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Here is a link to a blog by Libertarian, Roderick T. Long, that I stumbled across on another forum.

http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/21257.html

Extremely interesting reading, even the comments. I posted this link in "News and Interesting Articles," but there is a specific esthetic Rand issue that popped out at me, which is why I duplicated it here. The intriguing quote is the following:

As for art: in an early draft of We the Living, Rand wrote admiringly of the infiltration of Western abstract imagery into Soviet Russia: “laughing, defiant broken lines and circles cutting triangles, and triangles splitting squares, the new art coming through some crack in the impenetrable barrier.” So it seems she was not always immune to the expressive power of abstract art. Indeed, the entire Fountainhead could be seen as a hymn to abstract art – a fact that reportedly (and unfortunately) led her in later and more rigidified life to repudiate the account of architectural art she had defended in the novel. In short, the young Rand was a good deal less culturally conservative than the later Rand. (In fact, I have the impression that in earlier years she was generally more open-minded; would she have become such a fan of the egalitarian socialist Hugo or the Christian existentialist Dostoyevsky if she had first read them in 1960?)

Then later, Long returned to this same idea:

(Maybe this is the story with regard to art also. In the 1920s and 30s, when the Soviets were denouncing abstract art as an expression of western decadence, she liked such art and even found it liberating; in later years, living in the west where leftists had embraced abstract art, she came to detest it. Might it really be that simple? Certainly the Rand who wrote The Fountainhead was eminently equipped to answer the objections to abstract art raised by the later Rand.)

Over the years, one thing that always bugged me beneath the surface about Rand's esthetics was the modernistic lines and forms of the architecture she admired - and even those in some of Frank O'Connor's paintings - clashing with her rather conservatively stated druthers in art. It is refreshing to see it uncovered like this.

Rand's change of heart in plastic art, but continuation of the "modern" esthetic in architecture, is almost an example of the old adage that the best place to hide something is right out in the open.

Michael

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Michael:

I don't think Rand's taste in architecture was quite as simple as modern vs. traditional. For instance, there is the issue of Frank Lloyd Wright vs. [what's his name] Gehry, who is surely one of the most prominent modern architects. Yet, loathing for his work is very frequently expressed by Objectivists. (I don't know if Rand was acquainted with it before her death.)

The sticking point seems to be Gehry's deviation from the essential focus Rand championed (as by Wright) of marrying form and function. Gehry seems more to be motivated by visual/kinesthetic whim, which may be what turns off so many Objectivists to his work. {It occurs to me that Gehry might be better categorized as post-modern.)

Sherri Tracinski did an article in The Intellectual Activist comparing Wright and Gehry. I also delve into this issue in my "Art as Microcosm" essay. There definitely IS representation of reality and expression of metaphysical value-judgements in architecture -- at least, so I argue -- and I continue to be puzzled as to why Objectivists don't get this point. Unless they are simply mesmerized by Rand's comment in "Art and Cognition" that architecture does not re-create reality -- which is as wrong a statement as I ever saw her make!

Unlike Long, and many others, I do NOT think that architecture falls outside of Rand's definition of "art." When Binswanger quizzed her about it in preparation for putting out the Ayn Rand Lexicon, she was quite old and not in the best of health and, I would presume, not at the peak of her intellectual powers -- and thus not in good shape for dealing with the issue. And it was quite a conflict: a definition of "art" that seems to exclude architecture, which was in a sense the queen of the arts, as evidenced by her huge focus on it in The Fountainhead.

How do you deal with such a clash? Well, blank-out, unfortunately. Architecture has NO ENTRY (so to speak) in the Lexicon. What a travesty! Compounded by the fact that there IS an entry for "visual art," which explicitly INCLUDES architecture! All together now: ARRRRRGHHHH! #-o

One of the things I'm happiest about in my Microcosm essay is my "rehabilitation" of architecture to the status of Randian art. And I really have "no dog in that fight," since I am not a big fan of architecture, so I could care less whether its fans are upset with its being excluded from Randian art, or with Rand's definition of "art" being defective. I just think it's clear (to me, anyway) both that Rand's definition of "art" is spot-on, AND that architecture is one of the arts covered by her definition. So, I have managed to stay out of (I'm tempted to say: above) that particular squabble.

