Symposium on "Rand, Rush, and Rock"
A discussion of the philosophical and cultural relationship between Ayn Rand and progressive rock, prompted by an exchange over Chris Matthew Sciabarra’s Fall 2002 essay, “Rand, Rush, and Rock.”
Volume 5, Number 1 - Fall 2003 (Issue #9)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PROBLEMATIC ARGUMENTS IN RANDIAN ETHICS, pp. 1-66ERIC MACK
The author critically surveys a range of arguments characteristic of Randian writings in ethics (including Craig Biddle's ). He focuses on "the Shuffle," a set of argumentative moves in which there is illicit shifting back and forth between causal and conceptual understandings and defenses of claims of the form: Man's survival requires man's behaving in manner X (e.g., being rational, being productive). Mack concludes that much Randian argumentation is deeply flawed and urges admirers to discriminate between Rand's genuine individualist ethical crusade and her line-by-line argumentation, which includes a much too strict identification of man's good with man's survival.
WHAT ARE ENTITIES?, pp. 67-86
DAVID J. JILK
Jilk argues that the division of existence into entities is a result of epistemological processes and is not intrinsic to existence. The physical content of what we call an entity exists independent of any conscious observer. But that which we call an entity is not actually separate in reality from the rest of existence---its isolation as independent is solely the result of objective epistemological processes.
ART AND THE PURSUIT OF A CULTURAL RENAISSANCE, pp. 87-95
Kirsti Minsaas reviews Alexandra York's essay-collection, . Minsaas points out certain similarities between York's campaign for a cultural renaissance and Ayn Rand's call, in , for a rebirth of the ideals that informed the Romantic movement. Basically sympathetic to York's project, Minsaas does, however, express certain reservations about York's activist approach, which she finds weakens the book's scholarly value. Also, she finds that York is too one-sided in her advocacy of a life-affirming and inspiring art by downplaying the need for art that explores the darker sides of life in constructive ways.
REBUTTAL WITNESSES, pp. 97-103
Dean Brooks reviews , the first in a series of oral histories published by the Ayn Rand Institute. The book delivers some relevant and needed background on Rand's everyday life as seen by longtime friends Mary Ann and Charles Sures. However, it falls short in its stated objective of rebutting Rand's critics. Events already described at great length in other biographies are here given a heavily censored and unconvincing "party line."
REPLY TO THE AESTHETICS SYMPOSIUM (SPRING 2001): SCHOLARLY ENGAGEMENT: WHEN IT IS PLEASURABLE AND WHEN IT IS NOT, pp. 105-51
Torres examines key studies and commentaries on the nature of scholarship, especially regarding commonly accepted standards of scholarly writing, before responding to the essays in ' Aesthetics Symposium, most of which critiqued portions of . He concludes that only two of the essays meet such standards as knowledge of subject matter, rules of evidence, clarity of communication (especially avoidance of jargon), and integrity (including honesty, objectivity, and civility)---even when critical of his and Michelle Kamhi's co-authored work. The other essays, he argues, are flawed in varying respects.
AYN RAND AND PROGRESSIVE ROCK SYMPOSIUM ON "RAND, RUSH, AND ROCK" REPLIES TO CHRIS MATTHEW SCIABARRA'S FALL 2002 ARTICLE
TO RAND OR NOT TO RAND?: NEIL PEART'S VARIED INFLUENCES, pp. 153-60
Bowman suggests that Ayn Rand's influence on Neil Peart's lyrics mainly existed in a few science-fiction and technology-oriented works from the mid-1970s to the early-1980s. Peart's individualism in the 1980s had at least as much to do with Hemingway, Faulkner, religious imagery (although he was an agnostic), and other influences. Many of his lyrics (1975-2002) suggest "left-wing libertarianism," random contingencies, science, nature, the environment, relationships, and even humor. In any case, Peart's copious reading and varied lyrics contradict Rand as his "major influence."
RAND, RUSH, AND DE-TOTALIZING THE UTOPIANISM OF PROGRESSIVE ROCK, pp. 161-72
Horwitz argues that the music of Rush can legitimately claim to be progressive rock, both during the mid-70s when their music was most clearly related to that tradition and in their less obviously progressive work in the 80s and 90s. Rush's libertarian/Randian lyrics do not, as several authors argue, reduce their claim to progressivity because libertarianism can be viewed as a progressive, utopian social philosophy. Rush's career parallels the rise of libertarian thought, and the band's move away from large, long-song structures parallels libertarianism's critique of the totalizing, centralized utopias of much leftist thought.
