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Everything posted by KyaryPamyu

  1. I consider 'beauty' and 'aesthetics' to be very different concepts. The first subsumes all instances of beauty - flowers, patterns, human faces - while the second one refers exclusively to the field of art. Beauty is traditionaly considered to be a fundamental characteristic of art, but it's neither its sole element, nor the main one. An exhaustive study of the phenomenon of beauty does not even begin to scratch the field of aesthetics. Watching sports is an end in itself and a glimpse into man's highest potential. In that sense it's a metaphysical experience, just like art. But sport and art aren't the only examples of metaphysical experiences. Watching a real-life hero succeed in a fight against evil can be metaphysical. Taking a walk around cherry blossom trees can be metaphysical, in the sense that it reminds you of the breathtaking beauty that is possible in life. In her novels, Ayn Rand mentions the pleasure of watching competent men do their job with superlative excellence. The characteristic that distinguishes art from all other types of metaphysical experience (such as sports), is that an artwork is created by purposefuly selecting elements and integrating them into a coherent whole that conveys something about life. The artist's toolbox is the whole of existence. You do not script and direct sport games, and even if you did, the amount of things a sports game can concretize is extremely limited, compared to an artistic medium like painting, literature or music. A better genus you could assign to sport is 'competitive game'. Ayn Rand described dance as a performance art, but she hastily added that the thing that's being performed is the music. There is no music score, dramatic script or poem being performed in a tennis game. To answer the thread's question: if emotional fuel is the standard of comparision, art is definitely superior to sports. My reasons can be found above.
  2. Which is better, chocolate or vanilla ice-cream? Within each category of values there is a high degree of optionality. When two choices are interchangeable, you need an objective criteria to pick a winner - and that criteria is precisely your personal taste. Unlike most food preferences, some tastes stem from subconscious convictions or automatized emotional associations. As long as you identify their source, tastes play an important role in choosing values.
  3. Briefly, an organism that is in perfect physical health, but miserable on the emotional level, is not flourishing. Any such inbalance takes its toll on its entire existence. Your concept of flourishing does not reflect reality. Perfect flourishing is not possible because people are confronted with limited time, energy and resources. As a result, they need to make their values play well togheter. For example, you might have to cut your workout time in half so that you have enough time to devote to composing music. It's a question of scale: If you're talking about a 'somewhat longer and healthier life' - 100% health vs 94% health - then it's a reasonable compromise. However, a compromise must be defensible. If your compromise literally makes you sick and miserable, then it is not an objective compromise, but self-immolation. You could argue that you can switch to a Paleo diet, which will not only stop the donut craving, but also allegedly make donuts taste unappealing. But you could equaly argue that donuts are delicious, and that it would be ridiculous to deprive yourself of this experience in the name of pristine (but joyless) health. When you're stealing, you're not sacrificing a lower value to a higher one; you're gaining a value at the price of bringing havoc into your life. Figuring out a flourishing strategy requires that you take in consideration your entire hierarchy of values, your natural abilities, your circumstances and countless other factors. If you can grasp this principle, the answer to your donut question will become obvious.
  4. How do you define the concept 'unhealthy'? Well, perhaps you can provide one non-lifeboat example where stealing is moral.
  5. Then you are sacrificing a lower value (perfect health) for the sake of a higher one, enjoyment - i.e. your donut addiction is not immoral. Of course, you must be able to explain to yourself why your compromise is ideal. This is discussed at lenght in the link I posted.
  6. The answers depend on your context. It's often necessary to sacrifice a lower value for the sake of a higher one; for example, spending the money you saved for a vacation in order to treat your sick spouse. Or, going through a period of withdrawal (suffering) in order to kick your smoking habit. Note that Objectivism does not equate flourishing with optimal health. The Objectivist Ethics teaches you how to establish the hierarchy of your values & integrate them into a seamless fabric (the value of Purpose); how to develop your thinking ability and practical knowledge (the value of Reason), how to earn genuine respect for your own character (the value of self-esteem, which is intricately tied to your motivation and ability to enjoy values). With that in mind, let's get back to donuts. The answer depends on a huge amount of factors, including your genetics, your overall diet, the amount of donuts you plan to binge on etc. A donut addiction is OK if the toll it will take on your future ability to enjoy life is minimal. The action becomes self-destructive (immoral) if you eat donuts while knowing that your vice will wreck your health in the long-run. (Not doing your research is also a form of playing with fire).
