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Thread: HERMANN HESSE and ME

  1. #1
    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    HERMANN HESSE and ME

    Part 1:

    I do not feel quite the same about my writing as the philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe(1749-1832) felt about his writing, namely, that it contains "fragments of a great confession."(1) Mine is a very modest confessionalism; its fragments do not amount to “a great confession.” Goethe insisted on engagement with the outside world as the way to grow and develop. I agree with Goethe in this. Even though my life by my late adulthood, that is by the age of 60, as a writer and poet had more solitude than sociality, most of my 7 decades of living have been intensely engaged with the outside world: its people, places and things.

    In contrast to that Genevan philosopher and writer, Jean Jacques Rousseau(1712-1778) whose writing was, among other things, a tortured subjectivity with sometimes embarrassing and annoying self-disclosures, my literary subjectivity in neither tortured nor characterized by embarrassing self-disclosures, at least from my point of view.

    Part 2:

    My autobiographical work---to compare my writing with yet another famous writer--- is and has been for me what the novel was for German novelist Hermann Hesse(1877-1962). Hesse saw his novels as transformations of himself adapted to the circumstances of his fiction. I see my work, especially my poetry, in some ways like Hesse's, that is, as an "adventure of self-discovery"(2) shaped from and by autobiographical reality. There is also some sense of that personal transformation in the act of writing.

    Hesse's literary undertaking was a reappraisal of his inner growth. Hesse said that he wrote mainly when he was enjoying a mood of contemplation and self-examination. So is this true of me and my writing. The literary ways and means of Hesse and I are similar in so many ways. He saw his writing as an objective observation, at least as objective as he could be, of his surroundings and himself; as an analysis of the passing moment both in the present and the past. His desire to think and write often focused on himself and the act of writing, on the psychology of the artist, the poet and the literary man; on the passion, the seriousness and some of the vanity of life which attempts, in part, the apparently impossible(3).

    Both Hesse and I began our writing in our late teens and 20s. We each went from strength to strength with age, although Hesse was much more prolific than I from his 20s to 40s during which time I was occupied with 50 hours a week as a teacher, and responsibilities in the Baha’i community. He also won the Nobel Prize in literature and so any comparison of my writing with his is the comparison of a writer in the big leagues to a minor-league player.

    Part 3:

    In one essay, Hesse reflected wryly on his lifelong failure to acquire a talent for idleness. Boredom was not part of his experience. He speculated that his average daily correspondence, especially after 1946 when he received the Nobel Prize, was in excess of 150 pages. I, too, in my role as a teacher and as a student over more than 50 years have found idleness and boredom to be a serious issue in society and the source of many social problems. It is an opinion I first came across in the writings of the English philosopher and activist Bertrand Russell as far back as my university days: 1963-1967.

    That sense of emptiness and lack of meaning is accompanied by a pursuit of, or passive waiting for, trivial, insubstantial stimulations and distractions that are ultimately unfulfilling, or they only partially satisfy and appease the hunger. There is also a political nature, a political-institutional significance or underpinning of the modern phenomenon of boredom. Boredom's historical manifestations can be traced back to Attic Greece in the West. Such an historical examination focuses on the decline in political participation through a wide historical lens, and attributes it to a transformation in Western culture that began under the Roman Empire.(4)-Ron Price with thanks to(1-2)Hermann Hesse, Autobiographical Writings, editor T Ziolkowski, Jonathan Cape, London, 1973, p.p. ix-xiii, (3) ibid., p.248, and (4)Isis Leslie, “From Idleness to Boredom: On the Historical Development of Modern Boredom,” Critical Studies: Essays on Boredom and Modernity, editors Barbara Dalle Pezze and Carlo Salzani , Rodopi Pub., pp. 35-59(25).

    You died, Hermann, within days
    of the death of Marilyn Monroe
    & two weeks before playing my
    last game of baseball on a hot
    August afternoon on the mound
    for the Burlington All- Stars, and
    beginning a travelling-pioneering
    life for the Canadian community
    of Baha'is with its linkeage to my
    studies, my many jobs, & indeed,
    my entire life-narrative-story......

