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  1. http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/gay-marriage-new-jersey-civil-rights-leader-138313104.html "Christie wants gay marriage put to a popular vote. The governor has vowed to veto the marriage bill making its way through the Legislature." Progress? Christie is no hero.
  2. "The fact that this nuclear plant was able to withstand this kind of blow and effectively keep the situation from turning into another nuclear disaster should be a ringing endorsement of the efficacy and safety of nuclear power, not a reason to abandon this technology that has so much value to offer us." While I appreciate the defense, it's too early to be ringing any bells... In this corner: JAPAN NUCLEAR DANGER IS NO CHERNOBYL And in this corner: Japan Atomic Crisis Reaches Chernobyl Level as Radiation Climbs And then there's Maude: Low levels of radiation in Pennsylvania rain, but not drinking water Europeans warned to avoid drinking milk or eating vegetables due to high radiation levels
  3. Superhero Babylon presents: The Silent Age. The Silent Age is a companion piece to A Show Of Hands: A Cautionary Tale of Heroes in Exile. Whereas A Show of Hands was a future-take on the cynicism towards heroism via the Marvel Universe, The Silent Age is a retro parody of the over-reliance and "god-like" worship of DC's "strange visitor from another planet." The basis for this story has been in my head for at least ten years now, inspired by my initial encounter with Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, which got me thinking: "what if Superman went on strike?" (A theme that also inspired, but with different results, Alex Ross's Kingdom Come.) Though seemingly simple, illustrated in the spirit of Siegel and Shuster's "Golden Age" Superman, there are a few compressed ideas within The Silent Age that challenge the innocence of that era. (Also available to view in pdf form.)
  4. Jonathan: "I know of no Objectivist who has addressed their actual views on what abstract art is, and how it works." For what it's worth, here's my "objectivish" view on abstract art via and how it connects to music. It's not my original theory (it's a mix of discussions between Rand and John Hospers, plus the abstract/realist pyramid theory as demonstrated by Scott McCloud in Understanding Comics), but I'm sympathetic towards it. From Objectivish: "A Musical Tug Of War" This post is a companion piece to my last post on abstraction and concretes in Rand's theory of music. I've discussed, in answer to Ayn Rand, my theory of how music induces an emotional state in the listener via a "projection theory." I offered this theory not as a refutation of Rand's cognitive theory (for which I've offered support with the "Gestalt" theory), but as a "somatic" counterpart or basis. Part of my argument was based on theories of abstract art presented in Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. I want to present one more theory from his book, to demonstrate the relation and tension between the cognitive and somatic elements of musical perception. In his book, McCloud presents "the Big Triangle" theory. Basically, it's a pyramid that represents the degree of abstraction that takes place in sequential art via the marriage of images and words. McCloud starts with a demonstration of abstraction: From here, he presents the pyramid: For a more in-depth presentation of this, he has a convenient slideshow on his website. Based on that, I'd place physical motion (emotion) on the lower left-hand corner of the pyramid, words or lyrics on the right, and the combination of notes, the equivalent of the "abstraction," at the top. So what's the point of all this? Rand suggested that there was a lack of a "conceptual vocabulary of music": The formulation of a common vocabulary of music . . . would require: a translation of the musical experience, the inner experience, into conceptual terms; an explanation of why certain sounds strike us a certain way; a definition of the axioms of musical perception, from which the appropriate esthetic principles could be derived, which would serve as a base for the objective validation of esthetic judgments . . . . I think that this "big triangle" could be a tool in that "musical vocabulary." Using McCloud's pyramid, we can translate this phenomenon in musical terms by replacing images with physical motion, and words with the cognitive aspects of melody (the integration of tones into melody, the interplay of melodic counterpoint, the perception of form in large scale compositions, etc.) This can also be compared to intensional versus extensional music. Basically, in my theory of how music induces emotion, I take Rand's "cognitive view" and pair it with the association of musical movement with physical movement, particularly movements that are associated with emotional states (as well as emotional projection via tone.) McCloud's pyramid could be used in this capacity to reveal the degree to which a composition utilizes one method in relation to the other. The other point is that the pyramid presents another way of looking at the "reason/emotion" dichotomy of Apollo and Dionysus, the dichotomy championed by Nietzsche and challenged by Ayn Rand. But the pyramid makes visible why such a dichotomy is even considered possible: the somatic, kinetic elements of music can compel one to movement, such as an urge to dance, (or even in a reluctant foot tapping against one's will!), and the mental process of integration in complex musical pieces (which requires memory and repeated listening of tonal relations.) One's philosophy and "sense of life" determine how one feels about the "co-mingling" of these two aspects (acceptance or rejection of the dichotomy.) The pyramid makes visible this tension of opposites, this "tug of war."
