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Ninth Doctor

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Everything posted by Ninth Doctor

  1. Serves me right for not checking the book before commenting! I thought of how cats can fall from high places and not be hurt, but it doesn't make them able to fall from yet higher places as a result, that would be antifragile. There was an article about Taleb before he was nearly as famous as he is now, where the Rand connection to his 'trading manager' or some such was mentioned. I seem to recall that the Rand fan liked to listen to Mahler while Taleb insisted on hearing Bach's St. Matthew Passion, I'm not finding the article, or no wait a minute, ok I think this must be the guy: http://www.businessinsider.com/mark-spitznagel-2011-6 I absolutely love Taleb's line about F.U. money. That it's money that allows you to say F.U. before hanging up the phone on some a-hole.
  2. I don't recall him referring to cats, in fact that analogy doesn't even make sense to me. His best presentation of the concept is that of the package you send in the mail, but where you'd normally put a 'fragile' sticker you instead write 'please mishandle'. Also he refers to muscles in the context of bodybuilding, where in order to grow them you have to challenge them, pushing them to failure so they then repair themselves stronger than before. He claimed his principal influence was Popper in The Black Swan, then seemed to back off in Antifragile, switching to Seneca and Sextus Empiricus (who you left out). He mentions Ayn Rand's ideas as an example of antifragility, and there's a little detail you'll find if you dig deeper: his right hand man in his trading operation is/was a dyed-in-the-wool Objectivist. Also, Taleb was associated with Victor Niederhoffer, who is a well known Objectivist. By way of evaluation I'll just say that I find Taleb very stimulating. I mentioned Antifragile here on OO when it first came out, and was thinking of writing a review but never did.
  3. I think Umberto Eco's claim that “a text is a machine conceived for eliciting interpretations” applies better (more obviously) to 'pure music' than it does to literature. So yes, I agree that listeners can and should form their own interpretations, but also “to say that the interpretations of a text are potentially unlimited does not mean that interpretation has no object. To say that a text has potentially no end, does not mean that every act of interpretation can have a happy end. I have proposed a sort of Popper-like criterion of falsification by which, if it is difficult to decide if a given interpretation is a good one, and which one is better between two different interpretations of the same text, it is always possible to recognize when a given interpretation is blatantly wrong, crazy, farfetched.” http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_author.html
  4. I’m afraid I assumed too much knowledge on the part of the average OO reader with this example, so let me go back and spell something out. If a listener concluded that Strauss’s Don Quixote was really a retelling of Robinson Crusoe in the way I described, there would be an obvious problem: this would mean that RC met Friday before the shipwreck that puts him on the island. In other words, it would be a stupid interpretation. If you’re not familiar with the stories you’d have no reason not to think that these two interpretations are of an equal internal logical consistency, so my bad.
  5. I’m curious to see your reaction to another aspiring music expert on this forum: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=9370&p=276186 Is his knowledge objective? Then I wonder how you would define subjectivism. And ignorance. I asked a question earlier about Purcell's Funeral Music for Queen Mary. If you don't mind, I'd really like to read your answer to it.
  6. Oh, I see what you were trying to say. I was trying to construct a quasi-scientific experimental scenario, something analogous to the peer review system in academic journals. Of course it doesn't mean that truth is dependent on consensus, but if you could show that correctly applied interpretive techniques arrive at the 'right' answer, with the test for 'right' being the composer's intent, then that's evidence that we have techniques that work. However it could be that the consensus agrees with the 'Robinson Crusoe' hypothesis, then when we open the time capsule we'd realize that critic #1 either did a better job applying the techniques, or that he has the right techniques and the others don't. However, neutral observers would be writing the whole thing off as tea leaf reading if the consensus was wrong, do you see the difference?
  7. Sounds to me like you're not interested in discussing Objectivist esthetics, and that's fine. This thread is one of many critiquing Rand's theory. If you'd rather talk about Shostakovich by all means start another thread and, being a fan myself, I'll probably contribute.
