a source of tensions and trials, difficulties and ordeals. They are also a source of the immense diversity and pleasure, invention and discovery, that is part of the human condition.  These differences are a source of much of the rich and delightful side of human experience. This hardly needs saying.

THE CONFESSIONS AND AUTOBIOGRAPHIES OF OTHERS

The genre of autobiography in the last two centuries, and especially in the last two decades, has been burgeoning. Below readers will find a review of Kofi Annan's
Interventions: A Life in War & Peace by Kofi Annan with Nader Mousavizadeh. This 400 page book goes some distance in explaining Kofi Annan’s enduring moral prestige. The puzzle is that he has survived failures, both his own and those of the institution he served for fifty years. Personal charisma is only part of the story. In addition to his charm, of which there is plenty, there is the authority that comes from experience. Few people have spent so much time around negotiating tables with thugs, warlords, and dictators. He has made himself the world’s emissary to the dark side. For more of this commentary by Michael Ignatieff in The New York Review of Books, 6 December 2012 "The Confessions of Kofi Annan" go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/dec/06/confessions-kofi-annan/ utm_medium=email&utm_campaign

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS

The odd thing about the writing of someone you know so well is that you bring to it a knowledge most ordinary readers cannot.  The experience of some reader who knew me well at some time in my life is, I'm sure, quite different from someone who does not know me and my world at all.  I am reminded of how much of each person's aesthetics has to do with their own background and their particular point of view.  Some reader, any reader, is often no nearer than anyone else to understanding the immensely complex processes whereby my mind and training and fingertips have transformed something into a set of writings, each distinctive, but with their shared aura of vitality and solemnity, reflection and memory. 

In fact, the closer a person is to someone who does something creative, the more mysterious the phenomenon seems.
Someone who knows me well may feel anxious that they are not going to find themselves at all in my writing. The people who knew me and interacted with me over the years were so absorbed in themselves and their magic circle was so self-sufficient and self-contained that they were simply unaware of and uninterested in everything outside it.  Perhaps, to put this idea more accurately, we each have our magic circle in life and it can only be extended so far. We are not each omniscient and omnipresent, omnicompetent and all things to all people. Each of our lives is limited by circumstances, by interests, by capacities, by many things. The real me, the inner man, was often completely or nearly so, outside the magic circle of those who were supposedly close to me, and with whom I interacted over the quotidian affairs of life, perhaps, even for years. In some ways the person who must know me best, my inner life, my strengths and weaknesses--is me.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: BASED ON A VISION

The world is headed in the next several centuries of this 3rd millennium, such is my view, for a community of communities, a communitas communitatum, a world unified and at peace. That is the vision which inspires my writing and this vision utilizes, therefore,
what the French call the "longue durée."  This is an expression used by the French Annales School of historical writing to designate their approach to the study of history.  This approach gives priority to long-term historical structures over short term events. The sociologist and economist François Simiand(1873-1935) called the short term study of history: histoire événementielle, "eventual history."  The short term time-scale is the domain of the chronicler and the journalist; whereas, the longue durée concentrates on all-but-permanent or slowly evolving structures over centuries. This way of dealing with history attempts to establish broader syntheses of what is known as prosopography to historians, namely, the investigation of the common characteristics of a historical group whose individual biographies may be largely untraceable. For more details on this view go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longue_dur%C3%A9e

This vision, my long term view for humankind, which looks back as well as forward, can be found expressed in the following poem I wrote several years ago and placed at the following internet site: http://www.topix.com/forum/news/evolution/T5PS74V2JTC06KU0S  This vision, or at least part of it, is also inspired by and based on several other historians and sociologists. A Study of History is a 12-volume magnum opus of British historian Arnold J. Toynbee which he began in 1921 and finished in 1961.  I purchased these volumes while at university as a history and philosophy student in 1964/5.  It took me many years to be able to read Toynbee with some ease. Initially, indeed for some years, I found his writing too tortuous and complex to really enjoy. Toynbee has never been easy for the average student.  In the 1960s I was that average high school, university and graduate student.  In the 40 years of writing his study of history Toynbee traced the development and decay of all of the major world civilizations in the historical record. Toynbee applies his model to each of these civilizations, detailing the stages through which they all pass: genesis, growth, time of troubles, universal state, and disintegration. For more on the subject of Toynbee's A Study of History go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Study_of_History

MYSELF AS WORLD CITIZEN

Part 1:

When anyone asked him where he came from, he said, ‘I am a citizen of the world.’
—Diogenes Laertius(3rd century A.D.),
Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers

Laertius refused to be defined by his local origins and local group memberships, so central to the self-image of a conventional Greek male; he insisted on defining himself in terms of more universal aspirations and concerns. The Stoics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism who followed his lead developed his image of the kosmou politês or world citizen more fully, arguing that each of us dwells, in effect, in two communities—the local community of our birth, and the community of human argument and aspiration. Seneca(4 BC-65 AD) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seneca_the_Younger was part of this Stoic tradition and he wrote in his On Leisure that "what is truly great and truly common is found when we look neither to this corner nor to that. It is found when we measure the boundaries of our nation by the sun.”  It is this international, this global, community that is most fundamentally the source of our moral obligations.

Montaigne(1533-1592) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_de_Montaigne was led to exclaim that he wished that instead of one Laërtius in the history of philosophy there had been a dozen.  Michel de Montaigne was one of the most influential writers of the French renaissance, a recent term used to describe a cultural and artistic movement in France from about 1475 to 1675.   Arguably the first essayist, Montaigne was known for popularising the essay as a literary genre and, for some, he is thought of as the father of modern skepticism.  With the decline of classical studies in the last half century, especially in the context of popular culture, people like Laertius and Montaigne are virtually unknown figures but, I mention them here, because their internationalism is not a new phenomenon on our planet.  Internationalism has morphed into many new forms in our age, our 21st century.

Part 2:

With respect to the most basic moral values such as justice, “we should regard all human beings as our fellow citizens and neighbors.” So wrote the
Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and middle Platonist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonism Plutarch.  Plutarch(46-120 AD) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutarch is known primarily for his Parallel Lives, Customs and Mores, and The Life of Alexander.  We should regard our deliberations, he argued, as first and foremost deliberations about human problems of people in particular concrete situations. We should not regard our problems as growing out of a national identity that is altogether unlike that of others. 

These early internationalists knew that the invitation to think as a world citizen was, in a sense, an invitation to be an exile from the comfort of patriotism and its easy sentiments.  To see the ways of life in our national community as the main source of justice and the good and not as only one of the many ways that nations and their people see truth, leads to international problems. It did then as it does now.  The accident of where one is born is just that, an accident; any human being might have been born in any nation. Recognizing this, his Stoic successors held, we should not allow differences of nationality or class or ethnic membership or even gender to erect barriers between us and our fellow human beings. We should recognize humanity wherever it occurs, and give its fundamental ingredients, reason and moral capacity, our first allegiance and respect.
For more on this essay given in 1994 by Martha Naussbaum(1947-)an American philosopher with a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy and ethics, go to:http://bostonreview.net/BR19.5/nussbaum.php

FAMOUS RUSSIAN AUTOBIOGRAPHER

Part 1:

Alexander Herzen(1812-1870) is known as the father of Russian socialism and played an important part in the creation of a political climate leading to the emancipation of the serfs in 1861.
His autobiography My Past and Thoughts, written with grace, energy, and ease, is often considered the best specimen of that genre in Russian literature. Tolstoy declared that he had never met another man "with so rare a combination of scintillating brilliance and depth". The philosopher Isaiah Berlin called his autobiography "one of the great monuments to Russian literary and psychological genius.….a literary masterpiece to be placed by the side of the novels of his contemporaries and countrymen, Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Dostoevsky."

He wrote in the preface to his autobiography: "In order to write one's reminiscences it is not at all necessary to be a great man....nor is it necessary to be a celebrated artist, nor a statesman---it is quite enough to be simply a human being, to have something to tell.  It is not merely the desire to tell one's story that is necessary, but one must have at least some little ability to do so.  We all seek for ourselves confirmation, symnpathy, justification.  Writing is, in many ways, just another form of amusement"(1855). 


American writer, editor, film critic, social critic, philosopher, and political radical Dwight MacDonald(1906-1982), in his preface to the abridged edition of Herzen's My Past and Thoughts, wrote that: "Herzen knew how to assimilate the personal within the historical." He also knew how to plan his autobiographical masterpiece according to the best of anarchist principles, that is, he didn't have any general principles for the writing of his personal memoire.  He made digression in his writing a formal principle, if he had any principles and guides to his writing. Anyone who spends a little time, well, more than a little time, with my memoires will find that this principle of digression characterizes my literary form and style.

Part 2:

The above remarks about this Russian autobiographer, as I say, describe quite accurately my own work. The philosopher,
British social and political theorist, as well as historian of ideas, thought by many to be the dominant scholar of his generation, Isaiah Berlin(1909-1997) says that Herzen was addicted to analysis and investigation. He also points out that Herzen craved recognition. Herzen found psychological relief, says Berlin, in setting down his thoughts. The process of writing was an opiate against his appalling loneliness and a life lived among uninterested strangers. After 50 years in classrooms as a student and teacher, 1949 to 1999, I was happy to retire from the world of people. Any recognition I have felt a need for, in these years of my retirement, I find in cyberspace. To Herzen, the goal of life was in life itself not in any overarching religion or system. He found that the simple, and not so simple, study of man and society and the formulation of a personal philosophy was sufficient for his needs and wants intellectually.

For me it has not been quite enough to simply be a student of ideas and formulate my own philosophy.  Of course, in some ways, we all do this in life. But I seem to crave more, far more, and have done so since my late teens. I have felt the need to identify myself with some collective form of action, some collectivity, a collectivity that was more than family, job, or interest group like sport or fishing, lawn-bowling or the local arts-society.  Herzen created a country rich in his own ideas as Maxim Gorky(1868-1936),
a Russian and Soviet author, a founder of the Socialist Realism literary method and a political activist, put it. 

Herzen, Gorky continued, created a country in which he transplanted everything he touched into words. In this literary activity he found his own salvation. I find my writing therapeutic, but it will be only part of my salvation. Salvation is a complex subject, theologically and psychologically, and so very complex that I I will leave it here for another time. I like the way, though, that both MacDonald and Berlin describe Herzen.  I have found some helpful, some useful, comparisons and contrasts therein to my own autobiographical work, an exercise in which I have been enaged since at least 1984, nearly 30 years.


AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND POETRY

The quest for understanding, of the subject and the world, which is explored through philosophy and psychoanalysis, is also central to the poetic act, its creation and its reception.  I found the comments of Adrienne Rich(
1929-2012) on her attraction to poetry of value. Rich was an American poet, essayist and feminist, one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century. She was credited with bringing the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse. As Rich once wrote, in a series of reflections on her developing attraction to poetry, that poetry had a great potential personal revelation due to its interpretation of the human condition among other factors. "Poetry soon became for me more than music and images; it was also revelation; it was information, and a kind of teaching. I thought it could offer clues, intimations, keys to questions such as: What is possible in this life? What does “love” mean, this thing that is so important? What is this other thing called “freedom” or “liberty” – is it like love, a feeling? Why have human beings lived and suffered in the past? How am I going to live my life?"-Adrienne Rich, “Blood, Bread, and Poetry” in Poetry in Theory: An Anthology 1900-2000, ed. Jon Cook. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, pp.503-513.

Poetry is just another mode, certainly an important one to me but obviously not for everyone, whereby the human being seeks understanding: of the self, of the other, and of the world. Poetry addresses and explores the questions which inspire philosophy and psychoanalysis, psychology and other subjects in the humanities and social sciences. Poetry deals with all aspects of inquiry, albeit in its own unique way. For more on Adrienne Rich, William Wordsworth, and poetry in general go to:http://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/105/209

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: AN EXERCISE IN SELF-UNDERSTANDING

Part 1.1

Autobiography is, for me at least, an exercise in self-understanding, self-forgiveness and, if one is young enough with more years to live---and I trust I am and I have---an exercise to help one strive for whatever goals have been part of one's beliefs, values and attitudes---but are not yet attained.  The observing “I” of autobiography tells the story of the observed “I,” the self who I was at different stages in the lifespan.  I tell the story of my life not as an investigative journalist or reporter might tell the story of his subject, exposing for the wide-wide-world all my warts and sins of omission and commission for a voyeuristic world. I tell my story as a kind and loving mother as well as a just and understanding father might.  As the older narrator I look back at my younger self with tenderness and pity, empathizing with my sorrows and understanding the reason for my sins.  My critic's, my journalist’s, my analyst's habits I trust will inhibit my self-love, at least to some extent.


In my early adult life, in my 20s and 30s, high principle often trumped judicious compromise. I could never have made a successful politician. But as the years went on and I entered middle age in the lifespan, high principle softened and compromise became easier.  I have never wanted to play the politician's game.  I can't think of a time when I ever wanted to be a part of the partisan-political paradigm;  I have had to deal in judicious compromise frequently all my adult life as well as during my adolescence and childhood, if I reflect a little on those growing-up years. I was often, over the years, able to strike a balance between self-interest and some ideal. This capacity to strike such balances is one of which a true politician is made; I applied it, though, not in the world of partisan politics---but in what is inevitably the political world of job and community, family and friendships, a world that did not involve political parties, but did involve the necessity of judicious compromise.. I write about this in my now far too lengthy autobiography, an autobiography which in five volumes is enough to keep most readers away.

Part 1.2

My aim now, among my many aims, some articulate and quite specific, some inarticulate, vague and scarcely conscious entities, is to understand self and society. This is no easy task. It has never been an easy task.  There are some who analyze their life and put their analysis down on paper with a much heavier hand than I have done.  It may be that I have been far too kind to myself as I have come to view myself in my 5 volume and 2600 page memoir. 
There is what might be called the contemporary fashion for megalography: cutting the biographical and autobiographical suit too large for the subject and with cloth yards to spare. The point, of course, is not the size of the figure but the size of the life and the vision the writer is able to find or, to put it differently, the distance the writer travels to first find it and, then, delineate it. 

With much material so easily at hand from my life experience over more than 70 years now, and from the vast caverns of intellectual and literary, social scientific & scientific, history---I feel I have written about this long journey in some detail and expounded on it at length. Now, in the evening of my life and avoiding, as much as possible, the unconscionable but seemingly necessary amount of social chitchat in which I was engaged for most of the decades of my life-narrative, I continue to embark on this autobiographical journey which is now at the start of its 4th decade. Most of humanity, of course, never write their autobiography and they never have a biography written about them. Writing is not an activity for most people and, after studying it and teaching it for more than half a century, I understand a little of why this is the case.

Part 2:

I am inclined to agree with essayist Gore Vidal when he writes that: "I am not so sure that I have known even one person well, but, as the Greeks sensibly believed, should you get to know yourself, you will have penetrated as much of the human mystery as anyone need ever know." For a poem I wrote on hearing of the passing of a person whom some now call "the master essayist of our age," go to this link: http://allpoetry.com/poem/9866375-Thanks_Gore-by-RonPrice  For a review of his memoir,
Palimpsest, and the kind of memoir I would not like to write, go to this link:http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/01/home/vidal-palimpsest.html

Some biographers leave no stone unturned as they excavate all the sins of omission and commession of their subjects. There are some autobiographers, memoirists, diarists and journal writers who take a much more critical stance about themselves and their lives than I have done.  As they go about their autobiographical exercises, there is no kind and gentle mother, no judicious and loving father at the basis of their introspection.  For me, there is an empathic nature to my own retrospections and introspections.  Susan Sontag(1933-2004), an American essayist, literary icon, and political activist was a person with a highly critical view of self; I leave it to readers to inquire into her personal, highly critical self-introspections. 

Part 2.1

Readers might like to start reading some of Sontag's heavy-journalistic-introspectiveness thanks to the second volume of Sontag's Diaries: 1964-1980 published in June 2012. Go to this link at The New York Times for a review of that second volume: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/books/review/the-second-volume-of-susan-sontags-diaries.html?pagewanted=all
  James Campbell wrote this review. He is an editor at The Times Literary Supplement, and his books include a biography of James Baldwin, “Talking at the Gates,” and a collection of essays, “Syncopations.”

I found Lauren Elkin's comments on Sontag's Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 were also a helpful introduction to Sontag's diaristic introspections.  Elkin is a writer, literary critic, and Ph.D. candidate in English literature at the Université de Paris VII and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She writes about books and French culture on her blog, Maîtresse. She lives in Paris. For her comments on Sontag and some quotations from Sontag's journals go to this link: http://quarterlyconversation.com/susan-sontag-reborn-journals

Part 2.2

In an earlier era, my autobiography might be seen as what was called a commonplace book. Such books were what blogs and Facebook pages are today. They were collections of quotations, observations, clippings, proverbs, poems, personal asides and anything else that someone found worthy of saving for future reference or sharing with friends. They served, W. H. Auden wrote in the introduction to his own wonderful commonplace book, “A Certain World,” as “a sort of autobiography,” a map of the collector’s personal planet. Such an MO, modus operandi, can also serve as a way, as a means, of understanding society.  There are as many 'takes' on society as there are writers willing to try. I'm not sure which is more difficult understanding self or understanding society. "You pays your money and you takes your choice," as my professor on Greek philosophy put it frequently back in 1964/5 when I was hoping to complete my second year in honours philosophy and history at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario, the lunch-pail-steel city in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe.

My autobiography is now a massive, many-volumed work.  In essence it could be seen as  a very fat commonplace book, though I sometimes see it as having more grandiose ambitions in mind. As the years went on from the 80s, then the 90s and then the 21st century, this memoiristic work gathered a greater and greater weight.  I wanted to write about philosophy, history, politics and the arts all at once, and about what had happened to those things during the course of the multiple catastrophes into whose second principal outburst (World War I was the first) I had been born in 1944, and which continued to shake the world as I grew to adulthood and through adulthood. This was not my intention when I started out in 1984 while living in Australia's Northern Territory.


Part 2.3

In many cases, in many of my essays and poems, the portrait of some individual, or some topic of interest,has simply become a launching pad for my seemingly free-associative musings.  These musings tend to spiral around several recurrent themes: my life, the lives of the famous, the celebrity, those who have made contributions to society, the Baha'i Faith and the complex issues involved in self and society. I make no attempt to reduce the world’s dazzling complexity to simplistic formulas. The preciousness and fragility, the complexity and the profundity of various ethical, religious & philosophical views as well as cultural ideas and ideals have come to occupy my literary attention. The concept of the unity, the oneness, of humankind, a central precept in my work, is found throughout my writings.
But it is no simplistic & formulaic concept. Rather, it is a complex philosophical and religious precept which, over the decades of my life in which I have watched it operating, has become an axis on which much of life, my life and the life of the global society in which I am enmeshed, has been hung, so to speak.

MY WEBSITE

The environment and landscape within the pages of my website consist of a constructed space. This space reflects back, almost as in a mirror, the mental, emotional and psychological states of the main narrator, myself.  This space is also about my journey through familiar and unfamiliar landscape.  There are now well over 60 books at 80,000 words per book filling the spaces, the intersticies, of cyberspace at this my site. I invite readers to skim and scan, dabble and surf, to the extent their hearts and minds desire, if they desire to read any of it at all.

NARCISSISM and REFLEXIVITY


Part 1:

I trust that readers will not view my autobiography, this sub-section of my website, my entire website, or the magnum opus that is my total body of writing, as an exercise in narcissism.  Narcissism is a term with a wide range of meanings depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, a metaphor of the human condition, or simply a personality trait. There is also what one writer calls malignant narcissism: xenophobia and solipsism, and benign narcissism which is about striving for achievement and the urge to self-display. In the Greek myth narcissus fell in love with his image in a pool of water; he fell in the water and drowned.

Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, "narcissism" usually is used to describe some kind of problem in a person's or in a group's relationships with self & others.  In everyday speech, "narcissism" often means egoism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. In psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self-love & an unhealthy self-absorption due to a disturbance in the sense of self.  I trust, too, that whatever narcissim is attributed to me is seen as this normal self-love. Self-love is something that is kneaded into the very clay of man, the very basis of an individual human life.  As one writer once put it, though, with what to me is an obvious truth: "self-forgetfulness is the basis for a sane and sensible self-realization".