    I had no idea that you had died, Hermann,
    although I came to read your books in the
    1970s and 1980s....I knew of your bipolar
    disorder just today in the evening of life.(1)

    Music and poetry filled your home as it
    filled mine as child-adolescent…but you
    withdrew into reading & writing-a-soul-
    searching inwardness......in your teens
    and 20s resulting in your winning fame
    & the Nobel Prize in literature in 1946!!

    In a space of a few years you became,
    mirabile dictu, the most widely(2)
    read-and-translated European author of
    the 20th century inspite of your BPD,(3)
    life-crises, headaches, marital problems.

    My withdrawal was in my late 50s, far too
    late to ever be famous or widely read;(4)
    your immense popularity did not come
    until after your death. Who knows what
    my story will be, Hermann? I wish you
    well in your new home, presumably in the
    land of lights, that mysterious Kingdom!!!

    (1) Hermann Hesse's grandfather Hermann Gundert, a doctor of philosophy and fluent in multiple languages, encouraged Hermann to read widely, giving him access to his library. This library was filled with the works of world literature. All this instilled a sense in Hermann Hesse that he was a citizen of the world.*Wikipedia, 16/9/’12. My maternal grandfather, Alfred Cornfield, an autodidact and an influence on my life until he died in 1958 when I was 13, was a deep reader and writer. His autobiography was published in 1980. He was one of several influences in addition to the Baha’i Faith that, by the end of my adolescence, instilled in me my sense that I was also a citizen of the world.

    (2) Latin meaning ‘marvellous to relate’ (3) bipolar 1 disorder

    (4) By 2012 I had millions of readers in cyberspace but, on the world-wide-web with its 400 million sites and 2 billion users, my writing was a needle in a haystack.

    5 As Hesse put it in his The Glass Bead Game, the study of history means “submitting to chaos and nevertheless retaining faith in order and meaning. It is a very serious task.” -http://www.notable-quotes.com/h/hesse_hermann.html

    Ron Price
    16 September 2012
    Last edited by Ron Price; 09-17-2012 at 01:07 AM. Reason: to add some words
    Ron Price is a Canadian who has been living in Australia for 42 years(in 2013). He is married to a Tasmanian and has been for 37 years after 8 years in a first marriage. At the age of 69 he now spends most of his time as an author and writer, poet and publisher. editor and researcher, online blogger, essayist, journalist and engaging in independent scholarship. He has been associated with the Baha'i Faith for 60 years and a member for 53 years.cool:

  2. #2
    Litterateur Anton Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Price View Post
    The literary ways and means of Hesse and I are similar in so many ways.


    Someone has to compile Ron's loopy scribblings one of these days. I've run across his, um, output on virtually every message board I've ever visited, and these odd odes are just never not funny. Ron's not one for discussion, but he seems like the nicest guy. The way he assesses the work of famous authors like Faulkner and Hesse by comparing them to Ron Price is so guileless I couldn't imagine anyone accusing him of presumption.

    Rave on, Ron.

  3. #3
    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    Thanks, Anton Hermes, for your thoughtful comment. Indeed, I inhabit literally 1000s of websites, discussion boards, places for what has become a voluminous literary compendium. "Loppy scribblings" is one characterization I have not received. It is I'm sure, for many who come upon my posts, just that: loopy and scribblings to be passed over without a thought. For those readers who may not recall the meaning of guileless, allow me to refresh your memory: transparent, square, straight - characterized by honesty and fairness; straight dealing; "a square deal". I like that.

    I like, too, Anton's words: "Price's odd odes are just never not funny". With that use of the double negative, I assume Mr Hermes finds my pieces humorous. In that case I am delighted. I'm sure, though, as Anton Hermes implies, that there are many who would accuse me of all sorts of things from presumption to posturing, from tedium to tortuous and tepid writing. I'll post below my response to the criticism I've received in the last dozen years of internet posting. The post below will be too long for many readers and, if that is the case, readers should either(i) skim or scan the following or (ii) just ignore the many paragraphs below:
    --------------------------------
    I'll just post a link to my thoughts on the criticism I've received, FY possible I---dear reader: http://www.shadowedrealm.com/medieva...n-prices-blog/
    Last edited by Ron Price; 12-14-2012 at 08:29 PM. Reason: to add some words
    Ron Price is a Canadian who has been living in Australia for 42 years(in 2013). He is married to a Tasmanian and has been for 37 years after 8 years in a first marriage. At the age of 69 he now spends most of his time as an author and writer, poet and publisher. editor and researcher, online blogger, essayist, journalist and engaging in independent scholarship. He has been associated with the Baha'i Faith for 60 years and a member for 53 years.cool:

