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    RonPrice  75, Male, Canada - 60 entries
13
Oct 2012
4:43 AM AEDT
   

MORE MEMOIRES

Part 1:

Salmon Rushdie(1947- ) is back in the news. Death threats were made against him including a fatwā requiring his execution which was proclaimed on Radio Tehran. The fatwa was issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on 14 February 1989. I was just settling in to the first year of my final decade as a FT lecturer in a technical college in Western Australia; 1989 was also my first year as the secretary of a local Baha’i community in a suburb of Perth, Belmont, beside the Swan River.

I was immersed in the task of dealing with 100 students a week, and serving as a secretary of a Baha’i group of some 30 or more in a wider Perth Baha’i community at the time of some 1500 Baha’is.� I was up-to-my-ears in a 60 to 80 hour week of wall-to-wall people.� The news of Mr Rushdie in 1989 was just an on-air bit of information to add to the many other happenings reported that day by the electronic and print media such as: (i) heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson’s divorce in the Dominican Republic, (ii) Union Carbide’s agreement to pay $470 million damages for Bhopol disaster, and (iii) the placing of the world's 1st satellite, the first of 24 satellites, of a Global Positioning System into orbit.

1989 was a very big year on the global agenda. �In the midst of everything else happening that year, from Tiananmen Square to the fall of the Berlin Wall, I didn't dream that the forces underlying this remote anti-Rushdie event far-out on the periphery of my psyche and of western civilization would eventually come to define our era in so many ways. At the time, the Rushdie affair just seemed to me like some weird historical sideshow as I ploughed through the all-consuming tasks that made-up my week.� I had a few hours left-over to give to: my wife and kids, a few friends, my daily-walk and other activity to keep body-and-soul together so that I might enjoy my 64 hours a week of rest and sleep---in order to get back to the 100 hours involved in getting through my weekly tasks.

Part 2:

The following decade was an all-consuming one for Rushdie who was in the belly of some beast that I watched, heard or read about, but only on the rare occasion, safely from my observation tower half a world away occupied, as I say above, with my own life’s all-consuming agenda. Rushdie has just published a new book which takes us inside that whale-of-a-beast for that decade of the 1990s.� The new book is his memoir, Joseph Anton, and it’s about his living-in-hiding for more than a decade. Filled with cameos by everyone from Bill Clinton to Christopher Hitchens to Warren Beatty, this literary page-turner, as one reviewer describes it, tells us in fascinating detail, says the same reviewer, what it means to have every aspect of your life overturned. Not all the reviews and reviewers thusfar have been fascinated and captivated. Check them out to get that balanced view the media is so concerned about---at least in some cases.

The ayatollah's death sentence meant that Rushdie had to choose a new, non-Asian identity. He did. He called himself Joseph Anton, a name which came from combining the first names of two famous writers: Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov. He also had to adjust to live-in bodyguards and having to ask permission to do the simplest things, like meeting his son. More than Rushdie’s literary output, the death sentence against him turned the author into an international celebrity. In recent years, Rushdie himself has become a fixture on the New York social scene, with a reputation for keeping the company of glamorous women half his age.

Part 3:

Some readers, drawing parallels with the recent tabloidization of Rushdie’s own life, may cringe at how much his memoir peddles in publishing-world gossip, but like the author himself, Joseph Anton is an amalgam of high and low, salaciousness and profundity. As he has before, Rushdie proves himself a master at straddling the boundary between supermarket romance and philosophical treatise. The long rite of affairs and betrayals and divorces can’t obscure the fact that this is, ultimately, a wise book about some of the most important issues affecting the world today.

Foremost among those issues are the causes of free speech and free expression. Rushdie is an absolutist on these issues, arguing that free speech amounts to “life itself.” He suggests that the attempt by radical Islam to stifle The Satanic Verses was really the opening salvo in an ongoing conflict that has continued through the rise of al-Qaeda and the Sept.�11 terrorist attacks. The seeds of intolerance sown in 1989, when Khomeini’s fatwa was passed, have sprouted into a far more general—and violent—conflict between militant Islam and Western culture. Rushdie quotes the German poet Heinrich Heine: “Where they burn books, they will in the end burn people too.”1

He insists on complexity and nuance where polemic and clich� so often reign. This is what writers do. And this, ultimately, is Rushdie’s triumph. In an age of rising intolerance and diminished literary confidence, Joseph Anton—like Rushdie’s own life—strikes a blow for the continued relevance of literature.–Ron Price with thanks to Akash Kapur, Book Review: 'Joseph Anton' by Salman Rushdie, in The Stackon October 04, 2012

We each have our own memoirs;
why I’ve got mine on 1000s of
pages and all over the internet, &
most people have them up in their
heads; others, still, are placing some
of their story on Facebook & twitter.

