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Would this be considered objectivist music?

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king of avocado
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Hi,

I will introduce my self since this is my first time ever using this site or even participating in an organized objectivist community. I first learned about objectivism when reading the Fountainhead in my (Mrs. Oliver's) English class. In a discussion I had with her, I asked if a band's (Rise Against) music would be considered art through the objectivist lens.

My question is not if the band preaches objectivist principles (part of its stance coincides with objectivism while other parts disagree), my question is if an objectivist would consider this art.

The song that we specifically discussed can be found here:

(Give It All)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ify2fJeqG8...amp;sitesearch=

She said that the screaming could never be considered art.

The lyrics to this song, in a sense, portray man as a heroic being and at his best while also critiquing man.

This song shows that the band is capable of more than screaming:

(Swing Life Away)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2gUDls6QlY...amp;sitesearch=

The above shows that the indicates that if the band can do more than just scream, Give It All must be presented in a style that helps tell the story of the song, and an acoustic guitar just does not support the theme.

Some other songs if you are interested but not necessarily involved in my argument:

Rumors of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

(the title is a quote by Mark Twain)

Prayer of the Refugee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcsTIWEhZZw...amp;sitesearch=

Bricks

Their songs do portray man at his best in some cases, and critiques man to show how he could be better. Their lyrics have depth that I believe many modern artists lack, I have actually analyzed their lyrics as a poem, and it was very interesting to see the recurring themes.

Anyways, mind helping me out with my question?

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These guys are stridently leftist. I used to like them when I was a young teenager. They're also rather mystical at times. It's just emo Anti-flag, IMO, but if it does something for you thats good.

As for your question if it's art, certainly it is art. I don't think it's good art, though.

Edited by TheEgoist
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Though Rise Against wouldn't be considered the flagship of Objectivist art (i.e. romantic realism), I would argue that their music is good.

By "good" I mean that I enjoy them.

With rock, and music in general, being in some kind of cry-baby-life-is-all-pain-and-futile funk, it's very uplifting to find a song that can make you smile and pump you up.

Yes, Rise Against is left-leaning and not every song is amazing. I'm reminded of how Ayn Rand was able to enjoy the launching of Apollo, even though she argued against the creation of NASA in the first place. Though I know someone's going to argue otherwise, I still enjoy their music even though I don't agree with everything they believe.

I'm a fan of all the songs you listed so I thought I would add one of my own from a different band, 30 Seconds to Mars:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=l7wCdsnqhyQ

The first verse (below) and the piano are my favorite parts of this song. It always pumps me up :)

I won't suffer, be broken

Get tired, or wasted

Surrender to nothing

or give up what I

Started

And stopped it

From end to beginning

A new day is coming

And I am finally free

If you ever have a question about whether something you enjoy is "Objectivist" or "rational" it's usually best to ask yourself: Why do I like this?

Answers of "I don't know" or "just because" or "because everyone else does" say something. "It uplifts me" or "it represents an optimistic/benevolent view of the world" says something else.

Hope I helped :)

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Though Rise Against wouldn't be considered the flagship of Objectivist art (i.e. romantic realism), I would argue that their music is good.

By "good" I mean that I enjoy them.

By that standard, I would argue that the music their music is crap (because I quite hate them). But then that is the problem with such a standard, isn't it.

Just some brief summary points.

a. there is no "Objectivist music," per se. For there to be such a thing, one would have to have defined the mechanism by which music affects our consciousness, and while there certainly are all sort of empirical hints at it, no one has systematically defined it. As such, musical tastes are still in question. This was essentially Rand's point in The Romantic Manifesto. Music is unique that way.

b. Based upon her comments on other rock music, it's a pretty safe to bet that Rand would have none other than despised this music. I don't want to go too far into speculative discussions, but it's a pure hunch.

c. You'll find Objectivists who like just about any sort of music, and personally (knowing a bit of music theory and history) I can find value in many genres (rock, blues, jazz, electronica). My metal tastes stop at Rush and a few others.

d. My thought psychologically is that angsty, rage-y metal music has issues with it. I differentiate music that is intense from that which specifically "rages" or is "fatalistic". I find no psychological benefit from dwelling on those types of feelings and if there were any reason I would objectively object to that sort of music it would be on that basis alone. But then I hate any sort of literary work (poem or even blogger post) that is basically a rant, much for the same reason. Anyone can get angry. The real skill is in turning it into productive, rational action. Yes, I know all you metal heads are going to jump on me for saying this. So be it.

