Ellen Stuttle

Michelle Marder Kamhi's "Who Says That's Art?"

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On 3/20/2015 at 2:55 PM, william.scherk said:

Michael, do you see the same defects as I do? I see hip dysplasia and several other apparently broken bones. I'd say your modeling of the human form/anatomy is significantly off...

Newbsie has revisited his painting, Counterpose, and has fixed part of it.

Billy, he calls you an "uncharitable person" for having brought to his attention the reality of his difficulties with human anatomy. Or at least I assume that he's referring to you -- put perhaps I'm misremembering who pointed out the claw hand while we were all helping to mentor him.

Here he is from Facebook:

66649450_10215124837655465_8962908126055
 
Made a change to a 29 year old work, Counterpose, oil on linen, 36x42”. As soon as I finished Olympia I revisited an older work stacked in my studio unsold. It’s one of my favorite paintings with a wild composition, intense color theory of yellow light and purple shadows, contrasted light and dark, and an intensely torqued pose. But the other day I saw that the forward hand should be elegant rather than square-like. An uncharitable person once said “claw-like.” I don’t know why I didn’t see it before, perhaps because the theme was the tension of conflict/contrast? Anyway I arranged with @georgieleahy to pose for the hand reference photo, and I dove in with tweaked the hand, extending the fingers, a much more graceful, natural, and inviting gesture, which coincidentally goes fantastic with the other hand. I’ll check it tomorrow to make sure I’m happy with it. Oh, so weird to revisit the color scheme, very intense colors of pure red, orange, yellow, and purple. #art #colortheory #revisit #figurativeart
Image may contain: one or more people and indoor
Image may contain: one or more people
 
 

 

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1 hour ago, Brant Gaede said:

The hand is better. 

--Brant

Call the police. She appears to have been murdered several hours ago.

Call Area 51. She is not a human.

Call the anatomy teacher. The artist needs some lessons.

Mommy, I had a nightmare and I can't stop seeing a woman who fell out of a window and landed on a bed. 

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An awkward tense pose is a Rodin thing, isn't it?

Rodin's sculptures often present people like that. 

(Oddly enough, in a discussion I had with Michael Newberry years ago on the old SoloHQ, he was not too approving of Rodin. Yet here I see him doing the same thing as Rodin constantly did. I wonder if he's aware of this? I bet he picked it up without noticing, which happens a lot with artists in all areas...) 

And this leads me to throw some ideas down on the page (or screen).

I hold that one of the purposes of a painting (not the only purpose or function, but an important one) is to trigger story fragments, images and other sensory impressions, and emotions from the viewer's memories (both buried and surface) and allow these elements to mix freely in the way dreams and daydreams do.

From that angle, anything on a painting that is out of place as opposed to a normal state (like an awkward tense pose or odd color or shape) calls attention to itself and serves as a looking glass or rabbit hole for the viewer to enter that kind of trance. The incongruence is only the start of the trance, the crossover, though. Other elements are needed to deepen the trance or the viewer snaps out of it, so it's better for the enticement-to-go-further elements (generally familiar things) to be on the canvas than solely in the surroundings or the viewer's mind. (And, of course, there can't be resistance in the viewer's mind. If there is, the experience doesn't kick in.)

If a person wants to let his (or her) mind roam free while looking at a painting, that permission itself allows something normal to be the crossover and no incongruence is needed. In this state, a beautiful normally posed hand can be a crossover and will send his mind in one direction.

An awkward or tense pose doesn't need as much permission to elicit the beginning of the aesthetic trance (although enough permission is needed to cancel any resistance). The incongruence makes the viewer focus on it slightly and go: hmmmmm... Then off his mind goes in that direction, probably and initially with more focus on story fragments than on images, sensations or emotions. After all, tension suggests conflict and that is one of the linchpins of story.

In Newberry's painting above, the burnishing of the body is a color incongruence in relation to reality, thus it's another crossover point to the aesthetic trance, but in this case, it initially dredges up free-flowing images more than story fragments.

At least this is the way it all works with me.

This kind of experience--the aesthetic trance and how to get into it--is one of the reasons I don't agree with Rand on her view that modern art is a vicious attack on the mind. It's just a different kind of rabbit hole into an aesthetic trance and relies more on the viewer's memories to provide a theme (or magnet) for the swirling or free flowing mental dream/daydream elements than a familiar subject does.

I'm rambling right now, but this process reminds me of a persuasion template for how to engage an audience and present a message. The template is the AIDA sequence.

