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: )

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.

Irrational emotions and girlfriends.

Olivia's picture

Linz...

For a real example of irrational emotions trumping reason, see the aforementioned behaviour of the Lynch-Linz-Mob at the time of my TAS invitation.

Yes indeedy... and then when you don't want to conscientiously wade through every jot and tittle of the amassed poop, you get:

You need a girlfriend, Lindsay. Someone whom you trust to let you know when you come off stupid and wrong. You drive people off with your inability to make course corrections.

Scherky... he has one, self-appointed as she is, she is I. And I say that it was not Linz who came off as stupid and wrong in this escapade, it was the mouth-frothing, hand-wringing mob hell bent on not giving him a platform that may have actually resulted in their own edification, had they the courage, or at least a handle on their own emotions - oh wait, that takes courage.

You've misfired again babe... time to find that girlfriend, but as you can see, I'm taken.

Ha, Lady S!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

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.

For a real example of irrational emotions trumping reason, see the aforementioned LDS behaviour of the Lynch-Linz-Mob at the time of my TAS invitation. Eye

Jabber jabber jabber...

Olivia's picture

You, Perigo, you alone of everyone here are of the type who is ruled by his passions.

If this were true, I doubt you'd be extended the courtesy of being able to post here at all Jeffrey.

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.
But given your... insalubrious... preoccupation with vomit, dogs and Shostakovitch, I doubt such people would be to your taste.

Perigo

jeffrey smith's picture

For the record, I am proud of and stand by my "outbursts" and "intemperate language," whatever they are supposed to be.

Perigo, people can do one of three things: they attempt to be passionless; they can be ruled by their passions; they can try (with varying degrees of success) to rule their passions.

There's no one on this forum, as far as I can tell, who is passionless. (No, Miss Olivia, not even me.)

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.

You, Perigo, you alone of everyone here are of the type who is ruled by his passions. Most people would consider this a character flaw to be worked on. Apparently, you revel in it instead.

I agree

Brant Gaede's picture

with anyone who thinks too many people are making too much out of LP's ~wickedness~. It goes on and on, tiresomely. Like I'm too stupid to have gotten the point 3,647 posts on that ago. I don't like him. I take exceptions to some of the things he says and has done. I'm not here to roast him on a spit and not even because of him, primarily. I'm here because I find SOLOP a tolerable forum, unlike RofR which bores me to death. I have to acknowledge he's made something here bigger than he is. I'm willing to contribute to THAT! And I hope the would-be genocidalists don't start would-be genocidalizing again.

--Brant

Jeff

Lindsay Perigo's picture

For the record, I am proud of and stand by my "outbursts" and "intemperate language," whatever they are supposed to be. The world is perishing from an orgy of weasel words in which I for one refuse to participate. A is A and filth is filth. Headbanging caterwauling is filth. The fact that its apologists are also is demonstrated by the endorsement by them right here of a pack of lies told about me by a serial smearer, and the obsessive attacks on me on a forum I provide (a point that hasn't eluded you at least) by one of them seemingly intent on showing that his lack of breeding is on a par with his cowardice.

Obsession

Jeff Perren's picture

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

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?

Objections Similar to Ellen's

Jonathan's picture

Ellen wrote,
"My objection pertained to the implied agree-with-me-or-else threat, which awakened memories of the days when so many of the Objectivists I knew in New York City felt aesthetically intimidated. Granted, Linz didn't say "immoral." Nonetheless, I hated the idea of an organization founded by David Kelley (who was part of Larry's and my circle of friends in the '70s and who knew from having been there what the aesthetics atmosphere of fear was like) officially 'sanctioning' an echo of those days."

Then I think that I'm right in suspecting that many others probably object to Pigero's rants about music for similar reasons. A few have said so either publicly in these threads, or privately to me in correspondence. They don't like the idea of aesthetic intimidation and "psychologizing." They don't like Pigero's attitudes being associated with Objectivism. And clearly the TAS speech title that Pigero announced, and to which you objected, was quite mild in comparison to the frantic judgments contained in his Music of the Gods tirade and similar temper tantrums about others' tastes in music.

E: "Linz has said that the threat implication was a joke, and that persons attuned to British wit would have understood the facetious intent. Be this as it may, I didn't and don't find the proposed title amusing."

I think Pigero's entire approach to the philosophy of aesthetics is a joke, so perhaps I'm a unique American who is naturally attuned to his Limey humour.

E: "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..."

It would depend on which facet of Rand we're looking at. I think that in the cases where Rand approached the subjects of music and art rationally and impartially, her statements sounded nothing like Pigero's. Only when she was contradicting her own statements on inappropriate aesthetic and moral judgments and "psychologizing" did her approach sound like Pigero's.

E: "I'm merely assessing how I think that ~she~ could have argued the case for the moral superiority of "romanticism" in music -- similarly to her case for that of "romanticism" in literature -- had she known how to argue it."

I think that if Rand would have liked something -- anything, no matter how small -- about a rap or thrash metal band, she would have found a way to see them and their art as gloriously romantic be her definition, as some of their work is indeed romantic by her definition. I don't think it's a stretch to imagine a situation in which a bold, defiant group of musicians was being denounced by the press and the public at large (perhaps for corrupting the youth*), and Rand standing up for the musicians because they had the courage to defy, through their art as well as through their personal demeanor, the "mob" of disgustingly average nobodies whose averageness was a worse crime than those committed by romantically defiant people like murderer William Hickman.

