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CHEMISTRY: DEFINED AND DESCRIBED
Chemistry is the science of matter and the changes that matter undergoes. The science of matter is also addressed by physics, but while physics takes a more general and fundamental approach, chemistry is more specialized, being concerned with the composition, behavior or reaction, structure, and properties of matter, as well as the changes it undergoes during chemical reactions. It is a physical science which studies various substances, atoms, molecules, crystals and other aggregates of matter whether in isolation or combination, and which incorporates the concepts of energy and entropy in relation to the spontaneity of chemical processes.
Disciplines within chemistry are traditionally grouped by the type of matter being studied or the kind of study. These include inorganic chemistry, the study of inorganic matter; organic chemistry, the study of organic (carbon based) matter; biochemistry, the study of substances found in biological organisms; physical chemistry, the study of chemical processes using physical concepts such as thermodynamics and quantum mechanics; and analytical chemistry, the analysis of material samples to gain an understanding of their chemical composition and structure. Many more specialized disciplines have emerged in recent years, for example, neurochemistry the chemical study of the nervous system, and other subdisciplines. For an excellent overview of the field of chemistry go to the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemistry
WHAT IS LIFE....THE WONDERS OF LIFE
Wonders of Life is a five-part television documentary series presented by physicist Professor Brian Cox. The series was produced by the BBC and the Chinese state television network CCTV-9. The series began to be aired on 27 January 2013 on BBC Two, and on ABC1 in Australia five months later on 27/6/'13. 1. Part 1 is entitled "What is Life?" Professor Brian Cox journeys to Southeast Asia to see how life began on Earth and how the flow of energy created and supports life. In Part 2, the "Expanding Universe" Cox travels to the U.S. to showcase how the laws of science allowed senses to arise. For more details on this program-series go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonders_of_Life_%28TV_series%29 I have placed this item in the physics and the biology sub-sections of this website since the subject matter is relevant to these two disciplines, as well as chemistry.
Michael Faraday(1791-1867) was an English scientist. As a chemist, Faraday discovered benzene, investigated the clathrate hydrate of chlorine, invented an early form of the Bunsen burner and the system of oxidation numbers, and popularised terminology such as anode, cathode, electrode, and ion. Faraday ultimately became the first and foremost Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a lifetime position. He also contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include those of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis. Although Faraday received little formal education he was one of the most influential scientists in history.
It was by his research on the magnetic field around a conductor carrying a direct current that Faraday established the basis for the concept of the electromagnetic field in physics. Faraday also established that magnetism could affect rays of light and that there was an underlying relationship between the two phenomena. He similarly discovered the principle of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and the laws of electrolysis. His inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices formed the foundation of electric motor technology, and it was largely due to his efforts that electricity became practical for use in technology.
Faraday's 6 volumes of letters, 1811 to 1867, make an interesting backdrop to his work in the sciences. The Correspondence of Michael Faraday Vol. VI, 1860-67 by Frank James was published in 2011. At 919 pages it completes the set of volumes. The dominant topic of the 1860s, covering nearly 40% of the letters, is Faraday’s involvement with the lighthouse service relating in particular to his advice to Trinity House and the Board of Trade on matters such as electric light and the controversial issue of fog signals. Also detailed is the complex process by which his various posts were transferred to John Tyndall. Similar issues existed with Faraday’s gradual withdrawal from his duties at the Royal Institution, including the misguided attempt to make him President. And, of course, running through many of the letters are comments on his declining health and impending death. For more on Faraday go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Faraday
PUSHING THINGS TO THE LIMIT
Sandy Kaufax, arguably the best pitcher ever in the major leagues in North America, retired in 1969 at the age of 31. At the time he had the most strikeouts of any pitcher in baseball history. He used to use heat treatments for his arm, pain killers and anti-inflammatory injections of cortisone before each game as well as ice-water after the game. He was just beginning his years of success and popularity when I became a Baha’i in 1959 and when I began moving away from baseball as a leisure activity in 1962. In that summer of 1962 I played my last game. I was beginning to see baseball as a refuge from social involvement, from the social concerns that had bedevilled American society in the 1950s and 1960s. I began to see sport as a form of escape, a form of non-involvement, incompatible with a serious interest in society. In retrospect I think this view was somewhat extreme, not a balanced, moderate view. The following summer, the following baseball season, I lived in another town and all my friends were gone. This may have been the main reason I gave up baseball. it is difficult to get an accurate assessment of that decision after the passing of nearly 50 years.
Ken Burns suggested that baseball was a form of pastoralism. He pointed this out in his television series Baseball produced in 1999. Burns points to many Americans who saw baseball as too passive and dropped their interest in it. Such people often became activists, involved themselves, Burns emphasized, in some social issue. The following poem, a vahid--a 19 line poem- makes some comparisons between Kaufax and myself. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 8 August 2000.
