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Old 12-18-2009, 06:13 PM
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RonPrice (Offline)
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Default You Said It, CTK

You Said It, CTK....and let me add for those who don't mind a long read---the following.....-Ron in Tasmania:smile:

I began asking and answering these questions about myself and my writing in 1998 and have added more in the years up to and including April 2012. This process is part of the Socratic notion that: "the unexamined life is not worth living." This is the 26th simulated interview in 16 years, 1996 to 2012. There is no attempt in this series of Qs &As to be sequential, to follow themes or simulate a normal interview. I have attempted a more logical-sequential pattern in many other interviews. I have posted literally millions of words on the internet and readers who come across this interview of 3500 words will gain some idea of the person who writes the stuff they read at other sites on this world-wide-web, sites they can access by simply googling the words: RonPrice followed by any one of dozens of others words like: poetry, literature, philosophy, history, religion, cinema, inter alia.

I encourage readers here at to: (a) skim or scan the following, (b) stop reading when they lose interest, or (c) just stop here and don't bother with what follows. I do this all the time and have been doing it in the last half century of my life as a student and/or teacher.-Ron
1. Do you have a favourite place to visit? I’ve lived in 25 cities and towns and in 37 houses and would enjoy visiting them again for their mnemonic value. There are dozens of other places I’d enjoy going circumstances permitting, circumstances like: lots of money, good health, lots of energy and if I could be of some use to the people in those places.

2. Who are your favourite writers? Edward Gibbon, Arnold Toynbee, Ortega y Gasset, the Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith, Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Rollo May, Alfred Adler, inter alter.

3. Who are your favorite artists? There are several dozen art movements and hundreds if not thousands or artists. I will name two famous artists whose work I like and two whom I have known personally: Cezanne, Van Gogh, Chelinay and Drew Gates.

4. Who are your favorite composers, musicians, vocalists and singer/songwriters? How can one choose from the thousands in these categories? Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Hayden come to mind as composers but, goodness, there are simply too many to list.

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 and many more that I come across in reading history, the social sciences and the humanities.

6. Who has been your greatest inspirations? Roger White and John Hatcher in my middle age, Jamie 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 65.

7. If you could invite four people for dinner from any period in history, who would you choose and why?

Pericles: I’d like to know what went on in Athens in the Golden Age, as he saw it.

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

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.

8. What are you reading? At the moment, in 1998, my last year of full-time employment, I have fourteen books on the go: eight biographies, four literary criticisms, one book of philosophy and one of psychology. Now in the first year on two old age pensions a decade later, I am reading only material on the internet and that reading list is too extensive to list here.

9. What do you enjoy listening to in the world of music? I listen mainly to classical music on the classical FM station here in Perth as well as some from the folk, pop and rock worlds. Now that I live in George Town northern Tasmania this is also true only much less pop and folk and more jazz.

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 ten years later) now that I live in northern Tasmania I rarely eat Persian and Mexican food. Now that I am retired I hardly miss these foods.

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.

12. How Important is Life-Style and Freedom From the Demands of Employment and Other People?

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. He 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.

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.

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

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 things. 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 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.

14. You did not flower early as a writer, did you?

Many writers flower early. Many of them become largely forgotten whereas I have a different type of creativity which seems to be growing in power, literally decade by decade, again, like the Canadian George Woodcock. This kind of creativity over the lifespan is actually quite abnormal. 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.

15. What sort of relationships do you have these days?

I was reading about the Canadian writer George Woodcock whom I have 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. If I wanted to know about stuff 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 but, after an hour or so I usually had enough of conversation. 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 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.

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

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 several times in this series of 26 interviews. It is an important question because the wider world often judges a person by the extent to which one engages with or in the quixotic tournament of social and 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 and, in the process, probably little depth in those prose-poems of mine either.

17. Some poets see their work as a form of social criticism and like the Canadian poet Irving Layton, for example, they rage against society and some of what they see as society’s illnesses and injustices. Where does your poetry fit into this picture?

