Friday, March 23, 2012

Objectivist Michael Stuart Kelly Pimps Ayn Rand and Hacks You

This is the video that got jeremiah banned from objectivist living AND got his linux computer hacked

At objectivist living the administrator Michael Stuart Kelly is an authoritarian watchdog that follows you around and replies to your every post and comment. Did you have a mom or dad that did that? I hope not. Perhaps a dog that followed you everywhere. Allowing you no freedom of expression. Or an icky boyfriend or girlfriend.

As soon as you disagree with Michael Stuart Kelly he gets nasty. He's just a soft little boy inside who throws stones and then gets all righteous when you toss them back at him. Ever run across these types online?

Yeh. I know you have. The next thing he does when you answer him back is, he limits you to 5 posts a day. Then the brownshirts come after you in glee and since you have only 5 posts, if the software is not gaming you which it does most of the time, you are overwhelmed. You can combine a bunch of defenses in one post. Or you can be very Nietzschean and throw a bunch away. Comments that is, not a bunch of defenses.

If you continue then BEWARE! Your computer may get hacked. Mine was. Starting at objectivist living through South America (MSK lived in Brazil you know for 32 years.) Maldives and finally resting on its laurels in London, the hacker basked in enjoyment.

It's fun to watch that computer number screening down the screen, going to all those nifty places and home to London. Only fun if someone is taking care of your hacking problem. I was lucky. Jeremiah was not.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reading Rob Pattinson, Baudrillard and Rand Through Nietzsche

Rob's Early Career
Rob Pattinson's deleted lovely face in Vanity Fair has taken on some legs since first I imagined it into existence. IF that scene with his beautiful 17 year old face had remained in that film, turning everyone else in it into oval oblivion, then clearly his film career would have begun in that moment, and he might never have been Cedric or Art or the cutesy in Bad Mother's Handbook. Can't you just see the stream of studley teen movies they would have put him in, and Rob, who inherently likes to please and be loved, probably would have succumbed for awhile as did Brad Pitt. Yeah I think he would have awakened form his Sleeping Beauty role after awhile. But surely no Edward Cullen would have been considered, nor the Scummit machine tolerated.

This is what Baudrillard calls Nietzsche's revenge when the same happens to him. Baudrillard's reading of Nietzsche is "worse", excessive, too much for the examiners.

This is following Nietzsche through Baudrillard. Rob's beauty in Vanity Fair was more beautiful than beautiful; hyper beautiful; obscenely beautiful as all the others in the scene looked dead; hence, implosion. It was "worse" as Nietzsche might have said. Too  much to be there, to exist there. Crash and burn.

Baudrillard takes his examinations and both the oral and the written are on Nietzsche. Since he has immersed himself in Nietzsche in German, this is a big piece of luck for him. His reading is not agreed with by the examiners and they fail him. He calls this Nietzsche's revenge. At that point in time he stops reading Nietzsche, never to go back to him again until the end of his life. Nietzsche goes underground in Baudrillard's mind, heart and psyche, never to leave, always to be a deep part of him. Forever. This, he acknowledges: (Fragments)

Beautiful I think
Genealogy of Morals

Ayn Rand reads Nietzsche  at University when very young in Russia. Nietzsche is not part of the curriculum so she reads him on the sly, following her heart, already aware of Soviet propaganda and surveillance. This early Rand is even then crossing the boundaries of mainstream. At 21 she comes to the US and she is still reading Nietzsche. Nietzsche is the first book she buys in English. As a young woman in Hollywood she is still reading Nietzsche. Seriously.  Rand did everything seriously. And all the way up until the 1940's (She was born in 1905) until  she is finished writing The Fountainhead. Each part was to be headed by a Nietzsche quote. Fountainhead was published in 1943, on wartime paper, even though it was a very long novel. Egad! No Nietzsche no no no must Bobbs-Merrill have said - so no Nietzsche chapter heads. At that point in her journals she disavows Nietzsche as just an early interest - infatuation?  Her journals have been scrubbed and scrubbed again to get Nietzsche outta Dodge. (Goddess of the Marketplace)Some Nietzsche quotes and thoughts about him  had to stay because everyone knew Howard Roark and especially John Galt were Nietzschean Supermen, so the obvious references and interpretations remained. (These are "floating signs" masking the deep references to Nietzsche.)But the deep underground of Rand's mind, heart and soul belonged to Nietzsche. This is what makes her a post modern philosopher who wrote fiction. Just as a Cronenberg makes films.
Rand Early Hollywood