  5. A head's up: There's a new smear going 'round today, that Ayn Rand is a hypocrite because she accepted government funds for her cancer under the assumed name "Ann O'Conner," and that the tea party should dump her. Nasty stuff.
  6. The last (planned) installment of my Rand-Rush Connection series: my review of Rush, Rock Music and the Middle Class: Dreaming in Middletown by Chris McDonald. Synopsis of the review: The thesis of McDonald's book is not about Rush and Rand per se, so this will not be a comprehensive book review; there are other topics discussed, such as musical analysis, that I found interesting, that are simply beyond the scope of this post. Rather, this will just serve to introduce the book into the discussion started by "Rand, Rush and Rock”. There is significant space dedicated to the topic, in the discussion of differing kinds of individualism, the comparison of "2112" and Rand’s novella Anthem, (upon which "2112" was based), heroism, maturity and civility, the “self-made” man, and public reaction towards the band as it relates to Objectivism. As for McDonald’s thesis? If his agenda was neither to discredit individualism and Rush's uses of it, nor to defend or glorify them,” it doesn’t mean that his own opinion doesn’t come through (though I credit him for a better separation than what was achieved by Jennifer Burns, who made a similar claim in her Rand bio Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right.) Regarding his intent to “uncover the social and historical backgrounds that make individualism important to Rush and many of its audience members...to see how it fits into the story of rock music and the middle class”: While my criticisms aren't aimed at the book as a whole, I can’t grant McDonald my agreement on his interpretations and conclusions. Where I can grant him unequivocal success is in the documentation of Rand as a band whose connection with Rand was tenuous at best, and for providing, in microcosm, a document of the philosophical and cultural divide of our world today.
  7. A couple more entries in The Rand-Rush Connection series, concerning the album Hold Your Fire: "Hold Your Fire", which discusses Neil Peart's drifting from reason in favor of "instinct," and "No, Neil, Hold YOUR Fire", a rebuttal of the accusations made by Peart towards Objectivism and Ayn Rand. Lyrics from Hold Your Fire is often quoted by Objectivists for its optimistic, seemingly individualistic approach. Those Objectivists may be surprised at the full context...
  8. Ok, so yesterday, I published at my blog on Rush and the New Music Express's 1978 hatchet job (which labeled Rush and Rand as fascists), and today the Classic Albums series released their 2112/Moving Pictures edition. I knew about that...what I wasn't expecting was how much time they would spend on...the NME hatchet job and the Randian influence. This was during discussion of making the track "2112," plus extra bits in the bonus features. Even more unexpected was the appearance of the ARI's John Ridpath (What? He's Canadian, too...) to summarize the history of Anthem. There was even Neil's revelation re: the ambigous closing statement, "We have assumed control..." From the making of "2112": Geddy: "Well, he (Peart) was a huge fan of Ann (sic) Rand’s writing, and he introduced her writing to us…" Alex: "Not exclusively that…a very, very broad reader…" Neil: "I had read, certainly,a lot of science fiction at that time…and Samuel R. Delany was an big influence on me…and around the same time I found a copy of The Fountainhead and said “Oh…all the smart kids at school used to carry that around…” Geddy: "We all liked the book Anthem, which is the thing that kinda inspired "2112"..." Introducing John Ridpath: "Anthem was a novellete that Ayn Rand wrote, I would say, roughly around 1939-1940 wrote when she was in the middle of writing The Fountainhead…And so, Anthem is basically the story of a society taken over by a priesthood of totalitarian dictators who used mysticism to try and subdue all the people in society that is so collectivistic and so totalitarian that the concept I has been eliminated from people’s minds. They don’t even have the concept I which means they can’t even conceive of themselves as individuals. Alex: "That whole idea of the individual and that …sort of libertarian values…played a big role in how that album shaped up…" Neil: "I dreamed up this story about music being invented against a dystopian totalitarian society…" "I felt this great sense of injustice that this mass was coming down on us telling us to compromise, and compromise was the