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Ayn Rand

2011/09/05

I’ve felt confusion about Ayn Rand ever since I read ‘We the Living’ and ‘The Fountainhead’.  I was a teenager when I read both.  At the time I didn’t know about Rand’s philosophy of ‘Objectivism’.  I think there was something about it on the flap of the book.  I also read ‘The Fountainhead’ around that time.  My mother is a big reader, and she told me about the film made from the book, and she loved both.

I approach reading, film from an artistic perspective, I think.  I’m not sure.  I just know I didn’t understand objectivism at all.  I was curious about it, and, based on ‘The Fountainhead’, I had the idea that it was about being true to one’s art, not altering it for the sake of others.  I could relate to that.   In fact, I loved ‘The Fountainhead’, and being entertained is my goal, usually, when I read.

‘We the Living’ seemed to me like a historical novel about the Bolshevik Revolution.  I read it during the Cold War, when Communism was the resident evil in the US.  I sort of understood her anger.  On the other hand, not being born into a life of entitlement and upward mobility, I was confused by it as well.

That, perhaps, is the crux of my issues with Rand.  Her views are anything but objective.  They are entirely subjective.  The corporate takes the place of government in creating wealth.  Like communism, if no one were greedy or power hungry, pure capitalism would work.  We know that is not the case.  The group has to have a consensus for the better of all, and the group has to be diverse.  Not everyone had her extreme ability to view the world in black and white.  She experienced her views and opinions, it seems, as the only acceptable reality for all, rather collectivist in my view.

Naturally curious, I read everything I came across that pertained to Rand and Objectivism.  I really wanted to understand Objectivism, but I’ve always been confused by the labels in Philosphy, and while I think I can grasp ideas easily, philosophy is difficult for me.  I think it means different things to different people.

By 1987 I was fairly knowledgeable about Objectivism, but not enough to explain it to anyone.  I say this because when Alan Greenspan became chairman of the federal reserve that year I was concerned.  I read of his relationship with Ayn Rand.  I read of him living at her home with a group of devotees, although I can’t find a reference to that at the moment.  I read of his participation in a group that read ‘Atlas Shrugged’ while she wrote it.  In 1987 and onward I was concerned that someone who had such a close relationship with Ayn Rand was in charge of the Federal Reserve.  It felt very unbalanced. I was only 24, so what did I know?

I tried to read ‘Atlas Shrugged’ but it didn’t engage me.  I’m lazy when it comes to reading.  If my interest isn’t piqued in the first 10 pages I put it down, especially with novels.  Fantasy is my least favorite genre in books and film.

Anyhow, those are my thoughts on Ayn Rand.  Just her position as a guru obviates her position as an Objectivist.  I haven’t read everything she wrote, but I read 2 books as a teen and they entertained me.  I felt a romantic admiration for Howard Roark, the hero of ‘The Fountainhead’.  I admired him for being true to his art.  I was also attracted to the modern art element in his work as an architect.  It impressed me more as a book about art and ideals rather than politics.  I guess I’ve always been a little political, even unconsciously.

I’m going to see if I have anything interesting to share with you.  Oh, here’s a photo of a great uncle with a ‘friend’, ca. 1922, I think.  Love it that he was able to enjoy his life.  At least I hope he did.  He died young of natural causes.

 

 

 

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Thinking & Reading

2010/04/19

My titles are probably lacking.  Well, still reading Lauren Winner’s Girl Meets God.  Just realized I could have gotten it much cheaper at my favorite on-line bookstore, Better World Books.  Was so impulsive, ordered it from Amazon to get it quickly.  It has been very thought-provoking.  I thought I should read the Bible more.  The girl knows her Bible!  I even had a conversation with Tim today about embracing Christianity 100%, and what that would mean in my life.  I’ve been baptized, but I never felt comfortable in church.  I always felt guilty.  I’ve had a whole spiritual journey that would be a whole other blog post or 2, but suffice it to say I ended back up at a Baptist church.  The Baptists are supposed to be the free thinkers, believe it or not.  I love my church.  That’s where I met and married Tim.  But I find that no one in my church is my closest friend.  And some of my church friends are very judgemental.  I am also, of course.  I’m extremely judgemental of judgemental people, which makes me no better.  That’s probably why it bothers me.  I don’t always feel like my values are the same as other people in my church.  And so many poeple have been murdered in the name of God…

