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  1. Hi, Jonathan. Can I ask what you think what the definition of art is, and if you think that there are some things that couldn't be called art? (I apologize if you've explained before, I haven't seen your comments to Kamhi that you mentioned.)
  2. Seems close, though; ATLAS has been called "apocalyptic"...
  3. For what it's worth, we know that McVeigh had read ATLAS SHRUGGED while in prison: "Along with the letter, he sent a newspaper clipping with the headline SWISS BANK VOWS TO FIGHT NAZI GOLD SUIT: U. S. LAWYER PLANNING NEW CLASS-ACTION CLAIM. He underlined a passage noting that most of the gold that the Swiss National Bank bought from Nazi Germany during World War II had been looted from occupied countries. In the margin, McVeigh added in his small, left-leaning scrawl: 'Have you ever read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged? That's what comes to mind when I read things like this; the "tobacco settlement"; Microsoft anti-trust charges; etc. And while we're at it, why stop here in remembering what is, essentially, "spoils of war"?! (I don't have adequate space to list examples!) This is ridiculous! (but you can't say that because it's non-P.C.)'"
  4. For consideration, RE: The Emerson quote...
  5. (And, for a chuckle, here's Rand's humorous take:) The altruist ethics is based on a “malevolent universe” metaphysics, on the theory that man, by his very nature, is helpless and doomed—that success, happiness, achievement are impossible to him—that emergencies, disasters, catastrophes are the norm of his life and that his primary goal is to combat them. As the simplest empirical refutation of that metaphysics—as evidence of the fact that the material universe is not inimical to man and that catastrophes are the exception, not the rule of his existence—observe the fortunes made by insurance companies. “The Ethics of Emergencies,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 48
  6. Here, try this. It's Peikoff's explanation of the Objectivist position: Quote: Although accidents and failures are possible, they are not, according to Objectivism, the essence of human life. On the contrary, the achievement of values is the norm—speaking now for the moral man, moral by the Objectivist definition. Success and happiness are the metaphysically to-be-expected. In other words, Objectivism rejects the view that human fulfillment is impossible, that man is doomed to misery, that the universe is malevolent. We advocate the “benevolent universe” premise. The “benevolent universe” does not mean that the universe feels kindly to man or that it is out to help him achieve his goals. No, the universe is neutral; it simply is; it is indifferent to you. You must care about and adapt to it, not the other way around. But reality is “benevolent” in the sense that if you do adapt to it—i.e., if you do think, value, and act rationally, then you can (and barring accidents you will) achieve your values. You will, because those values are based on reality. Pain, suffering, failure do not have metaphysical significance—they do not reveal the nature of reality. Ayn Rand’s heroes, accordingly, refuse to take pain seriously, i.e., metaphysically. You remember when Dagny asks Ragnar in the valley how his wife can live through the months he is away at sea, and he answers (I quote just part of this passage): “We do not think that tragedy is our natural state. We do not live in chronic dread of disaster. We do not expect disaster until we have specific reason to expect it, and when we encounter it, we are free to fight it. It is not happiness, but suffering, that we consider unnatural. It is not success but calamity that we regard as the abnormal exception in human life.” This is why Ayn Rand’s heroes respond to disaster, when it does strike, with a single instantaneous response: action—what can they do? If there’s any chance at all, they refuse to accept defeat. They do what they can to counter the danger, because they are on the premise that success, not failure, is the to-be-expected.  Leonard Peikoff, The Philosophy of Objectivism lecture series, Lecture 8
  7. William, you may find it interesting, then, that Rand herself wanted to do something just like that, but in a musical form. Atonal music, at that! In the Anne Heller biography, Ayn Rand and the World She Made, Joan Kennedy Taylor claims Rand "asked him to write an operatic rendition of Anthem, using romantic themes to identify the heroes and atonal music to represent the authoritarian social order." But Deems declined: "Although flattered, the elderly man didn't want to compose atonal music." This story also appears in Deems Taylor: A Biography, by James Pegolotti.
  8. You might be interested in the late Ronald Merrill's take on this question, from his book, The Ideas of Ayn Rand (pgs. 122-126.) Merrill thought her theory was fundamentally flawed, but offered his own theory to work out that flaw. Pg. 124 gives a taste of his critique: "According to Rand, the reader or viewer or listener responds to art on the basis of the level of agreement between his sense of life and that of the artist. This seems open to challenge; many people deliberately choose art which expresses the sense of life they would like to have, rather than the sense of life they do have. Consider Ayn Rand herself. Rand’s sense of life, as projected in her novels, is one of a world in which men can accomplish great things, but only by means of a violent, tortured struggle against desperate odds. Yet in her own esthetic tastes, exemplified by her choice of music, she sought a sense of life which was free of all challenge or threat, pure undiluted happiness." Check it out, if you can find it. Hope it helps.
  9. The ARI is now to Ayn Rand what the Ministry of Defense was to Hogwards in HARRY POTTER. (Meaning, mealy-mouth appeasers ignoring the larger threat...)
  10. Fair enough. (And I wasn't suggesting that you were indicating an alliance, sorry if it seemed so; I was just speaking loosely.)
  11. 30488997891 So much for that alliance...
  12. That is a grossly misunderstood interpretation of that scene.