regi

Ayn Rand And The End Of Love

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2 minutes ago, regi said:

Before there can be a "feeling" of curiosity, there must first be a question in the mind, such as "why" or "what" or "how"

I usually think in terms of motive. Reacting also to MSK's comment above, I read the people I meet in person. The clever ones are good actors, harder to read, but a little chat reveals plenty. Very difficult for me to see worry and hardship in their sad eyes, the brusque intensity of a predator, and vacancy in a child.

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43 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I find it difficult to take you seriously

I'm sorry you have such difficulties. You do understand what you do or do not take seriously is of no concern to me?

46 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

because you always claim to know so much bad stuff about "most people."

There's no special claim. I'm only repeating what others claim about themselves. You read what all the psychologists say about rampant depression and discontent. You know the statistics of individuals who claim to be unhappy and depressed. I'm just taking their word for what they say their experience is.

51 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I wish I were smart enough to know how awful most people are inside their heads.

Read the news and you will.

Randy

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9 hours ago, regi said:

There's no special claim.

Regi,

Of course it is. Because without this claim, you cannot wallow in the illusion that you are better than the vast portion of humanity, but don't have to produce anything of value to humanity or anybody to show it.

And you even get to posture the "I quit before I'm fired" routine and say you don't care what anyone thinks. (I've seen you say that so much and so often, I wonder if my lady doth protest too much. :) The truth is, people who don't care for real don't talk much about it. They do other stuff. But you talk about it all the time.)

So that's an evaluation without the need for reality. It's a smokescreen, but it's yours and you are entitled to it.

And that's fine for people who don't have to produce anything of value for the market--like writing that others will read and pay for. That's an awful business plan, though. Even F. Scott Fitzgerald sold his stories for the market--he didn't just sell metaphors--and there was a smaller market back then. I think he would kill it today and be extremely wealthy, but then again, he knew how to write stories for real and induce emotions in the reader.

(btw - I'm not doing this for your benefit. When you are not in affected pretentiousness mode, I like you, but I have no intention of making your choices for you or telling you what to do. I'm doing it for any reader who might need an alternative to your toxic anti-inspiration and nonstop humanity-bashing vanity. One of the things I try to do with OL is encourage others to produce any works of greatness that may be within them and they can achieve. And that means encouraging them to explore what works and what doesn't--out in reality, not just in their imaginations. They have to transmute intangible ideas into tangible reality like all great producers do. It's one of the glories of being human. Playing martyr while looking down one's nose at humanity all the time will never get them there. And smugness is such sweet spiritual poison...)

Michael

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Of course it is. Because without this claim, you cannot wallow in the illusion that you are better than the vast portion of humanity, but don't have to produce anything of value to humanity or anybody to show it.

And you even get to posture the "I quit before I'm fired" routine and say you don't care what anyone thinks. (I've seen you say that so much and so often, I wonder if my lady doth protest too much. :) The truth is, people who don't care for real don't talk much about it. They do other stuff. But you talk about it all the time.)

Bam!!!

Also, to anyone trying for the award of Outstanding Achievement in Arts Consumer Tastes, it's a tough and competitive field. Sure, throw your hat into the ring, but know in advance that Pigero will always be there, and Kamhi and Torres, and let's not forget Thomas M. Miovas, jr., and that's just some of the Ovish rivals. There are outsiders vying for it as well. You'll have to sharpen up your smugness skills quite a lot to hang with that bunch!

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On 1/12/2018 at 6:28 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

2. The rough sex. This is one area I believe Rand was 100% true to her underlying subconscious nature. She couldn't have known what we know today through neuroscience, but she introspected and expressed what she saw in her own inner life. Jung would say she accepted her shadow, but there is a more technical explanation now.

There are actual neurons in the hippocampus that control snapping. This is a state where you totally lose restraint and act with violence or strong single-minded intensity. And, yes, during such a state, you govern your acts with reason, meaning instead of becoming a blithering idiot, you become deadly competent. You plan and execute your plans, even complicated ones.

People snap for a variety of reasons and the mains ones have corresponding neurons in the hippocampus. Neuroscientists have studied this in rat brains by inserting optic fibers through their skulls that end in respective neurons in the hippocampus. (The rats end up looking like they have whiskers coming out of the top of their heads and that's just plain gross, but there it is. :) )

A laser signal sent through an optic fiber triggers the respective neuron and experimenters have managed to get rats to instantly go nuts (vicious nuts), instantly shut down, instantly mate, etc., by pushing different buttons.