Back to embracing an orthodox Christian life–In ways, it would make it easier, because everything would be black and white.  I’d know exactly what to do and what not to do, and when.  Or would I?  The Bible says to call one’s Christian brother or sister out on their sin.  I’ve seen this done in a church and out, and it has always appeared a lot gentler, kinder, and more Christ-like when I saw it done in a secular setting.  I’ve even had my friends call me out (about something I’m doing that isn’t right for me and/or others) and done the same with some of my friends.  Never in a church setting, however.  And who chooses who the church calls out on their sin?    And why are we born with sin?  I just don’t get it.  I try to have humility, gratitude and hope.

Anyhow, I wanted a new Bible because I can’t find mine, and I thought I’d study more.  We went to an independent bookseller, because I really try to shop/buy local or handmade.  Doesn’t always happen, but I try.  It is called Carytown Books.  It was located in this trendy shopping area here in Richmond called Carytown.  I remember from when I lived nearby over 20 years ago.  It was around a long time.  They had a cat there, who just hung out with you & in the window.  They had to move because of rising rents, and have changed their business model a bit, but are doing well in an area called Bellevue now.  They now sell used & new books.  And I’ve found a great place to recycle the many books I’ve read.  I bought a bunch of used books.  I’ll tell you about them in a bit.  Oh, and there were 3 kitties there, all adorable.

First I’ll tell you about the books I checked out from the library last week.  Of course, I’ve mentioned the Hypochondria book.  I also checked out some larger picture books, one on the great smaller museums of Europe (which profiled Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, which I loved beyond all imagination.)  It appears to be an art history textbook.  It’s very similar to one I got when I took Art History I at VCU.  It’s about sculpture from the Renaissance to the present day.   The next picture book is really a sociological study (in photos) of America.  It’s called A Handful of Dust-Photographs of Disappearing America, by David Plowden.  It’s very sad.  It’s a lot of pictures of a dilapidated buildings in Smalltown, USA.  Haven’t studied it a lot.  The last one I got was by a favorite author of mine, Tom Wolfe.   Oddly, I’ve only read a few of his books.  My favorite is Bonfire of the Vanities, one of the funniest books I’ve read.  This one is  From Bauhaus To Our House.  It is his 1981 lament about modern American architecture.  I’ve read none of these in full, although I’ve looked fairly closely through the one about small European museums.  I plan to make a list of the ones I will visit after my ship comes in.  I’d much rather visit a lesser known museum than a huge one like the Louvre, swimming with all sorts of tourist humanity.  I think it’s a throw back to my old Kings Dominion (Amusement Park) days, but I hate to be where there are lots of tourists.

Is this post boring?  I’ll run quickly through the list of used books I got today.  I’m quite excited.  A Jack Olsen I haven’t read, a 1959 edition of Freud-His Dreams and Sex Theories.  Hadn’t thought much about Freud lately, and thought I’d give it a try.  Honestly, I was more attracted to its antiquity and the signature in the former owner’s fountain pen.  I also got a 1960 printing of a book called Great Poems, The Norton Reader, because I want to read some shorter stories by good authors, and I no longer have my copy, Hugging the Shore, Essays and Criticisms by the late, great John Updike.  My first attraction to him was through a short story.  I read several of his novels, but they were sometimes difficult.  I do feel like he captured the 60’s suburbanite era uncannily.  Anyhow, back to shorts by him.  I also got Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian and other essays on religion and related subjects.  A little oxymoronic, considering I was looking for a Bible in which I could scribble, cheap, since mine is around somewhere.

I’ll let you know how it all reads.

Today…

2010/03/08

was beautiful!!  It was about 70 deg in the sun, 60 out of the sun.  I’m happy to see a little spring like weather.

I’m reading…Peaches and Daddy, by Michael M. Greenburg.  It’s a true story about a 15 year old girl & 51 year old man were married in the 1920’s.  It’s also about the mores of the time, and the birth of tabloid journalism, and the obsession the public can have at times.  I’m enjoying it.  Peaches was just 2 years younger than my Granny, born 1920. 

I want to mention a great blog, http://firednfabulous.blogspot.com.  She’s on my blogroll, and I was reading her all the time up until a month or so ago, (I’ve been really distracted).  She’s hilarious, a great, witty writer.  A true girl’s girl. 

