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Old 04-02-2013, 11:50 PM
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RonPrice (Offline)
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Default Defining a life, a time, an age

Part 1:

Some of the following information about Churchill was obtained in a bookshop in Kensington(1) just before leaving London for Tel-Aviv Israel on 3 June 2000. That information resulted, with some additions, in a prose-poem. More than a dozen years later into my retirement from a 50 year student-employment life (1949-1999), I added a sort-of postscript to that prose-poem after watching a film on TV about Churchill.(2)

Robert Arthur Lytton Balfour, 3rd Earl of Balfour (1902-1968), once said that Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis: Vol.1-6 was a history of himself. The famous historian Edward Gibbon, the author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was also accused of not knowing the difference between himself and the Roman Empire. Both men, it could be and has been argued, saw the meaning of their life in their works. There were times when these men did not want their readers to know what they meant, and they framed their words in ambiguity and ambivalence. There were times when they were not even sure what they meant themselves, given the immense complexity of the issues and topics. Their works were, in part, a working out of their own lives, their times and the meaning of life itself, their life and their society's.
Part 2:

My own amusement is my motive, and will be my reward,” wrote Gibbon in the opening pages of his autobiography, “and my imagination is always active to enlarge the narrow circle in which Nature has confined me; I fill up the silent vacancy that precedes my birth, by associating myself with the authors of my existence……The satirist may laugh, the philosopher may preach; but Reason herself will respect the prejudices and habits, which have been consecrated by the experience of mankind.”(1) “In the investigation of past events, our curiosity is stimulated by the immediate or indirect reference to ourselves,” wrote Gibbon, “but in the estimate of honour we should learn to value the gifts of Nature above those of Fortune; to esteem in our ancestors the qualities that best promote the interests of society; and to pronounce the descendant of a king less truly noble than the offspring of a man of genius, whose writings will instruct or delight the latest posterity.”(1)
What Gibbons says in the above paragraph, was true to a significant extent of how Shoghi Effendi(1898-1957) saw his writings. I have been reading his writings for 50 years: 1963-2013. There is no doubt that these sentiments are also true of my own autobiographical and analytic prose and poetry, works that I have been writing for at least two decades: 1993 to 2013. I could write a great deal about these sentiments. But I will briefly state that: the imagination and reason certainly enlarge the circle in which the circumstances of birth and socialization, of location and of employment, have confined me. In the investigation of past events my curiosity is stimulated and, after half a century of reading the works of several men of genius, I feel as if I am, to some extent at least, their offspring. -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Edward Gibbon(1737-94), Memoirs of My Life and Writings, editor, A.O. J. Cockshut, Regburn Pub, 1994.

The Guardian knew what he wanted to say
in the fullness of characters he described,
in their contradictions and inconsistencies,
in their twistings and lifespan turnings,
in their unmanageable mysteriousness,
beyond any simple and factual theory,
as his imagination strove to enlarge
the narrow and complex circle of his
experience, as I strive to enlarge mine.

Sometimes he daubed a person
with a single epithet; sometimes
he was encumbered by the rigidity
of a psychological concept, but
always within a commitment to
his own narrative voice and the
coherence which it created for
him, and for us, as he created,
nay recreated:..Baha’i history.

Ron Price
4 /6/’00 to 3/4/’13.
The following prose-poem, which I see as an extension of the above piece, was written after watching The Gathering Storm on ABC1 TV.(2) The title of this film came from volume 1 of Churchill’s 6 volume history of WW2, and the film was about Churchill’s years 1934 to 1939. As I wrote in the first prose-poem above, this 6 volume history was, in part, Churchill’s working out, by means of his literary activity, his own life, his times and the meaning of life itself.

I write this prose-poem because watching this film, The Gathering Storm, and writing about it here also helped me to work out my own life and times in its own small way. This often happens as I write, as each of my prose-poems fall onto paper.-Ron Price with thanks to (2) ABC1 TV on 2/4/’13 from 12:10 a.m. to 1:40 a.m.

Your dealing with bipolar disorder,3
your life with BPD, helped me see
myself, Winston....During all those
years of the gathering storm a new
plan was put into action, a plan the
world had little intimation of at all.4

You seemed to deal with your many
episodes of that black-dog by means
of: art, physical work, smoking, and
drinking, impatience and grumbling.

My story was very different thanks to
an anti-psychotic, an anti-depressant,
a mood stabilizer: the wonders of the
pharmacology of modern psychiatry in
which medicine was beginning to take
off just as you passed-away in those
1950s when I was starting teen-life.

I wonder what medications you would
have been given, Winston, if you were
alive and doing your work in this age?

You seem to have had the milder form
of BPD with no psychotic-breaks, just
mild mania, Winston, which must have
been the source of all that energy, and
all those 43 books.......mirabile dictu.5

(3) Churchill(1874-1965) was a great leader dealing not only with international strife but his own mental struggles at the same time. In his 30s, he complained to his friends that he was hounded by the “black dog of depression.” He sat in the Houses of Parliament and contemplated suicide. Churchill told his doctor that he had to be careful where he stood in a train station:

“I don't like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through,” he told his doctor. “I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train. I don't like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second's action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.”

The black dog would follow him the rest of his life. When in his mild manic phases he was personable, but his moods could change quickly. During periods of high mania he would stay up all night writing, eventually producing 43 books on top of attending to his political duties.

(4) In 1936 the North American Baha’is, under the encouragement and guidance of Shoghi Effendi, began to plan the first systematic teaching program for the implementation of Abdu’l-Baha’s Divine Plan. That first program went from 1937 to 1944. I have now been associated with extensions of that Divine Plan for some 60 years.

(5) This is a Latin expression meaning “marvellous to relate.”

Ron Price
married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer & editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015).

Last edited by RonPrice; 04-03-2013 at 04:29 AM.. Reason: to add some words
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