Lots of Stuff On the Great Gatsby
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: George Town Tasmania Australia
THE GREAT GATSBY
Baz Luhrmann, the audacious director of The Great Gatsby, is packing enough box office muscle to knock even Iron Man from the No 1 spot.
He got off the plane this week from Cannes to be greeted by the news that his $180 million adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary classic was at the top of the international box office, 10 days before its Australian release on May 30. With this film in the air this week, I thought I’d post a few items, several personal perspectives, which I’ve written over the last few years about this famous novel, novelist, and some historical, some sociological and psychological perspectives.-Ron Price, Tasmania.
They were a whole race going hedonistic, deciding on pleasure. -Scott Fitzgerald in Freud, Religion and the Roaring Twenties: A Psychoanalytic Theory of Secularization in Three Novelists--Anderson, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Henry Idema III, Rowman & Littlefield Pub., 1990, p.5.
An old world was dieing
all around them as they*
laid the foundation for
the new one so few knew.
At the Somme and
dull thunder of the guns,
the trench warfare
saw millions die while
He quietly penned more
Tablets** for a different
kind of war for a new Order.
It was just then taking its
first form as that great war
was enduing and orders were
changing directions and forms.
But it all happened so quietly
as noise changed the face of Europe,
as religions died on the battlefield
and people in the millions turned to
sex, alcohol and secular substitutes.
They roared into the twenties with
the flapper, bathtub gin, howling jazz,
silent screen movies, lavish mansions,
sleek automobiles, and lots of glitter
and tinsel--missing the first formative
years of an Order that would change
the face of history, and exhaust the
energies of a young man and make him
old before his time; holding the world,
the new Order on his shoulders was too
much as the world went hedonistic, went
for pleasure—and millions still are caught.
* they='Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi
** Tablets= Tablets of the Divine Plan
Ron Price 5/4/’96 to 22/5/’13.
EARLY PACKAGING BY AN EAGLE’S WINGS
All the sad young men of Scott Fitzgerald, and the lost generation of Ernest Hemingway, are seekers for landmarks and bearings in a terrain for which the maps have been mislaid. Theirs was the God-abandoned world of modernity where individuals define their own code, summon the necessary discipline, if possible, and make their story: tragic, pitiful, human, an infinity of secular trajectories through space, with nature as all and nothing at the centre, except perhaps a slowly crafted self with all its ambiguities and mysteries, some old and tired religion, and immense quantities of popular-literary psychology. -Ron Price, with thanks to Robert Penn Warren for his “Ernest Hemingway”, Modern Critical Views: Ernest Hemingway, editor, Harold Bloom, Chelsea House Publishers, 1985, pp.35-62.
The Order was just taking form, then,
and happiness far removed from the
glitter-and-tinsel of mere sensations,
astonishing immediacy, flourishing
moments of now…A freshness was
found in depth and poignancy in a
vision of oneness quite profound
and a background of civilization
gone to pot, war and death with a
gratification raised to cult-status—
sensation…A whole new basis for
the intellect deeply laid in the life
of a new God-man, two God-men,
three God-men now all gone: and
charisma institutionalizing, just
beginning to form in this new &
technologically united world.
For this new Form had been watered
with the blood of martyrs and more than
a century* of searching, finding, intense
discouragement, sweat and tears. Here
was new meaning, new wine in new bottles,
not just the accidents, changes and chances
that seem to form this mortal coil and human
nature struggling intensely within confines.
Private spaces with fate, self and all that makes
this life of grandeur and emptiness, pleasure and
pain, simplicity and staggering complexity, small
places and an infinite universe. Here were faintest
beginnings back then, the earliest architecture: all
that pain and wonder packaged in an eagle’s wings.
26/2/’96 to 7/4/’13.
* Shayhk Ahmad left his home in 1792 and there followed a century of searching for the Promised One until 1892 when Baha’u’llah died. Slowly, after Baha’u’llah’s passing, the institutions of a new world Order began to form, especially after 1921. In the 1920s and 1930s, when F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, among others, did most of their writing it was a remarkably creative literary epoch in America. The Baha’i administrative order, the precursor of a future world order, took the form which was necessary for the international teaching plan to operate within.
