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Thread: After 60 Years of Reading: My Literature Website

  1. #1
    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    After 60 Years of Reading: My Literature Website

    Part 1:

    I would like this introduction to be a brilliant synthesis of global, historical and futuristic ideas, ideas unfamiliar to the readers who come to this site. Sometimes, it seems to me, my best literary essays are models of the art of the introduction. I don't think that is the case here; one can but try. I have been a student and/or a teacher of literature, of poetry, and of writing from the 1950s to the present, 2014. I believe, & I have believed, that much of the craft of writing, and the understanding and use of literature, of prose and poetry, can be taught. “I can help you with part of the process,” I have often told my students. “The rest is up to you.” In the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s, I was taught by others. I have now been offering suggestions for nearly 50 years. I gave editing advice in the form of spelling and grammar, expression and writing skills, what you might call surgery, for decades. Inspiration, as opposed to the craft of writing, is another question.


    Marcel Proust (1871-1922), the French novelist and critic, was a great reader, as are all his characters. He wrote, “Real life, life at last laid bare and illuminated—the only life in consequence which can be said to be really lived—is literature.” For many literary critics Proust wrote the most respected novel of the twentieth century, Remembrance of Things Past, or In Search of Lost Time, as it has come to be translated. Since I began writing autobiographically in the early 1980s, Proust has superseded Joyce as what you might call 'the top-of-the-pops' in novels and novelists. For most of the students I ever taught or studied with in the years from 1949 to 2009, some sixty years, and for most of the people I ever met, neither of these novelists are much read. For more of this article by Edmund White, Proust the Passionate Reader, on 4 April 2013 in The New York Review of Books go to:

    Part 2:


    I have opened this sub-section of my website, this introduction to literature, with a quotation from Proust for several reasons. Proust had, as I have come to have, a compulsive need to translate my experience into words. This has occurred in these years of my early retirement, and these years of the reinvention of myself from teacher and tutor to writer and poet: 1999 to 2013. Proust's writing of his famous novel In Search of Lost Time is, what my writing has become for me, at least to a significant degree, by sensible and insensible degrees in the last 30 years: a vast meditation on the relationship between time, memory and art.

    Proust tries to reconstruct his life from childhood to middle age, as I have done from childhood to late adulthood. For those who become serious readers of Proust, it becomes clear that everything they’ve read in Recherche or Time Regained constitutes the inner journey of a man who has aspired to become a writer and finally has found his subject, his material. That subject and that material is: himself and the whole of his life, during which he was convinced that he had lost, or wasted, his time. At that point, the reader feels the urge to reread the book in order to better understand this inner journey. I, too, found that same subject, but it was not with the view that I had wasted my life.

    I have posted more than 250 times over the last several years at this literature website, more than a quarter-of-a-million words, and got lots of feedback. To access my posts click on my photo at the top-left of this page, and then click on the words "Find latest posts" on the left side of the page to which you are taken. For more of my long thread on this part of my website on the introduction to literature go to:
    Last edited by Ron Price; 01-15-2014 at 12:34 AM. Reason: to correct the document
    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

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, The Middle East, UK, The Philippines & Papua New Guinea.
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    Your thread has been a great help for me and for that I thank you.
    Up till now I have read and read, dipping my toes cautiously and on an intermittent basis into the waters of writing.
    In two weeks time I retire, aged 70 from work here in Papua New Guinea and have perhaps unreal aspirations to write full time, that and indulge in my other passions; travel & cooking.
    I'm not sure if its a process of reinventing myself. Any advice?
    Best regards

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    Like the critic John Carey, I only made it half way through Proust's long novel sequence before giving up in exasperation. For me, as for Gide, it was the work of "a snob, a society writer who dealt in trivia...". The wry description of it as ''a conspiracy against readers" seems apt.

    "Why do people gush over Proust? I'd rather visit a demented relative... it is damnable in its fake heterosexual voyeurism, and its disparaging and dishonest account of homosexuality... He relies on commas and semi-colons to do what should be done by full-stops, of which there are far too few, many of them in the wrong place. Sentences run to thousands of words and scores of subordinate clauses, until the reader has no recollection of the main clause or indeed whether there ever was one." - Germaine Greer

    Henry James described reading the book as “inconceivable boredom associated with the most extreme ecstasy which it is possible to imagine”. I got the "inconceivable boredom" but missed the "extreme ecstasy"!

  4. #4
    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    Your question, M, deserves a response. I only saw your question today and I'll write an extended piece about a subject I've given much thought to. Just skim and scan the following to find relevant bits, relevant to the issue at hand.--Ron Price, Australia
    Item #1:

    The following prose-poem arose is a result of reading a review of The Book of Disquiet published posthumously in 1982 as I was beginning that portion of my life north of the tropic of Capricorn in Australia. The work is by Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935). It is a fragmentary lifetime project which was left unedited by the author. He introduced his book as a "factless autobiography."1 This volume was reviewed by George Steiner in The Observer on 3 June 2001 just as I was settling down into my retirement years and beginning the reinvention of myself as a writer and author, poet and publisher, online blogger and journalist. The book was published by Penguin and at 550 pages it is a useful resource for writers like myself.

    Francis George Steiner(1929), is a French-born American literary critic, essayist, philosopher, novelist, and educator. He has written extensively about the relationship between language, literature and society, and the impact of the Holocaust. An article in The Guardian described Steiner as a "polyglot and polymath", saying that he is "often credited with recasting the role of the critic".

