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A.1 PRIMARY FUNCTION
Introductions like this have a primary function: to introduce. They aim to tell readers that what follows might matter to them. Readers are advised, in good introductions, why their making an effort to read the book, or whatever words in whatever format, comes next could be valuable to them in some way. At this website I make an attempt to appeal to taste, pleasure or truth--or all three. After more than 70 years, 1943 to 2015, of attempting to appeal to these human proclivities, and after some 65 years, say, 1950 to 2015, of being engaged in the act of writing, I now have had lots of practice. But practice does not always make perfect, and when one tries to appeal to others by the act of writing or, indeed, by any other act, one is only successful some of the time; one can only appeal to a coterie of the world's 7.3 billion inhabitants as I am currently doing in cyberspace. I only appealed to a portion, a sub-group, of virtually every group I participated in since I joined groups in a host of different ways beginning some time in the autumn of 1943. After more than 70 years now of trying I have come to accept this inevitability.
In a collection of essays by that fine essayist, Joseph Epstein, entitled Partial Payments, he explains where he is coming from: "I find that I have to put nearly everything in my writing, especially my somewhat complicated feelings, arguments and general assessments of writers who, when read at all closely, are never less than complicated themselves." I find the exercise of writing to be a similar experience. Virtually all of my writing, my literary products, is only available in cyberspace. Less than half the world's people currently have access to the internet. The first billion on the planet had the internet by 2006 when my website was in its second edition. The second billion in 2010 had access to my 3rd edition. The third billion was reached by the end of 2014, and they have access to this 4th edition of my website. For a quite precise reading of the world's population updated right up to the minute go to:http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ A few of these people now read my writing with pleasure. There will be more to come as I go through my 70s. Driven as I am to express what I think with and in the printed word, and to guide others to the best of it, I can’t imagine I will stop for a rest until I have to. All being well, I will last until I'm 100 in 2044. Time will tell.
A.2 WINNING AND LOSING
The now famous Sri Lankan-born Canadian novelist, and winner of many prizes especially the Mann-Booker Prize in 1992 for his novel The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje(1943-) puts the task of a writer as follows: "he is someone who uses a pen instead of a scalpel or a blow torch." Like those who use these latter implements, a writer is, as I often say, only sometimes successful, and sometimes popular. Winning and losing is part of life's game for all of us in whatever activity and relationship we enter. Often, if not mostly, we do not know whether we are winning or losing and, if we wait long enough, the winning turns to losing, or the losing turns to winning.
Gordon Meredith Lightfoot(1938- ), the Canadian singer-songwriter wrote about winning and losing in one of his songs. Lightfoot achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music, and has been credited for helping define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s. He has been referred to as Canada's greatest songwriter, and internationally as a folk-rock legend. In one of his songs he says: "winning is often really losing, and losing is often really winning." Some have been moved to call the acts of winning and losing: 'impostures.'
B. FAME AND WEALTH, CELEBRITY AND STATUS
In the world of writing and poetizing, being an author and publisher, online journalist and blogger, researcher and editor, reader and scholar, the concepts of winning and losing are much more complex than in activities like: sport, making money, fighting an illness or weeding a garden. In the world of ideas and writing, the concepts of winning and losing tend to be seen in terms of popularity and fame, celebrity and status. Leo Braudy, the then chairman of the department of English at the University of Southern California back in 1986, is one of the world's scholars of the subject of fame. He began his study of the causes and consequences of fame and celebrity, at least in part, because of a heartache-like experience he had in the early 1970s, an experience not unlike one I had in my love-life in those early 1970s.
His ex-wife published a painful book about their marriage and divorce. As an ambitious writer, Braudy had been striving for years to achieve attention for himself and his work. To figure so prominently in his wife's narrative was, in some ways Braudy said, the fulfillment of a dream: "I believed that writing in the public eye--reviews, articles, books--was one of the highest forms of cultural achievement. To be put in a book by someone else was the next best thing." Readers might like to go to this link:http://articles.latimes.com/1986-12-21/books/bk-3897_1_leo-braudy ....for the 1986 review in the Los Angeles Times of Braudy's book The Frenzy of Renown(Oxford UP, 1986) and his discussion of the complexities and enigmas of fame and success.
To go public, to be published in the glitter and glow of contemporary media was, as Braudy writes, to be entrapped by the gaze of others, to be reduced to their definitions, and to be forced into shapes by the unforeseen and by the innocent aspirations for that golden world of fame. If nothing is free, if there really is no such thing as a free lunch, fame and popularity, celebrity status and wealth, have a price. The sometimes exorbitant psychological and social price individuals have been willing to pay over the centuries for public attention or approval is at the centre of Braudy's book.
......ONE ALWAYS WRITES FOR A COTERIE
I aim to engage readers with the subject matter with which I am engaged. I am now in the early or late evening of my life, depending on how many years I am granted on this mortal coil. After more than half a century in classrooms as a student and/or teacher, 1949 to 2005, I have no illusions regarding the success of one's efforts to win over readers---or talkers, for that matter. In the end one writes for a coterie and the coteries of some writers are larger than others. Some writers have specialist readerships; some write for children; some write to entertain or help people escape. Some, like Donald Hall(1928- ) Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, commonly known as the Poet Laureate of the United States, write to earn money. He also writes to edit the works of others or simply because he is a preeminent man of letters and he enjoys the exercise of his talents. The reasons for writing are endless as are the reasons for reading. A have a very special coterie: the recipients of my annual letters. The last five of these yearly missives, 2011 to 2015, can be found at this link: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/auto.html
For most of my life, for the half century 1949 to 1999, until I retired from the world of jobs, of paid employment, I wrote for students or teachers or both. Occasionally I wrote for the print media, for institutional media in the places and organizations where I worked, or for newspapers, magazines and academic journals where I was keen to get published. I had perhaps as many as 160 to 170 essays published, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, and mostly in newspapers. I also began to write extensively, a great deal of unpublished material: prose and poetry, my memoirs and autobiography back in the early 1980s. A list of some of what became, by the 2000s, my published writing can be found at:http://bahai-library.com/author if you type 'Price' in the search box. Such a list can also be found in my resume at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/27993875/Resume-Bio-Data-Life-Line-CV-Life-Narrative-Jobs
A NON-PARTISAN NON-POPULIST WRITER:
As I approached the age of three score and ten, in July of 2014, I became more than a little conscious that what makes writers and talkers particularly appealing to their audiences is not so much their positions, their take on things, it is, rather, that they appear to feel and fear, admire and instinctively believe what their listeners and readers do, but did not think of saying. Perhaps their listeners and readers in these audiences did think of saying these things, but did not have the courage to say so or the skill with words. Sometimes such writers or talkers assert their appeal by means of a certain adversarial stance, or with the aid of humour, or, now in the world of cyberspace, with talents involved in website design or the capacity to use modern communication technology better than others.
Writers who can use photography and a range of visual techniques, iphones, ipods and ipads, a wide range of website design skills, and their own native cleverness---can promote their work and find readers much more successfully, in many ways, than the simple writer who plods away with his pen and paper or, nowadays, at his keyboard and computer monitor. I've been plodding away in cyberspace, especially in the years after I retired from FT, PT and most casual and volunteer work, by stages, during the years 1999 to 2005.
Although I do not possess many of those tangential skills that I mentioned above, and that are useful in the promotion of one's work, I have been able to use a combination of a range of what are called search engine optimization techniques and native persistence to obtain a readership now in the millions. From 2006 to 2015 I have published millions of words on the world-wide-web and gained, in the process, millions of readers. My fame is found in the interstices of that world-wide-web in time measured in nanoseconds. It is a new kind of fame, a fame which is so obscure as to be non-fame. As far as wealth is concerned: I make about 13 cents a year which hardly covers the cost of my internet provider for more than 2 or 3 minutes.
Given the burgeoning nature of the good writing now available amidst the image and print-glut of the 21st century, a great deal of good writing is never seen by most people as they watch movies and attend to a range of activities now available to modern man. "Good writing is not done," wrote the literary critic, some say genius, William Epsom(1906-1984), "unless there are serious forces at work; and it is not permanent unless it works for readers with opinions different from the author's." It is difficult to assess one's writing as good, and it is even more difficult to assess oneself as a great communicator, even if one has millions of readers as I do. It is said that great communicators can successfully identify themselves and their opinions with the selves of others.
I have done a good deal of identifying with the selves of others in life, but I am far, far, from possessing the skills and interests, rhetorical or literary, of the great communicator, the popular or populist writer. There have been some years when I was a student or a sportsman, a teacher or a tutor, a lecturer or an adult educator, from 1949 to 2005, when I had more popularity than I either needed or wanted. Having tasted popularity's wine, I am fully aware that, at least for me and at least for many whom I have come to be informed about in the world of the celebrity, popularity has its downside. It often is, to put it simply, bitter-sweet. Hundreds of thousands of people, now, out there in our global society also possess some of that enigmatic force of fame and its many ambiguities. Some find it more sweet than bitter; others more bitter than sweet.
Identifying with others is crucial in the helping professions, in the trades, and in many areas of employment, in family life and in friendships, I feel as if I have been involved with this art of 'identifying with others' for a full seven decades. Such an interpersonal skill, identifying that is with others, is crucial in all walks of life. We all need this skill, in one way or another, in varying degrees of intensity and success, for varying lengths of time, depending on our age and our social situation, as well as the constellation of our own needs and wants, motivations and aspirations.
One definition of a demagogue, the most common one, is a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices, sometimes with the help of rational argument and sometimes not. By the age of 18, and certainly by the age of 21 after studying politics among other academic disciplines at university, I had no interest in partisan politics except to follow it from a distance dispassionately and academically. I was also able, as a result of examining various subjects, to find out what disciplines and topics I had an affinity with, and which subjects I did not. Economics and ergonomics, mathematics and meteorology, physics and physiology, business studies and baking, foreign languages and fashion, horticulture and hypnotism, welding and woodwork, were some of the many fields of popular, practical and/or academic culture which I could, and did, easily eliminate from my purview quite early in life, certainly by my late teens and twenties.
A NON-PARTISAN NON-POPULIST WRITER:
I had been innoculated from political party-partisan processes and their associated activities by the involvement of my parents in party politics in Canada in the early-to-mid 1950s. The meetings in our home gave me an intimate association with the processes and, as I say, innoculated me from further involvement. In the late 1950s I also joined a religion which strongly discouraged any active participation in politics in its partisan forms. Some 56 years later I am still a member of this religion. There was no chance, therefore, that during my adult life I would take part in those popular and populist forms of modern politics. There was no chance, therefore, that I could ever become a political evangelical, a party-political enthusiast, even if I possessed the oratorical and/or organizational skills, even if I had a concern for some special interest that would benefit from my party-political bias, or a desire to join some pressure group.
The above statement is not entirely accurate; it does not cover comprehensively my entire life-narrative in relation to advocacy groups. Pressure group activity in some form or another is the lot of just about Everyman at some level of involvement. Advocacy groups, pressure groups, lobby groups, some interest groups and special interest groups, use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion and/or policy; they have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems, as well as the identity of those who take part in those groups. Such groups vary considerably in size, influence and motive; some have wide-ranging long-term social purposes; others are focused and are a response to an immediate issue or concern: whales, seals, dogs, cats, fish, inter alia. Go to this link for more details on this topic of advocacy and pressure groups:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advocacy_group
I have been a member of several advocacy groups since the 1950s. I have been associated with the Baha'i Faith for more than 60 years: 1953 to 2015. That group, the international Baha'i community, acts on behalf of its beleagured co-religionists in Iran and is an active NGO at the United Nations. The Baha'i Faith is the main advocacy group I have been a member of since my mid-to-late-teens. I say more on this subject in the religion section of this site, and its sub-section on the Babi-Baha'i Faiths. I was also a member of several professional and employment organizations: teachers' unions where I was often the secretary of the college branch of my union often because I could write quickly and take care of all the correspondence required. I could also be relied-on to attend meetings, not a popular sport for the most part among my fellow teachers, who wanted a quiet, if not a free, lunch, and not another meeting to attend in their time away from the classroom.
There have also been what seems, in retrospect, like a myriad of volunteer groups I have been involved with since the first years of my childhood, adolescence, and young adult life in the 1950s and 1960s. This highly varied social-volunteer involvement resulted in: (i) my membership in hockey, baseball and football clubs, among other sports, (ii) in being a member of and/or participant in: the Lions Club, Rostrum, Probus, film societies, and several radio stations, and (iii) in signing petitions, being engaged in door-knockings, selling raffle tickets, writing to members of parliament, inter alia. I have received many letters of thanks from one of the many volunteer groups, the Red Cross, with which I have been associated. I have been giving blood for over forty years and, for several years, helped the Red Cross collect money in their door-knock appeals. All of this is just the beginning of a list, far too long to outline here in any more detail. Go to my resume for a summary of my other volunteer activities over the 60+ years: 1953-2014. Google the words: Ron Price Resume, or go to this link:
Religious evangelism, I learned early in life was anathema in most corners of western culture where I lived and had my being. A moderate religious sentiment and public interest was the best kind cultivated in the social domain where I did that living and having my being. There were some enthusiasms which were culturally acceptable, and even encouraged, at least in some circles: sport and socializing, gardening and galivanting, cooking and cleaning, eating and entertainment, jobs and jokes, family and finance, pets and pizzas, public holidays and poverty, tourism and travelling, among a wide range of other enthusiasms in popular and general culture.
I also found, as my teens became my 20s and incrementally, sensibly and insensibly my 30s, that in my writing I could only appeal to popular tastes, desires and prejudices to a limited extent. My interests gradually became: too academic, too esoteric, too non-partisan politically, too scholarly, too bookish, too intellectual, too concerned with learning and the cultural achievments of the mind. For the most part my writing was not in the form of stories, of narrative, of novellas and novels, to keep people on the edge of their seats and wanting more. Without a narrative base in the world of fiction my writing had difficulty becoming populist, popular. This is not to say that I had no interest in anything from the world of popular culture. I have written a great deal about movies and mass society issues, as well as many other topics that are at the core of popular, populist, culture. Go to this sub-section of my website for some of my writing on popular culture: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/POPULAR.html
If ignorance is bliss, then knowledge brings a certain discontent, perhaps in some cases a divine discontent. If one's quintessential interests and commitments have to do with an organization that is centred around a world religion, a religion based on the claim of its Founder to be a new Revelation from God, a claim to be the latest in the line of the Abrahamic religions, then one must tread carefully in the middle-class culture where I have spent my entire life. Like the pedophile, the homosexual, the lesbian, the X-con, indeed, a host of people in roles stigmatized in various ways by mainstream society, the religious enthusiast must wear his or her convictions softly, wisely, without too much heat. The middle class, to say nothing of all the folks in other classes, stigmatize many who don't operate entirely in the mainstream.
Nor everything that a man knows is good to disclose; nor everything that can be disclosed is suited to the ears of the hearer, and not everything that is suited to the ears is timely. Tact and wisdom are essential in social interaction and the sooner one learns that in life the better. Indeed, this sort of social-wisdom, social interaction skills and a verbal repertoire for repartee is something everyone has to learn, in one way or another, as best they can, until the last syllable of their recorded time on this earthly plain, or until senile dementia, Parkinson's Disease, or some other incapacitating malady makes the social domain impossible or at least not a practical area in which to engage.
I have often thought that the basis of my faith is doubt for, without doubt, I could not have faith. Like so many polarities in life: one thing is partly defined by its opposite---like night and day, light and darkness. This, though, is a somewhat complex theological and philosophical issue which I shall leave for the moment. We all have our certitudes in life, our absolutes, which often must be expressed as tolerant assertions of preference, rather than some kind of intolerant insistence on agreement or finality.
In social life it is important, indeed, it is necessary, to maintain some norms as functional and native to civilized discourse and to maintain our personal categorical imperatives without calling down fire from heaven on those who do not agree with us. To use what I have found to be a helpful piece of imagery: it is useful to think of reality or truth as a white light broken-up into the prism of human nature and into a spectrum of values, that is, derivative aspects of the same reality. Still, no one is fooling anyone here. This subject and these themes are going to keep humanity busy for as far as the eye can see. There is no simple manual to sort all this out, to achieve what is often called unity in diversity.
