Music of the Gods

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2008-04-21 06:11

"The emotion involved in art is not an emotion in the ordinary meaning of the term. It is experienced more as a 'sense' or a 'feel,' but it has two characteristics pertaining to emotions: it is automatically immediate and it has an intense, profoundly personal (yet undefined) value-meaning to the individual experiencing it.

"The value involved is life, and the words naming the emotion are: 'This is what life means to me.' Regardless of the nature or content of an artist’s metaphysical views, what an art work expresses, fundamentally, under all of its lesser aspects is: 'This is life as I see it.' The essential meaning of a viewer’s or reader’s response, under all of its lesser elements is, 'This is (or is not) life as I see it.'"

—Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto

Introduction

As often happens, I am in hot water—this time on the "RACH” thread—for fulminating against “headbanging caterwauling” and touting the superiority of Romantic music. I am in hot water with the fans of caterwauling for daring to diss their favoured offal, and with a serious music aficionado who insists “Romanticism” should include sundry post-Romantic meanderers and blowhards. He has ranked some thirty Romantic and post-Romantic works according to merit (according to him) in what looks suspiciously like a J. Evans Pritchard modus operandi.

Here I propose to deal only with the “arguments” of the caterwaulers; the case for or against including the likes of Mahler among the Great Romantics will have to wait ... except to say, paraphrasing Shakespeare: “Brevity is the soul of beauty.”

First, a preliminary question: why does this matter matter? Why do I get so exercised about it? Why can’t I just “live and let live” and leave empty heads and deformed souls alone to wallow in their frightful cacophonies?

My answer: I am perfectly prepared to do that—but they’re not prepared to leave me or any other decent, innocent human being alone. They shove their filth at us at every turn, and I am beyond fed up with it. As Rand might say, "These are the commandos of the haters' army, who crawl out of the sewer of centuries and shake themselves in public, splattering muck over the passers-by. ... The passers-by are the rest of us, who have to live, breathe and work in this atmosphere."

As I said in my RACH editorial:

“They do not rule the world officially but they have taken it over. They have taken over the shopping malls, the shops, the bars and restaurants, the gyms and rugby fields, the interludes between television programmes and even the programmes themselves. Nothing is uncorrupted by these aliens—even opera singers perform with them.

“It’s time to shame these aesthetic thugs into oblivion. Musical masochism is for consenting adults in private; it shouldn’t be sadistically imposed on unconsenting adults in public. Ideally its perpetrators should follow the logic of one of their number, the Slipknot drummer who, when told his was music to commit suicide by, said, ‘We must be doing something right.’ I would certainly encourage that alien and all its fellows to top themselves and leave the earth to human beings.”

Since it’s unlikely that they’ll opt for suicide, unfortunately, it is they who need to be admonished to “live and let live” (if you can call what they do living). They should not be averse to a campaign for the voluntary clearing away of their pollution from places where it’s unsolicited.

Rand said:

"I am not willing to surrender the world to the jerky contortions of self-inducedly brainless bodies with empty eye sockets who perform in stinking basements the immemorial rituals of staving off terror, which are a dime a dozen in any jungle—and to the quavering witch doctors who call it 'art.'"

Well dears, neither am I. When some skunk squirts its filth in my face without my consent, I will punch its snout. And I shall campaign against skunkery in general.

I should say that the reason this essay has taken a while is that it was becoming an academic-style treatise on Romanticism in music. Well, the Internet is replete with such treatises, by people better qualified than I. All I ever intended was an informed layman’s polemic against The Age of Crap as manifest in music, and against the idea that music is somehow exempt from the standard, healthy Objectivist strictures against cultural relativism. Realising I had departed from my brief, I had to start over to get back on course.

I have used Dr. Richard Goode as my foil in this essay because, like Everest, he’s there, and because, in this debate, he is perfect in his immorality (I say this in a caring kind of way). He is delectably quintessential!

Cutting to the chase

So why do I feel entitled to pile on value-judgments such as “sub-human,” “skunks,” “filth” and so on in the realm of music? Didn’t Rand herself say:

“Until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined, no objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgment is possible in the field of music … No one, therefore, can claim the objective superiority of his choices over the choices of others. Where no objective proof is available, it's every man for himself—and only for himself”?

Yes, she did. And, I submit, she was wrong.

Note the practical implication of her dictum: that no one can claim the objective superiority of the Tchaikovsky and Beethoven posted on the Van Cliburn thread over the Slayer posted on the RACH thread. This is absurd on its face—but of course, “on its face” won’t do for those who seize on Rand’s statement as an excuse to remain in the sewer. So let’s keep going.

What did Rand mean by “conceptual vocabulary”?

She tells us. Such a vocabulary would explain how a work evokes the emotions it does. “Why does a succession of sounds produce an emotional reaction? Why does it involve man’s deepest emotions and his crucial, metaphysical values? How can sounds reach man’s emotions directly, in a manner that seems to bypass his intellect? What does a certain combination of sounds do to man’s consciousness to make him identify it as gay or sad?”

Why need we know these things in order to pass objective judgment? What difference would it make? That she doesn’t tell us. But she does reiterate:

“The formulation of a common vocabulary of music would require these answers. It would require: a translation of the musical experience, the inner experience, into conceptual terms; an explanation of why certain sounds strike us a certain way; a definition of the axioms of musical perception, from which the appropriate esthetic principles could be derived, which would serve as a base for the objective validation of esthetic judgments.”

Phew!

This, Rand goes on, means we need to do what we currently cannot do in musical perception--separate subject and object:

“In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others—and therefore, cannot prove—which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness. He experiences it as an indivisible whole, he feels as if the magnificent exaltation were there in the music—and he is helplessly bewildered when he discovers that some men do experience it and some do not. In regard to the nature of music, mankind is still on the perceptual level of awareness.”

Now, it is my contention that Rand has set the bar way too high here—we don’t need to know all that in order to judge—and that furthermore, my contention has her imprimatur:

“The deadly monotony of primitive music—the endless repetition of a few notes and of a rhythmic pattern that beats against the brain with the regularity of the ancient torture of water drops falling on a man’s skull—paralyses cognitive processes, obliterates awareness and disintegrates the mind. ... Primitive music becomes his narcotic [that of a modern man brought up as a 'mentally helpless savage']: it wipes out the groping, it reassures him and reinforces his lethargy, it offers him temporarily the sense of a reality to which his stagnant torpor is appropriate.” (Note, incidentally, what she is describing as primitive music is still a slight advance on rap, which was embryonic in her time: rap has no notes!)

If that’s not passing judgment I don’t know what is! So, is Rand seriously arguing that she would then baulk at the final hurdle and decline to pronounce primitive music inferior to Romantic? She already has so pronounced it!

And with good reason.

Romanticism vs. Headbanging

See, “the endless repetition of a few notes and of a rhythmic pattern that beats against the brain with the regularity of the ancient torture of water drops falling on a man’s skull” is a near-perfect description of, to cite a convenient example, the track, “Rain of Blood” by “thrash metal” band Slayer, linked to on RACH. (Apparently “thrash metal” is a sibling of “death metal.”) The piece is certainly melodically challenged. The rhythm is faster than water drops, to be sure, but the way it beats against the brain is definitely torture (which some clearly enjoy, but I’ll come to that). The description omits, since it wasn’t specifically what Rand had in mind, lyrics that are inaudible (and, on further investigation, unintelligible) rendered by a voice that is unlistenable, the voice of someone being tortured. It omits the seemingly deliberate over-amping of the guitars to effect distortion. It says nothing about harmony—but then, there’s not much to say anyway. Overall, the description could easily be of “Rain of Blood.”

By way of cleansing contrast, let us remind ourselves what makes Romantic music Romantic music, and what we know about music itself that permits us to judge.

We know that the primary components of music are melody, harmony and rhythm—and the greatest of these is melody, the ordering of tones. Melody is fundamental. As plot is to literature, so melody is to music. Whistle a tune, unaccompanied (no harmonies), each note equal in length (no rhythm)—it’s still music. No melody—no music. “It’s the toon, stoopid!”

We know that certain simultaneous combinations of tones (harmony), because of the mathematical relationship of their frequencies, are, as a matter of metaphysical fact, integratable by the human brain (consonant) and others are not (dissonant); that this is true for all human beings apart from the tone-deaf; that the resolution of dissonance into consonance helps give a piece suspense, sophistication and satisfaction, a sense of home-coming; and so we may rightly judge the deliberate refusal to resolve for the sake of refusal to resolve to be an act of sabotage and assassination.

We know that in the Romantic period (nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) composers and performers pushed the boundaries of every musical element, primary and secondary, achieving an unprecedented emotional expressiveness while avoiding the descent into the atonal anarchy that followed. New instruments, bigger orchestras; new forms, and the expansion of old forms; the coming of age of opera and ballet; virtuoso stars, like our modern-day “celebs” only with talent; the cult of the conductor; more inventive melodies using bigger intervals between notes; greater dynamic range—fff (fortississimo: very, very loud) to ppp (pianississimo: very, very soft); more daring harmonies (chromatic and dissonant, without recourse to the sabotage or assassination that became de rigueur later) modulating more frequently into other keys; more rhythmic variety, including greater use of syncopation, rubato (bending of the rhythm), accelerando (speeding up) and ritardando (slowing down), changing of the time signature within movements, etc. They honored but were not straitjacketed by the formalism of classicism, stretching but not eschewing the rules that make music cohere. They knew with their predecessors that coherence was integral to integration, and integration to harmoniousness, and harmoniousness to beauty. They exercised freedom within the rule of law—the perfect mirror of what was going on politically.

Thus did they bring individualism to music—they were each distinguishable from the other; each imposed his distinctive stamp upon the form without going out of it (at least not to the point of disintegration). They united the idiomatic with the idiosyncratic, reason with emotion, Apollo with Dionysus (albeit with a leaning towards the latter, via, it must be admitted, that villain Rousseau). They transformed the “universal language” into an individual language. As one commentary puts it:

“Romantic-era composers kept the forms of Classical music. But the Romantic composer did not feel constrained by form. Breaking through boundaries was now an honorable goal shared by the scientist, the inventor, and the political liberator. Music was no longer universal; it was deeply personal and sometimes nationalistic. The personal sufferings and triumphs of the composer could be reflected in stormy music that might even place a higher value on emotion than on beauty. Music was not just happy or sad; it could be wildly joyous, terrified, despairing, or filled with deep longings.”

We know that, in Objectivist terms, they projected as never before, if not for the first time, man the passionate valuer—their symphonies and concerti were “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” set to music and writ large. We know that Rand's description of Richard Halley's Concerto of Deliverance could only have been of a Romantic composition:

"It was a symphony of triumph. The notes flowed up. They spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, they were the essence and form of upward motion, they seemed to embody every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean and left nothing but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance." (Rach 3, anyone—how about the middle section of the second movement?)

In short, we know that in every important aspect of it one can name, music—demonstrably, empirically, as a matter of fact—reached its apogee in the Romantic era. Romanticism was the culmination of what preceded it, and the transcending of it; it was the high point of musical evolution to date; it was the “total height”—and it remains so. (What came after was disintegration into vagueness, gratuitous dissonance, ostentation, random plinkety-plonk, silly silences and traffic noise.) Not knowing the physiology of how music evokes the responses that it does in us, not knowing how many parts object and how many part subject are involved, cannot gainsay this fact, the supreme stature of Romantic music, and its superiority over any modern throwback to “primitive music” such as that of Slayer, which it seems ludicrous to mention in the same breath.

This superiority can also be ascribed, I should add, to the myriad forms of what one might call “mini-Romanticism” such as operetta, musical comedy, jazz (the intelligible kind), pre-80s pop, movie scores, Ayn Rand’s “tiddly-wink music” and so on. The standard pop tune of my youth was a veritable miniature sonata with a clear theme, stated, developed then reiterated (A-B-A), value-orientated (usually about love!) with meaningful if unchallenging lyrics, audibly articulated. Any of the foregoing is superior to Slayer and all other headbanging caterwauling.

Romanticism and sense of life

Now at this point someone might object: “All this is very well, but you’re over-emphasizing the technical and structural aspects of the compositions and glossing over the business of one’s emotional response to them. After all, headbangers can be complex and clever too. And the fact is, whether you approve or not, Slayer hits my emotional spot and Rach doesn’t. End of story.”

And of course, it is the end of the story if you want it to be, if you’re content with that. Let’s just not continue to tout the relativist fiction that all music is created equal.

And let’s see what can be observed about the emotional response, since the objector is quite right: that is the whole point of the exercise, and music, like no other art form, gets to the point straight away.

I assume that what the objector and I seek from music is the same thing: 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 fully value-swooned. Tears of joy, poignance, worship, “unclouded exaltation” in the presence of gods and the godly, of beauty inexpressible in words. The solemn gaze on Van Cliburn’s face as he looks up at his conductor at the conclusion of the aforementioned Tchaikovsky (Piano Concert #1, Movement Three), having thundered spectacularly up and down the length and breadth of the piano and pressed down the final home-coming tonic chord, says it all. Breathes there the man with soul so dead he cannot behold this and exult: “What a piece of work is man!”? This response, of course, is life-affirming, and so, by Objectivist standards, good. Moreover, it is the response the work and the performance are intended to evoke, so the subject’s reaction is consistent with the content of the object.

Now, it's true that one needn't seek the full monty every time, which would be rather exhausting, and there are less weighty but perfectly legitimate reasons one might listen to some types of music. "Objectively superior," after all, implies an answer to the questions, "Superior to what, in what respect and for what purpose?" Country is best for a good laugh (who can resist the hilarity of some retard yodelling about his wife leaving him for the horse?), for instance, and The Carpenters are great for getting to sleep. But it turns out metal fans do actually seek the full monty. Or at least, at first glance, they claim to. Dr. (PhD in philosophy) Richard Goode, Slayer’s cheerleader on the RACH thread, said there:

“Honestly, if you don't feel glad to be alive after a good pounding by Slayer, the Queens of the Stone Age or even Hayseed Dixie, then there’s something wrong with you.” (Note, there’s something wrong with you. Evidently it’s OK to say there’s something wrong with you if you don’t like Slayer but not OK to say there’s something wrong with you if you do!)

But hang on a minute! Pressed by me to explain just how a “good pounding by Slayer” made him “glad to be alive,” Dr. Goode responded as follows:

“Anger. Energy. Passion. Defiance. Catharsis. Slayer are musical genius.”

