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My Use of Notebooks--A 60 Year Retrospective: 1949 to 2013

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My Use of Notebooks--A 60 Year Retrospective: 1953 to 2013

  • Aug 28, 2013
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Section 1:
This review, this overview, of my use of Notebooks is far too long for the average reader, and so it is that I suggest that people who come to this post (I) skim or scan the text, or (ii) simply stop reading now, unless they have a particular interest in the concept of Notebooks.

I completed the first edition of my autobiography in May 1993. It covered five decades of my life on this planet. It was an autobiography I began at the age of 39 in early 1984. I began collecting resources on the subjects of autobiography and memoir, journals and diaries, letters and notebooks, and have now been collecting such resources for 20 years: 1993 to 2013.  I subsumed all of this material, this academic and literary study of these genres, to help me get a handle on the subject of autobiography under the heading Notebooks. 

By September 2013 I had collected three arch-lever files and nine two-ring binders of notes, mostly photocopied material from internet sites, on these subjects.  I felt that the first edition(1993) of my autobiography, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, was entirely unsatisfactory.  I thought that there must be more to the process of writing such a work, indeed, more personal meaning to the final product which was my life, and my commentary and analysis in relation to my religion and society.  What I had then achieved in that first edition of my autobiography back in 1993 was, for me, tedious to read and of no interest as a basis on which to expand.
The resources in these twelve files entitled Notebooks represent, then, the efforts of the first 20 years(1993-2013) after the completion of the first edition of my autobiography to draw together a useful body of resources to enrich, to deepen and extend the original edition of that work. By 2003 I ventured into a second edition.  The resources in these dozen resource files, as well as an inventory, a storehouse, of other literary material, has proved invaluable in my efforts to write the second to the seventh editions of my autobiography, an autobiography which has become a five volume work entitled: Pioneering Over Four Epochs.
Section 2:
This autobiography is now 2600 pages and is scattered in many places in cyberspace.  It has been accepted by the Review Office of the NSA of the Baha’is of the USA for publication on the internet, but not as a book for publication in a hard or soft cover. That book will require further review—so I was informed by that Office in 2009.  These Notebooks provide an overview, as I say above, of a particular sub-set of the more than 300 volumes, files, and resource booklets that I have put together mostly since my retirement in 1999 and, to some extent, in the years since moving to Perth Western Australia in 1987.  There is also a little material here in these 300 literary collectivities going back to the decade 1953 to 1962, the years before I began my pioneering life for the Canadian Bahá'í community when I was first associated with this new Faith as a child and adolescent and, then, when I joined this new Faith at the age of 15.  
I heard of the Baha'i Faith from my mother, and my initial contact with that Faith was in small groups of Bahá'í friends in Burlington Ontario beginning in 1953.  I use the collective term Notebooks for all this printed matter.  As a kid, in my childhood and adolescence, indeed at least until the early years of my middle adulthood, my mid-forties, I had no passion or particular interest in amassing Notebooks, except in connection with my studies in primary, secondary and post-secondary education.

My work as a teacher after graduating from university in 1967 necessitated more and more Notebooks.   They were not Notebooks to be used to write essays and pass exams for my teachers and tutors, lecturers and professors, as they had been from the late 1940s, as part of my education in primary, secondary and tertiary education. They were Notebooks for my use as a teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator in relation to many subjects in both primary and secondary school and, then, in post-secondary schools, colleges and universities.

I had an obsession with passing and getting good grades in my pre-university years, and so, in primary school, 1949 to 1958, and in my high school years, 1958 to 1962, I had an organized system of Notebooks for each subject at school. At university, from 1963 to 1967, my obsessions shifted, and I write about them in my now extensive memoirs.
Section 3:
When I started my life as a high-school teacher and post-secondary college lecturer in 1972,  I began to gather an impressive collection of Notebooks and journals: spiral-bound, hardback, lined, unlined – all shapes, sizes, and colors---many varieties---but for the most part large arch-lever files to contain the immense quantities of paper I felt I needed in my role as an educator.  Now, more than forty years later, this introduction to what has become an immense collection of Notebooks is my attempt to provide an overview of more than 60 years of a life with Notebooks: 1949 to 2013.
Ron Price
15/7/’10 to 16/9/’13.


