Life is your Mission, Kori: Search and Enjoy

Ted Keer's picture
Submitted by Ted Keer on Tue, 2006-11-21 03:35


God, I do detest KoRn. But does, or even should that, make you like them any less?

Life is your mission, Kori, search and enjoy.

Please do read the Romantic Manifesto, the Virtue of Selfishness and Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, ASAP. Then read Durant's The life of Greece, Caesar and Christ, and The Age of Faith. Then read Isabel Paterson's God of the Machine. Read Antonio Damasio's Descartes' Error. Read Sagan's A Demon Haunted World. Julian Jaynes' The Origin's of Consciousness. And Robert Grave's I, Claudius. Read Mario Pei's the Story of Language. And Von Helmholtz's On the Sensations of Tone. That makes thirteen, a nice round number. Neither Rand nor Tolkien count as fiction, they exceed fact. Intersperse this with Robert Heinlein and Larry Niven and Frank Herbert. Read Bradley's Mists of Avalon and Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness and Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz. Watch everything made by Kubrick and Hitchcock except their first movies, and everything with Orson Welles through "a Touch of Evil" and especially "the Third Man." Read and watch Shakespeare, especially his tragedies, and if you don't get him now, try him again in a decade. Be blithe and bonny.

You should do this while listening to Zepellin and Rush, Yes and Floyd, and Sabbath with Ozzy. And Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots. And Beethoven's Symphonies, esp. 4-9. The Russian Romantic Composers and Maurice Ravel. Patsy Kline and Etta James and Dusty Springfield. Listen to the Beatles. I hear Mario Lanza’s good. Listen to George Gershwin and Mancini and Marvin Gaye. Prokofiev and Stravinsky. Rachmaninoff. And Lauryn Hill's Miseducation.

Don't ever choose not to love someone just because they are not an Objectivist. And don't put off bearing children unless you absolutely hate them or know you cannot whatsoever afford to raise them. Let your tastes change as you learn, but never give up your values without a fight.

And smile. And weep with joy.

Ted Keer, 20 November, 2006, NYC

The image, "Ascension Day, is by Michael Newberry at

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How could I have forgotten Camille Paglia?

Ted Keer's picture

I don't know how I forgot to mention Camille Paglia. Like Christopher Hitchens she is a leftist who has been mugged by reality. A professor of art, an ardently hawkish and non-maudlin non-apologist for gay and feminist tripe, Paglia has been described as Ayn Rand's gay Catholic alter-ego. Paglia is no Objectivist, but she is a brilliant thinker and writer and I can think of no literary and art critic who excels her in current academic or popular culture. Her collected essays are wonderful. Her Sexual Personae is one of the best books of its decade. She is a can't miss. I've heard her praise football and Terrell Owens at length before his series of meltdowns. She finds him wonderfully masculine, and loves Drew Barrymore as well, sentiments with which I heartily agree.

Ted Keer, 28 November, 2006, NYC

the image is from to which she contributes

Commager & the movies

EBrown2's picture

"I have heard good things about EB2's recommendation of Commager's work too, but have never read it. I have added it to my shopping cart."

That's great! It is so wonderful to be able to read a historian who is unapologetically pro-American and who can write well to boot.

THE THIRD MAN and HIS GIRL FRIDAY are both classics. Aida Valli is so heartbreakingly good in the former, and Rosalind Russell is her usual excellent self in the latter. Both movies are models of screenwriting as well. Isn't it infuriating to see the garbage films of today and know that Poverty Row hacks of the 1930's could surpass most of today's screenplays?

My last comment was addressed to Kori, as is this one...

EBrown2's picture

To expand on my previous terse comment, you are likely to find a bunch of idiots who, when confronted with Rand's arguments, call her a "fascist." This is because they have been taught that any real and principled opposition to Marxism is either the result of religious fanaticism or, if the individual in question is an avowed atheist like Rand, the result of embracing reactionary opposition to "human progress." In historical reality, such a use of the term is little more than an intellectual swear word. The real fascists of history HATED, HATED, HATED (oh, and did I mentioned that they HATED?) the concepts of laissez-faire capitalism and individual liberty and human dignity known as the classical liberal tradition of the Enlightenment.