By the way, if anyone has read my Microcosm essay and would like to give me some feedback on it, the architecture section or any other part(s) of it, please feel free to do so -- here or via email.

REB

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Roger,

I'm still stuck on that line, “laughing, defiant broken lines and circles cutting triangles, and triangles splitting squares, the new art coming through some crack in the impenetrable barrier.”

She appears to have lost the laugh and defiance because of politics, not esthetics...

(I'll be checking in a bit later on your essay - after all, 50 some pages...)

Michael

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Roger wrote,

"There definitely IS representation of reality and expression of metaphysical value-judgements in architecture -- at least, so I argue -- and I continue to be puzzled as to why Objectivists don't get this point."

I don't know that they don't get the point. I think it's much more likely that they're reluctant to accept it because they're worried about its implications regarding abstract painting and sculpture, which they don't want to recognize as art.

Speaking of which, Roger, am I correct in assuming that you believe that the type of abstract art Rand wrote about in the quote Michael provided above is art according to your views, and should be considered art even according to Rand's?

After all, in seeing laughter and defiance in abstract lines, circles, triangles, squares and their relationships to one another, she was describing moral qualities, feelings and intentions as reflected in actions, events and situations. She grasped the shapes as powerful imaginal symbols that represent fundamental abstractions by means of stylized embodiment, or as virtual persons engaged in certain kinds of virtual motions and actions to which she sympathetically responded as if they were a real or fictional persons, no?

J

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OK, I've been working all night and I'm admittedly a little punchy, but:

If Objectivists were to successfully mate with bats (which I think in some cases in New Zealand and Colorado might actually work), and their offspring were to use their powerful echo-location abilities to develop a new form of music which aurally "depicted" precisely discernible entities engaging in completely identifiable fictional activities, would they abandon regular music? Would these Batjectivists insist that, with their ability to create for themselves very realistic, aural illusions of things from reality, subtler, more abstract kinds of aural re-creations of less discernible aspects of reality are not proper art?

G'night,

J

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Jonathan wrote:

If Objectivists were to successfully mate with bats (which I think in some cases in New Zealand and Colorado might actually work), and their offspring were to use their powerful echo-location abilities to develop a new form of music which aurally "depicted" precisely discernible entities engaging in completely identifiable fictional activities, would they abandon regular music? Would these Batjectivists insist that, with their ability to create for themselves very realistic, aural illusions of things from reality, subtler, more abstract kinds of aural re-creations of less discernible aspects of reality are not proper art?

Well, we already have this kind of music, in embryonic form, as the sound track. I'm sure we've all seen movies and cartoons in which the music is closely correlated in dynamic attributes to actions of characters or forces of nature (like tide, wind, etc.). We also have made a step toward what you are describing with the audio technique of "surround sound." Also, the clashing of forces, etc. has for a long time been suggested in the orchestra by the (pardon the expressing) pitting of one (spatially separated) section of the orchestra against another, as well as by antiphonal (especially, off-stage) interjections by other musicians.

Now, what you are suggesting, Jonathan, is an enhancement of our hearing faculty to the point that composers would be able to dispense with surround sound speakers and visual cues to what the music is representing. They could represent motion, clashes, etc., by means of musical events that actually travelled around in space. No pun intended, but it sounds fine to me! As long as you can get the orchestra musicians' union to go along with it, because it sounds like it would put a lot of them out of work! :-)

But I wouldn't take such an advancement as an invalidation of the earlier forms of music, any more than I would take Romantic music as an invalidation of Baroque or Classical music, just because the emotions being expressed by Romantic music seem so much less abstract and cerebral than those in Baroque or Classical music. To each his own, I say.

I wish I could feel comfortable expressing this in more hyper-judgmental, vitriolic form, but I am not generally recognized as being a true Batjectivist. In fact, in some circles (especially in Colorado), I am regarded as an "anti-Batjectivist." :-/

REB

P.S. -- BTW, there is some thinking that our hearing faculty actually evolved from a form of perception that allowed animals (fish, I think) to sense location, viz., differences in depth. This evolved into a much different location-sense, viz., pitch location corresponding to frequencies of sound waves. Adding echo-location to this is an intriguing possibility. But it's one that Rand allowed for in "Art and Cognition," where she talked about artforms that would result if and when man's cognitive faculties evolved. The forms we have are based on the faculties we have. In the meantime, I'm not going to be shacking up with any bats, nor with anyone who has! :-&

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I previously wrote:

There definitely IS representation of reality and expression of metaphysical value-judgements in architecture -- at least, so I argue -- and I continue to be puzzled as to why Objectivists don't get this point.