To each their own as we each tell our
story to others and to ourselves before
our final story goes before those pearly
gates, & we go into a hole for those who
tell no more story…….at least not here!

I won’t be reading your story, Salmon,
in its 600+ pages…..There are just too
many stories: cyberspace-&-real space.

There are stories in the humanities & social
sciences, the physical, biological, & applied
sciences and the result is an image-&-print
glut that keeps everyone busy working out
their own agenda. You’ve certainly had more
than your share, more than your 15 minutes of
fame, as old Andy once put it long ago back in
the 60s for all those hippies who were starting
to make their mark on civilization and who are
now heading into old-age. I wish you well, dear
Salmon, as you too head into old-age writing, as
you have been doing for decades: another hippy
who has made his mark on global civilization!!!

Ron Price
10/10/’12
����������������������������������� REALLY REAL��������
�����������������������������
I wrote these two short paragraphs in my first month after retiring from FT paid-employment with 50 years in classrooms under my belt, 1949-1999, and after listening to an interview this morning with Salmon Rushdie.1 �The interview and Rushdie’s words made me think about the pioneer in so many walks of life.� He or she should strive, as far as possible, to create home where it did not exist before wherever they go.� But this is not always easy work. In a city like Perth with over a thousand Baha’is I found there were pockets, groups, of Baha’is I was never at home with.��

Virtually all pioneers wherever they are found, it seems to me, are not able to ‘remove strangeness.’1� There is always some sense of not belonging. The pioneer is in the position, Salmon Rushdie describes having two dreams: rootedness and journeying. He refers to people having two needs: community and group identity, as well as individuality and transcendence.2 –Ron Price with thanks to:� 1Salmon Rushdie, “Arts Today: Interview”, ABC Radio National, 3 May 1999, 9-10:00 a.m.; and 2Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, Four on an Island, Oxford, 1983, p. 62.
RUSHDIE and ME

A week after I retired from full-time work as a teacher and lecturer, after 32 years in the classroom and another 18 as a student, the website CNN Entertainment published an article entitled: “Rushdie’s new book out from under shadow of fatwa.”1 �The book referred to was The Ground Beneath her Feet and it was about a completely different world than that of his 1988 book The Satanic Verses. The new world of Rushdie’s 1999 book was: rock ‘n roll music, New York and the crossover cultures between the east and the west Rushdie, an Indian-born novelist, in 1999 was still getting used to a more visible life.

A decade before, in 1989, Iran’s revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a death edict against him for allegedly blaspheming Islam in that book The Satanic Verses. Khomeini died soon afterward, but Rushdie had to go into hiding for nearly a decade. It wasn’t until September 1998 that Tehran disassociated itself from Khomeini’s edict, as part of a deal aimed at restoring full diplomatic relations with Britain.-Ron Price with thanks to 1the website CNN Entertainment, 15 April 1999.

Your book is a variation on the Orpheus/Eurydice
myth with rock music replacing the Orpheus lyre.
The myth works as a red thread from which you
sometimes stray, but to which you attach endless
references.� You gave us a sort of report on life at
the end of the 20th century….I was far too busy to
read it getting-out from under 50 years of those
classrooms, Baha’i responsibilities in the big-city
and ready to take a sea-change from many jobs.

Your book provided a background and an alternate
history to those ‘50s to ‘90s period of rock music’s
growth….You give us, the reviewers said, humour
in a predictable unpredictability, a rat-tat-tat pace.
For clear shots of insight into the human condition
and the universe as it might be, you always moved
the ground beneath our feet.2 …So perhaps during
these years of my sea-change, at 55+++, I may just
finally get ‘into’ you---but only time will tell since I
have had to recreate my life-style….my entire MO.3

1On 10 May 1999, six hundred people attended a reading and book signing of author Salman Rushdie’s new bookThe Ground Beneath Her Feet.–Zarminae Ansari, “Salmon Rushdie’s “rock and roll” novel,” The Tech: Online Edition, 4 June 1999.� By June 1999 I had finished marking the last pieces, scripts, papers, I was given after my classroom teaching had come to an end.