I pioneered that summer just as
Sandy Kaufax was beginning to
make it big as the best pitcher...
ever in the major leagues. I only
moved down the road to Dundas
where we helped form what may
have been the 1st LSA in that little
town; and then into Hamilton near
the university where for three years,
1963-1966, I was the only Baha’i on
campus back then in the wild 1960s.
And then down I went to Windsor....
where I learned about Eskimos for...
the big move up, up to Frobisher Bay;
and then closing out the decade in the
town of Whitby,Toronto, King City and
Picton. You retired, Sandy, to save your
arm and I slipped overseas to a sweet...
new life and its attendant, continuing &
seemingly inevitable stretches of that
psychic-arm to the limit; it was my body
chemistry, Sandy, and some inner desire
to take things, and push them, to the edge,
to the very limit!!
8/8/'00 to 27/6/'13.
CHEMISTRY AND MY BIPOLAR I DISORDER
I have written a brief and general account of my bipolar 1 disorder summarizing both the long history of this illness and where I am at present in what has been a life-long battle. I think it is important to state that I possess a clinical disorder, a bio-chemical, an electro-chemical, imbalance having to do with brain chemistry. The transmission of messages in my brain is simply overactive, irratic, inconsistent and has caused me a range of mood disorders all my life. One to three percent of the population suffer from this illness depending on what source one sights. The extremes of this illness have now been largely treated, but a residue of symptoms remains which I have described briefly in what I call my chaos narrative which is available at this site in the bipolar sub-section.
I have gone into the detail I have in that account, in some 100,000 words and 100 pages, because I want to give readers some idea of the extent of this illness and its subtle and not-so-subtle affects on my life both now and over the decades. The chemical basis of this illness is complex. I really feel quite exhausted from the battle with this illness. I am still able to be involved in life’s many engagements, but in a limited way. For more of my story google: RonPrice BPD.
Back in the mid-1990s, as I was beginning to plan my exit from the world of endless talk, of wall-to-wall people and of listening--as a teacher and as a Baha'i in community, I remember that tastes, touches, sights and smells began to take on a new meaning. I had just turned 50 in 1994. Perhaps this increase in sensory awareness was just one of the multitude of manifestations of my BPD over what have now been seven decades. I seemed to recapture the past and live in the present with a greater intensity than I had been able to do in previous years. Perhaps this increased sensory acuity was simply due to my full acceptance of my lithium medication. As the new millennium opened at the age of 55, and I was at last free from meetings and people coming to me and at me at a mile a minute, the present and especially the past began to come at me noticeably free of those disappointments and anxieties that had for so many years accompanied my life. There was the sense of blossom, of freshness, of new colour, of bright intensity and there was also the sense of calm and a solemn consciousness. Part of this, if not most of this ease of life, was due to the new medication package that was gradually refined in the decade 2001 to 2011.
This consciousness seemed productive of a quiet joy that had not been there before; this was partly due to fluvoximine and lithium's soothing presence in my brain and body chemistry, especially at the synaptic connections, and then another medication package. They were certainly essential to my new ease of life. As I listened to Chopin's Ballade No.1 in G Minor, Opus 23 and gazed occasionally out of the window of my study at the lemon tree, and the flowers my wife had recently planted in our front garden here in northern Tasmania, I felt a quiet joy. It was a joy which resembled that equable temperament that Wordsworth is said to have had and which allowed me to experience the emotions and events of earlier days, only this time they were recollected in tranquillity, in that "bliss of solitude." Was this due, quintessentially to (i) my BPD and (ii) my latest meds?
THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHEMISTRY
The philosophy of chemistry considers the methodology and underlying assumptions of the science of chemistry. It is explored by philosophers, chemists, and philosopher-chemist teams. For much of its history, philosophy of science has been dominated by the philosophy of physics, but the philosophical questions that arise from chemistry have received increasing attention since the latter part of the 20th century. Major philosophical questions arise as soon as one attempts to define chemistry and what it studies. Atoms and molecules are often assumed to be the fundamental units of chemical theory, but traditional descriptions of molecular structure and chemical bonding fail to account for the properties of many substances, including metals and metal complexes and aromaticity.
