PHYSICAL SCIENCES

Earth sciences


THE GEOSCIENCES AND EARTH SCIENCES

Earth science, also known as geoscience, the geosciences or the earth sciences, is an all-embracing term for the sciences related to the planet Earth.  It is arguably a special case in planetary science, the Earth being the only known life-bearing planet. There are both reductionist and holistic approaches to Earth sciences. The formal discipline of Earth sciences may include the study of the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere, as well as the solid earth. Typically Earth scientists will use tools from physics, chemistry, biology, chronology and mathematics to build a quantitative understanding of how the Earth system works, and how it evolved to its current state.

The following fields of science are generally categorized within the geosciences:

(1) Geology describes the rocky parts of the Earth's crust, or lithosphere, and its historic development. Major subdisciplines are mineralogy and petrology, geochemistry, geomorphology, paleontology, stratigraphy, structural geology, engineering geology and sedimentology.
(2) Geophysics and Geodesy investigate the shape of the Earth, its reaction to forces and its magnetic and gravity fields.[citation needed] Geophysicists explore the Earth's core and mantle as well as the tectonic and seismic activity of the lithosphere.
(3) Soil science covers the outermost layer of the Earth's crust that is subject to soil formation processes (or pedosphere).[7] Major subdisciplines include edaphology and pedology.
(4) Oceanography and hydrology, includes limnology, describe the marine and freshwater domains of the watery parts of the Earth, or hydrosphere. Major subdisciplines include hydrogeology and physical, chemical, and biological oceanography.
(5) Glaciology covers the icy parts of the Earth, or cryosphere.
(6) Atmospheric sciences cover the gaseous parts of the Earth, or atmosphere, between the surface and the exosphere, about 1000 km.  Major subdisciplines are meteorology, climatology, atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics.
(7) A very important linking sphere is the biosphere, the study of which is biology. The biosphere consists of all forms of life, from single-celled organisms to pine trees to people. The interactions of Earth's other spheres - lithosphere/geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and/or cryosphere and pedosphere - create the conditions that can support life.

Ron Price
17 January 2002


INTRODUCTION

Part 1:

During 2002, just after retiring from FT and PT work, after half a century in classrooms as a student and teacher(1949-1999), I opened a file for print resources in the various disciplines of science. The material was collected, for the most part, after my retirement from FT and PT teaching during the years 1999 to 2002.  I have never had files for these subjects since I never taught them. In the 1960s and the 1970s, from 1960 to 1971,  I studied and taught aspects of the Earth Sciences as a high school student and then as a primary school teacher. In the 1980s, though, while writing articles on various Baha'i buildings for journals and magazines, I did open a file on architecture which has aspects which are scientific. See this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture

In 2008 I opened an additional file to deal with the many disciplines and sub-disciplines of science:  the physical and biological sciences as well as the applied sciences. I revised the initial introduction I had written in 2008 to these two files in May 2011.  My life story, life narrative, life experience with these disciplines goes back, as far as I can remember, to grade seven when I was twelve and on the puberty cusp. “Egg, larva, pupa and adult,” are the first words I remember from that science course in 1957/8, more than half a century ago. My grandfather and maternal uncle had an interest in science, and they were part of my life from 1943 to 1958, and it was difficult not to be influenced by sciences growing up as I did after WW2, in a consangineal family with the scientific, intellectual, and artistic interests to which I was exposed in however limited a way.

Part 2:

I continued taking science courses from grade seven to grade thirteen in the academic year 1962-1963 when I studied chemistry.  I took one science course in my second year at university, 1964-1965, in the philosophy of science, & one course at teachers’ college, 1966-1967, on teaching science to primary school children.  As a primary school teacher I taught science from 1968 to 1971 from grade 3 to grade 8, but to a very limited extent.

Science, of course, is part of everyone’s life in this age, but the formal collection of information, & the study of the many relevant disciplines in the vast fields of science did not really begin for me until these early years of the new millennium during my retirement from FT, PT & casual-volunteer work.  My second wife, Chris, who is a qualified maths-science secondary school teacher, took an active interest in scientific subjects. Over the four decades of our relationship and marriage, 1974 to 2014,  I have benefitted from her interest. I benefitted not only in our unnumbered conversations, but in the more practical aspects of life.  Her collection of books and articles is extensive while mine, even now after a dozen years of gathering articles, occupies only a small place on one of my book shelves. This dearth of books, though, is made up for in this 3rd millennium by the burgeoning nature of online resources which I can access with a few clicks of a mouse.

