Comments from NoodleFood


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Comment #1

Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 19:55:44 mst
Name: Nicholas Provenzo
URL: http://www.capitalismcenter.org

TOC is apparently at the Conservative Political Action Conference that ran this week. I plan on bloging on the evils of that tomorrow (when I was a conservative, I attended several CPACs, and it was there that I finally sorted out that I was no longer a conservative.)

Why do you think Kelly even keeps the Objectivist moniker? Since he doesn’t represent AR in any way and since his group engages in no Objectivist scholarship, why even try to maintain the tenuous connection? Why doesn’t he simply admit to what he is: yet another moonbat libertarian? What does maintaining the claim that he is somehow an Objectivist earn Kelly that he couldn’t get if he were honest about his creed?



Comment #2

Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 21:16:52 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Nick asks: "Why do you think Kelly even keeps the Objectivist moniker?"

Well, changing the name of an organization every five years probably isn't such a great idea if you wish to inspire confidence in your donors that you know what you're doing. :-) Personally, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Kelley wished for something more neutral, like "The Center for Modernity." Yet I think that doing so would alienate many of their members, particularly those who wish to claim some connection to Objectivism even if they lack any substantive concern for it. TOC surely knows that.

Given that TOC is inviting both Nathaniel and Barbara Branden to speak this summer, perhaps I should start calling them "The Branden Center," since their loyalties clearly don't rest with either Ayn Rand or Objectivism, but with those now-thoroughly-exposed enemies thereof.



Comment #3

Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 22:36:06 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Nicholas Provenzo wrote:

"TOC is apparently at the Conservative Political Action Conference that ran this week. [...]

"Why do you think Kelly even keeps the Objectivist moniker? [...] What does maintaining the claim that he is somehow an Objectivist earn Kelly that he couldn’t get if he were honest about his creed?"

See the latest on CPAC from Salon Magazine <http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/02/11/cpac/index_np.html>. It reports that "the Objectivist Center built a shrine out of Ayn Rand book covers." Perhaps they are trying to attract people who worship Ayn Rand after which they will pass the collection plate.



Comment #4

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 3:42:29 mst
Name: Kurt Colville

Mr. Provenzo: "Why do you think Kelly even keeps the Objectivist moniker? Since he doesn’t represent AR in any way and since his group engages in no Objectivist scholarship, why even try to maintain the tenuous connection?"

For the same reason Nathaniel Branden clung to Miss Rand all those years.

Mr. Provenzo: "What does maintaining the claim that he is somehow an Objectivist earn Kelly that he couldn’t get if he were honest about his creed?"

Leeching off of Objectivism is the only thing that feeds his self-esteem, and he places that above honesty.



Comment #5

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 12:19:25 mst
Name: Kraorh
URL: http://www.livejournal.com/users/kraorh/

Diana,
Actually, Robert Bidinotto has had some choice words to say on the subject here <http://bidinotto.journalspace.com/?entryid=344>. The TOC website isn't updated as regularly as the ARI site, btw. It appears the last news event they published comments about was Ayn Rand's birthday - so the mere fact that there's no "official" word on the cartoon jihad shouldn't be taken to imply that they regard it as insignificant.



Comment #6

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 13:25:59 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Kraorh, you say that "The TOC website isn't updated as regularly as the ARI site." That implies that they've written and published op-ed on the subject, but just not yet posted them to their web site. Do you know that? Or are you just inventing irrelevant excuses for them?

For the record, I did see Bidinotto's blog post, but that's hardly relevant to my criticism. That's a private blog, not an op-ed produced by TOC. Moreover, some of RB's comments were terribly misleading, if not outright wrong in critical respects. Here's what I wrote to a friend yesterday:

Actually, I think this passage was quite awful, in substantial part because it totally ignores the obvious intellectual content of the cartoons.

