Ellen Stuttle

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

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5 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Not a poem as such, but I forget the exact nomenclature.

--Brant

From Letters of Ayn Rand:

anthem poem.jpg

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On 8/5/2019 at 1:30 PM, Jonathan said:

Mistakes and errors? Heh.

Oopsie, I blew up a building. Oh, well. Forgive me?

 

The consuming drive of the man was to create, in that, I agree with you that he was passionate - "excited" - about his innovative design for the building, hardly aware or caring of who the client was, the government. Just to see it made. What I take away about dynamiting it, was that for the purpose of art, her novel, a man's moral-values precedes and tops property rights. How else was Rand to make her crucial point, by having Roark doing anything tame, less dramatic and controversial? Simple creative licence. Not a moral blue-print for readers to copy or take literally..

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43 minutes ago, anthony said:

The consuming drive of the man was to create, in that, I agree with you that he was passionate - "excited" - about his innovative design for the building, hardly aware or caring of who the client was, the government. Just to see it made. What I take away about dynamiting it, was that for the purpose of art, her novel, a man's moral-values precedes and tops property rights. How else was Rand to make her crucial point, by having Roark doing anything tame, less dramatic and controversial? Simple creative licence. Not a moral blue-print for readers to copy or take literally..

Couldn't Roark have done a podcast or something instead?  🤠

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1 hour ago, ThatGuy said:

From Letters of Ayn Rand:

anthem poem.jpg

TG,

That's very interesting.

I wonder what poetic values Rand thought were contained in Anthem. I admit, I don't find many, hardly any in fact. Even her symbols are pretty obvious (light in the subway representing man's ego being rediscovered, etc.). Her theme (using her form of stating theme), the enslavement and destruction of the independent mind by the collective, is the most powerful thing in the book.

There's another place (I think it was in a lecture Q&A or maybe her fiction writing course, or hell, maybe somewhere else) where Rand said Anthem did not have much of a plot. I disagree with her on this.

I see the main plot divisions going like this: A man seeks individual approval from the collectivist community he was born into. He is rejected by the leaders and punished precisely for what he considers being good, and for independently and individually digging up a past that the community had destroyed. During the events that illustrate this, he gets a girlfriend. They flee and escape. They discover a world of wonder, of past human glories, including the word "I," away from his oppressive community. To leave a door open for sequels, before the story ends he resolves to go back later and rescue others. 

It is a time-honored plot of a person being enslaved to gaining freedom. Rand used a clever twist in that the protagonist was enslaved and didn't know it. So he had to learn that he was in addition to escaping.

Rand also said (in a Q&A) that Ian Fleming's James Bond books had weak plots even though she loved the character. Her reason was that Bond received his assignments to fight evil, he did not choose them on his own (the volition thing).

I'll have to dig up Rand's Anthem quote.

Michael

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Nathaniel Branden in "Who is Ayn Rand" (p.92):

Quote

In length, Anthem is closer to a novelette than to a novel; in style and form, it is closer to poetry than to prose. It is by far the most abstract of her works, in its method of stylization; it is a projection of the issue of individualism versus collectivism dramatized in its purest and starkest essence. 

 

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1 hour ago, Max said:

Nathaniel Branden in "Who is Ayn Rand" (p.92):

 

In length, Anthem is closer to a novelette than to a novel; in style and form, it is closer to poetry than to prose. It is by far the most abstract of her works, in its method of stylization; it is a projection of the issue of individualism versus collectivism dramatized in its purest and starkest essence. 

My sentiments exactly. Dense, to the point. No series of paragraphs about the light streaking in through the windows.

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You guys mean poetry like this? (Quoting from Anthem😞

Quote

We stopped when we felt hunger. We saw birds in the tree branches, and flying from under our footsteps. We picked a stone and we sent it as an arrow at a bird. It fell before us. We made a fire, we cooked the bird, and we ate it, and no meal had ever tasted better to us.

That is poetry?

:) 

I won't argue if that is poetry to you. Do you have other works of poetry like that you consume? Or just Anthem? Hmmmmm? :) 

Once again, I wonder what Rand's idea of poetry was at the time she said Anthem was a poem.

I'll tell you what I do think about the language, though. The writing style of Anthem reminds me of fairy tales I have read and certain retelling of myths. (I'm talking about the way the language is used, leaving aside the story elements and the I-We gimmick.)

That's not an insult.

(btw - Neither is the word, "gimmick." That's what she called things like that, including the gimmick of having the audience on stage as a jury in Night of January 16th.)

It's hard as hell to write convincingly in that style.

Michael

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22 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

You guys mean poetry like this? (Quoting from Anthem😞

That is poetry?

