I’m not sure how much of a psychological necessity it was for me to seek relief by setting down this story. This work was no opiate, as Alexander Herzon’s autobiography was to him, “against the appalling loneliness of a life lived among uninterested strangers.” I was far from lonely and was surrounded by students and Baha’is who were far from “uninterested strangers.” Like this greatest of Russian autobiographers, though, much time was needed for the events in my life to settle into “a perspicuous thought,” a thought I could convey in both a meaningful and written form. Like Herzen, too, some of my thoughts were uncomfortable and melancholy, but in writing I was able to reconcile them, after several unsatisfactory attempts, with my rational faculty. Art--and for me the art of writing--is an outward integration inspired by a degree of inner disintegration. It is more than a little coincidental that my first published articles in the press and my first collected poems in my own files and occasionally in magazines came in the first years after lithium had stabilized by bipolar life; and an even greater literary enthusiasm and success came when luvox, sodium valproate and venlafaxine were in my bloodstream.
After years of trying to find the language to write and talk about the serious, from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, the ability came with increasing degrees of effectiveness and with more and more pleasure. Some seem to have this ability virtually at birth; with me it was a slowly acquired art and, partly for that reason, a much appreciated one. There were times when I felt this ability dried up and deserted me. This was especially the case in the nearly twenty years when this autobiography was in its first edition(1984-2003); in some of the courses I took by external studies my capacity to write what a supervisor wanted simply seemed beyond my ability(1978 to 1988); when yet another magazine declined to accept a poem or an article I had spent what seemed a lifetime composing(1979 to 1999); when I tried to write a novel, a sci-fi fantasy or a long quasi-historical-philosophical piece(1983-2005). But by the time I had completely left the world of full-time, part-time and volunteer/casual work—by degrees in the years 1999 to 2005—I knew where my abilities could be found and tapped and there I would stay, as far as the eye could see. At the age of sixty, in the earliest year of my late adulthood(60-61), I had finally found and was able to distinguish between the places of literary fertility and the places where only dry dog-biscuits existed.
For many years when I was a teacher I compiled reading material for my students around an eclectic mix of book chapters, journal articles, historical documents, extracts from literary texts, journalism, inter alia. Now, in this autobiographical work, I have followed a similar pattern but put a pot pourri of material into one work. I give to readers a single-authored, multidisciplinary sourcebook in the field of autobiography, an autobiography with several formal principles underpinning it, one principle of which is the necessity for digressions, parentheses, with wanderings from the point. To this multidisciplinary work I have added a medley of variegated products from a poetic inclination, an inclination that has led to a certain prolixity. Some may see this work as just another word for creative disorder.
Readers will find here in the following part of this work an epilogue and some thoughts on letter writing, on history, poetry and essays--some of the genres I have used in this work. What I want to find here, and what I pray for daily, are evidences of “spirits possessed of such power” that they can can act as a leavening force on the arts and sciences as expressed in my life and specifically my writing. “All the worlds which the Almighty hath created can benefit through them,” Baha’u’llah says. Herzen said that he could hear spirits knocking beneath his lines, not literally of course, but metaphorically.
These spirits inspired Herzen’s autobiography and so too did his view that, as he put it, “every life is interesting; if not the personality, then the environment, the country are interesting, the life itself is interesting. Man likes to enter into another existence, he likes to touch the subtlest fi
es of another's heart, and to listen to its beating ... he compares, he checks it by his own, he seeks for himself confirmation, sympathy, justification ...”
This leavening spirit that Baha’u’llah refers to, then, I like to think has helped me replace the endless flow of people through my life, people and employment tasks, community engagements and family responsibilities with literary opportunities. Formerly the motivating, leavening forces turned my life toward other activities demanding most of my time. In the process them fiery tests which, in retrospect, I now see as phases in a life process, a life process that I am now, it seems, only beginning to understand. My life I now see as resolving itself into a series of crises of varying intensity and severity. Although devastating at the time, they released a divine power quite mysteriously; further calamities were engendered along the way with liberal effusions of grace enabling me to win even greater victories in the service of this Cause. I have been carried in this age of transition through my own transition further and further on a path of service and that service is now found primarily in my writing..................enough......Ron
married for 46 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 14, and a Baha'i for 54(in 2013).