The social and behavioural sciences and the humanities have kept me busy for decades & that is still the story although, as I say, the sciences are now playing a larger part in my studies.  In these years of my retirement from the job-student world and from endless community activities and responsibilities,  I have been able to study science in more detail at last.  It did seem timely to write this introduction after 15 years of an ingathering of print resources on some 15 sub-sections of the sciences now in 2 arch-lever files.  I have always liked the historian Douglas Martin’s view of science as: “the systematic, the disciplined, use of the rational faculty.” Martin was a seminal influence on my thinking from the early 1960s. In this sense, I like to think that my life has had a scientific turn in this last half century outside its formal study as a set of disciplines, my teaching of it as a subject and my general interest in its now seemingly myriad disciplines.

31/5/'11 to 16/12/'14. 

HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE

How the Earth Was Made is an American documentary television series produced by Pioneer Productions for the History channel. It began as a two-hour special exploring the geological history of Earth, airing on 16 December 2007. Focusing on different geologic features of the Earth, the series premiered on 10 February 2009, and the 13-episode first season concluded on 5 May 2009. The second season premiered on 24 November 2009, and concluded on 2 March 2010.  I began to see this series in Australia in July 2010 and on 24/2/'13 I saw episode-2 in the series with its focus on asteroids.

This documentary, as a two-hour program and as a 13-art series, explains the geological and biological history of Earth, from its formation 4.567 billion years ago to the present day. Explained are the very beginnings of the Earth; the formation of the crust and atmosphere; the origins of water; when life began in the oceans and moved to the land; the Carboniferous period and how it ended; when dinosaurs ruled the land and the arrival of mammals; and the numerous ice ages. The documentary also explains plate tectonics and ends with the foreseeable next stages of our planet until its final stagnation about 2 billion years in the future.

Spectacular on-location footage, evidence from geologists in the field, and clear, dramatic graphics combine in this stunning 13-part series from History to show how immensely powerful, and at times violent, forces of geology have formed our planet.From the Great Lakes to Iceland, the San Andreas Fault to Krakatoa, How the Earth Was Made travels the globe to reveal the physical processes that have shaped some of the most well-known locations and geological phenomena in the world. With rocks as their clues and volcanoes, ice sheets, and colliding continents as their suspects, scientists launch a forensic investigation that will help viewers visualize how the earth has evolved and formed over millions of years. For more go to:http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/how-the-earth-was-made-season-1/ For even more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_the_Earth_Was_Made

THE RISE OF THE CONTINENTS

The Earth’s continents are instantly recognizable.  These iconic landmasses seem permanent and unchanging, yet they are merely the wreckage of a much larger long-lost supercontinent known as Pangaea.  
In this stunning four part series Professor Iain Stewart uncovers the evidence for this ancient past.  He reveals how the world around us is full of clues: in the rocks, the landscapes and even the animals.  All of these things tell us how the land we live on was created.  Professor Stewart shows how the defining moments of their formation have fundamentally shaped each of our continents’ characters: transforming evolution, forging their incredible economic riches and changing the course of human history.

Iain Simpson Stewart(1964- ) is a Scottish geologist, a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and President of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. He is Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth and also a member of the Scientific Board of UNESCO’s International Geoscience Programme. Described as geology’s “rock star,” Stewart is best known to the public as the presenter of a number of science programmes for the BBC. For more on this geologist who helps to bring the field of geology alive go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iain_Stewart_(geologist) 
Go to this link for more on the 4 episode series entitled The Rise of the Continentshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01993gc

GEOLOGICAL EVOLUTION

The geological history of Earth follows the major events in Earth's past based on the geologic time scale, a system of chronological measurement based on the study of the planet's rock layers, or stratigraphy. Earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago by accretion from the solar nebula, a disk-shaped mass of dust and gas left over from the formation of the Sun, which also created the rest of the Solar System.  Earth was initially molten due to extreme volcanism and frequent collisions with other bodies. Eventually, the outer layer of the planet cooled to form a solid crust when water began accumulating in the atmosphere. The Moon formed soon afterwards, possibly as the result of a Mars-sized object with about 10% of the Earth's mass impacting the planet in a glancing blow. Some of this object's mass merged with the Earth, significantly altering its internal composition, and a portion was ejected into space. Some of the material survived to form an orbiting moon.