As everyone else has said. Best thing to do is introspect about why you like something like this rather than ask what Rand or anyone else would have liked. That includes examining what emotional states results from listening to it, whether that emotional state is healthy, and what you gain from deciding to put yourself into that emotional state (which is what the choice to listen is.)

Edited by KendallJ
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Just as reference, there has been a very good topic that's covered ideas about the psychological effects of metal and hard rock music.

I wouldn't consider Rise Against metal, though. Normally Metal is a tad more complex than the typical punk/hardcore sound of Rise Against.

Different music has different effects on people's minds. Personally, I find most of this neo-hardcore music to be trash. It makes me angry. It might uplift you, and that is great.

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  • 5 months later...

King, in response to the question in your subject header:

Whether Rand thought it was trash, or not even music, she herself said there is no such thing as "Objectivist" art. (Incidentally, she didn't disqualify as art something based on her personal opinion.)

But this is what she said:

"So many combinations of premises are possible that you can't make a rule applicable to everyone who claims to like all kinds of art. You can say the same about people who claim they only like "romantic" art or-be careful here-"Objectivist" art (if there ever were such a thing, which there isn't.) You cannot always be sure what a person's premises are; most people are inconsistent."

Since you're interested in the matter, you might be interested in my blog, Orpheus Remembered, where I discuss the relationship between music and Objectivism.

Shine on,

Joe

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King, in response to the question in your subject header:

Whether Rand thought it was trash, or not even music, she herself said there is no such thing as "Objectivist" art. (Incidentally, she didn't disqualify as art something based on her personal opinion.)

But this is what she said:

"So many combinations of premises are possible that you can't make a rule applicable to everyone who claims to like all kinds of art. You can say the same about people who claim they only like "romantic" art or-be careful here-"Objectivist" art (if there ever were such a thing, which there isn't.) You cannot always be sure what a person's premises are; most people are inconsistent."

Since you're interested in the matter, you might be interested in my blog, Orpheus Remembered, where I discuss the relationship between music and Objectivism.

Shine on,

Joe

Hey,

Thank you for the clarification. I now realize that I wordered my question completely wrong.

What I should have asked is "would an objectivist consider this music" I think.

Cheers,

Mike

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Hey,

Thank you for the clarification. I now realize that I wordered my question completely wrong.

What I should have asked is "would an objectivist consider this music" I think.

Cheers,

Mike

Hi, King,

You CAN reword that, but that opens up a whole 'nother can of worms...like asking, "would an Objectivist consider this cooking? or science?". Objectivism warns against "arguments from authority." The "objectivist" approach would be: is this integratable" as music, cognitively speaking. (See "Art and Cognition" for Rand's full argument, but here's a sample: she wrote, regarding "conditioning one's ear": it is not the ear that needs to be conditioned, but the mind.) The other consideration is to take the word music "literally." What is music without the Muses? Does the sound make you muse when you hear it, does it make you contemplate? Is it "music" to your ears?

I did want to say something earlier, but I forgot, but usually when I see talks of "Objectivist" music, the discussion heads straight for the lyrics. It IS a lot easier to have Objectivist ideas in lyrics, as in the case of Rush. But when you discuss melodies, etc., well, it's like saying chocolate frosting is Objectivist...it doesn't work.

But we still have chocolate frosting :P

Edited by spaceplayer
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  • 3 weeks later...

I should also do a bit of an introduction here, since this is my post. I discovered objectivism in prison, where I read the fountainhead. I have since found very few other objectivists to talk to, as I have generally been unwilling to join any organization to meet them. That said, I have a few comments.

