WilliamHalley

Questions about the Romantic Manifesto

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16 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

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.

Yes, RAND's personal "creative process is reason-led..." -- but not for the great majority of creative artists, or viewers. She had to take into account, all of them, their works and their senses of life, too. No?

When one achieves an alignment of the psychological/emotional state with one's conscious state (by reviewing and changing one's subconscious sense of life, in brief), it is then that one's reason can and will always lead the way, in art creation also. How many artists/authors can that be said of?

For my own use, I have the rough view that one's psychology is "that which was done to one", and of one's philosophy - "that which one does for oneself".

In this line, your/my sense of life we initially didn't have much or any choice over - if one (e.g). has/had a bleak universe view, there were certainly influences and occurrences in one's childhood and adolescence which enforced this attitude, damaging one's value-judgments about life, and affecting badly one's emotional responses. Not being fully conceptual, then, there was little one could know to do to adjust that. Until - that is - one gets a little older, when it becomes possible to change one's "plastic" (Rand) subconscious, pre-conceptual "sense of life" with objectivity and reasoning, and with objective evaluations and the appropriate emotions which respond to those. But as individuals get older and more rigid that's harder to change.

I believe it's an understatement to say Rand had both her sense of life and her metaphysical value-premises closely corresponding, in her literature and as an individual. That is, fully integrated. Many artists, like others, have the two in conflict -  often you can see they have a terrific sense of life, but with poor/malevolent world-views. That's why so much artwork one can find to be excellently made, great artworks - but may well not like them.

Just to add to the complexity in TRM, there's the highest significance given to the disparity between what man is, and what man could/should be. Determinism - and volition; naturalism -and romantic realism. And so on. This apparent dilemma we seem to have here about the piority of reason-emotion, emotion-reason, (in art) highlights "is vs. should". Not many people/artists understand and are concerned about "integration".

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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.

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)?

William, you might be interested in this thread where I present the fact that nothing has ever been objectively demonstrated to qualify as art by Rand's Objectivist Esthetics criteria:

 

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On 9/23/2018 at 6:40 PM, WilliamHalley said:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

From novels and movies, every reader and audience wants to see men and women in "goal-directed" action. Why that is so, is self-explanatory enough (otherwise, comprehensively-explained by Rand throughout, from her metaphysics to ethics, and to individual rights). The "story" is the vehicle for this principle.

"All human actions are goal-directed, consciously or subconsciously; purposelessness is contrary to man's nature: it is a state of neurosis. Therefore, if one is to present man *as he is* -- as he is metaphysically, by his nature, in reality--one has to present him in goal-directed action". p.83

You are unhappy with my "his world" metaphor? Fine - although, consider that art -"a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments" - entails a brand-new creation of one aspect of the world, selecting, utilizing, representing and rearranging chosen elements of reality. And - done the way the artist, personally, sees/likes/knows/desires reality to be. After all, he has made a new existent.

Implicit, is that he believes his view of existence *matters*. (Else, why bother?)

I haven't a problem pushing the metaphor further: this is akin to man 'playing god'.

That the author's "story" is "interesting" and entertaining is also important, but follows and is byproduct of his theme, plot, characterization, stylization. When they are accomplished expertly -and originally- the novel will be interesting.

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All living entities are goal-directed. Everything is in motion and that's a subcategory of motion. The question is what are the goals? We're talking about people of course. Even when people seem slothful or not goal directed on some level they are .   

The standard Objectivist formulation via Rand is a man with and without a purpose which also begs the question of what purpose? The bank robber has a purpose. What is obviously meant is a virtuous, lofty goal. But John Galt had just that but his means was "to do nothing." That's why his character is so abstract and "perfect." Of course he did a lot, just not out there in the world.

Trump is the Randian hero Rand couldn't have standed. He's in the world, he's not perfect, he's not any kind of intellectual. But he's torn the lid off the collectivist-liberal cesspool and is letting it stink to the max in public. Was that his goal? Or is that just the consequence of who and what he is?

---Brant

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Men know enough to eat, rest, etc.etc., but nothing is "given" to man about how to get his food and shelter. Nobody has goals given to him. How to act and which values to act for? Finding one's purpose?-- nothing. There's why a volitional consciousness is pivotal to Objectivism (and why romantic art is crucial).

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

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.

Right. This issue is indeed one where Rand just made a bald assertion, and didn’t back it up with anything. I look at it as her having had a hunch, and having introspected about her own creative process, and then having just made the leap and universalized it. There’s probably some truth to some of her views on "sense of life" and the influence that it can have over artistic creation, but there's also a lot of unsupported bluff and bluster in her views on the subject.

 

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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?

