Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Immorality of a "Concerto of Deliverance?", or, Ayn Rand's Starship

There has been some controversy in Objectivist circles around a guy named Monart Pon and the "Concerto of Deliverance," a composition "inspired" by the "lost" Richard Halley concerto that figures prominently in Atlas Shrugged. I am not exactly sure how to describe Pon, beyond the fact that he runs a site called Starship Aurora and commissioned a piece called "The Concerto of Deliverance by a composer named John Mills-Cockell. (A Yahoo! group exists for discussion of this piece as well.) I've heard a bit of the concerto, and I'm going to withhold my personal opinion, except to say that it sounds NOTHING like what Rand described (I don't think it was meant to, however, so it should be judged on its own terms.) But aside from what the piece sounds like, the biggest controversy surrounded the very idea of someone appropriating the name, even as inspiration. Hence, the "Immorality of a Concerto of Deliverance." Pon wrote this essay as A Reply to the Critics at Objectivism Online. This is an excerpt of his defense:
Far from being ‘a clear violation of the property rights of Ayn Rand’, the album Concerto of Deliverance is a tribute to her achievement and, among other aims, a way to draw new readers to her works (which it is already doing)..As to my using and benefiting from Rand's works: don't all objectivists? Is someone who makes a movie of Anthem (now in the public domain) being immoral? Is someone who names their children after characters in Rand's novels being immoral? Is calling a website or organization 'Objectivist' being immoral? Is applying objectivism in one's life and career, and making money from that, being immoral? If it is, then we should all refrain from deriving any benefit from her, put her works in a vault, and make them taboo.

Personally, I have no problem with taking the concerto as a springboard for an original work (I've done so myself, with my own "Bolero of Deliverance.") I think the real reason for offense is that the Concerto of Deliverance, as a fictional piece of music, is so idealized that it's like looking for Atlantis; if it were to ever be discovered, it probably wouldn't live up to the hype, and no one wants their illusions shattered. That is why I personally fear an Atlas Shrugged movie: because the soundtrack will never live up to the expectation of that "lost" concerto.

1 comment:

  1. You might be interested in my review of the CD at