Additionally, chemists frequently use non-existent chemical entities like resonance structures to explain the structure and reactions of different substances; these explanatory tools use the language and graphical representations of molecules to describe the behavior of chemicals and chemical reactions that in reality do not behave as straightforward molecules. For more on the philosophy of chemistry go to:
CHEMISTS WHO ARE PHILOSOPHERS
One of the most novel philosophers of sciences in the 20th century was the physical chemist Michael Polanyi. Michael Polanyi(1891-1976) was a Hungarian polymath, who made important theoretical contributions to physical chemistry, economics, and philosophy. He argues that positivism supplies a false account of knowing, which if taken seriously undermines our highest achievements as human beings. His wide-ranging research in physical science included chemical kinetics, x-ray diffraction, and adsorption of gases. He pioneered the theory of fiber diffraction analysis in 1921, and the dislocation theory of plastic deformation of ductile metals and other materials in 1934.
He emigrated to Germany, in 1926 becoming a chemistry professor at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and then in 1933 to England, becoming first a chemistry professor, and then a social sciences professor at the University of Manchester. Two of his chemistry pupils won Nobel Prizes. He was elected to the Royal Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His contributions to the social sciences, for example his application of the concept of a polycentric spontaneous order, were developed in the context of his opposition to central planning.
THE PERIODIC TABLE
The periodic table is a tabular arrangement of the chemical elements, organized on the basis of their atomic number (number of protons in the nucleus), electron configurations, and recurring chemical properties. Elements are presented in order of increasing atomic number, which is typically listed with the chemical symbol in each box. The standard form of the table consists of a grid of elements laid out in 18 columns and 7 rows, with a double row of elements below that. The table can also be deconstructed into four rectangular blocks: the s-block to the left, the p-block to the right, the d-block in the middle, and the f-block below that. For more on the periodic table go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodic_table
Glenn Seaborg, Joseph W. Kennedy, Edwin McMillan and Arthur Wahl discovered element 94 in Berkeley in 1941. McMillan and Philip Abelson had discovered element 93 the previous year. When Martin Heinrich Klaproth isolated element 92 in pitchblende in 1789, he called it uranium after the recently discovered planet Uranus. The scientists at Berkeley named elements 93 and 94 after the planets Neptune and Pluto. The discovery of plutonium was kept secret until after the war. At Los Alamos it was called ‘49’. This did not help much since Klaus Fuchs gave all the details about the bomb to the Russians. The Germans also realised the value of element 94 for making bombs but they never could make a reactor to produce the stuff. For more on plutonium go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2015/07/22/jeremy-bernstein/the-94th-element/?utm_source=LRB+online+email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20150728+onli and to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium
I listened to Judy Collins for the first time some 40 years ago in my late teens and early twenties--back in the sixties--but I never heard her talk as I did in an interview this morning. I thought I might add the following personal reminiscence on Judy Collins at this site. The interview was a replay on ABC Radio National on the Margaret Throsby program. I found the interview, and especially Collins' words, a source of such nostalgia that I wrote the following prose-poem. Judy Collins may never see the poem, but that does not matter. She is in no more need of accolades after more than 40 years of receiving them. But thank you, Judy, for so much you have given me.
TURN! TURN! TURN!
MY BODY CHEMISTRY TAKES ME DOWN-AND-OUT AND UP-AND-AWAY
This morning I listened to a radio interview with singer and songwriter Judy Collins now in her late fifties. Margaret Throsby, one of the ABC Radio's main interviewers, interviewed Collins on her ABC Radio National program, 6 December 2006. Collins informed listeners that her mentor Pete Seeger had written the words and the music to the song Turn Turn Turn as early as 1954. He did not release the song until 1962. The year 1962 was the beginning of my travelling-pioneering life in the Bahá’í community. Judy Collins sang the song on her 1963 album, Judy Collins #3. This was the year of the formation of the first Universal House of Justice. There was some significant turning going on in the Bahá’í community at the time.
Pete Seeger had adapted the words from chapter three of the Book of Ecclesiastes, 3: 1-8 at another turning point in the history of the Bahá’í community and my own life. The words of that song, and that book of The Bible are often interpreted as conveying a spirit of fatalistic resignation. The words of Seeger's song have also been criticized as just being a series of over-simplifications. We all see things differently.
The Byrds' released a version of the same song in October 1965. Their version possessed, some felt, more optimism than previous versions. One analyst of the song said that The Byrds' release of Turn!Turn!Turn! in that October of 1965 captured the zeitgeist of the time. It was in that same month of 1965 that I decided to pioneer, to move from my home in southern Ontario, and to live among the Inuit in Canada. When I arrived on Baffin Island I played Pete Seeger Songs ad nauseam from the 12 LPs someone had given me as a wedding present. I had, indeed, in that October of 1965, at last made a decision, a specific, a directed, a difficult decision to pioneer, to turn. This anthem of the peace movement and the civil rights cause, Turn Turn Turn, could have been the anthem for my own decisions and some significant turning points in the life of my spiritual community, first at the age of 10, then at 18 and then again at the age of 21, as I started my baseball career, then finished high school and entered my last year of university.