J

* Does anyone here remember the controversy over the misheard lyric "I tell you to end your life," which was actually "I tell you to enjoy life"?

Mythology

Jonathan's picture

Pigero:
"A lynch-mob led by Barbara Branden, who told the most disgraceful lies about me, publicly and privately."

Yeah, Barbara "led" a "lynch-mob" by posting her opinions on the subject long after everyone else had, and no one would have thought that Pigero is a ridiculous, rage-filled buffoon just by reading his temper tantrums on their own. No, they needed to hear Barbara's "lies" about him in order to form their viciously false opinions of him.

J

Temporary or Inherent

Jonathan's picture

Jeff asked,
"Do you believe that the limitation in judging music objectively (due to a lack of conceptual vocabulary, objective criteria, or whatever) is temporary or that evaluating music is necessarily a subjective affair? If so, does this apply to other arts as well?"

Yes, I think that music is a subjective affair. Music's subjective nature is the reason that Pigero can't back up his assertions (about the objective superiority of his favorite music) with actual arguments, definitions and identifications of objective criteria. It's the reason that he wants to redefine "objective" to include his subjective feelings -- his feelings are his criteria of judgment.

And I don't think that Rand's position on the subject was the result of an unbiased philosophical inquiry into the nature of art and music, but was driven by her wanting music to qualify as art despite the fact that she recognized that it obviously didn't meet her requirement that all art must objectively communicate intelligible meanings. I think that she wanted all art to be A, and then tried to come up with a way of allowing a non-A to be A.

Her attempted solution was to classify music as currently a legitimate art form based on the mere assertion that at some point in the future it will actually qualify by her requirements. She didn't seem to realize that the same can be said of the art forms that she rejected -- one could just as well assert that someday universal conceptual vocabularies will be discovered for abstract visual art, postmodernist performance and installation art, etc., and therefore they are legitimate art forms today.

But, having said all of the above, I'm open to hearing the details of any proposed objective criteria for judging music as art. In fact, it would be a refreshing change to hear Objectivists actually defining their terms and identifying their criteria instead of avoiding doing so at all costs.

Regarding your question about the other arts, I think that we can bring a degree of objectivity to our evaluations, and often we can bring a fairly high degree, but our subjective tastes, preferences and responses can't be eliminated, and they usually seem to be the deciding factor in most people's appraisals of art, especially Objectivists's appraisals. Nothing demonstrates the subjectivity of aesthetic judgment better than when Objectivists give their "objective" evaluations of art, which, from what I've seen, are often bizarre, emotion-driven, irrational rants.

J

No more farfetched...

Ellen Stuttle's picture

than I expected, Linz.

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 -- if she had known enough about how music works (which she never learned, despite Allan Blumenthal's many attempts to teach her). Where you flub it is in your failing to provide the musical nitty-grittys. I've said before that I think you need to revise the essay, but you've said, no, you think it's fine as is.

Please keep in mind, everyone and anyone reading this post: I have some strong disagreements with AR's whole approach to art (though I'm in the same general ballpark of viewing the nature of art primarily as a cognitive issue), and strong disagreements with her views on how music gets processed. I haven't time to write about my differences with her. I'm merely assessing how I think that ~she~ could have argued the case for the moral superiority of "romanticism" in music -- similarly to her case for that of "romanticism" in literature -- had she known how to argue it.

Ellen

PS: With which, as I said on the global warming thread, I anticipate being too busy to post again till Thursday earliest.

"I skim. That's how I KNOW"

William Scott Scherk's picture

Lindsay, you are saying that your version of the Lynch Mob Myth is based on a skim . . . thus proving Ellen's point. You wave your hands about hysterical libel, while calling your critics lying scumbag evul appeasing whateverthefucks.

Do you not see the irony? Indulging in reckless mouthflapping while decrying unnamed others as hysterical? I guess you don't see it -- in the same way you did not understand that slagging people wildly is not how you get them onside with you.

You need a girlfriend, Lindsay. Someone whom you trust to let you know when you come off stupid and wrong. You drive people off with your inability to make course corrections.



WSS

Ellen

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You might be right that some of those objecting were primarily upset over your views on Valliant's book. You keep leaving out that diverse people objected for diverse reasons. The response wasn't by any means a case of everyone singing the same tune, let alone a tune called by Barbara. As indeed "anyone who chose to revisit" the relevant threads could find out. As I recall, you've several times said that you hardly read the proceedings yourself, so how you'd have any basis for claiming that you know what those proceedings were remains a mystery. (Since I have no wish to keep re-litigating issues pertaining to the TAS invite, I shall leave you with the last word, unless you say something so farfetched I feel I have to respond.)

I didn't read the threads at all. I skimmed them. I saw hysteria and libel from a bunch of loons with Linz Derangement Syndrome who behaved exactly as they accuse the ARI of behaving. That's my last word. I hope it's not too "farfetched" since I too have no wish to keep relitigating this stuff.

Lynching with the Mob

William Scott Scherk's picture

The Linz Must Be Destroyed threads at Objectivist Living referenced by, um, nobody . . . in which the supposed mob ginned up for a lynching were A) Your TAS dollars at work, B) The Atlas Society Policy and the Summer Seminar, and C) My response to Ed Hudgins' "The Atlas Society Policy and the Summer Seminar".