***
That said, I do not believe that the proper way to address people's deepest religious convictions is by mocking and insulting their revered symbols, practices, ceremonies, and icons. Mocking the symbols of someone's views is not the same as satirizing someone's ideas and arguments. Clever satires of ideas can help clarify intellectual issues. But mockery directed against mere images and symbols is in no way intellectual; it is concrete-bound, juvenile, and -- because of its intent, which is merely to give offense -- nihilistic. Whether it's some modern "artist" dipping the Christian crucifix in urine, a war-protestor burning the U.S. flag, or a cartoonist mocking the Muslim founder Muhammad, such iconoclasm has only one intention: to insult those who hold such symbols and icons dear. And it has only one result: to arouse their anger. [See further discussion in the "comments" to this entry.]
***

Ah, I see that Bidinoto clarified in the comments, albeit not terribly well, but the passage above was still objectively misleading, as all signs suggested that it was a criticism of the cartoons themselves. The point above is not even *relevant* to the cartoon debate, although he claims that it's one of two issues that must be separated in discussing it.



Comment #7

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 13:37:25 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

BTW, Kraorh, if some hostility is detected in my last comment, it's surely because of this report from Kate Herrick on your arbitrary psychologizing of me in a private blog post. Just the one quote was enough for me never to think well of you again.

<http://1144.livejournal.com/74333.html>

Yours is perhaps the most absurd hypothesis I've heard, except for the notion that I left TOC for ARI in the hopes of financial gain. But I suppose that you "my TOC, right or wrong" folks need some way of evading my arguments that TOC has totally betrayed the basic principles of Objectivism.



Comment #8

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 14:41:06 mst
Name: Bill Nevin

Diana,

In your criticism of the contents of David's speech and his later argument supporting it you are unfortunately dropping context. You are correct that David's statement

"To the extent that a culture subordinates reason to faith and subordinates the individual to a higher power (whether social or divine), those premises will tend to produce superstition rather than science, duty and sacrifice rather than the pursuit of happiness, stagnation rather than progress--and violence and oppression rather than freedom and trade."

is in part contradicted by your statement

"a culture of faith and authority will produce nothing but superstition, duty and sacrifice, stagnation, violence, and oppression."

But David's remark is compatible with the Objectivist theory of history and is literally true. From your attempted rebuttal, however, it would follow that the Rennaissance did not follow the Middle Ages. Or that if it did, the history professors are lying to us about how bad the dominant ideas of the medieval period were. (I.e. that history did not happen the way that it did, that A was non-A at the same time and in the same respect.)

You qualify your statement by saying "unless opposed by better ideas." But where are those better ideas to come from, if not from minority beliefs within the culture itself? (In the case of the European Middle Ages/Rennaissance, the obvious answer, of course, would be "from the Arab world." Will irony never cease?)

A culture is a broad abstraction, covering the beliefs frequently held by many people over a broad span of time. Each individual has free will and may privately accept or reject each element of the culture, and decide whether to make each of his disagreements, if any, public. Each individual possesses a rational consciousness and may induce or deduce new ideas. Or he may uncover ancient texts containing old ideas that had previously been lost.

These ideas by definition will not be widespread in the culture around him. But he may publicize them and gain support for them. Over time, and via a "transmission belt" of professors, teachers, poets, novelists, songwriters, journalists, activists, etc., the previously unknown ideas may become part of the general culture. These ideas will then bring about change in the objective economic and social conditions of the society. This is the Objectivist theory of history.

The Islamic world was previously not so actively hostile to the West as it is now. Long ago, it was not so hostile to Aristotelian ideas as it has been in the recent past. Even today there are certain sects and certain geographical regions within the Muslim world that are much less associated with militancy than are others. David has for several years been studying the history of ideas in Islamic culture to find out the actual details of how these variations came about. You would do well to study his findings in this area before mocking him for any alleged lack of concern on his part for the power of ideas to shape history.

In the future, militant Islam may collapse due to A.) a billion Muslims reading Atlas Shrugged, deciding to mend the error of their ways, and sending in their cards to the Ayn Rand Institute for more information. Or it may collapse B.) by a gradual importation of Western ideas, including some specifically Objectivist ideas, into the Muslim worldview. (My own research into contemporary popular Hindi-language cinema is revealing one important "transmission belt" facilitating this transformation now.) Probably the actual outcome will involve C.) some of each of the above.

The future in detail is unknown to us, but it is not helpful to do everything in your power to forestall option B by assuming that every living person who calls himself a Muslim adheres to every false Islamic idea that you justly condemn, and should therefore be reviled.

