Rebirth of Reason

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Post 60

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 1:51amSanction this postReply
Mathew: "The poll was nothing more than an attempt to piss off those of us who feel the beauty in certain forms of rock/metal." Really, dear Mathew? Why should Metallica's inclusion in a list of the West's greatest artistic achievements piss you off? Have you perhaps had to check some premises? Have you re-read Chris's chapter on aesthetics yet? :-)

Post 61

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 3:14amSanction this postReply
Really, dear Mathew?
That seems to be the implication of you and Linz's initial posts to this thread.

Why should Metallica's inclusion in a list of the West's greatest artistic achievements piss you off?
Ordinarily it wouldn't, though I don't personally think Metallica would be near the top. But the issue here is why they were put into this specific poll. To quote Linz: "I think the idea of the poll in the mind of the person who conceived it - no, it wasn't me! - was to dare the cheerleaders for headbanging caterwauling to nominate Metallica as the acme of western civilisation, which, clearly, would be absurd...." blah blah blah. Its the same old fallacy (and it is a fallacy) that all rock/metal music falls into the same category. All most of the so-called "cheerleaders for headbanging caterwauling" have done is argue that some rock and metal groups are better than others on the grounds that their music is better and their content more intellectual and benevolent i.e. we excersised rational objective judgement.

Have you perhaps had to check some premises? Have you re-read Chris's chapter on aesthetics yet? :-)
No to both.

Post 62

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 5:00amSanction this postReply
Hey, Peter, why are you picking on my chapter on aesthetics in Russian Radical?  :)

As far as I'm concerned, I'm one of the very few people to place aesthetics at the center of Rand's philosophical system.  The chapter doesn't appear as an afterthought, or a postscript, as it does in so many other works on Objectivism.  Sometimes, people tend to forget that Rand herself was an artist, and she understood the role of art in human life by living it

Hence, however brief my formal discussion is, I place aesthetics at the very center, the core, of my exposition of Rand's Objectivism, in chapters 7 and 8, where I get to explore the many important epistemological insights that emerge from Rand's essays on art.    In fact, I think that anybody who confines their study of Rand's epistemology to Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology is doing great damage to their understanding of her theory of knowledge.  Rand's aesthetics essays, and her lectures on fiction-writing and nonfiction-writing, are crucial to our appreciation of all of those "implicit" or "tacit" levels of mind/consciousness that make us fully human.

Now, granted, I didn't get into all of Rand's aesthetic pronouncements---her specific views of Vermeer, Beethoven, or "Charlie's Angels" :); I thought it far more important to focus on the epistemological implications, and on the central questions that Rand asks:  What is art? And what is its function in human life? I left the broader and deeper exploration of Rand's aesthetic theory to others (like Kamhi and Torres; Bissell; York; and so forth) who were working on more formal presentations.

As far as this discussion goes:  I won't touch it with a 30-foot pole.  I have my own favorite songs (and that's a list that will be updated daily for the next few years, no doubt, given how long the list is!), and I appreciate many musical genres (from jazz to prog rock to classical to film scores), and I have many favorite paintings, sculptures, films, plays, and works of literature.  I have also been very critical of those who accept the lethal dichotomy of art and entertainment, as well as those aesthetic snobs who would quickly dismiss artists and their work simply because they are "popular." In fact, that theme is one that resonates in my essay on Mario Lanza, which will be posted on SOLO HQ tomorrow.

All of this doesn't mean that there are no "objective" standards. But there is a distinction between aesthetic response and aesthetic evaluation, and sometimes, I just wish people would be more concerned about how art speaks to them, personally, rather than to whether or not their specific responses are Politically-Correct by Objectivist Standards.

Post 63

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 9:14amSanction this postReply
Scott writes

"I wonder if Paglia actually read any Rand? Doesn't Rand say that reason and individualism is ~everyone's~ birthright? Snobbish? Because she is telling these same 'working class' peole that their lives are their own? And that happiness is within their grasp, if only they will think, and reach? Yeah, what a fucken elistist bitch that Rand was..."

I will answer this because I used to agree with you, and a few years ago I would have responded as you do. Not because I want to "straighten you out," but to qualify my own statements, because I sympathize with you regarding supposed bashing of people's views as fascist ( I say supposed, because I don't think I am calling anyone specifically a fascist (besides Rand). Rather, my point was that certain views can lead to a type of fascism.)

I can see your defense of Rand in her statement, "The common man in America is most uncommon." But even that statement is loaded, as it merely separates the people from her preferred country from the rest. I think she is referring less to the actual people than her projection of how she wanted to see the ideal American, the same way she projected her vision of the ideal man onto her husband, who by many accounts was not the Randian hero, but instead a quiet, artistic, not overly intellectual but emotional and maybe a little feminine. (It's a shame Rand couldn't admit that she loved him for those traits, and had to rationalize him as a Randian hero. But at least she didn't explain away his manhood or humanity...Love is exeption making,) And she even contradicts this with her aborted novel THE LITTLE STREET, and Roark's contempt for humanity in the cut versions of THE FOUNTAINHEAD. For published examples, there is the problematic words of Kira in WE THE LIVING that Rand felt she needed to change. (AT BEST, I agree with Sciabarra that Rand was going through a Nietzschean phase, one that Merrill claims she was in the process of purging. Hopefully, the Nietzsche symposium proposed by Chris will clear this up.)
Scott Ryan discusses this a little more in-depth in his book, so I will quote it here.