On Rise Against; I would definitely consider them art, and very good art at that. (For anyone interested, please listen to The Good Left Undone). Whether or not they scream is irrelevant, as is whether Ayn would enjoyed have them. The job of an artist is to create and convey, both of which Rise Against does very well. And, actually, I doubt Rand would have considered them 'modern art', since her chief complaint regarding modern art was that it represented absolutely nothing and was not a selective re-creation of reality. That complaint can certainly not be made against Rise Against. Rand would probably regard them as good but not to her liking, in the same way she regarded Tolstoy. As a side issue, yes the band is alarmingly leftist, but they do include The Fountainhead on the 'recommended reading' lists they place on every album.

Also, I am somewhat disturbed by the comment A=A, Objectivism = Rand. To my understanding objectivism is primarily a philosophy of reason, not of dictates. Simply put, Ayn was brilliant and is one of my few heroes, but she was not infallible. Her opinions were not always correct, and should not be treated as such.

Thank You

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  • 1 month later...
My question is not if the band preaches objectivist principles (part of its stance coincides with objectivism while other parts disagree), my question is if an objectivist would consider this art.

Sometimes it pays to just think outside the box :thumbsup:

The band has a cool sound. Don't let whatever your Objectivist views are prevent you from enjoying their sound.

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  • 1 month later...

This is one of the most irritating questions in Objectivism: "Would Ayn Rand approve of this?" is akin to asking "What Would Jesus Do?" The very heart of Objectivism, while involving objective morality, reason, etc., is thinking for yourself. If you find yourself waking up every morning asking if your breakfast would be Rand approved, then you've missed the point in a philosophy that is to be your guide and road to something better. A particularly work of art is meant to celebrate the heroic being and human consciousness. Romantic music in general was very individualistic and beautifully coincides with Objectivism as a philosophy. However, that does not mean every other brand or genre of music on the planet is an abomination.

Rand did not care for rock music. Good for her. Neither did 75 percent of everyone living at that time. Remember that when the British invasion hit America, the only people who embraced it were young, idealistic, and not searching for a deeper value in their art. Young people have never made up more than 25 percent of the population, even less so now. Naturally, an older woman who was educated in pre-World War II musical taste is not going to have a deep admiration for something that she would say resembles little more than tribal beats. That was her biggest objection to rock music: the drums.

Having said that, remember the following: Objectivism is a philosophy that through reason, advocates a particular way of living. It does not dictate your lifestyle prima facie, such to the point that you are constantly asking yourself whether or not something is appropriate. And more importantly, it does not have an opinion on everything. What it does do is provide a basis of reason and fundamental values with which you are to go off and judge the rest of the world, including your own life.

In terms of music (or art), this could mean many anything. Ayn Rand hated Bach, likely for his celebration of religious and aristocratic values just as much as Baroque music's showy sound. I love Bach. To me, the day an Objectivist writes a work half as beautiful as his Mass in B minor, the world will know that Ayn Rand was on to something great. Music can be about many things and as much as I am against relative interpretation of anything, art is one area in which one cannot simply apply a blanket statement denouncing a particular work because it doesn't do for you what you enjoy in your art. What a viewer or listener acquires from a particular work of art may in fact conicide directly with Objectivist values, though the work itself is not inherently Objectivist.

Case in point: Rise Against is a bunch of socialist weasels (They are also classified as punk, not emo, don't even get me started on that debate). They hate capitalism and could best be described as anarchists. I can say this as a devoted fan. However, because they advocate anarchy and socialism does not mean I have to rescind my music taste and turn on Rachmaninoff. I can see why the band is not everyone's cup of tea, but for me, they offer something a hundred other bands never could. (1) An amazing sense of fast-paced rhythm and melodic chord progressions that not only help the band set itself apart from lesser punk acts but which also offer stimulation far beyond what one can get out of Romantic music. Have you ever tried to work out with Tchaikovsky? (2) Many of their lyrics are extremely political in nature, however, they do offer a message at the core that is very important to Objectivists: Don't take everything your government does with authority because most of the time, it is wrong.

If we were to all denounce every non-Objectivism-oriented type of modern music or band, we would all be listening to Rush (who indeed, dedicated 2112 to Ayn Rand). Not only would this make it impossible to have a variety of music (no matter how long Rush lives or how many albums they've produced), but it is extremely dangerous. For Objectivism to claim one type of music is intrinsically superior to another is no different than Stalin advocating socialist realism.

