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Jonathan

Romantic Music Is Objectively Superior

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Ayn Rand said that until a conceptual language of music is discovered and identified, there are no objective criteria for judging music, that we must treat our musical tastes as a subjective matter, and that no one can claim the objective superiority of his musical choices.

But I don't think she really meant it. I think she made an honest mistake. See, when she claimed that we must treat musical tastes as a subjective matter, she must have temporarily forgotten that she had very objectively proved that the music that she didn't like turns its listeners into "mentally helpless savages." She must have forgotten that her decades of careful, scientific research as both a professional musician and psychologist led her to objectively observe that the music she disliked "paralyzes cognitive processes, obliterates awareness and disintegrates the mind." Since she so clearly and rationally demonstrated those things to be true, and provided lots of evidence to back up her claims, then she must have been simply mistaken that there are no objective criteria by which to judge music.

More importantly, her and my tastes in music, and our angry judgments of others' tastes, are objective because I want them to be objective. We should keep saying that they're objective because that's the best way to make it true.

There, I proved that Romantic music is objectively superior!

J

Note to Will Thomas: I'm now accepting invitations for paid appearances in which I'll deliver philosophically deep, pro-Objectivist content like that above.

Edited by Jonathan

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LOOOOLzers.

Jonathan, are you sure that music makes us savages, or were we already savages?

Ah, screw it,

Kori,

I think that the Totally Objective Theory Of Musical Tastes states both that only savages are attracted to the kind of music that people such as Rand and her intellectual aesthetic heir Pigero dislike, and that non-savages will be turned into savages after listening to it. Btw, does obsessively listening to Mario Lanza turn one into self-important twit, or are self-important twits obsessively attracted to Mario Lanza? Either way, there appears to be a lot of evidence that connects obsessing over Lanza with being a self-important twit.

I just watched the video that you posted, and it hasn't paralyzed my cognitive prnfdj jdakuisalvn jadueua aiudalidh[t9347vik a;idviw

uqciwl

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This post cracked me up.

Excellent Essay, Linz

Among those who I have known that liked rap and metal, I have noticed a certain malevolence and anger at the world, precisely as you describe...

Notice that Moeller addressed the post to Linz. You know, angry old Linz, the person so lacking in ability to control his rage that he has probably destroyed more friendships and alliances than Rand, Diana Hsieh and Lenny Peikoff combined; the emotional toddler who admits that his temper tantrums are unjust, apologizes for them and edits them out of his posts, but then turns around in fits of petulance and calls them "rational passion" after those whom he has repeatedly abused are no longer willing to accept his apologies. This is the raving asshole with whom Moeller is agreeing about "a certain malevolence and anger at the world" found in those who like rap and metal.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!

J

P.S. I also wanted to note for the record that I've officially accepted the Lord back into my life and have become a Christian. This past week I've been listening to Mario Lanza singing I'll Walk With God, because it's good, proper, objectively superior music, and it has convinced me to walk with God from this day on. I'll lean on Him forever, and He'll forsake me never. I'm not so sure yet that I'm willing to let His hand near my throne or rod, but other than that, I'm now totally dedicated to loving God and His boy Jesus and all that, thanks to listening to the right kind of music.

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This post cracked me up.
Excellent Essay, Linz

Among those who I have known that liked rap and metal, I have noticed a certain malevolence and anger at the world, precisely as you describe...

Notice that Moeller addressed the post to Linz. You know, angry old Linz, the person so lacking in ability to control his rage that he has probably destroyed more friendships and alliances than Rand, Diana Hsieh and Lenny Peikoff combined; the emotional toddler who admits that his temper tantrums are unjust, apologizes for them and edits them out of his posts, but then turns around in fits of petulance and calls them "rational passion" after those whom he has repeatedly abused are no longer willing to accept his apologies. This is the raving asshole with whom Moeller is agreeing about "a certain malevolence and anger at the world" found in those who like rap and metal.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!

J

P.S. I also wanted to note for the record that I've officially accepted the Lord back into my life and have become a Christian. This past week I've been listening to Mario Lanza singing I'll Walk With God, because it's good, proper, objectively superior music, and it has convinced me to walk with God from this day on. I'll lean on Him forever, and He'll forsake me never. I'm not so sure yet that I'm willing to let His hand near my throne or rod, but other than that, I'm now totally dedicated to loving God and His boy Jesus and all that, thanks to listening to the right kind of music.

Strange juxtaposition between objectivity, rationality and religion. It's like a puzzle with three pieces that don't all fit together.

