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If one's sense of life can be (partially) determined by the art he likes, I suppose I should describe everything I like here. I won't name the things like Atlas Shrugged because it goes without saying that I am asking this question because of that book. I will name all that I've liked regardless of what Ayn Rand held as virtuous. I want to better my own understanding of myself. I still don't fully understand what a sense of life really is. Is it the thing that creates your personality?

Some of my favorite movies are Heat, Schindler's List, GoldenEye, Entrapment, and True Lies. (I grew up in the '90s). Some people say the ending to Entrapment was anticlimactic, but I loved it. I liked the piano that plays during that scene. It gives me a feeling of nostalgia, reflecting on great times. My favorite villain is Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker, but next to him is Dennis Hopper's character in Speed. I thought he was a hilarious caricature of a person with a grandiose entitlement complex. My two favorite TV shows are cartoons. Hey Arnold represents the climax of Nickelodeon's greatness. My other favorite show was Courage the Cowardly Dog. But I must add one more thing about Courage. My favorite episode from that show is called "The Hunchback of Nowhere," and that was the first piece of entertainment broadcast on television that I never really forgot. Watch that episode, and you'll know why. It's about a hideous hunchback walking in the rain, looking for a place to stay for the night, and Courage befriends him.

My favorite books, besides Atlas Shrugged, of course, are the James Bond novels. I read them all. My favorite one was the most tragic: On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I don't really know why I like it the most, but it stands out to me. I found a great appeal to Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. Stieg Larsson was a feminist and socialist, but those three books hold independence as an important virtue, portraying Lisbeth Salander as highly independent and intelligent, despite being extremely introverted and questionably autistic. Reading those books, Lisbeth was the first fictional character I've understood and related the most to. Characters are morally ambiguous, though. I read all three novels in less than a month.

If I could choose where to live and what my house would look like, it would look like this. I loved modern architecture even before I read The Fountainhead.

My favorite song is Together in Electric Dreams by Phil Oakey. The 2013 film Gravity has a film score which I find myself listening to on YouTube every now and then, and my favorite part is about 2:40 to 4:20 in this song. On a side note, I openly support the idea that Gravity was the best movie of this year. It's about an astronaut (Bullock) who gets stuck in space when satellite debris destroys the shuttle. She learns to persevere in the face of hopelessness and fights to survive. It's the first movie I really enjoyed in a long time. I don't know if it's true, but I heard on the Internet that this very recording was the song that Ayn Rand based Halley's Fifth Concerto on. I found myself listening to this every now and then as well. Among other classical pieces of music, I love Habanera and Infernal Galop.

What does all of this say about my sense of life?

asked Nov 15 '13 at 22:56

Collin1's gravatar image


I know neither the questioner nor most of the art works cited in the question well enough to even begin to identify the questioner's sense of life. But for anyone who is unclear about what a sense of life is, I can offer an excellent summarizing reference: the topic of "Sense of Life" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. It is one of the longer topics in the Lexicon, spanning more than three full pages of excerpts, mostly from two main articles in The Romantic Manifesto. From those three-and-a-half pages, I found the following sampling to be most representative of what "sense of life" refers to, in and for man's life:

The integrated sum of a man’s basic values is his sense of life....

A given person’s sense of life is hard to identify conceptually, because it is hard to isolate: it is involved in everything about that person, in his every thought, emotion, action, in his every response, in his every choice and value, in his every spontaneous gesture, in his manner of moving, talking, smiling, in the total of his personality. It is that which makes him a “personality.”

Introspectively, one’s own sense of life is experienced as an absolute and an irreducible primary—as that which one never questions, because the thought of questioning it never arises. Extrospectively, the sense of life of another person strikes one as an immediate, yet undefinable, impression—on very short acquaintance—an impression which often feels like certainty, yet is exasperatingly elusive, if one attempts to verify it.

...an automatic [sense-of-life] reaction ... to be understood, ... has to be analyzed, identified and verified conceptually. That automatic impression—of oneself or of others—is only a lead; left untranslated, it can be a very deceptive lead....

There are two aspects of man’s existence which are the special province and expression of his sense of life: love and art.

