Jonathan

"Romanticist Art" Is Not The Essence Of The Objectivist Esthetics

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Not quite. From Rand's own definition it's clear that it is a PRE-cognitive view: "...a psychological phenomenon which we call a sense of life'...a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics,, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and existence".

The emphasis on emotional, subconscious. Little reliance on induction which you indicate by your argument 'from the one, to the all' - and certainly not involving the advanced concept of ""man"". A sense of life is a *feeling*, and a most intimately personal one, I think. Concepts don't enter in to it.

Again, I recommend re-reading Rand. What she says is that one forms an implicit metaphysics on the basis of one's own can/can't-do evaluations.

There's no rhyme or reason for why an individual who has lived with certain disadvantages since young may have an affirmative sense of life, while another who -apparently- 'has it all', might be generally negative. We only know it happens; Helen Keller is my immediate thought. In pre-teens my best friend who had been a polio sufferer, with one leg permanently in a brace, had a sunnier disposition than I did, pretty much.

"There's no rhyme or reason [...]." Again, indicative of your departing from Rand while claiming to be supporting her views.

Ellen

And why should my divergences bother you? Seeing as you completely dismiss any of Rand's theory. I find this strangely purist.

Yes, I "claim" to support her views. This does not presume that I believe in her every last word as Gospel. On art, it's her conceptualization and methodology that is of major importance - and only at the levels of application and implementation do I differ slightly. If that hierarchy of value isn't perceived and understood, the rest falls apart (as these art debates go to show).

Rand didn't write every last word on sense of life, leaving room for academic expansion. Particularly in the sphere of a youngster's sense of life, which I thought was clear, was what I was referencing. Obviously, one's sense of life is already forming while a very young child. For that time, it cannot be the child's responsibility for his/her subconscious and emotional responses to his/her mixed experiences. So I believe there is a breach here.

For the rest, as adults, I think Rand had it exactly correct.

Diverge as you please, Tony. But I'd expect you to have more respect for Rand than to want possibly to confuse people by presenting your views as if they were her views when in fact you're diverging from her views, sometimes significantly (as on this issue).

I do not dismiss the entirety of Rand's theory. I think that she was correct about some art making a statement about the sorts of issues she called "metaphysical value-judgments." However, I think that she badly over-extended and turned a subcategory into the whole category.

As to "sense of life," I think that she invented the supposed phenomenon she meant by the term, that it doesn't exist - which isn't to say that academics might not talk as if it did. But I think that there's nothing more there to study then there is in the life habits of unicorns.

Ellen

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"There's no rhyme or reason [...]." Again, indicative of your departing from Rand while claiming to be supporting her views.

Ellen

And why should my divergences bother you? Seeing as you completely dismiss any of Rand's theory.

I think that what Ellen is saying is that you don't recognize when you're diverging from Rand. You take a position that Rand did not, and you falsely claim that it is Rand's position. It's actually just your position, not hers. You get confused about what you believe versus what Rand believed.

Right. That is what I'm saying.

I find this strangely purist.

Um, yeah, I think you're misinterpreting Ellen. She's not demanding purity. She's not complaining that you're not dedicated enough to Rand, or that you should not diverge from Rand. She's saying that you don't realize when you're diverging from her.

Yeah. That's what I'm saying.

Rand didn't write every last word on sense of life, leaving room for academic expansion. Particularly in the sphere of a youngster's sense of life, which I thought was clear, was what I was referencing. Obviously, one's sense of life is already forming while a very young child. For that time, it cannot be the child's responsibility for his/her subconscious and emotional responses to his/her mixed experiences. So I believe there is a breach here.

For the rest, as adults, I think Rand had it exactly correct.

You got that right: Rand didn't write every last word on the subject. In fact, she barely began to objectively investigate it. Her notion of "sense of life" is a vague hunch, and it smacks of determinism, or at least partial determinism. It's an inadvertent problem for Objectivism.

But I like it. It's Rand truthfully identifying something that she believed without recognizing the potential consequences.

J

I'll have to recommend that you consult the source again. :laugh:

Ellen

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Rand thought that "the die" was chosen.

Ellen

In infancy? -- that's preposterous.

"All babies are hardwired with certain personality traits." Parenting.com

"The innate parts of your baby's personality..."