Both Foucault and Rand disavowing Nietzsche following the war.  While Hitler is praising him to the skies as Leni Riefenstahl shoots him, Hitler that is, against the blue sky in her film Triumph of the Will; the Superman, the Overman of Nietzsche. Even the great and powerful Foucault, after the war, did not admit the great influence and debt he owed Nietzsche for his genealogy. Only towards the end of his life did he say that he wished he had acknowledged Nietzsche earlier on. And we all know the neverending hits and slurs that Heidegger took, and still takes, for his early pro Nazi sympathies. Not to mention the loss of his lover Hannah Arendt.

Rand was wise to shut up and Foucault also.

Only now is Nietzsche taking his rightful place in the sun. 

Baudrillard acknowledges Nietzsche's permanent and ongoing influence, but more in the vein of flowing through his blood and guts than in any quotes, said or written. Would it have been any different for Rand who doesn't think in terms of unconscious rivers running deep in her psyche? Denial first, second and third for Rand. But Nietzsche is still there for the discerning reader of Rand, Nietzsche and Baudrillard.

But how to tease it out of Rand. Maybe Nathaniel could tell us. Or myself who, once upon a time, long long ago in a kingdom by the sea, was an Objectivist from 1960-1964. A serious one.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Objectivism As "FLOATING SIGN" of Atlas Shrugged - Zizek Reading Lacan

Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Zizek: Reading Lacan

So while I consider the twin pedestals of metaphysics and epistemology in Objectivism to be in serious error, they are so only when considered as attempts at serious scholarship. They become something quite different if we think of them as extended footnotes to readers of her novels; "asides" made to them by the various characters of Galt, Reardon, Taggart, Roark, et al., for the purpose of strengthening the plausibility of the story, and, ultimately, maintaining that all-important suspension of the reader's disbelief. The philosophy of Objectivism (especially its metaphysics and epistemology) — like Atlas Shrugged itself — is ultimately meant as entertainment, not scholarship.

In contemporary art, we often encounter brutal attempts to 'return to the real', to remind the spectator (or reader) that he is perceiving a fiction, to awaken him from the sweet dream. This gesture has two main forms that, although opposed, amount to the same effect. In literature or cinema, there are (especially in postmodern texts) self-reflexive reminders that what we are watching is a mere fiction, as when the actors on screen address us directly as spectators, thus ruining the illusion of the autonomous space of the narrative fiction, or the writer directly intervenes in the narrative through ironic comments. In theatre, there are occasional brutal events that awaken us to the reality of the stage (like slaughtering a chicken on set). Instead of conferring on these gestures a kind of Brechtian dignity, perceiving them as versions of alienation, one should rather denounce them for what they are: the exact opposite of what they claim to be - escapes from the Real, desperate attempts to avoid the real of the illusion itself, the Real that emerges in the guise of an illusory spectacle. (Reading Lacan - Lacan with Eyes Wide Shut - Zizek

Bertolt Brecht

What we confront here is the fundamental ambiguity of the notion of fantasy: while fantasy is the screen that protects us from the encounter with the real, fantasy itself, at its most fundamental - what Freud called the 'fundamental fantasy' which provides the most elementary coordinates of the subject's capacity to desire - cannot ever be subjectivized, and has to remain repressed in order to function.
(RL - Zizek)

Eyes Wide Shut - Ending
And here Zizek reads the ending of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut through Lacan and Freud, as the false exit, (the fuck) the way to avoid confronting the horror of the phantasmatic netherworld, never so bluntly stated in a film.

Zizek  Video: Screening Thought with Paul Taylor
Zizek below also on youtube with Paul Taylor"" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Lacan's quip about awakening into reality as an escape from the real encountered in the dream holds true more aptly than anywhere else of the sexual act itself: We do not dream about fucking when we are not able to do it; rather we fuck in order to escape and quell the exorbitant power of the dream that would otherwise overwhelm us. For Lacan, the ultimate ethical task is that of the true awakening: not only from sleep, but from the spell of fantasy that controls us even more when we are awake.(RL - Zizek)

Jorge Luis Borges

“A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.”

