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Jonathan13
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No, she didn't "identify" anyone's psychology. A person would have to actually meet and get to know another person in order to identify his psychology. She merely psychologized about people who like abstract paintings.

Is this an example of me psychologizing: "People who think 9/11 was an inside job have an unfocused mind."?

Keep in mind, I haven't met these people.

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Is this an example of me psychologizing: "People who think 9/11 was an inside job have an unfocused mind."?

Keep in mind, I haven't met these people.

Yes, it's psychologizing. I've met many people who think that 9/11 was an inside job who have very focused minds. I've known of many abstract artists and theorists who have written very focused and intelligent thoughts on abstract art and lots of other subjects.

J

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Yes, it's psychologizing. I've met many people who think that 9/11 was an inside job who have very focused minds. I've known of many abstract artists and theorists who have written very focused and intelligent thoughts on abstract art and lots of other subjects.

J

Ok, just checking. What if they think the Pink Panther planned 9/11. Still focused and ready to go?

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Ok, just checking. What if they think the Pink Panther planned 9/11. Still focused and ready to go?

My point is that I think we need to actually learn what a person's argument is, and get a sense of how they think and why they believe what they believe before declaring that they're "unfocused" or otherwise mentally deficient. Since the Pink Panther is a fictional character, we would have enough information to judge a person's departure from reality if he seriously believed that any fictional character planned 9/11.

I don't think that Rand new enough about visual art in general, or about abstract art in particular, or about the people who created it or theorized about it, to make many of the judgments that she did. I get the impression, from reading her arguments against abstract art, that she hadn't read much of anything about the subject, and wasn't aware of what those promoting it actually believed. She presented what I would call caricatures or straw man constructions of their views, and then attacked those caricatures and straw men. Now, she may have been right that certain people believed the things that she claims they believed, and that they were unfocused and evil and all of that. But, unfortunately, we'll never know because she didn't identify or quote any specific person as having held the beliefs that she implied that all abstract artists and theorists must have believed.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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No, she didn't "identify" anyone's psychology. A person would have to actually meet and get to know another person in order to identify his psychology. She merely psychologized about people who like abstract paintings.

...

It seems that it's very upsetting to certain people that others have knowledge that they don't, and that others have the ability to experience and understand things that they can't. Rather than recognize and accept their own limitations, they lash out at those who aren't so limited, and they claim that the knowledge that is being imparted is an act of faking reality. Pitiful.

Your criticism of the practice of psychologizing would be much stronger without that last paragraph.

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Your criticism of the practice of psychologizing would be much stronger without that last paragraph.

That paragraph wasn't an example of psychologizing. Did you read my supporting evidence? When I tried to explain aspects of the science of perspective to Ifat so that she might begin to understand why I and others had a different judgment of a painting than she had, she accused me making up an explanation to justify an opinion.

It's like sitting at a table with a four-year-old who knows how to count but doesn't yet understand math. He has, say, four rows laid out on the table, each containing four blocks, and asks you to guess how many blocks there are in total. You say, pointing to each row as you go along, "Well, four plus four plus four plus four...is sixteen...therefore, there are sixteen blocks."

If the child were to very angrily reply that you were just making stuff up about "math," and that you'd need to count the blocks one by one, like he does, to actually know how many there are, rather than just making a lucky guess, would you say that it would be psychologizing for someone to claim that he wasn't recognizing or accepting his own limitations, that he was lashing out at those who aren't so limited?

J

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That paragraph wasn't an example of psychologizing. Did you read my supporting evidence? When I tried to explain aspects of the science of perspective to Ifat so that she might begin to understand why I and others had a different judgment of a painting than she had, she accused me making up an explanation to justify an opinion.

It's like sitting at a table with a four-year-old who knows how to count but doesn't yet understand math. He has, say, four rows laid out on the table, each containing four blocks, and asks you to guess how many blocks there are in total. You say, pointing to each row as you go along, "Well, four plus four plus four plus four...is sixteen...therefore, there are sixteen blocks."

If the child were to very angrily reply that you were just making stuff up about "math," and that you'd need to count the blocks one by one, like he does, to actually know how many there are, rather than just making a lucky guess, would you say that it would be psychologizing for someone to claim that he wasn't recognizing or accepting his own limitations, that he was lashing out at those who aren't so limited?