THE AGE WE LIVE IN
It is not so much my authorial ego, or that I am a compulsive self-historiographer, which compels me to document my life more fully than most. All this poetry is my workshop where my awareness of life expresses itself quintessentially. I also see myself as part of a global pattern, a representative figure, part of a mytho-historical process which may be of use to future generations. I was born into a new age with the Kingdom of God just beginning when I was nine years old. In my lifetime the Baha'i administrative process, the nucleus and pattern for a new Order, went through a radical growth period. I have been committed to the promises and possibilities of this new way of Life.1
As F. Scott Fitzgerald was committed to and had a belief in American life in the 1920s, as American was going through new beginnings so, too, do I feel strongly, passionately, a new commitment, a new belief and new beginnings.
George Bull points out in his introduction to his massive biography of the life of Michelangelo that people are often best understood "in the crowded context of the significant changes and continuities of the age."2 The age I have lived in and through has also faced "significant changes and continuities." My life, I have little doubt, can be understood, too, as Michelangelo's and so many others have been understood, in this same general context of their age. -Ron Price with thanks to 1 Matthew Bruccoli, editor, The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, NY, 1945, p.vii; and 2George Bull, Michelangelo: A Biography, Viking Press, 1995, p.xviii.
I, too, saw myself as coming at
the end of a historical process,
so complex, staggeringly so. It
had its beginnings in the district
of Ahsa, those birds flying over
Akka, & those Men with beards
and I identified with it strongly.
I was born near the start of yet
another Formative Age:would
it last as long as the Greeks?1
I understood profoundly well
the claims of this new belief
as you did the claims of your
craft.2 I was, like you, fortune's
darling in this new age & I was,
too, the shell-shocked casualty
of a war that was more complex
than any of us could understand.
1 the Formative Age in ancient Greek civilization lasted from 1100 to 500 BC; this one which took place in modernity began 23 years before I was born and it’s still going strong.
2 F. Scott Fitzgerald, arguably the major American writer between the wars: 1919-1939.
A GREAT TURNING POINT
In July 1937, in the third month of the first organized and systematic Bahá'í Plan(1937-1944), Sheila Graham(1904-1988), met the famous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was reminded of this tonight while watching The Great Gatsby. This 1974 screen version which I watched tonight is the most famous of the several translations of this novel into cinema. Mia Farrow had the role of Daisy Buchanan and Robert Redford of Gatsby. The screen version which opened in May 2013, may just trump that 1974 edition.
Graham immediately fell in love with Fitzgerald so we are informed in several biographies. Graham was an English-born nationally syndicated American gossip columnist for 35 years especially during Hollywood's "Golden Age.” Hollywood’s Golden Age is said to have lasted from the the end of the silent era in the late ‘20s in American cinema, to the late 1950s.
I was able to enjoy a decade of that Golden Age viewing movies as I did from 1949 to 1959 from the years of my middle childhood to middle adolescence. Sheila Graham told some of that Hollywood story in her columns. Thousands of movies were issued from the Hollywood studios in that Golden Age. It is said that Graham wielded the kind of power that could make or break careers.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was the author of The Great Gatsby(1925), a literary classic. The 1920s, like the 1850s and the 1890s, was a period of exceptional literary creativity in America, illuminating the cultural complexities of the decade. Graham was quoted as saying, "I'll only be remembered, if I'm remembered at all, because of Scott Fitzgerald."
Sheila Graham’s autobiography, Beloved Infidel, chronicled her relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald. She played a part in immortalizing his life through that autobiographical account. Edmund Wilson (1895-1972), an American writer, literary and social critic, as well as noted man of letters wrote, in a long review in The New Yorker, that Graham’s Beloved Infidel was ''the very best portrait of Fitzgerald that has yet been put into print.''
