Sean Connery, RIP

My all-time favorite 007, Sean Connery, has died, at the age of 90. From the moment I heard him say, “Bond, James Bond” [YouTube link] in “Dr. No” through his Oscar-winning turn as Jimmy Malone in the 1987 film version of “The Untouchables,” he provided us with some of the most entertaining moments in modern cinema.

In addition to that Oscar, Connery was the winner of two BAFTA Awards, three Golden Globes (including the Cecil B. DeMille Award) and a Kennedy Center Honor.

RIP, Sean.

Song of the Day #1819

Song of the Day: It’s the End of the World As We Know features the words and music of Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe, who provides the lead vocals to this R.E.M. staple. The song has been covered by many artists, but it was prominently featured in the 1996 Armageddon-like sci-fi film, “Independence Day,” which, though it refers to another holiday, seems perfectly appropriate for a Spooky Halloween—though not as spooky as that other upcoming “holiday”: Election Day! Check out the R.E.M. original video single.

“Dialectics of Liberty” reviewed in JARS: Thumbs Up …

As I mentioned yesterday, the concluding issue of the twentieth anniversary volume of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies was officially published on JSTOR—as hard copies are on their way to print subscribers.

In this December 2020 issue of the journal, another publication close to heart was reviewed: The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, coedited by Roger E. Bissell, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, and Edward W. Younkins. The review essay, written by Allen Mendenhall, can be found on JSTOR here.

It’s always a bit awkward inviting a colleague to review a book you’ve co-edited for a journal of which you are a founding co-editor! But when I approached Allen, I simply told him, in essence: Just because I’m a founding coeditor of the journal and a coeditor of DOL doesn’t mean you have to give us Two Thumbs Up. I asked of him only that he mention those authors in the anthology who were members of the JARS editorial board (Robert L. Campbell, Roderick T. Long, and me) or advisory board (Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas B. Rasmussen), or contributors to past issues of the journal (Roger Bissell, Ed Younkins, Steve Horwitz, Gary Chartier, and Troy Camplin), which would at least provide us with some context as to why the review is appearing in the journal. Yes, context-keeping applies even to reviews of books about the art of context-keeping!

Then, I told him: “Take no prisoners, and have fun!”

And that he did. Allen gave us a really wonderful review. An excerpt can be found on the book’s home page here. But here’s a key comment:

The … chapters … are broad in scope, treating such expansive and seminal concepts as freedom, reality, and human flourishing and such elemental philosophical fields as logic, epistemology, metaphysics, and ontology. They send a message, namely that the editors are “thinking big,” calling into question whole schools of thought and promoting approaches to inquiry that are primary, essential, and comprehensive. They’re hitting the reset button. …

DOL is a wide-ranging volume colored with the unique voices and personalities of its various contributors. Yet it is united in purpose and models the dialectical method that it celebrates. [Contributor John F.] Welsh registers a memorable line that supplies fitting closure to this review. “A volume dedicated to the ‘dialectics of liberty,'” he states, “provides a wonderful opportunity to explore not only the interstices at which dialectical and libertarian theory overlap, but how the two might enhance each other for the benefit of advocacy for individual freedom, free markets, and minimal government.”

I concur. And The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom is that volume.

Folks looking to pick up a copy of the anthology can still do so at the heavily discounted rate of $5 per softcover book (with a $5 shipping charge no matter how many copies you order). There are only a dozen or so books left at this special rate. Please visit the DOL Discount Page and let Paypal do the rest!

Song of the Day #1818

Song of the Day: End of the World features the words and music of Ian Axel and Chad King, the duo who make up A Great Big World. In this single, from their 2015 album, “When the Morning Comes,” the lead singer tells us “I’m gonna love you” even if we “go out with a bang” and “the city burns to the ground.” Indeed, love is all we have to get us through. Even as we march toward the abyss of Nihilistic November! Check out the infectious (no pun intended) groove of this song here [YouTube link].

New JARS News

Back on October 11, 2020, I announced the publication of the December 2020 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. As noted in my previous announcement, this completes the twentieth anniversary volume of the journal. Two decades of critical, independent, interdisciplinary Rand scholarship to celebrate! (Abstracts of the essays from the current issue are available here; contributor biographies are available here.)

Today, I have some follow-up news: JSTOR has just published the new issue. Subscribers can find the contents here. Print subscribers should be receiving their hard copies in the coming weeks.

But I have additional news to share! As readers no doubt know, we are abstracted and indexed by nearly two dozen services. Today, we have been added by the European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences (ERIH PLUS). With a significant expansion in our subscriber and reader base and in our accessibility through libraries worldwide, our global reach expands as well. This important reference index will further enhance that reach.

Happy Twentieth Anniversary to JARS! To many more milestones to come!

