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 Pleasure  
   * The Nature of Fiction  
   * Dancing  
   * 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, 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 functioning 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. 

   Your soul is your mind and its basic values.
   Karma is the memory of your soul--the psychological consequences of your 
behavior. Karma does not consist of facts, words or images, but is an 
integration of judgments--judgments that your subconscious mind makes about 
your behavior. Your words are who you are, and your deeds are what you are. 
As you go through life you become what you do. "I call heaven and earth to 
witness, that whether it be Gentile or Israelite, man or woman, slave or 
handmaid, according to the deeds which he does, so will the Holy Spirit rest 
on him." ... The Talmud 
   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. 

   Here are examples of how some other scientists and scholars have 
expressed this spiritual 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 universe." 

   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." 

   Nikola Tesla: "I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the 
human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the 
brain unfolding to success.... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, 
friends, love, everything." 

   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.... Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be 

   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 primary, 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, and it provides some antidote to feelings of fear and 
depression: if you can consciously acknowledge the existence of your 
weaknesses and guilts, they lose a great deal of their subconscious 
psychological power over you. The Confessional of the Catholic Church 
performs a valuable function in this area. The downside of all this is that 
it places most or all of the responsibility for what happens in the future 
into the hands of another (nonexistent) party. 
   But if used within the appropriate intellectual/philosophical context, 
prayer can serve a quite different purpose: to assert your own self-
responsibility, your own determination to act. To solidify in your mind not 
only the need to take action, but what action to take. 
   The power of actually changing the course of events with your own mind 
and hands is much more compelling than reliance on a fantasy, 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 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 deal 
practically with reality. 
   As Robert Heinlein observed: "Man lives in a world of ideas.... He 
abstracts certain characteristics of a given phenomenon as an idea, then 
represents that idea with a symbol.... Human reaction is almost entirely 
reaction to symbols."  
   Our minds contain the world in symbolic form. The explicit awareness of 
the nature of those symbols can give us the power to shape the world to the 
achievement of our goals. 

   Prayer: Are we talking to god, or just listening to ourselves? 

   * Oath 
   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 of oaths that focus the mind: 
   "May God grant me the wisdom to discover the right, the will to choose 
it, and the strength to make it endure."  
   "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!" 
   An officer's prayer: 
   Oh, God, keep me safe. Oh, God, make me strong. And give these men the 
courage they need to follow after me. 

   There are times when a man has a spiritual need to evoke the memory of 
those who have been associated with him in a value-oriented activity. It 
fixes in his mind the fullness of his existence - the knowledge that he is 
not alone in the universe: 
   With a silent farewell to those few who had stood there before him, he 
turned away from the summit and started back down the slope. 
   The spirits of samurai who had fought and died centuries earlier closed 
ranks around his soul. "If your thoughts and actions honor us," they told 
him, "you may draw from our spiritual strength and we will not abandon you." 

   * Marriage 
   A marriage ceremony 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 thou wilt have me." 
   "I, Gwen, take thee, Colin, to be my husband, to care for and love and 
cherish for as long as thou wilt have me." 
   I will demand much of thee: All that thou art and all that thou canst be-
-and I will give unto thee all thaat I am and all that I can make of myself. 
   In the name of the best within me, I pledge unto thee my troth. 
   "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, in 
thought or in action, will your mind or your body or your spirit stray from 
the path of truth and honor?" 
   "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." 

   * 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." 

   "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." 

   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 you will make all my 
tomorrows a little warmer." 

   "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." 

   And if I go while you're still here 
   Know that I live on, vibrating to a different measure. 
   I wait for the time when we can soar together again. 
   Until then, live your life to its fullest 
   And when you need me, 
   Just whisper my name in your heart, 
   I will be there. 

   Yes, I have made many mistakes in life. But you are not one of them. 
   We make our own fortunes. I made mine the day I married you. 

   * Table Blessing 
   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. 
   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." 
   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. 

   At this table, where we join for food and fellowship, we reaffirm our 
belief in truth, love, and the best ideals of family life. We celebrate this 
family's unity, its achievements, good fortune, and--for our children--their 
dreams and hopes for the future. On this occasion we pledge our mutual 
loyalty, promising to support each other in difficult times, however and 
wherever these occur. And as well as family, we welcome those treasured 
friends who share our celebration and affections. 

   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. 

   Though our time be very short, let us break bread together and have some 
fellowship one with the other. 

   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! 

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

   A blessing (or a Wiccan Spell) for a wound:
       Blood! Obey me! Turn around, 
       Be a lake and not a river. 
       When you reach the open air, 
       Stop! And build a clotted wall. 
       Build it firm to hold the flood. 
       Blood, your world is bounded. Stay there! 

   A spell for a Band-Aid: 
      Grip close, bind tight, 
      Hold fast, close up, 
      Bar the door, lock the gate, 
      Build a wall, dry the flood. 

   A blessing for a bicyclist: "May you roll till the wheels fall off." 

