Ayn Rand And The End Of Love


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Why didn't I intervene in these creepy subtexts when they started?

It's not as if the posting guidelines are vague.

This is what happens when you let them grow.

Live and learn.

(For the record, I don't know if this guy is a pedophile or not. I do know I don't want the kind of signals in his posts on OL and I will not have them rammed down my throat by an obnoxious poster. If anyone wants to read anything further from this guy, there is a big beautiful Internet out there with lots of free places to publish and powerful search engines to find him.)


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1 hour ago, regi said:

I know what Rand wrote about music, but it is not a theory of music.

No, it's a theory.

A theory is "a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, incontrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact."

That describes her theory of music.

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15 hours ago, anthony said:

All that infantile invective to cover that you made an error. Quote you: "...she was saying that it was a metaphysical fact of reality that music communicates specific emotions to all..."

See? "Metaphysical fact of reality"? No, she did not say that.

When corrected - that Rand in fact said music was:

"...a subjective matter...not in the metaphysical but in the epistemological sense..."[AR]

--you have the temerity to make out I implied anything but what I said, in correction.

Get it? It is not - a "metaphysical fact of reality" - that music conveys emotions. Emotions are arrived at "epistemologically". But emotions are for now "subjective" in music, because "we do not know their cause"[epistemologically].  

Only a small character can never admit to a mistake--and to top that, deflecting attention away by insulting someone to conceal the mistake, is dirty.

Before going on to the generalized emotions - "gay or sad or violent or solemn" that point had to be straightened out.

In the context of this discussion, the communication of emotions ~ by way of art ~ is anyways, moot and invalid. We all know art does so. The question was, is emotion accurately perceived direct from one person to the next? Are facial expressions honest and true? So your opener here about music, is a diversionary, superfluous red herring. 

Rand: "Music communicates emotions..."

She was stating it as a fact. She admitted that she didn't know HOW music technically achieved the communication of emotions, but was absolutely certain that it DID. Her belief that she had identified that as a fact of reality was what allowed her to categorize music as a valid art form according to her definition and criteria. Without the communication of emotions, music does not qualify. If the communication of emotions is not actual and factual, but only potential and conjectural, then music would not qualify.

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17 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Love guru Chris Sciabarra sez: "I have an almost boundless capacity to be loved and to give love in return. And I mean love in all its facets: the love of family, of friends and colleagues, and of those special people that come into our lives now and then, with whom one can share the kind of love that is spiritually and physically intimate. I can’t think of anything more life-affirming than love." Liar.

Meaning what?

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2 hours ago, regi said:

I have never understood that kind of irrational hate, or any kind of hate. It is such a useless waste of emotional time and energy.

I know I'm beating a dead horse since the guy I quoted can no longer give a reply here on OL, but this post is for readers who do not know a bit of history.

I grew up around bigotry. You don't fight it with reason because there is no reasoning with a person who has turned off his mind with hatred. In fact, with enough discussion, bigots always start (then keep) pushing your buttons to encroach their bigotry in an attempt to spread their hatred. To fight them, you have to push their buttons right back (if you know how) to get them to overreact. Then they hang themselves.

But, on going through this thread, I tried to put myself in the position of those who are new to everything. They might think I went off on this guy out of the blue. So a little backstory is in order and that means the statement above needs to be addressed. This guy Randy (Regi) says he doesn't understand bigotry against homosexuals (called "irrational hate" here).

Yeah, right.

He only wrote a book about it.

The Hijacking of a Philosophy: Homosexuals vs. Ayn Rand's Objectivism by Reginald Firehammer

Here's a paragraph from one review (by a certain "Dan C" who I don't know, or at least, can't identify from this name). There is no "look inside" feature available and I don't have the book, so I can't quote from it. But I was around when this book was discussed online, I have read plenty of the author's views, and I don't believe there is any inaccuracy in the following quote from "Dan C":


Firehammer, at various points, calls homosexuality evil, false, harmful, disgusting, irrational, abnormal, and immoral. He states that homosexuality is both physiologically and psychologically self-destructive, and that homosexuals are "pursuing whim, which will ultimately preclude their ever achieving full human happiness". It is his belief that homosexuals are "addicted to a self-destructive life style" and "act contrary to the requirements of their own nature".

