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Post 120

Sunday, September 10, 2006 - 7:22pmSanction this postReply
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A Wonderful Present! / A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ

I have to say, I really loved Michael's post 118, And Sharon's response (after phone calls,) was even that much better. Absolutely wonderful!

====

As an adult fantasy, infinitely more rewarding than Narnia, I am going to post a review that I have submitted to amazon and other web sites.

A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ

Walter M. Miller Jr.s' magnum opus, constantly in print from the date of its publication in 1959, this work is considered by many to be the most beautifully artistic work of Sci-Fi ever written. In three parts, (Fiat Homo, Fiat Lux, Fiat Voluntas Tua,) it traces the future history of man from a post-thermonuclear dark age, through the re-invention of electricity, and back to the brink of self destruction.

Written as an explicitly Roman Catholic and pre-Vatican II novel, the story revolves about a monastery named for the titular character, who never appears on screen. A basic knowledge of Latin or a willingness to look up a term every other chapter, and an ability to suspend any anti-Catholic bias will be necessary. But the work is one of worship for heroic effort, of principles upheld, and values passionately pursued. Miller's sense of history and discerning psychological skill lead to vistas and characterizations of Herbertian depth. With the wry dark wit of a Cold-War culture that produced Strangelove and Planet of the Apes, irony wrestles with ecstasy. Leibowitz is a Jew, canonized by the Church for accidental reasons. Spanning centuries, another strand woven through it is the apocryphal Christian persona, the Wandering Jew, condemned to walk the Earth 'til Christ return. Miller's language is unsurpassingly poetic, his words evoking imagery of Randian clarity. I have read this book three times through, as many as I have Atlas Shrugged. Miller was known primarily as a writer of short stories, often, as in Dark Benediction, of great skill and originality. He led a troubled later life, and never finished another novel. The posthumous, disillusioned and anti-climactic Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman was finished by a ghost writer. But this masterpiece, reviewed 196 times on amazon.com, has all the pathos and beauty of a great mediaeval cathedral, altar piece included.

Ted Keer, Sep 10, 2006, NYC



Post 121

Sunday, September 10, 2006 - 8:09pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

Montessori is saying that fantasy should be introduced to children as myth and magic, only after the youngsters have reached the age of reason; and are able to tell the difference between fact and fantasy.  To impose the fantastic too early, confuses children, at a time when they are still trying to grasp and master cause and effect, reversibility of action, and  to decentre and look at things from other points of view.  She wants adults to understand that the youngest of children are capable and desirous of learning so many factual significant things about the world; that it's a waste of their time to be distracted with the surreal. 

To deliberately give young children Mickey Mouse, is to treat them with less seriousness and less respect.  How does Mickey Mouse help children to become Objectivists?  Mickey Mouse appeals to the immediately accessible, the superficially flashy.  Is this what we should promote for developing minds?

I noticed that the book  Endangered Minds is referenced in the Dubovoy article.  I read this book when it was first published.  Commercial television is an extension of everything that Mickey Mouse stands for: don't trouble your little mind too much, we have everything all laid on for you.  Immediate gratification, vulgarity, consumerism, sugar-coating, the lowest common denominator, passivity.  

Montessorians are very disciplined individuals. They are about differentiation of the senses, refinement, deliberate actions, and skills in caring for the environment and the person.  

Getting back to Narnia... As it is based on Biblical characters, it has its place in cultural history; for children whose minds are able to understand and appreciate the meaning and purpose of a myth.

As for cartoon fantasies,  are they really worth it?  They are to quiet the masses.  Shouldn't Objectivist children be given the best we can afford?  Why did we bring them here? 

I have to agree with Montessori; even though she is a very hard taskmaster to backsliders such as I.  

Sharon 



Post 122

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 7:37amSanction this postReply
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Okay, I'm back to finalize my thoughts. 

Robert (The Rev) used his term "imaginating" in the active sense - a verb.  Which doesn't exist in the English language.  The next best thing is "imagine" - a verb.  My stance is still that Merriam-Webster makes no significant distinction between the verb imagine and the verb fantasize.  I understand the reasoning behind coining terms or phrases for explanation purposes, but I'm not convinced that it's necessary, at least not in this situation.

But all of that is nit-picking the original point that I asked to be clarified - isn't make believe, movies, books, etc okay just for the simple fact that it's fun?  I think it is.  I'm okay with that.  Ted, Ethan, Michael, thank you for helping me to understand why. 