I thank Clive James for the following two paragraphs on Guest Writers. Calling people Guest Writers, says Clive, is probably not the most precise way of distinguishing them from Guest Poets, since poets are writers too. But the nomenclature has the merit of being simple. For all the Guest Writers ON MY WEBSITE prose is the main means of expression even when they are expert poets as well. Some of these writers work as journalists. For most of my professional life I have worked as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator. Any journalist role has always been minimal or secondary until the last 15 years of my activity in cyberspace. I have always unreservedly subscribed, as Clive James has put it, to Jean-Francois Revel's supposedly controversial principle that there are no genres, only talents.
Good writing can come from anywhere, even from the withdrawn spiritual contemplation of the suitably subsidised hermit; but it is most likely to come from writers who are in contact with everyday reality; a condition that journalism tends to enforce. By the time my writing was read by millions in cyberspace I was at least 60 years old, and had had more than my share, indeed, more than enough, of everyday reality, more DMs as I came to call 'deep-and-meaningful discussions,' been a member of more groups than I could count, taught more students at all levels of the formal educational enterprize than I wanted to even try to count, had had nearly 40 years in marriage and on-and-on could go my litany of experience in quotidian reality.
Karl Kraus said a journalist was a writer who, given more time, writes worse. Kraus himself was a kind of journalist; he was also a better aphorist than essayist. Backed up by a trust-fund, and well able to turn up his nose at journeywork, he loftily despised the essay, the piece, and the feuilleton, but this could have been because he had trouble composing them. If a beginner is sensitive enough to his own deficiencies, he soon discovers, head in hands, that composition is three quarters of the trick. You can have all the vocabulary there is, and any amount of linguistic inventiveness, but you have to learn to put it all in the right order. Some of my Guest Writers are chosen for being able to do that, and my hope is that some of the visitors who enjoy what is here to be read will be lured into trying to figure out how it was written. But I think this is somewhat unlikely, at least for most of those who come to read whatever gems I have provided at my website, mine and others.
Somebody else's original gift can't be duplicated, but the study of it can always help to make us a more careful guardian of our own if, that is, we are interested in becoming better writers. Meanwhile, even if the reader has no plans to be a writer himself, there is always an extra fascination in watching a craftsman at work. Writing in any form is never just the style, but it isn't just the subject either. For a list of Clive James Guest Writers and samples of their work go to:http://www.clivejames.com/guest-writers
A HIGHBROW and DOMESTIC LIFE
This studious and cerebral orientation to my life, this particular development in my interest inventory, this somewhat highbrow trajectory to my interests, proved no major problem because I became, after graduating from university in 1967, a teacher and lecturer professionally and remained in those roles until I retired from FT and PT work as a lecturer, as well as casual-volunteer work as a tutor in the years 1999 to 2005. It did not matter so much that I had little interest in sport, in what was on TV the night before, in gardening, in cooking and the endless forms of popular entertainment, in farming and fishing, in fashion and fumigating.
I also married well, at least in some respects and, for nearly 50 years, I have had a wife, a helpmate who has been useful to me as I have travelled the road of life. My first wife, 1967-1974, was adventurous and a talented teacher with many people skills. I, too, had many people skills at the time but, in the late '60s and early '70s, divorce became much more common. The people skills of my first wife and I did not, it seems in retrospect, extend into our marital relationship. See the following link for a historical perspective on divorce in the 1970s:http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-evolution-of-divorce My first wife accompanied me to the Canadian Arctic near Greenland--from our home in southern Ontario and then to Australia which, at the time, was like moving to the moon in terms of its distance from our home in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe.
My second wife, 1975-2014, was an adventurous Australian and multi-skilled in the domestic and mechanical arts, as well as in the arts and sciences. She kept our suburban garden and lawn in impeccable condition whereever we lived in this vast land. She could turn her hand to any fix-it task that presented itself. Since I did not, and do not, seem to be endowed with either an interest in gardening and the domestic sciences, or a capacity to fix anything with parts or even something which had only one part---my second wife has proved invaluable in helping to make domestic life the smooth running operation it needs to be, especially if one is to take on tasks which are not domestic. During the years of this second marriage my professional, my work, commitments usually involved 50 to 70 hours a week and my social and community tasks another 10 to 20. My life from the 1970s to the late 1990s were busy ones raising three kids on the domestic front and being engaged in one way or another with people in all those hours to which I have just referred.
Most of my tasks and talents in life have been far from domestic, although I can get those dishes washed and that garbage emptied as fast as anyone I've known, male or female. And I'm slowly acquiring dusting and vacuuming, general cleaning and cooking to my repertoire. Since my wife is my supervisor in these domestic domains, though, it is unlikely that I will ever graduate into any masters or doctoral programs in Dom Sci. My wife sets the bar high for my "this is good enough" attitude and style. During these years of my retirement from the world of FT jobs, 1999 to 2014, as I say, I have taken on: dusting and vacuuming, washing dishes and emptying garbage as well as a wide range of tasks in the home and garden to keep my end up, so to speak. I think it unlikely that I will pass all the units of study that are my Dom Sci academic program. In these years of my retirement from paid-work I am also involved in many new forms of volunteer and non-volunteer activity in and out of the home, but most of this is in cyberspace that new and burgeoning parallel-universe.
Life is busy when I am: (i) not in bed for 12 hours, a sleeping-and-resting regime that is necessary due to the medications for my bipolar I disorder, and (ii) not writing and reading as I do for 6 to 8 hours/day in each day's 24 hour package. There are only 4 to 6 hours left each day to take care of domestic and culinary tasks, social and community responsibilities, personal entertainment and the satisfaction of one's pursuit of pleasure, pleasures not associated with what I could call my literary life.
The above few words about my two marriages over a total of nearly fifty years hardly even begins to summarize my marital experience. Those 47 years, with at least 4 years of warm-ups with a series of girl-friends from the age of 19 to 23, can not be covered in a few lines here at my website. Readers need to have a gander at my autobiography, its five volumes, and its 2600 pages if they want more detail than what I have succinctly written here. They can go to this link among others links: https://www.google.com.au/#hl=en&biw=1080&bih=537
Newcomers to the site of Australian literary critic Clive James will soon discover, he says, introducing his site, that "it is meant to be rather more than an archive of my own work." James has put a lifetime of his experience as a cultural critic to a new use, and in the process offers a critical guide to the works of thought and art by other people, and sometimes in other eras. The only criterion, James says, for the inclusion of someone else's work is "intensity of expression, with the aim of creating, in this latterday Babelic flux we call the web, an island of quality where every word is meant, and every image meaningful." I like the way James expresses his aims; I share in my own aims much of what James is trying to do. The scope of both my site and that of Clive James is without theoretical limit. It must be said in practical terms, though, that after delineating some 100+ major sub-divisions in this 4th edition of my website, there is a great deal of human experience and many areas of academic study which I have little interest in, and rarely if ever read anything about in these areas. Readers will find vast tracts of human endeavour about which I have never and will never write one word or take much interest in.
MY WEBSITE: MAINTENANCE AND EXTENSION
After a large-scale rebuilding of my personal website in late 2010 and early 2011, a rebuilding process that rationalized and systematized its structure and content in a way that would serve my general writing, intellectual and literary interests, my website was set for some heavy downloading in addition to routine maintenance. I download to my website: (i) articles and essays, books and reviews, information from many sources and other writers, and (ii) my own writing.
Every two weeks the content of this site is backed-up by the online company that designed my site: Define Studio of Mosman NSW. As I write these words, in one of my regular updates of my website, regular viewers of the content of my site will notice that there has already been augmentation in some sections which have acquired links to critical articles about the work of some person to whom I am referrring. The introduction to philosophy section of this website, for example, now contains a sub-section on politics; the introduction to history section now contains a sub-section on economics. There will be a more of this sort of extension into new and other disciplines as the need arises. This is part of my general aim of increasing the scope while maintaining the overall quality of the content of what is found at this 4th edtion of my website. None of this would be possible without the practical know-how of my webmaster and Artistic Director Daniel Sullivan who understands things like: website design and development, building a frame for my website, using what is called CMS, a content management system, web-hosting, inter alia.
I have never been, nor am I now, as disdainful of my creature comforts as was, apparently, that famous English author and journalist George Orwell(1903-1950) of the book 1984 fame. He was uninterested in clothes and sport, fashion and frivolity of any kind, unless that frivolity—like seaside postcards and some magazines—led to some broader social rumination. And so I am now, as I approach the age of 70, comfortably enjoying the evening of my life with my wife. We occupy our empty nest with our children and grandchildren, friends and other relatives making the occasional appearance. Writing and the creativity involved requires---at least for me---comfort, a degree of good health, and a freedom from worry and anxiety, as well as safety and security.
I'm a Canadian and an Australian citizen. I feel at home whereever I go. If I feel that the social setting is going to demand more of my interaction and social competence than I am able to exhibit; if I feel some particular social scene might stretch my abilities to cope beyond my capacity, I stay at home. I would have liked to have been able to travel and teach, consolidate and serve in the wider Baha'i community in these years of my retirement. Sadly, this has proved impossible. Until my retirement at the age of 55, I was happy to travel anywhere as long as: (i) I had some money in my pocket to buy food when I was hungry, (ii) I could talk to those with whom I am interacting in English or in translation, and (iii) as long as I had the energy and the health. Sadly, as I say in recent years, I have been unable to travel due to the fatiguing symptoms of my bipolar I disorder. I also have to limit my social interaction much more than I did from the late 1940s to the early 2000s, from my childhood to the first years of late adulthood. I am still able to serve as secretary and publicity officer for my local Baha'i group, but this group has only 4 members making my task relatively easy and of little demand on my psycho-social energies.
Some writers write to escape from the anxieties of their existence; I write as an expression of its joys and pleasures, its meanings and its endless surprises and juxtapositions. As I head through this last decade of late adulthood, the years from 70 to 80, I seem to find more meanings and pleasures than ever before and writing is simply an outlet for this inner experience and activity in the external world. This is partly because of the new medications I take for bipolar I disorder, as I mentioned above. These medications make it difficult for me to take part in life's social round to a significant extent, like those long talk-fests in which I was engaged from roughly 1950 to 2000. These medications also have the function of enhancing my emotional and intellectual capacity and stability, my feeling and thinking systems, at least while I am awake. I also sleep longer and, of the 12 hours I am in bed daily, I sleep for a solid 8 and dream, seemingly endlessly, again due to my meds. The dreams also seem to be an outlet for or, more accuratley, an expression of all sorts of anxieties.
So it is that I can put words on paper, so to speak, with pleasure and meaning as I head for the age of 70 four weeks from now on 23 July of 2014. If others take any pleasure and meaning from what I write: that is a bonus. Writing is a discovery of a story, a narrative, an explanation, an exposition, a clarification, and so many other things. It's a case of inching ahead on each page, on my computer monitor, and discovering what's beyond in the blankness, the emptiness, the darkness, beyond where I'm writing. It's why I create: so I can discuss and argue with myself, engage in a personal apologetics, and have contact with millions of others whom I will never know and have no desire to know, and with whom I try to keep personal contact to a bare, a very, limited amount.
A HOME FOR MY MIND
Over the more than four decades after graduating from university, and before going on an old-age pension, 1967 to 2009, I was able to find a home for my mind and a job to pay the bills. I was unemployed for 18 months due to illness and, after the age of 55, for the ten years from 55 to 65. I took an early retirement, a sea-change as it is sometimes called in Australia, partly due to my bipolar disorder and partly due to my psychological fatigue with talking and listening, activities in which I had been engaged for half a century: 1949 to 1999. Excess of speech, some poet once said, is a deadly poison. Perhaps some of that deadly poison had come into my veins and some crucial parts of my brain. I am not sure; the sources of that social and physical fatigue I can only partly explain.
I married on two occasions and have been able to raise three children, contribute to society, and fill-in-the-day comfortably--at least most of the time---which we all must do in one way or another. I do not want to give readers the impression that all was easy, that my life was a simple and relaxed trip. The down side of my life can be read in the mental health section of this site under bipolar disorder at this link: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/Bipolar.html Although I have had my share of marital and family problems they were, again and most of the time, of a moderate nature, although not always so. But my tests and difficulties were nothing like those which some writers have with themselves and with some of the various significant others in their lives.
I leave it to readers to examine the many biographies of the tortured and tormented writers, at least some of the ones who were most successful and some of the ones who were not. The following link provides a good start for readers who would like to read about the downside of some writers as well as some of their upsides, some of the ways their emotions and imaginations played with their lives, and how they sketched meaning over some of the fundamental terra incognita of life. http://www.libraryofideas.com/2010/10/strength-to-dream-colin-wilson.html
Generally, though, the lives of writers are not for the most part happy ones. I could site so many examples. Sir Vidia Naipaul(1932-), for example, regarded as one of the most sublime novelists of our age, a man who has won both the Booker and the Nobel Prize for Literature, became known in private for tormenting his first wife for four decades, visiting prostitutes and keeping a mistress for 24 years---before he suddenly abandoned her to marry yet another woman. In our world of moral relativism, a relativism that in some respects discourages judgement and criticism of others, I leave any personal comment on Naipaul to others. I have not been the easiest man to live with in my 47 years across two marriages. Although I have not been the tormentor of the two women I've married, I'm sure they would tell of some of the demands that living with me have placed on them. I can blame my bipolar I disorder for some of my failings; human weakness finds many excuses for bad behaviour and I could provide my own litany. See the following link for more on Naipaul: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1582389/Sir-Vidia-Naipaul-admits-his-cruelty-may-have-killed-wife.html
MY RETIREMENT AND MY WRITING
On retiring from that world of paid employment in the last years of the 20th and the early years of the 21st centuries, and not having to worry any more about paying the bills associated with raising a family, I was able, as I entered the early evening of my life---which for my purposes here were the years 55 to 65----to engage in something I had wanted to do for years. And that was to write. I did not have to write, indeed, I did not want to write for students or teachers. I did not want to write occasionally, when time permitted, away from the demands of employment, family and community for publications in the many-genred print-media. All that sort of writing, I had been doing for decades for just about as far back as I could recall within the memories of my life-narrative.
In life, in writing, as in just about everything: one wins some and one loses some; one appeals to some and only to some. With the burgeoning knowledge explosion and its accompanying print and image glut, with the world drowning in sound, there is a view making its way around the traps about the shrinking attention span of the modern reader especially those who possess a Twitter and Facebook predilection. I am inclined to agree, but only in part. Millions, no billions, now can give their attention to TV for hours on end. Attention is more a question of to what, how often, to what end and the nature of its evolving permutations and combinations over one's lifespan. I also think that: (i) given the yin-yang, the paradoxial, nature of so much of life, and (ii) given the presence of what some call the polarity principle in the world of existence, there is now much more reading going on than ever before by people with great attention spans and the memories of elephants. Maybe this is partly due to the fact that there are now over 7 billion earthlings whereas, when I was born in 1944, there were about 2.2 billion.
I see my readers as joint partners, as adults, in the artistic process with whom my curiosity and delight in the world are to be shared. I never set out to baffle or intimidate, although I'm sure I do occasionally when writing about some subjects of an esoteric nature about which the generality of readers are unfamiliar. While I breath, I write and read and my entranced attentiveness, at least to some of the world's myriad messages and missives, will continue I trust all the way to my deathbed. Like the now famous English novelist Jane Austen(1775-1816), I work on a very confined space, really as we all do in the end, with as fine as brush as I can. I produce, again, as Austen put the results of her work with modesty, "little effect after much labour." Austen produced a special mode of fiction which has come to be seen as a work of art, at least to some. Time will tell how what I write will be regarded. I have been for years, for decades, in love with the products of the literary imagination, both mine and literally 100s, if not 1000s, of others.
