Tag Archives: Arts

Follow-up to session #17

Atlas
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In session #17, we read and discussed Ayn Rand‘s ideas about the meaning and purpose of art, as she expressed them in “The Romantic Manifesto“.

Art expresses the artist’s values. When we see or hear art, we are exposed to those values. Those values are expressed in the colours, movements, shapes, words, sounds, choice of subject matter, etc. Everything in the work of art is chosen by the artist, it is not there by mistake or accident (usually!). What guides the artist’s choice? His or her value system, or system of ethics.

Art affects us emotionally, but also cognitively. Usually, we are aware of our emotional response, but not always aware of our cognitive response.

This is why art is used in propaganda: it is so powerful because it affects people emotionally. Perhaps this is a good reason to teach art in schools: so that young people can learn to not only respond emotionally to art but also consider it cognitively (by thinking).

Finally, Rand considered herself a Romantic (with a capital “R”!), rather than a Realist or Naturalist, and she shared many characteristics with other, earlier, Romantic artists, for example, an admiration for the artistic, energetic individual who is unique and intelligent and creative and free. However, most Romantic artists in the 19th century were against the intellect and logic and preferred emotion and feeling and intuition. In this respect, Rand differed from the Romantics.

The 19th century Romantics were reacting against the earlier Classicism; Rand’s Romanticism was a reaction against the Realism and Naturalism that dominated in the 20th century.

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Session #6: The Unreliable Narrator (and the epistolary novel) April 1st, 2009

Kazuo Ishiguro (b.
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In today’s session, we read an extract from Kazuo Ishiguro‘s novel The Remains of the Day, as an example of “the unreliable narrator” technique.

We also read an extract from Michael Frayn‘s The Trick of It (1989), as an example of the epistolary novel.

We had a long discussion about The Remains of the Day, with different opinions about Mr Steven’s character, personality, and morality.

The BBC interviewed Kazuo Ishiguro in November 2004, and you can listen to the interview here (in English only, and no text, unfortunately). There is a 2006 interview with Ishiguro published in Japanese here (no audio; text only).

A famous example of an exchange of letters which I referred to today was 84 Charing Cross Road (I believe I told you “85” and that was incorrect). This is not fiction, however, so it cannot accurately be called an epistolary novel. (It was made into a movie in 1987, which, like the movie Remains of the Day also starred Anthony Hopkins.)

The next session will be April 22nd, and the topic will be “Defamiliarization” (in Japanese 異化).

Once again, thanks for coming and for joining in and making it such a lively event.

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