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Category Archives: Ayn Rand
Posted: January 3, 2020 at 7:46 am
The beginning of a new year is a time to take stock in ourselves, to revise our goals and plans for the future, and to hope against hope the coming year will be better than the last. Frankly, there are lots of reasons for optimism. The economy is humming. The United States is as close to full employment as it is ever likely to get and, now that Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell has concluded things arent overheating and theres no need for a hike in interest rates to cool things off, growth and expansion should continue.
The beginning of a new decade, as this also is, presents an opportunity to take stock in the kind of nation we are and want to be in the future. Thats healthy, even as the rhetoric flies, reckless, hot, fast and furious out of our televisions and across our computer screens and smartphones. Theres a lot at stake. America is still, as Lincoln put it succinctly in his 1862 State of the Union message, the last, best hope of earth. We have to decide, all 300 million-plus of us, what kind of nation we want to be.
In that regard, there are warning signs many of us want to break significantly with the past. America was established as a place where the right of conscience was not only respected but protected, and not just in some ambiguous, amorphous way derived from traditions going back centuries as in England. Here, the founders took steps to ensure the right of conscience was enshrined in written law so that no man or woman could be forced to think as the government dictated.
That concept grew beyond the government to become a dominant theme in our common culture. As a nation, we are rightfully proud of what some call our free speech culture in which ordinary people can, as it was popularly put not all that long ago, speak truth to power without fear or reprisal.
That appears to be changing. The concept of victimization as embraced by the American left as a political organizing tool and path to power is an inherent assault on our individual right of conscience. All ideas are still said to be equal, as George Orwell might observe if he were writing today, but some ideas have become more equal than others. At Americas colleges and universities, there are countless examples of groupthink where debates over political, moral, and social issues have run freedom of expressed thought to ground, in many cases with the active assistance of university leaders.
Some might call that tyranny and, if it indeed is, be warned that it is spreading to all aspects of American life. Where no less a person than Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted during her husbands presidency that dissent was patriotic, thoughts deviating from so-called cultural norms expressed by the major and social media are now considered dangerous.
It is fair to ask now as we begin the decade in which the sester- or semiquincentennial of the American experiment will be celebrated what kind of a nation we want to be in the future. Do we still want the right of conscience to occupy its position of prominence atop the list of enumerated rights we enjoy? Do we expect or even want free men and women to still be able to think for themselves? Or are those intent on remaking the American system have it in mind to impose some kind of official or quasi-official standard against which the acceptability of thoughts expressed shall be measured? There are hints abundant that they do.
These questions matter as we debate seemingly mundane things like the responsibility of social media platforms for user-posted content and the requirement of non-for-profit groups engaged in issue advocacy to disclose their funding sources to the government. For most of its history, America has been a place where we have many times accepted that people have an intrinsic right to be wrong. There are a few notable exceptions none of us should forget that add fire to the arguments of those who would disagree with that premise. Yet we know from experience the government cannot make people virtuous. As people as varied as Hannah Arendt and Ayn Rand have observed, a government powerful enough to make people believe something is one with enough power to force people to believe, contrary to their personal knowledge and better judgment, that A is B.
We saw plenty of that in the last century. It always ended badly. Let us now, as we move into the future, be boundless in our optimism and continue to respect our traditions of decent respect for the various opinions of man and womankind. The right to be wrong may someday turn out to be the most important right we have.
Posted: at 7:45 am
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the tireless ex-Muslim cartoonist and author Bosch Fawstin. If youre unfamiliar with Boschs work, this is a great place to start, but be sure to check out my 2015 TOS interview with him, Joshua Lipanas review of the first chapter of his graphic novel, The Infidel, featuring Pigman, and Nicholas Provenzos review of his latest book. If youd like to support Boschs efforts to educate people about the true nature of Islam and to defend free speech, consider becoming a patron of his work through Patreon. Craig Biddle
Craig Biddle: Great to chat with you again, Bosch. Its been a while since we last spoke, and I look forward to catching up and hearing about your recent work and future projects.
To begin, because some of our readers may not know much about you, say a few words about yourself and your work. Who is Bosch Fawstin? What does he do? And why does he do it?
Bosch Fawstin: Thanks for reaching out again, Craig. I always enjoy speaking with you.
Im a cartoonist. I write and draw single cartoons, comic books, and graphic novels. I also write essays to accompany my cartoons on topics such as free speech, Islam, jihad, and the left.
Im the winner of the first Mohammad cartoon contest, and I was announced as the winner at a Mohammad art exhibition in Garland, Texas. Two jihadists who came to murder the attendees got their heads blown off by a cop, as a security guard there put it, and my life has not been the same since.
Although I have no regrets, and I will defend free speech to the death, the path Ive chosen comes with loss, in a number of ways, and it has made my life more difficult. But I cant imagine doing anything else.
Biddle: I know I speak for many people when I say: Thank you for being such a stalwart defender of free speech. You are the only person who does what you do. Your work comes with death threats and murder attempts. It also helps to defend everyone else against such mayhem by addressing and discrediting the mysticism that underlies and gives rise to it.
Tell me about your view of Islam, your history in the religion, and why and how you got out of it.
Fawstin: I really appreciate you putting it that way. Its a far cry from how Im usually described, and not just by my enemies but even by those who should know better.
Islam is an evil ideology, a political religion that has retarded the humanity of everyone under its thrall. Just look at the countries who live by its ethics and youll understand that it should be in the dustbin of history. Yet it persists. And it destroys human lives. It destroys the lives of those who try to live by it. And, by motivating some of them to commit atrocities, it results in the destruction of many more lives.
If you want to see Islam in practice on a day-to-day basis, I direct you to the website TheReligionOfPeace.com, which posts about the deaths and injuries caused by Islams true believers every single day. When I post a screenshot of the websites weekly and monthly tallies, I get a good number of shocked emojis in response. And these reactions come from people who follow my work and are thus familiar with the horrors caused by Islam. Even they are shocked to see the relentless carnage. Most Western media ignore these events.
I just checked the site today, and from the week of November 2 through 8 , 151 people were murdered and 167 injured in 26 attacks in 13 countries. But the media dont report this, nor do they ever identify the true nature of Islam, and so the vast majority of people remain ignorant of it all.
As for my history with Islam, I was born to Albanian Muslim parents in the Bronx, New York, and I was raised Muslim. Ive said this before, but its worth repeating: Although many people today would describe my parents and my larger Muslim family as moderate Muslims, there was nothing moderate about the hatred for Jews or the abuse of women in my family. In Islam, Jews are regarded as descendants of apes and pigs and fit to be slaughtered, and women are considered a necessary evil, to be used for sex and to bring male Muslim heirs into the world.
The thing that made me question it all was the sharp contrast between my life at home and my life at school and with my friends. After learning about the Holocaust in school, I began to recoil every time a relative praised Hitler, whom I now refer to as Islams favorite infidel. And seeing my friends treat all people as people made me challenge the Islamic view that some are not. So in my mid-teens I quietly left Islam. There was no hard break, no one thing that did it, just the fact that it was ugly and that people involved in it lied about so much. That led me to see there was nothing there for me, nothing good.