‘The great business of life,’ Samuel Johnson told Sir Joshua Reynolds, ‘was to escape from oneself"." Johnson considered the disposition to be continually dwelling on self as a disease of the mind. He cured this problem by company, by writing, and by work. I do the same. If the individual can experience himself primarily as a citizen of the world, if he can feel pride in mankind and in its achievements; if his focus and his aim in life is outside his little world, his narcissism will, in the process it seems to me, turn toward the human race as an object, its components, and not on his own small world. The more love one turns to the outside world, the less one turns toward oneself.
  There is now an extensive literature on narcissism; for more on this subject go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism

Part 2:

I prefer the term reflexivity to narcissism.
In sociology, a subject I have been studying and teaching, writing about and reading for my personal pleasure, for more than half a century(1963 to 2014), reflexivity means an act of self-reference. This self-reference exists as an examination or action that bends back on, that refers to, and that affects the entity instigating the action or examination.  Reflexivity in sociology commonly refers to the capacity of a person to recognize forces of their socialization & alter their place in the social structure. Pierre Bourdieu(1930-2002) insists on the importance of a reflexive sociology in which sociologists must at all times conduct their research with conscious attention to the effects of their own position, their own set of internalized structures, & how these are likely to distort or prejudice their objectivity. Sociologists, according to Bourdieu, must engage in a "sociology of sociology" so as not to unwittingly attribute to the object one is observing, characteristics of the subject doing the observing.  She/he ought to conduct their research with one eye continually reflecting back upon their own habitus, their dispositions learned through long social and institutional training. A low level of reflexivity would result in an individual shaped largely by their environment and their society and shaped to a limited extent by their own selves.

It is only by maintaining such a continual vigilance that sociologists can spot themselves in the act of importing their own biases into their work. Reflexivity is, therefore, a kind of additional stage in the scientific epistemology. It is not enough for the scientist to go through the usual stages, such as: research, hypothesis, falsification, experiment, repetition, peer review, et cetera. Bourdieu recommends also that the scientist purge their work of the prejudices likely to derive from their social position. In a good illustration of the process, Bourdieu chastises academics for judging their students' work against a rigidly scholastic linguistic register, favouring students whose writing appears 'polished', marking down those guilty of 'vulgarity'. Without a reflexive analysis of the snobbery being deployed under the cover of those subjective terms, the academic will unconsciously reproduce a degree of class prejudice, promoting the student with high linguistic capital and holding back the student who lacks it - not because of the objective quality of the work but simply because of the register in which it is written. Reflexivity should enable the academic to be conscious of their prejudices; for example, for apparently sophisticated writing, and impel them to take steps to correct for this bias. For more on Bourdieu go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Bourdieu#Reflexivity

Part 3:

A high level of social reflexivity would be defined as an individual shaping their own norms, tastes, politics, desires, & so on. 
Personal reflexivity involves a person, a writer and poet like myself, reflecting upon how my beliefs, values, experiences, interests, political commitments, wider aims in life, and social identities shape my life and writing.  This further involves my reflecting on ways in which my writing may have changed me as a writer, as a poet, and as a person over the lifespan. For more on the subject of reflexivity go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflexivity_%28social_theory%29

Epistemological reflexivity is an approach to reflexivity based on epistomology, a branch of philosophy concerned with the nature, scope and limitations of knowledge. Such an approach requires that the writer consider: decisions about the process and the act of his writing, his chosen methods and aims in writing, the information and experience on which his writing is based, the methods of his analysis, and the ways in which all of these factors create "boundaries" and "frameworks" for his act of writing. 

This is the basis for what might be called an action-oriented writing context.  The writer works through his lifetime of experience, reflects on his experience, and theorizes about this experience. These are all critical concerns in epistemological reflexivity.  Questions such as: "what matters to me as a writer," "how do I understand power and authority," and "how wide are the implications of the content and context of my writing" are key concerns among many others. These questions illustrate the extent to which I as a writer need to pay attention to detail and context, aims and ambitions in the writing process.


MY AIM

My aim, at least one of the many aims in writing this autobiography, is to understand the many selves I have had and have been in the course of my seven decades of living. "The unexamined life is not worth living," wrote or rather spoke Socrates 2500 years ago.  I write about other people, places, and things as part of this autobiography, and I try to do this with affection and with warmth, with understanding and insight. Readers who want to read more about my autobiography can go to my old website in the top righthand corner of this page; or they can just read more of this website or delve into my 1000s of internet posts---or do all three. Everything I write is autobiography in one shape or form. so is this true of everything everyone writes, so argue some literary critics.


As that inimitable and wondrous Samuel Johnson(1709-1784): poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer emphasized: writers should be willing to examine everything about themselves in an attempt to get hold of human nature. Socrates put it a little differently 2500 years ago, as I said above and to reiterate: the unexamined life is not worth living. I was raised to insist, and as I ventured forth into the wide-wide world I continued with this belief, namely, that a life that was not based on serious reflection was without any doubt not worth living.  Yet I was aware that such a reflection could possibly impede the living of a life if the aim of that life was, to put it in the vernacular, "to have fun."  For many, too much thinking is seen as a bad thing.

SUSAN SONTAG

There were some humans who write autobiographically, memoiristically, and are far from kind to themselves. They are harsh critics of their lives.  Susan Sontag(1933-2004), American author, literary theorist, feminist and political activist
, had such a critical tendency.  Serious and introspective, with daily and hard-headed thinking, she lived her life decade after decade. The first volume of her Journals(1947-1963), which she saw as a medium for creating herself, reveal a person far different from the ordinary, everyday people who are the common lot, the types, we meet most of the time on our journey through life.  She was not 'into' some slack acceptance of comfort and ease; she did not leave herself alone, but was continually trying to do better, to work harder, to refine her character and her world of action.  She was very hard on herself; she willed herself into a strength of vision and ambition of literary voice; she laboured to create a self she could love, and it was clearly a work of serious labour. The greatest intellectual project in her life was herself.  I am sure some would say she examined her life far too minutely. "Give it a rest, Susan," I can hear my easy-going Australian friends saying.

RONALD CONWAY, OSCAR WILDE AND SHAKESPEARE

I long ago struggled to understand the psyches of those whom the psychologist Ronald Conway(1926-2009) said are caught in the land of the long weekend and the great Australian stupor.  By the time I had been in classrooms for half a century as a student and teacher, I no longer struggled to understand such psyches. I have met so many, indeed, multitudes for whom too much thought, too much analysis, about their life and the life of their society was not on their daily routine of activity.
  Australia and Australians are a pleasure-loving, activity oriented people.  Like Oscar Wilde they make of pleasure and fun, activity and doing things, going places and meeting people---the wellsprings of their happiness.  Shakespeare put the preferences of such people for action and not thought, for activity and not analysis in the following words of his famous solliloquy "to be or not to be." That distinguished Bard wrote, toward the end of that famous passage, about those whose lives are more introspective than action oriented, more the thinkers than the doers. These are not the Aussies I have lived with now for over four decades. Generally, if one can generalize, the more introspective souls seem to be destined, as Shakespeare puts it in Hamlet, to have:

........................the native hue of resolution
...sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.
-Hamlet, Act III, Scene I, lines 84-88.

Of course there is much more to say about the general character of Australians, about the general personality of the people in any of the approximately 200 nation states, but I will not take-on that complex subject here.

THE DEAD THE LIVING AND THE NOT-YET-BORN


The dead can extend feelings across the divide separating the living from the world of the ever-after. This is clear in the Baha'i writings. It is also a view that many writers have who do not even believe in an afterlife. They can do this, say some writers, especially if they think of the process in advance, before they actually die.  They come to see their writing sub specie aeternitatus. They live in hope that their writing will contribute, in some way or other, to the great conversation that is existence. This is unquestionably true of 1000s of writers who have long gone from the world, and others who are now alive and well, or not so well, as the case may be.

Ideas for me have always been a kind of emotion, something I felt and cared about in the way that most people do about feelings like sadness or love.  My writing goes back to the beginning of my life—and even before the beginning—of my life. Ideas and the need for historical explanations have run deep in my life.  I remember the first feeling of need in this area as far back as senior high school, perhaps 1962, half a century ago. The beginning of this process was extended in my four years at university: 1963-67.  The past slowly, sensibly and insensibly, became an engine of my thoughts. Of course, this is obviously true from our first memories and for me, therefore, as far back as the late 1940s. Memory & history as well as many other disciplines of study have played a part in this engine that is my life.  Memory is not for me a certainty, but I cling to it as a lifeline in my writing.  I hope I never have an illness that takes away my memory.  It is an entry-point into a type of intellectual, introspective and retrospective bubble; it also serves as the basis of a form of independence which I hope I can keep until my demise.

MEMORY IDENTITY AND COLLABORATION

Part A:

To retrieve a memory sometimes I have to ask others or read something.  My writing is, then, a work of memory and a work of collaboration.  My writing depends on vast quantities of notes, references, materials, charts, facts, and information gleaned from hundreds of sources. Some of my information is painstakingly transcribed and ordered and, sometimes, it is just thrown-together in files.  My books, the ones I have written and all of which are works in progress, are both inside me and outside me; they are organic and they grow with time.  My books could also be described as clarifications of what I have been thinking and feeling. Identity, a common concern in contemporary culture, my identity, grows from within as much as, if not more than, something outside me. I will leave this complex concept to other places both in and at this website as well as at many other places in my writing.


Henry James(1843-1916) was an American-born writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. In his book The American Scene, the book he wrote about his visit to the United States in 1904 after a twenty-year absence, he refers to "traps of memory." Walking on West Fourteenth Street and Lower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, he shuddered at how much the neighborhood had changed. His parental home, the massive stone church that stood nearby, the old building that housed the original Metropolitan Museum of Art, and much else in the city had now “vanished as utterly as the Assyrian Empire.” What remained were these “traps” which “baited themselves with the cheese of association,” and into which anyone who had once known the city might fall. Since my life has been so very peripatetic I don't have this kind of experience of James and, in my remaining years it is not likely I will, since I do not plan to return to any of the places where I once lived except places here in northern Tasmania which are very much the same as they were 40 years ago.

Part A.1

I believe it was Aristotle who said that memory—which he regarded as a collection of mental pictures with a time element added to each of them—belongs to the same part of the soul as the imagination. That may explain why we can never be sure how much of what we remember is true and how much of it is made up. Nevertheless, the kind of experiences Henry James describes concern a sudden eruption of long buried memories on which there is no time to do any retouching. And they are the kind of experiences that can be found in my autobiography.