--Brant

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Pigero:

...what I call value-swoon: “This is life as I see it”—in my case, in the form of a spiritual orgasm born of orgiastic love-making between me, the artist, the composer and life itself. Value-swoon consummated by tears. If there are no tears, I haven’t properly value-swooned. Tears of joy, poignance, worship, “unclouded exaltation” in the presence of gods and the godly, of beauty inexpressible in words...Now, it turns out Slayer fans do indeed seek the same thing. Or so they say...

I read the above and couldn't help wondering how much gender identity or sexual preferences might have to do with artistic tastes.

When we were discussing the Schipperheyn statue here on OL, I commented that godliness or heroism, to me, is more about feeling the experience of using one's powers from on high than seeking power or worshipping from below. It seems that others, like Pigero, might be more limited to identifying with yearning and tearfully swooning and otherwise being worshipful. Might I identify with a different range of aesthetic experiences than girly girls or gays because I'm not girlish or gay? Might my being a hetero male who enjoys the hunt, both literally and figuratively, be a factor in my not being angrily revolted by art that doesn't, in effect, romantically court me or offer me something to worship? Might my lack of estrogen and gayness play a part in allowing me to appreciate music which strongly evokes the feeling of being a god as opposed to tearfully swooning over being "in the presence of gods"?

Just entertaining a hunch.

J

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Might I identify with a different range of aesthetic experiences than girly girls or gays because I'm not girlish or gay? Might my being a hetero male who enjoys the hunt, both literally and figuratively, be a factor in my not being angrily revolted by art that doesn't, in effect, romantically court me or offer me something to worship? Might my lack of estrogen and gayness play a part in allowing me to appreciate music which strongly evokes the feeling of being a god as opposed to tearfully swooning over being "in the presence of gods"?

Just entertaining a hunch.

J

Dearie me, J, female weighing in here -- and female who likes the Schipperheyn statue. (Recall, I think we got sorted out, mostly off-list, what I'm responding to in that statue.) My estrogen levels aren't what they used to be, but even when they were what they used to be, I wouldn't have described my desires in art (specifically, here, music) the way Linz describes his. But I wouldn't have described those desires in terms of being a god either. I mean, which music? Souped up, sometimes, yes. Beethoven's 7th symphony, now there, maybe, my specifically being female (though not a "girly girl," if I understand what that means, female) I think makes a difference -- I many times listened to that symphony as a psychological masturbatory experience, Beethoven having The Power, the male life force, and then some. But... (Imagine one of those "eyes-rolled" smilie things; I never have been able to get the smilies to work on my computer.)

E-

___

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I read the above and couldn't help wondering how much gender identity or sexual preferences might have to do with artistic tastes.

When we were discussing the Schipperheyn statue here on OL, I commented that godliness or heroism, to me, is more about feeling the experience of using one's powers from on high than seeking power or worshipping from below. It seems that others, like Pigero, might be more limited to identifying with yearning and tearfully swooning and otherwise being worshipful. Might I identify with a different range of aesthetic experiences than girly girls or gays because I'm not girlish or gay? Might my being a hetero male who enjoys the hunt, both literally and figuratively, be a factor in my not being angrily revolted by art that doesn't, in effect, romantically court me or offer me something to worship? Might my lack of estrogen and gayness play a part in allowing me to appreciate music which strongly evokes the feeling of being a god as opposed to tearfully swooning over being "in the presence of gods"?

I'm a 100% hetero female. I've loved music that made me feel like a powerful god[dess] prevailing at the hunt/war, and loved music that made me feel utterly worshipful. Both are wonderful experiences. Don't rule out one of them -- you'll be missing something, regardless of your orientation.

Judith

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One point always gets to me in Objectivist discussions of musical superiority: the subjective nature of all fundaments. I mean that in the most literal meaning possible. Rand's famous statement about objective criteria for music not yet available is even usually given as justification, albeit often with "disagree with Rand" kind of gobbledy-goop doublespeak (like that given in the SOLOP thread that started this discussion).

Here are just a few thoughts off the top of my head on objectivity in music:

1. Nobody forces anyone to buy music. They buy it because they want it. The objectivity of this can be verified by observation. Except in a few cases of dictatorships and forced confinement like prison, people go to concerts and shows because they want to. They buy recordings because they want to. Not only do they volitionally seek music out, they plunk down money to get it.

Those who claim that popular forms like rap or heavy metal are non-music (and other colorful descriptions) have no explanation for this fact except some lame bromides like most people are corrupt, most people have a mixed sense of life, yada yada yada... It all boils down to "most people are inferior to me." That is about as subjective as it gets.