Darren's interpretation is that Rand's  Objectivism is a footnote to Atlas Shrugged. Was Rand continuing the illusion of the Real (Atlas Shrugged the fiction) or was Rand trying to awaken us from  sleep and the spell of fantasy that controls us even more when we are awake???? (Lacan)

Maybe Rand was trying to wake herself up????

In formalizing Objectivism was Rand continuing the fantasy when she was awake to maintain the illusion of the Real? Was Rand trying to keep herself from the Real of the dream by her activity when awake? Was she, was she, was she........? Did she know? Did she suspect?   

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Atheism: Insecure and Secure

. . . In a 100-minute debate with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins surprised his online and theater audiences by conceding a personal chink of doubt about his conviction that there is no such thing as a creator.

But, to the amusement of the archbishop and others, the evolutionary biologist swiftly added that he was "6.9 out of seven" certain of his long-standing atheist beliefs . . .

I don't understand why Dawkins is not 100% certain of his atheist beliefs. A certainty of 6.9 out of 7.0 is only about 98.6%, leaving a respectable 1.4% of doubt.

Perhaps Dawkins needs to take some lessons in philosophy, science, and mathematics from a poster at Sense Of Life Objectivists (SOLO) calling himself "Jules Troy," who posted there on 6 March 2012:

I would allow about a 0.00000000000000000000000000% chance that god exists..give or take a few zeros.

Troy is certain of his materialistic philosophy with a precision of 26 decimal points. We would all be very interested to learn with what numbers and assumptions he started his calculation in order to arrive at that astonishingly confident result. Dawkins would be interested, too.

Ayn Rand and the Myth of Chemical Evolution

During the Q&A session of one of her lectures at the Ford Hall Forum, Ayn Rand slyly evaded a query regarding her estimation of the Darwinian account of biological evolution by replying, "I am not a student of Darwin's theory." Many acolytes of  Rand who do claim to be "students of Darwin's theory" often rationalize her puzzling response by asserting that she must have been reluctant to commit herself to a more focused reply because she was, no doubt, simply unacquainted with the many technical details of the theory. However, we should point out that being unacquainted with the technical details of many things never prevented her from voicing authoritative-sounding opinions on them: music, painting, mathematics, homosexuality, to name just four. Yet she hedged when it came to the related subjects of the origin of the diverse species of life we find on Earth and the more fundamental problem of the origin of life itself — perhaps with good reason. She might have suspected that the entire Darwinian story was nonsense (or at best, highly inadequate), but demurred saying so publicly lest she receive the loathsome stigma of "creationist" by her critics.

One detail of the Darwinian paradigm Miss Rand probably did not know is that its account of the origin of life itself — which account goes under the general name of abiogenesis or chemical evolution (i.e., the putative genesis of biological organisms from previously existing non-living, non-biological chemicals) — violates a fundamental law of physics; and not just any old law of physics, but THE great law of physics, as it is the law that actually determines the ice-cold fact that time flows in one direction only. This law is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, sometimes poetically called Time's Arrow but in most other occasions (at least, informally) referred to simply as entropy.

There are different ways of thinking about entropy, but they all involve the idea of "states of disorderliness" of a system. Disorderliness, not orderliness. As a system becomes more disorderly, its entropy is said to increase; conversely, as a system becomes more orderly, its entropy is said to decrease. If the metric one uses to measure disorderliness is a macroscopic one like "energy," then entropy can be thought of as the amount of energy in a system that is unavailable to perform work; if the metric one uses is a microscopic one like "the configuration or arrangement of particles comprising the system," then entropy can be thought of as the inevitable tendency for the particles comprising a system to move from some initial arrangement that is improbable toward an arrangement that is more probable. The microscopic and the macroscopic are related, of course, for as a configuration of particles moves from one of low probability to one of high probability, less energy is available in the system to perform work. The arrangement of particles that corresponds to the maximum amount of unavailable energy is one that has the least order, i.e., that arrangement which is the most random and the most probable. Thus, the Second Law of Thermodynamics dictates that Time's Arrow move any system of particles from states of orderliness to states of increasing randomness. In other words, the inevitable result of time on any system is to cause it to have more disorder and more random configurations amongst its constituent elements.

