Ayn Rand was right of course. Rand was right about living conditions in Russia. She was right about the logical conclusions of communism. In We the Living, the obstacle faced by the Argounov family is not some malignant natural force; it is the malignant force of human-made government. The Bolsheviks confiscate the Argounov family’s property, deny them an education, limit their ability to earn, and force them into subsistence level existence. Family member after family member is lost, each one an individual, and each one greatly missed. Rand makes clear that communism’s crimes are crimes against individuals, and she holds the criminals accountable.
She was right too that An American Tragedy is at best a “trite story,” and she was right about the shape of the novel should Dreiser and the Naturalism and Realism become the dominant point of view.
Rand published The Romantic Manifesto (TRM) in 1962. She had already published her definitive novel, Atlas Shrugged in 1957, and would devote the remainder of her career to writing nonfiction. Thus, TRM was not a plan going forward for Rand personally, but rather a codification of Romantic Realism, her aesthetics of fiction writing, as already demonstrated in her four novels—We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged—for the benefit of writers and artists interested in Romantic Realism.
In TRM, Rand set herself up in opposition to...
Read Article : Her Better Judgment: Ayn Rand, Theodore Dreiser, and the Shape of the American Novel, Part 5
Part 4—Clyde and Roberta, Sonia and Pavel
As Dreiser depicts them, Clyde Griffiths and Roberta Alden are not lovers so much as they are victims. Biology and society conspire against them, and since neither of them has a mind or judgment, conflicting urges and impulses carry them to disaster.
Clyde and Roberta meet when she shows up for work at the Griffiths Collar and Shirt Company, where Clyde is a manager. He sees her and reacts to her good looks. “He liked her on the instant,” Dreiser tells us, “She was so pretty and cute” (American Tragedy 249). This impulse almost immediately is superseded by an opposing one. Clyde recalls the opinion of his cousin Gilbert and reacts against Roberta for being merely a “working girl,” and thus an inferior: “Yet she was a working girl, as he remembered now, too—a factory girl, as Gilbert would say, and he was her superior” (American Tragedy 249).
Roberta likes Clyde right away too. She finds him “young, attractive, and smiling” (American Tragedy 256), but because she is also sensitive to public opinion and responsive to social pressure, she dare not approach him:
She was becoming conscious of various local taboos and restrictions which made it seem likely that never at any time here would it be possible to express an interest in Clyde or anyone above her officially. For there was a local taboo in regard to factory girls aspiring toward or allowing themselves to become interested in their official superiors....
Read Article : Her Better Judgment: Ayn Rand, Theodore Dreiser, and the Shape of the American Novel, Part 4
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Rinaldo Enchanted by Armida, 1742 until 1745. Was this the kind of work Kant associated with charms and sensual delights of beauty?
Making Sense of Kant's Senseless Sublime
In the last decade of the 18th century Beethoven composed his 1st and 2nd piano concertos, Goya etched the series Los Caprichos, Jacques-Louis David painted The Death of Marat, and Mozart composed the Requiem in D Minor and the great Jupiter Symphony. These works coincided with the French Revolution, and together they guided European culture away from the extravagant art of Rococo exemplified by the sweetly-colored paintings of Boucher and Tiepolo, with their floating florid nymphs, cupids, silks, and princesses.
Jacques-Louis David, Death of Marat, 1793. The period of the French Revolution marked a new period of art with more gravitas.
This was a paradigm shift from the superficial to gut wrenching passion, as if Western art was going back to its roots in the dramas of Aeschylus and Euripides; answering the big questions of what is the good and what is important while at the same time elevating the creative process by innovation and superlative skill. This wasn't for the faint of heart. The artists would have to face inner turmoil and outer rejection as they attempted to get patrons to sponsor wildly dramatic depictions of death, war, and executions, which didn’t lend themselves to the decorative palace dining room....
Read Article : Making Sense of Kant's Senseless Sublime
With the passage of the recent bipartisan budget agreement and its $300 billion assault on spending caps, coming on the heels of the GOP’s Tax Cut and Reform Bill and its sweeping $1.5 trillion reduction in taxes, at some point Republicans must focus their attention to a side of the spending coin that has never sat well with America—welfare.
According to Gary D. Alexander, Pennsylvania’s former Secretary of Human Services, the federal government’s $1 trillion-a-year “limitless war on poverty” has spawned a kraken of runaway spending that threatens America’s economic survival.
Currently, over 70 “unearned” public welfare programs within nine federal agencies— Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash and energy assistance programs, student loan subsidies, etc.—are “riddled with inefficiencies, abuse and fraud,” ingest 60% of every federal tax dollar, and account for almost half of states’ budgets.
To Alexander, simply put, “No nation has ever spent itself into prosperity.”
Likewise, according to The Heritage Foundation, the costs of America’s four largest entitlement programs—Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—added to the interest on the national debt “are set to consume every dollar of taxes paid in just 20 years.”
As the largest federal program, Social Security alone accounts for approximately one-fourth of all federal spending. On its current trajectory, trustees predict SSA trust funds will be depleted in 2034. The CBO forecasts...
Read Article : Fixing Welfare Is Ultimately A Philosophical Problem
The machine is a defining cultural element of the 20th century. The machine and mass production influences man’s view of himself, his evolving notions of beauty and form, what his very world is.
Today we enter the postindustrial era, where machines are more nostalgic than futuristic, more virtual than real; man is being transformed by technology, though now by software and networks which are not so readily depicted but whose influence creates as much uncertainty as ever.
Imagine for a moment a world without machines...
A world where you don’t have a truck that can drive you up the Sierra Mountains for skiing... A world where you can’t pick up a phone and ask a friend for advice...
A world where you have to take cold showers because the great old machine pumping hot water to your house is dying out of neglect and incompetence...
Well this is sort of a world I grew up in. I was born in what was still communist Poland in a great old industrial city of Lodz. We didn’t have a car and there was only one phone in our building and it wasn’t ours. Every summer the city stopped hot water service for 2 months because the one and only power plant had to shut down for temporary maintenance. This was the 80s and we learned to keep candles all around the house because the power often went out at night...
Poland was gray and sad and our industry was dying and there was no innovation to be seen anywhere around.
But we knew, we all knew about a different sort of world...
a world where...
Read Article : An Artist's Tribute to America