In time, I came to love superhero comic books and to understand that fighting evil, including evil ideas, is important, and that only the good can fight evil. The only place I saw this happening was in superhero stories and, later, in novels. A few years later, I discovered Ayn Rands work, which I loved. I saw her fiction as the peak of the heroic fiction genre, her nonfiction as clearly correct, and both as powerfully uplifting. Nothing has come close since.
Biddle: Id say that when you speak of Islam, you know of what you speak. And you are in a tiny minority of people who have left Islam in search of rational ideas and a good lifeand then found and adopted Ayn Rands philosophy. Tell me more about how Rands ideas have affected your thinkingboth in general and with regard to your understanding of the nature of religion as such and of Islam in particular.
Fawstin: Youre right, I am rare in leaving Islam and adopting Ayn Rands philosophy of Objectivism. Its worth noting that the ex-Muslims I know are atheists or humanists or Christians. Come to think of it, I dont know of any ex-Muslims whove become Jews, which I guess just goes to show that Islam has so thoroughly poisoned the well on Jews and Judaism that even ex-Muslims think that adopting Judaism is a bridge too far.
Rands ideas have affected my thinking in countless ways. I was a smart kid, and I was honest, but I didnt have a life-serving system of philosophy to guide my choices and my growth. Rands work challenged me to think, to rethink, to see things in a new way, to see things as they are. Im not one of those people who says that Rand merely wrote what I always thought. She did far more than that. She created a revolutionary philosophya monumental feat by an extraordinary mind.
I love the truth, and here was a woman who wrote the truth and nothing but the truth, in a way that no one else ever has. I found her deeply philosophical fiction and heroes exhilarating. There are fictional heroes, there are superheroes, and then there are Ayn Rands heroes, who make nearly all others pale by comparison. Here was a thinker who took ideas seriouslydeadly seriouslyand wrote as if her life depended on it.
As for how her philosophy affected my thinking regarding Islam, I would say that my concern for truth led me out of Islam, my continued pursuit of truth led me to Objectivism, and Objectivism has enhanced my ability to understand and champion truth and to identify and reject its antitheses. Islam is squarely in that latter category.
Objectivism helped me to see that all religions are irrational; all require faith from their adherents, and all religious prophets are liars. But the particularly violent nature of Mohammad, as compared to the other prophets, is an important difference to take note of, especially during this era of global jihad. The fact that Mohammadwho is regarded by Muslims as the perfect model of a manspread Islam by the sword explains why Muslims are more violent than other religionists. And this violence is demanded by the religionnot by any perversion of the religion, but by the clear meaning of its scriptures. The problem is Islamnot Islamism or extremist Islam or some hijacked version of the religion. Just Islam.
By the way, I wrote an essay in 2010 dealing with this dangerous name game were playing with Islam, titled Calling Islam Islam, which I recommend to anyone who is under the impression that Islam is not the ideology of jihadists.
Many people conflate religion with morality and so argue that because Islam advocates immoral acts, it is not a religion. I wrote another essay recently, published in my second volume of My Mohammad Cartoons, which deals with this claim. I discuss why Islam is a religion, and why denying this is self-defeating and only helps the Islamic enemy.
At the top of my cartoon accompanying that essay, I wrote: If this war comes down to Islam versus Christianity, then Kill the infidels wherever you find them versus Love thy Enemy/Turn the other cheek is a war between a homicidal religion and a suicidal religiona war that guarantees the Wests defeat. The essay delves into post-9/11 politics. Leftists and conservatives are essentially indistinguishable in their appeasing, altruistic foreign policies, and their defense of Islam (i.e., the religion of peace) is absolute whereas their defense of America is conditional and tepid at best. These policies give our enemies hope that they can win. Its not Islam that makes the enemy believe they can win, its our weakness, our refusal even to name Islam as the essence of the problemnever mind attack it.
Biddle: What are your top three recommendations for people who want to help fight Islam, expose its true nature, and get adherents to drop it?
Fawstin: The first thing is to study Islam before discussing it, so you wont confuse yourself or others about exactly what it is were dealing with. The reason we have yet to respond to the Islamic enemy in a rational way in this war, and why it remains undefeated, is because many fail to acknowledge or face the actual nature of the Islamic threat.
The second thing is to tell the truth, by whatever means you can, in whatever medium you can. Say what this thing is. That is the single most powerful way to put a crack of doubt in peoples minds and get them to question their beliefs about Islam. So many in the West, especially intellectuals and journalists, have been lying to Muslims, saying that their religion is fine and that its only the so-called extremists who are the problem. Thats dangerous nonsense. When I hear this, I remember my own experience as a young Muslim, doubting its moral standing. I can only imagine how confusing it is for Muslims who grasp that something is wrong with their religion, with their way of life, but who hear it praised by outsiders as a religion of peace and the like.
Muslims need to confront Islams true nature and what it calls for. Many who attain more than a superficial understanding of the Koran end up abandoning Islam. So one of the most effective things advocates of reason can do is get a clear, firsthand understanding of the nature of Islam, and then communicate that far and wide.
The third most important thing is to repeat the truth, again and again and again. Resistance to the truth surrounding this issue is huge and is fed by leftist intellectuals, co-religionists (Christians and Jews), and the media. Ive learned during these past dozen years that Ive been active in writing and drawing against Islam and jihad that I constantly have to restate the truth as if I have never spoken it or written it before. Breaking through the resistance requires repeating the truth in various ways and from various angles until people get it. Some never will. Some are closed to the truth. But even those who are open to it often need to hear it over and over to break through the resistance to moral absolutism and moral judgment that Western culture has fostered for so long.
Biddle: Know the truth, speak the truth, repeat the truth. Amen. I sure would like to see more of thaton this subject and so many others.
Reading and sharing your books are effective means toward those ends, so please say a few words about the books youve written or illustrated as well as any current or future projects you can mention.
Fawstin: I released my first book in 2004, which was a graphic novel titled Table for One, a story that takes place in one night in an Italian restaurant. It was nominated for an Eisner Award, which are commonly called the Oscars of Comics.
I then began working on my second graphic novel, The Infidel, featuring Pigman, which takes on Islam, Jihad, and political correctness. As I worked on the story, I created images of the main characters in it for my blog, which I then ended up collecting in my second book, ProPiganda: Drawing the Line Against Jihad, published in 2009, along with a number of essays Id written on the Islamic threat. I then released the first chapter of The Infidel in 2011 in comic book form. It will end up being about seven chapters. Once theyre finished, I intend to compile all of the volumes in a pigskin-leather bound hardcover book.
In April 2018, I released my third book, My Mohammad Cartoons Vol. 1, and My Mohammad Cartoons Vol. 2 followed in April 2019. All of my collections include essays Ive written on related topics, such as free speech and particular aspects of the Islamic threat.
In early 2019, I released the first volume of my series Peaceful Death Threats, and Ill release volume two soon. I have enough death threats for at least four volumes, and these are only the best death threats of the thousands that Ive gotten. I title them Peaceful Death Threats because a good number of the Muslims who threaten me with death over my Mohammad cartoons also feel the need to mention how peaceful they and Islam are, which is as Islamic as it gets. I think publishing the actual death threats, along with the names and faces of the Muslims making the threats, is a good way to show that the problem is Islamic culture at large, not just the so-called extremists. And because I received the threats for publishing Mohammad cartoons, I thought it was only fitting to create new Mohammad cartoons to publish alongside the threats in these books.