Firehammer doesn't believe in the concept of sexual orientation, and states that "the invention of this idea of sexual orientation is just another attempt to excuse bad choices". He also dismisses the concept of homophobia as nonsense.

Firehammer further states that "the freedom of homosexuality is being out of control...Every homosexual pleasure they enjoy is a source of guilt, a value unearned and a pleasure undeserved".

To be clear, Rand herself used some of those adjectives like "disgusting" and "immoral" in a Q&A at a Ford Hall Forum speech (the one I attended, in fact :) ). Obviously, I disagree with her.

But here's the kind of subtext vibe I'm talking about--and a good metaphor for it: Giving someone a nice shiny apple knowing there is a big worm in it. (Think of the old time Southern racist saying, "Some of my best friends are n______.")

At the end of a 2004 article on the old SoloHQ (now Rebirth of Reason), this guy, using the pen name of Reginald Firehammer (like with his book) wrote an article: Homo Hijackers? (1): Response to Chris Sciabarra's "In Praise of Hijacking".

(btw - I was not around for that particular discussion, but I did participate in later discussions on this topic. Just for historical interest, I made my first post on SoloHQ at the end of that month, September 2004, and I was still in Brazil at the time. I came back to the US a few months later.)

At the end of his 2004 article, Firehammer wrote:


While I do not claim to be an Objectivist, I embrace those principles of individual liberty which Objectivism correctly defines. In that sense, as an Objectivist, I sanction and champion the right of homosexuals not only to practice homosexuality, but to promote it, and, as an Objectivist, I repudiate the hateful, ignorant, boorish, and careless of all stripes, but especially those who call themselves Objectivists, who resort to harassing, bullying, offensive, and intentionally hateful speech or actions toward homosexuals or anyone else with whose practices they happen to disagree or dislike.

Some champion, all right.

Those are pretty words coming from someone who says you, if you are a homosexual, practice evil, false, harmful, disgusting, irrational, abnormal, and immoral acts--solely because you are a homosexual. Moreover, what you do is both physiologically and psychologically self-destructive and you will never achieve full human happiness. That you are addicted to a self-destructive life style and act contrary to the requirements of your own nature. And that every sexual pleasure you enjoy from being a homosexual is a source of guilt, a value unearned and a pleasure undeserved.

People who engage in this kind of duplicity may say they are not haters, they may say they champion the targets of their bigotry, and they may bat their eyes in shocked innocence when called on it, but I know these people. Like I said, I grew up around bigots who do precisely this kind of crap.

They hate.

And they want you to hate what they hate.


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4 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

It was definitely creepy.  :wacko:


The only thing that gives me pause is something Kat said when I told her I was getting tired of this guy's nonstop patting himself on the back over nothing (or some boneheaded position like little girls being real women) and presuming you (indiscriminate "you" and everyone else) are a dope stuff. 

She asked if he was autistic.

And inside I went, oops... I hadn't thought of that...

If he is autistic, that makes me a dick. :) 

But I'll take that chance. I don't want creepy subtexts running around loose on OL. They have to be obvious subtexts, though. And creepy...


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11 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Girls, not women?



So you guys are hunks crushing it with the womens?


Be careful with how much you talk about gays. People who talk a lot about a target group and go on and on channeling the emotions and thoughts of the members give the impression that this target group is VERY important to them. It's almost like a personal threat of some sort...



It's a topic that arises naturally in discussion of love. I've never concealed my frank opinion on any question, but don't need to say it twice.

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This is a sad ending to things. Perhaps you are giving too much weight to your perception of subtexts? I grant that R's persistence and tone can annoy, and his theories are much too rationalistic.

The reason I took his part here was because, in the past, I had sometimes agreed with his reasoning regarding various topics on the Rebirth board and elsewhere, and had once observed that he had a thriving message board of his own with many devoted followers (though I never joined that forum). Moreover, recently on Facebook one of my female "Friends" (who unfortunately is somewhat rationalistic in her own thinking) announced her discovery of his voluminous online writings (most of which I have not read myself), and posted about how she was tremendously impressed not only with his thought but also with the occasional poetry of his writing style. 

So with all this in mind (including the possible autism aspect), I would hope you make it clearer what you do not impute to him. Remember that the Internet is pervasive and forever and that certain accusations nowadays can be very damaging.