Many of Layton's more than forty published volumes of poetry are prefaced by scathing attacks on those who would shackle a poet's imagination; over the years he has used the media and the lecture hall to passionately and publicly decry social injustice. But perhaps his loudest and most sustained protest has been against a restrictive puritanism that inhibits the celebration and expression of human sexuality. My poetry is not an expression of scathing attacks on anything; nor is it a passionate and public poetic vis-ŕ-vis that quixotic tournament of social issues that are paraded in front of me day after day in the print and electronic media.

I see my poetry as an extension of the whole Bahá'í approach to social issues and individual engagement with these issues. There are several Bahá'í books which explore this quite complex subject. One of the best was published 25 years ago. It is entitled Circle of Unity: Bahá'í Approaches to Current Social Issues. I encourage readers to have a look at it if they would like a more complete answer to this question, a question that I cannot answer in a small paragraph.

As far as the imagination is concerned it is not, in my view, the opposite of facts or the enemy of facts. The imagination depends upon facts; it feeds on them in order to produce beauty or invention, or discovery. The true enemy of the imagination is laziness, habit, leisure. The enemy of imagination is the idleness that provides fancy. I am not concerned, as Layton was, with a restrictive puritanism that inhibits the celebration and expression of human sexuality. I have many concerns in the process of writing poetry and journals, essays and narrative autobiography. I would like to emphasize here that even authentic historical documents, mine and those of others, are products of a human mind and its language, not of reality itself. Reality could be seen as a white light which each person sees on a spectrum of colour.

17. Do you think travelling has been crucial to your writing?

The Canadian poet Al Purdy(1918-2000) admitted pretty clearly that if he hadn't travelled he wouldn't have written very much. He felt that he had to go further out in the world and experience these places. He was one of the most popular and important Canadian poets of the 20th century. Purdy's writing career spanned more than fifty years. His works include over thirty books of poetry, a novel, two volumes of memoirs and four books of correspondence. He has been called Canada’s "unofficial poet laureate" and, "a national poet in a way that you only find occasionally in the life of a culture."

I did not travel the way Purdy did. I just kept moving to new towns, some two dozen, and for a great many reasons until I was too tired, too old, too worn-out, too sick, too poor----goodness---what a sad tale, eh? Now I travel in my head and through the print and electronic media.

18. Do you like talking about poetry?

Gary Geddes tells(In It’s Still Winter: A WEB JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN POETRY AND POETICS, Vol. 2 No. 1 Fall 1997) a great story of Douglas Dunn who was writer in residence at Hull and Dunn wanted to meet the famous British poet Larkin. But Larkin was a curmudgeon. He hated poets! Douglas Dunn was told by friends who knew Larkin that, if you wanted to meet Larkin then you had to make sure you didn't ever talk about poetry. You could talk about jazz and anything else. So these friends arranged this meeting and left the two of them in the pub. Finally, after a few beers, Larkin leans across the table and says, "there are too many poets in this university. Your job as writer in residence is to get rid of them."

I don’t feel like this at all, although I can appreciate Larkin’s sentiments. If I want some congenial poetic spirit I read his poetry or I read about him but I have no strong desire to meet and have a chat. But I like to talk about poetry and that is why I’ve simulated these 26 interviews.

19. Do you like reading poetry?

Gary Geddes says in the same interview I quoted above that when he was translating a book of Chinese poetry with a George Leong, George would often bring him the most depressing melancholic poems in Chinese to translate. Geddes would say: "George you gotta give me something else, I can't bear all of this stuff.” I feel that same way about a lot of poetry, indeed, most contemporary, classical and poetry from any period of history. I just don’t connect with it. My mind and heart do not engage. The poets I do engage with hit home quite deeply, but they are relatively few.

20. Do you use metaphor in your poetry to any extent?

Not anywhere near as much as I’d like, as much as exists in its poetic potential. Aristotle once wrote that the ability to see relationships between things is the mark of poetic genius. I would not want to make the claim to be a poetic genius; how could one ever make such a presumptuous, preposterous, claim. But I see relationships between things all over the place. It’s one of the great motivators in why I write. I want to develop my use of metaphor in my poetry. I don’t think I’ve really taken off yet in my effective use of metaphor. The philosopher Paul Ricoeur(1913-2005) sees mood and metaphor as the basis of the unity of a poem, of poetry itself. Writing poetry is certainly a mood thing for me and I’d like to make it much more of a metaphor thing as well.