  7. Thanks for the notes, Grames. For those of you who completed this course, did you find it to be a worthwile investment? With the exception of the first lecture, this course seems to be merely a recapitulation of old and well-known material.
  8. The Objectivist view is that sex is an expression of your self-esteem, not a means to gain self-esteem. It also holds that truly worthwile sexual experiences are based on genuine admiration for your partner's basic values, the same values that you hold. With that in mind, the best strategy is to find a long-term source of romantic and sexual fulfillment. Figure out what you want in a woman, then actively look for candidates that embody those values. Preferably outside of situations where you have to play dominance games with five other guys. Well, would Howard Roark be interested in one-upping Peter Keating?
  9. No. The value you are supposed to enjoy is life itself, by means of the pleasure you derive from life-sustaining values. The Objectivist code of values tells you to pursue concrete values - work, sex, art, friendship, recreation - within an integrated, long-range framework (the value of purpose), that you need knowledge to do it (the value of reason), that feeling capable of gaining your values directly affects your motivation to pursue them (the value of self-esteem). The virtues are the means to those already abstract values. The Objectivist code is a strategy, not the end-goal. The end goal is pleasure/life, which Objectivism considers to be a unit. You're wrong. Enjoying yourself for its own sake is what 'life is an end in itself' means. Thought and feeling are an indivisible unit. Pleasure is the biological reward for pursuing life-sustaining action. They are a unit. Enjoyment is the purpose of ethics, but not the standard. Read (or re-read) the Objectivist Ethics. Don't equate the rational with the reasonable. Rational means 'in accordance with reality'. Choosing to live, from the position of already being a living organism, is merely the acceptance of reality. If your chosen goal is to live, the validity of a chosen value is tested by reference to reality. Hence, eating a steak might be rational; eating rat poison would not be rational. A human being is a process of self-sustaining action, equipped with a pleasure-pain mechanism for monitoring the organism's state. There is no further philosophical or moral justification for the existence of such processes, any more than there is philosophical justification for the existence of the Milky Way. Philosophers can only start with the facts and go from there.
  10. A human being is a process of self-sustaining action. Every part of his body is directed towards that goal. How is choosing to pursue life a 'subjective whim'? Reality is not a conscious being that imposes choices on you, but if you want to live, your choice is entirely rooted in the facts of reality, i.e. your nature. By 'living life', you probably mean 'keeping your vital processes going'. But in Rand's terminology, survival/living means to function properly as a living being. Survival is not a passive state, but a continuous process of pursuing and enjoying your values. For human beings, living requires achievement, romantic love, good art, knowledge, self-esteem, friendship, food, rest and so on. The difference can be expressed using those two pictures: mere survival | Objectivist understanding of survival. No. The pursuit of pleasure and the pursuit of life are the same thing. (However, not everything that gives you pleasure is desirable). The purpose of ethics is to teach you how to gain and make the most out of the things that give you intrinsic pleasure (by intrinsic, I take you to mean pleasure for its own sake). It also teaches you how to avoid the things that damage your ability to feel pleasure in the long run, i.e. self-destructive activities. Biological needs are a type of fact. You can't pass judgements of 'pre-rational' or 'irrational' on the metaphysically given. The facts of reality are the standard by which you judge a statement as true or false, or a choice of value as rational or irrational. The drive to eat food is not pre-rational, it just is, it's a fact of nature. Only your choice to follow the drive is rational or irrational, according to your context.
  11. Can you give some citations? She did write about lone geniuses, witch-doctors etc., but I've never encountered claims about mankind eventually reaching a state of pure individualism. Or perhaps you're equating progress itself with a historical dialectic?
  12. According to the Q&A in this transcript, she didn't particulalry enjoy reading Dostoyevsky. She said that she mostly read him 'for information or knowledge'.