I finally had a specific direction to my future vocational career as a teacher and to my role as a pioneer at that time in the Bahá’í community. I had done a lot of turning. -Ron Price, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" Wikipedia, 6/12/06.
They were hot days back then in '65.
Depression had lifted and those initial
erotic excitements or, perhaps it was
some quite mysterious body chemistry
had sent me into the hypomanic phase
sufficiently below the manic to cope
with life and limb and that old libido.
Somewhat serendipitously, it seems,
looking back after more than 40 years,
I chanced to go to Chatham--the end of
The Underground Railway--it happens--
where they came to a world of freedom(1)
as I--looking back--was going to my world
of freedom; or, perhaps, it was a prison,
the Most Great Prison of my life, little did
I know then in '65 when I was just starting
out on the road that was my life, Judy......
(1) This town in southern Ontario was the last stop for Negroes escaping from the oppressive racism in the USA in the 19th century.
7/12/'06 to 27/6/'13
IMPOSSIBLE TO LIKE
....AND MORE ON MY BODY CEHMISTRY
T.S. Eliot, in one of his last meetings with poet and critic Herbert Read, 'confessed' that "in his life there had been few people whom he had found it impossible to like.' James King, who records this fact in a biography on Read, writes that Eliot may not have been telling the truth. He may have said this just to please Read. Read thought Eliot was unaffectionate and formal.(1) This is a good example of the whole problem of fact, of truth, in biography and autobiography. Herbert Read stands with Swift, Hazlitt , Coleridge, Nietzsche, Tolstoi, Lawrence , and Freud -those writers who do not cater to the common reader as "a passive recipient of pleasures for which he pays a fair market price." Sir Herbert Read was knighted by Winston Churchill in 1953 "for services to literature." The Baha'i community has come to regard 1953 as the beginning of the Kingdom of God on Earth. See God Passes By, 1957, p.351......For an excellent review/comment of/on Read go to the following link:
I found this statement of interest for it was the first time I had read of someone's experience in the domain of liking and disliking people, to be much like my own and put into words. For I, too, found that there were few people in my life whom I found it impossible to like. By my mid-sixties in the 3rd millennium I found that the whole question of like-dislike had become irrelevant, I had simply come to tire of interaction beyond a limited extent. I'm not sure how much of this was due to medications of my bipolar disorder.
There were, of course, hundreds of people whose behaviour I have not liked over the years and many students I taught whose behaviour was so objectionable that they became 'impossible to like.' But after several months they disappeared from my life forever. In nearly seventy years of living there have been relatively few people with whom I have had a lone-term relationship and whom I would put in the "I don't like them" category. -Ron Price with thanks to (1) James King, The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read, St. Martin's Press, NY, 1990, p.281.
A fairly innocent life,
a few kids here
and a few there,
taking everything I had,
wearing me down, strung out
along a classroom wall
in this dark heart
of an age of transition.
Nothing too tragic,
hardly tragic at all,
buckets of anxiety
and a death wish
coming night after night,
In the early evening of my life
a sweet-ease comes on
and a great fatigue, a weariness,
while I unleash
the secrets of the words(1)
on this scarred battlefield
which I cover with new growth.(2)
(1) Herbert Read's idea of the poet's function and the nature of his recovery-R Price2/11.
"The demand of the intellect," wrote Oscar Wilde, "is simply to feel itself alive."(1) I find this process of reading and poeticizing engenders that alive feeling to which Wilde alludes. Over the last two decades, I have by sensible and insensible degrees, created or, perhaps to put it more accurately, I have discovered a literary form, a voice, that allows me to give expression to sorrows and joys, past reminiscences, present experiences and future yearnings. This process, the process of putting words into a form, a shape, results in a greater intensity and concentration of feeling, a greater sense of the sweeter, the dearer, the more consoling, aspects of life itself. Wilde says that this activity, this use of form, creates the critical temperament, the aesthetic instinct, and reveals the secrets of art. Temperament, he concludes, in criticism and creativity, is everything. -Ron Price with thanks to Oscar Wilde in Essays by Oscar Wilde, Libraries Press, Freeport, NY, 1972(1950), p. 177.
And now, after a great wandering
and having my temperament
played with by a body chemistry
that would not leave me alone,
but took me from pillar to post
like some Alice-in-Wonderland
running into holes that should
have been left alone or going to
tea-parties that were as absurd
as the Mad-Hatters who drank tea
with the Queen,.....I learned about
mood and my need to give those
subtle feelings and impulses a
visible form--realizing in a way
an energy in the plane of art:
for in the world of action it was
never enough, indeed far from it.