Im currently working on three other books. Islam Bitches is about Islamophiles. I draw politicians and celebrities dressed in Islamic garb along with their particularly dishonest quotes about Islam. To further show these Islamophiles the kind of respect they deserve, I have Mohammad dressed as their pimp, introducing each of them by name.
Theres also Illustwriter: The Art of Bosch Fawstin, my biggest book yet, which collects thousands of pieces spanning a dozen years, including cartoons, book covers, and unpublished art.
Finallyand I think this might be the first time that Ive ever discussed this publiclyIm illustrating a childrens Koran. Im told by the writer, Kre Bluitgen, that the title will likely be The Shady Garden, and that it will be about two hundred pages.
Kre Bluitgen is the Danish writer who had been searching for an artist to illustrate his book since at least 2005. Flemming Rose attempted to help him find Danish artists who were willing to draw Mohammad, which led to the Mohammad cartoon crisis. I learned recently that Bluitgen was still searching for an artist, so I contacted him, and Im doing it.
The truth about Islam condemns Islam, and I think this book is a good way to show that truth in visual form, where I draw Mohammad, his child bride Aisha, Allah, Islamic hell, and so forth, in ways not seen beforeall of which is considered blasphemous in Islam. I dont know exactly when it will be released, but I will be providing updates on my blog.
Its come full circle for me. I never set out to draw Mohammad until the Danish Mohammad cartoonists were threatened with death for doing so. Then I drew Mohammad in support of them and of free speech. Then I drew Mohammad after Molly Norris went into hiding, after announcing her Everybody Draw Mohammad Day, and again after Charlie Hebdos offices were firebombed in 2011, and again after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. All told, Ive drawn Mohammad over three hundred times. And Ill continue doing so.
If you want to fully understand why I do this and why I think others should as well, I recommend reading what has been described by a reader as my manifesto: The Draw Mohammad Challenge.
Biddle: Thanks, well link to all of these items in the online version of this article. Where can people follow your work and support your efforts?
Fawstin: I have a blog, Bosch Fawstin, IllustWriter, and a store, The Bosch Fawstin Store. Im now down to one social media platform, Facebook. In addition to my comic books and books, I also sell t-shirts, Mohammad trading cards and playing cards, prints, and my original art. Anyone interested in helping me continue my work can become a patron at Patreon.
Biddle: Thank you for your time and for all that you do, Bosch. Freedom of speech is the last leg of a free society, and you are on the front lineliterally putting your life on the lineto defend it. My hat is off to you.
Fawstin: I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and to promote my work with your audience. You are a rare breed of publisher today. If only we had more like you in the world. Thanks again, Craig.
See the article here:
Posted: at 7:45 am
This years original reviews provide unique insight into the literary world through a distinctly progressive lens, including two National Arts & Entertainment Journalism award-winning pieces by Truthdig contributor Allen Barra and Foreign Editor Natasha Hakimi Zapata. Read the full reviews by clicking on the hyperlinked titles below.
The Trickster King and the Erudite LiteralistBy ALLEN BARRA
Approaching Vladimir Nabokovs 120th birthday, Truthdig looks at his friendship and falling-out with another literary giant, Edmund Wilson.
When the Voiceless SpeakByALEXIS CAMINS
Filipino American author Alex Tizon spent his life raising up the lives of those rendered invisible by society.
Putting Trump to Shame Without Ever Saying His Name
By NATASHA HAKIMI ZAPATA
Written after the 45th president was inaugurated, Terrance Hayes sonnets have an urgency that will leave readers heads spinning.
The Future of MeatBy CARYN HARTGLASSAs people become aware of the effects of eating animals on climate change and human health, a new book asks whether we will see an end to it.
Reclaiming DifferenceByPAUL VON BLUMA new anthology shines light on differently abled artists, including Sandie Yi, born with two digits on each hand and foot, whose art forces viewers to reconsider beauty.
Country, Smoothed Over
By TIM RILEY
Ken Burns documentary Country Music and its book tie-in present country music with a naive affection that misses key American tensions.
Who Is Ayn Rand?
By LOUISE RUBACKY
A new book argues weakly for the influence of Ayn Rand on our cultureafter all, the dominant classes in America were greedy and selfish from the get-go.
The Madness Driving Climate CatastropheByH. PATRICIA HYNES
A new book examines how corporate capitalism, through fossil fuel-based technology, has led the world to the point of destruction.
Civilizing Perpetual ForeignersBy ELAINE MARGOLIN
In a time rife with anti-immigrant invective, Truthdig reviews a book that explores a historic episode involving missionaries and migrant Chinese women.
Need more recommendations? Check out all of Truthdigs book reviewshere.
Eunice Wong is the book review editor of Truthdig, as well as editor of Truthdigs Countering Violence Against Women series. She has written for Truthdig's arts and culture section, reviewing theater, film,
Read the original here:
Posted: at 7:45 am
The world you desire can be won. It exists it is real it is possible it is yours! (Ayn Rand).
Last week, our mindfulness class celebrated the end of the semester by making vision boards.
If you stumbled in, it may not have looked like anything special, but there was a distinct knowingness in the air as we discovered new things about each other something very relaxing about being in the hum of individual purpose and mutual intention at the intersection of what is real and what has yet to become!
This inescapable reality was the crux of our semester. We were investigating ourselves learning how to navigate the inter-relational, creative cooperative called being human flexing the process that responds to the question:
We did this by training our attentional lens to identify and adapt to the patterns of the universal laws of attraction, relativity and causality testing out the power of clarity in theright here right now experiencesofour lives. Time and time again, our findings returned with the same results:
Attention expands what we believe, and what we believe we become!
So, we sifted through magazines snipping away any doubt or fear or need of any certainty trusting the vibe of a playlist that spanned over 50 years, plugged into some shared but infinitely shifting heart song!
A quiet, simple hymn emerges when intention meets attention: time and space conspire!
Heart and mind intersect and cause our voices to be heard, our hands to create, our vision to emerge to snip and tear and write and point!
In one fell swoop, we relax we let go of the content of who we believe we are, and like a raindrop returning to the ocean, we expand into the bigness of who we are infinitely becoming!
No struggle, no angst, no suffering. No junky, negative-back-talk-identity from old wounds or cloudy memories.
When attention is lit, we see clearly we recognize purpose knocking at the door. And, the positive action of choosing the images and words that extend our vision, empowers desire to open that door from the inside to extend, to effect, to wake up. We realign our trajectory and rediscover a shared destiny!
His is a story of spiritual awakening. As a man, he couldnt escape the causality of a conditioned world. Only when he let go ofthe belief that this time identity (the mind/body content that defined his idea of forsaken) was who he was completely, could he be freed from suffering.
He had to trace his way back home: in order to tap into the infinite possibility of spirit, he had to recognize the power of belief, and to recognize the power of belief he had to experience suffering through belief.
A contemporary existential crisis would look no different!
