Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Ed from OC

  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Ed from OC

  1. In the Kill Bill discussion, several posters contended that while the movie was original, it was not great. "Greatness" was something else. Why distinguish beteween good and great? A good movie is an enjoyable experience; a great one brings the sublime to your soul. So what is the standard for great art? What is it about, say, Les Miserables, the Sistine Chapel, Fallingwater, Othello, or The Fountainhead that make them great works of art, but not, say, The Da Vinci Code or Patriot Games? I think there is more to it than merely a difference in degree from the good. Some attributes of great art: Originality. Each presents a new approach to their field. Quality. The crafstmanship is not just up to par, but beyond it. Regardless of what the author is trying to express, how well is it done? Influence. Later artists build on the advancement. (This is a secondary effect of being great, and is secondhanded. Nonetheless it may be used as an indicator to consider whether a particular work of art is great.) The experience. How does a rational person experiencing the work of art react to it? The values at stake. A conflict over the role of the mind in existence is more dramatic than one over where to eat dinner on Tuesday. (This may not be right, because wouldn't it rule out naturalistic art?) Which are more essential?
  2. A favorite painter of mine is Joseph Wright of Derby. He was an 18th-century British painter who celebrated Enlightenment values -- reason, science, technology, business. Not only is his content admirable, but his style is excellent as well.
  3. Welcome to the forum. I first read The Fountainhead in 1990, in my first year of college. It was like throwing a switch: new questions I hadn't considered came up; ideas I had thought but not heard elsewhere appeared before me. It took about six months, though, before I found someone else I could talk with about these things. I wish a forum like this (or other online resources) had been available at the time. As you read, you'll probably have lots of questions, as I did. This place can be a good resource for discussion, so feel free to fire away. And by the way: happy reading!
  4. Betsy wrote: Why not for a woman? If it is wrong for a woman, wouldn't it then be wrong for a man to encourage a woman to do something harmful to herself?
  5. Although I've been thinking about this issue for a while as well, I can't claim to have a clear answer yet. I am certainly open to persuasion on this topic. Is there a context in which promiscuity is appropriate? I think so. If there is no near-term or immediate prospect of finding a soul mate, it would be self-sacrificial to turn down ALL less-than-ideal sexual encounters. The alternative would be immense frustration and repression. That said, there are guys who gear their whole lives around an endless string of superficial encounters, a la Sam Malone from "Cheers." There's an important, essential distinction to be made, with a dividing line between the firsthander temporarilly settling for the less-than-ideal-but-best-available and the secondhander looking to impress with conquests (including boosting his ego with the admiration of women who BY HIS OWN STANDARDS are not close to ideal). There are clear benefits to promiscuity: 1. Sex! 2. Education, up to a point, in bedroom matters and judging partners. You may also improve your ability to interact with women you find attractive. Some guys are quite shy early on and place women on pedestals. Coming to see women as real individuals instead is a definite benefit. 3. Value clarification. By "experimenting" with a variety of women, you can flesh out the details of your own personal preferences. Doing that may actually aid your search for a soulmate, since you have a clearer idea of what to look for, where to look, how to approach, etc., as well as what to avoid. Maybe the women you previously considered "classy" you come to see are just gold diggers. 4. You may reach a point (or go through another phase) where the brief encounter is no longer rewarding. I suspect that in a subsequent "serious" relationship, the temptation to cheat would be lowered even more by your firsthand knowledge of brief encounters. The idle wondering of whether the grass is greener somewhere else may be less of an issue compared to someone with less experience. ... and for the hazards: 1. Health. Just one mistake in judgement could be lethal. With caution and good judgement, the odds are against it, though. 2. It is possible to be so busy pursuing one night stands that a chance for a real relationship slips by unnoticed or other high values are treated poorly. 3. Even being upfront and honest about the encounter doesn't always prevent one of you from encountering emotional pain. Perhaps what began as a brief fling you start thinking could be more, only to find that she doesn't feel the same way. Ouch. 4. "Fatal Attraction": Some women who are "easy" have psychological issues, perhaps a history of abuse. They may seem fine for a brief fling, but in the long run turn out to be far more trouble. The bad girls can be fun, but watch out. The possible hazards about which I'm not certain at all: 5. Dealing with the future soulmate (should such be found). If the issue of previous partners comes up, what do you do? Is it any of her business? If you have had a lot of partners, does it trivialize this new relationship? Does it imply your standards are too low? 6. Your own psyche. Can having multiple flings damage your own emotional or psychological health? I don't know the answers to 5 or 6, but 1 through 4 should definitely be considered. Anyone care to offer answers to 5 or 6, or add to the list?
