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Happy New Year From Australia

Guest RonPrice

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Guest RonPrice

In the last hour of 2007, ABC TV played the PBS 2005 special on The Mamas and the Papas(TM&TP). After watching and listening for an hour to TM&TP, I wrote the following reflective piece which I send to Cool Junkie for "nightlife in Australia" from Australia's oldest town, George Town(1804).-Ron Price, Tasmania:lickit:



By the time I graduated from university in 1966 at the age of 21 I owned two LP albums. One was given to me by my mother after my father’s death in May 1965. The LP was Handel ’s Messiah. That LP was symbolic of the classical music influences from my parents in the years of my life from 1944 to 1966. The other LP I bought in the late summer of 1965 or early autumn, the first weeks of my final year at university in an honours sociology course. The album was Barrie McGuire’s The Eve of Destruction. On 25 September 1965 the song went to #1 on the charts while the LP topped at #37.

Tonight, in the last hour of the year 2007, I heard some of this song as part of an ABC TV special California Dreamin’: The Songs of the Mamas and the Papas. I got a hit of nostalgia or perhaps more accurately an excitation of the nerves, a movement, an awakening, an increase of feelings in my heart1 and so wrote this prose-poem. -Ron Price with thanks to ABC TV: 10:50-11:45 p.m. 31/12/’07, California Dreamin’: The Songs of the Mamas and the Papas; and 1Shoghi Effendi, Letter to an Individual Believer," 4 November 1937 in Baha’i Writings on Music: A Compilation, Baha’i Publishing Trust, Oakham, England.

All these songs lingered

on the edges of my life

and even penetrated into

the core from time to time

from those halcyon days

of the fifties to the seventies.

Clive James and Peter Porter, in their discussion of 'books of the forties and fifties,’ talked about music, classical and other, taking over from literature in the last half of the twentieth century in providing that sense of certitude, although irrational and essentially appealing to the emotions, that people felt a need for in their lives. Among the many topics they talked about relevant to music and poetry--my own interests--was the decline of ideology after WW2 and into the 1950s as well as the role that Alexander Solzenitsyn's books played in the fifties, sixties and seventies in providing an important ingredient in the residue of ideology insofar as the Left was concerned, as fascism had done insofar as the Right was concerned in the two previous decades.

A reservoir of skepticism in the west, and especially in England, returned the centre of poetry to the individual and away from its expression and interest in the general society in those same years. I have often thought with some other analysts of poetry that advertising and sociology became in the post-WW2 period new forms of poetry. -Ron Price with thanks to "Clive James and Peter Porter," Sunday Special, ABC Radio, 5:30-6:00 p.m., 2 December, 2001.

As ideology wound down in the fifties,

the sixties and seventies, we began to

grow and grow all over, unobtrusively.

So it is that I've spent my adult life

with people who have no ideology,

plenty of convictions and passionate

intensity all too much of it, but no

ideological centre—the centre did

not hold and that mere anarchy was

loosed upon the land as well as that

blood-dimmed tide drowning that1

ceremony of innocence, if innocence

it was, if innocence it be, back then.

People made homes for their minds—

reading novels, listening to music,

watching TV, working in the garden,

absolutely no interest in going to meetings--

except to learn macrame, lead lighting and--

inevitable work-associated special planning

sessions at 8 p.m. or 8 am or noon instead of

lunch--or a new course, or something at uni,

or a movie, or a volunteer job where ideology

was not desired, contemplated or required.

For ideology did not grab anyone anymore

and religious ideology became the no-no

among no-no's--amidst endless subjectivity.

Superficial and not-so-superficial pragmatism

had made everyone into practical realists,

enjoying as far as they were able the complex

juxtapositions of pleasures and disenchantments

thrown up on the shore of their life-worlds.

And slowly, yes slowly, a new ideology,

a new dogma, grew until it came to manifest

an attractive form, a gentle beauty all around

the world with holy dust at the centre--and

a slow greening of people from that desolate

garden of arid and unholy disenchantment.2

1 From a poem by W. B. Yeats quoted in thousands of places.

2 The Baha'i Faith spread slowly, unobtrusively around the world as Barry McGuire and The Mamas and the Papas grew to young adulthood and finally into old age. Music helped, as Peter Porter and Clive James pointed out above in their discussion. I immensely enjoyed these musical artists; they enriched my centre—but they were never the centre.

Ron Price

2 December 2001

Updated 1/1/08.

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