Sunday, February 15, 2009

A look at "What Art Is" and the "Ayn Rand and Art Symposium"

What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand, by Torres and Kamhi promised to be the first major analysis of Rand's theory of art, and that book inspired a whole symposium in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, offering more analysis than one could have ever hoped for all at once (so much so that I still haven't made my way through all of it.) Of course, this back and forth consisted of a lot of "I'm right-no, I'm right-No, you're both wrong and I'm right!" debate. If one hoped (like I did) for a definitive conclusion to the problems of music and Objectivism, well, it's nice to dream. :D

But I'm going to start looking at these arguments in depth, and hopefully contribute a few original things, if I can. But because of the breadth and depth, it's gonna be a long process (and I'm not being paid for this, so I'll take my sweet time, thank you! :P Though I wish I could spend all my time on this.) I'm going to do it in small, bite-size chunks, which may or may not follow a linear path; one could take these articles and find all sorts of connections that could spin out of control...but the main idea behind this is to present a "clearinghouse" of the essentials of these arguments, by focusing solely on the musical arguments as much as possible, cutting out the personal and political unless it needs to be discussed. Wish me luck...or good premises...either/or...

Though they may be hard to track down, anyone interested in this topic should read the full articles for their full context. Whether one agrees with the authors, or the standing of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, it is nonetheless satisfying to see Rand's ideas on art being taken seriously, and the editors should be commended for the effort to host such a symposium. Hopefully, these debates will create a better understanding. By isolating the musical aspects of these arguments, I hope to make it easy to reference where the discussion of Rand's theory of music has gone. So here is a bibliography of the relevant articles and symposium, with links to the online versions, where applicable:

-Critical Neglect of Ayn Rand's Theory of Art by Michelle Marder Kamhi and Louis Torres

-Authors' Preliminary Response to Symposium: Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (Spring 2001) by Torres and Kamhi

-What Art Does by Lester Hunt

-What Art Is: What's Not to Like? by Jeff Riggenbach
-Nordau's Degeneration and Tolstoy's What is Art?? Still Live by -Gene H. Bell-Villada

-Rand's Aesthetics: A Personal View by John Hospers

-Reasoning About Art by David Kelly

-Art: What a Concept by John Enright

-Guggenheims and Grand Canyons by Barry Vacker

-The Puzzle of Music and Emotions in Rand's Aesthetics byRandall R. Dipert

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