  6. I just happen to know the proprietor of a pawn shop in El Paso....
  7. I've been studying Krav Maga for about a year. It's fun, exhausting, practical, and (unlike other martial arts) quite rational. EVERYTHING is explained. EVERY move has a reason for being. No messing around with pretty movements. No Zen / Buddhist / eastern mysticism. No mindless training-by-rote (i.e., katas). Think of it as reality-based training for street fighting. Bruce Lee's style was an amalgam of parts from various martial arts, pulled together by the standard of what was actually useful; K.M. is along the same lines. Check the national training center in L.A., or the Orange County center where I train.
  8. The best answer to this question is another question: what are the unanswered questions in each branch? Another question to ask: Can we rule out the possibility of asking new questions in the future? The answer to the latter is a firm "no", which is why I don't think philosophy (or any theoretical field) could be described as "closed" or "exhausted" -- meaning there are no new discoveries to be made. Until men are omniscient, nobody can claim to know everything, which is what would be required to say that there are no more questions to ask. Periodically in the history of physics, the consensus was that the field was ending, and that all remained was wrapping up loose ends. This was the case at the end of the 19th century. Then along comes this patent clerk to spoil things with talk of things like "relativity." There are popular physics books today with names like "The End of Physics" proclaiming the same thing. So maybe the day is approaching when someone will sweep aside the status quo and push forward the field once again. Maybe it will be a big new theory, maybe a new Little theory. If it can happen in physics, I don't see a reason why it can't happen in philosophy. Some day, when John Galt is re-elected to the White House, some young thinker may come along with questions that haven't been asked before. By the way, isn't it interesting that when people first dig into Objectivism and find that Ayn Rand answered so many of the long-standing "big issues" in philosophy, they often ask this question? It is a hasty generalization to go from correctly answering many to correctly answering all questions -- and not just known questions, but all conceivable ones.
  9. By the way, fans of this show may also enjoy "Mythbusters" on the Discovery channel. They run experiments to test myths and urban legends, such as: Can a penny dropped from the Empire State Building kill someone? Do breast implants explode at high altitudes? Can a cellphone ignite a fire at a gas station? In the case of the penny, they estimated the terminal velocity of the penny, then built a gun(!) for launching the penny at various speeds. They launched the penny at terminal velocity and "busted" the myth: the penny would sting, but wouldn't even break skin. when fired at concrete it just bounces off. In contrast to Penn and Teller, Mythbusters focuses more on the details of the experiments rather than just the theory. I like both shows, but prefer this show as a reality check, and prefer Penn and Teller as a polemic against bad ideas.
  10. These guys could have a second career turning sacred cows into hamburger. As has been said, it's hard to see what they stand for, but quite clear what they are against. The show on recycling was excellent: they presented 12 (I think) reasons for recycling, then shot each down, one by one, by getting the facts. Great job, very entertaining -- and in 30 minutes! The Bible episode was fun at points, but didn't break any new ground for me. It isn't hard at all to see that the story of Noah's ark couldn't really have happened, for instance. Yet they were able to find people who clung to their beliefs in the face of the facts, making the anti-reality nature of faith crystal clear. The line that had me laughing the most: "Elvis didn't do no drugs!" -- a sarcastic comment added repeatedly through the episode to indicate the extremes to which people will go to maintain their faith). This is a show I don't make a point to watch, but often stop surfing when I run across it.
  11. Ten years ago an Objectivist friend remarked to me that he had tried to read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, but he "couldn't get past the altruism." That has always stood in my mind as an example of how not to appraoch art. What an immense sacrifice on his part, that he should miss out on one of the greatest works of man essentially because the author is not an Objectivist. It's a shame to see this attitude among newer Objectivists is still around. Wouldn't it be better - and make life more enjoyable - to shift focus from looking for the bad to looking for the good? To be clear, I'm not suggesting being irrational or unjust. Rather, operate on a pro-value rather than anti-evil premise in life. Because if you are looking for reasons to be upset or angry with the world, believe me, you will find plenty. What a waste of energy! Most people (and most works of art) are a mix of good and bad, not inherently, but because they operate on mixed premises. Where possible, I make the most of the good I come across. In the end, I think it is a much happier way to go through life.
  12. The change is yet another homage to the old kung fu flicks. One of them features a large-scale fight sequence that is quite gory. In the original asian version, it is in color; for U.S. release, it was put in black and white. Does this guy know film history or what? :-) I'm hoping after KBv2 reaches DVD, an Extra-Special Ultra-Super-Cool Unrated Collectors Limited Edition (Deluxe Version) comes out with all the trimmings, such as this extended anime seuqnce, more behind-the-scenes / making-of info, and a fight sequence (in which Bill goes on a mission) that was cut entirely.