I liked the way Joyce Carol Oates(1938- ) saw her life of writing. Oates was and is a prolific American author who published her first book in 1963, the year I began an arts degree in a university located in the lunch-pail city of Hamilton Ontario, my hometown. In that summer of 1963, I worked for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company which, 25 years later, in 1988, was sold to a Japanese company known as the Bridgestone Corporation. Oates has published over fifty novels in those 50 years since 1963, as well as many volumes of short stories. She said that a love of the process and act of writing was at the centre of that daily exercise for her. I could not agree with her sentiments more. That is, clearly, the way it is for me. But one has to unpack that idea, and I do unpack it at this website for readers who take an interest in the content and style of my work. The first sentence of every piece of my writing should be, as the Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje puts it well: "Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human. Meander if you want to get to town." But, I must add, I make no guarantees for those who start out to journey amidst my words. A writer can't keep all readers happily switched-on every step of the way. Most readers will never journey through the thicket of my words and, of those who start out, only a small handful will go all the way.
JAMES JOYCE AND E.M. FORSTER
A. When the lover, companion, inspiration, and eventual wife of the famous Irish poet and novelist James Joyce(1882-1941), Nora Barnacle (1884-1951) said to him, “Why don’t you write sensible books that people can understand?,” he ignored her and wrote Finnegans Wake. Joyce’s ideal reader was himself—that was his style of purity, and purity it was, but only to a coterie. Most people who come to Joyce's work have little idea of what he is talking about or little interest in what he is trying to say. Millions more, indeed most, people never see his work at all since they are essentially non-readers. We all travel life's path and work out our own MO, to use a who-dun-it term. My writing is far more straight-forward and easy to understand but, still, it is not for everyone as I often say. We all fill our life, our days, with a myriad activities and reading my writing is only one of the millions of needles in life's proverbial haystack of things to do.
Style is part of the MO of writers and is the context for the modus vivendi of their decision-making. It is, literally, their site, their place, of action. There is, in some ways, an integrity in writing which can be measured, but only partly. Part of the whole exercise is mysterious like so many other aspects of life, of existence. In the act of writing, a place is found where the self meets the world. This was how Joan Didion(1934- ), an American author best known for her novels and her literary journalism, sees the nature of the style of a writer. Her novels and essays explore the disintegration of American morals and cultural chaos, where the overriding theme is individual and social fragmentation. A sense of anxiety or dread permeates much of her work. Each writer sketches over the terra incognita of life their cosmology and world view.
B. The English novelist E. M. Forster’s(1879-1970) ideal reader was a kind of projection, a hypothetical person, but not necessarily one entirely sympathetic to him. "I've made up an imaginary person whom I call “you” and I’m going to tell you about this person," wrote Forster. "Your age, your sex, your position, your job, your training—I know nothing about all that," said Forster, "but I have formed the notion that you’re a person who wants to read and understand our world, but not necessarily buy my books since there are so many books in the known universe." These words of Forster could very well be my words.
My website and my writings in general have come to play, or will come to play, a small part in the understanding that others come to have of me as a person and as a writer. If readers hang around my site, or read some of my many writings at other sites on the world-wide-web, I may come to play some part in their life. While readers are engaging in the interstices of cyberspace where my writing is found from time to time, a relationship with me will be forged. But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting to see. I'm not likely to know who my readers are most of the time, and I'm happy to have it, to keep it, that way. I've known quite enough people in my 70 years of living and my social need is nowhere near as high as it was for decades.
PHILIP ROTH AND ME
The year I joined the Baha'i Faith, 1959, the American novelist Philip Milton Roth(1933-) came into prominence and fame with his novella Goodbye, Columbus. The novella was an irreverent and humorous portrait of Jewish-American life and it earned him a National Book Award. I mention this here because in 1960, when I was but 15, Roth in his famous essay “Writing American Fiction,” spoke about the difficulty of writing credibly about the time we live in. Our age, our time “stupefies, sickens, infuriates and, finally, even embarrasses me. My meager imagination is overwhelmed by its pervasive conglomeration of stuff." Our time, his time and his world, was a challenge to Roth, as it is to me, and so he wrote books. And so I write now in the evening of my life with the world of family and community responsibilities behind me, with the task of earning a living and paying the bills part of my history, a completed section of my life-narrative.
Roth also wrote that: "I have to have something to do that engages me totally. Without that, life is hell for me. I can't be idle and I don't know what to do other than write." We all want to do things that engage us before we go to bed at night. Then, when we go to bed, we want to sleep and feel, as our heads hit the pillow, that we have had a full and useful day. If that day was not useful, at least it was a pleasantly occupied one. Thanks to pharmacotherapy, drug therapy, I am now having some of the best sleeps and rests in my life. When my head hits the pillow I ponder my day; I take account of its happenings and the overall context of my life. I also wonder to myself: "what will my dreams be about tonight?" My medications incline me to dream more than ever before---every night. I also think: "I wonder how many times tonight I'll get-up to urinate." This, too, this frequent urination, is the result of my history of medications for bi-polar I disorder, especially lithium which I took from 1980 to 2007. My long history of dealing with BPD can be read at this website under the heading mental health, for interested readers.
After 30 years of publishing my writing in the print and electronic media, 1981 to 2011, I agree with Roth on all these counts, although I would express my raison d'etre for writing a little differently. We each try in our different ways to sketch our take on life, to dress it with the garment of words. Readers at this website get a taste of my MO, my take, on the world and especially the time we live in. I take a nod at the past in the history sections of this site and I hypothesize about the future at many of this site's sub-sections. Like Roth, I need to be fully engaged and reading and writing do this for me--as do discussions with my wife. She has always engaged my mind, as much as and often more than my body, especially as we both have grown into late adulthood. Until I retired, when employed as a teacher, and very active in Baha'i community life as well as the wider society, I was also fully engaged. The world of teaching is far behind me now and I have a much more limited social engagement in and with the international Baha'i community and the wider society. This is largely due to my health problems, my bipolar I disorder, which you can read about in the mental health section of this website, as I pointed out above, at:http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/Bipolar.html
What I'm doing when I'm writing is taking something that interests me in life and then trying to solve the problem of the topic, at least on paper. I am trying to get a handle, as they say colloquially these days, on the subject about which I am writing. "How do I write about this?" I say to myself. My engagement is with the problem that the piece of writing raises. The problems I deal with are ones I borrow from my life and from society. Those aren't always or even often solved; they are given a massage, just forgotten or left in abeyance until a way of finding how to write about them is found. I'm also somewhat of an ameliorist: writing which doesn’t leave people either happier or better than it found them, more informed or with greater insight into life, which doesn’t add some permanent treasure to the reader's world, isn’t worth doing. Of course, the reverse is somewhat true: readers who are not affected in these ways by my writing are advised to discontinue reading after giving it a good old college-try. There is so much now in the print and electronic media. People who come upon my work can take it and turn it into personal meaning---or leave it. This hardly needs saying.
EACH WRITER HAS A COTERIE
The provocative and paradoxical ideas to which I have referred above, and the existence of both staggering complexity on the one hand and endless simplicity in our world on the other, lead me to conclude that what I write will have a great appeal. "Great," though, is a relative term. In the end, all writers appeal to only a coterie among the 7 billion earthlings at this mid-point in 2011. Each writer has his or her coterie. I have a very general picture of my coterie from the feedback I have received: (i) in the fifteen years(2001-2015) that I have had my writing spread out at thousands of websites of which this is but one; (ii) in the three decades before that(1971-2001) when my writing appeared in various forms of the print media; (iii) in the nearly four decades when I was a teacher and lecturer(1967-2005), (iv) in the 50 years(1965-2015) I have written letters and emails to more people than I care to count, and (v) in the more than 60 years(1949-2015) I have been either a student or a teacher or both, in real space or cyberspace.
I also know after all this writing over all this time, that my writing is ignored and disliked by many, more than those who enthuse about it. I am not aiming at those who dislike what I write or how I write. I am not aiming at those who ignore what I write and who will never take an interest in reading my offerings. If I had these aims, I'd stop writing now due to discouragement which, if one is not careful, can eat at one's very soul. I've always admired the stance which the novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett(1906-1989) took to his writing and the readers who came across his work. "Success and failure on the public level never mattered much to me," he mused in his often provocative style, "in fact I feel much more at home with the latter, having breathed deep of its vivifying air all my writing life up to the last couple of years." Having spent my entire life being the only Baha'i in virtually every place I have worked, every school I have attended and every public gathering I have participated in, I am used to being commited to positions, religious and social, psychological and historical, which only I hold and which no one else shares with me---at least insofar as my lifelong commitment to this new world Faith has been concerned. Like Beckett, then, I have breathed deeply of that vivifying air of which he speaks. Like Beckett, too, I aim to please myself; I enjoy the craft of writing. If I get readers that is a bonus. I enjoy the bonus.
Writers like to have readers, even the famous Samuel Beckett, and generally in similar ways that talkers like to have listeners. I became aware by sensible and insensible degrees from the 1970s through to this third millennium that I possessed what one critic called the “special and unusual apparatus” to be a writer. That awareness began as far back as 1972 and specifically when I was teaching high school in the northern part of South Australia. I taught in port city, the industrial city, of Whyalla at the time, a city of 30,000 with a Mediterranean climate. Its hot dry summers, hot winds from Australia's Centre, saltbush, spinifex and scrub, and endless brown-grey dry earth were my home for 18 months. That was four decades ago. I had been born(1944) and worked(1961-66) in another port-steel city, the lunch-pail city, as Hamilton Ontario was often called. My first writing was done there(1949-1966) as a student.
Writing is a reflex of absence, an attempt to make contact with a distant, elusive reader. No one understood the tenuousness of the undertaking better than Beckett. But despite his scepticism about what he called "the making relation", Beckett was a loyal friend and a tireless letter writer. I, too, have been a tireless letter writer, not over 60 years as was Beckett(1929-1989) but, thusfar, over 50(1965-2015). I may make the 60 mark if I live until the 2020s. Since my life has been such a peripatetic one, I leave it to readers and those to whom I have written letters to assess just how loyal a friend I have been. Letter writing, like all of my writing, has been to coteries and coteries within coteries. Letter writing often keeps individuals tethered to each other. Moving around so much as I have and with the world's developing predilection for short emails, especially in the Facebook and Twitter domains, have kept my tethers few-and-far-between inspite of my many years of epistolary life. Readers can go to the following links to read two of the more extended comments on my writing life, both its successes and its failures, as well as on my lengthy epistolary life: http://www.shadowedrealm.com/forum/blog and http://bahai-library.com/letters_memoirs_poetry_autobiography
WORDS OF APPRECIATION
As I indicated on the homepage of this 4th edition of my website that leopard is still there. This animal has proved, in a somewhat serendipitous fashion, to be an appropriate opening image for reasons I have explained on my homepage, or access-page as it is also called. I want to thank Morfik and Design Studio, two web-design companies, for the other images in the sequence which opens the homepage of this website. The images come from a photoshoot in 2004 organized by Morfik which was then a computer software company in Hobart Tasmania. I also want to thank, in these opening website notes of appreciation, several free interactive online services, internet sources that made available the rich variety of photographs which embellish the many pages and categories, sub-categories and disciplines, sub-disciplines and areas of study and research, commentary and description, autobiography and analysis, poetry and prose---at this personal website.
Computer generated imagery and dynamic images are not part of this 4th edition of my website, although static scenes and images as well as access to moving pictures like U-tube and other short online videos are available. Modern computer animation usually uses 3D computer graphics, although I use 2D computer graphics for stylistic effects. Perhaps a future 5th edition of this site may utilize a wider range of a fast developing and innovative computer technology. For now, though, readers will have to settle for the print and simple-image glut they find in this 50 volume website at 80,000 words per volume. If the content is not of interest to readers, they can easily switch me off, an activity we all have to do in this world of burgeoning information in all its forms.
My friend Graham Nicholson has been a source of encouragement in the years since we both worked together in the Northern Territory in the 1980s, he as a barrister with the NT government, and I as an adult educator in technical and further education. His financial support has made this website possible. Finally, I must express a word of thanks to: (a) my son Daniel for his help in designing my old websites and in assisting me with my computer problems over the last 25 years, as well as (b) my wife of more than 35 years who has been in so many ways "my indefatigable collaborator," to chose words used by a man of his wife, a man who has been since my late adolescence one of the primary inspirations and mentors, guides and fountains of knowledge, for the life I have lived.
SITE OVERVIEW and STYLE
This tapestry of statements and comments, this fabric of reviews and overviews, this warp and weft of prose and poetry about: various themes from the social sciences and humanities, the physical and biological sciences, movies and celebrities, the print and electronic media, philosophy and religion, indeed a list of subjects and topics too long to list---attempts to endow what I write with many layers of meaning. I enjoy the acrobatics of ideas and interests expressed in literary and intellectual, human and quotidian terms as others enjoy sport or gardening, cooking or television. The body of my writing is also one through which I aim to evoke a wide range of responses from readers. In the last 15 years, 2001 to 2015, an extensive and diverse range of responses has indeed been evoked, as my writing evoked a similar range of responses in the previous decades in which it was found in the print media. I am a writer in the minor leagues, not a major player, one of the myriad wordsmiths, literary craftsmen and minor men of letters who now inhabit the blogospheres and the immense commentariats that have been thrown-up by the technology of the world-wide-web.
My literary creation on the internet, my literary industry of the last decade is the work of a man now in the middle years(65-75) of his late adulthood, the years from 60 to 80 in the lifespan according to some human development psychologists. The imagination of a writer is closely bound up with where he is in the lifespan, with his sense of values, and with his notion of the meaning and purpose of human existence. Colin Wilson(1931-), the prolific English philosopher and novelist, makes this point in his preface to The Strength To Dream: Literature and the Imagination, a book which examined the images of the world portrayed in the works of many famous writers. The purpose of the imagination, Wilson goes on, is to intensify the life in man. Imagination is a great power for the soul, but it stands in need of guidance and control so that its creativity can express itself in one continued vision of fancy, and psychic integration.( See: William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, Oxford UP, London, 1954, chapter 13 quoted in Dimensions of Spirituality, J.A. McLean, George Ronald, Oxford, 1994, pp. 194-5)
OBSESSION, STRUGGLE AND PHRASEOLOGY
The English novelist E.M. Forster(1879-1970), was obsessed with the behavior of the English in their gardens, at their dining tables, in their train compartments, and in their bedrooms. My obsession is autobiographical, the inner content and meaning of experience, my views on life, an attempt to sketch some kind of meaning over that terra incognita of existence to which I referred above, to produce a reality that is consistent with the facts of life as I see them, so that I can create in comfort. My literary quest is and has been many-fold: for a type of self-transformation and magic that comes from writing, for a prose that carries the secret yearnings of my heart and the myriad interests of my mind into the bustle of the everyday; for one vehicle, one form, one means to express my burden of responsibility and my own ordinary ordinariness and humanly humanness. Each human being has their own lifelong struggle and they deal with this struggle in their own way. As I headed for the age of 60 and late adulthood I seemed to have had no choice except to write my way out, dig my way through with words, and put those words to the myriad struggles and their permutations and combinations in my life and the life of my society.
The pages at this site, and at literally 1000s of other internet sites, were created by this poet and publisher, author and writer, editor and journalist, scholar and researcher. This man is now a retired: teacher and lecturer, tutor and adult educator, taxi-driver and ice-cream salesman, among more positions/jobs in life that he has retired from than he cares to mention. They were positions, ways of making money, which once occupied his time and energy and no longer are part of his life, but exist only in his memory. In 2013 he will be 69 years of age and he will continue in his writing to try to combine a high seriousness with a light and humorous style when appropriate and when he is capable of achieving such a delightful literary phraseology. This phraseology, this style of writing, is one he has found to be the manner and mode which pleases him among the many styles from the many literary mentors whom he has come across in the last half century of his writing and especially in the last 30 years of his publishing life. How and why I have become a poet and started scribbling verses in secret and in the open is partly a puzzle. Why I write poetry is also something I have written much about in many of my poems and at many internet sites.
