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Dance and Gravity

In The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand said the essence of dance is gravity.

That's why she liked the gravity-defying floating effect of classical ballet, or the gravity-defying rock-skipping-along-water effect of tap-dancing.

I hold that dance goes beyond gravity. It even goes beyond Rand's "selective recreation of reality," but just staying within that boundary, what is a more selective recreation of reality than pantomime? There is definitely an element of pantomime in dance. And there are other things, but that's beyond my point here.

I have been going along thinking, as my default, about dance and gravity as classical ballet and tap-dancing. Thank you very much, Ms. Rand. And I noticed Michael Jackson did some awesome things with gravity like moon-walking and bending over from the ankles.

I never imagined that someone would take dance and gravity to a whole new level through pole-dancing, though.

But there it is.




The effect of the following act is amazing.

The only downsize is that the cameras kept leaving the act to show reactions of the judges at all he wrong times.

Still, the gravity centers in my brain think they just ate a banana split.




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I'm not sure if Rand would have spoken to this point, (perhaps someone more like a Joseph Campbell.. in the context of the Buddah) ... but Rand's identification of essence here is incredibly poetic ..  and almost paradoxically so.

She identifies the essence of a thing, with the thing it defies and yet relies upon, the thing it escapes from but is pulled back by... i.e. something is identified with (perhaps defined by?) its compliment with which ... yes... it dances.  Astutely you will note this is somewhat of a misdirection, because although we use the term "dance" as a verb, as in what a human does, "Dance" does not only include those human leaps that defy gravity, but also include the prep for landing and repeated leaps and rolling etc. all which relies upon gravity, and indeed includes the floor and environment as well as the gravity.  Gravity forms part of Dance and is that which ultimately makes it possible.  The interplay, the dance, is between the human effort, action, form and the physical environment of gravity and earth or floor, each is a required partner.

I find this notion of saying the essence of something we usually associate with an upward escape, instead with the force which imposes an interplay, almost a struggle... incredibly poetic from Rand.  


I do not believe Rand has quite expressed a similar poetry of a notion like the essence of life being suffering, such as we might hear of Joseph Campbell.  Her philosophical views (in some contexts) that suffering, pain, the negative, or the absence of the positive, are in some senses metaphysically (and spiritually) insignificant plays too strong a role in her upward view of what Man is and should be. Although there are hints of a thread of poetry in her works that "life is effort", it is perhaps less poetically presented than the notion that productivity has in its essence struggle, which does come through more strongly in The Fountainhead.  An interplay between "holy sacrament, Indian torture, and sexual ecstasy" seems to point, again quite paradoxically, to the same kind of poetry. 

Such a poetic and bold idea of Rand's...and one which offers much food for thought...  that the essence of dance is gravity, is indeed something I really like.

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Just a word of caution.

When you find yourself using the word "poetic" a gazillion times to refer to Rand's work, something inside you is telling you the idea ain't clear yet.


Not criticizing. Just observing.

God knows it's happened enough with me.


Stephen Boyd posted about Anthem recently and referred to the poetic vision in it and so on. I said I didn't see any poetry. For real. And I have outlined a longish post about this. I haven't had time to write it up, yet, but I'll mention one part here.

People in O-Land have been connecting Anthem to "poetic view" or whatever for so long, it's become a sort of accepted notion. But it's not real. I still want to reread Anthem before making a hard claim to make sure I didn't miss anything, but I believe the real power of Anthem gets diluted when notions like poetry are assigned to it and they are not there.

When we get to real poetry in Rand, oddly enough people in O-Land never say poetry. Here's an example from The Fountainhead--the young man on a bicycle thinking to himself. (Shakespearian monologue anyone? :) ) 


Men have not found the words for it nor the deed nor the thought, but they have found the music. Let me see that in one single act of man on earth. Let me see it made real. Let me see the answer to the promise of that music. Not servants nor those served; not altars and immolations; but the final, the fulfilled, innocent of pain. Don’t help me or serve me, but let me see it once, because I need it. Don’t work for my happiness, my brothers--show me yours--show me that it is possible--show me your achievement--and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.

Off the top of my head, I see one big-ass poetic device: anaphora.

(Anaphora is starting a sentence or clause with the same term--this technique goes back to the Old Testament and beyond, think: A time for xxx, a time for yyy...)

Let's start with a pattern "not-not-not-but." Replace not with nor at times. This doesn't have to be poetic, but the context of other examples of anaphora in that quote makes it it's own anaphoric variation.

Look at the beautiful examples of anaphora: "let me see, let me see, let me see" and "show me, show me, show me." See how the two work like a set-up and payoff? Let me see, asking permission. Show me, asking for an act.

I didn't dig that much into that passage yet, no time, but that jumps out at me. I am sure there is plenty more poetry to be found. In fact, I know it. My gut is going into overdrive about it.

(Er... not such a good metaphor, huh? :) )


Anyway, in O-Land, poetry mostly means rhyming lines or a get-out-of-jail free card for Rand's work when it prompts daydreaming.

To elaborate on this last, I used to allow the word poetry or poetic (in this context) to mean daydreaming in an out of focus, but dot-connecting manner. That's what I used to mean when I called Rand's stuff poetic--that it created that state in me. But then I started studying poetry for real (although I still feel like a beginner), and suddenly I find poetry all over Rand's work. And it's gorgeous. It's just not in the places where people in O-Land use the word poetry.

(And, by the way, there is nothing, nothing at all, wrong with that daydreaming state. Great art of all kinds can put you there. :) )


As to your comments on gravity and dance and Rand's insight, I mostly agree with them, but in a non-exclusive manner.

This is a perfect example of Rand coming up with a deep insight few talk about, but then going too broad with it. Instead of letting an insight live in its own space, she often claims it is universal when it is applicable only to a lower category (but very insightful at that level). Or, like in this case, she tries to make it the One True Thing (like an essence) where there are several essential things.

So, qualified by this, I agree with you about the depth of Rand's insight re gravity and dance and overcoming pain or wallowing in the muck and all the rest. It was one hell of an insight. Breathtaking, actually.


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Point taken… “poetry” might not be the best term to use, it is not merely literary device I am experiencing, her work says to me:


The essence of the morality of life, is the fact of death.


Symbolic, metaphorical, literal, ironically paradoxical, and something playful all at once…. it speaks to me… it’s meaningful?  profound?  There is more in it than simply the words as written and simply read.  oh well.

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