Jonathan commented:

I don't know that they don't get the point. I think it's much more likely that they're reluctant to accept it because they're worried about its implications regarding abstract painting and sculpture, which they don't want to recognize as art.

I don't think it's just reluctance to consider abstract painting and sculpture as art. I think it's servile acceptance of Rand's say-so, and unwillingness to challenge her stated position about architecture. Rand herself in 1971 in "Art and Cognition" said architecture does NOT re-create reality, and no one I am aware of (except myself and to some extent Peter Creswell) has challenged this claim of hers. Rand said it, and she never revised it, so it's an official part of Objectivism, and that's that. And you know what the Loyalists say about Objectivism: if you reject one part of it, you're rejecting the whole system. (Which is utter balderdash, but try to tell them that!)

So, I think there's a 500 lb. gorilla in the way -- Rand's say-so about architecture not re-creating reality -- before you even get to the issue of abstract art. (See my next post.)

Now, consider the psychology (and morality) of the whole mess. How Rand could bold-facedly continue to include architecture in the arts in that very article, at the same time asserting that it had a nature that clearly did not fit her definition of art, is a major puzzle to me. Unless she simply EVADED the issue. If she was wrestling with the contradiction, she could at least have let us in on it at some point, don't you think? But no. That would involve admitting an error.

In 1971, in "Art and Cognition," she handled the conflict by blanking it out, ignoring it, keeping architecture in the category of art even while it obviously did not fit her definition of art, and simply referring readers to The Fountainhead. In 1981-2, she supposedly dealt with the conflict (if we are to believe second- and third-hand reports) by directing Binswanger, compiler and editor of The Ayn Rand Lexicon, to blank out the fact that she had for decades considered architecture to be almost the queen of the arts.

Get this: a book of Ayn Rand's major, important statements about topics most important to her philosophy -- and architecture is not included, but instead quietly thrown down the Memory Hole. That, my friends, is "airbrushing of reality" that puts the piddly Ayn Rand Bookstore examples to shame! Did they think we wouldn't notice???

Even at that, Binswanger botched the air-brushing and the blank-out by including architecture in the Lexicon in the text of the entry for "Visual Art." This, to me, is atrocious. As an editor, Binswanger was not even competent enough to catch the blatant second entry of a supposed major contradiction that he convinced Rand to let him exclude from the Lexicon.

But it's even worse than a simple cover-your-ass airbrushing away of an embarrassing contradiction. Architecture, which is obviously one of the fine arts -- and which, as I argue in my JARS essay, clearly re-creates reality on both the primary and secondary levels -- WAS SACRIFICED, BY RAND (or Binswanger?), TO HER DEFINITION.

Years of championing architecture as a noble, admirable artform were thrown on the funeral pyre of "things we don't admit in print," when she (supposedly) directed Binswanger to leave architecture out of the Lexicon. And with no hi, yes, or thank you to all of her students and fans -- no explanation, no admission of a long-standing error, no apology for not sooner correcting the conflict in "Art and Cognition." As I say, blank-out! More: rationalistic, altruistic blank-out! And all because of her own simplistic understanding of "re-creation of reality."

Yet, this glaring immorality of Rand's is brushed (and airbrushed) aside, while NB's and BB's even earlier deceits are endlessly recycled, even as their many virtues and contributions to Objectivism are brushed (and airbrushed) aside. George Orwell couldn't have written a more perverse scenario! #-o

REB

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Jonathan wrote:

...Roger, am I correct in assuming that you believe that the type of abstract art Rand wrote about in the quote Michael provided above is art according to your views, and should be considered art even according to Rand's?

According to my views, yes. According to Rand's, I'm not sure.

My view is that art fundamentally presents an imaginary world (a microcosm) which is set off from this world (with or without a frame or proscenium &c. to help one's viewing it that way), and which functions as an imaginary world to the extent that its content functions as things in the imaginary world. That's primary re-creation and secondary re-creation, respectively. This really isn't straying all that far from Rand, and how she explained the necessity of "representationalism." But it allows more latitude for representationalism than she seemed to, especially in her later years when she railed against "modern art."

