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Posts 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. 2 hours ago, Szalapski said:

    It sounds like we would not try to consider either judgment wrong--and that sounds to me like subjectivity.

    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. 6 hours ago, Szalapski said:

    but you say that the donut habit may not be immoral even though it is inconsistent with a objectively healthy life because the value of benefiting that life with enjoyment may indeed be objectively better.  Why can't I apply the same logic to stealing?  Why can't I say the value of benefiting my own life by stealing outweighs the value of upholding the victim's rights?

    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:

    16 hours ago, Szalapski said:

    if the enjoyment from frequent high carb consumption is a higher value than a somewhat longer and healthier life?

    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. 44 minutes ago, Szalapski said:

    But then why is a decision to be unhealthy also inconsistent with life and existence?

    How do you define the concept 'unhealthy'?

    44 minutes ago, Szalapski said:

    So then why not steal from a vulnerable person--knowing that it violates his rights, knowing that it hurts him but judging that it helps me more?

    Well, perhaps you can provide one non-lifeboat example where stealing is moral.

  5. 3 minutes ago, Szalapski said:

    ...if the enjoyment from frequent high carb consumption is a higher value than a somewhat longer and healthier life?

    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. On 04.05.2017 at 5:02 AM, Szalapski said:

    What if I want to indulge the unhealthy value? What if I decide that my short-term enjoyment is better--the emotions and the sensations I get from frequent doughnut treats is worth whatever unknown distant health drawback that might occur?  What makes the pursuit of this value immoral? Is it only that I am doing something that is contradictory to my life?

    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. 3 hours ago, Iatan Petru said:

    ow do I act in a subtly competitive social scenario? For example, when you're with your buddies and some hot girls are around and all of you wanna be that manly dominant guy who bosses the others around. Or generally speaking when you compete with others in a subtle way for being the most alpha person in that situation.

    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.

    3 hours ago, Iatan Petru said:

    So what's the way to do that and what would Objectivism have to say about the mental state you should adopt in these situations?

    Well, would Howard Roark be interested in one-upping Peter Keating?

  8. 5 hours ago, Nerian said:

    And in Objectivist theory, the values you enjoy are supposed to be rationally, objectively determined by the standard of life.

    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. 

    5 hours ago, Nerian said:

    Does Objectivism really sanction enjoying yourself for its own sake? This is condemned as whim worship.

    You're wrong. Enjoying yourself for its own sake is what 'life is an end in itself' means.

    5 hours ago, Nerian said:

    Doing something 'because you feel like it' is an Objectivist sin.

    Thought and feeling are an indivisible unit.

    5 hours ago, Nerian said:

    Isn't this just a convenient redefinition of terms?

    First we define it as a process of self sustaining action. Argue from this basis, and then we throw pleasure in because it's convenient.

    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.

    5 hours ago, Nerian said:

    It's rational if it serves your life... which you value because you choose to live... which you choose on what rational basis? Remember what is rational to you is defined by your ethics and that is the very thing you are trying to establish.

    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.

  9. 7 hours ago, Nerian said:

    If you  are founding an objective morality, and you start that morality with a subjective whim, how can you call that an objective morality?

    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. 

    6 hours ago, Nerian said:

    What makes life worth living is not living life. Life for its own sake is tedious, boring, dutiful, meaningless.

    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.

    6 hours ago, Nerian said:

    Life is not the end, it's a means to an end.

    No. The pursuit of pleasure and the pursuit of life are the same thing. (However, not everything that gives you pleasure is desirable).

    6 hours ago, Nerian said:

    All the Objectivist virtue and ethics couldn't make me happy or make me want to live. It's when I started listening to my own desires and pleasures, and enjoying things for their own intrinsic pleasure that life started to have value and happiness seemed possible.

    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.

    6 hours ago, Nerian said:

    I want the cake, but I don't want to be fat, so I don't eat it. A behaviour without a pre-rational drive is in essence a causeless behaviour.

    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.

  10. 2 hours ago, New Buddha said:

    Rand's "historical dialectic" is one of Man having begun in absolute primitive, ignorant savagery and, through the achievements of lone individuals (largely in opposition to the community) Man would eventually reach (for lack of a better expression) a state of "pure individualism".

    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?