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1 hour ago, Rodney said:

So with all this in mind (including the possible autism aspect), I would hope you make it clearer what you do not impute to him.


If you are talking about me imputing him to be a pedophile, I do not assign that to him as fact.

As to bigotry, I do assign that to him.

And I am well within my trading rights considering the large number of stupid things he has imputed to me as fact right here on my own site. Read this thread through that lens and you will see what I mean. I seriously doubt he will take any of that back. And even if he ever does (like he has sporadically), it will be right before he imputes something similar. That's his pattern. 

Drip, drip, drip...

I pay good money to keep this forum open, even with donations helping. It's a struggle at times. Why on earth do I want to let a person like that destroy the spirit of goodwill and intellectual curiosity it took so long to build? All it takes is one rotten apple. Think Al Wilson and "The Snake" (the song lyrics President Trump quoted at times during his campaign).

1 hour ago, Rodney said:

... he had a thriving message board of his own with many devoted followers...

I used to read it.

There is a reason he lost his audience: incompetence at running a site open to the public. Incompetence at discussing things in public. I saw it happen in real time. You just saw it happen here.

I've even defended this guy before and stood up for him--in private and in public. Several times. I don't give good chances of that ever happening again.

Anyway, this thread is supposedly about love. So let's talk love.

I'm currently reading Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost. Puccini made an opera out of this story. The reason I'm reading it is a course on short fiction I am taking through The Great Courses in my Audible account: A Day's Read

There's a lot of love in this story, but man, is gold digger and femme fatale Manon Lescaut taking a poor lovesick fool, Chevalier des Grieux, for a ride so far. What's worse, he reminds me of me during one lamentable pathetic episode in my own life. :) 


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1 hour ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Help out a stupid person (me) and point to what you're verklempt about. Thanks in advance.

Well you're not stupid Wolf.  And I'm not verklempt, so what now?  Go back and read the posts starting at:

There's a context, subtext, and impression that's being given off.  (Btw, I should mention that I don't have time to argue about this.)

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1 hour ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Thanks for linking to Gutenberg. Pretty hard slog for a heathen. I'm sure it's excellent :blush:


For those who like audio, here's the audiobook for free: Manon Lescaut.

The trick for me is to download the mp3 files (LibriVox has a one-link download for this), then use VLC media player (which is open source, meaning free, and one of the best media players bar none) to play the files.

In VLC, if you hit the "+" key on the numberpad part of the keyboard while the mp3 is playing, it will go faster. (Hit the "-" key to go slower.) I like 1.5 to 2 times faster for most audiobooks because the readers are often slooooooowww. For Manon, I found 1.5 times faster to be the sweet spot for the LibriVox reader, who is female and has a pleasant British accent.

As I use Windows 10, I have a nifty little program called Divvy that allows me to put two or more programs on the same screen according to size. So I put VLC on the left at 1/3 vertical and the text on the right at 2/3 vertical. Then I follow along with the text and audio and this makes it very easy to pause the audio when I need to, but scroll the text as I go along.

And, with the exception of Divvy (which is very cheap), it's all free. You sure as hell can't beat the price.

But wait! There's more!


Even if you don't want to pay for Divvy, if you Google the instructions and have Windows 10, you can use the "aero snap" function of Windows 10. You will just have to remember you have it and use it. Or there's a cute little program (app) called AquaSnap that has a freeware version and it seems to do something similar. If you toy with it, I'm sure you will get great quick side-by-side results.

There are many, many free classics that you can do this with if you like this system of reading with text and audio at the same time as I do.


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44 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

There are many, many free classics that you can do this with if you like this system of reading with text and audio at the same time as I do.


Thanks for additional media tips. Unfortunately, I can't read or listen to Shakespeare, either, just won't go in. Maupassant, Moliere, Hawthorne, Dostoyevsky, the whole crew, although curiously I understand Balzac completely because he was crazy. Happens with modern authors, likewise. Two pages of Stephenson or Irving, I'd rather eat glass than give them another atom of attention. Great handicap being practically illiterate, except every word of Hammett, Chandler, Rhodes, Rand, and Fitzgerald. Possibly a vitamin deficiency. I deeply regret that Hemingway waited so long to kill himself, age 12 would have been better, Melville, Dickens, and Poe age six.