"Rand occasionally writes as though having 'high ideals' about human beings requires one to contemn, even to condemn, most actual people. It seldom seems to occur to her that it is possible to have 'high ideals' and to want and even encourage all human beings to live up to them as far as possible, compassionately recognizing all the same that none of us do so completely. Indeed, her 'ideals' themselves look, at times, curiously like rationalizations for her own pre-existing contempt for much of humanity."(342)

He traces this attitude back to Rand's sympathy with, and ultimate rejection of Nietzsche. " Rand's new version of Nietzsche's Uebermensch is a step down from his: Nietzsche, for all his ranting and raving, at least did not deny that the non-Supermen were human at all. Yet…this is just what Rand does." He continues:

"Nor is this a simple glitch that can be removed from her 'system' without damaging it. Man, she consistently maintains from roughly the 1940's onward, 'is man only so long as he functions in accordance with the nature of a rational being. When he chooses to function otherwise, he is no longer man. There is proper name for the thing which he then becomes…. Man must remain man through his own choice' [ibid., pp.253-254]…This, then, is her vaunted replacement for the 'Nietzschean' view that some people are innately heroic and others are innately suitable to be ground underfoot. If such character traits were 'innate,' no one could be praised or blamed for them. And so Rand makes them volitional traits, and proceeds to condemn most of humanity for choosing to be depraved." (345)

(I will add here that I suspect that this is what is behind the attacks by some here on what they consider "mindless nihilistic cacaphony...deny the humanity of the musicians and listeners involved.)

Rand's antipathy finds its expression in her celebration of Apollonian over the Dionysian.A trait that Rand shared with Apollo was a certain love of aristocracy. E.R. Dodds, in his book THE GREEKS AND THE IRRATIONAL, writes that "Apollo moved only in the best society, from the days when he was Hector's patron to the days when he canonized aristocratic athletes; but Dionysus was at all periods demotikos, a god of the people." (76)
I think that Paglia DID read Rand's, and the over-emphasis on the Apollonian has led Paglia to comment on her quasi-fascist contempt towards "the common man."
(Edited by Joe Maurone on 10/06, 9:23am)

(Edited by Joe Maurone on 10/06, 9:24am)

(Edited by Joe Maurone on 10/06, 9:29am)

Post 64

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 12:21pmSanction this postReply
In response to "please specify:"

I agree with Ayn Rand's aesthetic theory: the function of art is to convey the artist's sense of life by means of an abstract (metaphysical) value judgement. In non-abstract art, the metaphysical value judgement is conveyed by means of a selective re-creation of some aspect of reality. Selection and re-creation express a concrete value judgement; this concrete value-judgement engages me to respond with a metaphysical value judgement which I experience as a sense-of-life.

While it is possible that effective abstract art in media other than instrumental music will be created in the future, for the moment instrumental music is the only successful instance of abstract art. The quality of my experience depends on 3 factors (2 for abstract music):

1. For media other than pure music, the effectiveness of the artist's concretization of the value judgements presented in the work.

2. How well the work's sense of life corresponds to my own.

3. The effectiveness, relative to other works in the given medium, with which the work in conveys its sense-of-life.

So the question demands a contextual, multi-dimensional response. I shall select one in each category.

(1) Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead." Ayn Rand does a much better job of *concretization* in The Fountainhead than in Atlas Shrugged, in part because individualism, the theme of the first, lends itself to concretization better than capitalism, the theme of the second.

(2) Saint Saens' Third Symphony.

(3) Akhmatova's poem "Padishakh" in the original Russian.

As for possible reasons why none of the above was on the poll's list, I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.
(Edited by Adam Reed on 10/06, 12:23pm)

Post 65

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 1:20pmSanction this postReply
Chris (or should we call you Duckie? :-) ),

"Hey, Peter, why are you picking on my chapter on aesthetics in Russian Radical? "

How defensive, Chris! :-) However, far from picking on your book's chapter on aesthetics, I'm suggesting Apprentice Mathew re-reads it. He keeps asserting for example that the supposed didactism of a piece of music is it's justification. (I'd recommend he reads 'The Romantic Manifesto,' but as he says he's already read your book I thought a re-read of that chapter first could be useful for him. Clear?) :-)

Post 66

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 2:23pmSanction this postReply
Dear Peter,

Apprentice Matthew hasn't used the word "didactism" in this discussion, has just had to check dictionary.com to make sure he knows what the word means and doesn't think he's said anything about a song being justified by that which the word "didactism" means, either. He also doesn't have either Ayn Rand The Russian Radical or The Romantic Manifesto within reaching distance. So please just explain to me in plain english WTF you are on about.