Part A:

Anselm Hollo, in his book The Poet's Notebook: Excerpts from the Notebooks of 26 American Poets(WW Norton and Co., NY, editor, Stephen Kuudisto, et al., 1995) wrote that: "I love reading poets' Notebooks.  Poets are curious critters, and it is a pleasure to relax with the jottings and musings of such literary practitioners."  Many writers and poets, though not all, keep Notebooks. This section of my autobiography, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, this section IX, contains information relevant to my Notebooks.  What readers find here provides a general framework for the many Notebooks I have kept over the years, over more than six decades.
There are generally two types of Notebooks which I use. One is the type wherein I keep notes on a particular subject.  I have kept Notebooks on a great many subjects which I do not list here, but I list them elsewhere for my own interest and record.  Another, a second type of Notebook which I use is the type where I keep quotations on the specialized subject of writing, the literary process, a process which has come to occupy me more and more, especially after my retirement from a 50 year student-employment life, 1949 to 1999. This specialized subject focuses on: poetry and prose, reading and writing, autobiography and memoirs, diary and journal keeping, letter writing and note-taking, inter alia.  In this latter category, the literary process, I have a dozen major files, and in the former category of a myriad of other subjects I have some 300 files. 
Part B:

There is material in these Notebooks going back to the 1960s, the beginning of my travelling-pioneering experience for the Canadian Baha’i community, since leaving the town I was born in, and the town in which I grew up, for my first home-front pioneering location. For the most part, though, my Notebooks assumed the form, the organized collection, they now possess by sensible and insensible degrees in and after 1992. By 1992 I could see the end of the tunnel of my FT employment.  After I retired from full-time employment in 1999, part-time work in 2003 and casual-volunteer work in 2005, this collection of Notebooks took on an even greater degree of organization for the many literary purposes I had come to be involved with in cyberspace.
I now have some 300+ notebooks covering millions of words and many subjects and topics. These notebooks now serve and will serve as an important part of the base for my many writing projects in these middle years(65-75) of late adulthood(60-80) and old age(80++). I rarely read a book or even part of a book which does not involve some exercise in note-taking, although I must say that many people over the years loan me books that are of little value to me personally, and no note-taking has been involved. I should add, too, that since I gave up teaching English Literature in 1994 I rarely read fiction.

I have been gathering resources in the form of Notebooks in relation to an immense variety of subjects which I began teaching to post-secondary school students in 1974 for approximately forty years, 1974-2013, My teaching career in post-secondary education was as a generalist who, from 1974 to 2005, taught the syllabus of nearly 100 different courses or special subjects.  My much more serious collecting has taken place in only the last 20 years, 1993-2013, as I headed for retirement from 50 to 80 hours a week of job, family and community responsibilities. Now, in my retirement, I have been fine-tuning my collection of Notebooks for several literary purposes, and the reinvention of myself and my roles in life: as a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, online blogger and journalist, reader and scholar.
Ron Price
15/1/’10 to 28/8/’13.