This was because, in the majority of cases, they were disillusioned socialists and Marxists themselves. Mussolini is a case in point.
Before 1914, the European socialists thought of themselves as shiny happy proletarians linked across national borders in solidarity against "capitalism," "colonialism" and war. The onset of WWI saw the workers of each country lining up with their nation and eagerly supporting the war, thus creating a crisis for the socialists involved. Many of them realized that "class solidarity" was a fiction in comparison to actual historical and cultural ties. However, instead of rejecting their hatred of capitalism and human freedom, they merely substituted "national" (or "racial") struggle for class struggle and became the so-called "totalitarians of the 'right'."

Whatever else Ayn Rand was, she was undoubtably the most anti-fascist political philosopher of the 20th century. She completely rejected their corporate state, their hatred of capitalism, and their denigration of individual human dignity. In fact, John Galt can be seen as a parody of the Fascist "man on horseback" since he explicity disavows acting in any way as a savior of the current system or initiating force to improve society, instead choosing to act as a "bum" and a striker.

Oh, BTW...

EBrown2's picture

some of your friends and teachers may get up on their hind legs and start claiming that Rand/Objectivism is "fascist." This article summarizes the work of the Israeli socialist (!) political historian Zeev Sternhell about the -true- nature of Fascism's ideology and intellectual origins. Consider it "intellectual ammunition":

The Mystery of Fascism
by David Ramsay Steele

Rush's homage to Ayn Rand, 2112

Ted Keer's picture

Although it's probably not their best album, Rush's "2112" will hold a special place in my heart as the conduit through which I was led via a fan of theirs to Ayn Rand. Ironically, she considered suing them for losely basing the album's first-side mini-opera on her Anthem. The album is to this day dedicated to her "genius." The rock-operetta stands on its own as the story of a future outcast who rediscovers music when he finds a guitar, a "strange device" that had been suppressed by a priestly ruling caste. The flip side of the album pays homage to Rod Serling and cannabis, among other things, in an unlikely mixture for stodgier folk. I remember being utterly amazed to read a 1980's rock encyclopedia refer to the band-members as "fascists." Things have changed for the better since then, and while Rush were radio pariahs during my youth (at least until they went soft in the mid-80's) you can now hear such masterpieces as "Limelight" and "Closer to the Heart" regularly on better rock radio stations. My high-school senior yearbook has their "Red Barchetta" listed as my favorite song. I can strongly recommend all their albums up until they released the song "Tom Sawyer" on the album Moving Pictures for which most people know them, but which was perhaps their last solid work. The first album was before Neil Peart became their drummer and brought in the Rand influence, but it's not at all bad for a first release. For a three-man ensemble they are incomparable in concert, and they do seem to realize that it is for the older stuff that their audiences keep coming. Here is the link to 2112 on Amazon.

Ted Keer, 22 November, 2006

His Girl Friday

Ted Keer's picture

The 1940 Howard Hawks production of this depression-era story is its classic rendition, with a boyish Cary Grant stealing the best man in the film - Rosalind Russell's "Hildy" - right out from under the nose of her hapless respectable upstate mediocrity fiancé, played by Ralph Bellamy. This is one of the wittiest screenplays ever written, filmed in many remakes, and defines the term "screwball comedy." Grant is the editor of a newspaper who has let his love, played by Russell, divorce him because he can't have both her and the newspaper. But she's got the writing bug as well. When a would-be socialist-anarchist revolutionary gets loose, making the entire NY state government look like fools, Hildy gets the fugitive, the scoop, and more to boot. The dialog is lightning-fast and the comic subplots and slapstick all feed into the story. The movie satirizes both socialists and do-gooders and shows the good use to which an unscrupulous man can put the gangster underworld when the government is even more corrupt. I was assigned to watch this movie in college as "a pioneering depiction of women in the workplace." Rosalind Russell shows she's more man than any of the characters in the film, social messages aside. The image is from Here's a link to the DVD, reviewed 91 times on Amazon as of this post.

Ted Keer, 22 November, 2006, NYC

P.S., I have heard good things about EB2's recommendation of Commager's work too, but have never read it. I have added it to my shopping cart.

An excellent book on American History is

Anonymous Guest's picture

The Empire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America Realized the Enlightenment, by Henry Steele Commager

The book is currently out of print in the U.S., but if you go to the here and click on the "26 used & new" link, it will take you to Amazon's Z Shops where you can order it from $.99 cents on up.

