PRINT & MEDIA

Communications


COMMUNICATION DEFINED

Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. Communication requires that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. The communication process is complete once the receiver has understood the sender. This all sounds like saying the obvious and it is and the following categories of communication are also, in many ways, just as obvious.

1 Human communication

1.1 Nonverbal communication
1.2 Visual communication
1.3 Oral communication
1.4 Written communication and its historical development

2 Nonhuman communication

2.1 Animal communication
2.2 Plants and fungi
3 Communication cycle
4 Communication noise
5 Communication as academic discipline

FOUR MAJOR COMMUNICATION SHIFTS IN CIVILIZATION

See this link for an excellent overview:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/jun/12/the-library-in-the-new-age/

A HISTORY OF COMMUNICATION

Communication plays a vital & unique role in society. It is often blamed for problems that arise when it breaks down; at the same time it is heralded as a panacea for human relations.  John Durham Peters has written a sweeping history of communication, Speaking Into the Air. The book illuminates our expectations of communication as both historically specific and a fundamental knot in Western thought. "This is a most interesting and thought-provoking book," writes Antony Anderson of the New Scientist, "Peters maintains that communication is ultimately unthinkable apart from the task of establishing a kingdom in which people can live together peacefully. Given our condition as mortals, communication remains not primarily a problem of technology, but of power, ethics and art." 


John Durham Peters(1958-) is an American academic, and the A. Craig Baird professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. A media historian and social theorist, he is probably best known for this his first book Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication which traces out broad historical, philosophical, religious, cultural, legal, and technological contexts for the study of communication. He has held fellowships with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Leverhulme Trust. For more on Peters go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Durham_Peters

"This book is guaranteed to alter your thinking about communication; the book is original, erudite, and beautifully written. It's a gem," says the Kirkus Reviews.  "Peters writes to reclaim the notion of authenticity in a media-saturated world. It's this ultimate concern that renders his book a brave, colorful exploration of the hydra-headed problems presented by a rapid-fire popular culture", so writes the Publishers Weekly.  "This book is about why people fail-to-communicate. Funny thing is, the book communicates beautifully. Speaking Into the Air delivers what superb serious books always do.  It provides hours of intellectual challenge as one absorbs the gradually unfolding vision of an erudite, creative author," so writes Carlin Romano of the Philadelphia Inquirer. For a review of this book go to the Canadian Journal of Communication Studies, Vol. 26, No.3, and to:http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/1237/1219


WIKIPEDIA

"Like Boiling a Frog" by David Runciman is a review of the book The Wikipedia Revolution by Andrew Lih Aurum(250 pages, 2009).  "The best one-volume encyclopedia in the world," writes Runciman used to be the Columbia Encyclopedia, first published by Columbia University Press in 1935. In our house we have the fifth edition, from 1993, and we still get it out occasionally to look up kings and queens and old-fashioned stuff like that. It’s a lovely book, fat but portable and full of nuggety little entries on most things you can think of. It also has quite a poignant preface, in which the editors talk about the difficulties of updating an encyclopedia in such a fast-changing world: they note how much history, politics, even geography they have had to revise since the collapse of the Soviet Empire just a couple of years earlier. They are clearly proud of their efforts to keep up to speed, but some things inevitably slip through the net. There are, for example, no entries for ‘email’, the ‘World Wide Web’ or the ‘internet’, all of which were just beginning to attract attention in 1993. The editors think the pace of change at the end of the 20th century means that traditional works of reference are going to have a hard time keeping up. Really they have no idea." For more go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n10/david-runciman/like-boiling-a-frog

BIG DATA

Part 1:

The book Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, & Think was reviewed in The Berkeley School of Information by Jenna Dutcher. Dutcher wrote that: "We hear the term, big data, all of the time, but what does it mean?  Viktor Mayer-Schönberger & Kenneth Cukier’s 2013 bestseller, Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, & Think, attempts to answer this question. Their attempt provides a solid overview of the promises, advancements, issues and implications of the big data revolution. This advent of big data mirrors our technological evolution as a society: for the first time in history, we have the ability to easily and cheaply capture and store massive amounts of data in a way that was simply impossible before. This transition means that we are no longer constrained to statistical methods of sampling or estimation in order to extract meaning from data.

Instead, collecting a complete data set means that we can now analyze the dataset in its entirety, as well. Simply put, analyses from here on out must focus on the subject N=all, rather than attempting to guess at a population or hope for a representative subset based on random sampling of data. “Big data” means that we can have it all. As Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier put it, “when we talk about big data, we mean “big” less in absolute than in relative terms: relative to the comprehensive set of data.” Instead of just using bits and pieces of the data, we want to process as much of it as we can, finally seeing the forest despite the trees.

Part 2:

This shift in statistical measurement comes with its own set of problems. The larger a dataset, the more likely it is to have errors, and the less likely analysts are to have time to carefully clean each and every datum point. However, data scientists have found that even massive error-prone datasets are more reliable than pristine but tiny samples. In a messy dataset, the authors write, “any particular reading may be incorrect, but the aggregate of many readings will provide a more comprehensive picture.” Essentially, the messy whole can outperform exact, accurate subsets. As we make inroads into big data, we also make an important shift from results that focus on causation to results concerned only with correlation. For more go to:http://datascience.berkeley.edu/tag/book-review/

MASS COMMUNICATION

Mass communication is the study of how individuals and entities relay information through mass media to large segments of the population at the same time. It is usually understood to relate tonewspaper, magazine, and book publishing, as well as radio, television and film, as these mediums are used for disseminating information, news and advertising. Mass communication differs from the studies of other forms of communication, such as interpersonal communication or organizational communication, in that it focuses on a single source transmitting information to a large group of receivers. The study of mass communication is chiefly concerned with how the content of mass communication persuades or otherwise affects the behavior, attitude, opinion, or emotion of the person or people receiving the information. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_communication

THE INTERNET: COMMUNICATION

Part 1:

The success of the Internet, especially in the last two decades--1994 to 2014--cannot be underestimated.  The Web as it stands today is the largest informational artifact in human history.  The conventional story of the encounter between the Internet and journalism begins in the mid-1990s, in the era of Web 1.0, in which newspapers mostly posted their contents online in a static format. Although by 1997 there were already more than 3,500 newspapers online (Meyer, 1998), neither editors nor publishers knew what to make of the new medium. Nevertheless, their first & foremost priority was its commercial potential. Derek Bishton, editor of the Electronic Telegraph in the mid-1990s, admitted that its main purpose was to explore the commercial possibilities of the new medium (Bishton, 2001). While most newspapers had created online counterparts by the mid-2000s, it was not until the rise of Web 2.0 that the untenable nature of the situation became clear.

The rapid spread of broadband Internet, along with the development of user friendly applications for the production of content, initially had a two  -fold effect: firstly, the overproduction of contents; and secondly, a steeper decline in the already declining circulation figures. The production of content, once the reserve of a specific class of people, including journalists, writers, academics and advertisers, became part of everyday life for almost all Internet users. Applications such as Blogger made it possible for people to write & post their own contents, while wikis introduced new ways of collaborative authoring.

Part 1.1:

Drawing on the principles of open source, Axel Bruns (2008) coined the term produsage to describe such collaboration with a view to improve the ultimate outcome. Jeff Howe (2006) used the term ‘crowdsourcing’ to refer to the ways in which content production had become collaborative, ongoing and processual. Content producers are here no longer salaried workers or individual artists, but everyday people whose knowledge and experiences form an important societal resource. At the same time, an accelerated news cycle means that journalists have to produce more and more content. While the news cycle had already expanded to 24/7 coverage, since the advent of satellite television and the rise of news channels such as CNN, the Internet has exacerbated the trend for ‘high-speed news’ leading to its reformulation as a ‘news cyclone’. For a detailed analysis of this trend go to:http://www.culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/article/view/509/524

There is an underlying set of institutional powers underpinning the Internet.  The control of the management of the Internet by a number of international and national bodies has become a complex question which a recent issue of the online electronic journal Machine Culture examines in detail. Even where the Internet has managed to cling on to its ‘neutrality’, the ever growing power of Google and Facebook make this supposed neutrality less and less materially significant. Many corporations now absorb the internet's diversity for the realisation of a counter-power in technological collective intelligence.  The rise of the platform as a matter of life itself, given its all-encompassing nature, is examined in Machine Culture, Volume 14(2013) at: http://www.culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/issue/view/25

Part 2:

In every time and place, people have associated new technologies with moral decline. “Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce,” wrote the American novelist Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862) in 1854, “and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour.......but whether we should live like baboons or like men, is a little uncertain.”  Similar anxieties have greeted most subsequent inventions, from the automobile to the iPhone: We’re always teetering on the brink of baboondom, always one technological leap away from forfeiting our humanity.  Sometimes, though, the pessimists are right to worry. Technology really does affect character. Cultures do change from era to era, sometimes for the worse. Particular vices can be encouraged by particular innovations, and thrive in the new worlds that they create. For an insightful comment on email technology go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2007/sep/27/pandoras-click/

It isn’t lust or smut or infidelity, though online life encourages all three. It’s a desperate, adolescent narcissism.  The idea that modern America and much of the West is in thrall to self-regard dates back to the 1970s, when writers like Tom Wolfe(1931-) and Christopher Lasch(1932-1994) famously critiqued the excesses of what Wolfe dubbed the “me decade.”  But a growing body of research suggests that self-involvement is actually reaching an apogee in the age of Facebook and Twitter.  I am not in any position to be cricial of that "me generation" because my autobiographical proclivity goes back at least to the late 1960s when I was teaching on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic.

Part 2.1:

According to a variety of sociologists, from San Diego State’s Jean Twenge and Notre Dame’s Christian Smith, to others, the younger generation is more self-absorbed, less empathetic and hungrier for approbation than earlier generations. These trends seem to have accelerated as Internet culture has ripened. The rituals of social media, it seems, make status-seekers and exhibitionists of us all. I have had an interest in autobiography since the earliest days of word processing which was invented by IBM in the late 1960s when I was teaching in southern Ontario in my late 20s.  By 1971 word processing was recognized by the New York Times as a "buzz word". I had moved to Australia from Canada that year and it would be another 15 years before I actually had a word processor.  A 1974 Times article referred to "the brave new world of Word Processing." By 1974 I was a senior tutor in education studies at what is now the university of Tasmania; I knew nothing of word processors and, as I say, would not use one until 1986 while I lived in South Hedland in Western Australia. But my interests in autobiography had had a good two decades to ripen before the internet took off in the late 1990s.

Part 2.2:

I am now, in 2014, a well-habituated creature of the online social world, at Facebook where I post my writing, rarely at Twitter, & extensively across 1000s of cyberspace sites.  I have used the Internet’s freedoms to market my writing and post millions of my words across these thousands of sites for more than a decade. In some ways the internet has just allowed me to enage in forms of social advocacy that I had already been engaged with for decades: the Baha'i Faith, education, the United Nations, several NGOs and pressure groups.

For many an internet user their problem in cyberspace is their private surrender to lust or ardor, a boasting about their genital and physical endowments, explicit pornographic photos and those of others, a treating of others as bodies.  The internet presents many problems such as pornography and internet addiction, among others. Constraints are removed from information flows, and so it is that more and more users are finding their fragmented selves less capable of self-restraint. Self-restraint requires developing a coherent sense of self and this requires an ability to construct narratives in which there is continuity between one's past and the creation of a future.


If I have any failing on the web, it is an overly zealous marketing or, to put it another way, a quest for quasipublic validation of my writing. I counter this tendency, to some extent, by openly seeking criticism and posting in a wide variety of internet spaces exposing my writing, in the process, to publics which are not predisposed to the kinds of topics and content I deal with.   My internet focus is squarely on my writing.  Writers like to have readers and my role on the world-wide-web is as writer and editor, as well as publicist and marketer, author and researcher, online journalist and blogger.