Edited for clarification.

(Edited by Matthew Humphreys on 10/06, 2:26pm)

Post 67

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 5:30amSanction this postReply
Why. Mr. Sciabarra, what princely comments.  A gentlewoman's compliments for excellent dialectic!

Pyrophora of Cyprus {))(*)((}

Post 68

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 1:37pmSanction this postReply

You are rapidly making Jeanie sit up, come up, and take notice, and that this not a common thing or a compliment I can speak often.  I'm familiar with E.R. Dodds' work, which was one of the books that truly shook up my Randian mythology of a single, perenially resurfacing image of human greatness.  Have you by any chance read Orlando Patterson's works, patricularly Freedom in the Making of Western Culture?

Let me speak with a directness that usually isn't my weapon of choice:

On fascism: Joe, while I agree with you, and like you, agree with you after many years of bitterly fighting the notion, that Rand's critics who assail her has 'fascist' have a point, that fascism is a terrible word for what you are describing.  "Fascism" is a specific poltical-economic system of mass-mobilization for a radical restoration of traditional elites under a totalitarian assimilation of social and economic power to the state in a corporatist model.  This does not describe Rand.  "Elitism" and "Authoritarian morality" are terms that do fairly describe Rand at times, and this is what people who call her "fascist" are getting at, and it is I believe what you are getting at.  But in all these cases, the result is both the intellectual confusion of authoritarianism or totalitarianism with the specific historical reality and political form of fascism and a desensitization by overuse to a word that should be reserved for situations of awful weight.  One can say Rand's the theories are a variant of the ubermensch thesis, one can say her ethics are authoritarian in Fromm's sense, one can call her an elitist, but she is not fascist- and some of her heirs, such as Leonard Peikoff, Chris Sciabarra, and Arthur Silber, have written insightfullty against fascism as a horrfyingly creeping contemporary reality in ways that should be commended for the use of fascism in a precise and serious way.  I must protest the casual use of the term you borrow from Rand's critics, even if I see some truth in what they- and you- are getting at.

As for the value of Nietzschean eltitism, let me say I myself am greatly indebted to Nietzsche, in some ways more than to Rand.  And I'm of two minds regarding the ubermensch thesis.

One the one hand, I've come to the conclusion that in a sad way, we're really all human, in the sense that when I've looked closely at my own life, happiness has always been more in having the courage to admit what I in fact desired, instead of worrying so much about what I should desire, with a liberal openness to but not duty to investigate other forms of enjoyment.  It's been in a willigness to think, reflect, and theorize my livf, both for the enjoyment of theory and as a tool of intelligent living... but it's also been a willingness at other times to just shut up with myself and enjoy.  It has been as much listening to feelings as anything else.  It's been willing to accept social realities, and not conform to them but learn to how to find a rewarding life within them even if it meaning romancing traditional structures one's better jusgement would tear down, a willingness to accept some emotions that don't match one's ideals while fighting to to the death for other emotions one has to fight for.  It's a matter of stopping saying other people do not matter and finding a balance between ignoring those people you can, winning acceptance from those you want and need to, and finding some places you can live life and be human and others where you can be respected for the highest you are and the highest you can experience.  And all this isn't a heroic ethic; I know my own worth, I have fought bloddy battles and Hell for my own soul, someof them against these precious Objectivists themselves, and I've done my part to fight for what I believe in, but at the end of the day what I want out of life is a complicated mess of pleasure, respect, love, pride, intelligence, warmth, humor, art, food, drink, self-indulgence, fame, family (or the closest I'll ever find), reverence, thrill, and lust that makes me nothing more, and nothing less, than human, and the major difference between me, Nietzsche, and Fred Flintstone is what experiences I've had in life, where my passions have been fueled, bled, fulfilled, burned, enticed, encouraged, rerouted, and hurt beyond healing, how intelligent I've become at learning how to live them, and how lucky I was next to the next person.

I feel very sad to say this, but as someone who truly has suffered to live an Objectivist code, suffered to live a Straussian's code as a student of philsophy, and someone who lives the most extreme of lives... I must say in all honestly that what made me happy was having the courage to do what I had to do, go where I had to go, and find the extreme place than happened to be the one place I could find real but really normal happiness.  I'm a cultural radical, a philosophical virtuosa, a radical libertarian, a Pagan flake, and an.. oh, damn prudence!... I hate equivocations- I'm a whore recreating the profession of courtesan, I'm a submissive in training that would make the good prattlers of bourgeouis 'discipline' faint at a description what I'm putting myself under... and guess what, I'm doing it all for the same common, good life that some boring, bourgeouis homeowner I will inevitably end up on the barricades against is fighting for (and I'll sleep with him that night... life's a mess!). And I look at people from all over politics, the social spectrum, and all religions, and I find that somewhere they are just trying to protect and cherish whatever happiness they have found in life.