MORE ON MY WRITING STYLE AND SETTING
Part 1: Flaubert and Proust
There is much more I could say here and that I have said elsewhere about my style of writing. I found the following quotation from one of the great western novelists, Gustave Flaubert(1821-1880) apt: "Just as the pearl is the oyster’s affliction, so style is perhaps the discharge from a deeper wound."(1) I would add that my style also derives from a certain solemn and serious consciousness that I have had since my youth. It is a consciousness that is itself the wellspring, at times, of the most exquisite celebratory joy. “No style is just a style: it is its subject matter as well.” But most crucially, as Marcel Proust(1871-1922), the French novelist, critic, and essayist first put it: “style is a quality of vision” and “not identical to the language in which it takes form”. There is one definition of style, among the many definitions though, which is more cryptic than the rest. Style is “biological as much as it is formal—in a person’s teeth, the arteries, the kidneys, in the left and right ventricles”. It’s as inescapable as one’s breathing pattern, or what one likes to eat. You can’t help revealing it. That’s the deepest, and most mysterious aspect of style—because it’s in its biological base where it begins its road to the metaphysical. (1)Gustave Flaubert, quoted by the British novelist Adam Thirlwell(1978-), in his 2008 novel The Delighted States.
A writer's style is a demonstration of the self. Many writers, if not all, are in love with this individual self that writes. The self that writes seems to be a different self from the everyday one which goes through all the quotidian activity of its existence---eating and drinking, watching TV and going for walks, talking and washing dishes. All writing is a celebration, or at least an experience at some level, of a person's quintessential uniqueness. But then, all celebrations, in the end, are celebrations of uniqueness in one way or another. Sometimes this uniqueness is shared and sometimes it isn't. There are many things in life to celebrate; writing is without doubt one of them--certainly for me and certainly for many others in the world of books and the print media. Of course, not all is celebration; much of life is commemoration and sadness, quiet contemplation and passivity, silence and, in my case, a particular sickness which has plagued me for decades.
Part 2: Michel de Montaigne
Montaigne (1533-1592), the first to use the term 'essay', said that when someone talked about the language and the style of his essays, “I would prefer that they shut up.” I quote Montaigne here because I find his words echo my own thoughts on the subject of style and writing. It was, above all, the objective content of which he was proud, more material and denser, it was his view, than in other writers. But, as he also observed, his meaning was not always straightforward. To his essay “Considerations on Cicero,” published in 1580, he added the following passage many years later: "Neither my anecdotes nor my quotations are always employed simply as examples, for authority, or for ornament. I do not consider them only for the use that I make of them. They often carry with them the seed of a richer and more daring matter. They are intended to resonate obliquely with a more delicate tone for my readers." The meaning of my writing is also not always straingtforward.
OCCUPYING MY PRIVACY
It took me many years to get into the habit of fully inhabiting my privacy, a fact that might seem strange today, might be little understood, or even to some a sign of immaturity. For many the social domain is where one exercises one's sense of responsibility or, to put this another way, people who need people are the happiest people. Such people see the exercise of their responsibility in life, in the main, in a social context. I did as well until I took an early retirement at the age of 55 in 1999. The full use of my private habitation, or at least much fuller than in my earlier years in the lifespan, has been a crucial source and engine for my imagination. There is, for millions, what might be called a hell of frenetic passivity or frenetic activity. It is a theme often written about by writers. I will come back to this theme here at a later date.
For decades the social domain and its responsibilities occupied so much of my time. My private domain was a place to refresh myself for the next day of challenges and pleasures in the world of people. Until I took an early retirement at the age of 55, as I say, from the rigours of job and community responsibilities, from health and other problems, until I found, as I have indicated in another place at this site, the right medication package for my bipolar disorder by the age of 65, writing and its pleasures had to be fitted-in after everything else had been taken-care-of. Go to the following link for more of this discussion of my style and content, piggy-backing as I do in the process on some of the words of the young English writer Adam Thirwell to his answers to questions in an interview:
EPSTEIN, EMERSON, RICHARDSON: and writing
Learning to write sound, interesting, and sometimes elegant prose is the work of a lifetime. I have been at it since about 1950. The only way I know how to do it is to read a great deal of the best writing available, prose and poetry, with keen attention, and find a way to make use of this reading in my own writing. The first step is to become a slow reader. I was always a slow reader. No good writer, says the great contemporary essayist Joseph Epstein, is a fast reader, at least not of the kind of writing which has been my literary diet since senior high school and my university years 1962 to 1967. Writers tend, he goes on, to read differently from everyone else. Most people ask three questions of what they read: (1) what is being said? (2) does it interest me? (3) is it well constructed? Writers also ask these questions, but they also ask two others along with them: (4) how did the author achieve the effects he has? And (5) what can I steal, properly camouflaged of course, from the best of what I am reading for my own writing?
I have a spectator's love of virtuosity in flight especially when that virtuosity is observed in the use of language. This process can slow things down a good bit and it has slowed me down over several decades. Gradual development through mimesis of the talents of others, though, and the slow crystalllization of my own abilities have come sensibly and insensibly through the years, the stages in my lifespan: my young, middle and late adulthood. I hope these writing abilities will mature even more fully in my old age and its three stages, stages used by some human development psychologists: 80 to 90, 90 to 100, and 100++. Time will tell, of course, and if I last that long! In the meantime I have been organizing my files into many a sub-category of essayists: famous and female, liberal and French, English and Russian, American and classical, inter alia.
My lifelong interest in words and sentences pushed me slightly toward epigram and proverb, but not totally away from narrative, from logic, from continuity, from formal arrangement and effect---as it did the famous writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson pushed his sentences to such an extent that many of them stand out by themselves, alone and exposed like scarecrows in a cornfield. He has been for me a model writer to be profitably emulated by all who would follow the same trade. I thank Robert Richardson(1934-) the American historian and biographer for this analysis of Emerson. Richardson is the author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind (1986), Emerson: The Mind on Fire (1995), and William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism (2006). These three books taken together form one of the great achievements in contemporary American literary studies. Aside from his learning, which is prodigious, Richardson writes a wonderfully fluent, agile prose; he has a poet’s sense of nuance and a novelist’s grasp of dramatic rhythm; he also displays a positive genius for apt quotation, the result of a total immersion in the work of his three very dissimilar yet subtly complementary thinkers. Can there be any more exciting critical writing than this?
There are times, of course, when Epstein's emphasis on slow reading is not appropriate, when speed reading or selective reading is more useful. I have had to draw on this skill many times over the decades since my university days in the 1960s. When one is a generalist as I have been as a teacher and lecturer, and not a specialist, when I have had to teach a subject which required a broad familiarity, and when I had to acquire that familiarity quickly, sometimes within a few days, the several techniques of speed reading were invaluable, indeed, essential for my professional survival. But Epstein's comments have to do with writing and not reading a vast amount quickly. For more of Epstein's comments on the subject of writing, comments on what necessarily slows a writer down, on the winning style these days on the internet---and why writers should be put in prison---go to the following links:
LITERARY GOALS AND MY DEGREE OF CONFESSIONALISM
My several and evolving literary goals, my ways of wording things, my manners and modes of expression--the combination of the light and the serious, the quotidian and the high culture, the sciences and the arts--have been difficult to achieve. One only achieves them in part. They have been slowly evolving ambitions since the 1960s in my late adolescence and early adulthood, but especially after settling into Australian society in the early 1970s. I moved from Ontario Canada where I was born in 1944 to South Australia in 1971. Humour is one of the sine qua nons, the raison d'etres of Australian society. It is part of the very survival ethic of Australians, the air they breath Downunder. In Canada survival is dependent on sincerity and seriousness. Such was my experience, and so I have come to understand, having lived in these two societies all my life, in Canada until I was 26 and in Australia, it now appears, until I pass from this mortal coil.
We each have our own experience, our interpretation of things, of our culture and of our past, our vision of the future and where we want to go. Readers who come to this site will get large doses of my views and the views of others on whom I draw. As I say on my homepage, all is not camouflage at this site. I often bare my soul, so to speak. It is a baring of soul that will not be enough for some and will be too much for others. For still others, for most, they will neither know nor care. In this world of the internet with its 2 billion users and over 300 million websites, as well as with 5 billion of the world's peoples still unconnected to the WWW, my site is but a drop in the proverbial ocean of realspace and cyberpsace. A poet, a writer and author, holds a tenuous place in the popular imagination, if they hold any place at all, in our world of image-glut, a burgeoning knowledge explosion, and the tempest of trials afflicting humanity.
Part 2: Ford Maddox Ford and George Orwell
At the centre of my writing stands my unfashionable and, for some, exotic religious sensibility, in an early twenty-first-century pluralistic and secular, materialistic and complex literary culture largely indifferent to the Baha'i Faith and its belief-system. The fact that this system of beliefs has shaped every aspect of my life is a reality. Readers of my writing are not dealing, though, with someone like the English poet and novelist Ford Madox Ford(1873-1939), who believed in the greater truth of impressions over that of mere facts. Facticity also stands at the centre of my writing as far as I am able to deal with what are often rubbery-realities-facts.
I'd go some way with George Orwell when he wrote that: "all art is to some extent propaganda.” This applies as much to his writing as to mine and to anyone else's even if they are on the side of truth, justice, and the angels, even if they are on no one's side and make claims to an apparent neutrality and lack of bias. For me the process and act of writing, much of its raison d'etre, is conveyed more in a quotation of E.M. Forster's(1879-1970) in his Aspects of the Novel: "How do I know what I think till I see what I've said?” The poet Robert Frost felt much the same way about his writing of poetry. “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world,” he wrote. What interested him in writing a poem was the process only, “performance” not “conformance.” "Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting,” he wrote. “A poem may be worked over once it is in being, but may not be worried into being.” The process is not quite the same for me, but Frost has helped me put the complex and the simple act of writing poetry into words, and I write about this process a great deal in my now voluminous poetic opus of several million words.
In both my life and my writings I have been divided between two ideas of what it meant to be a Baha’i in modern society, the modern global society to which I belong. I have been committed to one idea that the Baha’i is an outsider, with a special loyalty to the Baha’i collective identity. I can easily sympathize with other outsiders, regardless of their ethnicity, skin colour, or other marker of identity. For me to be a Baha’i has been to be an individual, with all of individuality’s responsibility and loneliness, willingness to take risks and exercise my individual initiative, someone whose deepest concern was justice—justice for all other outsiders as well as for myself. Whenever I lapsed from this commitment, I later returned to it with a sense of exhilaration at seeing clearly again.
I have also been committed to the idea that a Baha’i is a member of a separate and unique group of people, loyal to one another and their history, with a collective experience that differed from all others. To be a Baha’i, in this way of thinking, was to share in a group identity to which individuality must ultimately be sacrificed, not totally, but certainly to some extent, sometimes to a greater extent than others. I have been a writer and author, poet and publisher, a memoirist and autobiographer whose millions of words and several books have never seen a hard or soft cover--except self-published sometimes as ebooks. I have written hundreds of lectures, essays, and reviews on books, culture, and politics, and also kept a journal which I excerpted into a book in cyberspace. I have taught at several colleges and universities, but have never been tenured, or made permanent, due to my peripatetic life across two continents and two dozen towns.
I have spent much of my adult life working in one town and then another, one part of the country and then another, working at one institution and then another. My public and private life is and was not the kind that requires a biography since I have never moved in circles that engendered fame and celebrity status but, if one is ever written, it will be when the international Baha'i community has assumed a more significant place in the world's marketplace of ideas and influences. I do not think this will happen in my lifetime. When and if such a biography comes to be written, I hope it is at least readable and even fascinating. I find, as I look back at my quite ordinary life that it has an underpinning of fascination associated as it has been with the growth of a religion which I believe has a significant role to play in the future of humankind.
There are poets who wish to tell us much about themselves, others who keep much of their lives a secret; poets who believe poetry is the voice of solitude, others who aspire, at least to some extent, to speak for their race or religion, gender or ethnic group; poets who believe they follow what poetic tradition prescribes, others who seek a poetry freed from any definition of poetry or prose; poets who seek God, the sublime, the simultaneous vision of One and Many, while for others there is only the here and now. I see my poetic activity as falling into all of these categories depending, of course, on what poem from the 7000 that now exist as of December 2011 that one is examining. As anyone who takes a serious look at my poetry will discover, my poetry shows that there are many ways to be a poet.
SEVERAL MILLION WORDS: A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK
As I survey the 50 volumes at 80,000 words per volume which this latest edition of my site now possesses, I see that its dominant tone is serious, thoughtful and, one might say, intellectual. Given the anti-intellectualism in much of society and given the need of people for large doses of entertainment, or infotainment as media critics now call much of the products of the print and electronic media, many will not find this site of interest to them. What I offer here will not be suited to: (a) people's tastes and needs for images as well as various forms of titillation, (b) many people's predilection for short bursts of print, the kinds of bursts one finds at sites like facebook, twitter and a myriad other places and sites in cyberspace, and/or (c) people who prefer: books, TV, DVDs, music, gardening, sport and many a fancy or not-so-fancy hobby-apparatus. All of these sub-groups may find something here to enjoy but, generally, I would advise people with these activity preferences to stay clear of this site.
This site will be, for these groups which I have just listed, just a form of print-glut of which they have little to no need. The world is a burgeoning place of images and sounds, words and print---and everyone choses their own package from the print and electronic media as well as from the vast array of interests and activities available for their leisure-time, as well as from the vast array of employment choices for FT, PT and casual-volunteer work. One's quantity and type of human interaction is also the subject of choice, although not all the time. "You pays your money and you takes your choice," as one of my philosophy professors was so often want to say. He used this expression about people making their own decisions; these words were always spoken in this ungrammatical form.
SEVERAL BILLION PEOPLE: THEY COME AND GO
For those who do attempt to negotiate the interstices of this site, I would like them to be aware in these opening pages that I attempt to combine, perhaps naturally as much as due to effort, the Australian and Canadian tendencies to which I have referred above---partly because I am a hybrid, that is: I am partly Canadian and partly Australian and, of course, in this increasingly globalized world, partly global citizen. By fusing together topics from the humanities and the social and behavioural sciences, from the physical and biological sciences, as well as from my own life and from my values, beliefs and attitudes, in a word, my religion, I attempt to appeal to both the novitiate and the veteran, to people on a multitude of spiritual and secular paths, a dichotomy which in many ways is losing its clear lines and distinctions. For many I know I succeed for they have told me. For many others I know I do not succeed. Some have told me why I have failed to appeal to them. Some, out of courtesy and kindness, tact and discretion, or simply a disinclination to write for many reasons, say nothing at all. Most of those in this world of over 7 billion inhabitants never get onto the internet. They simply come and go through their lives and never come to this site at all.
THE WAY TO WRITE and EDIT: IN THIS HAYSTACK
"The only way to write," quipped the American journalist A.J. Liebling, "is well, and how you do it is your own damn business." In cyberspace with its 300 million sites and trillions of emails sent annually my site is, like everyone else's, a needle in a haystack, as they say. It may be 'my own damn business' but others, many others, make it their business as well and I have learned to live with this. Nearly everyone these days has become what the famous literary critic Frank Kermode(1919-2010) called "a smatterer." I get many smatterers coming my way for some smattering. I know this to be true from the statistics that get revealed to me at internet sites. The once famous English writer Evelyn Waugh(1903-1944) once said that he “had no wish to obliterate anything he had written, but he would dearly have liked to revise it, envying painters who were allowed to return to the same theme time and time again, clarifying and enriching it until they had done all they could with it.” With the internet and the word processor, and all my published work in cyberspace, I am able(for the most part) to do what Waugh could not: revise and revise to my heart's content.
READERSHIP AND LITERARY AMBITIONS
Achieving the wide audience that I have, an audience in the 100s of thousands, if not millions, has been a slow process over more than a dozen years: 2001-2012. In the previous two decades, 1981 to 2001, my writing had been in the print media and was read at the very most by several thousand at a time. As I say in other places both at this site, on the internet and in my directory of unpublished writings, I had been writing for thirty years before 1981, but my publications were as rare as hen's teeth, as my mother was often want to say. Since the development of the internet in this third millennium, 2001 to 2012, I have found an audience, a readership, that I could scarcely have imagined back in that distant 20th century. In these years of my retirement from FT, PT and volunteer work this readership has been found at over 8000 internet sites at which I have registered and at connections beyond these sites in the vast interconnected, inter-related and ultimately single platform that is cyberspace.