So, is it anger, etc., that makes Dr. Goode feel glad to be alive, that gives him his value-swoons? I tried to find out:

“Anger about what? Passion for what? Defiance of what? Given that ‘catharthis’ is the release of pent-up emotions, why are your emotions pent up (I did warn you that pomowanking makes one passionless)? Wherein lies Slayer's ‘musical genius’?”

Alas, my inquiries elicited no further response.

Which entitles us to assume, I think, that the anger is not a justified, discrete anger about some particular injustice or other, else Dr. Goode would have mentioned it; it is a generalised, metaphysical anger at life itself that makes Goode feel good!

Now, remember what Rand said about the way music affects us:

“Psycho-epistemologically, the pattern of the response to music seems to be as follows: one perceives the music, one grasps the suggestion of a certain emotional state and, with one's sense of life serving as the criterion, one appraises this state as enjoyable or painful, desirable or undesirable, significant or negligible, according to whether it corresponds to or contradicts one's fundamental feeling about life.”

In the case of Dr. Goode and Slayer, he perceives their music, grasps the suggestion of anger and defiance and appraises it as enjoyable, desirable and significant, since it corresponds to his fundamental feeling about life. He says, “This is life as I see it.” Which, I respectfully submit, taking it at its own word, is anti-life—and the anti-life, need I point out, is, according to Objectivism, bad! Calling it and what evoked it “inferior” is letting it off lightly!

Inferior Music and Philosophy

None of this occurs in a vacuum. It’s no coincidence, but rather entirely congruent, that among Dr. Goode’s other pin-up boys is the philosopher David Hume, who taught that concepts, the means by which human beings make sense of reality, have no basis in reality; there are just brute facts, and the act of integrating them into concepts is entirely arbitrary.

Here’s Rand on Hume:

“When Hume declared that he saw objects moving about, but never saw such a thing as ‘causality’—it was the voice of Attila that men were hearing. It was Attila’s soul that spoke when Hume declared that he experienced a flow of fleeting states inside his skull, such as sensations, feelings or memories, but had never caught the experience of such a thing as consciousness or self. When Hume declared that the apparent existence of an object did not guarantee that it would not vanish spontaneously next moment, and the sunrise of today did not prove that the sun would rise tomorrow; when he declared that philosophical speculation was like a game, like chess or hunting, of no significance whatever to the practical course of human existence, since reason proved that existence was unintelligible, and only the ignorant maintained the illusion of knowledge—all of this accompanied by vehement opposition to the mysticism of the Witch Doctor and by protestations of loyalty to reason and science—what men were hearing was the manifesto of a philosophical movement that can be designated only as Attila-ism.”

Here’s Goode on the significance or otherwise of philosophy, in a SOLO exchange with James Valliant:

Valliant: As a philosopher, can you tell me what the practical upshot of your work is, i.e., its implications to human life?

Goode: Hahaha. You're kidding, right?

Stretching too long a bow?

Hume was a destroyer. Slayer, whose headbanging has included “songs” sympathetic to the 9/11 terrorists and Joseph Mengele, are destroyers. And all other headbangers. They are Hume’s chickens come home to roost. Richard, who claims there is no basis in reason for freedom, is an enabler of the destroyers (I grant he’d be horrified to think so). All three are archetypes. Hume, the clever/stupid philosopher, for whom logic and facts ne’er will meet; Goode, the modern “cool” sophisticat, monotoned and sardonic, getting his kicks from clever-dick nitpicking and word games; Slayer, the ugly reality behind the philosophers’ pseudo-civilized veneer, like so many “metal” bands of whichever variety—“thrash,” “death” or otherwise. It’s useful and instructive to see them all appropriately aligned—all nihilists together in this post-modern Age of Nihilism.

Conclusion

Nihilism is as objectively bad in esthetics as it is in any other realm—and in music as in any other part of esthetics, Rand notwithstanding. Appraising a positive response to musical nihilists as good, as Goode does, is bad. These animals intend to purvey ugliness and mindless rage and like nothing better in response than the perverted value-swoon of the nihilist, the pomowanker’s snicker of approval, perhaps more accurately called the "anti-value swoon." Again, the subject's response is congruent with the object's content.

We all hear the same thing. We all recognise deliberate ugliness and rage for ugliness’s and rage’s sake, just as surely as we all hear a minor chord as somber and a major chord as cheerful. It’s our responses to the ugliness and rage that differ, and the issue here is: evaluating the responses. It’s a question of values, not physiology. Life-affirming values = good; life-negating values (anti-values) = bad. So, if you respond with approval to deliberate ugliness and gratuitous rage, if you seek out and wallow in the anti-value swoon, then, in Dr. Goode’s immortal words, “There’s something wrong with you.” And that’s a fact.

I’m reminded of a painter friend from years ago who read The Fountainhead. He got it. He understood it as well as I. But he chose to blank it out, because, “If I take it seriously it’ll turn my life upside down” (his life being in thrall to axe-through-head tutors).

In his exceptional SOLO essay, “Something Better than Rage, Pain, Anger and Hurt,” Peter Cresswell exhorts:

“Music is our food of the spirit. So do try to be careful what you eat.”

(This admonition, by the way, doesn’t mean we all have to like the same music any more than we have to like the same food. It means we should eat food rather than feces.)

Musically speaking, we have whole generations eating poo and militantly relishing it. It ill-behoves Objectivists to tell them there’s no objective reason not to do so. Objectivism is nothing if not a command to rise. To those addicted to feces but wanting to rise from the sewer, I commend Mr. Cresswell’s essay. He knows whereof he speaks. He has himself risen!

Just these last few days on SOLO, artist Michael Newberry has recounted the story of someone who presented plastic-wrapped blood from her miscarriages as an artwork, and asked:

“Many of you here are freaked out about the possibility of radical Muslims taking over the world. But what is it that could weaken the West so much that it could fall victim to a primitive anti-modern society? When I see America, I see and experience many great things, lots of freedoms. It's much easier to do what you like here than in the other countries I have lived in. But, I also see the postmodern art world everywhere, with its cynical, disintegrated, anti-conceptual mind-set, and pathetic sense of life. That is America too. What if art plays a major role in the health, flourishing, and spirit of country or a culture? If that is so, aren't we more in trouble from the inside than the outside?”

We’re certainly in trouble from the inside. I quote finally from my inaugural speech at SOLOC 1 in 2001. The "jungle cacophony" alluded to is Eminem—I had just compared Johann Strauss and Eminem as exemplars of two contrasting cultures, antipodal pop icons, one danced to by human beings, the other jerked to by the eyeless-socketed ones:

“ ... get out there in the marketplace and promote good art as zealously as you promote good philosophy, both being necessary for the preservation of freedom. The tide is against us at the moment—wherever we turn our ears are assaulted by jungle cacophony of the kind we've just heard. In the visual realm … well, we've just been reading on the SOLO Forum about the Canadian artist I alluded to earlier who won a prestigious award for ejaculating into vials; there was the Turner Award in Britain, recently bestowed on someone whose ‘artwork’ was a room with an electric light in it. These abominations are a dime a dozen right now; it is, as I often say, the Age of Crap. I want SOLO to wage an intellectual war on it every bit as relentless as the physical War on Terrorism.”

That war should include the unabashed proclamation of Romantic music’s objective superiority.

Romantic music is composed and performed by the heroes in our midst. It speaks and appeals to the best within us. It awakens our capacity for rapture. It is appreciated and adored by the passionately enlightened. It is inspired by and inspires the most intensely life-affirming value-swoons possible to man. If the expression, "total passion for the total height" means anything, it finds that meaning in Romantic music. In terms of what went into it and what can be taken out of it, Romantic music is simply the best.

And that’s a fact.


( categories: )

Ellen: Modes and Melodic form

Jmaurone's picture

Ellen: "It's a composer's repertoire of potential forms which underlies what a composer will think of in musical line (which term you could use as generic, comprising melodies and motifs and even rhythmic figurations)."

Ellen, I've been following your posts with some interest, and wanted to ask you a question. (It's a roughly formed thought, please forgive me if it's a bit confusing.) Your latest, regarding the primacy of form over melody is intriguiging (though a bit "chicken or egg," I think.) Actually, I'm wondering if there's not some kind of "false duality" implied. I'm thinking this because of the differences between the diatonic scales and the modes. Best way I can explain this is through example: Miles Davis grew tired of composing in "chordal" form, feeling too "boxed in" by the standard progressions. His dissatisfaction led him to the modes, which opened up more melodic possibilities than the chord-structured music he was playing. While still containing a "form" in the sense of a "head theme," improvisational middle section, and return to the theme, it's said the the melodic lines were a form in themselves. I guess the question is, how does your theory account for this?

Thanks.

Swooning again?

Ptgymatic's picture

Hold up your end of the conversation, Ellen, or take a deep breath and admit your error. I've been perfectly clear.

How many times do you think you can swoon your way out of simply being wrong?

Mindy

Ellen

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Nothing adversarial from my side. I think your view is intrinsicist, to the extent I can work it out given the ongoing lack of data from you, for the reasons I stated. I don't say this in a hostile or competitive way. And I think you're making too big a deal over the primacy or otherwise of melody. I quite agree that you couldn't leap from Purcell to Puccini. I don't agree that this demonstrates the primacy of harmony or whatever it is you're trying to argue. The point is, melody (which I certainly regard as primary) and harmony and every other aspect of music and the performance thereof moved onward and upward to the apogee that was the Romantic era in precisely the way I describe in my essay, enabling the most intense and advanced responses. After that, it was downhill, to vile crap such as Cage and Slayer.

I'd love to see what you wrote to Rand. I'd probably agree with it. I think Rand wasn't Randian enough in her views on music; I still, after all this back-and-forth, can't fathom what it is exactly that *you* think. In the private note to which you refer you said you didn't want to continue the discussion publicly while a certain third party was getting in the way. That's no longer the case, so I'm up for it if you are.

Linz (and MM and Mindy)

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz, I've read the essay, a number of times.

In the off-list note I sent you Thursday last saying that I'd send some comments in a few days about the flubbing issue, I also said that I didn't want to do it on-list where it might look adversarial. Since you brought the subject back up on-list, I replied on-list. But of course, you have made it into something adversarial.

So, I'll leave you with your convictions.

Maybe someday, if I live long enough, and my sight holds well enough, I'll revise for publication a letter I wrote to AR way back in 1968, in which I spelled out the basics. She never saw the letter, I subsequently learned. It had been shunted to the reject pile (along with about 99% of the mail she received) when the person screening her mail noticed, upon skimming, references to Beethoven.

Allan, however, read the letter after I met him, and agreed with it -- I think that it influenced some of what he said in his music course. But meanwhile Rand had published her -- awkward from the standpoint of someone knowledgeable about music -- views about music presented in "Art and Cognition." Addressing the problems in that essay would be needed with a revised version of the long-ago letter.

==

Michael M., as so often has happened with your replies to me since you and I "met" in list-land back in late summer 2004 on NB's then-active list, I don't know what you think you're arguing for or what you think you're arguing against, or what you think I said. Probably not something I'd recognize as being what I think I said.

Same, in this case, to Mindy (you might want to re-read). I'll leave you just with this question: Do you think that Purcell could have written the same type of musical lines Puccini could? I really doubt you'll find a history of music claiming that the composers of one era could have jumped the time-to-come to such an extent.

Ellen

Yes!

Olivia's picture

Does that mean you'll let Lady Slapper out of her cage for the night? I'll practice today's new techniques on the Whopper Flopper! Smiling

Damn, Lady S!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You made me spit wine on my screen!

Well...

Olivia's picture

If you want to insult someone, learn from her.

we can't all be good at everything Sister Jeffy. Right now I'm studying the Epistemological Roots of Physical Lust - it's a double-major actually along with Advanced Jiggy-Jiggy Enhancement Techniques - apparently a degree I can usefully employ anywhere in the world. I'd heartily encourage you to master one of these courses at some stage, but it may interfere with your daily Self-Flagellation studies. I suggest switching papers, but you may need to check with Mother Objectively Superior.

Of melodies and motives...

Ptgymatic's picture

and the fundamentals of music. Despite the fact Linz likes singable melodies, your statement, Ellen, remains false. You cannot put musical forms and structure, nor historical development underneath the tonal organization which is melody. So, even considering that it may be merely a motif, and not a full-blown melody that is used to recognize "form" in music, your conceptual analysis has it backwards!

I would love to know what your source is for the amazing insights into the mind of the composer! Melody cannot be written without "a prior, firm development of an underlying sense of harmonic progression?" Prior, developed, firm, underlying...harmonic as compared to what? Not a melody, of course, so, what? That "progression" wouldn't be a tonal one would it?

"It is a composer's repertoire of potential forms which underlies what a composer will think of in a musical line." So this repertoire of potential forms underlies the composition of melody, of motives, and rhythmic figures? I need one of these repertoires!! Could you list one, or part of one, for us?

Could you tell us where your characterization of Beethoven and Mozart's process of composition comes from?

You had better clear your schedule so as to have time to make corrections to quite a few books on musical composition, and aesthetics, because I seem to have been landed with a slew of them that have it all wrong!

Mindy

"the beat"

Brant Gaede's picture

"They march to the beat of Babs Branden, a rank bitch and #1 Rand-diminisher aside from her sleaze-bag ex."

Lindsay, I'd be offended by this except I consider the source.

In a sense it is you who are the #1 Rand-diminisher. Perhaps for the same reason you implied when you said Rand probably wouldn't have liked you.

You see, the Brandens aren't Randians, you and many others are.

--Brant

What I want to know is...

Olivia's picture

J. Smith, LDS, is actually a nun, one Sister Jeffrina. Her Mother Superior contacted me concerned that Jeffrina had violated her vow of silence by opining on SOLO.

...if Sister Jeffrina considers his Mother Superior to be objectively superior, or just a matter of subjective nun-sense, like all that evil physical lust.

Ellen

Michael Moeller's picture

"But who is arguing superiority on that basis? Linz, not I. The point I'm making to Linz is that he uses an approach which doesn't work to provide a similar argument for the moral superiority of the Romantic period's approach to music to the one Rand provides for the literature of the period. (Keep in mind, please, I'm talking here in terms of how someone who accepts Rand's views re moral superiority of Romantic literature -- as she defined that -- might argue the case.)"

You see, Ellen, I think you are short-changing Rand's approach. When she compared Romanticism to Naturalism, for instance, she did not restrict it to an analysis of plot, characterization, theme, and style. She noted that Naturalism is like a "photgraph" of life, not a projection of what "might be and ought to be". Yes, she noted that Naturalists are very selective about characterization and style, but this is the means to achieve their goal (i.e. man "must neither judge nor value", "Man must be accepted as the given, the unchangeable, the not-to-be-judged, the status quo", etc. etc. Rand in RM pg 165).