  13. Les Miserables No. Of nothing less and nothing more than what is in the artwork. Yes. And? No. Doctrine of the affections How did Baroque composers relate to human emotions? Listen to the monumental Chaccone for solo violin, and tell me that what makes it great is the addherence to the Chaccone form, its counterpoint, its variational ideas. Those mean absolutely nothing if they do not serve the primary: human experience. I get it. Bach wrote exercises, preludes, fugues, minuets, riceracs, passacaglias. The particular mood he choose for each of them was not his primary, or only consideration. He was a masterful technician. I know many advocates of absolute music, of music being about "its abstract form" and so on. It is a big fraud. It attempts to divorce human beings from music, a form of the art for art's sake doctrine. Mind versus body. Art is for man's sake, and music that does not convey human experience is not music, period.
  14. NB, while the baroque esthetic makes it tricky to say anything about a composer based on his music, it's equally tricky to do so for Romantic composers. For instance, Schumann could write collections of pieces like Kinderszenen, where he masterfully portrayed a vast range of human experience: outbursts of joy, melancholic longing, hopefulness, daydreaming, serenity, silent suffering. The unifying theme of the collection is very broad: "Scenes from childhood" - and the titles of the pieces are merely light performance indications. Quite strikingly, Richard Wagner followed Tristan and Isolde with a comedy, which is pretty much the last thing you'd ever expect from him chronology-wise. You've echoed what I said in my previous post, that individual artworks cannot be used to pinpoint an artist's sense of life - unless, as you stated, an artist's entire corpus consists of tragic or exalted works. This is why an objective evaluation does not take into account the rest of the artist's works - or his alleged happiness or unhappiness. An artwork's objective meaning is derived exclusively from its contents. As for Bach, well, it could be argued whether he was truly a happy man or not. But even that C major prelude, regardless of its surrounding context (of it being an exercise etc.) can be treated as a universe in microcosm. So can a statue or a painting. Of course, if we're talking about a large scale work like a Symphony or Concerto, you must judge it as a whole - but the point is that this is equaly true for smaller scale works.
  15. It depends on your personal interpretation. I can definitely imagine somebody looking at a sculpture and seeing the entire essence of life in it. By itself, an artwork cannot communicate anything beyond what it actually portrays. For example, Bach wasn't a particularly happy man, but he composed things like the very serene C-major prelude. But the fact that he chose to portray a very selective part of life, serenity, in spite of his overall view of life, does not affect the artwork with anything. The C major prelude cannot also convey: 'by the way, serenity is just a small part of life' - because it can't be derived directly from the musical elements. However, as a listener or viewer, you CAN interpret the C major prelude as 'just one part of life', or the Angel of Grief statue as 'not life as it is, just one part of it'.
  16. I don't mind explicit disagreement as long as it does not affect the spirit of the artwork. This reminds me of the fact that Ayn Rand's favorite writer was an avowed socialist - and he didn't hesistate to put that into his novels. But it can be annoying at times - it depends on how much the ideas are mentioned. I don't think it's far-fetched to suspect this. I'm actualy the opposite - my sense of life went through numerous changes. I can actually name three big trends that shaped it across time: mysticism (even though I became an atheist very early in life), bitterness and cynicism. By mysticism, I mean an avid study of things like Judaism, eastern religions, psychedelia, Eckhart Tolle, the primacy of consciousness, the world as a collective role-play/dream where nothing truly matters. By cynicism I mean flirting with determinism, evolutionary psychology (which I recently dropped entirely thanks to Objectivism - this alone has the power to wreck you inside like no other thing), the Red Pill community, moral relativism, Machiavellianism, even the Kantian idea of phenomenon. My current sense of life is pretty much a mixture of those two trends. The bitter period was during my teens. Some artworks stood the test of time, others - not at all. Out of the things I used to enjoy but not anymore, I can name (off the top of my head, not an exhaustive list): Some 20th century classical music. The kind that sounds like Jackson Pollock put into sound. I'm a classical musician, so we're exposed to that kind of stuff The Harry Potter series Japanese Heavy Metal Horror movies Certain romance stories - my annoyance stems most strongly from how innacurately they're portrayed from a real-life, psychological standpoint. The reasons I don't like them anymore pertain to changes of conscious convictions, of values, of knowledge, of technical standards. I'm in a period in life where various Objectivist ideas start to truly click in my head - and I find myself incessantly rethinking my approach to everything. It remains to be seen if this will have any effect on my sense of life. One thing that I always had in me was individualism - which is what drew me to Objectivism in the first place.