This readership to which I have just referred is all thanks to global connection, this world-wide-web. My several literary ambitions had been slowly evolving, slowly maturing, ones: (a) during my life as a student in the 1950s and 1960s, (b) during my first years in Australian society in the 1970s after moving from Canada where I was born and raised in Ontario, (b) during the years of my two marriages, 1967 to 2011, first to a Canadian and then to an Australian who at the time of our marriage in 1975 was 26, (c) while helping the latter raise her two girls as well as the one boy from our marriage, (d) while watching these three children grow and mature to the ages of: 46, 41 and 34 years old, respectively (e) while seeing three step-grandchildren appear, children who are now: 18, 15 and 1 year old and, finally, (f) while seeing one grandchild come onto the scene, a child who will not be 2 years old until 2013.
"I have always thought," said that fine American essayist Joseph Epstein whom I mentioned above and who does not seem to be that well-known in Australia, "that if one wants to be a writer, he must first make himself incompetent at doing everything else." By the time I began to seriously engage in a literary life and to write extensively, I had retired from FT, PT and casual-volunteer work. I was 60. It was not so much that I had made myself incompetent at everything else but, rather, that I had little desire to engage in anything else. "For those of us who make this goofy decision to be a writer," Epstein goes on to say, "all of life is our material." I'm lucky in that I have various literary forms or genres on which to draw: essays and poetry, narrative and analysis, interview and commentary. I'm able to choose which is the best form or genre for some examination that I want to make of the individual or of society, of my life or of the life of others, of the quotidian or of the serious, of the deep and meaningful or of the shallow and irrelevant, or some mix of all or little of these several aspects of existence.
All the genres I now utilize do not require, at least not any more, great periods of research and effort because I no longer try to write: novels or novellas, books or best-sellers, textbooks or treatises, fiction or fantasy, plays or potboilers. Back in the 1980s and 1990s I tried, but after a considerable expenditure of energy and uncountable words on paper, I realized that these forms of writing were not for me. By the time I retired from all forms of employment: FT, PT and volunteer, I had worked out the genres that were my MO, my modus operandi, to use a Latin expression often heard in who-dun-its. Who-dun-its is a genre I enjoy in their visual form especially with my wife of nearly forty years: 1975 to 2011. We often go to sleep watching them. I find them, as I do much of TV, a useful soporific and they help me deal with my need for sleep, always a problem due to my bipolar disorder.
MY CENTRAL AIMS---AND ONENESS
One of my central aims, one of the defining qualities of my writing, and something that sets me among some other contemporary writers, is---or so I like to think---the extent to which readers can find themselves in my work, feel that I am speaking directly to them through my work. There is some mysterious oneness in all of life, all of phenomenal existence. Humanity is on its way to an experience of oneness: to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet and eat with the same hands and dwell in the same land. Of course, I am speaking metaphorically here. Inspite of the obvious terrors and trials, tempests and tortuous times we live in my vision, my assumptions, my beliefs, consist of what I'm sure many of those who come to this site will find to be my utopian views. I have lived with these views now for half a century and am used to dealing with the often justified cynicism and skepticism of others. The signs of oneness, though, are increasingly all around us and I attempt to demonstrate this at this site in a myriad of ways. I don't expect to convince the die-hard skeptics. I just present my case at the many sections and sub-sections of this site.
It is my hope that readers will find my words to be a genuine and authentic voice, rather than someone else's or just some piece of social analysis, however fine and insightful. So much of my writing is about my interior life expressed as: ideas, comments on society, on the works of others, on my life, inter alia. To put this another way: so much of my writing is autobiographical, moderately confessional. Readers are not left wondering what I really think as readers often are in the writing of others. So much writing in modern society is, as we have come to recognize, spin. Writers work for organizations and employers, and so often their writing must be: edited, gone-over, reviewed, corrected, polished, trimmed, proof-read, purged and purified before it is published and sent out to the print and electronic media with its images. Of course, one can also argue, as I have done elsewhere, that everything is spin or propaganda in some form or other; everything is written with some underlying set of assumptions, some cosmology, some raison d'etre. Some even go so far as to say freedom is an illusion in which everything has a cause, in which we are all socialized within a culture. Such was the view, in part, of B.F. Skinner, the founder of behaviourism, and expressed quintessentially in his book Beyond Freedom and Dignity, a book published the year I arrived in Australia at the age of 26. I do not share Skinner's view. The subject is far too complex, though, to discuss in more detail here.
How successful I actually am in achieving the several aims to which I refer above, what I like to think are the defining qualities of my writing, and in meeting the minds of readers, I must leave to each reader. In this age of the dominance of the electronic media, the information explosion, the very complexity of human affairs, as well as the fractured nature of the demographics, I know I am only connecting with a coterie. Every writer connects with only a coterie, some coteries are larger than others. The extent of that coterie is, for the most part, a mystery on the internet when one writes as extensively as I do. But it is not all mystery as I am informed at the multitude of internet sites where the statistics are laid out plainly for me. In addition, to quote the great British literary critic Frank Kermode(1919-2010), nearly everyone now is a smatterer and many come by my work doing their bit of smattering, as I have already pointed out above on this 'welcome' page.
MY STAGE IN THE LIFESPAN: SOLITUDE AND THE SOCIAL
I took a sea-change at the age of 55. I retired early after forty years of employment, after being jobbed as I sometimes call it from 1959 to 1999. Facebook, a site I have written at proactively and reactively for several years, now has a comprehensive list of all my jobs going back to the summer jobs I had before 1959. So, too, does Linkedin among a number of other sites. In addition a simple Google of the words RonPrice resume will yield my CV as it is often called, an extensive statement of my bio-data. If anyone is interested in what are four dozen items of employment they can click away to their heart's content. In the last 12 years, from the age of 55 to 67, I have taken on the roles of: writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and journalist, researcher and scholar---all roles which require much solitude. Solitude is a companion which American author and poet, Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862), regarded as his finest in which to share space. Solitude is a companion which that delightful, and some say greatest. British essayist William Hazlitt(1778-1830) once wrote was something he immensely enjoyed. It made him feel, he said, "never less alone than when alone." To draw on the words of Shakespeare on the subject of solitude: the Bard once wrote that he peopled his privacy with a host of invisible companions.
Petrarch(1304-1374), that Italian scholar and poet, regarded solitude as a society filled with books, books who became his friends and were the most agreeable of companions. After a lifetime in classrooms, half a century in fact, as a student and teacher, as well as in meetings in the daytime, in the evening and at weekends, solitude has its own rewards, rewards which that eminent author and psychiatrist, Anthony Storr, has eulogized. I encourage readers to have a look at Storr's 1989 book Solitude for a helpful, brilliant, at least from my point of view, analysis of the subject of solitude. Storr, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, has been one of a multitude of my mentors in the last seven decades, especially since I began to read seriously and academically in my late teens---about 1962.
MORE ON SOLITUDE AND THE SOCIAL
I still indulge in a modicum of the social, a dimension which makes solitude--and I should add the research and reading, writing and editing, scholarship as well as the interaction that I do have on the internet--all the richer. I have slowly learned over seven decades how to balance a necessary solitude and a necessary gregariousness in a personally satisfying and necessary measure. I suffer from bipolar disorder and, on my new and I trust final medication cocktail, I am not able to engage in the social dimension of life to anything like the extent I once did. With this treatment, based as it is on psychiatry's use of biochemistry or pharmacology and its medications, I am able to live a balanced and healthy life, although many others would not see my life as either balanced or healthy. I trust that this slowly acquired lifestyle I now enjoy will continue to be mine until I pass from this earthly life to what Shakespeare called the undiscovered country---over the boundaries of which no person returns.(Hamlet, Act III, Scene I, line 86)
I feel a certain kinship with some of the life and personality of John Adams(1735-1826), the second president of the United States. He said he lacked what he called the gift of silence and the flair for self-restraint. He also regretted his inability to establish what you might call an iconic public image, a public image that he so envied in other famous Americans of the time such as: Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson. Adams said that he was too candid, too irreverent, too conspicuously himself. “Have mercy on me Posterity,” he wrote his old friend Benjamin Rush, “if you should ever see any of my Letters.” I originally possessed the gift of silence until, perhaps half way through university when, about the age of 21, in order to survive, it seems now in retrospect I had an exponential increase in verbal acuity.
My gift for silence, my flair for self-restraint, until then a model to my parents and teachers, restraint both verbally and sexually, in my general forms of behaviour and in the many forms of social intercourse in which I had until then engaged, did not disappear. But the taps were gradually released. I was able to get my university degree. a qualification to teach. Then I married. I finished some 18 years of study, taught for 32 years talking and listening for hours every day out of necessity and often out of pleasure. After that half a century in classrooms, I returned---as the third millennium turned its corner---to my old ways of as much silence as circumstances allowed, and as much self-restraint as I could muster. This silence and restraint is found in, and is also due to, my life of writing. It is a life I gradually entered on my early retirement from the world of jobs at the age of 55---after a lifetime or at least several decades of what now seems, as I look back, endless talking and listening.
MY CURRENT DAILY ACTIVITY NOW IN 2012
My current daily activity and style of life resembles, as my Greek philosophy professor used to say in his discussion of the ideals of daily life, the tuning of a violin and the tension the strings require to produce harmony, The strings are not always in tune---necessitating, therefore, a series of activities learned over a lifetime to reproduce the harmony. The strategies and activities are always simple but they are not always easy as Carl von Clausewitz emphasized in discussing the principles of modern warfare. My activity is one I approach with a high degree of seriousness. My uncle, my mother's brother, an autodidact, once said to me over a game of chess when I was about 15, a game in which he beat me in less than four moves, "life my boy can be a game or a battle; if you see it as a game it does not matter if you lose." I regard my life now, as I have for years, as both game and battle. For two internet posts on the subject of the modern warfare in which I am engaged, go to the following two links. One of these links is about Carl von Clausewitz, and the second is about the American writer Henry Miller's(1891-1980) take on WW3: http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread & http://www.defencetalk.com/forums/geo-strategic-defense/henry-millers-take-world-war-three
For a detailed resume, bio-data, life-narrative, background or introduction of/to my life go to the following:
For two interviews and several essays on the subject of autobiography go to:
MY TYPE OF POETRY
The style of my poetry is bare of common poetic devices—image, simile, metaphor, specialized diction. It is, therefore, tantamount to prose. I have made this observation many times throughout the last two decades during which I have written several thousand poems. My poetry stands at the boundary where poetry strips herself in order to become prose. I have never been enthusiastic about rhymes and rhythms as, say, the poet laureate (1984-1998) of England Ted Hughes(1930-1998) was in much of his work or, indeed, many other poets have been.
Except in my early poetic days of writing songs for the guitar back in the 1960s and 1970s, rhyming 'hug' and 'bug' in an aimbic beat held no interest for me. In some ways I feel that in the last two decades I have joined those who are the most anti-poetic, or a-poetic, poets. I see my poetic perspective as one which allows me to take history and sociology, psychology and so many of the branches of learning with a lover’s eye, and love with the eye of an inter-disciplinarian, and all this as part of an attempt at a great and moving unity within a poetic project which has yet to define itself except in the broadest of outlines. I am one of the myriad informal poets in Australia who have won out over the formalists, those who write in regular stanzas, metre and rhyme. Les Murray, the most well-known and monetarily successful poet writes almost nothing in regular stanzas. A poet who does, Stephen Edgar is the most accomplished current example, faces the general opinion that an adopted discipline is a restriction on poetic invention, rather than a stimulus to it.
"The price of ploughing a lonely furrow," wrote that edudite Australian essayist Clive James in his review of a book about A.D. Hope's notebooks, "is often to mistake it for the only path across the field." My path is strewn with content from the humanities and social sciences, as well as the biological and physical sciences. I enjoy ploughing my furrow; I do not do it alone, although as I head for my 70s I spend a great deal of my time reading and writing. These are not social experiences with milo and coffee served to guests for afternoon tea. I spent a lot of time, until the early years of the 21st century, doing what no poet should ever do: reading uninspired stuff because I had to. Until I retired from a 60 hour a week job teaching in a technical and further education college in 1999 and; until I retired from other jobs in which I had to read a lot of other uninspiring stuff, I read what I often called 'crud.' I also talked about subjects that I had been talking about for decades---ad nauseam. Both the conversations and the reading were uninspiring stuff to say the least. But, then, I could not seriously call myself a poet until at least the 21st century. Before that it was all warm-up, as I gaze back at the development of my poetic propensities. I began to call myself a poet when I stopped spending my days listening and talking, and when I started to read only what I wanted to read.
There was a lot of inspired and inspiring stuff that I ignored as a reader in the four decades after I graduated from university in 1967. Most of my reading was career-oriented and reading for pleasure had to take a back-burner. Throughout the 1990, after reading 200 pages of crud per week, and making the necessary editing corrections, a person loses much of their reading enthusiasms. After what seemed like a lifetime of talking and listening, This only child of older parents, a child who never had had any problem filling in his time---by himself---was able at last to return to that quiet and solitary life where he had started back in the 1940s.
The decades from 1949 to 1999, filled as they were with people from wall-to-wall, and which led to burn-out several times for several reasons, were replaced sensibly and insensibly, from the age of 55 to 65, by that quiet chamber where I had started my life. From 1944 to 1950 I had lived with my: mother, father and grandfather. In 1950 I was 6 years of age. I started grade 1 that year---the start of that wall-to-wall human avalanche which lasted for half a century. By the last years of my middle age, age 55 to 60, and by the age of 65 I was back to that quiet chamber. It was a chamber inhabited only by my wife and I with only the occasional wider-family socializing and general community interaction except, of course, in cyberspace.
The use of traditional mythology, Greek and Roman, among others:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mythology has been the subject to the law of diminishing returns since, say, mid-20th century if not before. To put it bluntly, what the poet Philip Larkin disparagingly called "the myth kitty" was of little use to me by the time I came to write poetry extensively in those fin de siecle years, the 1990s. A writer can no longer count on his readers knowing anything about the Greek or Roman gods or any other dieties of ancient mythology for that matter. Of course, if readers are interested, they at least know where to look to find out with the easy access of the internet. By the time that I had come to have millions of readers, in the first decade of the 21st century, I knew that readers could look up any of my references to myth or any other esoteric topic for that matter.
Some poets and writers could be and are funny about growing old, with all their lusts intact in a body falling apart. It is, after all, a universal subject, and there is even dignity in it, if the narrator can admit his failings. More traditional poets, like A.D. Hope, chose to keep his dignity for himself and rarely wrote autobiographically. I, on the other hand, am more than happy to write poetry that is highly autobiographical and memoiristic. With my poetic mentor, Roger White(1929-1993), I am quite comfortable about bringing in my lusts and many sins of omission and commission, at least with a moderate confessionalism. For more of that fine review of the poet and poetry of arguably the most famous 20th century Australian poet, A.D. Hope(1907-2000)---on which I have drawn for some of the above remarks---go to:http://www.clivejames.com/articles/clive/hope
My experience has not been that of an especially exceptional life. It is no more exceptional or distinguished than the lives of many other poets, minor or major. I would like to be able to say that the richness of my work stands in striking contrast to the relative uneventfulness of my life, as say Emily Dickinson's poetry so clearly was. But I can not say this because I feel I have had a rich and varied life experience, or life-narrative as they say in memoiristic circles. My writings in the last two decades, say, 1992 to 2012, indicate among other things my struggle to find an artistically satisfying way in which to unite the variety, the myriad, of thematic strands for some future and, as yet, unknown characteristic of my work. My consuming interests in the plethora of humanities---history and the arts---as well as the biological and physical sciences occupy a burgeoning set of strands.
MORE ON THE MODERN WAR IN THE WEST
A. Breaking Through
"The idea of modern total war," writes sociologist Robert Nisbet, "was born in the famous decree of the National Convention in France on 23 August 1793." This decree resulted in the creation of a mass army, a citizen army, the first, emphasizes Nisbet, in human history. When I read this I thought: "what about the Roman army?" Go to the following link to discuss this issue: http://www.fsmitha.com/h3/h33-fr4.htm
Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war. wrote a book On War. The book came forty years after this concept of total war was introduced into modern civilization, after the army to which I refer above was created. Clausewitz wrote, according to Nisbet, what was at the time and in the decades ahead in the 19th century "the single most influential book written in modern times on the subject of war." The book was a compendium of his series of essays written during the years 1817 to 1827. On War, a book on strategy and tactics, on the philosophy of war and the relation between society and the individual, was begun one hundred years before another book on war, The Tablets of the Divine Plan, was written. That latter book was about a spiritual war, a war waged with "the swords of virtuous character which are sharper than blades of steel and hotter than summer's heat."