-Bill



Comment #9

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 15:01:29 mst
Name: Ergo
URL: http://ergosum.blogspot.com

Bill, you said: "My own research into contemporary popular Hindi-language cinema is revealing one important "transmission belt" facilitating this transformation now."

Could you elaborate on that? I specifically ask that because, having born in India and lived there for many years, I myself have noticed a recent surge in popularity of Ayn Rand novels among the younger generation Indians. I have moderately tracked the trend and noticed it occurring primarily among the affluent, younger Indians. My blog has links to specific sources that reference the trend. I'm curious to know what your findings are.



Comment #10

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 15:16:17 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Bill -- I do not disagree with your characterization of the Objectivist view of history. (What you describe as a mere "qualification" was an essential point.) Of course, the better ideas of a culture emerge as a result of individual people brave enough to exercise their own free will in seeking out the facts of reality for themselves. Yet that's precisely the view that Kelley rejects. As his exchange in the letters makes perfectly clear, he think that the values of western culture can be grounded in Islam's arbitrary faith in and submission to Allah. That's completely wrong, since it's not a case of people rationally grasping the facts of reality at all.

Moreover, that's a far cry from what happened in the Islamic Middle Ages. That mixture of Mecca and Athens was unstable and untenable for long -- and that's why the Muslim world rejected Athens for Mecca. Perhaps we should learn from that example that the two cannot be profitably mixed, as DK asks us to do by supporting supposedly liberal Muslim organizations. If the Muslim world is to advance to any kind of genuine civilization, it must either (1) reject Islam or perhaps (2) secularize Islam so profoundly that it no longer resembles the Islam of today. (That's what happened to the Christianity of the Middle Ages, although for reasons related to the doctrinal structure of Islam, I doubt that is possible.) That's why we need to be arguing that Islam is false and wrong -- precisely what Kelley did not do in his speech on Islam.

As for my supposed obligation to study David Kelley's writing on Islam in detail, I've read enough to know that he's gone horrible wrong on the basic philosophy. The details just don't matter after that.

The end of your comment so thoroughly misprepresented my views that I will not reply to it, other than to say that my point was that "moderate" Muslims (1) aren't all that moderate and (2) are intellectually disarmed against their radical brothers. (The first point is largely a consequence of the second.) We do such people no service whatsoever by pretending that Islam is compatible with the values of Western civilization. And you're selling out brave people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the process too.

Diana.



Comment #11

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 19:52:58 mst
Name: Vespasiano

You may already be aware of it, but apparently, Bruce Thornton (a contributor to the New Individualist, Objectivist Center's publication) has written a piece posted on Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers site. Here's the URL: http://victorhanson.com/articles/thornton021006.html This is only commentary I've seen thus far from an individual affiliated with this organization.



Comment #12

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 22:33:06 mst
Name: Kraorh
URL: http://www.livejournal.com/users/kraorh/

Diana,

a) Re: "Not updated as regularly." I make no excuses, nor am I aware of whether TOC intends to officially comment on the cartoon jihad. I merely observed that TOC's website is not the kind of website that offers regular commentary on every news story that comes down the pike. I make the same observation about TOC that I'd make of most similar websites, merely that silence implies nothing about their ideological views. Now, if there were a regularly updated official TOC blog, or if TOC writers, working under the auspices of the TOC banner, regularly put out 10-15 commentaries a week on the latest news, I think you'd have more of a point here.

b) I'm confused about your commentary on Bidinotto's piece. Since, as you acknowledge, he does distinguish any criticism of the cartoons from the "cartoon controversy" itself (in the first sentence, no less), I'm not clear on how he's "objectively misleading." It is a fact that as debate over the cartoons has progressed, those two issues have been conflated by many people, particularly the Europeans getting squishy on the issue. You see people making excuses for the riots, for example, because of the first issue Bidinotto discusses. But as we're all agreeing, that's quite distinct from the second. So... where's the trouble? I got his point, without being mislead, objectively or otherwise.

c) The thing you reported from Kate Herrick's blog from September was, in LiveJournal terms, from a private conversation among friends, some of it speculative, and identified as such in my original posting. Hence, no discussion of it on my public blog. In short, you're seeing something represented out of context.

