Ellen Stuttle

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

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24 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

TG,

How does that fit in with poetry or Ayn Rand?

Arrrghhh...

It's all so confusing...

:) 

They tried to eat a Sloppy Joe,
On a bun of sour-dough,
They spread a poem in mayo,
And ate an Anthem just for show.

:)

Michael
 

TG is saying that it is pitiful how The Manwich Co. found poetry in a sandwich while you cannot, in Anthem. 😆😆😆

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Barbara Branden on Anthem:

 

Quoting BB - 

"In one respect, that of style, Anthem is my favorite of Rand's fiction. It is lyrical and beautiful, and retains a remarkable consistency of style throughout. It ranks as the equal of the most beautiful of her writings in her novels -- with the "boy on the bicycle" scene and the death of the Wet Nurse. And it is in Anthem that we see the purest essence of Rand the Poet, without any of the harshness, the anger, the bitterness that came to mark her later work. Reading Anthem for the first time, many years ago, was one of the irreplaceable literary experiences of my life."

I felt the same.  Somewhere on OL, Barbara and I exchanged appreciative comments about Anthem.  I couldn't find where on a quick search.  The damnable Search function does not search material in quote boxes, which were probably used in the exchange.

Ellen

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9 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I think I need to see the commercial...

I still don't get the poetry connection.

Michael

I said sandwich and TG ran with it. You’re not missing anything, I don’t think. TG took sandwich and jumped to that “Manwich is a meal” ad.

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Ellen,

Can you quote passages from Anthem you found lyrical?

This isn't a challenge. I'm honestly interested.

I would ask the same of Barbara if she were alive.

I'm not against the gushing, either. (I happen to like Anthem a lot.)

I'm just curious about the specifics of why other than someone else gushes, too.

Michael

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

TG,

How does that fit in with poetry or Ayn Rand?

Arrrghhh...

It's all so confusing...

:) 

They tried to eat a Sloppy Joe,
On a bun of sour-dough,
They spread a poem in mayo,
And ate an Anthem just for show.

:)

Michael
 

Darn, I didn't mean to be so controversial! Really, it was just offered up a light-hearted quip on the subject; advertising slogans as the poetry of our age. I just got swept up in all this sandwich talk...free verse leading to free association...

As for the ad itself...It was the 80's in America... I guess you just had to be there...


 

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8 minutes ago, Jon Letendre said:

You’re not missing anything, I don’t think.

Jon,

I'm missing the setup: who when where...

Who said anything about poetry in the Manwich thing? Just you and TG? Or did the people in the commercial say it?

This is not a trick question. I don't get the poetry connection.

It sounds to me like saying that a Sloppy Joe doesn't ride motorcycles and that's equivalent to there not being horses in Anthem even though there could have been.

Michael

 

 

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24 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Jon,

I'm missing the setup: who when where...

Who said anything about poetry in the Manwich thing? Just you and TG? Or did the people in the commercial say it?

This is not a trick question. I don't get the poetry connection.

It sounds to me like saying that a Sloppy Joe doesn't ride motorcycles and that's equivalent to there not being horses in Anthem even though there could have been.

Michael

 

 

Once I had brought up sandwiches TG couldn’t resist, since we were talking about poetry, couldn’t resist posting The Manwich lines, because they are nearly poetry. Just me and TG rate it like that, yes. Only us, so far. This experiment in persuasion is ongoing.

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2 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

Just me and TG rate it like that, yes.

Jon,

Whew!

Thank you.

2 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

Once I had brought up sandwiches TG couldn’t resist, since we were talking about poetry, couldn’t resist posting The Manwich lines, because they are nearly poetry.

Got it.

Finally.

I guess I did flunk because I feel like I just cheated.

:)

So... thinking about writing any poems these days?...

My vote would be for you and TG to team up as coauthors.

Getting sandwich to Manwich across to another human being as an example of poetry, relating that to Anthem, and including an inside joke--all understood and correctly bantered between both, and all at first blush without prior rehearsal or explanation is a talent not to be taken lightly.

I see a spark wanting to become a fire...

:) 

Michael

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16 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Ellen,

Can you quote passages from Anthem you found lyrical?

This isn't a challenge. I'm honestly interested.

I would ask the same of Barbara if she were alive.

