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Volume 5, No. 1 - Fall 2003
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PROBLEMATIC ARGUMENTS IN RANDIAN ETHICS, pp. 1-66
ERIC MACK critically surveys a range of arguments characteristic of Randian writings in ethics (including Craig Biddle's Loving Life). 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 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, From the Fountainhead to the Future. Minsaas points out certain similarities between York's campaign for a cultural renaissance and Ayn Rand's call, in The Romantic Manifesto, 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 Facets of Ayn Rand, 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):
WHEN IT IS PLEASURABLE AND WHEN IT IS NOT, pp. 105-51
LOUIS 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 The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies' Aesthetics Symposium, most of which critiqued portions of What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand. 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,
TO RAND OR NOT TO RAND?: NEIL PEART'S VARIED INFLUENCES, pp. 153-60
DURRELL BOWMANsuggests 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
STEVEN 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
ED 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
BILL 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 The Fountainhead, 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 replies to Sciabarra's criticism that Carol Selby Price and Robert Price's Mystic Rhythms 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
PETER SAINT-ANDRE 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 him 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
THOMAS 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:
CHRIS MATTHEW SCIABARRAreplies 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.
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