It depends on whether or not the child actually understands that what you did is valid or not. If he does understand, but cannot yet do it himself, then he is lashing out at you as a result of your ability to do something he can't. But if he doesn't understand what you did at all, and truly does think you're just making stuff up, then his anger cannot be due to his refusal to face his own limitations; he doesn't grasp the existence of the limitation in the first place. In that case, he may be responding with anger because he doesn't like when people make stuff up and act like it's fact.

My point is simply that it's very hard to tell the difference between a failure to grasp and a refusal to acknowledge. Thus, imputing one process or another to someone requires stronger evidence than a few internet postings. Certainly there are more explanations for angry responses than the one you provided.

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It depends on whether or not the child actually understands that what you did is valid or not. If he does understand, but cannot yet do it himself, then he is lashing out at you as a result of your ability to do something he can't. But if he doesn't understand what you did at all, and truly does think you're just making stuff up, then his anger cannot be due to his refusal to face his own limitations; he doesn't grasp the existence of the limitation in the first place. In that case, he may be responding with anger because he doesn't like when people make stuff up and act like it's fact.

My point is simply that it's very hard to tell the difference between a failure to grasp and a refusal to acknowledge. Thus, imputing one process or another to someone requires stronger evidence than a few internet postings. Certainly there are more explanations for angry responses than the one you provided.

Sure, there could indeed be other explanations for Ifat's anger, but they're all worse than the one that I've gone with. I was being generous in giving her the benefit of the doubt and making the best possible conclusion about her. If you're suggesting that I should consider the possibility that she may not understand that the science of perspective is valid, then my judgment of her can only get worse.

J

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Sure, there could indeed be other explanations for Ifat's anger, but they're all worse than the one that I've gone with. I was being generous in giving her the benefit of the doubt and making the best possible conclusion about her. If you're suggesting that I should consider the possibility that she may not understand that the science of perspective is valid, then my judgment of her can only get worse.

Lashing out as a result of one's own limitation is the most charitable explanation you have? I don't see any discussions of the science of perspective as a whole, just its applications to particular paintings. Not recognizing that the science of perspective as a whole is valid is a far cry from not understanding its application to a particular painting.

I for one know very little about art, especially visual art. I trust that the science of perspective is valid, but if someone handed me a Jackson Pollock and tried to tell me it was good art or represented incredible skill based on the science of perspective, I'd be very skeptical of that person's understanding or application of perspective. Looking back over this little feud through the various threads, I don't understand Ifat's angry reaction to the particular paintings posted, but I certainly don't get jumping to the conclusion that she's reacting to an inadequacy that she recognizes within herself. That's a bit too presumptuous for me. Reading the past posts of this little disagreement, I see that both sides are guilty of it, and I'd just as soon extricate myself from this altogether. It simply bothers me when people impute motives to others on this board.

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No, she didn't "identify" anyone's psychology. A person would have to actually meet and get to know another person in order to identify his psychology. She merely psychologized about people who like abstract paintings.

Abstract paintings might not be art, but sometimes they look nice as decoration. There ARE some abstract paintings I would LIKE as decoration, actually. If a painter operates exclusively in an abstract style, it may be worth considering WHY they painted that way. Take a Rothko painting (anyone unfamilar with him can google image search "Rothko" and get a pretty good idea of the stuff he did); that's what he did a lot of. It wouldn't be a stretch to question his clarity of mind since he also claims to be an artist, but if he claimed to be an interior decorator, it'd make perfect sense.

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Lashing out as a result of one's own limitation is the most charitable explanation you have? I don't see any discussions of the science of perspective as a whole, just its applications to particular paintings. Not recognizing that the science of perspective as a whole is valid is a far cry from not understanding its application to a particular painting.

Well, as I said in my last post, if Ifat doesn't understand the relevance that perspective has to the painting which we were discussing, then my judgment of her up to now has been much too generous.

I for one know very little about art, especially visual art. I trust that the science of perspective is valid, but if someone handed me a Jackson Pollock and tried to tell me it was good art or represented incredible skill based on the science of perspective, I'd be very skeptical of that person's understanding or application of perspective.

