PSYCHOLOGY

Psychology Relationships


These are Nietzsche's words: "You must accept or regret the entire road you traveled. Everything is tied together through webs of causation." While this statement is provocative and stimulating, it does not quite ring true for me.  I regret some of my life, but not all of it and, while I accept what I cannot change and what has already happened in my life, I do not approve of all of my deeds.  I have many sins of omission & commission. Regret and remorse often function to root-out weakness. Those who have no regret or remorse, from my point of view, usually have not thought seriously, long and hard, about the life they have lived. To err is human, to forgive is divine, but to understand--that is the key.  The first part of that statement is attributed to Alexander Pope, although it is possibly of ancient origin.

"To be hurt and to forgive is saintly but far beyond this is the power to comprehend and not be hurt," Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, the daughter of Bahá'u'lláh.  In some ways the essence of this subject is that a human being is not perfect. There is no one, whether a saint or a sinner, who does not regret having done something in the past. The feelings of regret, remorse, and guilt are basically the same, the difference is only one of degree. They are all related to one's conscience and they always pertain to the past. Of course, these subjects are complex and not everything that can be said about them can be done in a brief paragraph like this one.-Ron Price with thanks to Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche(1844-1900).  He was a German philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet & composer. He wrote several critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and aphorism. For more on Nietzsche go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Nietzsche

WOMEN'S AND MEN'S STUDIES
 
Part 1:
 
I’m not sure when I first came across feminism as an idea, as a movement, as a literary and intellectual, sociological and philosophical field.  It was probably in the sixties sometime and probably when I was at university and first studying sociology in 1963-1964.  Helen Gurley Brown, a feminist pioneer in my time, had published Sex and the Single Girl, but my agenda at the time did not include reading feminist literature.  In 1962, when Sex and the Single Girl came out, I was ensconced in matriculation studies and, from 1963 to 1967, I was working on my B.A. and B. Ed. In the late 1960s I was starting my teaching career, working among the Inuit on Baffin Island, getting married, and dealing with the rigors of bipolar disorder.
 
The earliest days of feminism in my life are entirely vague.   Feminism, of course, has roots that go a long way back, at least to Mary Wollstonecraft in 1793, and her The Rights of Women, if not before.  My mother was part of that developing tradition, at least as I see it now, since she was a teenager in the roaring twenties, as well as a poet and a reader in the serious side of life.  By the late 60s, women’s studies, or feminist studies, had become an interdisciplinary academic field. For more on women's studies go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_studies
 
Part 2:
 
The notes in my arch-lever file on feminism, a file I opened in 2003, I began to collect in about 1993, just after I finished the first edition of my autobiography. I was teaching sociology among various social sciences at a Technical and Further Education college in Perth Western Australia, and teaching mostly women from 17 to 57.   After ten years of collecting relevant articles, 1993-2003, in my sociology and philosophy files, I opened this separate file on feminism since it was obvious that the resources on feminism I had been gathering in my sociology and philosophy volumes, among other disciplines like history and psychology, needed to have their home in one separate place, a place that included the more populist resources on feminism.  

The many facets of feminism in the above-named disciplines are now found in this arch-lever file on the subject of feminism. They are not found amidst the content of those other disciplines and their various files. After a dozen years, 2003 to 2015, of collecting items in this new file the results, the table of contents, which I place at the beginning of this file, indicate the details of my collection. I have not included this table of contents here due to prolixity. For more on feminism go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism
 
In 2009, I began a men’s studies sub-section of this file. Men’s Studies is also an interdisciplinary academic field, and it emerged in the early 1970s just as I entered the teaching field in post-secondary education, a field I remained in, at various times over more than 30 years, until I retired from all FT, PT & most volunteer work in 2005.  Men's Studies had come into my life more directly in the 1990s, but I did not begin a serious study of men’s studies and gender studies until the last years of the first decade of the 21st century. I should mention, in conclusion, that lesbian, gay, bisexual,   transgender, that is LGBT and Queer studies, deal with various sexual orientations and gender identities. For a discussion of LGBT content go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_LGBT_studies 
 
Ron Price
4/7/'08 to 2/1/'15.

GENDER COMPLEXITIES AND AMBIGUITIES

Transgender is the state of one's gender identity, that is: self-identification as woman, man, neither or both. Transgender is also a gender expression meaning 'not matching one's assigned sex'. By assigned sex one means "identification by others as male, female or intersex based on physical, that is, genetic sex." Transgender is independent of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, or asexual; some may consider conventional sexual orientation labels inadequate or inapplicable to them. The precise definition for transgender is changing but nevertheless includes:

(a) "Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or femalegender roles, but combines or moves between these."
(b) "People who were assigned a sex, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves;" and
(c) "Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the sex and the assumed gender, one was assigned at birth."

For more on transgender go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender

ASEXUAL: ONE WOMAN'S STORY

It might be a bit odd to hear it, but there are many people who call themselves 'asexual.' Asexuality or nonsexuality, is the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in sexual activity. It may be considered the lack of a sexual orientation, or one of the four variations thereof, alongside heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. A study in 2004 placed the prevalence of asexuality at 1% in the British population. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asexuality

I'm sure quite of few of you have never encountered someone who is asexual. Here is part of one person's story, a woman.  She begins: "I have not been harmed or maimed, abused or impaired. I am okay; I am just asexual. What exactly does that mean? Well, I’m not attracted to either gender, & I don’t have any sexual urges. I know that sounds odd and even I once thought I was a freak, but I've learned to live with it.  I am not just a woman without a libido; I'm fundamentally not attracted to men, and  I’m not a lesbian either.

When I was a young girl, growing up in the 60s, I felt different. It was unexplainable until I got to about 15 and I realised I wasn’t boy crazy like my friends. They’d ask if I liked so and so and I’d just shrug; I didn’t think of that person as even remotely attractive; I thought it was maybe just him. But by the time I was 18, I had fallen out with most of the girls who had been my friends in high school. They thought I was weird because I didn’t want to go to the school dance with a boy, or I didn’t like hanging around after school when they’d flirt with older guys from the private school. I thought maybe I was a lesbian but even women made me feel nothing. I confided in a friend that I was feeling quite lonely and wanted a companion, but hadn’t ever felt sexually attracted to anyone. She said she had the perfect person for me. For more of this story go to: http://www.startsatsixty.com.au/living/i-am-asexual?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Weekly+Starts+At+Sixty&utm_content=Weekly

WHAT SEX ARE YOU?

I know it is politically correct to accept that there are many more than just two sexes now. Some people doing the classifying have five or six classifications. Sexual orientation and biological sex get mixed up and a biological man with a penis may get referred to in news stories as  "she" and "her" if he wears lipstick and acts feminine.  The politically correct think everyone should get to choose if they are referred to as a "he" or a "she" despite what is between their legs and should get to choose which bathroom they use despite their physical anatomy. Facebook has 51 categories one my chose to describe their sexual identity.  Female impersonators and cross dressers and others who are confused about their gender identity are treated as if they were not male or female but are "transgender."

Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and itS current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder. For more on McHugh and his comments go to: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/johns-hopkins-psychiatrist-transgender-mental-disorder-sex-change


THE GREEKS AND GREEK LOVE

No one reading James Davidson’s enormous and impassioned book, The Greeks and Greek Love: A Radical Reappraisal of Homosexuality in Ancient Greece by James Davidson(Weidenfeld, 650 pages) would get the impression that Greek homoeroticism was anything less than the central principle determining the varied cultural patterns of all those obstinately independent and idiosyncratic city-states.  Davidson barely acknowledges the existence, much less the vast numerical superiority, of Greek heterosexual society. To take one random example: the eros that inspired and bound together, in life & death, the three hundred lovers of Thebes’ elite fighting regiment, the Sacred Band, was indeed a powerful and socially significant force; but there is something fundamentally unreal, and in the end somewhat comic, about treating it as the only kind of eros that counted. 

There are long stretches of The Greeks and Greek Love where you begin to wonder whether Davidson believes the cultural and mythical scenes he analyses with such wit and style are the product of what might be termed a uniquely arrenogenetic, or male-generated, society. This, inevitably, adds an odd cast to the vision of the Greek world with which, after more than six hundred pages, the reader of Davidson’s extraordinary and intermittently brilliant book is left. No one would expect a combative book on the emotional nature of Greek homoeroticism to spend too much time on the domestic and familial aspects of the city-state; but such a text should make clear that while same-sex relationships, in their various manifestations, did indeed, as Davidson conclusively shows, form an integral element of polis culture, they didn’t have a monopoly on shaping it, and were dependent on the larger social scene for their existence. There is something disproportionate – advocate’s brief rather than judicial summing-up – about Davidson’s public concept of what he capitalises as Greek Love. For more of Peter Green's review of this book go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n09/peter-green/homobesottedness

FRIENDSHIP: AN OVERVIEW

Joseph Epstein doesn't say so outright, but the implication is easily picked up throughout his book Friendship: An Exposé that the requirements for writing well about friendship mimic the requirements for being a good friend: humor, a certain balance of tact and candor, a capacity for solitude, a tolerance for silence when enough has been said. And friendship is not often written about well, its classical literature (nonfiction, at least) tending toward the highfalutin, its contemporary (again, nonfiction) literature tending toward the garrulous. Epstein admires the first, giving us a nicely potted history highlighted by Cicero and Montaigne, and deplores the latter, which, in his favorite catch-all slur, he labels the "therapeutic." For more of this review of Epstein's book and a comment on Epstein go to  http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_dilettante/2006/07/friends and:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Epstein_(writer)

PUNISHMENT AND BEHAVIOUR

Part 1:

Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something undesirable or unpleasant upon an individual or group, in response tobehaviour that an authority deems unacceptable or a violation of somenorm. The unpleasant imposition may include a fine, penalty, or confinement, or be the removal or denial of something pleasant or desirable. The individual may be a person, or even an animal. The authority may be either a group or a single person, and punishment may be carried out formally under a system of law or informally in other kinds of social settings such as within a family. For more of this introductory and general overview of punishment go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punishment

In the 1960s men used to sing a music-hall song in the pub whose rousing refrain began, ‘Two lovely black eyes – Oh, what a surprise!’ and went on: ‘Only for tellin’ a man he was wrong – two lovely black eyes!’ It took me a while to realise that the singer was a woman who’d been beaten up by her bloke.  The men in the pub would whoop-it-up in the chorus on the ‘Oh’, raising their eyebrows melodramatically as they sang. Stories of men given to hitting their women weren’t unheard of as I was growing-up from the 1940s to the 1960s. I associated these stories with my grandparents’ generation, that is, those born in the 1870s and the 1860s, as well as my parents' generation, that is, those born in the 1890s and before WW1. ‘In the old days’ there were men who liked their drink a bit too much and took it out on 'the wife'. This type of man has not been entirely eliminated from our species.

Wife-beating, in theory at least, belonged to the dark ages. Hitting children, however, was commonplace; a mother slapping a toddler round the legs was a familiar sight in public, though hitting one across the face wasn’t. Corporal punishment at school was routine.  Infants and children in early primary school were rapped across the knuckles with a ruler. In the course of my growing up some of my fellow-students got thrashed with a belt or caned.  There were limits, even so. When a headmaster at one of the schools I heard of hit some kid so hard with a hockey stick that his back broke out in raw, crescent-shaped welts, his mother went in a fury to the headmaster. She got an apology but the teacher kept his job.

Part 2:

I grew up with a colourful language of aggression, much of it centuries old, like the threats of a ‘whopping’ or a ‘walloping’, a ‘good hiding’ or a ‘tanning’ or, less frequently, ‘a leathering’, which also harked back to the treatment of animal skins.  Mostly such words had the function of suspending violence over our heads like the sword of Damocles. Everybody menaced children all the time: parents, neighbours, shopkeepers, bus-conductors, you name it. ‘I’ll wring your neck!’, ‘I’ll knock you to kingdom come!’ or, one of my favourite variations, ‘into next week!’ Then there was: ‘I’ll murder you!’ It was heard so frequently as to suggest a society of psychopaths. Taken more seriously were the quieter forms of intimidation, as when your mother asked, ‘would you like to see the back of my hand?’ or when she offered to ‘give you something to cry about’ or, more ominously, ‘something to remember’. ‘Wait till your father gets home’ was the ultimate deterrent. An afternoon spent in anticipation could feel like a lifetime.

I remember being hit on the bottom by my father when I was about four, and hit across the face when I was about 12.  I knew the difference between a threat and a blow. A smack, when it came, was meant to relieve tension and to draw a line. But anger does not always go through all its stages like a kettle coming slowly to the boil. In my childhood a foul temper was treated with respect, as if it were a force of nature, like a hurricane or volcano, and more fool you if you put yourself in its path. ‘You know what his temper’s like’ I might have heard my mother say.

Adults were always seeing red or blowing their tops; they lashed out or got ‘carried away’. Men who were ‘too fond of their hands’ – this was usually meant as an apology after the fact – ‘didn’t know their own strength’.  It hurt to be smacked, and it was rarely fair, although in my case, looking back, I felt at the time I deserved it.  I dreaded people getting angry: the shouting, the red faces, the raised fists, the fact that anything might happen in the heat of the moment. In the bullying culture typical of many English childhoods, you were meant to stand up for yourself and to fight back. Being punished and being ‘brave’ also entitles you to a certain amount of esteem. Being afraid, on the other hand, has nothing going for it. For more on the subject of punishment and domestic violence go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punishment 

Part 3:

Someone who has a temper and gives into it too often is now said to have an "intermittent explosive disorder." This disorder involves repeated episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts in which you react grossly out of proportion to the situation. Road rage, domestic abuse, throwing or breaking objects, or other temper tantrums may be signs of intermittent explosive disorder. For more go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermittent_explosive_disorder

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence,dating abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating or within the family. It is experienced by women and men in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Forms of domestic violence include physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms of abuse to violent physical abuse that results in disfigurement or death. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that globally 38% of murders against women are committed by an intimate partner. For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence

10 SIGNS YOU ARE IN THE WRONG RELATIONSHIP

When you are young and just starting out in the world as an adult, it’s fun to date, and you can even have a serious relationship or two along the way. But when you are ready to dedicate yourself to your career or are preparing to start your own business, it may be time to slow down and smell the coffee. You have to ask yourself: “Is this person right for me?" The first sign: The opinion of others does matter. Don’t kid yourself. It’s one thing if mama doesn’t like your romantic interest, but if a whole lot of other family members and even your friends aren’t keen on him/her either, you may need to take a second look. Reality is that, unless there is a drastic event to change their opinions, they are not going to change. For more go to: http://www.farrahgray.com/10-signs-youre-wrong-relationship/

JEALOUSY

Part 1:

Love makes the world go round, says the poet, while the cynic says it’s money; and Peter Toohey, professor of classics at the University of Calgary, constructs an entertaining argument for jealousy being the quintessential human wellspring. A much greater part of our emotional lives, and of a larger proportion of literature, law, and daily existence, than we may have thought, is inhabited by this emotion. Elsewhere, Professor Toohey has also worked-up boredom and melancholy; in those books as in this brisk survey, he proposes some benefits of emotions usually considered to be negative: jealousy is “a potent means for the assertion of individual rights and the encouragement of cooperation and equitable treatment.” For a useful u-tube item on jealousy go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ph0Sr0Oj2o8&feature=em-subs_digest

Part 2:

For more of this review of Toohey's ideas on jealousy in The New York Review of Books(8/1/'15), a review entitled "Who Is Not Guilty of This Vice?" by Diane Johnson, go to this link: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/jan/08/jealousy-who-not-guilty-vice/?insrc=hpma  The two books reviewed are: (i) Jealousy by Peter Toohey(Yale University Press, 260 pages); and (ii)  Thank You for This Moment: A Story of Love, Power, and Betrayal by Valérie Trierweiler, (translated from the French by Clémence Sebag, London: Biteback, 300 pages, 2014) For another video on the subject of love go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fK2IJ43ppd0


ANXIETY AND CHILDHOOD

Anxiety disorders are second only to ADHD when it comes to prevalence in Australian children according to a recent federal government report. From social phobias to separation anxiety, children have worries about everything from the prospect of losing loved ones to flying in a plane — worries so big and persistent, they qualify as an anxiety disorder. Go to this link:https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15343966eb63e16b

BOREDOM and MELANCHOLY

Boredom is an emotional state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do, and not interested in their surroundings. The first recorded use of the word boredom is in the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens, written in 1852, in which it appears six times, although the expression to be a bore had been used in print in the sense of "to be tiresome or dull" since 1768. The French term for boredom, ennui, is sometimes used in English as well. For more on this subject go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boredom 

Melancholy is a word which comes from the Greek 'melancholia' meaning "sadness", and literally black bile. It also comes from the Latin word 'lugere' meaning "lugubriousness" to mourn and moroseness, from the Latin 'morosus', self-willed, fastidious habit; wistfulness, and from old English wist: intent, or saturnine, was a concept in ancient and pre-modern medicine. Melancholy was one of the four temperaments matching the four humours. In the 19th century, "melancholia" could be physical as well as mental, and melancholic conditions were classified as such by their common cause rather than by their properties. For more on the word melancholy go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melancholia


ONE BATTLE BEGINS: A BAHA'I HISTORICAL CONTEXT 

Section 1:

A sequence of poems, especially a sequence that is now more than seven thousand in number, and several million words in total, and deals ostensibly with the four epochs of the Formative Age beginning in 1944, should deal from time to time with issues that relate to gender, to the relations between the sexes. "Gender" is a theme that has had significant prominence during this last half-century, say, 1965 to 2015, during what came to be called the "second wave" of feminism and would continue beyond into many other "waves".  In 1965 I completed my second year of an honours history and philosophy course. When JFK was assassinated on 22/11/'63, I had just completed two months of a BA degree. My interest in gender had occupied more than a little of my time for, arguably, two decades by 1965. But it would be nearly another 50 years before I took its study seriously.

The Formative Age to which I refer above is the period in the Baha'i Faith beginning in 1921. This period has seen the development of the structure (1921-1996), and it has begun to see the development of the community in the last two decades(1996-2016).  This latter development will extend well into the future. The international Baha'i community has its roots in the 77 year period(1844 to 1921) which the Baha'is call their faith's Heroic Age; these roots could be said to go back to the lives of the two chief precursors of Babi-Baha'i history beginning in the middle of the 18th century. The four epochs, to which I also refer above, are the years of my life beginning in 1944 and ending in 2021.

Bahá'í sacred history has been divided into a number of ages and cycles by `Abdu'l-Bahá, as well as epochs and phases by Shoghi Effendi, the two appointed leaders of the Baha'i community during the period from 1892 to 1957. Although the Bahá'í Faith has its historical roots in the western line of prophetic religions: Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, its view of sacred history also contains elements in keeping with Indian religion in that it sees time as being cyclical as well as being linear in nature: Universal Cycles and the coming of Manifestations of God. `Abdu'l-Bahá describes vast "Universal Cycles," stretching over hundreds of thousands, indeed, millions of years, at the end of which "great events" take place as a result of which all traces of the previous cycle are obliterated and a new cycle begins. Within each Universal Cycle, many Manifestations of God appear, each linked to a cycle. Thus each of the religions founded by one of these Manifestations goes through a period of growth, reaches its zenith or maturity, and then declines. When the decline is complete and the religion is no longer capable of guiding humanity spiritually, another Manifestation comes. (See The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 93-96). For more on this theme go to:http://bahai-library.com/momen_encyclopedia_ages_cycles 
 
Section 2:

It is not my intention to give any more details of this Baha'i approach to history, or to give even a brief summary of the complexities of gender, and the history of feminism here; that is done admirably elsewhere in many Baha'i texts, as well as texts in sociology and history.  In the last 2 or 3 decades there has seen a burgeoning of examinations, of studies, of feminism and gender relations. Gender relations, issues of masculinity and femininity, sex & marriage, have been central to my own experience of life and the experience of Baha’is in their communities. The following poem makes some personal statement about these issues, my experience and that of my contemporaries.  There has certainly been an element of war, a war in this gender divide, a war that has been one of the primary engagements in my life and has had an enormous impact on me greater, in some ways, than any of the contemporary wars in the last half of the 20th century that filled the print and electronic media. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 2000(updated during the period 4/7/'08 to 2/1/'15)
 
There has always been an emotional tension,
god, right back to grade one when I was six,(2)
and the prettiest things in the world sat behind
me in school and I wondered what was under
the soft white cloth under their dresses which
I could see by turning my head at a certain angle
with little effort: attraction and repulsion learning
slowly custody of my eyes like some kind of
photographic emulsion. Was this the first sign(1)
of a burgeoning and gentle masculinity, right-there
at-the-start, a threatening, mysterious and attractive,
but-not-attractive attraction which reared its penetrating,
not-so-modest, head, revealing a naturalness,
an emotional insecurity, an unease, an ambivalence.

It exposed both capacity and incapacity to deal
with an emerging tension that threatened, over time,
to tear me apart? Was this force socially constructed?
 
Was it sustained, over time, by varying degrees of
relationship? Was it threatened by female assertion
of a newly-emergent autonomy?...........Who was this
source of pleasure, this instrument, this mystic virgin,
this fertile mother, this friend, this companion, this
partner, this lover that I reconstruct in my mind’s eye
in images from blank nothingness, to warm and inner
white, to erotic richness that reflect my dependency?

With love came faith’s bricks and planks and rusted
nails that wound; with love has come spare plan of
gold, a vein thin and long. I lost and found my self-
control and lost again in blunder. I’m not sure I will
ever keep it in its place within my mind of wonder.
Some jihad may control this force, but such jihads
aren’t for plunder, just for mystery and a wonder.
 
1. Bruce Woodcock, Male Mythologies: John Fowles and Masculinity, The Harvester Press, Sussex, 1984, p.82. Many point to the 1960s as the eventual beginning of this assertion; others go back to the Reformation period. There are many theories of the long, persistent and necessary rise women.
2. In 1951, Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p.91; I was in grade six at the time when the Baha'i spiritual and administrative centre began the development that has led to the present Arc on Mt. Carmel.  As the struggle for the rise of the World Administrative Centre began in 1951, my own battle began, fought in the confines of my brain for, it would appear, the remaining years of my life.
 
Ron Price
19/4/'00 to 15/9/'13.

 
RETURN OF THE MALE

Over 20 years ago, Martin Amis reviewed the following books in the London Review of Books(Vol. 13 No. 23 · 5 December 1991): (i) Iron John: A Book about Men by Robert Bly(Element, 300 pages, 1991); (ii) The Way Men Think: Intellect, Intimacy and the Erotic Imagination by Liam Hudson and Bernadine Jacot(Yale, 200 pages, 1991); and (iii)Utne Reader. Men, It’s Time To Pull Together: The Politics of Masculinity(Lens, 150 pages, 1991)

Amis begins what is essentially a criticism of Bly: "In 1919, after prolonged study, the Harvard ethologist William Morton Wheeler pronounced the male wasp ‘an etiological nonentity’. An animal behaviourist had scrutinised the male wasp and found – no behaviour. We can well imagine the male wasp’s response to such a verdict: his initial shock and hurt; his descent into a period of depressed introspection; his eventual decision to improve his act. For nowadays, according to a recent Scientific American, ‘interest in the long-neglected male is flourishing, a tribute to the animal’s broad array of activities.’ Male humans will surely feel for their brothers in the wasp kingdom. After a phase of relative obscurity, we too have rallied. In fact, we seem to have bounced back pretty well immediately, with all kinds of fresh claims on everyone’s attention. Male wounds. Male rights. Male grandeur. Male whimpers of neglect."

Robert Bly(1926-) is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the mythopoetic men's movement. Bly's early collection of poems, Silence in the Snowy Fields, was published in 1962, the same year I wrote my first poem & began my travels & pioneering for the Canadian Baha'i community.  In the 1980s and early 1990s, a male identity crisis literature emerged.  By the late 1980's it had gained in strength; it was a long-delayed response to 20 years of feminist critique. It gained some notoriety in 1990 with the publication of "Iron John: A Book About Men," Robert Bly's antidote to masculine soul loss.  For more on Bly go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bly For an overview of Bly and this male identity crisis go to: http://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/09/books/what-do-men-want-a-reading-list-for-the-male-identity-crisis.html For more of the above review by Martin Amis go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v13/n23/martin-amis/return-of-the-male

THE STORY OF THE MALE IDENTITY CRISIS: 20 YEARS ON

Part 1:

America is rapidly becoming a fatherless society, or perhaps more accurately, an absentee father society. The importance and influence of fathers in families has been in significant decline since the Industrial Revolution and is now reaching critical proportions. As Alexander Mitscherlich argues in Society Without A Father, there has been a "progressive loss of the father's authority & diminution of his power in the family & over the family."   "If present trends continue, writes David Popenoe, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University, "the percentage of American children living apart from their biological fathers will reach 50% by the next century." He argues "this massive erosion of fatherhood contributes mightily to many of the major social problems of our time. Fatherless children have a risk factor of two to three times that of fathered children for a wide range of negative outcomes, including dropping out of high school, giving birth as a teenager & becoming a juvenile delinquent." For more on the male identity crisis go to: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201007/our-male-identity-crisis-what-will-happen-men For more on the general subject of a fatherless society go to: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201406/the-male-identity-crisis-and-the-decline-fatherhood
 
Part 2:

Each of us know a young man who is struggling. Maybe he’s under-motivated in school, doesn’t get along with others, and has few friends. He’s a brother, a son, maybe even you. Creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment and bestselling author of The Lucifer Effect Philip Zimbardo returns to The School of Life to reveal how modern manhood is in crisis. Young men are failing as never before – academically, socially and sexually. But why? And what can we do about it, for the good of our loved ones and for society as a whole? Professor Philip Zimbardo is one of the world’s most distinguished psychologists. He’s served as President of the American Psychological Association and is the author of over 50 books and 400 professional articles including global bestsellers, Time Paradox and The Lucifer Effect. A Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, Dr Zimbardo has spent half a century teaching and studying psychology with his areas of focus being terrorism, shyness, madness and evil. For more on this prolific writer and teacher, psychologist and emeritus professor who completed his PhD the year I joined the Baha'i Faith, 1959, go to: http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Zimbardo

WHEN MEN ARE AROUND WOMEN

Men are dumber around women. Thijs Verwijmeren, Vera Rommeswinkel & Johan C. Karremans gave men cognitive tests after they had interacted with a woman via computer. In the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, the male cognitive performance declined after the interaction, or even after the men merely anticipated an interaction with a woman. It’s always worth emphasizing that no one study is dispositive. Many, many studies do not replicate. Still, this sort of study does remind us that we are influenced by a thousand breezes permeating the unconscious layers of our minds. This sort of study also reminds us of the power of social context.  It's also a nice conversation starter.