Taken by itself, this consideration of Time's Arrow always to move systems in the direction of dissolution might be enough to dismiss any claims of abiogenesis regarding a configuration of particles (i.e., prebiotic chemicals) presumably moving from an assumed initial state of randomness to a final state of orderliness, i.e., a living organism. But there's a catch that is skillfully exploited by the advocates of chemical evolution: the mathematics of the Second Law of Thermodynamics tell us that an increase in entropy is inevitable only in systems that have partitioned themselves off from the rest of existence in such a way that neither matter energy can enter or leave. Such a partitioned off system is known as a closed system. Thus, in a hypothetical perfectly insulating Thermos bottle initially filled with ice-cubes and hot tea, Time's Arrow dictates that the hot tea shall NOT draw energy from the ice-cubes in order to keep itself hot and keep the ice-cubes cold, but, rather that the ice shall warm and melt, and the tea shall cool a bit, until the entire initial ice-cube/hot-tea "system" reaches one uniform temperature. There is no longer any available energy inside this Thermos to perform work; all of the particles inside the Thermos have reached their most highly probable arrangement, and the system has reached "maximum entropy" or equilibrium.

This is quite different, however, from a situation in which matter and energy can pass freely to and from the Thermos container itself. The Thermos is now not partitioned off from the rest of existence, and is "open" to it; so such a system is called an open system. In such a system, both particles (e.g., more ice-cubes) and energy (e.g., a heat source) can enter the Thermos from some other place and constantly replenish the initial conditions; so long as ice-cubes and heat were entering the Thermos from outside, the entropy inside the Thermos could be maintained at a constant, or even be made to decrease (by having a colder, lower-entropy outside environment, thus drawing heat out of the Thermos and causing the hot-tea itself to freeze into a low-entropy, crystalline structure of ice).  Thus, according to the advocates of chemical evolution, the Second Law of Thermodynamics remains inviolate in their various scenarios because the energy needed to "finance" the building up of orderliness from chemicals to living organisms is provided by stellar radiation, mainly from the sun. According to this view, the lowering of entropy in chemicals on Earth as they move from their initial high probability states as chemicals to their resultant low probability states as living organisms is compensated by the fact that the sun itself, which is financing the reduction in entropy on Earth, is moving toward a state of even higher entropy than it originally had at a faster rate. Thus, according to this view, the total entropy of the open Earth/sun system exactly obeys Time's Arrow, as it must, even if in a small part of that system — on Earth — the local entropy appears to have decreased with the emergence of life from non-life.

This is a very common view. So long as the system in question is open — permitting both matter and energy to pass through the system's barrier (i.e., the walls of the Thermos container, or the atmosphere of planet Earth) from some other place outside the original system —there is no violation of Time's Arrow, since energy can be imported from some other place to finance a local reversal of entropy.

Recently, however, a professor of mathematics at University of Texas named Granville Sewell took a second look at the Second Law of Thermodynamics and asked a simple, if profound, question: Can Anything Happen in an Open System? Given an open system between Thermos and Surrounding Freezer, does it follow that anything is as likely as anything else to occur inside the Thermos simply because ice has been made more likely? His answer may surprise you. And though the original papers are available online, you can watch two explanatory videos at the links below. The first is posted at University of Texas El Paso and narrated by Professor Sewell himself; the second is a simplified explanation of his position that was recently posted to YouTube. Though the first is quite a bit more challenging than the second, I recommend watching them both.

Granville Sewell narrates the basic position of his article regarding the 2nd law of thermodynamics: 
"Can Anything Happen In An Open System?"

"Evolution is a Natural Process Running Backward"
(A simplified explanation of Granville Sewell's argument from his article "Can Anything Happen In An Open System?"

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reading Ayn Rand Through Nietzsche

1957 Edition

Jorge Luis Borges

“A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”

An Object does not exist until and unless it is observed. - William Burroughs

“The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.”
 Ayn RandThe Fountainhead 

She meant it. Her diaries from that time, while she worked as a receptionist and an extra, lay out the Nietzschean mentality that underpins all her later writings. The newspapers were filled for months with stories about serial killer called William Hickman, who kidnapped a 12-year-old girl called Marion Parker from her junior high school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he sent mockingly to the police in pieces. Rand wrote great stretches of praise for him, saying he represented "the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. … Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should." She called him "a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy," shimmering with "immense, explicit egotism." Rand had only one regret: "A strong man can eventually trample society under its feet. That boy [Hickman] was not strong enough."