Over those fifty years of wandering(1)
with that bi-polar game-show which
was not all bad at bottom, I learned
a great deal about others, too much
to suit my aesthetic taste and in the
process some penny dropped about
myself and sadly, though, I could buy
little with that penny in social worlds.
(1) the manifestations of the bi-polar disorder occurred during the years: 1961-2011.
28 November 2002 to 10 May 2011.
In 1962 I moved from Burlington to Dundas Ontario to do my matriculation, grade 13. If I wanted to go to university it was essential that I pass nine subjects. And so it was from September 1962 to June 1963 I spent four hours every night and most of the hours on the weekend studying: Latin(authors and composition), English(literature and composition), maths(algebra, geometry and trig), science(chemistry) and history. My parents helped to form the first Bahá'í spiritual assembly in Dundas that year.
In 1962, the Australian essayist and poet Clive James informs us in one of the articles on poetry at his website(1) “a brace of small but influential penguin pocketbooks waddled into prominence: Contemporary American Poetry, selected and edited by Donald Hall, and The New Poetry, selected and edited by A. Alvarez. Hall picked on two immediately post-war books as marking the culmination of ‘past poetries’ and the beginning of a new poetry: these were Lowell’s Lord Weary’s Castle and Richard Wilbur’s The Beautiful Changes. For tremendous power under tremendous pressure, Lowell was your only man. For skilful elegance, but not for passion, Wilbur was likewise nonpareil. As Hall went on to point out, it was Wilbur who had the greater number of plausible imitators, and the typical duff poem of the fifties was the poème bien fait that was not bien fait — the Wilbur poem not written by Wilbur.
By 1962, mirabile dictu, Wilbur, in addition to The Beautiful Changes, had published Ceremony (1950), Things of this World (1956) and had brought out a large selection in England, Poems 1943-1956. Advice to a Prophet (1961) was also out in Australia by 1962, having been brought straight across the oceans by Faber with a haste well-nigh unseemly. Wilbur’s stock was high on both sides of the pond.” I was out in Australia by 1971, having been brought straight across the ocean by the South Australian government with a haste that surprises me even now. -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Clive James, “Kid Gloves: On Richard Wilbur,” 1994 at CliveJames.com.
I was too busy growing up, then, Clive...
to read all that stuff. From 1944 to 1962
running a different gauntlet to the one you
ran in Sydney; mine, it must be said, was
much easier than yours, Clive. You had a
much tougher set of years back then, Clive.
My mother was into poetry, though,
back there on Seneca Street by the
lake, one of the big-five in Ontario.
Something must have rubbed-off
because here I am in my old-age
writing tons of stuff that will never
make it into books like the ones you
mention that came out back in ‘62....
She was also into a new religion(2)
which also rubbed-off back then
in the fifties when I was playing
baseball, hockey, football, trying
to get into girls without any luck
and, unlike you Clive, making it
big in school with my memory...
as a good-boy, Clive, back then,
unlike you; I started to treat my
mother badly much later in life.
Anyway, Clive, thanks for your
erudition and your memory; you
have enriched my life Downunder.
(1) Clive James, Unmerited Memoirs, 1980.
(2) The Bahá'í Faith
6 December 2009 to 21 July 2011
INTRODUCTION TO MY SCIENCE PRINT RESOURCES
During 2001-2002 I opened a file for ARCHITECTURE, SCIENCE AND HEALTH. The material was collected, for the most part, after my retirement from FT and PT teaching in the years 1999 to 2002. I have never had files for these subjects, although in the 1980s, while writing articles on various Baha'i buildings, I did open a file on architecture. In 2008 I opened a separate file on science and its many sub-disciplines in the physical and biological sciences. In April 2011 it was necessary to have two Science Files, Volumes 2.1.1 and 2.1.2.
My life story, life narrative, life experience with these disciplines goes back, as far as I can remember, to grade seven when I was twelve and on the puberty cusp. “Egg, larva, pupa and adult,” are the first words I remember from that science course in 1957/8, more than half a century ago, although my grandfather had an interest in science and he was part of my life until 1958. I continued taking science courses from grade seven to grade thirteen in the academic year 1962-1963 when I studied chemistry. I took one science course in my second year at university, 1964-1965, in the philosophy of science and one course at teachers’ college, 1966-1967, on teaching science to primary school children. As I primary school teacher I taught science from 1968 to 1971.
Science, of course, is part of everyone’s life in this age, but the formal collection of information and the study of the relevant disciplines did not begin until these early years of the new millennium. My second wife, Chris, took an active interest in scientific subjects and her collection of books and articles is extensive while mine, even now after only a dozen years of gathering articles, is not large. The social and behavioural sciences and the humanities have kept me busy for decades and that is still the story.