For the record, no evasion of your arguments on the ARI/TOC issues is involved (those were discussed) - it's just that those arguments don't make sense.



Comment #13

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 23:21:39 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Kraorh: If you have "private" conversations with your friends speculating about the psychological flaws of third party, then one of those friends publicly announces some of the substance of what you said for all to read for all time, you ought not expect that third party to think well of you, no matter whatever vague (and unsubstantiated) claims you make about missing context. And this third party will act accordingly: You are no longer welcome to post here. You've shown me too much contempt for me to maintain any interest in you might say.



Comment #14

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 3:08:16 mst
Name: Bill Nevin

Diana,

There are over a billion Muslims in the world. I think it is great when one of them rejects the intellectual tradition of Islam and adopts Objectivism, or at least some pro-reason Western philosophy that is light-years ahead of Islam. But most Muslims, especially in predominantly Islamic countries are poor and undereducated, even illiterate. Most live in lands with official censorship. And for them to reject the intellectual tradition typically requires them to turn their backs on their families as well. So this mode of improvement is likely to remain quantitatively small for the foreseeable future, however high it may reach in quality and however large may be its eventual effect.

In the middle of the twentieth century, the KGB and GRU trained militant Marxists from Islamic societies in the strategy and tactics of the modern Middle Eastern terrorist cell, and planned and funded their first ventures in that bloody arena. A modest goal that reformers could aim for now is for Islam to return to the relative quiet that it assumed with respect to the West in the era before the rise of modern terrorism. A less aggressive, less violent Islam could gradually defuse the internal violence of its societies (initially by ideological change less sweeping than what you appear to be contemplating) and eventually open the doors to the type of self-criticism that could result in Western-style, enlightened, truly open societies. Any such move to ideological reform necessarily has to begin by small steps. The gradual growth of the free-market would help things tremendously, as well as the gradual waning of oil income to violent Islamic regimes as their reserves are depleted and new technologies emerge.

So I disagree with you about what David meant. From his words, it may be seen that he actually was trying to nourish efforts among Muslims for reform that is less radical, but more achievable at this point, than a wholesale ARI membership drive. How to achieve reform in Islam? How to get new ideas past its hostile shell? It is a chicken-and-egg problem. Some would like at least to try to start something doable now. Others would like to maintain their philosophical purity by holding their breath waiting for an abject capitulation that obviously can never happen until the basic problem has already been solved.

And who is willing to risk a death sentence even to make an attempt? David showed tremendous courage in giving his talk, which no one on your side of the debate even seems to have acknowledged.

If the point is just to say that Islam is wrong without actually speaking to Muslims, we don't need ARI for that. Linz has already done that on his site. To approach Muslims directly, a different approach is needed. Some would like to attempt this different option. For them to be successful at what they are trying, they must stick to their chosen course consistently. To establish an objective basis for political values like freedom of speech, property rights, due process, trial by jury, etc. by presenting logical arguments to someone from a different philosophical background is a task of daunting complexity. When undertaking an educational project of this scope and sensitivity, it is often quite helpful not to begin by telling your prospective audience member that his own ideas, traditions, and values are so profoundly wrongheaded and viciously evil that it would be ethically improper for you even to associate with him long enough to tell him where the mistakes are. (Among the many problems with this approach is that that from the audience's perspective it smacks of the "if you have to ask, I could never explain it to you" mystics' con game.) And in a society that places a high value on long-term relationships between individuals, you don't get very far with strangers by offering them only brickbats and vinegar.

If I could offer you one take-away, it would be this: don't reify the ideology. Not every individual Muslim is necessarily a chip off the big, bad Islamic block.

I am not "selling out" anybody. What could have given you that idea? I once watched a debate on national television in which ARI's leading light, Dr. Leonard Peikoff, had his ass handed to him by someone of the intellectual calibre of former Republican congressman John Kasich. Since the solution to the problem of Islamic militancy that Peikoff seemed to be promoting was nuclear holocaust, anyone who is a champion of ARI might want to be careful about criticizing another Objectivist for allegedly "selling out" anyone in (or refugee from) the Islamic world.