In her Journal she makes the astounding statement that Hickman was condemned to death, not for what he did, but for what he said. In other words, here Rand is attacking the Dominating Discourse of the judicial system while Foucault was still a child, long before he identified it and deconstructed it.

So Rand has been tarred with writing this about Hickman for all her life and even now after her death. See the full article at Slate. It also indicates her study of Nietzsche at the time and her particular emphasis on his thinking and writing. 

Here we see how Rand has been interpreted through Nietzsche by everyone who has written about her. They all start trudging through the swampy sewer of psychological interpretation. And more than just Nietzsche. Freud too is called upon to  have words and quotes torn out of his mouth. 

I am also including her two recent biographers, Jennifer Burns and the much better Anne Heller. But perhaps another time for them.

What Rand wrote with the killer William Hickman was akin in feeling to what Foucault did with Pierre Riviere in the book compiled of Riviere's account of his crime. I, Pierre Riviere, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister, and My Brother.... Foucault's team in a seminar at the College de France spent a year on Riviere's crime, studing the crime , the memoir, the court documents and all the court records including the medical reports by the leading figures in contemporary psychiatry and forensic medicine: Esquirol, Marc, Orfila, etc and an urban physician in charge of a large asylum. They all differed.  Pierre Riviere was twenty years old and by his own admission was almost illiterate. The beauty of his account captured Foucault and students of his at the College de Paris undertook the study of Riviere and his crime as it intersected in time with the criminal system and the increasing foray of the medical profession into crimes of this sort in 1836. The prevailing Discourse, the Dominating Discourse, was the focus. 

The fact that Hickman cut up the body of the child and sent it in pieces to the police authorities links these two crimes.

Foucault's interest in these bizarre crimes were highlighted in his genealogy Discipline and Punish, a genealogical study of crime, discipline and punishment during approximately 300 years of history, up to the modern, in France specifically. Foucault's debt to Nietzsche was Nietzsche's A Genealogy of Morals, which said that God was dead, in which the master genius laid out an original way of re-seeing history discontinuous from chronology. Foucault then continues with discontinuity, the end of linear time, the end of progressive history, and his detailed study of discourse as the dominating factor. He goes on to the grid of power/knowledge in The Archeology of Knowledge, and the dominating role of the prevailing discourse in determining who, what, how, where,when,and the why of saying what will be said and written and thought. in any given era.

Rand changed the Dominating Discourse. No Atlas Shrugged was not a literary masterpiece. It was a "cut" in the Dominating Discourse of political, economic, psychological and aesthetic discourses. Just as Warhol changed the Dominating Discourse 
of art history by breaking with it, and Schoenberg and Stravinsky in music. I have been maintaining that Meyer's Twilight (Tristan and Iseult) has been another such cut in sexual rituals. The far more literary Tristan and Iseult was written by Updike in Gertrude and Claudius, the back story of Hamlet, but it did not affect the Discourse at all.

All this is preliminary to undoing the prevailing discourse concerning Ayn Rand. What lies in the folds of the discourse is hidden until the archivists happen to dig it out. Or not.  This is what Foucault spent his life doing with dusty, hardly legible, poorly written, fading scraps of paper. Changing the way we think, the way we look at all human behavior. Changing the Dominating Discourse of psychology, history, science, economics and language.

Rand did it fictionally, then Nathaniel Branden influenced her to do it in non-fiction form in her philosophy of Objectivism. Both were necessary conditions. In the latter she was less successful intellectually, but much more so financially, until she crashed it. Nietzsche again. Obliterate and disappear it. She did. 

Eric Packer does this to the currency markets in Cosmopolis. He takes down the speculative trading in numbers and crashes his own fortune to do it. Neither is a self-destructive or loser action. It is Nietzchean. Lacan disbanded his Psychoanalytic Institute at his death. He disappeared. No endless interpretive psychological arguing Lacanian theory. We now have his analysis of "floating signs" in its place. 

