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Thread: What is it with Ayn Rand?

  1. #16
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mal4mac View Post
    OK Morpheus you, Ecurb & Christopher Hitchens* have nudged me into, perhaps, reading the first one if it appears on the library new shelf. Still not expecting to like it much, but one needs to keep in touch with the Zeitgeist, however trivial it is becoming. Christopher provides a damning review of one of the later ones in his superb last collection of essays "Arguably", along the lines of Ecurb's criticism, so I'll probably stop at one!

    * http://www.amazon.com/Arguably-Essay.../dp/1455502782.
    I have not read the whole series. I think I stopped at #4, not because it had jumped the shark or anything, I just usually get bored with reading the same authors after a while, especially when they aren't stylistically diverse. I haven't read that Hitch book either. Do you think you could summarize what he said?

    Quote Originally Posted by mal4mac View Post
    Doesn't everyone get formed that way anyway? How can you escape being influenced by anything you encounter? Does a great artist form themselves using the kind of rational process you are implying, or is it a more organic, unconscious process?

    Whether "incorporation" is a conscious or unconscious process, I think we should be careful of what we use as grist for our mills.
    I did mean to imply that everyone IS formed that way, whether consciously or unconsciously.

    One statement most every creative writing teacher gets (I've heard) is from at least one student who says that they don't want to read poetry for fear of being influenced and losing their originality; the assumption being they haven't already been "formed" by what they know (or think they know) about poetry. Yet, If they aren't well-read, they can't really know what's original and what's not to begin with. So, in a sense, they've already been formed by influences; but because the influences are unconscious, and because they're so ignorant (of what poetry is out there), it deludes the students into thinking they haven't been influenced at all. I think that's one example of "unconscious influence."

    However, I also think that it can be, at least partially, conscious. Keats picked over Shakespeare's sonnets with a fine-toothed comb, writing notes in the margins about what he liked and didn't, and out of that "study" he formed much of his own aesthetic ideals. So I think that's an example of a very conscious kind of influence. In my own writing I often find that when I'm looking for an image, a metaphor, or some stylistic/formal device I find myself consciously reaching for things I've read; or I've found myself consciously "imitating" poets/poems I love in hopes that maybe some of their creative process will rub off on me, that I'll learn from trying to employ it myself.

    So I might say that there's always some unconscious influence which is based on one's level of experience with their art; yet, with good artists especially, there's almost always a conscious side to influence as well. I'm probably not as "careful" as you might recommend. I tend to want to try everything at least once. Sometimes I quickly learn that, for whatever reason, I'm not wired to write in a particular way. I attempted (a few times) writing a satirical piece via couplets ala Pope, or very simple lyrics ala Burns, and found that I just couldn't.
    Last edited by MorpheusSandman; 09-26-2013 at 07:27 AM.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MorpheusSandman View Post
    I have not read the whole series. I think I stopped at #4, not because it had jumped the shark or anything, I just usually get bored with reading the same authors after a while, especially when they aren't stylistically diverse. I haven't read that Hitch book either. Do you think you could summarize what he said?
    It's online:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/12/bo...itchens-t.html

    Two ouch sentences:

    "The repeated tactic of deus ex machina (without a deus) has a deplorable effect on both the plot and the dialogue."

    It's also generally considered to be one of the worst flaws in bad science fiction/fantasy books.

    "Greater authors — Arthur Conan Doyle most notably — have been in the same dilemma when seeking closure."

    I doubt Hitch thinks Arthur Conan Doyle is all that great! So where does that leave Rowling? I tend to draw the line just below Arthur Conan Doyle, lesser authors are hardly worth bothering with.
    Last edited by mal4mac; 09-26-2013 at 11:30 AM.

  3. #18
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    "Harry Potter" isn't great, but it combines two excellent genres of Children's Literature: fantasy and the British Public School novel. Part of the fun is that Harry and his cohorts are more afraid of being caught outside the dormitory after hours by a teacher than they are of being killed by Voldemort. This seems to me an accurate description of the lives of children. In general, of the two genres, the British Public School parts are better than the fantasy parts (which are derivative and pedestrian).

