WilliamHalley

Questions about the Romantic Manifesto

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I have been studying the Romantic Manifesto and trying to really understand it completely. However there are some aspects that mystify me. I was hoping someone would be interested to discuss these points and spread their rationality by pointing out what I am missing. I have tried getting answers to these questions elsewhere without any luck so I'm trying here.

1. THE ARTIST

1.1) According to Rand an artist portrays what he considers metaphysically essential to make a new concrete that shows the abstraction. Do artists really always do this? Isn't it imaginable that an artist would portray something inessential. What if a novelist were to write about someone going to the bathroom because it's necessary for the story or some other reason? Or what is a painter was forced to paint an insect by a pope. It seems perfectly possible to create metaphysically inessential things in art.

1.2) Rand writes that the purpose of artists is to bring their view of man and existence into reality. I can't say I have ever heard an artist say this was their goal. How do you know the artist didn't just want to paint a pretty picture or write a fun novel?

2. THE AUDIENCE

Rand writes that people seek works of art because they have a need to see their view of existence confirmed and see his values concretized. I have never heard anyone say, "Let's go to the cinema, I really need some concretes today!" Don't people engage with art because of fun or beauty? Rand herself wrote in the same book: "I read for the sake of the story" (156)

3. STYLE

3.1) On page 25, she writes that all the decisions of the artist are controlled by his sense of life. Didn't Rand write in various places that "Form follows purpose" and that the artist should make all his decisions based on the theme and purpose of the work? Shouldn't you rationally think about your choices instead of letting your emotions take control? This makes it sound like an artist is just a robot following its sense of life programming to create art.

3.2) She also wrote that a art style that is blurry will move people who are motivated by the fog of his feelings. Isn't it imaginable because of the same "Form follows purpose" rule that an artist would want to express chaos or a moment of confusion and therefore paint a blurry picture or write a confused sentence or film a blurry shot?

4. ETHICS

Here I am just confused. Rand wrote that the focus of art is on metaphysics not ethics, but she also says that an artwork necessarily projects a message and metaphysical judgment. So the metaphysical value judgments are not ethics, but aren't the metaphysical value judgments also value prescriptions for the viewer? Doesn't that mean it's ethics? Are there two different messages? A metaphysical one (what should a man be) and a ethical one (the theme or message)?

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William,

Welcome to OL.

You are right to be confused.

I have some comments for you, some questions, and if you are interested, some directions to point to.

But I can't do that at this moment.

Stay tuned. You are on the right track.

But first a hint. No, one does not have to throw away Rand's views on the nature of art as invalid. But one does not have to embrace her ideas where they don't fit, either.

Sometimes Rand gets into a scope problem. Her ideas work where they work, but only under a larger more universal frame. They don't replace the frame even though she often claims they do.

For Rand's kind of literature, for example, her theoretical ideas on art fit. But they not only don't fit other legitimate forms of literature or storytelling, they are not fundamental to storytelling. In other words, her ideas on literature, in order to work, depend on storytelling basics she does not cover. 

Rand's theoretical ideas are really good and insightful for her kind of storytelling, though (Romantic Realism). And, for certain other forms like Naturalism (which is not as common as she says.)

Don't expect a lot of people on the fundamentalist side of O-Land to agree with me, though.

Still, I'm right and they are not.

:) 

More coming.

Michael

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2 hours ago, WilliamHalley said:

I have been studying the Romantic Manifesto and trying to really understand it completely. However there are some aspects that mystify me. I was hoping someone would be interested to discuss these points and spread their rationality by pointing out what I am missing. I have tried getting answers to these questions elsewhere without any luck so I'm trying here.

1. THE ARTIST

1.1) According to Rand an artist portrays what he considers metaphysically essential to make a new concrete that shows the abstraction. Do artists really always do this? Isn't it imaginable that an artist would portray something inessential. What if a novelist were to write about someone going to the bathroom because it's necessary for the story or some other reason? Or what is a painter was forced to paint an insect by a pope. It seems perfectly possible to create metaphysically inessential things in art.