Part 2.3

S
urfing the Web is not a superior substitute for deep reading and other forms of calm and attentive thought. Thoughtful people who want to read carefully need to be aware of the tendency to slip comfortably into a permanent state of distractedness which defines for many their online life. To develop a coherent sense of self can be a problem due to the fragmenting effects of internet use. I, too, must be careful that I don't allow too much of my time spent in dealing with: (a) the posts of others in the form of (i) incoming emails and (ii) the posts of 1000s of my 'friends' and associations across the world-wide-web.

The first wave of what could be called digital humanities and social sciences, digital physical, biological and applied sciences online posting and scholarship came in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I was just retiring from FT, PT and all of my casual-volunteer work except what was assoicated with my writing in cyberspace and a small Baha'i Group here in northern Tasmania in Australia's oldest town--George Town. This first wave tended to focus on large-scale digitization projects and the establishment of technological infrastructure, The current second wave of digital writing and scholarship, what could be called ‘digital wriitng and scholarship 2.0’, is deeply generative, creating the environments and tools for producing, curating, and interacting with knowledge that is ‘born digital’ and lives in various digital contexts. While the first digital wave, 1997 to 2005, concentrated, perhaps somewhat narrowly, on text analysis in such forms as: classification systems, mark-up, text encoding, and scholarly editing within established disciplines, the second wave, 2006 to 2012, has introduced entirely new disciplinary paradigms, convergent fields, hybrid methodologies, and even new publication models that are often not derived from or limited to print culture.

Part 3:

The capacity to sustain only short attention spans might itself drive the need for more stimulation within short periods of time. And, along with shorter attention spans, the ability to ‘lose’ yourself in a good book might also be in jeopardy. Just as reasoning and thinking skills may be stymied by a fast, screen-based and therefore visual experience, so also might that mysterious and very special cognitive achievement be threatened that, until now, has always made
the book so much better than the film; imagination. In the last decade virtually all of my reading is now in cyberspace: newspapers and books, journals and blogs, emails and an immense variety of internet posts and print.

Our memory of ourselves is an important component of our lives. This memory comprises, among other things, the collected facts of our personal history as it functions as a base for the act of retelling, and thereby reorienting, ourselves in an ever-changing present and achieving existential stability.  "An increasingly mechanistic, fragmented, decontextualized world, marked by unwarranted optimism mixed with paranoia and a feeling of emptiness, has come about," as I. McGilchrist puts it in his The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2009). For an extended discussion of the problems associated with virtual reality go to:http://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/292/462

Part 3.1

In the age of social media people do not seem liberated from social insecurity.  Much of the internet culture is defined by the constant demand to collect friends and status, and perform by marketing ourselves and our interests and concerns. Writing in the late ’70s,
a well-known American historian, moralist, & social critic Christopher Lasch(1932-1994) distinguished modern narcissism from old-fashioned egotism. The contemporary narcissist, he wrote, differs “from an earlier type of American individualist” in “the tenuous quality of his selfhood.” Despite “his occasional illusions of omnipotence, the narcissist depends on others to validate his self-esteem.” His innate insecurity can only be overcome “by seeing his ‘grandiose self’ reflected in the attentions of others, or by attaching himself to those who radiate celebrity, power and charisma.” 

This is a depressingly accurate anticipation of the relationship between writer and “followers,” and the broader “look at me! look at meeeee!” culture of online social media, in which millions participate to some degree or another.  Facebook and Twitter did not forge the culture of narcissism, but with its billions of users it makes use of that narcissism in a myriad of ways. But they serve as a hall of mirrors in which it flourishes as never before — a “vast virtual gallery,” as Rosen has written, whose self-portraits mainly testify to “the timeless human desire for attention.” I want to thank Ross Douthat of The New York Review of Books at the following link for much of the above:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/opinion/13douthat.html?ref=rossdouthat

Part 3.2:

Graphic design is the methodology of visual communication, and problem-solving through the use of type, space and image.  I could place this paragraph in several other subsections of this website: art, photography, indeed, several others of what are now over 100 sub-sections of this website. The field of graphic design is considered a subset of visual communication and communication design, but sometimes the term "graphic design" is used interchangeably with these due to overlapping skills involved. Graphic designers use various methods to create & combine words, symbols, & images to create visual representations of ideas and messages. A graphic designer may use a combination of typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to produce a final result. Graphic design often refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is created & the products (designs) which are generated. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphic_design For a useful online journal on the subject of graphic design go to: http://issuu.com/elupton/docs/graphic-design-thinking

THE ILLUSIONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA

This is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. One of the best videos we've seen in a while. Get out there. Enjoy nature and your health. Take pleasure in truly connecting on a personal level with your community, friends and family. Nothing matters more than that. 
This is a u-tube item with a skeptical and critical take on social media at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY&app=desktop

MEDIA ARCHEOLOGY

Part 1:

Media archeology has multiple origins and conflicting definitions from a range of scholars from Huhtamo to Zielinski, Elsaesser to Ernst.  It should not be confused with archeology as a discipline. Media archeology rummages around in textual, visual and auditory archives, as well as collections of artifacts. It roams across the humanities and social sciences. The definition which follows proceeds by way of synthesis. What follows is an attempt to offer one definition, or at least some useful paragraphs, of how we can think of media archaeology. Here is a definition including points of how it has been understood, and how one can rephrase its possibilities. Media archaeology has succeeded in establishing itself as a heterogeneous set of theories and methods that investigate media history through its alternative roots, its forgotten paths, and neglected ideas and machines that still are useful when reflecting the supposed newness of digital culture. The definitions have ranged from emphasising the recurring nature of media cultural discourses (Huhtamo) to media archaeology as an-archaeology, or variantology (Zielinski) which in its excavation of the deep time layers of the way we sense and use our media always tries to find an alternative route to dismantle the fallacy of linear development. 

Furthermore media archaeology is a history-theory enterprise in which temporal excavation of media functions as a theoretical force as well; it involves a reading of old media and new media in parallel lines. Media archaeology is decisively non-linear, and rigorously theoretical in its media historical interest of knowledge. In a Benjaminian vein, it abandons historicism when by it is meant the idea that the past is given and out there waiting for us to find it; instead, it believes in the radical assembling of history and histories in the plural.  Such an assembling results in media archeology not being a subset of cultural historical writing. Media archaeology needs to insist on: (i) the material nature of its enterprise, namely, that media are always articulated in material, and also (ii) on the non-narrative frameworks of technical media such as phonographs, or algorithmic media such as databases and software networks. The work of assembling temporal mediations takes place in an increasingly varied and distributed network of institutions, practices and technological platforms.  

Part 2:

What media archaeology investigates is also the practical rewirings of time. This is done in media artistic and creative practice work through archives digital and spatial, as well as DIY and circuit bending which recycle, and remix, obsolete technology as much as they investigate how technology is the framework for temporality.  Media archaeology takes place in artistic labs, laboratories where hardware and software are hacked and opened, as much in conceptual labs for experimenting with concepts and ideas.  My thinking about media archaeology is at the moment very much influenced by a range of established scholars from Huhtamo to Zielinski and Elsaesser. It is also influenced by writings and personal exchange with a range of "newer voices" including Garnet Hertz, Wolfgang Ernst, Wendy Chun and others. The above definition is not exclusive in that sense, but part of a wider network and scholarly interest in rethinking some of the temporal basis of new media theory. And there is lot more to come and digest; Matt Kirschenbaum's work and its implications for media archaeology; how to incorporate software studies into the so far very screen-based media archaeological focus, etc. Go to the book Media Archeology: Approaches, Applications and Implications for more: http://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=aSlQ8z1uslwC&oi=fnd&pg=PT3&dq=journal+of+media+archeology&ots=_Y_rQUXOyN&sig=Fh8


THE INTERNET: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

Section 1:

There is no disputing the fact that a global information revolution is taking place. But like all revolutions, this one has its winners and losers. Even on the Pacific Rim, home of so many economic “miracles,” most people live in abject poverty. In the face of these grim realities, talk of a global information age takes on a perverse, “let them eat I.T.” quality. It must be asked what benefit this “other half” can derive from expanded Web-based technology. This article, this study, is cautious not to carry its critique of IT utopianism to the point of techno-fatalism. Somewhere between McCluhan and Orwell, a new realism must be forged writes the author of this essay. Hi-tech in general, and IT in particular, turn out to be morally and politically neutral, despite the fact that they are presently in the grip of corporate powers.

For now the global village remains a gated community—part of an emerging class that recognizes no national boundaries and no cultural or environmental restraints. Lacking any sense of place, this power elite feels even less responsibility for the unwired classes than yesterday’s national elites had for the unpropertied working classes. It all comes down to the question of bridges: who builds them, who crosses them, and who cares? This remains to be seen. All that can said with assurance is that there are choices. Every digital bridge does not have to be a connecting link on the information highway of TINA (“there is no alternative”) globalization. For the entire article go to: http://www.ideajournal.com/articles.php?id=28

Section 2:

The lack of serious political dissidence in Western democracies stems not from the innate superiority of the political party system, but from the endless array of apolitical entertainment that narcotizes revolutionary fervor. Juvenal’s complaint that the ancient Roman public demanded only “bread and circuses” gains renewed relevance in the carnival of online amusements. Evgeny Morozov’s most recent work seems to extend the concerns about the Internet as a source of stupefaction rather than revolution. See Evgeny Morozov, The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate The World, 2011. Morozov, a young Belarusian-born writer and researcher now based in the US, doesn't mince his words. But The Net Delusion is considerably more than an assault on political rhetoric; for, it argues, behind many of the fine words recently spoken in praise of technology lies a combination of utopianism and ignorance that grossly misrepresents the internet's political role and potentials. Unless we are very careful, he suggests, the democratising power of new media will in fact bring not democracy & freedom, but the entrenchment of authoritarian regimes. For a review of this book go to this link: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jan/09/net-delusion-morozov-review

FACEBOOK

There are several user types on Facebook. I have used Facebook for six years as a tool for my writing business, to build my readership or what some call my personal-literary-brand. For several years I used this most popular of social networking sites to accumulate social capital, but I found having 150 friends a distraction.  My life as a writer and author, publisher and poet, editor and publisher, online blogger and journalist, researcher and scholar was attending to the fun-entertainment-look-at-me world that was Facebook.  Facebook was simply consuming too much of my time. 

Many join Facebook due to their interest groups based on politics, art, and music, and they often link their Facebook account to other websites.
Still others, known in some circles as Branders, prefer public to private networking, and they use Facebook to promote brands and products. Yet another group are the Social-Searchers who employ Facebook to learn about news, media, and entertainment, but they show little interest in apps and games. A 4th group known as Influencers share videos, links, and good deals with others, and they rarely use the private forms of messaging or sharing available info on Facebook. A 5th group, known as Gamers, are motivated by games, apps, and coupons; they interact with strangers as often as acquaintances, and though fewer in number they log the most time on Facebook. A 6th, and final group, are the Neutrals who are unmotivated by most of Facebook’s features including status updates, and they report being members only to keep connected to the events of family & friends.

CULTURAL STUDIES

Cultural studies is an academic field of critical theory and literary criticism initially introduced by British academics in 1964 and subsequently adopted by allied academics throughout the world.  I could just have easily placed this topic in the literary criticism or the sociology theories sections of my website. Cultural studies(CS) is characteristically interdisciplinary as an academic discipline. CS aids cultural researchers who theorize about the forces from which the whole of humankind construct their daily lives. Cultural Studies is not a unified theory, but a diverse field of study encompassing many different approaches, methods and academic perspectives.

CS is distinct from the breadth, objective and methodology of cultural anthropology and ethnic studies; it is focused upon the political dynamics of contemporary culture and its historical foundations, conflicts and defining traits. Researchers concentrate on how a particular medium or message relates to ideology, social class, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality and/or gender, rather than providing an encyclopedic identification, categorization or definition of a particular culture or area of the world.

