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Entry: Influences And Perspectives
Blog: RonPrice
Assigned Moderators: chad

Posted by: RonPrice
Original Content:

Two of the many significant influences on my poetry, influences which have given great pleasure over the years to my mind and spirit, admired immensely now, but which only began to be appreciated in the years of my middle age and in the early evening of my life, Wordsworth and Shakespeare, helped me to see nature in all its forms. But it was not nature in its external forms: flowers, trees, the entire geology and geography of place, that provided for me the deepest satisfactions and fascinations. My second wife, Chris, and nature programs stimulated my interest in and appreciation of the external aspects of nature.:cool:

I found that nature’s external forms permitted my rational mind to attain a renovated and renovating vision of the organic world–and particularly my own personal world. But this vision was difficult to achieve; it developed very slowly over the decades; the pitfalls surrounding the acquisition and development of this vision, were many, obscure and subtle. But as one of Canadian poets, perhaps Canada’s greatest 19th century poet, Archibald Lampman, expressed the challenge: “the poet must not cease from the mental effort required both to obtain this renovated vision of external nature and to return, restored, to the world of men.”

This renovated vision found and now finds its chief conceptual home, its guiding hand, one of its chief tools and aids, one of its fertile sources and bases, in a view of physical reality in all its forms as a metaphorical construct whose value, use and importance is an inner, symbolic, dramaturgical, one. To put this another way: words and metaphors are not mediums which copy life. Their true work is to restore life itself to order, pattern and meaning. Metaphor persuades and illuminates because it integrates pragmatic, cognitive and linguistic knowledge with awareness of culture, ideology and history. This idea is a difficult one to put into words and, I know from my own experience and from years of trying to get students to understand the concept, that this brilliant source of insight is simply never grasped by millions of people.

The value or function of the metaphorical or what can also be called the analogical process is immense. On the obvious level, it is a useful way to explain the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar and the abstract in terms of the concrete. In addition, it has the capacity to compress a great deal of meaning into a few words and, because it offers a variety of meanings, it can be an expansive description rather than a limiting or restrictive one; it can counteract narrowness of thought, literalism, imitation and dogmatism’s many fundamentalist forms. But probably the most important feature of the analogical process is its ability to educate. That is, when a person is forced to examine X in order to understand Y, he is exercising one of his most important capacities as a human being.

“The ability to see the relationship between one thing and another is almost a definition of intelligence. Thinking in metaphors,” says Louis Simpson in his An Introduction to Poetry, “is a tool of intelligence. Perhaps it is the most important tool.” Indeed, a view of the existential world as metaphor is, for me, a key methodology for unlocking the world’s meaning, for moving from abstract concepts to concrete things and back again, a key device for providing a narrative framework for and conceptualization of life and one that is not imposed, one that is not based on something we are told to think.

In the years 1995 to 2005, as I approached my retirement from so many forms of engagement with the world: full-time, part-time and volunteer work as well as an engagement with what was often a seemingly endless set of social and community obligations, I came quite clearly to understand the benefits and insights to be gained from excursions into this world of metaphorical reality, of inner reality and its renovating vision. But, as I have indicated repeatedly in many pieces of my writing and again in this prose-poem, there are correct and there are incorrect attitudes to and uses of nature and vision, metaphor and analogical thought. The liberty and the moderate freedom which our Age is seeking and which suggest the limits and boundaries of vision and metaphor are embodied in and defined by an Administrative Order whose operating principles derive from the teachings of Baha’u’llah and provide the very structure of freedom for our Age. Neither nature nor vision, analysis nor creativity, should take the writer and poet away from a concern for man and society nor from his support of those institutional safeguards of this new Faith.

I have taken a keen interest in the social sciences and humanities, the latter only in the last two decades. These subjects or disciplines have, along with decades of observation and experience, some of it based in outrageous fortune, some in despondency, some in joy and much in immense quantities of the quotidian, assisted me in: (a) strengthening my spirit and mind and in exhausting them; (b) giving me an increased veneration and respect for certain portions of the world’s immense corpus of poetry and prose; and © acquiring a resolute contemplation of life developed over what seemed and were epochs of time.

My stance vis-à-vis the great poetry and literature of history as well as much of the social sciences and humanities has been more active especially since those social and occupational demands of life have diminished in recent years. This active stance, though, is necessarily of a highly selective rather than passive and accepting method and mode. The resources available now for students and writers like myself are simply staggering in their magnitude. Life is short and time is fleeting; the hour is urgent and, let there be no mistake, ours in the duty to labour serenely and to lend our share of assistance in whatever way circumstances may enable us to assuage the fury of the tempest of our times.4

I must admit and acknowledge that my precursor models and their styles, those I have drawn on for my various and several literary purposes, have increased with the years. I qualify as a result, it seems to me, as a practitioner, as a legitimate Canadian/Australian hybrid participant, in the tradition that leads from the great Romantics to the great Moderns and the Postmoderns. My perspective rests on: (a) a resolute contemplation of my time and place, (b) a broad synthesis of much from the social sciences and humanities and © a noetic integrator that interprets large fields of reality, that is the ontological and theological, epistemological and teleological framework and construction of my religion. And because of this my perspective is—I can safely say–distinctly my own.

It is a perspective that includes man, nature, society, every atom in existence and the essence of all created things. It is the perspective of a man with a wide and, insofar as I am able to envisage and articulate, a coherent range of concerns. It is the perspective: (i) of an imaginative observer of both the external world and the world of the unseen; (ii) of one who is and has been for half a century committed to the gradual, evolutionary building of a new world, the foundations of a global society, the City of God, through the charismatic and prophetic figure of Baha’u’llah; (iii) of an adherent of a new and independent religious system with a detailed and verifiable record of its history and development; (iv) of a participant in a system whose growing influence is arguably the most remarkable development in contemporary religious history; (v) of a man who has not, as many might think, attached himself to a utopian, an unrealistic, dream; (vi) of a person who endeavours to see life simply as it is and to estimate everything at its true value in relation to: (a) a view of universal truth which is perennial but not archaic, (b) a view which accepts that no fortuitous conjunction of circumstances will make it possible for the human community to bend the conditions of life into conformity with some set of human desires—that such a hope, is illusory; and © a view that the world is one country, has one common homeland and humankind are its citizens.