Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rand Sighting: The Endless Enigma

Hmmm...I have already published this elsewhere, years ago, but just realized I hadn't posted it here, yet, so...

Ayn Rand is mentioned several times in a book from 2006 entitled
Endless Enigma: A Musical Biography of Emerson, Lake & Palmer by Edward Macan. Macan briefly mentioned Rand in his previous book, Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture, in relation to the band, and he is not unfavorable towards her, unlike authors of similar books on progressive rock. This is also notable since the author took part (pdf) in a JARS symposioum on Rand and progressive rock featuring writers both friendly and hostile towards Rand. (Notable also that Chris Sciabarra, with his piece "Rand, Rush, and Rock" that led to the sysymposium, is acknowledged in the opening of Endless Enigma.)

The book itself is long (over 600 pages) and pricey ( I can't believe I bought it!). For those not interested in the whole book, here are the relevant Rand passages:
p. xvi:
(On another author's misrepresenting Rand), criticized Paul Stump for calling Rand a "Canadian philosopher" and relatedly, for criticizing the band Rush for their Rand-inspired lyrics based on Stump's misrepresentation of said lyrics: "Philosophers and plowmen each must know his place" instead of "know his part." (Stump labeled Rand and Rush as Fascist.)

p. 248-249 references "Project X" from Atlas Shrugged, in relation to themes of technological misuse in ELP albums as well as religion and counterculture:
"So the agnostic musing of 'The Only Way'-although , as Ayn Rand has already demonstrated, right-wingers could be atheists, too, while among the counterculture, atheism was much less popular than a kind of gauzy monism that syncretically blended elements of a number of different spirtual traditions."

(THIS is interesting in light of the Peikovian argument against the religious right...)

Chris Sciabarra is mentioned on pg. 253:

"...Sciabarra...points to the Ayn Rand-influenced libertarianism that is so evident in the music of proof that not only does Randian objectivism adapt comfortably to the progressive rock style, it addresses a number of concerns that have traditionally been assumed to be the province of the Left. I do not argue that a strain of libertarianism analogous to Rand's was probably present in in incipient form in the hippie movement [though Jeff Riggenbach might; see In Praise of Decadence]; I would caution that it was not fully evident until after the disolution of the hippie movement around 1970..."

p. 123:
"Inherent in 'The Barbarian' and explicit in 'Knife-Edge,' is the vision of technology gone spectacularly awry in the hands of oppressive, totalitarian regime, a vision captured with considerable power in three great dystopic novels of the thirties, fourties, and fifties, respectively – Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, George Orwell's 1984, and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged-that strongly impacted the hippie movement of the sixties."

Macan's work and style overall is a systematic approach to the underlying factors that contributed to the formation of progressive rock, integrating economic, cultural, sexual, and other factors in a manner not unsimilar to Atlas, so it's no surprise that Rand is mentioned and defended, especially more admirable when you consider that progressive rock, despite its better attributes, is, at its worst, and at its base, an example of eclecticism in art, a fusion or hybrid of rock, English classical music, jazz, and eastern styles, not necessarily systematically approached but juxtaposed, what might be categorized as "misintegration." (For example, see my piece on the Avatar/Prog Rock connection). The better bands did develop their own style, but so much of the genre is a result of "filling in the grid", mixing musical genres, instead of developing an integrated body of work.

At any rate, I was glad to see at least one writer address Rand's influence in a fair way, as well as countering the smears of Paul Stump and Marxist criticisms of Bill Martin. Chris Sciabarra deserves credit for getting the ball rolling on the symposium, and for getting her serious attention (with the help of people like the JARS symposium contributor Durrell Bowman, who recently co-edited Rush and Philosophy: Heart and Mind United
I hope to see more, starting with my own contribution, "The Rand-Rush Connection", which goes in-depth inside um...the Rand-Rush connection...

No comments:

Post a Comment