Post 123

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 7:54amSanction this postReply
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Sharon,
Thanks for the link.  I've added it to my long list of required reading.  I think too often in this discussion we keep coming back to Santa which yes, is a form of fantasy, an un-truth that we tell our kids because it's traditional and Christmasy and so on.  I, personally, in this thread have been more concerned with entertainment type subjects as the original post brought up.  I want my child to be able to watch a movie or read a book that is considered fantasy or science-fiction and enjoy it. 

According to Ed and the Rev, I shouldn't be allowing my son to watch Sesame Street because a little furry red monster who has a goldfish for a pet could never exist in the real world.  I also shouldn't read to him from his Thomas the Very Useful Engine books because a train engine with a face could never exist.  I can't conceive of how either of these things are psychologically damaging.

Consider this.... my son has a toy lizard and one of his favorite games is to put it on my head.  I pretend to be horrified that I have a lizard on my head and he falls down laughing hysterically.  Now ten minutes later we might walk out on our front porch and see one of the many lizards who make a home in my flower bed and he would not dream of coming within 3 feet of it, much less picking it up.  He KNOWS that real live lizard is very different from his toy lizard.




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Post 124

Sunday, September 10, 2006 - 10:30pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

Thank you for the compliment and the reading suggestion. I will look out for A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ. It sounds interesting.


Sharon,

I am glad you settled this Xmas thing about your daughter. I have seen you write about this on other occasions, so it was obviously bothering you on some level.

It is strange seeing you on the side of the pooh-poohers. Normally you are the one defending human nature as it exists, not according to some utopian view, like one where an ideal man is molded by isolation from culture, repression and thought control when he is young - and this can be done under the banner of education.

You still did not answer my question about why children cannot have both fantasy and Montessori. Just complaining about Mickey Mouse and cartoons is not enough to stop kids from liking them. If kids like them inherently - and boy do they! - these things obviously strike a chord somewhere deep within the developing human psyche.

You ask why we shouldn't provide the best for our kids. Of course we should, but what does this have to do with denying them access to these cultural offerings? Censorship learned early does not provide very good fruit later.

Personally, I would much prefer to read about the success of Montessori's ideas that she adds to the human experience than trashing some of the stuff that provably brings pleasure to kids.

Give me a tiny Mickey Mouse junkie any day over a kid growing up dreaming about joining a street gang. I get the feeling that Mickey ain't too popular in the hood. But if there were an either-or choice that needed to be made, I believe the ghetto kid would take Mickey over Montessori any day of the week.

I just don't see the need for an either-or choice on this matter anywhere, poor or rich, dumb or smart. Ever.

Michael





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Post 125

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 8:24amSanction this postReply
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Regarding the definition discussion, I believe I have something pertinent to add.  My apologies if that discussion was "supposed to be over."  How about the following dialogue:

"Does the store carry grapes?"
"I imagine they do."

or..

"Does the store carry grapes?"
"I fantasize they do."

Using the word fantasize in this way sure sounds wrong to me, whereas using imagine does not--one concrete example of differentiation between the two.  Would you agree, Deanna?

********************
From an older Webster's, under "imagination":

syn IMAGINATION, FANCY, FANTASY mean the power to form mental images of things not before one.  IMAGINATION is the most general term and the freest from derogatory connotation; it may apply to the representation either of what is remembered, or of what has never been experienced in its entirety, or of what is actually nonexistent; FANCY applies esp. to the power of inventing the novel and unreal by altering or recombining the elements of reality; FANTASY implies the unrestrained and often extravagant or delusive operation of the fancy.

I think that clearly separates the two words.
********************

A question: if one doesn't go by dictionary definition OR popular usage, where can one find a definition for a word one does not know?




Post 126

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 8:44amSanction this postReply
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Thanks, Ben, and yes I do agree.  I'm the only reason that discussion is not over because it really should be.  I really need to let it go and stop nit-picking.  I'm kinda anal retentive that way sometimes.

Good question!  Perhaps it needs to go in a new thread?  I'd like to see it explored further and not lost in this Narnia madness.  haha




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Post 127

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 9:05amSanction this postReply
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I love the clarification of concepts!  To me, the experience of clarifying a concept can be an end in itself.  On many occasions, I had thought two words to be synonomous, then learned to distinguish them; I enjoyed the experience every time.  I don't think concern for proper definition/differentiation between words makes us anal.  Sometimes it's tangential and not totally relevant, other times it's crucial (in order to make sure you're talking about the same thing).  But to me, it's always fun.