2. What is the basis of objectivity? I learned in Objectivist epistemology that objectivity is based on observation and pattern recognition, which is called differentiation, integration and abstraction in Objectivist jargon. So what is wrong with looking at what people do, identifying patterns and using this data? Obviously nothing is wrong with it. That's what you are supposed to do to supply cognitive integrations of concepts before going off into the normative part.

If there is to be an objective definition of music, it has to start with observing human nature, specifically how the human mind processes music. Neuroscience promises to take us into fascinating realms music-wise, but for now we only have limited measurements on a biochemical level. So we mostly have to rely on observing the behavior of people (often those who do not know they are being observed), establishing test controls for observing them, etc.

I do admit that this kind of information is hard to find nowadays. I remember in college (at the beginning of the 70's) I came across some studies by the Musak corporation that showed how buying behavior, productivity, etc., were influenced by the kind of music that was piped into the background of commercial environments. I have looked for these studies just now and I have not been able to find them easily. I think this will take some digging.

Muzak did these studies not because it loved the foxtrot and despised the Irish jig, or loved Rachmaninoff and despised Cage, or whatever. It did these studies because its paycheck depended on supplying aural backgrounds people responded to and proving the benefits of this to clients. Certain kinds of music induced people to buy more stuff, or stay longer, etc. Interestingly enough, Muzak seems to have abandoned this line of thinking and drifted into more non-objective criteria (like environmentalism, of all things). Parallel to this, it has also suffered serious financial difficulties and is now up for merger with another company to pay off its debts.

3. Those who rant and rail against piped music remind me of those who complain about commercials on TV. I cannot think of a more anti-capitalistic mentality than removing the "how" something is produced from value judgments. Just like TV programs cannot be provided for free to viewers without some form of income for the producers, so a store who loses its customers to a competitor goes out of business. He does everything within his power to attract customers.

I am certain that those who complain about piped music in commercial establishments do not go out of their way to patronize places that do not use such music unless they are showing off to make a point. If somebody wants to buy a ham sandwich, he goes to where they sell ham sandwiches and does not refuse to buy a good one just because there is music in the background he doesn't like. However, there usually will be more customers around buying ham sandwiches if there is the right kind of music than if there is the wrong kind of music or no music at all. This has been proven time and time again.

Here is a small case. It is anecdotal, but very illustrative. I used to be friends with the owners of a rather large black community entertainment organization in São Paulo called Chic Show. It has since changed names, but in my time it would typically attract 50,000 paying customers to its dance balls throughout the city per Saturday night. That's a lot of money and the owners came from dirt-poor people. I once asked Elsio (one of the owners) what his secret was. We were walking down a city street and there were two similar restaurants near each other. We could see in the windows. One was empty and the other was crowded. He said, "Look at the empty restaurant. No music." We went in and, sure enough, there was no music being played." "Now look at the full one," he said. "Music." We went in and and, sure enough, there was music. "It never fails," he said. "Start spinning records and people show up."

This guy's entire wealth was built out of knowing that fact. And you can be sure he paid close attention to what kind of music his people liked, too. I remember some strange experiences observing this. Here is one of the stranger instances.

One night I was in one of his clubs. It was jam packed with black people stuffed in like sardines (all paying customers) and the main musical fare was rap and hip hop. All of a sudden I heard Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Things like "A Taste of Honey" and "Tijuana Taxi." I thought that was really weird among rap and hip hop and asked Elsio about it. He told me that he personally like this music. He once noted that at a certain time of the night, the customers started leaving. So one night, having nothing to lose, he put on some Herb Alpert to change gears and lo and behold, the customers stayed. He ran several tests over the next few weeks and the results were always the same. So Herb Alpert proudly took his place along side of LL Cool J, Ice-T, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Too Short and Public Enemy. Weird, but there it is.

(Incidentally, rap eventually diminished and samba, a special form called pagode, returned to reign supreme in the Brazilian black community.)

4. There are some famous pattern studies carried out by Gestalt psychologists I read once. The most famous is the metronome beat study. If you play an unvarying metronome tick to a person for a while in a closed off environment, he inevitably will start to divide the pulses into units of 2 or 3 ticks and "hear" the first beat of the unit as louder than the others.

Is it any wonder that the rhythm of most music can easily be boiled down to recurring patterns of 2 and 3? That's the way we integrate. The billions of dollars flowing through the pop music world counts on this.