If you find this sort of thing interesting, you really should check out Kevin Lewis’s blog at National Affairs. He provides links to hundreds of academic studies a year, from which this sort of selection has been drawn. Kevin Lewis is a columnist for the Ideas section of the Boston Globe. He has degrees in physics and political science from MIT, has studied and taught organizational behavior at UC Berkeley and Duke, and has worked in high-tech business and finance. For his blog go to: http://www.nationalaffairs.com/authors/blog/kevin-lewis

THE HARD WORK OF MARRIAGE

It is one of the uncontested wisdoms of our era that “marriage is hard work.” The belief that conjugal happiness can be earned only by rigorous and sustained emotional labor is so deeply entrenched in our common culture that when Amy Dunne, the female protagonist of David Fincher’s new movie, Gone Girl, boasts cheerfully of finding marriage “easy,” it is as if she had entered Dracula’s castle scoffing at the existence of vampires: the audience knows at once that her hubris must be punished. For a critical review of this film in The New York Review of Books on 4/12/'14 go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/dec/04/gone-girl-hard-work-marriage/?insrc=toc

BAHA'I CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE

Since I am a Baha'i and have been associated with this religion quite seriously for more than 60 years, readers might find it useful to read an outline of the Baha'i concept of marriage at: http://bahaiblog.net/site/

PESSIMISM AND RELATIONSHIPS

The best way to help a relationship may be to get a bit more pessimistic about love in general. "How to Save Love with Pessimism" is the name of this u-tube item. The deep secret to love is that there is no Right Person. Go to this link for this video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcgW8pNQvo0&list=UU7IcJI8PUf5Z3zKxnZvTBog Pessimism is a state of mind in which one anticipates undesirable outcomes or believes that the evil or hardships in life outweigh the good or luxuries. Value judgments may vary dramatically between individuals, even when judgments of fact are undisputed. The most common example of this phenomenon is the "Is the glass half empty or half full?" situation. The degree in which situations like these are evaluated as something good or something bad can be described in terms of one's optimism or pessimism respectively. Throughout history, the pessimistic disposition has had effects on all major areas of thinking. For more on pessimism go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pessimism


WHY MARRY: A LETTER TO MY SON

The following letter was not written by me, although I have edited it to my taste.  

Dear Son,

Part 1:

It seems like yesterday you were blowing poop out of your diaper onto your mother's lap as well as mine since I often changed your diapers.  I did not do as much fathering as you have done in your first five years of marriage, but I did manage a few diapers.  You & I have only skirted around all of the birds-and-the-bees conversations. The poop was way easier to deal with more than 35 years ago.  Before we talk about sex, though, a subject I have left to you for the most part, as my father left it to me, I want to talk a little about marriage.  I want to talk about marriage because I have now had nearly 50 years experience, and I think my experience is a common one among the millions and billions who are now married, and it will also be the experience of the millions & billions who will get married in this 21st century--at least for those who "go the distance", as they say these days.

I believe that being married can bring clarity to every other aspect of your life, including sex.  But the story is not simple; the pay-off, so to speak, is not immediate, & there is no guarantee you will win; indeed marriage, like life itself, has a complexity that rarely gets examined between father and son or in many other places and relationships for that matter. And so I write.

People get married for many of the wrong reasons.  They often go through what you might call 'a dry-run.' People do a great deal of partnering these days in the hope, eventually, of finding the right person. Sometimes this process works. Sometimes it doesn't. We all go through quite a complex process in the mating-game, no matter how we play our cards. There is no way that this brief letter to you is going to cover all the bases, as they say. I'll give you two or three quotations from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and then finish up this letter. (i) don't overvalue victory; (ii) sickness and loss, regret and remorse are the means by which an organism frees itself from weakness and foreign matter, (iii) you must be as patient as a sick man, and as confident as a convalescent, (vi) your destiny goes forth from within, and (v) goodness me; there are just too many of Rilke's words of wisdom. The book in which I read these little gems is: Letters to a Young Poet(W.W. Norton, NY, 1962-1934). Go to this book, FYpossible I at: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_to_a_Young_Poet  For more on Rilke go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainer_Maria_Rilke 

Part 1.1:

The most common reasons to get married are also laden with problems, tests & difficulties. People get married because they think it will make them happy; they want security, want to legitimize sex, have children, and, perhaps in many countries even today, to cement families. At least these have been the raison d'etres for many a long year. Getting married in order to be happy is one of the surest ways to get divorced. There are beautiful marriages among the billions of them, say, since 1914, the last century to chose one possible time-frame among many.  But marriages don't become beautiful by seeking happiness; they become beautiful by seeking something else. Marriages become beautiful when two people embrace what some marriage guidance counsellors sometimes say is "the only good reason to get married".  Marriage provides a crucible to practice the daily sacrifice of one's egos. Of course, you have to be somewhat saintly to marry for this reason. And there are few around these days, it seems to me, who can claim to be saintly. Certainly not me.

You have often heard the word "ego"; I'm sure you will not be hearing that word here for the first time in your travels through Facebook and twitter, and the vast landscape that is popular culture in this the 21st century.  It probably sounds a little foreign and confusing to you to see the word "ego" placed in the context of your marriage.  Our major world problem is not in the area of 'ecology', but in the region of 'ego-ology'. This is what "ego" means to me: "Your ego is the part of you that protects your heart."  You were born with a good and beautiful heart, & it will never leave you, all being well.  But when the world and its people were too harsh toward you, or your friends began to make fun of you, you started to doubt if your heart was good enough, if you were good enough.  Don't worry, it happens to all of us at some point. We sense an inner and outer vulnerability, sensitivity, weakness.

Part 2:

And so your mind and your spirit began to build a wall around your heart.  It's a slow process, an insinuating and seductive process. It happens to all of us, too, in a great variety of ways.  It's like a big castle wall with a huge moat; it keeps us safe from invaders who might want to get in & attack our hearts. And thank goodness for your ego-wall! Your heart is worthy of protection, chap; indeed, it is a big personal need. At first, we only use the ego-wall to keep people out.  But eventually, as we grow up, we get tired of hiding fearfully with its attendant loneliness, and we decide the best defense is a good offense. We put cannons on our ego-wall & we start firing. For some people, that looks like anger; indeed, it is.  For other people, it looks like gossip and judgment and divisiveness. And so are those things realities that become part of our lives. One of my favorite ego-cannons is to pretend everyone on the outside of my wall is wrong.  It makes me feel right and righteous, but really it just keeps me safe inside of my ideas. I know I've fired my ego-cannons at others from time to time, and for that I'm truly sorry. As I have said, though, I am no saint.

Sometimes we need our cannons to survive. Most of the time we don't. Both men and women have ego-walls with cannons. But you're a man now; you'll soon be 40, so it's important to tell you what men tend to do with their ego-walls. I'm sure you already have some idea.  Men justify them by pretending they are essential to being a "real" man. Really, most of us are just afraid our hearts won't be good enough for the people we love, so we choose to stay safe and protected behind high walls with lots of cannons.

Part 3:

I'm sure you can see how that might be a problem for marriage now that you have had six years of marital experience.  If you fall into the trap of thinking your ego-wall is essential to being a man, it will destroy any chance of having an enduringly joyful marriage. Because, in the end, the entire purpose of marriage is to dismantle your ego-wall, brick by brick, until you are fully available to the person you love: open and vulnerable and, in some ways, dangerously united.  Chap, people have sex because for a moment at the climax of it, their mind is without walls, the ego goes away and they feel free and fully connected. With sex, the feeling lasts for only a moment. But if you commit yourself to marriage, you commit yourself to the long and joyous, painful and persistent work of dismantling your ego-walls for good. Then, & only then, can the moment last a lifetime. Between each of you, though, is a barrier which you can not pass over. It's part of the inevitable and necessary separateness that protects each of us from losing our identity, our individuality. The sense of oneness in matrimony does not mean losing your sense of singularity and distinctiveness.

Many people are going tell you the key to a happy marriage is to put God at the center of it, but I think it depends upon what your experience of God does for your ego. Because if your God is one of strength and power and domination, a God who proves you're always right & creates dividing lines by which you judge everyone else, a God who keeps you safe & secure, I think you should keep that God as far from the center of your marriage as you can.  He'll only build your ego-wall taller and stronger. But if the God you experience is a vulnerable one, the kind of God that turns the world upside down and dwells in the midst of brokenness and embraces everyone on the margins and will sacrifice anything for peace and reconciliation and wants to trade safety and security for a dangerous and risky love, then I agree, put him right at the center of your marriage. If your God is in the ego-dismantling business, he will transform your marriage into sacred ground.

What's the secret to a happy marriage? Marry someone who has also embraced the only good reason to get married. Someone who will commit to dying alongside you -- not in 50 years, but daily as they dismantle the walls of their ego with you. Someone who will be more faithful to you than they are to their own safety. Someone willing to embrace the beauty of sacrifice, the surrender of their strength, the peril of vulnerability. In other words, someone who wants to spend their one life stepping into a crazy, dangerous love with you and only you. You already have some of this; I know since I have watched you over these last six years. I'll write again, for these are far from "my last words" on this subject.

With my walls down, well, at least some of them.....

Dad
Last updated on: 24/3/'15.

GOSSIP

Part 1:

In response to an interviewer who surmised that she did not relish self-reflection, Elizabeth Hardwick once told the Paris Review, “In general I’d rather talk about other people. Gossip, or as we gossips like to say, character analysis.” Taking unwelcome personal attention and focusing it elsewhere had an appeal that Benjamin Franklin who, despite other callings, was one of America’s first gossip columnists.  He recognized the appeal of gossip two centuries earlier. “Most people delight in censure, when they are not the objects of it,” Franklin noted, adding, “If they are offended by my publicity exposing their private vices, I promise they shall have the satisfaction, in a very little time, of their friends and neighbors in the same circumstances.”

Schadenfreude is a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people. Legal theorists & philosophers, who are less concerned with the joys of schadenfreude, have celebrated gossip for upholding communal harmony. Every society has norms that must be followed and, when those norms are broken, society must act. But no one has an interest in seeing every violation of a norm resolved in a duel at sunrise; there are more convenient ways to discourage unwelcome behavior. The threat of being gossiped about is often just enough to keep people in line.

Part 2:

Joseph Epstein, the conservative essayist and editor, is not immune to the lure of this subject. In his new book, Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit, he affirms Hardwick’s contention that gossiping is often a means to a perfectly understandable end: interpreting human behavior. He even literally recommends gossip as a way of meeting that high standard set by Henry James: to be “a person upon whom nothing was lost.” Epstein is particularly admiring of those gossip hounds of old, from the Duke of Saint-Simon and Hugh Trevor-Roper, to Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh, who raised the practice to what he calls an “art form.”

After Cyril Connolly caught his two mistresses cheating on him, Mitford reported to Waugh that Connolly muttered, “It is hard, here I have been absolutely faithful to 2 women for a year, they have both been unfaithful to me.” Epstein finds these stories irresistible, as he phrases it, “A man or woman without any interest in gossip may be impressive in his or her restraint, but also wanting in curiosity, uninterested in the variousness of human nature, dead to the wildly abundant oddity of life, and thereby, in some central way, deficient.” Despite the subtitle of his new book, Epstein willingly concedes that gossip can be insignificant or frivolous or worse. In his telling, what was once a more refined custom has degenerated into a tabloid-infested culture of Internet slurs and an obsessive focus on the personal lives of public figures. If this is a slightly tired narrative of decline, it does allow the author to have everything both ways: He is equally comfortable scolding today’s gossip-peddlers and telling gossipy stories; every chapter of the book ends with overheard tidbits, some more enjoyable than others, from his own life. “I cannot condemn gossip, at any rate not with a good conscience, if only because I enjoy it too much, even while I understand that too much of it lowers the tone,” Epstein writes.

While gossip is an activity that almost everyone partakes in, it's hard to define. The first step is distinguish gossip from rumors, with the latter being “less specific, more general, more diffuse, less personal in content and in the manner in which they are disseminated. Rumors can lead to gossip, and gossip can reinforce rumors. But gossip is particular, told to a carefully chosen audience, and is specifically information about other people.” Gossip can be false—Epstein uses the example of boys from his school days exaggerating or inventing sexual exploits—but the crucial part of his definition traces back to what Hardwick and Franklin understood: Gossip is not about politics or celebrity, but rather people, even if they happen to be politicians or celebrities. For more of this review by Isaac Chotiner in The Slate Book review on 5/12/'11 go to: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2011/12/gossip

Part 3:

The Baha’i teachings treat few subjects more emphatically & uncompromisingly than the spiritual requirement to abstain from fault-finding, gossip, and backbiting.  In the Hidden Words, Baha’u’llah says: "O Son of Man!  Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner.  Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness;" and "O Son of Being!  Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not.  This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it."  Modern media has constructed an entire industry around gossip & fault-finding, especially where it concerns high-profile public figures like political leaders, artists, & entertainers. This constant and consistent societal drumbeat of backbiting and gossip, so heartless, corrosive and spiritually harmful, hurts both the recipient and the originator.  The Baha’i teachings clearly advise us:

To be silent concerning the faults of others, to pray for them, through kindness, to correct their faults. To look always at the good and not at the bad.  If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the ten and forget the one; and if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten. Never to allow ourselves to speak one unkind word about another, even though that other be our enemy. –Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 83. For more on this subject go to:http://bahaiteachings.org/worst-human-trait-gossip-and-backbiting

LEADERSHIP

Part 1:

Leadership has been described as "a process ofsocial influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task".  For example, some understand aleader simply as somebody whom people follow, or as somebody who guides or directs others,[citation needed] while others define leadership as "motivating and organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal." For an excellent overview of this topic go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership

We often think of successful leaders as charismatic, charming, extrovert types. But as many as 60% of all leaders are in fact introverts. This workshop, organized by The School of Life, is designed to help people who feel their introversion holds them back. Leave feeling able to connect, manage and perform with more confidence. This session is led by Tazeen Ahmad, journalist, TV presenter and resident introversion expert at The School of Life. Is your leadership style mistaken for aloofness, arrogance or a lack of intelligence? Are you frustrated with how your need for quiet reflection clashes with the demands of constantly being in the spotlight? Are you struggling to sync your inner world with the demands of a frenetic outer world? 

You're not alone - research shows that anywhere between 30-60% of all leaders are introverts, yet our working environments favour the extrovert. Contrary to popular opinion, Introverts are natural born leaders but our Type-A business culture often makes it impossible to thrive. It's left many of these leaders worrying about their introversion holding them back and struggling with the pressures they are under. This full day workshop will bring together leaders who have to manage, motivate, connect and perform but are left drained by business & work socialising, drowned out at meetings and dreading requests for interviews and presentations. Go to this link: http://www.theschooloflife.com/london/shop/introverted-leaders/?sku=5036&utm_source=The+School+of+Life+Mailing+List&utm_campaign=ea59b9d79f-The_School_of_Life4_15_2015&u

Part 2:

At the heart of the Baha'i community is the consultative basis of group decision-making. The democratic leadership style consists of the authority vested not in one man but in the group as a whole. The decision-making abilities of each person in the group are seen as important;  leadership in this conext is a group and not an individually-oriented experience. The Baha'i International Community(BIC) is an international non-governmental organization with affiliates in over 180 countries. Together they represent over 5 million members of the Baha'i Faith. The engagement of the BIC with the United Nations dates back to the founding conference of the UN and its predecessor, the League of Nations. As an organization in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and with UNICEF, the BIC collaborates with the UN and its specialized agencies, as well as member states, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations. This notion of group leadership is applied by the BIC.

The BIC sees the progress of humanity as a global enterprise advanced by the combined efforts of individuals, communities and institutions. The work of its Office is guided by the teachings of the Baha'i Faith and the knowledge generated by the worldwide Baha'i community as it endeavors to apply the principles of unity and justice to the betterment of villages, neighborhoods and to society as a whole.  The BIC strives to further UN discourses and processes in the fields of development, human rights, and the equality of women and men by offering those insights and approaches that affirm the importance of the coherence between the material and spiritual aspects of human life. For more on the BIC go to: https://www.bic.org/

MY RESPONSE TO INVITATIONS AND REQUESTS FOR ME TO COMMENT 

              FROM INDIVIDUALS: (I) AT SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE(SNS), (2) AT OTHER INTERNET SITES, AND (3) VIA DIRECT EMAIL

A very detailed, 150,000 word, response under this heading is found at this website in the autobiographical sub-section. Some of those 150,000 words are found below. I have updated what is found below at this link on my website: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/auto.html
Readers will find a much more comprehensive statement at that link. Time is a created thing. To say: "I don't have time," is to say: "I don't want to."--Lao Tzu, O Magazine, Jan. 2007.  Lao Tzu lived in the 6th century BC. He was, and is, the founder of philosophical Taoism, pronounced "Daoism."  In relation to virtually all of the following categories of incoming posts, these words of Lao Tzu apply to my reason for not responding in writing to these requests and invitations, except on rare occasions when for some reason, out of courtesy or necessity, I actually do want to.


Section 1:

I have written the following 150 thousand+ word response in sections over the more than two year period from 1/2013 to 5/2015: (i) to the many requests and invitations I get at SNS, (ii) to the multitude of requests and invitations I get at other sites where I have registered in the years: 1997 to 2015, (iii) to the many unsolicited emails I get on a host of topics and issues, concerns and interests, and (iv) to the many people, mostly women, seeking a relationship of some kind: romantic &/or sexual, a partner or soul-mate, a date or a dalliance. My main aim in writing this lengthy piece is to indicate, directly or indirectly, to those who send me messages, why I do not respond to their posts.  Occasionally, of course, I do reply to their messages, especially to old friends and many others in situations of extreme distress, or when the context of the incoming message, after a little reflection, seems to warrant my response.

During these last 19 years: (a) I have retired from FT and PT paid employment, and most casual-volunteer work, (b) I have reinvented myself as a writer & author, poet & publisher, online journalist and blogger, editor and researcher, reader and my own personal office-assistant, (c) I have had a website which functions as the hub for my online writing, publishing, as well as the general marketing and promotion of my writing, and (d) I have registered at more than 8000 internet sites.  I post my writing, and respond to the posts of others, at 100s of the sites in cyberspace.  My personal website is now into the second month of the 5th year of its 4th edition. I began my consultation with the web design company, Define Studio, in Mosman NSW in September 2010. This consultation took six months of email exchanges and telephone calls to finally determine the exact layout of my site before "going live" to use their term, on 21 March 2011.


Section 1.1:

By the 21st century, in 2001, I was sent some 200 emails and posts from various sites and points on the internet every day. These emails and posts were & are sent directly to me, mostly unsolicited, with a request or invitation to do something.  In nearly all these cases, at least as few as possible by 2015, I did not respond in writing.  Part of the reason, if not the main one, why I have received such a host of emails is my relatively high profile in cyberspace with millions of my words, & 1000s of my posts, spread across more than 8000 sites. Of course, having a high profile on the internet is a relative term in a space that now has 1 billion sites and 3 billion users. 

I get requests and invitations directly from people to do things for many reasons and in many different ways. I have categorized these ways under some 50 categories found below &/or at the link provided above: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/auto.html I have outlined a general response below, in a post, a thread, indeed, an essay that is quite long.  This essay will be far too long for most readers who come to this part of my website.  To readers who prefer the short & pithy, Facebook style, posts, I encourage you to skim or scan, or just stop reading now.  But, if you have some curiosity as to why I rarely respond in writing to the plethora of posts that come my way on a daily basis, then read on to your heart's content.

Section 1.2:

When a person is registered at over 8000 websites, as I am, sites whose membership totals several million, there are an inevitable batch of daily emails and posts that come in from these sites, to say nothing of the posts that come in from sites at which I am not registered.  Part, indeed nearly all, of the over 200 emails and posts that come in daily, must be deleted, &/or ignored.  This only takes no more than five minutes, especially if one has, as I do, a spam filter, and a bin for useless posts.  The few incoming posts that need to be answered personally, need to be separated from the unimportant. This process is not always simple and, when simple, it is not necessarily easy. Generally, though, I have the sifting process down to a few minutes each day. The written responses, of course, take longer. As far as possible, though, my writing and my reading involves as little time as possible when dealing with my email world with the exception, as I say, to the few emails which require a more considered response on my part.

Section 1.3:

In the years of my retirement from FT, PT and most volunteer-work, 2006 to 2015, I have reinvented myself as: a writer and author, poet & publisher, on line journalist and blogger, editor and researcher, scholar and reader.  I belong to the first generation of Western writers for whom a university education in the liberal arts was the norm.  But I was never able to earn my living by writing for several reasons which I discuss in detail at this site in several of its more than 100 sub-sections. From my teens and twenties in the 1950s, 1960s, & early '70s, to my fifties in the 1990s & early 2000s, I earned a living in a variety of ways, mainly as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator, among a variety of other employment-roles.  I was the husband, first in a two-income-no-kids family and, then, in a second marriage, in a kids and one-income family. In that second marriage, my wife & I raised three children. By the early years of the 21st century, they had all left the nest, so to speak. My wife and I have four grand-children, all within cooee, as they say in Australia.

From the age of 55 to 65 I gradually took an early retirement, by stages, first from FT,  then PT and finally casual work. Little by little and day by day I headed for the world of a writer and author, and the roles I have listed above.  By the age of 65 in 2009,  I was able to go on two old-age pensions, one from Canada where I had worked at FT and PT jobs from 1955 to 1971, and another pension from Australia where I worked until I was able to gradually free myself from the 60 to 70 hours a week which was involved in FT employment by 1999.  Those two old-age pensions, and income from a small group of stocks and investments, bring-in some $34,000/annum.

Section 1.3.1:

This $34,000 that now comes in to our coffers annually is enough for my wife and I to live on since: (a) we have our home completely paid-for; (b) we have little debt, and (c) we live frugally.  In 2012 we took-out a $20,000 reverse mortgage, our only debt now, in order: (i) to pay-off our other debts, and (ii) to be able to handle big-ticket-cost items like: car expenses and household repairs, gifts for needy family members and birthdays for many members of our immediate and extended family, big doctor and dentist bills, as well as the occasional bit of retail therapy.  Of this $20,000 some $3,000 remains as of the 1st day of January 2015 Downunder.  We also have a small handful of stocks having a net-worth of about $6000, a house valued at $270,000 to $330,000 depending on the market, and some $25,000 in 'other assets' like: furniture and art, jewelry and antiques, as well as a car and a computer, clothes and an assortment of memorabilia and domestic necessities.


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

Section 2:

I had to learn how to deal with those 200 emails and internet posts a day to which I refer above, and it took me about 10 years to do it efficiently and effectively, from 2001 to 2011. I had to eliminate, as far as was possible, the distraction that was the reality of so much of the activity in cyberspace.  I had to eliminate as many incoming posts, from as many people as possible, in order to eliminate one of the many potential distractions in life, distractions from what was and is for me, the serious business of being an author, of writing and editing, poetizing & publishing, of online blogging and journalism.   I slowly came to realize, especially over these last 10 years of full retirement, 2006 to 2015, years in which I have responded to literally 1000s of incoming emails & posts, that much internet activity is a distraction from my main activities in life.  I have only so much time in the day left after: (i) a dozen hours spent for sleep, rest and hygiene, & (ii) another 4 to 6 hours involved in eating and entertainment, leisure & domestic work, as well as social activity.

I have tried to eliminate as much as possible from the 50 categories of the following incoming posts and emails, messages, invitations, & requests found in Section 3 below.  This particular edition of this now lengthy explanation, I began writing to those who come to this part of my site at the start of 2013; now in May 2015 I am still doing a little editing of this now lengthy thread.  As I say at the outset of this explanatory note, this post is now some 150,000+ words. Readers are advised to skim or scan the following paragraphs, or just stop reading now, unless you have some special interest in why I have not responded to your invitation or request to reply to your internet post: (i) at a SNS like Facebook, (ii) to your email, or (iii) to your post at some other internet site. Some readers, of course, will wonder why I write this lengthy post at all.  In some ways, it's just part & parcel of my marketing or business plan that by 2011, a dozen years into my retirement from FT paid-employment, involved a readership of millions spread out across the cyberspace landscape, an alternative universe known as the world-wide-web.

Section 2.1:

The above, and what follows below, might seem to some readers as yet another lifelong student-academic, career-and-now-retiree, desperately trying to reassure himself that his work and his life has and had some consequence. As my professor in Greek philosophy emphasized in the autumn of 1964, when I was in a double-major at university, in history and philosophy, and when I was also, at the same time, enduring the low-end of what was, then, my bipolar 2 disorder: "you pays your money and you makes your choice." I have made many choices in my: social activist, religious commitment, political engagement life from my late childhood in 1955 to 2015, a period of some 60 years   This is to say nothing about the many, indeed, the infinite number of choices in other domains: maritally and sexually, socially and psychologically, physically and spiritually. 

I need no reassurance that my work and my life has had some consequence. But the answer to such a question is complex, and difficult to deal with in a quick sentence or two. As is the case wtih many places on my website, I will return to the above question and its answer in the months and years ahead.  As this website evolves in the remaining years of the evening of my life, there will be many opportunities to add, to delete & to edit what I have written. The last decade of late adulthood(70 to 80), and old-age 80+ lie ahead, to use one model of the stages in the lifespan used by developmental psychologists. Writing has gradually become one of the central foci in my life since I retired from paid-employment in 1999 at the age of 55; there will be more to say here on this subject.

Section 3:

(i)   People ask me to help them with their financial and business life. Considering I have had no experience in business, and recognizing the fact that my wife now handles all incoming monies from our pensions and loans, stocks and investments, and virtually all outgoing monies, and has done so for 40 years we have been together since we married in December 1975, I am the last person anyone should ask for help in these areas of life. Money is like life-blood or bed-rock to use two similies and without money to take care of one's basic expenses life can be highly stressed.  Looking back over more than 7 decades of living, I have arrived at old-age pension time in a comfortable financial state, but it is only comfortable if my wife and I live frugally and keep big-ticket items to a bare minimum.  I am certainly in no position to help others with their business and financial life in the form of either advice or actual cash.

(ii)  Part 1:

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

I have no interest in trying to make any money during these years of my retirement from FT, PT and most volunteer work, after 50 years of trying. From 1955 to 2005 I worked at FT, PT and casual paid employment. I also applied for some 5000 jobs. To read the story of my 5000 job applications over 50 years, 1955 to 2005, scroll-down this link: http://www.gradconnection.com.au/forums/list/user/599729/.  I was engaged in many types of paid employment during that half-century. Readers can access my CV in cyberspace, if they so desire, go to this link: http://archnet.org/shared/cv-one.jsp?user_id=427360

(ii) Part 2:

For several years, from about 2005 to 2010, my wife declined the many offers that came her way in cyberspace; she now deletes all incoming proposals. For the last three years I have not sent her any examples of internet money-making opportunities that came my way in cyberspace, whereby she could work from home for some extra money.  If we did not have enough money for food, shelter, and the basic expenses for living, and if I did not have a serious involvement in poetizing and publishing, writing and editing, we might--indeed, we probably would seriously entertain the idea of working from home as so many of the online job opportunities are described.  My writing commitments require time and concentration, and as much of my physical and psychological resources as I can possibly invest in their related activities, like research and online blogging, scholarship and reading, and so I can not consider taking-part in any of these many offers that come my way.

(iii)  Part 1:

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

Sometimes due to in extremis situations, though, the exchange continues. Some women are in such bad personal situations that their sense of urgency is extreme; they are reaching out with some urgency for a helping hand, any helping hand.  Some just want to show me how good they look in the context of asking me for my help. Sometimes, as I say, I reply, but eventually---after two or three emails in which the person continues to tell me about their problems---the exchange ends. But I have to be insistent. Most people, it seems to me, simply delete such incoming posts, and this is often, if not always, the simplest, most honest, and most realistic way of dealing with such requests for assistance.