Parents.com

"How infants respond to stimuli is inborn and remains stable over lifespan." Cantu notes on Feldman

"Infants have definite personality characteristics from birth onward." Honig (ERIC.gov abstract)

Caregivers can influence development, positively or negatively, but the die is cast in utero.

Take it up with Rand. She did have some moments of inconsistency, especially re Francisco d'Anconia, but her later position was totally tabula rasa.

Ellen

PS: Her "pre-conceptual" regarding "sense of life" doesn't mean pre-language but pre-conceptualizing metaphysical issues. See the quotes from Rand on this thread.

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I just dropped in after a couple of years to see what was going on around here. Same old, same old, I guess.

BTW, the idea that Raymond Chandler was a "naturalist" is funnier than anything I've read in some weeks.

JR

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the idea that Raymond Chandler was a "naturalist" is funnier than anything I've read in some weeks.

JR

Why, Jeff? He was pretty explicit about "plausible people in a plausible world" (The Simple Art of Murder essay)

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I know someone else has made this point already on this thread, Wolf -- I haven't read the whole thread at this point, but I distinctly remember seeing such a post, maybe on p. 2 of the thread, by, I think, Ellen Stuttle (who can always be counted upon for thoughtful and informed comments, which is not to say that I agree with her about everything, including Rand's ideas on art) -- and I think she pointed out that to call a fiction writer a "naturalist" is to say of him or her, not just that s/he is a realist, but also that the fictional world s/he creates is one in which humans have no real free will but are the helpless, though unconscious pawns of larger forces over which they have no control. This is not the world of Raymond Chandler's novels. Chandler himself described his vision of Philip Marlowe (for those who haven't read Chandler, should any of them be reading this, Marlowe is the private detective who is the narrator and hero of all seven of Chandler's novels) in the following terms in his famous essay "The Simple Art of Murder":

"Down these mean streets [the mean streets of the noir detective novel of which Chandler was the first and perhaps greatest master] a man must go who is not himself mean. who is neither tarnished nor afraid. . . . He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world."

In a 1951 letter to a friend, Chandler wrote: "The private detective of fiction is a fantastic creation who acts and speaks like a real man. He can be completely realistic in every sense but one, that one sense being that in life as we know it such a man would not be a private detective."

Does this sound like a "naturalist"?

Which of Chandler's novels portrays either Marlowe or the other characters he moves among as helpless pawns of larger forces over which they have no control?

I'd say a more accurate description of what Chandler was up to is "romantic realism." His fiction is not identical to the fiction Ayn Rand produced under the same rubric, but it is romantic realism all the same. Chandler's stories are far too stylized to be described as "realistic" in the usual sense, and they certainly don't qualify as "naturalist."

JR

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Thanks for the Chandler intro, Jeff.

--Brant

I went to bed and the thread went and had a party--thank God JR showed up, or there'd be trash all over the place

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I just dropped in after a couple of years to see what was going on around here. Same old, same old, I guess.

You missed 4000 of my best posts--what a waste!

--Brant

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Not quite. From Rand's own definition it's clear that it is a PRE-cognitive view: "...a psychological phenomenon which we call a sense of life'...a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics,, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and existence".

The emphasis on emotional, subconscious. Little reliance on induction which you indicate by your argument 'from the one, to the all' - and certainly not involving the advanced concept of ""man"". A sense of life is a *feeling*, and a most intimately personal one, I think. Concepts don't enter in to it.

Again, I recommend re-reading Rand. What she says is that one forms an implicit metaphysics on the basis of one's own can/can't-do evaluations.

There's no rhyme or reason for why an individual who has lived with certain disadvantages since young may have an affirmative sense of life, while another who -apparently- 'has it all', might be generally negative. We only know it happens; Helen Keller is my immediate thought. In pre-teens my best friend who had been a polio sufferer, with one leg permanently in a brace, had a sunnier disposition than I did, pretty much.

"There's no rhyme or reason [...]." Again, indicative of your departing from Rand while claiming to be supporting her views.

Ellen

And why should my divergences bother you? Seeing as you completely dismiss any of Rand's theory. I find this strangely purist.

Yes, I "claim" to support her views. This does not presume that I believe in her every last word as Gospel. On art, it's her conceptualization and methodology that is of major importance - and only at the levels of application and implementation do I differ slightly. If that hierarchy of value isn't perceived and understood, the rest falls apart (as these art debates go to show).