2� Linda L. Richards, “The Earth Moves,” January Magazine, April 1999.
3 modus operandiis a Latin expression used in who-dun-its. It means method of operating or way of going about things.

Ron Price
14 November 2011
SWIRLING

When I was working in a tin mine on the west coast of Tasmania in 1981/2 at one of the dirtiest, but emotionally challenging, jobs I’ve ever had, Salmon Rushdie was catapulted to literary fame.� I think I may have come across his name on the morning news before going to work on the bus in this little town on the west coast of Tasmania where it just about always rained.

I got on the bus early in the morning in the dark and the rain for, as I say, it nearly always rained on the west coast of this beautiful island state of Australia.� News of Rushdie and his Midnight’s Children(1981)was the beginning of his story in the narrative that is my own life and, over twenty-five years later, I still follow the writing and life of this acclaimed and controversial writer.

Yesterday I listened to an interview on ABC radio1 with this Indian-British novelist and essayist, this Muslim-born and self-proclaimed atheist around whom have been swirling literary and political issues, especially since the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses(1988).�

I had left the tin mine by 1988 and was living in what is arguably the most isolated city on the planet, Perth, Western Australia.� The comparisons and contrasts between Rushdie’s writing and mine I found helped to place my own work in a useful personal perspective.� This prose-poem is just one of a series of pieces which examines these comparisons and contrasts.-Ron Price with thanks to “The Book Show,” ABC Radio National,� 21 April 2008, 10:05-11:00 a.m.
I tell stories, too, Salmon
but I don’t draw on the
deficit model of history1
in the same way as you.

I, too, subvert linear history
with spacial, sacred, circular
and fragmented models, far
more transnational, not the
discreet national-local story
here, more the flickering film
of a phenomenal world where
a sense of unity is demanding
fulfilment on a tide of desire
for an outward and political
form mounting to a flood, to
a climax in these tempestuous
times of troubles and woes.

Writing for me was a second
choice, too, Salmon, after I
realized I could not make a
career of baseball and life
wore me out with forty years
of endless talking and listening
among other slings and arrows
of life’s outrageous fortune.

1Camilla Nelson, “ Faking It: History and Creative Writing,” TEXT: Vol. 11, No.2, 2007.

Ron Price
22 April 2008

273

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    RonPrice  75, Male, Canada - 60 entries
12
Oct 2012
4:21 AM AEDT
   

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER

Part 1:

At the beginning of the Seven Year Plan, 1937 to 1944, the first systematic teaching Plan of the Baha’is of North America, Reinhold Niebuhr arranged a job for Dietrich Bonhoeffer in New York. Niebuhr(1892-1971) was an American theologian, public intellectual, commentator on politics and public affairs, and long-time professor at Union Theological Seminary. I just found this out today while reading an online edition of The New York Review of Books.1 Now, in the evening of my life, I finally have the opportunity to read about things I simply did not have the time to read or the simplicity of access to information as I now have in cyberspace.

Bonhoeffer arrived in New York in late June 1939, more than two years after the beginning of that Plan, a Plan I have little doubt he knew anything about immersed as he was in Germany’s extreme social problems of the late 1930s. To oppose Hitler’s regime was rare, and to do so in order to protect the sanctity of law and faith was rarer still. One exceptional man who from the start of the Third Reich in 1933 opposed the Nazi outrages was that well-known pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

In that summer of 1939, though, Bonhoeffer was in spiritual turmoil: How could he contemplate living in a foreign country like the USA, a country which was at peace, when his own country, Germany, was on the brink of war and desolation? He decided he must go back to Europe. He explained to Niebuhr that:

“I must live through this difficult period of our national history with the Christian people of Germany…. Christians in Germany are going to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive, or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying our civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose.”1 He was back in Germany by September 1939 and the outbreak of war.