My view allows, for instance, that a building primarily re-creates a world in the form of a stylized human environment and secondarily re-creates (for instance) physical masses exerting force against one another, as a column vs. a roof). It also allows that a musical piece re-creates a world in the form of a stylized tonal landscape, within which various musical events re-create symmetrical and harmonious interactions between entities or conflicting and goal-directed forces exertd by entities, etc. It also allows that, to the extent that geometric figures &c. relate to one another as various masses relate to one another in architecture, abstract art also presents an imaginary world in which even its elements can serve a representational function.

Teasing out the exact philosophical or emotional meaning of abstract art is the real challenge, and there is much room for scam artists to claim that they are re-creating reality. But discarding it all as non-art is throwing out the baby with the bathwater (or the Binswanger, I should say. :-) ) Whether Rand was willing to discard all modern (= abstract?) art, or just the absolute crap (such as paintings by monkeys and canvases with excrement flung at them), I don't know. She certainly would not rule out "The Scream" as art, just because it had a malevolent view of life. As for geometric/color art, she might have continued to appreciate it, but just as "pleasing pattern" (much as Kant appreciated music) or decoration, rather than "true art." Again, I don't know.

Quoting Jonathan again:

After all, in seeing laughter and defiance in abstract lines, circles, triangles, squares and their relationships to one another, she was describing moral qualities, feelings and intentions as reflected in actions, events and situations. She grasped the shapes as powerful imaginal symbols that represent fundamental abstractions by means of stylized embodiment, or as virtual persons engaged in certain kinds of virtual motions and actions to which she sympathetically responded as if they were a real or fictional persons, no?

I think that this interpretation goes way beyond the evidence. Rand certainly could have responded to abstract art that way in her younger days. But I think that's putting way too sophisticated an aesthetic spin on what she wrote in that rough draft for We the Living. It seems to me that she was simply (and simplistically) cheering anything that broke up the soul-deading regularity and state-serving rigidity of Soviet Realism. (Did that style exist in her Russian days, or did it come along later?)

Not that I'm a authority on sensitivity and insightfulness into the "true meaning of art," but it seems a stretch to me to attribute "laughter" or "defiance" specifically to shapes or colors. IMO, anything that flew in the face of official Soviet approval could potentially have been responded to by Rand as a defiant flaunting of statist authority and oppressive culture. In other words, I'm wondering if Rand wasn't simply projecting her own exultant feelings about abstract art's challenge to Soviet culture into the paintings.

Therein lies the real problem of analyzing and interpreting abstract art. Suppose you are an artist wanting to use abstract art to convey a worldview or a strong emotion of some kind. (Or an aesthetician or art critic claiming that a certain worldview or emotion is being presented by an abstract artwork.) The litmus test of your sincerity (and competence) -- especially if the general public simply does not get your work -- is this: can you point to objective indicators in your artwork that embody the artwork's supposed meaning?

If you, or your intelligent, intellectual supporters, cannot at least give some explanation of the artwork's supposed meaning, and point to the means you used to convey that meaning, how can you expect anyone else to get it? If you're using a secret code, let us in on it! If you're just pulling our leg, well, get your hand off our leg! (And stop trying to get our tax dollars to support your nonsense!)

That, I think, is what Rand, in her later, less naive approach to art, was concerned to combat: the charlatans who had the disingenuous attitude of, "To those who understand, no explanation is necessary; to those who do not understand, no explanation is possible." Rand's reply to this was: it's got to be representational somehow, and if it isn't, it isn't art. She just erred (I think) on the conservative side, when it came to what counted as representational and what didn't. (But again, I'm not sure about that, because she said very little about modern art, except vitriolic putdowns of the easiest, most despicable targets.)

REB

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Thanks for your comments, Roger. If I can find the time over the next few busy days, I'll reply to a few points. But in the mean time, it occurs to me that in keeping with the spirit of this forum, I should have prefaced my earlier remarks (and my late night, groggy semi-silliness) with an expression of my appreciation for your essays on art. I've mentioned it now and then in other forums over the years, but I think it bears repeating that your insights have been very stimulating to me, and I'm sincerely grateful for all that I've learned from you -- not only in regard to aesthetics, but philosophy in general. I think your ideas on art as microcosmic, and your supporting arguments, are very powerful, much more so than other approaches that I've seen within Objectivist circles.