In A, seven people demanded that Lindsay be dragged behind a truck until his booze-raddled soul departed the flesh. In B, Ed Hudgins told Lindsay that unless he consented to castration, muzzling and pre-censorship, Hudgins himself would, suitably juiced up on cheap California jug wine, drive the truck. In C, a disheveled, drunken, vengeful Barbara Branden, pilled-up and smelling blood, pledged her 2007 Bronco 4X4 as the vehicle which would drag Lindsay along Route 66. In that latter thread, a sign-up sheet for henchmen was issued. It was eventually signed by 223 TAS members, and issued under the heading Lynch Mob Plan of Action.

But on April 1st, late in the afternoon, a relatively sober Robert Bidinotto issued a warning. Shortly thereafter, a disheveled, pilled-up Hudgins relented, issued a Spanking Order against Will Thomas, rescinded the invitation to Lindsay Perigo, and damned him to Objectivist Heck for all eternity.∲

Later that afternoon, The Plan was deleted, along with all the deranged bloodthirsty calls for Lindsay's death and dismemberment. Remaining in the threads above are edited, cleaned up postings. When Lindsay refers to lynch mob behaviour, he is referring to the earlier, unredacted threads. Gone are the drunken, belligerent Ellen Stuttle's shrieking demand that Linz be flayed, dunked in kerosene and set ablaze. Gone are Phil Coates' drunken, rambling screeds about rope burns and The Strap, gone too Jerry Biggers' suggestion that Lindsay be boiled alive, then tinned and sent to Bosnia as dog food. Gone. Gone are the gleeful rage and demented, repeated demands that Lindsay be destroyed utterly and forever.**

Here at SOLO, only one quiet, civil, introspective and gentle thread concerned itself with the atrocious, illegal hate crimes pledged by the signatories of The Plan. It was entitled, Why, Ed, Why? What have I ever done to you or your shitty, girly-man organisation, you lying, spineless fuckbag, penned by the anonymous Sober, Sad and Confused Lynchee . . .

In a coda to the entire messy, shameful affair, an OL Lynch Mobber suspiciously named "Jonathan Smith" posted the following screen cap from the official TAS 2008 Summer Seminar Schedule.



WSS

___________

∲ After a lengthy spell in the Objectivist Rehabilitation Center at Mount Ari, Orange County, Hudgins returned to posting here at SOLO late in 2008, commenting approvingly on Lindsay's support for the assassination of Barack Hussein Osama bin Chavez Hitler-Stalin and wishing him a happy Xmas.

** The only remaining psychotic screed from the drunken, pill-popping collectivist horde at Objectivist Evuuuul Living was a remnant reposted in the "Why Ed? Sob sob sob" thread, linked here.

Correction(s)

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz:

"The music talk wasn't the major focus of the outrage, but it's the one you just raised here and which I was addressing."

To keep the record straight here -- this is the kind of detail which can lead to further misstatements, as I well know from some 10+ years' experience in listland:

I was not the one who brought the subject of the music talk into the discussion. Jonathan was.

This is how things developed...

I had hazarded the answer (comment-68750), in regard to a post of yours directed to Sharon:

~~~

I think that what bothers people, Linz, is your classifying music they like as "shit," and them as "filth and dregs" for liking it.
I continue to ask: So what? Why care? If people think you're wrong, why give a damn for your opinion?
(E.g., I don't give a damn if you dislike a lot of Sibelius. It's your loss, poor thing.)

~~~

 

Now, I'll interject at this point that I was not thinking of Jonathan as being among those who are bothered by your opinions on music (or on anything else for that matter). He's numerous times expressed contempt for you and for your opinions. But who responded to my hazarded answer? Jonathan -- in a post in which he referenced the music course, to wit:

~~~

Why Care?

Submitted by Jonathan on Tue, 2009-03-31 15:30.

Ellen wrote,

"I think that what bothers people, Linz, is your classifying music they like as 'shit,' and them as 'filth and dregs' for liking it.

I continue to ask: So what? Why care? If people think you're wrong, why give a damn for your opinion?"

Perhaps they're upset for reasons similar to yours for having been upset about the fact that TAS invited Pigero to speak at their Summer Seminar. Why did you give a damn about his opinions back then?

[....]

~~~

 

I don't believe that Jonathan didn't realize that he was changing the nature of the issue. However, I answered him (comment-68776), and then answered him again (comment-69031) when he persisted, and then, realizing belatedly that neither he nor I had given the name of the talk, posted (comment-69177) stating the name lest newcomers might think I'd objected to the title "Music of the Gods." (I would not have objected to that title.)

--

 

Linz:

"The Objectivist talk wasn't the major focus either, or at least, not the major reason for the outrage. It was the fact that I had read Valliant's book and substantially endorsed it. "Lynch mob" is *not* a mythology, as anyone who chose to revisit the feeding frenzy on O-Lying could verify. A lynch-mob led by Barbara Branden, who told the most disgraceful lies about me, publicly and privately."

 

You might be right that some of those objecting were primarily upset over your views on Valliant's book. You keep leaving out that diverse people objected for diverse reasons. The response wasn't by any means a case of everyone singing the same tune, let alone a tune called by Barbara. As indeed "anyone who chose to revisit" the relevant threads could find out. As I recall, you've several times said that you hardly read the proceedings yourself, so how you'd have any basis for claiming that you know what those proceedings were remains a mystery.

(Since I have no wish to keep re-litigating issues pertaining to the TAS invite, I shall leave you with the last word, unless you say something so farfetched I feel I have to respond.)

Ellen

That's correct Ellen

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The music talk wasn't the major focus of the outrage, but it's the one you just raised here and which I was addressing. The Objectivist talk wasn't the major focus either, or at least, not the major reason for the outrage. It was the fact that I had read Valliant's book and substantially endorsed it. "Lynch mob" is *not* a mythology, as anyone who chose to revisit the feeding frenzy on O-Lying could verify. A lynch-mob led by Barbara Branden, who told the most disgraceful lies about me, publicly and privately.