    If you don't like British Public School novels or fantasy novels (or didn't like them as a child), mal4 mac, I wouldn't bother. If you like them, though, the first couple of books are worth reading.

    Arthur Conan Doyle is fun, because of the eccentricities of his characters, but his mysteries are replete with dozens of deus ex machinas (or, at least, solutions to the mysteries that are by modern standards contrived).

    Ayn Rand wrote overheated potboilers, which makes her philosophy of "Objectivism" seem misnamed.

    One cannot be a good writer without being a reader (in my opinion). How does one learn to sharpen one's taste and one's ear without reading? Could someone become a good cook without eating?

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    "Could someone become a good cook without eating?" LOL
    There are some that can do it. Double LOL

  5. #20
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mal4mac View Post
    It's online... So where does that leave Rowling? I tend to draw the line just below Arthur Conan Doyle, lesser authors are hardly worth bothering with.
    Thanks for the link. I have no objections to Deus Ex Machinas though. Another Hitch (Alfred Hitchcock) used them all the time and very few noticed because the craftsmanship was impeccable and the thematic substance was so saturating. To me, if one has to complain about DEMs then that just means that the author hasn't succeeded in making them not matter, which is a much more grievous concern. Having read both AC Doyle and Rowling, I think I'd put them roughly equal. At least what I'd say is that AC Doyle at hist best is better than Rowling at her best, but Doyle was not always at his best, and his worst is probably worse than Rowling's worst (as I find Rowling pretty consistent).
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

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    "probably as good as anything since The Lord of The Rings".

    I think I barfed a little when I read that.

    "Rand is still influencing "people" and even popular philosophy. Even those who don't agree with her have to react to her." Flipped it for ya.

    I have no idea what I'll think of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead until I've read them, but I have read some Kant, and I can say, imho, that he has one of THE WORST writing styles I have ever had the displeasure to read. Aristotle is practically a Michelangelo of letters in comparison.

  7. #22
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vota View Post
    I think I barfed a little when I read that.
    I'm hardly some hardcore Harry Potter nerd. These days I spend 80% of my time reading poetry and the other 20% reading criticism/theory on film and literature. I haven't read much fantasy since my teens and early 20s, so I'm not going to spend much time defending the statement. There is undoubtedly a lot of fantasy out there I'm not familiar with, but from my experience I still think Harry Potter is a quality example of the genre, and much of the hate I see for it seems like little more than predictable attempts at elitist backlash.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vota View Post
    Flipped it for ya.
    The flip is wrong. Rand is not taken seriously by anyone who doesn't agree with her, unlike the genuinely great philosophers, authors, artists, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vota View Post
    I have no idea what I'll think of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead until I've read them, but I have read some Kant, and I can say, imho, that he has one of THE WORST writing styles I have ever had the displeasure to read. Aristotle is practically a Michelangelo of letters in comparison.
    I find a lot of philosophers to be deplorable writers. I often think that's a product of them struggling to express complex thoughts through the limiting filter of language, perhaps combined with a lack of understanding of how best to express those thoughts, hence all of the technical terminology and even neologisms; these things aren't helped by the fact that most need to be translated. I often find it more helpful to read books ON philosophers as opposed to reading philosophers themselves.

    Anyway, the point was simply that Kant's philosophy is still influencing philosophers, whether those philosophers accept and expand on his thoughts or reject his thoughts and forge another path. This is nothing like Rand, where most people either accept her word as gospel or (rightly) ignore her.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by MorpheusSandman View Post
    I'm hardly some hardcore Harry Potter nerd. These days I spend 80% of my time reading poetry and the other 20% reading criticism/theory on film and literature. I haven't read much fantasy since my teens and early 20s, so I'm not going to spend much time defending the statement. There is undoubtedly a lot of fantasy out there I'm not familiar with, but from my experience I still think Harry Potter is a quality example of the genre, and much of the hate I see for it seems like little more than predictable attempts at elitist backlash.