Part 2:

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

(iv)  Part 1:

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

Since I am a writer & author, poet and publisher, I also get many emails in connection with winning writing contests that I am invited to enter. I rarely enter such contests any more. For some 20 years, from 1981 to 2001 approximately, before my active involvement on the internet, I entered many writing contests. Some of these contests were for remuneration or some prize, and some were just for one of many forms of recognition.  I even won two or three times but, by the 21st century, I came to realize that such exercises were, for me at least, a waste of my time, time that could be spent on writing.  And so it is that, in at least the last 15 years, 2001 to 2015, I enter no such contests. I also enter or take no part in online games or contexts unless, as I say above, courtesy or necessity requires a response.

Part 1.1:

I was a big player of games in my childhood and teens from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. By my mid-to-late 20s, though, I rarely played sport or participated in games: board games, card games, art games, or video games; the list of types of games seems endless. An art game, arthouse game, or less commonly auteur game, is a work of interactive new media digital software art.  The term "art game" was first used academically in 2002, and it has come to be understood as describing a video game designed to emphasize art or whose structure is intended to produce some kind of reaction in its audience.

A game could also be defined as: a structured play, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool.  It is distinct from work and is, for the most part, a use of a person's leisure-time; sometimes the game is carried-out for remuneration and sometimes not.  Some games are seen, as I say above, as art.  The list of games is endless: Mahjong and Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Parcheesi, solitaire and snakes and ladders, as well as video games. A video game is an electronic game that involves human interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device. The word video in video game traditionally referred to a cathode ray tube display device, but it now implies any type of display device that can produce two or three dimensional images.

Part 1.2:

Using the above definition of games, I played many games in the 50 years of my adult life, say, 1963 to 2015: golf and gadgets, baseball and bingo, volleyball and volunteering, basketball and baby gamnes--usually with some member of my family or friends,, my work colleagues or associations of many kinds. In my 20s and 30s I often played Scrabble until I found that I always lost, especially when playing my second wife. Occasionally I played Monopoly with my wife and children. By my 50s in the mid-1990s, this all ceased. I took little interest in playing games or watching them being played except: (i) with my son as he grew into his early 20s in the late 1990s and (ii) for a few minutes on TV with and without my wife and son.  Games and contests in cyberspace are of absolutely no interest to me. In the last decade I have only taken-part in cyberspace games out of courtesy to an old friend, or when I felt the relationship demanded my participation.

Games and sport, especially fitness and exercise programs, as well as sports equipment and special clothes for games, are all over cyberspace. Here are two emails that came in about sports-wear and equipment: (a) "new anatomical-specially designed shoes, developed to be wider in the forefoot for improved fit, feel, and overall comfort;" and (b) "a full-sized fishing pole, or two, might not be practical to carry on your trips, but with this portable, pocket-conveniently-sized, & easy-to-use fishing rod, you won't have to worry about leaving the rod at home, the next time you head to the lake!"  I could list many other examples, but for fear of prolixity, I shall continue to this subject in another vein below in Part 2.

(iv) Part 2:

The following are two examples from the worlds of winning at games for prizes, and gambling for money, that had nothing to do with writing. They appeared in my incoming emails in the last week of February 2013: (a)"Sign up today for your chance to win a year's supply of wine. By becoming a member of this club, you will enjoy their exclusive wine deals everyday. Entries are limited at the moment, so don't miss out!"; and (b) "You can qualify for a 200% welcome bonus at our casino, named Ruby Palace, when you sign up today. You will also be able to enjoy, the unlocking of casino credits over 450 top-flight casino games. Once you are a player with us, you will receive lucrative weekly and monthly promotions. Our promotions are just the tip of the iceberg; whenever you need to get in touch; you can call or email us, 24/7, 365 days a year."  I usually ignore all of this type of activity, except when it comes in from family and friends and then, as I say out of courtesy, I respond as briefly as possible.

(v) Part 1:

People want me to join them in their concern for, or their interest in, a staggering variety of topics: from meditation to moshi monsters, from music to the Moscow circus, from yoga to yahoo, from yesterdays to yin yang, from the treatment of kiddies to kitsch, from cars to character, from types of food to fashion, from Bolivian miners to breast cancer, from poverty to paypal, from rags to riches, from crime to criminals, and on and on goes the litany.  For the most part I do not reply to any of these requests or invitations to comment, unless they come from friends or family members in some form of their social activism, or simply because they contact me and their contact requires, usually out of courtesy if nothing else, my response. I try to keep my responses, here as well, to the barest of minimums. For the most part, though, I do not comment.

Since people like to eat and cook, since they like to look good and to be happy, since they want to show others that they are having fun or partying, I get emails and posts telling me about these aspects of their lives. I am sent emails and posts about people's food and their fashions, about the pleasure they are having with their pets and their personal positions, their friends and their families.  There is an endless litany of photos and posts from people in connection with these subjects I have just mentioned, and I am invited to comment. Some people receive many comments from their friends and associations; some receive none. My name is rarely ever found in the reply sections to this sort of incoming post, especially at SNS.

Part 2:

Millions of people now utilize the internet to clarify their career direction, to advance their careers in some way or another, or to change their career direction.  They also want to enroll in all sorts of academic and vocational programs with credentials at the end of the line.  There are also a host of programs taken just for the pleasure of taking part in some formal learning activity at some educational institution, or some private business with educational functions and aims.  There is now an endless list of programs of study, at all levels of the educational enterprize, from baby, toddler and pre-school programs to schools for seniors and programs for retirees. There is something for everyone from cradle to grave, so to speak, and these somethings come my way by the bucketfull.  Here is one that came in on 1 March 2013: "You can now study for The Royal Agricultural College MBA in the Global Food Industry online. No need to take a career break. Study this internationally recognised MBA program online, and receive expert tuition as well as support from the UK's online learning specialists."

(vi) Part 1:

People want me to express my enthusiasm for, or my interest in: their social activity or their family life, their domestic activity like cooking or cleaning, catching fish or catching pests, their partying or their pets, their poverty or their public profiles.  Sick family members or friends, sick pets or sick partners, someone or some group of people who died or were killed recently in their town or city, or some foreign city, some global trauma or national disaster: all of these things elicit many a post that is sent far and wide in cyberspace. Dozens of these missives land in my incoming-email-box, on my Facebook profile page, or at some other SNS, internet site at which I am registered or even ones at which I am not registered.

This section, these subjects I mention here, are similar in their content to section number (v) Part 1 above, but I have added this section (vi) to include all the comments I receive on the subject of celebrities, people of fame or renown, some of whom I know and some of whom I do not.  People can't resist commenting on the lives of celebrities as well as highly publicized events in our society. Our society is the society of spectacle, as one social theorist calls our society, and millions get caught-up in the frenzy of renown, the frenzy of the big-events. Indeed many people's personal agenda is so highly media-focussed that their personal agenda seems to contain nothing but stuff from popular culture and the mass media. This is not surprising given the print and electronic media focus which brings billions of us together now in one way or another.  A good deal of my writing has what you might call 'a populist-focus' in the form of articles and essays, online posts and responses to the writings of others.

(vi) Part 2:

People's health issues or their having fun, their having anxiety or having babies, among a list of personal concerns that could fill Wikipedia with 1000s of pages, all come into the cybperspace-tube like an avalanche. I get invitations to comment on a pandora's box of people's peculiar and polyform public positions.  I rarely reply to these invitations and requests for comment unless, as I frequently say in these paragraphs, they are sent to me directly by family members or friends and, out of a personal sense of obligation and duty, I reply directly.  As the years go on these direct requests from family and friends are coming-in less and less, as my message is getting out to others in cyberspace, little by little and day by day. "Don't bother Ron with this sort of stuff," I hope I can hear them say.

My message, just to reiterate, is slowly getting out there in cyberspace.  That message is basically: that all this sort of stuff in the 50++ categories above and below is, at the very least, a distraction, and at the very most of virtually no interest to me.  The subject matter across this immense panorama of content, to be more accurate, is often of interest.  But due to the nature of the format, a format consisting of a part, a post, one among hundreds of incoming mesages, I must ignore it for fear of drowning in bits-and-pieces of data. It's like an endless game of Trivial Pursuit and, as I say above, I have not been into that sort of game even in real space for at least two decades.

(vi) Part 2.1:

I have many interests that are obvious to anyone who spends a little time at my website, and there are many who share these interests.  There are many, too, who enjoy my writing and are part of my world. But they are all, or at least for the most part, on the far periphery of my life, and I am happy that they stay there.  When one has millions of readers in this new parallel universe of the world-wide-web, one has to keep one's distance or one would literally drown in the verbiage of this verisimilitude and virtue, truth and literary tiffany.  After more than half a century of wall-to-wall people in my personal and professional life, circa, 1949 to 1999 and, perhaps, 2009, some 60 years, I am happy to keep all the hosts, the millions and billions, of those in cyberspace out of arm's reach, or very far from my eyes---so that I can get on with reading what I want to read, on a reading agenda I have set for myself out of pure interest and habit, curiosity and pleasure and, to some extent, duty. For years, indeed, decades, as a teacher, out of necessity, I had to read immense piles of crud, and I have no intention of continuing to read it in the form of endless internet posts on every topic from anagrams to zombies.
.
(vii) People want me to take part in an increasing and endless litany of surveys; for example, the following came in on 19/2/'13: "Did you know that companies spend more than 1 billion dollars on market research every year? Companies are constantly developing and improving products, and they need something to make sure that it works. Do you know what they need? They need your opinion. That's right, and they are willing to pay money for it.  By offering your opinion on new products like: cars or candy, electronics or energy, it helps companies develop products that people are happy with!"  Many times, such survey people will simply ask me to fill out a form/survey about their new product. Sometimes they will pay me for filling in the form and taking part in the survey. "You could make $20 in as little as 8 minutes," this email went on to say, "and by taking 5 or 6 of these surveys a day, you do easy work for easy pay that could really help you pay the bills."

One type of survey of some little interest to me is a feedback, formalized and specific, which I receive in relation to my writings. Such survey-form-feedbacks range from high praise, to outright indifference and criticism. This is the same range of feedback that I have received from anecdotal and live-personal feedback in the last 30 years: 1985 to 2015---years since my writing was first published to any significant extent in real space, in newspapers and other genres/forms. As I point out at the following online link, I have now had feedback in relation to my writing for more than 60 years. I tell the story of this feedback at this link: http://www.shadowedrealm.com/medieval-forum/index.php?app=core&module=search&do=search&fromMainBar=1


DEALING WITH CRITICISM

The wikiHow site informed me in April 2015 that my article "Deal With Criticism" that I initiated on wikiHow has been read more than 90,000 times. Having my article read by so many people resulted in them sending me a "Congratulations!" Imagine a world where anyone can easily learn how to do anything. A world where access to comprehensive step-by-step instructions in multiple languages enables billions of people to improve their lives, in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. That’s the world wikiHow wants to create. At wikiHow, a community of knowledge philanthropists are collaborating to create this world. They are driven by a shared passion to create a high-quality collection of how-to guides. They keep improving each article until they think it has become the single most helpful set of step-by-step instructions available on that topic anywhere. While they recognize that this ambitious goal will take years to accomplish, they take pleasure in knowing that they already help millions of people every day. Go to this link for my article: http://www.wikihow.com/Special:GoogSearch?cx=008953293426798287586%3Amr-gwotjmbs&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=UTF-8&q=Deal+with+Criticism&siteurl=www.wikihow.com%2FwikiHow%3AAbout-wikiHow





REQUESTS FOR DONATIONS AND DALLIANCES

(viii) 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. Often the causes and charities are noble and worthwhile. Since my wife and I already get requests over the phone and at our door, and we already have a list of charities and organizations to which we give money and have done so for decades, I courteously decline all these requests.

All the money that stands between my wife and I and the cold-cold world, as they say, except for a relatively small reverse mortgage that we took out in 2012, is our pension money coming in every two weeks, and the remains of that reverse mortgage to which I have already referred.  I feel my response, therefore, my refusal to give any money, is a reasonable one. The reverse mortgage, as I indicated above, is used to pay for: big car expenses, big doctors' and dentist bills, big household maintenance jobs, gifts for needy family members, for birthdays to family members, and a few friends, as well as other big-ticket items like: a new computer or a new household item.  With the back-up money that this reverse mortgage provides, my wife and I should be able to go into our old-age, the years beyond 80, and survive the financial world and its many demands as long as, it must be emphasized, that there are not too many 'big-ticket-items' in the years ahead.

(ix) Part 1:

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

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

(ix) Part 2:

I try to respond to as few of these requests as possible. When I do respond to some incoming email expressing some high degree of anxiety or special pleading, I reply with honesty and courtesy, tact and kindness.  Honesty and courtesy are difficult qualities to combine, but I do my best to let people down, usually women but more recently even men, as easily as I can.  Usually, I do not reply at all. I clearly state my marital status, that I have been married for 46 years, and that I am not interested in another relationship of romance or sex. I sometimes indicate my general life-style involving as it does writing and publishing, editing and research, and encourage these people to go to my website, if they want to know more about me. For the most part, all these people are looking for some kind of mating-or-dating relationship, and I can be of no help to them.

Often, as I say, 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. I could list here over three dozen dating and mating sites from which I have received emails.

(x) 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 non-SNS places in cyberspace, these social activists are increasing with every passing day.

To people whom I have known for some time, and several other very keen and active cause-enthusiasts I usually reply directly within 24 hours. After several years of supporting a plethora of causes all over cyberspace, by March 2013, I have declined nearly all invitations.  This is especially true for those causes that come from Facebook, a SNS which has a special sub-section devoted entirely to a myriad causes in the world and that quixotic tournament. On rare occasions, I respond to a family member or a friend in their social activist concerns, largely out of courtesy. This is because the litany of concerns, in that quixotic tournament which takes place in our global society, is giving publicity to more problems than anyone ever knew existed. Before the world-wide-web joined us all together in one happy and not-so-happy family, most of these causes were unknowns.

(xi) People ask for my help at special internet sites devoted to special topics like: literature & love, religion & rebels, philosophy & fetishes. I offer my advice based on my own experience and ideas, but I rarely actually ask anyone to do anything.  After half a century, 1950 to 2000 approximately, of asking literally 100s, perhaps 1000s, of people to do things, I now confine such requests: (a) to a small circle of those with whom I interact in real space, and (b) to as small a circle as possible of those in cyberspace. Those who are very keen to have my help with some personal problem or who have high expectations regarding what help I am able to offer to them, I try to be especially kind and considerate, not wanting to damage a long-standing online relationship or any particular and special relationship in real space.  I usually respond to their concern in writing, and usually within 24 hours. Hopefully I will never hear from them again in relation to such requests.  Of course, there are always the persistent few who want to get into my space for some reason or other.

(xii)  Part 1:

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

Requests for my prayers also provide a steady stream of emails from friends and relatives, associations and people I have never heard of in my life.  The following is an excerpt from a recent request from someone I did not know at all: "I hope all is well with you. I'm really not doing too well right now. I've been having an extremely rough week. I found out on Sunday night that last week my friend Barbara passed away very unexpectedly from a blood clot. I know Barbara from one of the 12 step programs that I am a member of. Your prayers would be appreciated."

Part 2:

Meditation and yoga are also big spinners of evangelical enthusiasms with a host of different programs available for both the initiated and the uninitiated, as well as from a host of people I know or don't know, as the case may be. Many meditation and/or yoga courses are advertised soliciting my interest and involvement first in cyberspace and, eventually of course, in real space.  Meditation and yoga courses have been all-the-rage in the last several decades.

As early as 1971 Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean psychiatrist who is considered a pioneer in integrating psychotherapy and the spiritual traditions, noted that: "the word 'meditation' has been used to designate such a wide variety of practices, practices that differ so much from one another, that it has become difficult to even define what meditation is. Of course, this has not stopped people from trying. Yoga came to the attention of an educated western public in the mid 19th century along with other topics of Hindu philosophy. In the last half century, 1965 to 2015, there have been at least two major yoga booms.  Yoga enthusiasts can be found all over cyberspace.

(xiii)  Part 1:

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

In addition there are sites where I can search for and compare air-fares, train-fares, or bus-fares, and other sites where I can get special dog or cat food deals. Some people would like me: (i) to buy or sample any one of dozens of different kinds of items, (ii) to make use of some special service or activity that is available online, or (iii) to take part in one of many types of activities that begin and are processed in cyberspace before concluding in real space, usually at some financial cost to me, although not always.

Now that a great deal of buying and selling, service and supply activity takes place in cyberspace, people ask me if I would like to buy, or make use of, any one of the following services.  These services are available from a wide variety of delivery systems such as: social welfare or sustainability services, edible blooms or education, mental health or marketing services, mole removal or management services, pharmacist or photographic services, banking or business, healthcare or hospital services, automobile parts or accommodation facilities, life-insurance or leisure-time enhancements.

(xiii) Part 2:

Here are eight examples of online buying and selling, loans and debts, that came in during the February to April period 2013: (1) "The Microelectronics Technology Company stock is now selling at $0.0163. The target: $.10. A 'huge short squeeze begins tomorrow! Building a strong support for a push higher!";  (2) "Best Credit Cards: 0% Intro Apr, Low Annual Fees, Huge $ Rewards!", (3) Trust Financial service is a unit of Secure Trust Bank; it is registered under the FSA.  You can search the link below for the catalogue of banks listed by FSA;"(4)  You might be interested in our "Government Approved Debt Management Program!" We know that when you're in debt, it may seem hard getting out; with the right debt relief solution and a committed team to support you, getting out of debt is a lot easier." 

(5) Do you need an urgent loan facility to help you meet up with your immediate needs?  Our company is based in USA, and we've been into the financial business for over 17 years now with a low interest of 2%, and (6) For sale: A pair of genuine certified 0.25 carat round cut 14K white gold diamond stud ear-rings; and a tourmaline ceramic flat iron from Avanti + a 1 year warranty. Sometimes I am simply sent an email with a request: (i) to open and respond, and (ii) to take pot-luck and see what they want; (7) 3 Options for the purchase of dead-sea-skin-whitening-cream(DSSWC): A) $14 for One Tube of DSSWC, B) $24 for Two Tubes DSSWC, or C) $30 for Three Tubes of DSSW-Taxes Included (Up to $183 Value); and, finally: (8) Stone chips, cracked windows and scratches are frequent problems. Your car is a reflection of you and all these things contribute to the impression that your car makes about you. We provide an inexpensive service.

(xiii) Part 2.1:

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

In the areas of health care and human services, fitness or fashion, food or fishing,  psychology or citizenship there are a host of services and information sources. Here is one that came in today, 8/4/'13: Asthma is a major problem related to air fresheners and perfumed cleaning products. In a 2007 European study, researchers found that using air fresheners as little as once a week can raise the risk of developing asthma in adults. For more advice and information contact us.

Part 2.2:

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

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

All of these items above, a to h, could be illustrated by dozens of examples, but that would lead to prolixity. I shall, though, spend a little time on the subject of health care since it is one of the most popular of cyberspace sites and outgoing emails. Health care is delivered by practitioners in both mainstream and alternative medicine.  People with interests in the mainstream, or any one of dozens of alternatives, send me their offerings: chiropracty and podiatry, pharmaceuticals and a range of allied health care services, doctors and dentists, health care professionals and amateurs.  I never knew some of these categories even existed, but their representatives contact me from time to time.

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

(xv) Part 1:

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

There are others who are not asking for money. They want to give it away. People mostly, at first, in African countries who had thousands, and often, millions of dollars to dispose of.  They are at the other end of the financial spectrum. They have lots of money and they seek my help, sometimes offering me a slice of the money involved. In the last year or so people who live on other continents are contacting me to help them deal with their extra money. The extra money in question is sometimes given to them in a Will, in an inheritance, or by a sick relative, or by their grandfather, or by someone with a close-connection with royalty or some significant individual in the country concerned.  Whoever and whatever the situation, they would like my help.

(xv) Part 2:

The emails I now receive are often beyond belief and, in many cases, are better not to be believed or taken seriously. Here are four that came in during April-May 2013. (a) "The Late Mr.Robert Adler bequeathed $20,500,000.00, to you." (b) Here is a second that came in on 17/4/'13: "This is a personal email directed to you. I and my wife won a British Jackpot Lottery of £101 Million and our Lucky Star numbers were 5 and 8 We have decided to donate the sum of £1,000,000.00 Pounds to you as part of our own charity project to improve the life of just 8 lucky other individuals around the globe. send us an email to the email address that follows so that we can send your details to the designated bank in charge of wire transfer proceedings."

The following third and fourth ones are typical of the absurd end of the spectrum insofar as this type of incoming post is concerned: (c) "We have been informed through our global intelligence monitoring network that the sum of $10.500,000.00, has been released from a bank in Africa bearing your name as the beneficiary." And here is a 4th item of this genre:  "We need to transfer $7,487.02 commissions to your bank. To receive this commissions, please activate your account." Finally, (d) here is a 4th example: "I am Mao Chen, an account manager in China Trust Bank, a licensed bank incorporated in China Asia. I am getting in touch with you regarding a customer in my bank who died here in Asia without a next of kin and an investment worth millions of dollars placed in our bank some years ago. I happen to be his accounts officer." And on and on went this story.

(xv) Part 2.1:

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

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

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

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

(xvii) Part 1:

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

(xvii) Part 2:

For the most part I do not use SNS for either of these purposes. I am a writer and author, poet and publisher, researcher and editor, online blogger and journalist, scholar and reader, my own office-assistant and marketing manager.  I use SNS to advertise my writing, to gain an increased readership and, in the process, I have acquired more than 135 'friends' at Facebook, and literally 1000s of friends at 100s of other sites. These are all people whom, for the most part, I do not know personally. If I did know them all personally, and felt an obligation to write to them all when they sent me messages, I would be swamped with people from wall-to-wall. I had people from wall-to-wall and in community for half a century, 1949-1999, before I retired from teaching and student life, as well as an extensive involvement in the Baha'i community as well as other interest groups. I am still an active member of the Baha'i Faith, but I attend fewer planning and publicity, teaching and consolidation, meetings than I did from the 1950s to the 1990s.

There are many people who now contact me who are not my 'friends' at any internet site.  As a result of seeing my profile page, or some of my writing at a SNS or at one of the myriad other sites at which I am registered---and where I publish my writing---they get in touch with me outside the Facebook or internet site context. Such people usually have requests in one of the dozen or more categories above and I respond when it is clearly appropriate or necessary.

(xviii) Part 1:

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

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

(xviii) Part 2:

I have been working with the website design and marketing site, Define Studio, in Mosman NSW. The Art Director, Daniel Sullivan, and his team at Define Studio have designed this 4th edition of my website. This 4th edition has been online for nearly four years beginning as it did on 21 March 2011.  From September 2010 to March 2011, some 6 months, Define Studio and I worked together to get the design that suited my desires & tastes. I am happy with the services of this design company and I do not have the financial resources to extent my site through any one of the many other design companies which contact me from time to time, however much I might like.

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

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

(xix) Since I am a writer and author, poet and publisher, and since I belong to literally dozens of online writing and poetry, magazine and journal, as well as book sites for writers and authors, poets and publishers, I get another load of emails in connection with writing and editing, poetizing and publishing. Here are two examples: (i) "BookWhirl has sent you the following message: Dear Author, Have you ever had the feeling your book could use some extra push? Bookwhirl.com’s Add-On Services could give you that boost! With CD Archive you can manage your email notification settings on Author & Book Event Center by visiting http://bookeventcenter.spruz.com/member/?page=settings&cmd=notices;" and (ii) "Elevate your art of digital storytelling with filmmaker and social entrepreneur Mikey Leung in this highly practical session on reaching supporters using people-powered media. Visit the conference website for a full program overview and save with the early bird discount, plus be in the draw to win a prize worth $500!"

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

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

An online game is a video game played over some form of computer network, using a personal computer or video game console. This network is usually the internet or equivalent technology, but games have always used whatever technology was current: modems before the Internet, and hard wired terminals before modems. I played 2 or 3 times with my son in the mid-1980s when computer-games first came out. I realized quickly that such games were not for me.

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

I have written the following little bit of prose entitled: "Wee-Wisdoms and Funnies, Upliftings and Informaties: A Sub-Genre of the Email Industry".  I have written this piece of prose due to the many humorous and not-so-humorous, wise and not-so-wise, entertaining and not so entertaining emails I've received in the last 20 years: 1994 to 2015.  My guess is that about 5% of all the emails I’ve received from 1994, when emails first began to enter my life, were of these types. They are part of the compulsive output of some obsessed person. Being a person who has his own obsessions, I understand the inner drive than possesses such people. 

There is now a massive quantity of information conveyed in the form of videos and u-tube items. Many people learn more from audio-visual experiences than they do from print, from books and journals, articles and essays. Due to this fact, I am sent great quantities of audio-visual material. Often such material takes much time to watch it and, so it is and for the most part, I ignore this slather of incoming material. If the material is sent by friends I try to deal with it as courteously as possible and in such a way to discourage them from continuing the practice.

(xxiii) People ask me if I would like to join some group of professionals, or some other kind of group associated with all sorts of causes and oganizations. I got this email on 19/2/'13: "You were recently selected as a candidate for publication in the prestigious Top 100 Executives of 2013 Magazine. It is my distinct pleasure to inform you that your candidacy has been reviewed and approved by a special committee and that your biography may soon be featured in this extraordinary and professional magazine. Only the most accomplished and distinguished men and women are considered for this honor and there is NO COST or obligation to be listed. After confirming your acceptance, your space within the magazine will be reserved. Our professional writers will then craft an articulate, interesting and informative biography that will be both a treasured legacy and an impressive addition to your professional résumé. Only your prompt response is required to ensure your inclusion." In the end it always costs money; it always means a phone call from someone to confirm the above. I have found, after being sent several examples of this type of solicitation, that it always involves me, as I say, in spending money. Hopes rise based on false promises, and it is a total waste of my time.

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

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

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

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

Since 2009, my wife answers all incoming calls. After 50 years of heavy telephone use, 1955 to 2005 approximately, I decided to use email as my main method of communicating. Telephone calls became a distraction taking me away from my literary focus, and often adding unnecessary complications to my life, complications for the most part I could do nothing about. From 2005 to 2009 I slowly weaned myself off the use of the telephone,  cell phones, mobile phones, and most of the new technological devices assoicated with new means of communication. There was one exception. My only son, Daniel, bought me a cell phone in 2012 to communicate with him, his wife and daughter. I also use it to talk to my wife when necessary and to make the occasional business and commercial, professional and medical call.  Even then, though, I try to use this phone as little as possible. All those who want to communicate with me: (a) send me emails, (b) read my writing, or (c) visit me in person. In this last category there are now very few. I visit in some 20+ different homes in the course of a year, but there are few who visit me---and I like it that way.

(xxvi) Part 1:

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

In the last month several concerns came in: (a) caged dogs as well as several other caged animals, and (b) the treatment of rabbits and rhinoceros, baby seals and baboons. This email came in on 5 March 2013: "Make a commitment to eliminate animal testing by pledging to only purchase products approved by the Leaping Bunny Program. This program provides the best assurance that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers. The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program administers a cruelty-free standard. The internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo is used for companies producing cosmetic, personal care, and household products.

