Chapter 10 
                         SPIRITUALITY, ART, AND BEAUTY 
   * The Spirituality of a Scientist  
   * The Credo of a Rational Man  
   * Prayer  
   * Oath  
   * Marriage  
   * Love  
   * Table Blessing  
   * Art  
   * Beauty  
   * The Need for and Function of Art and Beauty  
   * The Nature of Fiction  
   * Music  
   * Dancing  
   * Some Writing Techniques  
   * The Destruction of Art under Statism  
   * Miscellaneous Comments on Art  

   * The Spirituality of a Scientist 
   I have come into a peculiar sort of spiritual awareness during the course 
of my studies of Objectivism. I have found that this philosophy, which is 
very strongly oriented toward rationality - toward a Galilean rather than 
Tertullian epistemology - leads, when it is fully developed and manifested 
within oneself, to a kind of spiritual awakening - a blossoming of the soul 
- that has its own unique nature. I experience this in part as an inward-
directed focus - a growing recognition of (as Nathaniel Branden put it) "the 
biological forces deep within our organism that speak to us in a wordless 
language we have barely begun to decipher." I experience it also as a 
growing sense of the wonderful capability of human intelligence and its 
place and function in the universe. 
   "It is necessary to be fully possessed of only two beliefs: the first, 
that the order of nature is ascertainable by our faculties to an extent 
which is practically unlimited; the second, that our volition counts for 
something as a condition of the course of events. Each of these beliefs can 
be verified experimentally, as often as we like to try. Each, therefore, 
stands upon the strongest foundation upon which any belief can rest, and 
forms one of our highest truths." ... Albert Einstein 
   The idea of a "scientific religion" may seem a contradiction in terms, 
but I have for some time been intrigued with the introspective observation 
of a deep sense of wonder, awe and spirituality that has arisen within me 
during the time that I have been studying and applying Objectivism, growing 
in scientific knowledge, and developing the functional competence of my 
intelligence. This has nothing to do with any mystical, faith-oriented 
notions, but is a sense of becoming more and more united with the totality 
of the Universe as I adjust the epistemological methodology of my mind to 
bring it more and more into accord with Reality. To give a mundane example: 
a rainbow is no less beautiful, but actually grows in beauty and wonder, 
with a deeper knowledge of the postulates of physics and epistemology that 
describe and explain it. 
   Although religious people deny it, I find no difficulty in accepting a 
non-mystical explanation of the foundation of my beliefs: 
   "Existence is the first cause. The universe is the total of that which 
exists. Within the universe, the emergence of new entities can be explained 
in terms of the actions of entities that already exist. All actions 
presuppose the existence of entities. All causality presupposes the 
existence of something that acts as a cause. To demand a cause for all of 
existence is to demand a contradiction: if the cause exists, it is part of 
existence: if it does not exist, it cannot be a cause. Nothing cannot be the 
cause of something. Nothing does not exist. Nothing is not just another kind 
of something - it is nothing. Existence exists; you cannot go outside it, 
you cannot get under it, on top of it or behind it. Existence exists - and 
only existence exists; there is nowhere else to go. The universe did not 
begin - it did not, at some point in time, spring into being. Time is a 
measurement of motion. Motion presupposes entities that move. If nothing 
existed, there could be no time. Time is 'in' the universe; the universe is 
not 'in' time." ... Nathaniel Branden. 

   Holiness is a measure of the reverence and awe which men hold for certain 
symbols and the power those symbols give us over the world of nature. 
   It is Language which grants godhood to man by enabling him, through 
symbolic conceptualization, to encompass the world within the scope of his 
thoughts. Thus, sense, reason, and intellect - all of which are functions of 
"the Word" - are what make me a Man. And give me the power to be a God. 
   Surprisingly, some of the best expressions of this function of language 
can be found in the Bible: 
   In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word 
was God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made 
that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the 
light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. And God 
blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and 
replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the 
sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth 
upon the earth. 

   Here are examples of how some other scientists and scholars have 
expressed this feeling: 

   Ayn Rand, in her introduction to THE FOUNTAINHEAD: 
   What I was referring to was not religion as such, but a special category 
of abstractions which, for centuries, has been the near-monopoly of religion 
... the realm of values, man's code of good and evil, with the emotional 
connotations of height, uplift, nobility, reverence, grandeur, which pertain 
to the realm of man's values, but which religion has arrogated to itself. 
   Religion's monopoly in this field has made it extremely difficult to 
communicate the emotional meaning and connotations of a rational view of 
life. Religion has usurped the highest moral concepts of our language, 
placing them outside this earth and beyond man's reach. Exaltation, Worship, 
and Reverence do name actual emotions. What, then, is their source or 
referent in reality? It is the entire emotional realm of man's dedication to 
a moral ideal. 
   It is with this meaning that I would identify the sense of life 
dramatized in THE FOUNTAINHEAD as man worship. The man-worshipers are those 
who see man's highest potential and strive to actualize it. They are those 
dedicated to the exaltation of man's self-esteem and the sacredness of his 
happiness on earth. 

   Galileo: "I do not feel obliged to believe that that same God who has 
endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their 
use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by 

   Albert Einstein: "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the 
mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this 
emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as 
good as dead: his eyes are closed.... To know that what is impenetrable to 
us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most 
radiant beauty which our dull facilities can comprehend only in the most 
primitive forms - this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true 
religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the ranks 
of the devoutly religious men." 
   Isidor Isaac Rabi: "Not religion in a secular way, but religion as 
inspirer of a way of looking at things. Choosing physics means, in some way, 
you're not going to choose trivialities. When you're doing good physics, 
you're wrestling with the Champ." 