When emotion and intellect converge in imaginative writing, writing for example that draws on metaphor, readers can be transported to another life-world, a type of Gestalt, a Lebenswelt, to use the philosopher Edmund Husserl’s(1859-1938) term. Any transcendence that results for the writer and the reader here is not due to being taken to another realm, although this can occur but, more importantly or just as importantly, it is due to seeing meaning, hidden meaning, meaning that did not exist before, in one’s experience, in the things and thoughts themselves, to go beyond the familiar, to make fleeting moments rich in imaginative detail.

There is a world outside language as the Canadian poet Don McKay(1942- ) asserts. It is very difficult to translate that world but some poetry can do this, can make this translation, with conviction and delight.

21. What do you see as the function of a poet?

A poet has many functions, but two functions of this poet that interest me, to answer this question off the cuff so to speak, is: (a) to discover and distil the labour and the genius of the Bahá'í experience and (b) to give expression to the delight and the love that are at the heart of writing. The Canadian poet A.J. M. Smith wrote this in 1954. Smith had a preoccupation with death as I have, although not as intense and not in the same way as Smith’s. Out of his preoccupation with death he made poetry. I have made my poetry out of this and other preoccupations.

From a Bahá'í perspective, of course, the arts and sciences in general, and poetry in particular, should “result in advantage to man,” “ensure his progress,” and “elevate his rank” ; that music is a ladder for our souls, “a means whereby they may be lifted up into the realm on high” ; that the art of drama will become “a great educational power” ; that when a painter takes up her paint brush, it is as if she were “at prayer in the Temple” ; that the arts fulfil “their highest purpose when showing forth the praise of God”; and that “music, art and literature...are to represent and inspire the noblest sentiments and highest aspirations.” The beloved Guardian(Bahá'í leader from 1921-1957) saw such spiritual power in the arts that he predicted they would eventually do much to help the Cause spread the spirit of love and unity.

22. When you talk about art and the arts what do you mean?

When I say “art” or “the arts,” I mainly have in mind those that are commonly referred to as “fine arts” such as poetry, painting, sculpture, theatrical drama, film, music, dance and others. But I also have in mind the “design arts,” such as architecture and urban design as well as the crafts, such as pottery and rug-weaving because these arts operate on a spiritual as well as a material plane.

23. What do you see when you look in the mirror?

I have a photo which I post at many internet sites. The caption, the descriptive comment on this photo, reads: “This full-frontal facial view-photo, taken in 2004 when I was 60 in Hobart Tasmania, has a light side and a dark side. It is an appropriate photo to symbolize my lower and higher natures. These are natures that reach for spiritual, for intellectual and cultural attainment on the one hand and reach for and get caught-up in/with the world of mire and clay and its shadowy and ephemeral attachments.

Of course, when I look in the mirror there is not this clear dichotomy of light and shadow. When I look in the mirror I see an external self, a face which bears a relationship with my real self, a self which is not my body. My real self is an unknown quantity and my face really tells me very little about this real self. And so, to answer your question, I see what nearly everyone else sees: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, cheeks, etc.

24. What would you bring to this interview to ‘show-and-tell’ if you could bring only one item? And what would you say about that item.

My mother-in-law, who is now 90 and lives in a little town called Beauty Point in northern Tasmania, has a little figure in her lounge-room. It is a small figure of three monkeys. It has a label on it: see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. It always reminds me of a quotation from Bahá'u'lláh’s book Hidden Words. The quotation goers like this and it is this of which I wish to tell:

“O COMPANION OF MY THRONE! Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore.”
-Bahá'u'lláh, Persian Hidden Words, p. 44.

Concluding Comment:

I began asking and answering these questions in 1998, as I indicated in the preamble to this simulated interview. I added more questions and answers, as I also said at the outset of this interview, more than a decade later in the northern spring of 2012.

3500 words
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; 04-21-2012 at 12:58 AM.. Reason: to correct an error
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