March 4th, 2007, 07:01 AM
Creativity and Civilization
A TITANIC UPHEAVAL
British historian Arnold Toynbee wrote that “When we see a creative spirit abandoning the traditional style of his society in any field of artistic activity and seizing upon some exotic style instead, we may suspect that the world on which he is turning his back is a ‘city of destruction’….or, in Platonic language, it is about to suffer the fate of foundering “in the fathomless gulf where all things are incommensurable.’1 Certainly in the arts in which I work, creatively and not-so-creatively, there is much that is, indeed, incommensurable. -Ron Price with appreciation to Plato, Politicus, quoted in Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 4, Oxford UP, NY, 1939 (1962), p.27.
Creation, creativity, Arnold Toynbee goes on to say,1 “is a civilization’s raison d’etre. It has certainly become a good measure of my own raison d’etre. And as the foundering ship of my society has been quivering before her final plunge, I dive into the water of my own abilities and creativity and swim away with all my might. As “the most great convulsion” goes through its darkest hours, as the “blasts of His chastisement”1 beat upon humanity and as the driving power of some tempest sweeps across the face of the earth, I have seized upon many things in my life to bring me and my society alive and safe to our journey’s end. Early in my youth I became a strange passenger on a new, a subtle, a complex and untried craft, a new institutional matrix that had just been born as the tempest began to blow. Now, in the evening of my life, I have developed a style of writing which is not so much exotic as it is an amalgamation of styles in an effort to give expression to the wonderful and thrilling motion that had its inception in the earliest years of my life and is now permeating to all parts of the world. -Ron Price with thanks to 1ibid., p.79.
Long ago I broke out of my
hereditary social framework
in which I could not live and
have my being, in which my
creative powers simply could
not breath, dwell and survive
and I set myself into a new
framework in which my powers
insensibly found and were offered,
an outlet, a goal, a task, to help
bring into being a Wondrous Vision,
the brightest emanation of any man’s
mind and the fairest fruit of the fairest
civilization the world has yet seen.
The powerful operations of the
titanic upheaval of my time have
slowly become comprehensible
to the generations of the half-light.
They see its genesis, its direction,
its necessity, its mysterious processes
and they try to mitigate its fury
while anticipating with undimmed
vision the fears and hopes
it must necessarily engender.1
1 Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, 2nd Indian Edition, 1976, p.2.
April 25th 2006.