   A benediction to use on entering a home: 
     Bless 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 an unborn child:
     Bless this child who sleeps inside 
     May life and health within her surge 
     May she with love and peace reside 
     Until her time comes to emerge 
     May she be born midst happy smiles 
     And may her heart beat firm and strong 
     May she run gaily through life's miles 
     And live her years with joyful song 

   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 

   May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true. 
   May you always strive for wisdom and have truth surrounding you. 
   May your hands be always busy, may your feet be always swift. 
   May you have a strong foundation when the winds of change do shift. 
   May your heart be always joyful, may your life resound with song. 
   May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong. 
   May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung. 
   May these thoughts go with you always. May you stay forever young. 

   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 

   Chanson d'Ancien: 
   Gently the sounds of life fade around me. 
   A star appears, a cricket cries, the autumn breathes, the summer dies. 
   I see a windblown leaf, a leaf that takes me through the air 
   To spring's everlasting light. 
   In summer, as I played beneath the trees, 
   Little did I notice the leaves soaring on the coming winds of autumn, 
   And that I was growing old. 
   I feel my life fall from my body as so many autumn leaves. 
   In this twilight I sense life and death as one, 
   And all that is and was, resting in one frozen instant of time. 
   A child is born, the moon is new. 
   On winter's eve a snowflake falls where once the flowers grew. 
   Does the peace of heaven wait within that newborn baby's smile? 
   The sun shines down on sheets of snow, 
   Transforming snow to fields of flowers. 
   Now, in winter's last light, I know that I am the cause of my journey, 
   And that my life is its own self-fulfillment. 
   In this moment of gathering peace my heart fills with celebration. 

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

   * 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 knowledge 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 identifications 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.
   And too, emotions are enhanced by knowing, because knowing gives you a 
greater mental framework for the emotional experience. Knowing is the 
stepping stone for the process of planning specific responses which can 
complement an emotion or ensure that its immediate benefits can be 
maintained over time.] 

   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 he can perceive 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. As a fine 
old song puts it: 
        Love is nature's way of giving 
        A reason to be living. 

   * The Nature of Pleasure 
   From "The Psychology of Pleasure" by Nathaniel Branden, in The 
Objectivist Newsletter  Feb1964: 
   "Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man's body works as a barometer 
of health or injury, so the pleasure-pain mechanism of his consciousness 
works on the same principle, acting as a barometer of what is for him or 
against him, what is beneficial to his life or inimical. But man is a being 
of volitional consciousness, he has no innate ideas, no automatic or 
infallible knowledge of what his survival depends on. He must CHOOSE the 
values that are to guide his actions and set his goals. His emotional 
mechanism will work according to the kind of values he chooses. It is his 
values that determine what a man feels to be for him or against him; it is 
his values that determine what a man seeks for pleasure." 
   His feelings merely confront man with the need for action; they do not 
determine what the action will be nor whether it will be appropriate. It is 
his predominant philosophy that determines the action. (This is equally true 
of a culture, that's what makes this phenomenon important for assessing the 
future of civilization.) For example: Hunger will impel a man to eat 
something--but it will not dictate precisely what that something should be. 
(Likewise, practical problems will impel a society to create institutions to 
deal with those problems.) The man's (or society's) knowledge, values and 
ideas will be the governing factors in what actions are chosen (or what 
institutions are created). Another example: Loneliness doesn't tell you WHO 
you need, only that someone is missing. It is up to you to define the 
emptiness of your soul, and make an appropriate choice of companions. 
   Pleasure is like hunger or loneliness--it only tells you that something 
feels good, it does not tell you that the thing is actually beneficial to 
your life. Thus we see that a little child will get sick after indulging in 
the pleasure of eating too much candy, or an adult will die of lung cancer 
after indulging in the pleasure of smoking too many cigarettes. 
   To hold pleasure itself as a fundamental value is to operate on the 
principle of hedonism. This view of life is not limited merely to those who 
seek continual stimulation by food, drink, and sex. Another form of the same 
principle is represented by the adventurer, who seeks the stimulant of risk. 
And another form can be seen in the connoisseur, who seeks refinement in his 
pleasures. Pleasure as a central value may take many different forms. The 
underlying flaw that unites them all is the attitude that the meaning of 
life lies in the immediate experience of pleasure. 
   But in that immediacy lies the problem with making pleasure one's central 
value. Human life is lived through time. As Aristotle observed, it is the 
integrated sum of a lengthy series of events. Someone who pursues pleasure 
as a basic value tends to discover at some point that his life has not added 
up to anything, that he has drifted along without significant achievements. 
Pleasure pursued as a primary value leads to a hollow spirit, unlike the 
kind of enjoyment that is a response to values one has created. It is 
pleasing to see a beautiful garden, but there is a much deeper sort of 
pleasure in the sight of a garden one has designed, planted, and cultivated 

   * The Nature of Fiction 
   To fully satisfy our need for spiritual inspiration, we need to nourish 
ourselves on ideas at a certain level of complexity and sophistication. 
   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 MUST 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. Consider it as "an entity 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 

   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 existence 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 existentialization 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 attempts 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. 

   * 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. 

   * 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 iinterprets 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, for 
example, are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash, 
we have very little reason to be interested in them. 

   Laughter is an expression of your own identity, your own perceptions and 
your own judgments. That's why it is so disliked by tyrants--except when it 
is mandated as a response to their view of humor. 

   * 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? 

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