As Charles Simic, the American poet, in writing about memory says: "It doesn’t take much to get the old movie in our heads rolling again." In his article in The New York Review of Books, 6 December 2012, Simic writes: "A deserted street at dusk, with the summer sunlight lingering on the upper floors of a row of buildings and the sidewalks down below already deep in shadow, may get some old movie in our heads rolling again." And he continues: "Since we are ordinarily better at forgetting than remembering, it is often a mystery why some such sight has stamped itself on our memory, when countless others that ought to have far greater meaning can hardly be said to exist for us anymore. It makes me suspect that a richer and less predictable account of our lives would eschew chronology and any attempt to fit a lifetime into a coherent narrative and instead be made up of a series of fragments, spur-of-the-moment reminiscences occasioned by whatever gets our imagination working. For more of Simic on memory go to:http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/nov/19/memory-traps/?utm

NON-PARTISANSHIP

Part A:

My politics is not the politics of disability or partisanship, even though I have had to deal with bipolar disorder and other disabilities as well as partisan politics for the last 50 years, if not longer.  Listening to the views of partisan politicians is the experience of everyman in the West unless he shuts himself completely away from the print and electronic media.  My politics is not that of a special interest; my politics is about collective responsibility and the duty of us all to each other. That duty varies a great deal from individual to individual. That duty is, at least for me, non-partisan. It is not expressed in, or associated with, a political party.  I have eshewed party politics from my late adolescence. This was due to personal reflections on the experience and involvement of my parents when political meetings were in my home due to my parents' affiliation with a section of the then New Democratic Party in Ontario.  My innoculation against party politics also resulted from studying politics at university.  By the time I graduated from four years of post-secondary school study in 1967, I was confirmed in this view due to my affilication by then in the Baha'i Faith. This Faith, which claims to be the latest of the Abrahamic religions, stresses an explicit non-partisan position for its adherents.  I have taken, though, a dispassionate interest in affairs of government at local, regional, national and international levels all my adult life.

Part B:

I have spent my life, at least since the mid-1960s, trying to remedy the obscurity, the elitism, the trahison des clercs, the compromising or betrayal of intellectual integrity and moral standards--my own and others.  I have done this and I now do this by teaching, thinking and writing as clearly as I am able, as well as trying to be as honest as I possibly can with myself.  Being alone also helps, indeed it is essential for me as a writer and poet, editor and publisher.  My idea of what it means to be an intellectual is rooted in my sense of aloneness, my staying apart from the crowd and of keeping my own counsel.  But I have also had a strong sense of community since those same 1960s, if not earlier, in both the Baha'i community and in the many communities in which my personal life has been enmeshed as far back as I can remember---the late 1940s and early 1950s.

As I go through my 70s in these years 2014 to 2024, I usually evaluate an event or problem, but not according to any blueprint except, of course, according to my own interpretation of the many, indeed now, the myriad, the blueprints that exist in the various fields of knowledge. Blueprints also come to exist in all sorts of ways as a result of the perceptions & understandings that I have absorbed over a lifetime.  Writing involves the physical self—pens, paper, keyboards—the touch connecting the mind to the page; it has a rhythm and a feel, a posture and a pacing, indeed a sort of pulse through the body.  This sense of place, feeling and self is crucial.  I also think, as Edward Said(1935-2003), the American literary theorist and public intellectual who helped found the critical-theory field of postcolonialism, put it in his Reith Lecture back in 1993 at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-reith-lectures-speaking-truth-to-power-in-his-penultimate-reith-lecture-edward-said-considers-the-basic-question-for-the, that the critique of objectivity authority over the last several decades has "performed a positive service by underlining how, in the secular world, human beings construct their own truths, so to speak. For example, the so-called objective truth of the white man's superiority which was built and maintained by the classical European colonial empires also rested on a violent subjugation of African and Asian peoples and they, it is equally true, fought that particular imposed 'truth' in order to provide an independent order of their own." For more on the implications of Said's views in relation to meta-narratives, ideologies, philosophies, indeed, all interpretations of reality, go to the above link.-Ron Price with thanks to Jennifer Homans “Tony Judt: A Final Victory,” 22 March 2012, The New York Review of Books.


MY VOCATION AND AVOCATION

Part 1:

One of the many definitions of happiness is having an aim in life. Having an aim in life can be said to have both a vocation and an avocation. An avocation is sometimes defined as a diversion or a hobby. A vocation is sometimes referred to as a calling. Both words can be applied to one’s work or profession. Until I was 23 I did not have a profession, nor did I have a sense of a calling. By my late teens such a sense was a slowly evolving one---from about the age of 18 in 1962 as accurately as I can now recall in retrospect some 50 years later.

After I retired from my work or profession as a teacher-tutor, adult-educator-lecturer in 1999, I reinvented myself.  My calling was still expressed, but in a different way.  My work or profession, my calling or what might be said to be the central meaning and driving force in my life became, by degrees: a writer and author, a poet and publisher, a researcher and editor, an online journalist and blogger, an independent scholar and my own research-and-personal office assistant. By 2009, at the age of 65, as I began a life on two old-age pensions, I was fully ensconced in these new roles for more than half my waking hours.

I often felt, since the age of 23, that my work, the employment for which I was paid, was a calling.  As a member of the Baha’i Faith, the religion I joined at the age of 15 in 1959; and as a teacher who received his formal qualifications at the age of 23 in 1967, I practiced the art of teaching and I saw myself as a Baha’i teacher.  I performed this role of Baha’i teacher, this vocation, this calling, both in educational institutions and in a host of other places: homes and halls and an infinite number of other venues and places both public and private.

After 1999 I gradually came to see my calling in the roles listed above for which, and into which, I gradually reinvented myself. I still saw myself as a Baha’i and a teacher, but I performed these two roles at the centre of my life by means of my writing, not by the exercise of the roles of teacher or tutor, lecturer or adult educator, in classrooms, lecture-halls, and an assortment of other venues like offices and homes, places of business and commerce. This notion of a calling, both my  vocation and avocation was felt to perhaps an even greater extent as the evening of my life lengthened in my 60s &, then, in my 70s. Time would tell how this calling would be played-out in my 80s, the years 2024 to 2034, if I lasted that long.  If I lived to be 100 in 2044, some 30 years from now, how would my raison d'etre, my modus vivendi, my modus operandi, my mark and my mission, the ground-of-my-being, my whys-&-wherefores, my what-fors & why-fors, my song-and-dance & my response-to-life, my philosophy & religion, my day-to-day life in all its changing permutations and combinations, its rationale and its survival tools be played out.
Part 2:

I have done many things in life, had many activities that were diversions, interests, amusements, entertainments, and pleasures that engaged my mind, my heart and my body.  As a child and adolescent from birth to the age of 20, 1944 to 1965, (i) organized sport and many an informal game,(ii) just having fun and indulging myself in life’s pleasures, and in its myriad ways and means, (iii) fulfilling my obligations and duties as a son and  member of an extended family & friend, and (iv) making enough money to pay for things my parents could not afford to buy for me, these were my major diversions and distractions, occupations and recreations. My work, a vocation of sorts, an employment for which I was not paid, was as a student. The sense of a calling was hardly present in those years of pre-primary, primary and secondary education. Nor was it present in any of those part-time jobs which occupied me while I was a student and which, for the most part, filled my summer vacation period and weekends.

As an adult from the age of 21 to 70, 1965 to 2014, my diversions, the inclinations that occupied my time, have also been many. They have included: having fun and enjoying my leisure-time, playing various sports and going to fitness centres.They have also included being engaged in: the pleasures and responsibilities of family and social life, as well as of volunteer activity in many organizations like Rostrum and local radio, and many tasks such as raising funds for charities & service clubs like the Red Cross & the Lions Club. I also took part in many celebrations, organized activities, and commemorations in my family & in my Baha’i community as well as in other volunteer organizations, & places of paid-employment.

There were also a multitude, indeed a myriad, of tasks and pleasures associated with my many positions & occupations in both my profession and the great assortment of jobs outside my line-of-work, my lifework in the field of teaching.  Watching TV and listening to music on hi-fis and on the radio, daily walks and running, were also among this list of diversions, a list which seems endless as I look back over more than 70 years of living. Many of these activities, these diversions, contributed either directly or indirectly to my sense of a calling especially as my teens turned into my 20s, and my 20s into my 30s by 1974.

Part 3:

Each person who feels they have a calling in life must speak for themselves to define their calling as accurately as they can.  I do that here, although not in as much detail as in my 5 volumed, 2600 page, autobiography. The calling to which I refer has been, and is, as a member of a global community inspired by the teachings enunciated by Baha’u’llah, the Baha'i community’s Founder. That global community has also been inspired by ‘Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, the Founder’s successors, and the Universal House of Justice, the current trustee of the global undertaking initiated by Baha’u’llah in the last five decades, the last half, of the 19th century.

Continuing to speak here from my personal experience, I must emphasize that this calling is centred on a vision, dim and partial but true to reality as I have come to see and believe it. It is a vision of God revealing Himself in action to souls that sincerely seek Him. This vision has been centred for me now, for more than half a century.  It is centered on the social force that is the Baha’i Faith with its special contribution to make to humankind. The Baha’i Cause has a centre of authority in its own Prophet, its own laws, and its voluminous sacred scriptures. As I gaze at God’s ‘inconceivably mighty works,’ (1) I have come to understand this vision through the functions and structures involved in the many roles I have had in life, roles associated with my calling, my vocation and avocation.  I have had many vocations within this calling; they are each narrow and feeble but, together, they have made and are making a distinctive contribution to my piecemeal vision of reality in Life-Time-Space-and-Spirit and their several dimensions in the world of existence.(2) -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Goethe, Faust, I, p. 249, and (2) Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 10, OUP, 1963(1954), pp.1-2.

Time’s ever rolling stream(1)
has been in full swing all my
life and an undying fire of a
curiosity was slowly kindled
by so many books and ideas,
sources and influences: the
intimate companionship of a
mother opened a world, and
a plunge of receptivity that
irresistibly beckoned curiosity
which urged me to press fast-
forward with time’s hurrying
chariot luring on my entire
intellectual eagerness and
a slowly acquired poetic &
prose sensibility gradually
filling earthly days-years!!

Now, I have fashioned my poem,
God’s poem, from the things of
this earthly life giving forms and
permanence to the ephemeral,
however imprecise and allusive,
with a fitful tracing of a portal
allowing me a fleeting glimpse
of an eternal country of reality.(2)

1 Isaac Watts quoted in Toynbee, op. cit., p. 3.
2 John Hatcher, The Arc of Ascent, George Ronald, Oxford, 1994, p.25.

Ron Price
27/9/'12 to 3/10/'14.


JOHN OSBOURNE AND I

Part (i)

John Osbourne(1929-1994) English playwright, screenwriter, actor and critic of the Establishment, it is said,
never had any real subject but himself. In Look Back in Anger, a broadly political rage against the nuclear arms race, the ruling class, and the welfare state is inextricably intertwined with attacks on lovers, friends, and family.  In the play’s most famous speech, Jimmy seems to be angry about having nothing to be angry about: “There aren’t any good, brave causes left.”  In a year when Khrushchev denounced Stalin, the first airborne H-bomb was dropped on Bikini Atoll, the US Supreme Court ruled against the segregation of public buses, Martin Luther King’s house was bombed, the French prime minister resigned over the Algerian war, Polish miners were shot down by Soviet troops, Fidel Castro launched his invasion of Cuba, General Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, and the Hungarian uprising broke out, this was a peculiarly blinkered claim. His play, Look Back in Anger, is almost pure autobiography, and as John Heilpern makes clear in his biography, the anger in it is so deeply personal, with such singular causes, as to make nonsense of it as politics.

