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Ninth Doctor

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  1. Thanks for the link, good job isolating that section. I don't this is the place (the thread) to get into a debate on whether Hugo was a socialist; we'd have to go into the political context in which he was writing etc. Let it suffice that the line: “democratise property, not by abolishing it, but by universalising it, in such a way that every citizen without exception may be a proprietor” marks Hugo as a 19th century liberal; very far from a modern day socialist. Recall that Valjean was a very successful businessman before unmasking himself as a former convict.
  2. You mean Victor Hugo? Where do you find that in his novels?
  3. Let’s take the transition to parentage. What metaphor might inform and strengthen the natural impulse to regard a baby as the greatest miracle ever? The Christmas story. The savior of the world is delivered into your hands to nurture. That’s how the metaphor works. And you’re going to celebrate this every year, it’s part of the church calendar. Good thing too: fact is that baby is going to drive you nuts, between diapers and wailing in the night. The Lion King does well with this also, the whole story being bookended with the presentation of a newborn to universal acclaim (rather like the adoration of the Magi). It’s interesting, however, that the Christmas story wasn’t composed to serve this purpose; that evolved later, in the 4th century. It was originally shoe-horned in to liken Jesus to Moses, hence the flight into Egypt (and subsequent return). The early Christians weren’t having babies, at least not if they were taking St. Paul’s advice. "Such signs cannot be invented. They are found. Whereupon they function of themselves".
  4. I’d say Myth spawns Art. It’s a crucial element in how Myth is communicated. But Myth also spawns Ritual, and you couldn’t say that Art does that. They’re different concepts, with a lot of overlap in their referents. Let’s move on to enumerating Campell’s four functions of Myth. I’m pulling these from Occidental Mythology: “The first and most distinctive – vitalizing all – is that of eliciting and supporting a sense of awe before the mystery of being." “The second function of mythology is to render a cosmology, an image of the universe that will support and be supported by this sense of awe before the mystery of a presence and the presence of a mystery.” “A third function of mythology is to support the current social order, to integrate the individual organically with his group; and here again, in the long view, we see that a gradual amplification of the scope and content of the group has been the characteristic sign of man’s advance from the early tribal cluster to the modern post-Alexandrian concept of a single world-society.” “The fourth function of mythology is to initiate the individual into the order of realities of his own psyche, guiding him toward his own spiritual enrichment and realization.” There’s a whole lot here. I was thinking of using The Lion King to draw illustative examples from (particularly for functions 3 and 4), and now that I’m typing I find it a headache-inducing task. For a Sunday night. BTW The Lion King was crafted by a group of screenwriters who were given a “Monomyth How-To” guide drawn from Campbell’s ideas. Under functions 3 and 4 comes something vital: myths provide the metaphors to inform the great transitions we all go through in life. Often via Art, often via Ritual, or both. What are these transitions? We start out like any other mammal, utterly dependent on our mothers. Then we start to individuate, and after quite a few years (and stages) we’re ready to be fully independent. Then we find a mate, procreate, and have to focus much of our energies on caring for our own offspring. Then they go off to college. And hopefully don’t move back in afterwards for an extra decade of remedial nurturing, but if they do, we have to deal with it. Then we retire, our health fails, and we go back to being dependent. And finally die. Each of these stages calls for a transformation of consciousness. And there are Myths to inform each stage, and the richer the Mythology, the more stages are covered. Digression: IMO Rand’s stories are especially good at informing the later stages of the transition from dependence to independence. But don’t do much for any of the other stages. To be continued.
  5. I want to expand on this a bit, to counter an implication. I’m not saying religion is here to stay since a dispassionate examination of all cultures points to its presence and influence everywhere and at all times. There’s another institution that featured in (probably) all cultures until just over a hundred years ago: slavery. If four hundred years ago one had argued that slavery should be abolished, or even could be abolished, there was a real uphill climb facing anyone making the case. It was only four hundred years ago that the first Christian sect (Quakers) arose that consistently opposed slavery, this flying in the face of a few New Testament lines from St. Paul and Jesus. And now it’s gone. There were philosophical arguments in its favor, and they’re in history’s trash can. It took a couple hundred years or so. It may turn out the same for religion; not in my lifetime so I’ll never know. And myth is actually another matter, even though it subsumes religion. Why? Look to the functions of myth, ask whether they’re essential, and if so, how else they can be served.