    Part 1:

    I did not come across this review until 14 October 2014, the epi-centre of spring in the Antipodes, as I was completing the third month of my 71st year with the evening of my life galloping by on hurried-wing with the poet Andrew Marvell's chariot of time hurrying near and "yonder all before me lying the vast deserts of eternity."2 At other times that chariot plodded along at a pleasurable and leisurely pace.

    Steiner's review opened as follows: "Was 18 March 1914 the most extraordinary date in modern literature? On that day, Fernando Antonio Nogueira Pessoa took a sheet of paper, went to a tall chest of drawers in his room and began to write standing up, as he customarily did. 'I wrote 30-odd poems in a kind of trance whose nature I cannot define. It was the triumphant day of my life, and it would be impossible to experience such a day again.'"

    Steiner, one of the world's more brilliant reviewers, continued: "Other poets, notably Rilke, have experienced such hours of explosive prodigality. But Pessoa's case is different and, probably, unique. There are a range of personae, of quite distinct personalities, of voices, which are found in this book. The first set of poems in this book is by one 'Alberto Caeiro.' Pessoa refers to him as: 'my Master who appeared inside me'. The next six were composed by Pessoa struggling against the 'inexistence' of Caeiro. But Caeiro had disciples, one of whom, 'Ricardo Reis', contributed further poems. A fourth individual 'burst impetuously on the scene. In one fell swoop, at the typewriter, without hesitation or correction, there appeared the "Ode Triumphal" by "Alvaro de Campos".

    Part 2:

    Pseudonymous writing, that is writing which appears under a fictitious name, is not rare in literature or philosophy. Kierkegaard provides a celebrated instance. 'Heteronyms', as Pessoa calls and defines them, are something different and exceedingly strange as they appear in his writing. For each of his 'voices', Pessoa conceived a highly distinctive poetic idiom and technique, a complex biography, a context of literary influence and polemics and, most arrestingly of all, subtle interrelations and reciprocities of awareness. Octavio Paz defines the voice of Caeiro curiously as: 'everything that Pessoa is not and more'.

    Passoa is a man magnificently at home in nature, a virtuoso of pre-Christian innocence, almost a Portuguese teacher of Zen. The personality of Reis is that of a stoic Horatian, a pagan believer in fate, a player with classical myths less original than Caeiro, but more representative of modern symbolism. De Campos, yet another voice, emerges as a Whitmanesque futurist, a dreamer in drunkenness, the Dionysian singer of what is oceanic and windswept in Lisbon. None of this triad of distinctive literary styles resembles the metaphysical solitude that is Passoa; there is a sense of being an occultist medium which characterises Pessoa's intimate verse, verse which is his own voice and not the voice of the other and diverse personae.

    Part 3:

    I do not have different and distinctive poetic idioms, at least I am not conscious of their existence. The entire notion of my literary voice is, if anything, something which I see as an evolving entity or reality. I certainly have a complex and highly varied set of biographical influences, many literary interrelations and reciprocities of awareness and appreciation, comprehension and understanding. My solitude is not possessed or characterized by a variety of metaphysical presences, as Pessoa's solitude and writing clearly seems to have been.

    Other masks follow in this book, notably one 'Bernardo Soares'. At some complex generative level, Pessoa's genius as a polyglot underlies, is mirrored by, his self-dispersal into diverse and contrasting personae. He spent nine of his childhood years in Durban. His first writings were in English with a South African tincture. He turned to Portuguese only in 1910. There are significant analogies with the poet Borges.

    Pessoa earned his living as a translator. His legacy, enormous and in large part unpublished, comports philosophy, literary criticism, linguistic theory, writings on politics in Portuguese, English and French. I am no translator; I do not deal in masks; I do, though, roam across a wide field of knowledge. In the process, I do not cultivate contrasting personae, although I am conscious of dispersing myself in such a way as to take advantage of many literary insights from the work of others.

    Part 4:

    The fragmentary, the incomplete, is of the essence of Pessoa's spirit. The very kaleidoscope of voices within him, the breadth of his culture, the catholicity of his ironic sympathies - wonderfully echoed in Saramago's great novel about Ricardo Reis - inhibited the monumentalities, the self-satisfaction of completion. Hence the vast torso of Pessoa's Faust on which he laboured much of his life. Hence the fragmentary condition of The Book of Disquiet which contains material that predates 1913 and which Pessoa left open-ended at his death. As Adorno famously said, the finished work is, in our times and climate of anguish, a lie. After more than half a century of an evolving literary oeuvre, I can appreciate the wisdom of Adorno's words, at least insofar as my writing is concerned.

    Theodore W Adorno was a German sociologist, philosopher and musicologist known for his critical theory of society. He was a leading member of the Frankfurt School of critical theory whose work has come to be associated with thinkers such as Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin,Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse. For these writers the work of Freud, Marx and Hegel were essential to a critique of modern society. Adorno is widely regarded as one of the 20th century's foremost thinkers on aesthetics and philosophy, as well as one of its preeminent essayists. As a critic of both fascism and what he called the culture industry, his writings—such as Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), Minima Moralia(1951) and Negative Dialectics (1966)—strongly influenced the European New Left. I became more than a little familiar with Adorno's work in the 1990s when I taught sociological theory in a Tafe college in Western Australia.

    Part 5:

    It was to Bernardo Soares that Pessoa ascribed his Book of Disquiet, first made available in English in a briefer version by Richard Zenith in 1991. The translation is at once penetrating and delicately observant of Pessoa's astute melancholy. What is this Livro do Desassossego? Neither 'commonplace book', nor 'sketchbook', nor 'florilegium' will do. Imagine a fusion of Coleridge's Notebooks and marginalia, of the philosophically Valery Diary, and of the voluminous Robert Musil Journal. Yet even such a hybrid does not correspond to the singularity of Pessoa's chronicle. Nor do we know what parts thereof, if any, he ever intended for publication in some revised format.

