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The following is a list of poems featured/mentioned in Poems I Like - and Why (lecture by Leonard Peikoff) ___________________________ LP's definition of poetry: "Poetry is the form of literature whose medium is the sound of concepts" Poems need not have events and characters Most suited to the eloquent, powerful statement of a relatively simple thought, sentiment or inspirational idea, an expression of love, a short story, a joke. Best suited to shorter works A cross between literature and music Like music scores, poems MUST be read out loud A poem must not sound like a poem - and yet it rhymes (must sound natural) Poems combine the sensory (auditory) field with the intellectual one; brain + ears, mind + body Two essential elements rhytm rhyme - "a repeated pattern of recognizable sounds at the end of the lines". Rhyming creates auditory expectations. The meaning can be a total twist - you hit the expected sound but it has a completely different meaning than what you anticipated ___________________________ METAPHYSICAL POEMS Richard Cory (Edward Robinson) - a malevolent universe poem with a punch Invictus (William Henley) - Byronic view of existence Say not the Struggle nought Availeth (Arthur Hugh Clough) - it looks bad, but stand back, we're winning The Gods of the Copybook Headings (Kipling) - the issue underneath the benevolent/malevolent universe premise: I wish vs it is. LP's top favorite. POEMS ON EPISTEMOLOGY Flower in the Crannied Wall (Lord Tennyson) - integration; the true is the Whole (Tennyson is LP's favorite poet) The Daffodils; The Tables Turned (William Wordsworth) - an opponent of reason and integration The Thinker (Berton Braley) - the theme of Atlas Shrugged POEMS ON MORALITY Two favorites of Ayn Rand, found in her papers: 1. Mourn Not The Dead (Ralph Chaplin) - on moral judgement 2. Short poem by 'A Nony Mous' (1960 July-August issue of Success Magazine) Why should you begrudge another The fortunes he does reap? Bless him, he's one brother That you don't have to keep! The Westerner (C. B. Clarke) - egoism and individualism. Ayn Rand had the last two lines of this poem in a placard frame. INSPIRATIONAL POEMS Poems that stress some virtue, such as strenght, heroism, persistence, courage. Columbus (Joachim Miller) - the virtue of persistence, Man the Hero If (Kipling) - a description of the Ideal Man (Ayn Rand's top favorite) LOVE POEMS To His Coy Mistress (Andrew Marvell) - what to say to a woman that won't put out... Sonnets from the Portuguese 43: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways (Elizabeth Browning) Love and Sleep (Algernon Charles Swinburne) POLITICAL POEMS Retaliation (Olver Goldsmith) - a thinker wants to go into politics A song: “Men of England” (Percy Bysshe Shelley) What is a communist? (Ebenezer Elliott) FUNNY POEMS Ogden Nash poems; The Pig; The Germ; The Duck; The Panther; The Ostrich; The Pizza; Which the chicken which the egg; Kind of an ode to duty (moral-practical dichotomy); Lines Fraught With Naught But Thought MISC POEMS The Lotos-eaters (Tennyson) - must be read in an increasingly sleepy way The Confessional (Robert Browning) - a tragic, compelling story Ulysses (Tennyson) - Man the Hero (white rhyme) Sometimes (Thomas S. Jones, Jr) - a man who betrayed his potential Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher (Walter Savage Landor) Do not go gentle into that good night (Dylan Thomas) Beethoven And Angelo (John Bannister Tabb) An Essay on Man: Epistle I | Epitaph on Sir Isaac Newton (Alexander Pope) The Arrow and the Song (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) The Song of Roland (translated by Dorothy L. Sayers) It's all a state of mind (Success Magazine, March 1963 issue) The Highwayman (Alfred Noyes) America for Me (Van Dyke) - an ode to America Drinking (Abraham Cowley) - or, as LP calls it, "The Metaphysics of Vodka" On a Girdle (Edmund Waller) Be Strong (Maltbie Davenport Babcock) Opportunity (John James Ingalls) Gunga Din (Kipling) - recommended by somebody in the audience Tennyson poems: Break, break, break; Crossing the bar; Rizpah (LP refused to read this one because it makes him cry) An ode to my mistress' breasts (mentioned during a Q&A session, LP might have referred to the girdle one by Waller)
Sculptures, symphonies, novels and paintings are time consuming to make, just like any other human value. What exactly does an artist choose to sculpt, compose, write or paint? Obviously, there's only one thing you can represent in art: things from reality. But what exactly? Just beautifuly rendered objects, people and events for no reason whatsoever? What separates sculpture, painting and theater from toys, photographs and soap operas? The meaning of fine art is not the objects portrayed in it. It's also not about politics or morals or the weather or the stock market, but something much, much, much more important. In fact it's so important that it needs to be present in your awareness at all times. I'm referring to the reasons and causes of your actions. For example, if you're generaly scared of the world and you don't like to take much space etc. this isn't a causeless fact. It's because you sincerely believe deep down that the universe is a dangerous place to live in, that man is always in grave danger. This is life-and-death information that is essential to remember in the backdrop of all of the irrelevancies of life - as the facts that cause, explain, give meaning to, and tie your disparate, confusing daily experinces into a coherent mechanism (the overall nature of the universe). Is the universe antagonistic or auspicious? Am I good or bad by nature? Am I in control of my inner and outer life? Is this a knowable world, subject to identity and certainty? The answers to this category of questions are called metaphysical value judgements, and for a great deal of people they're arbitrary and implicit, not