[ExI] Art and myth as systems thinking of a sort

Natasha Vita-More natasha at natasha.cc
Wed Jul 15 16:50:46 UTC 2009

See below please: 

Nlogo1.tif Natasha Vita-More

--- On Wed, 7/15/09, Natasha Vita-More <natasha at natasha.cc> wrote:
> I am not sure when this thread started,

> Rand is a weak example of scholarly, knowledgeable thinking about art 
> or the arts.
> Her rigid interpretation concerning art holds little value, if any at 
> all, in the arts and humanities.

"That's, of course, a conclusion that would have to be proved."

The fact that she is seldom mentioned within artistic discourse is worth
noting, and that her ideas about art is seldom referenced in writings on the

> Her arguments are weak, at best, and are used to support her 
> philosophical views.

"Another conclusion that would have to be proved. I will say, though, that
Rand at times appears aware of certain problems and then sloppily ignores
them. Of course, one problem is that she didn't really do a book length
treatment of the subject. Her _The Romantic Manifesto_ is a collection of
essays, some of which treat esthetics on an abstract level, but others that
are more culture criticism and other more focused or timely issues, and a
short story. This is not to escuse her sloppiness or inconsistencies here,
but merely to put them in context -- especially in case anyone reads the
book with the intent to merely find flaws.*"

I think proving this is easy enough - all it takes is looking through
artistic journals, arts exhibitions, art discourse, art critical theory,
aesthetic theory, etc.  Rand was a big-wig in her own domain, but she was
not influential in arts discourse.

> I may not agree with Foucault,
> Danto, Lyotard, Dickie or Sontag, but they are far better examples of 
> deep investigations on abstraction, systems, and art.

"In some of these cases, not to apologize for Rand's mistakes or other
problems here, these thinkers were far more focused on esthetics or art,
whereas, for Rand, it appears that esthetics is merely a piece of the
puzzle. (Granted, this plays into your criticism that she's merely using her
esthetic theory "to support her [broader] philosophical views.")"

Sure, but Rand is not a recognizable voice in the arts.

> This not meant to trash, as you say, Rand.  I value her fiction as 
> being superb.  Yet, this does not excuse her inability to understand 
> art and the role of the artist.

"My wonder here is whether she really fails to understand these -- or if you
merely disagree with her view on both."

She fails to understand.  

> Just read the Romantic Manifesto!
> Yee gads!  I mean,
> who cannot understand modern art as it is situated historically.

"I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but I think there are two major
comments one can make here. One is that her basic theory of esthetics could
be excised from her other views on art. In other words, one could look at
her core view of art, of sense of life, and such and then apply this to
Modern Art, etc. to see if one would arrive at the same conclusions as her.
You might disagree with her core views here, but I hope you're willing to
entertain that she might not be applying her theory correctly in all cases."

She fails to understand.

"The other comment is it does seem to me that she was trying to situated
Modern Art historically and culturally. A lot of her criticism of it is
dedicate to just such, though you might disagree with this. And, heck, she
might be wrong here, but it's not that she was thinking, "Modern Art can't
possibly be placed. It just plopped down from the sky and we have to deal
with it -- specifically by trashing it and anyone who likes it.""

She fails to understand.

"(As a side comment, I imagine people who sternly disagree with Rand might
think of this as an example of systems thinking gone amok: she has here
fundamental views of "life, the universe, and everything" and systematically
applies them to art, politics, history, etc. without regard to anything but
preserving her fundamental views. I don't completely agree or completely
disagree with this. The bane of the systems builder is, of course, coming up
with a grand system that shoehorns all reality into the system a la
Procustes. And I do think she does this on occasion.)"

Yes, true.  But she applies them to life, the universe, and everything from
HER PERSPECTIVE and that is her failure. She cannot see outside her
narrow-focus, no matter how dense it is.

> Rand tried
> to concretize the hell out of everything to suit her point of view, 
> which she does with amazing articulation that few possess.
> But that does not
> excuse her trying to put a label, chain and stamp on everything she 
> could not grok because she simply did not have the wherewithal to do 
> so. Maybe it was her upbringing.  Maybe it was because she was a woman 
> in a man's world.
> Who knows. 

"Well, where she does this I think it's a matter of her being a systems
builder, so it's a general flaw of system building which she suffered from.
But I also feel there was some personal arrogance on her part -- some of
which drove away any intelligent but sympathetic critics. And I also think
that since she was trying to make her system she was just bound to make some
errors, especially as she tried to have a view on everything from ontology
to pornography."

Listen, you make good points.  I simply do not find her all that interesting
on this level. I find her interesting on other levels, but not this one.
She simply is not the best source in relation to Emlyn's


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