That account was a best-seller and became a movie in 1959 starring Deborah Kerr as Graham and Gregory Peck as Fitzgerald. I knew nothing about that movie in 1959. We had no TV; my mother had sold it; if I saw the movie at the local Roxy Theatre I have no memory of the experience. I was 15, a star baseball player in my small home town, in love with a girl around the corner from my house, and had just joined a new religion.1
Fitzgerald and Graham shared a home and were constant companions while Fitzgerald was still married to his wife, Zelda. Zelda was institutionalized in an asylum at the time. Graham protested her description as his "mistress" in her book, The Rest of the Story, on the basis that she was "a woman who loved Scott Fitzgerald for better or worse until he died." They were together only 3-1/2 years, but her daughter reports that Graham "never really got over him." During those three years, Scott outlined a "curriculum" for her, and guided her through it. She later wrote about this in detail in A College of One.
Upon Fitzgerald's death, seeking a respite from the social demands and frantic pace of covering "the film capital of the world," Graham arranged for an assignment as a foreign correspondent in London. This also afforded her the opportunity to demonstrate her abilities as a serious journalist. Her first interview was with George Bernard Shaw, and she would later file another with Britain's war prime minister, Winston Churchill. Her brief respite from Hollywood would stretch to the conclusion of the war.2-Ron Price 1joined the Baha’i Faith in 1959, and gives his thanks to 2Wikipedia, 19 April 2010.
That best-seller came out
the year I joined this new
world Faith back in 1959.
I took an interest in all this
watching Last Call on TV.
This teleplay, I’m told, was
like Beloved Infidel; it was
the story of the last years of
Scott Fitzgerald’s life when
the structural basis of a new
world religion, administrative
order, was firmly laid. This was
the greatest of the collective acts
of that community of Baha’is up
to that point in the long ago first
half-century of its young, arduous,
and stony history in North America
with the future of civilization in its
bones but, alas, so very few knew.
The culmination of that 50 year long
labor had come to a close with victory,
a fame, undying....in the service of that
greatest human being ever to walk on the
earth’s surface: Bahá'u'lláh, little did that
famous writer know of this turning point
in the history of this Faith, this climacteric,
in his final hour as history’s greatest war
had opened with the death of 60 million
about to be part of our modern history.
19/4/’10 to 22/5/’13.
SECOND TO NONE
Knowledge, while initially analytic and divisive, in its higher manifestations can be unifying and integrative. Constant and eager observation, which brings in the sweetnesses of perception in their intensity and diversity, unites with the vital forces of intellect and wisdom. It can produce a purity and energy, partly due to a rich and fertile mystery that struggles against the spiritual attrition of daily experience. -Ron Price with thanks to Robert Milder, Reimagining Thoreau, Cambridge UP, NY, pp.109-117.
So we saunter toward the Holy Land1
as we have for many a long year, but
our vision is less clouded now that the
mountain is brought near to our eyes.
For some, their pace has quickened;
sauntering has been replaced by run.
Soon you’ll watch their paces quicken,
to the world’s holiest place-2nd to none.
15/6/’96 to 22/5/’13.
1 The last line of H.D. Thoreau’s Walking and the final line of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
They had found a colossal vitality,
a dazzling golden thing, an ideal
in a land of the first mass promise,1
the new promise, and His promise.
An unshakeable process of quest
had been set-in-motion by beauty,
entranced by beauty, by a Blessed
Beauty so few knew, yet, set as they
were, the many, in drudgery, in the
crippling, cynical, sensibility, of an
affective impoverishment, in a new
technology’s sensory gratifications,
driven by heightened sensitivity to
the praises and promises of our life.
It was, among other things,
a pleasure-seeking world,
of advanced magical affluence
& destitution in lands of glamour.
None of it delivered the goods,
abandoned by God, it seemed,
or did that world abandon Him?
The moment was dreaded,
aspirations, a hunger, for the
scenery of leisured opulence
and everywhere restlessness,
the hell of frenetic passivity,
and a vast purposelessness.
1 This was the first large mass market, mass consumption, society from 1919 to 1929.
8/1/’01 to 22/5/’13.
After watching Last Call (2002) with Jeremy Irons playing Fitzgerald, a film which describes the relationship with Frances Kroll during his last two years of life. The film was based on the memoir of Frances Kroll Ring, titled Against the Current: As I Remember F. Scott Fitzgerald (1985). That memoir records her experience as secretary to Fitzgerald for the last 20 months of his life.
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