You attract people's Attention through incongruence and/or other attention getting things (loud noises, questions, and so on). Then you bond with stories or expressions of common values (positive and/or negative) that elicit common emotions for creating Interest. Then you provide your message, in other words you Deliver it (and if it's long, using the form of "good news, bad news, good news, bad news" or "hope fear hope fear" keeps the audience from getting bored). Finally, you tell people what you want them to do, in other words, you provide a call to Action.

Getting into an aesthetic trance uses the first three in sequence (with the extended free-flowing inner experience being the Deliver part), but allows the viewer to decide on what Action to take, or not take. Expressing an evaluation to others ("I loved that," or "What a mess," etc.) is probably the most common action.

Note, the free-flowing stories, images, etc. with a well-told story are replaced by the audience blending the story elements with elements from their memories as they go along. With movies, this works the same way but with different degrees for image, sound, etc.

Anywho, this is a bit of my own free-flowing thinking about art and aesthetics. :) 

Michael

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22 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

An awkward tense pose is a Rodin thing, isn't it?

Rodin's sculptures often present people like that. 

(Oddly enough, in a discussion I had with Michael Newberry years ago on the old SoloHQ, he was not too approving of Rodin. Yet here I see him doing the same thing as Rodin constantly did. I wonder if he's aware of this? I bet he picked it up without noticing, which happens a lot with artists in all areas...) 

He would take the above to be evidence of your inferior soul.

 

22 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I'm rambling right now...

Thanks for rambling.

Your comments, in conjunction with Newbsie's having fixed the "claw," brought to mind Diane Arbus's photo, Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C., and its specific "trance" effect:

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/2001.474/

Pretty creepy, and intentionally so.

Not as creepy, though, as certain O-vish works which were intended to be joyously romantic and not creepy at all.

J

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On 7/31/2019 at 1:12 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

An awkward tense pose is a Rodin thing, isn't it?

Rodin's sculptures often present people like that. 

(Oddly enough, in a discussion I had with Michael Newberry years ago on the old SoloHQ, he was not too approving of Rodin. Yet here I see him doing the same thing as Rodin constantly did. I wonder if he's aware of this? I bet he picked it up without noticing, which happens a lot with artists in all areas...) 

And this leads me to throw some ideas down on the page (or screen).

I hold that one of the purposes of a painting (not the only purpose or function, but an important one) is to trigger story fragments, images and other sensory impressions, and emotions from the viewer's memories (both buried and surface) and allow these elements to mix freely in the way dreams and daydreams do.

From that angle, anything on a painting that is out of place as opposed to a normal state (like an awkward tense pose or odd color or shape) calls attention to itself and serves as a looking glass or rabbit hole for the viewer to enter that kind of trance. The incongruence is only the start of the trance, the crossover, though. Other elements are needed to deepen the trance or the viewer snaps out of it, so it's better for the enticement-to-go-further elements (generally familiar things) to be on the canvas than solely in the surroundings or the viewer's mind. (And, of course, there can't be resistance in the viewer's mind. If there is, the experience doesn't kick in.)

If a person wants to let his (or her) mind roam free while looking at a painting, that permission itself allows something normal to be the crossover and no incongruence is needed. In this state, a beautiful normally posed hand can be a crossover and will send his mind in one direction.

An awkward or tense pose doesn't need as much permission to elicit the beginning of the aesthetic trance (although enough permission is needed to cancel any resistance). The incongruence makes the viewer focus on it slightly and go: hmmmmm... Then off his mind goes in that direction, probably and initially with more focus on story fragments than on images, sensations or emotions. After all, tension suggests conflict and that is one of the linchpins of story.

In Newberry's painting above, the burnishing of the body is a color incongruence in relation to reality, thus it's another crossover point to the aesthetic trance, but in this case, it initially dredges up free-flowing images more than story fragments.

At least this is the way it all works with me.

This kind of experience--the aesthetic trance and how to get into it--is one of the reasons I don't agree with Rand on her view that modern art is a vicious attack on the mind. It's just a different kind of rabbit hole into an aesthetic trance and relies more on the viewer's memories to provide a theme (or magnet) for the swirling or free flowing mental dream/daydream elements than a familiar subject does.

I'm rambling right now, but this process reminds me of a persuasion template for how to engage an audience and present a message. The template is the AIDA sequence.