This topic is too dense to go into here but there is an excellent book I read (and intend to reread several times) I can point to for those interested: Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain by Douglas Fields.

It so happens that the neuron for mating is RIGHT NEXT TO the neuron for violent attack. It is physically next to it. That means if any signals get crossed during synapses chains, physical proximity makes it easy for violence to turn into sex and vice-versa. Notice that rape and war always go together.

I believe Rand saw this in herself, did not know why it was there, but understood that she could not bear false witness and simply registered her impulses in her fiction. I imagine her thinking that if these images excited her, they would excite the reader. (She did learn a lot of her craft in Hollywood, after all. :) )

I want to add to this thought with a comment I made to a screenwriting friend I interact with on Facebook (a fantastic teacher, too--Peter Russell). He was discussing the Fifty Shades thing.

I'm posting this because, as I work through these ideas myself, I believe some of them will be useful to aspiring authors (or even authors) who read OL.

I wrote:

Quote

This is a bit off the screenwriting path, but I believe I know why such a series is so popular--at least the visceral reason. There's a book called Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain by Douglas Fields. It's an OK read for the lay person. A bit dry, but not bleeding-eyes technical. 

The author was trying to understand what makes people snap--and they do not just snap for a cornered-rat kind of rage. A person also snaps for a good reason, like when he jumps into a river to save a drowning stranger, but can't remember deciding to do that or jumping in.

(This stuff fascinates me and, I believe, it will make great story events for climaxes in my own work.)

Apparently there are neurons in the hippocampus that control the final snap trigger. And the odd part is that the control neurons for sex are RIGHT NEXT TO the ones that control violence. If there is any short circuit in synapses firing during stress, it's physically likely for signals for one to jump to the other. After all, our brains are moist computers in a sense, and they are physical. 

That, to me, explains (at least partially) why sex and violence are so often linked. For instance, rape is rampant in war, especially where there are no strictly enforced rules of engagement.

I think this explains the popularity of the Fifty Shades bondage sex shtick. It allows the audience to thrill both brain circuits (sex and violence--at least potential violence)--whose controls are right next to each other--in a safe environment where reality and fantasy can meet. The audience gets a fix of dopamine, serotonin, cortisol and God knows what else squirting in their heads without getting mauled and they get to let their libidos go ape to boot. 

Sex and violence has always been a winner. Think of a typical Harold Robbins seduction scene. The woman insults the man, spits at him and screams, "Get out!" He walks up to her, slaps her so hard she falls on the bed. He jumps on her as she grasps at him in a passionate hug. "Take me, my darling," she breathlessly murmurs with heaving breasts. "Do it now. Do it hard!" 

And, right on cue, when Robbins was alive, he would gleefully sell another gazillion copies... :) 

Fifty Shades strikes me as a variation on this theme. The secret sauce is in the intense sex and violence seduction, not so much the execution, which is generally portrayed quickly and as an afterthought. You would think that would be a let-down, but based on their wallets, people love seduction more than sex. :) 

I think the most important thought in that quote is that people love seduction more than sex.

It's all in the anticipation. That's Storytelling 101 as I have been learning it.

It works, too. It causes all kinds of emotions in the minds of readers. Rand certainly knew how to do this. That's one of the big reasons her fiction still sells. :) 

Michael

 

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I think the most important thought in that quote is that people love seduction more than sex.

And, to add to this, I think people love the lead-up to love more than love itself.

Here's a recent example. I just read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Spielberg is releasing the movie on March 30 so there is going to be a lot of buzz about it.

I read this thing because Rush Limbaugh said it gave a good overview of what Millennials think and believe. And, sure, there was the climate change garbage, some diversity stuff, the evil cheating corporation as the villain, etc. And video games galore. (And an overdose of 1980's nostalgia for the parents of Millennials--sneaky, sneaky Mr. Cline. :) )

But this book actually made me more hopeful of Millennials, especially seeing the massive success it has achieved. The story is essentially a good old fashioned Hero's Journey in the classical Joseph Campbell mold. And the book is pure Hollywood. The hero is a badass who suffers unduly (he's even an orphan). After going through all kinds of trials and tribulations that lead to a massive climax (SPOILER ALERT), he kicks the ass of the bad guy, gets the girl in the end, and becomes a hero for the entire world. (Surprise surprise surprise... :) )

But, man, did he suffer to get the girl. He was hopelessly in love for most of the book. He only got the kiss at the very end, after Cline squeezed all the emotional juice out of the hope/fear page-turning anticipation for the reader. And, as a reader, I can attest that this kiss (of course, accompanied by the pattern-completing declarations of love--whew! finally! :) )  was a supremely satisfying moment. Man, did the oxytocin flow... :) 

If the young folks love romantic heroes like this enough to blast an unknown author straight up into the Spielberg category, they're just fine. We can straighten them out on political policies as we go along. Emotionally, they love life and the good things life can provide, including old-fashioned heroism and love, so I believe reason will penetrate over time with the rest.