In 1793, too, Shaykh Ahmad, the chief precursor of the Babi movement, left his home in northeast Arabia in al-Ahsa to become, by the second decade of the 19th century, the leading Shi'ah scholar in Iran. In the following century(1816-1916), the literary basis for a process of spiritual warfare was described, indeed, outlined in immense detail. It, too, was a total war, but it was a war of quite a different character, characterized in those Tablets in the framework of what has often been referred to as 'a military metaphor.' This war was one fought by single individuals and was articulated within a community workshop, an infinite series of experiments, by which the collective social advancement of civilization would result. It was part of the most radical movement on the planet, radical because it went to the roots of civilization, creating a new basis of civilization based on a new Revelation from God, the writings of His manifestation Baha'u'llah. But it was a movement that was not radical, subversive or violent in method. It involved a laborious and gradual building process by its declared adherents. -Ron Price with thanks to Robert Nisbet, The Social Philosophers: Community and Conflict in Western Thought, Heinemann, London, 1973, p.70.
Sharper than blades of steel
and hotter than summer heat,
placed somewhere inside,
pervasive, subtle, natural
as the weather, unassuming,
unobtrusive, you'd never know
or guess that this was war.
Reposing on that green,
Isle of Faithfulness in a
place of honour in the
central square, crystal
concentrate of exquiste
power:slowly the people
came, citizens from every
beauty, & slowly growing
accustomed to its ways.
This was no temperate, limited
engagement, indecisive contest.
It was a gentle war, silent, you
would not have called it war or
death, but life, ideal forces, and
lordly confirmations, rushing on
from hidden ramparts, & strong
fortifications impregnable castles
razed to the ground, unbeknownst
lines of legions breaking through,
breaking through-breaking through
....but noone saw, at least not yet!!
Ron Price 1 October 2002 to 30 September 2011
B. ON WAR
When the destruction brought about by the Second World War is complete, wrote the American writer Henry Miller(1891-1980) in 1941 at the height of WW2, another kind of destruction will set in. And it will be far more drastic, far more terrible than the destruction which we are now witnessing. The whole planet will be in the throes of revolution. And the fires will rage until the very foundations of the present world crumble.-Henry Miller in The Phoenix and the Ashes, Geoffrey Nash, George Ronald, Oxford, 1984, p.55.
Some of Carl von Clausewitz’s(1780-1831) observations On War have applied in this new ‘far more drastic, far more terrible’ destruction. Some military strategists argue that his was, as I have written elsewhere, the first written effort to systematize the principles of conflict. His essays appeared from 1817 to 1828 and were published in On War(Princeton UP, 1976). He said "everything in strategy is simple but not easy"(p.656) and "there is no higher or simpler law...than keeping one’s forces concentrated."(p.664). Both principles apply in this new style of war, but I must add the caveat that, from my point of view, ‘forces’ are those that operate in the private theatre of one’s inner life. Here: material and spiritual powers, wisdom and intellect, detachment and character, not sheer numbers of troops, except in the frameworks described and defined by 'Abdul-Baha in his seminal work on the subject, are what modern man and society require. -Ron Price, comment on Clausewitz’s On War.
After what we thought of as a superficial propriety
was given a good hard kick in the teeth
by raucous rock-and-roll
which woke us up from our day dream
of Mr Clean, Doris Day, General Ike,
with no negroes nor genitalia.....
the war started.
I had just moved to Dundas at the time;
I call it pioneering now; that was in ‘62
and the battle has been on ever since:
running across two continents,
caught in cross-fires
that left me bleeding raw,
wounded, slowly recovered,
found the right prophylactic,
taking it slowly now, walking,
hands in my pockets,
watching the fires burning,
harrowing up the souls of billions
in an orgy of violence, complexity,
and often silent agony.
13 January 1996 to 6 August 2011
INTERVIEWS AND ESSAYS
Readers of the above poems and prose, interviews and essays, may find them a little too analytical and complex, not personal and descriptive enough, not in possession of an interesting narrative-line for their personal and literary sensibilities. Poetry has become for millions just so much froth on the ocean of life. They can't really get 'into' it. Not to worry. There is so much now: print and image-glut is part of our way of life if we are fortunate enough to live in the relatively affluent parts of our globe. There are those in our global society, it hardly needs saying, who have not come to experience the advances and advantages of modern technology. Some of us can take deep satisfaction from modernity in the last, say, two centuries. But not everyone. In our world of famine, violence and crime, the extremes of wealth and poverty, safety and terror seem to be increasing with every passing day. So take in here at this site what you can, what interests you, and then pass on to the cornucopia that awaits you in our burgeoning world of information and stimuli.
Like much, if not most, of my autobiography and memoirs, I indulge in analysis and commentary rather than simple and straight narrative. Readers wanting an interesting story, a narrative with excitement and drama to keep them on the edge of their seats, need to go elsewhere. Readers should have little trouble finding such stories to read, visually embellished accounts of people's lives on television and in film, as well as in magazines and newspapers. But they will not find such cliff-hangers and fish stories---as we used to call them---here, nor will they find them throughout this website with its several million words. Here at this website are: several and serious investigations, poetic and prose-poetic reasonings, judgementalisms and opinions, examinations and scrutinizings, and on and on goes this multi-genred cyberspace text. You can keep some of the people happy some of the time, goes the adage.
Arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century T.S. Eliot(1885-1965) once said of the American novelist Henry James(1843-1916): 'He had a mind so fine no idea could violate it.' Epstein saw this as the ultimate compliment to a writer. Since my writing is nothing if not violated again and again with and by ideas, I'm sure Eliot would have serious reservations about my writing or, at least, he would not put me in the category of famous writers like Henry James. And Eliot would be right; for I am not famous and I am not rich and, it would appear after the passing of nearly 70 years of my life, that I am not likely ever to be in either of those two categories.
For many in our 21st century fast-lane, our media-oriented modernity and post-modernity, there exists the assumption that one can’t really understand someone until you comprehend the nature of their couplings, their sex-life, or lack thereof. The fact that one can wrap-up someone in a cloud of concupiscence, in a con-sex-ualizing context of public activity and private passions, that one can pick the lock, and open up everything sensual for inspection has become for many a sine qua non of modern biography. In my case, though, there will not be that much to gain by picking-the-lock; future biographers need to strike other notes and open other locks, if there is ever any biography of value to be written. If you want to learn more about Ron Price the historical figure, I would suggest you begin elsewhere than with his sex-life. I would not deny the importance that sex has had to me and I write about my experience of it far more than that great American novelist Henry James(1843-1916), but I do not view my life in terms of its orgasms, its spasms, however delightful they have been---and they have been. Like Henry James, I focus on personal experience. Like him I probe and prod the painful hidden corners of the psyche, but I only lay bare a small portion of it all for public consumption if, indeed, the public ever has any interest in the consumption of my life.
Readers wanting my extended comments on sex in my life and in society need to go to the Psychology>Relationships section of this site at this link:http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/PSYCHOLOGY-Relationships.html Readers can also go to the following link for perspectives on sex in India:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/jun/26/india-the-place-of-sex/
THE LEOPARD AND ME
A leopard adorns the opening of this website, as I pointed out at the top of my homepage. As I also pointed out on that homepage, but what I will repeat again here since some readers may come to this welcome section first and not read the homepage section, the leopard is an opportunistic and single, elusive and versatile hunter. The leopard is the smallest of the four "big cats," the others being the lion, tiger and jaguar. What follows at this site is a collection of writings from an animal who, like the leopard, is a quite solitary individual or, should I say, a person who has become more solitary with age. I have developed, like the leopard, what I like to think is an agile and versatile, opportunistic and stealthy content and style, an ability to adapt, again like the leopard, to many habitats. Like the leopard, too, I eat meat but, unlike the leopard, I do not climb trees, at least not any more, nor do I ever eat humans. The leopard and I also part company in that I write poetry and prose. Leopards can be observed in their private habitats and I, too, welcome visitors to mine. But few ever venture into the leopard's den or cave and few ever venture into mine except for the female and the cubs, in my case my wife and son. Over the totality of my lifespan I have been a very public person but, as the years of my late adulthood have advanced, I have become a very private man in daily life.
Leopards mate all-year round. I could, too, but the socializing influences of culture and society, religion and conscience have exercised some control on my passions. Monogamy has characterized my life since 1967 and before that the leopard and I had some common mating instincts. The young tend to follow their mother and that is the case with my three children, although my one son seems to have acquired a healthy balance in his interaction patterns with my wife and I. Leopard camouflage makes sightings rare. I, too, have a certain camouflage, protection, that takes the form of my books and papers, my computer and non-computer files and my many intellectual pursuits. The leopard, then, at the top of the homepage of my website has proved, in a somewhat serendipitous fashion, to be an appropriate opening image.
There is a strong autobiographical aspect to all the bits of prose and poetry at this cyberspace site. To anyone who has spent much time at my website, this is only obvious. In some ways all these bits can be seen as one long diary, journal and commentary on life, my life, the life of my society. These bits are also an ongoing narrative of my values, beliefs and attitudes, in a word, my religion---and its emergence from the obscurity in which it was enshrouded for the first century or more of its existence, say, 1863 to 1983. A new culture of learning and growth, a new paradigm, began to appear in the Baha'i community in the mid-1990s and in the last two decades the Baha'i Cause has significantly emerged from those 12 to l3 decades of obscurity to which I refer above. This emergence may be due to many factors, only one of which is this new Baha'i culture of learning and growth. Certainly the completion of what was called the Arc Project, the international Baha'i administrative and spiritual centre in Israel over the decades from the 1980s through the 2000s is a factor of some importance in this emergence---as is the burgeoning literature on this new Faith, a literature that has become available both in publishing houses and on the internet. The continued persecution of the 300,000 Baha'is in Iran since 1979 is another factor in the process of emergence from obscurity which I won't go into in any more detail here. Readers can go to the 'religion' section of this site and the 'Babi-Baha'i' sub-section for more on the Baha'i Faith.
My literary activity on the world-wide-web is a personal and quite industrious enterprize. When I can find the time---and I have much more time now that I have been released from the demands of a job and endless meetings that were part of my social and community responsibilities for decades---I am engaged in creating across this global space a tapestry or a jig-saw puzzle of words. I engage with readers at literally 100s of internet sites. This engagement is in my several roles as: a writer and author, an editor and publisher, a journalist and researcher, independent and dependent scholar---roles which I have taken-on in the evening of my life after a fifty(1951-2001) or a forty year working life from 1959/1961 to 1999/2001, after half a century in classrooms: as a student for 18 and as a teacher for 32. Some of this engagement with others is found at this website created by Define Studio, a website design and development organization in Mosman New South Wales Australia. Most of this engagement, though, takes places at other websites. After more than 16 months(21/3/'11 to 21/7/'12) of the existence of this 4th edtion of my website, it is clear that those who want to comment on what I write do so, still, at the myriad sites at which I post and interact with others. There is a comment section at this site and it has received some posts. My responses to those who leave comments can also be found there in that comment section. I invite readers to drop in and post their own comments or just read what others have written there.
A DESCRIPTION OF MY STYLE, MY TALENT, MY LEVEL OF OPERATION
The basic style I use is to take a topic, a subject, an experience of mine or someone else, an idea or a concept, a philosophy or a religion, a political or a sociological idea, a psychological or historical field of interest to me, and then pick it apart from a quite personal perspective. By the end of the piece of writing, the essay, say, or the poem, it is my hope that readers will find that I've plumbed some of their own concerns. It is my hope that these readers will realize that these concerns which they and I share are, or should be, universal. Note that I say "should be". They may, after all, not be universal. Here is how I describe my talent, my approach and my audience:
My talent is to unfurl slightly oblique or direct from the shoulders, observations in sentences that, if properly arranged, sometimes yield a small surprise. I can not, of course, guarantee such a surprise and I do not always achieve such a delight. But such is my overall aim. I operate at the level of the sentence and the flow, the idea and its extension. For this reason I have been inclined to write poetry the way W.S. Merwin does: without ordinary punctuation. When one imposes conventional pointing on one of his drifting meditations, one can see why he has sacrificed periods and commas, exclamations and question marks. This is not quite the case with me poetic idiom; my poetry is therefore not punctuationless.
I live less in the world now than I live in my head, or to put this idea more accurately and specifically: I take the world and put it in my head and spill it out in language. I long for a wisdom I know I shall only attain in part, a part that it seems impossible for me to measure, to quantify or qualify. I am a writer lucky beyond all luck to have found not only his forms and his voices, but his perfect audience. The number of this audience is really impossible to measure for it exists in cyberspace. It could be numbers in the thousands or the millions. It is quite unlikely that I will ever be famous or rich inspite of having an extensive readership. This is because in cyberspace one's writing is simply lost in a great sea, or more accurately, ocean of words and sites, people and places, photos and much else that is imaginable or unimaginable, worthy to be remembered or forgotten. In addition, I am not a story-teller, at least not of those cliff-hangers or page-turners. Readers who want stimulating narrative, with happy or not-so-happy endings, need to go elsewhere. There are plenty of places to get stories by the bucketful in our modern 21st century world.
FOUR EDITIONS OF THIS WEBSITE
This is the 4th edition of my website; the 2nd and the 3rd editions created in 2001 and 2003, respectively, can be found at this site by clicking in the top righthand corner of the homepage, the welcome page, indeed, the page readers are now on. The 1st edition of my website, created in 1997, is now an archive in my study here in George Town Tasmania. This 4th edition is also a work in progress and, as I write these words on 1 August 2012, this new edition is in its 17th month of operation. It has also been 13 years since I returned to Tasmania to take a sea-change and an early retirement. Being the hub, that this website is, of between 4 and 8 million words, these 100s of internet pages provide a literary base in cyberspace to keep me pleasantly occupied until the end of my days. Perhaps when some illness prevents me from writing in cyberspace or permanently incapacitates me I will, of necessity, bring my adding and subtracting, my editing and altering, of what is found here to an end.
There are many wonderful advantages of the world-wide-web and of internet sites like this one for writers and authors, editors and publishers, poets and researchers, scholars and retired people like myself. Being retired from the world of jobs and their inevitable responsibilities as well as their roles as fillers-of-one's-time, being so retired provides a great freedom and leisure, a leisure which the Greeks saw as crucial to any contribution one can make to society and, indeed, one's own self-development. One of the advantages of the internet is the ease with which a person can edit his or her own work. My writing is always a work-in-progress which I want it and need it to be. Readers can access much, if not most and certainly not all, of my writing with from one to three clicks of their mouse. They can click (i) the category at the top of the access page, (ii) the sub-category, one of the divisions within that category and, if desired, (iii) one of the hyperlinks/links found in the sub-category. This explanation and description may be too complicated for readers. In this case readers will be able to work out the system on their own. If they really want to read any of the content of this website it's over to them. Dear reader just surf about, as they say.
My first website, as I say, was created in 1997; it had 42 sub-sections. I was just about to retire from employmnet as a FT teacher. A final draft of that website went online in 2001 and it became the 2nd edition. By then I had taken a sea-change and lived by the sea in Tasmania. The links of prose and poetry in that 2nd edition were on topics of personal interest, with nothing for sale and with no aggressive proselytism. I was engaged then, as I am engaged now, in a number of causes, causes which are proliferating across the planet as the international community struggled with forces and tensions undreamt-of in any previous age. When I completed that 2nd edition there were some 400,000 words, the equivalent of five books, which readers could get ‘into’ if they so desired. And they still can if they desire for I have kept that site available to readers in cyberspace by clicking, as I have already indicated, in the top righthand corner of the welcome or homepage. The length of a book has several definitions and possibilities; I use a conventional 80,000 words: 200 pages at 400 words per page.