Groan, indeed

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz:

"I understood that the 'moron' part was to be left off the initial blurbs, and thus was surprised to find the anals knew about it and had turned hysterical."

 

The "anals" found out about it because you announced it yourself.

The rest of your remarks are your usual amazingly selective narrative which leaves out 99% of what happened -- including that by far the major outcry wasn't against the music talk title (I might have been the only one who especially objected to that, since I might have been the only one on OL who was living in NYC in the '70s and witnessed what the aesthetics policing did to people). The major outcry was against the ~other~ talk you proposed and the very idea of you of all people discoursing on the subject of what's wrong with O'ist behavior.

I will give you this, Linz: I thought that the way the denouement was handled was piss-poor with the putting the blame for the cancellation on you instead of either (a) living with the decision once made; or (b) admitting that acceding to your speaking especially on "Objectivism's Worst Enemy: Objectivists" had been a mistake (and possibly offering you the option of substituting a different subject at least for that one).

I don't anticipate, I'll add, your ever telling an accurate account of what happened: you'll continue with your mythology about the "lynch mob," etc. But since some here weren't around then, and might mistakenly think that the music talk was the main focus of the outrage, I inform them that it was not.

Ellen

Perigo

jeffrey smith's picture

Evidently humor is out but lies and smears are in with that lot

The problem is that the title was not obviously a joke.

Face it, there are people who would use that title and mean it very seriously.
And anyone who reads what you write here would think you meant it seriously. Truth to tell, I'm surprised you're capable of self-parody. (That of course is probably a result of the fact that I don't know anything of you other than what you post here.)

However, as a person whose jokes are prone to misfire, I will give you my sympathy on this point.

Groan

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Linz has said that the threat implication was a joke, and that persons attuned to British wit would have understood the facetious intent. Be this as it may, I didn't and don't find the proposed title amusing.

Will Thomas got the joke, but we both agreed that it was a bit risky with anal Americans. I understood that the "moron" part was to be left off the initial blurbs, and thus was surprised to find the anals knew about it and had turned hysterical. They stopped at nothing in their efforts to have me banned. Evidently humor is out but lies and smears are in with that lot. To KASSless's everlasting disgrace, they (that lot) succeeded. Any remaining element of credibility that may have remained to TAS's claim to be the "open" wing of Objectivism died that day. It had already been severely dented by their refusal to read/discuss PARC.

Addendum: What's in a title?

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I want to clarify something from my most recent reply to Jonathan on this thread. Repeating the relevant section:

 

~~~

Ellen wrote,
"My objection was to the two slated talks being presented as ~invited~ talks. I'd have objected to anyone's giving an invited talk with the title of the music one."

And why did you object? What harm could come from Pigero's being invited to express his opinions at a TAS seminar? Why care?

Did you read too quickly to notice my saying I'd have objected to ~anyone's~ giving an invited talk with the title of the music one?

I explained why before (when the issue was being argued on OL): David and others of the higher-ups at IOS/TOC/TAS were there back in the bad old days of aesthetic response being used as a morals exam. They know what this kind of thing did to the atmosphere of the O'ist world (at least in NYC). I didn't approve of a talk with a title which awakened echoes of those days being a paid-for talk. (Repeating, I wouldn't, however, have objected if Linz or anyone else had given the talk as a contributed talk.)

~~~

 

It belatedly occurred to me that some of the new posters here, not having been around last summer, might think that the title to which I'm referring was "Music of the Gods." It wasn't; instead, Linz proposed as his subject:

"Why Romantic Music Is Objectively Superior (and anyone who doesn't get it is a moron)."

My objection pertained to the implied agree-with-me-or-else threat, which awakened memories of the days when so many of the Objectivists I knew in New York City felt aesthetically intimidated. Granted, Linz didn't say "immoral." Nonetheless, I hated the idea of an organization founded by David Kelley (who was part of Larry's and my circle of friends in the '70s and who knew from having been there what the aesthetics atmosphere of fear was like) officially "sanctioning" an echo of those days.

Linz has said that the threat implication was a joke, and that persons attuned to British wit would have understood the facetious intent. Be this as it may, I didn't and don't find the proposed title amusing.

Ellen

Temporary or Inherent

Jeff Perren's picture

My question was essentially: "Do you believe that the limitation in judging music objectively (due to a lack of conceptual vocabulary, objective criteria, or whatever) is temporary or that evaluating music is necessarily a subjective affair? If so, does this apply to other arts as well?

Emotions

Jonathan's picture

Jeff asked,
"You seem to be implying that the only means we have for judging the value of music is our emotional reactions (or those of others). Is that your view? If so, does it extend to other art?"

No, what I'm saying is that I agree with Rand that emotions are not a criterion of objective judgment.

Jeff wrote,
"You didn't address my question about the lack of knowledge being temporary or inherent."

The lack of knowledge of what?

More later (perhaps next week),
J

Purchases and Royalties

Jeff Perren's picture

By the way, if you purchase a used book from a vendor on Amazon (or Alibris, or any virtual 'used book store') I believe no royalties go to the author. That has always been the case with used books in brick-and-mortar used book stores.

P.S. Somewhat off topic (as is all this), providing this information does not imply that I accept your view of ARI, a worthwhile organization that is doing much good in promoting Rand's ideas in creative and effective ways.