Cultural studies combines feminist theory, social theory, political theory, history, philosophy, literary theory, media theory, film/video studies, communication studies, political economy,translation studies, museum studies and art history/criticism to study cultural phenomena in various societies. For more of this overview of cultural studies go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_studies#Sociologists

FACEBOOK








U-TUBE COMMUNICATION

I could place this part of my communication webpage in several other sub-sections of my website. Somewhat arbitrarily, though, I'm placing it here. Did you know that the video material on YouTube increases at the rate of sixteen hours a day? Neither did I, but thanks to Jeffrey Rosen I do now. In Rosen's brilliantly informative article, a model of the genre, and I link to it here in full confidence that it will become a permanent reference point for anyone who reads it. If you’re working in the web but haven’t seen this, you’re in the dark. And speaking of web darkness, there is a link to another landmark Rosen article, “The End of Obscenity”, which appeared in the Summer 2004 issue of The New Atlantis. The article is a learned discussion of a Supreme Court decision but once again Rosen’s talent as a journalist makes a complex issue clear in all its aspects. Rosen is also a dazzling impromptu speaker, as the appended video dauntingly proves. Go to this link for more: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/magazine/30google-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&

MEANING IN AN AGE OF CHAOS

Part 1:

The Media Symplex: At the Edge of Meaning in an Age of Chaos by Frank Zingrone was published in 2001. The book is a devastating report of our media-saturated society. Frank Zingrone is an editor of The Essential Marshall McLuhan (1995) and of Who Was Marshall McLuhan? (1995) as well as a Canadian poet who has so far published two volumes. The author of this book, which is one of a number of recent works aiming to move beyond McLuhan, is consequently a well-qualified scholar and critic of McLuhan. As a poet, he approaches his subject with sensitivity and a strong respect for language, as well as for the written word. But before turning to the way that his vision joins that of John Durham Peters and others who stress the spiritual, psychic, and poetic aspects of any contemporary understanding of communication, it is important to realize that The Media Symplex is much more than a devastating report on our current media-manipulated society.

Zingrone's analysis lays out the way that the corporate-dominated media culture has affiliated itself with the categorical imperative of electric technologies to maximize the potential within individual electric media. This convergence is then utilized to entrance the audience to such an extent that they become helpless victims of managed modes of communication that oversimplify their society, leaving them with virtually no guide to understanding their life-worlds. The very possibility of any potential vision is systematically reduced both through the manipulation made possible by electric media, but also by the effect of personal attachment to any one medium, such as TV, since an exclusive preoccupation with a single medium tends to eradicate any sense of the total complexity of their lived experience. Essentially, electric media's primary activity is to impose major simplifications of, and consequently huge distortions of, reality. By now, it is argued, electric technology has brought about the situation in which advertising, journalism, and electric media are establishing ever new "virtualities." So, rather than having what we might have anticipated as the complex world of media and electric technology, we have a situation in which these media actually generate a state of "symplexity," namely, a simplification constructed from their complex technological and formal nature. For more of this review go to:http://www.mcluhanonmaui.com/2011/07/don-theallss-review-of-frank-zingrones.html

Part 2:

The symplex is "the fusion of simple figures with complex grounds."  It is the most fundamental characteristic of electronic media, according to Zingrone, professor of communications at York University in Canada. Electric media, he argues, suppress and inhibit the true complexity of reality, disconnecting people from tradition and from the sense that they have any power over their lives. The sense of power they get is, for the most part, an illusion, a false simplicity, an unreality. Zingrone describes how his concept of symplexity runs throughout media from the home video recorder to the Internet. He then describes the social and psychological consequences for what he sees as the depersonalized consumers of media. This text investigates some of the most fundamental effects of electric technology that change the human spirit.  He focuses particularly on information overload and peoples' strategies for inhibiting that onslaught.  He tries to show how technical complexity consistently devours simple realities and thus erodes their meaning.  Sadly, I think that the urgent effort of a poet like Zingrone to gain a hearing for his intuitions tends to get lost on the public. In our world of print and image-glut, it has become impossible for the average person to take it all in. As Zingrone puts it, the complexity gets lost in the apparent simplicity, or in peoples' Facebook world, their job and family life, their interests and their movies, inter alia.

INFORMATION OVERLOAD

In recent years, the term "information overload" has evolved into phrases such as "information glut" and "data smog" (Shenk, 1997). What was once a term grounded in cognitive psychology has evolved into a rich metaphor used outside the world of academia. In many ways, the advent of information technology has increased the focus on information overload: information technology may be a primary reason for information overload due to its ability to produce more information more quickly and to disseminate this information to a wider audience than ever before (Evaristo, Adams, & Curley, 1995; Hiltz & Turoff, 1985). "Information overload" (also known as infobesity or infoxication) is a term popularized by Alvin Toffler in his bestselling 1970 book Future Shock. It refers to the difficulty a person can have understanding an issue and making decisions that can be caused by the presence of too much information. The term itself is mentioned in a 1964 book by Bertram Gross, The Managing of Organizations. “Information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity. Decision makers have fairly limited cognitive processing capacity. Consequently, when information overload occurs, it is likely that a reduction in decision quality will occur.” For more on this theme go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_overload

INFORMATION MACHINES

Part 1:

The information machines that spread most numerously during the '60s and '70s years were the photocopy machine, the fax machine, the audio cassette recorder, & the video cassette recorder. These technologies appeared also to foster a massive decentralization of information, putting into the hands of the ordinary individual the ability to produce copies of cultural objects. If the large world of politics shifted toward democracy in the 1970s, so the small world of the individual appeared also to empower people in a salutary, decidedly modern, direction. One could, for a relatively small amount of money, make or obtain copies of the major media—print, phonographs, radio and television broadcasts, prerecorded audio- and videotapes.

One other information machine began to enter the home in the 1970s: the telephone answering machine. This device also appeared to enhance the powers of the agent, the modern rational subject. No longer was the individual behaviorally conditioned, like a salivating dog, to the ring of the telephone. The machine could answer the call, recording the message on audiotape. But the machine also responded when its owner was not at home, introducing into daily life a new element of virtual presence. Radio and television extended the voice & image through space, affording remote presence. The tele-presence of the broadcast media moved sounds and images to the individual—they did not alter the individual’s presence in space so much as extend the ears and eyes, as McLuhan maintained in his book Understanding Media, to distant locations.  

Part 2:

The telephone enabled individuals to speak across distances covered by wires, and later radio signals, but again the caller or receiver was at a fixed point in space, one associated with a specific telephone number. The telephone answering machine, however, enabled the individual to receive an audio message as if they were at the location of the telephone number, but in fact might not be there. And with a remote retrieval system, one could hear the message on the tape from a distant location, now multiplying the position of the body in space. A similar effect is achieved on shopping channels when an individual phones in and hears their voice coming from the television while they speak into the telephone. Or when someone phones a radio talk show and hears their voice coming from the radio while speaking into the phone. In these cases—which have become commonplace—the person occupies several positions at the same time. Such multiple positioning, one could argue, subverts the visual/aural body as a subject, as a definite point in Euclidean space from which perspective, in its Renaissance version, can be attained and stabilized. With these technologies, postmodern culture takes another step toward realization. For more go to:http://www.uiowa.edu/~ijcs/mediation/poster.htm

A REVIEW OF SOME RECENT BOOKS

The Googlisation of Everything (and Why We Should Worry) by Siva Vaidhyanathan(California, 265 pages, 2011); Buy In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy(Simon and Schuster, 424 pages, 2011; and I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 by Douglas Edwards(Allen Lane, 416 pages, 2011) are three books reviewed in The London Review of Books more than two years ago, 10/'11. The review begins as follows: "This spring, the billionaire Eric Schmidt announced that there were only four really significant technology companies: Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, the company he had until recently been running. People believed him. What distinguished his new ‘gang of four’ from the generation it had superseded – companies like Intel, Microsoft, Dell and Cisco, which mostly exist to sell gizmos and gadgets and innumerable hours of expensive support services to corporate clients – was that the newcomers sold their products and services to ordinary people.

Since there are more ordinary people in the world than there are businesses, and since there’s nothing that ordinary people don’t want or need, or can’t be persuaded they want or need when it flashes up alluringly on their screens, the money to be made from them is virtually limitless. Together, Schmidt’s four companies are worth more than half a trillion dollars. The technology sector isn’t as big as, say, oil, but it’s growing, as more and more traditional industries – advertising, travel, real estate, used cars, new cars, porn, television, film, music, publishing, news – are subsumed into the digital economy. Schmidt, who as the ex-CEO of a multibillion-dollar corporation had learned to take the long view, warned that not all four of his disruptive gang could survive. So – as they all converge from their various beginnings to compete in the same area, the place usually referred to as ‘the cloud’, a place where everything that matters is online – the question is: who will be the first to blink? Go to this link for more on this subject:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n19/daniel-soar/it-knows

TECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTIONISM

To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov has just become available at Amazon(2013). In the very near future, “smart” technologies and “big data” will allow us to make large-scale and sophisticated interventions in politics, culture, and everyday life. Technology will allow us to solve problems in highly original ways and create new incentives to get more people to do the right thing. But how will such “solutionism” affect our society, once deeply political, moral, and irresolvable dilemmas are recast as uncontroversial and easily manageable matters of technological efficiency?

What if some such problems are simply vices in disguise? What if some friction in communication is productive and some hypocrisy in politics necessary? The temptation of the digital age is to fix everything—from crime to corruption to pollution to obesity—by digitally quantifying, tracking, or gamifying behavior. But when we change the motivations for our moral, ethical, and civic behavior we may also change the very nature of that behavior. Technology, Evgeny Morozov proposes, can be a force for improvement—but only if we keep solutionism in check and learn to appreciate the imperfections of liberal democracy. Some of those imperfections are not accidental but by design. Arguing that we badly need a new, post-Internet way to debate the moral consequences of digital technologies, To Save Everything, Click Here warns against a world of seamless efficiency, where everyone is forced to wear Silicon Valley’s digital straitjacket.

THE DIGITAL AGE

Part 1:

How much do we really understand the ongoing shift to a digital world?  Nowhere near enough, according to ‘Google philosopher’ Luciano Floridi. This leading data theorist warns that we need to better understand what he calls the 'Fourth Revolution'. Luciano Floridi, professor of philosophy and the ethics of information at Oxford, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on the great digital disruption. He’s currently serving as the only ethicist on Google’s advisory panel on the right to be forgotten.  Floridi’s first book, Scepticism and the Foundation of Epistemology, looked at the concept of subject-independent knowledge: the kind of information which might be called ‘semantic’.  He subsequently began working exclusively on what is now known as the philosophy of information during his years as research fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford.  Information has been the hardworking invisible helper of most philosophical disciplines. In his latest book, The Fourth Revolution, Floridi discusses how our world is being integrated into a global ‘infosphere’ where what we do online and off merge into an ‘onlife’. As we gradually become surrounded by and coupled to smart gadgets which manipulate the information we promote about ourselves, we acquire an onlife personality—one different from our real world ‘embodied’ personality. For more go to: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/philosopherszone/lessons-from-luciano-floridi-the

Part 2:

Google Genomics helps the life science community organize the world’s genomic information and make it accessible and useful. Through Google's extensions to Google Cloud Platform, researchers can apply the same technologies that power Google Search and Maps to securely store, process, explore, and share large, complex datasets.  Researchers can g
et results sooner. They can query the complete genomic information of large research projects in seconds. Process as many genomes and experiments as you like in parallel. They can scale to power any project. Whether academics are working with one genome or one million, Google Genomics provides access to the power and flexibility you need to advance your work. For more go to: https://cloud.google.com/genomics/v1/public-data?hl=en

DIGITAL JOURNALISM

Part 1:

Digital journalism also known as online journalism is a contemporary form of journalism where editorial content is distributed via the Internet as opposed to publishing via print or broadcast. What constitutes 'digital journalism' is debated by scholars. However the primary product of journalism, which is news and features on current affairs, is presented solely or in combination as text, audio, video and some interactive forms, and disseminated through digital media platforms. That digital technology is disrupting the business of journalism is beyond dispute. What’s striking is how little attention has been paid to the impact that technology has had on the actual practice of journalism. The distinctive properties of the Internet—speed, immediacy, interactivity, boundless capacity, global reach—provide tremendous new opportunities for the gathering and presentation of news and information. For an analysis of digital journalism go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_journalism

Amid all the coverage of start-ups and IPOs(An initial public offering, or IPO, is the first sale of stock by a company to the public), investments and acquisitions, little attempt has been made to evaluate the quality of Web-based journalism, despite its ever-growing influence. Fewer barriers to entry, lowered distribution costs, and diverse computer networking technologies have led to the widespread practice of digital journalism. It has democratized the flow of information that was previously controlled by traditional media including newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. For more on digital journalism go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_journalism

Part 2:

As The Huffington Post marks its tenth anniversary in May 2015, it has much to celebrate. The once-scrappy start-up now has an editorial staff of about five hundred in its New York headquarters and another forty in its Washington office, plus thirteen international editions stretching from Brazil to Japan, with more on the way. Its American edition has fifty distinct sections, andHuffPost Live offers a daily video stream of news clips, political commentary, and celebrity interviews. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, The Huffington Post is the most-visited digital-native news site, with 100 million unique visitors a month, and Arianna Huffington herself has more than 1.85 million followers on Twitter. For a useful overview of this online-digital-newspaper go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Huffington_Post

MY SPACE RACE...in a world of spin-offs

Part 1:

In the last thirty years of my autobiographical writing, 1984 to 2014,  I have used many templates or frameworks, devices and arrangements, patterns and plans,  in which to provide a perspective on my life-narrative.  The template or framework below involves the space race. The 'Space Race' was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the United States, for supremacy in spaceflight capability. The race took place from 1955 to 1972. The technological superiority required for such supremacy was seen as necessary for national security, and it was also symbolic of ideological superiority. This 'Space Race' spawned pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, unmanned probes of the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon.

The competition began on August 2, 1955, when the Soviet Union responded to the US announcement four days earlier of their intent to launch artificial satellites for the International Geophysical Year, by declaring they would also launch a satellite "in the near future".  The Soviet Union beat the US to this, with the October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik 1. The competition peaked with the July 20, 1969 US landing of the first humans on the Moon with Apollo 11, and it concluded in a period of détente with the April 1972 agreement on a co-operative Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, resulting in the July 1975 rendezvous in Earth orbit of a US astronaut crew with a Soviet cosmonaut crew.1

Part 2:

This space race was part of the back-drop of my life from the age of 11 to 31.  In the northern summer of 1955 I was about to enter grade 4 and to begin my 9 year baseball career from late childhood to late adolescence. My mother had also just begun to take me along to what were then called, and still are, "Baha'i firesides". In the southern winter of 1975 I was lecturing at the Box Hill Institute of Technical & Further Education in Melbourne Australia, and I was the secretary of a small Baha'i group in Kew Victoria, and just about to enter my second marriage.  In 1969 I was teaching primary school in Canada when the first men landed on the moon,  and in 1972 I was teaching high school in Australia when a more cooperative relationship between the USA and the USSR began.

Those two decades were a period of vast change in my life-narrative from being a primary school student in Canada to a university graduate and, as I say above, on my way to a second marriage which, by December 1975, had two children, and in Melbourne Australia.  I won't give you chapter and verse of all the major events of those two decades in either the space race or in my own life-race.  I will mention, though, that those 20 years were a period of the exploration and the defining, the emerging and the consolidating of my raison d'etre, my modus operandi, my modus vivendi, my cosmology, my personal mythology, my religious and philosophical position, a position I still hold as I go through my 70s.2-Ron Price with thanks to 1Wikipedia, and 2Pioneering Over Five Epochs, 23/12/'14.

Part 3:

The Space Race had its origins
in the missile-based arms race
that occurred following WWII,
when both the Soviet Union &
the United States captured the
advanced German technology
and personnel....In those years
I went from the age of 1 to 10:
my personal life-race was on!!
 
The Space Race has also left a
legacy of communications, and
weather satellites, a continuing
human space presence on that
International Space Station.  It
has also sparked many spending
increases on education & research
development which led to a host of
beneficial spin-off technologies in
the years of my life: 1973 to 2014,
as my own life continued its spin....

Ron Price
23/12/'14.   

PS Go to this link for some feedback and two videos sent in relation to the above: http://historum.com/american-history/81277-my-space-race-world-spin-offs.html#post2034867

THE NEW CULTURE


In the late 20th century, just as I was retiring from a 50 years, student-and-working-life, 1949 to1999, human character changed again. Or rather, it began to undergo a metamorphosis that is still not complete, but is profound. It is also troubling to many, not least because it is hardly noted.  It has insinuated itself into our quotidian life transforming it in ways that we have trouble appreciating and understanding because it has all happened so quickly. When I think about, say, 1995, or whenever the last moment was before most of us were on the internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago. Letters came once a day, predictably, in the hands of the postal carrier. News came in three flavours – radio, television, print – and at appointed hours. Some of us even had a newspaper delivered every morning.

Those mail and newspaper deliveries punctuated the day like church bells. You read the paper over breakfast. If there were developments you heard about them on the evening news or in the next day’s paper. You listened to the news when it was broadcast, since there was no other way to hear it. A great many people relied on the same sources of news, so when they discussed current events they did it under the overarching sky of the same general reality. Time passed in fairly large units, or at least not in milliseconds and constant updates. A few hours wasn’t such a long time to go between moments of contact with your work, your people or your trivia.

You opened the mail when you came home from work, or when it arrived if you worked from home. Some of the mail was important and personal, not just bills. It was exciting to get a letter: the paper and handwriting told you something, as well as the words. Going back a little further, movies were seen in movie theatres, and a whole gorgeous ritual went along with seeing them. The subsidiary pleasures – dressing up, standing in line with strangers and friends, the smell of popcorn, holding hands in the dark – still exist, but more and more often movies are seen on smaller and smaller and more private screens. It used to be the case that when you were at a movie, you were 100 per cent there, in the velvety darkness watching lives unfold in flickering light (unless you were making out). But televisions, DVD players, the rest: you were never totally committed to what they showed; you were always cheating on them, chatting and wandering away, fast-forwarding and rewinding, even when commercials didn’t shatter their continuity. For more on this theme go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n16/rebecca-solnit/diary


TWITTER

I have been on Twitter for nearly 8 years and I've posted more than 100 items during that time.  One cannot go much further down the road to literary oblivion than Twitter. With Twitter, I feel, humankind is scraping the bottom of the craze barrel. Twitter advertises itself as a “microblogging” service, as if the blog wasn’t micro enough already. I’m not fully wise to the ins and outs of Twitter, but its basic idea is to take the formal properties of the text message – which evolved in an environment in which it makes a fair bit of sense to keep your communications short and stupid – and shift them onto the web, where it doesn’t.

A Twitter post is not allowed to be more than 140 characters long, including spaces. The sentence I might have just read before putting my 'tweet' online, might contain, say, 70 characters. That’s half a Twitter post, half a tweet.  In other words, the Twitter people’s response to the infinite potential of the internet is to impose a tiny and arbitrary word-limit in which it’s nearly impossible to get anything interesting said, unless you happen to be a master of the chiselled, Spartan aphorism. Brevity might well be the soul of wit. But it’s also the haven of the half-wit. The human eye can’t have evolved without the influence of some divine designer. 9/11 was the work of the CIA. Shakespeare wasn’t actually Shakespeare. A person who knows nothing can assert these things in the space of a single Twitter post. I want to thank David Free for the above which I have edited only briefly, and if you want more of his indictment of so much of the language and style, format and mode of cyberspace go to: http://theember.com.au/great-toothbrush-pity-about-the-novel/

MY RESPONSE TO REQUESTS FROM INDIVIDUALS
                                       (I) BY EMAIL, (II) AT INTERNET SITES AND (III) AT SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE(SNS)

Section 1:

I have written the following paragraphs as a response to the many requests I get at SNS, and at the multitude of other sites at which I have registered in the years: 1997 to 2013.  During these years I have: (a) retired from FT, PT and most casual-volunteer work, (b) reinvented myself as a writer & author, poet & publisher, online journalist and blogger, and (c) had a website which functions as the hub for my online writing and publishing.  This website is now nearly three years into its 4th edition. I get, on average, more than 200 emails every day. These emails are sent directly to me with a request to do something.  I get requests directly from people to do things in the following and various ways.

(i)   People ask me to help them with their financial and business life,
(ii)  People ask me if I would like to start-up my own business or earn money in one of dozens of ways,
(iii)  People ask me to assist them in some way or other with their romantic or marital, their sexual or relationship, life,
(iv)  People want me to play some part in their personal activities like winning a game or contest of some kind---by voting for some topic or item of their choice,

and:

(v) People want me to join them in their concern for, or their interest in, meditation or music, yoga or yesterdays, the treatment of kiddies or kangaroos, cats or character, the killing of dogs or dolphins, types of food or fashion, Bolivian miners or breast cancer, poverty or penance, rags or riches, and crime or criminals, inter alia. In addition:
(vi) People want me to express my enthusiasm for, or my interest in: their social activity or their family life, their domestic activity like cooking or cleaning, their having fun or their dealing with anxiety.

REQUESTS FOR DONATIONS AND DALLIANCES

(vii) People ask me for donations to more causes and charities than I ever knew existed. I could write a small book: (a) on the sheer diversity of causes to which I could donate, (b) on what seems like an infinite number of charities soliciting funds, as well as (c) on fund-raising sites where I could get involved in helping others financially with their causes and charities.

(viii) Part 1:

People send me photos of themselves in the hope that we might have a date or a dalliance with no questions asked, as they say.  I get invitations to join menage a trois, group sex, and nudist colonies. They say things like: "you might like to try this", or "if you are free and easy..."; "I'm back from Bali", or "I just broke-up from my boyfriend"; "I'm in town and I thought we..."....inter alia. I try to respond to these requests, at least some if not all, with honesty and courtesy, tact and kindness.  Honesty and courtesy are difficult qualities to combine, but I do my best to let people down easily. I clearly state my marital status, that I have been married for 46 years, and am not interested in another relationship of romance or sex, and sometimes I indicate my general life-style involving as it does writing and publishing. To people whom I have known for some time and: (i) who are very keen to have my help or (ii) who have unrealistic expectations regarding what help I am able to offer to them, I try to be especially kind and considerate, not wanting to damage a long-standing relationship.

(viii) Part 2:

Often, especially in the case of those looking for: romance and a date, or sex and intimacies of all sorts, or a partner and soul-mate, I don't reply at all. Not wanting to get someone's hopes up high and give them unrealistic expectations of what service or help I can provide, it is often better that I do not respond at all to the request that comes in. Requests come in all sorts of colours and codes, dimensions and sizes.  There is such a variety of invitations and overtures, proposals and propositions---to do so many different things that come my way. They come in the course of a day and a week, a month and a year. 

Section 2:

(ix) People ask for my support in some social-activist enterprise.  Sometimes all that I am required to do, by some keen social activist, is to tick a box in support of someone's request for my support in their social activism activity at a SNS.  At other times I am asked to send a copy of the email, that a person has just sent me, to as many others as possible in the hope that by a chain of posts everyone in the world will be aware of the issue. Given the immense number of causes now occupying SNS and a plethora of places in cyberspace, these social activists are increasing with every passing day.

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

(xi) People ask me to take an interest in my salvation through Jesus, to respond to their religious or philosophical, psychological or sociological messages, messages which are aimed at obtaining my attention and interest. Given the immense variety of religions and sects, cults and denominations, isms and wasms, to say nothing of the range of philosophies, psychologies and sociologies much is sent my way over the weeks and months.