Part 2:

Bonhoeffer’s writings on Christianity's role in the secular world, in which he called for a "religion-less Christianity", have become widely influential, and many have labelled his book The Cost of Discipleship(1937) a modern classic. It was a study on the Sermon on the Mount. Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer became known for his staunch resistance to the Nazi dictatorship.

Bonhoeffer strongly opposed Hitler's euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was also involved in plans by members of the Abwehr, the German Military Intelligence Office, to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and executed by hanging in April 1945 while imprisoned at a Nazi concentration camp. It was just 23 days before the German surrender.2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern“, The Tragedy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi” in The New York Review of Books, 25/10/’12; and 2Wikipedia.

I knew nothing about you,
Dietrich back in 1944….I
was just coming into this
world & you were on your
way out. I kept hearing about
your courage and resistance to
evil as I came to read at McMaster
university in the fields of religion
and philosophy in the mid-1960s.

Later in the 1970s, while teaching
in the social sciences, you again
came in to my intellectual life, but
you were always out, way out on
the periphery with so much of the
academic and popular culture on
its way over those last 4 decades,
1972 to 2012, as I taught in high
schools, colleges, & universities.

Today, though, Dietrich, I got an
idea of what you were on about.
I wish you well in your new home
In the land of lights more than 60
years now: what is it like, Dietrich?

�Ron Price
12 October 2012
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    RonPrice  75, Male, Canada - 60 entries
22
Jul 2012
4:27 AM AEST
   

MEMORIZING: The Major and Minor Leagues

The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Lifeis a new book by Harold Bloom.1Bloom at 82 is, arguably, the most famous American literary critic; he is also the Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. Bloom says that his theory of literature was the offshoot of his own reading habits, principally his freakish capacity for memorization.

He discovered this ability to memorize in childhood, and it never left him. In the early 1960s, after hearing the prolific American poet W. S. Merwin’s poem Departure’s Girl-Friend, a poem of some 40 lines, he was able to repeat it verbatim.� “Even now,” he says, “I possess almost all of the poetry of one of my favorite poets, Hart Crane, by memory.”


The ability to grasp poetry in this way is rare but not unprecedented. Bloom’s hero, the English author Samuel Johnson(1709-1784), had this ability as well. “His memory was so tenacious,” Boswell writes in his great biography of Johnson, “that he never forgot anything that he either heard or read.” �One of Johnson’s schoolmates remembers having recited to him 18 verses which, after a little pause, he was able to repeat, varying only one epithet, by which he improved the line.”


The scientific study of memory is part of cognitive neuroscience, an interdisciplinary link between cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Some principles and techniques that have been used to assist in memorization include: rote learning, mnemonics, mnemonics link systems, peg systems, cramming, vedic chants, and oral traditions.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Sam Tanenhaus, Harold Bloom: An Uncommon Reader, �in The New York Times, May 20, 2011.


I had a good memory as a student

in primary and high school & was

able to go to the top of my class...,

but I was not in your league, Mr…

Bloom or Mr Johnson……I had to

work to get that information & facts

into my brain for future use usually

in exams: 99% perspiration and 1%

inspiration.� I am in a minor league,

a minor poet but, as the years went on

and my interests widened, I was able to

develop an architecture of information

in which to place a burgeoning quantity

of details as I headed through the stages

of adulthood and into old-age and its 3

phases: 65-74, 75-85 and beyond, if I

last that long!


Ron Price

26 June 2012

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    RonPrice  75, Male, Canada - 60 entries
21
Jul 2012
4:59 AM AEST
   

THE OLD TESTAMENT and ME

Note: I have tired to edit-out all the capitalization, but could not figure-out how to do it.-Ron
----------------------------------------------

The Hebrew Bible, called The Old Testament by Christians, is an extraordinarily difficult sequence of books.1 This difficulty, too easily underestimated, is greater now than it ever was, partly because no contemporary reader, however specialized, shares in the psychology of the original readers and writers of The Bible. The first millennium in which anyone read any of the words in any of the books from 1000 B.C. to the time of Christ or, perhaps more accurately, 600 B.C. to 400 A.D.2

My first memories of The Old Testament come from Bible readings in grade six when I was 11 and my mother reading passages from little booklets from the Unity School of Christianity as early as the mid-1950s. �Although some of the quotations had a broad ethical appeal to me even as a boy in my late childhood and early teens, I found the stories abstruse and distant: goats, sheep, tribes, and curious names like Balthazar and Nebuchadnezzar. They all occupied another universe far removed from my little town of 5000 in Ontario in that post-WW2 world of the 1950s. This distance existed then, as it does now, nearly 60 years later.