Commager analyzes the hatred and incomprehension that the Euro-elites have always had for America. Many of the criticisms that we face today were dealt with by the Founding Fathers, and Commager discusses this in Chapters 4 and 5 of the book.

I don't necessarily endorse EVERYTHING Dr. Commager wrote, but here is a good description of his "psycho-epistemology."

Frank Herbert's The White Plague

Ted Keer's picture

In the near future, a mild-mannered geneticist sees his family murdered by religious terrorists in cold blood. Deciding to take revenge on the parties involved, he begins working in a basement. But his weapon has unintended consequences... Hard science, strong characterization, poetic language, this is one of my top 10 books. Many people only know Herbert from his Dune books, and if you've only seen the movies, he's been very poorly adapted. All of Herbert's books are brilliant, he has the most multi-layered backstory and widest range of real-world knowledge of any Hard SF writer I know. This novel has Yeatsian lyricism, and antiseptic Orwellian style. The plot line should give you nightmares, because it could already be under way in Lebanon, in London, in Pakistan, in Iraq, in Albuquerque. The picture is from I would also refer Kori to Melissa Lepley's priorly active "Sci-Fi, Anyone?" string. Here is the Amazon listing. The book has been long out of print, which, given its timeliness, speaks volumes about the publishing industry. You can find it at your local used book store, or for cheaper than bottled water at

Happy Thanksgiving folks. Santorum did lose after all.

Ted Keer, 22 November, 2006, NYC

I'm surprised that no one has recommended

EBrown2's picture

THE LAW by Frederick Bastiat to you. It is a classic dissection of the fallacies of socialism and statism. Another excellent essay is "What is Seen, and What is Not Seen," which contains a brilliant exposition of the Fallacy of the Broken Window, i.e. the notion that something is gained economically through willful destruction ("war is good for the economy").

You can find them both at these URLs:

Allegro Non Troppo

Ted Keer's picture

While by no means as good as or as benevolent as Disney's Fantasia, This Italian knock-off is still quite worth watching, although the between-animation antics are quite poor. Make sure you have your FFWD ready. The movie should have been an homage, but unfortunately resorts too much to satire. Nevertheless, the music is generally excellent, if interpreted a bit malevolently by the writer/animator. Ravel's Bolero alone makes the piece worth the price of renting. Here it is listed on Amazon. The still is from

Ted Keer, 21 November, 2006

Garden State

Marnee's picture

Garden State

"Good luck exploring the infinite abyss."

Please see this movie.

(How to wake up and face life and not be afraid to feel everything passionately. That's what it said to me, anyway.)

As for movies

EBrown2's picture

IRON AND SILK (1989) is based on the book by Mark Salzman. He plays himself, a young American in love with all things Chinese who gets his dream job teaching English in Hangzou China. There, he learns important lessons about the need for personal responsibility for one's actions and the evils of the Communist regime. His martial arts training at the hands of an authentic Chinese master is both hilarious and touching, and his teacher of Chinese also explains the evils of the Cultural Revolution and why it is necessary for Salzman to use his conceptual capacity to form his own judgements.

A charming, romantic and very entertaining film.

Good Recommendations Chris!

Ted Keer's picture

My recommendations were meant neither as commands, nor as exhaustive, nor as uncontroversial. And Chris is right to point out that Prokofiev and Stravinsky are considered impressionistic if not just plain modernists, not Romantics, but I find merit in their most famous works. I would strongly recommend getting Fantasia on DVD and buying all the master works featured there, except for the commisioned "Wizard's Apprentice." Here is a link to the DVD on Amazon. Pictured above is the Director Leopold Stokowski, a major celebrity of his time, featured in the film.