Suffering is knocking on the door from the inside. (Rumi) Acceptance is open door! Awareness is no door!
Take the polarized state of our nation. The system/process that funnels our collective energy is faulty inefficiently distributing currency (door infinitely open), and/or with bias (door infinitely closed). The defect/effect responds both ways. Open or closed, the belief that a door exists between us rather than for us, stresses the system which causes spiritual disequilibrium indifference, isolation, disconnection and a general lack of purpose.
The action of mutual responsibility of architect and resident is what allows the door to open freely, and how we can use it make a better world!
When we are standing in right or wrong, were way too close to the door; we cant see our beliefs have created a very real world thats keeping us apart.
Fear arrives to conquer attention and reactivity divides intention.
When equal opportunity to access that idea is not equally shared, we feel betrayed crucified in a state of moral crisis. This is the discomfort the constriction the visceral injustice as we move farther away from our shared Father our homeland our center-point.
Apart, its easy to become discontent, to feel at the mercy of some idea. Reaction causes us to miss opportunities to respond in ways that speak to a shared inter-dependence; and fear disallows us the inner-wisdom to own our sh*t to claim the answer to the longing,How do we move forward?through the question,How did we get here?
Only the qualities of humility, courage and a sincere desire to see clearly bring about the correction atonement and relief; and, only through a longing to be whole holy forgiven can we find our way home.
Being human is a deeply visceral experience! Theres absolutely a part of me that wants to be seen enjoys being seen knows that I am expressed when I am seen!
Indeed!This life shines brightest through and with this body, this mind, this heart and this consciousness!
This human being is more!
Its not a belief that i am more, that would be another belief disguised as more. Rather, its a clarity and an honesty that supports the spirit of this idea of I am to contribute to our shared potential our response, our work, our purpose and whatever meaningfully supports the vision of a safe world!
Now is the time to be alive to imagine the world that you desire .. to tear, snip, paste!
Its the reason you are here who you have always been: expansive and sacred at the intersection of time and space.
Posted: December 29, 2019 at 11:41 pm
Who Was Ayn Rand?
Born in Russia in 1905, Ayn Rand moved to the United States in 1926 and tried to establish herself in Hollywood. Her first novel, We the Living (1936), championed her rejection of collectivist values in favor of individual self interest, a belief that became more explicit with her subsequent novels The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957). Following the immense success of the latter, Rand promoted her philosophy of Objectivism through courses, lectures and literature. She died in New York City on March 6, 1982.
Ayn Rand was born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum on February 2, 1905, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The oldest daughter of Jewish parents (and eventually an avowed atheist), she spent her early years in comfort thanks to her dad's success as a pharmacist, proving a brilliant student.
In 1917, her father's shop was suddenly seized by Bolshevik soldiers, forcing the family to resume life in poverty in the Crimea. The situation profoundly impacted young Alissa, who developed strong feelings toward government intrusion into individual livelihood. She returned to her city of birth to attend the University of Petrograd, graduating in 1924, and then enrolled at the State Institute for Cinema Arts to study screenwriting.
Granted a visa to visit relatives in Chicago, Alissa left for the United States in early 1926, never to look back. She took on her soon-to-be-famous pen name and, after a few months in Chicago, moved to Hollywood to become a screenwriter.
Following a chance encounter with Hollywood titan Cecil B. DeMille, Rand became an extra on the set of his 1927 film The King of Kings, where she met actor Frank O'Connor. They married in 1929, and she became an American citizen in 1931.
Rand landed a job as a clerk at RKO Pictures, eventually rising to head of the wardrobe department, and continued developing her craft as a writer. In 1932, she sold her screenplay Red Pawn, a Soviet romantic thriller, to Universal Studios. She soon completed a courtroom drama called Penthouse Legend, which featured the gimmick of audience members serving as the jury. In late 1934, Rand and her husband moved to New York City for its production, now renamed Night of January 16th.
Around this time, Rand also completed her first novel, We the Living. Published in 1936 after several rejections, We the Living championed the moral authority of the individual through its heroine's battles with a Soviet totalitarian state. Rand followed with the novella Anthem (1938), about a future collectivist dystopia in which "I" has been stamped out of the language.
In 1937, Rand began researching a new novel by working for New York architect Ely Jacques Kahn. The result, after years of writing and more rejections, was The Fountainhead. Underscoring Rands individualistic underpinnings, the books hero, architect Howard Roark, refuses to adhere to conventions, going so far as to blowing up one of his own creations. While not an immediate success, The Fountainhead eventually achieved strong sales, and at the end of the decade became a feature film, with Gary Cooper in the role of Roark.
Rand's ideas became even more explicit with the 1957 publication of Atlas Shrugged. A massive work of more than 1,000 pages, Atlas Shrugged portrays a future in which leading industrialists drop out of a collectivist society that exploits their talents, culminating with a notoriously lengthy speech by protagonist John Galt. The novel drew some harsh reviews, but became an immediate best seller.
Around 1950, Rand met with a college student named Nathan Blumenthal, who changed his name to Nathaniel Braden and became the author's designated heir. Along with his wife, Barbara, Braden formed a group that met at Rand's apartment to engage in intellectual discussions. The group, which included future Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, called itself the Collective, or the Class of '43 (the publication year of The Fountainhead).
Rand soon honed her philosophy of what she termed "Objectivism": a belief in a concrete reality, from which individuals can discern existing truths, and the ultimate moral value of the pursuit of self interest. The development of this system essentially ended her career as a novelist: In 1958, the Nathaniel Branden Institute formed to spread her message through lectures, courses and literature, and in 1962, the author and her top disciple launched The Objectivist Newsletter. Her books during this period, including For the New Intellectual (1961) and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966), were primarily comprised of previously published essays and other works.
Following a public split with Braden, the author published The Romantic Manifesto (1969), a series of essays on the cultural importance of art, and repackaged her newsletter as The Ayn Rand Letter. She continued traveling to give lectures, though she was slowed by an operation for lung cancer. In 1979, she published a collection of articles in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, which included an essay from protg Leonard Peikoff.
Rand was working on a television adaptation of Atlas Shrugged when she died of heart failure at her home in New York City on March 6, 1982.
Although she weathered criticism for her perceived literary shortcomings and philosophical arguments, Rand undeniably left her mark on the Western culture she embraced. In 1985, Peikoff founded the Ayn Rand Institute to continue her teachings. The following year, Braden's ex-wife, Barbara, published a tell-all memoir, The Passion of Ayn Rand, which later was made into a movie starring Helen Mirren.
Interest in Rand's works resurfaced alongside the rise of the Tea Party movement during President Barack Obama's administration, with leading political proponents like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz proclaiming their admiration for the author. In 2010, the Ayn Rand Institute announced that more than 500,000 copies of Atlas Shrugged had been sold the previous year.
In 2017,Tony-winning director Ivo van Hove reintroduced The Fountainhead to the American public with a production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Having originated at Toneelgroep Amsterdam in the Netherlands, van Hove's version featured his performers speaking in Dutch, with their words projected onto a screen in English.
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Looking for inspirational Ayn Rand quotes? Enjoy!
1. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others. Ayn Rand
2. Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values. Ayn Rand
3. Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. Ayn Rand
4. Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual). Ayn Rand
5. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there arent enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Ayn Rand
6. The question isnt who is going to let me; its who is going to stop me. Ayn Rand
7. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. its yours. Ayn Rand
8. To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. Thats what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul would you understand why thats much harder?If its worth doing, its worth overdoing. Ayn Rand
9. Joy is the goal of existence, and joy is not to be stumbled upon, but to be achieved, and the act of treason is to let its vision drown in the swamp of the moments torture. Ayn Rand
10. I hope you will understand my hesitation in writing to one whom I admire as the greatest representative of a philosophy to which I want to dedicate my whole life. Ayn Rand
11. Free competition enforced by law is a grotesque contradiction in terms. Ayn Rand
12. What is greatness? I will answer: it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem. Ayn Rand
13. Guilt is a rope that wears thin. Ayn Rand
14. Learn to value yourself, which means: to fight for your happiness. Ayn Rand
15. Thanksgiving is a typically American holidayThe lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production. Ayn Rand
16. The upper classes are a nations past; the middle class is its future. Ayn Rand
17. I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction. Ayn Rand
18. I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. Ayn Rand
19. Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing. Ayn Rand
20. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone. Ayn Rand
21. You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. Ayn Rand
22. Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness. Ayn Rand
23. The truth is not for all men but only for those who seek it. Ayn Rand
24. I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows. Ayn Rand
25. Why is it immoral for you to desire, but moral for others to do so? Why is it immoral to produce a value and keep it, but moral to give it away? And if it is not moral for you to keep a value, why is it moral for others to accept it? If you are selfless and virtuous when you give it, are they not selfish and vicious when they take it? Ayn Rand
26. When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit. When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit. Ayn Rand
27. The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction [that] you give it. Ayn Rand
28. The most depraved type of human being . . . (is) the man without a purpose. Ayn Rand
29. Theres nothing of any importance except how well you do your work. Ayn Rand
30. Man is an end in himself. Romantic lovethe profound, exalted, lifelong passion that unites his mind and body in the sexual actis the living testimony to that principle. Ayn Rand
31. To love is to value. Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of lovebecause he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone. Ayn Rand
32. To say I love you one must know first how to say the I. Ayn Rand
33. Dont help me or serve me, but let me see it once, because I need it. Dont work for my happiness, my brothers show me yours show me that it is possible show me your achievement and the knowledge will give me the courage for mine. Ayn Rand
34. Love is the expression of ones values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another. Ayn Rand
35. There is no conflict of interests among men, neither in business nor in trade nor in their most personal desiresif they omit the irrational from their view of the possible and destruction from the view of the practical. There is no conflict, and no call for sacrifice, and no man is a threat to the aims of anotherif men understand that reality is an absolute not to be faked, that lies do not work, that the unearned can not be had, that the undeserved cannot be given, that the destruction of a value which is, will not bring value to that which isnt. Ayn Rand
36. The concept of free competition enforced by law is a grotesque contradiction in terms. Ayn Rand
37. The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. Ayn Rand
38. Life is the reward of virtue. And happiness is the goal and reward of life Ayn Rand
39. You must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences. Ayn Rand
40. Anything may be betrayed, anyone may be forgiven, but not those who lack the courage of their own greatness. Ayn Rand
41. You were not born to be a second-hander. Ayn Rand
42. I would step in the way of a bullet if it were aimed at my husband. It is not self-sacrifice to die protecting that which you value: If the value is great enough, you do not care to exist without it. Ayn Rand
43. I dont make comparisons. I never think of myself in relation to anyone else. I just refuse to measure myself as part of anything. Im an utter egotist. Ayn Rand
44. No ones happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy Ayn Rand
45. Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong. Ayn Rand
46. The ladder of success is the best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity Ayn Rand
47. A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving. Ayn Rand
48. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to mens stupidity, but your talent to their reason. Ayn Rand
49. Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by producing. Ayn Rand
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Before 2019 comes to an end, I want to spotlight a few ofour best in-depth articles from the year. They span a broad range of topics. Theresurgence of tribalism. The appeal of Stoicism. Church-state separation. Abortion.The power of reason in science. The life and ideas of Ayn Rand who was anuncompromising champion of reason.
New Ideal helps advance the Ayn Rand Institutes wider aim of injecting the right philosophic ideals reason, individualism, capitalism into our civilizations lifeblood. Will you join us? Become an ARI member by December 31 and take part in an exclusive Q&A with New Ideal writers. And if youre already a donor to the Institute, thank you! (Youll be invited, too.)
The ancient philosophy of Stoicism is enjoying a resurgence of interest today, writes Aaron Smith. Ryan Holiday, Tim Ferris, Patrick Bet-David and others are promoting Stoicism as a valuable guide for living, and its garnering the interest of CEOs, professional athletes and Silicon Valley tech workers. But, Smith argues, there are good reasons to steer clear of Stoicism as a guide to life and to seek a better philosophy.
The metaphor of a wall separating church and state is widely used, but as Onkar Ghate argues, that metaphor is not sufficient to capture the principles that control how a proper government deals with religious organizations. In this essay from Foundations of a Free Society: Reflections on Ayn Rands Political Philosophy, Ghate discusses the arguments of some of the most prominent intellectual advocates of church-state separation. Then he explains how Rand sought to broaden, deepen and render more consistent the Locke-Jefferson argument for church-state separation, grounding her account on the need to embrace reason as an absolute in both thought and action.
Tribalism is everywhere. When its unleashed into the cultural mainstream, encouraged, and normalized, it leads to savagery. But, as Elan Journo argues, the phenomenon of tribalism is poorly understood. Ayn Rands philosophic analysis of tribalism, however, points to its essence. Rand, according to Journo, not only penetrates deeply into the phenomenon of tribalism, she lays out clearly a positive alternative, the ideal ofindividualism, which is the antidote to tribalism.
The detection of gravitational waves is an achievement as profound as the one brought about by Galileos telescope easily one of the most important scientific achievements of the last hundred years, writes Keith Lockitch. Its been deservedly celebrated in the scientific press, and it earned the scientists who pioneered this work the2017 Nobel Prize in physics. This achievement resulted from centuries of progress in science. The backstory behind this achievement is an awe-inspiring testament to the power of reason.
Ayn Rands support of abortion derived from key principles of her radically unique philosophy. Ben Bayer shows how Rands principled, moral defense of abortion rights is not only fundamentally at odds with religious conservatives, but also radically different from what most Democrats and sundry liberals offer to this day.
For anyone curious to learn what Ayn Rand was really like, one invaluable resource is her personal correspondence, observes Tom Bowden. Beginning with the publication ofLetters of Ayn Randin 1995, readers have had an opportunity to see how Rand pursued her values day to day. These letters do not merely tell you about Ayn Rands life, says her longtime student, philosopher Leonard Peikoff. In effect, they let you watch her live it, as though you were an invisible presence who could follow her around and even read her mind.
Become a member of the Ayn Rand Institute, starting at $10 per month, by December 31 and receive an invitation to an exclusive online Q&A session with New Ideal writers.