You attract people's Attention through incongruence and/or other attention getting things (loud noises, questions, and so on). Then you bond with stories or expressions of common values (positive and/or negative) that elicit common emotions for creating Interest. Then you provide your message, in other words you Deliver it (and if it's long, using the form of "good news, bad news, good news, bad news" or "hope fear hope fear" keeps the audience from getting bored). Finally, you tell people what you want them to do, in other words, you provide a call to Action.

Getting into an aesthetic trance uses the first three in sequence (with the extended free-flowing inner experience being the Deliver part), but allows the viewer to decide on what Action to take, or not take. Expressing an evaluation to others ("I loved that," or "What a mess," etc.) is probably the most common action.

Note, the free-flowing stories, images, etc. with a well-told story are replaced by the audience blending the story elements with elements from their memories as they go along. With movies, this works the same way but with different degrees for image, sound, etc.

Anywho, this is a bit of my own free-flowing thinking about art and aesthetics. :) 

Michael

Ah, the triumph of epistemology over metaphysics is what makes art great art?

And I thought it was the other way around and the augmentation of metaphysics with epistemology. Or, "Wow!"

--Brant

what is more real (in art) than the  Mona Lisa?

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5 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Ah, the triumph of epistemology over metaphysics is what makes art great art?

And I thought it was the other way around and the augmentation of metaphysics with epistemology. Or, "Wow!"

--Brant

what is more real (in art) than the  Mona Lisa?

Brant,

One has to have an experience, even an inner experience like an aesthetic trance, before one can judge it.

The Mona Lisa without such an accompanying experience is just a magazine cover.

Rand did not go into this experience all that much, and she certainly didn't teach how it worked so on can choose to have it. However, she was a master at inducing it in her audience. In trying to explain it, her theory got in the way of her practice. Going by what she said rather than what she did, the goal of her writing was to present an ideal man based on something so abstract it means almost nothing if you try to pin it down to learn how to create fictional characters: a sense of life based on metaphysical value judgments. 

What's worse, in this view of art, the artist imagines the ideal, creates a mold (the ideal man), and others are supposed to fit themselves into this mold and experience the payoff emotions.

This goal alone has probably killed many a potentially good or great writer who loves Rand's works. It's impossible for beginners to be in a state of learning and present a state of ideal at the same time.

What Rand did, however, was knock people's socks off based on plain old storytelling principles, the basic being inducing in the reader a feeling of: What is going to happen next? I gotta know...

There are several techniques that cause this feeling and Rand used all of them.

This belongs to the setup group of emotions, the setup being the bulk of the fiction reading experience. Rand did write about the payoff group of emotions with statements like: a feeling of this is what life could and should be, etc. But this is not very useful to someone who doesn't know the basics of storytelling. And Rand did not teach those basics. She knew them down pat, though. Just look at what she did.

I'm working on a book or video series on how to write like Rand, so I already have a lot about this in my notes.

Michael

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38 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

You segued from painting to fiction writing.

Brant,

It's the same mental state for fiction as for painting (guided daydream is good description) and both use the same essential process and sequence of steps for getting into that mental state.

The different art forms merely have different focuses.

Art is interactive. Art without an aesthetic trance of a user is no longer art. To use a Randian phrase for modern art, it's junk.

To a Yanomami Indian in the Amazon jungle, the Mona Lisa is junk. 

To many hiphop fans, classic opera is junk. To many classic opera fans, hiphop is junk.

And so on.

There are some universal components across all art forms, though, that encourage trance-forming interactivity no matter what the culture for those who give themselves permission. (I mentioned a few above, incongruence, familiarity, etc.)

I'm no fan of Kibuki and what little I've seen is weird. But I know I can learn it and get into wonderful aesthetic trances if I give myself permission and put in a little effort to learn the rules and signals.

But, to complicate the matter further, context is critical. Even if I learned to appreciate Kibuki, I (as I imagine all who appreciate it) would find it a disaster as a halftime show of a football game. The Mona Lisa would be sorely out of place in a hot dog joint. A James Bond story doesn't work during a Catholic Mass. And so on. It's not impossible to get into the relevant aesthetic trances in those contexts, but doing so would simply not occur to the vast majority of people.

btw - I also hold that Romantic Realism in general, even though it's a bit of a mishmash as a precise category or art the way Rand laid it out, does provide a highly pleasurable transcendent feeling within the aesthetic trance (for those who give themselves permission) and subsequent great memories. It's not the only category of art that provides such a sense of transcendence, but it definitely is one.