1.2) Rand writes that the purpose of artists is to bring their view of man and existence into reality. I can't say I have ever heard an artist say this was their goal. How do you know the artist didn't just want to paint a pretty picture or write a fun novel?

2. THE AUDIENCE

Rand writes that people seek works of art because they have a need to see their view of existence confirmed and see his values concretized. I have never heard anyone say, "Let's go to the cinema, I really need some concretes today!" Don't people engage with art because of fun or beauty? Rand herself wrote in the same book: "I read for the sake of the story" (156)

3. STYLE

3.1) On page 25, she writes that all the decisions of the artist are controlled by his sense of life. Didn't Rand write in various places that "Form follows purpose" and that the artist should make all his decisions based on the theme and purpose of the work? Shouldn't you rationally think about your choices instead of letting your emotions take control? This makes it sound like an artist is just a robot following its sense of life programming to create art.

3.2) She also wrote that a art style that is blurry will move people who are motivated by the fog of his feelings. Isn't it imaginable because of the same "Form follows purpose" rule that an artist would want to express chaos or a moment of confusion and therefore paint a blurry picture or write a confused sentence or film a blurry shot?

4. ETHICS

Here I am just confused. Rand wrote that the focus of art is on metaphysics not ethics, but she also says that an artwork necessarily projects a message and metaphysical judgment. So the metaphysical value judgments are not ethics, but aren't the metaphysical value judgments also value prescriptions for the viewer? Doesn't that mean it's ethics? Are there two different messages? A metaphysical one (what should a man be) and a ethical one (the theme or message)?

Just a couple of quick comments, Rand was hung up on formal and final causation, so some of the formulations in the Romantic Manifesto can seem a bit off, and in my opinion they are.  Efficient causation as applied to creating art is the action of actually creating the art, yet Rand will want to focus on the final causation instead.  Also, due to Rand's reason before emotion primacy, how she says art is created has to involve reason first and can't be emotional first.  I don't know how good art is created this way, without letting emotions to lead the artist at times.  I like Rand a lot and consider myself an Objectivist, but in my opinion the Romantic Manifesto was the weakest of her non-fiction.

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 Well, it must be supposed as Rand did, that everything made by artists and every detail of everything created is "essential" and complete. The act of putting a work out there, implies he has something to show and that for him it is "important". (A metaphysical value-judgment of reality). There are levels of enjoyment, fulfillment, uplifment. A quick scribble by a really good artist can be delightful, entertaining, provoking, etc. - point being, it and every other work ever made has an imbued purpose: One's selfish contemplation. The author/artist wants and needs to show his 'world' , and the viewer needs and wants to see it and share in it. What remains in this symbiosis is, does one share in his view of the "importance" of his vision in a piece of work? Why? or why not?

The Manifesto I think is at once an easy read, because we all have known a zillion instances of art/novels/music to refer to, but also a most difficult exercise, since it quite comprehensively distinguishes the categories of art - and invokes the distinct contents and acts of consciousness by the artist/author and viewer/reader - and crosses constantly between the three main branches, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics - then brings them all together with finality - "man's life". An intense read that requires active and open mental participation from readers, I feel, and always keeps objectivity and Objectivism within one's sight. I feel it should not be taken as overly-prescriptive, like a how-to create art/fiction manual, but as a grounding for other written works on art and art critique, it does excellently.

And too, the book serves to aid one in the method to categorize, contain, identify and evaluate every new instance one finds, of the huge and disparate mass of art already produced and continuously being made.

I disagree that Rand specified "reason first" over emotion, Korben (in art creation, specifically). One's sense of life, she spent some pages explaining, is by necessity chock full of emotion (my reading)  - because - it is "pre-conceptual and subconscious", and unintegrated. An artist's childhood-formed sense of life provides the energy source for his art creation, so one could say this subconscious sum of an individual is "the initiator" of his work, felt, more than understood. The viewer's own sense of life responds. But, of course, there's much more ... My paraphrasing from memory, so don't hold Rand responsible. ;)

Hi William. Good questions.