You condemned David in very strong terms for speaking to a Muslim organization as such, even one that has gone out on a limb in its own community by denouncing violence. And in attacking him, you offered examples such as "Muslims in England have exercised their free speech rights to call for beheadings for blasphemers." You seemed to be making an argument of the form "The ideas that define group B are so evil that it is morally wrong for anyone from group A to acknowledge B by speaking to even a self-selected subgroup from B who renounce the worst of B's ideas, even if it is to praise them for that renunciation. Any organization of B should be shunned." I inferred from this that you were claiming that members of A should "revile" members of B. Please let me apologize for making this last, wildly outrageous, claim. I will try to maintain this careful distinction in my writing on this topic in the future.

-Bill



Comment #15

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 3:47:57 mst
Name: Bill Nevin

Ergo,

I have written an article on this subject that is scheduled to appear in a spring issue of an Objectivist journal that Diana would not like me to plug on her site, published by an organization that she and Paul no longer support.

I don't want to take the steam out of my article by spilling the beans on the internet before it comes out. But, basically, if you made a list of ten big, popularly held ideas about life that would be considered traditional in a South Asian setting, and then a similar list of ten ideas presented in such recent films as Kal Ho Naa Ho, Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham, Veer-Zaara, Dil Chahta Hai, Lajja, etc., you would find some overlap between the two lists, such as concern for family, focus on personal relationships, concern with eventual justice, and so forth. Please correct me if I am wrong, but you would also see some big gaps. The films from the last few years in particular focus on individualism, the pursuit of values, projection of the benevolent universe premise, and just pure exuberance. For example, when the parents want an arranged marriage but their adult children want to hold out for a "love match," the children are almost cheered on to a successful wedding on their own terms, even when (as I point out in my article) the children and parents eventually reconcile.

And the cinematography, choreography, costumes, and other technical factors of the new films are often breathtaking.

None of this is necessarily due to Objectivist influence, nor do I claim otherwise. (But, though I haven't mentioned it in the current version of the article, there is one line in the concluding scene of Kal Ho Naa Ho that I do think shows direct or indirect Objectivist influence. I think this line will eventually go down in cinematic history as one of the first times an explicitly Objectivist ideal was uttered in a critically-acclaimed work of mass culture. And the lady who spoke the line won Best Actress for her performance!)

But in October I found out that my favorite actress has been a huge fan of The Fountainhead since she was a young girl. And last week I found out from my editor that actor Shammi Kapoor was known as a voracious reader of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. So I am uncovering at least some links to Rand bit by bit.

Even if he is not influenced by her, Javed Akhtar's lyrics (their English subtitle translation and the way they sound to my non-Hindi-speaking ear) are often very interesting in terms of exuberant zest for life and sometimes even their explicit individualism. The artistic and popular successes that he and other Muslims have achieved in Bollywood is one thought uppermost in my mind that explains some of the heat with which I have replied to Diana in this thread.

-Bill



Comment #16

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 10:35:43 mst
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Bill,

Please, if your article is going to be published in _The New Individualist_, just say so. Everyone knows what you're talking about just from what you said, so if I cared, you wouldn't be doing me any favors by not mentioning the name. However, I genuinely don't care if you mention it, particularly not given the topic, so you're being somewhat presumptous about my preferences. (Inquiring in e-mail would have avoided the problem entirely.) Most people reading these comments will think less of you for publishing in such a forum, so feel free to take your lumps from them.

I have never advocated a false alternative on which the only good option is to convert them to Objectivism. That's absurd -- and I have no idea why you're reading that into my remarks. My point is that Muslims need to REJECT ISLAM in order to embrace Western values. (And embracing Western values is what I care about at present. Only after that would Objectivism even be comprehensible!) I absolutely reject Kelley's claim that Western ideals can be grafted onto an Islamic foundation. (I am open to the argument that the Muslim world could substantially improve if Islam were rejected partially rather than fully. But, given the nature of Islam, I have reason to suspect that's not true.)

You said: "You condemned David in very strong terms for speaking to a Muslim organization as such, even one that has gone out on a limb in its own community by denouncing violence. And in attacking him, you offered examples such as 'Muslims in England have exercised their free speech rights to call for beheadings for blasphemers.'

