It is rare in our contemporary postmodern culture that its representatives get a smack down. But that is what happened with the Tyler Shields' photoshoot with Kathy Griffin holding a realistically-rendered decapitated head of Donald Trump. Massive public and professional fallout ensued, and no one was going to let it go because it was "art." This event finally enraged a public that for decades was so desensitized you could fling shit at them from a stage, as performance artist G. G. Allin did, and they would either take it or ignore it. Kathy's miscalculation is understandable with a century of postmodern precedents: Duchamp's The Fountain; Burden's Crucified on a Volkswagen Beetle; Manzoni's can of shit; Quinn's Self-portrait carved from his frozen blood; Serrano's Piss Christ; Creed's farting audio loop at the Tate; and Millie Brown, the vomit painter. On the other hand, Kathy exceeded where these other postmodernists didn't; she managed to piss off a lot of people. Kathy exceeded where these other postmodernists didn't; she managed to piss off a lot of people. MAKING FUN OF POSTMODERNISTS Rand was aware of the early stages of postmodern artists. She ridicules them brilliantly in scenes in The Fountainhead. Lois Cook, a writer who didn't bother with grammar or meaning; an architect that took a commission to create the ugliest building possible; and an artist that "did something with bird cages and metronomes." But...
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. —The Matrix (1999), screenplay by Lana (formerly Larry) and Lilly (formerly Andy) Wachowski. The Culture Wars are here. Like The Matrix, they are in fact everywhere—in art, on campuses, and on television. They invite everyone to become “politically correct.” At first glance, political correctness seems like a good thing. Do we really want to go back to a world where terms like nigger, faggot, darkie, chink, and slut were bandied about, as if language had no consequences? And don’t we want a world where silly stereotypes (“blondes make good secretaries,” “nurses cannot be male”) no longer restrict our choices? But political correctness is not really about politeness, the giving or taking of offence, or freeing us from stereotypes. That’s the cover. Political correctness is part of a culture war, the roots of which go back to the 1920s. The culture war’s full-blown manifestation is what we are witnessing today; it has been ninety years in the making. Neo: No. I don’t believe it. It’s not possible. Morpheus: I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth. Before we dismiss the grand theory, we should also ask if there is any...
“She was fifteen when it occurred to her for the first time that women did not run railroads and that people might object. To hell with that, she thought—and never worried about it again.”  This is as close to a glimmer of feminist consciousness that you’ll find in Dagny Taggart, the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  Still, it’s a lot more of a recognition of gender barriers than you’ll find in the pages of #Girlboss, the best-selling book by Sophia Amoruso, which in turn inspired the Netflix series Girlboss about her journey from dumpster-diving anarchist to founder of Nasty Gal, Inc. the multi-million dollar girls clothing retailer. “I have never once in my life thought that being a girl was something I had to overcome,” writes Amoruso.  Of all the obstacles she faced in her entrepreneurial rise, sexism is glaringly absent. So why does its author, Sophia Amoruso, call her memoir “a feminist book”? Probably for the same reason so many male businessmen speak of “giving back” when far from taking anything away, the businesses they’ve built have added value in terms of jobs, wealth, services and innovation. Because our culture still grants greater moral stature to the disadvantaged than to its doers. As such, Amoruso makes for an uneasy standard-bearer for a new capitalist female role model. Just like Virginia Slims used the slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” to peddle cigarettes to women in the sixties and seventies, to suggest lighting up was a celebration of the...
For Ayn Rand, an argument was the distinctive human banner, the banner of reason and persuasion.  Where brutes force, human beings argue, a distinction embodied in her famous description of man’s mind, which “may be hampered by others, it may be silenced, proscribed, imprisoned, or destroyed; it cannot be forced; a gun is not an argument.” (“America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.) This article is not about guns versus arguments, it is about the respect that argumentation deserves and how increasingly rare that respect seems today, including on Facebook. My main purpose for spending time on Facebook is to engage people in the case for Objectivism. Politics--one of the five philosophical branches that Objectivism treats--would seem fertile ground for reasoned argument.  But since the election that ground has looked like Georgia after Sherman’s march to the sea. In the place of various forms of reasoned argument, fallacies have sprouted like weeds; among them four are especially invasive. But before I get to the fallacies, I must mention an extremely common response that does not even claim the dignity of a fallacy: The Pretend Reply: Characteristic of hundreds of responses I receive on Facebook is the one from a friend who commented: “Ugh! Puhleeese!” And later: “This is a word salad! We need some dressing!” Perhaps she considers me not worth debating? Fair enough, but why pretend to respond?  And her...
"I will call them, from now on, losers because that's what they are -- losers. They're losers, just remember that,” said President Trump today in response to this week’s  horrendous attacks in Manchester, United Kingdom. The usual critics have dismissed the “loser” comparison as trivializing and not to be taken seriously. Here’s why we should. President Trump was far more right in describing the true nature of terrorists than either of his two predecessors. President George W. Bush called terrorists “cowards” -- a strange descriptor for guerrillas who volunteered to die in plane crashes.  President Obama took heat for pandering to politically-correctness by refusing to state the obvious in describing terrorists as Islamist. Today in Jerusalem, President Trump refused to give terrorists the satisfaction of calling them “monsters,” because “they would think that was a great name.”  And he’s right. There’s a kind of efficacy in frightening, intimidating, and bullying -- as Trump knows all too well.  Come Halloween it is monster masks, not Droopy or Eeyore, that get the good candy. This isn’t the first time the president has compared terrorists to “losers.”  Back in November 2015, he tweeted, "The media must immediately stop calling ISIS leaders ‘MASTERMINDS.’ Call them instead thugs and losers. Young people must not go into ISIS!"   Unfortunately the novelty of Trump calling terrorists losers is somewhat diminished by the fact that he’s called so many people losers. Cher....

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