Ted Keer

You need comedy in your life

Chris Cathcart's picture

I already mentioned one or two. But a number of other things to keep you laughing:

Schizopolis. This was a small, independent effort by Steven Soderbergh, known for Hollywood hits like Traffic, Erin Brokovich, Ocean's Eleven, indie hit Sex, Lies and Videotape, and the much-maligned remake of Solaris. This one, however -- along with King of the Hill, all add -- is his masterpiece. The story structure is deceptively David Lynchian, really giving some credence to why the movie is titled as it is. This movie is hard to "get" at first, though the point really isn't to get it at first, but to revel in all the absurdity, which is what makes anything silly after all. I re-watched this a couple days ago after some time, and it only reconfirms that on subsequent viewings, the pieces do come together if you pay attention. Unlike a Lynch movie, this does ultimately "make sense." Pokes mucho fun at Scientology-like organizations, breaks through the "fourth wall," intersperses story action with absurd Kentucky Fried Movie-like new reports, and offers many a "portal" from one part of the movie to another. Just one of many highlights: "Dr. Jeffrey Korchek"'s unwelcome letter of love to "Attractive Woman #2" (line from the letter: "I know that your hair sits atop your head as though it could sit nowhere else"), and the subsequent reading aloud of that letter, into the camera, by a team of lawyers.

Punch-Drunk Love. It's not really an Adam Sandler movie; it's a P.T. Anderson movie, and it's not the pretentious bluster of a P.T. Anderson movie that was Magnolia. This is the director's best work, and revolves around the quirky personality of Sandler's character and how he manages to find love in spite of it. This movie more than any other most reminds me of The Big Lebowski, but I can't really place why.

Team America. This pretty well speaks for itself.

Intolerable Cruelty. This is vicious satire and I don't think many viewers quite appreciated it as such. It's also out-of-place for our times as it revels in some over-the-top, screwball comedy elements. It's my favorite Coen brothers movie after Lebowski. A highlight among many: Cocky Miles Massey (Clooney)'s terrified visits to his 90-year-old boss.

A Fish Called Wanda. It's a classic, not needing much explanation. The character of Otto is a highlight, providing comic relief much as Homer Simpson does. Funny line from the film: "What would Plato do?"

Election. Another vicious satire, on the election process amongst other things. Over-achiever Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon, demonstrating her acting talents) wants the high school student body presidency a little too badly, and is ruthless about winning it so that she can put it on her power-climber resume. Her teacher (Matthew Broderick) is conflicted about whether she ought to win. The popular jock is pushed into the race, while his sister wants to enter it in order to sabotage the whole thing. A satire not only on politics but on high-school movies. One precious moment: Tracy Flick bawling her eyes out upon the "news" of her defeat.

Henry Fool. Lower-key indie effort from idiosyncratic Hal Hartley. Not for everyone's tastes. Non-naturalistic deadpan acting for one thing, a distinctive trademark of Hartley movies. Basic plot: Simon Grim is a garbage collector who is prodded by wandering "genius" Henry Fool to pen his masterpiece. Zany highlight: Henry makes a marriage proposal while sitting on the john.


Chris Cathcart's picture

and it doesn't do justice to say listen to Zeppelin, Rush, Yes and Floyd without also making an essential reference to Porcupine Tree. And the non-depressive Radiohead stuff (it actually exists!) and the simple but pretty songwriting of Coldplay (there's a good reason they're so popular, and they are a lot better than, say, U2). I'll need to check out Stone Temple Pilots again, though don't know what's so memorable about them or about Alice in Chains past their song "Would?". For some of the finest pop songwriting, there are Elton John's early albums from '70 through '75, well past the radio hits (though Tiny Dancer and Levon are representative of his best work).

I'd like to know what of Ravel is particularly memorable. I suppose Le Tombeau to Couperin kind of counts. I just haven't been moved by much of what I've heard from him. His Bolero bores me.

I did just listen to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. It's good. Gershwin and Mancini, eh? Why not, ahem, Morricone (soundtracks to Legend of 1900, Once Upon a Time in America, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, Lolita ('97), Cinema Paradiso, The Mission, etc.)? And Bernard Herrmann (Vertigo, Taxi Driver, etc.). And John Barry (Out of Africa, Somewhere in Time).

As for Orson Welles, it's everything up through The Trial or F for Fake. You have to understand Welles in the way he treats film as an art, and you can't do it without these two movies. For Shakespeare buffs there's also his Chimes at Midnight, a.k.a. Falstaff. The Trial is Kafkaesque nightmare so beware, but the film itself is mastery in atmosphere and visual construction. F for Fake is mastery of self-referential cinematic storytelling, all in good fun.

And Beethoven. Listen to plenty of Beethoven. Forget the nonsense about malevolence.