It did seem timely, though, to write this introduction after 12 years of an ingathering of print resources on some 15 sub-sections of the sciences in 2 volumes as a field of study. I have always liked the Baha’i historian Douglas Martin’s view of science as “the systematic, the disciplined, use of the rational faculty.” In this sense, I like to think that my life has had a scientific turn in this last half century outside its formal study, my teaching of it as a subject and my general interest in its many disciplines.(Go To: Science>Intro Science)
16 April 2011
MANIC-DEPRESSION: MY EXPERIENCE: AN OVERVIEW
I have integrated the words of Leonard Woolf from his autobiography Beginning Again published in 1964 in which he describes the British writer Virginia Woolf's life history of manic-depression. I have integrated her story into the account of my own experience because I found a remarkable similarity. Leonard Woolf's description of Virginia Woolf's manic-depressive history was the first description I read of such an illness in any significant detail. There are now many in the book world and on the internet, but Woolf's story was so apt that it seemed pertinent to apply some of the understandings to my own experience--with alterations to suit my own particular case. The account below may be of use to some with a similar life-experience or with some other challenging mental health issue if not any one of a host of other challenges in life to overcome. If we never know the difficulty others have gone through, we may find our own battles, sometimes, insufferable. We may lose the plot, the courage to go on. The light may simply burn out. Now, of course, television provides a myriad such stories; indeed, I sometimes think we are drowning in them.
There seemed to be a process in which I crossed from sanity to insanity, from normal behaviour to abnormal behaviour, from coping to not coping, from control of my emotions to lack of control. This happens to people who believe and people who don’t—people who believe in virtually anything. Mental illness can strike at anyone. It has a storngly genetic base. Due to this "process" it is often difficult to define just where one is along that 'normal-abnormal' continuum. This was true at both the depressive end and the manic or hypomanic end of the spectrum for me. So it is that I find it difficult to actually define or quantify the number the times when I crossed over, perhaps as many as eight, certainly as few as four, in my whole life----at least until my last brief episode in 1990 when I went off my lithium for between one and three months. I attempted to write a novel during the summer holiday but burnt-out, so to speak trying.
At the hypomanic end there were experiences like the following: "violent emotional instability and oscillation", "abrupt changes" and "a sudden change in a large number of intellectual assumptions."(1) Mental balance, a psychological coherence between intellect and emotion and a rational reaction to the outside world all seemed to blow away, over a few hours or a few days, as I was plunged in a sea of what could be variously described as: emotional heat, intense awareness, sensitivity, sleeplessness, voluble talking, racing mental activity, fear, excessive and clearly irrational paranoia--and in 1968 virtually total incoherence at times--at one end of the spectrum; or intense depression, melancholia, an inner sense of despair and a desire to commit suicide at the other end. The latter I experienced from 1963 to 1965, off and on; the former from 1964 to 1990, on several occasions.
The longest depression was in 1963 and 1964 with perhaps two six month periods from June to November and July to December, respectively. The longest episode of hypomania was from June to November 1968. The hypomania in 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1990 were treated quickly with medication, although the 1978 episode, beginning in January, seemed to last for at least three or four months and had a mostly depressive component. Unlike Virginia Woolf, I had no experience of this variously characterized illness in childhood. It was not until I was 19 that any characteristics of this illness became apparent in my day-to-day life. Unlike Woolf, who experienced the two phases of mania and depression one after another in sequence, my episodes seemed to be quite separate tendencies; they did not follow each other within several months, mania leading to depression. In the 1978 episode, though, elation and depression followed each other within a two to three month period. Clearly, in the episodes in the late '70s, fear, paranoia and the extremes of depression seemed to be much less than those of the 1960s.
There are a variety of manic-depressive profiles. Mine is different than Woolf's but it has a typicality. It is bipolar because both ends of the spectrum, the mood swings, were experienced over the period 1963 to 1990, twenty-seven years. Thanks to lithium it was all over by the time I was 46 years of age. And it would have been all over by the age of 36 if I had stayed on the medication rather than trying to live without it. I could go into more detail comparing Virginia's experience and my own, for her story goes on for over 350 pages; but this short account will suffice. Perhaps at some future time I will go into more detail. This account has none of the fine detail that I could include like: mental hallucinations, specific fears and paranoias, electroconvulsive therapy, psychiatric analysis and diagnosis, experiences in and out of several hospitals with a great number of people, situations and, looking back, humorous and absurd events. Perhaps one day, when the enthusiasm exists, I will go into that kind of detail. For now, this general account must suffice.