Huh?!? Those comments were in *different posts*. In any case, as I've argued about that organization, denouncing the violence is not enough. They do not reject Jihad, for example, but just say that it's not necessary today. In other words, they do not even reject violence on principle.

You said: "So I disagree with you about what David meant. From his words, it may be seen that he actually was trying to nourish efforts among Muslims for reform that is less radical, but more achievable at this point,..."

If you wish to claim some other interpretation, then you need to support that by actually analyzing the text. (Mere assertion isn't persuasive, particularly not when you're so busy misrepresenting my own views!) I'd be particularly interested in your analysis of his comments in the letters that I quoted, since I think that's the most clear.

Diana.



Comment #17

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 11:21:48 mst
Name: WinterLion

In Bill Nevin’s recent post, he recalls a TV debate in which Leonard Peikoff ”had his ass handed to him by someone of the intellectual calibre of former Republican congressman John Kasich.” Nevin says that ”the solution to the problem of Islamic militancy that Peikoff seemed to be promoting was nuclear holocaust.”

I presume this refers to the interview Kasich (as a stand-in for Bill O’Reilly) did with Peikoff on the 6th day of U.S. air strikes against Afghanistan. I have it on tape and went back and looked at it.

The issue of nuclear weapons never came up. Peikoff’s two main points were his opposition to, first, the combination of bombing a country and giving it humanitarian aid, and, second, tailoring the war effort to spare enemy civilians. As he put it: ”A war does not discriminate between good and bad people. You take down the enemy country by whatever means is necessary.” This is as close as Peikoff came to promoting a ”nuclear holocaust,” but a TOC supporter apparently sees no difference. Is it the mere fact of somone’s taking a strongly principled stand that makes the moral tolerationist think of atomic bombs going off?

Throughout the interview, Peikoff argued from consistent, philsophical principles. Kasich’s main counter-arguments were: a) Peikoff didn’t agree with President Bush, and b) foreigners wouldn’t like Peikoff’s war policy. This line of argument is apparently what makes Bill Nevin think that Peikoff ”had his ass handed to him” by Kasich. Yeah, right.



Comment #18

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 12:19:06 mst
Name: Ergo
URL: http://ergosum.blogspot.com

Bill,

From the list of movies you cited, I have watched all except one of them " Dil Chahta Hai. However, the topics you bring up as “popularly held ideas” in South Asia such as family, relationships, etc. are really not new or different in any meaningful way. There are movies that go back at least 20 years that also played on those themes. In fact, familial and relational themes have typically been the mainstay of Bollywood cinema. Indian culture on the whole has been grappling with cross-generational conflicts in the light of modernization and globalization, and the movies have been exploiting those issues as storylines.

And as an opposite example, the recent release of Devdas " the remake of an early 1900’s movie " won tremendous critical, commercial and popular success despite its tragic themes of unrequited love, self-sacrifice, sacrifice of values, projection of a sad and tragic universe, etc.

In your specific example of Kal Ho Na Ho, I thought that movie was terrible precisely because it was so horribly self-sacrificial. The main character seems to be on some self-appointed holy quest for martyrdom in his love for the woman. But I’m curious about the last line of the movie that you say is remarkable for its Objectivist orientation. I don’t remember noting any such thing in the entire movie.

In regards to Rand’s influence in India, I have also noted many instances of affluent Indians being fans of The Fountainhead. Honestly though, I am a bit concerned about the popularity of Rand’s novels among the Indian youth. In a post titled “Outsourcing The Fountainhead”, I blogged about my observations and concerns.

P.S. I do love Javed Akhtar’s lyrics. Just the other day I was pondering upon the wonderful integrity of Art in Poetry, Music, and Dramatization that Indian cinema and Indian artists have maintained over all these years. Compare that with the pitiful degradation of Art in America and Western societies where modern Art is: "the rubbish being splattered across our faces... the trash being piled up in front of our yards as “Ready-made Art”... the jibberish being recited in our schools... [and] the maniacal gyrations of modern hip-shakers."