I'm not against the gushing, either. (I happen to like Anthem a lot.)

I'm just curious about the specifics of why other than someone else gushes, too.

Michael

I could, abundant passages, like approximately the whole book.

But I don't have the time, and if I did have the time, I wouldn't want to spend it on so frustrating a proceeding - way worse than trying to explain a joke

Ellen

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50 minutes ago, Ellen Stuttle said:

I could, abundant passages, like approximately the whole book.

But I don't have the time, and if I did have the time, I wouldn't want to spend it on so frustrating a proceeding - way worse than trying to explain a joke

Ellen,

Not one passage?

Citing one passage you consider poetry from Anthem would be frustrating?

Well, we certainly don't want to frustrate you...

:)

This is a good example of the problem with everyone I've encountered when I've asked for an example of poetry from Anthem. They say they can provide one, but they never do. And they tend to treat my question with a bit of hostility. Like I'm intruding...

But if one can't analyze a work with examples, how on earth will one ever be able to discover how to do something similar? Don't forget, my goal is to figure out Rand's fiction writing techniques. Saying something is poetry, period, is not useful. It's an opinion. Showing how it is poetry is not only useful, it explains. One can agree or disagree with this or that, but there are specific techniques to point to. (I've even mentioned a few that Rand uses in Anthem right here in this thread.)

btw - I have an issue with using "lyrical" as a synonym for poetry. Think of the lyrics of certain modern pop songs and certain rap songs. By definition, one has to call the words lyrical, but some of these lyrics, if taken without the music, are so awful, they don't qualify as anything approximating poetry. That's on the negative side.

On the positive side, many beautiful and emotionally effective passages in prose are called lyrical, including the passage of the bike rider in The Fountainhead, but they don't come off as poetry to me. 

As an aside, when I first showed up in O-Land, I sought out Barbara instead of Nathaniel for one reason only. She was a much better writer. More lyrical, one could say. :) I told her that several times. Each time brought a radiant smile from her. She also agreed with me, but never wanted to blow her own horn.

Michael

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I want to take a different crack at this. I keep thinking it over because it nags at me.

I want to understand and I think I have just come up with something that makes sense to me.

 

The Inner Child

Inside every man and every woman is a little boy and a little girl respectively. A child. As people grow older and mature, they carry that child with them. In fact, they mature on top of that child. They never replace it.

As life in the adult stage is way more complicated than life in the child stage, the adult world and values is is where the minds of adults focus. At this stage, they rarely get the chance to see the world for long stretches as their inner child sees it. But that inner child is still there, just hidden under massive amounts of learning and living.

One of the more charming aspects of Rand's fiction writing is sporadic moments of childlike wonder, childlike reactions of stupefaction, and so on. Atlas Shrugged especially has many moments similar to: Isn't it wonderful how much the mind can do? Rand used this emotion a lot while Dagny was in Galt's Gulch as a counterpoint to the more cerebral parts

Normally we express this as: Whoa! or Wow!, etc. And our inner child feels good since it has been seen and allowed expression. (That's just one emotion. There are many that call back to the inner child.)

 

Style and Message

I think Rand went really deep into this emotional world with Anthem. But she wrote it for adults. I remember one of her comments on style in fiction writing was to wed the style of writing to the message. So I think Rand adopted the style of, say, an eleven year old without the faulty logic and distractions. This allows the adult to get into a childlike aesthetic trance more easily than if she had used a more adult style.

Incidentally, something similar is taught in popular fiction writing. When you want the audience to focus on reflections, use longer sentences and bigger words. When you want to portray action and ramp up the emotion, use shorter sentences and less complicated language. 

Also, Rand did this in nonfiction, too. Look at the difference in style between her middle range articles (I'm going on memory, but I think that's what she called her philosophy writing for the general public) and ITOE

 

Poetry and the Inner Child

Now, switch over to poetry. The origins of poetry come from us learning how to talk as children. There's an excellent discussion of this in a book called Entranced by Story: Brain, Tale and Teller, from Infancy to Old Age by Hugh Crago. Incidentally, Crago used a term I like a lot, songstries, to mean the mental play of children of alternating event and reversal with sound patterns like rhyme, alliteration, repetition, etc. Listen to children and they go on and on and on like this. 