Her analysis is always tied to the cognitive and is loaded with such analysis when arguing for superiority of Romanticism over Naturalism. She talks of how things "might be and ought to be", she talks of experiencing art as "This is my world and this is how I should feel!!", she talks about "stylizing" man's universe, etc. etc. Further, she states the goal of her writing is her projection of "her ideal man" as the end to which the plot, characterization, theme and style are the means. That is, she is drawing on the cognitive aspects of art to establish its superiority. She is not simply providing a dispassionate and academic view of plot, theme, etc. and saying that is why Romantic literature is superior outside the experience of that art--rather, she is tying it to the cognitive.

Now, Linz did not take an in-depth look at the technical aspects of music to the extent Rand did with plot, theme, etc., but I did not take that to be the purpose of his article. In contrast, I think the approach you are calling for is "mechanical" in Pritchard mold and seeks to cut off the tie with the cognitive, or as Linz termed it, "intrinsicist".

Michael

Perigo

jeffrey smith's picture

Most amusing, Perigo.

As I suggested to Olivia, you need to study Rand's non fiction. Not for the substance, but for the style. She was a grandmaster of rhetoric. Her turns of invective are masterpieces. If you want to insult someone, learn from her. She knew how to be rationally angry, and how to project it so people knew it. The message from Dr. Peikoff you posted earlier today is another good example.

Hell, this very comment I'm writing now is an example of anger expressed in a rational way--not that I'm placing myself in the league of Dr. Peikoff, much less Ayn Rand.

I don't care why you write the way you do. I only know the result: that you come across as a self indulgent bombastic fool who poses as an authority on a subject of which you don't really know that much. There is not much difference in your reaction to music and that of the average Slayer fan, except that you swoon to a different genre of music, and all your philosophic posturings can't hide that fact. But the whys and wherefore of why the music you like is great, you don't really understand.

There is also the fact that a person who says they rejoice in the death of another person, unless that person is among the most evil of people, and means it, has automatically disqualified himself from any discussion of morality, because he has demonstrated that he has no real understanding of what morality is.

If you really value passionate reason and rational passion, you ought to want to know me better--because I've come as close to achieving those goals as any person you're likely to meet. Can you dedicate yourself to the years of relentless self examination that are necessary to come anywhere near close to your stated goal? Do you have the courage to meet yourself as you go on the road to that goal--to look at yourself honestly and see all the failures and flaws, the errors willed and unwilled, the potentials not realized--because that has to be done if you're going to be able to get on to the next step, and start turning yourself into the sort of person you allegedly want to be. My inclination says that you don't, but I'll suspend judgment on the basis of not enough evidence.

Wallow in wrath if you will, Perigo, return to your follies like a dog to its vomit, but don't complain if people hear that term "rage filled buffoon" and decide that it fits you.

Lady S

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You to J. Smith, LDS:

I have no desire to understand you, you've given me no reason to. And frankly anyone who holds a blanket judgment such as yours about the wrongness of "physical lust" is just plain weird in my book.

J. Smith, LDS, is actually a nun, one Sister Jeffrina. Her Mother Superior contacted me concerned that Jeffrina had violated her vow of silence by opining on SOLO. I said, no problem as far as I was concerned, and I hoped Jeffrina would get over chastity as well. Mother Superior assured me there was no danger of that. Eye

Howard

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Personally, I like Lindsay’s style; and he’s quite a departure from the often dry and academic manner that so many part-time intellectuals feel compelled to fake when opining on subjects that are just a tad over their head. So personally, I find Lindsay’s verve quite refreshing.

As do I. Eye

Be sure about one thing: it's not a pose. I mean it. All of it.

Thank you for your words of support. Those who would have you believe I'm a "rank bastard" have never met me either. They march to the beat of Babs Branden, a rank bitch and #1 Rand-diminisher aside from her sleaze-bag ex. They all have LDS.

Ellen

Lindsay Perigo's picture

At some point you really ought to read my article. You say:

If Linz would instead argue on the basis of the inherently "hero's quest" type of form used in the music of the Romantic period, then he'd have an argument which (similarly to Rand's argument re literature) is based on a demonstrably present feature of the music, not on anyone's emotional reaction thereto.

Which part of the following eluded you?

We know that, in Objectivist terms, they projected as never before, if not for the first time, man the passionate valuer—their symphonies and concerti were “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” set to music and writ large. We know that Rand's description of Richard Halley's Concerto of Deliverance could only have been of a Romantic composition.

The "demonstrably present feature[s] of the music" are discussed in the previous paragraphs.

Then I go on to discuss emotional response. If the music speaks to man the hero, then we must establish whether it hits the spot. Music is object and subject and their interaction. You seem to have an intrinsicist view of music where its "inherent" features hang suspended in some floating realm and "emotional reaction" is irrelevant to evaluation. Objectivity requires more than just the object.

Maybe he's just being Lindsay?

Howard's picture

Jeffrey Smith rants: “--but Perigo expresses himself in such a bombastic, over the top manner that he comes across as being irrationally angry— “

No, Jeffrey, you’re wrong.

After my first reading of something Lindsay Perigo wrote, it didn’t take me more than 3 paragraphs to realize that he was purposefully writing in a style to elicit an emotional response. This does not mean that Lindsay’s assertions are irrational or emotional; although it’s fairly obvious that he’s choosing to proffer them with as much rhetorical flourish as he can muster. There’s nothing new in this; I’m sure you you’ve read editorialists for newspapers that use this style. And no doubt, like Lindsay, the reactions to those editorials often verge on the extreme!

Of course one can’t be certain as to why he chooses this style of presentation. Maybe Lindsay believes that he needs to “shake” and “rattle” the comfort zones of people that he perceives as being too stoic or emotionally repressed? Or, perhaps he feels that if he has imparted even a small part of his ideas to that person – he has succeeded, regardless of the risk of becoming a persona-non-grata amongst many? And then you also can’t dismiss the distinct possibility that it’s just the “devil” in him: tweaking and needling folks a bit. Evil My take is that much what Lindsay writes, both the soaring joy and fist-pounding rage that he tries to express, is a bit of all three; one part: real, one part: tactical, and one part: artistic license.

Personally, I like Lindsay’s style; and he’s quite a departure from the often dry and academic manner that so many part-time intellectuals feel compelled to fake when opining on subjects that are just a tad over their head. So personally, I find Lindsay’s verve quite refreshing.

Unfortunately the thread has now moved to discussing Lindsay’s past relationships with close associates. It’s obvious that many of you have “history” with one another, and that some of it is rather ugly. In this regard, there’s nothing for me to really say, because whether Lindsay’s a rank bastard - or angel – I haven’t the foggiest. But since I doubt that I’ll ever meet Lindsay, loan him money, or introduce my daughter to him: as far as his personal life and character goes, I could really care less, one way or another.

Howard

Sorry Gregster

Brant Gaede's picture

But the question wasn't directed at you. I know it is generally accepted that once Jim Peron had an autobiographical story published in "Unbound." I know it is generally accepted he sanctioned the presense of NAMBLA in his bookstor for a while. I don't recall it was established he was the actual publisher of the magazine in spite of the few assertions to that point from your reference. I don't have any interest in defending a man like this, but the allegations surrounding him are onerous enough to demand precision.

--Brant

Michael M.

Ellen Stuttle's picture

The question I asked was whether the John Galt Ride sequence is a feature of the story irrespective of anyone's emotional response to the sequence. I'll assume that you'd say it is. (There are those who wouldn't, you know; there is no text, etc.)

"However, *if* you are arguing superiority by what it evokes (i.e. 'value swoon'), then its not not immune from the very same criticism you note, i.e. 'I don't feel that when reading the scene.' Your call for 'musical nitty grittys' I don't think solves the problem, at least in terms of the same criticism you note."

But who is arguing superiority on that basis? Linz, not I. The point I'm making to Linz is that he uses an approach which doesn't work to provide a similar argument for the moral superiority of the Romantic period's approach to music to the one Rand provides for the literature of the period. (Keep in mind, please, I'm talking here in terms of how someone who accepts Rand's views re moral superiority of Romantic literature -- as she defined that -- might argue the case.) Linz is left with, he feels it, to which someone else can always reply, well, I don't. But to answer Rand on her literary argument, you have to come up with a different theory of aesthetics. If Linz would instead argue on the basis of the inherently "hero's quest" type of form used in the music of the Romantic period, then he'd have an argument which (similarly to Rand's argument re literature) is based on a demonstrably present feature of the music, not on anyone's emotional reaction thereto.

Ellen

Ellen

Michael Moeller's picture

You're right, I am not empathizing. If they have a policy, then they should apply it consistently. If they bend it to conform to an audience member's feelings or painful memories, then its no policy at all.

Your example is a good one to illustrate my point. As I said before, you can analyze the artistic elements, be it musical or literary, aside from the emotional response--like the style in which the John Galt Ride is written (eg. her use of concretization to illustrate physical movement, etc.). No problems with that, Ellen. However, *if* you are arguing superiority by what it evokes (i.e. "value swoon"), then its not not immune from the very same criticism you note, i.e. "I don't feel that when reading the scene." Your call for "musical nitty grittys" I don't think solves the problem, at least in terms of the same criticism you note.

Michael

Linz (and Mindy): form and melody

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz:

"I cover every aspect of form and structure (while contending that melody is fundamental) saying that all reached their apogee with Romanticism."

Sorry, you don't "cover every aspect of form and structure"; I wouldn't even be able to tell from MOG if you have any knowledge of musical form beyond a surface whiff, and I see nothing indicating your understanding of the evolution of form or of what in particular in that evolution set the Romantic period loose for its outpouring.

Regarding melody's fundamentality, for one thing there seems to be some ambiguity which has gotten in here, since Mindy made a comment including a motif as a melody. A motif isn't a melody of the sort that Linz so extols. Would you, e.g., expect anyone (except maybe Bobby Daren - sp?) to schedule a singing recital of many, many of Beethoven's compositions? How about the first movement of the 5th symphony?

The kind of sweeping operatic melody which Linz much likes, and which Rand much liked also, wasn't possible to write without a prior firm development of an underlying sense of harmonic progression.

It's a composer's repertoire of potential forms which underlies what a composer will think of in musical line (which term you could use as generic, comprising melodies and motifs and even rhythmic figurations). I wonder, Mindy and Linz, are you aware, for instance, that there are sketches of Beethoven's in which he swathed out huge stretches of composition getting down the harmonic blueprint before filling in any detailed notes beyond maybe a fragment or two, and that Mozart is reported as having said that sometimes he'd get the idea for a whole composition in a single flash -- a core nucleus which would then have its details filled in?

Ellen

Michael M.

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Clearly you aren't empathizing with where I'm coming from in regard to the organization founded by David Kelley inviting a talk with the music title. It was, and remains, a painful thought for me, with the store of memories evoked. I think I'll just leave the subject, since I'm not desirous of saying anything more possibly critical of David on Linz's list. David was a friend, and a still have fond recollections, though I haven't seen him or been in contact with him (except indirectly, through Larry's seeing him a few times) for now nearly nine years.

 

"Again, re the "musical nitty grittys", I understand what you are asking for, but I am not sure you understand my point. To put it another way, what if you or Linz made your argument for form/melody and a person responded: "I don't feel exultation from that embodiment". Its still not immune from the same my feelings vs. your feelings argument. I don't agree with Rand either to the extent that you need a "common language" of how the perception works, just as I don't think you need to understand the optics of the brain and eye to reads words on the page of a novel and have an emotional response. My point was that you are looking at the interaction of consciousness with the music and you can generalize about the psychological response from the outward manifestations, i.e. the statements and actions it evokes."

I think you don't understand what I'm asking for, else you'd understand that your point is irrelevant. Eye Let me ask you this: Is the John Galt Ride sequence in the story of Atlas Shrugged? Is its being a feature of the story in any way dependent on anyone's emotional reaction to the sequence?

Ellen

J...

Olivia's picture

What I did say is that physical lust not accompanied by love or respect for the other person is wrong.

Desire (physical lust) is just a feeling. We judge ourselves (and others) by our actions.

If person A decides sex with person B is desirable, not because of any love or respect person A has for person B, but because B has a "beautiful bod" or something similar, then A turning B into a means for obtaining A's end.

Person A is allowed to achieve his, or her, ends in life. If person B can be seduced, persuaded or paid, then nothing untoward has "happened" to person B, rather, there has been a value exchange (unless person A has intentionally misled or brutalized person B).

You'll find that "beautiful bods" are most appealing to the sexual nature of human beings - especially to those of us who are healthy (like in art, beauty is paramount), and person A may hold person B's beautiful bod in the highest regard and wish to worship it with all of his, or her, physical might.

...here you are making a monumental leap when judging me, whom you obviously don't understand, and seem to not want to understand...

Guilty. I have no desire to understand you, you've given me no reason to. And frankly anyone who holds a blanket judgment such as yours about the wrongness of "physical lust" is just plain weird in my book.

Good Soldier?

gregster's picture

Start here and move it off this thread..

Lindsay

Brant Gaede's picture

Who was the "publisher of a pedophile rag?"

I'd like to research it but I need a name.

I don't recall you ever saying before that so and so did that. I could be wrong.

--Brant

Olivia

jeffrey smith's picture

Only to irredeemably repressed, pompous pricks Jeffrey, which you undoubtedly are.

If you want to write good invective, I suggest a thorough reading of Rand's non fiction: she was a master of the art.

as if having the feeling of lust equates to fucking everything in sight without any form of discretion,
I didn't say that. You will find it much easier to win arguments if you address the points actually made.

What I did say is that physical lust not accompanied by love or respect for the other person is wrong. If person A decides sex with person B is desirable, not because of any love or respect person A has for person B, but because B has a "beautiful bod" or something similar, then A turning B into a means for obtaining A's end.

The thing with emotionally repressed people is that they make these monumental leaps when judging others whom they don't understand, and damn them for expressing their emotions freely - a disgusting form of envy if ever I've seen it

Hmm, here you are making a monumental leap when judging me, whom you obviously don't understand, and seem to not want to understand, and damn me for expressing my emotions and opinions rather freely--I guess that makes you a very envious person.

The Sick World of Skanky Brandroids

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Jeremy

Among the many lies that Babs and her mouthpiece Campbell constantly reiterate about me is that I instigated the expose of Sciabarra (yes, the nicest guy in the world to one's face, but vicious behind one's back—and he got caught out) by Diana Hsieh. As I've repeatedly said, I didn't know a thing about it till it was well underway. I was supportive of it, while disagreeing publicly with Diana's ultimate conclusion. She published her expose on her blog and on SOLO. For some reason it's part of the Brandroids' Linz Derangement Syndrome that they have to believe that I actually orchestrated the thing. I wouldn't be ashamed if I had, but as it happens, I didn't.