    What we have in this work of Pessoa's is a haunting mosaic of dreams, psychological notations, autobiographical vignettes, shards of literary theory, criticism and maxims. If there is a common thread, it is that of unsparing introspection. Over and over, Pessoa asks of himself and of the living mirrors which he has created, 'Who am I?', 'What makes me write?', 'To whom shall I turn?' The metaphysical sharpness, the wealth of self-scrutiny are, in modern literature, matched only by Valery or Musil or, in a register often uncannily similar, by Wittgenstein. I leave it to readers to place these writers, to whom I have just referred, in a modern and personal context.

    'Solitude devastates me; company oppresses me. The presence of another person derails my thoughts; I dream of the other's presence with a strange absent-mindedness that no amount of my analytical scrutiny can define.' This very scrutiny, moreover, is fraught with danger: 'To understand, I destroyed myself. To understand is to forget about loving.' These findings arise out of a uniquely spectral yet memorable landscape: 'A firefly flashes forward at regular intervals. Around me the dark countryside is a huge lack of sound that almost smells pleasant.'

    Part 6:

    Throughout, Pessoa is aware of the price he pays for his heteronomity, that is, the influence of others on his thoughts and actions. 'To create, I've destroyed myself... I'm the empty stage where various actors act out various plays.' He compares his soul to 'a secret orchestra'. There are shades of Baudelaire in this notion of an inner orchestra whose instruments strum and bang inside him: 'I only know myself as the symphony.' At moments, suicidal despair, a 'self-nihilism', are close. 'Anything, even tedium', a finely ironising reservation, rather than 'this bluish, forlorn indefiniteness of everything!' Is there any city which cultivates sadness more lovingly than does Lisbon? Even the stars only 'feign light'.

    Yet there are also epiphanies and passages of deep humour. In the 'forests of estrangements', Pessoa comes upon resplendent Oriental cities. Women are a chosen source of dreams but 'Don't ever touch them'. There are snapshots of clerical routine, of the vacant business of bureaucracy worthy of Melville's Bartleby. The sense of the comedy of the inanimate is acute: 'Over the pyjamas of my abandoned sleep...' The juxtapositions have a startling resonance: 'I'm suffering from a headache and the universe.'

    A sort of critical, self-mocking surrealism surfaces from time to time as in: 'To have touched the feet of Christ is no excuse for mistakes in punctuation.' There are many fragments of a sentence, one of which may come close to encapsulating Pessoa's unique reckoning: '....intelligence, an errant fiction of the surface'. This is not a book to be read quickly or, necessarily, in sequence. Wherever you dip, there are 'rich hours' and teasing depths. But it will, indeed, be a banner year if any writer, translator or publisher brings to the reader a more generous gift.1-Ron Price with thanks to 1George Steiner in The Observer on 3 June 2001, and 2Andrew Marvell(1621-1678), English metaphysical poet and author of the poem "To A Coy Mistress."

    What is there here that
    describes my means and
    ways of going about this
    literary life of mine now
    in the evening of my life
    as time's winged-feet are
    running after me faster it
    seems than they ever did
    in earlier decades of life?

    Mine is certainly no mere
    factless autobiography in
    its several genres that are
    my modus operandi, nor
    am I in some trance in these
    triumphant days of my life
    with their prodigious, their
    long-lasting, and explosive
    prodigality from which, I'm
    inclined to think I will never
    emerge from their rich hours,
    their teasing unknown depths
    where sadness and joy mingle.

    There is but one persona and
    voice, although a slowly and
    subtly evolving one across a
    vast landscape of people and
    places, things and influences.

    I, too, am magnificently at home
    behind a host of reciprocities in
    this oceanic and windswept situ
    with its metaphysical solitude,
    its known & unknown presences
    possessed of such power that the
    many worlds can be a beneficiary.

    There is a leaven here than seems to
    leaven the world of being & furnish
    some force through which the arts
    and the sciences are made manifest.

    And so I write fragments and forests
    of words which flash forward at many
    different kinds of intervals within the
    context of some secret orchestra that
    is not, and is, of my making, and there
    is a resonance that is not so much one
    that is startling but is quite reassuring.

    Ron Price
    14/10/'14 to 15/10/'14.
    Item #2:

    Preamble-Part 1:

    I began to put the following sequence of questions and answers together as I was about to retire from full-time employment as a teacher and lecturer after 32 years in the classroom, and another 18 as a student. In the first 15 years of the reinvention of myself as a writer and author, editor and researcher, a poet and publisher, an online journalist and blogger, an independent scholar and reader, the years from 1999 to 2014, I added more material to what you could call this simulated interview.

    This is the 26th simulated interview in 19 years, 1996 to 2014. There is no attempt in this particular series of Qs & As to be sequential, to follow themes in some logical pattern, or simulate a normal interview. I have attempted a more logical-sequential pattern in my other 25 interviews over those 19 years.

    I have posted literally millions of words on the internet at 100s, indeed 1000s now, of sites. Readers who come across this particular interview of more than 15,000 words and more than 38 A-4 font-14 pages, will gain some idea of the person who writes the stuff they read at whatever sites on the world-wide-web where they come across my literary effusions. Readers wanting access to these sites and my work, my posts at these sites, need to simply google my name RonPrice followed by any one of dozens of other words like: forums, blogs, poetry, literature, philosophy, history, religion, cinema, popular culture, inter alia.