Much more along these lines needs to be brought to light for discussions of objectivity in music. I know there have been some excellent studies on pattern recognition and the overtone series, also. That's why Western harmony is so easy to learn. These studies exist. They need to be made more available. I often hear the overtone series mentioned, but I rarely hear about studies with overtone pattern recognition.

5. One of the best sources of human subjects to study for isolating different parts of the human mind is the mentally impaired. There is an enormous field that is practically in its infancy (incidentally, with a lot of snake-oil being sold alongside the good stuff): musical therapy. Studies often can be made with captive subjects (since they are confined to mental institutions or regularly return for treatment). I have seen reference to a plethora of interesting topics, like the influence of different kinds of music on learning disabilities, stress, autism, schizophrenia, and so forth.

I have not delved into this literature in depth yet because separating the wheat from the chaff is a daunting task. I have seen enough examples of non-objective criteria for some of the studies to know that organizing my thinking of all this is going to be a major undertaking. But the material exists and I intend to go into it when I resume an older project I have on musical epistemology.

These are just 5 things off the top of my head for considering objectivity in music. You will not find any of the ranters-and-railers against modern pop music discuss any of this. It isn't sexy. On the contrary, it's hard work.

But then, being objective is hard work. I think these people (I specifically mean people like those in the personality cult on SOLOP which prompted this thread) prefer to say they are objective than actually do the donkey-work of being objective. It's a Romantic illusion to "let yourself go" in the throes and thralls of "rational passion" and make up sexy terms like "value-swoon" and so forth without actually talking about how music is processed by the mind.

The biggest pretense of all is to say you do not have to think about these things because they have already been integrated and automated. That process actually does exist, but not with those people according to what they have written. From what I have read, they literally don't know what the hell they are talking about.

I think the term "value-swoon" practically sums up the attitude I despise in aesthetics. It is whim masquerading as reason and elevated to a cognitive importance that contradicts the very roots of Objectivist objectivity. Pure empty posturing. Whenever you read anything along these lines from such people, the fundament of the argument always boils down to them pointing to a work and saying something like, "I like that and who doesn't is a pig." No objective reasons are ever given.

Well, here's the news. Objective reasons do exist. It is true that music is learned, but there are automatic processes of mental organization that can be identified by principles. If somebody wants to start talking about establishing objective standards for judging music, he has to start there. It's the old cognitive before normative problem. You have to know what something is before you can objectively know what value it represents.

But once again, that ain't sexy. Proper study and analysis will never lead anyone to validate the superiority of their foregone whim-based conclusions about what they like and dislike in music. Instead, it will lead to what it leads to in reality, like all objective study does.

If anyone loves Romantic symphonies over heavy metal, by all means let it flow. But keep in mind that much of music is learned. What can and cannot be learned is innate, but among the parts of aural organization that can be learned, what is learned is cultural. The person who loves heavy metal is literally speaking a different aesthetic language and he can easily find heroism (when he seeks that) in overdrive guitars and primary overtone-based harmony, i.e., in the language he learned. I know I can hear it (and feel it) just as much as I can hear it in classical music. I often feel like an aesthetic polyglot.

After honestly learning the different languages, comparing them is a fascinating process. The values involved are complex and integrated with many fundamental values outside of aural aspects. But that is another can of worms for another discussion, except for the semi-Objectivist boneheads who think their whims are rational enough to pronounce one form of music (like Romantic music) as objectively superior to others. Those dudes have their tribal non-conceptual answers to it all and more power to them. My world is in another place. In my world, one does not glorify the human mind by blanking out how it works.

Michael

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SOLO really is putting out some gems of "this makes me ashamed to be an Objectivist"-ism.

Really, the idea that metal fans who are "angry at the world" somehow implies the malevolent universe premise is just plain obscene. "The world" that fans of angry music are usually pissed off at is the SOCIAL world, i.e. other people, and Rand knew alot about being pissed off at other people (as do Pigero, Prickhoff, et. al). I agree with Michael, this "aesthetic witch-hunt" is pure subjectivity put forward by very small people that nourish their monumentally-irrational sense of self-importance by elevating minor emotional issues into cataclysmic turning points in the philosophical development of Objectivism.

Speaking of my awful music, my newest song, which is a hate song about Mother Teresa, will be released soon (after I do the vox).

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Michael, all you are doing is searching for objectivity--no?

Brant,

Basically, say about 90%. But it should be clear that I do not do that much thinking just to attack someone. I am a trained musician and music was my profession for years. This stuff is very important to me. (I even shrugged, with the excruciating broken heart and everything according to script. My shrug still pains me.)