  13. You are correct, sir. I think Carradine deserves an Oscar. He reminds me of Christopher Walken. Both revel in the words they deliver. There's a sensuous quality, as if they feel the words physically leave their lips and they want to savor the taste of them. It is entrancing. I love the beginning of KBv2, when the bride meets Bill. I wish, though, another scene or two would show Bill and the bride in love. It would really drive home the level of inner conflict they both feel. Each is torn between loving and hating the other. And, it adds real punch to the opening line of KBv1: "Do you find me sadistic?" Now that's a great opening line! "This is me at my most masochistic" -- after seeing KBv2, the meaning is quite clear. It's interesting that the comparison I keep thinking of is Casablanca. The first time I saw that film, the first onscreen meeting between Rick and Ilsa had little emotional resonance. It was obvious from Rick's reaction how he felt, but the audience wouldn't know until later when the flashback revealed their affair. The second time you see that scene, there is far more emotional impact because of this additional knowledge. And that's also how I feel about the opening of KBv1. P.S. Check out this interview with David Carradine. Good stuff!
  14. Yes. She has a very distinctive style. See "Lost in Translation", and tell me it doesn't have a style unto itself. It is well made and very expressive. A mood of loneliness just pulses through it. My point is that each of the directors I mentioned would have a distinct spin on the material -- the Tim Burton version, for instance, would be quite different from the Baz Luhrmann version. (Actually, the latter might be amusing. Imagine a musical vignette with John seranading Dagny!) Seriously, I don't know an established director who is up to the task. However, a couple of up-and-coming Objectivist directors *MAY* be, provided they continue to develop their craft. Are you serious? AR answered that herself. See her journals. Or The Art of Fiction. Or The Romantic Manifesto. In the latter, remember her discussion of characterization, where she compares two different versions of the early scene in the The Fountainhead in which Keating asks Roark for career advice? That's an example of AR's innovation in style. Look at Atlas Shrugged. What other author - in the history of civilization - wrote a novel whose climax was a 3-hour radio speech that covered everything from politics to metaphysics? Is that not innovative? But my point is broader than innovation. I said "distinctive," which AR ALWAYS was, in her novels, her philosophy, and her life.
  15. Kill Bill is the best movie to come out in quite some time. It is a celebration of movie making, and .... well, I won't repeat the high praise that's been given already, except to add: ditto. A few thoughts: --- One element given little discussion (here or elsewhere) is the high quality of the dialogue. Recall Bill's monologues on Pei Mei, the goldfish, and Superman. Each featured David Carradine just talking -- yet the audience was captivated. Each of these conveyed the joy in simply telling an interesting story. And, unlike similiar scenes in Pulp Fiction (e.g., the "royale with cheese" scene), there was a point to each vignette. Each was linked directly to the story. --- It is refreshing to see a director with a distinctive style. Too many films today could change directors and I doubt the films would differ by much. A few exceptions come to mind: Tim Burton, M. Night Shyamalan, Sofia Coppola, Baz Luhrmann, and QT. I could watch any movie by any of these guys, and there would be no doubt about who directed it. Hitchcock was the same way. Too often, discussions of art with Objectivists too quickly reduce to discussions of philosophy. A work of art is not an essay, nor merely a concretization of the artist's philosophy. The style is just as important as the content. It is a shame that the joy in the process of art - the joy of language in Shakespeare, for instance - is given little consideration. I mean, if art was nothing more than a presentation of a metaphysical value-judgement, wouldn't there be more first-rate artists among Objectivists? Yes, a lot of the paintings I see for sale at conferences express views of life that I consciously agree with. But for the most part, as art, it leaves me cold. Why? Because, frankly, the quality of execution is not there. Art, like sex, is an experience where skill and the sheer joy in the experience make all the difference in the world. --- One element that has been discussed, but not directly identified, is the very high level of integration in this movie. QT has a real genius (yes, I use that word) for taking indpendent elements from the far sides of the cosmos and creating something new and exciting. Think of it: where else would one even imagine seeing a combination of anime, spaghetti westerns, kung fu, samurai fight scenes, and a soundtrack featuring Zamfir, Nancy Sinatra, Johnny Cash, and the theme from the Green Hornet? On paper, it sounds like a recipe for disaster. Yet QT *INTEGRATES* it all into a unique whole that is something compeltely new. BTW, here's a site that identifies a number of the movies Kill bill references. --- Now having thought about the movie for the past little while, I think I need to see KBv2 a third time... right now.
  • Create New...