Jeffrey

sharon's picture

For what it’s worth, I think the Fountainhead is a much better novel than Atlas Shrugged. There are those that consider The Fountainhead as an overture to Atlas Shrugged, but I think it is meant in the spirit that much more philosophical ground is covered in AS, which I would tend to agree.

I don’t regard the characterizations in The Fountainhead wooden at all (although Dominique, one of the principle characters, is a little troubling in terms of credible motivation). But as you become involved in the story, the other characters are a pure delight! I get a real charge out of the curmudgeon charm of Henry Cameron, the brown nose Peter Keating (God knows we have come across this type of person time and time again) and, of course, the protagonist, Howard Roark-- who is much more fleshed out than, say, John Galt. I regard the Fountainhead my all time favourite novel. (It must be…I read it seven times). Cool

Give it a shot. Don't leave this world having not read that novel. I believe you would be able to find it at a second hand book store, if you don’t wish to fund ARI.

Very hasty reply to J.

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Jonathan,

I'm not up to concentrating on analyses of word meanings at the moment. I'm too involved in wondering if Dick Lindzen is right in his claim that there's been an inadvertent test which falsifies positive feedback on climate sensitivity. (If so, man, does that shoot the skids out from under the alarmists.) So this is very hasty, and mostly to answer your first question. Maybe you and Jeff Perren will get somewhere with straightening out the verbal tangles over the multiple meanings of "objective" tripping each other up in this discussion.

 

Ellen wrote,
"My objection was to the two slated talks being presented as ~invited~ talks. I'd have objected to anyone's giving an invited talk with the title of the music one."

And why did you object? What harm could come from Pigero's being invited to express his opinions at a TAS seminar? Why care?

Did you read too quickly to notice my saying I'd have objected to ~anyone's~ giving an invited talk with the title of the music one?

I explained why before (when the issue was being argued on OL): David and others of the higher-ups at IOS/TOC/TAS were there back in the bad old days of aesthetic response being used as a morals exam. They know what this kind of thing did to the atmosphere of the O'ist world (at least in NYC). I didn't approve of a talk with a title which awakened echoes of those days being a paid-for talk. (Repeating, I wouldn't, however, have objected if Linz or anyone else had given the talk as a contributed talk.)

 

E:"Of course I don't think that his opinions of Sibelius are examples of objective aesthetic judgment...As to "subjective," this would depend on how you define "subjective" and "objective." If you mean "private," yes; if you're thinking in terms of the Objectivist trichotomy, emotions could be "objective" in the sense of being a veridical relation to reality. "Subjective" often connotes "just your opinion, with no proper basis," but an emotion can be a soundly based (in the logic sense of "sound") assessment."

Well, I was using Rand's notion of "objectivity," which, as I understand it, is the process of volitionally adhering to reality by following rules of logic and reason. She seems to have believed that emotions, being subconscious and automatic, were not directly volitional and were not an example of direct logic and reason. It's been my impression that she believed that, despite the fact that one can logically analyze and hope to correct one's past irrational emotions, there is no guarantee that one will succeed in making one's future emotions adhere to reality; therefore emotions remain subjective -- they remain dependent on the not-completely-controllable/programmable subconsciousness of their possessor -- which is why Rand thought that they were not a valid criterion of objective judgment.

But, since you seem to think otherwise, I'd be interested to know how you've arrived at the conclusion that Pigero's judgments of Sibelius are not objective. On what grounds have you concluded that the emotions he used in judging Sibelius did not have a veridical relation to reality? How would you go about demonstrating that his emotional response to Sibelius was not soundly based?

You're bringing in still a different meaning of "objective." You'd asked -- as I recall the question; sorry, I haven't time to track back to be sure I'm remembering right -- if emotions could be "objective." I think there is a sense in which they could be, using Rand's trichotomy of meanings (intrinsic, subjective, objective). I also think they could be used in a process of judgment which I'd say exhibited "objectivity" of judgment. Maybe you and Jeff Perren will get some of the multiple meanings of "objective" (and "objectivity") straightened out. That would be helpful.

What you'd asked specifically re Linz's judgment of Sibelius, however, was about "objective ~aesthetic~ judgment," adding emphasis. Aesthetic judgment requires some standards of aesthetics, which I don't see Linz as having enunciated.

Ellen

Here's something ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... truly extraordinary. I'd pit it against any drugged-out screaming sewer-souled chainsaw-and-jackhammer-wielding metal zombie any day. Be sure not to miss the footwork about 5' 45" in:

No, Miss Olivia

jeffrey smith's picture

Lack of enthusiasm is Jeffrey's speciality - he's had an emotional bypass.

I get enthusiastic and emotional about some things. Just different things that you, obviously.

Unless you too cried when the Red Sox won the World Series.

We the Living

jeffrey smith's picture

No, that's Anthem.

Thanks for the corrections. My brain was telling me that Anthem was the semi-autobiographical one.

the money from the novels doesn't go to ARI

Then I will invest some money in her books. The only Rand book I can find at our public library is Anthem, so that's no help to me.

We the Living

Jeff Perren's picture

No, that's Anthem. We the Living is her first novel, semi-autobiographical. And, the money from the novels doesn't go to ARI, but you could always check it out of the library or get one at a used book store if that's your concern. A chapter would do to answer any question/comparison about wooden characterization. No doubt there are many things higher on your reading list, of course.

Typical...

Olivia's picture

--was glad I read it, but not enthusiastic about it.