Osbourne’s view of the world was always narrow. “The only life I can explore—or begin to even chart—is my own,” he wrote in his notebook in 1972.  Given the strongly autobiographical nature of my own writing, these words of Osbourne are of interest to me; paradoxically my writing and my interests are also global as well as astronomical and astrophysical.  Osbourne's life, as John Heilpern’s chatty, engaging, and passionately sympathetic 2007 biography shows, is fascinating, if often repellent.  But Osbourne’s inability to transcend it makes him a paradoxical figure: the most significant minor playwright in the history of English theater. Osbourne was a very different man to me. The contrasts are, for me, quite startling. In so many ways Osbourne provides a polar opposite to who I am, to the way I am. For a review of Heilpern's biography of Osbourne in The Guardian go to:http://www.theguardian.com/books/2006/may/14/biography.features

Part (ii)

In the 1950s and ’60s Osbourne was easily Britain’s best-known playwright. I joined the Baha'i Faith at the time, finished university and began my career as a teacher. I did not know Osbourne even existed so occupied was I with my own agenda, with surviving a schizo-affective disorder and the academic and personal demands on my life.  Osbourne's main mental health issue was depression which was exaccerbated by his use of alcohol and drugs. Osbourne grew rich, though, as co-producer and Oscar-winning screenwriter of Tony Richardson’s “Tom Jones” (1963). He earned more money than he knew what to do with. He bought a house in Belgravia and a Bentley, employed secretaries, servants and chauffeurs. I always had enough money on which to survive, but I was never in the financial big-leagues.

By the 1970s, this famous writer of the 1950s and 1960s, was swallowing one bottle of vodka and a couple of bottles of wine every day, along with unreckonable amounts of Champagne, codeine and amphetamine. He never again wrote anything so good or popular as the four plays of the 1950s and the last of them finished in 1964. He spent his last years in a big house near the hilly Welsh border, struggling with bad health and debts. Time will tell how I will spend the last years of my life, but it will not be in a big house.


DIVINE DISCONTENT

I do not possess Shakespeare's or Johnson's intellectual grace or their ability to capture a moral point, coin it with its exact weight and density at the right moment, and freshly imprint it with a human face.  They were both a writer’s writer who beckoned individual creative power and brought both dignity and self-sufficiency, professionalism and the supreme importance of individual conscience to the writing game.
There is a grandeur in Shakespeare and Johnson's work that comes, arguably, from their oppressed spirit, their divine discontent and, arguably, from their spirits in search of a home and never finding it.  Neither of these men knew great peace, but they always suspected that their journey was common to humanity. The subject of the personalities of these two men is far too complex and extensive to deal with here, but I mention these great writers as a form of contrast and comparison with my own life and writing. I circle around these men to gain helpful perspectives on my own life.

I have enjoyed, or so it seems to me, much more peace than either Shakespeare or Johnson, perhaps due to the miracle of modern pharmacotherapy, and the mircale of a new Revelation both of which were not available to humankind until the last two centuries. 
But their divine discontent I have known for decades. I have longed, as far back as I can remember, for things I will never obtain and this longing, this enemy, this robber of my quiet I have shared with these men of commitment.

OBSESSIONS and COMPULSIONS

Part 1:

Authors need obsessions, at least some authors; it’s their immoderate and uncontainable, rational and irrational preoccupations that feed their creative energies. On any obsessive-compulsive disorder spectrum that one finds in psychiatry, at least according to one of my psychiatrists, I am at the very low end at about a 1 or 2(out of 10), although my wife might disagree. 
I have a strong attraction and drive, a degree of compulsion and enthusiasm, of infatuation and of one-tracked mindedness, a passion and preoccupation, a penchant and a predisposition, with what is for me the magic and magnetism that is writing and what might be called the cultural attainments of the mind.

The best writers can lead readers to share their obsessions or manias. By the time I came to the role of writer and poet on a full-time basis I was in my late middle age(55-60), and the first decade of late adulthood(60-70).  Late adulthood is the period from 60 to 80 according to one model of human development used by psychologists.  By the age of 60 I had acquired a number of manias & I have found readers in cyberspace to share these manias. Actually, I don't use the word mania here in the sense that it is used in psychiatry. Mania, at least in the psychiatric sense, varies in intensity, from hypomania, a mild mania, to full mania with extreme energy, racing thoughts, and forced speech.  For a detailed description of mania in the field of psychiatry go to this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mania  I have had mania many times in my life in the psychiatric sense as part of my bipolar I disorder(BPD).  I would not wish mania, at least the varieties of mania that I had, on anyone.  They were no tea-party. This is partly because my variety of BPD, of which there are now at least 6 for students of the field. is known as bipolar 1 disorder. It is the most severe form of BPD.

Part 2:

I use the word mania in the more colloquial, the non-psychiatric, sense as: compulsion, craving, craze, desire, enthusiasm, fascination, idée fixe, infatuation, obsession, on the brain, partiality, passion, preoccupation.
  After some 15 years of writing online & possessing obsessions about all sorts of things of which writing is the central-linch-pin, I have discovered a reading public I could scarcely have imagined in my 50 years of student and employment life: 1949-1999.  Obsessive-compulsiveness, at least some degree of this human characteristic, what in some ways is a disorder, has characterized my life since my early childhood.  For more on this subject of writers and obsessions go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/books/review/what-elizabeth-taylor-did-for-womens-rights.html?scp=1&sq=Camilla%20Paglia&st=cse  For more on Johnson go to this link:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/oct/08/the-powers-of-dr-johnson/?page=1

In a review of the life and writing of the American novelist Norman Mailer, in The New York Times in 1982, the reporter Michiko Kakutani says of Mailer that he had fashioned a career in which he has continually reinventing himself and his style of writing.  Mailer came to writing early in life while I came to it late, in my 50s and even more in my 60s. But looking back, looking as far back as my childhood in the lifespan, I feel I have reinvented myself many times. I've had more achieved and ascribed roles, more self-dramatizations, more public inventories, so many different kinds of experiences in different towns  and cities, states and countries, jobs and roles that writing has been my way of communicating them.  As Mailer puts it, "they must be communicated or they and you will wither and die, bad things will happen to you if they are not communicated."  One writes, he goes on, to understand oneself and others better, and one can't understand others until one has plumbed the depths of one's own obsessions. I have never had any easy optimism about how much I can affect my readers; more than 30 years in classrooms as a teacher and two decades as a student gave me a solid dose of practical realism if not some pessimism and, I should add, some optimism. To put this in another, and in some ways a more important way: as I grew into my 60s, I began to see my writing role as that white light broken-down into a prism of different colours, different roles, different contexts. I began to see myself not only as the embattled artist but as the alchemical artist. Writing became both war and game, magic and mysticism--and so much more.

Part 2.1

A number of the world’s greatest Jewish artists and writers have grappled with mental illness and/or committed suicide.  A partial list could include American Abstract Impressionist painters Jackson Pollack and Mark Rothko who had clinical depression (Rothko committed suicide); American writers, poet Delmore Schwartz, and humourist and writer S.J. Perelman suffered from clinical depression and took their own lives; writers Allan Ginsberg, Jules Feiffer, Norman Mailer, Jerzy Kosinski and Primo Levi all had clinical depression. (Kosinski and Levi died by their own hand). Playwright Neil Simon reportedly has clinical depression as well as music producer Phil Spector and Grammy-award winning musician and composer Paul Simon. And American Jewish actor-writers Carrie Fisher, Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller all reportedly have bipolar disorder. Not all creative people have bipolar disorder and not all people who have bipolar disorder are creative. But any autobiography I write would have to include my story of what I call "my chaos narrative." You can read it at:http://bahai-library.com/price_mental-health_history_autobiography-memoir


MEMORY

Speak, Memory,
Vladimir Nabokov(1899-1977), the Russian novelist, called his book about his childhood years, and in this incantatory title we can hear our human dread of forgetting. “The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness,” reads the book’s first sentence. The crack of light may be described as memory itself—that fickle and unreplicable network of experience and associations from which we construct who we are, who others are, and what we may expect from them and from ourselves. The neurosystem in which a vertiable cascade of memory occurs, with its branches and transmitters and ingeniously spanned gaps, has an improvised quality that seems to mirror the unpredictability of thought itself. It is an ephemeral place that changes as our experience changes, to the point where we are incapable of remembering the same event in exactly the same way twice.

"Memory," Sue Halpern, in her book Can’t Remember What I Forgot: The Good News from the Front Lines of Memory Research(2008),
reminds us, “is not an archive,” nor does it record in real time. Memory lives in the brain “in chemical traces, traces that can fade and can be augmented.”  Memory depends on one’s experience and observation. The intensity of an experience may sharpen the memory of it, while making it even less accurate. During situations of extreme stress, for example, the body is flooded with damaging amounts of the hormone cortisol, causing communication relayed by neurotransmitters and other chemicals in the brain to break down. For more go to this link:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/24/arts/24iht-idbriefs24B.13164161.html

ORDINARY AND INSIGNIFICANT INDIVIDUALS

Old-style historians used to focus on kings and great statesmen, on the deeds and words of the famous and the eminent, on wars, on victories and defeats, on crashes and crises, scandals and miracles; only the most eloquent geniuses had access to the witness box in the court of History; the humble voices of the anonymous masses, the confused rumble of everyday life, were entirely lost to posterity, except under the microscope of some specialist, except for the few readers.  For history from the perspective of ordinary people go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Improving_State_of_the_World, to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_history and/or to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_history

Until the 20th century the whole question of literacy was highly complex as this essay indicates:http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001460
  Even now in 2012 some 15% of the world's population of more than 7 billion are illiterate, or functionally so.  The issue of literacy is still complex but in very different ways to those before the 20th century. In 1970 40% of the world's population was illiterate.  Of that portion of the world's population which can read a great per centage can only read at a minimal level of functionality.  For more on this subject go to:/146061e.pdf, or to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_illiteracy and/or to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy

I AM ONE OF THOSE ORDINARY INDIVIDUALS

Modern historians, of at least some schools of historiography, are now attempting to redress the focus on kings and wars, the famous and the rich, and the state of the study of history and its affairs. They are doing this by drawing information from more diverse sources and by allowing more space to what would previously have been deemed too ordinary and insignificant to deserve recording.  There is now a vast body of my writing for future historians and biographers, for example, that will help them understand my own personality and my psychology and, in the process, my own times, if anyone should so desire.  My life will not be some elusive entity as the vast majority of the personalities and individual psychologies of my fellow believers, and as virtually everyone I have known in my life, who will remain somewhat elusive. We all try to work out where we belong in the great scheme of things and we all come up with very different answers ranging from: no place at all in a meaningless universe at one end of the spectrum to a profound sense of destiny and purpose, menaing and significance at the other end.

