Michael Stuart Kelly

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About Michael Stuart Kelly

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  • Birthday 06/09/1952

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    Michael Stuart Kelly
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    Initial Understanding of Islam on Fundamental Intellectual Issues Thoughts on the 12 Steps and Self-Forgiveness Why the Tolerance and Support? Atlantis in the Wilderness A Hunting Story Moral Perfection Like a Lamb to the Slaughter Letter to Madalena ... An Homage to the Value of Valuing Going Home... A Few Thoughts on Family Values Where Principles and Rights Break Down The Stigma of Addiction Book Review on an Addiction Fraud - A Million Little Pieces Charmed on a Raw Night The Nature of Private Written Correspondence – The Sciabarra Smear Online Objectivist Mediocrity The Ayn Rand Love/Hate Myth The Ayn Rand Love/Hate Myth - Part 2 - Moral Ambivalence The Ayn Rand Love/Hate Myth - Part 3 - Brotherhood of Hate The Ayn Rand Love/Hate Myth - Part 4 - Rand's True Value The Virtue of Silliness (w/Kat)
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  1. Theme and Plot Theme of The Fountainhead

    Tony, Toohey didn't just want to defeat Roark. He wanted to enslave Roark and decide when, where and what he would allow Roark to produce. I just reread The Fountainhead and (if I remember correctly) he covered this in his speech to Peter Keating (when Peter went to his home near the end). He didn't use exactly those words, but that was his message loud and clear. In other words, he didn't want to kill Roark at root (although I'm pretty sure he would not be sad--to project and butt into Rand's character creation ). He wanted to rule the Roarks of the world. Michael
  2. Conspiracy theories and Conspiracy theorists

    It's been some time since I have posted something by David Seaman or Pedogate. The arrests of high-level government people are starting to happen. This time it's the Deputy Attorney General of California, Raymond Liddy. Here's a Reuters article giving a little more information than David since this video is little more than saying, "I told you so." California deputy attorney general charged with child porn The blanket critics of conspiracy theories take another hit. Michael
  3. Donald Trump

    Might as well let Rush gloat a little for The Donald, too. After all, as he basically says, the mainstream media and the anti-Trump intelligentsia are so stupid and easy to manipulate, they fall for the same thing time and time again. As Rush mentioned, they even fall for it when you tell them what you are doing. I wonder if this is why zombies are such a cultural meme right now. Michael
  4. Theme and Plot Theme of The Fountainhead

    Tony, I agree with that. This is good advice for some people who already know some of the basics, but I see a deeper, more elementary problem in the O-Land subcommunity. It starts with trying to figure out how to tell a simple story of someone who wants something and tries to get it. Seriously. I've seen too many people screw this up. (Not only in O-Land, but it's rampant in our neck of the woods.) Some forget to frame the story correctly, which means start with who when where, then say what the protagonist wants and what life sort of looks like for him or her at that moment. This can be implied rather than stated if there is enough context so the audience can fill in the missing parts, but if any of this is totally left out, the audience mind can't process any of it well. The audience mind stays confused. And if the confusion lasts for too long, most people get bored and move on to something else. This isn't in the category of do it because I say so (or because this is the particular story form I prefer). It's the way the mind processes narrative and I can even provide some neuroscience to back this up. Form-wise, that part above is the set-up, or introduction, or opening, or whatever term you want to use to get the story trance in the audience prepared. Then we come to the problem that appears. A disruption. Trouble. Believe it or not, some people leave this out. Imagine the following story: Jack wanted to get a glass of milk because he was thirsty. He went to the refrigerator, opened it, took out the milk carton, poured himself a glass and drank it. The end. Apropos, notice that "when" and "what life normally looks like" are implied here. "When," we assume, is now or the recent past and "life looks" more or less like our lives. The "where" is in Jack's home. But there's no trouble. No problem to solve. Jack didn't trip over his own two feet getting to the fridge, nobody suddenly showed up yelling and causing a mess, the power didn't go out, he didn't even knock a lamp off a table. Hell, he didn't even spill the milk. I've also seen people describe every detail along the way to the fridge. And that's about as exciting as reading a telephone book or grocery list. There are a bunch of basic story elements like that and you need to work on them just like a pianist practices scales. For some reason, they're not taught in interesting ways you can practice. And what little people get in grade school is being undone by Common Core. So the new folks coming up are going to suck even worse at storytelling than the present adults do. At least they're getting to practice some story stuff with social media. If people want to write like Rand (or write Romantic Realism), I believe they need to learn how to write a simple narrative first. It's like learning words and basic grammar before writing a book. I found a neat little training formula in the footnotes to a book called Aristotle in Hollywood by Ari Hiltunen. It's a schema some psychologists use in some experiment or other (I'm going on memory so I don't recall who they are at the moment). I added a couple of things to it for the purpose of training some of the main elements of story structure. It goes like this: 1. Who, when, where. 2. Normal situation and, optionally, what the protagonist wants. 3. Disruption. 4. Reaction to the disruption. 5. Deciding on a goal to deal with disruption. 6. Try-fail sequences. (Only one to start with, but three makes for a pretty good story.) 7. Outcome of the goal (success or failure). 8. Reaction to the outcome. The end. This works whether the disruption is due to a villain or an obstacle. And it's broad enough to allow the protagonist to want either one thing only or two different things (his starting want if it is more than just to keep on living the way he is in the opening situation and his disruption goal). Once people can work events to that little formula on demand, they can start to see the basic elements (who, when, where, normal situation, desire, disruption, making a goal, acting toward a goal, outcome and reactions) in the stories they read or hear or watch. Sometimes a piece will be missing, sometimes the order will be different, sometimes there will be other stuff added, and sometimes some elements will be super strung out or super compressed. But they will start to become evident, which is saying a lot because we normally go into a trance while listening to a story and in that state, it's hard to identify anything meta about the story. You have to step back at the same time you are in the story and your subconscious will only be eager to do that if it has some automatic place to step back to. Learning, analysis and practice provide this place. This is not the only little mini-form for writers to train with, but it is a basic one that works well. I've used it with my semi-autistic step-son and he has already published two fiction books on Amazon. Maybe consciously, but I'm not so sure otherwise. Rand did a lot of writing coaching and even ministered some psychotherapy to her collective. By accounts, she was rigid in making people conform. (Even among the orthodoxy, she held up Peikoff's first nonfiction book for years by demanding constant rewrites.) As she was wicked intelligent, she had to have been aware on some level of what she was doing. As a cute aside, you should have seen the look on Barbara's face when she talked about Rand demanding outlines and more outlines and more outlines for her own writing. Think of a kid talking about memorizing long stretches of classical poetry. Now that's interesting. I think you should go for it. I've seen enough of your writing to believe you could spin a good yarn. Michael
  5. Donald Trump