Lack of enthusiasm is Jeffrey's speciality - he's had an emotional bypass.

Reading List

jeffrey smith's picture

Have you read The Fountainhead or We the Living? Curious to know whether your reaction is (would be) the same.

Fountainhead, no. That is mostly due to two facts: I didn't know of its existence until after I read AS, which obviously colored my attitude to any other novels by Rand; and, everytime I go reach for a Rand volume at the bookstore, I find myself thinking, Do you really want your money to go to ARI? And deciding that, no I don't really want it to go to ARI.

If We the Living is the one I think it is (the dystopia in which the word "I" is never used), yes I have. I found it interesting for the philosophical points it raised--was glad I read it, but not enthusiastic about it.

Reading List

Jeff Perren's picture

Mr. Smith,

Have you read The Fountainhead or We the Living? Curious to know whether your reaction is (would be) the same.

As to horses and Cossacks, my point wasn't about horses and Cossacks. It was about when we can validly generalize. But never mind.

Mr. Perren

jeffrey smith's picture

I don't expect Rand to sound like Austen or get perturbed by Forster being much slower than her

It wasn't a matter of literary style (as I said, she certainly proved to be a great essayist) so much as the characterization. I think you'll agree with me that in a good novel, the character's actions should seem to be a natural outcome of the character, even if the author rigidly arranged his plot beforehand. With Rand, I had the feeling that the characters did things because the plot required them to, not because of something organic to their nature. So I finished the book, and paid no attention to Rand until some twenty five years later, when I got interested in Objectivism because of my libertarianism, and when I did pick up Rand again it was her non fiction that I read. Just as a matter of intellectual honesty, I probably should reread it after all this time.

To be fair to Rand, almost all the authors you named (except probably Meredith and Forster) produced novels in which extremely wooden characters sometimes bulk very large. Trollope, Dumas and Scott are full of them. Rand's characters, however, struck me as uniformly wooden. And some of the schlock from previous times is still read, of course, like Anne Radcliffe and Wilkie Collins.

In answer to the question you posted in your other comment, regarding which contemporary authors might be considered great by the generations after us--I'm pretty sure at least some of the names I mentioned would be on the list. Probably also Vonnegut. More than that I don't want to go, because I don't generally read novels--non fiction appeals to me much more--but I do like Wouk. However, I don't like him enough to say he'll count among the Great Ones. I also wouldn't be surprised if the Harry Potter novels were still read a century from now. If they could interest me enough to read them all, there must be something to them. (It didn't hurt that Rowling treats government, in the form of the Ministry of Magic, rather savagely, and imagines her world to be one where people actually have to pay for things with money, and therefore have to have jobs to earn it, or family fortunes to inherit.)

I know nothing about horses, so I'll keep away from that. My views of Russia, anyway, are colored by the fact it's the country my grandparents LEFT, even before Lenin came to power.

I hope you'll enjoy the Haddon. It slipped my mind last night that it's actually a British novel, but then, the English allegedly speak the same language we do Smiling And while you may find Christopher Boone to be unusual enough to be offputting, the novel actually falls very neatly into the category of Youth-Comes-Of-Age-By-Means-Of-A-Quest.

Interim response

Jeff Perren's picture

I didn't say anything about subscribing to the view that emotions are objective, in the sense you describe, nor does anything I've said entail that view. ( Though I disagree with Rand about them not being tools of cognition, a view which is - rare - sloppy wording at best.)

I'll respond in more detail later, but for now I just note with sadness your choice not to respond seriously. I was not trying to spin your statements. When I respond, I'll detail one problem with this discussion, which is a failure to distinguish various senses of the concept "subjective" and to mix them up.

[Added in edit] P.S. You seem to be implying that the only means we have for judging the value of music is our emotional reactions (or those of others). Is that your view? If so, does it extend to other art?

P.P.S. You didn't address my question about the lack of knowledge being temporary or inherent.

Rand's Notion of Objectivity

Jonathan's picture

Jeff wrote,
"A fair response. Do you think this is inherent in biology, or only a temporary situation until we learn more?
P.S. Observe that in your examples, it's an objective fact that you have a low tolerance for Robutussin and a high one for bee venom. The reactions may be individual ('personal'), but they're still objective. There either is harm (to some degree) or not."

If emotions can be objective, why do you think that Rand rejected them as a criterion of objective judgment? Do you think that emotions can actually conform to ~her~ concept of objectivity? In other words, do you believe that a subconscious, automatic response is also at the same time and in the same respect the process of consciously choosing to adhere to reality via logic and reason?

Jeff wrote,
"P.P. S. It's also true that some drugs, like heroin, have positive effects (if it didn't, fewer would take it), but that at a certain dosage it's toxic and habit-forming. It may be that rock music (some types, not all) is like this, and that would cover your case of the large population that finds it 'satisfying.'"

I suspected that my use of the word "satisfying" might be spun by someone. I suppose I should have said "satiating" or "fulfilling," or better yet, "nutritional."

Jeff wrote,
"We may be living in a time where a large percentage of the population are junkies."

No. As I mentioned, I've rationally determined that all of my emotions are objective, and that my emotional responses to music (and all art, for that matter) are objectively superior to those of everyone else who posts on SOLOP. Add to that the fact that I'm an experienced professional creator in a variety of artistic fields, where most of the rest of you are not. I've worked as a visual artist, illustrator, photographer and sculptor, and as a musician I've played countless paying gigs over a couple of decades performing blues, rock, country, classical and jazz, which means that my objective emotions regarding art aren't just those of a self-important consumer, but of a seasoned creator who hasn't limited himself to listening to one subjectively favored genre. My superior objective emotions tell me that the art and music that I objectively like -- including heavy metal -- is objectively superior to that which the rest of you subjectively like as mere opinionated consumers and amateur hobbyists.