It's a horribly inverted world, the Brandroid one. Express emotion and it's a "temper tantrum." Express anger and it's a "rant." Point out that X has lied about you and it's a "vendetta" against X. Hero-worship is out unless it's worship of Frank Zappa or some other nihilist. Humanity-diminishing a la Neil Parille, by his own admission, is in. Defending the publisher of a pedophile rag is in. Smearing and lying are in. Revoking of a done-and-dusted deal with a speaker you disagree with is in, in that "open" world where dissent is encouraged. The only thing that's out apart from hero-worship is anger, unless it's their own against anything remotely resembling goodness and decency.

Robert

Jeremy's picture

Does Mr. Perren accept Mr. Perigo's explanation of his starring role in the tag-team sliming of Chris Sciabarra, including the loud proclamations that there was a "whole lotta shaking going on" and soon all in Rand-land would accede to the Perigonian supremacy?

I remember Sciabarra! Had to go away for a year or two, so I don't know what you mean. I remember him being one of the nicest guys on the planet. What's this "sliming" you're talking about?

edit: In the process of updating my user pic--that's still me smirking behind the keyboard.

Perren on Perigonian Rage

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Perren offers a supportive rationalization for Mr. Perigo's never-ending tantrums:

Anyone who doesn't feel from time to time a white-hot anger at the once slow, now not so slow destruction of Western civilization, in particular, the erosion of American culture and - to a significant extent - the products of that erosion in modern so-called arts is dead to all feeling.

As a regular participant on this site, Mr. Perren must have noted how often the supposedly righteous Perigonian wrath is directed, not at anyone who is actually undermining Western civilization, but at persons whose offense consists of failing to prostrate themselves before Lindsay Perigo, endorse virtually every one of his opinions on virtually every subject, and exalt him as an Objectivist hero.

Is Mr. Perren proposing to defend Mr. Perigo's still-ongoing rants at "Babs"?

Does Mr. Perren accept Mr. Perigo's explanation of his starring role in the tag-team sliming of Chris Sciabarra, including the loud proclamations that there was a "whole lotta shaking going on" and soon all in Rand-land would accede to the Perigonian supremacy?

Does Mr. Perren approve of Mr. Perigo's verdict that Frank Zappa deserved to die a slow, painful death from prostate cancer, because Mr. Perigo, having deigned to listen to a few bars from one piece and a few bars from another, has infallibly and irreversibly concluded that the late Mr. Zappa's entire output was "musical cancer"?

Robert Campbell

Clever, Olivia

Ptgymatic's picture

You make your point that Linz isn't over-the-top by demonstrating what that actually looks like.

My rhetorical style

Ptgymatic's picture

needs polishing. I'm in agreement with you, Jeffrey.

But the importance of melody is a powerful enough tool to thoroughly discredit the bulk of pop music of the day. I am green-faced with my jaw on the floor that you find anything in the Slayer piece to be termed a melody. Jawdropping! It is perhaps exceptional in its total lack of melody. Monotonic, most of the way. I noticed, yes, that the accompaniement changed notes, and there was a pattern to some of that. But a melody?? I can't believe we are talking about the same set of sounds!!???

Mindy

Jeffrey...

Olivia's picture

but Perigo expresses himself in such a bombastic, over the top manner that he comes across as being irrationally angry...

Only to irredeemably repressed, pompous pricks Jeffrey, which you undoubtedly are.
Even your view of lust is ridiculously repressed... as if having the feeling of lust equates to fucking everything in sight without any form of discretion, which nobody here even came close to suggesting, yet that is where you leaped to. The thing with emotionally repressed people is that they make these monumental leaps when judging others whom they don't understand, and damn them for expressing their emotions freely - a disgusting form of envy if ever I've seen it. So put up or shut up.

A musical lie-detector?

Ptgymatic's picture

There are elements of music that are so closely related to cognition at large that they can claim the same level of objective superiority that, for example, symmetry does to noise. And that's just the beginning of it.

The greats of, for example, the light classics--take the Can-Can theme, or the theme to Dixie--would seem to gain universal appreciation. There can be art to express whatever there are people to feel, and murderous rage or nihilistic rebellion are some such things. But, assuming that when you speak of the superiority of music, you mean superiority in expressing pro-life values, then, since it is the ears of homo sapiens sapiens we are concerned with, there are minimums of quality that can be objectively evaluated.

Mindy

Mindy

jeffrey smith's picture

So, which is more fundamental, melody or "musical form?".

Form is what you do with melody. Even that Slayer song has a melody. It's what they do to the poor thing that results in aural abomination.

In any case, this really

jeffrey smith's picture

In any case, this really neglects the motive for Linz' anger, as he has explained himself a dozen or more times.

I certainly share Perigo's contempt for most of modern art, but I look around and I don't see it deserving of the blanket condemnation he lays upon it--there are pockets of music and art that don't deserve it. I go to the local art shows, and while there is plenty of nonsense, there is also plenty of talented representational art that stays within more traditional styles. Modern "serious" music is growing out of the extreme academic focus of the 1950s-70s, and recognizing that form and tonality still have something to offer us. To those that haven't heard it, I suggest a listen to Corigliano's Violin Concerto (based on the music he wrote for the film The Red Violin), in which he says he attempted to write a work "in the great concerto tradition", something his father--a concertmaster for the NYPhil--would have loved to play.

IOW, I think the essential nihilism that dominated "serious" music and art during most of the last half century is finally dying out. What replaces it remains to be seen, as Ellen stated in an earlier comment (whether on this thread or the Catholicism thread, I don't remember.) (And I'm not claiming to be more highly evolved, or anything. I'm just claiming to have come to a different opinion that Perigo.)

When one comes down to it, after all, Perigo and I have very similar tastes in music. The essential differences are that I like Tchaikovsky less than he does, and like the music of the Renaissance and baroque, and Mahler and Shostakovich, more than he does. Those are not world shaking differences. And I certainly share his opinion of heavy metal, rap and Nirvana.
I have no problem with Mario Lanza and Maria Callas; but I think concentrating on the "old timers" does a disservice to the very fine musicians who are alive and well and performing to audiences right now.

Nor do I see the erosion and destruction of Western Civilization that he sees. It's best to remember that Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and company were pinnacles and outliers, and that the culture of the masses was very often well below that. The nineteenth century had its Madonnas and Cobains, too. Fortunately for us, they became historical trivia, and we can hope that Maddona and Cobain will become in their turn historical trivia for people debating culture a hundred years from now. And it's wise to remember that the first people to view the paintings of Renoir and the other impressionists were apt to decry them as hopeless decadence. I think, overall, that the level of culture wasn't that high in previous eras, and hasn't gotten much lower in our time.

But culture always changes and evolves, and what it will be like in a couple of decades is probably impossible to predict.

But even if I am totally wrong, that doesn't acquit Perigo. I have no problem with rational anger--remember what I said about controlling one's emotions, which does not mean to eliminate them totally--but Perigo expresses himself in such a bombastic, over the top manner that he comes across as being irrationally angry--the effect of MOTG is simply someone throwing a temper tantrum because they don't like heavy metal and rap. Someone who reads his posts on SOLO would be inclined to accept that "rage filled buffoon" is a very good description of the author.

Ellen

Michael Moeller's picture

"...he was aware of the atmosphere of aesthetic fear back then; I know he was; he was part of Larry's and my circle of friends then. I hated the thought of his sanctioning something with echoes of reverting to those days. I hated the thought of his organization -- the organization he founded -- giving the imprimatur of invitation to that talk title."

Since when does inviting somebody speak mean that you are necessarily sanctioning the content of the talk? This seems particularly true of TOC/TAS who have a history of inviting people to speak on topics that don't agree with Objectivism, or at the very least are a significant departure from Objectivism.

Again, re the "musical nitty grittys", I understand what you are asking for, but I am not sure you understand my point. To put it another way, what if you or Linz made your argument for form/melody and a person responded: "I don't feel exultation from that embodiment". Its still not immune from the same my feelings vs. your feelings argument. I don't agree with Rand either to the extent that you need a "common language" of how the perception works, just as I don't think you need to understand the optics of the brain and eye to reads words on the page of a novel and have an emotional response. My point was that you are looking at the interaction of consciousness with the music and you can generalize about the psychological response from the outward manifestations, i.e. the statements and actions it evokes.

Michael

Jeff

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Except, it isn't rage, in the sense almost certainly meant here; i.e. it's not irrational anger. Anyone who doesn't feel from time to time a white-hot anger at the once slow, now not so slow destruction of Western civilization, in particular, the erosion of American culture and - to a significant extent - the products of that erosion in modern so-called arts is dead to all feeling. That, or is someone so highly evolved that he or she really should be educating us how to look honestly and openly at the world today and not feel that. In any case, this really neglects the motive for Linz' anger, as he has explained himself a dozen or more times.

Thank you.

The neglect is intentional, of course.

I know how Rand felt when she said she'd given up hope for an honorable adversary.

Mindy ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

how does Ellen propose to recognize musical form and structure without first identifying melodies?

I'm still waiting for an answer to that one too. Eye

Heaven help me,

Ptgymatic's picture

I'm helping Linz out, still: how does Ellen propose to recognize musical form and structure without first identifying melodies? That includes the motif, of course! Evil

So, which is more fundamental, melody or "musical form?"

Mindy

Ellen

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You don't argue the case on the basis of musical form, which is the basis on which you could make a good case in O'ist aesthetic terms. Instead, you emphasize melody, which leaves you not able to demonstrate a case musically. And you focus on emotional response, which, as many have pointed out, leaves you with your opinion versus that of whoever doesn't feel it the way you do.

I cover every aspect of form and structure (while contending that melody is fundamental) saying that all reached their apogee with Romanticism. And I focus on emotional response, since that is the point of music. Now please listen to the Slayer to which I most recently linked and tell me that anyone who feels "Yes! This is life as I see it!" in response isn't sick.

Ambiguous

Jeff Perren's picture

"Linz prides himself on his rage."

Except, it isn't rage, in the sense almost certainly meant here; i.e. it's not irrational anger. Anyone who doesn't feel from time to time a white-hot anger at the once slow, now not so slow destruction of Western civilization, in particular, the erosion of American culture and - to a significant extent - the products of that erosion in modern so-called arts is dead to all feeling. That, or is someone so highly evolved that he or she really should be educating us how to look honestly and openly at the world today and not feel that.

In any case, this really neglects the motive for Linz' anger, as he has explained himself a dozen or more times.

Now can we get back to talking about music (after all those who feel compelled have had their chance to deny what I've said, of course...)?

Jeffrey, Ellen isn't an O'ist ;-)

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Jeffrey to Linz:

"For all I know, you [Linz] are in person the sweetest and most intelligent person in the Objectivist universe (although that honor, from my limited observations, seems to go to Ellen), and there seem to be plenty of Objectivists who are prone to be filled with rage [...]."

I'm flattered by the description; thank you. Ironically, however, for the status evaluation, I have never considered myself an Objectivist. I've always had enough divergences from Rand to feel that I didn't want to use the label, although there is a strong family resemblance between my views and hers. I agree that there are "plenty of Objectivists who are prone to be filled with rage" (and I think that this isn't surprising, but, oh, man, the subject of O'ist rage and its sources is a long one). Linz prides himself on his rage.

Ellen

Linz, re David K.

Ellen Stuttle's picture

"Ellen, you shouldn't be cross with David either. I'm reliably informed that he 'hates your [my] guts,' but he's big enough to acknowledge the expertise of someone whose guts he hates. [....]

He would have risen above his personal animus against me in the interests of attracting greater numbers to the Summer Seminar."

I greatly hope that other persons better understand what I've written about my views on the invite than either you or Jonathan has shown evidence of being able to do.

I don't care whether David hates your guts or doesn't. I didn't object per se to your being invited to talk. I thought that you in particular being invited to talk on what's wrong with O'ists was absurd -- but specifically in regard to David on that one, I know that David doesn't pay attention to what goes on in listland. Will Thomas, as program director, should have been paying attention.

It was in regard ~to the music topic~, as I've said so many times I'm sounding to myself like a broken record, that I wondered if David knew, and on which I was upset at the thought of his giving an ok. David was there back in the 70's; he was aware of the atmosphere of aesthetic fear back then; I know he was; he was part of Larry's and my circle of friends then. I hated the thought of his sanctioning something with echoes of reverting to those days. I hated the thought of his organization -- the organization he founded -- giving the imprimatur of invitation to that talk title. (Repeating again, I would not have objected if it was a contributed talk.)

Regarding your refrain about why didn't they want to discuss PARC, I don't think David's even read PARC or has any interest in the controversy. At least that's what Larry thinks David said, when the subject was mentioned in passing the last time Larry saw David. That was maybe a couple years ago on an occasion when Larry was in Washington for a physics meeting and he dropped by the TOC (still the name then) offices, for the purpose of talking with Ed Hudgins about the AGW issue, but David was at the offices and said hi and chatted a bit. Larry's vague recollection that David hadn't read the book and wasn't interested is my only direct source regarding David's views on the subject. I frankly don't care one way or another what David thinks about the PARC controversy.

Ellen

Linz, re music again

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz:

"And I certainly don't disagree."

I didn't say that you disagree. I said "that you didn't use your strongest possible musical case -- a case you could support in O'ist aesthetic terms by comparison to Rand's ideas in regard to Romantic literature. Instead, I think you focused on the wrong musical feature."

You don't argue the case on the basis of musical form, which is the basis on which you could make a good case in O'ist aesthetic terms. Instead, you emphasize melody, which leaves you not able to demonstrate a case musically. And you focus on emotional response, which, as many have pointed out, leaves you with your opinion versus that of whoever doesn't feel it the way you do.

Ellen

Perigo

jeffrey smith's picture

I remarked much earlier in the thread that maybe MOTG needs a substantial rewrite.
I get that you think the dramatic element in romantic music is a salient feature. But that got lost under waves of prose like this:
Now at this point someone might object: “All this is very well, but you’re over-emphasizing the technical and structural aspects of the compositions and glossing over the business of one’s emotional response to them. After all, headbangers can be complex and clever too. And the fact is, whether you approve or not, Slayer hits my emotional spot and Rach doesn’t. End of story.”

And of course, it is the end of the story if you want it to be, if you’re content with that. Let’s just not continue to tout the relativist fiction that all music is created equal.

And let’s see what can be observed about the emotional response, since the objector is quite right: that is the whole point of the exercise, and music, like no other art form, gets to the point straight away.