Yes, it would be inappropriate for someone to discuss perspective in regard to a painting which isn't meant to represent a 3-dimensional space. But I don't know what relevance that has since, as I explained in post #50, the image that Ifat and I were discussing was a realist painting. It was a painting that Ifat had posted as an example of good art. It was an image of a key in a lock, with other keys hanging from a ring attached to the first key. Another poster had mentioned that the image was distorted -- that it looked "melted." I explained why it looked distorted: because of perspective errors. I even provide a link to an online tutorial so that people could learn to measure the errors for themselves if they wanted.

Looking back over this little feud through the various threads, I don't understand Ifat's angry reaction to the particular paintings posted, but I certainly don't get jumping to the conclusion that she's reacting to an inadequacy that she recognizes within herself. That's a bit too presumptuous for me.

I think that's because you don't appear to be really paying attention to the details of the discussion. The fact that you mentioned Pollock and perspective above, which has no relation or relevance at all to the particulars of this case, suggests to me that you're not aware of what's been discussed.

Reading the past posts of this little disagreement, I see that both sides are guilty of it, and I'd just as soon extricate myself from this altogether. It simply bothers me when people impute motives to others on this board.

Hey, I'm open to changing my opinion of Ifat. If she doesn't grasp the relevance of perspective to the painting of the lock and keys, I'll gladly downgrade my judgment of her if it'll make you happy.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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My point is that I think we need to actually learn what a person's argument is, and get a sense of how they think and why they believe what they believe before declaring that they're "unfocused" or otherwise mentally deficient. Since the Pink Panther is a fictional character, we would have enough information to judge a person's departure from reality if he seriously believed that any fictional character planned 9/11.

I don't think that Rand new enough about visual art in general, or about abstract art in particular, or about the people who created it or theorized about it, to make many of the judgments that she did. I get the impression, from reading her arguments against abstract art, that she hadn't read much of anything about the subject

So, just to summarize: you admit that your previous observation, about having to meet and get to know someone before making a judgment about their psychology is nonsense. You can in fact judge them based on their actions, statements or preferences alone.

And now you're changing your argument to an ad hominem against Miss Rand: she was psychologizing because she wasn't well read on the subject. You're also going in circles (all ad hominem arguments are circular): You know she was ignorant of the subject because what she said about it is wrong, and she was wrong because she was ignorant.

Sorry, but the only way you're going to convince anyone of the value of something, is by explaining what its value is in a logical fashion. No amount of bashing those who disagree with you will accomplish that, it will only shed light on your own irrationality and psychology. So, what's good about abstract art? How exactly is it an expression of a focused mind?

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No, she didn't "identify" anyone's psychology. A person would have to actually meet and get to know another person in order to identify his psychology. She merely psychologized about people who like abstract paintings.

What I said was one step remote from directly quoting Ayn Rand. It is practically what SHE said. If you want to say that Ayn Rand psychologized people, I suggest you don't do it in an Objectivist forum.

Just in case someone has a doubt - read the chapter from which I quoted. She explains, with examples, why the style reveals a man's psycho-epistemology. She wrote a whole lot illustrating and supporting her analysis. It's not out of the blue "if you like this, you are that".

I like many abstract paintings, but, as an artist, I usually paint with a level of realist clarity that would qualify me as having one of the most focused minds in the world according to Rand's criteria. But I also sometimes create abstract paintings. So, using the childish method of pychologizing that you're using, I suppose that I'm a person of "mixed mindsets"? I apparently go from absolute clarity of mind to absolute lack of clarity of mind

Mixed, I suppose (I didn't see your artwork).

I think she was coming from the same sort of limitations of knowledge that you were coming from when you thought that I was faking reality by explaining the perspective errors in a realist painting. When it comes to my being able to see things that you don't, it doesn't appear to matter if a painting is abstract or realist: If I see and understand anything that you can't, why, I must be making things up or faking reality!

It seems that it's very upsetting to certain people that others have knowledge that they don't, and that others have the ability to experience and understand things that they can't.

