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A Sunny Place for Shady People

Pithy, contrarian, politically incorrect and curmudgeonly rants on sex, money, power and politics and religion and philosophy. In short: Nothing matters, everything changes and there are no guarantees. The rest is rationalization and bribery. (c) Tom Milner 2002-2003. DIRECTORY of offensive POSTS at Archives: 07/09/03. RECOMMENDED BLOGS: Archives: 07/29/03. email: theoldbuzzard AT sunnyplaceforshadypeople DOT com.

Friday, April 04, 2003
Monday, April 07, 2003

Comes now the moment to confront the inadequately self-taught Ayn [rhymes with whine] Rand (nee Alice Rosenbaum), author (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged) of little or no literary merit, and wacky "philosopher" (Objectivism), who weirdly advocated oversimplified versions of personal freedom and the free market (not in themselves objectionable at all).

She's more confusingly contradictory (and often ignorant) than the average "libertarian," many of whom are uncomfortable with her inclusion in their ranks.

"The harsh certainty of an autodidact and self-made person, and the high handed authoritarian manner of Rand's personality, worked against her case, her cause, and her life," opines the perceptive Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., in a superb article "Ayn Rand, Anti-Communism and the Left", for which this rant is grateful.

You, too, can learn the essentials of Rand's pseudo-philosophy of Objectivism .

Or you can wade through the ideological morass of her novels, with their wooden mouthpieces, mostly dedicated to good old-fashioned selfishness.

These are decidedly not literature -- or not any literature we'd care to linger over -- but just badly dramatized philosophy.

We frankly grew dismissively weary of Rand and her eerie obsessions very quickly.

As Ross observes, "Rand is better taken as a goldmine for ideas than as authoritative doctrine."

Enough said.


Very Highly Recommended: (Unrelated)
Norman Mailer, "Only in America," The New York Review of Books, March 27, 2003.

Highly recommended (but unrelated): Louis Menand, "The Thin Envelope: Why College Admissions has become Unpredictable," The New Yorker, April 7, 2003.

The rant appears on Mondays and Thursdays.


Tuesday, April 01, 2003
Thursday, April 03, 2003

"April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers."

-- T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland, "The Burial of the Dead"

"For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its saying where executives
Would never want to tamper; it flows south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in;
it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth."

-- W. H. Auden, "In Memory of W. B. Yeats (d. Jan. 1939)"

April is also -- maybe you guessed -- National Poetry Month, an American spring ritual usually entirely ignored by everyone.

With perhaps good reason.

Sponsored (in part) by corporate behemoths like large chain bookstores (no friends to poets) and the Academy of American Poets, their slogan might as well be "Poetry's not so bad, really."

Charles Bernstein, in his trenchant piece, "Against National Poetry Month" suggests that the project might as well be "National Mainstream Poetry Month."

This scam is to promote poetry that is safely unchallenging, generic, bland and "morally positive," or "easy listening [which] just reinforces the idea that poetry is culturally irrelevant ...."

It's dilution of art in the service of access.

"[F]ind poetry that more closely resembles the fast and easy reading experiences of most Americans under the slogans -- Away with Difficulty! Make Poetry Palatable for the People!"

"Poetry is very much alive when it finds ways of doing things in a media-saturated environment that only poetry can do, but very much dead when it just retreads the same old same old."

At the very least, you read some swell snatches of Eliot and Auden so far this month.


Note: we are greatly indebted to the excellent Charles Berstein, author of My Way: Speeches and Poems. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.


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