  6. I have to take issue with you here, though I share the sentiment that one shouldn't waste time on things that don't resonate, or study subjects just because others say they're important. Think of the study of myth as an essential part of any dispassionate anthropological study. To pursue philosophy you have to study Man, even the elements you believe ought to be tossed in the trash. Myth is ubiquitous in history and in the present. What does that tell us about our species? If myths don't resonate with you, wouldn't that mean you're an outlier? It would probably be a good idea to understand why, and come to terms with the implications.
  7. I gather you are invoking Rand's view that philosophy drives history. Note that she regarded religion as a primitive form of philosophy. And religion is, of course, a subset of myth.
  8. I’m relating Sense of Life to Campbell’s first function of myth. This connection only goes so far, however. Objectivism has little to do with a “sense of awe before the great mystery of being.” Particularly the mystery part. But Campbell says that’s what myths elicit, and this gives them great power.
  9. Absolutely not. This isn't about epistemology. What Campbell is driving at is related to Rand's Sense of Life: " A sense of life is a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and of existence. It sets the nature of a man’s emotional responses and the essence of his character." Myths inform one's Sense of Life. And can even form it, when introduced early.
  10. BTW, this could be translated into Objectivist lingo as: reconcile Consciousness to Existence. Though I think much gets lost in translation when you do that.
  11. His word choice is a nod to Kant’s Categories, a view which Campbell subscribed to. You could even rephrase (and over-summarize) his first function of myth as: reconcile the phenomenal to the noumenal. “The first and most distinctive – vitalizing all – is that of eliciting and supporting a sense of awe before the mystery of being. Professor Rudolf Otto has termed this recognition of the numinous the characteristic mental state of all religions properly so called. It antecedes and defies definition.” I think you’ll find, however, that his biggest influences were Jung, Spengler, and Joyce.
  12. But Galt’s story doesn’t fit the monomyth well. The hero needs to be transformed in the course of the adventure, and Galt is a static character. Roark stands as a better illustration: in the course of his adventure he identifies the “principle of the Dean” and as a result reverses his error, captured in the famous line “but I don’t think of you”. The “return with boons” is the courtroom speech. Which is as far from collectivist and altruistic as you can get. "I came here to be heard!"
  13. His earlier work was dispassionate scholarship, late in life he became something of a guru, the result being titles like Myths to Live By. Comparatively speaking. So more personal, sure. I think supply and demand explain this well enough. After George Lucas credited him with (partly) inspiring Star Wars he got a lot more attention. His biography says he resisted being treated like a guru, but it happened anyway. Great book, BTW: https://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Campbell-Fire-Stephen-Larsen/dp/0892818735/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492642721&sr=1-3&keywords=fire+in+the+mind Would you believe that in the 30's he was a communist, hanging out with Steinbeck in Monterey? He's even a character in Cannery Row. And in the 80's he was a Reagan Republican, though he disapproved (and made fun) of the religious revival element.
  14. I'm not following you. Agreement about bring back the boons, as in, the hero ought to do something that benefits society when he returns from the adventure? Usually he does, that's how it came to be part of the monomyth structure. Do you see this as inherently collectivist or altruistic? I don't. It would depend on the nature of the boon. It could very well be a "Gospel" of individualism and reason.
  15. By prescriptive what I mean is that when he gives moral advice, he's an individualist. "Follow your bliss", for instance. By descriptive what I mean is that he studied countless myths and abstracted patterns he found in them. Omitted the measurements, as Objectivists would say. That's the monomyth. Example: Jesus was baptized and then spent 40 days fasting in the desert while being tempted by Satan. He overcame temptations and returned bringing boons: the Gospel of salvation and so on.
  16. Campbell produced a large body of work, which I’ve studied quite a great deal. Be careful to distinguish between when he’s being descriptive and prescriptive. You’ll find that he was indeed an individualist in his prescriptive mode. Are you just now dipping into his work for the first time? Only Hero with a Thousand Faces so far? The Masks of God series is a good place to go next. Though the video series Transformations of Myth Through Time is also excellent, and easier going. Unfortunately it has never been made available on DVD; I taped it (VHS) off the air decades ago. In the last chapter of Occidental Mythology he spells out the functions of myth. You (maybe) should make a beeline for that chapter, it has important material (important for understanding him) stated in an accessible and succinct manner.