Best,

J

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Jonathan, thanks for the kind words. You asked very good, stimulating questions, and they just drew me in, what can I say! I look forward to further comments or questions from you, when you have time.

I'm very pleased to have gotten my Microcosm essay, and the subsequent Camus-Langer-Rand essay, published in JARS. These are based on insights that go back to the very early 1970s. My usual critics, Lou Torres and Michelle Kamhi, have been curiously silent about my Microcosm essay. I expected to hear that they had a major critique in the works long before this. Kinda disappointing...

But there is a very challenging essay on Rand's aesthetics by Kirsti Minsaas in the current issue (fall 2005, vol. 7, no. 1), and she takes me to task in it for my microcosm model of art. I think she's more right than wrong in her positive interpretation of Rand's views, but that she somewhat misrepresents my Microcosm view in her comments on it. I know I need to deal with her critique, but I'm having trouble wrapping my brain and civility around the task at the same time! I'm sure the right words and right tone will come to me -- probably when I'm (or should be) the busiest with something else. That's usually when my best thinking happens -- while I'm playing hookey! #-o

I have other projects brewing, too -- not just the big project in music theory (about popular songs and classical melodies), but also some papers on logic.

  • One is on applying Rand's unit-perspective, which she bases her theory of concepts on, to propositions and arguments. (Not to confuse logic with real estate, but my terminology includes words like "duplex units" and "triplex units." :-) )

  • Another is on rehabilitating Aristotle's Square of Opposition (All S is P, No S is P, Some S is P, Some S is not P) from the modern logic theorists who claim that it breaks down when you consider propositions about non-existent things like unicorns.

  • Yet another is constructing tetrachotomies -- i.e., four-way alternatives -- by conjoining pairs of two-way alternatives, then applying those tetrachotomies to various philosophic problems, like how many different ways are there to have vanilla and chocolate ice cream.

But for the life of me, I don't know where I'm going to publish all these papers, even if I find time to write them! I mean, Chris Sciabarra's good will and space in JARS are not infinitely elastic! 8-[ Maybe I should just jam them all into a book on logic and dialectics, then pony up the books to have it i-published, and be done with it....

Anyway, Jonathan, send along more thoughts on modern art, architecture, philosophy, anything, when you have time. Kat and Michael have really done a wonderful thing, giving us all this elbow room for trying out our thoughts and stirring each other to new ones. :-)

Best,

REB

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  • 1 month later...

My first Bachelor's was basically in modern art. Technically, it was a double major in Media, in Photography and Digital Art (Computer Arts). However, the whole of my undergraduate education was in modern art and often we toed the line of postmodernism and all the art I've written on or made would have been considered "modern art". The classes I had went from critique to media theory to culture studies to electronic art to video production to film history, etc. It was an interesting experience, and looking back, it was a rich one. To me, there is a distinction between modern art and what I call fine art. To me, fine art is what Michaelangelo did. Modern art is Dali. I like both.

So, having had some experience of what it's like to be in it, to think constantly about being expressive, creative, questioning, and challenging, it's fascinating to come across art critique by Rand, who obviously did not study modern art, yet felt fine enough to say some virtiolic things about it-- most of which I think is her opinion.

No, modern art isn't aesthetic; that isn't its aim. Modern art goes over my head sometimes, and no, I don't think it's comprehensive right away, all the time. Yes, that pisses me off when I look and look and still don't get it. Yes, it sucks that I have to read a placquard to understand. But this doesn't happen all the time. At least half the time, I can get a message from a piece of modern art. Some, if done well, can and do portray what modern art usually does: tell a message. Question. Challenge convention. Ask us to analyze our lives and reactions and thoughts; what we are doing, why? To me, those are valid questions. No, my classmates didn't do the "I feel this color" crap; we talked about *how* to compose, express, and use colors, media, subject matter, balance, etc. We said, "It looks like this person is trying to say...." or "I'm not sure about putting that over there, it makes the composition unbalanced", etc. I don't know if anyone here has an art degree, but that's what I did in my classes; that's what I did to critique all sorts of media, from video all the way to photography. That's what I did to graduate.

