WITHDRAWAL AND RETURN

Many writers, artists, poets, people in the world of culture and the arts, go into seclusion after their early successes. In a radio program today, Arts Today, two such writers were mentioned: J.D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon. Others go into seclusion later in their careers. It is part of a general pattern which the historian Arnold Toynbee calls "withdrawal-and-return. " Others call the axis along which specific changes or rhythms take place 'approach-and-separation.' Sometimes the artist will withdraw and never return. Sometimes he will return or approach in a more moderate way than he had originally. I have, recently, withdrawn or separated from quite an intense milieux of employment and community work and I have returned in a moderate way. Various factors predisposed me to go inward by the last years of my middle age, the years 55 to 60. This process of a withdrawal into solitude is hardly observable except to friends and relatives with whom one has some close connection by birth, by marriage or by lengthy association. In the case of J. D. Salinger it was observable because he had become a famous writer and the world wanted contact with a person who had become by degrees a recluse. Insight comes from an inner gestation, a Socratic wisdom associated with knowing yourself, a personal growth. Such was the view of Salinger. For Salinger this social reversal brought drama, change, intensification and new landmarks on a personal quest. It was a personal quest which ended today.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 29 March 2001 and updated on the day of Salinfer’s death: 30/1/’10.

Shocking public events
have inspired this poetic,
catastrophic happenings
to someone born in 1944,
to someone who tried to
find the Kingdom come
with power and has now
seen nearly half a century
of its slow establishment
around this global world.

Here are enough themes
to occupy time, energy &
the genius of a dozen men:
historians, sociologists and
philosophers—an inspiration
from another realm, a most
wonderful and thrilling motion,
fifty years of it, drying out my
intellectual eyes with a series of
barren fields and psychically
winding my mind with a new
fertility that surpassed all that
I had experienced in life, filled
my days with a revivifying breath
or I would have died in a wasteland
without a wimper amidst stony rubbish.(1)

(1) T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland, line 19.

Ron Price
30 March 2001
updated: 30/1/’10