  17. Yes I know. But the character was likely a composite, since the "real" Leo (Lev Bekkerman) didn't have the war hero father. Which the person from Rand's school, that Shostakovich knew, did. In any event, there's really not much to see here, no great revelation. Maybe they (Rand and Shostakovich) were acquainted, maybe not. Here's the photo of Bekkerman:
  18. Stuff I forgot: Shostakovich was acquainted with Zamyatin (though Rand probably wasn't), he had a school friend who sounds like a model for Leo in We the Living and who was executed, and Rand's middle sister attended the Leningrad Conservatory a year behind Shostakovich. I checked Anne Heller's Rand bio and found she claims that the Stoyunina Gymnasium was for girls only. Maybe the sexes were kept segregated. Or maybe Volkov has it wrong. I lean toward the former. I was pretty surprised late in the book that Shostakovich is documented (privately) saying/writing antisemitic things in the 1920's. Obviously he completely changed his tune later (e.g. the Babi-Yar symphony).
  19. According to Barbara Branden's biography (beginning of Chapter 3) they left in Fall 1918.
  20. I’m finishing up Shostakovich and Stalin by Solomon Volkov, and came across some interesting things. Conclusion: Shostakovich and Rand traveled in the same circles. They attended the same high school, the Stoyunina Gymnasium, and were of course only a year apart in age. Shostakovich, aged 11(!), had a piece of his performed at an assembly at the school, a memorial for some anti-Bolshevik figures who had recently been murdered. This was in January 1918, and I haven’t gone back to check exactly when Rand’s family fled to the Crimea, so I don’t know if she was (or rather, could have been) there. The Lossky family were friends of the Shostakovich family. The latter hosted the former for dinner immediately after they were ordered into exile, in the brief period before their departure when it was most dangerous to be seen interacting with them. Quick background on Lossky, he was a distinguished philosophy professor that Rand took a course with, and spoke of later as being important in her development. I’ll refer you Chris Sciabarra’s writings on the topic for details, the really important point being that she had to go well out of her way to take his course, and it was the last time he taught it before being exiled. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Lossky Shoot, there was another data point, now I’m drawing a blank. It’s an interesting book. Quite grim, naturally.
  21. Government meddling exists in higher education. No doubt about it. Barney didn’t make it that way. So we have to ask: should an Objectivist refuse to get involved in an endeavor where Government’s tentacles are present? Don’t become a physician, since Medicare (or Obamacare etc.) is certainly going to be your paymaster? How about banking? Or maybe it’s ok to delve into it, but don’t be too successful (like Barney) or else you’re going to become the target of this: That would be like eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols, which as everyone with a "certain background" knows, St. Paul said one shouldn't do. BTW, I am curious how you know that Barney would be less successful under a different system. You’ve perhaps run a simulation in an alternate universe?
  22. It’s an alternate narrative, and it’s probably exactly the way Barney thinks of it. And it fits the facts very well. BTW, the "certain background" line had to do with the ex-fundamentalist Christian I wrote of. Today being Easter, and myself having been raised Catholic...at least I know why leg of lamb is on special at the the supermarket. Barney? I imagine he still (after all these years) could transform two Campbell's soup cans into an E-Meter, if the need ever arose.
  23. I'm worn out on the topic. But since you're calling me out by name: let's assume Barney made a nice pile out of Scientology (which, point conceded, is a scam). He got booted out, who cares why, though probably for being too successful, thus becoming a threat to other "intellectual heirs". He discovered Objectivism, and attended Rand's final public appearance, when she excoriated the Universities. He goes home and watches the Fountainhead movie, and finds himself (sitting on his ill-gotten pile) identifying with Wynand when he calls his earnings from the Banner the "financial fertilizer" to build a great building with Roark. Putting two and two together, he launches into private colleges for his next venture. And someone else can fill in the rest. That student loans aren't exactly money from the Government, they are how the customers get the money to pay. Many will be happy afterwards, plenty won't. If Government weren't involved (via guarantees, special tax treatment, and a special exemption from bankruptcy discharge) there would be a private alternative. That's been crowded out, that's just the way these things work. And the Government is going to stick it's nose in eventually, eventually having arrived within the last few years. But I meant to wrap up about 5 sentences ago. My verdict: not convinced. Maybe he is a bad guy, but on this evidence I'm voting for acquittal.
  24. Again, we don't know that Barney led the reporter to believe that. We don't have access to an interview transcript. And if he did, we can only speculate about his motives. This is a awfully weak foundation to build a critique of someone's present character on. If he were to launch (or join) a Leah Remini type crusade against Scientology would that satisfy you?
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