|Well, I'm glad that everyone's good will brings us back from the brink. :)|
Michael does say something ~very~ important: "Concerning gleaning AESTHETIC theory, i.e. philosophical theory, from the Fountainhead both Teets and Sciabarra dismiss it. Is that dialectic? Or open-minded? Illegal in the scholarly community? Or perhaps it is too difficult to do because it is not spelled-out in non-fiction forms? I really don’t comprehend this. One wants to discuss Rand’s view of the meaning of architecture as art and Rand the novelist/philosopher wrote a book about an architect loaded with aesthetic insights into the field…how can this not be included in any meaningful discussion on architecture and aesthetics?"
I agree with you ~completely~. I think that there are ~plenty~ of theoretical, intellectual, and philosophical lessons to be gleaned---not only from THE FOUNTAINHEAD but from virtually ~all~ of Rand's fictional writing, including the
unpublished stuff. You will get no argument from me at all. In fact, whether one agrees or disagrees with Barry Vacker's work, he has developed some very creative theoretical implications from THE FOUNTAINHEAD in FEMINIST INTERPRETATIONS OF AYN RAND, and in our "Aesthetics Symposium" (Spring 2001, JOURNAL OF AYN RAND STUDIES). He locates in THE FOUNTAINHEAD an anticipation of 'chaotic' (as in 'chaos theory') factors in Rand's work---long before such theory was fully enunciated in the sciences. I, myself, have gleaned and integrated important precepts about the nature of power relations in the interactions of Rand's characters---which I've used in the construction of a "tri-level model" of Rand's analysis of how power functions on personal, cultural, and "structural" (political/economic) levels.
There is ~nothing~ wrong with viewing ~any~ of Rand's fictional works as philosophical works with important philosophical messages. This is a woman who defied the philosopher/novelist dichotomy quite explicitly, and anyone who ignores her fiction would be in deep trouble.
~But~. As in everything, you have to weigh what she does in her fiction and what she enunicates in her nonfiction---and you have to navigate between them. Several philosophers---e.g., Roderick Long and Neera Badhwar---have seen very different portraits of "reason" and "happiness" on display in her fiction and nonfiction; the fiction, say such philosophers, tends to be---for lack of a better word, "dialectical", while the nonfiction tends to be "linear."
I've long argued that if people were to ~just~ look at INTRODUCTION TO OBJECTIVIST EPISTEMOLOGY, they'd get a much more one-dimensional, "linear" view of Rand's theory of knowledge. By not integrating the lessons of her fiction, and her lectures on fiction-writing, nonfiction-writing, and aesthetics, one would lose a whole dimension of Rand's understanding of mind, especially the so-called "tacit" or "implicit" factors that are operative.
In any event, the approaches I've outlined above---Vacker, my own, and others---almost all involve an act of ~interpretation~ that ~might~ depart somewhat from Rand's formalized, articulated, philosophical statements on any number of subjects. And when those tensions are introduced between, say, her fiction and nonfiction, one has to do a lot more work to pull out the theoretical implications and to ~integrate~ them into a seamless whole. I'm not saying it is impossible; I'm just saying that it is an act of interpretation, and by its nature, it will involve us in a discussion of who is more ~consistent~: not only with Rand, but with reality---which, for Objectivists, is the guiding principle.
When all is said and done, it may be that Michael and Peter have gleaned principles from THE FOUNTAINHEAD that help us to "dialectically transcend" any utility/art dichotomies on display in Rand's nonfiction writings. But that does ~not~ erase the fact that Rand ~did~ introduce those dichotomies into her nonfiction writings, which Torres & Kamhi, whatever their virtues, whatever their flaws, have highlighted.
In the end, I don't think that even T&K mean to denigrate architecture. They may argue over its status as "art", they may hammer away at "problematic" and "conflicting" statements in Rand's corpus, but Michelle has written: "This is not to depreciate the importance of architecture or to deny its power to affect human experience."
On that, none of us is in disagreement.