(xii)  Part 1.....Go to the autobiography sub-section of my website for another 38 categories of internet posts to which I rarely or never respond:
http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/auto.html

NO SUCH THING AS FREE SPEECH


Many discussions of free speech, especially by those whom I would call free speech ideologues, begin by assuming as normative the situation in which speech is offered for its own sake, just for the sake of expression. The idea is that free expression, the ability to open up your mouth and deliver an opinion in a seminar-like atmosphere, is the typical situation and any constraint on free expression is therefore a deviation from that typical or normative situation. I begin by saying that this is empirically false, that the prototypical academic situation in which you utter sentences only to solicit sentences in return with no thought of actions being taken, is in fact anomalous. It is something that occurs only in the academy and for a very small number of people.....These are the words of Stanley Fish(1938- ) an American literary theorist and legal scholar. He is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and a professor of law at Florida International University, in Miami, as well as Dean Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the author of 12 books. For more on what Fish has to say about free speech, for his argument that there is no such thing as free speech, go to the following link: http://www.australianhumanitiesreview.org/archive/Issue-February-1998/fish.html

GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION: SURVEILLANCE LAWS

Right now, in the winter of 2012 in Australia, the Government is considering the most sweeping and radical changes to Australia's surveillance and intelligence laws since the establishment of the original laws in 1979.
The changes would give Australia's spy agency, ASIO, broad powers to gather unprecedented levels of data on Australian citizens, including monitoring your emails and posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts.  Internet providers and websites would be forced to keep detailed records of everything you do online for at least 2 years, and be forced to turn this over to the government if requested - and all of this could potentially be done without a warrant. Go to this link for more information: :https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#inbox/138d72a924c30947

HANS MAGNUS ENZENSBERGER

Since my days as a lecturer in media studies(1976-1978) at the now University of Ballarat, I have been drawn to the writings of this poet and writer, editor and analyst, Hans Magnus Enzensberger(1929-)
.  While lecturing at this old gold-mining town, Ballarat, Enzensberger's compilation of essays: The Consciousness Industry: On Literature, Politics, and the Media, and his Raids and Reconstructions: Essays on Politics, Crime, and Culture, 1976 came to my attention.  The former book had just been translated and published in an English version in 1974 while I was a tutor in education studies at the Tasmanian college of advanced education.    Enzensberger refers to "the Industrialization of the mind" to characterize human mentality as a product of society. He elaborates on the phenomena of the mind-making industry as a product of the last 100 years.

The industrialization of the mind is achieved through means of induction and reproduction, and although it can be industrially reproduced, it cannot be industrially produced. As a social product, the consciousness industry cannot be understood in terms of machinery, nor in terms of a buyers and sellers market, or production cost.  Its main business is not to sell a product, but rather, to sell the existing order, and "to perpetuate the prevailing pattern of man's domination by man, no matter who runs the society, and by what means.

In our modern society Enzensberger identifies "immaterial exploitation" as a necessary corollary to "material exploitation," whereby material exploitation is no longer sufficient to guarantee the continuity of the system; in order to exploit people's intellectual, moral, and political faculties, they must be developed. The roles of education and mass media then become critical in immaterial exploitation. In fact, Enzensberger identifies education as the most powerful mass media of all. The full realization of the mind industry, however, has hardly begun to be realized. A fully industrialized education system will be characterized by an increasingly centralized curriculum. The growth of the mind industry is faster than that of any other industry. For more on Enzensberger and his ideas go to:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/15/hans-magnus-enzensberger-interview
  and  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clgxidzMln8

COMMUNICATION AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Part I

"Coherence and Logic Behind A Long Story: A Philosophy of Autobiography," Ron Price, Unpublished Essay, 6 February 2003 17 October 2011.

For most of my years as a pioneer(1962-2011), the self and its related processes like self-esteem have been a central concern, among many central concerns, of social and behavioural scientists. If one is to be concerned with communication one must inevitably be concenred with self: its nature, its purpose, indeed, many things related to it. Strange to say, though, there is little agreement on just what constitutes the self. It would appear to be a most puzzling puzzle but, however puzzling, it is assumed to be real or unreal, stable or fluid.(1)  However described, it is worthy of attention and study. All of life's pleasures and blessings are divine in origin, but none can be compared with this power of intellectual investigation and research, which is an eternal gift producing fruits of unending delight. All other blessings are temporary; this is an everlasting possession.(2) It is, therefore, this aspect of the self, of life that is and has been the focus of my life.
-Ron Price with thanks to: (1) "Self and Identity in Everyday Life," International Society for Self and Identity, Author Unknown; and (2) “The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912,” Wilmette, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982, p. 50.

Philosophy gives logic and coherence to what we do, helps provide purpose and rationale, value and significance to our actions, our life. That's the way psychohistorian Henry Lawton put it in his article "Psychohistory Today and Tomorrow."   That's a succinct way to see the value of philosophy in providing a foundation of autobiography.  Philosophy helps to provide standards of explanation, how we know something and what counts as belonging to our world. Philosophy is the world view, the cosmology, the intellectual raison d'etre for what we do, what writers like myself write. It gives a patina for the scholary and the not-so-scholary sense of self. It gives underlying concepts and assumptions to the reality of the exercise of autobiography and the exercise of answering all sorts of questions in life—like the nature of genius. How and why I do what I do in this exercise of writing my story could be called my philosophy.

But autobiography is somewhat of a hybrid discipline: part history, part psychology, part sociology, part anthropology, part literature, part a lot of things, several intellectual disciplines.  As an autobiographer and historian, as a psychologist and sociologist, I use methodology and content from a number of different fields, fields that each have their ways of going about the process of understanding life.  Inevitably the person writing the autobiography is at the centre of the narrative. I am the active agent creating my own life, my own history, under the influence of a myriad factors, too many to even begin to outline here. Perhaps part of what I develop is my own "legitimate strangeness," as Michel Foucault(1926-1984), a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas, put it.

COMMUNICATION THEORIES: Part 1

Communication theory is a field of information and mathematics that studies the technical process of information and the human process of human communication. According to communication theorist Robert T. Craig in his essay 'Communication Theory as a Field' (1999), "despite the ancient roots and growing profusion of theories about communication," there is not a field of study that can be identified as 'communication theory'.

In 1999 Robert T. Craig wrote a landmark article "Communication Theory as a Field" which expanded the conversation regarding disciplinary identity in the field of communication. At that time, communication theory textbooks had little to no agreement on how to present the field or what theories to include in their textbooks. This article has since become the foundational framework for four different textbooks to introduce the field of communication. In this article Craig "proposes a vision for communication theory that takes a huge step toward unifying this rather disparate field and addressing its complexities." To move toward this unifying vision Craig focused on communication theory as a practical discipline and shows how "various traditions of communication theory can be engaged in dialogue on the practice of communication."  In this deliberative process theorists would engage in dialog about the "practical implications of communication theories." In the end Craig proposes seven different traditions of Communication Theory and outlines how each one of them would engage the others in dialogue. For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication_theory

COMMUNICATION THEORY: Part 2

The Toronto School is a school of thought in communication theory and literary criticism. The principles of this school of thought, this theory, were developed chiefly by scholars at the University of Toronto. It is characterized by exploration of Ancient Greek literature and the theoretical view that communication systems create psychological and social states.The school originated from the works of Eric A. Havelock and Harold Innis in the 1930s, and grew to prominence with the contributions of Edmund Snow Carpenter, Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan.

Since 1963, the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information has carried the mandate for teaching and advancing the school. Notable contemporary scholars associated with the Toronto School include Derrick de Kerckhove, Robert K. Logan and Barry Wellman. For more on the Toronto School go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_School_of_communication_theory

MEDIA THEORY: Part 1

The immediate intellectual influence of the projects of Raymond Williams and Marshall McLuhan has long passed but their major works remain in print and each still warrants inclusion in textbooks of "media theory"; for example,Stevenson, 1995. More than this, each has figured prominently in recent influential literatures. There is now a well-established case that McLuhan's work prefigured many of the concerns made prominent by postmodernists in the 1980s, for example in Ferguson, 1991, and in some influential texts of that period at least, direct influence was acknowledged (e.g., Eco 1987). The still-current wave of work on "globalization" has also renewed interest in McLuhan, often by naïvely reproducing the very features of his work which Williams most heavily criticized (cf. Ferguson 1992). For more go to:http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/1058/964

MEDIA THEORY: Part 2

Raymond Henry Williams(1921-1988) was a Welsh academic, novelist and critic. He was an influential figure within the New Left and in wider culture. His writings on politics, culture, the mass media and literature are a significant contribution to the Marxist critique of culture and the arts. Some 750,000 copies of his books have sold in UK editions alone, and there are many translations available. His work laid the foundations for the field of cultural studies and the cultural materialist approach.

I first came across Williams's famous triumvirate of works: Culture and Society, 1958, The Long Revolution, 1961, and Communications, 1962 while at university in the years 1963 to 1967.  I also came across Marshall McLuhan during those same years. For more on Williams and McLuhan go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Williams  and  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_McLuhan respectively. These two media theorists represented my first contact with 'media studies.' My five years of post-secondary education, and my 32 years as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator, to say nothing of my wider and personal reading, brought me into contact with a massive range of the humanities and social sciences. Media theory and media studies occupied but a corner of my intellectual curiosity as an academic generalist. 

There are 18 pages of media theories listed in Wikipedia. This list may not reflect recent changes. They begin with: (i) Active audience theory, (ii) Agenda-setting theory, and (iii) Allocution media theory. For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Media_theories

BAHA'I FAITH AND MEDIA

Part 1:

Baha’i Blog is a big promoter of Baha’i related media content. One of the things Baha'i Blog wants to do is to help Baha’is discover all of the wonderful new Baha’i media-related initiatives happening around the world. Now it’s one thing to discover new Baha’i musicians, albums, videos and the like, but getting your hands on their products can often be difficult. The website "9 Star Media" is the place to go for help.  

9StarMedia.com showcases the best in Baha’i inspired music, audio books and film, and they’ve created a single outlet to discover, preview, and purchase the best the Baha’i community has to offer. Think “iTunes for Baha’i Media”, but they go even one step further by offering physical media sales (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) as well as wholesale sales to Baha’i bookstores, communities, and distribution services around the world.

9 Star Media was started by Jon and Auntieclare Rezin who live in California. Jon works in the music business. 9 Star Media is now run by a Baha’i who makes his living mixing albums, both secular and Baha’i Inspired.  This Baha'i has been making albums since the mid-1990s.  He's been involved on both sides of the industry – production and administration. His wife and he have a small Baha’i audio book company called HearTheWritings.com. The promotion of Baha’i inspired albums has always proven to be a challenge for artists in terms of the time and resources it takes to do it properly. Without any real channel for Baha’i inspired artists to plug media into which can help serve as a conduit for them to promote their work, it’s been an “every artist for himself” type of landscape. This has meant that each artist has to, in effect, “reinvent the wheel” for each album. No significant email lists exist, no publicly available directories of communities, no public way to directly advertise to the global Baha’i community.

Part 2:

This all combines to make it really hard to let the community know a new resource exists. After having put over 4 years into promoting a handful of Baha’i albums to bookstores and communities, the people at 9 Star Media thought there had to be a better way. That was how the idea for 9 Star was born. The idea for 9 Star Media is pretty simple.  They scour the web and find the best media that is created by the Baha'is around the world.  They then invite the artists to submit their media for consideration, and then offer it for sale in one simple online store. This makes it easier than ever for Baha’is around the world to be exposed to new and amazing Baha’i inspired content.

For artists, being a part of 9 Star gives them a single outlet which will help them promote and distribute to a larger audience than they could easily reach on their own. We also get their media placed in bookstores around the globe. In the end, the goal with artists is to help relieve a bit of the busy work that goes into promoting their creation to such a niche market, and instead focus their energies on creating new music, audio books or film.