    There are some 4000 to 5000 other Ron Prices in cyberspace. Readers must ensure they are accessing my posts and my writing, and not those of some other chap with the same name as mine. I have posted this interview for the interest of what has become an extensive readership, my constituency of readers, and others who come across my work for the first time, or for whatever number of times, and for whatever particular reason.

    Preamble-Part 2:

    2.1 The questionnaire concept which I utilize below was originated, so I am informed, by French television personality Bernard Pivot after what was called the Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire is about one's personality. Its name and modern popularity as a form of interview is owed to the responses given by Marcel Proust(1871-1922), the French novelist, critic, and essayist. At the end of the nineteenth century, when Proust was still in his teens, he answered a questionnaire in an English-language confession magazine belonging to his friend Antoinette, daughter of future French President Félix Faure. The magazine was entitled "A Place to Record Your Thoughts and Feelings." At that time, it was popular among English families to answer such a list of questions that revealed the tastes and aspirations of the talker.

    2.2 James Lipton (b.1926) an American writer, poet, composer, actor, and dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City, utilized the following questionnaire in his series of interviews entitled Inside the Actors Studio. The series premiered in 1994 and has been broadcast in 125 countries around the world reaching 89,000,000 homes, so I was informed several years ago on Wikipedia.

    2.2.1 Lipton asked the following ten questions:
    1. What is your favorite word?
    2. What is your least favorite word?
    3. What turns you on?
    4. What turns you off?
    5. What sound or noise do you love?
    6. What sound or noise do you hate?
    7. What is your favorite curse word?
    8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
    9. What profession would you not like to do?
    10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

    2.2.2 My answers were/are:

    1. God
    2. ****
    3. My instinctual and human needs for: food and drink, silence and sounds, sensory and especially sexual stimulation, oxygen and physical comfort, shelter and work, love and kindness, as well as the pleasures that come from the satisfaction of these instinctual and human needs.
    4. Noise, loud and aggressive people, conversation after one to two hours; most of the TV currently available to me, a great deal of printed matter. When the needs referred to in #3 above are not satisfied.
    5. Some classical, jazz and popular music, some human voices and silence.
    6. Any loud sounds, some human voices.
    7. ****
    8. I was a student and scholar, teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator from 1949 to 1999. Now I am enjoying new roles: poet and publisher, writer and author, editor and research, online journalist and blogger.
    9. Law and medicine, work in the biological and physical sciences as well as the trades.
    10. Well done and now tell me about your troubles in life while trying to serve Me.

    Preamble-Part 3:

    Below readers will find my own 35 questions, questions I began to ask and answer back in 1998 and 1999, as I was about to retire from FT teaching, and a teaching-student life going back to 1949, half a century. These questions were last updated on 8 May 2014.
    __________________________________________________ _____
    1. Do you have a favourite place to visit? I’ve lived in 25 cities and towns and visited over 100. I have lived in 37 houses and would enjoy visiting both the houses and the towns again for their memory, their nostalgia, their mnemonic, value. When writing about these places as I do from time to time, I would benefit from such visits, but it is not likely that I will visit any of them now in the evening of my life for many reasons not the least of which is my lack of funds and my disinclination to travel any more.

    There are dozens of other places I’d enjoy going as a tourist or travel-teacher, circumstances permitting, circumstances like: plenty of money, good health, lots of energy and if I could be of some use to the people in those places. My health, my new medications for bipolar disorder, medications I’ve now had for over five years, prevents me from travelling.

    1.1 Tell us a little more about your health both before your writing began in earnest in the 1990s and before. Rather than go into detail here I will simply refer you to my 110,000 word and 270 page(font-14) account of my experience of bipolar 1 disorder as well as the section of my website on the same subject. You can google “Ron Price BPD”.

    2. Who are your favourite writers? The historians Edward Gibbon and Arnold Toynbee, Manning Clark and Peter Gay, among a long list of historians I keep in my notebooks; the philosophers Ortega y Gasset and Nietzsche, Buber and Spinoza, among another long list I keep in my notebooks; the Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith and Their successors Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice; the poets Rainer Maria Rilke and Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth and Roger White; the psychologists Rollo May and Alfred Adler, and a host of others notes about whom I keep in my notebooks, as well as writers from many other disciplines.

    3. Who are your favorite artists?

    Part 1:

    There are several dozen art movements and hundreds, if not thousands, of artists that can be accessed in both libraries and now, with a click or two, on the internet. I will name two famous artists whose work I like, and two whom I have known personally: Cezanne and Van Gogh, and Chelinay and Drew Gates. I find it just about impossible to answer a question like this given my eclectic tastes. In question #2 above I named several of the many writers who were and are "my favorites", but I found there were too many names. That is also the case here, and so I do not intend to make a long list.

    Part 2:

    As my years of retirement from the world of jobs and family commitments, community and volunteer work, the nose to the grindstone stuff, so to speak, lengthen as they have since 1999 to 2005--by which time I had relieved myself of most of the activity that had kept me busy for decades, I find there are more and more artists in the history of art whose work I am just finding out about and learning to appreciate. I did not feel, and I do not feel now, as some writers and poets felt after completing their major life-work: ‘The work that I was born to do is done.’

    George Chapman said repeatedly that the publication of the final volume on Homer left him nothing more to do; he would now (at 71) ‘do nothing forever and ever’. After 15 years of my retirement from FT work, I felt, in some ways, that my learning about artists, and all sorts of other people in other fields, had just begun.