[bold added by me for emphasis]

Talking about emotional reaction is totally different from talking about dramatic potential, and most of MOTG seems to be talking about the former and not the latter.

I happen to disagree with you (obviously I'm speaking only for myself) on the point that the dramatic element of Romantic music gives it a special superiority over other forms of music, and also on the point that other types of music, both within and without the "serious" music tradition, were not able to produce similarly dramatic music. (They could, but unlike Romantic era musicians, the musicians involved did not necessarily place the dramatic element as high on their list of priorities: it was simply an element to be pulled out of the tool box as needed. To be clear, I do agree that Romantic music emphasized the dramatic element, especially in the ways that Ellen point out.) But I didn't even realize that was the main point of MOTG (if it was the main point, which I'm still not sure of) until you commented on that facet today.

I have no real interest in the rights and wrongs of your disinvite--let the dead bury their dead!--
but in honest truth, you do come across as often buffoonish and generally rage filled. For all I know, you are in person the sweetest and most intelligent person in the Objectivist universe (although that honor, from my limited observations, seems to go to Ellen), and there seem to be plenty of Objectivists who are prone to be filled with rage, but from what you post on this board you do come rather close to fulfilling the term "rage filled buffoon"--close enough to make it seem at least plausible that you are such a thing in fact. Close enough that if I were you, I'd have a sit down with myself and work out a way to change the way I come across so that it's harder to pin the rage-filled buffoon insult on me.

But of course I am me, and not you: and you, being you, can call me an impertinent twit if you like:)

So Who Were "They"?

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Perigo cannot clearly identify those at The Atlas Society who were ready to "go along" with Will Thomas's decision to invite him.

Of David Kelley, he opines

He would have risen above his personal animus against me in the interests of attracting greater numbers to the Summer Seminar.

And Mr. Perigo knows this... how?

Meanwhile, Robert Bidinotto told me that he was not in the loop when Will Thomas extended the invitation to Mr. Perigo, and was strongly opposed to the decision as soon as he heard about it.

Robert Campbell

PS. I received an email from Will Thomas back then, in which he referred to the flap over TheBrandens and Mr. Valliant's book by asking, "Aren't we over that yet?" He obviously had no idea what was going on in list-land.

David K

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Ellen, you shouldn't be cross with David either. I'm reliably informed that he "hates your [my] guts," but he's big enough to acknowledge the expertise of someone whose guts he hates. He wrote the following for my biography a few years back (I hope you're sitting down!):

Lindsay Perigo is one of the finest communicators I have ever seen. Like the great opera singers he loves, he has an exceptionally broad range, from the abstractions of philosophy, to the concretes of political events, which he apparently tracks in minute detail. It is not surprising to me that he earned a reputation as the leading interviewer on New Zealand television for his ability to probe the thinking of his guests.

He would have risen above his personal animus against me in the interests of attracting greater numbers to the Summer Seminar.

It would be more fruitful to ask David why he said, rightly, that Babs's book should be debated when it came out, but remained mute when PARC, debating Babs, came out, while Bidinotto, not having read PARC, accused its author of being a ghoulish parasite. A lot of us are still wondering about that.

Ellen

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You say:

Romantic Period music is music which has a sense of direction, which is going somewhere. It isn't simply going through (fairly) set routines of form. It's music which is excursioning, adventuring, engaged in drama with a destination. The sonata-form principle is the quintessence of this style; but other forms, plus rhapsodic form, were put to the same purpose of creating drama via the form.

And I certainly don't disagree. I'm wondering where you think our disagreement is. In MoG I say:

We know that, in Objectivist terms, they [the Romantic composers] projected as never before, if not for the first time, man the passionate valuer—their symphonies and concerti were “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” set to music and writ large.

And much more about "creating drama via the form." What exactly is our point of departure?

Linz, re music

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz:

"Enough! I still want to know how I 'flubbed' my music assignment. Eye "

What I mean by your flubbing the music part is that you didn't use your strongest possible musical case -- a case you could support in O'ist aesthetic terms by comparison to Rand's ideas in regard to Romantic literature. Instead, I think you focused on the wrong musical feature.

I'd say that the over-riding musical characteristic of the Romantic Period is the taking advantage (and playing to the hilt) of the idea that instrumental music can be written with inherently dramatic form. (The way to doing this was most of all demonstrated by Beethoven, though there was a history leading up to Beethoven's being able to make the demonstration.)

Romantic Period music is music which has a sense of direction, which is going somewhere. It isn't simply going through (fairly) set routines of form. It's music which is excursioning, adventuring, engaged in drama with a destination. The sonata-form principle is the quintessence of this style; but other forms, plus rhapsodic form, were put to the same purpose of creating drama via the form.

I know that this needs elaborating. One reason I keep hesitating to get into the subject is because of the amount of detailed musical discussion it needs combined with my lack of time (and of posting stamina) for providing the detail.

Ellen

Linz, re the TAS invite

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz:

"Will shouldn't be made the whipping boy."

I wasn't meaning any implication of making Will Thomas the whipping boy. Instead, as I indicated three times in replies to Jonathan, and as he three times either overlooked or chose to ignore, the person who all along was the focus of my upset was David Kelley. I wondered where the hell David was in the events, how a topic choice like the music title could have gotten his approval, was his approval not sought? I still don't know to what extent David was aware of/involved in the invitation. I didn't write to him to ask, since I'd have considered doing so presuming on an old relationship which hadn't been active in many years.

My point about Will is that his was the job of program director for the Summer Seminar. However, according to the report of one of the people on OL (I forget who it was) who had contacted Will, he didn't even know that the PARC altercation was still active.

Ellen

Revisionist History?

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Perigo now says, concerning the contested invitation to speak at the 2008 Summer Seminar:

Will [Thomas] shouldn't be made the whipping boy. I asked him specifically if the others knew about the invite and he said yes (which didn't mean they all approved of it, but they knew, and were prepared to go along as a bury-the-hatchet, bums-on-seats exercise). They were aware there might be a bit of a kerfuffle and were prepared to weather it.

Mr. Perigo is remarkably vague as to who "they" were.

Ed Hudgins? David Kelley? Robert Bidinotto?

All prepared to "go along"?

Robert Campbell

PS. Something must be getting under Mr. Perigo's skin lately. He's on quite the banning binge.

Ellen

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Will shouldn't be made the whipping boy. I asked him specifically if the others knew about the invite and he said yes (which didn't mean they all approved of it, but they knew, and were prepared to go along as a bury-the-hatchet, bums-on-seats exercise). They were aware there might be a bit of a kerfuffle and were prepared to weather it. Until it occurred. Hudgins then tried to manoeuvre me into withdrawing, but I had no reason to withdraw, and refused, insisting that if there were to be any revisiting of the invite, he would have to do it. Eventually he did, and capitulated to the mob, at the same time trying to pin the blame on me in precisely the way you describe. It's all on the record, including Babs's disgraceful smear-job.

They could have stood firm, and I would have delivered two standing-room-only talks.

Now, they have to cancel their Summer Seminars.

Enough! I still want to know how I "flubbed" my music assignment. Eye

Closing the barn door... (was: WSS, re the Linz disinvite)