Outgassing and volcanic activity produced the primordial atmosphere. Condensing water vapor, augmented by ice delivered from comets, produced the oceans. 
As the surface continually reshaped itself over hundreds of millions of years, continents formed and broke apart. They migrated across the surface, occasionally combining to form a supercontinent. Roughly 750 million years ago, the earliest-known supercontinent Rodinia, began to break apart. The continents later recombined to form Pannotia, 600 to 540 million years ago, then finally Pangaea, which broke apart 180 million years ago. For more of this story go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geological_history_of_Earth

ASTEROIDS AND EARTH SCIENCE

Today I watched a doco on asteroids and their relationship with earth science.(1) Famed for their ability to inflict Armageddon from outer space, asteroids are now revealing the secrets of how they are responsible for both life and death on our planet. 
Armed with an array of powerful telescopes, scientists are finding up to 3000 new asteroids every night. And some are heading our way. But astronomers have discovered that it’s not the giant rocks that are the greatest danger – it’s the small asteroids that pose a more immediate threat to Earth. Researchers have explained the photon propulsion that propels these rocks across space, and have discovered that some asteroids are carrying a mysterious cargo of frost and ice across the solar system that could have helped start life on earth. (1) SBSTV, 2:00-3:00 p.m., 16 September, 2013. For more on this doco and several other docos, go to:http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/asteroids-good-bad-ugly/

THE STUDY OF NATURE

Two of the many significant influences on my poetry, influences which have given great pleasure over the years to my mind and spirit, appreciated immensely now, but which only began to be understood in the years of my middle age and in the early evening of my life, Wordsworth and Shakespeare, helped me to see nature in all its forms. But it was not nature in its external forms: flowers, trees, the entire geology and geography of place, that provided for me the deepest satisfactions and fascinations. My second wife, Chris, and nature programs stimulated my interest in and appreciation of the external aspects of nature.

I found that nature’s external forms permitted my rational mind to attain a renovated and renovating vision of the organic world--and particularly my own personal world. But this vision was difficult to achieve; it developed very slowly over the decades; the pitfalls surrounding the acquisition and development of this vision, were many, obscure and subtle. But as one of Canada's poets, perhaps Canada’s greatest 19th century poet, Archibald Lampman, expressed the challenge: “the poet must not cease from the mental effort required to obtain a renovated vision of external nature, and he must then return, restored, to the world of men.”--(1) Archibald Lampman in D.M.R. Bentley, “Watchful Dream and Sweet Unrest: An Essay on the Vision of Archibald Lampman Part II,” Studies In Canadian Literature.

THE ROCK THAT IS MY LIFE

As my own days pass swifter than the twinkling of an eye, I offer in my autobiography something of my experience with the relentless acceleration of forces in the dynamic span of epochs that have been the background of my life.  I offer, too, layers of memories that have coalesced, that have condensed, into a single substance, a single rock, the rock of my life.   But this rock of my life possesses streaks of colour which point to differences in origin, in age and formation. It helps to be a geologist and knowledgeable in the earth sciences to interpret their meaning and I, like most people, have no advanced training or study in these disciplines.  So it is that my memories have fused together and they are neither fully articulated nor understood.  Perhaps by my latter, my later, years, my old age; perhaps in an afterlife, in that Undiscovered Country when I enter the land of lights, then, I will understand. In the meantime I shall utilize the study of the earth sciences for their metaphorical significance.

GEOLOGIC TIME SCALE

Part 1:

The following Wikipedia link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_time_scale is a useful accompaniment to the four 1 hour TV episodes entitled: Australia: The Time Travelller's Guide. You can read about these episodes and watch a video at the following link:
http://www.essential-media.com/ The timeline in this program, basically a geological timeline, takes the reader and viewer far back, far beyond, the physical anthropology timeline with which the average observer like myself is familiar. This geological timescale(GTS) is similar to the timeline of the universe. The GTS is a system of chronological measurement that relates stratigraphy to time, and is used by geologists, paleontologists, and other earth scientists to describe the timing and relationships between events that have occurred throughout Earth's history. For more on this subject go to:http://www.pbs.org/deepspace/timeline/