    4. Who are your favorite composers, musicians, vocalists and singer/songwriters? How can one choose from the thousands in these categories? It is the same problem as in the previous two questions. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Hayden come to mind as composers but, goodness, there are simply too many to list. I placed a list of my favourites at several sites in cyberspace. The list had more than 100 people and 100s of their works. Over the years, I’ve had at least a dozen different favorite composers including: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Debussy, Stravinsky, Dvorak and Rachmaninoff. My favorite composer seems to be the one whose musical world I’ve been immersed in most deeply at any given time.

    Sergei Rachmaninoff was a master of translating melancholy and nostalgia into a musical language. He was cured of a profound writer’s block through hypnosis, and he dedicated his beloved Second Piano Concerto to his psychiatrist, Dr Nikolai Dahl. I dedicate my love for music to my mother and father both of whom played the piano in our home as I was growing-up.

    5. Who are your heroes? The Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith, Beethoven, Emily Dickinson, a large number of men described in ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Memorials of the Faithful(1970, 1927) and many more that I come across in reading history and other social sciences, the humanities as well as the physical and biological sciences. Again, the list is too long and its getting longer with the years as I head with what seems the speed of light to the age of 70 in 2014.

    6. Who has been your greatest inspirations? Roger White and John Hatcher in my middle age, Jameson Bond and Douglas Martin when I was a young man in my teens and twenties as well as a host of others, too many to list, in these years of my late adulthood, 60 to 70. Now in my late adulthood, the years after 60 in the lifespan according to some human development psychologists some new inspirations include: the essayist Joseph Epstein, the writers Bahiyyih Nakhjavani and Udo Schaefer, a number of poets and writers whose works I had never had time to read or did not know even existed---again the list is getting longer since reading and research, writing and editing have become much more central to my life, to my daily activities than during my years of employment: 1961 to 2001.

    7. If you could invite several people for dinner from any period in history, who would you choose and why? I would not invite anyone because I don’t like to talk while I’m eating. After dinner these days I like to watch TV for a few minutes and then go to bed. I’d chose the following people to have a chat with at some other time during the day, but I would not have them all come at once. I would take them as follows:

    7.1 Pericles: I’d like to know what went on in Athens in the Golden Age, as he saw it. I’ve come to know a great deal about Athens in the 5th century BC since I taught ancient history and I have many questions which, of course, I could answer by reading. But there are so many views of the man and the times.

    7.2 Roger White: I’d like to simply enjoy his gentle humor and observe that real kindness which I could see in his letters and in his rare interviews.

    7.3 My mother and father and my maternal grandparents: The pleasure of seeing them again(except for my grandmother whom I never saw since she died five years before I was born) after all these years would, I think, be just overwhelming.

    7.4.1 Douglas and Elizabeth Martin, 7.4.2 Jameson and Gale Bond and 7.4.3 Michael and Elizabeth Rochester. These people were all university academics or the wives of academics who had a seminal influence on my developing values in the formative period of my late teens and early twenties.

    7.5 There are many others in another list too long to include here.

    8. What are you reading? In 1998, my last year of full-time employment, when I began to list these questions and provide the answers, I had fourteen books on the go: eight biographies, four literary criticisms, one book of philosophy and one of psychology. Now in these early years on two old age pensions, 2009 to 2012, I am reading mostly material on the internet and that reading list is too extensive to list here. I never go to libraries any more and, due to a lack of money, I never buy any books, although my wife does occasionally and I browse through what she buys. The internet is overflowing with enough print to keep me happily occupied until I die. My son bought me David Womersley’s 3-volume edition(1994) of Gibbon’s famous work in 2010 and after 3 years I’m up to page 140 underlining as I go the passages that I may use one day in my own writing.

    9. What do you enjoy listening to in the world of music? I listened mainly to classical music on the classical FM station while living in Perth in the last dozen years of my FT employment(1988-1999) as well as some from the folk, pop and rock worlds. Now that I live in George Town northern Tasmania in these years of the early evening of my life(1999 to 2012) this is also true only hardly any pop, rock and folk and much more jazz and classical. I have written about my tastes and interests in music since my adolescence in other places and I refer readers here to the section of my website on music for the kind of detail that would lead to prolixity if I included it here.

    10. What food could you not live without? I would miss my wife’s cooking and Persian and Mexican food if I was cut off from them. It must be said, though,(answering this question 14 years after beginning to answer it) now that I live in northern Tasmania I rarely eat Persian and Mexican food. Now that I am retired I hardly miss these foods. I enjoy the food I get, that my wife and I prepare and only eat a Persian meal or a Mexican meal perhaps once a year now. Do I miss it? Yes and no. I enjoy eating when I am hungry; hunger is the driving force and I enjoy many, many foods when I am hungry. If I could not have some of these foods I’d be happy with many others.

    11. What do you do when you feel a poem coming on? I get a piece of paper and pen or go to my computer/word processor and start writing. Most of my poems take less than half an hour. My latest booklet of poetry comes from my poetry factory, as I have occasionally come to call this location for my production of poetry in George Town Tasmania, Australia where I write these pieces. I have also calculated the number of poems I have written per day over the last 32 years after a hiatus of 18 years(1962-1980) in my pioneering life in which no record was kept even though I was writing poetry very occasionally, very rarely, at the time.

    In the first years of my life, 1943 to 1962, the influences on my writing of poetry included: my mother and grandfather, the primary and secondary school system in Ontario and the university I attended. The Baha’i Faith after 1953 was also a poetic force. All these poetic influences were completely unrecognized as poetic influences at the time since my interests were mainly sport, getting high marks at school, having fun, and dealing with life’s quotidian and sometimes anxious events.