My writings—in its many genres from miscellaneous memoirs to poetry—form a considerable mass, the exploration of which will be quite daunting, yet I hope always rewarding in some way or other to the serious student of my time and age. At the same time I am not a celebrity, a person of distinguished achievement in some field, just part of that warp and weft, that thread, that tapestry of insigificant people who represent the vast majority of humankind: neither rich nor famous.  If, though, as one of those first environmentalists Henry David Thoreau once wrote,
"a man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone," I am a wealthy man.


SHIFTINGS IN THE LIFESPAN: EARLY RETIREMENT

Shifting Involvements is a book by Albert Hirschman(1915-2012). Hirschman was an influential economist and the author of several books on political economy and political ideology.  This book was published in 1982, the year I moved north of Capricorn to the Northern Territory in Australia. The book investigates the dramatically different attractions of political engagement and private life, and shows how the disappointments of one can lead to heightened interest in the other. For example, the protest movements of the 1960s were inspired, at least in part, by widespread disappointment with the experience of wealth-seeking and consumption, emphasized in the 1950s. Albert Hirschman, who died late last year, was one of the most interesting and unusual thinkers of the last century. An anti-utopian reformer with a keen eye for detail, Hirschman insisted on the complexity of social life and human nature. He opposed intransigence in all its forms. He believed that political and economic possibilities could be found in the most surprising places.

I mention Hirschman and his book Shifting Involvements because, by the time I was 55, I had had a life of many successes and not a few failures, going back as far as my first memories in the late 1940s.  After five decades of more involvements that I care to recount, I was also ready for a shift in my involvements, my MO, my modus operandi, in life.  I did what some in Australia call "a 360", and what others call "a sea-change".   I retired from the job world, the world of paid employment, with its 50 to 70 hours a week of responsibilities; I gradually stopped going to endless meetings in connection the various volunteer community responsibilities I had outside my job; my children left the nest. I recreated,  reinvented, myself as a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, online blogger and journalist, reader and scholar. Now, more than eight years later, 2006 to 2013, I have a modus vivendi, a way of living to use an old Latin phrase, that will take me to the late evening and nightfall of my life. If senile dementia or some other debilitating disease incapacitates me, my daily MO may change. Time, of course, will tell.

WHAT I WRITE ABOUT: THANKS TO ANNIE DILLARD

Part 1:

Annie Dillard(1945- ) is an American author, best known for her narrative prose in both fiction and non-fiction. She has published works of poetry, essays, prose, and literary criticism, as well as two novels and one memoir. Her 1974 work Pilgrim at Tinker Creek won the 1974 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Dillard taught for 21 years in the English department of Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut.

In her essay in The New York Times about the subject of writing she says, among other things:
"Hemingway studied, as models, the novels of Knut Hamsun and Ivan Turgenev. Isaac Bashevis Singer, as it happened, also chose Hamsun and Turgenev as models. Ralph Ellison studied Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. Thoreau loved Homer; Eudora Welty loved Chekhov. Faulkner described his debt to Sherwood Anderson and Joyce; E. M. Forster, his debt to Jane Austen and Proust."  All writers have models from which they learn. I've had Roger White, Edward Gibbon, Shoghi Effendi, Joseph Epstein, and many others.

....Dillard continues.....

Part 2:

"By contrast, if you ask a 21-year-old poet whose poetry he likes, he might say, unblushing, ''Nobody's.'' He has not yet understood that poets like poetry, and novelists like novels; he himself likes only the role, the idea of writing, the thought of himself in a writer's hat. Rembrandt and Shakespeare, Bohr and Gauguin, possessed powerful hearts, but not powerful wills. They loved the range of materials they used. The work's possibilities excited them; the field's complexities fired their imaginations. The caring suggested the tasks; the tasks suggested the schedules. They learned their fields and then loved them. They worked, respectfully, out of their love and knowledge, and they produced complex bodies of work that endure. Then, and only then, the world harassed them with some sort of wretched hat, which, if they were still living, they knocked away as well as they could, to keep at their tasks
."

I, too, have produced a complex body of work. But the world has not as yet harassed me. Whatever fame I have achieved is spread like a think canopy over the internet and no one can see it.  For more of Annie Dillard on the subject of writing in The New York Times in 1989 go to: http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/03/28/specials/dillard-drop.html "

Part 3:


"At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it."  I looked for it by degrees throughout the 1960s and 1970s. And it was handed to me in the 1980s and more and more as the years went on. "You search, you break your fists, your back, your brain, and then---and only then---it is handed to you." I certainly broke my back and my brain in many ways in the '60s and '70s. When it was handed to me, I did not realize it; I slowly realized what I had been given, again, as the years went on.

"From the corner of your eye you see motion," Dillard goes on. "Something is moving through the air and headed your way. It is a parcel bound in ribbons and bows; it has two white wings. It flies directly at you; you can read your name on it. If it were a baseball, you would hit it out of the park. It is that one pitch in a thousand you see in slow motion; its wings beat slowly as a hawk's." I've been hitting the ball out of the park for some 20 years now: 1992 to 2012.


Part 4:

"One of the few things I know about writing is this," Dillard says. "Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely & abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
" I've been giving it away freely and abundantly for years. I have not had the impluse to save any of it as it comes up like well-spring-water.

MARK TWAIN AND ME: PART 1

“The truth is,” the famous American author and humorist Mark Twain (1835-1910) told a friend, “that my books are simply autobiographies.”  He meant this in the sense that his books: novels and journals. travelogues and letters, inter alia---are stocked not only with fictional versions of people he had known, including himself, but also with his views on just about every conceiveable subject.  Starting around the age of forty, circa 1875, he made his first tentative efforts at a memoir of the conventional kind.  Already famous as the author of The Innocents Abroad, Roughing It (1872) and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), he had reason to think that there was money to be made from such a memoir.  A big spender and a bad investor, Mark Twain needed money virtually all the time.  At first he did not advance very far with the project of his memoir.  He allowed only a few bits of his memoiristic ramblings into print in the form of magazine pieces now and then before he died. 

Like Mark Twain, I also got a few bits of my memoiristic ramblings into print about the age of 40 & I received $5.00/week for them from a newspaper proprietor in the small town of Katherine in Australia's Northern Territory. I was famous in that little town which was a little like being famous on the moon from a national, to say nothing of a global, perspective. Beginning in my late 50s, in the decade, 2001 to 2012, I published extensively. But there was neither fame nor wealth to be had by this exercise in cyberspace.

The first posthumous sections of Mark Twain's memoirs, what became in time his autobiography, were published in 1924 in a sanitized form 14 years after his death by his first biographer Albert Bigelow Paine. Later B
ernard DeVoto included parts of the memoir in his compilation entitled Mark Twain in Eruption (1940), and then the memoir appeared more authoritatively in a book entitled The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959). This book's editor, Charles Neider, presented that scattered memoir's materials “in the sequence which one would expect from autobiography.” 

According to another view: "Mark Twain provided twenty-five individual chapters of his autobiography to the North American Review during 1906 and 1907. The material was chosen by Twain in collaboration with George Harvey, then editor of the North American Review, and Twain had the final say on what material would be included. “Chapters from My Autobiography” can be considered the one text of his life story that Mark Twain offered the reading public. That text appeared in book form in 1990 as Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography; a second edition appeared early in 2010."See this link:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/07/twain-twain/


MARK TWAIN AND ME: PART 2

Since my autobiography or memoir was also begun, like Mark Twain's, around the age of forty, and since all of my writing is, as
was Mark Twain's, "simply autobiography," I encourage readers to go to the following link to read about the more than 700 page Volume 1--of a projected three volume work--of Mark Twain's autobiography just published in 2011.  Mark Twain hoped his autobiography was something that would have a life of at least 1000 years. The famous 20th century poet W.H. Auden( 1907-1973) was interested in having his writing of use to future generations or, as he put it so graphically, "the words of a dead man can be modified in the guts of the living.
" I rather like these ideas in relation to my own work but, as that fine poet T.S. Eliot(1888-1965) points out, and as I have already indicated above, writers need to be prepared for the possibility that all of their writing may, in the end, come to naught. 

Joseph Conrad(1857-1924), one of the great English novelists, expresses the same idea a little differently. "Good artists," he writes, "should expect no recognition for their toil and no admiration for their genius." Their toil, Conrad continues, can only with great difficulty be appraised and their genius cannot possibly........I leave the rest of this idea of Conrad's to readers should they take an interest in his views on the talents of writers. 
Perhaps all my writing may go down the internet gurgler into some endless ether of cyberspace, or sewer of deleted content. The following link will put much of my own work in at least one of its many possible perspectives, what you might call a Mark Twain, or more accurately, a Samuel Leghorn--for that was his real name--perspective.http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/feb/24/his-own-best-straight-man/

PART 2.1

This website and my writings in general exhibit my tendency, my non-enslavement to consecutiveness in writing which most writers are chained to in different ways. That is, I write as I think, and as all men think, without sequence, without eloquence, with only one eye on what went before or should come after. If something beyond or beside what I am saying occurrs to me, I invite it into my page.
“When you recollect something that belonged in an earlier chapter," Mark Twain advised his brother who was thinking of writing his autobiography, "do not go back, but jam it in where you are.” The more he worked at his own memoir, the more he took his own advice. That is also the way I work, or at least one of the main ways I work, both at this website and in many other places in my writing.  Although with the wonderful advances in the technology available to a writer: the word-processor and the internet, I can often go back and rework a piece with a few clicks of the mouse sitting as it does beside my keyboard. Thus I have Mark Twain's modus operandi and the word processor working in tandem as well as the methods and styles of other writers to draw on from this vast cornucopia of sources---the world-wide-web.