   Robert Ingersoll: "The real miracles are the facts in nature." 

   James Hogan: "If one wants to feel more than inarticulate wonder before 
mountains or buildings, it helps to understand the invisible mechanisms that 
support the visible beauty." 

   Richard Feynman: "I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty 
of the world. It's analogous to the feeling one has in religion that has to 
do with a god that controls everything in the whole universe: there's a 
generality aspect that you feel when you think about how things that appear 
so different and behave so differently are all run 'behind the scenes' by 
the same organization, the same physical laws. It's an appreciation of the 
mathematical beauty of nature, of how she works inside; a realization that 
the phenomena we see result from the complexity of the inner workings 
between atoms; a feeling of how dramatic and wonderful it is. It's a feeling 
of awe - of scientific awe - this feeling about the glories of the 

   Henri Poincare: "The scientist does not study nature because it is useful 
to do so, he studies it because he takes pleasure in it, and he takes 
pleasure in it because it is beautiful." 

   Margaret Geller: "We would sit there absolutely mesmerized by [galaxy 
clustering]. We would stare at this thing over and over and over again. It 
was as if we were high on something." 

   Carl Sagan: "Whenever I think about [the great accomplishments of 
science] I feel a tingle of exhilaration. My heart races. I can't help it. 
Science is an astonishment and a delight.... Science is not only compatible 
with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.... Understanding 
is a kind of ecstasy." 

   A student of Arthur Eddington: "The Great Hall was crowded. The speaker 
was a slender, dark young man with a trick of looking away from his audience 
and a manner of complete detachment. He gave an outline of the Theory of 
Relativity, as none could do better than he. He led up to the shift of the 
stellar images near the Sun as predicted by Einstein and described his 
verification of the prediction. When I returned to my room I found that I 
could write down the lecture word for word. For three nights, I think, I did 
not sleep." 

   Victor Weisskopf: "The Joy of Insight" 

   Ayn Rand: "I will ask you to project the look on a child's face when he 
grasps the answer to some problem he has been striving to understand. It is 
a radiant look of joy, of liberation, almost of triumph, which is unself-
conscious, yet self-assertive, and its radiance seems to spread in two 
directions: outward, as an illumination of the world - inward, as the first 
spark of what is to become the fire of an earned pride. If you have seen 
this look, or experienced it, you know that if there is such a concept as 
'sacred' - meaning: the best, the highest possible to man - this look is the 
sacred, the not-to-be-betrayed, the not-to-be-sacrificed for anything or 
anyone. This look is not confined to children. Comic-strip artists are in 
the habit of representing it by means of a light bulb flashing on, above the 
head of a character who has suddenly grasped an idea. In simple, primitive 
terms, this is an appropriate symbol: an idea is a light turned on in a 
man's soul. It is the steady confident reflection of that light that you 
look for in the faces of adults - particularly of those to whom you entrust 
your most precious values. That light-bulb look is the flash of a human 
intelligence in action; it is the outward manifestation of man's rational 
faculty; it is the signal and symbol of man's mind. And, to the extent of 
your humanity, it is involved in everything you seek, enjoy, value or love." 

   Peter Zarlenga: 

   I am thought. 
   I can see what the eyes cannot see. 
   I can hear what the ears cannot hear. 
   I can feel what the heart cannot feel. 
   Yet I create Beauty for the eyes, 
                Music for the ears, 
                Love for the heart. 
   They, ignorant of their ignorance, call me cold. 
          Barren of Sight. 
          Barren of Sound. 
          Barren of Feeling. 
   But it is I who am from which all comes. 
          Given to the ungrateful. 

   Ayn Rand: "I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and 
I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest. I 
wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning. I wished to find a 
warrant for being. I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon 
my being. I am the warrant and the sanction. It is my eyes which see, and 
the sight of my eyes grants beauty to the earth. It is my ears which hear, 
and the hearing of my ears gives its song to the world. It is my mind which 
thinks, and the judgment of my mind is the only searchlight that can find 
the truth. It is my will which chooses, and the choice of my will is the 
only edict I must respect. Many words have been granted me, and some are 
wise, and some are false, but only three are holy: 'I will it!' This miracle 
of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard, and mine to use, and mine 
to kneel before. And now I see the face of god." 

   From A Jewish Prayer Book: 
   God, where shall I find Thee, Whose glory fills the universe? 
   Behold I find Thee, Wherever the mind is free to follow its own bent, 
Wherever words come out from the depth of truth, Wherever tireless striving 
stretches its arms towards perfection, Wherever men struggle for freedom and 
right, Wherever the scientist toils to unbare the secrets of nature, 
Wherever the poet strings pearls of beauty in lyric lines, Wherever glorious 
deeds are done. 

   Jawaharlal Nehru: 
   "Politics and religion are obsolete; the time has come for science and 

   Let us take spirituality out of religion. 

   * The Credo of a Rational Man 
   As a rationalist, I am often chastised by faith-oriented people for not 
having anything to "believe" in. Although I have always dismissed as 
nonsense the notion that Belief must inevitably be grounded in Faith, it 
required many years of philosophical study for me to be able to make a 
specific statement of just what it is that I do Believe in. 