J

Follow up question

Jeff Perren's picture

A fair response. Do you think this is inherent in biology, or only a temporary situation until we learn more?

P.S. Observe that in your examples, it's an objective fact that you have a low tolerance for Robutussin and a high one for bee venom. The reactions may be individual ("personal"), but they're still objective. There either is harm (to some degree) or not.

P.P. S. It's also true that some drugs, like heroin, have positive effects (if it didn't, fewer would take it), but that at a certain dosage it's toxic and habit-forming. It may be that rock music (some types, not all) is like this, and that would cover your case of the large population that finds it "satisfying." We may be living in a time where a large percentage of the population are junkies.

[Some clarifications made in edit.]

Extending the Biology Analogy

Jonathan's picture

For what it's worth, if we're going to make biological comparisons and define which works of music are "food" and which are "poison" based on how the population at large tolerates them, then rock music is a food which most people find to be very satisfying. There are relatively very few people who have "allergic" reactions to it like Pigero.

J

Poison

Jonathan's picture

"By your criteria, biology is already too complex for us to judge what is food and what is poison without actually feeding a given sample to a specific individual and observing the results, and perhaps not even then unless it blatantly sickens them. Yet, even matters of cuisine are more objective than your hypothesis permits."

Biology IS too complex for us to judge what is food and what is poison to all individuals. We indeed can't know which substances are poisonous to any individual without testing them. I have very negative reactions to Robitussin and omeprazole, for example. That doesn't mean that both substances are poisons to others. The same bee sting that would kill my aunt in minutes would be only a minor irritation to my skin.

Too Complex?

Jeff Perren's picture

"She, and you and anyone else, can't possibly know what other people would or should feel when experiencing something as complex as a work of art, or why anyone would feel what they feel. You'd have to ask them if you wanted to know what they felt and why they felt it. There are too many variables, contexts and possible interpretations to be able [to] declare which feelings a work of art would or should evoke in someone else." Jonathan

I don't agree with your conclusions, but I find your approach reasonable. This argument, though, is weak.

By your criteria, biology is already too complex for us to judge what is food and what is poison without actually feeding a given sample to a specific individual and observing the results, and perhaps not even then unless it blatantly sickens them. Yet, even matters of cuisine are more objective than your hypothesis permits.

My Objective Emotions Are More Objective Than Yours

Jonathan's picture

Pigero wrote to Sharon,
"Perhaps it's escaped your attention that this very thread is based upon a disagreement I have with Rand."

I don't know about Sharon, but I've been pointing out, as far back as Pigero's announcement of his TAS presentation on the objective superiority of his tastes, that he was disagreeing with Rand, and not just on aesthetic matters, but also on the meaning of objectivity versus subjectivity. Pigero seems to be trying to redefine the terms so that his highly emotional temper tantrums count as objective judgments.

Pigero quoted Rand:
"If he finds himself fearing, evading and negating the highest experience possible to man, a state of unclouded exaltation, he can know that he is in profound trouble and that his only alternatives are: either to check his value-premises from scratch, from the start, from the repressed, forgotten, betrayed figure of his particular Buck Rogers, and painfully to reconstruct his broken chain of normative abstractions—or to become completely the kind of monster he is in those moments when, with an obsequious giggle, he tells some fat Babbitt that exaltation is impractical."

Since emotions can be "personal" but objective according to SOLOP "Objectivists," I hereby declare that all of my emotions are objective. I've very carefully and rationally analyzed my philosophical premises, my sense of life, and all of my other emotions, and I've determined that they all adhere perfectly to reality. Therefore, my sense of life emotional responses to music are objective and completely rational.

When I objectively listen to the rock music that I objectively like, including certain songs by Slipknot and Slayer, I don't experience any feelings of fear or evasion or of "negating the highest experience possible to man," or any other negative or evil feelings that Pigero or Rand would subjectively imagine that I must feel. In fact, I feel the opposite. I objectively feel exaltation, although it's a different form -- an objectively superior form -- of exaltation compared to what Pigero says he feels when listening to music from the Romantic era. I don't experience the weeping and worshiping that he does, but something more like the feeling of victory, the feeling of ~being~ a god, as opposed to weeping "in the presence of gods." (I objectively dislike some of the lyrics in such rock music, in the same way that Pigero dislikes the lyrics in the religious music that he likes to weep about, but, remember, we're talking about objectively judging music, not lyrics.)

So, since I've rationally determined that my sense of life is joyous, romantically heroic, objective, completely rational and perfect, and since my objective sense of life emotions are a valid criterion of aesthetic judgment according to Pigero, then the music that I objectively like with my objective sense of life emotions is therefore objectively superior to all other music.

More Rand quoted by Pigero:
"Just as Romantic art is a man's first glimpse of a moral sense of life, so it is his last hold on it, his last lifeline. [Bold mine—Linz]
"Romantic art is the fuel and spark plug of a man's soul; its task is to set a soul on fire and never let it go out. The task of providing that fire with a motor and a direction belongs to philosophy."

Great! The Slipknot and Slayer music that I objectively like is romantic by Rand's definition, as determined by the fact that it objectively appeals to my objective sense of life emotions, which are joyous, romantically heroic, and completely rational, and which are therefore valid criteria of objective aesthetic judgment.