    I was listening to Rush Limbaugh and it looks like he is partially on board with my idea, at least as speculation. Except he goes deeper. He notes that Sessions has been vilified as a racist, a creep, etc. etc. etc., even to some extent by other Senators, like, say, when he came out for Trump during the election and, more recently, during his confirmation as Secretary of State. Between them and the media, Sessions couldn't do anything right. Now that President Trump is increasingly bashing him in public (which to Rush this makes no sense at all), these same people are now saying that Sessions is a saint, the highest integrity, etc. etc. etc. But it looks like Sessions is opening a DOJ investigation of government leaking (including in the intelligence community) and, if rumors go as they are being told, will soon open up an investigation of corruption in the former administration. And all the praise is smoothing the way for him to kick off these investigations without hardly any political friction. Won't these Sessions-praisers look like perfect idiots when they finally wake up? So maybe the bashing is staged (or partially staged). I'll get a link and post it here later so you can read what Rush said. The transcript is not ready yet. Michael EDIT: For those interested, here is a link to the transcript of the part of Rush's show devoted to Sessions. It's a hell of a nice read, albeit a bit long. Sorry, no time right now to extract quotes. What’s Really Going on with Sessions?
  6. Barbara's lectures on the Principles of Efficient Thinking

    Congratulations, Roger (and team). Michael
  7. Theme and Plot Theme of The Fountainhead

    Tony, That works as theory, as does Rand's description. The problem of the writer is what to do and how to do it. How to write the damn story. Try using that to make an events outline of, say, a bank robbery. Based on this understanding alone, what would be the theme and what would be the plot theme? Let's make it worse, shall we? How about a bank robbery gone terribly wrong? How on earth would you use that system to outline the events of, say, Dog Day Afternoon? Or maybe a black comedy casino robbery like The Ladykillers? To be fair, she did come up with an outline creation system of working backwards from the climax (once you know what the climax is) in her lecture on fiction writing. She even threw in a bit of Aristotle to jazz it up--saying you use Aristotle's process of final causation as your writing process even though, to her, final causation does not exist. Oddly enough, she did not use Aristotle's Poetics for practically anything except, maybe his idea that a story has a beginning, middle and end. I know why, too. It has to do with pity and her wholesale condemnation of that emotion on a metaphysical level--a notion she got from Nietzsche, although, to be fair to him, he didn't think all pity was bad. Aristotle in The Poetics said the best tragedies start with the protagonist suffering unfairly so the audience will feel pity and bond with him. Then the protagonist has to start facing bad things so the audience will feel fear and that the bad things have to get worse so these feelings can be intensified until a moment of catharsis, when the emotions are purged. What's even odder is that Rand actually did this in all her fiction, but she did not preach it. Michael
  8. Theme and Plot Theme of The Fountainhead