Did Rand know she was following Nietzsche's strategy made crystal clear by Baudrillard? I doubt it. But Nietzsche was so interfaced with her thinking, with her mind, with her arguments that his thought permeated everything she wrote and did. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reading The Philosophy of Objectivism As "FLOATING SIGN" For Rand's Fiction

Part II:

In the 19th-century, some novels made use of the scholarly apparatus of footnotes: a passage in the text would have a reference such as an asterisk or a dagger, perhaps after the mention of some exotic location, which reference would signal to the reader that he should scan the explanatory note at the foot of the page for more information. This information, in rhetorical terminology, is known as "Non-Diagetic"; i.e., information that (supposedly) lies outside the fictional world of the novel itself. There was no guarantee, of course, that this footnote was objectively true. The point of having a footnote was that it resembled the truth (being a mode of communication borrowed from non-fiction scholarship) for the purpose of sustaining and further highlighting the "inner truth" — the REVEALED TRUTH — of the writer qua storyteller. The purpose of the footnote was to legitimize, in a sense, the fictional part of the novel, adding to its overall plausibility for a reader. It's important to understand that since the "tension" between the footnoting and the storytelling was stylistic — the writer wasn't merely trying to give the reader an interesting bit of information about a location mentioned in the story; he was trying to REINFORCE the plausibility of the story by means of a device normally associated with non-fiction scholarship — there's no guarantee (not even the necessity!) that the information in the footnote be objectively true; i.e., the footnote might just as easily be yet more "revealed truth" from the novelist; i.e., the scholarly-looking footnote itself might just be more fiction!

Using the analogy of a stage play, a footnote in a novel is similar to an actor's "aside" to the audience, in which he momentarily walks through that proverbial "fourth wall" and speaks directly to the audience in order to impart some information to them, or comment to them about the goings-on in the play; that would be an example of non-diagetic dialogue (i.e., dialogue that the audience can hear, but which the other characters on stage at the moment are supposed to be unaware of). It's quite apparent to the audience, however, that even the "aside" has been scripted by the playwright, and that it is still really a part of the invented world of the play. No one in the audience would seriously consider an actor's "aside" to be the same sort of communication about the goings-on in the play as, for example, a serious review of the play by a critic that might appear in the newspapers the day after the performance.

So while I consider the twin pedestals of metaphysics and epistemology in Objectivism to be in serious error, they are so only when considered as attempts at serious scholarship. They become something quite different if we think of them as extended footnotes to readers of her novels; "asides" made to them by the various characters of Galt, Rearden, Taggart, Roark, et al., for the purpose of strengthening the plausibility of the story, and, ultimately, maintaining that all-important suspension of the reader's disbelief. The philosophy of Objectivism (especially its metaphysics and epistemology) — like Atlas Shrugged itself — is ultimately meant as entertainment, not scholarship.

Reading The Philosophy of Objectivism As "FLOATING SIGN" For Rand's Fiction

Part I:

Ayn Rand's enduring influence rests on her talent as a popular novelist, and not on any ability as a serious philosopher. While one can broadly agree with her positions on egoism and capitalism, the bases on which she claimed these rest — namely, her notions of metaphysics and epistemology — are incorrect when intelligible, and when correct, trivial.

Though apparently rejecting philosophical materialism, Objectivist metaphysics is simply an encore of the "naive materialism" debuted publicly by H. G. Wells in his "Outlines of History" (1919): an amusing scenario of Where It All Came From and Where It Is All Going, starring those two famous comics, Matter and Energy.

The epistemology as presented in the Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology is a farraginous mess, with definitions of concepts like "Unit" that are so idiosyncratic as to make the entire system (not to mention one's time trying to grasp it) a complete waste.

Alas. One cannot create a philosophical system in the same manner that one creates a novel, i.e., by making it up in accordance with one's inner truth. Though we willingly suspend our disbelief when entering the fictional world Ayn Rand created in her novels, we are unwilling to do the same when reading her non-fiction philosophy.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Reading Eric Packer Through Ayn Rand

Rob Pattinson as Eric Packer
He tried to read his way into sleep but only grew more wakeful. He read science and poetry. He liked spare poems sited minutely in white space, ranks of alphabetic strokes burnt into paper. Poems made him conscious of his breathing. A poem bared the moment to things he was not normally prepared to notice. This was the nuance of every poem, at least for him, at night, these long weeks, one breath after another, in the rotating room at the top of the triplex. (C p. 5 the first page)
Raymond Massey

Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead has his bedroom at the top of his penthouse where it is glassed all around. The world can watch him fuck women. A little bit of trivia that DeLillo throws in for Ayn Rand intelligentsia. A "floating sign"? 
"When she entered his bedroom, she found it was not the place she had seen photographed in countless magazines. The glass cage had been demolished. The room built in its place was a solid vault without a single window. It was lighted and air-conditioned, but neither light nor air came from the outside."When Dominique enters his penthouse after their marriage.

Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper - Fountainhead
Alert cue, alert cue!

He bypassed sleep and rounded into counterpoise, a moonless calm in which every force is balanced by another. This was the briefest of easings, a small pause in the stir of restless identities. (C p.5-6)

The dialectic is stilled, balanced, the see-saw is even, straight across. It's not charting. The line is flat. Like a brain-dead flatline on the oscilloscope. 

Every act he performed was self-haunted and synthetic. The palest thought carried an anxious shadow. (c p.6)

The appearance of the Double, just barely sensed, like a shadow. Restless identities stirring. Death enters the novel quietly, on the first two pages, like a shadow, with the appearance of the Double.

DeLillo writes in this way: He types a paragraph on one sheet of white paper, edits it, retypes it again on another white sheet of paper, re-edits it, etc until it reads the way he wants it to read. There is always plenty of white around the paragraph. If you have ever seen a shot of an Ayn Rand manuscript, not like DeLillo at all.

Eric Packer:
When he died he would not end. The world would end. (C p.6)
Freud is finished. (dead). Einstein is next. (to die) Their worlds are dead.(C p.6)

On reading Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne Heller:

On the last page:

"It is not I who will die, it is the world that will end," Ayn Rand liked to say. It is a favorite quote of hers her fans like so much.

DeLillo is challenging Baudrillard on ending global capitalism through narrative transcendence, and he is also challenging Rand and  her moral defense of capital. 

Anne Heller
Although Heller's book was published after Cosmopolis, it seems prescient that this quote is on the first page of Cosmopolis and the identical quote is on the last page of Heller's biography of Rand. DeLillo's self chosen book cover for Underworld seems also prescient in its erie image of the coming 9-11. And Cosmopolis is clairvoyant about the 2008 meltdown.
Nietzsche - Genealogy of Morals
Now I feel that DeLillo's ghost is following me as I am reading Cosmopolis through Atlas Shrugged but even more through Rand herself. I am coming to believe that she is the great unacknowledged post modern philosopher her rather poorly educated disciples have always thought her to be, but not for the same reasons as they. I believe she is Nietzsche's heir, more than Foucault and Baudrillard, and taking in the consideration that she disavowed Nietzsche early on, stopped writing in her journals about him so much, all his thought embedded in her mind went underground. Until Baudrillard came along and blasted it up in my face without even knowing about her.

Does DeLillo intend to just blast her for her defense of capital? Or is DeLillo somehow divining her   unconscious catastrophic collision with capital via Greenspan in the 2008 meltdown. As a defender of capital on a moral foundation of self-interest,  this is the flaw Greenspan told Congress he had found in his thinking.

From Digby at Hullabaloo who blames Rand for the 2008 meltdown.

Under questioning from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the committee chairman, Greenspan acknowledged that the failure of that expected self-regulation represented "a flaw in the model" he used to analyze economics. "I was going for 40 years or more on the perception that it was working well."
This is the fundamental problem with Randian thinking. They really do believe that capitalism is a moral system in which the people become wealthy because they are morally and intellectually superior to those who don't. Why, it would be wrong for them to not self-regulate and endanger the whole economy, right? It wouldn't make any sense. - Digby

No Digby, that's not the reason they believe it is a moral system. They believe it is a moral system because it is based on man's reason and self-interest. The flaw is self-interest. Why would these financiers destroy their financial empires? Well, Mr. Greenspan, you should have known in 1968. Rand destroyed her lucratively financial, philosophical empire of Objectivism that Nathaniel Branden had built for her, his lover, because he didn't want to fuck her anymore. She wanted to punish him, destroy him, kill him for choosing a beautiful young woman instead of an old brilliant frumpet.

And OMG I believe she was following Nietzsche all this time. Taking every single premise she had and carrying it to the extreme. And every goddamn one of them from sex, to friendship, to love, to her writing,  all of it, to the extreme, to excess. What is Atlas Shrugged as a novel, but a novel that is more a novel than a novel, a hyper-novel, an excessive novel, a novel that is "worse" as Nietzsche would say. All the way to Death as Canetti would say. Being more a capitalist than a capitalist. More so. Worse as Nietzsche advocates to bring something down. To destroy it. This is where Baudrillard kills Foucault in Forget Foucault. This is where Rand does it in reality through Greenspan instead of advocating or writing about it. She is a major philosopher by default. She didn't know she knew.