I admit there is a bit of branding going on (the 10%) in addition to the ideas (the 90%). I don't ever want to be confused with the boneheads and this is one way of making sure. I could try other measures, but I don't think they are effective. For instance, I don't like the orthodox way of trying to prohibit this person or that from doing or saying their ideas and whatnot. It doesn't work. People are going to do what they are going to do. (I control the forum against excess negativity, but people have the entire cyber-world to express their thoughts, even if they hate me. I'm OK with that. That's their right.)

So if the boneheads want to call themselves defenders of Ayn Rand, I'm OK with it. Go for it. But let's see what the actual work they did involves, etc. Let's compare their writing against Rand's ideas and against reality. If, for another example, Rowlands wants to publish a philosophy dictionary and call it Objectivism, I say let him. But let's compare his definitions against Rand's. Then we can say, "This is wrong and that is right."

And so on.

And, if these people have publicly decreed that they are spokesmen for Objectivism, but there are these serious problems on a basic level and this causes discomfort and embarrassment and hatred, well, I wasn't the one who proclaimed to the four winds that I was trying to save the world in the name of Objectivism. I am that inconvenient dude who goes out, does the donkey-work, then presents what I found in public, often bringing pompous intimidation into a very bad light. You have read enough of my work to know that this goes way beyond playing "gotcha!"

I greatly value research. Others, I have perceived, greatly value preaching and are a bit lapse on performance and accuracy, if not outright disgusting at times. But usually they are just sloppy.

There are two places (Solop and RoR) where, more or less, I came from online and, frankly, I am a bit ashamed of that. I leave my writing archived on their sites because I do not believe in rewriting history. Making a typo or synonym change in a post on the same day or a day later is one thing. Changing stuff from a year ago is another. I wrote things in public and the archives should reflect that. But I'm not very proud of my support of those gentlemen back then. Thus, I like registering why once in a while.

Fresh examples of absurdities (and there never seems to be lack of supply, either) are good opportunities for this kind of branding. There is nothing better than researching and comparing works and behavior, and pointing out inconsistencies, contradictions, wrong facts, etc.

None of this is really important right now, though. It will be very nice to point to later when I start releasing products for sale to the general public and someone asks (pointing to the wrong places), "Is that what you mean?" I certainly will not want to lose a sale because someone confuses my ideas with those of boneheads.

Michael

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Dearie me, J, female weighing in here -- and female who likes the Schipperheyn statue. (Recall, I think we got sorted out, mostly off-list, what I'm responding to in that statue.)

Right. I'm generalizing and, as I said, entertaining a hunch. There are many reasons that have nothing to do with gender or orientation which could explain differences in responses to works of art. I'm speculating, perhaps wildly, about how strongly gender issues might influence tastes.

Do you respond positively to the music of bands like Metallica, Slipknot or Slayer? I've generally found that the enjoyment of such music is largely a hetero male thing. There are exceptions. I've known gays and women who love the genre, but, overall, the fans seem to be straight and male. The same is true of enjoying things like full-contact sports and other rough-housing activities. How many times in your life have you gotten together with your female friends and played tackle football in someone's muddy yard on a Sunday afternoon, or looked forward to a pick-up game of jungle basketball at a local park (which is basically basketball played as if it were football -- no blood, no foul)? Such things are usually not female activities.

My estrogen levels aren't what they used to be, but even when they were what they used to be, I wouldn't have described my desires in art (specifically, here, music) the way Linz describes his.

From what I know of you, I wouldn't call you a girly girl. I would, however describe Linz's descriptions of what he expects to find in music, as well as what he hates, as being similar to the ways in which girly girls express their aesthetic opinions and expectations. There seems to be a lot of enjoyment of weeping and worshipping, and an obliviousness to the possibility that others might experience hard rock music similarly to the way that they experience playing a knockdown-dragout rugby match -- that the connection one has with it is not necessarily based in hate, anger or self-loathing.

But I wouldn't have described those desires in terms of being a god either. I mean, which music?

I'm talking about metal. Do you, or could you, experience something akin to being a god while listening to heavy metal?

Souped up, sometimes, yes. Beethoven's 7th symphony, now there, maybe, my specifically being female (though not a "girly girl," if I understand what that means, female)

By "girly girl" I mean something like "traditionally feminine" and leaning toward "delicate princess who needs to be pampered."