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

[..]

I disagree that Rand specified "reason first" over emotion, Korben (in art creation, specifically). One's sense of life, she spent some pages explaining, is by necessity chock full of emotion (my reading)  - because - it is "pre-conceptual and subconscious", and unintegrated. An artist's childhood-formed sense of life provides the energy source for his art creation, so you could say this is "the initiator" of his work. The viewer's own sense of life responds. But, of course, there's much more ... My paraphrasing from memory, so don't hold Rand responsible. 😉

Hi William. Good questions.

On page 25 of RM Rand says "the creative process resembles a process of deduction".............................

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2 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

On page 25 of RM Rand says "the creative process resembles a process of deduction".............................

Korben,

Good catch.

In my paperback edition, though, it is not on Page 25, but instead on Page 35 in the essay, "Art and a Sense of Life."

Full quote of paragraph:

Quote

The psycho-epistemological process of communication between an artist and a viewer or reader goes as follows: the artist starts with a broad abstraction which he has to concretize, to bring into reality by means of the appropriate particulars; the viewer perceives the particulars, integrates them and grasps the abstraction from which they came, thus completing the circle. Speaking metaphorically, the creative process resembles a process of deduction; the viewing process resembles a process of induction.

Rand's formulation, though, only works for a certain kind of analysis--as she said, deduction and induction are only metaphors for how she thinks of the artistic communication process.

Michael

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On 9/23/2018 at 2:27 AM, KorbenDallas said:

On page 25 of RM Rand says "the creative process resembles a process of deduction".............................

Yes. AR: "Speaking metaphorically, the creative process resembles a process of deduction..."

"Speaking metaphorically"...to be exact.

What's your point? I mentioned there's much more to this. There is a greater context outside your quote about creating art - it has to do with the preconceptual  (unreasoning) "sense of life". 

"A sense of life is a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and existence. It sets the nature of man's emotional responses and the essence of his character". AR

I was showing Rand was highly aware of the artist's emotional (etc). source of art, and that she did not put reason over emotion--  rather, only for the creative impulse - that which a sense of life, his "psychological mechanism" initiates and directs all through his efforts.

When one asks an artist for the motivation of his work, he might say - This is what I - felt like - doing, I had the instinct ('intuition') to create this in such a way. 

In a way he is right, but his impression of an "instinct" as such, isn't correct, instead being some consequence of early pre judgments of life and existence made in his subconscious.

IOW. He is drawing from the raw, vague and un-formed sense of reality he has accumulated subconsciously, and from feelings about existence that he's left consciously unexamined--these will come out in his work as "the how" - broadly, the "style" of the work.

Without tapping into his sense of life, he'd have a quite drab, unappealing, or prosaic, artwork/novel (stylistically); one very much appearing to be painted (or written) formulaically and unoriginally, I think.

Alone, evidently "style'" would be totally insubstantial, however. A picture has to have objective form, a novel needs a plot, characters (etc.)

So, obversely, the "what" (the content and subject) for visual artistry will be in his selection of particular elements which an artist chooses to concretize an abstraction he *consciously* holds - like the deductive process.

("...it has to be translated into objective (communicable) terms" AR).

If he is drawn to - by his "metaphysical value-judgments" - depicting the innocence of youth, he'd (e.g). paint a frolicking child in a bright meadow. If it's the tranquility of nature, he'd pick a harmonious landscape. If, the unpredictability and malevolence of nature, perhaps a stormy seascape in which is a small boat and frightened sailors. If the competence of men, he'd capture a serious human subject involved in his work. Etc.

And the viewer applies further reasoning, the reverse process that "resembles" induction, to take the selected concretes back to an abstraction. (Back to the peacefulness, the innocence, the competence, a violent nature man is at the mercy of, and so on) Perceptions integrated into concepts, like one does for any real things. 