As things appear from the perspective of the 20th century, James Hutton(1726-1797), a Scottish physician, geologist, naturalist, chemical manufacturer and experimental agriculturalist, helped to establish the basis of modern geology
. Between the years 1820 and 1850 the sequence of geological periods which is still used today was produced.  All of this was happening as Babism's precursors were on the stage of history(1743 to 1843).  During the Babi period(1844-1863), what Baha'is call the Babi Dispensation, geology advanced even more.  In recent decades, at least from my middle-age onwards, 1984 to the present, I have found the syncronicity between developments in the wider world and in the evolution of the latest, the newest, of the Abrahamic religions of personal interest. Go to this link for developments in geology during this period:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_geology#18th_century

Part 2:

Last night, 25/3/'12, host Dr Richard Smith, scientist and filmmaker with a knack for explication and an appetite for big topics, used the device of a time-travelling car to explore the birth of the Earth, which was a messy, violent process. He traced the geological record back to the 4.4 billion-year-old zircon outcrops and the Kimberley's Wolfe Creek crater in Western Australia.


The major units of geological time in Earth history which Smith took us through are as follows: (i) the Hadean eon which represents the time before fossil record of life on Earth; (ii) the Archean eon, (iii) the Proterozoic eon, (iv) the Phanerozoic eon with its 3 sub-divisions: Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. Eras are in turn divided into: periods, epochs and ages.  In the first program Dr. Smith took us through these four eons up to the Cambrian explosion of 500MYA. The two million year Quaternary period, the time of recognizable humans, is too small to be visible at this scale and this will come in a later program.-Ron Price with thanks to ABC1 TV, 7:30-8:30 p.m., 25 March 2012.

Absolutely staggering the time
frames involved in this program:
Hadean, Archean, Proterozoic, &
Phanerozoic: 4.5 BYA to 300 MYA
and all in less than one hour on
25 March 2012, a quiet Sunday
evening in the evening of life, my
life, on this the oldest continent
in the oldest town as I head for
the oldest years of my days on
this mortal coil...Downunder in
these Antipodes where I have
been since my late twenties!!

In this Baha'i Era, and through
these several epochs of my life
geology has been transformed.
During the Badi calendar that is
not about geology & billions of
years but is, rather, about the
latest era in the Formative Age
& five epochs which have been
my life: 1944 to 2012-on my own
ultimate outback trip as it has been
seen in my mind-altering window,
a window that is not the television.

Ron Price
26 March 2012

REENCHANTMENT

Part 1:

The great sociologist, some say the greatest, Max Weber, wrote about the reenchantment of the world. The phrase has come to be used in many contexts by sociologists and philosophers, scholars and social scientist specialists in various disciplines. This writer, this poet, sees the reenchantment of the world as having its beginnings with the birth of Shaykh Ahmad in the middle of the 18th century.  Of course, the middle of the 18th century was becoming reenchanted, so to speak, from many points in society and its labryrinthine channels.  By that time all the traditional religions were well into the winter of their lives, such was my view.  Still, there would be many cold and sunny, bright and often windy days to come for these moribund entities which would play and have played significant roles in the last 270 years: 1743-2013.  From my perspective, or at least one way of expressing this perspective, this reenchantment has been underway for nearly three centuries.

Reenchantment has a host of forms: industrialism, capitalism, socialism, liberalism, conservatism, democracy, communism, science and romanticism and revolution to choose but ten of its many manifestations. The core and centre of this reenchantment is to be found in the Baha’i Faith, although history has yet to reveal this truth---if truth it be.  The very nature of matter, new models of scientific knowledge, explosions in knowledge, in material goods and in population are all part of this reenchantment.

To even begin to write about the transformation that has occurred in the last three centuries when this reenchantment has been taking place would require a book. Indeed, it has required many a book and many a book has flowed from the printing presses of the world to describe this incredible procvess. The subject, of course, is complex and I am only stating some of my own biases and personal perspectives.  I do not expect all those who come to this part of my website to agree with me.-Ron Price with thanks to Kate Rigby, Topographies of the Sacred: The Poetics of Place in European Romanticism, University of Virginia Press, London, 2004, p.17.

Part 2:

They all got a slice of the action,
all got a piece of the cake,
as the essential revolution
proceded quietly, obscurely,
largely unnoticed, in the hearts
of millions who dropped out
of a socio-political world they
long ago found meaningless.