Yep. And it’s also true that Rand’s aesthetic responses and her kooky little interpretations of things aren’t the only possible ones, or even the most common ones. Her interpretations weren’t objective and unquestionable identifications of incontrovertible truths just because she said so. Effects like blurriness and fog can be used for reasons other than what visual arts novice Rand was capable of grasping via her inexperienced introspections alone. For example, selective blur can place emphasis on certain objects or areas of a canvas, it can add to the illusion of 3D depth and sort of round the edges of objects, heightening the aesthetic impact (making it feel more real that reality, as Rand would say). Foggy scenes, which Rand really had come ridiculous cows over, can actually have the opposite effect of what she was limited to observing or imagining: They can increase clarity by separating foreground from background, and otherwise essentialize forms by eliminating certain distracting details.

 

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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)?

Her view was that art was indeed on the metaphysical level, but that doesn’t mean that ethical issues are excluded. Ethics are probably always included in art, but they are not the defining characteristic, or the essence of aesthetics in her view.

J

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On 9/22/2018 at 7:50 PM, WilliamHalley said:

 

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?

 

2

In "Basic Principles of Literature" a sub-section devoted to "Theme", p.81, Rand wrote:

" ...[the] famous principle of architecture "Form follows function" can be translated into "Form follows purpose". The theme of a novel defines its purpose. The theme sets the writer's standard of selection, directing the innumerable choices he has to make and serving as the integrator of the novel".[...]

(nothing arguable here)

William, when she's writing about a specific genre it is best that you acknowledge that context. This above section is for the writer's p.o.v., not a visual artist, and second, is all about a novel's "theme" (not as you have it under "Style")

You are confusing some things together, and crossing genres, also. Please provide AR's quotations for criticism, otherwise you're making for misrepresentation and misinterpretation for those who don't know TRM (or read it too long ago to recall). Thanks.

"Blurry" pictures can often be dramatic or beautiful - if by that we mean they are e.g. misty, smoky, etc. through which perhaps the light shines -- but, with a sharply defined, contrasting subject matter standing out in relief or silhouette. I've taken many such shots and I enjoy certain paintings which are so. The out-of-focus technique, bokeh, a photographer uses for his background to a portrait, is similar. Filming too will use a soft shot selectively every so often, but if all the time, tends to wear on one. A completely blurry painted canvas otoh, tells one the artist has blurry visualization and indefinite perceptions, which is how he wants viewers to see the world, or not see it.

A "confused sentence" might ~rarely~ serve some purpose in a novel, all the rest of the time it's just plain bad writing, and trying to decipher it undermines clarity in the reader's mind.

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On 9/22/2018 at 1:50 PM, WilliamHalley said:

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? 

William, you may find it interesting, then, that Rand herself wanted to do something just like that, but in a musical form. Atonal music, at that!

In the Anne Heller biography, Ayn Rand and the World She Made, Joan Kennedy Taylor claims Rand "asked him to write an operatic rendition of Anthem, using romantic themes to identify the heroes and atonal music to represent the authoritarian social order." But Deems declined: "Although flattered, the elderly man didn't want to compose atonal music." This story also appears in Deems Taylor: A Biography, by James Pegolotti. 

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On 9/23/2018 at 11:58 AM, william.scherk said:

Fine art?

large.png

Many of the Cordair kids, as well as Rand-follower artists who are not represented by Cordair, have called themselves "Romantic Realists™." Cordair's own subheader is "The finest in Romantic Realism."

I don't think that's an accurate descriptor of most of this type of art. The visual style is indeed realism: The objects/entities depicted are easily identifiable and realistically rendered. However, the environments and situations are highly artificial and unnaturally overly orchestrated. Forced.

And the aesthetics of the poses aren't really romantic, but stiff, empty, lifeless.

It's as if the artists think that hanging nightgowns on a rigidly posed figure in a architecturally rich environment mathematically equals "romanticism"?

Instead of "Romantic Realism," wouldn't it be closer to the truth to call this stuff something like Posed, Staged, Overt Signalism?

Or Conspicuously Exaggerated Bursting With Bodily Physicality While Remaining Facially Calm and Expressionless In An Odd Environment That Was Selected Not Because Of Any Contextual Relevance But Because The Artist Maybe Thought That It In Itself Would Clearly Signal Romanticism ("Um, today I think I'll put on my ballet slippers, but maybe go topless, and bring some strips of cloth to let the wind swirl around me while I balance on something like a classical column or globe out in the middle of the ocean.")?

J

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On 9/23/2018 at 6:28 PM, anthony said:

Yes, RAND's personal "creative process is reason-led..." -- but not for the great majority of creative artists, or viewers. She had to take into account, all of them, their works and their senses of life, too. No?

When one achieves an alignment of the psychological/emotional state with one's conscious state (by reviewing and changing one's subconscious sense of life, in brief), it is then that one's reason can and will always lead the way, in art creation also. How many artists/authors can that be said of?

For my own use, I have the rough view that one's psychology is "that which was done to one", and of one's philosophy - "that which one does for oneself".