 

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I would agree with those who say that Rand's aesthetics do not cover everything.  OTOH I also think that one source of puzzlement is that Rand (as usual) traces things back to their roots, and rarely speaks of proximate causes.  The closest I come to art is photography, and that might be a particularly simple example.  What determines what I chose to take a picture of?  I think that goes back ultimately to the kind of things Rand talks about, but I am not conscious of that as I take the picture.  If you asked me at the moment I might say that I loved the way the new mown hay looked in the late afternoon sun, but why that appealed to me is probably far below the conscious level.

A lot of my photo work records the history of the American Industrial Revolution.  Some of it is just a record of the past, but some of it has an artistic element.  Why is it that when I go to these dying cities that were once centers of industry  I record the mills and factories rather than the winos in the alleyways?  I think it reflects a judgment of what is important.

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Cool, I’m a wildlife photographer.

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12 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Korben,

Good catch.

In my paperback edition, though, it is not on Page 25, but instead on Page 35 in the essay, "Art and a Sense of Life."

Full quote of paragraph:

Rand's formulation, though, only works for a certain kind of analysis--as she said, deduction and induction are only metaphors for how she thinks of the artistic communication process.

Michael

Creation putting out, deduction. Consumption taking in, induction. 

The idea to the thing. The thing to the idea (if not the same, original idea).

Does an abstract painting start with an idea? Does the viewer of it get any ideas?

Brant

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6 hours ago, anthony said:

Yes. AR: "Speaking metaphorically, the creative process resembles a process of deduction..."

"Speaking metaphorically"...to be exact.

What's your point? I mentioned there's much more to this. There is a greater context outside your quote about creating art - it has to do with the preconceptual  (unreasoning) "sense of life". 

"A sense of life is a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and existence. It sets the nature of man's emotional responses and the essence of his character". AR

I was showing Rand was highly aware of the artist's emotional (etc). source of art, and that she did not put reason over emotion--  rather, only for the creative impulse - that which a sense of life, his "psychological mechanism" initiates and directs all through his efforts.

When one asks an artist for the motivation of his work, he might say - This is what I - felt like - doing, I had the instinct ('intuition') to create this in such a way. 

In a way he is right, but his impression of an "instinct" as such, isn't correct, instead being some consequence of early pre judgments of life and existence made in his subconscious.

IOW. He is drawing from the raw, vague and un-formed sense of reality he has accumulated subconsciously, and from feelings about existence that he's left consciously unexamined--these will come out in his work as "the how" - broadly, the "style" of the work.

Without tapping into his sense of life, he'd have a quite drab, unappealing, or prosaic, artwork/novel (stylistically); one very much appearing to be painted (or written) formulaically and unoriginally, I think.

Alone, evidently "style'" would be totally insubstantial, however. A picture has to have objective form, a novel needs a plot, characters (etc.)

So, obversely, the "what" (the content and subject) for visual artistry will be in his selection of particular elements which an artist chooses to concretize an abstraction he *consciously* holds - like the deductive process.

("...it has to be translated into objective (communicable) terms" AR).

If he is drawn to - by his "metaphysical value-judgments" - depicting the innocence of youth, he'd (e.g). paint a child at play in a bright meadow. If it's the tranquility of nature, he'd pick a harmonious landscape. If, the unpredictability and malevolence of nature, perhaps a stormy seascape in which is a small boat and frightened sailors. If the competence of men, he'd capture a serious human subject involved in his work. Etc.

And the viewer applies further reasoning, the reverse process that "resembles" induction, to take the selected concretes back to an abstraction. (Back to the peacefulness, the innocence, the competence, a violent nature man is at the mercy of, and so on) Perceptions integrated into concepts, like one does for any real things. 

 

So emotions are tools of cognition?

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First, I want to thank everyone for their comments.

21 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

For Rand's kind of literature, for example, her theoretical ideas on art fit. But they not only don't fit other legitimate forms of literature or storytelling, they are not fundamental to storytelling. In other words, her ideas on literature, in order to work, depend on storytelling basics she does not cover. 

Rand's theoretical ideas are really good and insightful for her kind of storytelling, though (Romantic Realism). And, for certain other forms like Naturalism (which is not as common as she says.)