(xxvi) Part 2:

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

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

(xxvii) People and academic institutions send me information about various academic programs in which I might like to enroll. After more than 50 years in primary schools and high schools, colleges and universities, in-house and distance-learning, 1949-2005, as both a student and teacher, I no longer had any interest in enrolling or participating in any form of institutional learning associated with formal educational programs. Here is a sample that came in during February 2013:   "Flexible programs - enroll now!!"  Readers can go to this link for an outline of my academic activity during those years at this link: 

(xxviii) People and organizations, retail outlets and music sites send me more information about music and musical instruments than I ever knew existed.  They want me to buy an instrument or a music package. This item came in in February 2013: "We're Featuring An Amazing High-Fidelity Instrument Cable From Tecniforte Cables. "high Fidelity Instrument Cable That Last A Lifetime. In addition, check out our range of guitars."  In some ways, at least a portion of these incoming messages are due to my participation in many online music sites at which I post my writing about music. I now have access to more music than I ever have had in my life and listen to any piece of music I want on line. I ignore all these emails, as I do 99% of all the emails that fall into the above 25 categories.

(xxix) Players and clubs, agents and coaches from all around the world began recently to send me emails. There is one internet site where they all can communicate in order to propose their services or to publish their requests. I received this email in the last week of February. "SoccerMercato covers all levels of competition, and all age categories of men's and women's soccer. It is available in more than twenty languages, and each ad is automatically translated into the visitor's language. As soon as you find an interesting ad, you can immediately get the contact data of the responsible person. SoccerMercato does not intervene in user-to-user exchanges." As I pointed out above, I stopped playing organized sport in 1962, and only played with family and friends occasionally in the next 50 years. I take little to no interest in sport and any email that comes in and has some connection with sport is deleted automatically. This sub-section overlaps with sub-section (iv) Part 1.

(xxx) People send me newsletters and journals, online publications and online programs of many types and purposes.  Usually they are marketing some online publication or just wanting me to come to some website to examine their offerings.  Often, too, the incoming item is from the world of news. "The news" has been part of the core of the print and electronic media, especially since radio and TV came into the lives of citiziens in western civilization from the 1920s to 1950s. Now all sorts of internet sites dispense news and this is yet another category of stuff I have to delete in order to read what has been on my personal agenda for years.

Due to the fact that I belong to literally thousands of websites dealing with everything from Korean society to the kitchen sink, as well as: local, regional, state, national and international sources of information,  I get information sent to me about motor-cycles or manners, cars or karst topography, white-goods or weight-loss, furniture or fashion, and on and on goes yet another litany of retail and commercial products, of news and information. I could spend a great deal of time browsing, examining and reading material that has no relation to what I am writing, and no interest to me personally. I will be 70 years old in 15 months; I already know what I want to read; indeed, I have a great list of material waiting for me; I have no need to increase my reading agenda with the endless scattered-gun stuff that is sent to me on a literally endless list from murders to mayhem, from new cars to new refrigerators, from Russian roulette to regional recreation.

These areas of incoming emails sometimes require a judicious decision-making stance on my part but, mostly, a simple decision to delete the incoming post is all that is required.  Nearly all incoming material of the nature I have described above is, therefore, ignored and deleted by pressing one key. Here is a program that came in, partly I assume because of all the talk recently about gun-control and the public's use of fire-arms, on the last day of February 2013: "Our world has changed, and how we train people has changed with it. We need to maximize our training-time and conserve the use of ammunition. With that in mind, we take a look at using .22-caliber guns for practice as well as taking training-classes with them. Are you interested in our programs?"

(xxxi) People send me news of employment positions. The following is but one example: “Trust Group is glad to announce an opening for the position of a customer-relations manager. The main part of the job is to function as an intermediary between our clients in other countries, and our head office in Canada. Your main task would be to accept the monetary deposits from our clients, and then arrange for the subsequent transfer of these assets to our head office. You will not have to pay any tax or postal expenses. All these costs will be covered by our Trust Group.  Our offer is, as follows: 'Post-Customer Manager; salary-up to $75,000 USD/year; region-Canada; business trips-2 to 3/year at the expense of the company.  Requirements: resident of Canada, 21 years old, and older; basic English. If you are interested in this job opening, please send your resume in DOC or rich text format to our email address.'"  I applied for jobs for 50 years, 1955 to 2005, and no longer take an interest in FT, PT or casual employment. Here is some of my story:http://www.gradconnection.com.au/forums/list/user/599729/

(xxxii)  People send me information about old movies and new cinema releases, about television and radio programs, about videos & u-tube items. The world is now awash with a wide range of visual stimuli and I am kept up-to-date with all these audio-visual productions, should I want to keep up-to-date.  For the most part, I just delete the incoming message; I rarely actually watch or listen to internet material.  I did for the first decade of my active internet participation: 1997 to 2007.  But gradually, I came to realize that most of this material was outside my main interest inventory, an inventory that concerns writing and poetizing, publishing and editing my own literary products.  Watching & listening to this vast agglomeration of stuff can be one of the most time-consuming internet products, and it can take me away, as I say, from my reading and writing agenda very easily.

(xxxiii) People send me emails asking me to read: (a) some document, website, column, blog, inter alia, (ii) their MA or PhD thesis, or (iii) their new book. Often these requests take the form of asking me to edit their writing since they know that I have taken-on the role of editor in these my retirement years.  Many also know that I served as an editor in one of my many jobs, my positions of paid employment from 1955 to 2005, to say nothing of the 100s of thousands of pages of the writing of my students over more than 30 years.  Part of the reinvention of myself after retiring from FT, PT and most volunteer work, after 40 years of various types of paid employment, using yet another time-line, 1959 to 1999, is editing and research work on subjects that I have chosen. I do not need others to send me material to add to my already long list of stuff I actually want to read.

My reply, therefore, to all these requests is a courteous "no,"  unless I feel some obligation to the person concerned.  I spent decades, as I say, reading what I had to read as a student or teacher, from 1949 to 2005, and editing literally 1000s of pages of student work. Now I read only what I want to read. I also have an extensive personal correspondence with literally 100s of people. I write to all these people as little as possible or I would spend my time writing emails far too much of the time. This would detract from my roles of writer and author, poet and publisher, reader and researcher, scholar and editor of my own writing. I know I have repeated myself somewhat here, but I do this to emphasize to those who come to this part of my site why I hardly ever reply to incoming emails.

(xxxiv) Since I belong to dozens of sites organized by Baha'is and, since I have been associated with and/or a member of the Baha'i Faith for more than 60 years, 1953 to 2015, I get dozens of posts over the weeks and months. They come in my incoming email directory and at SNS like Facebook.  I reply, sometimes out of courtesy, and sometimes out of interest but, again, to deal with all this incoming material would take me away from my main tasks in this the evening of my life. "No man knoweth what his own end shall be," wrote some poet. And so it is that I aim to devote myself to tasks, to agenda items that I have set and are not set by others.  I would not have to do this if I had not cultivated such a relatively high profile in cyberspace which has resulted in the over 200 emails that come in every day.

(xxxv) There are an increasing number of sites where I can connect with old friends from: (a) the pre-primary and primary, secondary or post-secondary schools I once attended, and (b) previous work-places in factories and offices, mines and mills, as well as transport facilities like taxi and truck companies.  Virtually any group I belonged to as a volunteer, or in connection with my use of leisure-time, in my 70 years of living now has their own internet site.  I did take an interest in this type of activity and the relevant incoming posts in connection with these old friends for the first 15 years of my internet and website activity, say, 1997 to 2012.  But I now ignore these incoming posts, except on rare occasions when I actually knew and remember someone who wants to keep-in-touch from days gone by. Finally, let me say that:

(xxxvi) There are, inevitably, many other categories of incoming posts and emails.  To take even a little seriously this additional range of material would detract from the prime activities in my life which I have listed above.  Some of these other categories include: geneology & family histories,  as well as high-activity websites which seek my participation.  Given a greater specificity of definition, these 50+ categories of incoming posts, could be extended ad infinitum. But there is no more need for me to outline in detail any additional categories.  Readers who come to this part of my web-site, and have read this far, should by now get my main message. It is a message which says in plain-terms: "Ï can't help you with the many, the seemingly infinite, number of incoming requests and invitations for comments and responses."

(xxxvii to LX+) There are, inevitably, many other categories of incoming posts and emails.  To take even a little seriously this additional range of material would detract from the prime activities in my life which I have listed above.  Some of these other categories include: (a) geneology and family histories, (b) extra-terrestrials and the coming catastrophy, (c) partisan politics, political parties and who to vote for, (d) websites which seek to increase the participation at their sites, and (d) product advertising, especially: food and drink, clothes and furniture, sport and games, inter alia. The advertising that comes my way is as extensive as that on TV, if not more so.

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

THE INTERNET AND DEEP REFLECTION

Part 1:

Glenn McLaren, a lecturer at Melbourne's Swinburne Institute of Technology, writes in a 2012 issue of the electronic online journal Cosmos and History that: "What we’re experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: we are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters & gatherers in the electronic data forest. The internet is destroying the conditions for civilization and replacing it with conditions for barbarity.

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

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

Part 2:

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

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

FAMILY: AN OVERVIEW

Part 1:

In the London Review of Books(Vol. 36 No. 11,5 June 2014), Zoe Heller reviewed All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior(Virago, 300 pages). The review begins: "The reputation of parenthood has not fared well in the modern era. Social science has concluded that parents are either no happier than people without children, or decidedly unhappier. Parents themselves have grown competitively garrulous on the subject of their dissatisfactions. Confessions of child-rearing misery are by now so unremarkable that the parent who doesn’t merrily cop to the odd infanticidal urge is considered a rather suspect figure. And yet, the American journalist Jennifer Senior argues in her earnest book about modern parenthood, it would be wrong to conclude that children only spoil their parents’ fun. Most parents, she writes, reject the findings of social science as a violation of their ‘deepest intuitions’. In fact, most parents – even the dedicated whingers – will say that the benefits of raising children ultimately outweigh the hardships. For more of this review go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n11/zoe-heller/mommy-daddy-time

Part 2:

Plato famously wanted to abolish the family and put children into care of the state. Some still think the traditional family has a lot to answer for, but some plausible arguments remain in favour of it. Joe Gelonesi meets a philosopher with a rescue plan very much in tune with the times. So many disputes in our liberal democratic society hinge on the tension between inequality & fairness: between groups, between sexes, between individuals, and increasingly between families.  The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a reassessment. Swift in particular has been conflicted for some time over the curious situation that arises when a parent wants to do the best for her child but in the process makes the playing field for others even more lopsided. ‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says. ‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’ For more of this discussion go to: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/philosopherszone/new-family-values/6437058 

Part 3:

In the context of human society, a family (from Latin:familia) is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity(by recognized birth), affinity (by marriage), or co-residence and/or shared consumption (see Nurture kinship). Members of the immediate family may include, singularly or plurally, a spouse, parent, brother, sister, son and/or daughter. Members of the extended family may include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews nieces and/or siblings-in-law. For an extensive and useful overview of the family go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family

OLD-AGE

In the London Review of Books(Vol. 36 No. 9, 8 May 2014), Jenny Diski reviewed a book by Lynne Segal entitled Out of Time(Verso, 350 pages, 2013).  Many people in post-WW2 society in the West lived inside a gilded bubble when young and, for various reasons, were  insulated from old-people. Now many in that group are clearly beginning to think of themselves as old, and this is not happening very quietly. In addition to Lynne Segal’s Out of Time, we’ve had Anne Karpf’s insistently buoyant How to Age; Angela Neustatter’s hymn to the great gift that ageing brings, The Year I Turn … A Quirky A-Z of Ageing; Why Frenchwomen Don’t Get Facelifts, in which Mireille Guiliano speaks up for the power of chic in ageing; and, coming soon, post-baby boomer India Knight’s In Your Prime: How to Age Disgracefully. Germaine Greer got in early to greet the menopause with a moonlit dance of delight in The Change (1991). These books are just the tip of the iceberg on books about old-age and dieing. For more on death and dieing go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death For more of an overview on old-age go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_age  For more of this book review go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n09/jenny-diski/however-i-smell

THE PROMISED STORY OF MY SEX-LIFE
   and THE SEX LIVES OF SEVERAL OTHERS

Part 1:

I wrote a fine and quite detailed expose of my sex-life at this site, at the sub-section, at the link below, of my web-site, in the winter months in Australia, June through August 2012. Sadly, or perhaps not-so-sadly, the whole page, the several paragraphs, were lost. I reported the loss to my website design and development people at Define Studio in Mosman NSW. This company tried to correct the fault, the dropping-out of the material, but they were not able to correct the fault, to retrieve what was lost.  My design company and I decided in consultation, early in December 2012 that they, the web design company, Define Studio, would do a back-up of all the material at my site every two weeks. And so it would be that, if what I wrote dropped out again, it would not matter because the entire site was backed-up every fortnight.

I rewrote the material that was lost and readers who had been waiting and who were keen to read my story, will be rewarded below.  Readers should not get their hopes up too high, though, for like many writers I discuss my sex-life largely by indirection. Readers will find below a great deal written about my sex-life, and the sex-lives of others. The voyeuristic, those interested in pornography, and those who like to read about the sexually explicit, will court disappointment, though, if they expect any gratifications in those areas. Readers will learn little to nothing about how many orgasms I have per week or month, how old I was when I began to masturbate or, indeed, the actual sexual activity I had with wife numbers one or two. Neither of these wonderful women would appreciate having such details aired-in-public and I have no intention of discussing such details. I am a war-baby, born between 1939 and 1944, and my generation has not been inclined to be as public about their private life as generations X,Y and Z.

Part 1.1:

The 2nd edition of what I wrote about my sex-life was also lost from the same sub-section of my website.  I decided, therefore, to write the third edition in a different sub-section. It is found below and it has been extensively revised.  Indeed, as I say above, for the voyeuristic and for those desiring concrete details about sex in my life from the 1943 to 2015, disappointment will be experienced as they read.  Anyway, at last, after all the waiting for the paragraphs on the subject of my sex-life, readers will find below my sexual expose, my personal revelations, largely by indirection. 

There is and has been a schism between the current fad for autobiographical reportage, particularly if it's the sexploits of the author, and the actual modernist concept of the writing of erotic fiction as a craft.  Eroticism is inherently caught up with the visceral, the imaginary, the fantasy.  It is not intellectual or ever dispassionate. In the case of my writing below I'd say my wrting about sex tends to the intellectual, the dispassionate.

Readers want to be engaged emotionally with the characters while these characters are having sex.  When writers write about sex, their readers want to know what those who are having sex are feeling both emotionally and physically.  There are many men amongst the great writers of erotic fiction: Henry Miller, Marquis de Sade, and Brett Easton Ellis amongst others. All of these writers feature foreplay whether it be cultural or emotional.  Such writers combine graphic physical detail of actual intercourse with the emotional, the inner life of those involved. Many readers will find the kind of romantic, sexual, ambiguity of my words frustrating. Readers who come to my writing here, I'm sure, will want more than they get. Keep going below and beyond the following six hearts beginning with good old Lady Chatterley. For a more comprehensive statement of my sex-life go to:http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/auto.html

Part 2:

LADY CHATTERLEY and ME

Section 1 on Lady Chatterley:

The French film Lady Chatterley was released in the UK in August 2007.(1)  I saw a small part of this film last night, on 4/12/'11, more than four years later on SBSTV in Australia.  There have been several film versions(2) of this novel by English writer D. H. Lawrence(1885-1930) Lady Chatterley’s Lover, none of which I had seen. The original novel was published in 1928, when my parents were in their 20s and 30s.  It was published in Italy, and was not available in the UK until 1960 due to censorship restrictions.

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

Section 2 on Lady Chatterley:

When I chanced upon this film I had been retired from FT, PT and all volunteer-teaching, for half-a-dozen years and was enjoying life on a pension. I had just finished my late night snack, after a busy day of writing, of dealing with an assortment of reading and email tasks, and after taking-care of various domestic duties. My wife of nearly four decades, was away babysitting her 15 months old grandchild, and my step-grandchild, George, a little chap of about ten weeks old.  After some 20 minutes of watching this 146 minute award winning film with its verdant cinematography, I had to go to bed because I could not keep my eyes open. The medication I took for bipolar disorder made me sleepy under many conditions, one of which was watching TV. I am pleased to say that, by the time I revised this prose-poem in 2013, I had worked-out what to do with the immense barage of incoming emails and messages, all wanting me to do something. By 2013, I had freed-up my time from what could have been a never-ending consumption of in-coming messages, all possessing an urgency for each of their senders.

One critic called this film of the old D.H. Lawrence novel: a liberating, fresh, vital and modern interpretation of Lawrence’s famous literary work. The segment I watched contained one of the six highly sensual sex scenes with its admixture of wildflowers, sunshine and fresh air, making sex look like the sublime, nearly mystical, event it is cracked-up, desired, to be but, for most people most of the time, is far from either.  Reading about the physical intricacies of Naomi Wolf's technicolor orgasms, in extreme detail, in her new book, Vagina: A New Biography, may help, though. 

Section 2.1:

Naomi R. Wolf(1962- ), an American author and former political consultant, published the 1991 bestselling book The Beauty Myth. This helped to make her become a leading spokesperson of what was later described as the third wave of the feminist movement. Wolf was born in the early months of my pioneering and travelling for the Canadian Baha'i community. I knew nothing of Woolf until the last years of my teaching career and the last years of my travelling, as the 21st century opened.  Woolf wrote about the orgasm as follows: "when it's going right, there's a post-coital rush of a sense of vitality infusing the world, of delight with myself and with all around me."  I've had some of this delight in life since my first orgasm while I was studying history and philosophy in February 1965 at the age of 21, just four months before my father died.

Studying history and philosophy, the experience of clinical depression, and a degree of loneliness, sent me into the arms of my first real girl-friend in life and my first orgasm. My girl-friend was a sociology student several years older than I, and a divorce. In retrospect, nearly half a century later, I think I got my orgasms all tied-up (a) with the sociology studies of my girl-friend, and (b) with the psycho-social-sexual life at the heart of my depression and my incipient schizo-affective disorder.  In the end, 18 months after this relationship ended, I got my degree in sociology; the girl-friend was gone by the time my father died in May, just four months after that first orgasm.  I have never seen that first girl-friend in all the years since those first sensory delights. Orgasms can certainly cement a relationship but, as millions of men and women have found out through history, they provide no guarantee of either the depth or the permanency to a relationship.

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

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

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

(1) E.M. Forster
(2) I have taken an interest, as well, in Lawrence’s poetry, his free verse, which possessed no rhyme or metre and was, therefore, little different than prose. Such has been the type of poetry I have written.

Ron Price
6/11/'11 to 1/4/'13
 
AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND SEX

Part 1:

There is a great deal written in autobiographies and memoirs, diaries and journals about the sex-life of their writers, their authors.  In a new book Women Talk Sex there is autobiographical writing on sex, sexuality & sexual identity. The book is by the authors: Pearlie McNeill, Bea Freeman, and Jenny Newman. It is an anthology of autobiographical writings containing personal sexual histories and featuring essays that discuss: lesbian identity, bisexuality, sexual repression, arranged marriages, masturbation, celibacy, and other topics. There is much more that readers can google across the vast landscape in cyberspace on the unending permutations and combinations of people's sex lives.

To start you off, though, on this potentially boundless journey you can try: My Secret Sex Diary. This is the anonymous but completely true, so it is claimed, sexual adventures of a 24 year old girl in New York City.  The diary entries are diary-style reports of recent events. The memories are extensive. It's a sexual autobiography. Readers who are essentially voyeurs, and not essentially readers, except in a very limited sense, will find my writing not to their taste. In the marketing of personality the sexual adventures of the author often cloud the writing. Writing about one's sexual adventures is a skill and requires craft, emotional dedication & choreography just like any decent love-making. I do not possess that skill. Readers who find my sex-life-by-indirection insufficiently explicit, can go to this link: http://nymag.com/tags/sex-diaries/, and for more on ‘sex diaries’ you can go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diary_of_a_Sex_Addict and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_Diaries  

Part 2:

As my years advanced incrementally into my middle-age, my 40s and then 50s, and then into late adulthood, my 60s and, by 2014, into my 70s, life became increasingly simple. At least I was happy to so characterize it by 2014. In some ways life was easier and in other ways more difficult. The difficulties were, in the main, caused by several medical infirmities which I discuss in detail in the mental health sub-sections of this site. My life became increasingly literary and academic, intellectual and solitary.  By my late teens & 20s, the symptoms of my bipolar disorder began to appear; sex became a source of tension and complexity. As those years advanced by the decades, and middle age became late adulthood, the erotic and the sexual became increasingly less important, and my mind and intellect more important.  Passion increasingly inflamed my mind, & my spirit and not my groin; the flames burned on words alone in my mind's eye and, by my late 60s, the flame was quieter thanks to the softening & ameliorating effects of my medications.

In my 30s, 40s, and 50s, I  tried to dissolve the heat of the erotic by a variety of means: on my daily walks & other exercises in a local gym or health centre, as well as by strenuous mental-intellectual exersions where I was able to dissipate my urges and my drives at least to some extent. Passion, as Abdul-Baha wrote so succinctly "is a flame that has reduced to ashes uncounted lifetime harvests of the learned, a devouring fire.." He wrote these words in His The Secret of Divine Civilization,1975 (1957, 1870), p. 59.  By my early 30s I was only too aware of the dangers of this fire, this flame. Vigilance and moderation in relation to self-control, I should emphasize, has been a battle for many a long year, a battle I write about in more detail in my unpublished journals.

Readers may find the following prose-poetic commentary on one of the poems of T.S. Eliot(1888-1965) helpful in providing for them a description of my sex life from the 1950s to the 2010s.  Eliot was a publisher, playwright, literary and social critic & "arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century".  Readers here may find my commentary on Eliot's famous poems, & this one in particular, an obscure way to make some remarks about my sex-life. But such is life, and such is the use I like to make of some of the poetry in the history of poetry in the western intellectual tradition in the 20th century, 1900 to 2000, and the early 21st, 2001 to 2015.
 
COULD YOU FALL IN LOVE IN 45 MINUTES?

What if I were to say to you – I’m going to put you in a room with a perfect stranger for forty-five minutes and you will fall in love! Would you believe it? Modelled on a psychological experiment created by Dr Arthur Aron in the 1990's documentary filmmaker Sinead McDevitt took seven couples through the process of thirty-six questions and a good long stare into each others eyes. The results were astounding. Sinead, and Simon, a star of the short film "How to fall in love with a stranger" talk to Cassie McCullagh about what happened, and how the experiment might be applied to create better communication beyond romantic love. How to fall in love with a stranger was made exclusively for TEDx Sydney 2015. To listen to this RN program 'Life-Matters' go to:http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/how-to-fall-in-love-with-a-stranger-in-36-questions/6654286

PASSION

Part 1:

Jane Campion’s films have a mise-en-scène and editing style that put into practice her female characters’ ways of seeing and desiring. I discuss Campion and her films here because of what they have to tell us, and me, about passion. Form, in the Campion film, attempts to express something essential about content. Campion’s main character is most often a woman driven by her passion with little or no care about how this passion might affect those around her. This is evident with the devotion to writing of Janet Frame (played by Kerry Fox) in An Angel at Her Table (1990), the engagement with the piano that Ada McGrath (played by Holly Hunter) evinces in The Piano (1993), and the fascination with poetry and words that Frannie Avery (played by Meg Ryan) displays in the movie In the Cut (2003). Perhaps Frannie is representative of the Campion heroine: when asked if her fascination with words is a hobby or a job, Frannie replies “a passion.”

Campion’s heroines challenge us to envision female passion in a new cinematic way. Despite their involvement in activities that might lead to celebrity, these characters are women who are not aiming to be famous; indeed, their passion constitutes their mundane routine or is an expression of it.  It is this concept of passion that interests me because it has come to characterize my life in these years of the evening of my life. It is their passion that defines these women. This devotion to passion, in and of itself, marks Campion’s heroines as radically different from the average female filmic protagonist. Campion's work is described as "perhaps the fullest and truest way of being faithful to the reality of experience"; by utilizing the "unsayable" and "unseeable," she manages to catalyze audience speculation. Campion's films tend to gravitate around themes of gender politics, such as seduction & female sexual power. This has led some to label Campion's body of work as feminist; however, Rebecca Flint Marx argues, "while not inaccurate, the feminist label fails to fully capture the dilemmas of her characters and the depth of her work."

Part 2:

In using the word “passion” here, there are several ideas that describe Campion’s unique female characters. Their passions are strong feelings dedicated to creation of some sort (e.g., art, love, or other things or experiences). Passion functions as a mode of giving meaning, not just because it brings something significant into one’s life, but also because it gives expression to the very form of one’s subjectivity: it is the subject’s form of life that exceeds its mere bodily survival. As Campion depicts it, passion is a formal expression of the psyche, not just what one thinks but also how one thinks. Jacques Lacan’s idea of drive helps to illuminate this aspect of passion in Campion’s films. Drive is that point at which the psyche and the body intersect, and thus is an expression of our psychic structure, but in ways we don’t always consciously notice: for example, the way we see, touch, and hear. For Lacan, the drive’s defining characteristic is its ceaseless motion around a lost object that takes place without any final goal. That is not precisely the way I experience drive. My motion ceases every day; if there is any lost object it is the life I have had which is now over, at least some 70 years of it. My final goal has so many facets that it is impossible to express it in a word or phrase.

The drive, like passion, does not seek fulfillment in attaining an object. As Lacan points out, “what is fundamental at the level of each drive is the movement first in one direction and then in another; this is the structure of the drive.”  Whereas desire moves toward the object that it privileges, the drive uses an object to sustain its circular motion rather than seeking its end in an object.  Similarly, in Campion’s films the main character’s passion usually does not have a final goal or culmination; they do not, for example, culminate in a brilliant piano concert.  It is instead a passion that has no goal outside of itself and yet is essential to how the main character creates and finds meaning in the world. The way she expresses her passion is an expression of her own singularity as a subject, whether through art, writing, sex, religion, or whatever activity she privileges.

Part 3:

The existential psychologist Rollo May comes much closer to how passion and sex operates in my life.  "Sex can be defined fairly adequately", says Rollo May in his book Love and Will(1969), "in physiological terms as consisting of the building up of bodily tensions and their release. Eros, in contrast, is the experiencing of the personal intentions and meaning of the act. Whereas sex is a rhythm of stimulus and response, eros is a state of being. The pleasure of sex is described by Freud and others as the reduction of tension; in eros, on the contrary, we wish not to be released from the excitement but rather to hang on to it, to bask in it, & even to increase it. The end toward which sex points is gratification & relaxation, whereas eros is a desiring, longing, a forever reaching out, seeking to expand." He continues: "To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive — to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before." 

"The daimonic," says May, "is the urge in every being to affirm itself, assert itself, perpetuate and increase itself. The daimonic becomes evil when it usurps the total self without regard to the integration of that self, or to the unique forms and desires of others and their need for integration. It then appears in excessive aggression, hostility, cruelty — the things about ourselves which horrify us most, and which we repress whenever we can or, more likely, project on others. But these are the reverse side of the same assertion which empowers our creativity. All life is a flux between these two aspects of the daimonic. We can repress the daimonic, but we cannot avoid the toll of apathy and the tendency toward later explosion which such repression brings in its wake..... The daimonic arises from the ground of being rather than the self as such."  