"To those who understand, no explanation is necessary; to those who do not understand, no explanation is possible."

That kind of attitude about art, from any artist, isn't going to help him/her. Yes, it does get really ridiculous. But this sentiment wasn't true in my education. Those people who say these things-- and where is this quote from, by the way-- are having their art discussed in art classes by art students. We may not like what we see, but we get over that to find the message. It's called proactive critical thinking. Also, could this quote be said as well of Objectivism from some Oists out there? I've seen it expressed in different ways. What's the difference?

Rand's reply to this was: it's got to be representational somehow, and if it isn't, it isn't art.

Representation of reality according to whom? People like different pieces for differing, individual reasons. I like what I like and I can understand why I like something. It might not be what someone else can see (or hear). I have a friend who loves blurry motion in his taste; he just loves motion-- he's on the move all the time, he's got a Choppered BMW cruiser that's blue, he's intellectually active, in literature (writer) and science (pre-veterinary)-- he likes art that depicts motion. He likes power. He likes activity of life. And he likes Jackson Pollock because he sees that. I understand it, even if I don't *personally* like it. I like fine detail, controlled precision, layers of discovery, a balanced portray of color, and depiction of something I can recognize, even if its form is played with. There is much depth in the field of modern art, more depth in any field that one outside may not realize. Yes, I can critique Jackson Pollock, drawing on my education, but ultimately, it's going to be my opinion that I think his art doesn't say anything. It just doesn't say anything TO ME.

she said very little about modern art, except vitriolic putdowns of the easiest, most despicable targets.

Her attacks (or any attacks from anyone) on matters that she (they) did not honestly study-- deeply and with wisdom-- such as modern art or neuroscience, in my case-- is irrelevant to me. She did not get a modern art education. Does she know what goes on? Or is she outside looking in? It makes me sad that while she had her opinion, that a few unfortunate people (nameless to me) can't separate her opinion from their opinion. It's like her opinion becomes their opinion. Or her opinion becomes their fact. My values are my own. I suppose that it's a "damnation" to have a modern art education and a myopic soul would not hesitate to judge my entire life on my first Bachelor's... but get this: I'm also 5-7 classes away from my second Bachelor's, one in Physiology emphasizing in neuroscience. I find that people just *love* to critique either field that I've studied/am studying, without actually having *done the work*. Yes, some artists are "obsessed with their work", but you know... some scientists seclude themselves in their labs, "obsessed about their work".

That said, because some are so willing to crucify a field without really, really understanding what goes on in it makes them less trustworthy to me. BUT, I do respect Rand's philosophical thought and what she studied in history, as well as her wisdom in having been a writer. I know a little bit of how hard it is to write; my mom published two books. However, I do keep Rand in context; I've come across science-themed fiction books written by non-scientists and I do sometimes find errors, vaguaries, or at the least, using the wrong name for something. I just have to keep my head on my shoulders and realize the author's context.

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Below is a modified version of part of an email I recently wrote to a very good aritst. (I will start posting some of his things before too long.)

On the abstract versus representational art issue, I have a perspective honed from the experience of living with an excellent abstract painter - one of my exes (we were together for 2 years). She also was quite good at representational art. Some of her landscapes were quite beautiful.

She painted with a passion. When we separated, she had over 1,000 paintings done. When we would run out of money for canvases, she painted the doors and walls. As a last resort, she would paint over an older painting. If she couldn't get normal artist paint, house-paint would do. Even watercolors. Or a mouse on a computer (although she never did go too far with computers).

What I discovered in her abstract paintings (which I have not seen too often elsewhere in abstract art) was that she had a talent to make you daydream.

Here is the theory I came up with. Your eyes are bombarded by many light waves when you open them. The mind is what organizes the light waves into patterns based on some of their physical properties and the mind's organizing capacities (gestalt). When I have opened them quickly while concentrating on the experience, I have been able to "see" an instant where everything is still not congealed. Then the normal images snap into place. My ex was extremely good at capturing this instant.

When I used to look at one of her paintings for a while, before too long I would find my mind wandering all over the place, sort of going into a focused stream of consciousness. The random thoughts kind of took on an Alice in Wonderland kind of logic. Frankly, I enjoyed this experience tremendously.