objective and consciously held. Without seeing perceptual instances of the most important facts of life - of the foundation of everything else - your view of life quickly loses its reality and power of conviction. After all, if you believe that the essential nature of man is a heroic being, but life is filled with cowards and corrupt politicians and irrational people, your worldview can quicky collapse, you can forget what you believe in the first place, and you can become confused. More than that, this crucial, underlying perspective of the whole of reality (not merely contextless bits and pieces) cannot guide people because it can't be held in the mind (crow epistemology). A worldview is made up of endless, scrambled and seemingly disparate metaphysical value judgements - 'it's important to fight for what you want', 'it's important not to stick your neck out' etc. Only condensation into perceptualy available concretes can do the job and show you the conclusion, the payoff, the cashing-in of all of your value judgements, i.e. your worldview at a glance. To see what I'm talking about, compare those two sculptures: one and two. This type of conretization is like language, except instead of condesing concepts into visual-auditory tags (words), you condense a worldview into a concrete in order for it to be operative as a guide. Like metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and government, art is the only other need of man within the province of pure philosophy. Another crucial effect of art is the emotional fuel it provides. The work that goes into achieving your material and spiritual values can sometimes get tough. Seeing the full, immediate reality of your distant goals, experiencing the sense of your completed task, of living in your ideal world (a universe where your values have been successfully achieved) can replentish you spiritualy. The fuel comes not from what you might learn from the artwork, but from experiencing a moment of love for existence. This is why art is ruthlessly selective - not journalistic; integrated - not full of irrelevant elements that compromise the theme; clear - as opposed to the opaque or non-objective. It must have an abstract meaning, pertaining to the nature of the world in relation to man (or the reverse, which is the same thing). An artist selects what he considers to be important in life and integrates it into a mini-universe, a man-made universe. ___________ Sense of Life As soon as you become able to make generalizations about the world, you make them. You have no choice, because they're absolutely crucial for knowing how to act, i.e. for your survival. Based on conscious or randomly formed conclusions about the world and man, your guiding philosophy is formed, and it's usualy implicit until you identify it in conscious, philosophical terms, and correct it if necessary. Emotions are not causeless - they spring from conscious (or automatized, subconscious) evaluations of things. A man with a ghastly worldview might, as a consequence of his basic premises, negatively evaluate a lot of the things that confront him on the street, on the television, at his workplace and so on. A person with a benevolent view might generaly evaluate the exact same things in a completely different manner, a more positive one, and the negatives might not strike him as worth focusing on. The pessimist might get most of his pleasure from safety; the optimist, from seizing life by the horns. Based on everyting the world makes him feel on a daily basis, man forms an all-encompassing emotional generalization about the world. This emotion, called a 'sense of life' by Ayn Rand, is felt as a sort of vibe emanating from the world, one that is involved in everything you do, think and feel. For example, a pessimist walking on the street might pick up tense vibrations from the air; the people walking past him seem to be out to get him, and even the lampposts seem to be looking maliciously at him. He feels as if the world is one giant concentration camp. But the man with a more positive philosophy might get an entirely different vibe from that same exact street and moment. He might feel inspired by the sights of skyscrapers and blooming businesses. Deep down, he feels that life is auspicious to his goals and full of potential joys. Of particular importance is the fact that your sense-of-life can strenghten or blunt your joys and sorrows. A pessimistic man might see ice-cream and sex as pointless distractions in a sea of tears. It's tricky to enjoy anything if you fear for your life, either because the world is hell (malevolent universe premise) or because you think that you're unfit to deal with it (low self-esteem). After all, it probably won't last; so why enjoy it? But an optimistic man might see life's inconveniences as irrelevant in comparision to life's joys; since the world strikes him as an amazing place to be in, he feels a pure, unrestrained pleasure when he enjoys his values, a type of pleasure that the pessimistic man cannot even fathom. In art, your sense-of-life directs not only artistic creation, but also artistic response. Depressed artists don't paint sunny landscapes and happy artists don't particularly enjoy Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Of course, for most people a sense of life isn't as black-and-white as I described, but you should get the idea. This fundamental emotion conditions a lot of things in a man, including his body language and how passionately driven or apathetic he is. When he falls in love or forms deep friendships, it's on the basis of equivalence in the sense-of-life realm, which is usually first conveyed indirectly through somebody's personality and mannerisms, and later through their actions and professed convictions. Since your evaluations of people can be wrong, true love can only exist if the loved one's conscious convictions match the sense of life he or she appears to have.