I am not advocating giving up on romantic realism. I am not advocating that Rand was wrong about the state of art and its links to philosophy. What I am saying is that not only should one think for himself but one must think for himself, especially about matters of personal taste, like music or clothing. Objectivism is a philosophy of the world and should be shown to the world. We need to spend more time talking to complete strangers and asking them how they feel about a life of servitude at the hands of altruism. Until then, we will sit isolated in forums and clubs, wondering how we can better spread our message and better advocate our views, debating esoteric topics like what Ayn Rand would wear to the gym.

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I think Ayn Rand would hate this band because they sound way too much like Greenday, The Offspring and a million other American "modern punk rock" bands who have about as much artistic value as a boy band like N Sync, except that these were engineered and produced on a conveyor belt to appeal to teenage boys with no taste in music rather than to teenage girls with the same shortcoming.

Oh wait, that's why I hate it, I have no way of knowing what Ayn Rand would've thought about it. I do know that it doesn't matter much, since Objectivists don't set out to copy Ayn Rand's taste in music.

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Have I ever tried working out to Tchaikovsky? Of course not; I hold music in a much higher regard than backround noise to drown out the grunts around me

Though admittedly I've used Mozart to drown out crappy background music in waiting rooms, etc. I think he'd appreciate the thought that over 200 years later he is much preferred over Britney Spears and the like--though I think he would be astonished at the recording/playback devices we have--or even the concept of recording and playback!

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Obviously, I did not mean that Rise Against is any way objectively superior to Mozart or Tchaikovsky, but rather, that all music can be judged as objectively good in a center context. I listen to anything and everything except rap (which to me, is not music, but beat poetry), reggae, and teeny pop. I can still find objective value in good punk music as I can in Bach or Tchaikovsky or Copland or anything else. I won't call anti-punk statements elitist (simply because I agree they don't hold as much talent as Mozart or whatever) but I think holding yourself in a position that is better than others simply because you disagree with their musical taste is a bit childish.

Also, for those of you who don't know your punk history, I'm not a fan of Green Day either, but know that Green Day was never "mass produced," at least, not until more recently. Both Green Day and The Offspring appeared on independent labels in the 1990s and can hardly be called mass produced. As for Rise Against, they had a bit more of an advantage with the mainstream success of other punk groups but nonetheless, managed to develop their own niche, despite their vegetarianism, their socialist politics, and their anti-statist attitude. Before you go dissing particular acts for a lack of musical talent, you should at least get your facts in order.

Steve, I know we've met in person, so I guess it's nice to finally see a familiar face on the forums. I'll see you at the April 19 meeting, I'm sure (unless you're in 1FROG).

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Obviously, I did not mean that Rise Against is any way objectively superior to Mozart or Tchaikovsky, but rather, that all music can be judged as objectively good in a center context. I listen to anything and everything except rap (which to me, is not music, but beat poetry), reggae, and teeny pop. I can still find objective value in good punk music as I can in Bach or Tchaikovsky or Copland or anything else. I won't call anti-punk statements elitist (simply because I agree they don't hold as much talent as Mozart or whatever) but I think holding yourself in a position that is better than others simply because you disagree with their musical taste is a bit childish.

Also, for those of you who don't know your punk history, I'm not a fan of Green Day either, but know that Green Day was never "mass produced," at least, not until more recently. Both Green Day and The Offspring appeared on independent labels in the 1990s and can hardly be called mass produced. As for Rise Against, they had a bit more of an advantage with the mainstream success of other punk groups but nonetheless, managed to develop their own niche, despite their vegetarianism, their socialist politics, and their anti-statist attitude. Before you go dissing particular acts for a lack of musical talent, you should at least get your facts in order.

Steve, I know we've met in person, so I guess it's nice to finally see a familiar face on the forums. I'll see you at the April 19 meeting, I'm sure (unless you're in 1FROG).

After all that, I am drawing a blank with respect to you! (Horrible with names.)

Heh. There are at least two other regular 2FROGgers here (K-mac and Sanjavalen)--and a couple of people who used to go but haven't been to one in a while. So you are in more company than you know.

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