   I believe that no snowflake ever lands on the wrong place. I believe, 
with Niels Bohr, that the laws of physics work - whether I believe in them 
or not. I believe in the Law of Identity. I believe in the primacy of 
Existence over Consciousness (and I see this manifest in the Quantum 
Physics). The greatest source of wonder and amazement I know is the 
interactive relationship between the Primary and Tertiary structures of 
nucleic acid molecules. 
   I believe, with Einstein, that "Out yonder there is this huge world, 
which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us 
like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our 
inspection and thinking." I believe, with Thoreau, that "Man's capacities 
have never been measured; nor are we to judge of what he can do by any 
precedents, so little has been tried." I believe that man is a heroic being, 
with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, non-aggression as 
his standard of social behavior, productive achievement as his noblest 
activity, and reason as his only absolute. 
   I believe that reality is an objective absolute, existing independently 
of my consciousness. I believe that my mind is competent to achieve valid 
knowledge of reality, and that the values proper to me are objectively 
demonstrable. I believe that the basic function - the purpose - of 
consciousness is to perceive and understand the world: my mind must first 
perceive the independently existing world - then it must understand its 
perceptions - then I must use this understanding to govern my behavior so as 
to interact successfully with reality and thereby achieve my values. 
                                Job 40:7,10,14 

   * Prayer 
   People who engage in prayer have been persuaded that it has power, and 
that it gives them, however indirectly, some degree of influence over the 
future course of events. 
   One of the things that atheists often overlook about prayer is that it 
actually does make a difference to the people who practice it (though not 
for the reasons that the practitioners assume): Prayer provides 
psychological comfort. It helps people live with mistakes that they think 
they can't live with. It also gives them something to do in times of crisis 
- it's a first step out of paralysis. The downside is that it places most or 
all of the responsibility for what happens next in the hands of another 
(nonexistent) party. Nevertheless taking SOME action is the best antidote to 
feelings of fear and depression. 
   But the power of actually changing the course of events with your own 
mind and hands is much more compelling, thus what we need is some human and 
humane, non-mystical alternative to prayer. Because words must be backed by 
deeds to become real, prayers should be just a kind of incantation or ritual 
that serves as a prelude to, or a means of focusing the mind on, the really 
important concern of finding a way to deny the validity of an injustice by 
acting in ways that are diametrically opposed to it. 
   There is value and importance in building a society that is based on 
principles of reason rather than blind faith. 

   * Oath 
   The function of an oath is to help, not to threaten. It is something to 
remind you of how important words are. Ideas are important. Principles are 
important. The words that embody ideas and principles are important. Your 
word is the most important of all. Your word is who you are. 
   An oath can concretize Purpose within your mind and give you an explicit, 
objective guideline for your actions. It can serve to focus your mind 
directly onto your goals. 
   An oath of membership should have the effect of consolidating a number of 
individuals into a united group by its formal assertion of their common 
purpose and their responsibilities toward each other. 

   A few examples: 
   "I now, in the presence of death, affirm and reaffirm the truth of all 
that I have said against the superstitions of the world." 
   "I have seen my daughter, I have lain with my wife; now I will kill my 
enemies, and then I can die." 
   "We are gathered to call desolation over evildoers. May the sorrow they 
have wrought and the wrath they have raised turn upon them. May our enemies 
suffer as we have suffered! May they feel our fire and steel as we have felt 
theirs! May their hearts beat fearfully for what they have done to us!" 
   "May God grant me the wisdom to discover the right, the will to choose 
it, and the strength to make it endure."  

   * Marriage 
   Marriage is a form of oath-taking that states the purpose of a 

   "I, Colin, take thee, Gwen, to be my wife, to have and to hold, to love 
and to cherish, as long as you will have me." 
   "I, Gwen, take thee, Colin, to be my husband, to care for and love and 
cherish for the rest of my life." 

   "I will demand much of thee, All that thou art and all that thou canst 
   And I will give unto thee, All that I am and all that I can be, 
   In the name of the best within me, I pledge unto thee my troth, 
   I will strive to make that best ever better and better, 
   Thou art the purpose of my existence, All that I have made of myself is 
what I give to you in trade for that which you have made of yourself." 

   "By oak and ash and springtime-whitened thorn, through ages gone and ages 
to be born, by earth below, by air arising higher, by ringing waters, and by 
living fire, by life and death, I charge that ye say true if ye do now give 
faith for faith.   We do.  Place each a ring upon the other's hand, and may 
the sign of binding prove a band that joins the youth to maiden, man to 
wife, and lights the way upon your search through life. Farewell! And if the 
roads ye find be rough, keep love alive, and so have luck enough." 

   "Do you each individually swear that you will be true and loyal, each 
helping his chosen one in all things, great and small; that never, 
throughout eternity, in thought or in action, will your mind or your body or 
your spirit stray from the path of truth and honor?" 

   * Love 
   Expressions of love can take on the character of an oath, stating the 
deepest meaning of one person's emotional response to another: 

   "If you can show me beauty that I haven't found, And teach me secrets 
that I never knew, Lead me to vistas that I haven't seen, And fill each day 
with more of you, If you can share a soul that makes my soul grow greater, 
If you can teach my glance to see the sky, If you can make each year grow 
only shorter, Then so will I." 

   "Yes, I have made many mistakes in life. But you are not one of them." 