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Posted: at 11:41 pm
I was planning to write a top ten list of the most influential business books of the decade but as I worked on the list--and looked over other writers' lists--I began questioning the premise. Very few business books are influential at the "decade" level. In fact, few business books have a half-life of more than six months.
The scandals that books detailed became old news. The companies that books idolized became part of the landscape. The CEOs that books lionized become yesterday's celebrities. The motivation that books inspire becomes tired and spent. And the conversations those book sparked, why, we barely remember them.
For example, can you name the biggest business bestseller of 2013? Huge sales. Huge. Was all over the news. Every pundit commented. Can you name it? Hint: the author was a Chief Operating Officer. Can you name it now? Well, it was Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, a book full of "women must change" advice that's seems impossibly dated in a #METOO world.
So, no, there aren't many business books whose influence spans a decade, but there was one business book (interpreting the category broadly) that continues to be highly influential, gradually changing the foundations of how we view capitalism: Le Capital au XXIle Sicle aka Capital in the 21st Century by French economist Thomas Piketty.
The premise of the book is simple: wealth doesn't automatically "trickle down" as a "rising tide that raises all boats" but instead wealth flows upward, increasingly enriching a diminishing number of the super-rich. The observation that "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" is centuries old, but it was who Piketty revealed the mathematics behind the bromide.
For people who think about the nature of business and the acquisition of personal wealthy, Capital in the 21st Century was the "red pill" that changed everything. Before Picketty, most businesspeople espoused an Ayn Rand-ian view that the rich were rich because they were makers while the poor were poor because they were takers. It's an attitude that's still exists but now rings hollow. We now know the super-rich are takers rather than makers.
For entrepreneurs, this is a red pill that's hard to swallow. We tend to think of billionaires as role models. We try to imitate their thought processes and replicate their success. But while a very small handful of entrepreneurs join the ranks of the super-rich each year, it's clear now that the game is massively rigged to favor the already-wealthy.
In short, Capital in the 21st Century was the tipping point where the concept of the meritocracy crumbled under the weight of mathematics. It's a book that's changed, is changing, everything, and will no doubt remain influential long beyond the current decade.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
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Posted: at 11:41 pm
The ride Ford v Ferrari Photograph: Merrick Morton/AP
In Ford v Ferrari (AKA Le Mans 66), Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) has been tasked by the Man in the guise of Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) to build a racer that can beat those rotten eye-talians who think they are better than us. Shelby can do it, but he needs Letts to get off his back with the rules and regs and let his genius soar! (Ayn Rand would love this movie.) After some comedic business, Ford winds up in the test vehicle alone with Shelby, who zooms him through sphincter-clenching turns at incredible speeds. When he slams the brakes, Ford sobs.
At first you think the scene is just to mock the unmanliness of this pencil-pushing suit. Then it changes. Shelbys velocity has so rattled Fords emotions he explodes in grief that his late father cant see his name on such a powerhouse, and in deep sadness that hes not a man of vision himself. He recognizes in Shelby everything he isnt, and it floods out his eyes and nose. It is a weirdly tender moment, reminding us that even comedic baddies in a dad film are people, too. JH
Jennifer Lopezs dazzling pole dance caused a ripple of gasps around the screening room where I saw Lorene Scafarias clever con movie Hustlers. Its not just that J-Lo looks so great for her, or anyone elses, age. And its not just that the moves required for this dance are so demanding, she later released a YouTube video of the rehearsals in which she gazed horrorstruck at her own bruised thighs. Its mostly that its a very old-school star move: the flaunting of talent, professionalism and charisma that we associate with a routine by say, Fred Astaire. But also, Ramona is the films central enigma and this moment, her first appearance, sums up the movie.
Her gymnastic display inspires something more tangible than mere lust: admiration (from an overawed Constance Wu), and financial reward. Ramona hugs those dollar bills close to her heart as she strides off stage. The choice of song, Fiona Apples Criminal, is as prophetic as her payoff line is prescient: Doesnt money make you horny? PH
A quote from Toni Morrison, some grainy analog establishing shots of the Coachella grounds, and then: it is time. The camera dollies up to a drum majorette who taps out a count, mean-mugs for a moment, and then blows her whistle to summon the demi-deity known as Beyonc Knowles-Carter. The director of photographys choreography works in perfect tandem with the dancers as one continuous shot pulls forward while they twirl out of the way to reveal Queen B, so resplendent and regal that both the nickname and the crowds slavering idol-worship of her instantly make sense.
To the strains of a HBCU-styled marching band, she strides down a catwalk to the stage with one foot in front of the other to maximize the swing of her hips. She might as well be walking on water, so supremely in command of this massive spectacle that she reminds us why we talk about pop stars in religious terms. CB
As rapturous as the reception might have been for Noah Baumbachs shattering divorce saga Marriage Story on the festival circuit this fall, no one could have predicted its instant virality earlier this month when it landed on Netflix. But while Adam Driver and Scarlett Johanssons devastating argument became its most memed moment, its the lighter, yet still astute, set piece involving a court-appointed evaluator that made the biggest impression on me.
Its a perfectly calibrated sequence of awkwardness with Drivers theatre director Charlie painfully determined to show that hes a stable parent but knowing, as his soon-to-be-divorced wife says earlier on, that outside observation on any given day would reveal flawed parenting. This tension lingers throughout as he tries to bury his instinctive reaction to his sons gentle insolence while trying, unsuccessfully, to seek some humanity or humour from the unknowable visitor Nancy Katz, played hysterically by the standup comic Martha Katz. Im not sure if another line has amused me this year quite as much as Charlies son asking him to do the thing with the knife over dinner in front of an understandably suspect Nancy and silently raging Charlie. Uncomfortably brushing it off, he eventually decides to explain his trick but it goes horribly, stomach-churningly wrong and he ends up bleeding profusely while trying, yet again, to pretend everything is fine. Its gruesomely, outrageously funny and a reminder of Baumbachs ability to make drastic yet effortless tonal switches. BL
At a graduation eve party in Booksmart, one of the most criminally underseen movies of the year, shy overachiever Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) sits on the floor in a crowded room, sloshing through the end of her drink and admiring an overconfident theater friend belt out Alanis Morissettes You Oughta Know on a karaoke mic. Amy, out for two years but inexperienced, spends most of the film careening from confident and brash, in the presence of best friend Molly (Beanie Feldstein), to tongue-tied in front of Ryan (Victoria Ruesga), her crush of two years; when Ryan hands her the mic halfway through the song, the sound cuts out a fever pitch of nerves. But then Amy crushes it, nailing the songs ending and revealing to her classmates that, low-key, she can sing.