See now, THAT, however, is psychologizing. It is an insult in disguise. You are openly saying that I am posting what I post here because I am upset that you know more than I do (which is also untrue, but beside the point).

Edited by ifatart
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Yes, it would be inappropriate for someone to discuss perspective in regard to a painting which isn't meant to represent a 3-dimensional space. But I don't know what relevance that has since, as I explained in post #50, the image that Ifat and I were discussing was a realist painting. It was a painting that Ifat had posted as an example of good art. It was an image of a key in a lock, with other keys hanging from a ring attached to the first key. Another poster had mentioned that the image was distorted -- that it looked "melted." I explained why it looked distorted: because of perspective errors. I even provide a link to an online tutorial so that people could learn to measure the errors for themselves if they wanted.

This just shows that you don't have an idea what Ayn Rand wrote about art. She never said every detail in a painting needs to be like a photo. She said that the aesthetic value of a work of art is measured by how well the rendering and all elements in the painting serve to illustrate its theme. For example, in The Fountainhead, Howard Roark never goes to the restroom, even though a normal person does. This is intentional because that detail has nothing to do with the theme (which is Individualism). The same goes for visual art. Blurring out unimportant parts can serve the aesthetic value of the piece a lot more than enhancing every detail.

What someone called "melted" is, I suppose how the textures looked shiny and smooth - unlike a real key which has a more sharp texture and edges. The texture enhances the way one experiences the keys as a treasure. If the keys were like a photo it would no longer be art, it would be a picture of keys. Judging "focus" has to be done in relation to the theme of a piece.

The focus is measured by how clearly the theme is illustrated. In The Fountainhead, for example, the theme is exhibited in a very clear, accurate manner because the philosophy behind the theme (behind individualism) is fully clarified in Ayn Rand's mind. And, as a result, every dialog demonstrates the characters and the theme in a crystal clear manner. Had she not thought out the philosophy behind the theme, or took the time to identify it consciously, it is likely she would not have consistently illustrated it and so more random elements would have been added.

In the drawing of the keys, the theme is enjoyment of every day life. This is illustrated by the fact that an ordinary set of keys is rendered as if it were a treasure: smooth and shiny and in the very center of the drawing, viewed from an unusual angle, showing that to look at the keys from that angle, one would have to bend close to them to observe them closely, rather than view them from the usual angle they appear when one unlocks a door. All those serve to focus the mind of the viewer on the theme (on how every day objects can be enjoyed). This has an implied view of existence and of human nature.

Edited by ifatart
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While I don't necessarily disagree with the theme of the keyes, and I do think it's a nice painting, I don't think how it's rendered is a good example of serving it's theme. It just looks like a poor choice of blending techinique, like using the smudge brush in Photoshop, and not correctly observing how reflections in metal work. It actually retracts from the shininess of the metal, as shiny objects have clear reflections, and gives it a satined look. The theme could have been helped by a more accurate, yet stylized, rendering.

A couple of examples of what I mean by sharper reflections:

http://watercoloursforfun.com/Teapot/18Teapot.jpg

http://www.brassproducts.com/images/brass1.jpg

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This just shows that you don't have an idea what Ayn Rand wrote about art. She never said every detail in a painting needs to be like a photo.

I never suggested that an artwork needs to be "like a photo." Rand demanded that a painting needs to look like reality. She demanded that a painting must present objects in the manner in which man perceives them, including in proper perspective.

She said that the aesthetic value of a work of art is measured by how well the rendering and all elements in the painting serve to illustrate its theme. For example, in The Fountainhead, Howard Roark never goes to the restroom, even though a normal person does. This is intentional because that detail has nothing to do with the theme (which is Individualism). The same goes for visual art.

Are you saying that using proper perspective is an unimportant detail? Are you suggesting that the artist who painted the image of the lock and keys intentionally avoided proper perspective -- that she actually understands how to paint things as they appear in reality, but she chose to alter their perspective? Avoiding perspective, or using it improperly (even if unintentionally), results in an image containing more than one perspective at once. Well, here's what Rand had to say on the subject:

"...down to the rebellion against consciousness, expressed by a phenomenon such as Cubism which seeks specifically to disintegrate man's consciousness by painting objects as man does not perceive them (from several perspectives at once)."