   "Maybe one day one of us will cause the other a tear or a curse. Maybe 
one day we will play the foolish game of 'What if.' But somehow I doubt it. 
I have seen rainbows and I did not curse the sky when they were gone. I have 
heard nightingales sing and I did not curse the forest when it was silent. I 
was grateful that I had seen and heard. And their memory is a thing that is 
beautiful to me yet. So it will be with you. If I turn and one day find you 
are gone, the memory and the beauty of it will make all my tomorrows a 
little warmer." 

   "I have never had so much as now. All my life I've been alone. I would 
look into the huts and the tents of others in the coldest dark and I would 
see figures holding each other in the night. But I always passed by. You and 
I - we have warmth. That's so hard to find in this world. Let someone else 
pass by in the night. Let us take the world by the throat and make it give 
us what we desire." 

   "I have nothing to offer you but my strength for your defense, my honesty 
for your surety, my ability and industry for your livelihood, and my 
authority and position for your dignity. That is all it becomes a man to 
offer to a woman - the devotion of a man's heart and the strength of a man's 

   "She kissed me. Me. She did. She does. She will. It cannot die until I 
do. What need I more than this? How wonderful the world is." 

   "We shall light up for one-another a lamp in the temple of life. Aimless 
lumps of stone blundering through space will become stars singing in their 
spheres. An extraordinary delight and an intense love will seize us. It will 
last hardly longer than the lightning flash which turns the black night into 
infinite radiance. It will be dark again before you can clear the light out 
of your eyes: but you will have seen: and forever after you will think about 
what you have seen and not gabble catchwords invented by the wasted virgins 
that walk in darkness." 

   "Our love is not over. This is the first, the most important, thing for 
you to know. We have said good-bye. That was at breakfast this morning. You 
kissed me. You smiled. It was perfect. We have said good-bye. And our love 
is not over. Our good-bye was perfect, as our love will always be. Forgive 
me for wanting that. Forgive me for fearing the other good-bye. My pain 
bringing you pain, your sadness bringing mine. Leaving you with the lie that 
there could be sadness between us. Have we lived our love so that wicked 
little cells, growing in darkness, could cheat us at the end? No. We cheat 
them. We say good-bye with a kiss and a smile. And our love goes on forever. 
What you must know is that in my last hours I have lived our life again, in 
tears of joy that so exquisite a life could have been mine. Now you must do 
something for me. You must live long and well. You must live as though you 
are saving each moment to share with me, in my arms, when we are together 
again. And if you find another love before your life is over, treasure those 
moments most of all, and know that nothing could make me happier." 

   Some statements of profound emotion can surpass oaths and become songs of 

   May the Lord protect and defend you 
   May He always shield you from shame 
   May you come to be in Israel a shining name 
   May you be like Ruth and like Esther 
   May you be deserving of praise 
   Strengthen them Oh Lord, and keep them from the stranger's ways 
   May God bless you and grant you long lives 
   May the Lord fulfill our sabbath prayer for you 
   May God make you good mothers and wives 
   May He send you husbands who will care for you 
   May the Lord protect and defend you 
   May the Lord preserve you from pain 
   Favor them oh Lord with happiness and peace 
   Oh hear our sabbath prayer 

   * Table Blessing 
   The sharing of a meal is an act symbolic of good will. So simple a thing, 
a lighted fire, yet it is a symbol of man's first great step toward 
civilization. How many times has it seemed as if a man, in offering fire and 
warm food, was saying, "See, I am a man, by these signs you shall know me, 
that I can make a fire, that I can cook my food." 
   Another example of the symbolic phenomena I am trying to portray is the 
almost universal practice of expressing gratitude at the supper table (I 
refer to this practice as "Table Blessing"). I believe this expression, 
although misguided in its religious aspect, has a profoundly important 
function in human life as a symbolic recognition of the importance of 
productive achievement. 
   I have endeavored to contrive statements by which this phenomenon could 
be suitably expressed in an Objectivist household: 

   "My dear friends, let us pause in our proceedings for a moment and 
contemplate the nature and the source of the providence which we see before 
us on our table and around us in our lives. Let us look within ourselves and 
ask if we be worthy to partake of this bounty. Let us resolve to act so that 
the scales of Nature shall balance - so that all that we must take from the 
world for our sustenance we shall return to the world in like measure, 
giving thankful recognition to those who, in doing likewise, bring into 
being the civilization in which we live. Thank you." 

   "We should be thankful to our natures that we can earn our food and be 
thankful to ourselves that we have done so. As we have earned this food, so 
must we earn all that is valuable in our lives." 

   "The sun never sets on Ford tractors. Somewhere, right now, there is a 
Ford tractor working the land. Remember this when you break bread." 

   And on a more whimsical note: 
   "We worked hard to pay for this food. We bought it from the folks who 
grew it. They got paid for it and then we put it on our table. We ain't 
thankin' anyone 'cause we earned it ourselves! Lets eat!" 

   A blessing to use on entering a home: 
   "Blessed be the master of this house, the mistress of this hall 
   And all the little children here who run or walk or crawl."

   A blessing for a baby:
   Bless this babe who squeeks and squalls
   Bless him as he creeps and crawls
   Bless the place he loves the best
   Asleep upon his momma's breast

   For an adopted baby:
   Bless this child, not of your womb
   Within your heart let her find room
   Smile her smiles, kiss her tears
   And grow together through the years

   A blessing for a grave: 
   "Warm summer sun shine kindly here. Warm southern wind, blow softly here. 
Green sod above, lie light, lie light. Dark earth below, embrace and 

   * Art 
   The essay "Art and Cognition" by Ayn Rand, which appeared in the April, 
May, and June 1971 issues of THE OBJECTIVIST, is an in-depth analysis of all 
forms of art. 