Does DeLillo know that he knows. I dunno.

To defy the system with a gift to which it cannot respond save by its own collapse and death. Nothing, not even the system, can avoid the symbolic obligation, and it is in this trap that the only chance of a catastrophe for capital remains. ...For it is summoned to answer, if it is not to lose face, to what can only be death. The system must itself commit suicide in response to the multiplied challenge of death and suicide. (Jean Baudrillard - Symbolic Exchange and Death 37)

Reading Ayn Rand Through The Foucauldian Cut of Nietzchean Genealogy

I am starting with The Fountainhead just because I am. Atlas Shrugged is even more so. Both these novels incised a Foucauldian "cut" through the best selling literary Dominating Discourse of their day. No neither were literary masterpieces of cultural eminence. No matter. -  Neither were the Campbell Soup Cans of Warhol, but they cut into art history and ushered in POP art.

 Warhol "cut" into  Art History
But that's not the point. Both were "cuts" in the Dominating Discourse. What she wrote was not allowed. The DD determines who can say what, when it can be said, what can be said, how it can be said, who can say it and where it can be said. If this is all new to you then I refer you to the work of Michel Foucault and all his works, the first two being The Order of Things and The Archeology of Knowledge.

Foucault seized upon Nietzsche's The Genealogy of Morals, saw genealogy as a tool to order knowledge into cuts.

"Knowledge is not for knowing; knowledge is for cutting." - Michael Foucault

Nowhere does anyone see that this is what Rand did. Only she did not universalize it as Foucault did and apply the Nietzchean tool to all knowledge. Instead Nietzsche's The Genealogy of Morals sank deep in her mind to change the way she thought. Nietzsche puts an end to God by saying God is deadBaudrillard comments on this way of phrasing it. Nietzsche challenged God to appear. He dared God. He did not say there was no God. He said God is dead, a much different meaning.

Rand was completely convinced by Nietzsche's reasoning to declare herself an atheist, and Objectivism held atheism as a tenet. Rand finally broke with her friend, supporter, teacher and much more, Isabel Patterson, over this issue. Patterson believed in a creator, Rand did not, and they argued for years over it, until Rand just distanced herself from Patterson.

It is Nietzsche's tight reasoning using genealogy that interfaced with Rand's mind and her thinking. It did the same with Foucault. It began French post modernism thinking, replacing Levi-Strauss's structuralism theory.

This is how to read Rand through Nietzsche, not by media sound bites of what someone has picked up about Nietzsche. Rand backs away from Nietzsche in her journals, Foucault skims over him until the last years of his brilliant and powerful intellectual career, and finally says that he regretted not acknowledging Nietzsche's contribution to his work earlier in his career. The reason is obvious since no one wanted to stand beside Hitler's praise and misuse of Nietzsche, concerning the Holocaust, which Nietzsche would have disavowed if anyone had carefully read his Genealogy of Morals.

The philosophical, economic, psychological, social, aesthetic Dominating Discourses served to smother these novels as best they could. But when the Dominating Discourse changes, it is total. This is where Kuhn's Paradigm Change often gets confused with Foucault's cut, which is much more comprehensive. These novels cut, they cut through all the discourses of the above. This is its supreme importance. But only thinking genealogically will allow you to observe and see it.

An object does not exist until and unless it is observed. - William Burroughs

Nowhere on any page of these two biographies, or any reviewers, or Rand's disciples, is any of this seen. Foucault is not in the bibliographies nor the texts, nor the footnotes, nada anywhere. In fact neither Burns nor Heller seem aware that there is such a thing as post modern theory. Burns's bibliography is so excessive it is obscene. It's scholarship is an embarrassment. I am not surprised that she was granted access to the ARI archives. She posed no threat at all. She did, however, provide endless tidbits of information. Information is NOT knowing.

Nietzsche is in Burns's bibliography as Thus Spake Zarathustra but no Genealogy of Morals. In Heller Nietzsche is in her bibliography under Beyond Good and Evil. She does mention Genealogy of Morals, but does not include it in her bibliography.

Rand is primarily a post modern theorist, who presented her theory via fiction. When she turned to non-fiction it disappeared. So we have it and at the same time it is masked, camouflaged, revealed and concealed.