North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Bring the Guns to Bear
|A former member||
I've been watching a TV show called "Battlestar Galactica". It's a remake of a show of the same name from the 1970's. It's quite good.
In the pilot episode the Cylons (enemy) attack the Human colonies with massive destructive force. See, the humans created the Cylons decades before to be a workforce, but the computers (Cylons are robots essentially) get smart, rebel, and go to war with their former masters. Their masters, the humans, let them be and a truce is signed.
Decades later, in an act of genocide, the Cylons attack the humans without provocation. They don't want resources, they don't want slaves. They do want the total destruction of all human beings. They use atomic weapons on a massive scale to achieve their ends.
What struck me about this? It's exactly what our enemies want. They don't want resources, they don't want slaves. They want the total destruction of The United States of America. Like the Cylons, our enemies are cunning, intelligent and patient.
In thinking on this matter, it also integrates nicely with another question...where are OUR heros? Or rather, where are the images of our heros in art? We've been at war over 5 years, and there is virtually nothing in the popular, public sphere glorifing America, Western Civilization, our accomplishments or our hero's!
Objectivists, usually, think in fundamentals. They spend time working out epistomology, ethics and politics. They spend little time worrying about art. Yet, for most ordinary people, art is the thing that confronts them on a daily basis. Music, television, movies and books surrond people with images and argument that projects words and pictures that people don't analyze but accept as fact in the form of floating abstractions.
Art moves people!
Art has the means of shifting sentiment. It has the ability to guide people in a direction more conducive to their own self interest, such as defending oneself, or denying that self interest and leaving a person defenseless.
Objectivist scholars rightly observe that the Academy is in chaos. But people, average, ordinary, everyday people, do not pay much attention to the Academy...or epistomology...or a detailed discussion of ethics. They pay attention to the TV, the movie screen and the radio!
People pay attention to ART!
Long monographs on the primacy of consciousness do not hold the interest of average citizens. It does not cause them to write their congressmen or call the White House.
Art, the projection of an ideal, can cause people to move, to change their sentiment, to act...to think. So, when someone tells me their life isn't in mortal danger because they don't pay attention to art...well...good luck with that. I stand by my complete certitude that art is the reflection of the values of a culture. That ALL popular, modern art (including music), has been corrupted by the ravages of modern philosophy and that based on the current state of artistic efforts we are all in mortal danger.
This reminds me of a story about Gen Nathan Beford Forrest. Gen. Forrest, The Wizard of the Saddle, was a Confederate general during the Civil War. Once he was caught off guard, a rare thing for Forrest, by a force he didn't suspect was there, and he was trapped in a pincer. An aide asked what they should do, and Forrest replied "Attack in both directions". They did...and got away.
And thus it is with art. We have to attack both the root and the branch; basic epistomology and esthitics. When you cut down a tree you don't start by digging up the roots first!
The long and short of it is, who will say "Bring the Guns to Bear" when the enemy attacks?
You have an excellent point. I recently read The Romantic Manifesto and I remember thinking the same thoughts. I am a person who likes to study things like philosophy(obviously), history, politics, and physical sciences. Art has always seemed something beyond my realm. I have no creative talents. I cannot paint, draw, or make music of any sort. I have always been a 'passive' consumer of art, including the popular forms of it. Art, to me, has always been something that other people do. Miss Rand made such a good case for art as an expression of the philosophy of the artists, and their culture, that it has changed how I perceive art.
Edited by Chris Jones on Aug 14, 2007 2:52 PM
|A former member||
Thank you. "The Romantic Manifesto" is an excellent and seminal work in Ms. Rand's thinking on the arts. It's no accident that mystics have always regarded art as the handmaiden of religion. Art has the capacity to be experienced at the metaphysical level.
That is why I think are is dangerous, or at least can be dangerous. Religions and governments have always tried to control artistic expression because of the potential for dangerous ideas to spread loose within a society.
So when I look around and see so called popular art I have to ask if it makes me better or worse. In general I would say worse. This, in my opinion, is no where better represented than in music. And based on my recent reading on the subject, it seems musical taste or preference is formed in the womb. One tends to prefer music that the mother listened to prior to birth. This, of course, does not mean you can't change your preference or are destined to only listen to heavy metal.
Objecitivsts, when reacting to ideas or feelings they can't explain, should be introspective and seek the source of the reaction; the premise. Unfortunately that doesn't happen often, and stating that modern, popular music is a product of modern philosophy (which is a fact) is akin to calling someone's mother a pig. Music produced in a more rational time is almost not listened to any longer. And few people have the fortitude to change their tastes. So be it.
As goes art, so goes the culture.
So it's all integrated. There is a reason we have a heirarchy of knowledge, but simply no reason we should give art short-shift other than the fact that challenging the popular "whim" isn't popular. Even among Objectivists!
I think by now it's becomnig clear to most Objectivists that changing the culture isn't going to happen over night, if ever. It's going to take a multi-generational approach. Truly long range planning is going to be required. But if you wanted to make an impact now, then why not make a movie with a rational, heroic theme?