Matthew wrote: "First off, as I understand Rand (and please do correct me if I have this wrong) she rejected any strict dichotomy between "high" culture and "pop" culture, essentially believing that "art ought to be entertaining"."
Matthew, ummm, you have me doing your homework. But I don’t mind asking questions and looking for answers. Rand distinguishes popular literature from Romantic by its lack of dealing with abstract problems or questions; that it does not convey explicit intellectual information but, rather, takes “moral principles as the given, accepting certain generalized, common-sense ideas and values as its base.” (RM, pp. 110) She is discussing Fleming and others here. She doesn’t use the word “high”, but she discuses how one can view Romanticisms “virtues and potential flaws” in a “simplified, more obvious form” of popular literature. But she did give him and others, great credit for creativity and skill, in that genre.
In discussing entertainment or serious art, I believe, she was answering critics that dismissed great art that was also hugely popular because it was popular. A few great artists that were dissed by critics: Rachmaninoff, Puccini, and Rand herself. I don’t recall her saying that “art ought to be entertaining”?
I am not an expert, by any means, in music, but I think the above might also characterize the contrast between symphonic work and pop music. I recall Rachmaninoff talking about how difficult and rewarding it was to create a complex, beautiful, and unique themes. Musical themes are, I humbly guess, are the content…and through the history of music, I again guess, that there have been great originators of themes and melodies…and many, many composers that simply adapt known themes…I heard something like that the other day, yes, a new symphonic composer, American, and incongruently, there was a passage that he lifted from the Greek composer, Manos Hadjidakis.
Matthew, this is the tip of the ice berg! What does Rand mean by simplified and obvious form? Would higher art forms then among their characteristics be complex and subtle?
Also, for example I don’t have the knowledge to know how original Beethoven or Mozart are? Or how much they innovated the symphonic form? Or if rock is simply different in its medium but not nearly as original in its substance?
Enough for now,