   Art is the selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's 
metaphysical value-judgments. Metaphysical values are those which reflect an 
artist's fundamental view of the nature of man and the nature of the 
universe in which he lives. 
   Cognitive abstractions identify the facts of reality. Normative 
abstractions evaluate the facts, thus prescribing a choice of values and a 
course of action. Cognitive abstractions deal with that which IS; normative 
abstractions deal with that which OUGHT TO BE (in the realms open to man's 
choice). Cognitive abstractions form the epistemological foundation of 
science; normative abstractions form the epistemological foundation of 
morality and of art. 
   Romanticism is a category of art based on the recognition of the 
principle that man possesses the faculty of volition. 

   * Beauty 
   Beauty is a concept of consciousness. It is the integration of one or 
more experiences of pleasure along with one or more observations of a 
manifestation of one's values. Here are a few examples of this: 

   Jean Auel: "In Ranec's eye the finest and most perfect example of 
anything was beautiful, and anything beautiful was the finest and most 
perfect example of spirit; it was the essence of it. That was his religion. 
Beyond that, at the core of his aesthetic soul, he felt that beauty had an 
intrinsic value of its own, and he believed there was a potential for beauty 
in everything. While some activities or objects could be simply functional, 
he felt that anyone who came close to achieving perfection in any activity 
was an artist, and the results contained the essence of beauty. But the art 
was as much in the activity as in the results. Works of art were not just 
the finished product, but the thought, the action, the process that created 
   [Ranec was an artist, thus his supreme value was the process by which art 
is created.] 

   The artist said, "I, as an artist, can see how beautiful a flower is. But 
you, as a scientist, take it all apart and it becomes dull." 
   Richard Feynman replied, "First of all, the beauty that he sees is 
available to other people - and to me, too, I believe. Although I might not 
be quite as refined aesthetically as he is, I can appreciate the beauty of a 
flower. But at the same time, I see much more in the flower than he sees. I 
can imagine the cells inside, which also have a beauty. There's beauty not 
just at the dimension of one centimeter; there's also beauty at a smaller 
dimension. There are the complicated actions of the cells, and other 
processes. The fact that the colors in the flower have evolved in order to 
attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; that means insects can see 
the colors. That adds a question: does this aesthetic sense we have also 
exist in lower forms of life? There are all kinds of interesting questions 
that come from a knowldege of science, which only adds to the excitement and 
mystery and awe of a flower. It only adds." 
   [Feynman was a scientist, thus his supreme value was the process of 
gaining knowledge of the world of nature. He realized that a sharpened 
awareness helps us to make distinctions that would otherwise elude us. The 
artist Constable studied cloud formation extensively and, as a consequence, 
painted clouds as no one ever had before. Leonardo Da Vinci made extensive 
studies of human anatomy to the same end. The more one learns, the better 
one sees.] 

   Every child in the world looks upon his mother and sees the most 
beautiful woman in the world, even though many mothers are not beautiful. Do 
you know why this is so? The child looks with love, and sees love returned. 
Love is what makes beauty. 
   [The child is a child, and his supreme value is to be loved. Have you 
forgotten that?] 

   From The Fountainhead: 
   "There were small houses on the ledges of the hill before him, flowing 
down to the bottom. He knew that the ledges had not been touched, that no 
artifice had altered the unplanned beauty of the graded steps. Yet some 
power had known how to build on these ledges in such a way that the houses 
became inevitable, and one could no longer imagine the hills as beautiful 
without them -- as if the centuries and the series of chances that produced 
these ledges in the struggle of great blind forces had waited for their 
final expression, had been only a road to a goal -- and the goal was these 
buildings, part of the hills, shaped by the hills, yet ruling them by giving 
them meaning." 
   [Rand does not deny that there is an "unplanned beauty" in the natural 
setting of Monadnock Valley. But she seems to think that this natural beauty 
is only a stepping-stone to the greater beauty of human creation, which 
gives meaning to nature. Rand was deeply interested in meaning, and I think 
it is for this reason that she held aesthetics to deal mainly or even 
exclusively with art rather than the phenomena of nature. For Rand, meaning 
comes from conscious creation, not the "great blind forces" of nature.] 

   * The Need for and Function of Art and Beauty 
   Man's need for art springs from the fact that he needs the ability to 
bring his widest abstractions into his immediate perceptual awareness. 
   Every man seeks a confirmation of his own view of existence, and by 
concretizing this view into something that a man can grasp directly, art is 
performing this function. Art can give both to the artist and the spectator 
the experience of seeing the full, immediate, concrete reality of his 
distant goals. Thus works of art are valuable to us if they reinforce our 
view of existence in any of its many aspects. The brief respite that is 
obtained from a flight of fancy into an imaginary world, or the feeling of 
beautiful rightness when music takes hold of the senses and your body moves 
in perfect accord with the rhythm it feels, are food for the soul. 

   The world of nature is not a kind place towards living things. It is 
harshly indifferent to our well-being, and we must continually strive to 
maintain our existence - our very lives - in the face of inimical 
conditions. As the human brain evolved, and volitional behavior increased in 
significance, it became possible for man to explicitly recognize the 
harshness of nature - to lament: 

   How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable 
   Seem to me all the uses of this world! 
   Oh, to take arms against a sea of troubles, 
   And by opposing end them. 