  8. I don't think anyone has claimed that. What's at issue is whether music has, or can have, objectively identifiable meaning. I'm saying that some does, and I'm building a case with illustrative examples. The goal is to reconcile music with Rand's esthetic theory. The composer's intent is something that could settle the question. Here's a hypothetical that I think would seal the deal: imagine that Richard Strauss, having written Don Quixote, named it 'Tone Poem #1', provided no explanation of what it's about, but wrote out the full detailed program and put it in a time capsule to be opened in 50 years. It's a challenge. Critics come up with different interpretations, one gets it right from the get-go, noting that the cello represents the Don, the bass clarinet is Sancho Panza, the part with the wind machine is the battle with the windmills and so on. Another thinks Strauss has adapted Robinson Crusoe, with cello being Robinson, the bass clarinet is Friday, and the wind machine is the storm that lands Crusoe on the island. These two critics battle it out and the one who had it right wins; the consensus emerges that Tone Poem #1 is about Don Quixote and that critic #2 is a dolt. Too bad there's been no such experiment, at least there hasn't been to my knowledge. And no, I wouldn't bet my bottom dollar that it would work, though I was planning to make the case that one could identify, without a program, that the finale of Mahler's 2nd depicts Judgement Day from the book of Revelation. From there to segue, via reference to The Name of the Rose, to Umberto Eco's view of “The Open Work”, and how well that accounts for music...well let's just wait and see how in the mood for writing I am come Sunday morning. Oh, and about Rand's definition of art, 'Procrustean Bed' is, I think, an apt metaphor.
  9. You didn't say it, but I would. However I don't hold it against him, he was what he had to be in order to survive. Plenty of others ended up in Siberia or dead in a ditch. What's fascinating is that there's good reason to think many did. And that there was what amounted to a mass conspiracy of silence.
  10. I won't, but we're already pretty much on the same page. You probably already see what I'm driving at, but FYI I'm not going to have time to write much until Sunday, and may not feel like it when the day comes.
  11. Sure of course, the “Soviet Artist’s reply to just criticism”. That's a case where the performer's interpretation can make a big difference. I'm thinking specifically of how to view the very end, where a May Day Parade is supposedly being portrayed. Mravinsky (who conducted the premiere) keeps it solemn and one doesn't necessarily detect the irony, the sense that in defeat Shostakovich managed to still insert a 'fuck you' that would barely fly under the radar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JczZsLIDFO8 Bernstein quickens it and the impression that someone's getting clubbed over the head in all this empty victory nonsense comes through: But if you were living in the Soviet Union it might be that you wouldn't need the irony highlighted for you...it's an interesting topic. If you read his biography and conclude he was just a coward it's worth referring to Ayn Rand's comments here: They were only a year apart, and lived in St. Petersburg at the same time. So yeah, I love the piece but wasn't thinking of using it as an example here. BTW If you're not familiar with his 2nd Piano Trio I suggest making a beeline for it. Here's a particularly great version: http://www.amazon.com/Dvorak-Shostakovich-Rachmaninov/dp/B000TGVJWS/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1376610074&sr=8-5&keywords=shostakovich+eroica It was written during the siege of Leningrad. It's incredibly powerful.
  12. I think that he establishes that it can be done, though by no means with any or every piece of music. The title of one of the lectures is telling: The Delights and Dangers of Ambiguity. Moving on, I wonder if anyone would dispute that there is such a thing as a wrong interpretation of a piece of music. For example if I said that Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary sounds ‘sprightly’.
  13. It needn't be, but I have yet to see a conversation about this among Objectivists get off the ground. Now that Nicky has bowed out (victorious as ever) who knows, maybe this thread will be the one. Notice that as great a communicator as Bernstein was, it takes him a couple hours, with a piano in reach, just to demonstrate the science that's relevant and then get a working thesis across. From there to show how a musical metaphor can be identified takes him many more hours. All of which serves, at most, to demonstrate that the 'meaning' of some music can be identified, dare one say 'objectively'. And even then, without extra-musical references it's often all but impossible to prove a specific meaning. For example, the climax of one of my favorite pieces is at 7:45 here (start at least a minute or two earlier): I once came across a listener who claimed that this moment depicts the “tearing of the temple veil” from the Gospels. But Bruckner provided no program for this symphony, so how can one ever prove this? I happen to like the reference, and knowing that Bruckner was very religious it has a certain plausibility, but that's all. As opposed to the system developed by Wagner, as used in Der Ring Des Nibelungen, where the natural overtones of the harmonic series are the basis of a 'Nature' motif, from which many subsidiary motifs are derived, dovetailing with the plot while providing an independent layer of meaning. With Wagner you can demonstrate that the 'Gold' motif derives from 'Nature', and that the 'Ring' motif is 'Gold' switched from major to minor, and if you listened to the Bernstein lecture you know the reasons that that's going to sound like a bad thing happening (hear 14:40 vs. 21:50). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-BrwJH3ypk
  14. I better let you know that if you study the context you probably won't think so highly of the Heine quote. He was attacking Kant because he regarded him as an über-rational, and hence passionless, atheist. The destroyer of religion. Glad to hear it!
  15. You've got Leonard Peikoff genuinely concerned about your supposed situation: http://www.peikoff.com/2013/08/12/i-have-been-in-my-stepdaughters-life-for-eight-years-she-is-now-12-she-doesnt-know-her-real-father-and-considers-me-her-dad-i-divorced-her-mother-a-year-ago-but-have-remained-c/ Someone ought to tell you: this stunt of yours wasn't very cool.
