PREFACE TO VOLUME ONE OF my JOURNAL

Until I lived in Katherine in 1982 and until I got a copy of my grandfather’s life story from 1872 to 1900 I did not keep a journal. As I recall I don’t think I ever took the idea seriously. This volume attempts to recreate the past by writing the journal retrospectively. Future volumes are actual diary entries not the recollections of many years ago. Other genres, especially my narrative Pioneering Over Four Epochs and my poetry, make up for the absence of a journal before my years north of Capricorn: 1982-1987.

“What to leave out and what to put in? That’s the problem” says High Lofting in Doctor Dolittle’s Zoo. And so it is. “ There are two schools of thought concerning the permissible methods of autobiography. One school emphasizes the use of historical, biographical, materials. The other allows a fictional element, indeed, any form the autobiographer chooses. In either case the self depends for its existence on verbal action.”(1) This journal belongs virtually entirely in the first school. By the time I was forty, in 1984, I began to feel ripe to be a diarist. I felt it would contribute to the legacy of international and national, or homefront, pioneering that is contributing so effectively and essentially to the growth of the Baha’i community around the planet, especially since 1937.

I think it was Henry David Thoreau who said “solitude can be well fitted and set right but upon a very few persons. They must have enough knowledge of the world to see the vanity of it and enough virtue to despise all vanity.” James Russell Lowell might have said this in his book about Thoreau.(2) I’m not sure, but by forty I was becoming well fitted to solitude. As I write this second edition of the preface to the first volume of my journal I have become even more fitted to solitude. I have now been a teacher-lecturer for twenty-five years, have attended Baha’i meetings and activities for forty years and have been a part of the social construction of reality enough to yearn for solitude when it comes my way.

This preference for solitude in my private life, after completing what is required by duty and its accompanying pleasures and anxieties, helps to some extent in making the diary entries with some kind of regularity. It took about a decade to experience any serious regularity in making diary entries. Then I found that the process took on a second stage, what I might call an episodic seriousness. Now, a little more than a decade, after making my first entry, my diary is beginning to assume some kind of meaningful whole. The process is beginning. I watch the process with interest and I am amazed at just how slowly anything weighty, meaty, with depth, falls on the paper.

Emily Dickinson says in one of her poems that “Fame is the tint that Scholars leave upon their setting names.”(3) I am a type of scholar. There are clearly tints of my life here in these volumes of diary. As I attempt to preface this journal with some overall statement of context I can find no more apt word for what will set over my life when I go beyond to the gates that open on the Placeless. I will leave a tint, a flavour, an indefinable something for future generations of pioneers, the many generations that the Baha’i community will require.

This is the second “introduction” to the first volume, volume 1.1, of my diary. By the time I came to finalize the text of this introduction it was ten years after the first draft was written. I had been able to accumulate many articles on journal or diary keeping by 2005. Some are found in Volume 4 of the journal and some in a three volume set I call Notebooks 1,2 and 3. Even now after more than twenty years of making diary entries the sense of direction is still elusive insofar as journaling is concerned.
_______________FOOTNOTES____________
(1) William Spengemann, The Forms of Autobiography: Episodes in the History of a Literary Genre, Yale UP, 1980, Introduction.
(2) James Russell Lowell in Henry David Thoreau, editor: Harold Bloom, Chelsea House Pub., 1987, NY, p.5.
(3) Emily Dickinson, Number 866.

Ron Price
8/12/’95
Revised 30/1/’05.
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