POSTING ON THE INTERNET
A series of posts at any one site on the internet, posts entirely separate from this website, is just one of the many parts of my internet tapestry, my immense jig-saw puzzle, of prose and poetry which I refer to above. Sometimes that series of posts at some site is linked to this website by means of a link, or hyperlink as links used to be called, but more often it is not. Sometimes the series of posts at an internet site becomes lengthy, and sometimes it remains brief. Sometimes I have as many as 100 to 200 posts at an internet site which is linked to this one. Sometimes there is an extensive interchange with others on some topic at a particular site; sometimes there is no exchange; sometimes the interchange is positive and stimulating; sometimes it is charged with criticism, criticism of what I have written or criticism of me as a person for it is difficult to separate what a man writes from the man who writes it.
When one engages in the exchange of serious ideas in writing it is difficult to avoid getting criticised. It's part of sticking your neck out, so to speak. It is also part of life unless one sticks one's head in the sand, becomes a recluse, or only engages in discussions about the weather, what one had for dinner or what sort of chair to buy for your lounge-room. Like pieces of cloth or pieces of that jig-saw puzzle, the size, the shape and the length of my interchange at any one website remains a bit of a mystery until some of my story and its interaction with others is told. Time takes its inevitable course at websites as at everywhere else. Life’s path goes on and people's reactions to my posts and mine to theirs across the myriad threads in cyberspace develop or remain static as the case may be.
''There lurks, perhaps, in every human heart a desire for distinction," wrote Samuel Johnson(1709-1784) who made lasting contributions to English literature. This desire for distinction, he continued, "inclines every man to hope, and then to believe, that nature has given him something peculiar to himself.'' What better way to put that distinction on display than in an essay or a book, a poem or a play or an internet post? On the internet, sadly or not-so-sadly, whatever distinction one acquires, whatever fame or fortune comes one's way, they exist in time frames of nanoseconds, and in spaces with billions of other users and trillions of other posts. Celebrity status is, therefore, confined and the would-be writing enthusiast must settle for a low level, a modest quantity, of distinction, fame and fortune. Such has become my cyberspace fame and fortune, notoriety and novelty that I am now somewhat in the condition of that famous conductor Herbert von Karajan. When asked by a Parisian cab driver where he wished to go, he replied: "It doesn't matter. They want me everywhere." It's not quite the same for me. I have become a regular in a microcosm of internet sites at which people look forward to my posts. At a microcosm of other sites I have been banned or at least discouraged from posting. But due to the millions of sites and billions of users one's fame or notoriety is hidden as if in another universe. Wealth is as elusive as fame. After a decade of writing and millions of words suitably and judiciously placed, I have received only $1.49 in royalties--hardly enough these days for one small chocolat bar.
SETTING FOR THIS 4TH EDITION
In our world with its plethora of forms of stimulation and education, entertainment and pleasure, tragedy and despair, one person's website, however many hundreds of thousands or, indeed, millions of readers and viewers come by, can only exert--as I indicated above--a small influence on the public space and public opinion, the views and thoughts of others. Even if, as this site possesses, a hub of personal literary work amounting to approximately 50 volumes of material at 80,000 words per volume, a minimum of four million words, the exercise and whatever influence it claims to possess is somewhat diminished in a world with nearly 400 million websites, and more than 2 billion users.
These 50 volumes contain: ebooks and essays, letters and poems, journal articles and a wide-range of online think pieces, diary and journal, as well as internet posts on 1000s of site-threads. This website also contains links to lists of resources that, collectively, take the 50 volumes I mention above, far beyond that quantity. I could not even guesstimate the total number of volumes of print material available to readers when all the hyperlinks are added into the mix. These hyperlinks take readers to resources of interest to this writer. Through these links I point readers in the direction of content that may be of interest to them. The world is now one great interlocking, interconnected and interdependent system. It has become one world in the last two centuries. Of course it always has been one world, but not institutionally. The institutional unification--political and religious--of the peoples of the world is the dominant process of the cycle we are living in. This is a radical and surprising, to some a threatening and incomprehensible, claim to make or thought to contemplate. I will not comment on that perplexing, indeed staggering, idea here.
ONE'S INFLUENCE AND ONE'S MO
In 2012 there were, as I indicated above, some 400 million websites: 100 trillion emails sent on the internet, 247 billion email messages per day, and 2 billion email users worldwide. I don't keep an ongoing count of these figures and so I may have underestimated these totals. The print and electonic media are burgeoning in our world and virtually everyone's influence even the influence of the movers-and-shakers, as those with influence are sometimes called, is minimal. This minimal weight and influence in the marketplace of ideas, this minimal power and potential for social advocacy, must be accepted however lofty and ambitious one's aims may be. The spread of an idea or taste depends not only on individuals who have a disproportionate impact because of their particular characteristics --charisma and intelligence, popularity and position, role and status--but also on “a critical mass of easily influenced people who influence other easy-to-influence people. When this critical mass exists, even an average individual is capable of triggering a large cascade." See the following link for a discussion of this idea:
However minimal each person's influence may be we each must work out what role we can play for both self-fulfillment and general human betterment. In a pluralistic global society with a plethora of collectivities each person is on his or her own so to speak---whether he or she is ensconced in some religious, political or other collectivity; whether they are part of a family, a work organization or some leisure-club, or whether they are a loner and ostensibly play no part in the social domain and, finally, whatever their philosophy of life may be.
We each have to work our our own MO, our own modus operandi and our own modus vivendi--to use another Latin expression--which together mean our own way of living and learning, being and doing. I took an early retirement a dozen years ago to write. Now, at the age of 67, I look back over those dozen years and see that I have done just that. In the process I have written the equivalent of at least two dozen books, if one defines a book at 400 words per page and 200 pages resulting in an 80,000 word package. As that famous Canadian media theorist who is coming back into vogue, Marshall McLuhan once said--and he preferred talking to writing--“we shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us."
I have little doubt that my millions of words in the last decade, 2001-2011, spread all over cyberspace, a place that became available for my use conveniently, serendipitously, when I retired from the world of jobs, have shaped me. They are shaping me and will shape me in the years ahead. If you think you might like to join the many people out in the world who, like me, are shaping and being shaped by their books or essays, poetry or internet posts, I encourage you to read Joseph Epstein's sane and discouraging words at the following link. This popular essayist helps writers like me keep their feet on the ground and, if they have any illusions of grandeur and glory, wealth and fame, he helps them acquire a sensible, a moderating perspective. I'm sure, for some at least, his words will be discouraging and, if some reader here is keen to write a book, he or she should read this link and save themselves the trouble.
THIS SITE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE
This website is not for everyone. I do not recommend the extensive mass of print that is found here, in a multitude of categories and sub-categories, in links and online resources, therefore, to: (i) those whose interests are essentially connected with friendships, sports and having fun, (ii) those whose primary reading tastes lie in the area of popular culture and its vast world of celebrity magazines, light romance and escapist novels, and finally (iii) those with specialist interests. There now exists a burgeoning world of print and electronic media to cater to the specialist in just about every area of serious and elitist, popular and light, culture from: cooking to character, from psychology to psychiatry, from dogs to detritis, from gods to government and from fasting to French culture, inter alia. After a short browse of this site, intended readers will get a feel of what is available and what, if anything, is their cup-of-tea.
Not everyone is 'into' the internet so to speak in the way that I am. Many prefer reading books to reading on computer screens. Many prefer iPhones and iPads, iPods and an ever increasing technology for print and image storage. Millions of others prefer TV and radio, hi-fidelity music, DVDs and live-entertainment. The list of leisure-time activities and the variety of hobby and communication apparatus that is now available seems endless. To those who come across what I write, and to those who don't, I wish you well in sorting out this great panorama and pageantry, panoply and pean of popular pastimes and programs. Two-thirds or more of the world still has no access to the internet and most of this communication technology.
As a final comment in this short section of my WELCOME page entitled as this section is: THIS SITE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE, let me emphasize that readers here should feel free not to be in the least 'encouraged' to do what I seem to be 'encouraging' them to do. I get 'encouraged' to do many things which I have absolutely no interest in doing and I have been subjected to this business of encouragement since I was knee-high-to-a-grasshopper, as we used to say. Readers at this site should feel no sense of obligation or guilt it they do not follow-up on my suggestions, my 'encouragements.' To each their own, I say, in this burgeoning and efflorescing, germinating and blooming, booming and buzzing world of existence. I would encourage readers to take a look at the following link for a set of caveats, for a serious set of reservations, for a short reading list of books with hosts of cautionary notes, with respect to internet life and activity. And, as I say, if you don't want to, go your own way. "Do what you like," as my son often says.
I would encourage readers to take a look at the following link, referred to out of habit by the word hyperlink on some occasions throughout this website. This link provides a serious caveat, a serious set of reservations, with respect to internet life and activity. These are reservations of which I am sure many readers here are already aware, but they are useful to emphasize on this introductory, this welcome, this homepage. I encounter many of the issues raised in the books to which this link refers as I am sure others who take part in internet discussions are also exposed. This site does not cater to voyeurism, the pornographic, indeed, to the photographic-visual bias of our image-glut society.
NOT INTO FACEBOOK AND TWITTER and SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES(SNS)
I should also mention that this site is not oriented to the Facebook, Twitter, and SNS, a world with its short posts, its basis in photos and networks of family and friends, in casual and intimate relationships, in play and in having fun, in relieving boredom and in keeping in touch with those whom you know, in the world of the quotidian and the everyday, in fan pages and event management. It is possible that any thoughts I have on SNS like Facebook and Twitter are of limited value to most of those who come to my webpage. My comments may also appear as too negative, too critical of that type of social networking.
It may also be that I never really found that type of site my cup-of-tea, that I was not willing to do the legwork to get my fan base increased, or that I was not willing to engage in the type of dialogue to maintain and/or increase my friendships. Twitter also had many uses which I did not explore in my several years of twittering. Perhaps this was just one of the many examples of the beginnings of my technological ludditeness as the evening of my life began its slow progression, its incremental advancement, into old age---the years beyond 80 as one model of the lifespan by human development psychologists defines that final stage of life.
I remain a member of both Facebook and Twitter, but I rarely engage with others responding as one does, if one does engage, to the remarks of others. All the big SNS successes have a more or less addictive component—they hook you because they are solitary ways to be social: you keep checking in, peeking in, as you would to some noisy party going on downstairs that you would like to join but to which you were not invited. Facebook remains, what it has been during my several years of membership, a place to promote my writing. Many internet sites at which I post my writing are now connected with Facebook and so this most popular of the world's SNS has become an integrating mechanism or tool for me to increase my readership. As I often say on this website: writers like to have readers and, when one does not go through publishers, one has to build up one's readership, do one's own marketing so to speak---oneself---using as many search engine optimization techniques as one knows.
One attraction of Facebook, it seems to me, is that it enables anyone to be a quasi-celebrity, with their image and those of their friends on a lighted screen. Their fan base can be presumably, and hopefully is, enthralled with every little tidbit of gossip or information about them. On sites like Facebook a person serves as their own promoter and press agent, as well as star and, as I say, celebrity. I have performed these roles for years; some were enthralled; some said they were. My photos and posts, my comments on the posts of others and theirs on mine, were as numerous as if I was pursued by the paparazzi. The connections that Facebook calls-forth seem to be that of a singular performer to the crowd. Connection and visibility, among other purposes, are the goals for the participants. The quality of that connection, the quality of the information that passes through it, the quality of the relationship that connection permits, the quality of most of the relationships at SNS, that people are explicitly encouraged to make is often weak and superficial. I found this to be the case over several years--at least for my money and my tastes. To each their own at Facebook, at other SNS, as in real life.
Of course, what is weak and superficial in a relationship to one is deep and meaningful to another. Everyone gets the level of relationship they want, or that they are able, to maintain, given the nature of the medium, its context, its mode and manner, its social etiquette and netiquette. To each their own in life as well as on the internet. But, as I say, this website, this fourth edition of my site which I have had for more than a dozen years, is not a Facebook-Twitter-oriented site. People can make remarks in several ways at this site, as they have now done for several months, but it is more difficult for them to engage in the: give and take, go and grab, hit and miss, hello and goodbye, poke and prod, slash and burn, I like this, and I like your dog or your baby---fashion of Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are almost like online game sites, at least in some ways. They are communities where you hang out a bit, and do something that’s a little bit of fun: you whack some trolls, you post a little something. You whack a troll, as they say.
PROMOTING MY WRITING AND SOCIAL ACTIVISM
There is much of the Internet that is falsely jolly, fake-friendly, self-promoting, slickly disingenuous. For all these reasons I have ceased being the Facebook addict I once was and, as I say above, for several years. As with all seriously addictive things, giving up proved to be immeasurably harder than starting. I kept changing my mind and going back: to respond to others, to promote my writing, to bring my profile up-to-date, to try and create a fan base. Facebook was for me, for those years, a great distraction from my serious literary work. I loved it for its capacity to promote my writing. A SNS, like Facebook, with more than a billion members and more than a billion items, I hypothesized as late as mid-2012, must be valuable in promoting my writing, in getting readers. Indeed it was. Twitter, when I last posted in mid-2012, had 200 million tweets handling 3 billion queries per day. Like Facebook, I also hypoethesized, my writing could be promoted across the face of the earth to its furthest internet corners. Writers like me want readers in similar ways that those who talk want to have listeners.
People love Facebook and Twitter for many reasons which I have already summarized. This is a theme on which I could embellish. With Facebook and Twitter: hours, afternoons, entire days can go by without even noticing--I have been told by others---to engage with fans, facilitate friend and/or customer care, as well as distribute news of interest and relevance. I did not have this problem: I posted my writing and responded occasionally to others as they did occasionally to me. I also engaged, and still engage, in a type of social activism but not, for the most part, of the forms utilized by active participants at Facebook and Twitter. See the following link for a helpful perspective on these online forms of social activism:http://www.idealware.org/blog/will-revolution-be-tweeted-striking-right-balance-social-media
GENUINE DISCUSSIONS AT FACEBOOK AND PERSONALITY REDUCTIVENESS
When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. When they become a series of photos and pokes, one-line jokes and two-line statements, a series of likes and dislikes, event supporters and topic enthusiasts, their selves go through a reductive process, for the most part unknowingly. So goes one argument, an argument some find persuasive and an argument others disagree with strongly. I tried to avoid this reductive process, if that is what it was, this process by which everything shrinks: individual character, friendships, language, sensibility. I tried to avoid this personality reductionism by posting extensive quantities of poetry and prose which I had written, rather than great quantities of my likes and dislikes, my daily activities and one-liners. I did post my photos and some of the events in my life. I also wrote about my reactions to the photos and events in the lives of others. In my several years at Facebook I found it difficult to engage in any genuine discussions. I got the distinct feeling and it was confirmed again and again, that discussions in any depth were not the purpose of such online sites. If one wanted depth and the deep and meaningful, one simply went elsewhere.
In a way activity at sites like Facebook is a transcendent experience: participants lose their bodies, their messy feelings, their desires and fears--at least for a time. Perhaps they give expression to these feelings, these things I have listed here, in the form of a joke or a simple remark. Those who post at Facebook, and especially those who post frequently as I did, create an image of the person they want others to see them as. This is natural enough. We all do this in daily life, in real life, some more successfully than others. Private people, people who are essentially a mystery, to the world and, what is more important, to themselves---become a commodity.
Looking back on my time at Facebook, 2006 to 2014, I see myself as being, and having been such a commodity. This commodity was not all bad; indeed, my presence at Facebook has had many advantages to both myself and others---and still has. Much of my commodity, indeed most, has been a body of writing which, from my point of view, was quintessentially me. It was as close to the person I am as anything else. Even if person as mystery became person as commodity, it was and is a commodity I am happy to present to cyberspace, the people who are my friends and the many others whom I don't know who come to my profile at Facebook.
People at Facebook and other SNS engage in what some social scientists call 'commodity fetishism.' The idea of personhood changes as technology and society change and has been doing so since the invention of stone tools and the wheel. This, of course, is a given in anthropology, sociology and social psychology. In some ways I do this inventing, so to speak, at this website every time I write something. But I do this in quite a different way, I would argue, than those who are Facebook posters and Twitterers and their own particular image creations.