Massaging sounds with seesaw events (even when they don't make much sense, especially with 18 month old babies :) ) is the epistemological foundation of poetry, how it works, why certain rules won't go away, and why it is important to humans, so to speak.

In adults, wedded to the memories of these sound manipulations are the memories of the emotions the child felt when he or she was in that phase. And this gets expressed in several ways. For example, we see an appeal to this emotion through verbal sound play in pop songs all the time. Almost all great pop songs have, oh baby, or ooh ooh, or something like that in them. (And notice that love songs say "baby," not "child" or "kid" at these moments. :) )

Poems elicit these low level childlike emotions through sound play, but poems (other than children's poems) also satisfy adult perspectives through the message, symbolism, cultural references, advanced vocabulary, etc. I often call this merge the meaning in between the lines.

 

The Writing Style in Anthem

I think Rand tapped into that childlike emotional world in Anthem, but without the sound play. Instead, she used an adult story allied to a child's way of writing. This would also make sense in the story since the people in that world were not highly educated.

One of the most common ways we get to to see life through that emotional world these days is through poetry and songs. 

I think this is the reason people accept Anthem being called a poem at face value. They feel a long stretch of the emotional world they get to glimpse through poetry. Except Rand got there through style of prose writing, not through poetry. And this is the reason, I believe, people get so defensive about it when someone criticizes Anthem. They can't explain it, but they know they experienced some very special emotions and these emotions were just as real, even though dreamlike, as anything else they ever experienced. Also, nobody is going to fuck with their inner child! :)

What has actually gone on with Anthem is that they got to experience an adventure story (love interest and all) with an adult message and with an adult's understanding, but with a child's emotional innocence.

For me, this is a brilliant use of style--intentionally chosen prose style. It makes a lot more sense than calling the work "epic" like in Homer and things like that just to justify the word "poem."

 

Back to My Evaluations

Now that I have worked this out in my mind, the standard changed. I no longer use other books and poetry in general as a standard from which to compare Rand's writing style in Anthem. Instead, I use an eleven year old's form or writing. From this angle, I don't think the writing is bad anymore.

On the contrary, it's really really good.

Everybody can understand it. The aesthetic trance favors the childlike emotions of a more innocent time in a person's life. The style works. It works well for clarity and enhancing the intended emotion. That, to me, is the ultimate storytelling standard for style.

Michael

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58 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I want to take a different crack at this. I keep thinking it over because it nags at me.

I want to understand and I think I have just come up with something that makes sense to me.

 

The Inner Child

Inside every man and every woman is a little boy and a little girl respectively. A child. As people grow older and mature, they carry that child with them. In fact, they mature on top of that child. They never replace it.

As life in the adult stage is way more complicated than life in the child stage, the adult world and values is is where the minds of adults focus. At this stage, they rarely get the chance to see the world for long stretches as their inner child sees it. But that inner child is still there, just hidden under massive amounts of learning and living.

One of the more charming aspects of Rand's fiction writing is sporadic moments of childlike wonder, childlike reactions of stupefaction, and so on. Atlas Shrugged especially has many moments similar to: Isn't it wonderful how much the mind can do? Rand used this emotion a lot while Dagny was in Galt's Gulch as a counterpoint to the more cerebral parts

Normally we express this as: Whoa! or Wow!, etc. And our inner child feels good since it has been seen and allowed expression. (That's just one emotion. There are many that call back to the inner child.)

 

Style and Message

I think Rand went really deep into this emotional world with Anthem. But she wrote it for adults. I remember one of her comments on style in fiction writing was to wed the style of writing to the message. So I think Rand adopted the style of, say, an eleven year old without the faulty logic and distractions. This allows the adult to get into a childlike aesthetic trance more easily than if she had used a more adult style.

Incidentally, something similar is taught in popular fiction writing. When you want the audience to focus on reflections, use longer sentences and bigger words. When you want to portray action and ramp up the emotion, use shorter sentences and less complicated language. 