I found an interesting video on TED.com today, in which speaker Alain de Botton says that, while we need not agree with religions, we (meaning atheists in general, not specifically objectivists) may want to look into adopting some of their methods. I don't agree with everything that he says, but he made some interesting points. I especially liked what he had to say about art (his view seems rather O'ist). Below I've provided a link to the video (19:21 long), which includes a complete transcript on the webpage. http://www.ted.com/t...theism_2_0.html
I am new to these forums but I have followed them for a while and I've been studying Objectivism for longer. I (may?) have a problem, and I'm interested to hear some opinions on it. I am a gay male youth. My problem is with attraction. I am attracted to a particular 'look' and it is creating a problem with my sex life. The particular fashion I like is 'emo'. The fascination is almost a fetish. I like men with long hair, preferably covering one eye, and feminine features. There are several reasons this is a problem for me. The first is that I do not commonly meet rational people with this fashion. As a generalization, I've found that most 'emo' guys are irrational and childish. I mean no offense to any such people reading this. This ties in with another reason this attraction is a problem for me. It is an unsustainable attraction. Men will not always look youthful, and long hair on them tends to look worse with age, with some exceptions. But universally, the feminine look disappears from a man's features with age as well. So if I tried to hold this type of man as my aesthetic ideal in a romantic partner, it would necessarily disappear in a few years. Obviously I wouldn't find my partner suddenly unattractive, but the ideal I had would cease to be represented very quickly. This is also a problem psychologically, as personality-wise, I am entirely and only interested in men who act...like men. It is very common for a 'girly' looking man in the gay community to act as feminine or more so than he looks. But I am totally un-attracted to such personalities. I am interested in an ideal man, according to the standards of Objectivism. I wonder if it is even possible for such an ideal man in personality to value the look I am interested in physically. I wonder if that would constitute a contradiction in his aesthetic philosophy, and if such a contradiction and its implications would be acceptable to me. If you are interested, or consider it relevant: I myself am not a 'girly' gay man either. This creates a problem in my current relationship. I am dating a man who I consider to be very attractive, but he is not the ideal I spoke of. He dislikes the 'emo aesthetic' in fashion. He has a more mature fashion taste. I do not feel this issue of mine is placing any kind of strain on my relationship with him, but it does provide an external temptation when I see such men. And I wonder if he might become resentful with my attraction to that look and his inability or unwillingness to fit it. This attraction of mine has also created a derivative problem in my psyche. I want to look this way. I am interested in growing my hair longer, and wearing unique fashions which some would probably consider childish. This derivative issue has its own attached problems. I can't really grow my hair out like I want it. I don't have the hair for it to begin with, and I am already losing my hair in the front unfortunately. Barring miraculous hair regeneration therapies, I will not be able to look the way I want to. Secondly, even if I were able to grow my hair to look how I wanted, and I'd want to dye it crazy colors as well, it would look very unprofessional to employers. I am in the middle of college, trying to find part time work, and even once I graduate, I'll need to find a job. I doubt employers would give a fair first impression to a man with long purple hair. These two major problems have had detrimental effects on my self esteem recently. I feel like since I cannot achieve this aesthetic ideal, I will never be satisfied with how I look. So I have several questions regarding these issues. Is the value of an 'emo' look a rational one? Are there solutions to individual problems that I am not seeing? Should I attempt to forcibly change my own aesthetic ideals? Is there a contradiction between an ideal man and an aesthetic ideal of more 'feminine' features? I welcome any other comments. Please feel free to be as blunt as you desire in your responses, I welcome criticism, but please respect that this is a personal problem. Thank you.