  17. There are certain artworks that I used to enjoy, but are no longer appealing to me - because they clash strongly with my present convictions. So I speak mostly from experience. Yes.
  18. The consensus of whom? An objective evaluation would require that you discover the aesthetic principles that apply to all art, then figuring out how they can be applied to each specific medium.
  19. Or rather, the interpretation of any 'malevolent' artwork will be different for everybody, according to their own sense of life. For example, I get a mournful vibe from the Wolf's Rain song, but you stated that you don't sense anything negative about it. Similarly, One Hundred Years makes you see internal conflict requiring resolution, while to my ears it's just unlistenable noise. I see Schopenhauer's universe in the Angel of Grief statue, but SL sees a reminder of how important love is, and that it doesn't last forever. Is it possible to objectively evaluate an artwork? I think the answer is unequivocally yes. But even if you objectively concluded from studying the musical vocabulary and the lyrics of a song that its theme is the malevolent sense of life, it might still have a personal meaning to you that completely disregards or even contradicts the actual intention of the composer - or the interpretations of any other listener. And I see nothing wrong with that; artworks are a personal value. This is an article Ayn Rand refers to in Art and Cognition: Metaphysics in Marble.
  20. This is the painting I had in mind while writing about the sunny landscape. It isn't a landscape per se - its focus is the woman, but you can perhaps see what I mean by saying that VG's sunny landscape is not a sunny landscape due to a very striking aspect: his style of portrayal. It's mildly malevolent, so it definitely both. I can revel in gloomy, sad artworks. I enjoy a dark foil in positive artworks and a positive foil in dark artworks. But I don't enjoy positive artworks without some ironic or gloomy foil. I'm certainly not malevolent all the way. Out of the two paintings mentioned above, I prefer the Van Gogh, though his style is not my cup of coffee. I agree with your analysis of Starboy. Either way, to illustrate what I mean by gloomy and happy-sad, here is a song that is malevolent througout (minus the instrumental breaks) and one that is ridiculously upbeat - but with a strong foil (I skipped the long intro). What the latter one betrays is not sadness, but a strong feeling of apprehension.
  21. I've never seen a real-life example of this, but perhaps you can provide some? Also, it's tricky to imagine a succesful, happy person reveling in a four hour opera about a man being endlessly tortured by unachievable desires. I mentioned this in my initial post: ___________ I'm an avid collector of everything I like. From my extensive experience with art that I feel at home in, I can definitely say there's malevolent streak there. I've picked up and habituated a lot of damaging ideas across the years, and I'm gradually working to correct them.
  22. An artwork is concerned with convincingly illustrating two fundamental facts: what the world is like, and what man is like. The specific themes, subjects, events and characters are merely the vehicles by which the artist 'proves', or concretizes, his view about those two interconnected aspects. He does not need to show all aspects of a man's relationship to reality - only enough points to convincingly show the gist of his view. Every metaphysics has enormous implications for ethics. For example, if the world is auspicious to human goals (knowable to man, and reshapable by him), and if man is efficaceous and free, those basic facts lead to enough metaphysical value-judgements to fill up all of the world's libraries. 'It's important to fight for what I want', 'My life is important' etc. Those metaphysical value judgements are the direct results of your worldview. So when you experience the artwork, you reduce the conveyed metaphysical value judgements back to their roots: the total metaphysics. To show a man's entire metaphysics, there is very little you need to show in terms of concretes. What man needs is to maintain, in his mind, the reasons why he chose his present course of action. 'My course in life is right, right to the core, because the world is so and so, and man is so and so'. Artworks help him hold that enormous context in mind. To summarize, an artwork is about two things: the specific themes and events conveyed, and the entire metaphysics implied by those facts.