SECRET TO THE WAY I WORK

All writers have some secret about the way they work. Mark Twain, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Truman Capote, Charles Simic, Jean Jacques Rousseau and many other writers wrote in bed.  Vladimir Nabokov even kept index cards under his pillow in case he couldn’t sleep some night and felt like working. What could be more natural, at least for some, than scribbling a love poem with a ballpoint pen on the back of one’s beloved?  Edith Sitwell supposedly used to lie in a coffin in preparation for the far greater horror of facing the blank page. Robert Lowell wrote lying down on the floor.  Many people write on the floor.  I’ve written in bed, on the floor and many other places, but I prefer the big rotatable chair my son bought for me after I retired. It sits in front of my computer monitor and keyboard in my study.  At least that has been the case in the last dozen years since I took to writing full-time.  I think, though, that the core of my secret, the secret to the way I work, is that I have little interest in doing anything else except reading from the vast cornucopia of literature now available in cyberspace. Quotidian reality continues to occupy my time as does sleeping and I take a great deal of interest and pleasure in both these occupations, occupations which take care of two-thirds of the day with their assortment of tasks and necessities: eating and drinking, sleeping and resting, walking and listening to music, socializing and being silent, removing waste material from my body and my home and, on occasion chatting to my wife about what must be talked about in any marriage of several decades.

By the time I came to writing FT at about the age of 60 in the first years of the 21st century---computer technology had advanced to such an extent that all I needed was: a quiet, safe and comfortable place, free from distractions like the telephone and visitors, as well as the sound of dogs, radios and televisions.  I needed, of course, my computer, a refrigerator and a kitchen with food, a wife who provided the minimum of company I needed and who kept the appearance of our suburban garden respectable, at least 8 hours sleep in a 24 hour period, a place near my study to go to the toilet due to my phase 3 moderate chronic kidney disease and, finally, but most importantly, I needed my active brain to reflect on my 8 decades of living and the vast information industry at my fingertips.

LITERARY FORM: WILLIAM JAMES AND ME

It is fruitless to search for a high degree of coherence and a strong narrative line in my work, although what I write is not totally devoid of these characteristics.
The verbal arts like the poetry and prose that I write is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become.  Whether what I write will "become" anything that gives pleasure over time to many others in the future of humankind, only time will tell. I have seen my task over the years in many ways. One of these ways is to locate an literary-artistic shape amid what often seems, as the psychologist William James put it, the blooming and buzzing chaos of reality.  Literary form gives focus to content; for this reason I use a variety of literary forms to deal with a wide range of content.

The context for James' remark is: "The baby, assailed by eyes, ears, nose, skin, and entrails all at once, feels it as one great blooming, buzzing confusion; and to the very end of life, the location of all things that we see in one space is due to the fact that the original extents or bignesses of all the sensations which came to our notice at once, coalesced together into one and the same space.  There is no other reason than this why the hand I touch and see coincides spatially with the hand I immediately feel." For more on Mark Twain and this somewhat complex idea about perception go to:
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/feb/24/his-own-best-straight-man/

MY MEMOIRS: MARK TWAIN AND W. H. AUDEN

Part 1

Sometimes this many-genred autobiography of mine feels like a letter to posterity in the sense of Twain and Auden(1907-1973) as I indicated above.  At other times, reading what I have written feels like I am eavesdropping on a conversation I am having with myself.  Unlike Samuel Leghorn, alias Mark Twain, there are never any financial considerations in my literary work.  Approaching the age of seventy, I have mortality on my mind.
  I'm sure some readers will find my work what some have already found it: "a disjointed and largely baffling bore," "a ratbag of scraps," or "as if they are trapped in a locked room with a garrulous old coot."  But I also like to think that some of those now alive and some of those not yet born may find my many-mansioned work, this now enormous house of words, a gift from a time-traveler whose voice is and will remain amazingly fresh. I hope that is the case for at least a coterie who find that a taste of my work will wet their whistles for a good solid meal of my writing.  Writers like to have readers in a similar way that talkers like to have listeners.

In writing about the past as I do in my memoirs, writing about my life, my society and my values and beliefs--in a word my religion--the power of association is very important as I snatch mouldy dead memories out of their graves and make them live and walk. So often in life, whether talking or writing, we have two opinions: one is private and it is wise not to express, and another one which is the one we use and wear to please those present or the readers. In my autobiography, and in daily life, I try to steer a middle ground between the two. Any picture of oneself as a self-consistent creature is a false picture.  I like to see myself as a connoisseur of my own contradictions as well as the contradictions and paradoxes, the enigmas and inter-relationships of existence, as someone who reinvents himself to some extent everytime he writes.


Part 2

We are each and all houses divided, especially in this age, these times of tempest and trials, catastrophes and chaos and we do our best to deal with our internal divisions and the divisions external to ourselves in the public domain. Much of my writing is aimed at helping others overcome these divisions, internal and external. I hope to play some small part in this complex and never ending process of achieving unity in diversity.  For without unity in diversity there is only chaos and anarchous individuality. There is, of course, plenty of that, even with the unity in diversity which I espouse philosophically, religiously and cognitively.

To put one of the aims of my writing I will draw on the way that Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden once put his aim: "A real book is one that reads us."  Of course, I know more than anyone that what I write will only be of value to a few.  I am not trying to be a great man, but I am trying to be a craftsman, a wordsmith, working at the edge of what is his best writing, constructing phrase by phrase and sentence by sentence a total oeuvre.

Part 2.1

I am also trying to express by means of my writing the appeal that reason, the senses, tradition and intuition have had as far back as I can remember in determining what is true.  I also write to express my need for a form of authority that expresses a balance in my life and its journey, a balance between autonomy and obedience.  I believe that I have preserved within myself the autonomy of a free thinker—or at any rate a thinker who has freely chosen to subordinate himself to the ideas and dictates of a system of authority
. To put this another way: I have long had a Faith, a belief system with its certitude that also, paradoxically, preserves an internal sense, a context, for freedom and doubt. Writing is, for me, one of my many vices and addictions.  It is both an illusory and a real release, "a presumptuous taming of reality,”as American novelist and poet John Updike(1932-2009) once put it, an activity to channel the driving forces of an intellectual curiosity.

My curiosity and my work ethic are not anywhere near as ferocious as Updike's or many other writers who have produced dozens of books.  I also lack his seeming superhuman facility. The portion of some lies in a thimble and others in a gallon-measure, as Baha'u'llah put it so succinctly in the last half of the 19th century writing as He did from the periphery of western civilization.  T.S. Eliot’s dictum for a critic was: “the only method is to be very intelligent."  I've never been sure just where I stood on this ground, that measuring-rod of intelligence. In literature, in the world of writing where I now have millions of words, quantity tells us nothing in itself about quality. Neither does the feedback of others which can, and in my case does, vary from high praise and enthusiasm to fierce criticism, rejection or indifference.


MARILYN MONROE and ME

Unlike Marilyn Monroe who gave more, some photographers argue, to the still camera than oneone else in the first century and a half of photography(1826-1976), I give very little to cameras in these years of my late adulthood, the years 60 to 80 according to some human development psychologists.  According to the photographer Richard Avedon, Marilyn "gave more to the still camera than any actress—any woman—I’ve ever photographed….She was able to make wonderful photographs with almost any photographer, which is interesting—and rare.”-Richard Avedon. See the following link:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/mar/10/marilyn/
  For a prose-poem on the 50th anniversary of the passing of this famous icon of the movie world, go to this link:http://www.artreview.com/forum/topics/reflections-on-the-50th-anniversary-of-the-passing-of-marilyn   On the subject of photography I have written the following at some internet sites:
http://www.movieweb.com/u/ronprice

http://www.actnow.com.au/Members/RonPrice(scroll down)

ON PHOTOGRAPHY

Here are two paragraphs on photography from an essay I have yet to post on the internet:

"It is not the person who steps out in a photograph," wrote sociologist David Frisby(1944-2010), "but what can be stripped away from him."(1)  Instead of being an aid to memory and knowledge, photos often function to encourage the opposite tendency.  Photos, wrote Frisby that world authority on German social thought, gobble-up our world. They snatch our world from death; total presentness is established and history, paradoxically, is absent inspite of the sense of reality conveyed by the photograph. It is a reality we can no longer touch. We experience nostalgia, the inevitability of separation, mystery and, sometimes, bitterness. We experience a feeling of magic. Sometimes narcissism is fostered, Baudelaire once wrote.(2)

However critical one is of photographs, the family portrait and the photo album, and for many now their internet blog, Facebook page or computer-directory of digital photos, assume a significant place in people's homes.  Although the photo may give an undue emphasis to the outer world, it can also become part of a balanced inner and outer experience. "The best part of beauty," wrote Irish-born artist British figurative painter Francis Bacon(1909-1992), "is that which no picture can express."(3)  Photos are suggestive and, if they do not suggest much more than is in the photos, they have little use or power.  Diane Arbus(1923-1971), American photographer and writer, puts the idea in a clever way: "A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know."

------------------FOOTNOTES--------------------
(1) David Frisby, Fragments of Modernity: Theories of Modernity in the Work of Simmel, Kracauer and Benjamin, Polity Press, 1985, p.155.
(2) Baudelaire in Donald Kuspit, The New Subjectivism: Art in the 1980s, Da Capo Press, NY, 1983, p.404.
(3) Quotations on photography, Internet, January 2003.


BIOGRAPHIES OF MY LIFE: PART 1

Thanks to the existence of my detailed chronological autobiographical study and analysis, future biographers can pursue a more thematic, or some selectively emphatic approach to my life should they so desire to utilize what I have written.  There now exists a burgeoning resource base in the international Baha'i community for future biographers, but there are few extensive autobiographies written by Baha'is during the five epochs 1944 to 2021 on which this international community can draw at some future time.  The few that do exist can be---time will tell of course if they will be---invaluable tools to assist in understanding and assessing the Baha'i experience during these epochs, these decades after the two great wars of the 20th century and the immense shifts in the value and belief bases of society in these same decades.

What the famous Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden(1907-1973) once wrote in relation to his daily writing---has become true of my daily round in this the evening of my life:  "To me the only good reason for writing is to try to organize my scattered thoughts of living into a whole, to relate everything to everything else."  Of course, as that American writer, poet and art collector who spent most of her life in France, Gertrude Stein(1874-1946) once wrote "everything is not related to everything."  So I have to chart the stormy waters of my existence and the tempest taking place in the global society I am part of in my own way.  We all have to do this drawing on whatever resources are at the disposal of each of us or, more accurately, that we know that are at our disposal as we chart the stormy waters and the serene surfaces of life's ocean. The French realist painter Gustav Courbet(1819-1877) sketched many self-portraits in his life, as his attitudes and beliefs, values and experiences changed. One could say that he sketched his autobiography. I do the same by means of my writing.


