Thursday, October 18, 2012

Round Valley Reservoir and Ancient Greece: Shoreline Rainbow Trout in Abundance

 With the camera I told a Bedminster friend--after my son's recent football game loss--never loses, I shot these photos. Interjection--my natural grammar (lack of it!!!) is ancient Greek. That's how I spoke in my teens. Very often. And it's how I wrote before revision, and grammar is still difficult. Ancient Greek is a straight line.

Surprised by best neighbor friend arriving on the scene. He's the guy in the photo below, blown away by the energy in the air. Steve and I have no plans at all but the agreement that another fortuitous lunch meet at the reservoir would be nice, my getting some more photos than I have today.

The Western Dream is gloriously more than west of the continental divide.

One of the anglers shore fishing rainbows called me over from my perch where I photographed. A whole school of close to a dozen rainbows, the largest about 20 inches, foraged in the broken whitecaps, the sediment roiled by the blow from the south. 70 degrees. Right there. Eight feet from my legs. You can make them out in my last shot.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Why Ayn Rand Despised Ronald Reagan and What Capitalism Really Is

Litton's Line expands upon angling. I didn't anticipate with the first post that the blog would communicate so many ranging ideas, but I am well aware it's still only a blog. I type very little compared to what I pen in notebooks.

I read Atlas Shrugged in Brant Beach, New Jersey, at age 21, and felt very pleased that Ayn Rand: 1. Voiced an appreciation for given nature through her character Rearden. I would expect this. All true creators begin with elemental nature, and as far as I know, all have personally spent time in the wilds to absorb nature. 2. I felt distinctly thrilled that a woman is described fishing in Galt's Gulch.

But I felt much more than thrilled to later read of clammers in The Simplest Thing in the World. A deep level of plot suggests itself. Living in Brant Beach during the summer of 1982 when I read Atlas, I clammed to earn a living, and I held commercial licenses for each of 13 years beginning 1980. Long Beach Island, New Jersey, became my home and yet sort of an outpost from which I would later return to live in mainstream society, my purpose at the shore to study and write. I had come upon some of Rand's works on my mother's bookshelf during that first summer of 1980 doing this self-employed work. I took her novella Anthem back to Beach Haven Crest to read. 

No reading experience before or after has ever enthralled me to such intense degree. When I enrolled at St. John's College, Annapolis, for the spring semester of 1982, one of my fellow "Febbies" (students who enrolled in the spring) made a sarcastic comment about how stupidly simple Anthem is. I find it lean, spare, and direct with an amazing power to elevate, if you are young and know what it's like to be marginal for being intellectually gifted.

Rand herself never liked that description of giftedness. Her whole emphasis is on what we achieve, not on what is given to us, and yet each of us is born with a given potential, and I think it's important to begin with that and honor it as a birthright. 

This primary motivation from native consciousness connects me with the ultimate substance of originality. Postmodernism claims nothing original can be done anymore, but this misses the point. Originality is a matter of beginning anew from fundamental truths, which Rand encourages her readers to grasp. Ultimately, it's not a matter of truths restated in pastiche arrangements, but an act of union with what Rand named the metaphysically given, and fishermen call the great outdoors. 

I wrote a paper at Hampshire College on Ingmar Bergman's character Isak Borg in the film Wild Strawberries, a title which might obliquely recall The Beatles, but for me the theme of Borg's alienation from nature became readily apparent, and though the paper came as a surprise to my instructor, John Roosevelt Boettiger, he lavishly praised it as thorough and insightful. Boettiger happened to be Franklin Delano Roosevelt's grandson, and even though my politics were and are radically pro-capitalist, rather than quite liberal as FDR began the tradition, John and I began a dialogue I wish had gone further. 

More important than capitalism as a system of produce and money, the system of the mind begins at the bottom, not at an indoctrinated top tier cut off from origins. 

I think the question of our times involves whether we will regain original substance, whether we will unify with nature and create culture and civility, or whether we will collapse like a top-heavy skyscraper with no grounding on bedrock.   

Most of the stay I mentioned at the shore, we clammers shelled it out during the Reagan years, and it never surprised me that before her death in 1982, Rand utterly despised him. I don't think this indicates her "alienation from reality," as came out in a published conversation between Nathanial Branden and someone else I don't recall. Reagan was a conservative. Rand clearly not a conservative, but a radical. The fitting definition for radical she offered is common in dictionaries. It means, "to the root," a metaphor for the origins of nutritional substances. And although an actor, Reagan's affinity with art and philosophy is dubious. Even though I came upon a writing sample of Reagan's in Artful Sentences by Virginia Tufte that moved me as revealing a poignant gift for experience portrayed in poetic language, why, I ask, is no President like Thomas Jefferson present in today's world, or Abraham Lincoln with his profound literary grasp? And though I read Theodore Roosevelt's The Strenuous Life with trepidation for what I felt to be an inflated assertiveness--after all, that life didn't last long--he was a man of passion, literature, science and the outdoors. 

Rand made it abundantly clear that every human being has affinity for art in order to have any motive and a necessity of philosophy to be able to think and guide any of those motives, and yet many conservatives lack profoundly in the personal qualities of culture that art and philosophy create. I don't mean to blame them, but enjoin them to take part. Remember that art and philosophy serve schooling secondarily. It's not as if an either/or division necessarily exists between great American can-do, on the one hand, and "books" on the other. It's not even necessary to graduate with a four-year degree to become educated. I never did. A bookshelf is needed, but never forget that Galileo implored people to learn from nature, more than he urged them to read. Nevertheless, reading is practical like anything else, and it does wonders for making the will effective at doing anything.  

Consider that personal value is ultimately intellectual and hard won, because without thought and effort, no one can emerge by any name. This is exactly why education should never be made into a game of testing, and shared essay writing, for example. The essence of capitalism is art and philosophy, for without art there is no motivation, thus no incentive--personal, business, or otherwise--since any form of driven achievement is emotional in nature while being rational in essence. Without philosophy there is no reasoning to guide any choice whatsoever.

I cannot hit the mark directly to reveal the reason of Ayn Rand's contempt for Ronald Reagan, but have a look at America today and consider judgment.