Another major focus this Baha'i site has is helping uplift the quality of media the individuals in the Baha'i community put out.  Baha’i inspired media should be as good if not better than the secular media released everyday. Those artists and content creators who are already striving for and/or achieving that standard are the artists whose work this site showcases.  9 Star Media works to bridge the quality gap by offering artists resources, tutorials, and additional services to improve their work. In the end, their hope is to create a portal where Baha’is and their friends can come to find spiritually uplifting music, audio books and film or video. They want to make that experience as simple and seamless as possible. Go to these two links for more: http://bahaiblog.net/site/  and https://9starmedia.com/

COMMUNICATION WITH THE SELF

My intention in this brief essay, this brief exploration of the nature of autobiography is not so much to outline a sophisticated and complex, or indeed a simple philosophy underpinning this autobiography.  Rather what I want to do is to include a series of poems which in their collective way will say a great deal about my life and its philosophy, the philosophy behind this autobiography and about the society, the world, in which I lived, moved and had my being over the five epochs(1944-2021) which provide the name of this website.

Here is a poem that gave me great pleasure to write, probably because I had enjoyed the essays of J.B. Priestley(1884-1984) the English novelist, playwright and broadcaster.  I had purchased a book of Priestley's essays many years before in a second hand bookshop. I had also enjoyed some five pages of notes I had made, back in the 1970s sometime, which I had read and reread over the last quarter century. But I think what gave me the greatest pleasure in writing this poem was the perspective I gained on understanding myself by the comparisons and contrasts of Priestly's life with my own. This poem, then, provides some sense of perspective on myself. It also provides useful perspectives on communication which is the focus of this part of my website.

PERSONAE

Part 1:

In describing his own public image, this English novelist saw himself as “a mannerless, blundering idiot.” But he also saw himself as: amiable, indulgent, affectionate, shy and rather timid.  Had R.F. Price been as splenetic and “bloody rude,” as Priestley, he never would have survived in a classroom teaching the wide range of men and women that he did for over a quarter of a century. Nor would he have survived in the heterogeneous Baha'i communities that have been part of my life from the 1950s to the 2000s.  Priestley tended to dump icy water on what could have been “comfortable personal relationships.” Perhaps, if Price had been more of a cold fish with a harsh edge, he would have protected himself from the endless conversations that filled his life for so many years and which, in the end with other factors in his life, wore him down.  Priestley was touchy, a victim of his own acerbic eruptions, had a capacity for brooding withdrawals and an ability to slay pompous parasites.  He also saw himself as a kind, easy-going chap. Privately, as a family man, he endured long-drawn-out tragedy and illness with what he called a ‘life-enhancing pessimism.’  Behind the various personae which sustained him, behind this rubble of eventually discarded selves, was a loving and compassionate man, or so one can say if one focuses on the good side of Priestley.


R.F. Price, too, had his many selves, his many personae which sustained him through the labyrinthine walks of life he had taken at the several stages in the lifespan.  He had his tragedy, his illness and his own life-enhancing humour.  His brooding withdrawals, his illnesses, had virtually disappeared or, to put the subject more accurately, during the early years of the evening of his life, the years from 60 to 66, he had learned to manage his bi-polar disorder(BPD).  This management he described in a book of 80,000 words and 175 pages which he made available at his website in the Mental Health: Bi-Polar Disorder sub-section.  Price saw himself as easy going; many of his students had, in fact, remarked on this quality. Some of his battles remained and he described them in detail in what he called his chaos narrative, the account of his BPD.  Some battles he would lose and some he would win in the road he had left to travel. Such was the story of most men and women.

Part 2:

“Reading, study, silence, and thought are a bad introduction to loquacity,” once wrote that great essayist William Hazlitt(1770-1830). That was not true now in his twilight years with his study and silence, thought and reading.  The short bursts of his interaction with others were filled with wit and witticisms, although they were not always wise and cautious.  But his loquacity was limited and even lacking insofar as lengthy interactions were concerned by the age of 60.   More than an hour or two or with the wrong people spelled trouble.
-Ron Price with thanks to Vincent Brome, J.B. Priestly, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1988, pp.5-6.

Behind the loving and compassionate personae,
for he had had many endearing, loving, selves,(1)
at the drop of a hat, on the wave lengths of life,
sat Mr. Chameleon, he often called himself........

Behind those “selves”, for surely they were real,
was a quiet man, a quiet boy.....at home with his
family, staying by himself, being in the solitude
of silence, writing, reading, struggling with his
inner demons, the tragic element which strikes
us all, but content, at rest, well-pleased with his
Lord, often joyful, working at his craft, away from
friend and stranger alike, sheltered by that single
One All-Merciful, confident, dignified & blushing
to lift up his face to his wondrous Redeemer......

Ron Price
18 May 1999 to 17 October 2011.

(1) The ‘he’ here is, in fact, ‘myself’ as I sat in the quiet of my chamber some 7 weeks after retiring from full-time employment as a teacher in a profession that I had begun over thirty years before in 1967. I continued altering this prose-poem until 17 October 2011.

THANKING J.B. PRIESTLEY

Priestley said that the writer and, in my case the autobiographer, "projects on to his page a personality not identical with his own, though founded on it."  It is a figure made up of elements selected from his life and then rearranged and displayed for his and their aesthetic purpose. The result is an intensely vivid impression of a living individual.  I like to think I achieve this but, of course, in the end, each reader makes of the book his own; in effect he recreates the book in his or her own eyes.  For the vast majority of people this book has no existence at all for they will never read it, see it on a screen or between covers.

Passing the time pleasantly, Priestley thought, was one of life's major achievements. To this I must concur. Indeed there is a great deal in the Baha'i Writings on this theme, although Baha'u'llah does not put His comments under the heading "how to pass the time pleasantly." In the end we must all apply the Writings to our lives in our individual ways. I have had no intention in writing this book, this five volume autobiography, to provide readers with some 'how to' recipes. "Ultimately all the battle in life is within the individual," wrote some individual on behalf of Shoghi Effendi back in 1943.  I remember first coming across this line in a little brown book back in the 1970s.  At the time my life was filled with battles and I was losing. I was disobeying Baha'i law and as close to leaving the Cause as I've ever got in the last half century of my association with it.  The Watergate crisis was reaching its zenith at the time and the Viet Nam war was finally coming to an end after what had seemed all my life.

Paul Ehrlich and the authors of the book Limits to Growth had just finished warnng us all of the extremities we faced if we did not pull up our socks and began to treat the environment more sanely. We were being told many things, too many to take them all in. And it was in this context that these words fell upon my ears and my mind like a solid gold nugget of truth.

Here are two poems that tell something of my religious and philosophical views of life, views which say much about communication.

ONE ENDLESS SONG

Emily Dickinson speaks, in her poem number 395, of a “fine Prosperity/ Whose Sources are interior”. She says that “Misfortune hath no implement/Could mar it-if it found.” It is the equivalennt, it seems to me, of those who join the Cause, who tend its garden, for life. I would argue, though, that its “sources” can be “marred”; one can never be sure if life’s misfortunes will not “mar” belief. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.

There is one kind of feeling
that sometimes is brought down.
It’s sources are interior
like diamonds in the ground.

I came across it early.
It doubled later on.
It looks like going the distance.
In one long endless song.

Life’s misfortunes may mar it.
One can never be too sure.
For belief is in some ways a gift.
Depending, in part, on how pure.

Ron Price
26 July 1999

ONE COLOUR

One day death will make
the final adjustment,
after years and years of changes
along the way.
Dynasties and systems,
defined and redefined,
lives sown and resown
with different colours.
Death, at last, will yield
one colour, unheralded,
mixed with joy
and this old body
will make its final move
into that hole for those
who speak no more.*

Ron Price
16 & 27 July 1999

*expression used by the Bab in Selections from the Writings of the Bab, 1976.

The following tells something of my general approach to poetry, what I am trying to write in my autobiography and, therefore, some of my thoughts, indirectly, on communication.

A CERTAIN SORT OF PERSON

Some poets are difficult to narratize. Their biography is elusive; their poetry a formal mask of a personality not a living face vibrant with expression. Such poets make no authorial statements, no poetic analysis or comment, no expressions of principle, no efforts to give their poetry coherence, beyond their poetry which must speak for itself. In the main they subscribe to the “poetry not the man” school. No interviews explain or expand on their work. They contribute nothing beyond their poems to the accumulation of what might be called their ‘industry’, their canonical infrastructure, again, except through their poetry, their literature. Their literary correspondence is either non-existent or only about the mundane and superficial, the everyday. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get a clear image of such a poet; no unary central subject emerges, unless their writing can be seen as the direct personal embodiment of the poet. Often such a poet seems to lack body. Such poetry is simply seen, often, as a separate entity, disembodied from the poet. Biographical and personal speculation on the part of writers, examining such poetry, becomes impossible, if not unwise.

Unfortunately, great art of any kind: intelligible, sane, perceptive, of use to humanity, requires some sensibility, unified or otherwise, to be demonstrated by the artist. To create, to recreate their life, is a beautiful and difficult task. In the end it remains, for all of us, partly mystery, with or without biographical detail. Without the biographical detail one only has the writing, the poetry. That is all some writers want. -Ron Price with thanks to Timothy Morris, Becoming Canonical in American Poetry, University of Illinois Press, Chicago,1995.

My goal is to compress
into these poems
something of the
manifold complexities
of my time, age and life;
and I do it in a certain way
because I am a certain sort
of person with a certain sort
of life1 and I see autobiography
in terms of culture, meanings,
narrative and arbitrary
arrangements of reality,
endurance and the filter
and glaze of language:
with a nostalgia for unity.2

Ron Price
28 December 1999

1 A.A. Milne, It’s Too late Now, 1939.
2 That nostalgia for unity...the essential impulse for the human being.
-Albert Camus in Albert Camus: Philosopher and Litterateur, Joseph McBride, NY, 1992, p.6.

Here are three poems about aspects of the teaching process,a process that was so much a part of my life over these four decades. The first poem takes you, the reader, back to the start of the formal teaching process in plans, the first Seven Year Plan in 1937.

COMMUNICATION: TECHNOLOGY AND THE CAR

In his editor's introduction to Autopia, a collection of essays on the cultural history of the automobile, Peter Wollen echoes British author J. G. Ballard in posing a critical choice. The choice, Wollen writes, is between "Autopia," an enthusiastic embrace of the freedom and autonomy allegedly conferred by car ownership, and "Autogeddon," an anxious acknowledgement of "the automobile's dark side—car crashes, road rage, congestion, environmental damage, oil slicks, urban sprawl, car bombs and many other scourges". To this list of scattered complaints he might well have added the following, more systemic indictments: the unchecked growth of powerful industries (big oil, big steel) at the expense of public transportation, the ongoing atrophy of communal space, and the increasing privatization of social experience—trends initially centered in the West but now global in their scope and implications.

If not the essential cause of these massive changes, the automobile was most certainly their key agent, thus suggesting that a study of the motorcar might provide a unique platform from which to assess an entire century of cultural transformation.  For a continued review of: (i) Peter Wollen and Joe Kerr, eds. Autopia: Cars and Culture, Reaktion, 2002; (ii) Daniel Miller, ed., Car Cultures, Berg, 2001; and Mikita Brottman, ed., Car Crash Culture, Palgrave, 2001 go to:http://www.uiowa.edu/~ijcs/suburbia/subrev.htm 

GUERNICA: A WINDOW OF HOPE AND A WORLD OF CHAOS

Guernica may just be the most important single painting in the twentieth century. It was painted by Picasso in a period from the end of April 1937 to June, the first two months of the first North American teaching campaign: 1937-1944. Guernica, a town in Spain, was bombed in April 1937, the very month that first Seven Year Plan. After more than forty years trying to take this message to my contemporaries I find this apocalyptic painting curiously relevant in its symbolism. The painting graphically portrays the world I have been trying to teach all these years. -Ron Price with thanks to Encarta(R) Encyclopedia, Microsoft Corporation, 27 June 1997; and ABC, TV, "Picasso-Magic, Sex and Death: Sex," 11:05-11:55 pm, 9 February 2003.