Part 1.1

There are a few writers whose lives and personalities are so large and so fascinating that every new biography of their lives that comes along  catches-up their enthusiasts all over again. A life of the Brontës, of Dr. Johnson, of Byron, or of Dickens has gripped millions over and over again, generation after generation, as social attitudes and academic orthodoxies change, and the strong views adopted by one epoch become no longer fashionable, as new material becomes available and old material comes to be seen in a different light. There are other writers and artists whose lives are not necessarily that large but views of them change for similar reasons. The publication of Courbet’s collected letters in 1992, put an end to the popularly held view of him as a somewhat boorish provincial who had taken Paris by storm with his pictorial genius.

My own letters, the letters of a man whose personality and life is certainly not large or that fascinating, are now in the National Baha'i Archives of Australia. Will their publication more than 100 years after my passing result in a similar change of views of my life?  Who knows!  As I say, I shall be long gone by then and shall not care a whisker. Will my letters be like those of Dickens most recently drawn by Jenny Hartley from the twelve-volume British Academy Pilgrim Edition of more than 14,000 letters of Dickens addressed to 2,500 known correspondents.  Hartley, as editor, included 450 Dickens' letters in her 2012 The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens.  These letters are more revealing and more intimate than any biography as a record, in Hartley's words, not so much of the “inner Dickens” as of “Dickens in motion." And mine? Who knows what my letters will mean or say to a future generation? Written during this dark heart of an age of transition, they may come to mean nothing at all. I shall not hold my breath waiting for, as I say above, I shall be long gone and shall, I expect, not care a whisker.


BIOGRAPHIES OF MY LIFE:

PART 2


At best I see myself as a minor poet, a minor author; many have got caught-up in my internet ramblings in the last decade; the statistics that I have seen on the internet have made this clear.  In the thousands of my posts which I have placed at innumerable sites, my little gems of delight, if gems they be, can be found.  There are readers who find them to be gems and readers who find them to be grains of sand. That is the way with the offerings of all writers.  It's good to aim for the stars when one writes, but it is also good to have one's feet grounded solidly on terra firma with realistic assessments of the reception of one's work.  As I sketch over the terra incognita of life to whatever extent I can, whereever I must, I enjoy the process whoever reads what I write.

Part 2.1

CHARLES DICKENS

Within months or even years of my demise, my death, I do not expect the first biographies to be appearing, if any appear at all.  I am informed that in 1871, within a year of his death, the first volume of the cornerstone of the Dickens biographical industry was published: the long, personal, revelatory Life of Charles Dickens by John Forster. As I hope to be enjoying the first, and I trust the long, years of my life in the World Beyond, I shall not be waiting to examine that biographical industry developing, as I say if one develops at all.  I trust that whatever waiting I have had to do will be done before my death. My mother used to say: "son, most of life is waiting." Indeed, how right she was. But the Undiscovered Country, as Shakespeare called the Land of Lights, I trust is another question, another kind of experience with 'waiting' left far behind.


"Dickens' books are works of surpassing genius, thrumming with energy, imagination, and something resembling white-hot inspiration; his gift for portraiture is arguably as great as Shakespeare’s, and his versatility as a prose stylist is dazzling."  These are the words of American writer Joyce Carol Oates(1938- ) in her review The Mystery of Charles Dickens in The New York Review of Books, August 16, 2012. Oates is reviewing Claire Tomalin's 500+ page book Charles Dickens: A Life, and Charles Dickens: A Life (Waterstone’s Special Edition) with an appendix of selected letters by Dickens. Tomalin(1938- ) is an English biographer and journalist.

"Dickens," writes Oates, "was at heart a crowd-pleaser, a theatrical entertainer, with no interest in subverting the conventions of the novel as his great successors D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf would have; nor did he contemplate the subtle and ironic underpinnings and counterpinings of human relations in the way of George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, who brought to the English novel an element of nuanced psychological realism not previously explored. Yet among English writers Dickens is, as he once called himself, part-jesting and part-serious, “the inimitable."" Go to this link for more of this review:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/aug/16/mystery-charles-dickens/

The problem with assiduously recorded lives of great artists in biographies that are as fat as bricks is that one is drawn to an interest in the artist’s life because of his or her accomplishments.  Primarily, the biography of a writer is of interest to the extent that it illuminates the work. The often banal details of a writer's life can detract from an understanding and an appreciation of their work.  The worth to the biography is, in this case, questionable. Even an ordinary life, cataloged in every detail, will bloat to Brobdingnagian, that is, a colossal girth, this distorting the human countenance of the writer. Only a very few encyclopedic biographers—Richard Ellman(1918-1987) most illustriously, in his long yet never dull biographies of James Joyce(1882-1941) and Oscar Wilde(1854-1900) in particular—transcend the weight of their material, and make of that material an intellectual entertainment commensurate with their subject.

MORE ON BIOGRAPHIES

Part 1:

A biography or simply bio is a detailed description or account of a person's life. It entails more than basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death—a biography also portrays a subject's experience of these events. Unlike a profile or curriculum vitae/résumé, a biography presents a subject's life story, highlighting various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experience, and may include an analysis of the subject's personality. For more of this general statement go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biography

In The Wall Street Journal(5/10/'12) Joseph Epstein's book Essays in Biography(Axios Press, 600 pages, 2012) was reviewed. Joseph Epstein has a genius for discerning and defining a subject's essence in a few thousand words.  Joseph Epstein is one of the best essayists in contemporary American letters. A traditionalist who adopts a wary view of literary trends and personalities, he takes no prisoners when confronting unwarranted reputations. Here is how his review of Sigrid Nunez's memoir of Susan Sontag begins: "Susan Sontag, as F.R. Leavis said of the Sitwells, belongs less to the history of literature than to that of publicity." Not only has Sontag been put in her place, that place is among literary predecessors who have made spectacles of themselves.

Part 1.1:

Mr. Epstein is, in some respects, a throwback to the Leavis era, with its touting of a "great tradition" in literature. But Mr. Epstein is not a throwback insofar as he is constantly engaged with the present and with an impressive array of subjects: from Malcolm Gladwell to George Washington, from Alexander Solzhenitsyn to Joe DiMaggio "Essays in Biography" is divided into sections on Americans (the largest), Englishmen, popular culture and "Others." He could have included an entire section devoted to critics, since he has pieces on Dwight Macdonald, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin and James Wolcott. For more of this review go to: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390444813104578015023707923646 For Epstein's follow-up book A Literary Education and Other Essays go to this link for a review: http://www.vqronline.org/criticism/2014/08/master-essayist-releases-new-collection



Part 1.2:

The prose of Clive James is buoyant and sportive prose. His ruminations are rarely dull, the reader does wish at times that he’d stick to the subject at hand, using his erudition and enthusiasm actually to give us an appreciation of an artist’s work instead of using it as a springboard for repetitious chatter about his own preoccupations. I say this because I, too, have such a tendency but it is not as marked as in the case of Mr James but, then, I am not the erudite polymath that James is.

I don't have as much stuff in my brain or his ability and literary agility to access the wealth of print in the western intellectual tradition or the pop-culture with which he is much more familiar.
  My writing, though, like that of Clive James, is full of Sayings and Thoughts, but mine are not on James's wildly more inflated scale.  Many of my volumes, like those of James, are not ones that most people will want to read straight through. They are, rather, ones to dip into here and there, volumes to be treasured less for their own sake than for all the other books and writers, topics and themes, they will make the reader want to read. Such is my hope.

Part 2:

Having lived with TV for perhaps a dozen years by the time my first essays were published, I often pictured myself as a type of celebrity.  I wrote, to some extent, as if I was a celebrity, a serious one who would never be famous or rich but had something to say. 
Writers are impressionable people, living out in book-chat land which is what Gore Vidal likes to call the place where we clerks of literature scratch away. We are impressionable, and so we can get seduced rather too quickly. But I am no James and no Vidal. Nor am I even broadly acquainted, and certainly far from intimately acquainted with the English world of letters and its tradition. Writers like Vidal and James are and they serve, for me, as mentors. 

As I passed the age of 71 on 23/7/'15, I felt as if I have just begun my acquaintanceship with the world of letters.
  In the early years of this 21st century, Vidal still wrote vigorously and with witty prose, with a graceful erudition and an ability to attack a misguided point of view by coming up with the facts. He could be funny enough to make me laugh out loud.  Kaleidoscopic were his interests, his energies and the remarkable range of his talents; sweeping and grasping was his prose style, with its mix of the elegant and the wittily vernacular. -Ron Price with thanks to Peter Conrad, "The Public Intellectual", ABC Radio National, 21 June 1998,  5:05-6:00 PM.

Some thinkers have become
media buffoons, hired clowns;(1)
others endlessly serious with a
gravitas, gravitas, gravitas---on
those endless talking head shows:
scholarly, erudite, too much for the
folks who like their seriousness in
a context of lots of tongue-in-cheek.

Some write as if they are changing the
world, reality, remaking existence, and
filtering things through imagination as
they tell us, in fact, we will not perish.

And I write but am never sure of what's
going down, spontaneous, and quietly
calculated, not knowing, and surprised
by joy, with seduction through language,
and a mysterious power which talks to
me, but the talking is like some leaven(1)
that leaveneth the world of being and
furnisheth the power through which the
arts and wonders of the world are made
manifest: subtely and so unobtrusively,
so seductively, yes, very seductively!!!

(1) Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, Wilmette, 1956(1939), p.161.

Ron Price
21 June 1998 to 19 May 2012

1 Peter Conrad, an Australian writer who left Tasmania in 1968 to live in England, says Gore Vidal is such a clown.
Conrad overstates this aspect of Gore Vidal. Vidal has been, for me, a stimulating writer and talker. By the 1960s he had become one of the finest essayists in the English-speaking world.  I've learned something from his provocative style and his erudition, his humour and his satire. Mr. Vidal seems incapable of uttering a dull English sentence. When interviewed he provides a good deal of serious talk about writers and writing. Go to this link for comments on his interviews:http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/01/home/vidal-views.html   In the decade that I've been publishing in cyberspace 2002-2012, though, something seems to have happened to Vidal and his writing. Google has 140,000 pages on his writing---what one columnist calls Vidal's paranoia. See this link for a 2009 article entitled Gore Vidal Has Lost His Mind: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ryan-j-davis/gore-vidal-has-lost-his-m_b_336814.html




ON THE SUBJECT OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Some of my essays, prose-poetic pieces, and online diaries ON THE SUBJECT OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY are found at the several internet sites below:


http://www.my-diary.org/users/465760
http://www.my-diary.org/users/465760

http://ezinearticles.com/?A-Series-of-Articles-on-Autobiography

http://www.elderhope.com/modules/d3forum/index

http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic

http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1967

http://forums.allaboutjazz.com/showthread

http://bahai-library.com/Ron-price