Michael

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Michael, As I've argued, I see no intent from Rand for one to *mold* oneself into a Rand character. I can't think of anything worse than to do so, or attempt such. Instead I think of the process as mentally extracting the character's highest qualities - as "an exemplar" for one, virtues which one uses to affirm or guide one through hard choices or difficult times or selecting and pursuing goals. So one is not becoming or ~imprinting~ oneself on Howard Roark, etc. - nor the reverse -, one is removing the essence of a fictional 'Howard Roark' and utilizing the image for oneself and one's life, for the specific circumstances and times in one's very real, concrete life. The fictional situations in her novels one probably will never find oneself in; but the self-made virtues will be applicable to ~any~ daily situations one will find in reality.

To achieve those qualities for oneself demands much more than reading and re-reading Rand's fiction. I get the sense that there is a drastic error made by Objectivists some of whom do seem to mold themselves on what is a figment of the writer's imagination, her re-making of reality into her image of an evidently superb figure (but not perfect, nor without error)of a man/woman - are rightly inspired by him/her - but then believe that's almost all they need to do (and to understand of her ethics). You see some extreme complacency (and arrogance) around by those who think they've achieved the independence, integrity, rationality (etc.) of Howard Roark -- only or mainly by reading about his exploits. Of course! - the effort one embarks upon to raise one's own virtues is ~inspired~ by the act's and words of an excellent character.I.e. "If 'he' can stick to his guns through huge obstacles, can it be possible for me"? So it is. But we the readers had better be clear that one doesn't earn those qualities just by reading about them. We should know the difference between essential inspiration from art, and real life. The other approach is damaging, will lead one to disappointment - and possibly - faking one's virtues. That's the nature of romantic-realist fiction, to lift one's view of existence and its real possibilities-potentials for the volitional mind, never intended to be mimicked like a self-help manual. (Also I think that approach is what tends O'ists to rationalism, idealism ungrounded in reality).

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

Michael, As I've argued, I see no intent from Rand for one to *mold* oneself into a Rand character.

Tony,

You are correct in terms of details like profession and haircuts (although Rand did hate facial hair and, from accounts by those who knew her, attributed moral import to it :) ).

You are wrong in terms of "moral perfection." Do you need quotes?

Rand's characters are role models of moral perfection. She said so. She said so many time.

This is much the same way Jesus Christ is a role model for Christians of moral perfection in human form.

To a Christian, normal people can't achieve moral perfection, but still, one must strive to be like Jesus (fit oneself into the mold, so to speak).

To Rand, normal people can achieve moral perfection. Just look at her characters for the moral perfection mold. But there is one caveat. To understand her characters correctly, one must become a "man-worshiper." 

To both Christians and Objectivists, the very act of worship is the acknowledgement of a mold of something perfect, ideal, something far better than oneself. If one is already perfect, one does not need to strive to attain it. In other words, one cannot strive to be morally perfect unless one starts out as morally imperfect. In the case of already being ideal, one already has a "noble soul." Otherwise, one has to strive to acquire one.

If the very concept of moral perfection is not a mold, I don't know what is. My conducting teacher (Maestro Eleazar De Carvalho) used to say, "Perfection is the start of decadence because there is no where to go but toward imperfection." But that is a dynamic, life-based view of humans. It presupposes that humans are always going somewhere. It implies that humans can achieve perfection, but it's temporary, so they have to do it again and again and again. Up and down and up and down. Like life.

The Randian concept of moral perfection is static. A straight line. Once you get there, you are supposed to stay there. You can't go anywhere else because there is nowhere to go after perfection except down. And morally perfect people in a Randian conception do not morally decay. Betrayal, to use a term she constantly uses, is not a possibility to a morally perfect person by definition. Otherwise the person is not morally perfect.

One can only grow in one's knowledge, profession, etc. Another way to say it is that, after attaining a state of moral perfection, moral growth is no longer part of the human life cycle.

And for that, my friend, a mold (or model of perfection to imitate) is needed to even attempt it.

Here's a typical quote, just so I don't leave you with a floating abstraction. I can provide many more quotes, but this will do for my point. It's from the Introduction to the Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition of The Fountainhead.

Quote

The man-worshipers, in my sense of the term, are those who see man's highest potential and strive to actualize it.

Highest? 

Like in no where else to go?

OK. One can even see such "highest" according to this quote. Rand says so right there--that there exist "those" who do see it.

OK again. How can one become one of "those"? Where can one see "man's highest potential" so one may "strive to actualize it" in one's own life, one's own morally imperfect life--morally imperfect by definition if one uses her meanings?

