Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Rehearsal Update

Last night's rehearsal of Witness For the Prosecution went well. The cast is talented and the director is good. If a director just lets me act without getting in the way, then I'm happy. The play is a tightly-plotted courtroom melodrama that keeps you guessing whodunnit and then throws in some wild plot twists at the end -- exactly what you would expect from Agatha Christie. It is rewarding to work with a group of committed actors to create a work of art.

I'm posting this because I am all too often negative on this blog and I want to make an effort to celebrate my values more. As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." Being passionate about one's values is, like excellence, a trait that grows stronger by doing the act. In an ominous time, such as the current age, one has to make the extra effort to love life.


Kriegsgefahrzustand said...

I commend you on your efforts. I too have thought about trying to focus on some positive things. Of course my results have been somewhat mixed in that regard, but I am glad to see someone can pull it off!

Please keep us all informed, its a pleasure to read something good once in a while!

softwareNerd said...

I've seen the movie and loved it.

EdMcGon said...

In all things, there must be balance. With too much optimism, one would appear to be unrealistic. With too much pessimism, one would appear cynical.

I think you found your balance.

Myrhaf said...

Thanks K and Ed. Softwarenerd, you're right, the movie is worth seeing.

Acting in this play I'm gaining a greater appreciation of Dame Christie's skill at plot writing.

Dismuke said...

Myrhaf -

I, too, have found myself trying to regain and maintain my "benevolent universe premise" in recent months. I am usually a fairly optimistic sort and have been occasionally put off by the amount of gloominess and pessimism that I sometimes see displayed by other Objectivists in their postings in various venues. Now, suddenly, I find myself somewhat infected by that pessimism bug. A lot of the things that have been in the news in recent months - both in politics, in Objectivism and in certain other areas in the culture that are of concern to me - sort of happened all at once. I simply did not seem them coming and it really caught me off guard. I hate being gloomy and pessimistic - it is not a feeling that I especially feel at home with. So, like you, I am trying to get a better perspective back more or less by conscious focus and deliberate effort.

It really is rather dumb to let news stories and the direction of the culture have too much of an impact on one's life. It is easy enough to allow it to happen, however. We passionately root for or long for the emergence of good guys to come along and are disgusted and outraged by the bad guys and, of course, we worry about the potential impact it will have on our lives and the lives of the people we care about.

But imagine for a moment that you lived in America during the same period that Ayn Rand did. Let's see.... you would have experienced the Roaring '20s, a truly wonderful era full of hope, optimism and an era which I maintain was the zenith of American popular culture and then , out of the blue, you would have suddenly been subjected to the Great Depression. Then you would have had to watch FDR and the New Deal attempt to dismantle capitalism and watch FDR attempt his Hugo Chavez style attempt to pack the Supreme Court which he fortunately failed to get away with explicitly (though, of course, it could not help but have a "chilling effect" on the existing court). You would have witnessed the rise of Hitler and, if you had sources of news outside the New York Slimes which had a corrupt communist correspondent in Moscow who painted a rosy picture of the USSR (some things never change, do they?), you would have been aware of the murderous doings of Stalin. You would have watched Nevil Chamberlain behave like George Bush, Clinton and Madeline Albright do today. You would have watched the French roll over and surrender in the early days of World War II (something else that doesn't seem to change). You would have listened to news reports about Pearl Harbor on your radio set. You would have seen the consequences of Yalta. You would have watched the Soviets after World War II steal nuclear technology as a result of communist sympathizers in our government leaking them secrets and lived under the nuclear fears of the Cold War. You would have watched the counterculture happen where slimy, filthy drugged-out savages (some of whom are now in high political office) roamed the streets and shat on everything that had once been wonderful and great in our culture. You would have watched the ugliness of the 1960s and 1970s and the gas lines and double digit inflation of the 1970s. You would have watched Jimmy Carter dither during the Iran hostage crisis.

Ayn Rand died in 1982 - too soon to see the uptick and limited improvement in certain aspects of our popular culture which followed. She was in her late 70s so that would have been a more or less average lifespan for people who lived during that period of history.

Now, imagine for a moment that a person who lived during this period followed the news to such a degree and was so passionate about what he saw that he allowed it to get in the way of his being able to enjoy life to the fullest degree that was possible during that time. If you look back, while things I described were all very horrible, there WERE a lot of wonderful values open to people and a lot of things happening that would have been great to be a part of - especially in the years prior to the counterculture when certain aspects of the 1920s still managed to have a benevolent afterglow in our culture. Wouldn't it have been a sad and tragic WASTE of a perfectly good lifetime? As bad as the news stories and the journalistic events of the era were - well, I can think of a lot of period in history and places on earth which were far less wonderful in every single respect.

That's what I try to think of when the news of the day makes me feel too gloomy.

edmcgon -

It may be trite and over used, but I really like the expression of "viewing the glass as half full and not half empty" - or, if one cannot say that, then at least being able to say the glass is a quarter full and not three-quarters empty. I like it because it achieves that balance you mention. It is realistic in that it does provide an accurate acknowledgment of where the water mark actually is - but at the same time keeps one's focus on values and that which is potentially possible.

dismuke said...

I was very fond of Agatha Christie novels when I was in high school. It has been years since I last read one - or even gave much thought to them. I really ought to give them a try again and see how I like them after coming back to them with a more mature and adult perspective.

Has anyone here read P.G. Wodehouse? His stuff has been on my "to do when I get some time" list for a while now primarily out of curiosity caused by the number of Wodehouse fan websites that link to my website and online radio station. Apparently his works are all set in the early 1900s - so that aspect of it I am sure I will enjoy. But I wonder how the Objectivist in me will respond to his writing style.

EdMcGon said...

I personally prefer the contrarian point of view. Since people tend to be cynical more than optimistic, I tend to be happier. ;)