word that I couldn't deal with…I grew up a child of the sixties, and I was a strong individualist, and believed in the sanctity of… you should be able to do what you want to do, you know, without hurting anyone… "When I realized that the story was paralleling Anthem, I thought I had to say something about Ayn Rand and the association with "2112", and so, at the bottom of the lyrics, just put 'with acknowledgement to the genius of Ayn Rand…' "Well, how that came back onto us afterwards…" Alex: "Yeah, we got in trouble with the NME in Britian around that time…this journalist, you know, wrote it up like we were Nazis, ultra right-wing maniacs… Geddy: "Growing up as the son of Holocaust survivors, I found that just..you know...just so offensive..." Cliff Burnstein (manager): The connection with Ayn Rand definitely was a media turnoff...there was certainly a...kind of association with the 50's, conservatism, the McCarthy years...all this stuff probably made the media think, 'well, this is just not my kind of band..." David Fricke (Rolling Stone): "And even though Rand was, and still is, to this day, a controversial figure, it doesn’t mean that Neil believes everything she says...you don't have to believe everything she says to understand there are points in those books that are worth serious consideration..." Geddy: "It’s about creative, freedom, it’s about belief...believing in yourself…" Neil: "And I did not think of politics, and I did not think of global oppression...I was thinking "these people are messing with me!" Geddy: "You can say what you want about Ann (sic) Rand, and all the other implications of her work, but her artistic manifesto, for lack of a better term, was the one that struck home with the three of us…" Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies): "The focus on "2112" is about the loss of individuality and kinda....state rule and the oppression of expression to the extent of the extinction of music, basically…" Terry Brown (Producer): "A pretty dark character is Neil, there's no telling what was going on in his mind at that time...I certainly don’t think he would want to just recreate the Ayn Rand story…living 'happily ever after' in the mountains, I think, it would have meant a much less dramatic ending for us on record..." Geddy: "That ending of that story is a little ambigious…and there's obviously some sort of a war going on…" Neil: "That’s the good guys, that’s the cavalry, you know, coming in at the end…so it actually, to me, had a happy ending, as it were…that the solar federation was going to be shut down by the vision that our hero as of this other way of living…they’re the people coming at the end…that’s how I intended it."
  9. I've started a series of posts at my personal blog, Objectivish, dealing with the Rand-Rush connection that I thought some here might find of interest. Three, so far: The first one discusses my first exposure to Rand, via the Rush edition of Rock'N'Roll Comics. The second deals with the "ominous parallels" of the smears of fascism against both Rand and Rush, by Whittaker Chambers and Barry Miles of the New Music Express. The latest discusses the recently release (9/28) of the Classic Albums series edition of 2112/Moving Pictures, which discusses the Randian influence (and included a brief appearance by ARI's John Ridpath, summarizing Anthem). Enjoy.
  10. You might like to take a look at my blog, superherobabylon.blogspot.com, particularly the essay "The Epic Song of Superman in Five Parts," "The Answer to Chaos is Not the Dark Knight," and "The Dark Knight: The Anarchist is King.". Good luck with your thesis.
  11. spaceplayer

    My Way

    For the uplifting version, watch Laverne and Shirley.
  12. Well then, if it was mistranslated, Allen better speak up and say so...and FAST.
  13. Heh, the impression I got was of Walt Disney...the sixties-era film, the "World of Tomorrow..." The mustache...
  14. That said, after seeing the movie...well, besides commenting on some superficially significant changes, (Big Daddy's origin twist is gone, and the guy gets the girl) it's pretty much the same, and I'd use the same review, with some additional points though... The picture of Atlas hanging on the wall of the hero: Not accidental; Mark Millar, writer of the comic, had Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four reject the notion of "shrugging" in the Marvel CIVIL WAR miniseries. And when the hero of KICK-ASS says that "with no power comes no responsibility...only that's not true...", the Atlas picture on the wall reveals its meaning. This ain't no libertarian movie.