I don't speak like this too often, and it's foolish as Hell to do it in a public place like this, but your own wrestlings with elitism and the democratic spirit, with Paglia, Rand, and Nietzsche, touch the nerve of the feelings that war within me, or used to war and now dance with a few sparks and clashes, more in theatrics than in crusadership.  For another part of me is aristocratic indeed, and says that whatever the issues of happenstance, motivation,, and justice there are rare, rare heights and beauties in this world, so teribly rare... so terribly rare that I look at Objectivists who talk about their devotion to the heighest and how they'll never settle for anything less, and just blink.  Not because I don't believe in any heights,but because they're not experiencing the heights and don't notice it.  I see these Objectivists, who in philsophical purity wear nothing but Randian colors, and I simply cannot understand how they can't see that the average Randian trinket is just as cheap and gaudy at the latest Marxian one, the latest Chrsitian one, the latest multiculturalist junk... that your avergae Randian article is a missing-the-point, heard-it-a-thousand times rehash of a familiar formula, copied by people with the strength for one great experience of passion in Rand that burned their capacity out of them, and now they mouth Rand's words without being able to get to her inner spirit.  It's not that there's anything worse in Rand that the others, quite the contrary.  The followers of all faiths are mediocre hobos who sold out, with a few of them being good enough to develop the implications of their founder but no new insights, and a very view able to expound the scope of the insights, relate and synthesize two or more brilliant sources, and maybe come up with a couple of minor insights themselves. But the true great wonders of the world and man- the Rands, the Marxes, the Goethes, the van Goghs, not to mention the Socrateses and the Moseses, who shouldn't really be pluralized, are in the end so much closer to each other than they are to any of their followers(for all their irreconcilable differences), and once one really experiences how humiliatingly magnificent true greatness is, the rest is just so much straw.  And frankly, call it a whore's ethic if you will, I don't see much difference between the Rand-gave-me-certainty-in-all-my-middle-class-American-SUV-cravings and the idiot followers of Chomsky, or feminism, or conservatism/Christianity/religious right/Islam/Jungianism (no offense), who all just found in their masters an excuse for feeling in all too easy certainty in what they were already doing.  I'm quite aware that the first part of what I wrote above places me in not to entirely a different camp, and to some degree and in some sense I'm aware of it, and it makes me unable to call myself a philsopher.  But at the same time, knowing a history of philsophy where everyone short of Socrates had their divided loyalites, portions of their life cordoned off to God or to Caeser, Quixotic, stupid obsessions, deeply felt loved that had no thing to do with philsophy, just the ordinary tiredness of human living, it is hard to know whom among human beings to worship, and at times I am tempted to tell this pompous trash to crawl back into the gutter where it belongs and this streetwalker does not.  But then was sees what has been done, the highest that has been thought and said, and that I, at least, know of no higher tribute than Rand than to say that she created a stunning, blinding universe that is not the last word on the human spirit, one then falls down in admiration of what humanity is capable of and oneself never will be.

I am not a skeptic, I don't believe truth is impossible, I don't believe it is impossible to know what to fight for, even to die for.  But I find it sad, difficult to believe, and yet eternally inevitable, that with all the greatnesses of the world that people fight so hard to extinguish other greatnesses as threats to their own.  I am not Chrisitan, but I wish an Objectivist could see the burning fir ein a monk's eye in the heart of penance, could understand the tortured rapture as he kneels before the passion on the cross.  I wish they could understand the meticulous, spiderlike complexities of the world of Foucauldian poststructuralism, the strange decentering and rifts of eddying waters that destablize the soul into metaphors that entrances others to postmodernism.  I wish that the sons of Enjolras could understand the passion of left-protestors on the barricades, or that those who damn the ecologists could once, just once, fall into tears over the wild, untouched grottoes of moss and rocks over Pacifica and feel a tang of sadness to look up and see the dull instrument of power lines.  And I wish all of those others some know the fierce, radiant certainty, the utter and just conviction that Rand provides, that the sharp, clear lines of ones own eyes that can cut cleaner and more permanently than every word said, written or agreed upon in the entire world.  And I wish that all of them could know how terribly difficult it is, seeing them all, to choose.

Sigh.  I'm not sure if I'm impossibly young for a twenty-five year old or I've finally grown up and grown old as I swore I never would.  But I have trouble beleiving in these wars of aesthetic extermination.  Do not these Objectivists know that their enemies, who they deride as mindless, have, at least the best of them, their dreams of their own, loves of their own, experiences of their own that they would die for?  Why can't they see that the intellectual absurdities some feminist or postmodernist corkscrews into are no different than the Objectivist who, to defend individualism, ends up being able to say with a straight face that other people are irrelevalant to one's happiness, or that females are making up all sexism in society, or that Ayn Rand discovered the one true philsophy and that Plato, Kant, Marx, whoever are evil bastards we shouldn't read anymore.  Cannot they see that by living as Objectivists, they pay a price, never to experince so many wonders that Rand does not teach, cannot teach, and that the allegiance of some to Foucault or Plato or Christ is not a matter of intellectual poverty, but of richness in passions that Rand makes impossible just their own makes Rand's?