   Man became the only creature capable of deliberate suicide - the only 
creature requiring an intellectually deliberated motive for continuing his 
existence. To perceive beauty in a sunset, wonder in a rainbow, glory in a 
thundering waterfall, delicate charm in a hummingbird's iridescence, could 
only have infused early man's soul with a cause for continuing in the face 
of adversity. Thus could Beauty have come to serve an evolutionary function 
in human development: those who found beauty to be a pleasure and a value 
would have more incentive to continue with the struggle of life. 

   * The Nature of Fiction 
   But to fully satisfy our need for spiritual inspiration, we need to 
nourish ourselves on works of a certain level of complexity and 
   Tolkien spoke of good fiction thusly: "...literary belief, the state of 
mind that has been called willing suspension of disbelief. But this does not 
seem to me a good description of what happens. What really happens is that 
the story-maker proves a successful subcreator. He makes a Secondary World 
which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is true: it accords 
with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it 
were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, 
or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, 
looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside. If you are 
obliged, by kindliness or circumstance, to stay, then disbelief must be 
suspended (or stifled), otherwise listening and looking would become 
intolerable. But this suspension of disbelief is a substitute for the 
genuine thing, a subterfuge we use when condescending to games or make-
believe, or when trying (more or less willingly) to find what virtue we can 
in the work of an art that has for us failed." 
   A basic tenet of Objectivism is that truth is the recognition of reality. 
The principle of Objectivist Epistemology which assumes prior certainty of 
existence indicates that we cannot invent physical things or concepts 
without referents in reality, and then declare them to be real. However, 
thoughts are real, and it is an observation of objective reality that man's 
thoughts include the creation and manipulation of abstract concepts and 
symbols. It is also observable that many of these creations have no physical 
identity of their own - such as Pegasus. But although they lack physical 
identity, these creations/concepts/symbols are real and are existents. We 
must just be careful not to confuse a concept created without a referent in 
reality with an actual physical being. You don't have to believe in Santa 
Claus, and you don't have to believe in unicorns, but what you GOTTA believe 
in are the concepts that are symbolized by Santa Claus and unicorns. 
   Identity without physical existence is what fictions have. But we must 
recognize that it is not the sort of incontrovertible, indestructible, 
absolute identity that existents have; it is the identity ascribed to them, 
defined for them by their author and shared by his audience. None of us 
doubt that Hamlet and Ophelia have identity: Hamlet is not to be confused 
with Laertes. Yet none of these people ever existed and none ever will. 
   Non-existence is a derivative concept which can be formed or grasped only 
in relation to some existent that has ceased to exist. This is the way in 
which the concept is formed intitially. But once it is formed and grasped it 
can be applied to that which has never existed or even that which cannot 
exist. This is a perfectly valid use of the concept non-existence. 
   One can hypothesize a non-existent concrete and then subsume it within an 
abstraction. To do so is to create a fiction. 
   I see two broad categories into which my thoughts can be divided: those 
which correspond to the real world (the reality domain) and those which do 
not (the imaginary domain). The Objectivist Epistemology is a splendid tool 
which enables me to make proper identifications in the former category and 
also to make a firm distinction between the two categories. The Objectivist 
Epistemology does not apply to the second category - and I do not think it 
needs to. The reality domain is a limited, circumscribed context. This 
domain is limited by the facts of reality and it is circumscribed by the 
principles of the Objectivist Epistemology, which serve to keep me very 
firmly in cognitive contact with the real world. The imaginary domain, on 
the contrary, has no limits. Imagination is the same sort of concept as 
freedom - they are both defined in a "negative" manner, as absences. Freedom 
is the absence of social constraint. Imagination is the absence of reality 
constraint. I must confess I am not entirely comfortable with the notion 
that there can be any entity in the universe that is not constrained by 
reality, but it seems quite clear to me that the human imagination is just 
such a thing. But then, if the universe itself can be infinite (i.e., 
unbounded) there could be within it an entity which is also unbounded. In 
spite of my misgivings, all my thoughts on this matter compel me to swallow 
the hard fact that there are no bounds on human imagination, and that it is 
not subsumed by the Objectivist Epistemology. 
   I approached this by introspection of two of my thought processes: the 
act of creation and the enjoyment of works of fiction. When I invent some 
mechanical contraption I begin by making a picture inside my mind of the 
device I want. I imagine all its parts and how they fit together and 
interact with one another. If something does not seem right I modify my 
mental picture of it, and eventually I come up with a picture of a device 
that I think will do the job. This picture may be of a device that I have 
never seen before, and as far as I know has never even existed. Therefore it 
is a fiction. But now comes the important part: sometimes this picture can 
be easily and straightforwardly transformed into fact, i.e., it corresponds 
precisely with the potentiality of the real world. On other occasions the 
picture must be modified considerably before such a transformation can 
occur. And I must confess there have been some pictures I have had to scrap 
entirely - the facts of reality simply do not allow them to be 
existentialized. I can see in this process that my mind is free to conceive 
ANY picture whatsoever. The only point at which I am constrained is when I 
try to make real my mental pictures. Only if my mind has been in close 
cognitive contact with reality can I do this. If I were to be constrained in 
my imaging to a factual corresponence with reality then I could never create 
(except perhaps by accident) something which had not previously existed. (I 
have for many years believed that all philosophers should be required to 
spend some time as practicing engineers - there would be a whole lot less 
nonsense in the field of philosophy if this were done.) 
   I see the same process occur in the creation of intellectual entities. A 
lifetime of Science Fiction addiction has shown me that there are no bounds 
to the fictional worlds the human mind can imagine. Unfortunately, the 
attempted existentializaion of some of these worlds is not quite the sort of 
simplistic scenario as my attempts to make real the sometimes clumsily-
conceived physical devices that I imagine. Karl Marx believed he had 
conceived an excellent "social" device, but you all know very well what 
disastrous consequences have ensued from the attempt to make real that 
miserable scheme. 
   This distinction between these two basic categories of human thought 
shows the value of the Objectivist Epistemology in keeping a firm grasp on 
reality, and also shows the basis of mental health: the ability to 
distinguish between fact and fantasy. 
   These observations lead to an important link between science and fiction: 
without fantasy, science would have nothing to test. 