Also, today I spent some time with Mary at Frame Nation.  She is funny and nice and open.  I met her through Twitter!  She does excellent framing work, by the way, and stocks a huge variety of framing material.  She also uses “green” framing materials and actually recycles architectural elements by using them with art to create frames that are works of art themselves!   I look forward to working (but it will really be like playing) with her a little.  She has a great location, between Shockoe Slip & Shockoe Bottom, and just across the river from the Manchester Arts District.  These areas have grown so much in the last 20 years that I think it’s all under the umbrella of The River District.   There’s a walk by the canal, river rapids-one of the only towns/cities around with class III & IV rapids, lots of history.  It felt so alive to be there today!

It was nice to get out.  Haven’t gotten out a lot the past month because of the boot I have for my broken foot.  One more week with that.  Well, back to doc in 1 week.  Hopefully won’t have to wear it longer.  It’s very inconvenient.

I Want To Know

2010/02/17

I want to know about artists

and poets of the 20th century.

I want to know their personal

histories,

and their creative processes.

I want to study and write,

but have no time because I’m reading.

I want to feel creativity.

I do feel creativity, intuition.

Sometimes things seem blocked,

far way.

Other times they are very clear.

Sometimes I know a lot,

other times I know very little.

I want to know, have knowledge.

People fascinate me.

There are so many differences,

and so many similarities.

I’ve felt far from Spirit.

I want to feel Spirit in me again.

I know Spirit is there.

I’ve felt profound gratitude,

and always relate gratitude to Spirit,

so why have I not felt Spirit?

I’ve felt skeptical, judgemental,

disingenous, yet how can that be?

I try to be honest.

I try to be myself.

There are so many changes,

my sense of self is a bit rattled.

But how I love change.

Life would be so boring without it.

I’ve seen more hawks the past month

than I’d seen the past year.

I love my view.

Woods, a creek, birds, birds!

I love them in the wild.

I’ve seen Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal eating in a bush,

and Blue Jay bullying them away.

Mr. Cardinal fled first to the next tree,

and called loudly to the Mrs.

It was so sweet!

Life has been so different.

We’ve been in our own little world.

The weather and other things

have made us immobile.

Does that mean stuck?

I feel stuck, but I don’t.

I feel fluid, but I don’t.

I feel love all around me.

The breeze is my comfort

that life goes on.

The winter has affected me.

Last week I saw a gaggle of robins

cavorting on one bare piece of ground.

What a joy!

Art

2009/12/23

Yesterday I went to an art show on Hull St. at this place, an old warehouse renovated as a residence, called Manchester Pie Factory.  It’s at 612 Hull St. and the show is going on tonight from 4-8pm.  There was some work there by Ed Trask, and also Chris Milk.  I must say, I LOVED Chris’s work.  I got 3 pieces, 2 for gifts.  My budget could only afford smalls, but if and when that changes…. I love Chris’s work.  He and his girl, Kathleen, are very pure souls.  The paintings were so alive, some were sculptural.  The colors were mostly warm and there is this sense of happiness in these paintings.   At least to me.   The materials are mostly recovered wood and housepaint. 

So, I got one for Barrett and when I described it to Andy he said I should wait and give it to him in 10 years (fewer I think) when he’ll appreciate it more.  He has a point, though.  The painting spoke to me, so maybe for now, I will continue to let it speak to me, and give it to Barrett later.  Sometimes kids are so damn wise!!

We’re going back tonight to pick up the paintings.  I’m so excited for Tim to see these works.  If you are in the area I think you will be glad you went if you visit this evening.

Since Thursday…

2009/11/23

Friday, we went to the prevew at the VMFA.  It was wonderful.  We started in the tapestry gallery which is part of the 1936 building.  Also northern & southern baroque period paintings, other paintings.. a number of Flemish and Dutch, which I love.  However, I wish a little that we’d begun at the new contemporary and modern art gallieries, because this art interests me so much.  I do believe we spotted my favorite art patron, Mrs. Frances Lewis,  without whom this wonderful museum would not be the comprehensive institution it is.   When it re-opens in May, it will be one of the top 10 comprehensive museums.  Have I mentioned that before?  We had a nice dinner after, at Tripps, where Tim and I went on our first date almost 13 years ago.