My individual understanding of The Bible, my biblical interpretations, rely primarily at the age of nearly 70 on my experience of nearly 60 years of intimate association with the Baha’i Faith. My interpretations and those of the Baha’i teachings are provocative, if nothing else.� But I have always found there to be a vast distance from the psychic universe of the biblical writers beginning as early as, say, 900 B.C.2 and the contemporary society that is my world. I know I have lots of company; indeed I rarely meet anyone who actually reads The Old Testament any more.


However abstruse the language of biblical prophecy and eschatology, the prophets of The Old Testament, I believe, were given a foreknowledge of the events of our times in their visions, visions which I’m sure they hardly understood themselves.� �Still, there lies a sure presentation of the times we are living-through, as long as one does not take those prophecies literally.

Yahweh's choice of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants as part of the Chosen People story was a permanent decision, intended to prevail into a time without boundaries, into our time.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Harold Bloom, “Prose and Poetry,” in The New York Times, 17 October, 1982: a review of Dan Jacobson’s THE STORY OF THE STORIES: The Chosen People and Its God, and 2the final editor, or redactor, after the return from the Babylonian Exile in the 6th century BC, put all the books of The Old Testament into something like their present form.3


When this review appeared in1

The New York TimesI had just

arrived in Australia’s Northern

Territory & the heat of summer

was just beginning to make me

run for cover to air-conditioning �

in my office, my home & the cool

air of the car....The Old Testament �

was on my universe’s far-periphery.

There it had always been in heat and

cold since those first stories when I

was in grade six in that little town in

Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe where

everyone I knew was Catholic or Jew

or Protestant, or nothing; yes, mostly

nothing and there they have remained

with that Old Testament far removed

from everyone’s everyday life. Still…

I have time now to try to get into it in

this the evening of my life; �however

complex and abstruse it may be, I want

to make-up for the decades when it had

to remain far out on my life’s periphery.


1Harold Bloom, “Prose and Poetry,” inThe New York Times, 17 October, 1982: a review of Dan Jacobson’sTHE STORY OF THE STORIES: The Chosen People and Its God.
3 See Frank Kermode, “God Speaks Through His Women,” in The New York Times, 23 September 1990: a review of Harold Bloom’s The Book of J.

Ron Price

5 July 2012




1 comment(s) - 05:03 AM - 07/21/2012
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    RonPrice  75, Male, Canada - 60 entries
20
Feb 2012
4:03 AM AEST
   

de Kooning: A Retrospective

Five of the most famous, or infamous, paintings of Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)---the Woman series from 1950-1953 ---were at a large-scale retrospective exhibition which concluded last month. From 18 September 2011 to 9 January 2012 de Kooning: A Retrospective could be viewed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. That Dutch-American abstract-expressionist painted what people found, and still find, shocking, truly wild canvasses.

Woman I which had pride of place at the centre of one wall in the MoMA was flanked by two equally riotous canvases on either side. It had taken de Kooning over two years to complete Woman I. He kept putting it aside. It was only the urgings of American art historian Meyer Schapiro that kept him from destroying it. By the early 1950s de Kooning, some argue, was onto something so new even to himself that he had to make a number of similar paintings before he knew enough to know when Woman I qualified as a finished painting. This meant as much scratching into, rubbing out, scraping back, and starting over as it did applying oil paint in every conceivable manner and viscosity.

Woman with Bicycle (1952-1953), another painting at the retrospective is a monster of a painting with a formless piece of pure red pigment at the centre of the canvas. That mark gives the impression, say some critics, as if de Kooning had just about given-up on this new art form. Perhaps in the green square-shaped smudges and scrapes at the bottom of the painting de Kooning found himself, momentarily redeemed by the dialectic between form and anti-form, the simultaneous contrast between red and green.

