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Ring Lardner And Jazz In The 1920s


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Ring Lardner* was a popular humorist, the funny-man of the 1920s, an authentic commentator on American society in its frantic flowering. He was the chronicler of a moribund social order, of the diversions of a period bent grimly on pleasure. While he was chronicling the material successes of the wealthiest nation on earth, the Baha’i Cause evolved into a distinctive and exclusive religion under the guidance of Shoghi Effendi. -Ron Price with thanks to Maxwell Geismar, Writers in Crisis: The American Novel 1925-1940, E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1971, pp.3-36; and Peter Smith, “Reality Magazine: Editorship and Ownership of an American Baha’i Periodical”, From Iran East and West: Vol.2, Kalimat Press, 1984, pp. 135-155. :)



You told of the complacency, Ring*,

that kept a generation, an age,

from getting even close to the new light

that had cast its first rays of Order

over a western sky.


You told of a vanity, of an incapacity

to learn, even survive, as people jumped

into chasms that over-confidence had hidden,

into a narcissism that closed down

the bigger picture, hid the light of that Order.


You told us of the Jazz Age, its myths

and beliefs, your anger and disillusionment,

your hatred of aggressive American capitalism,

its final covered wagon, camping ground

and an outrageous individualism

always covering the light.


Such an emptiness in your portraits;

no deeper answers found here,

no historical perspective, spiritual stability.

The whole scene was all too fast, too new,

fleeing the Calvanist fires, on a merry-go-round.


A cultic milieux of religious esotericism

and inclusivism had given us a sense of being part

of a forceful current of social change

not some small religious collectivity, but slowly

organizational exclusivity changed that ethos. :D


You could say we became a religion back then,

Ring, not just a spiritual attitude;

we acquired a communal cohesion

and distinctiveness, throwing off

an extreme epistomological individualism

and any cult of personality

as an undesirable heterodoxy. :ph34r:


Ron Price

4 March 1996

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