I think it is important to state, in conclusion, that the whole notion of 'madness' is really not an appropriate word for a clinical disorder, a bio-chemical, an electro-chemical imbalance having to do with brain chemistry. For the 2 to 3 percent of the population who suffer from this illness it is now largely treated by lithium carbonate, or other medications which any good psychiatrist can prescribe. I don 't have to search for the 'real me' which I used to think I could find between the depressive and the manic end of some behavioural spectrum. Like everyone else I have my battles between my lower and higher nature, as Jung might have put it, and I must battle on, fighting my battles, in the end, by myself as we all must, with the help of friends and loved ones when necessary, as it so often thankfully is.
In the last eighteen years I have had no experience of clinical depression, except for a short period in 1990 when I unwisely went off my medication and except for short periods after midnight before going to bed--but I must say I’ve got used to them for the most part. Of course, I have had the occasional circumstantial depression, the kind of depression any human being gets from time to time when the hurts of life become more than the spirit can bear. But these short-lived periods are suffered through easily compared to those 'clinical' experiences in manic-depressionm, or the bi-polar tendency as it is now labelled, which went on for days or weeks and, on occasion, months. Generally in these eighteen years the most uncomforable experiences I have are: "the flu" for two or three days a year or, more recently, for the last eighteen months or so, since early 1997, fatigue in the evenings. But compared to the bi-polar episodes they are like child's play. There is a secret strength in all that suffering and whatever peace of mind I now possess it is in part due to having lived through all those years of anguish. It was a tempering process: "With fire We test the gold; and with gold We test Our servants," as Baha’u’llah the Founder of the Baha’i Faith writes.
I write the above for the occasional person who may one day read this. It is intended to be as much use to the reader as it has been to me in the writing. It may encourage the reader to write his or her own story. From my experience as a teacher I know that we all have 'our story' and, for some, it is useful that some people tell that story on paper.(2)
(1) Leonard Woolf in The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf's Art and Manic-Depressive Illness, Thomas Caramagno, University of California Press, Oxford, 1992, p.34.
(2) Ron Price, 29/10/'98 to 2/6/08.
All my adult life I have lived with a sense of urgency, a sense of the crisis facing humanity, the anarchous nature of society since the Great War of 1914 and since WW2---the two wars that my father and grandfather lived through. This anarchy has been increasingly characterizing western and global society in the last half of the twentieth century and now into this third millennium. Writing poetry during my early, middle and late adulthood, in the half century from 1965 to 2010, has helped me articulate a response to this tempest, this gloom and doom, this war and bloodshed.
Back in 1962 about the time of the Cuban missile crisis when society came about as close to nuclear war as it has done thusfar, just after I started travelling and pioneering for the Canadian Baha’i community, I began to ‘run’, psychologically. Perhaps it was because I was a child of the cold war with the threat of the A-bomb always hanging over my head.
Perhaps I was just temperamentally wired, configured, constituted, to run. My dad always said so as he watched me bolt-down my food yet again. In the late 1960s I came across Paul Ehrlich, American biologist and educator, and then in the following decades David Suzuki. Their writings and talks reinforced my sense of urgency, what had become a sort of sixth sense fertilized by my study of the Baha’i teachings. It would also seem, in retrospect as I now gaze back over seven decades of living, my body- chemistry was a crucial factor in all of this seriousness, pressure and sense of criticality.
I’ve just finished reading, or more accurately browsing through, Vietnam We’ve All Been There: Interviews with American Writers.(1) I have felt like a war-veteran for years: not in the sense that I’ve seen it on TV or that I’ve been there as one of the troops, but in a wider sense of fighting a far different war on the home front and overseas. All the battles of life are ultimately within the individual. More than 50 years of various battles in my personal and professional life as well as pioneering the Baha’i teachings has frankly warn-me-down in the sense that Roger White describes it in his poem Lines from a Battlefield:(2)
......I tire of this old-born war.
I am alienated from angels and celestial concerns,
Locked in a grief so ancient as to have no name,
in this dimming light,
Ah well, not every day can witness an anabasis*
and I, a sorry soldier, camp in ruins,
speak from weariness of battle far prolonged.
* a large scale military advance.
Still it is joy that is also experienced and remembered; happiness and a vision of the future must be at the centre of one’s life and inspire that life, if one is to resume the battle on a daily basis---at least for me. More of this essential juice, this joie de vivre, has been present in the early years of this 3rd millennium as I moved into late adulthood---the years after 60 as some human development psychologists call these years in the lifespan before old age sets in at 80!