:) 

I won't argue if that is poetry to you. Do you have other works of poetry like that you consume? Or just Anthem? Hmmmmm? :) 

Once again, I wonder what Rand's idea of poetry was at the time she said Anthem was a poem.

I'll tell you what I do think about the language, though. The writing style of Anthem reminds me of fairy tales I have read and certain retelling of myths. (I'm talking about the way the language is used, leaving aside the story elements and the I-We gimmick.)

That's not an insult.

(btw - Neither is the word, "gimmick." That's what she called things like that, including the gimmick of having the audience on stage as a jury in Night of January 16th.)

It's hard as hell to write convincingly in that style.

Michael

Rand has been quoted saying it is poetry. N. Branden has been quoted saying it is closer to poetry than prose.

I don't think any of we guys have asserted it is poetry.

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Closer to poetry than prose isn't poetry. However, in the either-or continuum, it's not poetry. This is because without prose poetry is impossible and not even conceivable. So it's prose.

--Brant

THERE!!

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Ayn Rand to Leonard Read, May 18, 1946  Letters of Ayn Rand

"my whole story of ethics is contained in Anthem. That was my first statement of it on paper. Everything I said in The Fountainhead is in Anthem, though in a briefer, less detailed form, but there explicitly, for all to see who are interested in ideas."

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Ayn Rand to Richard Mealand, July 31, 1947  Letters of Ayn Rand

"In your comment of Anthem you said it should have been a poem. Well, that is exactly what it is."

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Anthem was assigned reading in my high school English class. I read everything she had in print over the following year. My girlfriend, future mother of my children, wrote my favorite passage in calligraphy over a water-color in art class and it has hanged on the wall of my room, then dorm rooms, and now at home, for some 30+ years:

"I know not if this earth on which I stand is the core of the universe or if it is but a speck of dust lost in eternity. I know not and I care not. For I know what happiness is possible to me on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it."

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On 8/8/2019 at 12:17 PM, ThatGuy said:

From Letters of Ayn Rand:

anthem poem.jpg

Is Wilder-Lane's review available anywhere that you know of? I'd like to read it.

J

 

Poetry, Wilder style:

Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man
Washed his face with a fryin' pan
Combed his hair with a wagon wheel
And died with a toothache in his heel...

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23 hours ago, anthony said:

The consuming drive of the man was to create, in that, I agree with you that he was passionate - "excited" - about his innovative design for the building, hardly aware or caring of who the client was, the government.

No, he knew and cared. Re-read the novel. He knows exactly what a rip-off and fuck-over the project is. He is morally opposed to it, at least in thought. In action, he decides that the thrill of working on the project is worth joining in on ripping off and fucking over those who are being forced to pay for it.

Quote

Just to see it made.

Yeah, he adopted the principle of the ends justifying the means.

Quote

What I take away about dynamiting it, was that for the purpose of art, her novel, a man's moral-values precedes and tops property rights.

That's just wrong-headed typical Tonyism.

Quote

How else was Rand to make her crucial point, by having Roark doing anything tame, less dramatic and controversial? Simple creative licence.

And you'll be extending that generous attitude to all other artists and works of art, right?

Just like Rand did?

Heh.

J

 

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51 minutes ago, Jonathan said:

No, he knew and cared. Re-read the novel. He knows exactly what a rip-off and fuck-over the project is. He is morally opposed to it, at least in thought. In action, he decides that the thrill of working on the project is worth joining in on ripping off and fucking over those who are being forced to pay for it.

Yeah, he adopted the principle of the ends justifying the means.

That's just wrong-headed typical Tonyism.

And you'll be extending that generous attitude to all other artists and works of art, right?

Just like Rand did?

Heh.

J

 

Gosh, what a sourpuss view of romanticism. And literalist. Lighten up and fly a little. 

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1 hour ago, Jonathan said:

Is Wilder-Lane's review available anywhere that you know of? I'd like to read it.

J

 

Poetry, Wilder style:

Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man
Washed his face with a fryin' pan
Combed his hair with a wagon wheel
And died with a toothache in his heel...

Sorry, I don't know.

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19 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

I don't think any of we guys have asserted it is poetry.

Jon,

OK.

When writing, I believed you (and others) believe that.

17 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

Her poem is my favorite work of Rand's.

Now you have asserted it is poetry.

So you do believe it. You do! You do!

:)

Michael

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9 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Jon,

OK.

When writing, I believed you (and others) believe that.

Now you have asserted it is poetry.

So you do believe it. You do! You do!

:)

Michael

You can't make me stick to that belief, though. You can't! You can't!  I didn't know what i believed when I wrote that and I still don't know what I believe about this and I only said "Her poem" in respect to what its creator herself calls it, so you can't pin anything on me here! Not anything!!