She tells you a little later in the same Introduction.

Quote

There are very few guideposts to find. The Fountainhead is one of them.

A guidepost in this context, i.e., something that points to the highest, is also a mold for moral perfection--or at least something one uses to see the mold. As applied to her heroes, such a guidepost is a character who is morally perfect. The highest. There is nothing else to see that is higher if one already delimits things by "highest."

In other words, if it looks like a mold, sounds like a mold and quacks like a mold, it's a mold.

:) 

Michael

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

... to be mimicked like a self-help manual...

Tony,

I really disagree with you denigrating the idea of self-help manuals. In fact, I believe Objectivism is at its finest when it is used as self-help literature. This is how top entrepreneurs who admire Rand like Mark Cuban, Joe Polish, etc. use her works.

A self-help manual gives you routines and techniques to mimic, and these can be considered as small molds. But instead of being models of perfection, they are routines used to develop skills like practicing scales for a musician. You need automated skills in order to perform music. And you need similar skills, especially self-control-related skills, in order to achieve things with excellence. Self-help manuals exist to help you acquire those skills.

When you abstract self-help routines from Rand's works, they are powerful in helping you develop these skills. But if you try to use the molds of perfection she presents as models for your own life, you get paralyzed. One characteristic, a sad characteristic of the "Objectivist movement" community is the sheer numbers of underachievers. Guess where that comes from?

But most of the top achievers who love Rand have no use for "Objectivist movements." They're too busy living their own lives to be bothered about trying to tell everyone else how to live theirs. They have read some powerful self-help manuals by one Ayn Rand and practiced the routines therein until they developed some rip-roaring skills. 

The underachievers constantly gripe about how awful others are.

:) 

Michael

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

... the Introduction to the Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition of The Fountainhead.

btw - In rereading this Introduction to get the quotes, something serious jumped out at me.

Rand blamed religion for hogging emotions like reverence and so on, for crowding out man's mind re these things and establishing a "near-monopoly" on them.

Quote

What I was referring to was not religion as such, but a special category of abstractions, the most exalted one, which, for centuries, had been the near-monopoly of religion: ethics--not the particular content of religious ethics, but the abstraction “ethics,” the realm of values, man's code of good and evil, with the emotional connotations of height, uplift, nobility, reverence, grandeur, which pertain to the realm of man's values, but which religion has arrogated to itself.

That's not how religion evolved. There was no time before religion where these things existed, then religion came in and took them over. On the contrary, these things emerged as part of religion as humans evolved.

If Rand were to make a case that it's time to evolve further, it's time to make space for these things independently of religion so we can let go of the more irrational elements of religion, and things like that, I could get on board with it (and even then, with some disagreements depending on how it came out).

But to insinuate that humans would have been in paradise since the beginning if not for evil religion is not accurate. Ever since monkeys came down out of trees and started making up stories about gods and sacrificing to them, since gods were the only explanations at the time for weather, earthquakes, floods, and the like, reason was able to grow. There was no reason before this. And this meant that, with religion, evolving monkeys were starting to be able to think and plan for the future, were looking into cause and effect, and so on. Religion is the seed out of which reason grew.

Nowadays, it would be silly to sacrifice to rain gods. From that perspective, Rand is right. But not back then during the evolving monkey stage. That they were able to conceive of such sacrifices put them way ahead of other animal species.

There's another function of religion--social glue--that Rand rarely dealt with. Cooperating in group and sharing knowledge also allowed reason to grow.

It's a shame Rand demonized religion so much. It's like demonizing body hair, toenails and other currently little used leftovers from earlier primate stages.

Religion is not the enemy. Seeking power over others to their detriment and injury is. In fact, I have seen religion, atheism, and Objectivism used as justification for that purpose and I've considered it evil in each case. I've also seen religion, atheism, and Objectivism used as justification for doing good.

Religion was present even for Aristotle and other Greek philosophers. Religion was not an obstacle for them. It was the seeded soil from which their reason grew. It's true that reason doesn't look like religion, but neither does an oak tree look like an acorn.

Michael

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Michael, I think the key to Rand on moral perfection, man's highest potential, man worshiping, is to understand that every mystical, intrinsicist, Platonic idealism, notion is stripped from those concepts. All that's left is objectivity and what is "real" and what is possible to a consciousness, what is achievable by the nature of man.