Rand didn't write every last word on sense of life, leaving room for academic expansion. Particularly in the sphere of a youngster's sense of life, which I thought was clear, was what I was referencing. Obviously, one's sense of life is already forming while a very young child. For that time, it cannot be the child's responsibility for his/her subconscious and emotional responses to his/her mixed experiences. So I believe there is a breach here.

For the rest, as adults, I think Rand had it exactly correct.

Diverge as you please, Tony. But I'd expect you to have more respect for Rand than to want possibly to confuse people by presenting your views as if they were her views when in fact you're diverging from her views, sometimes significantly (as on this issue).

I do not dismiss the entirety of Rand's theory. I think that she was correct about some art making a statement about the sorts of issues she called "metaphysical value-judgments." However, I think that she badly over-extended and turned a subcategory into the whole category.

As to "sense of life," I think that she invented the supposed phenomenon she meant by the term, that it doesn't exist - which isn't to say that academics might not talk as if it did. But I think that there's nothing more there to study then there is in the life habits of unicorns.

Ellen

"...that it doesn't exist..."

Dear Ellen,

You must speak for yourself. I, along with many school kids I've heard, were aware of the 'sense of life' of Shakespeare and other authors, long before (if ever) any of us heard of the concept.

Despite equally being aware of the force of his words, his dramatic prowess - his aesthetics.

Apparently, one either gets sense of life, or one doesn't.

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Apparently, one either gets sense of life, or one doesn't.

Same for God.

--Brant

"One's sense of life is fully involved only when one feels a profoundly ~personal~ emotion about a work of art". (AR)

If profound emotions don't exist and don't matter--well then, I'm a Believer!

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"...that it doesn't exist..."

Dear Ellen,

You must speak for yourself. I, along with many school kids I've heard, were aware of the 'sense of life' of Shakespeare and other authors, long before (if ever) any of us heard of the concept.

That's another example of your deviating from Rand.

"t is of course impossible to name the sense of life of fictional characters. You might name the sense of life of your closest friend – though I doubt it. You may, after some years, know the sense of life of the person you love, but nobody beyond that. You cannot ~judge~ the sense of life of another person; that would be psychologizing."

"Speaking of one's inability to know another's sense of life, now might be a good time to make a request: Please don't send me records or recommend music. You have no way of knowing my sense of life, although you have a better way of knowing mine that I have of knowing yours, since you've read my books and mine is on every page. You would have some grasp of it – but I hate to think of how little. I hate the painful embarrassment I feel when somebody sends me music the ~know~ I'd love – and my reaction is the opposite: It's impossible music. I feel completely misunderstood, yet the person's intentions were good. Nobody but my husband can give me works of art and know infallibly, as he does, that I'll like them. So please don't try it. It's no reflection on you or on me. It's simply that sense of life is very private." (Philosophy of Objectivism, Lecture 12, 1976)

Tony, Rand reserved for herself alone the ability to know others' senses of life, and to know them unerringly. Lowly little followers like you were the people she was looking down upon when scolding them in the above quotes.

Apparently, one either gets sense of life, or one doesn't.

As Brant said, the same is true of believing in God. Also: one either gets the art forms that Rand rejected because she claimed that they were "meaningless," or one doesn't. It's quite a hilarious double standard that you're indulging in, Tony.

J

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Apparently, one either gets sense of life, or one doesn't.

Same for God.--Brant
"One's sense of life is fully involved only when one feels a profoundly ~personal~ emotion about a work of art". (AR)If profound emotions don't exist and don't matter--well then, I'm a Believer!

With a response like that, clearly you're not a believer in logic.

J

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"...that it doesn't exist..."

Dear Ellen,

You must speak for yourself. I, along with many school kids I've heard, were aware of the 'sense of life' of Shakespeare and other authors, long before (if ever) any of us heard of the concept.

That's another example of your deviating from Rand.

"t is of course impossible to name the sense of life of fictional characters. You might name the sense of life of your closest friend – though I doubt it. You may, after some years, know the sense of life of the person you love, but nobody beyond that. You cannot ~judge~ the sense of life of another person; that would be psychologizing."