I find Romantic Realism very appealing, but the philosophical foundations of how she saw art remain unclear to me. I think she didn't explain it as clearly as her ideas in other areas.

 

21 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Don't expect a lot of people on the fundamentalist side of O-Land to agree with me, though

I am very curious to hear their arguments and reasoning for Rand's view of art.

 

17 hours ago, anthony said:

The act of putting a work out there, implies he has something to show and that for him it is "important".

The fact that he has something to show (his art) doesn't mean he finds it important. What if a novelist just wants to tell a fun story and chooses a subject because it makes for good drama, but doesn't think it's important in wider existence? 

 

17 hours ago, anthony said:

The author/artist wants and needs to show his 'world' , and the viewer needs and wants to see it and share in it.

Isn't the purpose of a novelist not to create an interesting story, not to 'show his world'? I also don't know of anyone who looks out novels or movies to 'see his world'. I could be wrong, but I'm trying to find an explanation of why this would be the case.

 

19 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

Also, due to Rand's reason before emotion primacy, how she says art is created has to involve reason first and can't be emotional first.

17 hours ago, anthony said:

I disagree that Rand specified "reason first" over emotion, Korben (in art creation, specifically).

In the RM she writes that the sense of life is what steers the artists decisions. In the art of Fiction she also stated that you should create with subconscious and then afterwards critique it with reason.

 

4 hours ago, bob_hayden said:

I think it reflects a judgment of what is important.

But if you define art as a re-creation of reality, you still can't classify it as art.

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Fine art?

large.png

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A Writer's Prayer by Neil Gaiman

"...let me say true things, in a voice that is true, and with the truth in mind, let me write lies."

From an interview with Neil Gaiman:

"...I always felt like I was real and changing things and doing something sensible when I was writing..."

I quote Neil Gaiman because his work is kind of out there.  If one can point to any author's body of work and ask what's the point other than to be fun (and often dark) and certainly entertaining, it's this author.  He is all over the place in terms of genre and format.  Yet, by his own words, the importance of his work to him is quite evident.  

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37 minutes ago, WilliamHalley said:

The fact that he has something to show (his art) doesn't mean he finds it important. What if a novelist just wants to tell a fun story and chooses a subject because it makes for good drama, but doesn't think it's important in wider existence?  

You might be interested in  the late Ronald Merrill's take on this question, from his book, The Ideas of Ayn Rand (pgs. 122-126.) Merrill thought her theory was fundamentally flawed, but offered his own theory to work out that flaw. Pg. 124 gives a taste of his critique:

"According to Rand, the reader or viewer or listener responds to art on the basis of the level of agreement between his sense of life and that of the artist. This seems open to challenge; many people deliberately choose art which expresses the sense of life they would like to have, rather than the sense of life they do have. Consider Ayn Rand herself. Rand’s sense of life, as projected in her novels, is one of a world in which men can accomplish great things, but only by means of a violent, tortured struggle against desperate odds. Yet in her own esthetic tastes, exemplified by her choice of music, she sought a sense of life which was free of all challenge or threat, pure undiluted happiness."

Check it out, if you can find it. Hope it helps.

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3 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

So emotions are tools of cognition?

Korben, All I can do is point out a few quotes, and explain them from my own experience and thinking. Your one-liner queries are not helpful to discussion. Where is your stand, how do you interpret Rand and what do you disagree with? Above that, from your thoughts and observation how do you think an artist operates? From reasoning, alone - altogether calculating, logical and empirical?

Here's one more:

"This does not mean that a sense of life is a valid criterion of esthetic merit, either for the artist or for the viewer. A sense of life is *not* infallible. But a sense of life is the source of art, the psychological mechanism which enables man to create a realm such as art". p.35

It seems you want a simple and un-nuanced statement about the precedence of reason (in the creative process). It is not that simple - not everything is conceptual to the artist, it's also preconceptual. He "feels" about how and why he makes it. Where do you believe the creative drive and artistic passion comes from? We viewers then reason, and find value-emotions in there, accordingly.

Well, I'd say: Emotion is a tool for the creation of art. Emotion is not a tool of cognition.  