Some of the routines have gone on;
some of the laws have been obeyed,
but the roots of faith have been severed,
unbeknownst, seductively, insinuated
by revolutionary, spiritual, forces
that are entirely out of human control.

And here I am in this place in early adulthood
amidst diverse living things and natural forms,
beneath the sky, light’s alternations and rhythms
of the seasons, in community worldwide now,
open to the advent of the divine and beckoning
the messengers of the godhead’s reenchantment.(1)

(1) Kate Rigby, op.cit., p.84.

Ron Price
16/1/'06 to 16/9/'13.


POETRY AND SCIENCE

The language of both science and poetry is a language under stress. Words are being made by their respective authors to describe things that often seem indescribable in words: equations, chemical and physical structures in the case of science, and an inner life of thoughts and emotions, among other things in the case of poetry. Words don’t and cannot mean all that they stand for. Yet words are arguably the best means people have to describe experience. By being a natural language under tension, the language of science is inherently poetic. There is metaphor aplenty in science. Emotions emerge shaped as states of matter and, more interestingly, matter acts out what goes on in the soul. This is why one can say that science is poetic. One thing is certainly not true: that scientists have some greater insight into the workings of nature than poets, or vice versa.

Some people feel that, deep down, scientists have some inner knowledge that is barred to others. The expertise of a scientist is an expertise acquired by learning and, unless others acquire the required learning, that particular piece of the universe of knowledge is, indeed, barred to those others. Poetry soars in the world of science.1 It soars all around the tangible, in deep dark, through a world the scientist reveals and makes his own. Poetry in the hands of a lover of life and words, a person with great knowledge and wisdom, can soar in the worlds of intellect and understanding the two most luminous lights in the world of creation.(2) -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Roald Hoffman, “Science, Language and Poetry,” The Pantaneto Forum, Issue 6, April 2002; and (2)Abdul-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, Wilmette, 1970, p.1.

What can I say of today?
Slept late and also had a
sleep after lunch: hardly
productive one could say.
But how can one measure
the success of a single day?
Got a handle on Homer more
than I’ve ever had: The Iliad
and The Odyssey as well as
Simone Weil. She was a delight,(1)
especially her essay on The Iliad
and its closing words about the idea
of rediscovering: “the epic genius…
no refuge from fate…learning not to
hate the enemy….…how soon will this
happen?” she asks....It has happened;
it has already happened, Simone: it was
born in the Siyah-Chal in Tehran and its
light is spreading around the world to all
the corners of the Earth in my time 7 age.

1 Simone Weil(1909-1943) French philosopher, Christian mystic, and social activist.
2 Simone Weil, “The Iliad or the Poem of Force,” Chicago Review, 18.2, 1965.

12 September 2010


INCOMPREHENSIBLE POEMS IN ANTHOLOGIES

Poetry shifts, moves, wanders, locates itself in many gatherings, terrains of discourse, fluid divisions of subject matter: One type of categorization or typology might look like this--(a) the social sciences: (I) history and religion, (II) the self and other and (III) psychology and sociology; (b) the physical and biological sciences: (I) nature and landscape, (II) themes from astronomy, astrophysics, chemistry, geology, etc. and (c) the humanities: (I) language, reading and writing, (II) voice, genre, performance, dialogue, personae and (III) philosophy, aesthetics, meaning, purpose. -Ron Price, yet another attempt to place my poetry into some overall framework, system or order.

So much of the poetry—and philosophy--I read
completely mystifies me. I hope to God my stuff
can fall on the eyes of readers and slip into their brains
without some metaphysical exercise of gargantuan proportions,
without readers throwing their hands up in disgust
after several lines saying: I don’t understand any of this.

I find, though, no matter how hard I try, I get readers
who simply can’t fathom my words. You can’t win them all,
is all I can say. It is like that anthology of 1100 pages
I picked up tonight.* There were dozens of poems I had
no idea what these poets were saying, stuff from the ‘60s
to the ‘90s. Perhaps one day the Baha’is will have
anthologies of poetry that great numbers of readers
can’t understand either. I hope my poetry is not there.
I mean what is the point of writing stuff that people
Just don’t understand. I wonder if Baha’u’llah cared?
And the Guardian, surely he could have simplied his language?
You write to please yourself and hope to God there will
be someone out there who shares your sensibility, eh?