I speak as one well aware that my own passions came at theprice of plunging a heated dagger into others I will never experience except in wisrfulness and torment again.  But there is no life.no philsophy, and no god or godlessness for which one does not pay a Price.

All right, I'm done.  I'm sending a copy of this to you persoanlly, as the moderator will probably justly kill this interminably long stream of consciuosness- which I forgot is another Objectivist heresy (I don't suppose it's just possible that this might help some O'ists understand why some value streams of consciousness, and that if they disparage logical writing when they defend that value, O'ists disparage something worthwhile too in their best-intention attacks of streams of consciosuness to defend logic?).  Well, I'm a Pagan infidel anyway- Rand's-little-helpers can go take it to my Goddess for all I care, and if that's "irrational", fuck them! (or not)   But you are such an oddly *honest* person, and I'm not used to people who wear intelligence so inconspicuously- Heaven knows I don't!  That virtue is closer to the spirit of Socratic excellence that the mindless idol-worship of supreme-in-ignorance Objectivists and, to be honest, the eternal overeducated courtesanship of a player like myself.  Not that I do not have my good social reason for the best use of intelligence I will ever have in this facile, sort-of-modern, same-old-story society.  But it is good, impossibly good, speaking as a Cynic, to see someone who has the guts, nonpretentiousness, fortune, and ability to be *honest*.

I may not speak, I may not walk, but I can see.  That's one out of three better than half of these pretty pretenders and window-shoppers.

Jeanine Ring

I sit and wonder which half of a courtesan's code I will betray by either speaking in graceless truth, or keeping silent in truthless grace.

Post 69

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 1:56pmSanction this postReply
Adam Reed-

Thank for the most thoughtful, carefully measured, and civilized response that anyone, including certainly myself, has here posted so far.

If I may be permitted a minor criticism and commentary:

>1) Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead." Ayn Rand does a much better job of *concretization* in The Fountainhead than in Atlas Shrugged, in part because individualism, the theme of the first, lends itself to concretization better than capitalism, the theme of the second.

The theme of Atlas Shrugged, quoting the author (from memory, please excuse erring), was inteded as "the role of the mind in human society".

I would argue that per that theme, Atlas Shrugged is a more powerful work of art, although strictly less beautiful.

>(2) Saint Saens' Third Symphony.
>(3) Akhmatova's poem "Padishakh" in the original Russian.

Oh dear, your education exceeds mine.  I don't suppose you could provide links to either,  or on the latter condescend to an English translation for an American barbarian?  (Americans really are barbarians on language and literacy)

my regards,

Pyrophora of Cyprus {))(*)((}

Post 70

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 2:19pmSanction this postReply
 Paglia on Rand, reposted from Joshua Zader on Atlassphere Blog: 
Many people have noticed the very real parallels between Ayn Rand and me. (I was born in the United States, however; my mother and all four of my grandparents were born in Italy.) A New Yorker profile of Rand several years ago in fact called her "the Camille Paglia of the 1960s."

Ayn Rand was the kind of bold female thinker who should immediately have been a centerpiece of women's studies programs, if the latter were genuinely about women rather than about a clichéd, bleeding-heart, victim-obsessed, liberal ideology that dislikes all concrete female achievement. Like me, Rand believed in personal responsibility and self-transformation as the keys to modern woman's advance.

Rand's influence fell on the generation just before mine: In the conformist 1950s, her command to think for yourself was brilliantly energizing. When I was a college student (1964-68), I barely heard of her and didn't read her, and neither did my friends. Our influences were Marshall McLuhan, Norman O. Brown, Leslie Fiedler, Allen Ginsberg and Andy Warhol.

When my first book finally got published in 1990, a major Rand revival was under way. I was asked about her so often at my book signings and lectures that I researched her for the first time. To my astonishment, I found passages in her books that amazingly resemble my own writing: This is certainly due to the fact that we were inspired by the same writers, notably Nietzsche and the High Romantics.

The main differences between us: First, Rand is more of a rationalist, while I have a mystical 1960s bent (I'm interested in astrology, palmistry, ESP, I Ching, etc.). Second, Rand disdains religious belief as childish, while I respect all religions on metaphysical grounds, even though I am an atheist. Third, Rand, like Simone de Beauvoir, is an intellectual of daunting high seriousness, while I think comedy is the sign of a balanced perspective on life. As a culture warrior, I have used humor and satire as the most devastating weapons in my arsenal!

Post 71

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 3:39pmSanction this postReply

Guys like you drive me crazy, because you never give a straight answer, your posts go on for ages, say little on point, and you take every opportunity to name- and book-drop. (The old favorite--Argument from authority. But that's exaclty correct, either, because (1) I (and most Objectivists) would take issue with how authoritative your authorities are; and (2) the cites are not really on point, but rather skirt the issues and meander). But this is my problem, not yours. I see communication as a means to understand the ideas of others, and actually try to figure ideas out. This is probably some paternalistic attempt on my part of oppress women and enshrine outdated concepts like 'meaning' and 'reason' and stuff like that. I'm not even sure it is entirely possible to understand you. Here's an example:

"I will answer this because I used to agree with you, and a few years ago I would have responded as you do. Not because I want to "straighten you out," but to qualify my own statements, because I sympathize with you regarding supposed bashing of people's views as fascist ( I say supposed, because I don't think I am calling anyone specifically a fascist (besides Rand). Rather, my point was that certain views can lead to a type of fascism.)"

so you want to qualify your statements...you used to bash people who would call other's views facist..you aren't calling anyone facist...except Ayn Rand, which is what I took exception to in the first place, but never mind...but now you say it is your current position that certain views can lead to a type of facism...huh? Circular, obfuscated.