Last night I heard Suzuki, now 74, give his “Legacy” lecture at the Perth Convention Centre.(3) This 90 minute talk provided me with a much more detailed ecological, environmental, biological, and generally scientific basis for the vision of the future I have had for more than half a century. There is, again at least for me, an inevitable and necessary institutional political and religious unification of the planet in the decades and centuries ahead. It’s utopia or oblivion as Buckminster Fuller put it in 1969 in his book by the same name. He had the very first science programme on BBC2 which was broadcast in April 1964 just as I was beginning my study of the arts and sciences at university.4 –Ron Price with thanks to(1) Eric James Schroeder, Vietnam We’ve All Been There: Interviews with American Writers, Praeger Pub., Westport, Conn., 1992); (2)Roger White, Another Song Another Season, George Ronald, 1979, pp.111-112; (3)David Suzuki, Big Ideas, ABC24, 22 November 2010; and (4) Buckminster Fuller, Wikipedia, 24/11/’10
22 November 2010
SOME LIKE IT HOT
The film Some Like It Hot has won many honours and awards which I won’t list here. It was released in Canada in 1959 six months before I joined the Bahá'í Faith. But, until today,(1) I knew nothing about the film. I’ve never been much of a film buff, although my first memories of films go back 55 years to the Roxy Theatre in Burlington Ontario on Saturday afternoons when I watched the Indians getting creamed by the cavalry and the cattlemen. I must have been at the time in middle childhood, say, eight or nine years old in 1952 or 1953. The Baha’is have come to call the year 1953 as the beginning of the Kingdom of God on earth. I was in grade 4 back then.
Roger Ebert, the famous syndicated film-reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote in 2000 in the first line of his review that the work of art and nature in this film is Marilyn Monroe. The film, Ebert says, is about nothing but sex and the famous actor Tony Curtis is the man who wants only sex. He is one of the millions of men who looked at Monroe adoringly and melted with helpless desire. The film had many mesmerizing and blatant sexual scenes. Monroe, says Ebert, had more sexual chemistry with the camera than any other actor, male or female.(2)-Ron Price with thanks to (1)SBS TV, “Once Upon A Time: Some Like It Hot,” 3:30-4:30 p.m., 21 March 2009; and (2)Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, 9 January 2000 at rogerebert.com
Back in ’59 I was playing
baseball and hockey and
trying to ace another year
of high school. My sexual
taps were under full control;
I knew little of M. Monroe &
hardly ever had a look at that
Playboy Magazine which had
been out in the marketplace for
six years at the time. I already
had begun to melt-mesmerized
by life’s sexual chemistry but in
’59 my interests were far, far.....
post-Stalinist Russia and communism,
Mississippi’s burning-rights in the south,
the after-math of the Korean War & Viet
Nam’s early days with the French, many
ideologies’ vending machines, the new Left,
the so-called moral emptiness and cultural
mediocrity of contemporary life that Daniel
Bell and Lipset had written about.......Even
Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show was
not part of my world because my mother
had sold our TV-nor were comic-strips nor
Vance Packard’s The Status Seekers(1959).
But there was something melancholy about
those years, as I look back, something tragic,
some convulsive craving to be busy, to be
distracted as rock-and-roll woke our world
up from Mr. Clean, Doris Day and General
Ike, from a world without Negroes, other
religions or genitalia. I slowly woke up
to birds flying over Akka when I caught
a glimpse in the clearing of smoke from
rifles in the barrack-square of Tabriz and
a new song up from the Siyah-Chal it rose.
21 March 2009
THE BAND PLAYS ON
The philosophy of The Band was: “All for one and one for all.”
-ABC, TV, 19 July 1997, 2:25 pm, Sunday, The Band.
You(1) formed just after I’d joined
and went for sixteen years making
it here and there and very big in the
late ‘60s and early ‘70s while I was
just starting out on my career.
You worked with Dylan
as he was going electric
and I was going to Windsor
and getting electrified with Eskimos
and hospitalized because of my body
chemistry. They were hectic years &
on and on you went across the country
while I went to Australia.
By the time you had your last walse
I was living across from the Eureka
Stockade(2) and starting to buckle again;
you could not turn them on, or yourselves.
It was as if you’d died and turned to clay.
But, oh, sweet memories of time take me
back to yesteryears and all your sounds
which just about bring tears.
In youth I did love, did love with a passion
so dear, but now it has cooled though it
still is quite near. It’s a quieter force and
the music is gone, the notes muffled, then,
in the poison of grief and sadness and woe.
I try just as much, even more in some ways.
The sound of my voice sings on new days
from a peace in my mind and a small tranquil heart
which is a gift from His grace for my own small part.
19 July 1997 to 21 July 2011
(1) You, here, is a group known as The Band which formed in 1960, a few months after I became a Baha’i. It was disbanded in 1976.
(2) The group came to an end during my first year in Ballarat, in 1976, where I lived across from the Eureka Stockade. This was a famous place in Australian history.