Ron Price
3 April 1996

* From the Other Side of the Century: A New American Poetry 1960-1990, editor, Douglas Messerli, Sun and Moon Press, Los Angeles, 1994, 1136 pages, one of several anthologies appearing during the third and fourth epochs: 1963-1996.


Some internet sites at which readers will find some of my 'earth-science'posts, among other topics and disciplines:
http://www.theupperchamber.com/ronprice

(click on the words fond all posts)
---------------------------------
CRUDE OIL: Yielding Oil and Light

Section 1:

Yesterday was a busy one. My son and his wife and baby had just left home to take-up residence in Hobart; my step-daughter and her baby just arrived to absorb some TLC, a colloquialism used Downunder for tender-loving-care, from her mother and grandmother, her sister and friends of old.  I’d got-in a few hours of writing and reading, research and editing, publishing and poetizing. By midnight I was ready for an hour or so of soporific, alpha-wave inducing, TV.

Among the several visual options available from the lighted-chirping box was Crude: The Incredible Journey of Oil originally broadcast in May 2007. It was the story of oil: from the food on our tables to the fuel in our cars, and how crude oil seeps invisibly into almost every part of our modern lives. This doco presented an overview of this energy source and raw material that drives transport and our economy. Yet most of us have little idea of the incredible journey oil has made to reach our petrol tanks and plastic bags in the last 160 million years.(million years ago-MYA)

Coming in the wake of rising global concerns about the continued supply of oil, and increasingly weird weather patterns, this doco reviews 160 million years of the Earth's history to reveal the story of oil. From its birth deep in the dinosaur-inhabited past, to its ascendancy as the indispensable ingredient of modern life we are given this incredible journey and this fascinating analysis. Filmed on location in 11 countries across five continents, the program's award-winning Australian filmmaker Richard Smith consulted the leading international scientific experts to join the dots between geology and economy and provide the big-picture view of oil from 160 MYA.

Section 2:

This doco entitled Crude for short takes a step back from the day-to-day news to illuminate the Earth's extraordinary carbon cycle and the role of oil in our impending climate crisis. Seven billion people have come to depend on this resource.  Yet the Oil Age that began less than a century and a half ago, could be over in our lifetimes. -Ron Price with thanks to (1)“Petroleum,” Wikipedia and (2) “Crude: The Incredible Journey of Oil,” ABC1, 11:15-1:05 p.m. 19 and 20 April 2011, www.abc.net.au/science/crude/

The world's first commercial oil well
was drilled in Poland in 1853 and oil
exploration developed in the last half
of the 19th century as a God-imbued
kernel was crushed upon the anvil of
adversity yielding an oil whose first
sparks of flickering light were cast on
the sombre walls of the Siyah-Chal in
’53. It gathered a brilliance in Baghdad,
and its rays illuminated the whole earth.(1)

(1) Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, Wilmette, p.82.

Ron Price
20 April 2011

MY JOURNAL-A RETROSPECTIVE--The Third Epoch

Part One: 1962-1966

The years 1962 to 1966, encompasing my last year of high school and my three years at university when I acquired a B.A.(sociology) degree---these years are apart of what I have come to call my ‘retrospective journal.’  These years cover part of the journal that I did not keep in the first forty years of my life: 1944 to 1984. Thusfar these retrospective years have few diary entries to excavate their contents.  Like an earth scientist I need to go back into the layers of my life that accumulated in the first four decades and unearth them.  It is difficult enough keeping a journal in the present and much more is this the case when attempting a retrospective one.

I have divided my life up into epochs, borrowing the term from geology, due to the immense changes in our time. I have taken late 1921 and T.S. Eliot's poem ‘The Wasteland’ as the beginning of epoch 1.  In a late December 1921 letter to Eliot to celebrate the "birth" of the poem, the famous poet Ezra Pound wrote a bawdy poem of 48 lines titled "Sage Homme" in which he identified Eliot as the mother of the poem but compared himself to the midwife.
In late 1921, as well, the Formative Age of the Baha'i Faith began with the death of Abdul-Baha.  The beginning of the second epoch I have taken as the years 1944/6 which saw: (a) my birth, (b) the beginning of the explosion of the atomic bomb in 1945, (c) the end of WW2 and (d) the end of the first epoch of Abdul-Baha'is Divine Plan and the Formative Age of the Baha'i Faith. 