Poets often have a conscious awareness that they are struggling with the daimonic, and that the issue is their working something through from the depths which push the self to a new plane.   ....Creativity is the result of a struggle between vitality and form. As anyone who has tried to write a sonnet or scan poetry, is aware, the form ideally do not take away from the creativity but may add to it. For much more from Rollo May go to:http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Rollo_May#Love_and_Will_.281969.29        

The love song of j. alfred prufrock
 
Section 1:

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

There is intensity here, pathos, fragility, even a certain comic tone. At least that's how I read the poem, a poem that has been read and reread, analysed and reanalysed by Eliot and others for a hundred years.  What Eliot is writing about, here, has not been the experience of every person all the time. These opening lines capture, at least for me, some of the essence of what has happened to me in my life. In 1962, when I first came across the poetry of T.S. Eliot, out of necessity, since his famous poem 'The Wasteland' was on my matriculation syllabus. I had no idea what Eliot was on about. Eliot was one of the many poets that turned me off poetry for years. He and other poets who wrote with obscure themes have now turned-off several generations of students from the rich realms of poetry.

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

Section 1.1.1:

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

I first came across the poetry of Eliot in 1962 in my final year of high school in Dundas Ontario at the centre of what was and still is called the Golden Horseshoe. It was right at the start of my travelling-pioneering life for the Canadian Baha'i community.  Frankly, at the time, I found Eliot just about incomprehensible but, then, so had millions of others, and millions since, who have tried to decipher his poetry. In the last century Eliot's poetry has been one of the many enigmatic poetic threads for modern man to deal with, at least those who have come across Eliot's poetry out of necessity or pleasure, or both.   But now, in the second decade of my retirement from teaching and lecturing, after teaching and studying English literature in various school and college curricula in the last sixty or more years, and after some two decades of a serious study and writing of poetry myself, Eliot seems strangely, subtlely, curiously, complexly, relevant. It is relevant to my experience of life and society, and how I have experienced sex over some seven decades in my lifespan.
 
"Let us go then, you and I", Eliot opens his poem and so I did, so did we: myself, the significant others in my life, and the many communities, both Baha'i communities at the start of what you might say was the second generation of pioneers in the context of the Plans,[1] and other communities I was a part of then.  I was young, just eighteen 'when the evening was spread out against the sky' when I first read Eliot's poetry.  Little did I know, then, as I know now, that the world around me was like "a patient etherized upon a table."  Of course, the world was many things, but it was also that etherized patient we find at the start of this poem of Eliot's.   
 
Section 3:

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

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

Eliot wrote his poem as the old order on which Western civilization was based was about to collapse, as I say, in the holocaust that was World War 1. A great tempest was blowing through the soul of humankind, and shaking it to its very foundations. That old order is still undergoing a process of collapse and a tempest is still blowing. Eliot's words still resonate a hundred years after they were first conceived.  In The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Eliot describes both the committed and uncommitted mass of human beings that I have been trying to teach for as long as Moses was in the wilderness.
 
Prufrock is paralyzed, the world is asleep, there is little movement toward the great transforming Revelation except by a discouragingly meager few, and so we could see our lives as measured with coffee spoons, as if we had spit out all the butt-ends of our days. It was as if we were scuttling across the floors of silent seas in ways similar to those first sea creatures several 100 million years before.  Eliot's depressing metaphors are useful to describe our experience. His metaphors reflect our experience, the experience Eliot is conveying to us in his poem.  But this reflection is only partial, at the low end, the sad end, sometimes the realistic end. Thankfully that is not all. There is more to the meaning of life since 1917 than Eliot conveys in Prufrock.
 
Section 4.1:

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

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

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

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

Section 1:

J. Hillis Miller(1928- ) is an American literary critic who has been heavily influenced by—and who has heavily influenced—deconstructionism. Go to this link to get an overview of this literary theory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deconstruction  Miller writes that "Prufrock's infirmity of will is not so much a moral deficiency as a consequence of his subjectivism." (2) Eliot has put it thus:
 
   And indeed there will be time
……..
And time for all the works and days of hands
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred decisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
 
    In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo
 
David Spurr(1949- ), whose doctorate is in comparative literature at the University of Michigan, and who taught at the universities of Illinois (Chicago) and Neuchâtel, now teaches modern English literature from the 18th to the 20th centuries, literary theory, and comparative literature. His publications are on modern literature in English and French, with a particular interest in the relations between literature and the cultural and philosophical contexts of modernity. Spurr wrote, in his analysis of this poem of T.S. Eliot, that the poem's language conveys a disordered experience, expresses an imprecision and aimlessness, with speakers trapped inside their own excessive alertness.  Their shy, cultivated and overly sensitive awareness seems to be part of the poem's very fragmentation(2). The world we all have to deal with, certainly the one I've dealt with since the late 1940s and 1950s when I, too, was shy and, as I look back in retrospect, overly sensitive, has been fragmented. This hardly needs saying.
 
Section 2:

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

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

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

In his essay “Eliot as Philosopher”, Richard Shusterman points to Eliot’s attempted fusion of tradition and interpretation, comparing it with the hermeneutical philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer……He states that: “Eliot recognized, with Wittgenstein, that since language depends on social use, its meaning changes over history through the changing situations and applications which it must address’ (Shusterman, 2006: 41)(2). Thus, in the perceived unfamiliarity of a new age, a new poetic form is deemed essential. Eliot’s poetry was indeed a new form, and mine, my poetry, is my personal idiosyncratic rendition of my experience, my voice, as it is sometimes called.
 
According to Helen Gardner, one of the earliest commentators on Eliot’s work, the poet has ‘effected a modification and an enrichment of the whole English poetic tradition’ (Gardner, 1972: 2)(3)  Poems such as “The Waste Land”, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, “Four Quarters”, and “The Hollow Men”, wrestle with the uncharted territory of social and individual disenchantment and dissolution, the eclipse of personal and collective meaning and purpose, and the alienation of the subject from previously assumed sources of direction and support. I do the same or, to put it a little differently, I do it in my own way.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) T. S. Eliot, Selected Prose of T.S. Eliot,  Harcourt Inc., Orlando, 1975, p.111; (2) Richard Shusterman,  “Eliot as Philosopher” in The Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot, ed. David Moody, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006, pp. 31-47; and (3) Helen Gardner, The Art of T.S. Eliot, Faber and Faber Ltd., London, 1968.
 
                                                       REAL TOUCH
 
This organization of formed words, this noble energy, which comes to rest in this apparently natural, but partly artificial and mysterious place; formed words which attempt to know the meaning of humankind and the world with clarity and form, beauty and with choice, uses the most succinct, memorable and affective speech. That speech is the poem or, more specifically for me, the prose-poem. The engine of this process is the imagination and it tends toward greatness when it is inspired by a systematic vision of civilization, global civilization, what Jung called the big vision.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WRITING ABOUT SEX: IN MY REAL LIFE AND IN FICTION

Part 1:

In my real life, from the 1960s onward sex was a part of my life. In fiction some of the characters have sex. Fiction writers, as well as myself in this part of my website, have to decide how they will present sex in their work, their writing.  The topic of sex in fiction, and in memoiristic writing like my own, is important for writers. Are the sexual acts explicit or implied? Do they happen off the page, and behind closed doors? How often do the characters in fiction, and how often do I, indulge? Is a character’s personal sex-life, or mine, integral to the story, the life-narrative in my case, or merely part of the background?  How can writers write sex into their stories in a way that fits the character, the story, and the readers' expectations? How can I do so in my autobiographical work?

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

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

Part 2:

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

Part 2.1:

On the opposite end of the romance spectrum from inspirationals is erotica. Books in this sub-genre might include a higher number of sex scenes than what’s found in traditional romances, and the type of sex is typically both more adventurous and graphic. Scenes in erotica might include bondage, dominance and submission, both heterosexual and homosexual sex, and multiple partners. Other sub-genres of romance typically fall between the 'no sex of inspirationals' to the 'abundant sex of erotica'. The average, the typical, writer, does not write about their own personal sexual activity, and neither does your average autobiographer or memoir-writer.  By 2013, though, the internet and real space provided a myriad exceptions.

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

COURTESAN?
 
Section 1:

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

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

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

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

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

ROGER WHITE AND APPLESAUCE

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

ORDINARY AND INSIGNIFICANT INDIVIDUALS

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

to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_history and/or to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_history

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

I AM ONE OF THOSE ORDINARY INDIVIDUALS

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

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

THIS WRITER'S WORK FOR FUTURE BIOGRAPHERS AND HISTORIANS

The historical period which some future biographer will invite readers to consider through my eyes will be of exceptional interest, the first five epochs from 1944, virtually the entire second century of the Formative Age of the Baha'i Era, when the Baha'i Faith grew from an insignificant Movement on the far periphery of an emerging global, planetizing, culture and civilization, to a player of some note in the affairs of humankind, from perhaps 100 thousand adherents, mostly in Iran in 1944, to many millions spread over the entire surface of the Earth by 2044.  My autobiography in its many forms will provide a small supplement to the vast array of information available on these five epochs, this second century of the Formative Age.

Beginning in the 1990s, especially after 1992, an auspicious juncture in the history of the Baha'i Faith, the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the ascension of Baha'u'llah, the accumulated potential for further developments in both the progress of the Baha'i community and my own writing was, in retrospect, incalculable. The onrushing, the quickening, wind to which the House of Justice referred in April 1992 seemed to be blowing through my life, veniliating my modes of thought, renewing, clarifying and amplifying my perspectives.  As the Arc Project on Mt. Carmel proceded throughout the 1990s and was officially completed in 2001, a rush of ceasless literary activity, some new potency, that had begun for me in 1992 continued and began to consolidate itself.  In these last two decades, then, 1992 to 2012, a foundation for the years ahead, for the last years of my late adulthood and old age, has been laid.  This foundation of millions of words, a 2600 page autobiography and 7000 poems, among other writings has been laid: (i) after a warm-up period of pioneering and travelling from 1962 to 1992, and (ii) after more than 40 years of writing: 1950 to 1992.

SHIFTINGS IN THE LIFESPAN: EARLY RETIREMENT

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

I mention Hirschman and his book Shifting Involvements because, by the time I was 55, I had had a life of many successes and not a few failures, going back as far as my first memories in the late 1940s.  After five decades of more involvements that I care to recount, I was also ready for a shift in my involvements, my MO, my modus operandi, in life.  I did what some in Australia call "a 360", and what others call "a sea-change".   I retired from the job world, the world of paid employment, with its 50 to 70 hours a week of responsibilities; I gradually stopped going to endless meetings in connection the various volunteer community responsibilities I had outside my job; my children left the nest. I recreated,  reinvented, myself as a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, online blogger and journalist, reader and scholar.  Some 10 years later, 2006 to 2015, I have a modus vivendi, a way of living to use an old Latin phrase, that will take me to the late evening and nightfall of my life. If senile dementia or some other debilitating disease incapacitates me, my daily MO may change. Time, of course, will tell.

BEING A WRITER: A MODEST PRETENSION

Part 1:

The majority of a writer's work, if not all of it, both prose and poetry, a writer outgrows and outlives.  If he or she dies young the writer outgrows his or her work by the process of what you might call natural attrition.  As I head through my 70s,  I am happy to pass on this magnum opus, this massive oeuvre, to those who take an interest in it, to future generations.   Should no one take an interest in what I have written, I am prepared that all of my work will come to have been of no long term value to society.  As T.S. Eliot(1988-1965) put it, a writer has to be prepared that everything he has written may prove to have been, in retrospect, an utter waste of his own time.  T.S. Eliot was arguably the 20th century's most famous poet.  He gave this advice so that writers might be saved from possible bitterness and disappointment, from discouragement that their work might not be recognized or that they might fail to attain any success or achievement.

To be a writer and author, a poet and a publisher, roles I have taken on in my late middle age(55-60) and the first decade(61-70) of late adulthood, are for me modest pretensions, but they are engrossing roles which now occupy me FT.  By 1997, in the last 2 years of my life in paid employment, I had begun to see my total literary output as part of a great epic. This notion of my work as epic had begun at the very outset in the international Baha'i community of what was and is called "a new culture of learning and growth, a new paradigm."  This new Baha'i culture is now two decades in the making: 1996-2016.

Part 2:

It has been a part of the function of my education, both my self-education and my 18 years of formal education in schools, to help me to escape--not from my own time, for I am bound by that--but from the intellectual & emotional limitations of my own time.  Hence my interest in so much that has been the humanities and social sciences, as well as, more recently, the biological as well as the physical and applied sciences.  So much of my writing is imbued with these many burgeoning disciplines. This interest and my writing, though, does not pay well. In my eight years of FT writing(2006 to 2014) I have received about 20 cents per annum from the internet sites where my writing is posted. 

I receive a Canadian and Australian pension which I began receiving 5 years ago at the age of 65.  These pensions, with the pension my wife receives, total about $1300/fortnight, about $34,000/annum.  I also live in a house that is paid for and valued at between $270,000 and $300,000.  If this were not the case, if I only had my pensions, and some $200 per annum from $4000 in stocks, my financial situation would be strained to put it mildly.  I would now be living on the street with the world's homeless people who now number in the many millions. Perhaps my three children and my wife's mother might have saved us from such an eventuality, saved us from being in the proverbial poor-house.  As things stand now in 2014, my wife and I are comfortable; we are able to pay the bills that come in, to put food on the table and put a roof over our heads. I trust this will remain the case until I pass from this mortal coil sometime, in all likelihood, by mid-century, that is by 2050. If I live to mid-century I will be 106!

WHAT I WRITE ABOUT: THANKS TO ANNIE DILLARD

Part 1:

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

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

....Dillard continues.....

Part 2:

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

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

Part 3:

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

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

Part 4:

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

MARK TWAIN AND ME: PART 1

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

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

The first posthumous sections of Mark Twain's memoirs, what became in time his autobiography, were published in 1924 in a sanitized form 14 years after his death by his first biographer Albert Bigelow Paine. Later Bernard DeVoto included parts of the memoir in his compilation entitled Mark Twain in Eruption (1940), and then the memoir appeared more authoritatively in a book entitled The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959). This book's editor, Charles Neider, presented that scattered memoir's materials “in the sequence which one would reasonably expect from autobiography.”  According to another view: "Mark Twain provided twenty-five individual chapters of his autobiography to the North American Review during 1906 and 1907. The material was chosen by Twain in collaboration with George Harvey, then editor of the North American Review, and Twain had the final say on what material would be included. “Chapters from My Autobiography” can be considered the one text of his life story that Mark Twain offered the reading public. That text appeared in book form in 1990 as Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography; a second edition appeared early in 2010."See this link:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/07/twain-twain/

MARK TWAIN AND ME: PART 2

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

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

PART 2.1

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

SECRET TO THE WAY I WORK

All writers have some secret about the way they work. Mark Twain, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Truman Capote, Charles Simic, Jean Jacques Rousseau and many other writers wrote in bed.  Vladimir Nabokov even kept index cards under his pillow in case he couldn’t sleep some night and felt like working. What could be more natural, at least for some, than scribbling a love poem with a ballpoint pen on the back of one’s beloved?  Edith Sitwell supposedly used to lie in a coffin in preparation for the far greater horror of facing the blank page. Robert Lowell wrote lying down on the floor.  Many people write on the floor.  I’ve written in bed, on the floor and many other places, but I prefer the big rotatable chair my son bought for me after I retired. It sits in front of my computer monitor and keyboard in my study.  At least that has been the case in the last dozen years since I took to writing full-time.  I think, though, that the core of my secret, the secret to the way I work, is that I have little interest in doing anything else except reading from the vast cornucopia of literature now available in cyberspace. Quotidian reality continues to occupy my time as does sleeping and I take a great deal of interest and pleasure in both these occupations, occupations which take care of 2/3rds of the day with their assortment of tasks and necessities: eating and drinking, sleeping and resting, walking and listening to music, socializing & being silent, removing waste material from my body and my home and, on occasion chatting to my wife about what must be talked about in any marriage of several decades.

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

LITERARY FORM: WILLIAM JAMES AND ME

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

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

MY MEMOIRS: MARK TWAIN AND W. H. AUDEN

Part 1

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

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

Part 2

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

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

Part 2.1

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

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

MY INTERNET WRITING

For my writing at over 200 forums and discussion sites,  blogs and message boards, on the internet readers need to go to a multitude of links. Some of the blogs or discussion sites are those of several other Ron Prices. Just sift through the Ron Prices and you will find the locations at which I have posted. You can also access these blogs by just googling the words: RonPrice blogs: https://www.google.com.au/search?q=Ron+Price+forums&hl=en&prmd=ivnso&start=60&ei=SycuVaaXGeW1mwWr0IDoAw#safe=active&hl=en&q=Ron+Price+BLOGS

MARILYN MONROE and ME

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

ON PHOTOGRAPHY

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

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

However critical one is of photographs, the family portrait and the photo album, and for many now their internet blog, Facebook page or computer-directory of digital photos, assume a significant place in people's homes.  Although the photo may give an undue emphasis to the outer world, it can also become part of a balanced inner and outer experience. "The best part of beauty," wrote Irish-born artist British figurative painter Francis Bacon(1909-1992), "is that which no picture can express."(3)  Photos are suggestive and, if they do not suggest much more than is in the photos, they have little use or power.  Diane Arbus(1923-1971), American photographer and writer, puts the idea in a clever way: "A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know."
------------------FOOTNOTES--------------------
(1) David Frisby, Fragments of Modernity: Theories of Modernity in the Work of Simmel, Kracauer and Benjamin, Polity Press, 1985, p.155.
(2) Baudelaire in Donald Kuspit, The New Subjectivism: Art in the 1980s, Da Capo Press, NY, 1983, p.404.
(3) Quotations on photography, Internet, January 2003.

BIOGRAPHIES OF MY LIFE: PART 1

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

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

Part 1.1

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

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

BIOGRAPHIES OF MY LIFE: PART 2

At best I see myself as a minor poet, a minor author; many have got caught-up in my internet ramblings in the last dozen or so years, the first of the 21st century; the statistics that I have seen on the internet have made this clear.  In the thousands of my posts which I have placed at innumerable sites, my little gems of delight, if gems they be, at least some of them(hopefully!)can be found.  There are readers who find them to be gems and readers who find them to be grains of sand. That is the way with the offerings of all writers.  It's good to aim for the stars when one writes, but it is also good to have one's feet grounded solidly on terra firma with realistic assessments of the reception of one's work.  As I sketch over the terra incognita of life to whatever extent I can, whereever I must, I enjoy the process whoever reads what I write. There are many advantages, for the biographer, of literary subjects. While it is never possible to burrow completely inside the psyche of another, or to recreate precisely how that other sees, feels and thinks about the world, one came closest to an intimate viewpoint in the case of subjects who lave an ample sufficiency of evidence of their inner lives. Because the business of writers is the production of words and the endless recreation and recycling of their own experience, writers came closer than other kinds of people to generating inner psychic evidence and leaving it potentially accessible to other writers.

Part 2.1 CHARLES DICKENS

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

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

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

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

Part 2.2 HENRY JAMES

“The pale forewarned victim,” Henry James wrote in relation to each of our lives and the attempts by others to write biographies of them, “with every track covered and every paper burnt and every letter unanswered, will, in the tower of art, the invulnerable granite, stand, without a sally, the siege of all the years.”  In my autobiography and its many genres: poetry and letters, narrative and analysis I have left much "invulnerable granite" which may become quite vulnerable. Go to this link for the changing views of the "invulnerable granite" that was the life of American novelist Henry James(1843-1916):  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/books/review/Leavitt2-t.html?pagewanted=all

HAVING READERS IS A BONUS FOR A WRITER

Having readers is a bonus when one is enjoying the process of writing; it's somewhat like gardening or many an artisitic pursuit. "What must grow, ever anew, day in and day out," wrote the American essayist, poet and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson(1803-1882), "is one’s inner genius, which his essay on self-reliance defines thus: “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men—that is genius.” In this respect many of the bloggers of our age have a great deal of Emersonianism in them, little do they know. Self-expression through writing was an almost organic need of Emerson's, as if his genius received its daily bread from his pen.  For over fifty years he spent a good part of his time writing in his journals, fostering the growth of that forever embryonic inner-self whose health depended on it.

“Writing is always my metre of health," Emerson wrote, "writing which a sane philosopher would probably say was the surest symptom of a diseased mind.”  Emerson was like many other thinkers who were first and foremost writers. So was Frederick Nietzsche (1844-1900). They do not belong among the ranks of philosophers.  For real philosophers writing is a type of annotation, rather than the flower of their thought.  It is primarily for their prose that we read Emerson or Nietzsche.  I will not, indeed at this stage I cannot, say why people read my work. I leave this question unanswered here and will, perhaps, come back to it at a later date.  If I am fortunate to get in 50 good years of writing, as Emerson did,  I will be at least 77, 87, 97 or 107--when I die---depending on just when I define the beginning of my "good years" of writing.

GORE VIDAL AND ME

SURPRISED BY JOY

Part 1:

Not everyone's mind ends in words as mine does. Some minds end in their hands: on keyboards, on violin strings, in pieces of wood, on potters' wheels, paint brushes. Other minds end in their eyes: nature lovers, lovers of beauty in its many forms; still others have minds that end in their feet and legs: ballerinas, dancers, skaters, runners and many athletes.  I have always been remorselessly curious, relentlessly analytical, a wordsmith, although I did not seem to even begin to blossom, to flourish as a writer until my late thirties. Then an intellectual and literary self-definition began to take form in essays I wrote and published in Katherine, a small town in Australia's Northern Territory at the age of forty.  This literary self-defintion had been slowly brewing, sensibly and insensibly, in the 30 years from 1953 to 1983.

I took myself seriously as a writer right from the start but, having been in Australia for thirteen years by the time I was being published, I had discovered a certain lightness, a sense of humour, a counter to whatever gravitas was found in my writing.  Writing became, partly, performance, dazzle.  Not everyone saw the dazzle, of course; it was a quiet dazzle.  My dazzle did not have the public flare and quality of performance of essayists like a Gore Vidal, a Clive James, or a host of others. James arrived in England in 1962, when I was just beginning my travelling life for the Canadian Baha'i community.  He found England the ideal place for his mischievous polymath appetites. Absorbing foreign languages and literatures like a ravenous arts-devouring molecule, he spread across England’s cultural scene as a television critic, novelist, essayist, poet and nonfiction author, and as a lightning-tongued guest or host on countless TV programs. There is no exact American parallel for the kind of brainy small-screen circuses where James has clowned and cracked his whip.

Part 1.1

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

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

Part 2:

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

As I approach the age of 70 I feel as if I have just begun my acquaintanceship with the world of letters.  In the early years of this 21st century, Vidal still writes vigorously and with witty prose, with a graceful erudition and an ability to attack a misguided point of view by coming up with the facts. He can be funny enough to make me laugh out loud.  Kaleidoscopic are his interests, his energies and the remarkable range of his talents; sweeping and grasping is his prose style, with its mix of the elegant and the wittily vernacular. -Ron Price with thanks to Peter Conrad, "The Public Intellectual", ABC Radio National, 21 June 1998,  5:05-6:00 PM.

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

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

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

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

Ron Price
21 June 1998 to 19 May 2012

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

THE FALL OF '59                
 
Gore Vidal(1925) is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. He is known for many things: his cool, satirical analyses of the rich, the famous and the powerful;  his writings as a novelist, cultural critic and historian.  He once said to his friends and associates: "when an interviewer or a biographer asks you questions about me tell them anything, whatever comes into your mind."   He does not seem to have anything to hide;  he possesses a simple and self-admitted arrogance.   He does not seem to have a dark side to hide but, then, that may be because he does not want to talk about himself, about his inner life, about any personal, psychological self-investigation.  For that reason he is a person of dangerous attraction. He is funny, entertaining, engaging and, sigificantly, an unknown quantity.  He writes about the modern conscience searching for truth in a world bereft of the ancient wisdom of the gods, searching for truths that are perennial but not archaic.-Ron Price with thanks to Fred Kaplan, Gore Vidal: A Biography, Doubleday, NY, 1999, pp.459-462.

I became a Baha'i
in the lounge-room
of Rod and Doreen Willis;
you decided to run for Congress
and put that novel Julian
on hold--in that fall of '59.

You knew, then, that Jack Kennedy
would be a formidable candidate
for the Democratic presidential
nomination in 1960 and I knew
I Ioved Susan Gregory,
the Toronto Maple Leafs
and getting high marks at school.

That fall you wrote the first draft
of The Best Man, appeared in talk
shows and were acceptably irreverent
in your professional media-projections.

I settled in to an ordinarily ordinary year
in grade ten in the fall of '59 & casually,
although with a quiet sense of the great
importance of the act, signed that card
declaring my belief in what I came to see
and understand as the greatest drama in
the world's long and very spiritual history.

Ron Price
23 August 2001 to 15 May 2012

TRENCHANT CYNICISM

I find the cyclic theory of history attractive: theocracy, aristocracy, democracy, chaos, theocracy. I find the present chaos-pluralist-diversity model preferable to theocracy. -Gore Vidal, Books and Writing, ABC Radio, 26 January 1997, 7:30-8:20 pm.

Vidal is entertaining, urbane, informative in the most delightful way with his tongue firmly in his cheek most, no, virtually all of the time. The arrogance, the tendency to speak as if he knows for sure, is counterbalanced by his charm and a certain erudition. How far, I ask, can Vidal take me? As Vidal heads for 90 years old, I think he has taken me as far as I can go.  How far can the noblest distraction, reading, take me? Reading can take me life's distance, to the end of my days, as long as I don't get dementia or some incapacitating disease. In the end, one must look within, in the solitude of one’s own heart and mind. It is there that I have come to enjoy Vidal but, like everyone else, one can only go so far and one has to define one's own signature.  “I never found a companion," wrote Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862), "that was so companionable as solitude.” It is in solitude that I write and read; it is here, too, that I create the person I want to be. “Thought is the sculptor," said Thoreau again, "who can create the person you want to be."-Ron Price with thanks to Joseph Epstein, Plausible Prejudices: Essays on American Writing, WW Norton and Co., NY, 1985, p. 392.

You are made to measure for the humorous
under-belly of Australia where nothing is taken
seriously except gardening, sport, entertainment,
cooking, and...... You, the arch-entertainer who
lays whole worlds low with a smile and a chuckle
and a knowledge that leaves a person thinking:
"this guy knows!"   But one is never quite sure
‘cause one knows so little about his pile of facts.

Democracy which is not democracy because it’s
paid for by corporate America no matter what
party; and where Clinton and Gore paid out
some two billion in getting elected and it's
advertising that sells its version of the truth
to billions as truth, a disease that has spread
world-wide now. Is truth always coated in his
type of trenchant cynicism as you laugh all
the way to the end of the interview on the TV.

Ron Price
26 January 1997 to 15 May 2012.