Perhaps the paint became, for de Kooning, a way of pinning down this figure to the picture-plane, literally a base on which to anchor the figure. Perhaps, too, the doubling of the teeth, lined-up above the formless piece of pure red pigment, and the resulting alignment along the central axis of the painting, was de Kooning mocking the seemingly irrational results of his enterprise. Form and anti-form may just be, in the end, a prison-house for de Kooning’s pictorial logic.

“Talent is a crushing burden, a curse, to the artist who would be modern, experimental, original, free,” wrote Rochelle Gurstein who reviewed this retrospective for The New Republic this month. “I couldn’t help feeling there was something tragic in the historical development that de Kooning represented”1 Gurstein wrote. What pressure was de Kooning under, with episodes of redemption, only to return to what must have felt to him like some kind of torture? Gurstein asked rhetorically.

I had just started primary school at the time de Kooning did this work. My mother had just joined a new religion that had come into town, the Baha’i Faith; my father had got a job closer to the centre of town, a town in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe. I knew nothing of de Kooning and abstract impressionism immersed as I was in the years of middle childhood according to human development psychologists.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Rochelle Gurstein, “Abstract Expressionism's Most Traditional Artist,” The New Republic, 2 February 2012---for much of the above.

What was his inspiration, his creativity,
his intensity, capacity-extraordinaire as
an action painter to make psychic event
happen apparently spontaneously on his
canvases just after history’s worst war?

Was de Kooning’s apparent aim synthesis
of tradition and modernism? Did that aim
grant him more flexibility within the Late
Cubist confines of its canon of design???

The dream of a grand style hovers over all
this: the dream of a clearly grand & heroic
mix. He went so far as to draw with his left
hand, with his eyes closed, watching TV &
trying to get away, so I’m told, from talent.

Is this the pathos of what it meant to be a
modern artist of the ‘50s generation, a time
when a new and thrilling motion seemed to
be permeating the world of existence little
did he or virtually anyone else even know
back then in days when rock-‘n-roll was
about to wake people up from the dream
of Mr. Clean & Doris Day, General Ike &
luxury without stress, & no Negroes, & no
genitalia: please, not at all, pretty please!!2

1 From essays on de Kooning by Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg.
2 The Fifties: The Way We Really Were, D.T. Miller & M. Nowak, Doubleday & Co., NY, 1977, p.302.

Ron Price
19-2-12.
Tags: art, famous
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    RonPrice  75, Male, Canada - 60 entries
10
Feb 2012
4:22 AM AEST
   

CSI: SCIENCE AND SALVATION

Each episode of the most popular television series in the world - according to articles in The New Yorker and BBC online1- begins where many stories end, at the death of the central character. Before the opening credits roll, the primary piece of evidence, this character’s body, appears lifeless and silent. Soon enough, however, the crime scene investigator, the CSI, begins his chief task; he must get this body to speak. He will, within an hour’s time, divine a true tale. And, in the retrospective portrait that emerges, the CSI confirms his mastery of the tools of truth telling and his ability to impose these tools on the world around him, whatever the circumstances.

I watched a few of the CSI: Miami episodes after they began to be released on my birthday, 23/7/’03, at the age of 59, here in northern Tasmania where the Tamar River meets the sea. �I had taken an early retirement after a 40 year working life, was the secretary of the small Baha’i Group of George Town Tasmania, and had begun to write full-time.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Wikipedia: 2009-2011; 2"Dead Men Do Tell Tales:” CSI: Miami and the Case Against Narrative, Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture, Spring 2009, Volume 8, Issue 1.

Since I took a sea-change in 1999

I’ve been watching more who-dun-

its than ever before, some with my

wife and some by myself. Today I

came across a study of CSI: Miami at

an online journal that I have taken an

interest in, one of those free journals

that are available on the world-wide

web which enrich my years in these

evening--times of my late adulthood

which some of the psychologists of

human development call these years

of 60 to 80 in the average lifespan.


Little gregarious chatter as each

episode unfolds weekly with its

faith in science and technology.

I watched a few programs when

CSI: Miamifirst came out & now

only when I am too tired to write.

The series has been voted the most

popular in the world perhaps, partly,

because of its propensity for a high

tech and its wordlessness: no juries,

no lawyers, just pretty people as well

as some, a lot, of instrumentation and

scientific methodology to provide the

view that science will save us if we can

just develop it to suit our social needs!!

