Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

ARI Ironic Humor

Rate this topic


Delta
 Share

Recommended Posts

"I'll have a chapter on boards of directors. You see, they don't exist . . . The causes of illusions are not pretty to discover. They're either vicious or tragic. This one is both. Mainly vicious. . . All I mean is that a board of directors is one or two ambious men - and a whole lot of ballast . . . Great big empty nothings. They say we can't visualize a total nothing. Hell, sit at any committee meeting."

-Kent Lansing (The Founainhead, Ayn Rand)

ARI

Ahh, the irony <_<

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I'll have a chapter on boards of directors. You see, they don't exist . . . [...]

-Kent Lansing (The Founainhead, Ayn Rand)

ARI

Ahh, the irony  :P

I don't get it. Why do you see irony here?

Irony, as I use the term, names this idea: gently sarcastic humor arising from using words in a way that conveys an implication that contradicts their explicit meaning. An example from an imaginary political column would be: "While members of both parties applauded, President Bush, noted for his refusal to compromise when facing principled opposition, today signed into law the largest U. S. budget in history."

So, where is the irony in your original post? Or do you attach a different meaning to the term and idea of irony?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are three principle types of irony (Socratic Irony might be considered a fourth):

Verbal Irony: This is the irony you mentioned in your post, which arises from "an expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning" (Source)

Dramatic Irony: This type of irony is specific to literature and theater, it happens "when the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play" (Source)

Situational Irony: "Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs." (Source)

This is the type of irony present in my original post. You wouldn't expect the foundation that espouses Ayn Rand's ideas to have a board of directors when Rand directly attacked that very institution in The Fountainhead.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are three principle types of irony (Socratic Irony might be considered a fourth):

Verbal Irony: [...]

Dramatic Irony: [...]

Situational Irony: "Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs." (Source)

This is the type of irony present in my original post.  You wouldn't expect the foundation that espouses Ayn Rand's ideas to have a board of directors when Rand directly attacked that very institution in The Fountainhead.

Thank you. These distinctions are helpful. What I don't understand, though, is what underlies these three usages, that is, what is irony itself, in terms of essentials? Are the three (or four) usages species of irony? Or is one fundamental to the others? Judging from the dictionary usages (not definitions) above, I suspect that situational irony is the basic one, and the other two (or three) are applications to particular circumstances. Do you agree?

If irony, in general, is incongruity (not contradiction) between an actual and an expected situation, then how does the supposed irony you have sketched affect your evaluation of the fact that The Ayn Rand Institute has a board of directors?

Edited by BurgessLau
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you. These distinctions are helpful. What I don't understand, though, is what underlies these three usages, that is, what is irony itself, in terms of essentials? Are the three (or four) usages species of irony? Or is one fundamental to the others? Judging from the dictionary usages (not definitions) above, I suspect that situational irony is the basic one, and the other two (or three) are applications to particular circumstances. Do you agree?

If irony, in general, is incongruity (not contradiction) between an actual and an expected situation, then how does the supposed irony you have sketched affect your evaluation of the fact that The Ayn Rand Institute has a board of directors?

I would probably say the fundamental root of "irony" is: an expectation differing from a reality.

As to the seperate question of my evaluation of ARI: I'm not farmiliar enough with the ARI to have a firm and well reasoned opinion of it yet, but I would say that this fact certainly hasn't helped improve my opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As to the seperate question of my evaluation of ARI: I'm not farmiliar enough with the ARI to have a firm and well reasoned opinion of it yet, but I would say that this fact certainly hasn't helped improve my opinion.

What fact? That ARI has a board of directors???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You wouldn't expect the foundation that espouses Ayn Rand's ideas to have a board of directors when Rand directly attacked that very institution in The Fountainhead.

I don't think she was attacking boards of directors as such, but rather those like the ones she portrayed--where they didn't really discuss issues or present arguments, but rather others' opinions...and often made up their mind without regard to any arguments that would be presented.

I did find the juxtaposition of the quote and link to be amusing, still.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

'Twas only intended for a chuckle, not a condemnation.

I'll just say this: the people who are on the board of directors of the Ayn Rand Institute are some of the best people you could ever hope to have grouped for a common purpose. To compare them to a "great big empty nothing" is anything but humorous, intentional or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, I was unaware. Pardon my ignorance.

You may find it in your interest to think twice before mocking that which you don't understand. Pardoning ignorance is one thing, but pardoning failure to engage one's mind is another.

Taking a quote, disregarding it's context (that Ayn Rand was referring to a specific kind of board of directors - the empty, meaningless kind that accomplishes nothing and wishes to accomplish nothing - as was portrayed in the Foutainhead), and then proceeding to draw some loose connection in reference the board of directions at ARI - simply because it is a "board of directors" - is a enormous failing of logic.