Comment #19

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 14:03:43 mst
Name: Bill Nevin

Ergo,

I agree with you about Devdas. It was horribly naturalistic, almost subnaturalistic. But it is the only one I have seen that was that bad. A recent Hollywood movie with a "hero" who drank himself to death over regret for a woman that he could have married but instead betrayed wouldn't even be noteworthy (and wouldn't have the saving grace of dances featuring the lovely Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai!)

I agree with you too about the familial relationships, intergenerational conflict, etc. I am aware these have been present for a long time. But I think there is a new focus on individualism and the pursuit of values.

There is the inexplicable scene in Kal Ho Naa Ho where Aman (Shahrukh Khan) runs down the street after the doctor told him to avoid exertion. I hated that scene, and it does support your case. But other than that I interpreted his character and the movie very differently.

I will check out your site. We had better take this offline before we exhaust Diana's patience with off-topic posts.

-Bill



Comment #20

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 14:26:17 mst
Name: Bill Nevin

WinterLion,

I characterized Peikoff's performance as ”ha[ving] his ass handed to him” by Kasich because of his wild-eyed stare, the grim set of his mouth, how fervently he stressed that we needed to bomb the enemy without regard for civilian casualties, and how easily Kasich was thus able to dismiss his appearance as the freakshow-of-the-week by the leader of some fringe group of nutters. This is a dismissal that 95% of the American audience, including supporters of the war, probably agreed with. At least 95% of those not wearing their ARI-issue Captain Midnight decoder rings to spin the interview into some sort of great victory for the forces of righteousness.

For television it is not good enough to have high-minded principles and stick to them consistently (however grimly.) You also have to be eloquent, look good, and carry yourself with a rational demeanor at all times. If you don't look and sound rational, few outside your own choir will bother to recognize that your priciples are rational, if in fact they are. That is why ARI is well served by putting Yaron Brook out as their new front man, because he can carry this off. Hopefully they also keep Dr. Peikoff somewhere away from the cameras to avoid further embarrassing episodes.

-Bill



Comment #21

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 16:02:42 mst
Name: Mike
URL: http://passingthoughts.blogsome.com

After WinterLion show's Bill Nevin's summary of the Peikoff interview to be a gross distortion, Nevin writes:

"I characterized Peikoff's performance as ”ha[ving] his ass handed to him” by Kasich because of his wild-eyed stare, the grim set of his mouth, how fervently he stressed that we needed to bomb the enemy without regard for civilian casualties, and how easily Kasich was thus able to dismiss his appearance as the freakshow-of-the-week by the leader of some fringe group of nutters. This is a dismissal that 95% of the American audience, including supporters of the war, probably agreed with. At least 95% of those not wearing their ARI-issue Captain Midnight decoder rings to spin the interview into some sort of great victory for the forces of righteousness."

Right. And at least 95% of those not wearing their TOC-issue "Kelley right or wrong, Peikoff always wrong" rings can see that he is changing the subject after WinterLion handed him his ass by revealing that that the whole "nuclear holocaust" characterization was fabricated out of thin air.



Comment #22

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 16:55:47 mst
Name: WinterLion

The twin towers of the World Trade Center had recently been demolished in an attack that killed 3000 people, America was engaged in a fight for the future of civilization itself, and Leonard Peikoff went on television with a ”grim set of his mouth” and stressed his points ”fervently.” This much of Bill Nevin’s description is true. (The ”wild-eyed stare” is wholly imagined.) But apparently Nevin thinks ”fervency” (according to my dictionary: ”warmth or intensity of feeling”) is something negative that makes one appear like a nutter. It seems that intensity of feeling is incompatible with ”a rational demeanor.” In fact, it’s downright ”embarrassing.”

This view of the relationship of reason and emotion, or fact and value, is of course a perfect example of the official TOC philosophy. Unfortunately, it goes much wider than TOC in our culture, which is why Nevin is probably correct that many non-Objectivists reacted as he did. But one could not reach them anyway; or if one did, they would end up like Nevin, which was surely not Dr. Peikoff’s recruiting goal.



Comment #23

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 17:58:24 mst
Name: L.S.

Thanks, WinterLion, from saving me some typing in responding to Bill Nevin's startlingly insipid attack on Peikoff in the appearance with Kasich.