Part 1:
The Notebooks listed below contain information of value to any comprehensive autobiographical, or biographical study of my life.  This list is also of use in providing a comprehensive picture of my Notebooks to draw on in my general writing and for purely personal reading interests in my years of retirement from FT, PT and most volunteer work.  I made this list in the year I had completely retired from FT, PT and most volunteer work, except in cyberspace: 2005, some 50 years after I had begun my first paid job in 1955.
I use the term Notebooks to cover arch-lever files and 2 ring binders in the main, although I also have notes in A-4 and A-3 files, soft and hard cover books, journals, diaries and on the internet in a multitude of forms. I don’t want to be overly casuistical about what constitutes a Notebook, and so I will leave it to others to draw distinctions if, indeed, distinctions must be drawn.
Part 2:
Many of the Notebooks listed below were created in the years since my retirement from FT work in 1999.  I threw, or gave, away several dozen Notebooks in 1999, and at several times during my employment life as my career trajectory changed from job to job, town to town and state to state.  These Notebooks were essentially notes I used and lecture resources for in-class work until I retired that year from FT lecturing and teaching.
There are many other Notebooks listed under 'subjects taught' in my resume in section 24(v) of my old website, and they have for the most part been discontinued. Readers wanting to access this list can click on the top right-hand corner of my new website.  Some Notebooks I used before 1999 such as: history, sociology, literature, media studies, philosophy, psychology, anthropology and religion occupied about 50 of these 'other' files. I kept these Notebooks. They have now been extended in this collection below. In the years 2005 to 2013 many more Notebooks have been added and I hope to update this list at a future time.
Part 3:
Section A:
Notes/Quotes: Vol.A and Vol. B(2)
2. Notebook: 1,2 and 3: Autobiography/Journal
            And Letter Writing(4)
3. Unpublished Writing(2)
4. Conferences Booklet(1)
5. Roger White: Essays/Book(3)
6. Roger White: Draft #5 of “The Emergence....”(1)
7. Singalongs(1)
8. Novels/Sci Fi(1983-2005)(2)
9. Journal: (+15 vols./booklets for photos)(7)
10. Dreams(1)
11. Baha’i Model(1)
12. Publishers: Vol.1-13(22 files)
13. Pioneering Over Four Epochs(4th edition)(2)
              (three  2 ring binders of resources for editions 1 to 2)
14. Individuals:Biography(1)
15. Epic Poetry(1)
16. Letters: (18)
17. Necrology and Recent Reading(1)
18. Specialized Topics-11(5)
19. Mother(1)
20. Baha’i History(2)
21. A.J. Cornfield's Story(1)
22. Emails Addresses: Baha’i and Family(annual letters)(1)
23. Baha'i Resources/Talks(1)
24. Published Articles: Newspapers(2)
25. Website/Internet/Computer File(1)
27. Universal House of Justice Letters (5)
28. ABS Newsletters(1)
29. George Town School for Seniors: Given Away in 2004(3)
30. Post-Graduate Studies(2) (see also religion (4)

Section B:

32. Outback/NT Baha'i History(1)(Many given to NT in 2003)
33.  Religion(4)
34. History(4)
35. Ancient History: Greece and Rome:(10)
36. Media Studies:(5)
37. Psychology(4)
38. Anthropology(2)
39. Philosophy(3)
40. Literature/Fiction(4)
41. Drama(2)
42. Poetry(5)
43. Australian Poetry(4)
44. Canadian Poetry(1)
45. Analysis of Literature(1)
46. Analysis of Poetry(2)
47. Essays and Poems-Give Away(3)
48. Beacon(2)
49. Sociology:(8)
50. Baha’i Faith and the Arts(2)
51. George Town Baha’i Group(1)
52. LSA Handbook: additions(1)
53. Political Theory(2)
54. E-Journals and Humour
55. Creative Writing(1)
56. Baha’i Writings-Study(5)
57. Baha’i Centre For Learning(1)
58. My Website: Morfik/Hadie(1)
Total: 170(ca)
Ron Price


Section 1:

Let me add a word or two about note-taking for you aspiring historians and archivists, writers and journalists, poets and authors who at one time were, are now and/or will in future years be---writing about your life and your times. In the sixty-four years that I have gathered my writing into Notebooks, my writing has fallen into three general categories: education-school, employment-job, and personal-Baha'i.

The first category, school, was created and utilized in the years 1949 to 1988 in my primary, secondary and tertiary education, as well as external studies programs in which I was enrolled from 1975 to 1988. From the hundreds of Notebooks created in these years only a small handful remain.
From the hundreds of Notebooks I created in the dozens of jobs I have had, the only ones remaining are the approximately 30 files, or Notebooks from my last job at Thornlie College, a Technical and Further Education College in Western Australia, now renamed 'Thornlie Polytechnic.'  These Notebooks from several of the social sciences and humanities were complied when I taught a wide variety of subjects at this post-secondary educational institution.