This scene does an impressive amount in about a minute, namely: live out the fantasy that has occupied about 65% of my daydreams since age 13 (I cant sing), prove that Dever has ARRIVED, salute an ultimate banger of a song. But it also captures the warm invincibility at the bottom of your first drink, the high of leaning into someone elses confidence or of unlocking that fearlessness in yourself the type of finely observed, wild yet grounded fun that made Booksmart one of the most resonant high school movies in a long time. AH
When Claire Deniss desolately beautiful science-fiction nightmare High Life premiered at the Toronto film festival, the fuckbox scene became a brief but intense meme for the few on film Twitter who had seen it: in a film that was hard to describe and distil as a whole, it was the salacious detail singled out to pique others interest. Thats a reductive way to tease a film prickling with so many layers of philosophical and sensual detail, but once seen in context, its also an entirely indelible image: Juliette Binoche, nude and scar-torn, entering a space-borne masturbation chamber, straddling a dildo seat and riding it until, as Lil Nas X might say, she cant no more. Performed with abandon by Binoche and shot with visceral candour by Denis making a tensing, thrashing map of the actors back alone its one of the most extraordinary sex scenes in modern cinema: an expression of female erotic autonomy that outlasts any early quips about it in the memory. GL
Ari Asters Midsommar is a portrait of how a toxic relationship quietly, but surely, unravels. At first its subtle: Florence Pughs Dani frets that she overburdens boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) with her own drama and mental health issues, and that her need for emotional support is unattractive. When her whole family dies suddenly, shes desperate to hold on to Christian. She appeases. She apologizes. She stifles her cries after Christian and his friends subtly pressure her into taking shrooms, as specters of her dead sister haunt her.
The whole film is about Dani feeling silenced and invalidated by a man who views himself as the saddled victim. Thats why its so weirdly refreshing when, in Midsommars terrifying climax, the Hrga women embrace Dani for who she is, cupping her face and encouraging her to sob as loudly as she wants. Crouched on the floor, they cry as one, and as their wails reach a communal crescendo, you see Dani finally finding some measure of healing. Sure, its a crazy Swedish cult, but there Dani finally finds someone who actually acknowledges her agony. GS
The quiet sentimentality of Lulu Wangs charming sleeper hit shines brightest for me in a scene where twentysomething Billi (played by Oscar-buzzed Awkwafina) and her grandmother, Nai Nai, practice tai chi outside.
Nai Nai coaches her granddaughter through some of the movements, lightly nagging Billi about practicing tai chi everyday in that cute, but kind of annoying, manner family members are known for. Its obvious Billi has no plans of practicing tai chi after this scene and doesnt deem it particularly useful. Then Nai Nai proudly and confidently credits the martial art for her continuing good health, a big smile on her face. Thing is: Billis grandmother has terminal lung cancer but does not know it. So Billi performs the tai chi movements with a renewed energy, owed to the strange mixture of guilt, sadness and stress she feels over the secret illness. She pushes out bad energy and inhales good, yelling out an awkward, meek Hai!
An hour later, at the end of the film, we see Billi walking down the streets of south Williamsburg. Shes still upset over her grandmothers cancer and visibly overwhelmed and stressed. Out of nowhere, she stops in the street, takes a deep breath and yells out a loud, reverberating Hai! The circularity of the moment Billi going from disinterest in tai chi to seeking relief through it highlights how our families can arm us with specific tools to handle the stressors of life. It reminds me of the hours me and my late grandmother would spend putting together 1,000-piece puzzles. As a kid, I was confident I would never take part in such a boring, odious activity as an adult. Today, its my favorite pastime. AW
Generally speaking, scenes in which lovers kiss and make up following an infraction are joyful affairs. They come at the close of a movie, following heart-rending misunderstandings that have left a happy ending in jeopardy. Thats not the case in The Souvenir. After months of casual, incremental borrowing to fund his heroin habit, Anthony (Tom Burke) stages a robbery at the flat of young girlfriend Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne). This is purely to bankroll smack not the luxe trip to Venice they embark on soon after, which she pays for, and during which she twigs what hes done.
When they return to London, Julie asks and Anthony admits. But hes not sorry. Hes wounded she has brought it up his abhorrent behaviour compounded by this cavalier attitude. Youre shocked, and relieved surely shell give him the boot?
And she quietly forgives him. Anthonys arrogance and obfuscation, his hurt words about only doing what he needs to, in a world she wouldnt understand, which hes protecting her from, fall on appalling open ears. Blame is smoothly shifted. Repentant Julie strokes his foot and forgets her heirlooms.
Joanna Hogg shoots the confrontation in one static shot; the couple sitting opposite in armchairs, until Julie bridges the gap. The viewer knew the truth would out and assumed it would be a bigger scene. That its not moves the relationship into new territory. You can no longer underestimate Anthonys actions or his hold over Julie. The moment she reaches out in supplication is the chilling heart of a fairly scary film. CS
Ignore the whys (the film-makers did); basically, its Keanu Reeves versus a bunch of faceless goons in a surprisingly tooled-up antiques shop, and for me, one of the most exhilaratingly gruesome action scenes in recent memory.
It starts with a few gunmen, easily dispatched, but things really kick off when Reeves and an opponent realise they are in a corridor of glass cases packed with all manner of bladed weapons. So much glass-smashing, knife-throwing, shooting, stabbing, punching, kicking, grunting and limb-twisting ensues, you can barely keep track. It is brilliantly choreographed and executed, but whats so great is how messy it all looks. And painful. Nobody is neatly killed. Knives miss their targets. The deaths get ever-more cartoonishly horrendous. And the scene ends with a flourish: the last, wounded assailant sits groaning in the foreground; from way back down the corridor Reeves hurls a final axe, which, of course, hits its target in the side of the head. The first time I watched this scene I laughed out loud in horror and admiration, which was kind of awkward as I was sitting on a crowded plane. SR
Painfully clean-living as I am, I have never understood why so many films I like feature the consumption of heroin. Christiane F, Trainspotting, The Souvenir, Permanent Midnight and of course, the champ: Requiem for a Dream. Now we can add another to the list: Pedro Almodvars autobiographical reverie Pain and Glory. Now, most films posit heroin as a one-way ticket to the morgue, or at least to total social dysfunction; for Almodvar, though, it seems to be the next best thing to an after-dinner mint. His alter ego Salvador (Antonio Banderas) appears to handle it all with remarkable ease, using it to soothe his emotional worries and act as a vehicle for remembrance. Experiencers of the real thing may have a different view, but I presume Almodvar knows what hes talking about. Its quite the eye-opener. AP
Sydney Pollacks lost concert movie Amazing Grace was finally brought out this year showing the live filming in 1972 of Aretha Franklins gospel album of that name at New Temple Missionary Baptist church in Watts, Los Angeles. Franklins calm and restraint at the centre of this boiling cauldron of musical energy is compelling. The most startling moment involves her father, the Rev CL Franklin, who addresses the congregation and then, while Aretha is actually singing, he rushes forward to mop her brow. Was this the sort of thing he used to do when she was a little girl? Is it touching that he does it now? Or weirdly dysfunctional and coercive? Either way, it is a compelling image in a remarkable film. PB
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Posted: December 19, 2019 at 5:41 pm
Do you still need a few last-minute Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers? If youve considered Timothy Sandefurs gift suggestions for fans of Ayn Rand and are still looking for a few more, consider these.
Most fans of Rand are familiar with the expression that the history of the Western world is a battle between the ideas of Plato and those of Aristotle, and they understand that figures such as Descartes and Kant fundamentally were Platonists, whereas Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, the American founders, and Rand herself fundamentally were Aristotelians.