That thought makes me happy since I was starting to go negative on the entire generation. I don't mind correcting myself here. In fact, it's a pleasure. :) 

Michael

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2 hours ago, Jonathan said:

Pigero, Kamhi, Torres, and Thomas M. Miovas, jr?

Who are these people? I've never heard of any of them, unless, "Pigero,"  is "Perigo," (Mr. Danger). Do any of them actually matter to you?

Randy

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39 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Sex and violence has always been a winner. Think of a typical Harold Robbins ...

No doubt about it. Smut sells. Nothing wrong with giving people what they want, no matter how degraded it is.

Randy

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2 hours ago, regi said:

No doubt about it. Smut sells. Nothing wrong with giving people what they want, no matter how degraded it is.

That's not the point (unless one wants to insinuate how superior he is to the rest of mankind--and I don't have time for vanity masquerading as cheap profundity).

The point is to understand why sex and violence are so popular in art and entertainment. It's not just "giving people what they want" and calling it (and them) "smut." It's asking why they want it in the first place.

Some people seek wisdom, which starts with learning about human nature and trying to understand it.

Others don't.

Obviously.

Michael

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13 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

Sez who?

You can get curious without a stimuli?

Curious about what? Nothing?

:) 

Besides, your division of emotions into reactive and pro-active is not the way they work. Almost all emotions are both.

If you want to learn a little about emotions, I suggest the following 2017 book, but only because, if you study it earnestly, it will make you break out of O-Land jargon and all the ensuing rationalized certainties that go all over the place. How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett. She's a neuroscientist but writes in a manner accessible to the lay reader.

I disagree with her on a scope level--she argues against all volition, which is a stretch too far, but she's right about the illusion of a lot of volition. Believe it or not, in a lot of cases, scientists can prove a you are acting on a decision before you even make it in your conscious mind. Her science is rock solid. (She's also is big on claiming some common emotions are culturally constructed, so even on her science level, we see the influence of bad philosophy. Still, she gives far more good than bad. Her bad is annoying, though. :) )

Once you see how emotions are actually formed in the nervous system with inputs throughout the body, you will begin to see how the way Rand characterized emotions is mostly opinion based on what she wanted them to be in order to contrast them against reason. Reason versus emotion is a false dichotomy, though. Humans use both to process information.

Also, when reason has been divorced from emotion like with some of the lobotomies of old or other brain surgeries for, say, epilepsy, all values went out the window. After the operation, some of the subjects would take about 10 hours to choose a meal from a menu and they didn't mind the passage of time. Even then, they would not be sure what they finally chose was what they wanted. :) 

Imagine operating reason like this for everything...

Michael

Michael, I take "stimuli" to mean anything which stimulates one's interest - curiosity - and much of the time they are things which are just 'there', often passive and inactive, of no threat, nor necessarily of remarkable importance.  Obviously, prior to curiosity first there has to be some 'thing' in existence. By noting observations of one's own common, everyday curiosity in what goes on around one, and observing that of others, this appears inarguable. So right, "sez" me. :)"To be conscious is to be conscious of something". And sez Rand. ;)

But it seems science-behaviorists take the biological view, and mainly see the human as *acted upon*. He's largely a passive recipient of "stimuli" acting upon his body and brain - avoiding or ignorant of the fact his consciousness is *active* and THAT is one great faculty of its identity. (And where Rand rightly picked apart modern philosophies which will never categorically concede the fact of consciousness possessing identity).

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1 hour ago, regi said:

Who are these people? I've never heard of any of them, unless, "Pigero,"  is "Perigo," (Mr. Danger). Do any of them actually matter to you?

No, but they matter a great deal to themselves! In their minds, they are real-life Randian Heroes -- John Galts, Dagny Taggarts, and Howard Roarks -- giants who are literally saving the world with their objectively superior aesthetic tastes. You've got a lot of work to do before you'll be able to out-smug them.