😀

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19 hours ago, anthony said:

Gosh, what a sourpuss view of romanticism. And literalist. Lighten up and fly a little. 

Yes, Tony, I already knew that my applying Rand's method of judging art and artists to her and her own work upsets you. And, yes, her method is indeed sourpussery at its sourest.

J

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3 hours ago, Jonathan said:

Yes, Tony, I already knew that my applying Rand's method of judging art and artists to her and her own work upsets you. And, yes, her method is indeed sourpussery at its sourest.

J

Why would it upset me? I've found after much explanation, you don't understand or want to get the "method of judging", so what you now say doesn't bother me. 

There's a conscious mind behind the creation of art and in the perusal of it. The standard of reality, "re-created" reality equally, is the basis of a mind perceiving what exists and judging what's good or not. As with any mind and all reality. With the added fact that the art is not any random existent, it was conceived of and deliberated by someone's mind. It is that simple.

From the view of a certain fixed mindset, Rand must display Roark as superhumanly 'perfect', in order to be acceptable and true to her romantic-realist intentions, apparently.  

You remind me, I've been most interested in that strange, longtime combo of literalism and mysticism, from artists and critics, reflected, too in the bigger society.

Recalls that accurate saying about a certain leader: "His enemies take him literally but not seriously, his supporters take him seriously but not literally". 

One could apply the idea back to Romantic realist literature and its characters. E.g. Roark. Some readers will extrapolate the essence of the man - his virtues of character - plainly demonstrated in his words and acts, and judge him that way and take only that sense with them. Others only seem to see the surface impression of the character from disconnected, minor facts and allow those to dominate their judgments.

In life also, often seen how his superficial "style" - supposedly some kind of a mystical insight into a person's being  - has prevailed over an individual's substance and actions, lately.

 

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20 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Open your heart, my son.

Confess.

Confession is good for the soul...

:)

Michael

It may be fun if you agreed to try to back her up. You don’t think it’s poetry, but this excercise will be a totally separate thing — a best guess and best effort at why do you suppose she thought it was poetry?

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1 hour ago, Jon Letendre said:

... a best guess and best effort at why do you suppose she thought it was poetry?

Jon,

I don't have a best guess right now. That's why I keep saying I wonder what elements of poetry she thought were in it.

Rand said conflicting things about poetry over her life.

I will dig into this later because I am truly interested in the substance, not just whether Rand was right or wrong, or whether one is "backing Rand up" or not.

I used to be on a quest to slay Rand critics because I was a knight defending her honor, especially in the early days of SoloHQ, but that has no value for me anymore. To slay an honest critic starts from an incorrect identification--an honest critic is not an enemy, but merely someone who sees something, evaluates it, and says what he or she sees and thinks. Dishonest critics are not worth slaying. Rand's works have become part of the universal human culture and a mean little soul hissing and spitting will not change that. (It's OK to step on one once in a while, though. :) )

As I mentioned elsewhere, I am setting up a project on another site of trying to figure out how to write fiction like Rand. There's a preliminary thread about this here on OL. I haven't delved deeply into the specific topic of poetry, but it's worth delving into to see what's there.

For example, I know rhythm was important to Rand. From the accounts I have read of her writing habits, she would read her stuff out loud as part of her rewriting process to check how the rhythm came off.

But specifically on poetry, she would say things like Anthem was a poem. Then say things like the following in her writing instruction, from The Art of Nonfiction, Chapter 8, Style.

Quote

In poetry, the rhythm of a sentence is formalized; when you use one type, you know what category it belongs to, so it is not a problem. But the rhythm of a prose sentence is a complex issue.

. . .

"Poems" without rhymes are neither prose nor poetry—they are nothing.

If I were on a quest to discredit her, I would start yelling, "See? See? Where is the formalized rhythm is in Anthem?, iambic pentameter and the like? Where are the rhymes? Rand was wrong, wrong, wrong!"

But that means nothing other than the gotcha crap I have long wearied of. I am sure Rand represented honestly what she thought at the time she thought it. She obviously thought one thing about poetry in her earlier days and thought differently later on. So who gives a crap about gotcha? The interesting thing to me is: what was she seeing at the time?

After Rand got into nonfiction writing, she wrapped herself deeper and deeper in a fantasy where she believed she was always consistent on fundamental issues ever since childhood. Nobody is, not even her, so this has been the source material of the gotcha warriors ever since. I don't see this fantasy in moral terms, though. Nor delusional. It's the call of the story and Rand's last major story (AS) was so powerful, it was (and is) easy to live inside it. This is the way the mind works and one has to be aware of that call to story in order to step back from it. 