Also, Rand did this in nonfiction, too. Look at the difference in style between her middle range articles (I'm going on memory, but I think that's what she called her philosophy writing for the general public) and ITOE

 

Poetry and the Inner Child

Now, switch over to poetry. The origins of poetry come from us learning how to talk as children. There's an excellent discussion of this in a book called Entranced by Story: Brain, Tale and Teller, from Infancy to Old Age by Hugh Crago. Incidentally, Crago used a term I like a lot, songstries, to mean the mental play of children of alternating event and reversal with sound patterns like rhyme, alliteration, repetition, etc. Listen to children and they go on and on and on like this. 

Massaging sounds with seesaw events (even when they don't make much sense, especially with 18 month old babies :) ) is the epistemological foundation of poetry, how it works, why certain rules won't go away, and why it is important to humans, so to speak.

In adults, wedded to the memories of these sound manipulations are the memories of the emotions the child felt when he or she was in that phase. And this gets expressed in several ways. For example, we see an appeal to this emotion through verbal sound play in pop songs all the time. Almost all great pop songs have, oh baby, or ooh ooh, or something like that in them. (And notice that love songs say "baby," not "child" or "kid" at these moments. :) )

Poems elicit these low level childlike emotions through sound play, but poems (other than children's poems) also satisfy adult perspectives through the message, symbolism, cultural references, advanced vocabulary, etc. I often call this merge the meaning in between the lines.

 

The Writing Style in Anthem

I think Rand tapped into that childlike emotional world in Anthem, but without the sound play. Instead, she used an adult story allied to a child's way of writing. This would also make sense in the story since the people in that world were not highly educated.

One of the most common ways we get to to see life through that emotional world these days is through poetry and songs. 

I think this is the reason people accept Anthem being called a poem at face value. They feel a long stretch of the emotional world they get to glimpse through poetry. Except Rand got there through style of prose writing, not through poetry. And this is the reason, I believe, people get so defensive about it when someone criticizes Anthem. They can't explain it, but they know they experienced some very special emotions and these emotions were just as real, even though dreamlike, as anything else they ever experienced. Also, nobody is going to fuck with their inner child! :)

What has actually gone on with Anthem is that they got to experience an adventure story (love interest and all) with an adult message and with an adult's understanding, but with a child's emotional innocence.

For me, this is a brilliant use of style--intentionally chosen prose style. It makes a lot more sense than calling the work "epic" like in Homer and things like that just to justify the word "poem."

 

Back to My Evaluations

Now that I have worked this out in my mind, the standard changed. I no longer use other books and poetry in general as a standard from which to compare Rand's writing style in Anthem. Instead, I use an eleven year old's form or writing. From this angle, I don't think the writing is bad anymore.

On the contrary, it's really really good.

Everybody can understand it. The aesthetic trance favors the childlike emotions of a more innocent time in a person's life. The style works. It works well for clarity and enhancing the intended emotion. That, to me, is the ultimate storytelling standard for style.

Michael

Interesting take, and quite plausible (even if I don't think it has to be either/or regarding the epic poem argument).

 This is not unlike what happens in comic books/sequential art. Those interested in pursuing this line of thought may be interested in a book called UNDERSTANDING COMICS: THE INVISIBLE ART by Scott McCloud. He examines how comic book artists and animators "draw in the reader" (pun intended) in how they balance realism and more abstract styles. The more detailed, the more distance the reader becomes, and the more abstract or "cartoony", the more the reader/viewer can project themselves into the character or story. Sounds very similar to what Michael is getting at, here; even talks about the child vs. adult modes of perception. (And its medium is its message; it's done in a comic-book format. But don't let that fool you, it's very sophisticated in its approach.)

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24 minutes ago, ThatGuy said:

This is not unlike what happens in comic books/sequential art. Those interested in pursuing this line of thought may be interested in a book called UNDERSTANDING COMICS: THE INVISIBLE ART by Scott McCloud.

TG,

That is a brilliant book. I've read it. And it was one of the nicest surprises I ever got out of a pop culture book (which ended up not being so pop :) ).

McCloud goes into some pretty deep philosophy. I remember buying several books he recommended. Hell, I even got into a bit of Marshall McLuhan because of him.

:)

Michael

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25 minutes ago, ThatGuy said:

... even if I don't think it has to be either/or regarding the epic poem argument... 

TG,

No biggie. I just think Anthem would need to show things like heroic couplets or other poetry-related elements for me to put it in that category.