Ron Price

25 January 2012


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    RonPrice  75, Male, Canada - 60 entries
18
Jan 2012
5:02 AM AEST
   

GORE VIDAL: master essayist of our age

Gore Vidal(b.1925-), who has been called the best all-around American man of letters since Edmund Wilson(1895-1972), began his writing career at nineteen, the year I was born. In 1962, the year I began to travel for the Canadian Baha’i community and begin my own serious literary and academic study, Vidal published his first book of essays entitled: Rocking the Boat.

Books of his essays and interviews, novels and memoirs kept appearing as I entered the teaching profession in the 1960s and finally retired in the 1990s. He’s still going, although not as strong at 85 and often in a wheel-chair.-Ron Price with thanks to Harry Kloman, “Gore Vidal’s Essays, Interviews and Memoirs: 1963-Present,” 2005.

He always impressed me with
his remarkable wit and talent:
5 decades of scintillating words
in books & live whenever I saw
him in Australia on TV…He saw
the moral-intellectual hollowness
of American politics at the same I
did—in the early 1960s with those
Kennedys and so he spent the rest
of his life writing books and essays
& a lot of other stuff1---thinking on
paper for a world slowly captured by
electronic distractions. Still, we go on
talking about books and writing them
pretending not to notice that the church
is empty and people have gone over to
attend to other gods in silence or new
words. ��Surely it’s not that bad Gore?2

1 The Washington Post calls him “the master essayist of our age.” See David Barsamian, “Citizen Gore Vidal,” These Times, 3 November 2008
2 George Scialabba, “Civic Virtues: Gore Vidal’s Selected Essays,” The Nation, 8 October 2008.

Ron Price
3 August 2011

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    RonPrice  75, Male, Canada - 60 entries
18
Jan 2012
5:00 AM AEST
   

ROBERT FROST: A PERSONAL RETROSPECTIVE

The famous national American poet Robert Frost(1875-1963) died on 30 January 1963, two months before his 89th birthday.� Three months later on 30 April 1963, the long-awaited crown of the Baha’i Administrative Order, the Universal House of Justice, sent its first statement to the Baha’i world and opened the second epoch of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Divine Plan.

In January 1963, the last month of his life, Frost knew nothing, as far as I know, about the Baha’i Faith. He had no idea that, from a Baha’i perspective, the ninth part of the spiritual evolution of man, an evolution than began with the Adamic Cycle, was about to be concluded, and that the tenth part of a divine process destined to culminate in the Christ-promised Kingdom of God on earth was about to open in less than three months.

The tributes of President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev dominated the news stories as other final eulogies were pronounced on Frost in early February. Early in that month, too, the famous poet Sylvia Plath committed suicide and Barbra Streisand’s first album was released. �The last months and weeks of what to the Baha’is was known as the Ten Year Crusade concluded on 21 April 1963, bringing to an end that first epoch in the grand design of what to the Baha’is was “God’s Holy Cause.”1

I was finishing my matriculation studies in Ontario.� At the time, I knew nothing about Robert Frost and had little appreciation of that grand design of the Baha’i community. ��Since 1963, though, I have come to appreciate much more the significance of this Holy Cause I have now been associated with for nearly 60 years. The life and poetry of Robert Frost has become an inspiration.

"My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight."
--Robert Frost

1 The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, Baha’i Pub. Trust, Wilmette, 1969, p.1.

I have come to appreciate you, Robert,
especially due to your fears, rages and
jealousies woven and muted poetically
as you wrote poem after poem over all
those decades. Your casualness and its
understatement in your simple pastoral
mode is something that I find difficult to
emulate since it reflects a person, as your
poems and life do: �disquiet, anxiety about
being in a world without any boundaries, a
darkness due the absence of life-assurances,
a fear of the awful silence of this universe &
its infinite spaces. Without a faith to comfort
you in the face of life’s ultimate bafflement &
confusion, with no vision just art’s safety net:
simple & rugged was your life and work, and
what you stood for is gone…….Is your poetry
of much use to us now? asks William Stafford.1

1William Stafford(1914-1993) was the poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress in 1970.�He wrote “The Terror in Robert Frost” in The New York Times on the Web which appeared on 18 August 1974 and from which I draw in the above poem. �Stafford at the time was the author of several collections of poems, including "Allegiances" and "Someday Maybe," He was also a professor of English at Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon.�

I was, at the time this article was published, having my first successes as a lecturer and tutor in post-secondary education; I was reading and enjoying immense quantities of print for the first time in my life, having a whole new set of personal tests, and was far removed from writing poetry as I would be until the 1980s about the age of 40.