   * Music 
   Extracted from the essay "Art and Cognition" by Ayn Rand, which appeared 
in the April, May, and June 1971 issues of THE OBJECTIVIST: 
   "Music is a certain succession of sounds produced by periodic vibrations. 
Musical tones heard in a certain kind of succession are integrated by the 
human ear and brain into a new cognitive experience, into an auditory 
entity: a melody. The essence of musical perception is mathematical: the 
consonance or dissonance of harmonies depends on the ratios of the 
frequencies of their tones. The brain can integrate a ratio of one to two, 
for instance, but not of eight to nine. Music offers man the singular 
opportunity to reenact, on the adult level, the primary process of his 
method of cognition: the automatic integration of sense data into an 
intelligible, meaningful entity. To a conceptual consciousness, it is a 
unique form of rest and reward. A composition may demand the active 
alertness needed to resolve complex mathematical relationships - or it may 
deaden the brain by means of monotonous simplicity - or it may obliterate 
the process by a jumble of sounds mathematically-physiologically impossible 
to integrate, and thus turn into noise. The other arts create a physical 
object and the psycho-epistemological process goes from the perception to 
conceptual understanding to appraisal to emotion. The pattern of the process 
involved in music is: perception - emotion - appraisal - conceptual 
understanding. Music is experienced as if it had the power to reach man's 
emotions directly. It is possible to observe introspectively what one's mind 
does while listening to music: it evokes subconscious material that seems to 
flow haphazardly, in brief, random snatches, like the progression of a 
dream. But, in fact, this flow is selective and consistent: the emotional 
meaning of the subconscious material corresponds to the emotions projected 
by the music. The subconscious material has to flow because no single image 
can capture the meaning of the musical experience, the mind needs a 
succession of images, it is groping for that which they have in common, for 
an emotional abstraction. Man cannot experience an actually causeless and 
objectless emotion. When music induces an emotional state without external 
object, its only other possible object is the state of actions of his own 
consciousness. If a given process of musical integration taking place in a 
man's brain resembles the cognitive processes that procuce and/or accompany 
a certain emotional state, he will recognize it, in effect, physiologically, 
then intellectually." 

   Douglas Hofstadter: "I feel that mathematics, more than any other 
discipline, studies the fundamental, pervasive patterns of the universe. 
However, as I have gotten older, I have come to see that there are inner 
mental patterns underlying our ability to conceive of mathematical ideas, 
universal patterns in human minds that make them receptive not only to the 
patterns of mathematics but also to abstract regularities of all sorts in 
the world. Indeed, how could anyone hope to approach the concept of beauty 
without deeply studying the nature of formal patterns and their 
organizations and relationships to Mind? How can anyone fascinated by beauty 
fail to be intrigued by the notion of a 'magical formula' behind it all, 
chimerical though the idea certainly is? And in this day and age, how can 
anyone fascinated by creativity and beauty fail to see in computers the 
ultimate tool for exploring their essence?" 

   Tonality was the foundation of western music. It's a hierarchical 
arrangement of notes into triads based on the natural harmonics (also called 
overtones) of a note. We perceive that chords built on the fifth and fourth 
degrees of a scale feel very powerful and are therefore the most commonly 
used. Around 1910, Arnold Schoenberg announced that tonality had exhausted 
itself, the time had come for a new music, and he was its prophet. He 
devised a system that works like this: serial composition starts with a 
musical subject, or tone row, which must be constructed by using all twelve 
tones of the octave system, in whatever order you want, before using any one 
of the tones a second time. You can then manipulate these tone rows by using 
all the tools of baroque counterpoint: imitation at various intervals, 
inversion, retrograde, etc. You can do all kinds of interesting things 
within these constraints, and it even seems like music at a certain 
distance. In fact, it's best appreciated with the eye and not the ear. The 
Germans even call it Augenmusik: music for the eye. This music can't be 
appreciated by the ear because serial procedure rips its notes out of the 
fabric of the harmonic series, and human beings can't integrate these random 
relationships between tones. Some of these composers also transpose their 
procedures to choose the beat of the piece, with a resulting rhythmic drive. 
Others, like Berg, wrote tone rows that mimicked tonal relations, and 
actually sound okay some of the time. 
   I wonder if any serious modern composers have ever listened to a piece of 
music and felt a passionate response in their soul. If that's not its goal 
then what the hell use is music? 
   I believe this deep feeling must be guided by a rational, natural 
technique, or else what's the difference between purveying my passion by 
writing a symphony or by dancing naked in my backyard while passionately 
howling at the moon? 
   I like "music in the subjunctive" (or sense of life in the subjunctive), 
the verb form used to express what is imagined or wished or possible. Not as 
"a thing is what it is," but "if a thing were, it would be...." 