  15. Yes, I should have said it was a review of the book.
  16. Here's my review at Superhero Babylon, where I compare and contrast the book to Watchmen and Rand's The Romantic Manifesto. . Rand was dissecting Watchmen and Kick-Ass decades before they were written in her reviews of such "tongue-in-cheek thrillers" like The Avengers and the James Bond movie franchise, calling their creators out on their "bootleg Romanticism." Rand calls such tongue-in-cheek thrillers cowardice: "What are such thrillers laughing at? At values, at man's struggles for values, at man's capacity to achieve his values...at man the hero." "Kick-Ass: The Watchmen of the Myspace Generation?"
  17. But then there's John Galt via Ayn Rand...
  18. Been there, done that. I had to find out the hard way, by dating, living together, watching, listening, observing. "Show, don't tell." . In my case, the tensions rose between the other person's stated beliefs and the true beliefs, and the truth came out.
  19. I was going to review Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland for Superhero Babylon. I was going to say that Tim Burton did a good job visually. I was going to say that storytelling-wise, he added a point to a meandering story, infused with with a archetypal "hero's journey," but one mixed with Victorian romanticism that falls victim to the reason-emotion dichotomy. I was going to quote from Ayn Rand's Romantic Manifesto, the rejection of reason by the "Byronic" romantics, and explain how the links between creativity and madness in Burton's film are best understood as a rejection of the "classicism" and "rationalism" of conventional thinking, and that Alice, in the end, fuses creativity with a pro-business mind. That's what I was going to say. I'd love to elaborate, but you'll have to work with that and figure it out for yourselves, since America, with the passage of this god-damn health care bill, has fallen down it's own rabbit-hole to becoming a socialist nation. There are more immediate villains to fight than red queens, knaves, and Jabberwockys. This ain't chess, this is real. And I'm mad as a hatter right about now...
  20. I am not suprised to see the Rand/Hickman thing being brought out as a weapon against Rand's resurgence, it just shows how desperate the Left is right now. There's a certain irony here, too, involving hypocrisy on the Left's part. In Journals of Ayn Rand, Rand is presented as clearly drawing the line at where the "admiration" end (with the degeneracy and murders). Contrast that with Rand's criticism of the Left's "admiration" for the very same subject, not for the virtues, but FOR the degeneracy. From The Romantic Manifesto: "...to escape from guilt and arouse pity, one has to portray man as impotent and innately loathsome. Hence the competition among modern artists to find every lower levels of depravity and even higher degrees of mawkishness–a competition to show the public out of its wits and jerks its tears. Hence the frantic search for misery, the descent from compassionate studies of alcoholism and sexual perversion to dope, incest, psychosis, murder, cannabalism. "To illustrate the moral implications of this trend–the fact that pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent–I submit an enthusiastic review that commends a current movie for arousing compassion for kidnappers. 'One's attention and, indeed, one's anxiety is centered more upon them than upon the kidnapped youngster,' states the review. And: 'As a matter of fact, the motivation is not so clearly defined that it bears analysis or criticism on psychological grounds. But it is sufficiently established to compel our anguished sympathy for the two incredible kidnappers.' (The New York Times, November 6, 1964.)" –"Bootleg Romanticism" The movie, btw, is A Seance on A Wet Afternoon, and here's the review. Judge for yourself Rand's take on the review, but it's interesting to read this in relation to her Hickman comments. But with the left, it's more of a "See? Rand sympathized with psycho-killers, too! She's no better than the rest of us!" Which would be totally wrong, contexts dropped and smashed all over the floor. Rand romanticized and extracted the better implications, while the New York Times review shows her enemy's true motivations.
  21. It comes out quite a bit stronger in the movie, but also, a lot of this is mentioned in interviews with Waters. The famous incident that started THE WALL concept itself stems from the '77 Animals tour. A drunken fan was up front, yelling and screaming "play Money!" Waters called him over, and spit in his face. Waters was so horrified at what he had done, how he started to see himself, that he started to visualize the wall going between him and the audience. There's a scene that didn't make it into the film, at the end of "In the Flesh"...originally the concept was to have the audience "blow up," even as they cheer their own destruction. Waters thought that might be too over the top... Fame...is it any wonder?
