Re: Artist Shrugged

Technotranscendence (
Tue, 23 Feb 1999 21:30:33 -0500 (EST)

I forgot to send this to the list.:)

At 03:55 PM 2/23/99 +0000, Damien Broderick <damien@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU> wrote:
>Nice thoughtful and provocative piece - but I don't believe we need assume
>that (some) artists have `gone on strike' in a Randian way just because we
>fail to see an efflorescence of Randian art. It doesn't make a lot of
>sense anyway to suppose that they would - to what moral end are they
>supposed to be withholding their labour? It's more plausible that most
>artists (writers especially, perhaps) understand the points made in the
>cited post. Rand's melodramatics are a very unsophisticated artistic
>method. You get past it, often by the time you're in your late teens or
>early 20s.
>No doubt some Rand enthusiasts will get apoplectic at this and remind me
>how many hundreds of millions of copies of her work are in print. (And
>perhaps how few of my own are.) This is not a sound argument. Rand's work
>is a transitional object - certainly it had a great impact on me in my
>somewhat innocent and arrested adolescence. But few serious artists seem
>to find anything enduring in it. That's way there are few Randian art
>works, not because they've all gone to Galt Heaven.

I think that you miss the point. I don't agree with Saint-Andre's strike rhetoric, but there are many Objectivists out there and many who want to be artists. I've been exposed to much of their work. (I think his use of that rhetoric leads to misinterpretation. It seems like he's arguing there are Objectivist artist out there who are consciously witholding their work from us. See below. I think what he means -- or if he does not mean this, then he f***ing should:) -- is that some of Rand's ideas on art CAN destroy artists, if they try to apply them in their work.)

I find two points he makes valid here. One is that self-censorship is rampant in the Objectivist movement. The other is that art can't be thought out in advance. The Objectivist movement sometimes brings these two things together and we wind up with shallow propaganda.

How this applies to transhumanism and Extropianism should be obvious from reading the list. There is a slight tendency toward self-censorship -- albeit not as severe as in the Objectivist movement. There also seems to be an artistic program -- which might stifle creative impulses. I don't think it's as stultifying as in the Objectivist movement, but it's there.

(To be fair, the Objectivist movement is becoming more mellow with age.:)

Of course, in both movements there are plenty of exceptions. Even so, I think the issue should be discussed to avoid the problems Saint-Andre points out.


Daniel Ust