  16. Let me guess: he was a Rand fan? I'm more likely to get worked up over Augustine, Hegel, or Marx. At least Kant's politics were good. Here's a quote you'll like, from just a few decades after Kant's death: “What a strange contrast did this man's outward life present to his destructive, world-annihilating thoughts! In sooth, had the citizens of Königsberg had the least presentiment of the full significance of his ideas, they would have felt far more awful dread at the presence of this man than at the sight of an executioner, who can but kill the body. But the worthy folk saw in him nothing more than a Professor of Philosophy, and as he passed at his customary hour, they greeted him in a friendly manner and set their watches by him.” Heinrich Heine
  17. Here's a lecture series that has a lot of thought provoking material on the subject of this thread: I'm sure I've posted this before but don't recall it prompting any improvement in the discourse. I believe the whole thing is on YouTube (I have the DVD's myself). In looking for it again I found this, which was pretty famous in its day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=o8ilUevygXA
  18. FWIW, I saw this and thought of replying, but felt I couldn't without being rude/presumptuous. "You're kidding yourself" was going to be the main thrust of my comment. Dante pretty well covered my thoughts, with better diplomacy.
  19. What happened to the Sophists and the Cynics? I guess this author doesn't regard them as "great".
  20. The Wikipedia article on Kant is good, I don't know why you might think you'll find something better here on an Objectivist site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kant "But Kant's fame ultimately arrived from an unexpected source. In 1786, Karl Reinhold began to publish a series of public letters on the Kantian philosophy. In these letters, Reinhold framed Kant's philosophy as a response to the central intellectual controversy of the era: the Pantheism Dispute. Friedrich Jacobi had accused the recently deceased G. E. Lessing (a distinguished dramatist and philosophical essayist) of Spinozism. Such a charge, tantamount to atheism, was vigorously denied by Lessing's friend Moses Mendelssohn, and a bitter public dispute arose among partisans. The controversy gradually escalated into a general debate over the values of the Enlightenment and the value of reason itself. Reinhold maintained in his letters that Kant's Critique of Pure Reason could settle this dispute by defending the authority and bounds of reason. Reinhold's letters were widely read and made Kant the most famous philosopher of his era." This full biography is excellent: http://www.amazon.com/Kant-A-Biography-Manfred-Kuehn/dp/0521524067/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376142559&sr=8-1&keywords=kant+kuhn
  21. Dykes is a long time Objectivist who isn’t associated with ARI, so he gets the silent treatment from that quarter, but is fairly well known otherwise. He posts on OL and SLOP occasionally. Good guy, IMO. Dykes’ opening paragraph is concerned with establishing that Popper is an important enough figure to merit discussion. There’s no ‘argument’ there, yet this writer spends his opening attacking it as something fallacious. This critique is so stupid I can't help tuning out; I’m not bothering to continue. May as well read Jim Valliant.
  22. Peikoff's 2 courses on the history of philosophy date from the early seventies and catch him at the top of his game. https://estore.aynrand.org/p/95/founders-of-western-philosophy-thales-to-hume-mp3-download https://estore.aynrand.org/p/96/modern-philosophy-kant-to-the-present-mp3-download They're really cheap, certainly (at least) compared to how much they used to cost. I have a reputation as a Peikoff detractor and here I'm recommending them, so that ought to tell you something. Beyond that, Will Durant's Story of Philosophy comes to mind. Also George Smith's new book is really good, though more limited in scope than what you seem to be asking for. http://www.amazon.com/Story-of-Philosophy-ebook/dp/B00873GLOQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374623275&sr=1-1&keywords=will+durant http://www.amazon.com/The-System-of-Liberty-ebook/dp/B00BM4TKKY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374623245&sr=8-1&keywords=george+h.+smith
  23. I saw the thread title and couldn't help wondering if the author was aware, in writing it, of the Cuban phrase: Aquacate maduro, pedo seguro... There are a few variations on it, and I bet as things get worse in Venezuela it's going to make for some nice protest chants.
  24. You’ll find they use the term 'Materialism' to denote denial of free will. The mind is the product of random 'glandular squirtings' is how Peikoff (quite felicitously) characterized it at some point. This is different from the way many religious types use the term, derogatively, to describe anyone who claims the 'soul' dies with the body.
  25. Someone's just uploaded this to YouTube. I haven't seen it before, though it was transcribed as the last part of the book Objectively Speaking. There's not much to it. This was her actual last public appearance, coming right after the Sanction of the Victims talk. She looks a little better here, and that's probably just the lighting. This actually makes me nostalgic for Louis Rukeyser, I used to watch him every week.
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