Rebirth of Reason


Triptych on September 11th
by Jane Yoder

The starkest of contrasts, black and white, distinguishes Ansel Adams' art and color codes the natural by technologic device. So too did Miles Ertman color morality in his New York skyline panorama while the World Trade Center still stood tall and proud. I have coupled Adams September photo of Colorado aspens straight but fragile with the Erman poster entitled Morality Made Visible on a simple, white, student display board. In particular I want Ayn Rand's message beneath the image of New York City to be a fountainhead for the image of objectivism. The panorama tops the streamer - "but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body." So said Ayn Rand in THE FOUNTAINHEAD.

However, the paragraph leading up to that statement has more impact for me. Rand said:

I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in the jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius that they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel.

I must admit to being one of those who "hearts" New York. I also remember a fairly new Empire State Building extolled by my family save when I wanted to look up at it from the stance of a five- year old holding Daddy's hand. I was told, "don't look up, people will think you're a hick." Guess I'm still a hick. And Rand's sentence about the shapes and the thought that made them has haunted me since September 11, 2001. Not only can I feel the desolation I experienced in the towers extinguished before my eyes but the frequency with which I notice thinking in images. At this moment I can hear my own pathetic voice saying over and over again, "but they're all gone."

Later, last fall, my daughter sent me snapshots of her trip into the city and one just dazed me -- in red, white and blue. We all know of the kiosks of memorials enshrined on street corners and building walls. One was contributed by a kindergarten class and consisted of an American flag hand-painted red stripes of "bloody" children's hands. That impacted my psyche which already retained Caesar's vanguished Gauls who were sent home, thousands of them, without their hands. Their own leaders had to wield the swords of amputation.

Bloody hands is a powerful image and "morality made visible" endures.

My old folks school offers a mélange of subjects, e. g. Caesar, Machievelli, Genome, Globalization, Great Music, and this year one I've titled Kit and Kaboodle Ayn Rand.

I want my "students" to walk into the triptych I've put together not solely in honor of the first anniversary. It is part of the imaging I intend to keep going for eight weeks on Chris Sciabarra's dynamics of triads as found in his TOTAL FREEDOM. In that tome he quotes a socialist (amen) who said "dialectics is the pulse of freedom."

To start, I think the impact of an Ayn Rand hovered-over city with quaking Colorado aspens a visual dialectic, not only in blacks and whites, but in manmade v. natural, urban v. rural, solidity v. fragility. The side panels quote the opening of Aeschylus' PROMETHEUS BOUND and snips of Michael Newberry's essay for TOC's NAVIGATOR.

Aeschylus sets up the reason for Prometheus' punishment so that he would learn "and cease to play the lover of mankind." Michael Newberry exalts the towers themselves saying "(t)hey were innocent; they believed in friendship, progress, creation. And joy." I want to emphasize SOLOists do not cease to love mankind and still believe as the towers did.

These words and scenes need to be shown one year later, especially in a classroom not many miles from the Haywood fire, Colorado's worst so far and set by a Forest Ranger. There is a dichotomy between manmade in reverse here. I want the imagery to reflect the destructive synthesis of fire and the challenging cauldron of creation. And as continuing the evidence of the senses, before I say a word, the class will hear Jupiter from Gustaf Holtz' PLANETS. The composer says Jupiter is the god of jollity. I too believe in Joy. And the pulse of freedom.

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