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25 minutes ago, anthony said:

Michael, I take "stimuli" to mean anything which stimulates one's interest - curiosity - and much of the time they are things which are just 'there', passive and inactive, of no active threat, nor of necessarily remarkable interest.

Tony,

That's a contradiction.

Either things get your interest or not. If they get your interest, they prompt the emotion of curiosity. You can't be curious and not curious at the same time. (I once heard someone say, "A is A." :) ) 

But to probe this deeper, one of the greatest prompts to curiosity when things are unremarkable does not lie in the nature of the thing itself. It lies in the incongruity a thing displays in relation to an expected pattern.

So pattern consistency is the standard and curiosity is the emotion elicited with that is breeched. (btw - Pattern recognition is not the only reason unremarkable things can simulate curiosity, but this can go on for ages, so I'll stay with pattern recognition to make the point.)

Here's a very simple example.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Are you curious about the 17th "x" from the right in the first example?

No. You can't even perceive it on a scan that granularly.

Now this:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxAxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

If you feel anything at all, it will be curiosity about the "A." It breaks the pattern, so what is it doing there? Why is it bigger? Is it some kind of message or symbol? Etc.

And just to be a smart-ass, check this one out:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Now, are you wondering about what the number 17 means?

Be careful... Curiosity killed the cat.

:)

Michael

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3 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

That's a contradiction.

Either things get your interest or not. If they get your interest, they prompt the emotion of curiosity. You can't be curious and not curious at the same time. (I once heard someone say, "A is A." :) ) 

But to probe this deeper, one of the greatest prompts to curiosity when things are unremarkable does not lie in the nature of the thing itself. It lies in the incongruity a thing displays in relation to an expected pattern.

So pattern consistency is the standard and curiosity is the emotion elicited with that is breeched. (btw - Pattern recognition is not the only reason unremarkable things can simulate curiosity, but this can go on for ages, so I'll stay with pattern recognition to make the point.)

Here's a very simple example.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Are you curious about the 17th "x" from the right in the first example?

No. You can't even perceive it on a scan that granularly.

Now this:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxAxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

If you feel anything at all, it will be curiosity about the "A." It breaks the pattern, so what is it doing there? Why is it bigger? Is it some kind of message or symbol? Etc.

And just to be a smart-ass, check this one out:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Now, are you wondering about what the number 17 means?

Be careful... Curiosity killed the cat.

:)

Michael

 

Michael, Simple. Curiosity is one early symptom and aspect of "the need to know". That you'll agree, is the most powerful of human drives. Early, because it's a precognitive precondition of one making identifications - What is it? Our senses which are constantly, actively searching our environments, hit upon many potentialities of interest to be curious about, curiosities that ~may~ be followed up and become actualities, new knowledge. But in any given day one will be curious about many random, little to larger things, all of which one can't have time or doesn't need, or loses interest to pursue (to my observation). One's priorities of purpose would determine and choose which to spend effort on.

People are often awed by the power their emotions can have, and make the error they are causeless, springing out of nowhere - quite mysteriously. The "need to know" has as much and more power as any emotion, it also may seem causeless, and so it gets conflated with them.

I see it now. Frame curiosity as "an emotion" - and by that, all genuine emotions may also be considered "tools of cognition"! :) 

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3 hours ago, Jonathan said:

You've got a lot of work to do before you'll be able to out-smug them.

Yes, I can see that. Wow. Does that bother you? Don't let it. It doesn't bother me.

I'm not an objectivist, by the way.

Randy

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4 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

It's asking why they want it in the first place.

You really don't know? You really think it's chemicals in the brain?

Well, OK then.

Randy

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1 hour ago, regi said:

You really don't know? You really think it's chemicals in the brain?

Why no.

I used to think survival and reproduction during evolution had something to do with neurochemicals and hormones, and, I admit, it took me a long time to figure things out. I finally learned, though.

People are attracted to sex in art and entertainment because they are inferior to you, who has never felt any such smutty urges.

Obviously.

:)

Michael

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1 hour ago, regi said:

Yes, I can see that. Wow. Does that bother you? Don't let it. It doesn't bother me.

I'm not an objectivist, by the way.

Randy

You're trying very hard to believe that if I comment on anything I am therefore "bothered" by it.

Heh.

Randy, wow, why are you so bothered by my comments that you had to reply? Why does what I say matter so much to you? You're so fragile. So much less than me. Nothing bothers or matters to me. Don't be so upset that I'm overwhelmingly superior to you in every way. You should admire your betters, not feel envy toward them.