I would probably like you better in person where I wouldn't have access to your mind's contents so directly. I'm content that I was able to get you to admit that you aren't anything close to resembling an Objectivist, so that it is clear and on the record, so that now, when people are shocked and awed at your position on any given issue, they can identify immediately that it is not an issue of derivatives, but one of fundamentals. I'll take that as a victory and not be upset by whatever interesting positions you take, content in the knowledge that we do not share definitions of knowledge, evidence, rational thought, fair interpretation, or anything else in particular. Still, "Ayn Rand is a facist" sticks in my craw because it is so incorrect and so insulting. Oh well, we all have our opinions.

At least you are more honest and consistent than our friend Jeanine Ring, who is a self-described "'camp follower' of Objectivism" but paradoxically, is also a "proud Pagan" who regards "knowledge" as "mysterious." Maybe this explains why she regards Rand as elitist. Knowing why may just be too mysterious for man to know (or womyn, for that matter).

I'm going to stop reading this thread now, because I come to SOLO to share a laugh with sincere, like-minded people. I understand and appreciate that Joe and Jeanine are not like-minded, but don't know how folks like Joe and Jeanine could sincerely want to hang out here. Again, maybe the answer requires knowledge too mysterious for mortal man.

Ok, now I know the response that is coming--"he cannot handle boat rocking" or "he must not be firm in his convictions" or "he is immature or a coward because he cannot handle challenges to his ideas." Yeah, okay, whatever. Just don't waste my fucken time.

Post 72

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 3:57pmSanction this postReply

With respect to Akhmatova, it depends on what languages you do have. Akhmatova is an incredible integrator of rhyme, rythm, sonority and imagery. I don't know of ANY poet in English, much less a translator, who approaches anywhere near her - not within orders of magnitude. If you don't have any Slavic languages, you might try translations into Italian or Spanish.

Saint Saens, on the other hand, is widely available, with several decent recordings. I can't write a discography right now, but if you listen to five or six you are bound to find a good one - just make sure you have a Romantic conductor, a dextrous organist, and an orchestra that plays with high precision and high passion.

Post 73

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 4:00pmSanction this postReply
I feel like many on this thread are starting to talk about "the Objectivists" as if we aren't here. Hello! This is an Objectivist forum! And I am quite happy to be here! I think on this very thread someone even said he was weary of the term "sense of life". Once again, Hello! Isn't that a bit like barging into a library and complaining about books? So if you aren't an Objectivist, hopefully one with a Sense of Life, or someone curious about what it would be like if you were one, what are you gaining from your participation? I don't mean to make you feel unwelcome, I am just wondering. Do you consider yourself a "sort of Objectivist?" Only because it seems sort of rude to come here as a guest to the community only to inject hostility. If you enjoy being part of the community, it's ok to be pleasant even if you aren't a full-blood Objectivist! We don't expect rudeness of all non-Objectivists!

Post 74

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 8:02pmSanction this postReply
I just replied to a private e-mail about this thread, and I am copying my reply to the list in case anyone is interested:

I absolutely disavow the serious-humorous dichotomy.

About Saint-Saens: I have not done a comparison recently, so there might be something better out there, but the Myung-Whun Chung recording on Deutche Grammophon is quite good. As usual with Deutche Grammophon, you will need to up the bass a bit.

Post 75

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 8:27pmSanction this postReply

I know what bothers me about the posts of Joe, Jeanine, Alec, Jonathan, and Matthew to some extent. You are cynical.


Don't you have hopes of a bright future? (And I mean future, like 2 to 30 years from now.) Did you ever have dreams of achieving love, exciting work, and having so much integrity that you could effortlessly say "no" to stuff that wasn't right for you? Did you ever have them or did you find that life wasn't working out the way you wished?


Anyone who is working towards a dream gives off the sense of knowing they have a lot to do, to learn, to rise up to their goal...where is that in you all?


It starts to make a little sense now, no? A high achievement, a masterpiece of art...who are we to judge, what about the little guy.


Oprah Winfrey spoke at a college and she advised the graduating class to "dream the highest greatest vision you can." I am not a particular fan of Oprah's but her success is huge and her goodwill and optimism are very apparent.


I think you guys might learn a bit by looking around at who you are posting with, find out what they have to offer you, before going over the top with accusations of fascism, cultism, and aesthetic snobbery.




Post 76

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 8:34pmSanction this postReply
Ash: "So if you aren't an Objectivist, hopefully one with a Sense of Life, or someone curious about what it would be like if you were one, what are you gaining from your participation?"