If you find those statements contradictory, question some premises. What is a re-creation of reality; what is reality? What is subconsciousness; what is consciousness? What is pre-conceptual; what is conceptual?

I suggest a re-read of Chapters 1 - 4 : The Psycho-epistemology of Art, Philosophy and Sense of Life, Art and Sense of Life, Art and Cognition. This is dense stuff, I think I'll take my own advice, been a long while since I read it.

The sequence of titles tracks the mental processes.

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4 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

 

Does an abstract painting start with an idea? Does the viewer of it get any ideas?

Brant

 

Abstract to abstract don't work. :)  I'm not going there again.

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1 hour ago, william.scherk said:

Fine art?

large.png

Horrible. So, no. But take out the figure, yes.

---Brant

just an opinion

 

 

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2 hours ago, william.scherk said:

Fine art?

large.png

William,

Do you mean "fine" as a category of art (fine art) or fine as great art (fine as opposed to vulgar or mediocre)?

(Cognitive or normative?)

Also, I presume you are referring to painting.

Painting-wise (or Photoshop-wise :) ), I like the layout of the composition, but I do not like the clash between the subject, the background and the transparent lightsaber coming from above :) .

First, the style of clothing is not suited for that environment, and second,  the color palette is all over the place, clashing even to my eye, which is not great discernment-wise.

Here's what I mean by color palette. They do this for movies all the time nowadays.

Notice there's nothing jarring the eyes between the red in the subject, the lights (even with the blowout, which comes across as a purposeful effect--how a performer sees theater lights on stage) and the background. It's distinction without clash. They all come from the same optic world.

What you posted looks like a dancer photoshopped on a palace hall background and some light from above added. All three elements look like they came from different sources, the first two from magazine ads and the lightsaber from an effects feature on a graphics program.

Sorry if I am trashing any artist. But at least cognitively, if this is a painting, it is cognitively fine art. Not good normatively, though.

Michael

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

Korben, All I can do is point out a few quotes, and explain them from my own experience and thinking. Your one-liner queries are not helpful to discussion. Where is your stand, how do you interpret Rand and what do you disagree with? Above that, from your thoughts and observation how do you think an artist operates? From reasoning, alone - altogether calculating, logical and empirical?

Here's one more:

"This does not mean that a sense of life is a valid criterion of esthetic merit, either for the artist or for the viewer. A sense of life is *not* infallible. But a sense of life is the source of art, the psychological mechanism which enables man to create a realm such as art". p.35

It seems you want a simple and un-nuanced statement about the precedence of reason (in the creative process). It is not that simple - not everything is conceptual to the artist, it's also preconceptual. He "feels" about how and why he makes it. Where do you believe the creative drive and artistic passion comes from? We viewers then reason, and find value-emotions in there, accordingly.

Well, I'd say: Emotion is a tool for the creation of art. Emotion is not a tool of cognition.  

If you find those statements contradictory, question some premises. What is a re-creation of reality; what is reality? What is subconsciousness; what is consciousness? What is pre-conceptual; what is conceptual?

I suggest a re-read of Chapters 1 - 4 : The Psycho-epistemology of Art, Philosophy and Sense of Life, Art and Sense of Life, Art and Cognition. This is dense stuff, I think I'll take my own advice, been a long while since I read it.

The sequence of titles tracks the mental processes.

So emotions are a tool for the creation of art, yet those emotions aren't being used for cognition?  I'm not really asking a question here, I'm pointing out a contradiction.  I don't think you'll find the answer in RM Chapters 1-4.

Rand's creative process is reason-led, "tapping into emotions" is a tool that she uses, but fore and aft it is reason.

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22 hours ago, anthony said:

Well, it must be supposed as Rand did, that everything made by artists and every detail of everything created is "essential" and complete.

large.png

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46 minutes ago, william.scherk said:

large.png

Well, I guess this might be the way to get architecture into art.

