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John Nash: A Beautiful Mind

Posted 17 Oct 2013 at 04:21 AM by RonPrice
Updated 31 Jan 2015 at 03:32 AM by RonPrice (To update the wording)

All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.
Swami Vivekananda

Part 1:

For many people, interaction with others provides most of what they require to find meaning and significance in life.1 It is the place where virtually everyone meets people, forms partnerships and marriage, raises children, and earns a living,among a host of other activities. For others, ultimate and the most significant of meanings are obtained from other sources.

Creative activity is a particularly apt, indeed, highly rewarding way to express oneself. Creativity is an activity that is often solitary, although group creativity is just as, or even more, common in this modern age. The productions which result from creativity are often regarded as possessing value to society but, of course,not necessarily.

In my life,beginning as it did in the 1940s, solitariness has been unavoidable and essential in one way or another, and so has human interaction. After more than fifty years of extensive interaction (1949-1999), I had come to the point in my lifespan where my employment, my interaction with others, and my health were causing me to feel an immense weariness, a certain tedium vitae, to draw on an old Latin phrase.

In the last year before I took an early retirement at the age of 55, I even had to take shots of testosterone to keep me going through my 15 hour days. Throughout the 1990s, as I headed into my final years of work as a teacher and lecturer, I increasingly felt the need for the solitary. I was moving, by sensible and insensible degrees, into a period in my life which I wanted to be characterized by a dominance of the solitary. I grew to the age of 3 in a household with three adults, my parents and my grandfather. By the age of 4/5 my social life had begun in earnest. By the age of 55 I wanted to write.
Part 2:

After some forty years of travelling-and-pioneering from place to place, and job to job, from one house to another, from one relationship to another, from deep and meaningful relationships to trivial, routine and difficult relationships, the time to finally stay in one place and, at the same time, to decrease the quantity of interaction with others seemed to have arrived. I was not entirely sure but, at the age of 55, I took a sea-change, moved to a little town where that human interaction would be minimal, and I could get off what had become life’s old treadmill for 60 to 80 hours a week. I could cease my work in life’s several salt mines, so to speak.

I wanted--as I say--to write and, gradually in the next decade, from 1999 to 2009, when I went on an old-age pension, I reinvented myself as: a writer and author, poet and publisher,editor and researcher, reader and scholar, online blogger and journalist. As I write this in 2015, I now have millions of readers in cyberspace.

Back in the late 1990s I wanted, like Robert Redford, “to be a private man doing his own thing in a remote place.”2 Like Robert Redford, too, I had had trouble attaining this dominance of the solitary. Now, though, after 10 years of retirement from: FT, PT and most volunteer work, 2006 to 2015, I have finally found that privacy, that remoteness and that solitary life.-Ron Price withthanks to: 1Sylvia Nasar, A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Nash, Simon and Schuster, NY, 1998,p.15; 2Minty Clinch, Robert Redford,New English Library, London, 1989, p.3.

There were always skads of people around back then in ’49, in ‘59, & again, and again until '99.
They were unavoidable, essential to my way of life. I accepted them like the air; they had always been there. And it stayed that way, in one way o another, until just the other day
when it became just me and my wife,1 a couple
of shopkeepers, my son and my step-daughter
dropping in, many good-byes to the Baha’is,
lunch or dinner with friends: the quiet life at
last, at long last,much the same as it had once
been long ago during those first memories….2

Getting closer to solitude, but never really
there, probably never really attainable, not
totally, for this commitment, this vision, is
all part of what Holley called: ‘this social
religion’ and social it is, with solitariness
only really desirable to a degree, a degree.3

Ron Price
26/6/’99 to 31/1/’15.