  22. PINK FLOYD THE WALL is a compelling, first-hand take on the dangers of fame, from a rock star's point-of-view. The rock-star as fascist dictator whose fans will do anything to be in the "presence" of their idols, to the point of stampeding like a herd of cattle (sometimes fatally.) The movie scene for the song "In the Flesh" culminates in a Fascist rally where "Pink" becomes a dictator as the crowd applauds, even as he turns his ire against them ("If I had my way, I'd have all of you shot!"). Roger Waters wrote THE WALL after he grew disillusioned with the stadium touring, the loss of connection with the audience (the "wall" itself), while watching people get smashed and smash each other, screaming mindlessly. He certainly captured the "dark side" of idol-worship (I can't call it hero-worship) and the second-hand appeal of that "warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow..." (Marilyn Manson picked it up with ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR...)
  23. Personally, I'm burned out on "social media," web 2.0, and the phrase "interactive art," because of the excessive flame wars, trolling, and the like. And I'm leery of "interactive art" because it reminds me of the scene in THE FOUNTAINHEAD, where the other architects "express their individuality" on Cortland Homes. Art, in the Objectivist sense, is a personal endeavor, first and foremost. But if I were to make a case for interactive art... I used to love the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE books when I was young...I think they make a case for "interactive art," since there is a story involved...(Rand argued that films were art primarily because of the story, which provides the integrator for the other elements.) The interactivity, in this case, is a type of game, a precursor to the story-driven video games we have now, and it's a game that involves...value judgements. Consider this one (description from Wikipedia): "One book, Inside UFO 54-40, revolved around the search for a paradise that no one can actively reach; one of the pages in the book describes the player finding the paradise and living happily ever after, although none of the choices in the book led to that page. The ending could only be found by disregarding the rules and going through the book at random. Upon finding the ending, the reader is congratulated for realizing how to find paradise. Although it appears that this ending is not actually mistake but was actually designed that way, and thus makes the book into a Moral Story stating that if you think outside the box, and do not blindly follow the rules then you'll achieve Paradise." There's actually a precedence for this in Rand's own work, her "gimmick" in NIGHT OF JANUARY SIXTEENTH play, where the jury is selected from the audience, who actually "vote" guilty or not guilty, so it's easy to see a story-driven interactive video game as an extension of this. And it's not the same as the situation in THE FOUNTAINHEAD, since the participants are invited, and the creator still has control over his creation. Maybe it could be argued, as well, that the interactivity functions as a "division of labor" similar to the performing arts...
  24. As for Machiavelli...George Will has said that "We honor Jefferson, but live in Hamilton's country, a mighty industrial nation with a strong central government." It's Hamilton who is called the American Machiavelli. The Prince was the bedtime storie for John Adams. "A Republic, if you can keep it," indeed... What to do about it? Rand never discussed Machiavelli specifically, as far as I know, but her novels detail what happens if one follows that road. Wynand and Keating are my favorite examples, and Atlas shows what really goes on at "The Top and the Bottom." How do you fight it without succumbing to their fate, in the long run? Assuming one isn't trying to rationalize the necessity of being a Keating or a Wyanand: Arm yourself. The eagle on the "Great Seal" does hold an olive branch and sword for a reason. In this case, arm yourself with knowledge, knowledge of Machiavelli, of Hamilton, of Saul Alinskly, of Obama...and call them on it, relentlessly. (It's amazing that so much is said plainly, out in the open, yet people deny their own words, even when caught red-handed. Rules for Radicals is a primer on power, and Alinsky's hubris is so great that he calls Machiavelli a piker. Hamilton, with his advice to Washington to "be not good." What's even more amazing is how people STILL believe and trust their "leaders.") "What Can One Do?" NEVER FAIL TO PRONOUNCE MORAL JUDGEMENT. You want a primer to arm yourself? Check out two books: The 48 Laws of Power and the The 33 Strategies of War. They're detailed histories of the Machiavellian strategies used by generals and leaders throughout the ages, from the ancients to our time. If you can recognize the methods being used by our "leaders," you're already ahead of the curve. You may not be able to convince everyone, but YOU'LL be aware, and can at least keep your own mind clear of their deception. The rest comes down to simple honesty, and personal choices of morality.
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