    The flip is wrong. Rand is not taken seriously by anyone who doesn't agree with her, unlike the genuinely great philosophers, authors, artists, etc.

    I find a lot of philosophers to be deplorable writers. I often think that's a product of them struggling to express complex thoughts through the limiting filter of language, perhaps combined with a lack of understanding of how best to express those thoughts, hence all of the technical terminology and even neologisms; these things aren't helped by the fact that most need to be translated. I often find it more helpful to read books ON philosophers as opposed to reading philosophers themselves.

    Anyway, the point was simply that Kant's philosophy is still influencing philosophers, whether those philosophers accept and expand on his thoughts or reject his thoughts and forge another path. This is nothing like Rand, where most people either accept her word as gospel or (rightly) ignore her.
    How did Rand divorced Kant without Aristotle permission, and married Electrified Gustav, with you as a witness. And where the Hell is Harry Potter not mounting guard on the stone with you so close. ROFLMAO

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    The only problem I really have with what you said is, that people ignore Rand's work when/if they disagree with it, but that's essentially what people do when they reject Kant's work, ignore it. It's nearly the same thing. One disparages and one pays a little lip service, but neither agrees.

  10. #25
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vota View Post
    The only problem I really have with what you said is, that people ignore Rand's work when/if they disagree with it, but that's essentially what people do when they reject Kant's work, ignore it. It's nearly the same thing. One disparages and one pays a little lip service, but neither agrees.
    They're "the same thing" in that the dissenters disagree, but completely unalike in how they react. I think you do a disservice to Kant to say that his dissenters merely pay "lip service" to him. Philosophies can be formed out of a philosopher explaining WHY they disagree with Kant because his ideas are deep enough to provoke opposing philosophies.

    Let me give you a different example: I'm an atheist. When I encounter the arguments of Ray Comfort I can dismiss them because of their blatant idiocy; yet when I encounter the arguments of William Lane Craig I actually have to deal with them, because they aren't as blatantly wrong as, say, Comfort's Banana Argument. It was actually me encountering WLC many years ago that got me interested in cosmology and quantum physics. Comfort just made me sad for humanity.

    Maybe Rand isn't as bad as Comfort, but she probably is to Comfort what Craig is to Kant.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by krishna_lit View Post
    I once opened a book titled "Philosophy: Who needs it?" by Ayn Rand. It's a collection of essays and speeches by her. In it, she straightly offended Emanuel Kant saying that he singularly destroyed the world development with his philosophy.

    I wondered how can an author so blatantly criticize another person or a fellow philosopher. The thought that disturbed me so much about it was that Ayn Rand may had been a very influential author/philosopher but isn't it very rude on her part to knock another philosopher down just because she didn't like his teachings???



    Ayn Rand - she is looked upon by the right wingers as some form of modern day goddess or saviouress who is mounted on a white charger and is out to save the world from the thralldom of socialism and liberalism. What is so especially ironic in all this is that the conservatives (the guardians of everything that is good, moral, and upright or so they think) look to her as some form of role model. This despite the fact that she lived a degenerate life, screwed every young man she could find, left her husband all alone when he was sick, smoked and drank herself to death, publicly professed hatred for welfare but secretly collected it under her married name. Then, most ironic of all - that while Christian conservatives love her she went on record as calling Jesus the biggest fraud in history and that the best thing about Christmas was its commercialization!

    Therefore, it's not so much Rand who was all screwed up --- it's the not so brilliant delusionals who love her that are the ones who are most screwy!
    “... by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord ... I am now, as before, a Catholic and will always remain so.”

    --- Adolf Hitler

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    “Harry Potter wasn’t so bad, at least for the first two or three books. It went downhill after that, because the War with Voldemort was a bore compared to everyday life at Hogwarts.
    I'm late to the party. I quit after four books primarily because of length, but I love that quote.

    Did you ever see an English movie called "Belles of Saint Trinian's"? Everyday life was interesting there also.

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    I wish everyone the best of luck!

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