  11. 9 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

    I find that Rand's liking of Dostoyevsky is one of the essential examples to use, to understand her concept of Roantic art.

    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'.

  12. 17 hours ago, Ninth Doctor said:

    You mean Victor Hugo?  Where do you find that in his novels? 

    Les Miserables

    17 hours ago, New Buddha said:

    A microcosm of what?  a composer's overall sense of life?

    No. Of nothing less and nothing more than what is in the artwork.

    17 hours ago, New Buddha said:

    The other 47 pieces are not all "serene"

    Yes. And?

    17 hours ago, New Buddha said:

    Edit: I would add that to judge a prelude of Bach's by the criteria of how well it conveys any emotion, such as serenity, is to misunderstand music - especially his and the work of his period.


    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.

  13. 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. 

  14. 54 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

    With sculpture and painting -- unlike a novel -- one can represent only a very small snapshot of life. It is unfair say a sculpture says "this is life" in a broad sense of "this is the essence of life". It's more appropriate to think of a sculpture or painting as saying "this too is life". 

    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'.

  15. 5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

    And explicit agreement with my conscious convictions does not seem to be any crucial matter for me, with respect to my enjoyment of art;

    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.

    5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

    It is possible that my sense of life was always suited to my present convictions -- and that, in fact, it was such in part that led me on the path I eventually found.

    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. 

  16. 7 hours ago, New Buddha said:

    Is it your notion that once you've "corrected" your "damaging" ideas, you will then not like particular types of works of art any more?

    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.

    3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    I think we agree here on both, so I wanted to write it down to see if this is what you're thinking, too.


  17. 15 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

    Objectivity is not something determined by consensus.

    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.

  18. 1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

    The degree of malevolence in any artwork does not always correlate with the malevolence the viewer holds if any. Not reliably at least.

    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

  19. 7 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    Van Gogh probably is one example

    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.

    7 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    The issue is if it truly is malevolent per se, or a result of searching for the good in the bad. Maybe it's both.

    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.

  20. 34 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

    If a person hated life, and painted a sunny landscape, would they actually love life?

    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.

    35 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

    I want to remind you that Rand didn't say any two people shared the same sense of life, so there will be many variations of even positive senses of life.

    I mentioned this in my initial post:

    On 25.05.2017 at 3:56 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

    Of course, for most people a sense of life isn't as black-and-white as I described, but you should get the idea.


    41 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

    Why is this mildly malevolent?

    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.

  21. 1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    This implies a single work of art need not attempt to sum up every and all aspects of a man's relationship to reality.

    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.

  22. 29 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

    taking into account "outside considerations" is perfectly acceptable and adds tremendously to the meaning of the work.

    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.

  23. 2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    Must it be THE summation?  It would seem such would imply art cannot be about i.e. depict and explore an "aspect" or "part of life" which is important and profound.

    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.

    2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    A work such as the fallen angel, although it is sad, might not be about sadness as such.  It might be about loss, and by implication, it might actually be about value, and specifically and more importantly about the greatest value one can have in another: Love...

    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? 

    2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    So an artwork which presents a challenge or a disaster or a loss, unless it is clearly shown that there is and can never be recovery (granted another possible interpretation of the fallen angel...) the art can present positive sense of life, one which is psychologically adjusted to the facts of reality which face man but which exalts his ability to adapt and to flourish.

    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?

    2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    A work depicting a freak and tragic accident befalling a man and his triumph over it is NOT about the metaphysics of the randomness of reality (which is a fact), it is about the more important fact (also a fact of reality) of the resilience and strength of man, the potentialities possessed and residing inert within every man which perhaps not even the viewer would have otherwise suspected he himself possessed.

    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.

    2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

    A sense of life is NOT about what the universe does to you: Life is not what "happens" to you

    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.

  24. 7 hours ago, New Buddha said:

    Not all great art has to be heroic, cheery and up-beat.

    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. 

    7 hours ago, New Buddha said:

    The weeping angle sculpture posted by the OP (while not necessarily "great art") is for a tomb.  To say, or imply, that this sculpture reflects somehow a tragic "sense of life" of the relative who commissioned the piece (which I assume is what the OP is doing) is capricious at best.

    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.

    7 hours ago, New Buddha said:

    Sadness and a feeling of loss is not something that should be denied.

    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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