I think makes a difference -- I many times listened to that symphony as a psychological masturbatory experience, Beethoven having The Power, the male life force, and then some. But... (Imagine one of those "eyes-rolled" smilie things; I never have been able to get the smilies to work on my computer.)

I'm not saying that my aesthetic responses are primarily about feeling like a god. I am saying that weeping and worshipping aren't the limit of my aesthetic range.

J

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I'm a 100% hetero female. I've loved music that made me feel like a powerful god[dess] prevailing at the hunt/war, and loved music that made me feel utterly worshipful. Both are wonderful experiences. Don't rule out one of them -- you'll be missing something, regardless of your orientation.

I agree that they're wonderful experiences, as are many others.

J

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Right. I'm generalizing and, as I said, entertaining a hunch. There are many reasons that have nothing to do with gender or orientation which could explain differences in responses to works of art. I'm speculating, perhaps wildly, about how strongly gender issues might influence tastes.

Well... The subject's fun. I can't recall that I've ever speculated on this issue before. My immediate reaction is mostly to doubt that there's much in the "hunch." I have noticed what seems to me, on entirely non-systematic sampling, a disproportionate percentage of gays who rave about Mario Lanza. But that's about as far as my speculating on the subject has ever gone before.

Do you respond positively to the music of bands like Metallica, Slipknot or Slayer?

Couldn't tell you, J. I wouldn't recognize any of those groups, or others you've mentioned. The sheer volume (I mean, as in decibel level) keeps me away from finding out who's who and what's what in the kind of music to which I think you're referring.

I've generally found that the enjoyment of such music is largely a hetero male thing. There are exceptions. I've known gays and women who love the genre, but, overall, the fans seem to be straight and male. The same is true of enjoying things like full-contact sports and other rough-housing activities. How many times in your life have you gotten together with your female friends and played tackle football in someone's muddy yard on a Sunday afternoon, or looked forward to a pick-up game of jungle basketball at a local park (which is basically basketball played as if it were football -- no blood, no foul)? Such things are usually not female activities.

I've never done any of the activities you describe. Which doesn't mean I haven't done other activities (in my horsebackriding days) which are maybe not generally female activities, but "full-contact sports" hold no appeal for me, either doing or watching. Once, a male friend of mine described to me some of the strategy considerations of football in a way which held my interest for the length of the conversation and left me ever after thinking that there could be features of football not apparent to me. But even in high school, I got no thrill from going to football games and only went to two or three, and even when I used to watch television (which I almost never do these days, unless for something of special interest, since TV bothers my eyes) I didn't watch football -- and I've always hated the sound (that loud roar) of football games.

By "girly girl" I mean something like "traditionally feminine" and leaning toward "delicate princess who needs to be pampered."

Definitely not me.

From what I know of you, I wouldn't call you a girly girl. I would, however describe Linz's descriptions of what he expects to find in music, as well as what he hates, as being similar to the ways in which girly girls express their aesthetic opinions and expectations. There seems to be a lot of enjoyment of weeping and worshipping, [...].

I've known some people who describe their musical experiences that way, and just off the top I'd say it's mostly women, though I don't know that it's necessarily what you call "girly girl" women. But I haven't pursued such conversations, because I don't think of them as talking about music. The people who talk that way aren't what I think of as "into music." The women I know who play with the Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra -- the membership is probably about half and half male/female -- don't talk that way. They're musicians; we talk about music.

[...] and an obliviousness to the possibility that others might experience hard rock music similarly to the way that they experience playing a knockdown-dragout rugby match -- that the connection one has with it is not necessarily based in hate, anger or self-loathing.

Oh, I'm sure the connection is by no means "necessarily" -- or even, I'd venture the belief, in more than a small percentage of cases -- "based in hate, anger or self-loathing." I think that that whole notion is one of those O'ist-style inventions.

But I wouldn't have described those desires in terms of being a god either. I mean, which music?

I'm talking about metal. Do you, or could you, experience something akin to being a god while listening to heavy metal?

Again, I couldn't say. The "heavy metal" would have to be so toned down as to volume before I'd want to subject my sensitive ears to it, it would probably lose whatever god-feeling-producing effectiveness it might have if I could stand the noise level.