As for the questioner's own sense of life, I will be very surprised if anyone on this website (other than the questioner himself) attempts to identify it conceptually. At most, those who are closest to him (as well as he himself) might be able to begin to attempt it. At the same time, however, it's also true that long-time readers of this website will have seen plenty of evidence from a long history of prior postings to form a general (mostly positive) impression of the questioner, though an impression that will probably prove elusive and difficult to identify in conceptual terms. (Some of that evidence is incomplete and/or conflicting, too.) Even one's own sense of life is a major challenge to identify introspectively, by the nature of what a sense of life is and how it continually affects everything about a person.

Over the years, through individual study and several group seminars, I've also found that it can often be helpful at least to identify the personality types of those whom I encounter (and my own type). Even if one cannot clearly identify the underlying sense of life involved in a personality, it may nevertheless be possible to recognize various distinctive types or categories of personalities. (This isn't part of Objectivism; personality types are primarily an exercise in psychology, independent of Objectivism and in some respects opposed by Objectivism.) Two books I have found helpful in this regard are Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey, and People Patterns by Stephen Montgomery (Keirsey's son-in-law). In the Keirsey system (similar to the Myers-Briggs system), there are four main personality types, only two of which cover about 85% of the U.S. population, and four sub-types within each major type, making a total of 16 different types in all. I have found it very challenging to identify the subtypes unambiguously, and I certainly would not be able to do it definitively for the questioner without ever having met him or seen him in action.

From all the evidence available so far, I can say that the questioner does seem more abstractly focused (deep thinking and/or deep feeling, which Keirsey calls "intuitive") than outwardly action-oriented or excitement seeking or socially group-seeking or highly craft-oriented (physically making things rather than dealing heavily with words) -- more conceptual than mainly sensory-perceptual stimulation-seeking, more abstraction-oriented than concrete-bound. (That puts him in the 15% segment of the population, and quite possibly in the 6% or so that can be described loosely as "deep thinkers" or "rationals," as Keirsey uses that term.) This doesn't necessarily mean that he is introverted; he actually seems very expressive and fun loving in his web postings. I wonder if he still likes to write fiction stories and make amateur videos in his spare time; he has mentioned it in the past. (I could also be completely mistaken about this questioner. I am volunteering my impressions only because he is irresistibly inviting it, almost like a human equivalent of a benevolent puppy dog, and because he has left a fairly substantial trail of written evidence from which to form some preliminary conclusions. The social aspect of this website, interacting with others, may be a major part of the questioner's motivation for participating, too, but observe that he has to do it through written words, by the nature of the setup. True social group-seekers probably would be "turned off" by having to put everything in writing, but an expressive deep-thinker would love it.)

Keirsey has letters for the various dimensions of personality: S vs. N for "sensing" (including concrete-bound) vs. "intuitive" (which, for Keirsey, includes being highly articulate, conceptual, abstraction-oriented, or being highly sensitive and/or empathetic to emotional cues from others); P vs. J for possibility seeking and/or probing vs. judging or highly structured; T vs. F for "thinking" vs. emotionally "feeling" and/or "friendly"; and finally E vs. I for "extraverted" (expressive) or "introverted" (reserved). I believe the evidence suggests that the questioner's personality may be ENTP, where "NT" denotes the "deep-thinker" or "rational" type. Personalities can also be mixtures of types within each dimension, i.e., more S than N or vice versa, but with some of both; and so on. Keirsey's 85% estimate corresponds to the "S" types, and 15% corresponds to the "N" types, among the general population. Keirsey's four major types are NT (deep thinkers), NF (deep empathizers), SP (high stimulation seekers), and SJ (group-seekers, "guardians" and gate-keepers for the group).

Again, however, identifying a personality classification is only a very small initial step (at most) toward conceptually understanding a sense of life, though a potentially helpful first step (in my view). A highly philosophically knowledgeable fiction writer like Ayn Rand is likely to be very adept at concretizing a character's sense of life in an artistic depiction.

answered Nov 16 '13 at 15:33

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Asked: Nov 15 '13 at 22:56

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Last updated: Nov 16 '13 at 15:33