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I wrote the following between reading WSS's latest and seeing Linz's decision to ban J. and WSS. I'll go ahead and post it, though it's now in the category of closing the barn door...I suppose the saying should be modified to, after the horses were evicted and someone else already closed the door.

~~~

Isn't it obvious that the powers-that-be at TAS (whoever amongst them made the disinvite decision) did yield to pressure, and that Ed Hudgins maneuvered to put the blame on Linz?

Will Thomas was "asleep at the wheel" in issuing the invitation to begin with. He wasn't paying attention to list-land altercations; he didn't anticipate the outcry which someone paying attention could have confidently expected would ensue. Upon realization dawning that the invite would be very unpopular amongst a strong contingent of TAS supporters, the blame for non-alertness should have been manfully faced and accepted. Either a statement should have been issued to the effect: "We goofed; sorry for the upset to Linz; invitation rescinded." Or a statement should have been issued to the effect: "Sorry, those who object; we didn't realize you would be upset; but, the invitation having been made, it stands."

Instead, there was an after-the-fact attempt to change the conditions of the invitation and to require Linz to exhibit "good behavior," as it were, on his own list. And then, when he basically said (as anyone familiar with Linz's reactions would have expected him to say) f-off, to present the disinvitation as his having not complied with the original terms.

Not well handled by TAS, from beginning to end.

Ellen

And still it continues ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

So, apparently I was right: Barbara mentioned that she had privately expressed her views to someone, and Pigero, being the buffoonish eternal victim that he is, took that as proof that she "waged" a "campaign" of "lies" and "led" a "lynch-mob."

"Someone" just happened to be Hudgins, whose decision it would be whether to rescind the invitation. And the views she expressed were a tissue of smears and lies.

Mr. Smith, LDS, has amply demonstrated his bad faith. Bad faith is the only reason I boot people. And I've had enough of his. He's gone.

Mr. Scherk, LDS, has amply demonstrated his bad faith too. I note he just went on a feeding frenzy of schism-junkyism, bizarrely accusing me of being obsessed with this episode when he laps it up like a derangedly parched dog suddenly presented with a water bowl. He too has evaded the matter of the lies of the person to whom he's in thrall; he too supports the act of witch-burning by which TAS disqualified itself from its own claims to openness. I had hoped to put Mr. Scherk's talent to constructive use, but it seems I cannot cure his LDS, which makes a working relationship impossible. Again, I've had enough. Mr. Scherk is gone also.

As always I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have arising from the twisted posts of these twisted gentlemen; otherwise I shan't waste any time on them, and we can get this thread back on topic.

Filth, filth, filthity filth

William Scott Scherk's picture

Jonathan Smith, filth, is a liar. Or, Jonathan Smith, liar, is filth. The filthy lie Jonathan is charged with? That he filthily pretends no recall of "Babs's smear-job in which she referred to her previous private e-mails in similar vein to Hudgins."

So, what's at issue? What is Lindsay talking about? I previously gave links to several Objectivist Living threads in my post Lynching with the Mob.

Since there is a large, searchable database of all postings in this issue, and since Lindsay has kindly mentioned me by name . . . and since the actual words and exchanges are becoming crusted into a dog-opera myth, I will step in to give the fullest exposition possible.

(to those who might wonder if I hijack this thread beyond its remit, I remind them that Lindsay repeatedly, obsessively draws the reader's attention back to the dog-opera of his disordered community life. If Ellen and Seddon discuss something not comprehensible to the Principal, it's because neither of them backed the Principal in the Lynch-Mob-versus-Pollyanna opera; if someone disagrees with Lindsay in his thesis and exposition in this thread, Lindsay lathers up the Brandroid fudge and spreads; it's either Bab's stooges or ineffably evul awfulness that dares contradict his musical fatwa. So, who introduced Barbara Branden's inherent evul in an exchange between Perren and Jonathan . . . ? That's right, Principal Pollyanna Perigo)

Here is a link where Lindsay himself re-posts in its entirety the Barbara Branden response to Ed Hudgins policy note, Oh my! Smearer-in-Chief Weighs In! (on OL, as previously cited, My response to Ed Hudgins' "The Atlas Society Policy and the Summer Seminar"). At least we know that, contrary to Lindsay's protestations, he has indeed read OL at some time. In a follow up to "Oh my!" Lindsay wrote "It's also clear from Barbara's own words that a lot has been going on behind the scenes already."

Hmmm. This may be where Lindsay became convinced that Barbara was leading the mob, but see below for a Report Card on who got into the subject at the time.**

I will give another link, to a search screen. The results show all the actual OL posts made my Barbara Branden in which "Perigo" is mentioned.

Posts naming Lindsay Perigo by Barbara Branden

That's 25 posts. Over 3 years.

Back to Lindsay and the filthily lying Brandroids . . . we are looking for posts "in which she referred to her previous private e-mails in similar vein to Hudgins."

There is only one possibility, a followup to the "My response/Oh my!" post, Barbara's Do I Not Comprehend the Written Word? In this post Barbara refers to 'some Objectivist forums and off-line.' Emphasis added.

Let me add that neither I, nor, by my understanding, anyone else on OL, is suggesting
that The Atlas Society turn its power of decision over to others; Its policy decisions
can and should be made only by its principals and directors. But the outpouring of
objections and outrage, both on some Objectivist forums and off-line, is a
manifestation of the grief and pain felt by those who share TAS's principles and
commitments and who feel betrayed
. The problem is not Lindsay Perigo; the problem is
their conviction, and mine, that such an invitation is inconsistent with those
principles and commitments.

Now we look for the item where subsequent to the supposed "previous private e-mails" "Babs demanded to know why I hadn't yet been dumped."

Demanded to know? Hmmmm.

Here's a possible contender, taken from the same post -- Branden's Do I Not Comprehend the Written Word?:

I do not understand why discussion continues as to whether or not Lindsay Perigo is to
speak at the next Atlas Society Summer Seminar.

I read Ed Hudgin’s article, “The Atlas Society Policy and the Summer Seminar," and
then I read Lindsay Perigo’s response to it on his forum, and I thought the issue was
settled.

[ . . . ]

Ed wrote, "I await a constructive public response and commitment from Lindsay, which
will help us to determine whether his talk at the 20008 Summer Seminar will be
consistent with our mission and purposes."

Despite having earlier claimed that his talks would not contain personal references or
invective, Perigo now responded, "I will not tailor my comments or actions to a lynch
mob, and neither should you."

These comments by Perigo are clear: Ed's challenge, which constituted his attempt to
clear the way for Perigo to speak at the Seminar, was refused. If this did not settle
the issue, I fail to understand the reason.

Lindsay has read the posts by Barbara, even going so far as to repost one of them at SOLO. No matter how you slice it, his charge that Jonathan lies is not true. The evidence shows no such lying or pretending; what Lindsay says is there, isn't there.

To give him the benefit of the doubt, though -- Ed wrote his policy note, published widely, on Jan 17 2008. Lindsay wrote his response to Ed on January 18 2008. Barbara published her response on Jan 21 2008. Lindsay republished Barbara's note on that same day, January 21. Ed cross-posted a critical followup to SOLO and OL on January 23∀. Ed rescinded the TAS invitation on January 25.

We don't know if Lindsay had written privately to Ed in between Jan 18 and 25 . . . but Lindsay's parting shot of January 23 is likely to have been the post that forced Ed Hudgin's hand -- not Barbara with her several messages.

This post shows the kind of loopy hyperbole that makes Lindsay a must-have speaker the world over:

I just held my nose and went to Lying to see what kind of reception Ed's (and
Bidinotto's) admonitions had received. Depressingly predictable. The outpouring
of implacable hatred continues, with Linz as the Anti-Christ and TAS as his
enabler. An exercise "without prejudice" is touted as "kiss and make up" with
Linz the Evil One, an act of cosmic prostitution. The Church of the Holy
Brandens is aggrieved. The Goddess Babs has been insulted and blasphemed
against. Nothing less than a slow stake-burning will do, and even that's too
good for The Evil One.



WSS

_______________

∀ Hudgins singled out at OL members who were -- at least in his mind -- playing an unseemly game with the TAS invitation. See here (SOLO) & here (OL) for full posts at both sites. Lay your own reading alongside the loopiness of Lindsay's final kooky exaggeration.

The most sad/hilarious thing is that Lindsay fanned the fires all the way along, too stupid to see where this would lead him -- if he actually wanted to speak at TAS 2008, he did everything he could do to raise opposition. The irony is palpable: characterizing others as hysterical nutjobs while indulging himself in the very same thing he decries.

The best response to the Hudgins spanking came from the filthy Jonathan Smith:

QUOTE(Ed Hudgins @ Jan 23 2008, 10:37 PM)


I made this post because I'm struggling to discover if there are ways to
help reduce the nasty face Objectivism will present to people who look at
much of the fighting on discussion boards. The answer might be "No."

Okay, so your organization invites to its annual seminar the person who is
most responsible for the current nasty face of online Objectivism, and when
good, polite, reasonable people, who don't want him to represent the face of
Objectivism, get upset and protest that you're likely reviving him after he
has all but destroyed himself and disappeared down his own nasty, shrinking
rat hole, you wonder what you can do to help reduce the nasty face of
Objectivism?

I don't know. My solution would be to avoid empowering or legitimizing the
person who is the opposite of what you want the face of Objectivism to be,
but you apparently think that's totally irrational nonsense, and not an
option. So I don't know what to tell you. Maybe you could find someone even
worse to shine the spotlight on at your seminar? Maybe there's, say, a
remorseless Objectivist murderer doing time in prison somewhere who you
could try to draw attention to as the face of Objectivism, extend the olive
branch and try to change him into a nice person?

+++++++++++++++++

** for those who wonder just how much mobbing the supposed lynchers got up to, I compiled a grid of posts and posters from the threads which Lindsay read and claimed not to have read. This was in response to a Bidinotto fingerwagging:

Pigero Cherishing His Victimhood

Jonathan's picture

Pigero wrote,
"... pretending it doesn't recall Babs's smear-job in which she referred to her previous private e-mails in similar vein to Hudgins. Moreover, not long after said post, Babs demanded to know why I hadn't yet been dumped."

So, apparently I was right: Barbara mentioned that she had privately expressed her views to someone, and Pigero, being the buffoonish eternal victim that he is, took that as proof that she "waged" a "campaign" of "lies" and "led" a "lynch-mob."

J. Smith 1, LDS, Continues to Lie ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... pretending it doesn't recall Babs's smear-job in which she referred to her previous private e-mails in similar vein to Hudgins. Moreover, not long after said post, Babs demanded to know why I hadn't yet been dumped.

If Smith LDS thinks I'm going to waste time looking up a link for filth like it, it's mistaken. Its fellow-Brandroid Scherk will no doubt oblige.

Re the substantive issue on this thread, I'd urge everyone to check out the latest post by my foil in the MoG essay, Richard Goode, PhD (Doctor of Philth). As I say in response, I rest my case re headbanging caterwauling. Of filth, by filth, for filth.

Pigero the Poor Little Victim

Jonathan's picture

Pigero wrote,
"Babs waged a behind-the-scenes campaign to have Ed Hudgins dump me, as she admitted when she went public with her new/old smears on O-Lying, which the mobsters lapped up."

Really? I don't remember hearing that. If Barbara publicly admitted to waging a behind-the-scenes campaign, then I'd imagine that it would be pretty easy for you to provide a link to her comments, no? Let me guess -- Barbara mentioned that she had privately expressed her views to someone, and you took that as proof that she "waged" a "campaign" of "lies" and "led" a "lynch-mob"?

Pigero: "None of the O-Lying mobsters apart from Babs has ever met me, let alone 'witnessed rage-filled buffoonery' by me."

It's not at all surprising that you think that people can't conclude that you're a rage-filled buffoon based on reading your online temper tantrums and observing your inability to address substance, but that they must meet you in person in order to know who and what you are, yet, on the other hand, you think that you can conclude that others, without ever having met them, are "scum," "filth," "pomos," etc., based merely on the fact that they create or like music that you dislike.

Pigero: "Of course, it's part of Babs's dogma that any anger apart from hers is 'rage-filled buffoonery.'"

Wow, you really are obsessed with Barbara and the myth of your victimhood at her hands!

People have been commenting on your rage-filled buffoonery since back in the days before you and Barbara became pals. There was even a point in time when Barbara stood up for you against them, and now you're trying to pretend that the consensus view that you're a rage-filled buffoon is the result of Barbara's influence? Hilarious.

J. Smith 1, LDS, Is a Liar

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Babs waged a behind-the-scenes campaign to have Ed Hudgins dump me, as she admitted when she went public with her new/old smears on O-Lying, which the mobsters lapped up. Until that time the skanky Robert Campbell had been doing her dirty work in public. None of the O-Lying mobsters apart from Babs has ever met me, let alone "witnessed rage-filled buffoonery" by me. Of course, it's part of Babs's dogma that any anger apart from hers is "rage-filled buffoonery."

Amazing the depths to which filth like J. Smith 1, LDS, will stoop, and what lack of breeding it will display, when its headbanging comes under attack.

As for "smearing" J. Smith 1, LDS, I leave the smearing to his lot. Unlike him I don't hang on my every word, going back years, but I don't recall ever mentioning him, except perhaps in response to some pomo-nonsense of his. No doubt he'll produce something from his extensive collection of Linzisms, but J. Smith 1, LDS, just doesn't feature on my radar except as the occasional speck of fly-poop.

The Readily Observable Fact of Pigero's Buffoonery

Jonathan's picture

Jeff asked,
"But how does this: 'no one would have thought that Pigero is a ridiculous, rage-filled buffoon just by reading his temper tantrums on their own' serve the purpose of establishing the facts surrounding his TAS speaking invitation (or furthering justice)?"

The comment served the purpose of establishing the fact that Barbara did not lead a "lynch-mob," as Pigero claimed, but that people spontaneously and voluntarily voiced their own opinions about Pigero based on having witnessed quite a lot of his rage-filled buffoonery for themselves.

"More, it's not like we haven't heard you express this evaluation a dozen times or more. This isn't about you striving to set the record straight. This (the quoted statement) is about you expressing your contempt for Lindsey Perigo. Is that an appropriate activity on a forum provided by that person? Repeatedly?"

I think my comments are completely acceptable. With all of the repeated smears that Pigero has engaged in over the years, of me and of others, I don't think that it's at all inappropriate for me to answer him here with a comparatively tiny amount of ridicule and repetition.

J

Primaries

Jonathan's picture

Ellen wrote,
"I am not talking about primary to me; I am talking about primary to the historic development of the 'idiosyncratic formal potentials' of the Romantic era."

In your more recent posts, I took you to be talking about music in general, and not just music from the Romantic era, since you were talking about what you thought were Rand's "mistakes" about "how music works" and her "views on how music gets processed" -- and Rand's views were not limited to how music from the Romantic era worked, but were an attempt to identify a common primary element in all music.

In addition to that, I was assuming that you and I were on the same page regarding the fact that music from the Romantic era is not necessarily "romantic" by Rand's definition, and that the discovery of objective criteria for judging music, if such a discovery were ever to occur, would not confirm all of Rand's tastes, but would reveal that some composers from the Romantic era were not composing their music with Randian "romantic" (pro-volition-expressing) meanings, but that some of them -- perhaps many of them -- were composing music with "naturalist" (pro-determinism-expressing) meanings, and some would not have had the intention of expressing anything anywhere near as specific as Rand's notion of a "theme" or "meaning."

E: "I now gather that you didn't after all comprehend the long one I wrote with some painstaking care attempting to explain to you, although I thought from your reply that you'd understood it.

I did understand your post. As I said above, I just didn't think that in your more recent posts you were still limiting your comments to music from the Romantic era, but that you had switched to talking about "how music works" in general -- something more like a universal view of how all music as an artform "gets processed," much like what Rand was after.

Now, perhaps you and I are saying something similar to one another -- that Rand's view of the importance of melody doesn't fit well with all musical forms and styles. Melodic primacy is too confining for the "idiosyncratic formal potentials" of Romanticism's tonal dramas, as well as for music that is rhythm-primary. If so, the only disagreement that I have with what I take to be your position is that I don't think that Rand's mistake was in identifying the wrong "primary," but in assuming that one "primary" was superior to the others and should apply to all forms of music.

J

Ellen

Lindsay Perigo's picture

In my view the primacy of melody is a side-bar to the issue of whether Romantic music is the apogee of all music. I didn't exactly exclude the matter of "harmonic progressions" from my essay, but the fact is whistling a tune or singing solo and unaccompanied is still music. And the fact is it's the "soaring melodic lines" that set RM apart. If they were in fact dependent on the harmonic progressions of which they're part that still would in no way compromise RM's status or my arguments for that status. If anything, it would strengthen the "culmination" argument.

As for J. Smith, LDS, I could have told you about his bad faith long ago.

Linz and Sherk

Michael Moeller's picture

Linz,
I think I got my first taste of MDS Smiling

Sherk,
Believe it or not, I sometimes find you amusing, even when directed at me. I dig "Maestro Moeller". I also miss the Mexican wrestling.

However, as usual, you rarely provide anything substantive, except maybe in the case against Scientologists, which is like shooting fish in a barrell. I hesitate to even respond to you, but let me take a couple of points.

First, your syllogism that concluded with Ellen = Bad because of the Pritchard reference is just plain silly. You can see what I meant by the parallel in my response to Ellen, which you did not comprehend. The link to Pritchard was that I find such an approach similar to a "materialist" in free-will, although perhaps a better term is "mechanical" in its approach. Sorry, but that does not equate to "bad", and I even said what such is asking for is important in certain contexts but not relevant for evidence of Linz's thesis. Ergo, its not "nasty" or "unworthy" or "bad".