 

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

I see it now. Frame curiosity as "an emotion" - and by that, all genuine emotions may also be considered "tools of cognition"! :) 

Tony,

Close, but no cigar.

(btw - What on earth is a "genuine emotion"? Is that the opposite of a fraudulent emotion? And who or what judges this stuff--an emotion bank or emotion cops? :) )

But here's a curve ball. Believe it or not, all our conversations about this stuff has a lot more to do with human memory than anything else. The human cortex provides us with the ability to project into the future. But it did not initiate our memory (which records the past). That started at the single cell level in evolution millions of years ago.

Notice that one big hole in Objectivism is a theory of memory. Rand (in ITOE) proclaimed that sensory input is not stored in memory and that's about that. She gave no indication of where she got that idea or what evidence she based it on. She decreed it and built out her theory of concepts from there. I inferred that percepts, to her, are the first instances of human memory, but she never said that explicitly. Here is her exact quote (ITOE, Chapter 1, already in the third paragraph): 

Quote

Sensations, as such, are not retained in man's memory, nor is man able to experience a pure isolated sensation.

Then she held a newborn infant to an adult standard of awareness and proclaimed:

Quote

As far as can be ascertained, an infant's sensory experience is an undifferentiated chaos. Discriminated awareness begins on the level of percepts.

There is so much wrong with this, it's hard to know where to start. "As far as can be ascertained"? Ascertained by whom? Rand never says. But certainly not by the scientists who study newborns that I have read (even from her time). And on and on.

The most serious layman level problem with her claim comes when a newborn receives the first smack on it's bottom and cries out. That smack is it's first "born" conscious awareness experience of a sensation and in every example I have ever seen or heard of, that is not an "undifferentiated chaos." It hurts like hell and the baby lets everyone know very clearly that it's pissed about it. :) 

How's that for wedding cognitive identification of a sensation to emotion right from the beginning of "born" conscious awareness?

:) 

Seriously, you need to read more about emotions to understand this stuff correctly. (That sounds condescending, but that's not my intent.) Like I had been during so many years, you are in "deduce reality from principles mode" (in fact, just like Rand did in her quotes) when there is a ton of observable stuff to look at that does not behave the way you say (or the way she says, for that matter). And this observable stuff is understandable by lay people and repeatable. In other words, it is subject to the rigors of reason, not dogma.

(Dogma, to me, is a set of principles running hogwild over reason. :) )

This is one of the things I mean by getting out of the bubble. You have to look and identify, then evaluate, not do it in the reverse direction.

btw - In addition to the book on emotions I recommended, here is a wonderful book on memory and it is quite practical: Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions by Carmen Simon. Since you like to start with principles rather than observe instances (this is not a criticism--I used to be like that for years, it's a downside of a principle-heavy philosophy like Objectivism, although this habit is not limited to Objectivism), you will probably like Carmen Simon's approach. Besides, she's pretty. :) 

Here is principle number one from her: "People act on what they remember, not on what they forget." In other words, you cannot influence anyone with a message unless you can get them to remember it. People are not influenced by messages they forget. :) 

For starting from a principle, that's a pretty good one. We can at least observe that in our own behavior our entire lives. It's kinda "duh" level, but you will not find it taught by Rand or Objectivist intellectuals. They simply don't have much to say about memory, yet memory is the foundation of learning, experience and projecting into the future, i.e., the foundation of ALL chosen values. And chosen values are the core of rational ethics in Objectivism. That's quite a foundational hole to skip over...

Back to emotions. They are totally intertwined with memory and, as such, they are the actual building blocks of concepts. (I'm not denigrating Rand's algebra component, though. That, to me, is a genius level insight about higher abstractions.)

Here's something for you to chew on. Did you know that your gut stores and operates memory? Yup. That's right where poop is processed and expelled. There are neural pathways from there straight to the brain, too. But wait! There's more! Did you know that your gut generates emotion? Yup. Emotion. And fundamental components of a whole slew of emotions. There is a reason for the term "gut feeling."

I could go on and on... Seriously, take a look at the things I am talking about. I'm not trying to persuade you. I'm just trying to get you to look... to look at something you don't even imagine exists right now--not exists in a form that is easily observable by you and everyone, otherwise I believe you would look. The reason I say this is you keep going back to Rand-like principles and ignoring the rest when I bring it up.