1 My son moved out of home about the same time that I had given-up all FT and PT work, about 2004 at the age of 60. My wife and I were alone for the first time in our marriage, with an empty nest, since our relationship had begun back in about April 1974. Between the first draft of this prose-poem in 1999, and its last in 2015, my son married and he and his wife had a daughter. One of my step-daughters also had a child, and these new arrangements brought grandchildren into our lives. My second step-daughter also became a greater part of our lives.
2 My first memory goes back to about 1947 or 1948 when I was an only child of older parents and my personal life was relatively solitary.
3 I have been associated with the Baha’i Faith now for more than 60 years, and this world religion, and its highly social emphasis, brings me even now in touch with people on a daily basis in one way or another. I keep this interaction, as the age of 70 heads toward 71 in the next 6 months, to about one hour a day on average, not counting the time with my wife.


The year before I retired from FT employment as a teacher and lecturer, Sylvia Nasar published, withSimon and Schuster, ABeautiful Mind: A Biography of John Nash. This week I watched the film that was based on this book and its subsequent screenplay. I place the following prose-poem below and following, as it does, the above piece on the nature of the social-solitary continuum in my lifespan because the content of this prose-poemalso draws on that same biography of John Nash.
__________________________________________________ ________

Section 1:

A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash(1928- ), an American mathematician who won the Nobel Laureate in Economics in 1994, the year I began to eye my retirement from a half century of life as a student-and-teacher. I won’t tell you about the film’s director or producer, its actors and the awards that the film won, or the money it grossed. You can read all that on the internet,if you are interested.

The story, the film,begins in the early years of a young prodigy, John Nash, who arrives at Princeton university as a graduate student in 1947. Early in the film, in 1959in fact, Nash begins developing paranoid schizophrenia. That was a big year forme; I was 15 in 1959, and the home-run king in a little town in a region of Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. That same year I also joined a Faiththat claimed to be the latest of the Abrahamic religions.(1)

Nash endured delusional episodes while painfully watching the loss, & the burden his condition brings on his wife and friends. He went in and out of psychiatric hospitals until 1970, as I was planning to come to Australia from my home in Canada and work in the city of Whyalla in the state of South Australia as a primary school teacher. The film ends with Nash receiving the Nobel Prize in1994.

Like most biographical drama, the film takes considerable literary or poetic license with the story. It is the same with historical fiction. If people want more accuracy in the lives of those about whom personal drama and bio-pics are made, they have to go to biography; even then biographers have a certain stance, a certain take, on the person concerned. That is why some critics of the genre say that a true biography can never be written.

Section 2:

In 2002 PBS produced a documentary about Nash entitled A Brilliant Madness which tells the story of the mathematical genius whose career was cut short by severe mental health problems. In Nash’s own words, he states:″I spent periods of five to eight months in hospitals in New Jersey, always on an involuntary basis, and always attempting a legal argument for release. It happened that, when I had been hospitalized long enough, I would finally renounce my delusional hypotheses. Iwould revert to thinking of myself as a human of more conventional circumstances. I would then return to mathematical research. In these interludes of, as it were, enforced rationality, I did succeed in doing some respectable mathematical research.”(2)

I took a special interest in this film because I suffered, during my seven decades in the lifespan, from several mental health issues beginning with a mild schizo-affective disorder and, then, bipolar 1 disorder. In the 300 page overview of my experience I mention several other mental health problems that I have had to deal with.(3) -Ron Price with thanks to: (1)The Baha’i Faith, (2)Wikipedia, 16/10/’13, and (3)Ron Price, 70 Years of A Chaos Narrative now located at several mental health sites.

Section 3:

Our auditory hallucinations
were on the same spectrum,
but yours lasted much longer
than mine with or without the
medications…I only got hit in
two episodes, but ECTs and
medications sorted me out; &
problems with what is called
compliance were not as bad in
my case. I thought that the film
could have been more accurate
in its handling of the treatment
for paranoid schizophrenia; the
film’s use of the insulin shock
therapy frightened the pants off
of the millions in the population
who saw the film, gave psychiatry
yet another pejorative pubic-image,
and discouraged people with mental
health disorders:schizophrenia, BPD,
and other mental health sufferers from
taking medication….thus simplifying
what is a very complex health problem.

Ron Price

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