Post 128

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 10:10amSanction this postReply
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Deanna:

Your post #123 was wonderful...although I don't think that Ed or Rev would necessarily disapprove of Sesame Street or Thomas "The Very Useful Engine"(?)...(Is he the same as Thomas the Tank?) I think they both may have come off a bit strong in their arguments, but I don't think they feel that strongly about it...of course, I cannot presume to speak for them, so I will let them answer for themselves, if they wish.
 
Ben:

Your posts #125 and #127 were great, too. Right on the money. Among other things, you said:
"On many occasions, I had thought two words to be synonomous, then learned to distinguish them; I enjoyed the experience every time."  You are not alone on that one.   :-)
 
John D. and Sharon:

Thank you for your words re: Ed and myself.
 




Post 129

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 11:39amSanction this postReply
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Hi  Deanna,    Steel Yourself

Please put those Montessori articles   http://www.montessori-ami.org/congress/2005sydney/papersd.htm    at the top of your to-read list.  From an intellectual point of view, your little boy is at a crucial moment of sensitivity.  Usually, Montessori schools won't admit children beyond a certain age because they are considered to have lost certain sensitivities.

In order to develop the mind in a systematic and logical way, Montessori has no equal.  You are at a crucial stage in your mothering. 

If you have visions of sharp thinking for your son;  next to your gift to him, of your own unconditional  love and attentiveness, nurturing that little boy's developing mind, is the second most important factor, for launching him into the best life he can live.   Toy manufacturers can't be permitted to decide what is most appropriate for stimulating a child's mind? 

Who would have your son's best interests at heart, Dr. Montessori, who lifted children up from poverty; or the Mattels, the Hasbros, and the Disneys; whose stock in trade is to create diversions?  

Children's play is their work, they have no time for diversions.  To what are they being diverted?  Why is that?

Now, if you think that you can bear to give your little guy second best, check out David Weikart's approach  here   http://www.highscope.org/About/allabout.htm      High/Scope follows loosely from Montessori, and is still cognitively oriented; but it features an open framework, without an insistence on the use of didactic materials.

You are one brave woman  Deanna, to come here and put your child-rearing beliefs under the scrutiny of quasi and critical thinkers.  

Objectivism is for Elites, they say;  but Montessori began in the tenaments.   Remember Ayn Rand's cautionary words;  "Judge, and be prepared to be judged".

Bruno Betelheim claims that it is necessary only, to be a "Good Enough Parent".

If you want, Deanna, take this conversation to the Parenting Forum.

All best to you
Sharon



 



Post 130

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 11:40amSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Sharon Romagnoli Macdonald on 9/11, 11:45am)




Post 131

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 6:50pmSanction this postReply
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Back Again Michael,

I think that you have misunderstood my motives.  I have no interest in defending human nature as it exists;   I am interested in discovering the optimum strategies for ensuring that infants, children and young people, are able to  grow and develop.  I'm a teacher.....I want things better.  I want the human condition to improve. 

To this end, I look to the ideals of Objectivism as the best so far, for living a flourishing life. 

Many years ago I made an informal study of Maria Montessori, and incorporated many of her lessons in practical life, into my classroom curriculum for four-year-olds. This would have been almost 40 years ago, when the only recognized training centres were in New York, London, and Rome.  It was many years later, that I discovered that Ayn Rand was also a fan of the Montessori Method.

As an Objectivist, you accept the notion that it is necessary to reason and apply logic before finalizing a decision.  As an Objectivist groupie, I try to do the same.

Now, you are asking me to let the common culture inform a parent's decision; and in effect, dumb down,  real life for young children.  This notion shocks me.  What children want: is to do everything that Mom and Dad do.  Montessori recognized this right away, and designed her children's houses in such a way as to "make the children equal to the environment".  Her other watchwords were the child's plea,  "help me to do it by myself".

I just ask you please, to inform yourself about The Montessori Method. Children can only play with whatever they are given, Michael.  Shouldn't they have what is best for  helping them to develop and integrate their mind and body?  Isn't the failure to achieve this integration, the thing that prevents even Objectivists from finding peace with one another?  Montessori Education and Objectivism are part of the solution.  Mickey Mouse is very insignificant in the scheme of  lasting quality.  All flash, and no susbstance.  He shouldn't be encouraged............. especially in the ghetto.