Section 2:

The final category of Notebooks now in my possession are what I would term personal. For the most part they are connected with my involvement, now over half a century, with the Baha'i Faith. They were created not for use in a place of employment, not for my role as a teacher or in a school system. They were created for my own use in the work I did as a Baha’i, or for my personal use as a writer and poet. I have been gathering these personal resources now for fifty years, 1963-2013, but only seriously during my life as a published writer in the print and electronic media---for the last thirty, 1983-2013. 
I have been fine-tuning my collection of Notebooks in the last ten years, 2003-2013.  I now have some 300+ Notebooks covering millions of words and many subjects and topics. These Notebooks now serve and will serve as an important part of the base for my many writing projects in these middle years(65-75) of late adulthood(60-80)---and old age(80++), if I last that long.  I rarely read a book, part of a book, or some extended piece in cyberspace, which does not involve some exercise in note-taking, although I must say that many people over the years have loaned me books that were of little value to me personally and note-taking was rarely involved. I should add too that, since I gave up teaching English Literature in 1994, I rarely read fiction. There are innumerable sources that I do not draw on about fiction, among many other subjects for my note-taking.
Section 3:

Little did I know when I created my first notebook at the mid-point in the twentieth century, 1949-1950, that sixty-four years later--in 2013--Notebooks would come to occupy such an important place in my daily life and would contribute to my writing and recording of events in the history of a new religion at one of the darkest hearts of any age, and the darkest heart before a dawn not yet seen.  Of course, not everyone is "into" Notebooks and with the internet coming to occupy such a significant place in our age, Notebooks are coming to assume a different form.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 23/2/’07 to 30/8/’13.

In many ways my large collection of letters functions as a type of Notebook, and so I will say a few things here about my collection of letters in the following series of 'Items'.

ITEM #1:

Part 1:

Who knows what will become of all my letters, now contained in some twenty plus volumes of assorted sizes and contents. “Letters enabled Emily Dickinson to control the time and place of her relationships,” writes James Lowell in his introduction to a volume of her letters.1  I’m sure letters have a similar function for me; I have become even more conscious of this as the email grew and developed throughout the 1990s and became a more important part of my life.  Sadly, I do not keep a copy of all my emails, only the main ones.  Since so many emails are of the short and snappy variety, the variety which exercises that control which Lowell speaks of, an important or perhaps not-so-important part of this new variety of my correspondence was never recorded in the years, 1993 to 2013.  I suppose, though, that since it was never recorded in the first place, it will never be missed.

Lord Melbourne, writing about George Crabbe, indicated that “I am always glad when one of those fellows dies, for then I know I have the whole of him on my shelf.”2  There is certainly a type of person, perhaps many, a variety of selves, a type of prose, that is unique to the letter. I sensed I had something of Roger White when I had even the few letters he wrote to me in one file on my shelf.  The somber and weird outlook in Dickinson’s poetry, by no means the prevailing condition of her mind, is not present in her gay and humorous letters. For those inclined to judge White too harshly or strongly from some of his poetry, reading his letters to me, and I suspect to others, would present quite a different picture of that wonderful poet. I leave it to future commentators to evaluate this dichotomy between my correspondence and the other genres of my writing, should they wish to do so.

Letters at one time in history had a function, at least in the more literate quarters, that is conveyed in the following quotation from Patrick White’s Letters: "Are there no letters? There’s nothink I like better than a read of a good letter. Look and see, Mrs. Goosgog, if you can’t find me a letter. I’m inclined to feel melancholy at this time of night.3-The Ham Funeral

Part 2:

As I indicated above, the letter may have been on the verge of extinction had it not been for the email’s resurrecting role.  With the world population doubling in these four epochs(1944-2013) I’m sure the letter has been in safe hands, anyway, simply due to the population increase. I’m sure it continues to function and give pleasure to melancholy moods as it did in the above ‘ham funeral’ in relation to the Australian nobel prize winning writier, Patrick White, and his letters.