---Brant 

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On 9/22/2018 at 12:50 PM, WilliamHalley said:

I have been studying the Romantic Manifesto and trying to really understand it completely. However there are some aspects that mystify me. I was hoping someone would be interested to discuss these points and spread their rationality by pointing out what I am missing. I have tried getting answers to these questions elsewhere without any luck so I'm trying here.

1. THE ARTIST

1.1) According to Rand an artist portrays what he considers metaphysically essential to make a new concrete that shows the abstraction. Do artists really always do this? Isn't it imaginable that an artist would portray something inessential. What if a novelist were to write about someone going to the bathroom because it's necessary for the story or some other reason? Or what is a painter was forced to paint an insect by a pope. It seems perfectly possible to create metaphysically inessential things in art

I think you've misunderstood Rand's position. Her view was not that every single isolated element in a story is an expression of what the artist thinks is metaphysically essential. Rather, her position was that the abstract theme or meaning -- the total of what all of the elements add up to in the complete context of the work of art -- that the artist presents is based on what he thinks is metaphysically important and worthy of being concretized and contemplated. Therefore, focusing on an isolated moment from a novel, such as someone's using a bathroom, as you suggest, or any other mundane activity, such as, say, riding in a taxi, and declaring that Rand is asking us to believe that those isolated moments are therefore revelations that the artist believes that visiting bathrooms and riding in taxis is the metaphysical essence of exist and the artist's "sense of life" completely misses Rand's actual stated view.

As for a pope forcing someone to paint an image, Rand would not expect such a situation to reveal the artist's metaphysics or sense of life, but maybe the pope's. Her views were about the meanings, subjects, and subject matter that an artist chooses, so your introduction of an artist forced by someone else to create something is really an odd and irrelevant objection. It has nothing to do with her views.

Having said that, a painter acting under the order of a pope or other authority would be likely to bring at least some some of his own essential views and "sense of life" to painting anything that he was forced to paint, including an insect. 

 

Quote

1.2) Rand writes that the purpose of artists is to bring their view of man and existence into reality. I can't say I have ever heard an artist say this was their goal. How do you know the artist didn't just want to paint a pretty picture or write a fun novel?

I think that Rand's answer to your question above would be that "just wanting to paint a pretty picture or write a fun novel" are motives that include metaphysical judgments, and that they express and reveal something significant about the artist. Why did he choose "pretty" rather than ugly or shocking or dull, and why a "fun" novel instead of a difficult one, or an unsettling one, or a tediously informative one? Her view was that the why behind such choices was a metaphysical point of view.

 

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2. THE AUDIENCE

Rand writes that people seek works of art because they have a need to see their view of existence confirmed and see his values concretized

 

Uh huh, and this was Kant's view as well. It's actually a common and uncontroversial view in aesthetic theory. Humans need something in addition to mere rational thinking and theorizing, they need something for "the senses to hold onto," as Kant put it.

 

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I have never heard anyone say, "Let's go to the cinema, I really need some concretes today!" Don't people engage with art because of fun or beauty? Rand herself wrote in the same book: "I read for the sake of the story" (156)

So, your assumption is that it's common for people to consciously identify their deep philosophical and psychological needs, to analyze and explicitly state their core drives and motives? And if they don't do so, including in casual, everyday situations, then it's somehow proof that they are not being moved by deeper needs than you recognize?

You mentioned "fun" and "beauty" again as if they are empty, meaningless states which express or reveal nothing of significance. You just accept it, and end your inquiry there. No sense of further curiosity? No asking the questions, "Fun and beautiful to whom, and why, and by what standards, etc."?

More later on your points 3 and 4.

BTW, I think that Rand got many things right, but also very many wrong. I think that her aesthetics deserves a great deal of criticism, and that, ultimately, the "objectivity" that she wished to establish for the philosophical branch was way the hell outside of her reach. It is by definition a subjective phenomenon. It is taste, sentiment, and emotionally fueled interpretation of complex stylized simulations. She failed miserably at that goal of making aesthetics objective, but she did do quite a good job of describing her own little personal take on a tiny section of the realm of art that she subjectively liked, preferred, and understood.

J

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