My comments here are, if anything, comments on certain internet site processes. I am in no position to criticize those who are 'into' Facebook and Twitter. I do not want to stand as judge and jury over the hundreds of millions who are 'into' that type of social networking. In the end, though, it was not for me, not my type of interaction. “We lived on farms, then we lived in cities and now we’re gonna live on the internet.” One writer puts it. I spend much of my time on the internet, and engage in a great deal of interaction. Most of my time on the internet involves reading and research. I then post my writing, part of which is a product of this reading and research, at what I hope are appropriate sites on the world-wide-web. I am my own editor and publisher, publicist and research-assistant. I engage in a variety of what are called search engine optimization techniques to get people to read what I write. Sadly or not-so-sadly: I am not a Twitterer or a Facebook junkie---at least not anymore---not since I have come to use Facebook as a site to promote my writing, since about 2009 when I turned 65 and went on an old-age pension.
WHAT IS NOT AT THIS SITE
So much of the here and now, and so much of popular culture, topics like: gardening and cooking, building your own home and cleaning it, sport and shopping, partying and having fun, partisan political commentary and endless hair-spliting and quibbling, the burgeoning human interest stories and narratives that fill the print and electronic media are not available at this site. Since all of these topics are available by the bucket-load, as I say, elsewhere this should present no problems to readers. Although there is much at this site that I like to think is light and humorous, interesting and stimulating, the general tone of this website is serious and tends to leave much of popular culture out of the picture.
2000+ RON PRICES ON THE INTERNET
By 1 August 2012 I had located over 4000 other Ron Prices on the internet. I have listed some of these other Ron Prices in my computer directory. There are special sites with lists of hundreds of Ron Prices. They include: MyLife.com, Intelius.com, ZoomInfo Business People, Linkedin, 192.com, 123people.com, How Many of Me. Com,(with separate sites in the USA, the UK, & in some other countries) & PeekYou. After 10 years of extensive posting on the internet, 2001-2012, and after coming across such a plethora of other Ron Prices, I decided to gather many of them together. I did not want people confusing me with others, some others of fame and yet others of notoriety. If I did not post extensively on the world-wide-web and have literally millions of words in cyberspace this exercise would not have been necessary.
TOTAL INTERNET SITE/ENTRIES
On 1 August 2012 any reader doing some googling will find literally 1000s of entries when they type my name Ron Price followed by any one of the following words: poetry, history, literature, bipolar disorder, Bahá'í. My name followed by literally dozens of other subjects, topics and words like: media, popular culture, religion, Christianity, philosophy, sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, media studies, interviews, writing, inter alia also yielded 1000s of sites and sub-sites. It was equally obvious that, with a little digging or a lot, depending on one’s search skills, persistence and interests, that readers would find there are now literally millions of people who come across my writing and read it in varying degrees. Still, as I say above, I am far from being either famous or rich. Still, again, these achievements in life are somewhat dubious entities. And still again, I don't think I will ever find out what the experience of achieving such status, if that is what such achievements are, is like.
There is no question that the sites at which I have registered and at which I post my writing as well as the entries on the internet at google, among a host of other search engines, at which I respond to the writing of others constitutes a major web site presence. Of course, ‘major’ is a relative term on the WWW with its millions of sites and 4.6 billion news, topics, subjects and information items as of 1 July 2011. My presence is really a dot on the cyberspace landscape as one is also a dot in the world of existence and this immense universe.
By the time I came to write extensively I was retired and on a pension. I did not entertain the idea of finding sufficient support in the marketplace to sustain my creative work. This pension has provided me with an income that has enabled me to voluntarily give up the possibility of earning a living from my work. It became more and more obvious from my initial internet publishing efforts at the turn of the 3rd millennium that my retirement pension and my small savings would have to do. I took no interest, therefore, in issues of copyright and royalty earnings. It has taken me a dozen years, 2001-2012, to obtain a readership in cyberspace which would often have taken a lifetime to find by the normal course of events through traditional publishers. I have been able to benefit from the growth of my reputation on the world-wide-web, but in quite a different way than such a reputation would have grown by means of the marketing talents of traditional publishers. I shall never be famous or rich, but I have literally millions of readers and that is quite enough for whatever vanity is involved, for any desire to influence the views of others, and/or for any part I want to play in the collective life of my society.
PERMISSION TO POST
A final note, but perhaps in some ways the most important at least for me, and for the social and spiritual, psychological and sociological, organizational and community, collectivity of which I have been a part, for nearly sixty years--the Baha'i Faith. I have been given permission by the Review Office of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the USA to place my writings on the internet. I sought this permission several years ago due to the extensive amount of internet writing that I do, writing that is reflected at this site. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Australia, Inc., the nationally elected body by the Baha'is of Australia, the country where I have lived for the last forty years, has encouraged and supported me in my work. This nationally elected Baha'i body does not require those Baha'is in Australia who have websites and who post on the internet to have their work reviewed.
The Bahá'í Internet Agency(BIA) assists the global Baha'i community in its use of the Internet, providing technical support to Baha'i institutions and supporting promising initiatives of individuals. Established in 2004 by the Universal House of Justice, the Bahá’í Internet Agency operates under the guidance of the International Teaching Centre. I have attempted to put-in-place the many forms of advice to internet users like myself offered by the BIA in its several papers over these last seven years. I have also sent emails to the Baha'i World Centre, and especially the International Teaching Centre, whose role and function, among other things, is to assist the Universal House of Justice in matters relating to teaching and protection of the faith. For more than 30 years, 1984 to 2015, I have sent letters, and then emails, to the Baha'i World Centre with overviews of my writing and internet work.
The Universal House of Justice, that institution at the apex of Baha'i administration, had me on its prayer list back in the late 1970s. I had asked for prayers to help me to deal with my mental health issues, issues which were given the label bipolar disorder in 1980. Since then I have kept in touch with the Baha'i World Centre from time to time. I placed some 70 booklets of poetry and essays, as well as an 800 page autobiography in the Library at the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa Israel in the years from 1988 to 2004. I also kept the Universal House of Justice informed of my autobiographical writing for which I received a letter warmly acknowledging my work and its contribution to the Baha'i community.
I have kept the Baha'i Council for Tasmania in the information loop so to speak. This body, the regional council of Baha'is with administrative responsibilities for the Baha'i community in which I live has its centre in Hobart, the capital of the state of Tasmania. As my website and my internet work has developed in the last decade, I felt it was important to keep these several layers of Baha'i administration informed of the work I am doing and the service I am performing both to the Baha'i community and other interest groups. I have lived in Tasmania for 16 years, nearly a quarter of my life. Several years ago, early in this 3rd millennium, I ran a workshop at a Baha'i summer school in northern Tasmania, under the auspices of the Baha'i Council for Tasmania, on the use of the internet in Baha'i teaching and consolidation, service and social activism activity. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada, through its literature review committee, gave me permission to publish one of my books, a book on the poetry of Roger White. That book on White's poetry is also found at this site. The review process is still in place in the Baha'i world, although the internet has somewhat altered its implementation from country to country
I have cut-and-pasted below an email from the Review Office of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States of America. That agency of the NSA of the Baha'is of the USA wrote to me as follows more than two years ago on 29/1/'09:
The Review Office regrets that it has taken a few months to get back to you, but appreciates your invitation to take as long as needed given the length of your manuscript. To be frank, the reviewers asked to assist with this task have in fact not read all 3300 pages of your work entitled Pioneering Over Four Epochs, but they have reviewed the work carefully, and sufficiently to enable us to reply at this time. We have also looked at your website, http://www.users.on.net/~ronprice/, which you referenced in previous correspondence, in order to understand how this manuscript is related to your online publishing.
The several volumes of Pioneering Over Four Epochs, which you have termed your autobiography, are a mixture of philosophy, psychology, gleanings from other authors, letters, poetry, social commentary, biographies, essays, anecdotes, as well as diary, journal and notebook entries. It is written in a stream-of-consciousness style and includes an enormous amount of detail on every topic, as well as numerous detours down related paths. Indeed, reviewers’ first reaction was that it read more like a collection of archival material than an autobiography. They suggested that it would be valuable for you to send a copy to the national Bahá’í archives of your home country so that it may be retained for the use of historians of the future. This is a suggestion in which the Review Office strongly concurs.
I have responded to the above suggestion with the result that the National Baha'i Archives of Australia(NBAA) now has several thousand of my letters in four boxes: letters from the half-century 1960 to 2010.
That email of 29/1/'09 from the Review Office of the NSA of the Baha'is of the USA continued:
As you know, the purpose of Bahá’í literature review is to ascertain that works produced by Bahá’ís convey information about the Faith with dignity and accuracy and in a manner that is timely for the present moment in history. As we mentioned in a previous email, Bahá’í authors are asked to submit their work for review before entering into publishing agreements so that revisions can be made as needed early in the process. The Bahá’í Faith is mentioned very frequently in your work Pioneering Over Four Epochs, and reviewers did not notice any inaccuracies in the portions they read. But since the references are scattered throughout this vast work, it is difficult to know what a reader new to the Faith would come to understand in the end. Due to the style and the numerous tangents, the text is often very difficult to follow. This is one difficulty presented in the review of the work.
The other, and more substantial, difficulty is that we feel we must once more express some doubt that a work of this nature and length will be marketable, and thus publishable. Of course, it may be possible to self-publish the work with a company such as Dorrance Publishing with its head office in Pittsburg, but we would urge you to do careful research on their publishing options. Be very sure you know what services the company provides and at what cost to you. While publishing arrangements are not generally a concern of this Review Office, your work presents us with a question of our human resource allocation. We cannot in good faith ask reviewers to read your enormous manuscript in full if it is unlikely to be published in this form in print. Of course, another option for you is to post the rest of the work on your website where portions already appear.
Note: This I have done and readers will find autobiographical material in many forms: poetry and prose, narrative and exposition, description and anecdote, inter alia, at: (a) this website and (b) across cyberspace at 1000s of sites.
That email continues:
We understand from some comments made on your website that writing and talking is your life, your “MO,” as they say in who-dun-its, and there is no doubt that your compiling this autobiographical work has been a most valuable experience for you and for archival purposes. It may also be valuable to put it online where portions, or all of it, can be readily accessed by those interested. However, publishing in print, in a hard or soft cover, as you know, is something else. It must be done with a potential readership in mind. You need to think about: who is the intended audience? It is hard to imagine, particularly in the current climate of a poor economy and of acontraction in the publishing world, that such a 6-volume set of books is viable. If your goal is simply to produce a small number of bound copies for family, friends and archives, there may be much less expensive ways to go, and Bahá’í literature review is not required in such cases.
Again, we do not make these comments to be discouraging, but rather to encourage you to consider using the material in Pioneering Over Four Epochs to write a different book – to tell a story that has some focus and would sustain the interest of a reader, and is no more than 200 to 300 pages long. Your experiences as a pioneer would be an excellent example of such a focus, such a story. You could describe: the people, and places, what was learned and what was experienced; in the process you could discuss what relates directly to the Bahá’í Faith or to living a Bahá’í life in this age. This could be done in a single volume and would have the potential to be an inspirational and motivational book, as well as an engaging introduction to the Faith for readers who are not Bahá’ís. This is another suggestion made by reviewers and one with which we concur.
Of course, we fully understand that this is entirely your decision. Whether you want to go forward with efforts to self-publish this manuscript in its current form is entirely up to you. As a result of the review of the manuscript so far, there are no review obstacles to publishing your work in the manner in which we have advised above. In your very unusual case, we would suggest that you go forward toward self-publishing---if that is your decision---and keep in touch with the Review Office to let us know what transpires. If it looks like the book will be published in something like its current form, we will be pleased to complete the review within a month’s time. Our goal is to provide support and assistance to Bahá’í authors and we trust that our comments here may be received in that spirit. We look forward to hearing back from you.
With all best wishes,
Martha L. Schweitz
Office of Review
Baha'i National Center
1233 Central St.
Evanston, IL 60201
From : Ron Price [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent : Thursday, January 29, 2009 10:08 PM
To : Review Office
Subject: Ron Price's Memoirs
Thank you for your email of 29 January 2009 received today 30 January 2009 in Australia. That response to my email of 19 August 2008 was most useful. My email to you, written on 19/8/'08, was sent to your Review Office in connection with your review of my manuscript Pioneering Over Four Epochs. I appreciated the comprehensive context in which your Office framed its response to my submission outlining, as your response did, the various options open to me at this stage of the review process. I appreciated, too, the several comments made by your Office in relation of my manuscript: its style, its content and its many tangential directions and references. And, finally, the practical comments on where to go from here I thought were timely, personally useful and they set my mind at ease. As I'm sure you can appreciate, when one writes a body of work of such length one comes to invest more than a little interest in what happens to the manuscript after the writing is complete and submitted for Baha'i literature review. And so when I say "you have set my mind at ease," I say this with a heartfelt thanks for all the effort and thought that your Review Office has put into the exercise of examining the extensive body of my writing.
I will now follow-up on the Office of Review's advice and suggestions and take the following actions in line with your advised directions:
(1) I will contact the archives departments in the national Baha'i communities of both Canada and Australia to see if those departments are interested, as your Office indicated, in retaining a copy "for the use of historians of the future."
(2) I will continue to self-publish on the internet in the form of: (a) writing and updating my ebooks, (b) placing portions of my manuscript at my website and (c) inserting parts of my manuscript at various locations on the internet: (i) in whole or (ii) in part--as circumstances permit, as appropriate and, as you say, "where sections or all of it can be readily accessed by those interested."
(3) I will not try to publish this manuscript in print, that is in a hard or soft cover, through any publishing house, Baha'i or non-Baha'i. Since, as you say, it is unlikely that my manuscript would "be published in its present form" of 6 volumes. Even if my autobiographical work were to be published by a Baha'i or non-Baha'i publisher, as you say again, "in the current climate of a poor economy and of a contraction in the publishing world, such a 6-volume set of books would not be viable" financially for a publisher.
The Dorrance Publishing Company in Pittsburg, a self-publishing company, saw the exercise as viable but, in the end, I would have had to pay more money than: (a) I was prepared to pay and (b) I could afford. There is no need therefore, Martha, for the Office of Review to continue with its reviewing process. My book will not be published in its current form except, as I indicated above and following your advice, for a small circle of family, friends and Baha'i archives departments. Even that small number of copies would be too costly for me to seriously entertain at present given the Dorrance Publishing Company's present terms and conditions.
I thank the Office of Review for its support and assistance, the helpful perspectives in which it couched its response as well as the very spirit which has animated all of your correspondence in the last year in connection with the submission of my manuscriptI. I may follow-up on the practical and helpful advice to "produce a small number of bound copies for family, friends and archives" if, indeed, I decide to publish in print at all. But, as you say, in this case "Baha'i literature review is not required." If I do, in the end, write a different book, as your Office has suggested, a book of some 200 to 300 pages, a book which aims to sustain the interest of a reader, focusing on my experiences as a pioneer and relating directly to the Baha'i Faith or to living the Baha'i life, I will be in touch. Such a book with the potential to being an inspirational and motivational book, and especially aimed at those with an interest, or potential interest, in the Cause and in a single volume--would indeed be desirable. As I say, if I procede along these lines and produce such a work, I will be in touch. Such a project, though, is not likely in the short term. But who knows what will inspire me in the evening of my life: the last years of late adulthood(65-80) and old age(80++), periods in the lifespan according to some human development psychologists.
In the meantime I trust my above response puts your Office in the picture of where I intend to go from here. If there are any further comments that your Office of Review would like to add, Martha, in connection with my manuscript, I look forward to hearing from you on behalf of that Office. I trust my comments here tie-up any loose ends in connection with my submission. The review of my manuscript by your Office has been an efficient and effective piece of work from my point of view. Your review, at this stage, has provided me with some practical suggestions for where to go to from here, suggestions which I will, as I say above, follow-up on immediately. There is no need for any continued work by your Office of Review on my project, my submission, at the present time.
With much appreciation, again,
for all your work
INTERNET SITES AT WHICH READERS WILL FIND MY ULR WHICH WANT TO LINK WITH THIS SITE:
My website is placed on the homepage at the social media marketing network, entitled viralNetworkers
anchor text = Twitter Followers