And so here, in this small volume, the reader will find correspondence: (i) with the Canadian magazine Baha’i Canada going back to 1985, begun fourteen years after I arrived in Australia as an international pioneer; (ii) with the International Pioneer Committee begun as far back as 1979;  (iii) from the Canadian National Convention communications with pioneers overseas from 1990 and (iv) with several individuals and LSAs in Canada.  These two companion Volumes 4.1 and 4.2 provideany interested reader with what is, I hope, a useful correspondence from Canada to and from a pioneer overseas in the third and fourth epochs of the Formative Age.
Part 3:

V.S. Pritchett refers to George Bernard Shaw as an “industrious apprentice” who gives his readers a chaos of clear arguments in his collected letters. He says Shaw’s letters become predictable and monotonous. Shaw, Pritchett says, no longer dazzles. Shaw, he says, was addicted to words and to cleverness.4   There is a certain truth in these words of Pritchett as they might be applied to me. The term ‘industrious apprentice’ is one that has a ring of truth and is to my liking. Shaw may be predictable and monotonous but he is at least accessible as a person like Mozart was not. Mozart was inaccessible to his parents, his wife and he remains so to us.5   However intimate he was with his family he remained uninvolved. I think this is partly true of me. Certainly my wife often remarked on this.
After 35 years of international pioneering in Australia, I leave these files for now until some future time requires an updating.
1 James R. Lowell in The Letters of Emily Dickinson, Vol.1, T.H. Johnson, editor, Belknap Press, 1958, p.xix.
Christopher Ricks, Bechett’s Dying Words, Oxford UP, NY, 1996, p.205.
3   David Marr, Patrick White’s Letters, Random House, 1994, p.vi.
 V.S. Pritchett, The Complete Essays, Chatto and Windus, London, 1991, p.1220.
 Charles Harrison, Shakespeare’s Insistent Theme, The University of the South Sewanee, Tennessee, 1985, p.182.
Ron Price
10/2/00 to 30/8/'13.

ITEM #2:

Part 1:

As this 38th, 39th and 40th years of pioneering take their course across the line of time I thought I would try to make a brief summary of this letter writing experience, an experience which goes back to the first letter I received from Cliff Huxtable in St. Helena in 1967. As I have pointed out before there were letters received and mailed going back as far as about 1962 but I have not kept the letters from the period before 1967.  There are many letters after 1967, at least up to about 1980, which were destroyed.  Some of these may be in private hands but, since I have no fame, no significance in the public eye, it is unlikely that any letters are being kept in private hands.
If one tried to get a picture of the hey-day of my letter writing I think it would be in the 1980s when I lived in the north of Australia.  I do not have any interest in going through this collection of letters from 1967 to 2001 in some seventeen two and three ring binders. Perhaps a future day will see me making some minute analysis of the extent and the content of these letters. Perhaps, should their potential value become more evident to me, I shall take a more serious interest in my letters.  Thusfar I have made only the occasional annotation to my letters. I have also taken only a very general interest in the collections of letters of other writers. 

Specific letters relevant to the history of the Cause in the Northern Territory I have kept in special files as resource material to help me write that history and at some future time I will return them to a Baha'i administrative body in the NT.  Much more collecting of letters written by Baha'is in the NT could be done by history writers and archivists with greater enthusiasms than I.  I have opened a file of 'introductions to collections of letters' and have kept additional notes on the genre because I think in the years ahead I may write a history drawing on letters, mine and others.
Part 2:

Letter writing has occasionally been a routine, perfunctory, exercise; occasionally a joy, a pleasure, a delight; occasionally part of some job or community responsibility. “Letters were the very texture” wrote Henry James “of Emerson’s history.” There is certainly a texture here that is not present in the other genres of my wide-ranging autobiography. This texture is also a result of a new written form, the email, a form which was present in Volume 5 as well, but makes a strong appearance in this sixth Volume of letters.
A great deal of life is messy work offering to the artist irrelevant, redundant and contradictory clutter. Much of letter writing falls into this category; it spoils a good story and blunts the theme, like much of conversation it is random, routine and deals with the everyday scene, ad nauseam. But these letters tell of a life in a way that is unique, not so much as a collection of letters, for collections are a common genre over the centuries, but as a collection of letters in the third, forth and fifth epochs of the Formative Age of the Baha'i Era.  They present pictures that tell of a concrete reality, a time and an age, that I hope will stand revealed to future readers.  For what is here is, in part, spiritual autobiography and psychological revelation in a different literary form than my poetry.
These letters are, among other things, strands of experience woven into patterns, patterns in a channel, a channel that is letter writing, an expression of my art, a means of communication.  By the time this collection begins I had become exhausted by personal contacts. This was my reason for any apparent aloofness and any insistence on solitude that is found in either my letters or poetry. Perhaps, like Rilke, I had been "too responsive for (my) own peace of mind."1 Perhaps the letters are an indication of a "great need of imparting the life within (me.)."2 Perhaps they are simply a matter of pouring experience into a mold to obtain release, to ease the pressure of life. When inspiration to write poetry lagged I often turned to correspondence. It was a "handicraft", a tool among several others, that could keep me "at work in constant preparation for the creative moments."3 For the drama of my life, beginning with this volume of letters, was largely an inner one. The external battle went on but in a much more subdued form. "The tangled root" and "the tranquil flower" is here: cool detachment and an anguish of spirit.I leave it to future readers to find these roots and flowers. I trust their search will have its own reward.
Part 3:

I hope this opening comment on Volume 6 of Section VII of Pioneering Over Four Epochs sets an initial perspective of some value. These words, begun on 1 September 1999, were continued on 22 November 1999 and completed on 11 September 2002 after nearly three years in George Town.  During this time I worked on some thirty instalments of the History of the Baha'i Faith in the Northern Territory: 1947-1997.
Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke: 1892-1910, trans: J. Greene and M. Norton, WW Norton, NY, 1945, p. 12.
Ron Price
11 September 2002
PS The genre that Henry Miller enjoy writing most was 'the letter.'  "Long letters to close friends,"1 were his favorite pieces of writing. I must add that I, too, have come to enjoy this form of writing much more since retirement.-1Mary Dearborn, The Happiest Man Alive: A Biography of Henry Miller, Harper Collins, London, 1991, p.12.
ITEM #3:

After some 30 years, 1967-1997, of collecting letters into what became by the late 1990s Volume/File No.2, it has become necessary to divide Volume 2 into three files.  The collection of letters, like so many things in life, can be systematic but still not so systematic. Indeed, as I write out this introduction, I know that there is much that has never arrived into its respective section.   While this is not true for File No. 2.1, which I think is fairly comprehensive, it is true for Files No. 2.2 and 2.3 which feels like a strange melange of material which came together insensibly during the 1970s and 1980s and, by the 1990s, into separate files.   I'm not so sure it matters much that Files No.2.2 and2.3 are not comprehensive. For this collecting of letters was a slowly evolving exercise and, even now, I often wonder if it will have any ultimate value at all in the scheme of things.
I have prepared a 'letters section' for my autobiography Pioneering Over Four Epochs.  And as I head close to the age of sixty in 2004, I feel I have made a start to what could be quite a long and detailed exercise that could occupy much of my time if I took an interest.   Often many LSA letters never make it into their deserved and respective files. When I was on an LSA I made no effort at the time to collect what seemed relevant letters for what has become this personal file.  The cataloging of letters is a somewhat tedious exercise that I only began working at on rare occasions in my fifties.  Perhaps during the years of my late retirement I may give it more attention.  As I've said above, it is difficult to really know if any of this emphasis I give to collecting letters deserves any attention at all insofar as their ultimate significance is concerned. 
So much, in the end, depends on the future development of the World Order of Baha'u'llah, the significance given to international pioneers and their contribution over the four epochs concerned, that is, over the years 1944 to the present, 2003 and beyond, probably to 2021 when the first century of the Formative Age comes to an end. And so, while time takes its course and those mysterious dispensations of Providence move through the interstices of time and place, I continue to add, one by one, patiently and as thoroughly as I can, the relevant letters to this collection.
Ron Price
20 June 2003
End of Document at Lunch 
My Use of Notebooks--A 60 Year Retrospective: 1953 to 2013

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This full frontal facial photo was taken in 2004 when I was 60. The photo was taken in Hobart Tasmania. With its light and shadow, its light side and its dark side, it is an appropriate photo to symbolize … more
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