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9 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Nobody's interested in Manon?



I started it years ago, got bored and didn't finish it.  Someone's using it to teach writing?  In English?  Maybe I got a bad translation (whatever was free for Kindle through Amazon), but as I recall the prose style was very clunky. 

But anyway, Massenet did an operatic adaptation too, not just Puccini.  It's quite a contrast.  



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4 hours ago, 9thdoctor said:

I started it years ago, got bored and didn't finish it.  Someone's using it to teach writing?  In English?  Maybe I got a bad translation (whatever was free for Kindle through Amazon), but as I recall the prose style was very clunky. 


I wouldn't call it a writing course. It's more like a literature appreciation course for short fiction. There are three different professors, one for each series of 12 stories. So far, the focus is on themes, worldview, type of story, etc. I don't know if the lessons will later deal with writing style, but I imagine they will when I get to stories written in English.

"Manon Lescaut" is the second story so I am at the beginning of the course. The first story was "The Country Doctor" by Kafka. What a weird nasty little piece that was. Surrealism with gross shit thrown in. :) (Actually, that's a pretty good description of everything I have read by Kafka to date.)

The interesting part for me of this course is that it is making me read stuff I would not read on my own. And I am paying a lot of attention to my inner response as I read. This has been quite enlightening so far.


Sudden gross shit

In the Kafka story, I noticed I was getting bored with all the stuff happening that didn't make sense. Suddenly a dude who appeared out of a pigsty bit the cheek of a young lady and left teeth marks on her and I snapped out of it. Woah! What just happened?

Then it occurred to me, sudden gross shit triggers the attention network in the brain and subsequently the fight-flight network. Rand used to say that subject matter in this kind of literature was an attack on the mind, death premise, etc., but that never made sense to me. As an artist, why would someone do that randomly just to say life sucks?

OK, I might agree with her on the author's philosophical motivation (or sense of life or what have you, although I'm no longer so sure), but how did that make any sense in terms of craft? Then seeing my own reaction made me realize artists like Kafka knew their pastiche of unrelated events (or loosely related at best) bored people. So to wake the reader up, they would suddenly throw in what I call the gross part of the circus effect (or "sudden gross shit" for short :) ).

This is spectacle. It's the thing inside humans that make them look at a sore that appears in front of them and not be able to stop looking. Or maybe a hairlip. Or the two-headed woman. It's what makes people gather to see a hanging. Or, in modern entertainment, slasher films. There are positive weird items that work like this, too, like James Bond's gadgets.

This kind of effect does not lead to reflection or any deeper emotion, but it does make you pay attention for a second and keeps you in a state of disbelief for a bit.

(I once read an amusing piece of advice for pulp fiction writers--I can't remember where. If your story ever starts dragging, have a body fall through the roof and land right in the middle of everyone. :) This works in the same manner as Kafka's sudden gross shit does.)


Crossword puzzles and Easter eggs

The second thing I've noticed is that--based on what critics and teachers convey--this kind of art functions inside the minds of those who enjoy it like a mix between a crossword puzzle and Easter egg hunt. The teachers never use those metaphors, but in essence, crossword puzzles and Easter egg hunts are what they talk about.

The thrill is in connecting the dots (hidden meanings) between symbols and characters and events and items in descriptions so forth (the crossword puzzle), and discovering a possible meaning of an event or stylistic technique no one has noticed before (the Easter egg hunt). Or the granddaddy of all Easter eggs, come up with a new angle from which to filter the work (if you want to get snobbish, call it a new hermeneutic approach :) ). This, in fact, is one of the drives I perceive behind postmodernism intellectuals.

In short, people like to do crossword puzzles and go on Easter egg hunts, but they also grow up and need more nuanced variety. So they scratch this itch in surreal stories and art. Except crossword puzzles and Easter egg hunts have delineated boundaries so you know when they will end. It's hard to know the boundaries in surreal art, so people get bored easier. After all, when is it going to end? Where it is going? Is it ever going to make sense? Yawn... Enter the gross shit to wake them up and keep them going.