Once you see the science and this other stuff for real and I don't have to keep hammering the subtext that this stuff exists, then we will probably have some very good substantive discussions. I am not at all interested in overthrowing Rand and I feel you will be a great ally in framing her observations and claims to fit the science as much as possible. I believe there is great value to doing this, especially since Rand's frameworks are easily learned by lay people. If you want to influence people, that's a really good thing. Besides, I'm a glass half-full kind of guy so I want to extract all the value from Rand possible and not let people dismiss her good stuff because of something where she's wrong.

Michael

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2 hours ago, Jonathan said:

Randy, wow, why are you so bothered by my comments that you had to reply?

It's the unfortuante way I was brought up. I was taught it was impolite to ignore others. I was simpy trying to acknowledge your interest. It's the only reason for this reply as well.

Randy

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14 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Even F. Scott Fitzgerald sold his stories for the market--he didn't just sell metaphors--and there was a smaller market back then.

Whoa, completely wrong. The "slicks" (Saturday Evening Post, Collier's) each sold a million copies a week, paid huge sums for short stories. That's how Fitzgerald made a living, certainly not from book royalties. During his lifetime, he received $50 for his masterwork, Tender Is The Night. No market at all for short stories today. Zilch.

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3 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

No market at all for short stories today. Zilch.

Wolf,

That's totally wrong and you present a totally romanticized view of the good old days.

There is a bigger market for fiction today than ever. The same few slicks are not operating like before, that's all.

Besides, Fitzgerald never had to sell his stories to the public. He had to sell them to gatekeepers. That meant politics, not merit. And Fitzgerald was excellent at playing that game.

Calling the slicks of yesteryear a short story market as compared to today is like calling royal patronage in Europe in the 1700s and 1800s a market for drama as compared to today's movie and TV industries. 

Nowadays, there are publishers galore and foreign rights galore. For self-motivated folks who don't like playing politics, check this out. Novel & Short Story Writer's Market 2018: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published (Writer's Digest Books). That's 512 pages mostly of publishing leads and advice on how to approach the different hundreds and hundreds (probably thousands) of publishers. They had nothing even remotely close back in Fitzgerald's day.

Outside of those, anybody can get published with self-publishing (like Amazon) and lots of people are making a handsome living off of it. Even off of Amazon's Kindle Short Reads project. And barring that, anybody can set up a blog, publish their works to attract an audience and sell stuff on it. Instead of learning how to kiss the asses of gatekeepers like back in the day as the only game in town, authors can still do that if they want, but now they have the Internet. They have to learn marketing to do the Intenet correctly, so it's a different business model, but it is a market.

The vast majority of today's fiction authors who make a living at their writing would not have stood a chance back in the early twentieth century for total lack of market opportunities. I think Fitzgerald would have learned today's ropes as easily as he moved to Hollywood when things got bad in his life.

However, he loved his booze and self-destruction. Nowadays maybe he would even kill himself with bath salts or Oxycontin before he could make any money... I doubt it, though. There's also a lot more help for addicts than there was in his day.

Michael

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53 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

anybody can get published with self-publishing (like Amazon) and lots of people are making a handsome living off of it. Even off of Amazon's Kindle Short Reads project. And barring that, anybody can set up a blog, publish their works to attract an audience and sell stuff on it.

Apparently, the handsome living angle has eluded me.

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6 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Apparently, the handsome living angle has eluded me.

Wolf,

It's probably the marketing since your stuff is good.

I suggest you study what Robert Bidinotto does re market. He makes it as a self-published author by doing all the right things. For instance, he networks like crazy. He keeps up several web presences and makes efforts to get traffic to them. He constantly offers value before asking for value. He keeps up on industry news and takes advantage of new promotion opportunities. He has a strong notion of who his target audience is and he formats most of his messages to the values and habits of that persona. And so on.

He does all this so well, he even manages to hold and preach some rather obnoxious and not well-reasoned prejudices about sundry things and is still quite successful. (To be fair, I agree with about 80% of his positions, which he presents brilliantly.)

On his blog he has a page called Helpful Links for Authors. It's quite a helpful list. Stuff like that makes people want to show up. (In some marketing quarters, this is called a traffic magnet.) When you set one up, you make sure information about your own works are easily within reach and Robert does this correctly.

In other words, if you ever decide to reverse engineer the market processes of a successful fiction writer from our neck of the woods, he is a good example to look at. Make a list of the things I mentioned above (and other things you find on the Helpful Links for Authors page) and ask yourself as you go along, how is Robert doing this? What is he doing? Am I looking at a weak example of this item or a strong example? What results is he getting from this item? And so on. It's uncomfortable to do this at first, but like all new skills, it gets easier with time as competence grows.

Michael

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