Why, they're trolls. (Of course you already knew that.)

From the New Hacker's Dictionary: (Excerpt, usage #2)

2. n. An individual who chronically trolls in sense 1; regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks to a newsgroup, discussion list, or in email for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the fact that they have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand - they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, “Oh, ignore him, he's just a troll.”

*Note, definition included for sake of humor, and not it any way a critique of my fellow objectivists tendancy to quote chapter and verse both early and often.

Post 77

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 6:27pmSanction this postReply
>At least you are more honest and consistent than our friend Jeanine Ring, who is a self-described "'camp follower' of Objectivism" but paradoxically, is also a "proud Pagan" who regards "knowledge" as "mysterious." Maybe this explains why she regards Rand as elitist. Knowing why may just be too mysterious for man to know (or womyn, for that matter).

Thanks for quoting me out of context!  BTW, the term "camp follower" specifically suggests that is attached to a given group or movement for a reason different from that of the group itself.  That, and some other historical connotations of the term you may be familiar with, is why I use the term.  It is not dishonest, but precise.

Here is the original reference in my profile:
To avoid further confusion, I am changing my profile to "other knowledge *may* be mysteriousor someothing equivalent.

So sorry if I forgot that some Objectivists mindlessly loose their attack-dogs first and ask questions about what someone actually spoke later.  You could have fucken asked what I meant instead of making assumptions, y'know?  Alternately, what the Hell is your problem concerning my profile?  Sheesh!  Nonsense!  Get over it!  Have I hurt you?  Only words.

Now, "mysterious"; let this initiate illuminate you... to some history.   The term "mysterious" derives from the term "mystery" as used by various Hellenic and Hellenistic "mystery cults", regarding knowledge that is not shared outside of a certain circle; it is not essentially about the *source* or *validation* of knowledge.  Leo Strauss, hardly a mystic, uses the term "esoteric" to describe the same phenomenon in regards to the mainline Western tradition.  The organization of the strikers in Atlas Shrugged is a classic "mystery cult".  The "sign of the dollar" is a variant of the signs used by Pagans in the past to recognize each other... we still, use them, in fact, and so do other modern subcultures with Pagan influences; you should see my purple cloak.  The "oath of Atlantis" is modelled on the initiation oaths taken by ancient Pagans... the Hippocratic Oath, dedicated the Asclepias, is one of the more familiar.  Those are still used too, BTW.  I imagine Rand herself modelled her forms directly on the early Christians, who modeled their own forms on the Pagan mystery cults of Mithra, Adonis, Attis, etc. that existed prior in competion with Christianity during the Roman Empire. In fact, Atlas Shrugged is, among other things, a blow-by-blow metaphor for the collapse of the Roman Empire.  The various directives have parallels to legislation under the later Emporers and early Dark Ages, for instance.

Pagans?  Mystery Cults?  UnRandian?  Did we read the same book?  Does anyone else realize that Atlas is a marvel of mythological syncretism equal to Dante or Milton or Geothe?   Considering that Rand in her "Art of Fiction" explcitly said a hallmark of her method was to simultaneously express on multiple levels of meaning to her novels paragraph by paragraph, her use of Pagan history and mythology should not be surprising, as this is a characteristic (though not exclusive) method of Paganism, particualry its mythic and esoteric tradition. 

Anyway, yes, I am "mysterious".  Do you have any idea how long I would last in this profession if I wasn't?... Or how long it would take for me to bein serious trouble with professional contacts if I did not use certain discretions? ...and I'm way too careless as it is.  If you can't imagine valid reasons why an "escort" might not have good reasons for being "myserious" or "esoteric", you need an imagination.  And a clue. 

And is it too much for you to take that as a courtesan, and not a philsophy professor, I make literary and spiritual allusions where connotation is as important as denotation?  Try enjoying art without the same sensibility!  Of course, Objectivists of your type don't generally enjoy much variety in art.  I wonder why.  In my case, of course, veiled references are a matter of habit, and allusions are part of the art of courtesanship... I was not taken seriously in the Life until I became at least competent how to use them... and it was the conservative Strauss, not some Dianic eco-femme, who taught me how.  Welcome to a complicated world!

Now, for the record, I do not believe in any irrational sources of knowledge.  I do, in precisely the manner of Locke, believe that there are private sources of knowledge- i.e. that one may percieve objects of consciousness in "the mind" not derived from sensation that are not publically available to others.  I agree, with Locke, that nothing derivable in any neccesary part from private sources of knowledge is admissable as public evidence, although I do believe that knowledge originally derived from such sources but demonstrable without regards to it can be publically defensible (and unlike Locke, I do not admit the possibility of "miracles".  My view was a common Enlightenment position, and I fail to see why it is irrational, even if it disagrees with Objectivism.

