|Mr. Tower writes about the possibility of creating mass-marketable commodities that represent or promote the Objectivist filosofy. This is not a poor suggestion; I have myself once wandered through several shopping malls, looking for a simple dollar-sign keychain. I have instead found crosses of all sorts, peace signs, Daoist "yin-yang" symbols, and various other mystical parafenalia that does not attract me in the slightest. Objectivism would benefit from additional products promoting the ideas behind it. |
But I do not think that this marketing should be confused with "pop-culture" of the brand that I criticize. The leftist pop-culture is inherently irrational; while the commodities of Objectivism would depend on the customers' individuality and rationality for their purchase, the leftist items, music, and ideology depend on blind, unthinking, herd-style acceptance. There is a gulf of a difference between these two modes of proliferation, and it must not be ignored. I will never engage in mass orgies of distortion before a DJ, even if he does chant, "Capitalism, Capitalism, Rah!Rah! Rah!" Embracing individualism in theory should not lend itself to collectivism and decadence in practice.
The particular items marketed by Objectivists will also inherently differ from those of the mass culture. As an example, the music produced by Objectivist composers is (and will be) rich instrumentally and intended for deliberation and rational analysis, not hip-swinging. Though it is possible to envision an Objectivist form of dance, it will likely be (and should be) artistic and professional (like ballet) or require considerable grace in its performance in social gathering (like waltzes and minuets).
I agree with Mr. Elliot that we are the rebels and the hippies are the paradigm, and we need to turn the cultural tables in order to portray these orientations as they in fact are. (The Reagan T-shirts are an interesting idea, I admit, and I do not deny their efficiency in carrying across support for an individual far more rational than the paradigm of his time).
As for Seinfeld, Mr. Elliot, what is your definition of "funny?" I do not consider a banal, cynical outlook on the human condition funny. Nor do I find humor in the lewd expressions and occasional public exposition of flesh that one encounters on Seinfeld.
Here is my interpretation of what is true humor and what is sacrilege (from http://solohq.com/Articles/Stolyarov/A_Critique_of_Murray_Rothbards_Sociology_of_the_Ayn_Rand_Cult_(Part_2_of_3).shtml)
"Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer. It's simple. Tell them to laugh at everything. Tell them that a sense of humor is an unlimited virtue. Don't let anything remain sacred in a man's soul-and his soul won't be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you've killed the hero in man. One doesn't reverence with a giggle." So declares Ellsworth M. Toohey, the arch-collectivist from Rand's other literary epic, The Fountainhead. Humor within certain bounds can be employed as a means of comprehension or enjoyment. An innocent joke, a paradox, a satire sharpen an individual's reasoning ability while amplifying his rightly gained pleasure. Humor can be employed to expose the horde of fallacies, buffooneries, and hypocrisies plaguing modern society, and is thereby a potent educational tool. However, humor must not be employed to sneer at a man's self-image, at, in Rand's words, "the sacred temple of his soul," his genuine ambitions, his sense of life, and the joy that he takes in living by principle and practice. This is the difference between a laugh and a giggle. A laugh is the call of a giant, resonating with an ecstatic appreciation of his own existence. A giggle is the buzzing of a pest around the giant's head, in preparation for inserting a stinger where it hurts, the most sacred reaches of a man's mind.
What does Seinfeld undertake but sneer at man's self-image?