In this line, your/my sense of life we initially didn't have much or any choice over - if one (e.g). has/had a bleak universe view, there were certainly influences and occurrences in one's childhood and adolescence which enforced this attitude, damaging one's value-judgments about life, and affecting badly one's emotional responses. Not being fully conceptual, then, there was little one could know to do to adjust that. Until - that is - one gets a little older, when it becomes possible to change one's "plastic" (Rand) subconscious, pre-conceptual "sense of life" with objectivity and reasoning, and with objective evaluations and the appropriate emotions which respond to those. But as individuals get older and more rigid that's harder to change.

I believe it's an understatement to say Rand had both her sense of life and her metaphysical value-premises closely corresponding, in her literature and as an individual. That is, fully integrated. Many artists, like others, have the two in conflict -  often you can see they have a terrific sense of life, but with poor/malevolent world-views. That's why so much artwork one can find to be excellently made, great artworks - but may well not like them.

Just to add to the complexity in TRM, there's the highest significance given to the disparity between what man is, and what man could/should be. Determinism - and volition; naturalism -and romantic realism. And so on. This apparent dilemma we seem to have here about the piority of reason-emotion, emotion-reason, (in art) highlights "is vs. should". Not many people/artists understand and are concerned about "integration".

Tony I don't quite understand what you were saying in this last part (in bold), can you expound on this some?

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On 9/25/2018 at 3:25 AM, KorbenDallas said:

Tony I don't quite understand what you were saying in this last part (in bold), can you expound on this some?

Korben I go back to what you wrote earlier: "So emotions are tools of cognition?" (with regard to artistic creation) 

This needs a trip into the subconsciousness to unpack. If one takes as irrefutable the statement - "everything that's in the subconsciousness arrived by conscious means" ( I think this was LP, and I might have the wording a little off), then one also knows that our first years of life, and all the influences which filtered into our subconscious (via senses) were crucial. That would be such a mixed bag "programmed" into one's mind, that all we can generally deduce is that a person might later on (subconsciously) sum up that a). life is good and I am capable of living it, or b). life is unpredictable and ugly, and I can't do anything to change it. A big cause of the second will be wrongful, invalid, "associations" which the infant/child forms, e.g, connecting two or more stimuli and percepts which have absolutely no causal relationship. Then, and later, "conditioning" by adult authority may often be even more damaging. 

But what else can a child do? she's "pre-conceptual", and can't identify entities, A is A, nor understand yet, "differentiation and integration", nor as consequence, have developed her independent, volitional mind. 

The "sum", aggregate, or averaging out of the extreme judgments: good/bad, efficacious/useless, is what forms one's sense of life. Important, when it comes to artistic creativity, one has to realise that this is also a huge reservoir of experience, and an invaluable fund of pre-conceptual, 'value-judgments' and responsive, ensuing emotions - which the child has built up. I think the earlier in her life, the more deep-seated those influences are -- and the harder to adapt if they are in error about reality. So we can't ignore sense of life, in short. Those first thousands of 'experiences' of existence are most significant, moreso for the artist/writer who will access them to draw from in his works (who, one has to believe, is more aware, "sensitively-attuned", than average to those influences on him).

What to aim for, of course, as artist and not, is an integration of one's sense of life 'experiences' - with one;s consciously-held metaphysical value-judgments. Modifying the first, where necessary. The second is able to  're-self-program the former, to a high degree, anyone may find, from his experience and introspection. As with emotions, one mustn't and cannot suppress or "change" these - directly - instead one has to return to their causes - by our imeans of identifying-reasoning, then our value-judgments; then, our (preconceptual, psychological, emotional) sense of life will gradually follow, indirectly and causally.

---

Rand: "This [impression of another individual] leads many people to regard a sense of life as the province of some sort of special intuition, as a matter perceivable only by some special, non-rational insight. The exact opposite is true: a sense of life is ~not~ an irreducible primary, but a very complex sum; it can be felt, but it cannot be understood, by an automatic reaction; to be understood, it has to be analyzed, identified and verified conceptually...

"But if and when that intangible impression is supported by and unites with the conscious judgment of one's mind, the result is the most exultant form of certainty one can ever experience: it is the integration of mind and values.

"There are two aspects of man's existence which are the special province and expression of his sense of life: love and art".

p.32, Philosophy and Sense of Life.

---

Yes, that "special intuition", "non-rational insight". Applies very well to the generally-held "art mysticism", I call it. I.e. - that artists, owning special powers, are in mysterious contact with the supernatural (or something) -- anything, but acknowledge the artist's or man's consciousness.

A long way round to partially establishing that neither a sense of life, nor emotions, are "tools of cognition", but they play an essential role in art, artists and art-viewers (where integrated and "united" with a conscious mind - or - unintegrated, as is mostly)..

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On ‎9‎/‎23‎/‎2018 at 2:57 PM, Brant Gaede said:

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

---Brant

just an opinion

 

 

No. Leave her in. Those thighs are inspiring.

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