Saturday I went with my friend Susan to the North Richmond Artists’ Sale.  It was at 4 or 5 residences all together on Westwood & Suffolk avenues.  I was quite impressed with the artists’ work, and bought several birthday and Christmas gifts, as well as a couple of original paintings by a gentleman named Bill Kinsey, who studied art at VCU when it was VPI, worked for several local businesses throughout at career in the graphic arts, and is now producing some unbelievable work.  I was very, very impressed with his work.  He has a studio and a show at the Uptown Gallery, and I recommend that you check out his wonderful work!   Oh, and he isn’t nearly as uptight as he looks in that photo!  He was a warm, friendly man, and we realized we knew someone in common.  Tim tells me I never go anywhere that I don’t see someone I know, and he is right, at least in this area of Virginia, and probably a good part of eastern North Carolina!  Why I just found a photo of the watercolor I purchased from him.  I think this is it.  It looks very much like it, but the one I purchased had a couple of humans in the background, very small.  Perhaps he added them later.  Here it is:

I also purchased an oil of a lady he painted.  She is the lady who owned Bygones Vintage with her daughter.  I remember her.  I loved the painting.  AND he said we could visit him in his studio.  He does collage work, mixed media, and encaustic.  So I’m very excited to have met him and honored to have some of his work now. 

I also saw Eliza Askin and got a print of Phil’s right by the Westhamton Theatre for Mandy who shares my birthday.  Mandy and her kids, Jackson and Meredith, celebrated our birthday later Sat. evening with a viewing of “Night at the Museum 2”  at the Byrd (surprisingly funny and enjoyable) and then dinner at Joe’s Inn.  Funny, I’d been craving Spaghetti a la Joe the night before!  It was a great evening, but I could tell I was getting sick, and I work up Sunday with a terrible cold and asthma. 

I’m annoyed with myself.  Perhaps I could have avoided this if I’d taken a little better care of myself.  Had to miss the craft+design show which was probably best since I spent my limit at the North Side Artists’ Tour.  I slept most of the day yesterday, and late today. 

I received so many messages and greetings today for my birthday.  I had to cancel birthday dinner with TT & Diane, but we are hopefully going to do it next week.   Tim has taken such good care of me, and he has been taking care of Elsie too.  Barrettt and I played Scrabble tonight, and Andy texted me today.  It’s been a great day.  I feel very loved.

Creativity…

2009/11/19

Wow, I’ve already written 2 poems today.  I had just showered so I wrote them on the back of Tim’s ‘Accounting Today’ magazine.  I’ll put them up here, I guess.  It’s a little scary.

We went to the Kalospectra event at the A-Loft last night.  Tim even got Barrett to come.  We didn’t stay long.  There were some kids outside doing BMX Bike tricks with a ramp, which was kind of fun to watch.  The DJ was good, but it was too pretty loud.  Tim had never seen the lounge there before and I wanted to show it to him.  The art was interesting.  A lot of testosterone-fueled angst in the art, and some disturbing female imagery in some of it.  But, it’s art, and we all have a dark side that has to be expressed in some manner.  There was some decent photography.  The painting I liked the most was downstairs.   It was of 2 African (I think) women, and it had a sort of Picasso/Dali energy to it.

Very excited about lunch w/ whiz-bang Donna Highfill tomorrow (yes that’s her in the photo on the front page),  then the preview at VMFA.  Sat. I’m having lunch at Kitchen 64 with my friend, Susan, then we are going to this art sale.  In the evening hopefully my friend, Mandy and her precious kids Jackson & Merdith & I are doing the suburban Short Pump Cinema movie and chain restaurant dinner!  They live in the city, so they have to get out to the ‘burbs sometimes! 

Sunday Tim and I are going to the Craft+Design Show at the Science Museum.  I just linked to the Science Museum and they are running what looks a like a very cool film on caves in their IMAX theatre.  Maybe we’ll check that out, too!  And regarding the Craft+Design show, it is a must see.  It’s around this time every year, and it is the nicest show of this type in the Richmond area.  It’s amazing what these artisans create.

Okay, weird to have something going on all weekend, but it will be good for me.  Like I said, I’ve been reading way too much.  I did start The Mustache last night, but I won’t read it obsessively.  I promise myself, it will take… at least 5 days, if not more.  The link is actually to the film that the author made of the book, which I will have to see!