DO NOT COURT DISAPPOINTMENT

At the risk of repeating myself I want to emphasize yet again that it is good to keep the advice of that great 20th century poet T.S. Eliot somewhere above one's writing desk. "Write as if everything you put down on paper in the end might come to naught."  One does not want to court the discouraging, the disheartening, emotions of disappointment.  If one aims for wealth and fame disappointment can easily come to one's life.  Disappointment and discouragement can eat at one's soul.  After a dozen years of extensive publication of my work in cyberspace, and more than 30 years of the appearance of my work in the print media, only $1.49 in royalties have come my way--enough for a small chocolat bar or the rate of 15 cents per year!  With fame spread across the invisible ether and spaces of the Internet I have no illusions of the potential of my writing and myself to achieve fame and wealth.  I will take what comes, whatever that may be, as I head into what I trust are the liberating winds of old age(80+), if I last that long.  The ship of my life may sink on the rocks of some unforeseen dementia but, as the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly was reported to have said on his way to the gallows in NSW in 1880: "such is life." 

My writing has yielded many results, though. Eliot's cautionary note is not something I must take literally. In the years 1949 to 1999, my writing helped me achieve a B.A., a B.Ed., part of an M.A. and four partly completed graduate diplomas. These qualifications helped provide a basis for half a century of student and employment achievements and these, in turn, helped me to earn a living, raise three children and participate in various ways in community life. In the last dozen years, 2000 to 2012, my writing has given me great pleasure and has enriched the years of my retirement. It was far, very far, from a waste of time.

THE FAMOUS CONTEMPORARY POET JOHN ASHBERY AND ME

A collection of a poet's poetry is the public presentation of a person’s privacy, his vision of his privacy, as well as a comment on the collectivity, the society in which he is a part. We are all part of a planetizing, increasingly integrated and interdependent global community.  The poems of the famous American poet John Ashbery(1927-), what one poetry critic calls poetry's true visionary and chronicler of our time, have always kept their secrets, sometimes defiantly so, even as he and his poems have become better and better known. This is quintessentially true of my work, although I am far from being the public poet that Ashbery is. Indeed, I am not in his league. I play the role of a minor-minor poet. As the famous Russian writer Boris Pasternak(1890-1960) once wrote: "a life without secrets is simply unimaginable."  So, with Ashbery, I keep my secrets. Don't we all.  Readers who like my work, or his, feel included in our secrets.  I like to think that my readers feel included in my life and whatever secrets I have made public.

Whole Ashbery poems, some might argue his entire corpus, has become famous for being unreadable, indececipherable, obscure oddities or, worse, hostile to readers. Worst of all some readers see his poetry as one big hoax. None of my poetry falls into the category of complete unreadability or hoax.  I never take a hostile stance to my readers, although I'm sure there are many who, on coming across my work, do not feel my writing speaks to them.  Ashbery has written about the disgust some people experience while reading him---in his poems entitled: “Not Him Again” or “Thank You for Not Cooperating.”  Ashbery is sublimely aware of how his readers experience his poetry.  To read more about Ashbery go to this link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ashbery#Poetry_collections

MORE ON JOHN ASHBERY and ME

The accumulation of poems over time, for Ashbery, measures the passing of time, like the accumulation of snow during a storm. He has been writing poetry and publishing it for more than half a century.  Ashbery calls his poem “The Skaters” a “poem in the form of falling snow."  I have been wriitng poetry since 1962 and collecting what I have written since 1980 and these several million words measure like Ashbery's poetry and if nothing else, the passing of time: 7000 of my poems have passed into booklets in more than 30 years. Poetry, like snowfall, accumulates at variable rates and at uncertain intervals. Ashbery’s poems constantly match their own “moping and thrashing through time” against time’s conventional measures: the day passing into darkness, the passing of the seasons, the wearing down of the body, the blurring of memory.  The total design of his work, and mine, is dizzying for most readers especially with the print and image-glut which the world has entered increasingly in the last, say, two decades.  with the world wide web and the increasing, the burgeoning, quantity of print and electronic media---among other factors---people now swim in information and entertainment at least in the developed, media enveloped part of the planet.

Our work, Ashbery's and mine is elaborately worked up; it is embellished beyond anybody’s dream of detail.  As in the writing of Marcel Proust, readers getting lost is part of the point for the writer. Poetry is like life and getting lost from time to time is at the heart of life. It is also part of what one writer called "the great attempt to capture the way we move through life.”  The great writers capture this process and the lesser lights, like myself, capture its traces, only a small part of the process of the way we move through life.

Anything that passes through the room in which Ashbery or I writes can have an impact on our poetry—a telephone call, an event in the media, a photo, inter alia, can divert the progress of a poem. How much more affecting is it going to be, then, when a reader who, perhaps, a decade or so before seemed to turn his back on Ashbery or me, starts passing through our poetry.  Attention must be paid by readers of both Ashbery's work and mine to where each of us lives, to the objects with which we surround ourselves, and the interrelationships among the various objects with which we live and about which we have written. The connections that can be be drawn between our physical and poetic environments are central to our work.

The following quotation about Ashbery's work applies to mine: "No detail is too grand or lowly, no style of speech too lofty or base, to be included.  Everything is poeticised: the shared details of our social, economic and cultural lives freely mix, and through the poems we are persuaded to view them with fresh eyes. In this way, Ashbery’s attention to every detail of existence is both generous and humble. It is political in the widest sense of the word - democratic, ... empowering .... It is a poetry that gives readers room to think and feel for themselves." (Robert Potts, Guardian, 3/10/01) Go to this link for more of Pott's views:http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2001/mar/10/poetry

ASHBERY AND I PART COMPANY

Both Ashbery and I certainly aim to achieve total identification with readers and their acts of reading. As one analyst puts it, we aim to achieve an equal distribution of sentience between author and reader.  But he and I part company on many fronts. He sees himself as radically inscrutable. He is, more thoroughly than any other poet of our era, a reader of his own poems, a decipherer, and suspended in a state of anxious partial knowledge. We all have only partial knowledge and, as poets, we read our own work. But I do not see myself as radically inscrutable. In the first years of my poetic experience my work was indecipherable to many. They told me so. 

By the time I began to publish on the internet in the late 1990s, my writing had a clarity and, I trust, a simplicity that it lacked in the 1980s.  Ashbery's Collected Poems(1956-87) and his work since then is perhaps best read as autobiography by other means, a turning-on-its-head of autobiographical conventions. Still, it reads like the story of the growth of this poet’s mind. My poetry is, if nothing else, also autobiographical and, like Wordsworth's poem The Prelude, is about the growth of my mind, of my views and of my religion.

In poem after poem Ashbery and I make an attempt to bring reality into something like intelligible shape.  Trying and failing, trying and succeeding, in our efforts to make sense of the world and the self as lived, is our subject.  Ashbery is what the American poet laureate Robert Frost called poets to try to be: "a man of prowess.” Of course, this is only the case for some readers. His readers had better bring their own prowess to match or they will experience little to nothing.  I would not want to make such a claim to be "a man of prowess," for myself or my work. But I am sure that some readers who come upon my work often will have similar experiences to the ones they have with Ashbery's and turn away from it quickly.  I know this to be the case after a decade of publishing in cyberspace. Poetry is not for everyone any more than is gardening or cooking, fishing or pottery. As individuals we all turn away from all sorts of things in life: that is part of the nature of freedom and human diversity.

ANTHONY LAPAGLIA

Part 1:

The interview I watched tonight(1) was presented as a seminar to students of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University. In this interview Anthony LaPaglia(b.1959-) was both celebrity and star as well as teacher and mentor. I gained some useful insights for my role in life now in these middle years(65-75) of late adulthood, as a writer and author, poet and publisher  He also shared some of his views on life and his philosophy of living. After retiring from FT and PT employment by 2002, I had enjoyed watching this Australian in the who-dun-it TV series Without A Trace for which he had won several awards.(2)  LaPaglia was born the year I joined the Baha’i Faith at the age of 15 in 1959.  Paglia was only 12 when we both lived in South Australia in 1971. I was a high school teacher at the time and living in Gawler and Whyalla, towns in that state of Australia.

When you make a mistake, he said, just move on; forgive yourself, learn from the experience and don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Actors have their talents to offer and, if a film-maker wants their talents, they can make a deal.  I have often felt that way about my own talents, about forgiving myself and about not making a big deal out of insignificant things. He said he learned about himself by taking on different roles. I did, too, only my roles were not those of an actor, but as a person in many different jobs in life and positions in the communities of which I was a part.  Paglia said he tried to become that person whose role he was playing as far as he was able.  I was reminded of how Peter Sellers stood in the shoes of those he was playing, those roles in which he was acting.

Part 2:

I as a writer have learned about myself and about writing by: (a) reading about other writers and how they have gone about their craft, (b) reading about society and about whatever topic I am currently writing about, (c) by a wide range of experiences over seven decades, and (d) reflecting on my own life, among many other MOs, modus operandi.-Ron Price with thanks to (1)“Inside The Actors Studio: Anthony LaPaglia,” ABC2, 12;10-12:55, 8 September 2011; and (2)See Wikipedia.

I’m not sure I can add much more
in this prose-poem, Anthony, about
that interview, or your life & mine.
You’ve come a long way since those
days in South Australia…You could
have been a student in my class....
Now you are known to millions…...
hundreds of millions on the planet
& you have made buckets of money:
goodonyer, as they say Downunder!!

Ron Price
8 September 2011 to 27/10/'11



LANTANA AND ANTHONY LAPAGLIA

There exist literally 1000s of films and books, TV programs and essays which deal with relationships. The field is probably one of the best excavated of all fields. I will select but one here to illustrate the topic. Lantana is a 2001 Australian film, directed by Ray Lawrence and featuring Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Armstrong, Geoffrey Rush and Barbara Hershey. It is based on the play Speaking In Tongues by Andrew Bovell which premiered at Sydney's Griffin Theatre Company. The film won seven AFI Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (LaPaglia), Best Actress (Armstrong) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Lantana is set in suburban Sydney and focuses on the complex relationships between the characters in the film. The central event of the film is the disappearance and death of a woman whose body is shown at the start of the film, but whose identity is not revealed until later. The film's name derives from the plant Lantana, a weed prevalent in suburban Sydney. Writer and critic Roger Ebert compared the film to Short Cuts and Magnolia in terms of how it developed the connections between the lives of strangers. It premiered in the UK on Channel 4 in December 2006. British critic Philip French described the film as a "thoughtful, gripping movie" based around the themes of "trust in its various forms, betrayal, forgiveness and grief". For more on the film go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lantana_(film)

INTERVIEWS WITH STARS

"The star interview is one of the hardest tasks to handle in all journalism," says Clive James in a column he wrote about the finest interviewer he knew, Bryan Appleyard.  In that column James discusses "just how an expert goes about shaping up the raw material" of an interview, and hoiw he sees Appleyard's style as "a benchmark of the interview as genre."  Appleyard doesn't let awe of the person being interviewed throw him. Instead, his tactical sense, faced with whatever plenitude there is in the stimulus, is sharpened rather than blunted: the sure mark of the veteran. A journalist working over a wide range, if always at a high level, Appleyard employs a plain style, with no hoopla. The advantage of such unadorned transparency is that it doesn't interpose the writer's own personality between his notebook and the subject, and that kind of reticence really counts when you're interviewing a star. For more of James' comments on Appleyard and his interview style go to:http://www.clivejames.com/bryan-appleyard

ON THE SUBJECT OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY

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

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

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

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

http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic

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

http://forums.allaboutjazz.com/showthread

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


MY MEMOIRS: PART 2

I have written several editions of my memoirs in the midst of a "series of soul-stirring events" that celebrated the construction and completion of the Terraces on Mount Carmel and in the first two decades of the "auspicious beginning" of the occupation by the International Teaching Centre of its "permanent seat on the Mountain of the Lord." I see my work, too, as a spin-off, part of that generation of spiritual nerves and sinews that is the result of "the revolutionary vision, the creative drive and systematic effort" that has come to characterize more and more the work of all the senior institutions of the Cause." This lengthy life-narrative is also my own humble, perhaps not humble enough, attempt to "comprehend the magnitude of what has been so amazingly accomplished" in my lifetime and in this century just past. However traumatic and horrific, I take deep satisfaction from the advances of humankind in that 20th century and particularly from the processes knitting together the earth's peoples and nations---inspite of appearances and events indicating serious breakdown.

What I write is part of "a change of time," "a new state of mind," a "coherence of understanding," a "divinely driven enterprise." The story and the meaning I give it are crucial to my life for, without them--story and meaning that is--the days of my life would remain, would be, an intolerable sequence of events that make no sense. They would be, at best, a dabbling into things, a sort of entertainment, a search for fun in the midst of love and work with their inevitable pleasures and frustrations. They would express a kind of absurdity which many can and do live with; or like the German-Swiss poet and novelist(1877-1962) Herman Hess the dominant taste of life would be of "nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams" which he said is the content of "the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves."

I would also find this dabbling, this focus on fun and entertainment, a sad and inadequate philosophy, one I could scarcely bear and one I would find difficult to journey through to the end. Telling a story of my life is like a natural echo, an automatic repetition, a rhetorical sequence in my effort to define and link my identity, the who that I am, and to unfold the meaning of it all. In some ways my memoiristic exercise is both more and less than telling a story. It is a conversation with a diverse public: family, friends, the past and the future--and inevitably the present. It is a conversation, an identity, shaped by the events of my time among other forces. Now with literally millions of readers in this world of cyberspace my writing is indeed a conversation, a conversation quite different in some ways, and quite the same in others, from/as that which I have had in real space for the last seven decades.

OVERVIEW OF MY WRITING

Even with an overarching meaning in my oeuvre that is a source of joy and of enchantment, there is still sadness, chaos and absurdity in this conversation, this story, this myriad of messages I send out from my literary life.  Self-interrogation joins the self and produces the story of its life by capturing what is basic about the whole thing, what is indispensable, what is marginal and even superficial. The story of American writer and mountaineer, Jon Krakauer's(b. 1954-) climb to the summit of Mt. Everest illustrates some of the irrationality, the absurdity, the puritanical aspects of anything that is the passion of a life. He writes about his "belief in the nobility of suffering and work.....It defies logic." I find this particular theme of profound significance which I may return to at another time. Krakauer also writes, "I can't think of a single good thing that came out of this climb." Even in my lowest moments, gazing retrospectively at my life, I don't feel I can make this tragic claim for the climb that is my life.   Still, it is difficult to assess the ultimate value of what one has done in life since the final fruition of one's actions is beyond the grave---in whatever form that beyond and that fruition takes. There is a quintessential mystery to life which no man can hear or understand. Such is part of my take on it all.

Like many writers, especially poets, I continually revise and rework what I have written. This has become especially true in these years of my retirement from jobs and meetings, most community activity and extensive socializing.  As my mid-50s turned into my mid-60s I have come to focus on my writing to the virtual exclusion of all else.  If this process continues, and I remain healthy enough to continue writing, it will take decades to complete, to write, the final versions of: my poems and essays and much of what is now found at this website.  Part of the reason for this necessarily longitudinal literary process, this long take on things, is that one’s relations with one’s country and society, one's relations with those who are one's intimates, as well as one's relations with one's values, beliefs and attitudes---in a word---one's religion, are always complicated.  And, if not complcated, they at least require much analysis.  They are not simple, however simple one would like them to be.  Of course, for some and perhaps for many, both writers and readers, they aim for simplicity and don't want to get into the complexity of things. For them, my take on things and my writing in general is, in all likelihood, of little value.

ME AND ERNEST HEMMINGWAY

Part 1:

If I wrote my autobiography the way the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) did I may have become a more popular, a more successful writer.  He wrote almost always about himself, but always in a fictionalized form.  I, too, write almost always about myself, but in non-fiction genres. In the beginning Hemingway wrote with some detachment and a touch of modesty: as Nick Adams in the Michigan stories with his boyish young sister in love with him, as Jake Barnes with Lady Brett in love with him, as the wounded Frederic Henry with Catherine Barkley in love with him, as Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls,  and as Renata in Across the River and Into the Trees.  He wrote about love, death and the stoicism that he found necessary to survive in his life. Hemingway broke with almost all his literary friends—MacLeish, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, Ford Madox Ford, and Sherwood Anderson—although he remained loyal to Ezra Pound.  He never had the chance to break with James Joyce. I did not break with my literary friends, but I acquired many by the bucket-full on the internet the more I wrote in the years of the 21st century. These 'friends' were of the quasi-friend status given the multitude than fell into that status by the time I had been in cyberspace for a dozen years by 2012. After a lifetime of deep and meaningful relationships, DMs as I called them, friendship was not of significant concern to me as I headed to the age of 70.

Almost all of Hemingway's likes and dislikes, appraisals, opinions, and advice are in his letters. This is also the case with me although, as I say this, I am not that sure. For an extended statement on my letters go to: http://bahai-library.com/letters_memoirs_poetry_autobiography.  It is estimated that Hemingway wrote six to seven thousand letters in his lifetime to a great variety of people. They were often long letters bursting with description, affection, bitterness, complaint, and great self-regard.  His letters, whatever their weaknesses for some readers at least, elicit an admiration for the man, whatever his faults, a man who wrote so boldly in his novels. 

Part 2:

My letters are not as bold nor laden with bitterness and complaint.  For reasons which those who know Hemingway and his writing have yet to explain, something frightful seems to happen to Hemingway as soon as he begins to write in the first person.  In his fiction, the conflicting elements of his personality, the emotional situations which obsessed him, are externalized and objectified. The result is an art which is severe, intense and deeply serious. But as soon as he talks in his own person, he seems to lose all his capacity for self-criticism and is likely to become fatuous or maudlin…. In his own character of Ernest Hemingway, the Old Master of Key West, he has a way of sounding silly.  I trust this has not happened to me for just about my entire corpus of literary effusions are written in the first person.  In my first dozen years in cyberspace I have dealt with much criticism of my work and I trust have have exhibited a capacity for self-criticism.  If readers find my work in the first person as many found Hemingway's, my writing will need to be ignored by readers. I leave this to readers to assess.  For more on this subject go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/oct/13/finest-life-you-ever-saw/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2011+Year+in+Review

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, HENRY JAMES AND ME

Henry James(1843-1916) was an American-born writer, and regarded as one of the key figures in 19th-century literature.  He found a “safe inner world” through reading and writing; such a world can be found in many ways; there are many journeys to that safe place.  But such a place, such a safe inner world, is not found by, nor is it available to, all writers.  James created a vast imaginative terrain which he inhabited with considerable determination, independence, and strength of will.  His inner life was, for the most part, hidden as he laid bare the inner lives of others, of his characters.  His only sister Alice(1848-1892) had several breakdowns and was significantly dependent on other people.  She suffered from psychological and physical ailments which were not easy to diagnose and impossible to cure. They led to her early death from breast cancer at the age of 43.  She kept a diary, but Henry James did not.  Nowhere do we find his dreams and fears set down.  It is clear, though, from his letters about Alice that her fate and her suffering preoccupied him a great deal until her death in 1892.   During the years of this preoccupation, he sought fame as a writer and managed a varied and busy social life.  From all reports Henry James had a richly complex emotional and creative life. 

Tennessee Williams(1911-1983), the American playwright, never found the safe inner world that was the experience of James.  He devoted fierce energy to his compulsive scribbling, his obsession with writing.  But writing was for him an agony; he found it very difficult. It was not some safe haven.  For years, at least until he was 33 in 1944, his writing was not favorably received.  His life was full of booze, sex, and drugs.  Incoherence and the erratic was written all over his life. This is obvious from his Notebooks, his Journals, which he kept from the age of 25 in 1936 until he was 47 in 1958, and again in the last four years of his life until his death in 1983.  Those who keep journals and are happy to see them published, even posthumously, obviously wish to see their private life exposed in the act of its being lived. Most of the journals I have read are eminently and necessarily forgettable. In all likelihood this will be true of mine.  Williams' only sister suffered from a mysterious mental illness, perhaps an incipient and undiagnosed schizophrenia; his mother was remote and his father drunk and brutal.  Still he was able to say of life that is was "an endlessly glamorous mystery." Those words might serve as the epigraph to his life's work. For me such a set of words could only apply to part of my life but not to its whole.

WHY DO I MENTION THESE WRITERS?

I mention these two writers above because they provide both a comparison and a contrast to my own experience. I won't outline all the contrasts and comparisons here.  I could add many other writers and outline the differences and similarities with my own experience. Perhaps at a later date I will do so here, as I have done elsewhere.  I have certainly written on this subject in many places in my writings, especially in my poetry, because I find this 'circling around the great writers' is a heuristic exercise for my mind and emotions. For now I will pass on to the famous poet W.H. Auden and some comments about my writing in relation to his.

W.H. AUDEN AND A WRITER'S CHOICES

In writing I make choices, I pay attention to this and ignore that. This process is a reflection of what goes on in my inner life. In activity, in doing things in my outer life, I make choices in the realm of action.  In both cases, I am responsible for my choice and I must accept the consequences, whatever they may be. Sometimes I can change the consequences and I need to have the wisdom to know which ones I can change and which ones I can't.  It takes little talent to see what lies under my nose, at least that was how W.H. Auden put it.  But, he added, "it takes a good deal to know in what direction to point that organ, if one is a writer."  I am learning. What I must do now in these years of my retirement from the world of employment, meetings and most social obligations, is the same as what I most want to do---and that is write and learn more about in what direction to point my nose. I see all that I write as part of a single design, a single picture played out in a 1000 art galleries filling all the walls with its myriad variety.  I do not have a penchant for drawing my readers’ attention to self-deprecating or even embarrassing autobiographical detail as is the case with many writers, especially those with a certain aggressive posture.  I am also aware that I am not necessarily as memorable to those about whom I write as they so clearly are to me.

My writing draws on the ear which tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is often shocked by the unexpected, so Auden put it.  It is not the amoral and tragic which shocks me, not after living through the tempest of the last seven decades(1943-2013) and watching and reading about the tempest of the half century before that(1892-1942). What shocks me, and mildly now as I approach the age of 70, is what people say to each other about all sorts of things.  Writing also draws on the eye, Auden continued, which "tends to be impatient, craves variety and is bored by repetition." In my case, I find repetition quite comforting. The mind and the intellect, he could have added but didn't, is capable of casting on the mirror of creation new and wonderful configurations, emanations, impulses of thought that can be the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to one's fellow man.-Abdul-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, Wilmette, 1975(1957), pp.1-3.

THE ARCHIVES OF WRITERS

Part 1:

When writers who are Baha'is die sometimes their work lives on in the papers, the manuscripts, the letters, indeed, in a wide range of memorabilia which they donate to some scholarly & secular institution, some Baha'i Centre of Learning or a Baha’i archive at the local, national or international level in the increasing labyrinth of elected and apppointed institutions that have emerged in the last century and more of an evolving and expanding Baha’i administration, the nascent Faith of Baha'u'llah, the harbinger of the New World Order.  

This is especially true in the new Baha'i culture of learning ang growth, the evolving paradigm of the last two decades (1996-2016) in the more than 200 national communities and territories around the world.  In the lat 15 years, 2001-2015, a number of internet sites have also been created, some by individual Baha'is and Baha'i institutions, and others by a host of interest groups, individuals and institutions, at which writers like myself can post or file their literary work. Such authors are assured, by these various means, of at least a modicum of earthly immortality, as much as one can be assured of anything in this transient and inconstant existence. These several and various archives and this increasing number of institutional-sites on the internet are collecting points for the manuscripts and correspondence of writers and authors, editors & publishers of various ilks.  How such collections of papers change hands, find a monetary value if any, and obtain a secure place on some dry set of shelves, boxes and files, or a place in an electronic archive, is the result of a peculiar alchemy between market forces, literary reputations & the growing significance of this Faith, this harbinger of a New World Order.

Part 1.1

The typical archive of literary materials of a non-Baha’i writer of some degree of fame and significance, I am informed, was worth between $50,000 and $250,000 in New York or London in 2011. (1)  At least that was the information I came across in The New York Times recently. Often that potential archive is not even saleable.  The market in literary archives is a rarefied one and it is not my intention to discuss this subject here in any detial. Archives like mine are not saleable in any sense. If there is something extraordinary in a collection on sale, like possibly a cache of letters from the famous poet Sylvia Plath, the market currently draws on what is known as a price/value range. The book/archive seller decides where in that band, that range, the writer’s archive belongs. If an author has a literary correspondence with, say, 10 important people, that makes a big difference to the archive's sale price.

If the Baha’i Faith comes to play a significant role in world affairs in the decades and centuries ahead; if it comes to be what it now claims it will one day be, namely, the emerging world religion on this planet, my archive may come to have some value. But I’m not going to hold my breath waiting. If I do, I will die due to a shortage of oxygen. The emergence from obscurity of this new world Faith has been significant in my lifetime, but it has seemed slow in many ways to its votaries in the nearly sixty years in which I have been associated with its growth and consolidation around the planet. When my mother first investigated the Baha'i Faith in 1953, 90 per cent of the 200,000 Baha'is in the world at that time lived in Iran. Nearly sixty years later there are some 5 to 8 million Baha'is found for the most part outside Iran with perhaps 10 per cent of the international Baha'i community in the home of its birth, what used to be called Persia.(2)– Ron Price with thanks to (1) Rachel Donadio, “The Paper Chase,” The New York Times, March 25, 2007; and (2) See Wikipedia for a discussion of the complex subject of Baha'i Faith Statistics.

BAHA'I ARCHIVES

Part 1:

What was once, and indeed until the second epoch of Abdul-Baha's divine plan, beginning as it did in 1963, a lamentably neglectful history of memoir collecting, the gathering of autobiographical documents and correspondence, has become a burgeoning and labyrinthine archive of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of boxes found in the 120,000 localities where Baha'is reside around the world. In the first century of Baha'i history, 1844 to 1944, and the first century of organized Baha'i administration in the West, 1908-2008, if not before, the documentation of this new world Faith has evolved sensibly and insensibly.  The Baha'i Faith has become the most documented of the great religions of the world in their first two centuries---having the advantage of being the latest, and growing-up as it has in the light of modern history. And so, although there has been this relative dearth in the recording of events by those who were actually present at significant episodes and circumstances in the history of this new world religion, in some ways the documentation is so extensive as to provide a complex,a prolix, and highly arguable base for what did take place.  This is true not only in relation to Baha'i history, but for much of modern history.  Even when historians and analysts can agree on the facts, the interpretations are various, arguable and the subject, often, of heated debate.

At this stage in the evolution of the Baha’i community, at least in the parts of the west which I have observed and which I have some general understanding about, and at least until the new electronic archive on the world-wide-web arrived in the last decade or so, the world of Baha’i archives has been for the most part a graveyard of dry bones scattered in the back rooms of the homes of Baha’i communities throughout the world. These archives are, or at least were, for the most part, an irrelevant appendage resulting from hours and hours, indeed millions now, of meetings, discussion and pieces of correspondence sent to and from various levels and agencies, the elected and appointed branches, of a rapidly emerging Baha’i administration and its harbinger status in relation to a New World Order. What I say here about archives is not true of the international Baha'i archives and many of the approximately 200 national Baha'i archives. But in the last half century or more, since the start of the Ten Year Crusade in 1953 when there were only about 1200 local spiritual assemblies on the planet, a guesstimated fifty to one hundred thousand local archives have come to exist.  I do not intend in this essay, under this sub-section autobiography, to explore this subject in fine detail. I simply want to make mention of this topic in brief.  My own autobiography has been associated with these archives since the 1950s and 1960s in my many roles in the Baha'i administrative apparatus. My roles in this administration have been virtually entirely at the local, the grassroots, level with only the occasional responsibility at other levels and in those agencies of this Cause which utilized my literary abilities.