Complex symbolism here,
no definitive interpretation,
a world falling apart
back then and now, and now:
a dying horse, a dying age,
system, time; a fallen warrior,
traditional systems of political
and religious orthodoxy falling
from their heights of power;
a mother and dead child,
our century's science and technology
whose child is anarchy;
a woman trapped in a burning building,
civilization in a firey tempest;
a woman rushing into the scene,
a new revelation just begun
spreading its healing message.
A figure leaning from a window
and holding out a lamp,
truth and understanding held out
that all those who look might see.

And so, one view of Picasso’s work,
as a Teaching Plan makes its appearance
after a hiatus of twenty years,
after a new administration
had been created to canalize the forces
unleashed by those immortal Tablets.1
Guernica, a picture of a world in chaos
as the lamp of unity hangs out its shingle
in the obscurest corner,
the only sign of power and life
as the old is destroyed.2

1Tablets of the Divine Plan, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, 1916-17.
2 There are many interpretations of this painting. This last line comes from Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology, Viking Press, 1968, p.211.

Ron Price
27 June 1997-9 February 2003

WHO SANG THE SONG?

On July 23 1999 I was 55. That day my wife and I passed through Whyalla where, twenty-seven years before, entry by troops took place transforming that community and the people in it. It was, though, a transformation that is difficult to describe in terms of its affect on the participants. Perhaps this is something better left to an essay.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.


By the second half of the Formative Age
six souls had come to live
and then to form this LSA*
as part of a much elongated process,
or so it has seemed to many of us,
of entry by troops.

When I returned 27 years later
I was not able to tell just who was left,
except perhaps dear Kathy.**
As I walked around the town
I had not seen since half my life ago,
a sadness came from I know not where.
Perhaps it was the sense of life
“bearing the mere semblance of reality.”***

Then a wisdom sank in deep,
perhaps from God:
bring life up to a boil,
but keep your temper cool
amidst the toil.
For this life is but mirage,
from birth to death one long birage.
All the work that once went on in this place
would seem, on balance, not to have left a trace.
Is there any point to all of this?

I’d say “By God!
This is something I’d not want to miss!
It can not be measured, yet, by numbers.”

Ron Price
23 July 1999

* these six were joined by three others in 1972.
** Kathy Karavas who had been there before the entry by troops.
*** Baha’u’llah

A PERSON ON THE MOVE

The lives of learned men have at many times in history been perforce nomadic. From Greek philosophers escaping from the Persians to Germans in modern times, the intellectual has often been a person-on-the-move or on-the-run. Many Baha’i pioneers, striving to exemplify that first attribute of perfection, that ‘Abdu’l-Baha describes in His book ‘Secret of Divine Civilization,’ namely, “learning and the cultural attainments of the mind,” have also been possessed of this nomadic quality. I write this poem from Hong Kong on what may just be the only day in my life spent on the continent of Asia, nearly thirty-eight years from the beginning of what seems a long nomadic road.-Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy,1945, p.402.

Beginning with all that homework
and all those Baha’i books
just ten miles from where I grew up,
a peripatetic existence began
which continued until today:
you could call it travel teaching,
what with all those towns and houses
and thousands of books
and deep and meaningful conversation
trying to spread a seed
in a discouragingly meagre soil,
still a refugee from the Persians
and still the books pouring in
and a striving for the cultural
attainments of the mind.

Ron Price
17 June 2000

There is so much 'out there' in life to deal with. Here is one of my approaches as described in the following two poems.

SOME OF BERGSON

Part of this creative advance into novelty, this utilization of ideas, philosophies and concepts from the past and bringing them to bear on the present in order to structure the future, a process that is at the base of my poetry, has been the incorporation of some of the work of the philosopher Henri Bergson into my own poetic opus and direction. Bergson emphasizes the positive power of time, the fluid continuum of intensity, the flow of reason across the brain and world as a source of creative invention, as a matrix for the affirmation of the rich, multi-levelled embodiment that characterizes our existence as human beings. There is a continuum of creative genetic energy in life. It is like a current passing from germ to germ through the medium of a developed organism. I see my poetry as a monitor of my continuous progress indefinitely pursued and my inevitable regress, for life is either progress or regress. There is no standing still, although it often appears that way. -Ron Price with thanks to M. Hansen, “Becoming as Creative Involution? Contextualizing Deleuze and Guallari’s Biphilosophy” Internet Article, 3 January 2001.

This is a dance of the most disperate,
spontaneity paired with receptivity,
autonomy for myself and openness
toward the world: an elan vital1
separateness and communication,
segregation from the whole
and integration with it,
a complex functional system
providing my inner autonomy,
a great variety of inner states,
an active sensitivity exposed,
heterogeneity and individuality,
the more isolated, the more related,
continually in the process of constructing itself.

1 a concept from Henri Bergson

Ron Price
3 January 2001


I’VE SUNG THE SONG I HEARD

“The poet, to lay legitimate claim to the title of poet,” writes Paul Kane in his book Australian Poetry, discussing the history of poetry in Australia, “was constrained to create not only poems, but himself or herself as poet as well-what we have been calling the process of autogenesis...the process of establishing oneself as a poet was inseparable from establishing poetry in Australia.” There were some parallels, I found, to my own work in the late twentieth century. I did not find it the “double burden” of originating both oneself and a tradition, that Kane describes. But I did find the dual process of writing poetry and articulating the process within the context of my society, my religion and my own life fell into place quite naturally. Indeed, I often felt I was caught up in understanding and elaborating the process to a far greater extent than I was in writing poetry. At other times I felt as if all that I wrote was part of one meta-process, meta-narrative. I was striving to establish an identity for myself and my religion in cultural, historical, spiritual terms. I felt the process “to be at once trivial and apocalyptic, vain yet of the greatest consciousness-altering potential,” as Blanchot once described it. -Ron Price with thanks to Paul Kane, Australian Poetry, Cambridge UP, NY, 1996, pp.35-41.

He1 had a prodigious poetic output,
felt neglected and embittered,
thwarted by the world’s indifference,
lonely and in despair,
saw society as the enemy,
constructed an account of his
poetic beginnings,
of his posthumous aims,
in a melancholy mood and view
and it told of what was, what is:
but the song he dreamed about
remained unwritten.
His spirit fancied it could hear
the song it could not sing.2

But their’s is not my story:
I have written of my dream
and sung the song I heard.
I’ve seen the river in the hills.
In the night the rain fills
and the troubled torrent spills.

1 Charles Harpur, the first major poet of Australia, writing in the early years of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths.
2 Henry Kendall wrote this in the last poem of his final volume of poetry.

Ron Price
12 January 2001

Much of our sense of who we are comes by comparisons and contrasts with others whom we are not. Here is one example.

THE GENTLE EDGE

A poet gets a sense of who he is by coming across another poet whom he is not, with whom he shares some things in common and some things not-so-common. John Forbes, an Australian poet who died in the 1990s, remained single all his life and felt his calling to be a poet at the age of only fourteen. He identified with Maoist ideology and even dressed like a working-class Chinese. He would often rewrite a poem ten times. He saw himself as a laid back larrikin. He never found love, requited or unrequited. He felt he did not fit in to the public scene, into the establishment, or even the middle class rung of society with its married people raising their families. He did not think much about everyday things. Forbes was an eccentric. But, like my own style and approach to poetry, he tried to write for the future, tried to mix high and low culture, did an immense amount of reading and was also trying to be a poet for his time. When given the opportunity he could talk the backside off a barn door and showed great enthusiasm for an idea, a piece of prose or a poem. Like many a larrikin Australian his conversation was humorous with a sharp edge, what some might call harsh. My aim, among other aims, on the other hand, was to be humorous but gentle.
-Ron Price, "Poetica," ABC Radio National, 2:05-2:45 pm, 7 July 2001.

You, too, packed in the print
'til it was coming out of your ears
and tucked it in to an eccentricity,
a laid-back larrikinism,
a sense of aloneness
and a sense of a calling.
You felt you had something to say;
you were a real talker, thinker,
an intellectual, Aussie-style,
if there is one,
a comic with a sharp bite.

My sense of a calling came later,
with my own particular brand
of laid-backness, eccentricity,
far from the everyday,
preferred the gentle edge,
the cultural attainment of the mind,
softening, an etiquette of expression,
always with a moderate freedom,
an engendering of perspectives,
encouraging, where I could,
that profound change
in the quality, the standard,
of the public word
which would, must, come.

Ron Price
7 July 2001

There is a complex interlocking between self and other, self and society, self, religion and society. Here is one way of trying to understand this complexity.

THE SONGS I WAS SINGING

Poetry, song and autobiography have been interlinked for millennia. In my pioneering life, beginning in 1962, the music and words of The Beatles and Bob Dylan, the culture of the sixties and my own autobiography come together in an interesting cross-fertilization. Bob Mason's unpublished PhD Thesis on 'The Dialogue Between the Beatles and Bob Dylan'(1) illumined, for me, this triangle of relationships. To take but one of many possible examples, the very month I decided to pioneer among the Eskimo, October 1965, The Beatles' hit "Nowhere Man" was released, as Mason informs us. Most of the Beatles' songs were about their coming to terms with autobiographical issues, about changing society, about drugs(after 1965) and about a dialogue between these megastars. Paul McArtney said, in a song he wrote in the 1990s, that the members of his group, The Beatles, always came back to the songs they had been singing because these songs told them, and everyone else who was interested, where they were at. This is quintessentially true of my own poetry.-Ron Price with thanks to (1)"Arts Today," ABC Radio National, 10:05-11:00 am, 16 January 2002.

I was finally knowing
where I was going to
and feeling as if I could
finally see some light
at the end of the tunnel,
thinking for myself:
none of this bourgeoisie
normality for me,
going where noone
had gone before----1
at least from my corner,
doing what noone expected,
nothing to do with drugs,
helping to change the world
in a way none else could see,2
on my own, breaking the umbilical chord,
no more of the family Christmas and Easter
and endless birthday scenes for me,
no more of the 'daddy,' 'mommy'
and all the old friends for me:
this was my own response to existence.

This was a starting new
and working out my way of being
my take on the world and its load.
I was not a 'Nowhere Man.'
I was 'doing what I wanted to do,'
thinking what I wanted to think,3
or so I thought.

1 Going to live among the Eskimo, away from family and friends, had an absurdity to it in 1965 in the conservative climate I grew up in in southern Ontario.
2 Outside the small circle of Baha'is I knew then.
3 See the George Harrison song: Do What You Want To Do. Ron Price....16 Jan. 2002

When one goes about writing the story of one's life all of history becomes available when one tries to get a handle on one's experience. In writing about yourself, the autobiographer comes to write about so much more. Here is an example.

SOME COMPARISONS

Mozart's description of what happens to him as he composes has some similarities to the process of writing poetry as I experience it. "Once I have my theme another melody comes,"1 Mozart begins. And so it is, for me, with writing poetry. I get the germ of an idea, some starting point, a strong note or theme. Then, another idea comes along linking itself to the first one in a similar way to the linkage of that melody Mozart mentions to his theme. By now there is emerging "the needs of the composition as a whole" both for me and for Mozart. For both of us, too, the whole work is produced by "melodic fragments," by "expanding it," by "conceiving it more and more clearly." Mozart finishes his work in his head. The composition comes to him in its entirety in his head. I finish my work on paper and I have no idea of the ending until the end. The poem below is an example, drawing heavily on the contents of a book.2 -Ron Price with thanks to the (1)ABC Radio National, The Science Show, 10.1.98; and (2)Chloe Chard, Pleasure and Guilt: Travel Writing and Imaginative Geography 1600-1830, Manchester UP, NY, 1999.

Even the most uninteresting,
trivial and repetitive,
when seen at a distance
with a lively fancy
and a determination,
with purpose and system
to make the most of life,
can find a mysterious charm,
an entertaining commentary
in the hands of a good writer.