    Theme and Plot Theme of The Fountainhead The Atlas Society is currently holding a reading group on The Fountainhead (run by George Smith) and they have a closed Facebook group as part of the shindig. Sometimes a person in that group will ask questions or raise issues. One member (Kai Taylor), after mentioning Rand's standard description of the theme of The Fountainhead, asked if she ever described what the plot theme was. This nagged at me because I've always had problems with Rand's concept of plot theme. And I didn't recall her ever talking about the plot theme of The Fountainhead. So I started writing an answer and as I went along, clarity on this issue finally came to me. The following is a modified version of what I wrote. I not only goes into the theme and plot theme of The Fountainhead, I managed to recast in my own words Rand's notions of theme and plot theme. (The paragraph is in bold and italics for easy reference.) This is important to writers who are interested in Rand's ideas because her meanings are different than normal (as usual ). In The Journals of Ayn Rand, p 233, Rand expressed her theme for The Fountainhead as given below. According to Harriman, the editor, this was probably written in 1940. On March 4, 1945, Rand wrote to a fan, O. W. Kracht: Rand settled on the "individualism versus collectivism" form of expressing her theme. However, I can't help think this was due to tacking on emphasis of her politics at the end. In her early notes, she talked more about how men should be like Roark, his egoism and so on. My objection? You have to really strain and twist to fit individualism versus collectivism to the love story between Roark and Dominique. Also, in The Journals of Ayn Rand, pp 234-235, there is an entry (with notes in italics from Harriman) dated December 13, 1943: This is a very long plot theme compared to the shorter form Rand discussed later in her theoretical works. From what I've been able to find, this is the earliest time she is on record using the term "plot theme," so this might be around the time she came up with the idea. Also, since it was for the screenplay, it might have been something she came up riffing off discussions about writing with other writers (or producers, directors, etc.) in Hollywood. Note that plot theme is not an idea used by other writing teachers anywhere--at least I've never seen it. And there are tons of books, audios and videos, and classes and lectures on writing all over the place. I've seen lots of talk about premise, theme (usually moral theme at that), conflict, goals, desire, story question, character, description, subtext, structure, etc., and it seems like everyone has a different opinion on what these things mean. They can't even decide on what story means or how it is defined. That said, Rand apparently came up with her own way of thinking about and organizing her story writing. She used some standard terms, but used them with meanings that generally fall outside the traditional usage, all the traditional disagreements notwithstanding. Even Rand's notion of theme is different. The way I understand her version of theme is as "subject matter," like a nonfiction topic. It's static. It's a thing or an idea. And plot theme would be the subject matter used in a conflict intense enough to run throughout the entire story. So, to me, I can go with Rand's stated theme of The Fountainhead (either version), but I want to take a crack at my own version. Why? To have enough breadth to include the love story. So I would riff off her original title (Second Hand Lives) and call the theme something like: Integrity and ego in thinking, valuing, creating and producing. This covers individualism, collectivism, good and evil, love, etc. All of it. Granted, it's pretty abstract, but Rand's form of theme is abstract. For the short-version plot theme, I would state it something like this: The struggle of an architect to live and succeed by keeping true to his individual first-hand vision and values in a society that demands he betray and/or compromise them and adopt deference to other people instead. This conflict runs throughout all the major story events (including the love story) except the subplots (like Peter and Katy's romance), but the subplots are related. I realize my formulation is too long, but it's getting late and, with hat tip to Mark Twain, I didn't have time to make it shorter. Apropos, Ron Merrill in his book, The Ideas of Ayn Rand, p. 46, gives the theme of The Fountainhead as "the ideal man" (probably basing this on Rand's essay "The Goal of My Writing" and her "Introduction") and came up with an intriguing plot theme: "How would imperfect people react to the perfect man?" The only problem with his theme is that (in my opinion) it's too broad for the story Rand told. It's there in the story and it's there a lot, but probing the full nature of the perfect man is not the integrating idea behind the events in the manner that "the role of the mind in man's existence" is behind the events of Atlas Shrugged. Also, the problem with the plot theme as Merrill stated it is that it does not include a situational conflict. But supposing we accept this theme (the ideal man), the plot theme could easily become something like: An architect who is an ideal man struggles to live and work in a society of imperfect people who are disturbed by his moral perfection and try to enslave him. That kinda works, too, but I prefer the one I originally came up with. (Imagine that--I mean, who would ever guess that I would feel that way? ) (Added later.) I left out the most important source of Rand's statement of The Fountainhead's theme: For The New Intellectual, p. 68: But wait! There's more! The passage continues thus: If one takes out "and wins," that looks pretty much like a plot theme to me. Ah yes. And on a mythological basis as implicit plot theme, there's always David and Goliath. Michael
  9. Donald Trump