CONCERNING THE POLITICS OF PROG, pp. 173-88
Macan considers whether progressive rock is inextricably linked to a specific political ideology. Progressive rock emerged out of the late sixties British hippie movement. Its politics, though influenced by the left, were never monolithic. Using the late nineteenth-century philosophical/cultural phenomenon of "Wagnerism" as a point of reference, Macan demonstrates that progressive rock's impact was primarily a result not of its nebulous political ideology, but of its aesthetic stance, which stresses individualism, idealism, authenticity, and art-as-transcendence. In keeping with its Romantic ethos of transcendence and a utopian politics, progressive rock subjected philosophical, cultural, and social opposites to a Hegelian synthesis.
AYN RAND AND THE MUSIC OF RUSH: RHAPSODIC REFLECTIONS, pp. 189-213
Martin replies to Sciabarra's essay on Rand, Rush, and progressive rock with critical reflections from a Marxist perspective. Focusing on the film version of , which shares much in common with film noir and Socialist Realism, Martin rejects as reification Rand's emphasis on property as the defining feature of human life. Her dismissal of rock music has overtones of racism and Eurocentrism. The rock band Rush may have drawn inspiration from Howard Roark, but two other real-life role models would have been better suited: Ludwig van Beethoven and Frank Lloyd Wright.
FANCY MEETING RAND HERE, pp. 215-18
ROBERT M. PRICE
Price replies to Sciabarra's criticism that Carol Selby Price and Robert Price's erroneously classifies Rush lyricist Neil Peart as "conservative." "Conservative" may imply limitation of individual freedom by the government---or by organized religion. Peart leans more toward a non-religious libertarianism and Rand's Objectivism, which may be considered "conservative" in the same narrow sense. Ironically, Randian thinkers share with religion the use of the Hero Myth archetype. Price focuses on recent Rand-type comic book superheroes, including Steve Ditko's Mister A and The Question, and Alan Moore's parody on these, Rorschach.
SAYING YES TO RAND AND ROCK, pp. 219-23
This article explores the personal meaning of progressive rock music (especially the music of Yes) and Rand's fiction as both consistent with a world-view that values "joy and reason and meaning." This exploration leads the author to ask whether Rand's novels and philosophical project are progressive, and to urge further cross-pollination between libertarian and progressive thinking and action in politics and the arts.
LYRICIST NEIL PEART: A BRANDENIAN PEDIGREE, pp. 225-27
Welsh calls for further interpretations of the lyrics of noted rock musician-artist Neil Peart; he argues that it might uncover a broader Randian influence than currently reported and thus contribute to the ongoing resurrection of her ideas in popular culture. Welsh speculates that Peart might have more in common with Rand's long-time associate, psychologist Nathaniel Branden, especially on the usage, meaning, and practice of self-esteem.
REJOINDER TO THE RESPONDENTS: RAND, ROCK, AND RADICALISM, pp. 229-41
CHRIS MATTHEW SCIABARRA
Sciabarra replies to the seven respondents to his Fall 2002 essay on Rand, Rush, and progressive rock music. He defends the view that Rand's dialectical orientation underlies a fundamentally radical perspective. Rand shared with the counterculture---especially its libertarian progressive rock representatives---a repudiation of authoritarianism, while embracing the "unknown ideal" of capitalism. Her ability to trace the interrelationships among personal, cultural, and structural factors in social analysis and her repudiation of false alternatives is at the heart of that ideal vision, which transcends left and right.
Symposium on "Rand, Rush, and Rock
Volume 5, Number 1 - Fall 2003, (Issue #9)
Durrell Bowman completed his Ph.D. in musicology at UCLA in 2003, with a dissertation entitled "Permanent Change: Rush, Musicians' Rock, and the Progressive Post-Counterculture." In 2003-04, he taught as a part-time sessional instructor in popular music and culture at Barrie, Ontario's Georgian College. He also sings semi-professionally as a choral singer and works as a choral librarian, writer, editor, and computer consultant in the administration of the Elora Festival and Singers. In 2002-03, he served as a visiting instructor in the Department of Music at the University of Alberta, where he taught cultural musicology, popular music, film music, and music theory. His article "Let Them All Make Their Own Music: Individualism, Rush, and the Progressive/Hard Rock Alloy, 1976-77" appears in the book (New York: Routledge, 2002). His paper "Textu(r)al Undercoding and the Music of the Rock Band Rush: String Quartets, Death Metal, Trip-Hop, and other Tributes" (presented in 2002-03 in Edmonton, New York, and elsewhere) argues that certain music facilitates an inversion of normative expectations concerning "progressive rock." Among his other publications and conference papers, an article on "Art Rock" appears in the , a review article on South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut appears in : a music-centered journal, and he also presented a paper at the 2003 IASPM-International conference in Montreal, Quebec.
