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Rand supported realistic romanticism, but if art is the condensation of concepts in order to express something that would take volumes of books to express, is realistic romanticism the only way to "go"?

asked Dec 22 '12 at 02:08

TheBucket's gravatar image


An example of realistic romanticism would include Schindler's List. Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth are philosophical opposites, and the way the two are juxtaposed hints at the films romantic nature. Ayn Rand disliked romanticism's counterpart, naturalism. An example of naturalism is Zero Dark Thirty, which is just a series of philosophically meaningless events. The movie chronicles the hunt for bin Laden, but the characters looking for him don't symbolize anything. They're cardboard characters.

(Dec 22 '12 at 09:08) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

A number of questions about this question need clarification. For example:

  • Who is "we"? What does "striving" (for romanticism) mean? If the question is referring to a group of struggling artists who strongly prefer to produce art of type 'Y', but who live in a culture that favors art of type 'X' instead, should the artists produce a lot of 'X' art (and hate it) in order to survive financially, or should they insist on producing mostly or entirely 'Y' art to preserve their own artistic integrity and focus, at the expense of their financial survival? This dilemma has often featured prominently in many works of art, including some of Ayn Rand's works, such as The Fountainhead and "The Simplest Thing in the World."

  • But if "we" refers to all the consumers of art, then the question again reduces to values. I.e., what makes art of value in human life, and why? What kind of art is of greatest value to man's life? Ayn Rand did, indeed, rank romanticism (romantic realism) at the top of the list in art that can be of enormous value to rational beings (assuming that the art is well executed esthetically, an assumption applicable to all forms of art), but this doesn't mean that other types of art, less romantic if not entirely naturalistic, are of no value to rational beings. For more insight on the nature of 'values' and 'art', refer to those topics in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.

Update: Docu-drama

A follow-up comment by Collin seems to express a fear that it would be a "sell out" of some kind to go see a film like "Zero Dark Thirty" and enjoy any elements of genuine heroism that one might find in it, just as one might be inspired by actual historical heroes. Therein lies the essential issue, as I see it: the movie evidently is "docu-drama," aka dramatized non-fiction -- perhaps more like history or journalism than fictional story-telling depicting timeless values in man's life. For those like myself who don't know much about the movie (so far), why would paying to see it be a "sell out"? "Sell out" to whom and for what?

As for "docu-drama" as an "art form," it occupies a kind of "never-never land" between real art and journalistic history. As such, it must be judged by its historical accuracy and by the skill with which it captures the actual thinking and actions of the actual people involved in the story, in a condensed form suitable for presentation in a two or three hour work. I'm not prepared to describe anyone's interest in such a film as a "sell out" without knowing more about it and why it may be inaccurate or misleading, perhaps deliberately so (such as if motivated by a conscious anti-man philosophy). So far, all I know about this particular film (confirmed by Google search and Wikipedia) is that it has sparked considerable controversy as to his historical accuracy and/or historical "slant" -- "slant" referring to the expression of a philosophical perspective that infests the work and undermines its factual accuracy.

Leonard Peikoff's book, The DIM Hypothesis, includes an analysis of literature in Chapter 5. The subsection on "Naturalism" classifies Naturalism as D1 in relation to cognitive integration -- distintegration (D) mixed with limited elements of Integration (skepticism that nevertheless reaches a few elementary conclusions about secular existence). Naturalism presents many concretes but doesn't consistently attempt (actually striving not) to integrate the concretes into an abstract "One" deriving from among the many. Docu-drama that conscientiously strives to be factual and "non-judgmental" certainly fits the description of a "many" in concretes, lacking an abstract "One" that ties everything together in terms of essentials, leaving the viewer wondering, "What does it all mean? What does it add up to?" At most, there may be multiple, less abstract "One's" unconnected to each other (hence, D1 versus D2). But modern viewers may be seeking just to know more about the "what" of the events -- what actually happened rather than why it happened (perhaps on the assumption that human action is just emotional impulse without principles or consciously weighed and chosen values). In any case, "docu-drama" is a very poor substitute for objective history and journalism, as well as for uplifting, value-laden art.

answered Dec 23 '12 at 10:48

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

edited Dec 25 '12 at 00:16

Before The Fountainhead was finally published, it was rejected almost ten times. While I have come to understand just how great the art of romanticism is, I do believe that naturalism has its purposes. If I want to see a detailed play-by-play of how bin Laden was killed, a naturalist approach would be perfectly appropriate for a film like Zero Dark Thirty. There are clues to its naturalism due to the "documentary" form it was shot in.

Should I sell out? To maintain financial independence, yes. I don't want to mooch. But I'll always try to push my own romanticized screenplays to fruition.

(Dec 23 '12 at 19:57) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

soooo...other themes of expressing art is "okay"? My question wasn't one of whether or not to be a sellout but rather whether or not every piece of art should try to be romantic and like Atlas Shrugged. I personally don't like the use of overt romanticism and feel that as long as the concept is perpetuated in the writing, its just fine.

(Dec 25 '12 at 03:07) TheBucket TheBucket's gravatar image

In response to TheBucket's comment above, I would say that a first-rate story of your own construction, regardless of whether or not romanticism is overtly evident, is much more worth your effort than a pale imitation of Atlas Shrugged. If you're the one creating the art, it should reflect your values, not what you believe the aesthetic judgements of the average Objectivist to be.

(Dec 25 '12 at 11:13) Arianna Arianna's gravatar image

Thanks for the great answer

(Dec 26 '12 at 14:59) TheBucket TheBucket's gravatar image
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Asked: Dec 22 '12 at 02:08

Seen: 1,267 times

Last updated: Dec 26 '12 at 14:59