Ron Price
18 January 2012

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    RonPrice  75, Male, Canada - 60 entries
17
Jan 2012
4:30 AM AEST
   

CINEMATOGRAPHY and ECCENTRICITY

Perhaps I was attracted to the autobiographical aspect, the epic story, of a larger-than-life adventurer, T.E. Lawrence's(1888-1935) Arabian adventure in Lawrence of Arabia. �Perhaps it was the impressive cinematography. �By the time I came to write this prose-poem I had been working on my own autobiography for 23 years and I had seen the film Lawrence of Arabia twice in the 47 years since the start of its production history began back in October 1959, the month I joined the Bah�’� Faith.� The film, Lawrence of Arabia, was first released three months after my travelling-pioneering venture began in Canada in September 1962 for the Canadian Baha’i community.�

Lawrence's life and personality were enigmatic and complex, solitary and adventurous. He was, I am told, sexually problematic and excessively arrogant.� These are qualities I have myself exhibited, but after some reflection and reading, I don’t think I exhibited these qualities with anything like the same intensity. Still, these qualities are features of life that characterize millions in various degrees, and people often become more conscious of them, they become what you might call more articulate, when a person goes to write his or her autobiography.�

Peter O’Toole(1932- ) who played Lawrence had his problems in life: alcohol, marriage, health, extreme eccentricity, a brilliance of sorts, a useful exemplar for the field of abnormal psychology. It seems they were useful qualities for his role in Lawrence, a man of brilliance and eccentricity as well, a man who said he was “a retired Christian.”

Lawrence's task, among others, was to unite the Arabian Bedouins against their Turkish oppressors. �My task was one of trying to bring unity to a people as well, although in the years 1959 to 1962 I had no idea of the scale, the nature and the complexity of the exercise, an exercise I was involved with in some two dozen towns where I lived in my days. My task did not operate on anything like the scale that Lawrence’s did. My world was a micro-world: small towns and cities, schools and places of work, families and small groups.

I don't want to summarize the story of Lawrence or the movie here, suffice it to say, the cinematography was breathtaking.� Some argue that this was the main reason for seeing the film.� Lawrence seemed to possess the paradoxical qualities of a man blinded by his ego, desirous of fame and yet at the same time self-effacing.� The film works with themes of fate and war, Arab tribal disunity and national politics.� Lawrence exists as a dark, blank shadow, a complex, jelly-like personality in a brightly lit desert. He is a man incomprehensible even to those who knew him best: intelligent, charismatic and slightly mad.� In the end he could not bring unity to the Arab tribes, could not even begin to create an Arab state. Unity was elusive for Lawrence and for the Arabs for many reasons as it is elusive for us.�� The pioneers of our generation can but construct a portion of it, a stage along the way to the unity of humankind in the many generations to come.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 28 December, 2006.

I had no idea back then that
I would be a bit mad, too, as
I journied across the deserts,
the Arctic-ice and the great
tracts of land playing my part
in trying to unite the peoples
of the Earth who did not seem
to want to unite at least through
the mechanism which I advised
and suggested again and again
for over fifty years, say, back to
'56 as we were just starting to go
to the moon and into rock-'n-roll.

The cinematography, the mise-
en-scene of my days, could be
magnificent in the hands of a
David Lean, a poetic imagery
with super-panavision 70 mm
scope. You could even capture
the hills and valleys of my life
with a spectacular epic story, a
much larger-than-life idealistic
adventure & reduce my several
decades to, say, 150 minutes!!!*

I had my eccentricity but it was
nothing like Peter O’Toole’s &
I married someone who helped
to keep my eccentricities within
bounds of social propriety—and
thus function in society….in the
classroom and in a community
with its heterogeneity. But fame
and wealth would never be mine.

Ron Price
28 December 2006 to
16 January 2012--Draft #2

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