"A final rich irony is that Pritchard is a fictional character. There is no J Evans Pritchard in the real world."

Uh, Sherk, a fictional character is an abstraction, the better the character the more essentialized the abstraction. That's why people refer to others as a "Babbitt" or a "Roark" or a "Keating" (or in your case, a "Gump") because it essentializes a person or an aspect of the person. The use of fictional characters as a shorthand essentialization has apparently has escaped your attention. Oh well.

Michael

Michael M.

Ellen Stuttle's picture

MM:

"I think you misunderstood the parallel I was drawing. I am saying your call for musical nitty-grittys and the relationship to personal responses is analogous to a materialist who asks how certain brain processes control free-will."

I wasn't talking about the relationship to personal responses. I was talking about the musical characteristic which is the base -- metaphorically "the motor" -- of making that sort of music what it is. Linz said in the essay words like "It's the toon, stupid." Rand also claimed the melody as defining. I'm quarreling with what's being taken as "the essential characteristic," if you will. Eye

Over and out... Gotta get back to work.

Ellen

Ellen

Michael Moeller's picture

"I'm not talking about the neurophysiology. Thinking that one had to know that is a place where Rand made a mistake (resultant from a couple earlier mistakes in her beliefs about how music works).

Yes, I know you are not talking about neurophysiology and I agree on that point about Rand. I think you misunderstood the parallel I was drawing. I am saying your call for musical nitty-grittys and the relationship to personal responses is analogous to a materialist who asks how certain brain processes control free-will. Now, this isn't a perfect analogy as they deal with different cognitive processes, nonetheless I think it is useful.

In other words, you don't look at neurons firing to examine evidence of free-will, although an examination of the brain is important for physiology and doctors. You look to the outward manifestations in statements and actions. Likewise, while the musical nitty-grittys are particularly important for a musician what to achieve a certain result, for evidence you look to the outward manifestations of the psychology response to the music, which is again exemplified in statements and actions. For evidence/proof, I think Linz is taking this "higher level" approach to proving his thesis, but he can correct me if I am wrong.

Michael

Linz, see this post:

Ellen Stuttle's picture

http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

on the "Catholicism" thread, title of post "Unequaled Peak." In that and some earlier posts on the same thread, I discussed the issue of tonal drama, the development of which was essential to the Romantic Era flowering. There's also a link in an earlier post to J on the thread to a web music encyclopedia sort of article which talks about the sonata principle. I spoke of this to you also in an early post about the harmonic progressions being the musical underpining making the soaring melodic lines possible.

I don't have time for a detailed analysis of your piece, and don't expect I will have time for some months, if then. Interested though I am by music, the subject is in far, far second place in time priorities for me, what with my attention being dominated by, well, the fight to save science from what's happening to it over the global warming issue. That's of such overwhelming urgency to me, all else pales.

Sorry to provide nothing more than brief hints. I understand that that's irritating. Actually, I think I'd best stay away from posting on the music threads entirely, and try to stop reading them. I've become so irritated by Jonathan's game playing -- I'm feeling sure at this stage he is engaged in considerable game playing -- I just end up wasting time being pissed.

Ellen

Friggin' H, Jonathan

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Jonathan:

"I think it would be more accurate to say that melody is not the primary ~to you~. It can be the primary to others. And to additional others, rhythm can be primary. Your lack of primary response to melody or rhythm doesn't mean that melody and rhythm are less meaningful, dramatic and expressive, or lacking in "idiosyncratic formal potentials," as you put it earlier."

I am not talking about primary to me; I am talking about primary to the historic development of the "idiosyncratic formal potentials" of the Romantic era. Exactly the issue I described in the posts to which you refer. I now gather that you didn't after all comprehend the long one I wrote with some painstaking care attempting to explain to you, although I thought from your reply that you'd understood it.

Around the edges of doing my taxes, I've been drafting a reply to the mincemeat you made of my emotional reality in your penultimate to me on this thread. My attitude in drafting the reply has been some last dim hope that you might attempt to conduct an honorable discussion. But now I wonder if it's pointless to hope, considering the way you twist just everything out of whack.

Ellen

Such as...

Jeff Perren's picture

"there are certain inferences about the world and the nature of man that one will arrive at if the arguments are taken to their logical conclusion"

Please explicate a few.

A thing, is itself ....

Howard's picture

Mr. Perren, perhaps we finally get to disagree. Evil

Here is the question you posed, “This (the quoted statement) is about you expressing your contempt for Lindsey Perigo. Is that an appropriate activity on a forum provided by that person? Repeatedly?” . I'm going to assume that you believe the answer should be, no, it’s not appropriate.

Mr. Perren, from Lindsay's original essay, and J's critique of it, there are certain inferences about the world and the nature of man that one will arrive at if the arguments are taken to their logical conclusion. So I think you may have overlooked the corollary implications that lie within the topic being discussed - and underestimated the stakes involved in being correct, or incorrect.
.
Given this, how could J's "contempt" be anything OTHER than appropriate?

However, that’s’ assuming that what you’re hearing in J's posts, is in fact, contempt, I wouldn’t call it that myself.

Howard

Corrections

Jeff Perren's picture

At the risk of continuing a topic that is not only beside the point on this thread, but not particularly important period...

"Is truth important to you, Jeff? Should falsehoods that are stated on others' property not be corrected by guests because the property owner and his pals find the truth to be upsetting? When someone corrects a falsehood, it's very odd to me that the response is, in effect, 'Why are you picking on the person who uttered the falsehood? Why are you being so mean to him on his property? He's allowing you to be here, so you should show some respect and gratitude by remaining silent when he says things that are untrue!'"

Truth is important to me, as is justice. But I'm beginning to wonder if either are to you. No one suggested you should say nothing at all; that's a false alternative. But how does this:

"no one would have thought that Pigero is a ridiculous, rage-filled buffoon just by reading his temper tantrums on their own"

serve the purpose of establishing the facts surrounding his TAS speaking invitation (or furthering justice)? More, it's not like we haven't heard you express this evaluation a dozen times or more. This isn't about you striving to set the record straight. This (the quoted statement) is about you expressing your contempt for Lindsey Perigo. Is that an appropriate activity on a forum provided by that person? Repeatedly?

"How Music Works"

Jonathan's picture

Ellen wrote,
"Thinking that one had to know that is a place where Rand made a mistake (resultant from a couple earlier mistakes in her beliefs about how music works).
"What I mean is that Linz doesn't get at the fundamental musical issue, that of tonal drama. He focuses on melody, which is a result (the kind of melody he's talking about), not the primary."

I think it would be more accurate to say that melody is not the primary ~to you~. It can be the primary to others. And to additional others, rhythm can be primary. Your lack of primary response to melody or rhythm doesn't mean that melody and rhythm are less meaningful, dramatic and expressive, or lacking in "idiosyncratic formal potentials," as you put it earlier.

J

Truth vs Property Ownership

Jonathan's picture

Jeff wrote,
"And, (contra the facts) assuming (as you seem to) that there is nothing more to him than his outbursts and intemperate language, you feel the need to point this out repeatedly, on a forum which he provides, why exactly?"

In the post of mine to which you're responding, the point was not to point out Pigero's outbursts and intemperate language, but to correct a falsehood. I don't know if Pigero was lying, or if he has reached a point of believing his own mythologizing about his victimhood and martyrdom, or if he has been misled by others' false reports on how events unfolded (since he claims that he doesn't visit OL but relies on others' tattlings) and was too careless and lazy to investigate matters for himself before throwing around accusations, but his statement that Barbara "led" a "lynch-mob" is not true.

Is truth important to you, Jeff? Should falsehoods that are stated on others' property not be corrected by guests because the property owner and his pals find the truth to be upsetting? When someone corrects a falsehood, it's very odd to me that the response is, in effect, "Why are you picking on the person who uttered the falsehood? Why are you being so mean to him on his property? He's allowing you to be here, so you should show some respect and gratitude by remaining silent when he says things that are untrue!"

J

Oh dear!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

For the record, in case anyone is misled by Scherk's latest ejaculations, at no point do I offer a Pritchardian graph or advocate Pritchardian graph-plotting as a means of evaluating music. I have provided a number of considerations by which one can with impunity say that Romantic music was the apogee of all musical development to date, including that which it appeals to in the human soul and enables it to express. Folk should stick with Perigo's text, not Scherk's warping of it, and thus apprehend that Scherk's entire diatribe against Mr. Moeller is a straw man, whose setting-up I suspect is motivated by outrage at Mr. Moeller's attack on filth.

It really is very ill-advised of Scherk to write about things of which he has no knowledge, though that of course never deters him. As for Ellen's reasons for thinking I've "flubbed" my own assignment, I still do not know what they are. If Ellen spent the time she spends saying she hasn't time to address the issue actually addressing the issue, we might get somewhere. Unlike Scherk, Ellen is musically literate and not a pomowanker with an animus against anything exalted, and I would take any arguments she presented seriously.

Fingering the Certainty Principle

William Scott Scherk's picture

A certain new SOLOist has let us know he has found evidence of 'a type' here. Rather, he has found that there is 'a certain tone' to the 'certain type.' Or, in much clearer terms, that 'a certain tone' by 'a certain type' in 'some of the more recent posts' -- 'one in particular' -- is somehow evidence of a 'certain unstated, but underlying personal psychodrama . . . '

Okay, that's not so clear either.

Um, a certain new poster has sort of almost in a way made a direct criticism of something or other somebody said somewhere.

Yeah, that's it.

Howard Campbell, whenever you get around to deciding to put a name and a link and an argument together, the 'certain types' -- whoever the fuck they are -- would no doubt be happy to play Peekaboo with you too.

WSS

L Perigo Pritchard . . .

William Scott Scherk's picture

Michael Moeller raises the name and approach of J Evans Pritchard as he lazily misinterprets Ellen Stuttle's note. Yes, Moeller finds Ellen's remarks remind him of something nasty and unworthy -- and so he misremembers something else:

[W]here we plot importance on the x-axis and its perfection on the y-axis and calculate the area as a measure of greatness.

Who was J Evans Pritchard? Why had Lindsay Perigo raised his name and approach in the first paragraphs of the essay Music of the Gods (in which he took a swipe at erstwhile ally Chris Cathcart)?** What has Stuttle to answer for?♥

In the case of Lindsay's mention, who knows at first glance? In context, the Pritchard line was an unreferenced derogation, meaningless and off-topic. Literate readers might be aware of Pritchard's appearance in the movie Dead Poets Society -- in which the Robin Williams Professor John Keating character directs his class to destroy an offending page from Pritchard's "Understanding Poetry." Less culturally literate SOLOists might need introduction to the film -- it was a wonderful celebration of Romantic virtues: in some senses John Keating could be said to be an Ur-Romantic like Lindsay Perigo. It's clear why Lindsay uses the example of Pritchard to dismiss the opinions of Cathcart (without, however, mentioning him). Pritchard is bad. Keating is Good. Lindsay is right, Cathcart is wrong. Cathcart is Pritchard.

Easy work, then -- assign your discussion partner to the BAD, without in any way engaging with what he writes. This is argument by blurt.

In the case of Moeller's mention, it's somewhat more clear why the name comes up. Here is a well-thumbed and spat-upon excerpt from Pritchard's work:

To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme and figures of speech, then ask two questions: 1) How artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered and 2) How important is that objective? Question 1 rates the poem's perfection; question 2 rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining the poem's greatness becomes a relatively simple matter.

If the poem's score for perfection is plotted on the horizontal of a graph and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness.

A sonnet by Byron might score high on the vertical but only average on the horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically, yielding a massive total area, thereby revealing the poem to be truly great. As you proceed through the poetry in this book, practice this rating method. As your ability to evaluate poems in this matter grows, so will your enjoyment and understanding of poetry.

Oddly, Moeller's argument obscures two important points -- that which Lindsay claims, and that which Pritchard offers.

Lindsay claims to have offered objective criteria for Romantic music's superiority. Pritchard offers an objective criteria for rating poetry.

Look closer. On the x axis, here's Lindsay's offering: melody, harmony and rhythm. On the y, sense of life.

A piece by Schubert would score high both vertically and horizontally. A piece by Slayer would score low on both. As our ability to evaluate music in this matter grows, so will our enjoyment and understanding. Thus Spake Linzathustra. But -- who is attempting to quantify musical quality, who is impersonating Pritchard now? To paraphrase Linzathustra, 'determining Romantic music's greatness is a relatively simple matter.'

**********************

Of course, Lindsay's argument offers more nuance. He expands upon both x and y:

X, score for perfection: New instruments, bigger orchestras; new forms, and the expansion of old forms; virtuoso stars; the cult of the conductor; more inventive melodies; greater dynamic range; more rhythmic variety, syncopation, rubato, accelerando, ritardando.

Y, score for importance: Value-swoon: a form of a spiritual orgasm born of orgiastic love-making between the listener, the artist, the composer and life itself. Value-swoon consummated by tears -- tears of joy, poignance, worship, “unclouded exaltation” in the presence of gods and the godly, of beauty inexpressible in words. Nuance, nuance, nuance.ϑ

-- now, even if Lindsay does a Pritchard in combining the two scores, plotting the x and y -- has he delivered a foolproof, works every time schematic for Objective Judgement? Sure, about as well as has Pritchard . . .

There is something quite richly amusing about the posturing and slovenly reasoning of Moeller. Rather than actually engaging with Stuttle, he makes a fallacious comparison. Finding some unmentioned corollary between Ellen's argument and Pritchard's directives, he simply wipes them off the table of discussion, into the bin of BAD.

Pritchard ∴ BAD. Stuttle ≡ Pritchard. BAD ∝ Stuttle. What fucking illogical slop.

We can see from Ellen's notes here in this thread that she tends more to the side of Lindsay in appreciating Romantic music and of disdaining certain modern popular musical genres. She rates Romantic music much higher than its presumed competitors. She speaks a similar language -- and a useful and meaningful language -- of joy and exultation, of apogee and romance and striving -- of technical sophistication and mastery, of building and extension, of the ineffable. But does she offer a formula or a graph or pretend her opinion to be The End of Discussion?

No. She makes no such pretense.

So, sorry, Maestro Moeller, your argument by analogy gets a FAIL.

The further irony is that Moeller appears not to read the posts and arguments he snipes at, let alone understand their intent or purpose. When he archly snarks at Ellen Stuttle here -- asking Linz for "musical nitty-grittys" and nuts and bolts-type analysis -- he is evading the fact that this is the very thing that Lindsay told his audience he was providing -- per the Pritchard corollary -- attempting to quantify musical quality. Yes, dear yearning Objectivist children, Linzathustra was acting the part of Pritchard: Calculating the total area of the music to yield an objective measure of its superiority.

To underline: if Perigo and/or Pritchard claims a timeless OBJECTIVE set of criteria for analyzing and comparing, contrasting and judging . . . both fail.

A final rich irony is that Pritchard is a fictional character. There is no J Evans Pritchard in the real world.

WSS
__________________

** RACH: Revolt Against Caterwauling Headbanging -- where Cathcart lists 'personal favorites' -- a thoroughly un-Pritchardian gambit.

Stuttle to Linzathustra: "The crowning irony of the way things have developed is that I've come to think you're mostly right in your approach to how AR might have argued the case re music [ . . . ] Where you flub it is in your failing to provide the musical nitty-grittys".

Excerpt from the scene alluded to by both Linzathustra and Maestro Moeller:

INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - DAY

Keating sits at his desk at the front of the classroom and opens up one
of his books.

KEATING
Gentlemen, open your text to page
twenty-one of the introduction. Mr.
Perry, will you read the opening
paragraph of the preface, entitled
"Understanding Poetry"?

NEIL
Understanding Poetry, by Dr. J. Evans
Pritchard, Ph.D. To fully understand
poetry, we must first be fluent with
its meter, rhyme, and figures of speech.
Then ask two questions: One, how artfully
has the objective of the poem been
rendered, and two, how important is that
objective. Question one rates the poem's
perfection, question two rates its
importance. And once these questions have
been answered, determining a poem's
greatest becomes a relatively simple
matter.

Keating gets up from his desk and prepares to draw on the chalk board.

NEIL
If the poem's score for perfection is
plotted along the horizontal of a graph,
and its importance is plotted on the
vertical, then calculating the total
area of the poem yields the measure of
its greatness.

Keating draws a corresponding graph on the board and the students
dutifully copy it down.

NEIL
A sonnet by Byron may score high on the
vertical, but only average on the
horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on
the other hand, would score high both
horizontally and vertically, yielding a
massive total area, thereby revealing the
poem to be truly great. As you proceed
through the poetry in this book, practice
this rating method. As your ability to
evaluate poems in this matter grows, so
will - so will your enjoyment and
understanding of poetry.

Neil sets the book down and takes off his glasses. The student sitting
across from him is discretely trying to eat. Keating turns away from
the chalkboard with a smile.

KEATING
Excrement. That's what I think of Mr. J.
Evans Pritchard. We're not laying pipe,
we're talking about poetry.

Cameron looks down at the graph he copied into his notes and quickly
scribbles it out.

