Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Location: George Town Tasmania Australia
|Posted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 7:22 pm Post subject: Going Back to the 1960s:Some Movie Reflections
|So much was happening in the wider political and social world in the sixties. It was being documented in books, newspapers, magazines and journals, on the radio, television and in the movies and has been since then as well. There is little need for me to tell any of the story here or, indeed, any of the multitude of versions of that history or the social analysis that might go with it. Matthew Hart, though, in his review of Christopher Hitchens book Why Orwell Matters, wrote that George Orwell illustrates, by his commitment to language as the partner of truth, that it is much more crucial how you think and how you express what you think. Orwell, Hart goes on, thought that "politics are relatively unimportant........principles have a way of enduring, as do the few irreducible individuals who maintain allegiance to them."
Orwell, Hart writes, was a man who struggled to master strongly-felt prejudices and emerge on the right side of history. The absorbing thing about his independence was that it had to be learned; acquired; won. The evidence of his upbringing and instincts is that he was a natural Tory and even something of a misanthrope. He had to suppress his distrust and dislike of the poor, his revulsion from the "coloured" masses who teemed throughout the empire, his suspicion of Jews, his awkwardness with women and his anti-intellectualism. By teaching himself in theory and practice, some of the teaching being rather pedantic, he became a great humanist.
There is no doubt that we all have to master many strongly-felt prejudices. If we are to see with our own eyes "and not through the eyes of others" and know of our "own knowledge and not through the knowledge of" our neighbour, as that great prophetic figure, Baha'u'llah, wrote a century and a half ago now, we will have to learn this, acquire this capacity, win this victory over intellectual and social conformity. My own upbringing and my own instincts provide a base for a battle I have been fighting and will fight all my life.
Some writers, like Barthes and Foucault, see the text as something quite different from the writer who writes. The text, they argue, exists quite separately from the author. As Barthes once put it: "I am my own symbol, I am the story which happens to me." They both see the text as something which consumes the writer. It consumes him to such an extent that both author and world become lost in the text; both endlessly disappear. Barthes claims that authors are the only persons, by definition, "to lose their own structure and that of the world in the structure of language." This gives writing a kinship, they continue, with death itself. In the process the self is obliterated. Both Barthes and Foucault agree, though, that writers must take responsibility for their work and must work with and through their institutions with the ideas in their written works. And so it is that this autobiography seeks the imprimatur of Baha'i institutional review and support, seeks a place in the Baha'i community and in a strange way, seeks to become something quite separate from the one who wrote it. I feel it is both me and not me in a curious sort of way.
I could list here a few of the events and the movies of the sixties just to capture some of the flavour of the times. They are events that had a tangential relationship with my life and, in a strange way, were both part of me and separate from me. But I shall resist that inclination. This post has already become far too long and for that I apologize to readers who prefer a few lines of print. Those raised on half a century of movies and TV have different print orientations. I shallreturn at a later date.-Ron price, Tasmania
married for 41 years, a teacher for 35 and a Baha'i for 49