"Speaking of one's inability to know another's sense of life, now might be a good time to make a request: Please don't send me records or recommend music. You have no way of knowing my sense of life, although you have a better way of knowing mine that I have of knowing yours, since you've read my books and mine is on every page. You would have some grasp of it – but I hate to think of how little. I hate the painful embarrassment I feel when somebody sends me music the ~know~ I'd love – and my reaction is the opposite: It's impossible music. I feel completely misunderstood, yet the person's intentions were good. Nobody but my husband can give me works of art and know infallibly, as he does, that I'll like them. So please don't try it. It's no reflection on you or on me. It's simply that sense of life is very private." (Philosophy of Objectivism, Lecture 12, 1976)

J

-

This is what Rand says instead of saying you keep your music and I'll keep mine. Also, if you had given her a record instead of her husband giving her the same record, suddenly, I'd bet, it'd be another wrong sense of life. She had a raftfull of wrong notions about her husband. She was in love with her notions.

--Brant

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"...that it doesn't exist..."

Dear Ellen,

You must speak for yourself. I, along with many school kids I've heard, were aware of the 'sense of life' of Shakespeare and other authors, long before (if ever) any of us heard of the concept.

That's another example of your deviating from Rand.

"t is of course impossible to name the sense of life of fictional characters. You might name the sense of life of your closest friend – though I doubt it. You may, after some years, know the sense of life of the person you love, but nobody beyond that. You cannot ~judge~ the sense of life of another person; that would be psychologizing."

"Speaking of one's inability to know another's sense of life, now might be a good time to make a request: Please don't send me records or recommend music. You have no way of knowing my sense of life, although you have a better way of knowing mine that I have of knowing yours, since you've read my books and mine is on every page. You would have some grasp of it – but I hate to think of how little. I hate the painful embarrassment I feel when somebody sends me music the ~know~ I'd love – and my reaction is the opposite: It's impossible music. I feel completely misunderstood, yet the person's intentions were good. Nobody but my husband can give me works of art and know infallibly, as he does, that I'll like them. So please don't try it. It's no reflection on you or on me. It's simply that sense of life is very private." (Philosophy of Objectivism, Lecture 12, 1976)

Tony, Rand reserved for herself alone the ability to know others' senses of life, and to know them unerringly. Lowly little followers like you were the people she was looking down upon when scolding them in the above quotes.

Apparently, one either gets sense of life, or one doesn't.

As Brant said, the same is true of believing in God. Also: one either gets the art forms that Rand rejected because she claimed that they were "meaningless," or one doesn't. It's quite a hilarious double standard that you're indulging in, Tony.

J

Um. Hah. Picky. A remotely unbiased reader would assume it was Shakespeare's WORK, his words, his plays - which I meant. Not: that a schoolboy could have managed to elicit Shakespeare's own, individual sense of life. My error of compression. I shouldn't have to remind myself that I have to dot every 'T', here...

A deep emotional response to an art work is questionable? I cannot believe you can suggest this.

That nobody experiences joy, exaltation, distaste, sorrow, dread etc. in an artwork? Rubbish. That, then is where it seems the premises of this debate began wrong. The false premise that art does NOT evoke "a profoundly personal emotional" reaction.

"Personal" = selfish (bad)

"emotional" = not logical, "irrational" (bad).

It's like arguing with Naomi, who insisted that if man is not robotically logical, he is a believer in the supernatural.

Emotions are existents. That they "are not tools of cognition", is another story altogether.

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Now I know what happened to the Energizer Bunny--it was reborn in Tony.

--Brant

or, The John Paul Jones of OL ("I have not yet begun to fight!")

without Tony, this thread would sink and die--but does anybody say, "Thank you"?--nooooo

Thank you, Tony!

(Tony is an omelet from which we try to make eggs)

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Um. Hah. Picky. A remotely unbiased reader would assume it was Shakespeare's WORK, his words, his plays - which I meant. Not: that a schoolboy could have managed to elicit Shakespeare's own, individual sense of life. My error of compression.

So, your theory is that artworks have senses of life independent of their creators, and independent of the fictional characters contained within?

Rand's position was that it takes years of exposure to deeply personal details of others' lives before one MIGHT begin to be able to identify their senses of life, and that one cannot identify the senses of life of fictional characters, but you believe that you can identify the sense of life of an inanimate object (an artwork) from your exposure to comparatively limited information?