   I have conceived a nifty descriptive label for "music" that is non-
rhythmic and/or non-melodic and/or just so dumb that it's not worth 
listening to. You have no doubt heard that old adage that if you chain a 
monkey to a piano and let him pound on the keys for 13 billion years, you 
will eventually hear every possible composition. Yeah, well... what you 
really get is a couple hours of good stuff and 13 billion years of monkey 
pound. Thus the crummy junk being passed off as "music" is just some of the 
Monkey Pound. 

   * Dancing 
   Rhythm is the periodicity of groups of recurring heavily and lightly 
accented notes which conform to a specific metered timing. Timing is simply 
the number of notes per measure of music. Tempo denotes the rate of speed 
these notes are metered in. 
   Dancing is the manner in which the movements of the body are distributed 
and applied to notes of music, thus forming patterns of motion. 
   The important things to remember are not only to find the correct note of 
music on which to start a dance step, but to perform it in its correct 
sequence while remaining on the proper note of each measure of music, at 
whatever tempo played. When you are able to move your body in correct 
pattern while placing it to the correct notes of the measure you will then 
have good timing and rhythm. You will then be a good dancer. 

   * Some Writing Techniques 
   Here are a few elements that show what makes a story a realistic work of 
art - or a bomb. 

   The Expository Lump. The creation of a story's context - its "reality" - 
is one of the most important jobs the writer has. All too often this job is 
handled in a rather clumsy manner and the reader stubs his toe, so to speak, 
on an Expository Lump that occurs in the story. The Expository Lump comes in 
two forms: the narrative lump and the dialog lump. In both forms, the story 
pauses while the author throws information at the reader in order to 
establish the "reality" of the story's situation in the reader's mind. 
   Here is an example of the dialog lump: 
   "Well, John, we've been stuck in this busted-down spaceship for three 
weeks - and it's gonna be another week before we get rescued." 
   "Yeah, David. And on top of that we're running out of oxygen, since the 
storage tank sprung a leak yesterday." 
   This isn't really two characters talking to each other, it is the author 
talking to the reader, presenting information that should have been 
skillfully interwoven into the story line. 

   Subjunctive Tension is the ambiguity between what your words say and all 
the possibilities of their meaning. "He walked through the door." 
(Teleportation, obviously - he probably walked through the doorway rather 
than the door itself.) "The sun came through the window." (In which case, it 
got rather hot in here. It was the sunlight that came in, not the sun.) 
   But people rarely notice these things if they are thoroughly immersed in 
the story; subjunctive tension is a symptom of the failure to engage the 
attention and belief of the reader, not a problem per se. 

   The Said-ism: In an attempt to avoid repetitious use of the word "said," 
characters have been known to "hiss" sentences containing not a single 
sibilant, to "growl" lines consisting mostly of vowels, to "ejaculate," to 
"effuse," to "pronounce," to "smile" entire conversations. Once you become 
aware of the said-ism, its use becomes hilarious. 

   The Capitalization of Words in an attempt to make one's Inventions 
important by Typographical Tricks rather than by the Power of the 
Descriptive Words themselves is a technique you will all too often encounter 
in my own writings. 

   The hierarchy of rules for the use of science in science fiction: 
   If you can make it correct, you should. 
   If you can't make it correct, at least make it plausible. 
   If you can't make it correct or plausible, you had better make it fun. 

   Characterization and story are of equal importance. If man's nature must 
be expressed through his actions, it is equally true that action is 
meaningless unless it is the product of, or the expression of, someone...or 

   See The Ayn Rand Letter, 17Jan72, for an excellent discourse on 
fallacious literary methods.  

   * The Destruction of Art under Statism 
   A good story is one wherein the protagonist has to apply reason to bring 
order out of chaos. To apply the scientific method, in short. But this 
requires that the author portray independent thought and judgment in action 
- he must portray a character who interprets reality according to his own 
   The artist and the State are natural enemies because the state insists 
upon being the sole interpreter of reality, and if the artist acquiesces in 
this function he abrogates his own metaphysical value-judgments and is thus 
bereft of the fundamental requirement for creating art. 
   The Newspeak-bred, statist mentalities of most modern "artists" render 
them incapable of equaling even the perceptiveness of a good forger: they do 
not know what they are imitating, nor why it had been successful. They do 
not know the difference between trash and values and therefore are rarely 
able to produce anything of value, either in industry or in art. 
   Movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash, 
we have very little reason to be interested in them. 

   * Miscellaneous Comments on Art 
   A young would-be composer wrote to Mozart, asking advice as to how to 
compose a symphony. Mozart responded that a symphony was a complex and 
demanding musical form and that it would be better to start with something 
simpler. The young man protested, "But Herr Mozart, you wrote symphonies 
when you were younger than I am now." 
   And Mozart replied, "I never asked how." 

   Sitting beside him on a pedestal he had a piece of jade, a good-size 
chunk, almost as big as my head. Every once in a while he would turn it so 
it would catch the sunlight in a different way. One day I asked him what he 
was doing, and he said, "I'm trying to see what it is - there's something 
there I haven't captured yet, and when I do, I'll start carving." 

   In a novel of ideas, the ideas have to work. 

   The hand that can create these images and reveal the soul in them, and is 
inspired to do this and nothing else even if he starves and is cast off by 
his community and all his family for it: is not this hand the hand used by 
God, who, being a spirit without body, parts or passions, has no hands? 

   On to Chapter 11
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