  23. Certainly. But those outside considerations are not a substitute for judging the artwork qua art. Even if a statue or musical composition is created for the purpose of commemoration, it must still be a good piece of art in and of itself. Not even the noblest backstory will save a poorly done artwork. A good commemorative artwork must show the abstract, universal meaning of what it commemorates. If it meets this requirement, it can be applied to your own life, even if you know absolutely nothing about its backstory.
  24. By virtue of being a single, internally consistent artwork, it does convey the summation. More specificaly, that summation is what Ayn Rand called 'the objectified reality of one’s own sense of life'. To recap, a sense of life is an emotional appraisal of the whole of existence. The artwork is the ability to see that feeling outside of you, in reality. It's common to see a lot of things in life that seemingly contradict your own sense of life, which inevitably leads to self-doubt and loss of perspective and conviction. When you concretize this all-encompassing feeling about the universe, you must do it via specific means: specific themes, events, people, styles. A theme can be philosophical and universal (e.g. the importance of love/honor/truth) or more narrow (e.g. the injustice of society toward its lower classes, the impact of the Civil War on Southern society). All of the elements present in the artwork add up to a totality which illustrates the artist's sense of life - in a single concrete, which might be a painting or a very long novel. The way you interpret an artwork depends on your own sense of life and deeply held values. The above is a way of interpreting it. Similarly, a depressed person can feel affirmed by the Angel of Grief sculpture for a completely different reason: because he applies the sculpture to the whole of existence. The real issue is: would you want to have that artwork in your house, as a way to preserve the irresistible reality of your own sense of life? Yes. The key idea is: do you present pain and suffering as the norm, or merely as a foil to the good parts of life? This adds to the previous point. For example, Roark in the Fountainhead is attacked on all sides; yet the evil is merely a vehicle to show Roark's greatness and the fact that life's challenges are not the focus in life, but merely foils or preludes to the good. Yes - if you're referring to a benevolent sense of life. Somebody who concludes that he's at the mercy of the entire universe will develop a tragic sense of life as a result. A positive sense of life depends on feeling in control of your existence.
  25. The aesthetic value of an artwork is not judged by the worldview it conveys, only by how masterful it concretizes it. So it's not a contradiction to say 'this is a great work of art, but I don't like it'. But disagreement with the worldview conveyed can certainly curve your enjoyment of it. The sculpture was created by a grieving artist to commemorate the death of his beloved wife. It was his last sculpture and the only thing he could get himself to sculpt before his own death the following year. It's used as the grave stone for the artist and his wife, though it's wildly reproduced. While I didn't provide my personal evaluation of the weeping angel sculpture, I agree that it refects a tragic sense of life - but the context in which it was created is irrelevant. Quoting from The Romantic Manifesto, ch. 3, p. 42: "...an objective evaluation requires that one identify the artist’s theme, the abstract meaning of his work (exclusively by identifying the evidence contained in the work and allowing no other, outside considerations), then evaluate the means by which he conveys it". [bolded words mine] This is why it is possible to appreciate a religious artwork even if you're an atheist. When picking your favorites, the element of personal meaning is also very important, even if that meaning was not necessarily intended by the artist. Ayn Rand herself is said to have contemplated Dali's Corpus Hyercubus for hours at end. Apparently, it strongly reminded her of the John Galt torture scene in Atlas Shrugged. Certainly not. But the importance attached to sadness and loss can greately differ from person to person. Is it the metaphysical norm for man, or not? An artwork deals with what is important in life. And it might be important that certain courses of action might lead to suffering. For example, see the novel We The Living. Judging by the artworks I feel at home in, I would say I have a mildly melovolent SoL. I also noticed that changes in mood can influence which types of music I want to indulge in at a given time. But even when I'm in a particularly good mood, I usually pick what I call happy-sad music: upbeat songs or pieces that nevertheless convey a strong air of seriousness or tortured complexity beneath the façade.
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