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George Town Tasmania
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Some Thoughts On Moby Dick and Melville
The following is a revision of some thoughts on Herman Melville after watching Moby Dick on ABC1(8 and 15 May, 8:35 to 10:00 p.m.). Kerry Saunders, a Peabody Journalism Award winner, was interviewed by Alan Saunders back on 30 June 2007 and he stated in that interview that Moby Dick(1851) was a metaphor for the American ship of state which was driving toward destruction, the destruction seen a decade later in the Civil War(1861-1865). The book was also a metaphor for the emptiness of reality, part of what came to be called existentialist philosophy, a philosophy that was emerging and would emerge in the 19th century with the two philosophers Nietzsche(1844-1900) and Kierkegaard(1813-1855).-Ron Price, 15 May 2011.
THE HEALING ROAD
I first came across the ideas of sociologist Emile Durkheim while studying sociology at university from 1963 to 1967. Many of his ideas I have always thought were relevant to a Baha'i perspective, a perspective I have entertained and that has evolved since the 1950s. This French sociologist’s ideas certainly reflect my experience of intellectual, artistic and literary pursuits, what 'Abdu'l-Baha called "learning and the cultural attainments of the mind."
Just as Baha'i administration was taking its first form under the guidance of Shoghi Effendi in the 1920s, Durkheim wrote that "the love of art, the predilection for artistic joys, is accompanied by a certain aptitude for getting outside ourselves, a certain detachment or disinterestedness. We lose sight of our surroundings, our ordinary cares, our immediate interests. Indeed, this is the essence of the healing power of art. Art consoles us because it turns us away from ourselves."
After forty years of travelling-
pioneering, I find here peace
and supper, as if after a very
long day's work. Yes, Herman,
this is its own reward. Just a
simple artistry in these poems,
part of my search for the right
idiom and the best ways of meet
life's lot. I do not feel like Frost,
stricken as he was and intensely
conscious, suspicious of my struggle.
A healing came, to me, at last, Herman,
at long last. And all that gloom, and an
obsession, temper, rage, depression—it
softened with the years and at last an
easy sleep without the pain—dulled it
was, life's sharp-ragged edges…../ And
my style could lighten & take an easier
road without that heat and load; it could
brighten, that road---possibly, possibly...
22 September 2002
ONE HAD TINTED CRIMSON
In the year after the Bab was martyred Herman Melville published Moby Dick. Some have regarded this book as the greatest work in American fiction. Melville began writing this book in the late 1840s, perhaps 1849 at the earliest. He said he loved all men who dived. Any fish could swim near the surface, but it took a great whale to go down five miles. Melville also thought that comfortable beliefs needed to be discarded. He could not himself believe and he was uncomfortable in his disbelief.-Ron Price, a summary of an essay and an encyclopaedia article on Melville.
Melville must be henceforth numbered in the company of the incorrigibles who occasionally tantalize us with indications of genius.....Melville has succeeded in investing objects.....with an absorbing fascination...Moby Dick is not a mere tale of adventure, but a whole philosophy of life, that it unfolds.---Henry F. Chorley, in London Athenaeum, 25 October 1851; and London John Bull, 25 October 1851.
My Revelation is indeed far more bewildering than that of Muhammad....how strange that a person brought up among the people of Persia should be empowered by God....and be enabled to spontaneously reveal verses far more rapidly than anyone….-The Bab in Selections from the Writings of the Bab, Haifa, 1976, p.139.
They both went down deep
into the ocean of mystery,
a mystic intercourse had
possessed them with some
a whole way of life in
their words, a certain
eccentricity of style,
an object of ridicule,
a kind of old extravagance,
bewildering, and that very
transcendental tendency of
the age, that 19th century age.
But One had musk-scented breaths...
written beyond the impenetrable
veil of concealment...oceans of divine
elixir, tinted crimson with the essence
of existence…..Arks of ruby, tender....
wherein none shall sail but the people
18 February 1999
1 The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, Haifa, 1976, pp.57-8.
married for 48 years, a teacher for 32; an internal and external student for 32, a writer and editor for 16, as well as a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)