But this is not the work
of a tourist and its trivial,
pointless diversion,
innocent gratification,
pleasureable indolence,
gratifying excitements,
gastronomic indulgences,1
relief from responsibility,
and identity: escape.

I have never been a tourist.2

Always there was the work,
the object worthy of life,
of commentary:
always the profusion
of the incomparable,
so much intensification,
excess, the delights,
the dangers, the restlessness,
a reaching out beyond
the mundane, the observable.

The danger of hyperboles,
accepting, as I know I must,
jarring encounters,
the destabilizing,
troubling elements
than can't be kept at bay,
when calm benevolence
can't be maintained
and the necessary distraction.

1 Except, perhaps, on my two 'honeymoons' for several days in August 1967 and December 1975; and travelling to and settling in to some new places of residence and employment.
2 Tourism in the modern sense began, according to Chard, about 1880.

Ron Price
27 June 2002

And so, with these poems an underlying philosophy becomes more evident. This narrative and this poetry has provided what Doris Lessing called a discourse by which I have constructed my "versions of reality." The other major discourse Lessing describes is fiction.

Some writers like Alfred Corn are clearly uncomfortable with personal disclosure, but still they write autobiography. Corn writes:

"Even now I dread these unmasked statements, their therapeutic slant and trust in fact, failure to scan or use productive rhyme or metaphor. Yet can't deny the will to set out in search of what it is that shaped one witness's imagining of time." Corn needs some degree of secrecy and so do I, although I sense he needs more than I do. His uneasiness is his charm; I don't think that is true of me and my work. I'm not sure where the charm is in my book; I will have to wait for the reaction of readers.



CREATIVITY AND WRITING

Part 1:

Elizabeth M. Gilbert(1969-) is an American author, essayist, short story writer, biographer, novelist and memoirist. She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which as of December 2010 has spent 199 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, and was also made into a film by the same name in 2010. Gilbert's first book Pilgrims (Houghton Mifflin 1997), a collection of short stories, received the Pushcart Prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. This was followed by her novel Stern Men (Houghton Mifflin 2000), selected by The New York Times as a "Notable Book." In 2002 she published The Last American Man (2002), a biography of Eustace Conway, a modern woodsman and naturalist, which was nominated for National Book Award. For more on Gilbert go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Gilbert For a u-tube video with Gilbert giving a talk on writing and creativity go to:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86x-u-tz0MA&list=PL70DEC2B0568B5469&index=13

Part 2:

The previous issue of the online ejournal Crossings saw the introduction of a new type of contribution: the artist's work-in-progress statement. In the March 2002 issue, artwork is incorporated into the journal format with the addition of the featured exhibition. Whereas the work-in-progress statement describes creative work that is ongoing and as yet incomplete, the featured exhibition presents work that has reached a final form. Eduardo Kac's The Eighth Day is the first such exhibition, and the presentation of Kac's work here is a virtualisation of a physical exhibition held at Arizona State University in November 2001. Kac defines himself as a transgenic artist – someone who works with genetic manipulation for artistic purposes – and his exhibition features several synthetic life forms that have been genetically and/or mechanically engineered. Kac's exhibition and accompanying statement are provocative in more ways than can be summed up in this introduction, but suffice it to say that The Eighth Day implores us to think not only about biology, ecology and genetic engineering but also about philosophical and cultural issues raised by our use of technology for creative and other purposes. For more go to: http://crossings.tcd.ie/issues/2.1/Editor/

WRITING or COMPOSITION STUDIES

Composition studies are also referred to as composition and rhetoric, rhetoric and composition,college composition, writing studies, or simply composition.  Such studies are the professional field of writing research and instruction, focusing especially on writing at the college level in many countries. In many colleges and universities, undergraduate students must take freshman — sometimes even higher — composition courses. For example, in California, all public colleges and universities have freshman and sophomore composition courses as requirements. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composition_studies

While no one agenda defines Writing Studies, a key component of the move from Composition to Writing Studies involves thinking beyond human actors, and especially, beyond pedagogy. Sidney I. Dobrin’s recent manifesto Postcomposition argues that a “new intellectual future” for the field depends on understanding “writing-as-system”. Understanding "writing-as-system" allows the field to move "beyond the academic work of composition studies in favor of the revolutionary potential of the intellectual work of writing studies".  Beyond Postprocess is the first collected volume of diverse compositionists to claim “writing as the network itself” and is, therefore, an important harbinger of things to come.

The editors of this collection of essays frame the posthuman, networked condition as cause to disengage with the kind of subjectivity most associated with the field of Composition: pedagogy. Chapters on cities, philosophies, new media, and politics illuminate the role of writing in what Jeff Rice calls “the complexities of space.” These pages flesh out Taylor’s argument that the entire “fabric of life” is transformed by systems. Missing from the editors' examples of complex systems is the work of pedagogy. Pedagogy—“systems that assume ideas, knowledge, information can be transmitted from one agent to another”— “must be set aside” Dobrin, Rice, & Vastola argue, in order to unleash a “theory of the new.” For more go to:http://www.enculturation.net/history-of-pedagogy

RHETORIC

The field of rhetoric has been a matter of considerable debate for millennia. Derived from the Greek word for public speaking, rhetoric's original concern dealt primarily with the spoken word. Aristotle wrote a philosophical work that still has major scholarly impact. Its title was Rhetoric and in this work he identified five canons of the field of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Invention is concerned with the content or idea being expressed, and it relates to the rhetorician’s understanding of his goals. Arrangement deals with issues of how to best organize an argument in order to attain the speaker or writer’s goals. It is closely related to style, which relates to gestures, metaphors, and word choices selected to best influence the audience and reach the desired goal. Memory is the third and simplest element of rhetoric in being related specifically to spoken rhetoric, specifically concerned with remembering the words in one’s speech. Finally, delivery concerns tone, word choice, posture and other such bodily signs that influence the effect of one’s words on an audience. For more go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theories_of_rhetoric_and_composition_pedagogy

WHY I WRITE

Part 1:

These words are part of my quest, a quest constructed around a sequence of questions: Why do I write? What is the motive for my use of metaphor?  “Where do I get my ideas?” Do I choose my subjects, or do my subjects choose me? Do I choose my “voices”? Is inspiration a singular phenomenon, or does it take taxonomical forms? Indeed, is the uninspired life worth living? Alexander Pope’s great “Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot” (1735) asks the following question both playfully and seriously.

Why did I write? What sin to me unknown
Dipt me in Ink, my Parents’, or my own?

Joyce Carol Oates(1938-) is an American author who published her first book in 1963 & has since published over forty novels, as well as a number of plays and novellas, and many volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. Oates writes as follows: "Why did the child Pope take to verse at so young an age, telling us, as many a poet might tell us, with the kind of modesty that enormous self-confidence can generate, “I lisp’d in Numbers, for the Numbers came,” by which the poet meant that he had an intuitive, instinctive, “inborn” sense of scansion and rhyme; some individuals have the equivalent of “perfect pitch” in music: you are born with it, or you are not." Alexander Pope(1688-1744) was an 18th-century English poet. He is best known now for his satirical verse, as well as for his translation of Homer. Famous for his use of the heroic couplet, he is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare.

"For sheer virtuosity in verse, Pope is one of the great masters of the language; his brilliantly orchestrated couplets lend themselves ideally to the expression of “wit” (usually caustic, in the service of the poet’s satiric mission). The predilection to “lisp in numbers” suggests a kind of entrapment, though Pope doesn’t suggest this; the perfectly executed couplet with its locked-together rhymes is a tic-like mannerism not unlike punning, to which some individuals succumb involuntarily (“pathological punning” is a symptom of frontal lobe syndrome, a neurological deficit caused by injury or illness) even as others react with revulsion and alarm." Oates continues:

"Pope’s predilection for “lisping in numbers” seems to us closely bound up with his era, and his talent a talent of the era, which revered the tight-knit grimace of satire and the very sort of expository and didactic poetry from which, half a century later, Wordsworth and Coleridge would seek to free the poet. Pope never suggests, however, that the content of poetry is in any way inherited, like the genetic propensity for scansion and rhyme; he would not have concurred (who, among the poets, and among most of us, would so concur?) with Plato’s churlish view of poetry as inspired not from within the individual poet’s imagination but from an essentially supranatural, daimonic source."

Part 2:

For more on Joyce Carol Oats views on writing go to:http://www.usfca.edu/jco/writers/ Oates writes at that link: "It is my conviction that all human beings "create" personality. Some do so passively, helplessly, and are in a sense created by others, whom they come to fear or hate; others create their personalities half-consciously, and are therefore half-pleased with their creations, though they suspect something is missing; a few human beings, gifted with the ability to "see" themselves as "other," and not overly intoxicated with the selfness of the self, actually devise works of art that are autobiographical statements of a hypothetical, reality-testing nature, which they submit with varying degrees of confidence to the judgment of their culture." Oates continues:

"A writer's quest, in some cases a distinctly American quest, is for one's place in the world; one's cultural and spiritual identity, in terms of self and others. For America is the nation, so rare in human history, of self-determination; a theoretical experiment in newness, exploration, discovery. In theory at least, who our ancestors have been, what languages they have spoken, in what religions they believed—these factors cannot really help to define us. And it has been often noted that, in the New World, history itself has moved with extraordinary rapidity. Each generation constitutes a beginning-again, a new discovery, sometimes of language itself." My home country, Canada, and my country of adoption since my mid-20s, Australia, has resulted in my distinctly New World-hybrid quest.


THE EVOLUTION OF MY WRITING: OVER SIX DECADES


Section 1:

The sixty years of my writing could be divided for the sake of simplicity of analysis into 6 phases or stages, each a decade in length. What is the literary art of Ron Price? Each of the decade-long stages, beginning as far back as 1953 and ending this year, in 2013, would each have their style and art, their form and content. The long-lived Robert Frost (1874–1963), the American poet, highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, had several arts, sometimes incompatible ones. In this he resembles many other poets.  It is hard to connect the William Wordsworth(1771-1850) of the Lyrical Ballads at the turn of the 18th to the 19th century with the Wordsworth of the Ecclesiastical Sonnets several decades later. To take an example nearer to hand—the Robert Lowell of Life Studies(1959) and the Lowell of History(1973) are like two different men. Robert "Cal" Traill Spence Lowell IV(1917-1977) was an American poet.


I do not intend to make even a cursory description and analysis of my prose and poetry in each of the 6 phases of my writing. Suffice it to say, that even as I read my own work, I feel like I am reading the writing of different men.  One of an autobiographer’s duties, beyond accuracy to fact, is to vivify his own life and open that life to speculation. In some ways what is involved is an attempt at the awkward integration of the actions of my life with the efforts of my literary imagination.  After an initial overview of my life which simplified the autobiographical task, an overview which took some 20 years(1984-2003), I have now spent a decade, 2004-2013, on the awkward and not-so-awkward complexities.

Section 2:


In Helen Vendler's analysis of the poetry of Robert Frost, she writes: "The song-like Robert Frost descends from Longfellow, and is a master of exquisite lyrics. The narrative Frost descends from Browning, and is a master of New England speech."  Vendler continues: "Although both Frosts are admirable, it is possible to argue—as Tim Kendall of the University of Exeter does in his commentary on a selection of Frost’s poems—that the New England conversational Frost is the more original of the two." 

Vendler(1933- ) has written books on Emily Dickinson, W. B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens, John Keats, and Seamus Heaney. She has been a professor of English at Harvard University since 1980; between 1981 and 1984 she taught alternating semesters at Harvard and Boston University. In 1990 she was appointed to an endowed chair as the A. Kingsley Porter University Professor. She is the first woman to hold this position. She has also taught at Cornell University, Swarthmore and Smith Colleges, and Boston University. In 1992 Vendler received a Litt. D. from Bates College. For more of Vendler on Tim Kendell's book The Art of Robert Frost go to this link: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/aug/16/burnt-frost/