Anyone who hates the romanticism of Slipknot's and Slayer's music, while preferring the horrible sense of life of music from the Romantic Era (as Rand pointed out, the Romanticists were whim-worshipping mystics) has an inferior sense of life and hates existence.

J

Rand's Tastes vs Her Philosophy

Jonathan's picture

Marcus wrote,
"...when I listed the emotional/ spiritual (SOL) as a music criteria, I specifically named it as being the 'result'.
To quote myself,
'In terms of emotional/ spiritual (SOL), you are objectively looking at the 'result' on the audience (yourself included).'
That means I'm not psychologising what the artists SOL was, but what effect the work had on me (and the response of others)."

The emotional effects that a work of art had on you -- the feelings that you had -- are not valid criteria of aesthetic judgment according to the Objectivist Esthetics, as stated by both Rand and Peikoff.

Marcus asked,
"Are you saying that I cannot know my own mind?"

Is that what you think that Rand meant? When she said that your emotions are not a criterion of objective aesthetic judgment because they are not tools of cognition, do you think she meant that you can't know your own mind?

Marcus asked,
"Are you saying that Rand is not allowed to also proclaim that:
'But a painting of such a woman would be a corrupt, obscenely vicious attack on man, on beauty, on all values—and one would experience a feeling of immense disgust and indignation at the artist. (There are also those who would feel something like approval and who would belong to the same moral category as the artist.)'
- without contradicting herself?"

I'm saying a few things:

I'm saying that Rand's statement about which emotions people would or should feel when looking at a painting, based on her own feelings about the painting, is her own subjective opinion based on her own subjective interpretation and feelings. She, and you and anyone else, can't possibly know what other people would or should feel when experiencing something as complex as a work of art, or why anyone would feel what they feel. You'd have to ask them if you wanted to know what they felt and why they felt it. There are too many variables, contexts and possible interpretations to be able declare which feelings a work of art would or should evoke in someone else.

I'm also saying that, in the cases where Rand claimed to know the senses of life of fictional characters, while claiming that one can't know the senses of life of fictional characters, she contradicted herself.

I'm also saying that in the cases where Rand claimed to know the senses of life of real people based on extremely limited knowledge of them, such as their emotional responses to a work of art, she contradicted her statement that one can't know others' senses of life based on such limited information, and she contradicted her statements against "psychologizing."

And I'm also saying that many of Rand's opinions and judgments of art and of other people do not conform to the philosophical principles and methods of objective judgment that she laid out. The fact that she publicly declared that she didn't like certain things -- whether it was Maxfield Parrish's beautiful, joyous, romantic paintings (which she called "trash"), Beethoven's beautiful, joyous, romantic music (which she called "malevolent"), or homosexuality (which she called "immoral" and "disgusting"), or anything else -- doesn't mean that her declarations were objective, or that they were examples of her philosophy in action. (Nor does it mean that I think that she shouldn't have given her subjective opinions. I have no problem with Rand or anyone else saying what they feel.)

Were you under the impression, Marcus, that everything that Rand ever said was objective and rational and true? Did you think that she never gave a subjective opinion, that she never judged anything unfairly, that she never rushed to a conclusion based on insufficient information, or that she never contradicted herself?

It's interesting that when faced with conflicting statements from Rand, you and Pigero seem to choose to reject her explicit philosophical convictions and instead embrace her methods of expressing her personal tastes: She instructs her readers on how to make objective aesthetic judgments, and she warns them that emotions are not a criterion of judgment, and then, when she reveals what some of her subjective tastes and emotional responses were, you seem to want to think that her doing so is an example of her engaging in objective judgment. It seems that you want to believe that because she expressed her feelings, her and your feelings are valid objective criteria of judgment (despite what she said to the contrary), but somehow the feelings that others have -- those who have positive emotional responses to the music that you dislike -- are not valid criteria of objective judgment.

J

Rand's Notion of Objectivity

Jonathan's picture

Ellen wrote,
"My objection was to the two slated talks being presented as ~invited~ talks. I'd have objected to anyone's giving an invited talk with the title of the music one."

And why did you object? What harm could come from Pigero's being invited to express his opinions at a TAS seminar? Why care?

E:"Of course I don't think that his opinions of Sibelius are examples of objective aesthetic judgment...As to "subjective," this would depend on how you define "subjective" and "objective." If you mean "private," yes; if you're thinking in terms of the Objectivist trichotomy, emotions could be "objective" in the sense of being a veridical relation to reality. "Subjective" often connotes "just your opinion, with no proper basis," but an emotion can be a soundly based (in the logic sense of "sound") assessment."

Well, I was using Rand's notion of "objectivity," which, as I understand it, is the process of volitionally adhering to reality by following rules of logic and reason. She seems to have believed that emotions, being subconscious and automatic, were not directly volitional and were not an example of direct logic and reason. It's been my impression that she believed that, despite the fact that one can logically analyze and hope to correct one's past irrational emotions, there is no guarantee that one will succeed in making one's future emotions adhere to reality; therefore emotions remain subjective -- they remain dependent on the not-completely-controllable/programmable subconsciousness of their possessor -- which is why Rand thought that they were not a valid criterion of objective judgment.

But, since you seem to think otherwise, I'd be interested to know how you've arrived at the conclusion that Pigero's judgments of Sibelius are not objective. On what grounds have you concluded that the emotions he used in judging Sibelius did not have a veridical relation to reality? How would you go about demonstrating that his emotional response to Sibelius was not soundly based?

J

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