Arthur Herman extends this line of analysis through all of Western history, drawing a bright line between two antithetical groups of thinkers and the consequences of their ideas. Herman is a historian, not a philosopher, and in some places his analyses of Plato and his followers are too favorable (I say more on why in my review of the book).
Yet, unlike many historians, Herman clearly recognizes that philosophy shapes the course of history, and his dramatic writing makes this seven-hundred-page examination flow like a fun detective novel.
For the history lover on your list, also consider Hermans equally fantastic though more delimited How the Scots Invented the Modern World.
For those who already have read The Cave and the Light or who want a deeper analysis of related subjects, theres David Stoves insightful and hilarious takedown of some of philosophys most irrational ideas, including modern variants of the idealism that Plato inaugurated. Aiming to explain the ways in which thinking can go (and has gone) wrongand armed with the barbed wit of a Mark TwainStove targets George Berkeley, Immanuel Kant, Karl Popper, Robert Nozick, and others.
In some places, Stoves own thinking goes wrong (read my review for details). Still, few and far between are those whove so clearly refuted modern absurdities (he even appears independently to have discovered a variant of Rands stolen concept fallacy), and no writer Im familiar with has done so while inducing so much laughter. Your friends will love this gift (I know I did when I got a copy from Craig and Sarah Biddle!).
Speaking of fun readsand of Mark Twainitd be a crime not to mention Twains lesser-known, posthumously published musings on Christianity. Although Twains religiosity appears to have waxed and waned throughout his life, this charming satireamong the last of his writingsindicates that his mature view was decidedly deist.
Herein, after the archangel Satan makes some admiring remarks about certain of the Creators sparkling industriesremarks which, being read between the lines, were sarcasms, God banishes him to space for a celestial day. Satan decides to check out the subject of his sarcasms, Earthand more specifically, mankindand, by and by, writes back to archangels Michael and Gabriel about mans bizarre religious beliefs and customs.
In addition to these eleven progressively more critical letters, both a reissue and the original 1962 edition contain several of Twains other writings on religion, bringing together this treasured Americans most irreverent thinking.
Another American humoristand a self-proclaimed thorough Deistwho has much value to offer fans of Ayn Rand is Benjamin Franklin. Whereas the formative years of most of Americas revolutionaries have had to be pieced together by historical detective work, Franklin himself set down the story of his own adolescenceand he thereby bequeathed to mankind a masterpiece in self-improvement.
In fact, his autobiography cast the mold for the self-improvement genreas Franklin himself did for an American ideal: that a free man may rise as high as his ambition will take him, and that his mind and effort are what matter, not his position at birth.
Ive read a handful of books about Franklin, but none are more pithy, witty, useful, or inspiring than Ol Bens own words. Thats not surprising given that during his life, he was, as literary critic Carl Van Doren concluded, the best writer in America. My suggestion: Gift a collection of his writings, and pick one up for yourself.
Given the typically wide disparity in musical tastes, I hesitate to recommend albums at all; but being a musician and passionate music lover, I cant resist.1
In a previous life, I was an engineer at Nashvilles longest-running recording studio. I decided I wanted to work there years before when I learned that one of my all-time favorite albums was recorded there: Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Plant, of course, fronted Led Zeppelin, and Krauss is a country darling with a voice of goldso you might think theyd make a bizarre duo.
Not so. In my opinion, its the closest audible thing to magic. Plants pipes have aged like expensive whiskey, and Krausss singing is angelic. The pedal steel guitar of Greg Leisz shimmers and floats between these two stars on Killing the Blues and Through the Morning, Through the Night, and Dennis Crouchs upright bass sounds rusticand gigantic. Thats in part because the entire A-list cast was captured on analog tape through some of the best recording equipment ever made. Beware, however; whereas most of the album is rather beneficent, the deathly pessimism of Nothin might just put you in Dominique Francons statue-smashing frame of mind.
The notes flowed up, they spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, they were the essence and the form of upward motion, they seemed to embody every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive.2 Ayn Rand
The music that most reminds me of these words is the Pat Metheny Groups appropriately titled masterpiece The Way Up. (Let me know in the comments below what music brings to your mind Rands description of Halleys Fifth.) The albums main theme, introduced in the first minutes of Part One (which is track two) and reinvented in various ways throughout this nearly seventy-minute composition, captures a heros battleand triumph.
If you gift this album, please pass along that it absolutely must not be listened to as background music or on laptop speakers. Truly hearing it will require all of ones attention. And in justice, it should be heard on speakers large enough to replicate the magnitude of what it conveysor decent headphones, which advantageously put one inside its spatial richness and complexity.
For more of an upbeat undercurrent, something to fuel a road trip or a productive work session, try the second of William Tylers guitar-centric instrumental albums, Modern Country. Despite its title, this album has nothing to do with twangy Telecasters, pickup trucks, or Corona-infused beach parties (disappointing, I know).
In fact, Tyler apparently has a thing for misleading names; the opener, Highway Anxiety, sounds like pure peace of mind, twice distilled. And theres not a song on the album that, in my experience, doesnt help soothe the worst road rage or calm the mind after a difficult workday. So if you want a friend to feel greater serenity, give the gift of William Tyler.
Also, his latest release, Goes West, shares many of the same qualities, and his Impossible Truth is quite beautiful as well.
If such serenity were a beverage, it would be buttermint tea. Twiningss blend of vanilla and peppermint is smooth, refreshing, and calming. It helps me release tension and reset my mind, giving me the relaxed focus I need either to work through problemsor to set them aside when the days work is done.
Whether you want to help the ambitious people in your life work smarter or enjoy some well-deserved rest, buttermint tea is a great option. Pair it with anything else on this list for increased pleasure.
How could I not recommend gifting tickets to the most life-enhancing conference of the year? As Franklin said, An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. And heres what TOS-Con attendees say:
TOS-Con 2018 and 2019 have been two of the most important events in my life to date.
The most tangible result of these conferences in my life has been the creation of my own business. I was able to start the business as a direct result of the energy, self-esteem, and will that I gained largely from your conference in 2018.
TOS-Con is an event filled with breathtaking intellectual and aesthetic revelations that is attended by a group of rational, benevolent, and energetic people who love to share their optimism and positivity. It is a place for construction and for creativity. It is a place where everyone looks to find the best within themselves and within each other, and to celebrate that. As a result of this, I leave each conference feeling supercharged with energy and ideas which I am able to implement in my own life to make it consistently better.
Thanks to TOS-Con I also have a new network of friends from around the country. The price paid to attend this conference is the single best investment I have ever made in myself, and one I will continue to make year after year.
Thank you sincerely for having the strength of purpose to create this conference. Steven
This conference has changed the way I think about the world around me. This is my first conference and will go down as one of my life-changing experiences. Lauren
Traveling home, I couldnt stop thinking about all of the ideas I heard and people I met . . . Speaking with so many passionate individuals and listening to so many different talks really inspired me to reflect on how I live my life and how I want to live it, and to put more work into my aspirations. Im so grateful for the experience. Thank you! Kenna
I hope to see you at the most life-enhancing conference of the yearand I hope that these gift ideas enrich your holidays, your relationships, and your life. Merry Christmas!
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