Part 1.1

The Baha'i Faith and its immense archive has, then, by these sensible and insensible degrees, arrived on the historical stage in the last several decades, especially since and arguably, the revolution in Iran in 1979.   But the professional ants who deal with this archive are not unlike the historians who deal with Roman history. The vast majority of the public could not care less about the history of Rome in the first century BC, a period in which the historical archive is massive. That same public has as much interest in the Baha’i archive, at this point in this new Faith's history, as they have in that of Roman history or, indeed, that of the eye of a dead ant to chose an analogy used by the Bab in His writings in relation to another matter back in the 1840s. But there are other aspects of this new world Faith which the world is taking an increasing interest in due to the embellishment of its spiritual and administrative centre in Israel, the publication of an extensive literature and an even more extensive commentary in journals and books---to say nothing of the internet--and the sheer growth of this Cause in the 200 countries and territories in which it is now found.

A CONTRIBUTION TO THE BAHA’I COMMUNITY ARCHIVES

Part 1:

Over the last three-quarters of a century, to chose another relevant timeline, since the start of the formal implementation of Abdul-Baha's divine plan in 1937, an explosion of archival material has erupted in Baha'i communities for the would-be historian of the future, the would-be historian of this new world Faith.  The comments I make here concern the eruption of Baha'i archives not the outburst of the myriad other archives across thousands of governmental and non-governmental organizations in our emerging planetary civilization. With each passing year this eruption, this explosion, this torrent of information becomes increasingly difficult to deal with, overflowing as it does the bounds of society's capacity to cope with its effusions.  This is true, as I say, not only for this world organization, this new world Faith, with members in some 120,000 localities on the planet. When this great mountain of material is classified and the student begins to focus on the archival body relevant to his own interests and needs, some proportion and framework emerges from the chaos and prolixity of it all. The historian and social analyst must tease both sense and nonsense from all the loose ends, fragments, contradictions and observations, eruptions and explosions that are found in archives.  These problems are though, as I say, not only problems that exist for Baha'i communities, they are problems faced by humanity which in many ways is now drowning in information.

I recall, but not with fond memories, a job I had in early 1969 with the Lastman's Bad Boy furniture business. I was employed as a systems analyst and my main task was how to simplify the burgeoning documentation of this growing company with stores in Toronto and southwestern Ontario.  I was only 24 at the time. Sadly, I did not possess the skills for such a task even though I got the nod for the job from a hopeful interview team.  I decided to return to the teaching profession in a field I felt I would have more success.  This teaching job was in southeastern Ontario.  The subject of archives and documentation, as well as systems of storage and retrieval, though, is not the focus of this short essay. I leave the subject to readers which they can now google to their heart's content.

Part 1.1

The student of the emerging New World Order of Baha’u’llah is aware, then, of thousands of archives emerging in local Baha’i communities around the world.  If such a student of this new world Faith takes an interest in its activities in the last 60 to 75 years, since the beginning of the Kingdom of God on Earth in 1953, since the beginning of that ninth stage of history as the Guardian called the Ten Year Crusade, or since 1937 as I have indicated above, he will find himself confronted by a mountain, indeed, several mounatins, of archives.  Generally, though, the study of archives has only begun to occupy the student of this new Faith. “Archives offer our knowledge an extra bonus”, says Arlette Farge in her book Fragile Lives.(1)  They are not so much the truth as the beginnings of the truth and, she goes on, “they provide an eruption of meanings with the greatest possible number of connections with reality.”  Those boxes that are beginning to collect in community after community around the world in the emerging institutional framework of the Baha'i community will, in time, provide an immense base for future historians and students of this Cause.  At the moment they are, for the most part, being collected for future use. That, of course, is basically what an archive is: it is for future use.  That is the purpose it serves.

Part 2:

For most of the Baha’i community at the local level archives are just so much paper in old boxes, or paper in new boxes.  Sometimes there exists an obsessive tendency to admit too much meaning to archives when, in reality, much of it is irrelevant circularized correspondence that could easily be discarded without any loss. Indeed, I'm sure it will be discarded at various times in the future.  The rare gem is often found amidst such irrelevant material. The historian must learn to see the forrest amidst the mass of trees. History and its documents is made up of so many different kinds of paper and different kinds of lives: meaningless and opaque, impoverished and tragic, rich and joyful, sometimes with mean and lackluster personalities, at other times with saints and heros. There is also a certain grandeur and humour, absurdity and irony amidst all this paper and all these people.  Archives are both seductress and deceptive mirror of reality. They can falsify and distort the object being studied; they can be too facile or too ambiguous a means of entering into a discourse with history. They can tell very little of the real events of Baha’i community life. They can often be just a pile of dry bones transferred from one graveyard to another. On a loftier and much more significant level, though, the subject of Baha'i archives and preserving and safeguarding the Sacred Texts is one addressed by Universal House of Justice.  I encourage readers with an interest in this topic to go to the internet site Baha'i Library Online.  Here an article on this subject can be found. This site has the Internet's largest collection of Baha'i materials and is an important archive in itself.

History has long been enamoured with ‘the great man’.  More recently historians have taken-up the cudgels of the average man and woman, the disabled and the migrant, the pioneer, and on and on goes the litany of the sub-groups of ordinary men and women who have come to the attention and interest of historians.  The experiences and stories of people from all of these sub-groups can be found in the archives of local Baha’i communities around the world. For anyone taking part in Baha’i community life in the last decades of the twentieth century and the first decades of this 3rd millennium the typical reaction to archives, the boxes of stuff kept usually in someone’s house in a back room or an attic, or a shed, among other places like shelves in tidy and well-organized files and folders, is one of a certain weariness. The weariness comes in part from the great mass of apparently irrelevant detail in those boxes.  This weariness is also born from a simple inability to get any meaningful perspective on the great historical adventure being engaged in.  The contemplation of the contents of this great weight of paper and memorabilia or digital material, which has become the main archival base in this third millennia, leads to written analysis--and that is for the future.

Part 2.1

“It is unfortunately true,” says that Baha'i scholar Moojan Momen in summarizing the history of memoir writing and archive collecting in the Baha’i community in the first century of its history, “that the Baha’is have been lamentably neglectful.”(2) That, of course, is the view of a Baha'i scholar and historian. Not all Baha'is are scholars and historians. The view of the enterprize in which most Baha'is are engaged does not usually translate itself into writing.  In the booming and buzzing confusion that is everyday life, it is often a wonder that anything is ever written at all given the fact that most people, whether in the east or the west, are not inclined to write much at all.  Most people have other interests and are engaged in other activities. As I got into the last half(50-60) of middle age(40-60) and the last half(70-80) of late adulthood(60-80), I became more and more obsessed with writing. Writing became increasingly a compulsion, a supreme solace.

As the novelist Somerset Maugham (1864-1965) said: "I write for the liberation of my soul, for freedom. It is my nature to create with words as it is the nature of water to run downhill." So is this true of me. Phrases I come across as I read become a part of me, although I now have so many in so many volumes of my notebooks that they are like a wardrobe of clothes and shoes which I can only make use of to an extent. As my own marriage of more than 40 years has become more stable, perhaps due to what Helen Fisher in her book Why We Love calls the attachment circuitry in the brain, and as I have entered my 70s, I have come to see that middle age could be regarded as at least up to the age of 70, 80 or even 85. This is because in the age category of 70 to 85, as many as 40 percent of people have nothing really wrong with them. In addition, at least one model of human development used by psychologists has the period of "old-age" in the lifespan as beginning at the age of 80. Indeed, I could be around until I'm at least 200 in 2044!

"We're seeing that there's an extension of middle age that is very real," writes Fisher.  In my case I have plenty wrong with me, but I have a battery of doctors helping me deal with my infirmities. In any previous age I'd probably be dead by now. Go to Helen Fisher for a detailed commentary on this subject: https://www.ted.com/talks/helen_fisher_tells_us_why_we_love_cheat/transcript?language=en

THE AMBIGUITY AND RELEVANCE OF ARCHIVES

Part 1:

Throughout history, it should be kept in mind, there has been a long and ambiguous relationship with archives. There have been successive tensions down the ages between boxes of documents known as archives and the actual writing of history. The earliest period in the history of western civilization for which we have a great deal of documentation, of archives, is the first century BC in Rome.  For the great mass of humanity, as I have pointed out above, this archive is of no interest whatsoever. But for the professional ants who deal in Roman history this archive is crucial; it has helped to generate an explosion of archival enthusiasm amongst a coterie of Roman historians in the last several decades. Side by side with this professional enthusiasm there prevails an atmosphere of anarchic confusion in the attitude of western man to his past, Roman history or other.  Even Plato, as early as the 5th century BC, expressed his skepticism regarding writing as a means of preserving information. He argued that it would replace memory and people would come to rely on writing for information. he was right.

We are talking, then, about an old problem: the meaning and relevance of archives. Just as the writing of the Roman poets in that first century BC represents an important part of that rich and ancient archive, so does this poetry of mine and others represent part(time will, I trust,  tell how important a part) of a modern archive of increasing relevance to both historian and social analyst. I see my own prose and poetry as an embellishment to local archives, several where I have lived in Australia and Canada; I see it as a contribution to a national or international archive on pioneers, an archive still in its first or perhaps second, century of development; I see it as a small part, an infinitessimal part of a burgeoning base of material the world over which is so extensive now as to virtually swallow the individual in a sea of printed matter.  I keep in mind, though, as I write these words, the comment of T.S. Eliot, namely, that a writer should be prepared to have all his scribblings come to nothing.  If writers aim for a posthumous immortality by means of their written words, they may be sadly mistaken.  If such immortality is, indeed, achieved, by then such literary enthusiasts will be far beyond this mortal coil.

Part 2:

“It is impossible to avoid the realm of aesthetics and emotion” in dealing with archives, says Arlette Farge in her introductory statement on the subject. In a broad sense the architectural remains of the fifth century BC, or the Egyptian pyramids, are a repository of information, an archive. The realm of aesthetics and emotion is at the heart of these ancient architectural archives. Archives are also an eruption, Farge states; they can be an expression, she says simply, of whim, caprice and tragedy. And, like my poetry and the stuff in those boxes, they can be so much more.

It is impossible to assess the relevance of what will one day be an architectural archive, say, in two and a half thousand years. What will be the story told of these generations of the half-light, of the Baha'is from 1921 to, say, 2121, in the first two centuries of the Formative Age of the Baha'i Faith when a heterodox and seemingly negligible offshoot of an insignificant sect of Shi’i Islam finished its transformation into a world religion?  What will they say of the architectural achievement that helped to give form and beauty to the institutionalized charismatic Force that was about to play a crucial role in the establishment of a global and peaceful civilization? Time will tell.

Ron Price
27 December 1996 updated several times to 3 June 2011
--------------------------FOOTNOTES---------------------------------
(1) Arlette Farge, Fragile Lives: Violence, Power and Solidarity in Eighteenth Century Paris, Harvard UP,Cambridge, Mass., 1993, Introduction.
(2) Moojan Momen, editor, The Babi and Baha’i Religions, 1844-1944: Some Contemporary Western Accounts, George Ronald, Oxford, 1981, p.xvi-xvii.

Some of my internet posts on the subject of autobiography and prose-poems providing a context for autobiography
are found at the links below:
http://internationalforum.freeforums.org/index.php

http://bahai-library.com/Ronprice

https://www.dropbox.com/home#/Autobiography
(readers can not access, as far as I know, the many 1000s of pages I have archived at this site)

http://hubpages.com/hub/Marcel-Proust-and-Autobiography
(to read my 75 posts at this site readers must register at this site)

http://ezinearticles.com/?A-Series-of-Articles-on-Autobiography
(click on the photo for a series of articles on autobiography)

http://www.designcommunity.com/forums/topic
(scroll down for the series of articles)

http://www.buzzle.com/authors

A POSTHUMOUS HYPOTHETICAL: PART 1

The following is a hypothetical, a hypothetical history of my writings collected posthumously.  They are the writings I will leave behind at some point before the 2nd century of the Baha'i Era(B.E.) is complete in 2044 unless, of course, I live into my second century.  I’m sure my passing will go unnoticed throughout the world for I am but an ordinarily ordinary, humanly human chap living in the Antipodes, at the last stop on the way to Antactica if a person takes the western-Pacific-rim route.  Should a university, an academic institute, some Baha'i centre of learning, indeed, one of any number of institutions, buy for a disclosed or undisclosed sum, the entire collection of my papers – all of my several hundred pounds of manuscripts and notebooks, letters and poetry, I will be surprised from my hypothetical place in the world beyond.  Should such a world exist and should I be capable of knowing about the event of such a purchase on this mortal coil I will gaze with both wonder and delight.  I attempted, during the evening of my life, to place all my extant work into electronic form, so that there would be no need for any hypothetical collection to accrue.  I never kept any famous intellectual company or even became famous in any small literary circle to reinforce that sense of artistic destiny which many a writer and poet possesses.

The entire question of a period of exclusive control by a literary estate after my death is not at issue for me.  Such control would create the opportunity, and the financial incentive, to assemble fully prepared editions of my work made by specialists informed by my parting  instructions. Once work enters the public domain,and most of my work will have done so by the time I die,  it can be published by anyone in any form, and the financing of editions requiring editorial care becomes, once again, at the pleasure of benevolent institutions rather than readers. The sheer scale and the marvelous searchability of the recently developing online databases by google and others, promises to bring a whole world of books within the reach of readers who never had access to a great library. And it is my desire to make access to my work as simple and as easy for readers as possible.

PART 1.1

The dozens of boxes in which the hundreds of pounds of my writings will be found, should my work, my entire oeuvre, not arrive in electronic files, will contain the definitive archive of this writer and poet, teacher and tutor, Baha’i pioneer and travel-teacher, Canadian-Australian, father of one, step-father of two, step-grandfather of three, grandfather of one, and husband of two women over the years, among the many other roles I acquired in my lifetime.  As I pointed out to my son Daniel in October 2011, though, except for a small portion of my writing in hard copy in my study most of my files could be thrown-out on my death without a significant, or perhaps any, loss to posterity.  This is due to the fact that virtually everything in my study consists of resources: information photocopied and notes taken, books and journals. The totality of this oeuvre is complex. The documents are often written in chicken-scrawled handwriting that results in making spelling and grammar obscure. Any transcription becomes inevitably untrustworthy and potentially full of errors. To unwrap the package of my resources is in many ways an unwraping of myself: the poetry fragments, the lists, the lecture notes and tangential musings provide a variety of insights into my thinking and my creative processes.

I would expect the process of cateloguing my work, should hard copies be desired, to take at least two years, as a recent Curator of Literary Collections told me in a recent discussion. The collected works of writers which come to be stored in the myriad institutions on the planet is a complex business.  But, if only a small portion of my writing was to be kept in perpetuity, the cateloguing process could take little time.  Processing and cateloguing could begin shortly after the purchase and the transporting of my archive from my study here in George Town Tasmania.  Some institution in Canada, Australia or, indeed, one of what are now over two hundred national Baha'i community archives and innumerable academic institutions, some formally associated with the Baha'i Faith, and most not would then house my opus.   Perhaps some portions of my collection, my archive, would be made available to scholars within months of their purchase if the classifying exercise was speedily engaged in if, indeed, my writings were ever purchased at all.  If the institution which came to house this collection had the human resources for such speedy classifying and storage for public convenience, of course, the entire exercise could be done in the twinkling of an eye.

PART 1.2

The news of said acquisition would not, in all likelihood, be made widely public, mainly because I would not expect that there be significant interest in the collection, at least not in the immediate years after my demise.  Anyone who was keen to examine the archive would be able, eventually, to drive down to the town or city concerned to get a sense of what the archive contained.  The institution might very kindly offer to display a sample of the material for anyone to see.  In the said library at the said institution a scrapbook would be available in which I had gathered: (a) my first documents from the earliest days of my pioneering in 1962, (b) my first publications in the 1970s, a note of congratulations from some correspondents in the 1990s and 2000s, a receipt of payment for the first publication of a poem in the 1990s, the cover of the magazine in which a piece of my writing appeared. There might also be some sad, but very human, evidence of my manic-depressive behaviour/experience from time to time conveyed in a letter or an essay.  The efforts of the scholars associated with what might be called the Price Papers Project—which could be based anywhere—may begin to yield a mature understanding of my character and my work. Anyone who really wants to get to know me and my writing can do no better than immerse themselves in the books and papers coming out of the Price Papers Project, which could over time yield many published volumes of correspondence and writings spanning the period from my youth up to and including the 21st century.

There would be a few handwritten drafts of poems, and hundreds of pages of notes in my handwriting. Typewritten manuscripts would be found for all the 6 drafts of my book on the poetry of Roger White and an electronic edition of my own autobiography in its 7 editions. There would be over 7000 poems in 70+ hardcover booklets.

PART 1.3

Editing for some writers, like Charles Dickens, was an a full-time second career but the evidence of it in my own work---and it was extensive---by the 3rd millennium would be limited due to the fact that virtually everything I wrote by then was on the internet or in my electronic directory.  It was not until that 3rd millennium that the great body of my literary efforts began to find a public place for it was not until then that I had retired and found the time to devote myself to literary activity.  The range of hitherto unseen and unpublished material in this collection would keep Price scholars busy for years to come after being made available to the public eye.  Some of my personal correspondence might be closed, as required by my Will, until 25 years after my passsing.  My letters between, say, myself and some person of note might be viewed 100 years after my passing, also as required by my executors.  Like the correspondence between Wordsworth and Coleridge, my correspondence might remain unseen for many decades.  Is that possible?  Some Professor of Literature might say: “it will help us hire new lecturers in the field, lecturers who will have at their fingertips material that will launch their scholarly careers” if our institution possesses Price's archives. The Price papers join those of X,Y and Z and a small collection from A, since A has not yet made his complete collection of papers available.

There would be no signs of literary sainthood as often happens to writers in secular society.  Although the individual is important in a Baha'i society, there is a balance between individual and community. The tendency, therefore, to make of a persona, any person, a celebrity is strongly countered in Baha'i society. Some university may indeed purchase my library, old second-hand cabinets and a wide range of memorabilia, but there would be no campus shrine erected as sometimes happens to the writer of fame in the West in the 20th century.  A collected edition of my oeuvre would in time be available in print on both sides of the Atlantic and the Pacific, supplemented by fat anthologies, scrupulously annotated, of my letters, diaries, essays and reviews. The Price industry might eventually spawn a monthly journal devoted to a minute inspection of my literary corpus. I would think, judging from journals that have sprung-up devoted to the writings of others in the western intellectual tradition, that such an event might occur in, say, the 23rd or 24th century. Learned periodicals would explore the significance of a lemon tree in my imagery, of wasteland and spinifex as well as many other flora and fauna which were part of my life.  In Wales, where my name had its origins, there might be, in time, a solemn discussion of my ancestry.

A POST-HUMOUS HYPOTHETICAL: PART 2

If my work was ever to be canonized: several volumes of a definitive, at least five-part, life would come on board.  Since there was no authorized biography before my death in the 2nd century of the B.E., nor any delightful memoirs, that definitive work would, hopefully, be short on anecdote but long on scholarship. Its overall tone would be protective, particularly in matters of sex and religion.  Hopefully, though, that work would be deeply researched and pondered. It would do me greater service, by transcending hagiography and revealing for the first time the full range of my intellect and experience.  The work would cover my career with a relentless roll of detail that would, necessarily try not to to crush the narrative flat.  Given the possible compulsion of such a biographer to describe all of my eventful life, and travel to every place I had lived, he or she should not be discouraged by the fact that I had already told much of the story in my autobiography and poetry.  Life should not be made difficult for anyone who tried to gain access to the approximately 42,000 items in my archives.  I trust that important papers will not vanish.  So often documents are removed from the literary estate of a writer after his death, especially documents casting the writer in an unfavorable light, at least in the opinion of his trustees.

Part 2.1

The editorial work behind what might be called, the launching of the Price industry or project I would like to think would be immense in scale. Every book that I mention, every painting, every piece of music would be tracked down and accounted for. My movements would be traced from week to week and year to year annalisitically like the Romans once did.  Everyone I allude to in my writings would be identified; my principal contacts would receive potted biographies.  Some two thirds of the occasional volume in the final corpus of volumes would be given over to scholarly apparatus, principally elucidatory commentary. The standard of the commentary would be of the highest. Within the constraints laid down by Price himself, The Letters of Ron Price would become a model edition.

Philosophically, my intellect was grounded in many sources, whence came the static/dynamic imagery of my writing, the identification of the individual with civilization and much that was the crowd with barbarism, the search for balance and permanence in a world of shrieking chaos. Stylistically, my mind and hand were trained by a list of writers too long to mention here. An obscure book illuminator who taught me aesthetics and logic as a university student would get a mention.  My training, plus wide reading in European and classical history and a practical study of art, the social and behavioural sciences, the physical and bilogical sciences, made me a formidably erudite man, but it was an erudition that I never acknowledged, and was never acknowledged by others.  I had always been aware that I occupied a space of an infinity of ignorance.  Erudition had become, by the 21st century, a complex and arguable entity at best. Learning alone did not account for my ability, say, to write nearly 10,000 prose-poems of many millions of words or many 1000s of letters to every type of person imaginable. 

Part 2.2

In some ways my story, the account of my life, was not pretty.  Unlike many writers, I was not constantly tormented by demons, having to resort in the process, to alcohol or prostitutes, to soften, or escape from, life's melancholy and tragic side. Nor did I have to escape from an all-pervading sense of change and decay, as many pessimists and cynics need to do.  I did require drugs, or more accurately pharmacology, to help me deal with my lifelong mental-health problems, mainly bipolar disorder(BPD).  BPD gave my life its dark side, a dark side I have described in a separate book which can be accessed at the bi-polar sub-section of this website. 

I trust there will be some attempt to analyze my humor and quote occasionally from my prose and poetry, lest an essentially somber portrait of my life be conveyed.  I trust that biography will be for the serious student who wants to learn as much as possible about the man and is keen to read everything he wrote. There will certainly be no shortage of the latter. That biography will list some 50 major works written in 60 years(1962 to 2022)---a prodigious total, given my lifelong tendency to postpone, redirect, rechannel, and apply my gifts in a myriad forms of work, community activity and a seemingly endless series of non-literary involvements. Of course, the term, "gift" was, as Roger White that former and unofficial poet laureate of the international Baha'i community, emphasized back in the 1980s, but a form of unmerited grace.  My writing was never seen as a gift at all by many, if not most, who came upon it. Such a reaction always helped to keep any incipient egotism well in hand.


MY DIARIES AND JOURNALS

My journals do not represent the crowning achievement of my writing career. It is said that the essayist and journal writer Ralph Waldo Emerson(1803-1882) was a more full-bodied, historically situated, moody, and self-questioning author in his journals than in his work as essayist. His journals were the incubator of his sermons, lectures, essays, poems, and translations, almost all of which received their first transcriptions there. Beyond this, they were, as he wrote to his friend Thomas Carlyle, "full of disjointed dreams, audacities, unsystematic irresponsible lampoons of systems, and all manner of rambling reveries, the poor drupes and berries I find in my basket after aimless rambles in woods and pastures."

The operative word is “full.” In addition to such miscellanea, the journals contain detailed accounts of Emerson’s readings, travels, personal relationships, economic transactions, existential crises, professional life, and incessant mood swings. So great was his need for daily expression that on those occasions when he had nothing to say, and they were many, he lamented his listlessness loquaciously.  A handful of specialists may feel obliged to trudge through the sixteen massive volumes of The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson published by Harvard University but those Journals won't find many other trudgers. As far as my Journals are concerned, they may never be published. I will, though, post several internet locations below at which I make some diary entries and some general comments about my journals and diaries, memoirs and autobiographies:
http://www.my-diary.org/users/465760

http://www.medhelp.org/user_journals/show/1238/2nd-Journal-Entry-1st-Paragraph-of-Volume-3-of-My-Memoirs

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/09/20/carl-jungs-red-book/  (sroll down to read my comment)

http://community.artspan.com/showthread.php?t=9291

http://davesgarden.com/community/blogs/t/RonPrice/7913/

http://www.wellness.com/blogs/RonPrice/5491/anais-nin-and-keeping-a-journal/r111nprice

http://bookaholics.yuku.com/forums/15/Diaries-amp-Journals#.To7sDHKw56w

THE BASIS FOR AND THE CONTENT OF MY OFFER OF DOCUMENTS
TO THE NATIONAL BAHA’I ARCHIVES OF AUSTRALIA and CANADA

Part 1:

What follows are some comments on a statement I wrote to the National Baha’i Archives of Australia(NBAA).  The statement was 125 pages and 55,000 words and was a description of the documents I sent to the NBAA  belonging, as they did, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia Inc.   My decision as to which documents I had decided to send to these archives and which ones, therefore, were eventually accepted by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia, was based on the description and definition of the nature of these archives as outlined in the Australian Baha’i Archives Acquisition Policy.(1) It was necessary for the NBAA to send me these guidelines concerning individuals making donations to the archives so that I would have some idea of just what the NBAA housed and what they did not, what that agency of the NSA accepted as a gift and what it did not.

I now see all of the documents I sent to the NBAA as part of the fulfilment of my role in Canada’s international pioneering experience, its national diaspora or exodus of Baha’is in its “glorious mission overseas.”  I also see these documents as part of a record of my contribution to the spread of the Baha’i Faith in southern Ontario in Canada’s most southerly towns as far south as Windsor Ontario--through a series of homefront pioneering moves before and after participating in the opening chapters of the push of the Baha’i Faith to “the Northernmost Territories of the Western Hemisphere.” It is in this context, the context in which I see these documents, that this offering was made to both the NSA of the Baha’is of Australia and Canada.

Part 2:

Such were the most general perspectives on the place of my pioneering experience and my role in the Cause as both a homefront pioneer and an international pioneer. I am now living: (a) at the southern end of the spiritual axis mentioned by Shoghi Effendi in his 1957 letter and (b) in the outer perimeter of a series of concentric circles, circles which define the spacial parameters of my life, in several interlocking and important ways. The southern pole of this axis where I now live, where I have lived and where in all likelihood my body will one day be buried is "endowed with exceptional spiritual potency." Many years of my life have been lived at several points along the southern extremity of this pole, this spiritual axis: in Perth Western Australia, in Gawler and Whyalla South Australia, in Ballarat and Melbourne Victoria and in several towns of Tasmania. All of these points lie, too, at the outer perimeter of the ninth concentric circle whose centre is the "Bab’s holy dust." Nine concentric circles also provide the main geometry of the eighteen terraces in Haifa Israel.  Just as the identification of a circle presupposes a centre, so the terraces have been conceived as generated from the Shrine of the Báb. The eighteen terraces plus the one terrace of the Shrine of the Báb make nineteen terraces total.  Nineteen is a significant number within both the Bahá'í and Bábí religions.