It is true that I, additionally, hold a somewhat different view of causality and 'mind-body interaction' problems than Objectivists.  It is true that I have a view on ontology and of "the self" radically different from Objectivists (although Rand never really put forward any theory on the issue herself).  It is also true that I think the term "god/dess" has a valid reference, and though this I will not debate here; I will say I do not believe in any transcendant or epstemologically prior entities and that I feel more akin with spiritually serious atheists (Rand definitely incldued) than most theists.  By the definitions of George H, Smith's Atheism: the Case Against God, I am an atheist.  Which is to say that I think his arguments are valid but that there are other meanings of the term "god(/dess).

I do not believe in the validity of faith in any but the metaphorical sense of trust or friendship.   I do not belive in mysticism, do not belive in an altruistic ethic, and do not believe in religious sources of morality.  I am an agnostic as for as the issue of an afterlife is concerned.  Yes, I do describe myself as a religious person, I do worship a goddess.  Yes, I have found immense spiritual, pracictal and aesthetic value in the immersion in practices with a solidly religious base... I leave it to the intelligence of readers to figure out the aprticualrs, as my free excercise of religion is a losing supreme court case waiting to happen.

In formal terms, my views are close to universalism, Latitudarianism, Spinozan pantheism, and deism.  They are not far off at all from the views of Bacon, Newton, and Locke.  But I really cannot say more, as my views relate to personal experiences which I firmly believe cannot be publically validated and will not try to do so.

Now, if anyone wants to denounce me as an irrationalist, please stand.

Interestingly, Rand never repudiated the term "pagan" herself, and described herself as an "intransigent atheist, but not a militant one", and corresponded in a friendly manner with Catholic Priests.  Her writings are full of allusions to classical sources than no one has properly reearched as yet, as Chris Sciabarra has noted.  I am *still* waiting for some Objectivist to wake up to the orginal inspiration for the "Temple of the Human Spirit".  Rand did not invent *any* of the details (nor the methods).

BTW, I haven't, to my recall, used the term "womyn" except in one mostly hostile reference to Adrienne Rich.  For the record, I am comfortable with both "women" and "womyn", depending on the context.  Especially if they pay well.  But then I'm one of those man-hating feminists who things than "men" and "women" are free, volitional beings whose values should not be determined by physical sex.  And one of those sexist bisexuals who are equal opportunity as far sex goes (although I'm 2:1 in favor of girls on romance, not that a tgirl whore with a brain expects much).

>I'm going to stop reading this thread now, because I come to SOLO to share a laugh with sincere, like-minded people. I understand and appreciate that Joe and Jeanine are not like-minded, but don't know how folks like Joe and Jeanine could sincerely want to hang out here. Again, maybe the answer requires knowledge too mysterious for mortal man.

Well, I can't speak for Joe, but I come here because I have learned a tremendous amount from Rand, admire her art passionately beleive she was one of the greatest intellects of all time, and have incorporated many of her principles into my own philsophy.  Indeed, I have learned more from the Rand and her heirs than from any other living school of thought.

Furthermore, Randianism is one of the few phislophies that prizes (1) reason, (2) passion, and (3) liberty.  I also hang out with classical conservatives, who favor (1) and (2), libertarians, who favor (1) and (3), and counterculturalists, who favor (2) and (3).  Objectivism values all three of the above.  That would be a compliment, meus amiculus.

But the history of philsophy, and the breadth of other disciplines, is large, and if I have learned more from the sum total of all other thinkers in all branches of knowledge than Rand alone...if I have learned important things from Plato, Aristotle, Cynicism, Epicurus, Pico, Machiavelli, Spinoza, Locke, Hegel, Mill, Stirner, Tucker,  Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Ortega y Gasset, Unamuno, Sartre, de Beauviour, Foucault, Thomas Szasz, Leo Strauss, Shulamith Firestone, Ellen Willis, and Orlando Patterson... *and* Rand, and you have a problem with it, you can bite me. (except that you'd flunk my screening, and skin punctures are unprofessional)

I honor Rand as one of the great geniuses of history, but I honor others as well.  And I think she was wrong on a number of issues, and more importantly, that the breadth of the concerns of the human mind and spirit is such that Rand only adressed a fraction of the questions to which the human mind may be applied.

Is that too mysterious your mortal manhood?

Oh, so sorry to hear you are departing... but I'm stayin' right here, aren't I, guv'ner?

I can do without you.

Jeanie Ring {))(*)((}

Post 78

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 7:19pmSanction this postReply

You are right, on talking about "Objectivists" in the third person invisible.  My guilt admitted, and I apologise.  I, if anyone should know better.

Jeanie  ]o }

Post 79

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - 8:28pmSanction this postReply
Actually, I have decided to follow Scott in one respect only- the literal- and bow out of this particular discusion.

I don't think there's no disputing taste in the sense of an impossibility rational standards of aesethics.  But in terms of prudent wisdom, I am not sure disputing tastes is a good use of a short life, including my own short one.  Many people here, certainly including myself, are shedding more heat than light... and I find myself wishing I had attended to other more benevolent, productive, and useful affairs, both in this forum and elsewhere.

Apologies for my own misplaced excesses.  I would love to bring up anything worth discussing here at a time of better composure.

]o X

Jeanie Ring {))(*)((}

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