I shouldn't have to remind myself that I have to dot every 'T', here...A deep emotional response to an art work is questionable? I cannot believe you can suggest this.That nobody experiences joy, exaltation, distaste, sorrow, dread etc. in an artwork? Rubbish.

I didn't suggest anything like that. I think it's just another example of how your Objecti-goggles distort everything and cause you to spew non sequiturs.

That, then is where it seems the premises of this debate began wrong. The false premise that art does NOT evoke "a profoundly personal emotional" reaction."Personal" = selfish (bad)"emotional" = not logical, "irrational" (bad).It's like arguing with Naomi, who insisted that if man is not robotically logical, he is a believer in the supernatural.Emotions are existents. That they "are not tools of cognition", is another story altogether.

You seem to be confusing your emotions with the content of artworks. The fact the you have feelings when experiencing an artwork doesn't mean that the feelings are in the artwork. It doesn't mean that the artwork has feelings or a sense of life. You should learn to distinguish between your emotions and mental states versus those of external entities.

J

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I don't think Rand believed that stuff about how hard it was to know someone else's "sense of life." I think she was straight-arming any discussion about it because she had this idea she couldn't defend but it was one of her important babies. I say this because I don't believe in the idea. I think she was really talking about depressive vs non-depressive states. Consider what her "sense of life" must have been in the depression she suffered in the post Atlas years. Consider how she'd never admit that could have anything to do with a constant state "sense of life." If it fluctuated all over the place it would be value betrayal and her poor husband would go nuts trying to figure out what music he could get to infallibly match up with her present-day state and to avoid any criticism for the funeral march a few weeks later. There is also the problem of someone who refuses to explore and perhaps widen her tastes in music--only she did listen to new stuff and talk about it with at least one professional. For hours at a time.

So she had her special music. Most of us do. Most of us don't dress it up in an ersatz psychological theory. Did Nathaniel Branden, who likes a wide variety of music, ever write even one word on this subject? I don't think so. The only thing I recall particular from him about music was if you wanted to get your creative juices flowing listen to classical.

(To get on something of a dog-leg here, I experienced different personas from Rand in the 1960s depending on the audience. On the Tonight Show she was composed and gracious. In front of students of Objectivism at NBI short and sharp and ready to use her words on you as a weapon. At the Ford Hall Forum I liked her the most for she was inbetween those two states and seemed most her true self.

(Imagining knowing what I know now and being given the chance to meet Ayn Rand in her home way back then--I never did that--I would decline. I no longer would have any desire to interact with her on any level. I saw her enough first-hand back then and it was quite enough interesting as it was. This is because if all else failed you'd have to zip your lip when she went all deductive--i.e., dogmatic--on you. The empirical has no power against that kind of logical power so you'd end up lectured. If you were an expert she'd listen to you if she had an interest in that area of knowledge as long as it was congruent with her philosophy. Then she'd be privileged to congratulate you for using her philosophy in acquiring your expertise. At that point you would not argue. You'd just wonder WTF? or simply bask in the glow as Frank served coffee and cookies.)

--Brant

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I think it would have been quite fun to see how she would have reacted to someone not being intimidated by her tactics. I would have enjoyed calling her bluffs and keeping cool while she overheated with emotion.

J

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"...doesn't mean the feelings are in the artwork". [J]

Would it mean rather, that emotions are 'evoked' by an artwork???

Why is this such a difficult idea to get across? Long before anything to do with Rand, I was aware of my 'involvement' and engagement in pictures and fiction. As are lots of others.

Quite well explained, thusly: "An indication of the metaphysical slant of art can be seen in the popular notion that a reader of fiction "identifies himself with" some character or characters of the story. "To identify with" is a colloquial designation for a process of abstraction: it means to observe a common element between the character and oneself..." "Subconsciously, without any knowledge of esthetic theory, but by virtue of the implicit nature of art, this IS the way in which most people react to fiction and all other forms of art". [p.37 TRM]

I think Rand assumed it as such a given, she paid it little attention.

I also thought it was self-obvious, now it looks like the first stumbling block.

The educated sophistication of art appraisal has (seemingly) diluted what is implicit to art: its importance to each individual -personally-, via his emotion and mind. (Separating them, momentarily).

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