So, to intentionally mess around with perspective is to rebel against consciousness! If we use Rand's criteria, the best that we can say about the artist who painted the lock and keys is that she unintentionally disregarded the importance of presenting objects as man perceives them, and that her art therefore reveals that she exists in an unfocused cognitive fog, and she seeks to escape identity and to fake reality. What would Rand say about people who like such distorted visions of reality?

Blurring out unimportant parts can serve the aesthetic value of the piece a lot more than enhancing every detail.

Oh, but Rand didn't like blurring. Not at all. Any intentional blurring was bad. She didn't say anything about it being good when used to blur out "unimportant parts." In fact, I suspect that she would have said that "unimportant parts" have no business being in a painting in the first place.

What someone called "melted" is, I suppose how the textures looked shiny and smooth - unlike a real key which has a more sharp texture and edges.

You can't see the perspective errors in the painting, can you?

J

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In point of fact, the keys painting has at least two perspective errors. The doorknob and lock appear to be "facing" in different directions (off by about 20 degrees from each other, I'd say). The key in the lock looks as if it is bent where the head joins the shaft.

By the way the thread has been split, the keys are here: http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=16870&view=findpost&p=223400

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So, to intentionally mess around with perspective is to rebel against consciousness! If we use Rand's criteria, the best that we can say about the artist who painted the lock and keys is that she unintentionally disregarded the importance of presenting objects as man perceives them, and that her art therefore reveals that she exists in an unfocused cognitive fog, and she seeks to escape identity and to fake reality. What would Rand say about people who like such distorted visions of reality?

No, it would be an error of knowledge. That's not the same as an unfocused mind.

Oh, but Rand didn't like blurring. Not at all. Any intentional blurring was bad. She didn't say anything about it being good when used to blur out "unimportant parts." In fact, I suspect that she would have said that "unimportant parts" have no business being in a painting in the first place.

Did she actually say so? The fact that you suspect something does not make it so. ;)

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No, it would be an error of knowledge. That's not the same as an unfocused mind.

How would we determine that any deviation from reality in any painting is or is not an error of knowledge, and not an indicator of an unfocused mind? How do such judgments work? If we like an artist and her paintings, her deviations from reality are innocent errors of knowledge, but if we don't like an artist and her paintings, her deviations from reality are proof of her psychological and moral deficiencies?

Did she actually say so? The fact that you suspect something does not make it so. ;)

Rand said that everything included in a painting takes on metaphysical significance, and that an artist's job is to selectively choose the important while eliminating the unimportant or inconsequential, so, yes, I'd say that there's solid ground for my suspicions.

J

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How would we determine that any deviation from reality in any painting is or is not an error of knowledge, and not an indicator of an unfocused mind? How do such judgments work? If we like an artist and her paintings, her deviations from reality are innocent errors of knowledge, but if we don't like an artist and her paintings, her deviations from reality are proof of her psychological and moral deficiencies?

I'll admit that off the top of my head I can't come up with an answer that i'm satisfied with. Perhaps I need a little coffee or sleep first. However, honestly, are you saying you can't tell that, say, Picasso's paintings were deliberate while the lock and keys has some unintentional errors(like perspective)?. Actually, i'm pretty darn sure you can, so the question is not really if but how.

Rand said that everything included in a painting takes on metaphysical significance, and that an artist's job is to selectively choose the important while eliminating the unimportant or inconsequential, so, yes, I'd say that there's solid ground for my suspicions.

"Eliminating the unimportant" can also mean eliminating unimportant aspects. Take for example a portrait. An artist may judge the particular details of the background to be unimportant, the focus being on the persons face, but aspects of the background(like light) can help the theme(setting the mood and giving more depth and contrast). I see nothing in Ayn Rand's words that speak against it.

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I never suggested that an artwork needs to be "like a photo." Rand demanded that a painting needs to look like reality. She demanded that a painting must present objects in the manner in which man perceives them, including in proper perspective.
Do you have a reference? Perhaps this is your interpretation of what she wrote in her article "Our Cultural Value Deprivation".