To clarifty, the board of directors at ARI is part of the legal structure which allows it to remain a non-profit (and therefore not pay taxes, to some extent). In addition, the board members actively work to create value by developing programs, producing literature, and fundraising to spead the ideas of Objectivism; as well as pursuing their own careers. This is anything but the board of directors Ayn Rand was referring to in The Fountainhead.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To compare them to a "great big empty nothing" is anything but humorous, intentional or not.

I never intended to compare the board of directors at the ARI to a "great big empty nothing." I never stated such explicitly, and although it might be alleged that I made such a comparison implicitly, I trusted that since I was posting on these Objectivist forums that no such implication would be drawn. It appears I was wrong. For the record, the ARI, as I understand it, is an organization which promotes Rand's ideals to the world through a myriad of channels. In doing so, they have always had, and always will have, my full support. That of course, doesn't detract from the inherent irony of the situation.

To clarifty, the board of directors at ARI is part of the legal structure which allows it to remain a non-profit (and therefore not pay taxes, to some extent).

The fact that a board of directors is a requirement of the legal structure actually serves to accentuate the irony in a manner I hadn't seen at first.

Honestly, it was intended only as an ironic musing, not a condemning attack on the ARI. I fail to see why you've become so defensive at such an innocuous remark. I would tell you all to lighten up a little, but I'm afraid that would only meet with further defensiveness. The fact that I find something humorous or ironic does not imply I dissaprove of it. Apparently my idea of irony and humor does not coincide with all of yours, and I shall remember it in the future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If this was purely an "ironic musing," then why did you write:

As to the seperate question of my evaluation of ARI: I'm not farmiliar enough with the ARI to have a firm and well reasoned opinion of it yet, but I would say that this fact certainly hasn't helped improve my opinion.

Directly after comparing (yes, comparing, it is inherent in irony) to the quote in The Fountainhead?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If this was purely an "ironic musing," then why did you write:

Directly after comparing (yes, comparing, it is inherent in irony) to the quote in The Fountainhead?

Perhaps I should have mentioned that my discovery changed naught in my opinion of the ARI, for better or worse. I support the ARI as a group promoting Objectivist principles. I generally like to be extremely well versed on something before I pass opinion on it, rather than just casually acquainted.

Directly comparing what? Your parenthetical remark does not subsitute for a noun.

Assuming you mean the ARI's board of directors - I shall repeat myself: I did not mean to attribute them as a great empty vacuum; how could I pass judgement on something I am not knowledgable of? I simply found the coincidence that the institution which bears Rand's name and promotes her ideas would be run by a board of directors which Rand wasn't altogether fond of. The fact that this is required for non-profit organizations serves as a secondary form of irony which I hadn't anticipated.

EDIT: Cleared up possibly confusing language.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I simply found the coincidence that the society [ARI] which bears Rand's name and promotes her ideas would be run by an institution [a board of directors] Rand wasn't altogether fond of. The fact that this is required for non-profit organizations serves as a secondary form of irony which I hadn't anticipated.

[boldface added for emphasis; clarifications inserted in square brackets.]

Though I still have some doubts about some of your statements and motives, I should point out in your partial defense that some of your terminology is causing a lot of confusion.

When you say "society" above, I think (and hope) you are referring to The Ayn Rand Institute -- right? And when you refer to an "institution" you are using that term to name a very general idea, which here is "board of directors" in general -- right?

The confusion obviously arises when you speak of "institution" in the same paragraph in which you speak of The Ayn Rand Institute. By your terms, the ARI Board of Directors is an "institution" within The Ayn Rand Institute. Do you see why that is inadvertently causing confusion?

Edited by BurgessLau
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now why do you say that?

Perhaps due to Rand's aversion to groups, committees and "collective minds"? Perchane it involved a speech in anthem wherein she said "The word 'We' . . . crushes all beneath it . . ." It might have had something to do with that quote from Kent Lansing as well. Rand understood that regardless of how rational and intelligent men are, they do not function as a collective. She made that pretty clear on multiple occasions . . . Would you care to dispute that? If so, I'd say it'd be an interesting debate, but probably worthy of its own thread.

I should point out in your partial defense that some of your terminology is causing a lot of confusion.

Yes, that is confusing, thanks for pointing it out; you are correct regarding both your inferences as to my meaning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps due to Rand's aversion to groups, committees and "collective minds"? Perchane it involved a speech in anthem wherein she said "The word 'We' . . . crushes all beneath it . . ." It might have had something to do with that quote from Kent Lansing as well. Rand understood that regardless of how rational and intelligent men are, they do not function as a collective. She made that pretty clear on multiple occasions . . . Would you care to dispute that?

