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Clive James, man of many talents, roles and names to fame, admits that on some occasions when he spoke he did not know what he was talking about. One can’t know the details about all the things one talks about over the many decades of living or one would have to confine oneself to only a few subjects. Your conversational life would be tedious. Clive has tried to absorb anything and everything that's new or rather, almost everything. He says that he can't abide hip-hop. The motivation behind his huge body of work: essays, poems, books, inter alia--is partly, he says, his sense of responsibility which began in childhood. He also has had a desire to: (a) use his time well and (B) experience the pleasures and fruits of solitude.

James's literary and verbal artistry lies in his ability to seem both casual and careful on the one hand and serious and well-read on the other. He observes an imperfect world with acerbic off-handedness and humour. He displays a formidable erudition and a giddy love of pop culture. So much of our culture, its history and its present, infuses James's prose and his wit blossoms when he is interviewed.

Writers, James emphasizes, often speak with a special pontificating voice. That voice, James continues, strives for integration and a certain judiciousness even in its doubts. That voice also purports to contain the distilled wisdom of a lifetime's experience. Almost always, he says, that voice of the writer is at odds with the personality from which it emerges. “In my case the discrepancy is so glaring that even I can spot it,” he says engagingly with a proverbial twinkle in his eye. He introduced one of his columns about the mess that exists in his study and on his desk with the following question: “Are we able to think clearly when surrounded by mess because chaos is inherent in all our minds, even those of the great writers and thinkers?--Ron Price with thanks to “Denton: Elders,” 30 November 2009, ABC1, 8:00-8:30 p.m. and several interviews and columns of Clive James available on the internet.

It’s always a pleasure, Clive,

although I can’t say I’ve read

all your 30 books;there is too

much else which catches my....

fancy, my mind and emotions...

You said a good deal tonight

which pleased my sensory and

intellectual emporium...your

words about creativity & sex;

your comments about our wide-

wide-world thrown off with an

insouciance and concern, with

a humour and seriousness as..

befits your life in the world

of erudition and pop-culture-

entertaining the mass as you’ve

travelled your road during these

epochs: you are my contemporary

Clive, just a little bit older and

so much more well-read: how

on earth did you do it, Clive??

How did you do it, Clive?????

Is this all there is, Clive, this life?

Ah well, we can’t agree on every line

of thought, can we Clive, eh??(1)

(1) my Bahá'í beliefs posit an afterlife. But whatever one believes regarding an afterlife, in the end, we are all agnostics, since belief and knowledge are different things.

Ron Price

1 December 2009

Updated for artfreaks.com

On: 3/12/'10


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