    A. From 1 August 1980 to 22 September 2012 there have been 11,734 days(circa).
    B. The number of poems written per day is calculated using the following data: 7075(circa) poems in 11,734 (circa) days to 22 September 2012. That works out to: 1 poem in 1.65 days or 4.3 poems/week.
    C. The maths: 11,734(days) divided by 7075(poems)

    11. How important is life-style and freedom from the demands of employment and other people to your creative life?

    Part 1:

    These things became absolutely crucial by my mid fifties. The Canadian poet, anarchist, literary critic and historian George Woodcock (1912-1995), once said in an interview that it was very important for his literary work that he could live as he wished to live. If a job was oppressing him, he said, he had to leave it. Both Woodcock and I have done this on several occasions, but I did not leave the jobs I did in order to write—except for the last job in 1999 when I was 55.

    Woodcock broke with a university and I broke with three Tafe colleges. It's a derogatory thing to say it's a form of evasion, of avoidance or cowardice, said Woodcock, but you have to evade those situations in life in which you become insubordinate to others or situations in which others offend your dignity.

    Part 2:

    Woodcock went on to say in that same interview that when one acts dramatically or precipitately—like resigning from a job or losing one’s temper--it often has consequences that are very negative. He gave examples from his own life and I could give examples here; I could expand on this important theme but this is enough for now. Readers who are keen to follow-up on this aspect of my life can read my memoirs. Everything in my memoirs is true, but it has been "filtered and worked on". Readers tend to think a memoir is a chronicle or record of a life but, as the memoirist Kate Holden says, “it's a much more subtle form. You're compressing, eliding, using your craft.” She uses her craft to present a good story and I use it to present what I hope is a good analysis, some accurate and honest, useful and helpful reflections on life to those who read them.

    For the poet T.S. Eliot, the failure to live, the failure of emotion to find its proper expression, is an obsessive theme of his work. This emphasis is so repetitive that it amounts to a compulsion. ‘The Buried Life, the idea of a life not fully lived, is the central, animating idea of Eliot’s poetry.’ So writes Denis Donoghue in the London Review of Books, Vol. 29 No. 2, January 2007 in his review of T.S. Eliot by Craig Raine(Oxford, 200 pages, 2007) I quote these words from Donoghue because, as I reflect on my life thus-far, to the age of 70, the freedom I have found since taking a sea-change at the age of 55 has enabled my emotions to find "their proper and full expression." This has taken-place in ways I had not known in the more than five decades of experience that were in my memory-bank: 1948 to 1999.

    12. Were you popular at school, in your primary, secondary and university days?

    Part 1:

    I certainly was in primary and secondary school, but not at matriculation or university. I did not have the experience many writers and intellectuals have who received early wounds from the English school system among other influences in life. It wasn't merely the discipline at these schools; it was the ways in which boys got what was called the school spirit. In most English schools it is a brutal kind of pro-sporty spirit that militates against the intellectual who is looked on as a weakling. I was popular at school because I was good at sport and I got on with everyone.

    I certainly was not seen as, and I was not, an intellectual. I was good at memorizing and that is why I did so well, but at university I could not simply memorize; I had to think and write my own thoughts and my grades went from ‘A’s’ to ‘C’s. This was also due to the beginnings of episodes of bipolar I disorder which has afflicted me off and on all my life.

    Part 2:

    As far as popularity now in the evening of my life is concerned, I have become my own publicist and marketer of my writing. I do not have a craving to be famous, nor do I have 'a horror of being known to like being known’ – as the classicist A.E. Housman once wrote. In the course of his life Housman turned down everything from the OM to the poet laureateship, not to speak of many honorary doctorates. And he refused all invitations to give lectures except for the ones that he conceived to be part of his job. I have never had nor will I ever have this problem as I begin the last decade(70-80) of my late adulthood and old-age(80+), if I last that long. In my years as a teacher and lecturer I had enough popularity to last me a lifetime.

    14. 1 You did not flower early as a writer. Tell us something about the origins of your prose and poetic writing.

    Part 1:

    Many writers flower early. Many of them become largely forgotten; whereas, I have a different type of creativity which seems to be growing in meaning and personal significance, in power and vitality, literally decade by decade, again, like the Canadian George Woodcock. This kind of creativity over the lifespan is actually quite abnormal, atypical. I seem to have been the tortoise or the bull if you're going to use the Taurean symbol. I have been marching forward slowly. I think what I am writing now is better than anything I’ve ever written in my life. Who knows what lies ahead.

    Creativity has a meaning and pleasure that is far beyond politics, beyond patriotism, beyond all the stuff that occupies quotidian reality. It plays into my experience of personal happiness. My poetry, so wonderful to me when it is really flying, isn’t trying to tell you how much I know. It’s giving thanks for how much there is to be known and thanks, too, for the significance and meaning that I have found in what is known.

    Just at the beginning of my retirement after a 50 year student-and-employment life(1949-1999) I was asked how I saw the years ahead. I quoted Denis Diderot(1713 -1784) the French philosopher, art critic and writer who said: ‘We erect a statue in our own image inside ourselves, idealised, you know, but still recognisable. Then we spend our lives engaged in the effort to make ourselves into its likeness." I quoted Diderot back then because it helped provide a perspective on how I saw the years ahead, my writing life after retiring and reinventing myself as an author.

    Back around 1998/9 I wrote: "My writing in the years ahead, being so very autobiographical, will be a process of erecting some likeness of myself, an ever-changing statue, partly idealized, partly the real me as I see the 'me,' and partly an exercise in social construction."