The brief statement, outline, of the documents that seem to me to be of relevance to a national archive is not included here at this website. The decision to house this same material in the Canadian Baha’i archive, in the end, was left with the NSA of the Baha’is of Canada.  The Archives Department in Canada was not interested in my donation except a few letters to and from the Canadian poet Roger White. The NBAA was interested and four boxes of my letters from 1960 to 2010 are now housed in the NBAA. And finally, it goes without saying that I was happy with the decision of the Canadian NSA.  The decision that my material could not be stored at the National Baha'i Centre in Thornhill Ontario since the Canadian Baha'i community did not have the room at their National Centre was understandable.  
-----------------------FOOTNOTES-------------------
(1) The email to Ron Price on 28/11/08 from the Archives Department of the NSA of the Baha’is of Australia Inc contained guidelines for individuals making donations of these national archives. This email of 28/11/08 was sent to me in response to my emails of 22/11/08 and 27/11/08 to the NBAA asking what documents they would like sent to them.  By the end of 2010, as I indicated above, four boxes of my letters, from 1960 to 2010, were housed in the NBAA.

SOME LINKS RELEVANT TO WRITERS WRITING

To be exiled, to be a refugee, is not to disappear, nor is it to shrink, to slowly or quickly get smaller and smaller.  For one of history's great satirists Jonathan Swift, exile was the secret word for journey.  Many of those who have been exiled, were freighted with suffering. All literature carries exile within it, whether the writer has had to pick up and go at the age of twenty or has never left home. Probably the first exiles on record were Adam and Eve. This is indisputable and it raises a few questions: can it be that we’re all exiles? Is it possible that all of us are wandering strange lands? For more on this subject go to this link:http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/apr/13/exiles/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NYRblog+December+13+2011& 

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Section 1.2:

When a person is registered at over 8000 websites, as I am, sites whose membership totals several million, there are an inevitable batch of daily emails and posts that come in from these sites, to say nothing of the posts that come in from sites at which I am not registered.  Part, indeed nearly all, of the over 200 emails and posts that come in daily, must be deleted, and/or ignored.  This only takes no more than five minutes, especially if one has, as I do, a spam filter, and a bin for useless posts.  The few incoming posts that need to be answered personally, need to be separated from the unimportant. This process is not always simple and, when simple, it is not necessarily easy. Generally, though, I have the sifting process down to less than a few minutes each day. The written responses, of course, take longer. As far as possible, though, my writing and my reading involves as little time as possible when dealing with my email world with the exception, as I say, to the few emails which require a more considered response on my part.

Section 1.3:

In the years of my retirement from FT, PT and most volunteer-work, 2006 to 2013, I have reinvented myself as: a writer and author, poet and publisher, on line journalist and blogger, editor and researcher, scholar and reader.  I belong to the first generation of Western writers for whom a university education in the liberal arts was the norm.  But I was never able to earn my living by writing for several reasons which I discuss in detail at this site in several of its more than 80 sub-sections. From my teens and twenties in the 1950s, 1960s, and early '70s, to my fifties in the 1990s and early 2000s, I earned a living in a variety of ways, mainly as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator, among a variety of other employment-roles.  I was the husband, first in a two-income-no-kids family and, then, in a second marriage, in a one-income family. In that second marriage, my wife and I raised three children. By the early years of the 21st century, they had all left the nest, so to speak. My wife and I have four grand-children, all within cooee, as they say in Australia.

From the age of 55 to 65 I gradually took an early retirement, by stages, first from FT,  then PT and finally casual work. Little by little and day by day I headed for the world of a writer and author, and the roles I have listed above.  By the age of 65 in 2009,  I was able to go on two old-age pensions, one from Canada where I had worked at FT and PT jobs from 1955 to 1971, and another pension from Australia where I worked until I was able to gradually free myself from the 60 to 70 hours a week which was involved in FT employment by 1999.  Those two old-age pensions, as well as   income from a small group of stocks and investments, bring-in some $34,000/annum.

Section 1.3.1:

This $34,000 that now comes in to our coffers annually is enough for my wife and I to live on since: (a) we have our home completely paid-for, (b) we have little debt, and (c) we live frugally. In 2012 we took out a $20,000 reverse mortgage in order: (i) to pay-off debts, and (ii) to be able to handle big-ticket-cost items like: car expenses, household repairs, gifts for needy family members & birthdays, doctor & dentist bills, as well as the occasional bit of retail therapy.  Of this $20,000 some $3,000 remains as of 3/1/'15. I'm sure some readers will find it somewhat surprising that I even provide this brief outline of my financial state.  The general convention for most people I have known over the last several decades, is to keep such information confidential.  As I indicated above, though, my website has a strong autobiographical flavour. In addition, the internet has opened many doors into the private lives of people who utilize the world-wide-web. Given the nature of my highly memoiristic writing, I'm quite happy to have such doors open.  Of course, this open-door policy is not true, not the style, of everyone.  And as I often say, there is much in my life that I have no intention of writing about. To each their own, in cyberspace, as in real space.


SUPREME ACHIEVEMENT IN LIFE---IN THE ARTS

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

WRITING: A GIFT AND A SOLITARY OCCUPATION

Part 1:

Writing and reading, editing and publishing as I do and have done on a daily basis for the last dozen years has involved long continuous stretches of unbroken solitary concentration.  In the 12 to 13 hours I am not in bed, and in the 6 to 8 hours of that 12 to 13 that I am involved in this solitary occupation, I aim to be as free of distractions as is possible.  Distractions need to be kept at bay, kept from tugging at me like the sound of some mouse scampering invisibly nearby. Writers are not most people and, after decades of extensive social activity, I see writing as a gift. It is a gift that I utilize and that is appreciated by a coterie of the 7.4 billion people on the planet. But this is true of all writers. All authors only get a small slice of the total readership of the planet; some get bigger slices, of course, than others. Sometimes I write at night, while I'm in bed, but it is only to give me a reminder for something I might forget in the daylight hours. “I put a piece of paper under my pillow," says Thoreau, "and when I could not sleep, I wrote in the dark.” I only send myself reminders; writing in the dark, for me, is too difficult.

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

I am retired from being jobbed and have little need for a phone.  I have been in this desireable state, retired from FT, PT and most casual-volunteer work, for the last eight years. Stocks and bonds, and my financial affairs in general, are handled by my wife with my increased appreciation as the years go on.  I am also happy to rely on other pieces of technology that have only come into our world, into my world, in recent decades, say, the quarter century from 1990 to 2015.  The computer was well-ensconsed into my life by 1990; the internet became an increasing part of my life in the 1990s, & millions of readers all over the WWW came across my literary offerings in the 21st century: 2001 to 2015. I now find it quite unbelieveable, but very pleasing of course, that so many people click on my offerings on the world-wide-web. Writers like to have readers in similar ways that talkers like to have listeners. Still, I have no illusions that I will ever be famous or rich. In cyberspace, I and my writing, are a needle in the proverbial haystack.

Part 2:

I keep my wants and needs to a bare minimum with need's shadings of want & craving, with my appetitive nature & its passions & itches, longings and lusts, also kept as low as I can go.  Given the ever-present, or should I say the periodic, pull of my several instinctual needs: hunger and thirst, warmth and shelter, companionship and recognition, achievement and appetites of all kinds, love and lust or, perhaps more accurately, sex and safety, I have plenty to keep me busy in the 12 to 13 hours I am awake besides my writing.

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

ANOTHER WRITER AND ME

Part 1:

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

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

Part 2:
''I have a writer friend and we talk about this life in writing and life, everyday life", Ms. Ozick said the other day over tea in a Manhattan hotel. ''And the question we put to each other was: Is it better to be nice in life and rotten in writing or rotten in life and nice in writing?'' I found this question a provative one; it was a question that got me thinking about how I have been in my 70 years of living. There is little doubt that, for the most part, I have been nice in both my life and my writing. I've always seen myself as the kind, the nice, Canadian with a face like the back of a spoon. Occasionally I break out of the mould, but that has always been due to the problems associated with my bipolar disorder, or a simple lack of control when my patience has been worn thin by people and circumstance.

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

Part 2.1:

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

I've had a 60 year long association with the Baha'i community and its Babi-Baha'i history going back into the late 18th century with its two chief precursors. In Iran, the Babi-Baha'i history is a complex and bloody affair which has only hit the media to any significant extent since the 1950s. My own life as a Baha'i has been far from bloody. In the West, in Australia and Canada where I have spent my life, most people could not care less whether I was a Baha'i or a Baptist, a Buddhist or a Believer-in-Anything, as long as I wore my deoderant, observed the normal courtesies of life and did my job. The world I have lived in is a secularized one, for the most part, and as different from Iranian cultural life as it can be. I have not been obsessed by the treatment of Iranian Baha'is as Ozick has been of the Jews in the Holocaust.

Part 2.2:

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

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

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

THE AUTHOR

The author has grown and multiplied in direct proportion to academic dismissals and denunciations of her presence; the more roundly and confidently the author has been dismissed as a myth and a construction, an act of bad faith, by writers and literary critics like Roland Barthes, the more strongly she has emerged. Barthes(1915-1980) was a French literary theorist, philosopher, linguist, critic, and semiotician who explored a diverse range of fields and influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiotics, social theory, anthropology and post-structuralism. He long ago pronounced the death of the author in an essay most people did not read and even fewer understood. The recent surge in personal websites and blogs, though, rather than diluting the author concept has, in fact, helped to create a tyrannical authorship presence, where the elevation of the personal and private to the public level has only compounded the cult of the author. We are all authors today. We are all auteurs. We are all writers and some much more, much much more, than others.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: CONFESSIONALISM

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

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

THE CONFESSIONS AND AUTOBIOGRAPHIES OF OTHERS

The genre of autobiography in the last two centuries, and especially in the last two decades, has been burgeoning. Below readers will find a review of Kofi Annan's Interventions: A Life in War and Peace by Kofi Annan with Nader Mousavizadeh.  This 400 page book goes some distance in explaining Kofi Annan’s enduring moral prestige. The puzzle is that he has survived failures, both his own and those of the institution he served for fifty years. Personal charisma is only part of the story. In addition to his charm, of which there is plenty, there is the authority that comes from experience. Few people have spent so much time around negotiating tables with thugs, warlords, and dictators. He has made himself the world’s emissary to the dark side. For more of this commentary by Michael Ignatieff in The New York Review of Books, 6 December 2012 "The Confessions of Kofi Annan" go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/dec/06/confessions-kofi-annan/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=November+20+2012&utm_content=November+20+2012+CID_0c53cf9d1df1a08c4ba18828a364fc44&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=The%20Confessions%20of%20Kofi%20Annan

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS

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

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

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: BASED ON A VISION

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

This vision, my long term view for humankind, which looks back as well as forward, can be found expressed in the following poem I wrote several years ago and placed at an internet site known as Hub Pages: http://ronprice.hubpages.com/hub/From-HomoHeidelbergensis-To-Utopia-500-000-BP-To-500-000-AD  This vision, or at least part of it, is also inspired by and based on several other historians and sociologists. A Study of History is a 12-volume magnum opus of British historian Arnold J. Toynbee which he began in 1921 and finished in 1961.  I purchased these volumes while at university as a history and philosophy student in 1964/5.  It took me many years to be able to read Toynbee with some ease. Initially, indeed for some years, I found his writing too tortuous and complex to really enjoy. Toynbee has never been easy for the average student.  In the 1960s I was that average high school, university and graduate student.  In the 40 years of writing his study of history Toynbee traced the development and decay of all of the major world civilizations in the historical record. Toynbee applies his model to each of these civilizations, detailing the stages through which they all pass: genesis, growth, time of troubles, universal state, and disintegration. For more on the subject of Toynbee's A Study of History go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Study_of_History

MYSELF AS WORLD CITIZEN

Part 1:

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

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

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

Part 2:

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

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

FAMOUS RUSSIAN AUTOBIOGRAPHER

Part 1:

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

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

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

Part 2:

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

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

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

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND POETRY

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

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

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: AN EXERCISE IN SELF-UNDERSTANDING

Part 1.1

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

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

Part 1.2

My aim now, among my many aims, some articulate and quite specific, some inarticulate, vague & scarcely conscious entities, is to understand self and society. This is no easy task. It has never been an easy task.  There are some who analyze their life and put their analysis down on paper with a much heavier hand than I have done.  It may be that I have been far too kind to myself as I have come to view myself in my 5 volume and 2600 page memoir.  There is what might be called the contemporary fashion for megalography: cutting the biographical and autobiographical suit too large for the subject and with cloth yards to spare. The point, of course, is not the size of the figure but the size of the life the writer is able to find or, to put it differently, the distance the writer travels finding it. With so much material so easily at hand and hopefully avoiding an unconscionable amount is social chitchat, I feel I have written about a long journey expounded at length. Most of humanity, of course, never write their autobiography and they never have a biography written about them.

Part 2:

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

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

Part 2.1

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

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

Part 2.2

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

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

Part 2.3

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

MY WEBSITE

The environment and landscape within the pages of my website consist of a constructed space. This space reflects back, almost as in a mirror, the mental, emotional and psychological states of the main narrator, myself.  This space is also about my journey through familiar and unfamiliar landscape.

NARCISSISM and REFLEXIVITY

Part 1:

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

Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, "narcissism" usually is used to describe some kind of problem in a person's or in a group's relationships with self and others.  In everyday speech, "narcissism" often means egoism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. In psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self-love and an unhealthy self-absorption due to a disturbance in the sense of self.  I trust, too, that whatever narcissim is attributed to me is seen as this normal self-love. Self-love is something that is kneaded into the very clay of man, the very basis of an individual human life.  If the individual could experience himself primarily as a citizen of the world, and if he could feel pride in mankind and in its achievements, his narcissism would turn toward the human race as an object, rather than to its components. the more love one turns to the outside world, the less toward oneself.  There is now an extensive literature on narcissism; for more on this subject go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism

Part 2:

I prefer the term reflexivity to narcissism. In sociology, a subject I have been studying and teaching for half a century(1963 to 2012), reflexivity means an act of self-reference where examination or action bends back on, refers to, and affects the entity instigating the action or examination.  Reflexivity in sociology commonly refers to the capacity of a person to recognize forces of their socialization and alter their place in the social structure. Pierre Bourdieu(1930-2002) insists on the importance of a reflexive sociology in which sociologists must at all times conduct their research with conscious attention to the effects of their own position, their own set of internalized structures, and how these are likely to distort or prejudice their objectivity. The sociologist, according to Bourdieu, must engage in a "sociology of sociology" so as not to unwittingly attribute to the object of observation the characteristics of the subject. She/he ought to conduct their research with one eye continually reflecting back upon their own habitus, their dispositions learned through long social and institutional training. A low level of reflexivity would result in an individual shaped largely by their environment and their society and shaped to a limited extent by their own selves.

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

Part 3:

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

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

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

MY AIM

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

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

SUSAN SONTAG

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

RONALD CONWAY, OSCAR WILDE AND SHAKESPEARE

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

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

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

THE DEAD THE LIVING AND THE NOT-YET-BORN

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

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

MEMORY IDENTITY AND COLLABORATION

Part A:

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

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

Part A.1

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

As Charles Simic, the American poet, in writing about memory says: "It doesn’t take much to get the old movie in our heads rolling again." In his article in The New York Review of Books, 6 December 2012, Simic writes: "A deserted street at dusk, with the summer sunlight lingering on the upper floors of a row of buildings and the sidewalks down below already deep in shadow, may get some old movie in our heads rolling again." And he continues: "Since we are ordinarily better at forgetting than remembering, it is often a mystery why some such sight has stamped itself on our memory, when countless others that ought to have far greater meaning can hardly be said to exist for us anymore. It makes me suspect that a richer and less predictable account of our lives would eschew chronology and any attempt to fit a lifetime into a coherent narrative and instead be made up of a series of fragments, spur-of-the-moment reminiscences occasioned by whatever gets our imagination working. For more of Simic on memory go to:http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/nov/19/memory-traps/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=November+20+2012&utm_content=

NON-PARTISANSHIP

Part A:

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

Part B:

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

Now, nearly 70, I usually evaluate an event or problem alone, on its own facts, and not according to any blueprint except, of course, the blueprints that exist in the various fields of knowledge. Blueprints also come to exist as a result of the perceptions and understandings that I have absorbed over a lifetime.  Writing involves the physical self—pens, paper, keyboards—the touch connecting the mind to the page; it has a rhythm and a feel, a posture and pacing, a pulse through the body.  This sense of place, feeling and self is crucial. -Ron Price with thanks to Jennifer Homans “Tony Judt: A Final Victory,” 22 March 2012, The New York Review of Books.

MY VOCATION AND AVOCATION

Part 1:

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

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

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

After 1999 I gradually came to see my calling in the roles listed above for which, and into which, I gradually reinvented myself. I still saw myself as a Baha’i teacher, but I performed that role by means of my writing, not by the exercise of the role of teacher in classrooms and lecture-halls. This notion of a calling, a vocation, was felt to perhaps an even greater extent as the evening of my life lengthened and the age of 70 approached in 2014.

Part 2:

I have done many things in life, had many activities that were diversions, interests, amusements, entertainments, and pleasures that engaged my mind, my heart and my body.  As a child and adolescent from birth to the age of 20, 1944 to 1965, organized sport and many an informal game, just having fun, as well as indulging myself in life’s pleasures, and in its myriad ways and means---these were my major diversions and distractions, occupations and recreations.

My work, an employment for which I was not paid, was as a student. The sense of a calling was not present in those years of pre-primary, primary and secondary education, or in any of those part-time jobs which occupied me while I was a student and which, for the most part, filled the summer vacation period or weekends.

As an adult from the age of 21 to 68, 1965 to 2012, my diversions, the inclinations that occupied my time, have also been many. They have included: having fun and enjoying my leisure-time, playing various sports and going to fitness centres, being engaged in the pleasures and responsibilities of family and social life, of volunteer activity in many organizations and many tasks such as raising funds for charities and service clubs like the Red Cross and the Lions Club. I also took part in many celebrations, commemorations and organized activities in the Baha’i community and in other volunteer organizations.

There were a multitude of tasks and pleasures associated with my places of employment.  Watching TV and listening to music on hi-fis and on the radio, daily walks and running, were also among this list of diversions, a list which seems endless as I look back over nearly 70 years of living. Many of these activities, these diversions, contributed either directly or indirectly to my sense of a calling.

Part 3:

Each person who feels they have a calling in life must speak for themselves to define their calling as accurately as they can.  I do that here. The calling to which I refer has been, and is, as a member of a global community inspired by the teachings enunciated by Baha’u’llah, that community’s Founder. That global community has also been inspired by ‘Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, the Founder’s successors, and the Universal House of Justice, the current trustee of the global undertaking initiated by Baha’u’llah in the last four decades of the 19th century.

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

Time’s ever rolling stream1
has been in full swing all my
life and an undying fire of a
curiosity was slowly kindled
by so many books and ideas,
sources and influences: the
intimate companionship of
a mother opened a world, a
plunge, of receptivity & that
irresistibly beckoning curiosity
which urged me to press forward
with time’s hurrying chariot luring
on my intellectual eagerness and
a slowly acquired poetic sensibility.

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

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

Ron Price
27 September 2012

JOHN OSBOURNE AND I

Part (i)

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

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

Part (ii)

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

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

DIVINE DISCONTENT

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

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

OBSESSIONS and COMPULSIONS

Part 1:

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

The best writers can lead readers to share their obsessions or manias. By the time I came to the role of writer and poet on a full-time basis I was in my late middle age(55-60) and the early years of late adulthood(60-67).  Late adulthood is the period from 60 to 80 according to one model of human development.  By the age of 60 I had acquired a number of manias and I have found readers in cyberspace to share these manias. Actually, I don't use the word mania in the sense that it is used in psychiatry. For a description of mania in the field of psychiatry go to this link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mania  I have had mania twice in my life in the psychiatric sense as part of my bipolar disorder.  I would not wish mania, at least the variety of mania that I had, on anyone. It was no tea-party.

Part 2:

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

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

Part 2.1

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

MEMORY

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

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

ORDINARY AND INSIGNIFICANT INDIVIDUALS

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

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

I AM ONE OF THOSE ORDINARY INDIVIDUALS

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

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

THIS WRITER'S WORK FOR FUTURE BIOGRAPHERS AND HISTORIANS

The historical period which some future biographer will invite readers to consider through my eyes will be of exceptional interest, the first five epochs from 1944, virtually the entire second century of the Formative Age of the Baha'i Era, when the Baha'i Faith grew from an insignificant Movement on the far periphery of an emerging global, planetizing, culture and civilization, to a player of some note in the affairs of humankind, from perhaps 100 thousand adherents, mostly in Iran in 1944, to many millions spread over the entire surface of the Earth by 2044.  My autobiography in its many forms will provide a small supplement to the vast array of information available on these five epochs, this second century of the Formative Age.

Beginning in the 1990s, especially after 1992, an auspicious juncture in the history of the Baha'i Faith, the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the ascension of Baha'u'llah, the accumulated potential for further developments in both the progress of the Baha'i community and my own writing was, in retrospect, incalculable. The onrushing, the quickening, wind to which the House of Justice referred in April 1992 seemed to be blowing through my life, veniliating my modes of thought, renewing, clarifying and amplifying my perspectives.  As the Arc Project on Mt. Carmel proceded throughout the 1990s and was officially completed in 2001, a rush of ceasless literary activity, some new potency, that had begun for me in 1992 continued and began to consolidate itself.  In these last two decades, then, 1992 to 2012, a foundation for the years ahead, for the last years of my late adulthood and old age, has been laid.  This foundation of millions of words, a 2600 page autobiography and 7000 poems, among other writings has been laid: (i) after a warm-up period of pioneering and travelling from 1962 to 1992, and (ii) after more than 40 years of writing: 1950 to 1992.

LISTENING

Our social media platforms encourage us to opinionate, to share, to show and to engage - but rarely do they encourage us to listen. As the English writer G. K. Chesterton once observed, there is a world of difference between listening and hearing.  In this program, we look at the seemingly lost art of listening and what being responsive can mean in  the modern world. Go to this link: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/listening-and-responding/6566302

SHIFTINGS IN THE LIFESPAN: EARLY RETIREMENT

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

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

BEING A WRITER: A MODEST PRETENSION

Part 1:

The majority of a writer's work, if not all of it, both prose and poetry, a writer outgrows and outlives.  If he or she dies young the writer outgrows his or her work by the process of what you might call natural attrition.  As I head for the age of 70,  I am happy to pass on this magnum opus, this massive oeuvre, to those who take an interest in it, to future generations.   Should no one take an interest in what I have written, I am prepared that all of my work will come to have been of no long term value to society.  As T.S. Eliot(1988-1965) put it, a writer has to be prepared that everything he has written may prove to have been, in retrospect, an utter waste of his own time.  T.S. Eliot was arguably the 20th century's most famous poet.  He gave this advice so that writers might be saved from possible bitterness and disappointment, from discouragement that their work might not be recognized or that they might fail to attain any success or achievement.

To be a writer and author, a poet and a publisher, editor and researcher, reader and scholar, online blogger and journalist, roles I have taken on in my late middle age(55-60) and the first decade(61-70) of late adulthood, are for me modest pretensions, but they are engrossing roles which now occupy me full-time.  By 1997, in the last two years of my life in paid employment,  I had begun to see my total literary output as part of a great epic. This notion of my work as epic had begun at the very outset in the international Baha'i community of what was and is called "a new culture of learning and growth, a new paradigm."  This new Baha'i culture is now two decades in the making: 1996-2016.

Part 2:

It has been a part of the function of my education, both my self-education and my 18 years of formal education in schools, to help me to escape--not from my own time, for I am bound by that--but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of my own time: hence my interest in so much that has been the humanities and social sciences, as well as, more recently, the biological as well as the physical and applied sciences.  So much of my writing is imbued with these many burgeoning disciplines. This interest and my writing, though, does not pay well. In my 10 years of FT writing(2006 to 2015) I have received about 13 cents per annum from the internet sites where my writing is posted. 

I receive a Canadian and Australian pension which I began receiving 5 years ago at the age of 65.  These pensions, with the pension my wife receives, total about $1300/fortnight, about $34,000/annum.  I also live in a house that is paid for and valued at about $300,000.  If this were not the case, if I only had my pensions, and some $200 from $4000 in stocks, my financial situation would be strained to put it mildly.  I would now be living on the street with the world's homeless people who now number in the many millions. Perhaps my three children and my wife's mother might have saved us from such an eventuality, saved us from being in the proverbial poor-house.  As things stand now in 2015, my wife and I are comfortable; we are able to pay the bills that come in, to put food on the table and put a roof over our heads. I trust this will remain the case until I pass from this mortal coil sometime, in all likelihood, by mid-century, that is by 2050. If I live to mid-century I will be 106!

WHAT I WRITE ABOUT: THANKS TO ANNIE DILLARD

Part 1:

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

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

....Dillard continues.....

Part 2:

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

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

Part 3:

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

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

Part 4:

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

MARK TWAIN AND ME: PART 1

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

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

The first posthumous sections of Mark Twain's memoirs, what became in time his autobiography, were published in 1924 in a sanitized form 14 years after his death by his first biographer Albert Bigelow Paine. Later Bernard DeVoto included parts of the memoir in his compilation entitled Mark Twain in Eruption (1940), and then the memoir appeared more authoritatively in a book entitled The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959). This book's editor, Charles Neider, presented that scattered memoir's materials “in the sequence which one would reasonably expect from autobiography.”  According to another view: "Mark Twain provided twenty-five individual chapters of his autobiography to the North American Review during 1906 and 1907. The material was chosen by Twain in collaboration with George Harvey, then editor of the North American Review, and Twain had the final say on what material would be included. “Chapters from My Autobiography” can be considered the one text of his life story that Mark Twain offered the reading public. That text appeared in book form in 1990 as Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography; a second edition appeared early in 2010."See this link:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/07/twain-twain/

MARK TWAIN AND ME: PART 2

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

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

PART 2.1

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

SECRET TO THE WAY I WORK

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

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

LITERARY FORM: WILLIAM JAMES AND ME

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

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

MY MEMOIRS: MARK TWAIN AND W. H. AUDEN

Part 1

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

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

Part 2

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

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

Part 2.1

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

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

MY INTERNET WRITING

For my writing at some of the over 200 forums and discussion sites on the internet go to the following link. Some of the forums or discussion sites are those of several other Ron Prices, but many of the Ron Prices are at locations where I have posted. You can also access these forums by just googling the words: RonPrice forums: https://www.google.com.au/search?q=Ron+Price+forums&hl=en&prmd=ivnso&start=60&ei=SycuVaaXGeW1mwWr0IDoAw#safe=active&hl=en&q=forums+Ron+Price+


MARILYN MONROE and ME

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

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

BIOGRAPHIES OF MY LIFE: PART 1

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

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

Part 1.1

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

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

BIOGRAPHIES OF MY LIFE: PART 2

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

Part 2.1 CHARLES DICKENS

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

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

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

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

Part 2.2 HENRY JAMES

“The pale forewarned victim,” Henry James wrote in relation to each of our lives and the attempts by others to write biographies of them, “with every track covered and every paper burnt and every letter unanswered, will, in the tower of art, the invulnerable granite, stand, without a sally, the siege of all the years.”  In my autobiography and its many genres: poetry and letters, narrative and analysis I have left much "invulnerable granite" which may become quite vulnerable. Go to this link for the changing views of the "invulnerable granite" that was the life of American novelist Henry James(1843-1916):  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/books/review/Leavitt2-t.html?pagewanted=all


For the remainder of this essay go to: The Heel Press, Funnies and Wee-Wisdoms: A Sub-Genre of the Email Industry

For my autobiography in three parts and five volumes go to Baha'i Library Online at:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3