Also symphonies by Brahms and later symphonies by Dvorak and Tchaikovsky. And Hanson No. 2. And the obvious works by Faure, Satie, Chopin, Debussy, and Schubert, and Mahler's "Adaghietto."

I suppose there's some other stuff worth watching/hearing beyond these, but I'm short on recall right now.

Well, okay, The Big Lebowski. Ted already covered Full Metal Jacket with his Kubrick recommendation. And what about Harold and Maude, life-affirming in its own delightfully, hilariously perverse way?

Prokofiev and Stravinsky (and some Ludwig)

Chris Cathcart's picture

I've heard enough from them to be decidedly of the view that they're too modern to be romantic. Linz, ultimate arbiter of good taste in these matters, wouldn't like that much, either.

I do have a liking for that '77 Karajan rendition of Ludwig's Ninth. I need to go back to the Ninth and compare recordings. I have the "major" ones -- Furtwangler '42 and '51, Solti '72 and '87, Herbie K. '77 (mine's the remastered edition sold as a 2-CD set with symphonies No. 5 and a too-fast 6), and Fricsay '58. I may have some fun actually going through them all again and finding bases for comparison/contrast. They all come across to me as great, though the sound in the Furtwangler recordings suffer and the tempo markings for his openings to the 2nd movement annoy me.

Was meinst Du denn da?

Ted Keer's picture

Nur "Herbie K.," sagts Du?

Hermann von Helmoholtz's On Musical Tone

Ted Keer's picture

Hermann von Helmoholtz's On the Sensations of Tone, here at Amazon is, after more than a century, still the classic text on musical perception and technical tonal theory. He explains the basis for the chords at great length, and the expanded or later editions as pictured here are most helpful. This book is unreservedly recommended for all musicians and those who are interested in music theory.

Ted Keer, 21 November, 2006, NYC

Antonio Damasio's

Ted Keer's picture

Antonio Damasio's breakthrough work is on the emotional component to human thougt, where he denies the mind-body dichotomy and the reason-emotion dichotomy. He explains the biological origins of the higher mind. I cannot endorse all of Damasio's other works. This work discusses the importance of values in reasoning and the reality of the will. The author is not Objectivist, but the book might as well be. Here is the listing on Amazon

Ted Keer

1968 versus 1989

Ted Keer's picture

While I was born in 1968, a year that will live in infamy, Kori was likely born in 1989 and surely does not remember the fall of the Berlin Wall. I suggest that all of us think back to the frivolities in which we now feel we were engaged at 17, given the perspective of those of us who have it. I rejoice that I was old enough to understand the meaning of the fall of the Berlin Wall and am even more gratefull that I already knew and loved Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, "The Ode to Joy" which was played there that Christmas. Given Kori's request for an introduction to classical music, I suggest that people offer a greatest work by a favorite composer of theirs, and prvoide a link to that version for sale if they can.

I know that my education in books, music and art would have gone much further, much quicker, with the magnanimity of a forum like this. Let the experts here address the rest of us with a description of, link to, and image of their favorite approachable masterpiece.

I regret, no, I am disgusted that I cannot find an offering of that historic performance to link to, even if it might not have been the quintessential rendition of the work. The image of people swarming the gate that year is from the BBC. Here is a link to my favorite CD rendition of Beethoven's Ninth by conductor Herbert von Karajan.

Ted Keer

I dare say ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Kori will find her own path. But I'd recommend Anthem as the launching pad.

And that Newberry should be on the cover!

Well, Kori, Jeff's laid down the challenge...

Ted Keer's picture

Kori is only 17, and will have plenty of time to find better things to do in college than listen to many of her lectures - assuming she intends to go. Just keep goading me Jeff, and I'll just keep reccommending more classics like Peter Sellers starring in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, again on Amazon. One great actor three great roles.



Jeff Perren's picture

Ted... that's quite a reading list for a 17 year old, no matter how bright.

The best (partly) non-fiction introduction to Objectivism is For The New Intellectual. Period.

From there the choices are optional, but ITOE should definitely be last for almost everyone.

I invite those who wish,

Ted Keer's picture

Add your recommedations to a 17 year old freely folks. No endorsement of my own personal bizarre tastes should be implied. Here is a listing of Cotten, Valli & Welles in the Third Man on Amazon. Three great actors in one incredible film noir.


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