I'll tell you about once when I did experience something I might describe as "akin to being a god" after a musical performance. This was back in the summer of '82. Larry and I went to a summer-festival performance at Ambler. Amongst the works -- the last on the program -- was instrumental passages from Die Meistersinger. It was quite a performance (unfortunately I forget who was conducting). I was at that time in a very intense and emotionally powerful period anyway; I was having visionary experiences. We'd been sitting high up in the bleachers. Afterward I was having a vision of sweeping universe "force lines" in marvelous color looping and intersecting the whole area, and I was walking along the circle of the bleacher row and hearing the music still vividly in "mind space." I can still hear it with lingering visual remembrances and an echo of the feeling. God-like, yeah.

Something else, which I used to do often, working off energy and just generally being in a powerful mood, was to listen to, stomp around, sort of "dance" to the Beethoven Emperor concerto recording with Glenn Gould and Stokowski. That particular performance has something with the rhythms and the "potent animal" power of the piano chords which "charged my batteries." (I get the expression from a Philadelphia radio announcer who said, after a particularly rousing performance of the Saint-Saëns Organ Concerto, "That should charge your batteries for awhile.")

And there are some other compositions which I use for similar purposes. So I think I have an idea what you're talking about, though I seek it in different music than you do, and very probably less often and to less extent (even in the days when I sought it more often and to more extent than I do now).

I'm not saying that my aesthetic responses are primarily about feeling like a god. I am saying that weeping and worshipping aren't the limit of my aesthetic range.

I wouldn't describe the latter as having any typical place at all in my aesthetic range. It isn't that I don't feel worshipfulness for really great composers -- and sheer awe, when it comes to Mozart. (Even Beethoven felt sheer awe when it came to Mozart.) But what Linz describes himself as seeking in music is something I just never seek.

There are those passages of music I find so breathtakingly beautiful, especially if especially well performed, they might bring mild tears. An example which came to mind as I was reading Linz's description of what he wants is the "Lacrymosa dies illa" from a performance of Verdi's Requiem which I heard at Tanglewood, Christopher Eschenbach conducting. Also a performance I heard of the Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, the extraordinary second movement of Bizet's symphony, the oboe solo played so hauntingly in the gathering dusk of the architecturally (and acoustically) excellent church where the CVCO performs. (The performance was In Memoriam for the oboist's wife, and though he's always a fine performer, he was giving his utmost best in that performance.) So it sometimes happens that I do feel tears from the beauty of a particular piece and/or particular rendition. But the tearfulness is "incidental"; it isn't what I go to music -- which I go to and go to and go to... -- for.

Ellen

___

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Well... The subject's fun. I can't recall that I've ever speculated on this issue before. My immediate reaction is mostly to doubt that there's much in the "hunch." I have noticed what seems to me, on entirely non-systematic sampling, a disproportionate percentage of gays who rave about Mario Lanza. But that's about as far as my speculating on the subject has ever gone before.

Yeah, I don't think that it's a baseless stereotype that gay men are much more likely than straight men to obsess over Mario Lanza, and opera and "showtunes" in general, while hating heavy metal, just as I don't think that the term "chick flick" was coined because there is no connection between aesthetic tastes and gender identity.

Anyway, by normal standards, I would agree that my hunch about the influence of sexual orientation on aesthetic tastes should be considered with caution, but by Pigero's standards of "objectivity" and evidence, I think that I've conclusively demonstrated it to be an irrefutable fact that Pigero's specific type of gayness has given him a girly aesthetic which has made him too weepy and worshipful to grasp the true, objective essence of heavy metal music, which is the experience of existing as a hetero masculine god, as opposed to weeping in awe in a god's presence. It's a lot like Rand's view that the Western mind can't understand Oriental music. The weepy, girly-aesthetic-gay mind can't understand heroic, heterosexually masculine music.

There are those passages of music I find so breathtakingly beautiful, especially if especially well performed, they might bring mild tears. An example which came to mind as I was reading Linz's description of what he wants is the "Lacrymosa dies illa" from a performance of Verdi's Requiem which I heard at Tanglewood, Christopher Eschenbach conducting. Also a performance I heard of the Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, the extraordinary second movement of Bizet's symphony, the oboe solo played so hauntingly in the gathering dusk of the architecturally (and acoustically) excellent church where the CVCO performs. (The performance was In Memoriam for the oboist's wife, and though he's always a fine performer, he was giving his utmost best in that performance.) So it sometimes happens that I do feel tears from the beauty of a particular piece and/or particular rendition. But the tearfulness is "incidental"; it isn't what I go to music -- which I go to and go to and go to... -- for.

Personally, I'd say that Bizet and Schubert, more than anyone else, can choke me up and make me weep like a girly-aesthetic gay.

Thanks for sharing your "sweeping universe" and "charged batteries" experiences.