(If you are interested in the neuroscience of this, check out the work of Michael Gazzaniga on split brain patients--here is an easy read. He managed to isolate a part of the left brain he calls "The Interpreter" which makes up stories seeking causality. And if nothing makes sense to The Interpreter, it does not produce the equivalent of "I don't know." It makes up shit and spins a story about it. This is fascinating once you get into it. Repeatable experiments and everything. btw - Our right brains don't know how to lie. The Interpreter does, though, but not with intent to deceive. It's trying to organize and make sense out of input. When a person relies too heavily on The Interpreter to the detriment of input from other parts of the brain and creates a super-powerful myelinated neural network out of a story, the person constantly defaults to that story until it becomes a reflex and eventually that story takes the place of reality to the person.)

Don't get me started on this stuff. I could go on all day and night and not even get warmed up. :) 

I could speculate about why Rand thought Anthem was a poem, but there are too many factors, including her lack of a master poet's level of domination of English at the time she wrote Anthem, to make such speculation anything more than a wild guess from my own Interpreter. :)

As I will research this, though, I will be able to say more later and consider it as giving it my best shot. I only have bits and pieces right now.

Michael

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15 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Jon,

I don't have a best guess right now. That's why I keep saying I wonder what elements of poetry she thought were in it.

Rand said conflicting things about poetry over her life.

I will dig into this later because I am truly interested in the substance, not just whether Rand was right or wrong, or whether one is "backing Rand up" or not.

I used to be on a quest to slay Rand critics because I was a knight defending her honor, especially in the early days of SoloHQ, but that has no value for me anymore. To slay an honest critic starts from an incorrect identification--an honest critic is not an enemy, but merely someone who sees something, evaluates it, and says what he or she sees and thinks. Dishonest critics are not worth slaying. Rand's works have become part of the universal human culture and a mean little soul hissing and spitting will not change that. (It's OK to step on one once in a while, though. :) )

As I mentioned elsewhere, I am setting up a project on another site of trying to figure out how to write fiction like Rand. There's a preliminary thread about this here on OL. I haven't delved deeply into the specific topic of poetry, but it's worth delving into to see what's there.

For example, I know rhythm was important to Rand. From the accounts I have read of her writing habits, she would read her stuff out loud as part of her rewriting process to check how the rhythm came off.

But specifically on poetry, she would say things like Anthem was a poem. Then say things like the following in her writing instruction, from The Art of Nonfiction, Chapter 8, Style.

If I were on a quest to discredit her, I would start yelling, "See? See? Where is the formalized rhythm is in Anthem?, iambic pentameter and the like? Where are the rhymes? Rand was wrong, wrong, wrong!"

But that means nothing other than the gotcha crap I have long wearied of. I am sure Rand represented honestly what she thought at the time she thought it. She obviously thought one thing about poetry in her earlier days and thought differently later on. So who gives a crap about gotcha? The interesting thing to me is: what was she seeing at the time?

After Rand got into nonfiction writing, she wrapped herself deeper and deeper in a fantasy where she believed she was always consistent on fundamental issues ever since childhood. Nobody is, not even her, so this has been the source material of the gotcha warriors ever since. I don't see this fantasy in moral terms, though. Nor delusional. It's the call of the story and Rand's last major story (AS) was so powerful, it was (and is) easy to live inside it. This is the way the mind works and one has to be aware of that call to story in order to step back from it. 

(If you are interested in the neuroscience of this, check out the work of Michael Gazzaniga on split brain patients--here is an easy read. He managed to isolate a part of the left brain he calls "The Interpreter" which makes up stories seeking causality. And if nothing makes sense to The Interpreter, it does not produce the equivalent of "I don't know." It makes up shit and spins a story about it. This is fascinating once you get into it. Repeatable experiments and everything. btw - Our right brains don't know how to lie. The Interpreter does, though, but not with intent to deceive. It's trying to organize and make sense out of input. When a person relies too heavily on The Interpreter to the detriment of input from other parts of the brain and creates a super-powerful myelinated neural network out of a story, the person constantly defaults to that story until it becomes a reflex and eventually that story takes the place of reality to the person.)

Don't get me started on this stuff. I could go on all day and night and not even get warmed up. :) 

I could speculate about why Rand thought Anthem was a poem, but there are too many factors, including her lack of a master poet's level of domination of English at the time she wrote Anthem, to make such speculation anything more than a wild guess from my own Interpreter. :)

As I will research this, though, I will be able to say more later and consider it as giving it my best shot. I only have bits and pieces right now.

Michael

Can you think of any reasons anyone might have that would make them say Anthem is poetry?

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