Which is why traditional religious comparisons are useful, but non-applicable. "Worship", reverence, ecstacy, even "the sublime", are secular, man-made concepts (and of course) to her, recovered from prior, supernatural ideas. Concepts, based on things taken in through our senses, given value-importance, will sometimes create highly emotional responses which ~may appear~ transcendental/mystical, particularly in art which is consciously designed to appeal to deep feelings/thoughts..

If one accepts her premises, then 'man' is the only supreme existent remaining worthy of being worshiped, as mankind used to, and does worship God. But it doesn't come automatically for one. Yup, I know you have heard this all before.

As she wrote, man must be man by choice. Man's greatness, she never stopped reminding, lies in his conceptual mind, and the maximum use of - by volition. Also, in the virtues and values which he makes, with effort, too. All directed towards active, creative productivity (which doesn't have to be gloriously heroic, but excellent within its context) and one's fulfilling life.  I reckon that using those capabilities to the best one can, even in times of self-doubt and when things look hopeless, is what she meant by "moral perfection". Certainly not that one arrives at that place and stays "perfect". It's ongoing. The process continues every day, and our lack of omniscience means that we must make mistakes. She - and NB - has stressed that fact, but clearly did not mean men will be any the less perfect for this. Conversely, correcting mistakes and misjudgments, changing direction by free will, not accepting anything less than seeking true knowledge, are just more instances of "perfection". So all except John Galt in her novels commit errors, of a rationally-moral kind - but nonetheless stay "perfect". (They are "authentic", in keeping with real men and women - and - were still "her" "ideal"). She made them and their mistakes, so she should know.

Rand always keeps the context of reality and the reality of man's nature, in mind. In short, one can't do what 'man' can't do - or know what we don't know, what we as yet haven't sensed, perceived or learned. Consciousness has identity and is limited in scope and power. (And one doesn't appreciate how great one's scope is until we press the boundaries).  

Therefore her art, which celebrates volition: men being men by choice.

Sure more quotes, but I've seen most and can't think why they'd contradict all this. "Mold"? I still doubt that. ;)

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28 minutes ago, anthony said:

Michael, I think the key to Rand on moral perfection...

Tony,

Your approach is good for following Rand.

But it's not good for reverse-engineering her methods and templates.

I am doing something different than you are. 

With that said, even from your lens, you're fudging something serious re Rand and errors.

28 minutes ago, anthony said:

As she wrote, man must be man by choice. Man's greatness, she never stopped reminding, lies in his conceptual mind, and the maximum use of - by volition. Also, in the virtues and values which he finds, with effort, too. All directed towards active, creative productivity (which doesn't have to be glorious, but excellent within its context).  I assess that using those capabilities to the best one can, even in times of self-doubt and when things look hopeless, is what she meant by "moral perfection".

That is (at least partially) what I also understand that she meant by moral perfection.

But then you said:

28 minutes ago, anthony said:

So all except John Galt in her novels, commit errors, of a moral kind - but nonetheless stay "perfect".

I think you are lucky she is not alive to read this statement. I believe she would have had your hide.

:) 

Rand made a huge distinction between errors of knowledge (which she considered mistakes and morally innocent) and errors of morality (which she considered breaches or betrayals and evil). 

For a morally perfect person, to her, there could never be "errors of a moral kind." There could only be "errors of knowledge."

Another way to say "errors of a moral kind" is to "knowingly choose evil by mistake." That does not compute even for the morally imperfect.

To imagine you saying to Ayn Rand that Hank Rearden, Dagny Taggart etc. were evil at times, but were still perfect, brings images to my mind that give me a belly laugh. Talk about the mother of all shitfits,

:) 

Michael

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

btw - In rereading this Introduction to get the quotes, something serious jumped out at me.

Rand blamed religion for hogging emotions like reverence and so on, for crowding out man's mind re these things and establishing a "near-monopoly" on them.

That's not how religion evolved. There was no time before religion where these things existed, then religion came in and took them over. On the contrary, these things emerged as part of religion as humans evolved.

If Rand were to make a case that it's time to evolve further, it's time to make space for these things independently of religion so we can let go of the more irrational elements of religion, and things like that, I could get on board with it (and even then, with some disagreements depending on how it came out).

But to insinuate that humans would have been in paradise since the beginning if not for evil religion is not accurate. Ever since monkeys came down out of trees and started making up stories about gods and sacrificing to them, since gods were the only explanations at the time for weather, earthquakes, floods, and the like, reason was able to grow. There was no reason before this. And this meant that, with religion, evolving monkeys were starting to be able to think and plan for the future, were looking into cause and effect, and so on. Religion is the seed out of which reason grew.