    Here's some speculation I haven't heard anywhere, but I can't get it out of my mind. President Trump has been bashing Sec. Jeff Sessions recently for recusing himself from the Russian thing and for not pursuing Clinton's corruption. What if this is staged, maybe without even Sessions being in on it? This is a perfect topic for leak-bait to find leakers. For instance, and I'm not saying this is true (although I'm not saying it isn't, either ), the press recently came out with news--from unnamed sources--that President Trump was considering Giuliani to replace Sessions. Bam! Scaramucci immediately fires Michael Short, assistant press secretary. What if only Short and his cohorts were given the Giuliani hint? That would make it obvious he was the one who leaked it. Now nobody is talking about Giuliani anymore, but instead about Ted Cruz replacing Sessions. (Cruz is denying it, too.) Should we expect another person to go shortly? I suspect we will see precisely that. And I think this strategy, if that is what is really happening, will get more sophisticated as time unfolds. Also, as gravy, by poking Sessions, President Trump is able to set the stage to ultimately have the special prosecutor dismissed. There you have it. Political wisdom from the reluctant pundit. (Meaning me.) Michael
  10. She is Poppy...

    This FB post I made speaks for itself. Michael
  11. Donald Trump

    Watch how Scaramucci takes apart leading and malicious media gotchas--with a smile. I think Anthony Scaramucci is going to go down as one of the greatest presidential communication people in history. He is fully grounded and accepting in the demands of his position, in understanding the producer's mindset (thus the President's mindset), and in reality. And he manages to reframe hostility (i.e. not accepting the opponent's premises) through that lens while smiling and even getting some good vibe feedback from hostile people. To say it in ugly vernacular, he is as slick as snot. Michael
  12. Donald Trump

    Unless a person is an anti-Trumper, what is there not to like about how Scaramucci is doing his job so far? So far, he is dishing up one perfect example after another of Rand's rhetorical method of refusing to accept the opponent's premises. Including this video. (Except he uses this technique with a smile and Rand didn't. ) He then follows by gouging hard at the opponent's vulnerability, which Rand did, too. In this video, he kind of did it in her kind of manner--that is, remove one's goodies from the bad guys and let them fend for themselves. He said he was going to take the leaks away from CNN (and other mainstream news) by getting rid of leak-friendly government employees on his end. Michael
  13. Donald Trump

    Here's the entire discussion for anyone interested. I haven't seen it all yet, but I will. In the comments to the video and on Twitter, a common theme is that Scott doesn't deal with President Trump's morality whereas Sam does. That's inaccurate. Scott talks about the outcomes Trump seeks as highly moral choices and he lists off strings of Trump achievements as president as conceptual referents. I don't know if he used the word "morality" is describing this, but morality is the concept behind what he was talking about. I get the feeling Sam Harris and his people want a gotcha moral standard applied to all phases of executing a plan (including the political persuasion part) so that they, not the one creating the plan and building from it, can control the people involved. Then they can selectively choose what to gotcha according to their whim and regulate the hell out of producers. I think many of them would be appalled by knowing this, too, so they hide behind their moral outrage and keep calling President Trump a conman, liar and so on. They proclaim this as a blanket term without context, meaning they apply it to President Trump in all contexts. They want a contextless existence because they are afraid of contexts they don't understand or control. But President Trump, bless his heart, goes Galt on control freaks. His subtext is: "Get out of my way!" Then he add, "But let's have fun as I scoot you over to the side." Michael
  14. Mark Cuban on Net Neutrality and Ayn Rand

    I saw a cute meme today. It showed an old man thinking: "They called it the Patriot Act except it wasn't patriotic. They called it the Affordable Care Act except it wasn't affordable. Now they're calling something Net Neutrality..." Michael
  15. Donald Trump

    I'm watching Anthony Scaramucci give a presser now that Sean Spicer is out. (Sarah is now Press Secretary.) Scaramucci is magnificent. He's a perfect person in that position so far. He's in control in a coach kind of way. He talks about winning, how much he loves Trump. etc., and he's totally sincere. And he deflects bait like a master without sounding like a politician. Spicer was OK, but Scaramucci is a big step up. I finally can look at the press hostility in pressers and don't feel dirty. Scaramucci elevates the discussion to inspiration despite each barb. It's like sewage off a duck's back, then he dives to get it all before coming back up totally clean. EDIT: The recording is now available. See it and see what I mean: Michael