  4. #4
    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    THE APPARENTLY IMPOSSIBLE

    Goethe regarded his autobiography as "fragments of a great confession."1 This was not anywhere near the truth of my own story. Nor was my work, what the novel was for German novelist Hermann Hesse, a transformation of Hesse himself, adapted to the circumstances of his fiction. My work and Hesse's was and is an "adventure of self-discovery"2 shaped from and by autobiographical reality. We both began our writing in our forties. Hesse's literary undertaking and mine was a reappraisal of our inner growth while we enjoyed a mood of contemplation and self-examination. It was an objective observation(as objective as one can be) of our surroundings and ourselves; it was an analysis of the passing moment both in the present and the past. Our desire to think and write often focused on ourselves, on the psychology of the artist, the poet and the literary man; on the passion, the seriousness and some of the vanity of life which attempts, in part, the apparently impossible3. -Ron Price with thanks to Hermann Hesse, Autobiographical Writings, editor T, Ziolkowski, Jonathan Cape, London, 1973, 1-2pp.ix-xiii and 3p.248.
    Ron Price is a Canadian who has been living in Australia for 42 years(in 2013). He is married to a Tasmanian and has been for 37 years after 8 years in a first marriage. At the age of 69 he now spends most of his time as an author and writer, poet and publisher. editor and researcher, online blogger, essayist, journalist and engaging in independent scholarship. He has been associated with the Baha'i Faith for 60 years and a member for 53 years.cool:

  5. #5
    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    RAIN DESCENDED

    For him, seeking quietude is the more immediate task.
    To extinguish oneself and go into the woods.
    -Herman Hesse, “Backward Glance”, Herman Hesse: Pilgrim in Crisis, Ralph Freedman, Jonathan Cape, 1979, p.393.

    There were several major expressions, influences, in poetry from 1937 to 1963, the first two epochs of the Formative Age. I was not conscious of them until the fourth epoch, the 1980s. This poem summarizes the major movements in poetry in those two epochs and the linkage with the expanding Baha’i community since 1937.
    -Ron Price

    When the Order was taking its
    first shaping Pound and Eliot’s
    apocalyptic verse was the order
    of the day and when this Order
    started its vast expansion in 1937
    a New Criticism, a precise and logical
    scientific poetry without emotion began
    to hold its sway. By the early fifties a
    new wind began to blow in a poetry of
    honesty: New York Poets, Beats, Black
    Mountain Men. How did it influence you,
    Roger, by then in your early twenties?

    When the Confessionals and Robert Bly, et al
    arrived in the late fifties and early sixties I was
    nowhere near their world. When Sylvia Plath
    drove off the road in 1962 I was starting out
    my pioneering life; it would be thirty years
    before my own revelations began, before I let
    down my veil. For, it seems, my battles were
    the same as theirs: marriage, mental illness, the
    inner life, restlessness and the idiosyncrasies of
    farming black and dry soil. Then, then, more

    rain descended and the green, verdant plants
    sprouted luxuriantly amidst a dark heart of an
    Age of Transition; soil was quickened;
    variegated flowers pushed forth; radiant
    effulgences appeared; a resuscitation of hearts,
    a liberation of divine mysteries occurred. It all
    seemed so slow, while we were dieing, slowly:
    all this scattering of seeds. Throughout the coming
    centuries and cycles many harvests will be gathered.*

    * ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, USA, 1977, p.6.
    Ron Price is a Canadian who has been living in Australia for 42 years(in 2013). He is married to a Tasmanian and has been for 37 years after 8 years in a first marriage. At the age of 69 he now spends most of his time as an author and writer, poet and publisher. editor and researcher, online blogger, essayist, journalist and engaging in independent scholarship. He has been associated with the Baha'i Faith for 60 years and a member for 53 years.cool:

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