Nowadays, it would be silly to sacrifice to rain gods. From that perspective, Rand is right. But not back then during the evolving monkey stage. That they were able to conceive of such sacrifices put them way ahead of other animal species.

There's another function of religion--social glue--that Rand rarely dealt with. Cooperating in group and sharing knowledge also allowed reason to grow.

It's a shame Rand demonized religion so much. It's like demonizing body hair, toenails and other currently little used leftovers from earlier primate stages.

Religion is not the enemy. Seeking power over others to their detriment and injury is. In fact, I have seen religion, atheism, and Objectivism used as justification for that purpose and I've considered it evil in each case. I've also seen religion, atheism, and Objectivism used as justification for doing good.

Religion was present even for Aristotle and other Greek philosophers. Religion was not an obstacle for them. It was the seeded soil from which their reason grew. It's true that reason doesn't look like religion, but neither does an oak tree look like an acorn.

Michael

I agree - mostly. Religious observance alone is only one part of renunciation of the mind. Which is plainly the greatest no-no of Rand's. The much larger abstract, "mysticism", is as prevalent among the so-called atheists and secularists today. (And Rand was scathing to someone who paid religion no respect, somewhere**). But the New Left seem to have done no more than drop "God" and continue worshiping at other altars, gone backwards in effect. As far as I'm concerned, they are much worse, and with nothing of the strong character, a "primitive - but essential, once upon a time - philosophy"[AR], and in fact not much of the rationality and substance which Christians show, I believe. For me, I will 'take' a moderately and privately religious, thinking person, any day, over the skeptic of mind and value - and determinist - who is typically a modern far Lefty. And they think they are superior to Christians, which really galls me! I'm working on the theory that the "mystics of muscle" - what Rand called the Left of her day - have changed dramatically to become also and as much "mystics of mind" (which were the religious to her), all wrapped together. ** I may dig up the quotation.

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

Your approach is good for following Rand.

But it's not good for reverse-engineering her methods and templates.

I am doing something different than you are. 

With that said, even from your lens, you're fudging something serious re Rand and errors.

That is (at least partially) what I also understand that she meant by moral perfection.

But then you said:

I think you are lucky she is not alive to read this statement. I believe she would have had your hide.

:) 

Rand made a huge distinction between errors of knowledge (which she considered mistakes and morally innocent) and errors of morality (which she considered breaches or betrayals and evil). 

For a morally perfect person, to her, there could never be "errors of a moral kind." There could only be "errors of knowledge."

Another way to say "errors of a moral kind" is to "knowingly choose evil by mistake." That does not compute even for the morally imperfect.

To imagine you saying to Ayn Rand that Hank Rearden, Dagny Taggart etc. were evil at times, but were still perfect, brings images to my mind that give me a belly laugh. Talk about the mother of all shitfits,

:) 

Michael

Have you read what I read, Michael? Didn't Roark blow up a building, not his own property, the design of which he'd allowed another architect (i.e. faking reality, dishonestly - self-sacrificially) to take credit for? And then deeply regretted. He made a giant, moral mistake and knew it - he said so.

As I said, it is necessary get rid of the mystical preconceptions about "moral perfection". 

No "fudging", I take the reality (re-created) of the art (novel) - as it is presented. 

I think Rand's novels can also be over-deduced from, as though she was - primarily - presenting Objectivism and Objectivists in them. The philosophy one learns in other places, her novels are representations of persons she'd love to know, as she remarked, and imagined, exciting events, not a philosophical treatise (apart from the Speech).

It's fiction, for gawd's sake. 

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I think the number one reason an artist creates is for himself, selfishly to pin down something, some characters, some happenings, of absolute, consuming importance to him. Closely followed -sure- by wanting others to see what his/her vision is. But No.1 is the driver, and for good art it has to be.

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

Have you read what I read, Michael? Didn't Roark blow up a building, not his own property, the design of which he'd allowed another architect (i.e. faking reality, dishonestly - self-sacrificially) to take credit for? And then deeply regretted. He made a giant, moral mistake and knew it - he said so.

Tony,

I believe Rand would have called what Roark did by accepting the commission to ghost-design the building an "error of knowledge." I do not believe she would have called that choice and act evil or immoral. Roark did not consider the morality of corrupt people except as something like a fly to brush away. He certainly did not think their word to him was worth anything and his word to them was a chain to bind him. He would with a moral person, but not with scumbags.