KEATING
I mean, how can you describe poetry like
American Bandstand? I like Byron, I give
him a 42, but I can't dance to it.

[direct link and context]

ϑ Lindsay quotes/cuts-and-pastes, but does not quite manage to cite (surprise, surprise!), Eastern Arizona College's orchestra director, Franklin Alvarez:

“Romantic-era composers kept the forms of Classical music. But the Romantic composer did not feel constrained by form. Breaking through boundaries was now an honorable goal shared by the scientist, the inventor, and the political liberator. Music was no longer universal; it was deeply personal and sometimes nationalistic. The personal sufferings and triumphs of the composer could be reflected in stormy music that might even place a higher value on emotion than on beauty. Music was not just happy or sad; it could be wildly joyous, terrified, despairing, or filled with deep longings.”

Careful readers will note that the purloined quote does not actually support the y axis on Linzathustra's graph: personal sufferings, stormy music with a high value of emotion/ wildly despairing music? Why, that is nihilist crap.

Here is an example of the nihilist crap that Linzathustra disdains, by the Mandragora Tango Orchestra. Poor Linzathustra may be boggled that a tango version of death-worship can sound so joyous and, um, romantic . . .

Interjection to MM

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I took a break from my (groan) lengthy tax itemization and read through the posts on this thread.

I'll have some words to say to Jonathan when I'm done with the taxes.

Meanwhile, a quick comment to Michael Moeller: You're misunderstanding what I mean by the musical nitty-grittys. I'm not talking about the neurophysiology. Thinking that one had to know that is a place where Rand made a mistake (resultant from a couple earlier mistakes in her beliefs about how music works).

What I mean is that Linz doesn't get at the fundamental musical issue, that of tonal drama. He focuses on melody, which is a result (the kind of melody he's talking about), not the primary.

Ellen

Well

Brant Gaede's picture

Everybody makes value judgments about musical likes and dislikes and I've never heard of anyone going on a killing spree after listening to classical music, but this is not the same as the objectification of esthetics, musical or otherwise.

--Brant

Michael ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Magnificent!

I expect the usual suspects will evince MDS (Moeller Derangement Syndrome) as well as LDS.

They'll do anything except answer you. But I guess you know that already. Eye

Ellen

Michael Moeller's picture

I find your asking Linz for "musical nitty-grittys" and nuts and bolts-type analysis to be flawed in its approach. It reminds me of the J. Evans Pritchard-type approach where we plot importance on the x-axis and its perfection on the y-axis and calculate the area as a measure of greatness.

The effect is a psychological/cognitive phenomenon and is not proved in the same way as a mathematical equation, which is what I interpret you to be asking for. I can see the same type of thread running through your approach to free-will, i.e. they are both very "materialist" in their approach (and, yes, I know you are not a materialist). It can be useful to understand how neurons firing and such gives rise to certain actions of the brain, but they are not equivalent to thinking or exercising the capacity to think. Likewise for the "musical nitty-grittys" giving rise to certain psychological responses.

However, that does not mean the effects are unobservable or unprovable. While true that you cannot look directly into somebody's mind and observe their psycholgical responses, you can take their statements about such responses at face value and observe the effects in their actions. The same is true for the verification of free-will. In other words, the effect are vicariously observable through statements and actions, as is the case with all psychological phenomena.

Ergo, when Cobain claims his music is intended for death-worship, let's believe him. Is it a coincidence that fans get drugged out for Pink Floyd or Hendrix or Grateful Dead music? Is it a coincidence that fans bash each other's brains in in mosh-pits at heavy metal concerts? Is it a coincidence that teenage murders like the Columbine killers gather "inspiration" from thrash metal? While perhaps not true in every case, I think there is plenty of evidence to make generalizations.

As to Linz's stating that "anybody who doesn't get it is a moron", even though intended humorously, I find it sad because its true. Listening to Callas sing O Mio Babbino Caro vs. Eminem spitting hatred at his latest object of derision, can somebody really claim its just a matter of "subjective tastes"? Beauty is superior to misanthropy, misogny, hate, anger, and rage.

Michael

Okay

Brant Gaede's picture

I've figured out who Howard is talking about. It's not Ellen. It's not even me, gee. I sorta wish it was so I could do the self-improvement thing. But I did learn something of some value.

--Brant

And then Mr Perigo sings out ...

Howard's picture

Mr Perigo sings: "I suspect the answer lies in the fact that Objectivism is a command to rise; these types want to lower themselves to the underground sewers and to stay there. Only it's not enough that they dwell there themselves; they have a compulsion to drag the risers down with them, since the spectacle of the latter is a reproach to them."

Evil

Lindsay, you're almost there ... but your high note, I think it's off ...

Smiling

Mr. Perren, thank you, for your comment and thoughtful reply.

Howard

Jeff

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I think your "Anti" is my "pomowanker." Howard wonders what the appeal of Objectivist sites is to Antis/pomowankers. I suspect the answer lies in the fact that Objectivism is a command to rise; these types want to lower themselves to the underground sewers and to stay there. Only it's not enough that they dwell there themselves; they have a compulsion to drag the risers down with them, since the spectacle of the latter is a reproach to them. Naturally they cannot say that openly, so they use mockery and sardonic snideness. Only when it comes to music do they cease to be "cool" and become hysterically and openly hate-driven. This thread and the Catholicism one have been hugely instructive in that regard.

The worst thing is the way some of the risers are intimidated into silence or wobbliness when confronted with the pomowankers' mockery.

Anti(s)

Jeff Perren's picture

Good observation, Howard. The type has been around a long time now.

You're describing a type of person I label: an Anti. The type is eloquently described in the Marlon Brando film The Wild One. When a woman character in a bar asks his motorcycle hood character: "What are you rebelling against?" He replies, "What have you got?"

Such a person takes second-handedness to its logical conclusion, since it's just as slavish to mindlessly rebel against the norm as to mindlessly conform. Quite from necessarily being a Peter Keating-style conformist, this is the Lone Wolf Rand described, who is simply opposed to anything most people are for, provided only that the group they rebel against believes that something is good.

They're a common sight on conservative blog comment sections where they invariably preach pragmatism and Progressive politics. They are, in fact, the major concrete cause of the decline of freedom in America since the 60s because they form the pack to which the Progressive politicians pander and provide the "shock troops" used by Obama-types (of whom there are thousands in Progressive organizations who are much less well known but equally destructive).

But the Anti-philosophy infects people who are themselves not fully consumed by the disease. Sometimes, paradoxically, it can even result in what otherwise might be decent behavior. Consider the well-to-do white chick of the 60s who rebelled against her straitlaced parents to "shack up" with a poor black guy, usually a Marxist campus agitator. Nothing inherently wrong with that. But in many cases it was done, as so much of the counterculture behavior was, solely to rebel against what was perceived as "good society." It is why, for example, you find many who regard anything Europe does or likes as good and anything America does or likes as bad, solely because they regard America as the society they seek to be outside. It is a form of what Rand labeled "hatred of the good for being good."

Examples could be multiplied indefinitely. All viros are Antis. All Progressives are Antis. Contemporary music, film, and fiction have been overrun by them. Like bacteria they spoil everything that provides sustenance and if American culture is to survive it's important that we devise a compound like those used in produce sections to protect 'the food supply' against them.

Brant

jeffrey smith's picture

If you meant no reference to her it merely illustrates the problem of making a post such as yours which leaves the reader wondering who the heck is he talking about? Moi?

It seemed fairly obvious to me that the only person he could be speaking of was Perigo, what with the fact that he seems to suffer from Smith Derangement Syndrome to a shocking degree, and other signs of mental fragility.

In all seriousness, Ellen Stuttle would be the last person I would have thought of in this connection. I thank Howard for his good opinion of me, but it would indeed help if he was a bit clearer. I have a suspicion as to whom he means, but I'd rather shut up about it.

It would probably do the lot of you Objectivists a world of good to remember the legend of Kamza and Bar Kamza: two gentlemen who hated each other for no real reason at all, and whose feud ended in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

[raising a virtual glass of Kentucky's finest in your direction]

Howard

Brant Gaede's picture

If you disagree with Ellen Stuttle please have the courage to directly address her. She is a perceptive, credible witness to Objectivist culture of the 60s and 70s, but not ever an acolyte of Ayn Rand and always quite upfront about it.

If you meant no reference to her it merely illustrates the problem of making a post such as yours which leaves the reader wondering who the heck is he talking about? Moi?

--Brant

Bill Maher is posting on the forums!

Howard's picture

One of the things I have encountered on objectivists web sites, and initially was somewhat surprised to find, was the many non-objectivists posting there. But since, I have come to understand why a person that is not an objectivist or admirer of Ayn Rand's novel's would post on objectivists related sites. I imagine that among the many possible reasons, they would include: a desire to learn, a delight in debate, a contrary world view being tested, a curiosity recently peaked from something read or seen on television, or just good ole fashioned forum trolling.

For example, on this thread, I think Jeffrey Smith qualifies as one of the people I’m talking about. And whatever your position on Jeff’s arguments on this thread, I believe he’s speaking from his heart, and arguing in good faith. Although I disagree with a great deal of Jeff's assertions, to me, Jeff appears to be an honest dissenter without a hidden agenda. So I’m glad Jeff’s here, and I’ve learned a thing or two from reading his posts, and perhaps he has from others here.

However, after reading some of the more recent posts on this thread, one of them in particular caught my attention quite starkly. And it reminded me of something else I have encountered within the so-called on-line "O" community. Its another type of person that appears to regularly post on objectivists forums. And this type writes posts that do not fall within the catagory of an honest difference of opinion, or for that matter, even forum trolling for laughs.

This is somewhat difficult for me to explain, but I’ll try. I have noticed a certain type, that while seemingly drawn to Objectivism very strongly, they also go out of their way to subtly mock its basic tenets while also subtly mocking its founder. And you'll notice that it's rarely an "in your face" clearly stated rejection, such as one would get from an honest dissenter that is being totally dismissive of something he believes absurd. Instead it takes the form of a smirking Bill Maher's style of debate; a combo of trendy bromides and humorous derision. And almost without fail, when the argument made is purely intellectual and the smirking avoided, the language used is the type one can quickly retreat from on the basis of being "misunderstood". I've noticed that some of these people claim to be objectivists, while others don’t, but one can sense they have a commonality of purpose. And from my read, that commonality of purpose is: to undermine.

And this "music" thread is in no way unique in this regard; I've consistently found the same result regardless of the topic.

Okay, maybe I’m being a bit too esoteric, but I just can’t find any better words for it. Maybe I can make better sense if I put this in the form of a question. Here goes: Have you ever come across a person that regularly participates in an activity within a club or group, but then spends all their time trying to tear down the standards and undermine the commitment of the other people that love that activity and are trying to build up the club? I for one have seen this in many real life instances.

I don’t know, but there is a certain tone to a couple of the posters on this thread, a tone that can't hide a certain unstated, but underlying, personal psycho-drama that’s being played out. And it sure as heck has nothing to do with an honest difference of opinion.

Howard

Olivia

jeffrey smith's picture

Because you haven't achieved it you assume no one else has

Did I say that? I did not. In fact, I more or less implied that others have. I try not to put words in your mouth; please don't put words in my mouth.

The goal is integration, where focus is given to fully understanding, rather than controlling or balancing.

Integration/complete understanding can not be achieved without controlling.

The man who feels his emotions richly knowing they are consequences of his judgment - which he deems to be correct and strongly connected to reality.

Again, that can not be done without controlling the emotions. In fact, if an emotion is a consequence of one's judgment, then it can not be anything other than under one's control.

I don't recognize physical lust as a "negative" emotion. It feels excellent to me.

Then you allow yourself to make other people into the means for your ends. Because that is what lust is.

Lust connected to love is a positive emotion, because the other person is not the means to your ends. Lust unconnected to love (or at least, respect) is negative, because it makes the other person into a means.

Let me remind you of something I said a while back back: I consider sentimentality a bad thing. And sentimentality is emotion that is false, artificially induced, or manipulated. But I don't have a problem with honest emotion.

Linz.

Olivia's picture

I was extremely disappointed you didn't comment on the Swan Lake finale I posted yesterday.

I'll get to it tomorrow when my broadband hopefully isn't insufferably slow. Promise.

Your girlfriend status is in grave danger.

Now that's just stupid and wrong. Evil

I guess we now know why he's drawn to castrati and what one might call Platonic music generally.

Nailed!
Smiling

Frankly, Lady S ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I don't recognize physical lust as a "negative" emotion. It feels excellent to me.

I was surprised to learn, or at least to be given reason to infer, that J. Smith experienced physical lust at all, though of course not at all surprised that he viewed it as negative. I guess we now know why he's drawn to castrati and what one might call Platonic music generally, while his love of headbanging, as I've said all along, is the flip side of the anal-retentive coin. Evil

BTW, Lady S: I was extremely disappointed you didn't comment on the Swan Lake finale I posted yesterday. Your girlfriend status is in grave danger. Eye

This is your first mistake Mr. Smith...

Olivia's picture

Which I aim for. But I don't claim to have achieved it.

Because you haven't achieved it you assume no one else has.

This is your second mistake:

The goal is to know how to control and balance reason and passion.

The goal is integration, where focus is given to fully understanding, rather than controlling or balancing.

This is your third mistake, it's connected to your first.

And if you don't think my three categories--the would-be passionless, the ones who rule their passions, and the ones who are ruled by passion-- are exhaustive, then please identify the missing category or categories.

The man who feels his emotions richly knowing they are consequences of his judgment - which he deems to be correct and strongly connected to reality.

Everyone else recognizes that there are emotions that are negative (such as physical lust)...

I don't recognize physical lust as a "negative" emotion. It feels excellent to me.

Olivia/Perigo

jeffrey smith's picture

Anyway, passions are not our enemy. Since emotions are merely consequences to the thoughts we hold to be true, we should expect to meet those in life who have no dichotomy between reason and passion - it's called integrity, or internal congruence if you prefer, or better still, a soul that's well intact.

I don't think passions are our enemy. Didn't you notice what I said in my previous comment?
Almost everyone here seems to be among those who try to rule their passions--to rein them in when they become negative in their effects and use them purposefully when they are positive in their effects. Not everyone is successful all the time, but they attempt it, at least.

That's hardly a negative assessment of being passionate. It's simply an (implied) statement that the goal should be that the person should be in control of their passions, rather than have their passions control them. Sometimes passions can have negative consequences, sometimes positive ones. Even reason can have negative consequences (usually when it induces people to object to facts because they don't fit pet theories, or when it when induces people to attempt to become passionate). The goal is to know how to control and balance reason and passion.

it's called integrity, or internal congruence if you prefer, or better still, a soul that's well intact.
Which I aim for. But I don't claim to have achieved it.

J. Smith (odd that there are two entities here of that name with LDS: Linz Derangement Syndrome) is not an Objectivist, hasn't read The Romantic Manifesto and seemingly has no clue as to the Objectivist view on reason and emotion. He seems to hold the classic religious view that emotions are necessarily enemies to be subdued. Note his three options for humans, apparently exhaustive: " ... they attempt to be passionless; they can be ruled by their passions; they can try (with varying degrees of success) to rule their passions." Sounds awfully like St Paul's "The flesh lusteth against the spirit" to me. Folk like that should speak for themselves and leave it at that, not presuming to speak for all of humanity.

And how do you know I'm not an Objectivist, and haven't read the Romantic Manifesto? Because I said so myself. Unlike you I am quite willing to admit my own limitations, and to have others point out to me where they think I've gone off the tracks, and listen to their suggestions about improving the situation. I know when I don't know. That's why I come to places like this--because I learn more from people I disagree with than from anyone else. You show every sign of not knowing when you don't know.

For your information, the classic religious view is not that emotions are enemies to be subdued. Only Buddhism holds that. Everyone else recognizes that there are emotions that are negative (such as physical lust) but that most emotions, such as love and anger, are in themselves neutral, and judge them by the appropriateness of their object and their results.

Who is strong? He who is in control of his passions
Notice that Ben Zoma did not say "He who has eliminated his passions".

Your quote from St. Paul refers to something quite different entirely: the propensity of humans to err: to attach their emotions to inappropriate objects, to use their rational faculty for the purpose of rationalization instead of reasoning.

And if you don't think my three categories--the would-be passionless, the ones who rule their passions, and the ones who are ruled by passion-- are exhaustive, then please identify the missing category or categories.

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