    Part 2:

    Some years ago a reporter from Musician magazine asked jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim a question about when his interest in music began. Ibrahim said he understood the logic of the question but that he couldn't answer it because music had always been part of his day to day living. I feel in a similar way about my relationship to writing. I can't remember a time when I didn't have a deep investment in writing. From 1949 to 1967, the age of 5 to 23, writing was the very source of my success and survival in school. If I had not developed the capacity to write well I would never have got good grades and gone up the academic ladder—but I had to work at the process back then. Any significant literary success, any published work, did not come, really, until I was nearly forty.

    The poet Geoffrey Hill(1932-) is a useful poet to bring-in here to help me answer this question. Hill is an English poet, professor emeritus of English literature and religion, and former co-director of the Editorial Institute, at Boston University. Hill has been considered to be among the most distinguished poets of his generation and to some he was the "greatest living poet in the English language". In June 2010 he was elected Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford. I am not in his league, the league of the prestigious, but there is a hermetic obscurity in his later work.

    Part 3:

    Like myself, Hill wrote great quantities of verse in his late adulthood and old-age: his sixties, seventies and eighties, and only a relatively small number of poems before the age of 50, in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The asymmetrical volume of his output is one of the more obviously remarkable things about a remarkable collection of his poems published between 1959 and 1995. His earlier work occupies only about 150 of its 940 pages, while the work of Hill’s later years fills the remaining five-sixths of the book.1 At the age of 50, like Hill, I was just getting air-born in my poetic life, although I wrote far, far, less than Hill did from the age of 20 to 50. (See 1the London Review of Books, Vol. 36 No. 4, 2014, "Rancorous Old Sod", Colin Burrow, a review of Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 by Geoffrey Hill( Oxford, 1000 pages, 2013)

    14.2 You did not flower early as a writer. Tell us something about the development of your prose and poetic writing in cyberspace which surely has been, in many ways, a flowering.

    I have had a website now for 18 years. I have also been writing at 100s of internet sites. In the first dozen years or so of the 21st century, 2001 to 2014, I slowly acquired literally millions of readers. For decades I had to be content with teaching ten to twenty-five undergraduates at one time, perhaps a 100 in one term. I also had to be content with writing for a fairly limited readership of some local newspaper, a small circulation magazine, a newsletter or journal. The internet has given me the chance of addressing millions of people. As the historian A.J. P. Taylor once put it: "ought I to take fright at the shade of Joad and turn it down?"1 It is a difficult job; it has taken me a long time to learn the ropes of the world-wide-web; I daresay I have made and will make lots of mistakes before I get my second and third wind, so to speak, publishing in cyberspace.

    I've been refining my skills and approaches for two decades: 1994 to 2014. For my own part, I’m content to publicize the Baha'i Faith in as many ways as I can across the interstices of the internet. If every once in a while I can get in a piece advocating more international dialogue, a stronger United Nations, a greater role for moderate and liberal religious perspectives, or any one of a number of other points of view, social positions, and forms of advocacy, that is a source of more than a little satisfaction.(See: The London Review of Books, Vol. 12 No. 9, May 1990, "Letters to an Editor : written by his contributor, A.J.P. Taylor, to Kingsley Martin of the New Statesman at various times from 1951 to 1964."

    This flowering in the first dozen or so years of the 21st century is a flowering in cyberspace, on my website and at 1000s of other sites. It has taken endless labour and I make no money. It is a labour, though, that the Greeks saw as the highest use of leisure-time, and I see as, for the most part, pure pleasure. By the time I was writing and publishing in cyberspace extensively in the early years of the 21st century I wanted "what I write to pass the test of sayability," as one of my many literary mentors Clive James once put it. With him I stress that this approach to writing is "really a courtesy to the reader, and it's hard to do."

    15. What sort of personal relationships do you have these days? I was reading about the Canadian writer George Woodcock whom I have already mentioned in this series of questions and answers. He said that he did not have all that many friends who were writers. He knew their problems, but he did not know the problems of painters. He said that he liked to move among painters, mathematicians, psychologists and people who could tell him something. By my mid-fifties I had had enough of people telling me about things, any things. I had been both a listening post, a reader, and a talker for so many years I was a bit of a burnt-out case and wanted to shut my ears to the endless chatter of life by the age of 55 in 1999.

    If I wanted to know about stuff, about any particular person, I could read, watch TV, listen to the radio or google. If I wanted some social life I could visit a small circle of people in the little town I live in, that I took a sea-change to near the mouth of a river by the sea. After an hour or so of conversation and various forms of social interaction I usually had enough and looked forward to my return to solitude.

    Due to my medications by the age of 65 and perhaps due to being in my middle years(65-75) of late adulthood(60-80) I found more than two hours with people in any form took me to the edge of my psychological stamina, patience, my coping capacity. It was better for me to seek out solitude after two hours to preserve the quality of my relationships and not to “blot-my-copybook,” as my wife often put it when I indulged in some emotional excess, some verbal criticism of others or gave vent to some kind of spleen which often resulted after that two hours---due to my mental illness, my bipolar disorder. In the 13 years since I retired I have been on a series of medication shifts which have altered my psycho-emotional life. Now I spend 12 hours a day in bed for an 8 to 9 hour sleep and work at literary activity for 6 to 8 hours a day.