J

Edited by Jonathan

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There's a thread over on ObjectivismOnline entitled "Why do Smart People Like Such Terrible Music" or something to that effect. It seems you can never predict the type of music someone will like by examining their philosophy. It's much more of a personality thing. I like some classical music, although I don't listen to it very much. I like rock music that exhibits guitar virtuosity, and a lot of this type of music is "masculine."

This afternoon, my car CD was playing Van Halen's Pleasure Dome, and I sat with my son in the car listening to the "good part" with the amazing high-speed guitar. Later, I said to him, "You don't really 'get' why I like that song, do you?" and he admitted that he didn't. I told him I liked it because it reminded me of the feeling you get on a roller coaster, that thrill when it's just starting its descent, and he said, "well, maybe I'm not into the song because I don't really like roller coasters that much..." :D

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Dayaamm Laure!!!

I just saw a side of you that I had only suspected through slivers of glimpses in your posts. I fully understand the rollercoaster feeling.

As a matter of fact, the rollercoaster metaphor describes quite well a piece of music I have loved ever since I discovered it in college in the 70's. You have to change amusement parks, but it's a hell of a ride if you get on and let it take you. I posted it in another discussion last year.

For jazz and smaller elbow room, but still a mother of a climax, there is Invincible by Don Ellis (No. 5 on the Soaring album, and discussion here). I just listened again and I still have goosebumps.

Michael

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DID you know Ellis was an Objectivist? He and his wife used to attend NBI in LA.

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There's a thread over on ObjectivismOnline entitled "Why do Smart People Like Such Terrible Music" or something to that effect. It seems you can never predict the type of music someone will like by examining their philosophy. It's much more of a personality thing.

I will have to 'fess up...it was I who posted that "Why Do So Many Smart People Listen to Such Terrible Music?" link over on ObjectivismOnline. And I must say it caused quite a brouhaha. For those that are interested here is the link: http://www.unconservatory.org/articles/smartpeople.html

And, yes, on the main point of the article, I agree with author completely.

Best to all,

Ken

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She must have forgotten that her decades of careful, scientific research as both a professional musician and psychologist led her to objectively observe that the music she disliked "paralyzes cognitive processes, obliterates awareness and disintegrates the mind." Since she so clearly and rationally demonstrated those things to be true, and provided lots of evidence to back up her claims, then she must have been simply mistaken that there are no objective criteria by which to judge music.

Please cite sources from a refereed scientific journal indicating there ia an objective standard for music.

Rand was right. It is a matter of opinion.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I don't need no stinking "refereed scientific journals." I will, however, refer you to the brilliant thoughts of Lindsay Pigero, slightly above average ex-student of music, world-renowned air conductor, and occasional amateur musical performer, whose views on the objective superiority of his musical tastes are quite deep, intelligent and scientific: Basically, Maestro Pigero's position is that since he very badly wants/needs his tastes to be objectively superior, they therefore are superior, and anyone who disagrees (which would include Ayn Rand) is a moron.

J

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She must have forgotten that her decades of careful, scientific research as both a professional musician and psychologist led her to objectively observe that the music she disliked "paralyzes cognitive processes, obliterates awareness and disintegrates the mind." Since she so clearly and rationally demonstrated those things to be true, and provided lots of evidence to back up her claims, then she must have been simply mistaken that there are no objective criteria by which to judge music.

Please cite sources from a refereed scientific journal indicating there ia an objective standard for music.

Rand was right. It is a matter of opinion.

Ba'al Chatzaf

I'm working on it. But it's very similar (in general terms) to Rand's argument for an objective standard for literature.

Rand did not just say it was always and forever just going to be a matter of opinion. She said that we don't yet have the conceptual vocabulary and massive accumulation of data about musical compositions to formulate such a standard for music.

Her suggestions (in "Music and Cognition") are rather daunting, and I'm not convinced that much data is needed. But I think a vigorous, extensive, comparative study of popular songs and classical themes would be a good place to start.

REB

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Her suggestions (in "Music and Cognition") are rather daunting, and I'm not convinced that much data is needed. But I think a vigorous, extensive, comparative study of popular songs and classical themes would be a good place to start.

REB

Are you suggesting an opinion poll? If so, be aware, that is not how science is done.

The wide variety of tastes in music suggest galloping subjectivity to me.

If you ask a random collection of 1000 people what 77 and 55 add up to, 998 will reply 132 and the other 2 will eventually admit that they were mistaken. Now, will 1000 people chosen at random agree on what is is good music and what is bad music?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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