As to blowing up the building, all he was doing was asserting his right to live on his own terms against a highly immoral society and rigged system. (Context.) He was withdrawing his own value from their corruption. Let them survive without him and the product of his mind. (Sound familiar? :) )

On the contrary of calling that an evil act, I believe Rand would have called it one of the most moral things Roark did--proof of his moral perfection, so to speak. A lesser man, a more morally imperfect one, would have let things be.

Oddly enough, even with my disagreements about her limitations on art theory, I would agree with her if she ever said that. (Maybe she did, too. :) )

I'm using her standards of morality, what Roark would think of as morality, not what society thinks it is. 

Can you imagine Ayn Rand writing a book to present a morally perfect hero and put an immoral act by the hero at the climax to destroy everything she was trying to present and turn him into a big fat hypocrite philosophy-wise? Can you imagine that being her intent?

I can't.

Michael

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There is nothing moral in Roark's blowing op that building. He made a serious error of judgment by surreptitiously helping Keating in designing that building, and therefore he would have had to bear the consequences when that went wrong. In spite of all the noble excuses for a "morally perfect hero",  this was just an unwarranted  act of scorched earth.

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7 hours ago, Max said:

... scorched earth.

Max,

Finally we agree on something.

You, who would enslave Roark to a moral code made for enslavement, would never understand his moral right to his own work.

You approve of the corrupt system that would not allow him to freely contract such a building and you approve of the corrupt system that would keep the building after welshing on their end of the deal with Keating. And you call that the moral code that gives you the standard to call Roark's decision immoral (meaning he has to bear the consequences--while I ask, consequences dealt by whom under what moral authority?).

Scorched earth is the only thing you would understand for a situation like that.

And even then, I doubt you will understand it. But, through scorched earth, you have to understand that if the corrupt system wants a building and still welsh on their commitments, they will have to do it without Roark.

Michael

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9 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Brant,

It's the same mental state for fiction as for painting (guided daydream is good description) and both use the same essential process and sequence of steps for getting into that mental state.

The different art forms merely have different focuses.

Art is interactive. Art without an aesthetic trance of a user is no longer art. To use a Randian phrase for modern art, it's junk.

To a Yanomami Indian in the Amazon jungle, the Mona Lisa is junk. 

To many hiphop fans, classic opera is junk. To many classic opera fans, hiphop is junk.

And so on.

There are some universal components across all art forms, though, that encourage trance-forming interactivity no matter what the culture for those who give themselves permission. (I mentioned a few above, incongruence, familiarity, etc.)

I'm no fan of Kibuki and what little I've seen is weird. But I know I can learn it and get into wonderful aesthetic trances if I give myself permission and put in a little effort to learn the rules and signals.

But, to complicate the matter further, context is critical. Even if I learned to appreciate Kibuki, I (as I imagine all who appreciate it) would find it a disaster as a halftime show of a football game. The Mona Lisa would be sorely out of place in a hot dog joint. A James Bond story doesn't work during a Catholic Mass. And so on. It's not impossible to get into the relevant aesthetic trances in those contexts, but doing so would simply not occur to the vast majority of people.

btw - I also hold that Romantic Realism in general, even though it's a bit of a mishmash as a precise category or art the way Rand laid it out, does provide a highly pleasurable transcendent feeling within the aesthetic trance (for those who give themselves permission) and subsequent great memories. It's not the only category of art that provides such a sense of transcendence, but it definitely is one.

Michael

You're saying what Rand said about her eventual death: it's the world that will die.

You're also on the path to a universal definition of art, even if those Indians think it's "junk." 

--Brant

but if you come with the definition the Mona Lisa won't be junk even if those who failed to get an education think it is

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1 hour ago, Max said:

There is nothing moral in Roark's blowing op that building. He made a serious error of judgment by surreptitiously helping Keating in designing that building, and therefore he would have had to bear the consequences when that went wrong. In spite of all the noble excuses for a "morally perfect hero",  this was just an unwarranted  act of scorched earth.

___________________________

The morality is debatable, not the legality. It was absolutely illegal. If Rand had properly understood jury nulification she could have gone with that with little change to the novel and its message. You can't improve the novel by tearing out the climax. Until she had the climax she didn't have a novel and she knew it.

--Brant

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If Roark were morally perfect he'd never have helped Peter Keating. No novel.

Roark had two big things going: his passion for architecture and his integrity. Rand's bias was for work. She was going to write great novels and she did. She blew up buildings. She consumed people. And herself.

--Brant.

uh, to some extent

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