    16. How would you describe the social outreach in your poetry?

    Part 1:

    I rarely point a finger directly at some guilty party, organization, person or movement; sometimes there is a subtle psychological base to a poem that hints at, or implies, some evil in someone’s court. My poetry is quite explicitly non-partisan. I have dealt with this issue of my non-partisan poetry several times in my series of 26 interviews. It is an important question because the wider world often judges a person by the extent to which they engage with, or in, the quixotic tournament of social and partisan-political issues in our global community. I don’t shout at any multinational or rave for some environmental group.

    When I do shout and rave it is about other things and there's nothing subtle about my shouting and raving. In the process and on such occasions, though, there is probably little depth in such emotive prose-poems of mine. With millions of readers now in cyberspace I’d say I now have a social outreach wider, more extensive, than any I’ve had in my life.

    Part 2:

    The subjects that interest some poets, some of the metaphysical poets, and some moderns like Gerald Manley Hopkins, among others, were and are chiefly intellectual ones; even their sensuous responses to the natural world are immediately referred to the intellect, which, in the poetry, meant referral to philosophical or theological thought. Although that is not always the case with my poetry, it often is.

    Although it has seemed regrettable to some of my readers, as it has to some readers of Hopkins and various religious poets, that we often graft religious themes onto other themes dealing with nature or personal experience of some kind, it must be acknowledged that if any such poet had led a different life, their sense-perceptions would even so have had to be presented to, and mediated by, their intellectual, philosophical and/or religious preoccupations. In any case, the two aspects--the senses and the intellect--have to struggle into stand-offs, reconciliations, suspensions--the very things that happen in religious poems.

    If there is nothing in the way of work, health, social obligation, or any one of a myriad intellectual curiosities getting in my sensory/spiritual way, I am able to see as Hopkins did, ‘innocently’ without scruples or anxiety. I am able to feel an easily presented natural beauty. It is a scene that I can even allegorise quite easily; for example, perhaps referring to some source of light entangled with darkness. I can also experience the pure joy of some sensuous reality with its spiritual implications. But this does not happen often.

    Part 3:

    I hope it will as I go through my 70s and 80s in the years ahead as it only occasionally has done in the last 20 years of my serious poetic activity. I can but hope; perhaps I can even make efforts in that direction in my daily life. It is unlikely, though, that my poetic efforts will possess the cadences and rhythms, the rhymes and beats of poets like Hopkins. Moments of peace, joy and happiness for Hopkins, though, were not frequent. Hopkins' letters reveal increasing depression, probably uni-polar depression and/or bipolar illness. Thanks to pharmacology I think my package of moods is, and has been, much better than Hopkins' moods.

    In one of his letters he refers to his 'disease': "The melancholy that I have all my life been subject to has become of late years not so much more intense in its fits, but rather more distributed, constant and crippling. One, the lightest but a very inconvenient form of it, is daily anxiety about work to be done, which makes me break off or never finish all that lies outside that work … when I am at the worst, though my judgment is never affected, my state is much like madness."1

    Vendler writes in her review as follows: "If one chooses to characterise Hopkins by manner rather than by subject matter, he belongs among the poets of extremes: Blake, Shelley, Hart Crane. In Hopkins, we find embodied the highest euphoria and the wildest despair, both extremes finding eloquent expression." His suffering began at 23 and continued until his death at 44. I have certainly experienced these same extremes; I leave it to readers to assess just how they have been expressed on my poetry enjoying as I have done the anodynes of medications, and many years in the middle ground between the highs and the lows.

    Part 4:

    Hopkins is a useful poet to reveal comparisons and contrasts to my own life and work. Vendler goes on: " For all his ecstatic wonder, Hopkins is by no means an untutored child of the earth. In fact, he is an exceptionally interesting example of the intersection of four very strong influences: visual impressions, compulsive verse-writing, classical higher education and Roman Catholicism (superimposed on his residual family Anglicanism)." My own strong influences have been: visual/sensory impressions, a certain compulsiveness in both writing and in my daily life, especially in my late adulthood, decades of formal education and reading, and the Baha'i Faith superimposed on a residual religious eclecticism.

    "He came to adulthood in the throes of the Oxford Movement, and nothing seemed of more consequence to him and his closest friends – as the youthful letters demonstrate – than the choice between England and Rome." I came to adulthood in the 1960s in the throes of the Baha'i Faith. For me, the choice was between the Baha'i Faith and a broad secular humanism. -Ron Price with thanks to 1 the London Review of Books(Vol. 36 No. 7 • 3 April 2014), Helen Vendler, "I have not lived up to it," a review of The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkin , Vols I-II: Correspondence, edited by R.K.R. Thorton and Catherine Phillips (Oxford, 1200 pages, 2013)
    I have had to end here since there is no more room; there is a 50,000 word/character limit here.
    Last edited by Ron Price; 11-28-2014 at 12:24 AM. Reason: To update the wording
    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

  5. #5
    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    Words of appreciation, kallian97, are....always appreciated.-Ron Price, Tasmania
    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

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    I've skimmed this Ron. I'll read it more closely later. I am an admirer of Pessoa. I have been since I was wowed by him as a simple Teuchtar teenager. Heteronymity - magical term . I am legion!

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    I must demur about Proust. A Passionate Reader should have a life outside of reading. Some people are bored by Proust. That could be because the navel-gazing implicit in the idea that the only life worth living is literature is just untrue and can lead to a terrible interminable focus on the minutiae of selfhood. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. That applies to Proust.

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    But perhaps he was overstating the case to make a point. Like you do Ennison?

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    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    I thank you both, ennison and Eiseabhal, for your comments. I wish you well in this New Year, 2015!-Ron Price, Australia
    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

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