To the extent that they communicate anything at all, the visual arts are ruled by a single principle: distortion. Distortion of perspective, of space, of shape, of color, and, above all, of the human figure. We are surrounded by images of distorted, dismembered, disintegrated human bodies—such as might be drawn by a retarded five-year-old—and they pursue us everywhere: on subway ads, in fashion magazines, in TV commercials, or suspended on chains over our heads in fashionable concert halls.

There is also the nonrepresentational—or Rorschach—school of art, consisting of blobs, swirls, and smears which are and aren't, which are anything you might want them to be provided you stare at them long enough, keeping your eyes and mind out of focus. Provided also you forget that the Rorschach test was devised to detect mental illness.

If one were to look for the purpose of that sort of stuff, the kindest thing to say would be that the purpose is to take in the suckers and provide a field day for pretentious mediocrities. But if one looked deeper, one would find something much worse: the attempt to make you doubt the evidence of your senses and the sanity of your mind.

Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value judgments. Observe what image of man, of life and of reality modern art infects people with—particularly the young whose first access to a broad view of existence and first source of values lie in the realm of art.

Is this what you are referring to, or do you have some reference from Rand's published work?

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I think we are confusing Rand's aesthetic preferences as being a part of Objectivism when it is not. She states right in the Introduction of The Romantic Manifesto that

"this manifesto is not issued in the name of an organization or movement. I speak only for myself."

She uses her philosophy to explain why she enjoys the sense of life of Romanticism, but again that is only her preference.

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Do you have a reference? Perhaps this is your interpretation of what she wrote in her article "Our Cultural Value Deprivation"...Is this what you are referring to, or do you have some reference from Rand's published work?

Sure, that's part of it, along with her comments, which I posted earlier, on Cubism and painting objects as man perceives them from a single perspective.

J

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I'll admit that off the top of my head I can't come up with an answer that i'm satisfied with. Perhaps I need a little coffee or sleep first. However, honestly, are you saying you can't tell that, say, Picasso's paintings were deliberate while the lock and keys has some unintentional errors(like perspective)?. Actually, i'm pretty darn sure you can, so the question is not really if but how.

No, I think Picasso's paintings were deliberate departures from true perspective. But no one has proved to me that his playing with perspective was a "rebellion against consciousness" or an attempt to "disintegrate man's consciousness," versus that he was just committing innocent "errors of knowledge," or that he was even wrong to begin with. I've heard of no Objectivists, including Rand, quoting him or any other Cubist and then addressing their actual views on what and why they were doing what they did with their art.

The same is true of aesthetic theorists and practitioners of abstract art. I know of no Objectivist who has addressed their actual views on what abstract art is, and how it works. No evidence has been presented to back up the claims that they were unfocused, faking reality, or out to disintegrate man's conciousness, or that they were not making innocent "errors of knowledge," let alone that their theories were wrong.

Btw, unlike Rand, I don't have a problem with artists intentionally deviating from true perspective. I see no difference in enhancing the effects of perspective than in enhancing the effects of color or any other element which Rand would have found perfectly acceptable to enhance. Just because Rand or anyone else might not recognize that an artist is romanticizing perspective, or any other aspect of his art, doesn't mean that he's rebelling against consciousness or whatever.

"Eliminating the unimportant" can also mean eliminating unimportant aspects. Take for example a portrait. An artist may judge the particular details of the background to be unimportant, the focus being on the persons face, but aspects of the background(like light) can help the theme(setting the mood and giving more depth and contrast). I see nothing in Ayn Rand's words that speak against it.

The same can be true of an artist's intentional altering of perspective. An artist may wish to enhance the perspective in an image for reasons that those inexperienced in the visual arts may not recognize just by looking at a painting with their novice eyes.

J

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I think we are confusing Rand's aesthetic preferences as being a part of Objectivism when it is not. She states right in the Introduction of The Romantic Manifesto that

"this manifesto is not issued in the name of an organization or movement. I speak only for myself."

She uses her philosophy to explain why she enjoys the sense of life of Romanticism, but again that is only her preference.

She may not have been speaking for any organization or movement in The Romantic Manifesto, but she was speaking in the name of her philosophy of Objectivism. The Romantic Manifesto presents her theory of the fifth branch of her philosophy.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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