(Fun fact that is neither here nor there. David Mamet writes his stuff in iambic pentameter. That's right. Glengarry Glen Ross, Wag the Dog, Oleanna, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, The Verdict, Hoffa, etc. are all in iambic pentameter. At least the plays are. I did his online masterclass in writing and I'm pretty sure he said his screenplays are, too. But don't quote me on that until I do the course again. I've tried writing in iambic pentameter in modern English and it's irritating. :) I'm gonna learn it, though.)

Michael

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23 hours ago, Ellen Stuttle said:

Barbara Branden on Anthem:

 

Quoting BB - 

"In one respect, that of style, Anthem is my favorite of Rand's fiction. It is lyrical and beautiful, and retains a remarkable consistency of style throughout. It ranks as the equal of the most beautiful of her writings in her novels -- with the "boy on the bicycle" scene and the death of the Wet Nurse. And it is in Anthem that we see the purest essence of Rand the Poet, without any of the harshness, the anger, the bitterness that came to mark her later work. Reading Anthem for the first time, many years ago, was one of the irreplaceable literary experiences of my life."

I felt the same.  Somewhere on OL, Barbara and I exchanged appreciative comments about Anthem.  I couldn't find where on a quick search.  The damnable Search function does not search material in quote boxes, which were probably used in the exchange.

Ellen

You can write prose poetically.

--Brant

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From the poetically-prosaic Anthem, by way of the Haikus From Books blog

rand_Haiku.png

Spoiler

PART ONE

It is a sin to write this.
It is a sin to think words
no others think and to put them
down upon a paper
no others are to see.

It is base and evil.

It is as if we were speaking
alone to no ears but our own.
And we know well that
there is no transgression blacker than
to do or think alone.

We have broken the laws.

The laws say that men
may not write unless
the Council of Vocations bid them so.

May we be forgiven!

 

 

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On August 11, 2019 at 2:50 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Well, we certainly don't want to frustrate you.

LOL.

Look at the amount of verbiage you produced when I didn't even cite a passage.  What would I be in for if I did?

Ellen

 btw, I haven't read any further than the sentence I quoted, just taken a quick glance.  I truly don't have time for this stuff, much as literature interests me.  I was merely letting Jon know that there are people who don't find Rand's calling the book "a poem" (loosely speaking) odd.

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2 hours ago, Ellen Stuttle said:

Look at the amount of verbiage you produced when I didn't even cite a passage.  What would I be in for if I did?

Ellen,

It's called a discussion.

If you want to tweet, that's OK. 

:evil:  :) 

I just find it kinda weird for someone to show up and tweet a dismissal in a discussion, say they are not reading it anyway, then say doing more is frustrating when asked a simple question. I mean, the last thing I want to do is frustrate someone in a discussion, but it's hard to figure out what to do in a discussion when discussing is the very thing that the person who shows up says is frustrating--not because the substance is frustrating to them, but because the very act of discussing is--they don't have time, for instance, and they want everyone to know it.

I'll see if I can set up a tweet section on OL for the one-liner put-down crowd.

Also, your dismissal of the discussion is duly noted for those who find value in contemplating it.

:)

(btw - On rereading, I see that my intention is a lot more playful than it could be interpreted. I just don't have time to do better. :evil:  :) )

Michael

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btw - This is exactly why I am laying out a blog on writing.

I am at a point in my writing education where I have a strong need to discuss these things with people who care about them as topics because they are interested in digging deeper. That would be writers.

In O-Land, there's just too much accumulated baggage to wade through before a topic like this can even be discussed as a topic.

Until the blog goes up, though, here is OK. Obviously not optimal for all, but OK for some.

Michael

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14 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

A poem is where you find it.

--Brant

Brant,

LOL...

Oh... the temptation to start running through the replacements...

Here. Let me do just one that will not sting anyone.

Trump love is where you find it.

(But, man, do other ideas swirl...)

:)

Michael

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4 hours ago, william.scherk said:

From the poetically-prosaic Anthem, by way of the Haikus From Books blog

William,

What a hoot.

:)

This kind of humor reminds me of a meme I saw called "Shakespearean Dogs." Three dogs were standing around in typical dog postures.

Dog 1: Barketh!
Dog 2: Growleth!
Dog 3: Grrrrrrrth!

:) 

Michael

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