Dean Brooks is founder and president of Ekaros Analytical Inc., a Canadian company specializing in mathematical tools and training. He has written professionally for numerous publications, as well as editing and publishing several books including . His past writing on Ayn Rand includes an essay defending TV's The Simpsons and outlining problems in the Objectivist approach to comedy, that appeared in magazine in 1993.
DAVID J. JILK
Steven Horwitz, an Associate Dean of the First Year and Professor of Economics, St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York 13617, is the author of two books, (Routledge, 2000) and (Westview, 1992). He has written extensively on Austrian economics, Hayekian political economy, monetary theory and history, and macroeconomics. His work has been published in professional journals such as , , . Horwitz currently serves as the book review editor of and is the president of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics. He is also a long-time Rush fan.
David J. Jilk has had a longtime interest in Objectivism and in epistemology in particular. He has an extensive business background as an entrepreneur, investor, and executive in software and Internet companies. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is currently studying computational models of cognitive systems at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Ed Macan is a Professor of Music, Art Department, College of the Redwoods,7351 Tompkins Hill Road, Eureka, California 95501. He is the author of (Oxford University Press, 1997). He is also keyboardist, mallet percussionist, and principal composer of the band Hermetic Science, whose three albums, (1997), (1999), and (2001) have won much critical acclaim in the worldwide progressive music community.
Eric Mack, Tulane University, Department of Philosophy, Newcomb Hall, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118, is also a faculty member of Tulane's Murphy Institute of Political Economy. He has published extensively in scholarly journals and anthologies and lectured widely on topics in moral, political, and legal theory—especially on moral individualism and the agent-relativity of value, the philosophical foundation of moral rights, property rights, the legitimacy and authority (if any) of coercive institutions, the defense of classical liberalism against Marxist and egalitarian challenges, and classical liberal themes in the history of political philosophy.
Bill Martin is a Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, DePaul University, Byrne Hall, 2219 N. Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60614. He is the author of seven books in the fields of social theory, contemporary continental philosophy, and music. At present, he is completing a book under the title, . He is also an avid cyclist and chessplayer, and he has played the bass guitar for over thirty years.
ROBERT M. PRICE
Kirsti Minsaas, University of Oslo, Department of British and American Studies, P. O. Box 1003 Blindern, 0315 Oslo, Norway, is senior lecturer in English literature at the University of Oslo. Receiving her doctorate in 1998, her dissertation topic was on the role of Aristotelian catharsis in Shakespearean tragedy, and she is currently working on a project on the "exemplary hero" in English literature from 1590 to 1820. She has also lectured extensively on Ayn Rand's fiction, both in Europe and in the United States.
Robert M. Price is the editor of the and Director of the Institute for Higher Critical Studies, affiliated with the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary. He is the author of (1983), (1996), (2000) and (2003). He holds a Ph.D., Theology (1981) and a Ph.D., New Testament (1993) from Drew University.
CHRIS MATTHEW SCIABARRA
Peter Saint-Andre is an independent scholar living in Denver, Colorado. When not working as Executive Director of the Jabber Software Foundation, he is also active as a poet, musician, translator, and essayist.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra received his Ph.D., with distinction, in political theory, philosophy, and methodology from New York University. He is the author of the “Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy,” which includes Marx, Hayek, and Utopia (State University of New York Press, 1995), Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995), and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000). He is also coeditor, with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, of Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), and a founding coeditor of (1999–present). His articles and letters on popular culture and music have appeared in publications as diverse as the , , , , , and .
Louis Torres is an independent scholar and critic. He is co-author of (2000), and is co-editor of , an online review of the arts---successor to the print journal of the same name, which he founded in 1982, and co-edited until its discontinuation in 1997. A graduate of Rutgers University, where he majored in Psychology, he earned an M.A. in the teaching of English at Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to founding , he taught English and arts appreciation in public and private high schools. He is a specialist in the neglected fiction of Jack Schaefer, author of .
Thomas Welsh is a technical writer and database administrator, supports BP SOLAR's global engineering product development efforts. He has reviewed Neil Peart's book, (2002) for various online and print publications. Past and present forays have included stints as a small business owner and working for the oldest university press, The Johns-Hopkins University Press.