I'm leaving you now, to go and do some Googling to verify a rumour.   Please set aside some more time for Montessori. You'll be amazed. 

Sharon



Post 132

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 7:01pmSanction this postReply
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Hello Ted

I'm glad you were amused by my post.  Your posts certainly, are a source of entertainment, and enlightenment too, of course. 

About the Canticle,  I have been moving that book from one shelf to another, ever since one of the children had it in twelfth grade.  Perhaps I'll settle down and try to read it, myself.  I'm not usually attracted to fiction.

Sharon



Post 133

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 7:44pmSanction this postReply
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Sharon,

Thanks, just be aware that Canticle is steeped in Catholicism and must be approached as Rand approached Hugo. She may have disagreed with the values as they would apply in the real world, but appreciated the style and passion.

Ted



Post 134

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 7:54pmSanction this postReply
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John D. and Sharon,

Thank you for your kind words regarding Erica and myself.
 
Ed
[trying to be grateful -- yet, at the same time, minimize the hijack-factor]






Post 135

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 11:35pmSanction this postReply
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Any Other Submissions?

Sharon, don't thank me for finding your 119 amusing. It wasn't. It made me (the accused genocide) weep tears of joy.

There are many other Good works of fantasy that I could praise:
Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon,
Ursual K. Leguin's Earthsea Triligy
Tolkien's Silmarilion and more popular works
Watership Down...

Any interest?

(Edited by Ted Keer
on 9/12, 5:28pm)




Post 136

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 6:25amSanction this postReply
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Your post #123 was wonderful...although I don't think that Ed or Rev would necessarily disapprove of Sesame Street or Thomas "The Very Useful Engine"(?)...(Is he the same as Thomas the Tank?)
What do you use the engine for?




Post 137

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 6:36amSanction this postReply
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Chris,

I  was just wondering if Deanna hails from somewhere, like in Europe, for instance, where that particular character is known as something else. What she described sounded like Thomas the Tank here in the U.S.  (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in J.K. Rowling's native England, to give another example.)
 
Erica




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Post 138

Monday, September 11, 2006 - 8:17pmSanction this postReply
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Sharon,

You keep bypassing my question. You just wrote:
Now, you are asking me to let the common culture inform a parent's decision; and in effect, dumb down,  real life for young children.  This notion shocks me. 
That notion would shock me too if I, personally, ever promoted it. I didn't so I am not shocked at me.

Giving a child access to common culture is not the same as letting that culture "inform a parent's decision." Well, maybe, it is in the event the parents decide is to prohibit such contact, or they are simply negligent. I don't see the connection for any other kind of decision.

You know, Muslims in hardline Islamic countries feel strongly about restricting access of their young to certain kinds of information and culture. If you ask the parents, they will say they are doing what's best for the child and I am certain most of them are sincere.

I am very wary of that kind of mentality. So, here's my question another way. Is it possible to have Montessori without banning Mickey Mouse from the life of a child?

(btw - I do intend to read up on Montessori. So little time...)

Michael




Post 139

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 7:42amSanction this postReply
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Michael.

I hope that you have read enough of Montessori now, to realize that she, and I too, are aginst fantasy as a bromide for children.

Reality is what nourishes the mind of children who are in the Piagetian stages of sensory and pre-operational  intellectual development.

Once children understand conservation, and reach the stage of concrete operations, they understand games with rules. Now, fantasy can become a game. Up until this point, the use of fantasy creates confusion.  The child has no idea of what is concrete, before being asked to accept the ethereal. 

To impose fantasy on a child before the appropriate developmental stage, is pure self-indulgence on the part of the adult. The child doesn't seek fantasy; the child seeks the truth.  Why don't adults just give it to them?  Therein lies the most insidious conspiracy theory of all.  

Susan Coyne's memoir,  Kingfisher Days  chronicles a summer of  charming delight, played between fantasy and reality, where seeds were subtly planted in a child's already fertile mind.

Restraint is what is needed in raising children.  Everything that is done for children, should be deliberately chosen.  Raising children is like creating Objectivists.  Apply the same guidelines.

Forgive me for lecturing you like this, Michael.  You are the patsy for all those others who might be eavesdropping.    ,**,

Sharon





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