Obviously, the purpose and effect of a painting like this is not the same as a representational one. It is not conceptual in nature and does not seek to concretize a concept or group of concepts in order to elicit an emotion. It is made more to induce a directed contemplation process. Thus I am loathe to call it "death premise," "anti-conceptual" and the standard Rand judgments for abstract work (although it is "preconceptual" maybe).

One of the interesting things is that the mental wandering experience varies with other paintings only if they are vastly different in design and color. If any two of these abstract paintings like my ex paints bear a slightly similar, but remote resemblance to each other, the mental wandering is the same.

I have been trying to work on my concept of art so that this kind of aesthetic experience does not contradict the Objectivist one, but is added to it instead. For emotions like exaltation, for instance, you have to be representational. But I enjoy my particular brand of abstract daydreaming too much to find it somehow demeaning.

Michael

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I have been trying to work on my concept of art so that this kind of aesthetic experience does not contradict the Objectivist one, but is added to it instead. For emotions like exaltation, for instance, you have to be representational. But I enjoy my particular brand of abstract daydreaming too much to find it somehow demeaning.

I enjoy abstract thought, imagination, thought wanderings, etc. Half the time I get a good idea from it relating to my science stuff. And I have no problem with letting emotions come to the surface. It's human, it's part of our physiology. It's natural, and so good if one can balance feeling and thinking to their capacity so that they integrate. No need to call it anything other than human, and I celebrate what's good in humans.

I'm not sure what you mean by representational. As in, represents anything to do with humans, like emotion? Or, represents an object in reality? Or, represents concepts that humans can understand? Or all of these? I'm asking because I'm not sure.

I think there is nothing wrong with daydreaming, abstract thought, and feeling. Nothing would happen if none of these things happened. I seek not to contradict myself and reality... even if it means contradicting Oism at times. Without daydreaming I would not have made the connections I did to come up with my thesis. I think abstract thought, daydreaming, thought wandering, etc. is a good thing; it keeps me human as long as I know what it is and what I'm doing. Abstract thought is what some fields do to make things happen.

"death premise," "anti-conceptual" and the standard Rand judgments

This (i.e. 'death premise', 'anti-conceptual') is inhuman. It shows no knowledge of physiology, the brain, how it works, how humans work. I reject it, given my education, life, current knowledge of Rand's words, and knowledge of abstract thought.

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Building on Bissell's of the 5th:

I'm not so sure that Rand's remarks in We the Living contradict what she later said. If I remember the passage correctly, she was talking about book design, a decorative art, in the earlier passage, not about fine art as she was later. In fact, in one of her 60s essays she opines that representation is just what we ought to avoid in decorative design.

If she'd thought it was a contradiction she would have edited it out, as she so famously edited out Kira's bloodthirsty Nietzschean sentiments.

On the other hand, decorative art usually trickles down from fine art, and these designs she enjoyed probably couldn't have happened without cubism or futurism.

Peter

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If she'd thought it was a contradiction she would have edited it out, as she so famously edited out Kira's bloodthirsty Nietzschean sentiments.

It's cool to learn. I would edit stuff out if I ended up learning more about it and found out I didn't really agree. However, I would state that I agree with Nietzche HERE but not THERE instead of blasting all of it. Bloodthirsty is not good.

On the other hand, decorative art usually trickles down from fine art, and these designs she enjoyed probably couldn't have happened without cubism or futurism.

That's true. Art, like music, like scientific knowledge, like ideas, evolves. I did study cubism and futurism; I may not like them too much, but at least I understand the underlying idea movements behind them fueled later artwork.

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Pete,

Rand not only edited it out, she did so the first time around. The passage is in The Early Ayn Rand and is among parts deleted from the original publication.

If I remember history correctly, there was a strong movement by the Communist government back then to rid society of what they called decadent art. I do know that composers had to swear to some kind of silly statement or another, promising to write only tonal music from there on out. Prokofiev was one of the victims.

So her mention of "new art" in that context, even in publishing design, seems to allude to the "decadent art" coming from the West as a small form of suggesting defiance at that place in the novel.

Jenna,

Representational in painting means depiction of actual objects and people.

Michael

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For emotions like exaltation, for instance, you have to be representational.

I don't agree with that either. I made an art piece that did not represent any objects or people in reality but it was still well understood in my class for representing exaltation. My life, and the reality of experience, falsifies the statement.

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