It is a truly revealing set of comments from Nevin, just as you said.

I hear one emotion--one that applies to the whole TOC mindset whenever they're facing the issue of spreading the right ideas, no matter how unpopular the ideas may be. That emotion is fear. Fear of the irrational and cowardice in addressing it head-on in times of crisis. Fear of "embarrassment" and so on. Getting over the "embarassment" of standing for Objectivist ideas which are unpopular is a step I find few in the TOC crowd unable to muster the courage to do. That's sad--and obviously part and parcel of the whole mindset.

And I must mention that this idea of Kelley's "heroism" or whatever in "risking death threats" by speaking in mealy-mouthed terms to a so-called "moderate" Muslim group is ridiculous in the context of discussing the volume of bold ARI commentary on the current cartoon situation vs. TOC's undebatable inaction.

ARI speakers and writers routinely and for years have risked angering various violent groups--including violent Muslims--in order to take actually uncompromising, principled stands. That's real courage--the opposite of what comes across from Kelley or Nevin.



Comment #24

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 at 22:34:39 mst
Name: RT

L.S.: "It is a truly revealing set of comments from Nevin, just as you said. I hear one emotion--one that applies to the whole TOC mindset whenever they're facing the issue of spreading the right ideas, no matter how unpopular the ideas may be. That emotion is fear. Fear of the irrational and cowardice in addressing it head-on in times of crisis. Fear of "embarrassment" and so on. Getting over the "embarassment" of standing for Objectivist ideas which are unpopular is a step I find few in the TOC crowd unable to muster the courage to do. That's sad--and obviously part and parcel of the whole mindset."

L.S., I think you've totally hit the nail on the head.

At least part of it (at least for some of them), is I think that they have never grasped the crucial, daily, even minute-by-minute importance of ideas in human life. For them, philosophy is still too much (in LP's words) a 'bauble of the intellect': a pastime, something you do at school, something that's fun to debate on the internet, etc.

They haven't grasped what Ayn Rand means regarding taking ideas *seriously*:
"Intellectual honesty consists in taking ideas seriously. To take ideas seriously means that you intend to live by, to *practice*, any idea you accept as true. Philosophy provides man with a comprehensive view of life. In order to evaluate it properly, ask yourself what a given theory, if accepted, would do to a human life, starting with your own." (from "Philosophical Detection")



Comment #25

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 at 23:59:05 mst
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

L.S. wrote:

"ARI speakers and writers routinely and for years have risked angering various violent groups--including violent Muslims--in order to take actually uncompromising, principled stands."

That's so true! ARI paid for, Leonard Peikoff wrote, and I was one of many Objectivists who proudly signed a full-page ad in the New York Times demanding that the US government retaliate against the Iranian death sentence on Salman Rushdie.

I also remember when Yaron Brook's talk on "A Moral Defense of Israel" was announced at a local university and some Muslims threatened violence. ARI arranged for extra security, Dr. Brook put on a flak jacket, and the speech went on.

Cowards may be paralyzed by fear of "embarrassment," but even death threats can't stop a man of courage and conviction.



Comment #26

Saturday, May 6, 2006 at 19:11:04 mdt
Name: Ankara

No discussion of the cartoons by TOC? So am I just imagining this:

<http://ios.org/images/Winter%202006%20cover.JPG>



Comment #27

Saturday, May 6, 2006 at 20:50:57 mdt
Name: Betsy Speicher
URL: http://forums.4aynrandfans.com

Ankara wrote:

"No discussion of the cartoons by TOC? So am I just imagining this:

<http://ios.org/images/Winter%202006%20cover.JPG>"

The New Individualist Review is way behind schedule. It is now May 6th and the "January-February 2006" issue just came out. Likewise, Diana's commentary appeared on Sunday, February 12, 2006 when TOC was yet to comment on the Mohammad cartoons. The back-dated "December 2005" New Individualist Review appeared later and doesn't count.

Sorry, Bidinotto ... I mean Ankara.



Comment #28

Sunday, May 7, 2006 at 2:34:13 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Ankara, Betsy is right about the timeline. And let me suggest that you actually read the article, as Greg Perkins did:

<http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2006/04/judging-things-by-their-covers.html>