Here is a typical crossword puzzle and Easter egg hunt analysis of the Kafka story: An Analysis of Franz Kafka’s “The Country Doctor”. Notice that the author talks about the gross shit without ever dealing with the visceral reaction on the reader. I believe that's because, while people who get into this mindset react to the gross shit, they don't realize it because they can't fit it into the crossword puzzle and Easter egg hunt frame that interests them.

One other point, you can never connect these dots on first reading, so this kind of story needs to be read about three times or more for the "interactive effect" (the professor's term) to kick in. So there's that for what it's worth.


Some uses

That's my theory on literary writing so far. And it's a useful one. These are components one can use to add to the audience thrill when writing a more life-affirming story or popular art. And they work. Ian Fleming was master of the sudden gross shit effect (or dangerous monster, unexpected gadget, etc.) and Dan Brown masterfully worked in the crossword puzzle and Easter egg hunt effects into plain vanilla chase and escape stories. He even got people looking at the crossword puzzles and Easter egg hunts for pure symbolism.

On a further note, I read some articles that said when people have read surreal stories and tried to make sense of them, they performed much better on psychological tests where they had to find hidden connections than those who did not read the stories. It's like exercising that particular dot-connecting muscle in the brain. A surreal story may have all the normal-life meaning of a weight-training session (that is, no normal-life meaning at all except mindless reps), but it does make the muscles stronger.

Through that prism, you can look at people who like Kafka and call them meat-heads. :) 


Differing states of interest

As to "Manon Lescaut," I noticed an interesting reaction inside me. The story starts with a narrator who met the protagonist, heard his story, and is now conveying it to the reader. The story opens with this narrator who rarely leaves home. But he has traveled to muck about some standard court procedures regarding an inheritance for his child. And Prévost extends an account of these affairs for a bit. Yawn... I started zoning out. I wasn't even interested when the narrator saw some girls chained together in an inn to be shipped to America. My inner critic was going, so that's supposed to interest me? Ho hum...

Then the narrator comes across the protagonist who is moon-eyed with grief and hanging around the girls at a distance. He is lovestruck for one of them and the guards will not let him near her.

Woah! I woke up. What's going on here?

And that led me to verbalize to myself that some human states are inherently more interesting than others. I couldn't give a hoot about the narrator's problems with the court about an inheritance of someone I didn't know, but seeing this protagonist dude suffer from wanting a girl in chains so badly it consumed his entire emotional life and, despite hanging around, not being able to get close to her made me want to know how this is going to turn out.

Rand herself was able to get this effect when, of all things, she portrayed an architect trying to meet a deadline. Several times. I know those parts in The Fountainhead kept me turning the pages to see if Roark would succeed. Instead of love for a mate, this is love for a productive activity--so much love it makes the object of it the most important thing in the world. Roark had to get the job done and it was more than desire. It was an inner need. It consumed him. To be clear, Rand generally preferred to show the outer part to the inner (she even said so in her writing instruction), so you mostly conclude this consuming desire and need stuff about Roark from what he does, not from her portraying his inner state.

But, irrespective of writing technique, the thing I'm looking at is the same. This is obsessive love--and I notice that obsessive love is inherently interesting to readers when it is thwarted. (I am almost sure this is a universal for story, but I need to flesh it out more. Later...)

Even during the unfolding of the story in "Manon Lescaut," you want to shake the protagonist and say, "Damn it, man! Wake up! Can't you see that she is playing you for a fool?" :) Yet in his obsessive love, with each outrageous event, he keeps forgiving her and she keeps playing him for the next time around and I keep turning the friggin' pages. :) 

When doing character motivation, I see this as an important lesson...


Anyway, that's what I have gleaned so far. And I'm only in the second of 36 stories. I'm not sure my way of learning them is what the professors intended, but I'm having fun doing it this way.

(btw - The opera stuff is gorgeous.)


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On 1/26/2018 at 6:58 PM, Jonathan said:

Rand: "Music communicates emotions..."

She was stating it as a fact. She admitted that she didn't know HOW music technically achieved the communication of emotions, but was absolutely certain that it DID. Her belief that she had identified that as a fact of reality was what allowed her to categorize music as a valid art form according to her definition and criteria. 


She was stating it (emotion from music) as a self-evident action of the consciousness - which everyone knows - if it were a "fact of reality" musical preferences would be objective.

"No one, therefore, can claim the *objective* superiority of his choices..."

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