Leaving aside everyone's respective interpretations of Ayn Rand's words, I would like to understand your own thoughts on this. When you talk about "aversion to groups, committees and 'collective minds'," I envision a group acting as a mindless whole, absent of any direction as a consequence of lack of serious individual, independent thought. By contrast, cannot a group or committee consist of thinking individuals who collaborate on a joint effort?

For instance, a group of people consisting of those who each have a particular expertise, each adding his own knowledge and perspective to a broad project which requires -- or, at least, can benefit from -- their combined effort. Likewise, I would think that an organization such as the ARI could benefit from being overseen by the expertise -- the unique knowledge and perspective -- of individuals jointly called the "Board of Directors," consisting, perhaps, of a philosopher, a businessman, an educator, an artist, etc. Afterall, the furtherance of the ideas of Objectivism -- which, I think, is the goal of the ARI -- is a very wide endeavor which could involve dealings with academia, business, the public, the government, etc., and a group of knowledgeable people acting together to provide overall guidance could be an enormous benefit.

What do you think of this, Delta?

Edited by stephen_speicher
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I fail to see why you've become so defensive at such an innocuous remark. I would tell you all to lighten up a little, but I'm afraid that would only meet with further defensiveness.

When a mugger assaults a little old lady and steals her purse, if she tries to get it back is she being "defensive" -- OR -- is she rationally defending what she values?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why?

When I wrote that, I actually was thinking you specifically would ask that...I didn't have time to explain it right then, though, so I didn't.

The context:

I first read the post and clicked on the link (at that time I had not even read any of the comments). The topic indicates that the subject would be something humorous, and so I was in the proper mood for a joke. This is also a post on an Objectivist forum, and doesn't appear to be by someone hostile to Objectivism. So, I didn't think (as many here apparently did) that the intent was to insult Objectivism or ARI.

Humor from The Fountainhead:

Having read The Fountainhead, I am familiar with the context of the quote presented. Throughout the book, the boards of directors presented tend to be mindless and ineffectual. They tend to actively discourage independence, rationality, etc. This quote particularly is already ironic because it is a man who works on a board of directors denouncing them in general. He upholds many Objectivist virtues and was the one person in the book who worked hard and convinced a board of directors to promote Roark's career.

Why the link made it more humorous:

Before I even clicked on the link, I was already smiling from the irony and humor from The Fountainhead.

Then, I clicked on the link and went directly to a page with ARI's board of directors spelled out across the top. This, obviously, is not one of those ineffectual boards. ARI has been rather successful so far, and its board of directors is made up of the Kent Lansing type rather than the typical ones represented in The Fountainhead.

This just extended the humor in The Fountainhead. Not only is Kent Lansing (who is primarily a "good" character) wrong about all boards of directors being bad even though he's serving on one, but the rational perspective he offers--which ARI offers more fully--is exactly what is needed to allow a group of people to successfully collaborate with one another.

Overall:

I thought the comparison was amusing. I didn't see any malice, and I don't just assume that people are attacking important values without first having a reason to do so. I was amused before reading any of Delta's comments, so while I don't agree with all of them I still wanted to express my appreciation for the humor he provided. Perhaps I didn't find it amusing for the exact same reasons Delta did, but there is a similarity at least.

Also, it wasn't like I thought through all this slowly and suddenly decided it was humorous. It was a very quick reaction, and I think that was only possible because I knew his purpose was benevolent (from the topic of the post) and that he didn't mean to attack ARI. I didn't think it was sarcastic at all. If the same post came from someone I knew to be a socialist, for example, I would have thought it sarcastic and an attack, and I wouldn't have found it amusing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Delta, if you scan the breadth of opinions and values expressed on this board, you will find that it hardly needs 'lightening up'; even when the air does become too stiff, some appropriate mind usually comes along to put things in their right place.

A thread like this would be completely okay in the spirit of asking questions and trying to reconcile apparent irony or contradiction; you, however, continue to push for your viewpoint with obstinancy, as if you've already had a lot of experience and understanding of the principles you attempt to wield, and are confident in your ability to wield them.

Although you try to turn your initial post into merely a joke when responding to my first post, further down you defend your viewpoint with serious arguments. If it's a joke, it is inappropriate at best and offensive at worst. If it's a serious argument, then you really should heed advice of my post, and that of everyone else here, and not be too literal in your understanding of AR's words. Instead of adopting her judgments and casting them down as your own, adopt her method and produce your own judgments instead.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...