The election of the Universal House of Justice in April 1963, the beginning of the second epoch of Abdul-Baha's Divine Plan and Kennedy’s assassination on 23 November 1963 are, for me, the beginning of epoch 3.  The beginning of the 4th epoch of the Formative Age in April 1986 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1988/9 are, for me, the beginning of epoch 4, and 2001 as the beginning of epoch five.  January 16th 2001 marked the beginning of the 5th epoch of the Formative Age for the Baha'i community and
September 11, 2001 marked series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States. This retrospective diary entry goes back to the ‘cusp’ of Epoch 2/3 in 1962/3. (note: readers may find my epochal shifts defined and written a little differently than this initial description for all of this is still in the experimental stage. And, in memory, I make the following comment:

Part 2:

I am not a machine simply displaying the past. I am also attempting to define the meaning of this past, this aspect of my life as it was then lived and described in the print and electornic media, now. There is no true or objective meaning, no pristine or univocal feature to the past. But there is also no total relativism where any interpretation will do.  Just as life is unfinished, so is the meaning of the past. One attempts to grasp the meaning in terms of personal identity and selfhood. The story of our lives that we relate to ourselves in an episodic, sometimes semiconscious way is a virtual uninterrupted monologue.

The action of our lives is revealed best to ourselves. We are the storyteller and we need the full story to get full perspectives on the past. Hence, the real and significant meaning of these lunch time periods of solitariness will not be unfolded until my life is finished and, perhaps, beyond my life in, arguably, helping others who read this autobiography accept their tendencies to be by themselves in a society of many more billions than now. The interpretation I give my life can become a canonical version in a published autobiography, but it can come to mean something quite different to readers if they overcome the canonical pull of an initial orthodox view. There is my story and there are the many stories of others. This is my action(a narrative component) and my history is required to define and interpret my action.

“Our own existence can not be separated from the account we give of ourselves. It is in telling our own stories that we give ourselves an identity,” Paul Ricoeur states in arguing that we generate ourselves and give them unity through the narrative we create. We create ourselves, not merely give them expression, through literary reporting. I am I only insofar as I express myself, or as Tagore put it: “the poem not the poet.” Roger White would have liked this line of thought. “The reality of man is his thought.” We live, dream, make love, do everything in the context of narrative. And then we tell the story not live it. We give shape, form and order to what is often confused and formless primordial experience. This process makes explicit our prenarrative, prefigured and at best only partly examined life and its fixed sequence of events.

Part 3:

And so, as I reflect back on those periods of aloneness in the midst of a sea of humanity, I see them as essential. Just as I see my present aloneness in another sea of humanity critical to my sense of self, identity and comfort. More than that, it was and is as essential as breathing for me. It seems to be above ethics; it is an expression of my inherent nature which, at the age of 67, I have come to understand and define more fully than ever before. It may change through some cataclysm, but I would think it unlikely after the evolution of 45 years(1966 to 2011). Indeed my first memories going back to the age of four, sixty-three years ago, have a strong element of the solitary in them.

This period of four years, 1962 to 1966, less four months, was to be a typical length of years for my stay in a certain region. Four years in the Hamilton-Dundas area, two-and-a-half in South Australia, four in Victoria, four in the Northern Territory, four in Tasmania---before this recent period of a dozen years(1999 to 2011). In other regions the length of stay tended to be either very short, one year usually, as was the case in Windsor, Zeehan, and Frobisher Bay, or very long, 11 years in Perth, 15 years in the Golden Horseshoe's towns of Burlington-Dundas-Hamilton.

The third epoch began in April 1963. I had been pioneering for eight months at the time. This period of forty-four months(1962-1966), as I remember it under the microscope of my memory, was an extremely turbulent one. The first signs of manic-depressive illness surfaced in this period and I have referred to it elsewhere. I will not, therefore, dwell on it in detail here. I had no idea when I left southern Ontario for the first time in 1967 that I was a manic-depressive. As far as I was concerned I had been depressed or elated and this emotional turbulence was, thank the Lord, now over.  When I hit Windsor in May of 1966 the depressive edge resurfaced, but I lived in a vaccuum as far as understanding what was happening to me. It is difficult to get a perspective on just where one is at any time, even now.  Although one of the reasons I am enjoying the distance of late adulthood--is the perspective I gain on things, on where I am, where I was and on what I want as well as what I should or should not do.

Pioneering Over Five Epochs, 31 May 2011