The Conclusion to the Twentieth Anniversary Volume of JARS

Song of the Day #1817

Song of the Day: The End of the World, words and music by Ronnie James Dio and Craig Goldy, appears on the 2004 album, “Master of the Moon” by the rock band Dio. Delivered with the band’s characteristic Doom / Heavy Metal  sound, it’s a fitting part of our 7-day apocalyptic celebration that will conclude on the Third Day of Nihilistic November! Check it out here [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #1816

Song of the Day: The End of the World, music by Arthur Kent, lyrics by Sylvia Dee, was a crossover Skeeter Davis hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (#2), Hot Country Singles (#2), Hot R&B Singles (#4), and Easy Listening (#1) charts. Over the next seven days, I will be featuring compositions that include the phrase “end of the world” in their song titles. There have been more than two dozen songs recorded with that phrase in the title and countless others devoted to apocalyptic visions of things to come. But I’ve decided to pick just seven songs, touching on themes both personal and political. Folks have wondered why have I not talked much about the upcoming election. Why have I not made any predictions or endorsements? Does it matter? Given how entrenched everybody’s opinions are with regard to the godawful selections before us—and I acknowledge only that some selections are more godawful than others—I know that nothing I say will change anybody’s mind. After a sustained period of pandemics, lockdowns, racial, civil, and political upheaval, protests and riots, hurricanes, massive fires, and flooding—and the year ain’t over folks—I have decided to embrace gallows humor as a coping device! Hellish projections are coming from all sides of the political spectrum as we march toward the upcoming U.S. Presidential election on November 3rd. I dedicate the next week to songs about the “end of the world.” Don’t resist it! Revel in nihilism just a bit—and let’s sing our way into the apocalypse! Here is the first song—and one of the best—to ever use the Phrase of the Moment in its title: the classic original 1962 recording by Skeeter Davis [YouTube link]. Check out other renditions by Brenda Lee, the Carpenters, Sonia, Pat Carroll, Mike Wallace & the Caretakers, Patti Page, Allison Paige, Susan Boyle, Herman’s Hermits, Vonda Shepard, and two “terror-tinged” takes from Anika and, from the psychological horror film, “mother!“, Patti Smith [YouTube links].

JARS: Our Twentieth Anniversary Celebration Concludes

I am delighted and deeply honored to announce the publication of the second of two issues celebrating the twentieth anniversary of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. The December 2020 issue will be making its debut shortly on JSTOR; print subscribers should expect the second of these two historic issues in the weeks thereafter.

Issue #40 (Volume 20, Number 2) – December 2020

As I mentioned back on June 5, 2020, we decided to devote two issues to reviewing those works in the general area of Rand studies, which have never been critically appraised in our pages. The list of works reviewed in this second issue of volume 20 are:

The Vision of Ayn Rand: The Basic Principles of Objectivism, by Nathaniel Branden

Think as If Your Life Depends on It: Principles of Efficient Thinking and Other Lectures, by Barbara Branden

The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, edited by Roger E. Bissell, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, and Edward W. Younkins

Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government, by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins

Foundations of a Free Society: Reflections on Ayn Rand’s Political Philosophy, edited by Gregory Salmieri and Robert Mayhew

Culture and Liberty: Writings of Isabel Paterson, by Isabel Paterson (edited by Stephen Cox)

Myth, Meaning, and Antifragile Individualism: On the Ideas of Jordan Peterson, by Marc Champagne

Ayn Rand: An Introduction, by Eamonn Butler

Atlas Rising: Ayn Rand and Silicon Valley by The Atlas Rising Institute

Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed, by Lisa Duggan

Bucking the Artworld Tide: Reflections on Art, Pseudo Art, Art Education & Theory, by Michelle Marder Kamhi

The Soul of Atlas: Ayn Rand, Christianity, a Quest for Common Ground, by Mark David Henderson

The Perfectionist Turn: From Metanorms to Metaethics, by Douglas J. Den Uyl and Douglas B. Rasmussen

***

As is the case with every issue, we have introduced at least one new contributor to the JARS family. This issue brings debut pieces from four new contributors: Onar Am, Alec Mouhibian, Molly Sechrest, and Amos Wollen.

Here is our Table of Contents for Volume 20, Number 2 (the abstracts can be found here; contributor biographies can be found here):

The Man Who Would Be Galt – Dennis C. Hardin

Something That Used to Be Objectivism: Barbara Branden’s Psycho-Epistemology – Robert L. Campbell

The Dialectics of Liberty – Allen Mendenhall

Free Market Revolution: Partial or Complete? – Chris Matthew Sciabarra

From Defiant Egoist to Submissive Citizen: Is There a Bridge? Why the Hell Is There a Bridge? – Roderick T. Long

Goddess of the Republic – Alec Mouhibian

Peterson, Rand, and Antifragile Individualism – Onar Am

Introducing Ayn Rand – Edward W. Younkins

Silicon Rand – Troy Camplin

Ayn Rand: Mean Girl? – Mimi Reisel Gladstein

Bucking the Artworld Tide – Molly Sechrest

Ayn Rand and Christianity: The Virtuous Parallels – Amos Wollen

The Perfectionist Turn – David Gordon

Eudaimon in the Rough: Perfecting Rand’s Egoism – Roger E. Bissell

Index to Volume 20

Those seeking to subscribe to the journal should visit the sites linked here. And—as we march into the third decade of this remarkable journal—those wishing to submit manuscripts for consideration should follow the instructions here.

Once again, I wish to express my deepest appreciation to my co-editors, our board of advisors, our contributors, and most of all, our readers, without whom we would never have been able to publish this grand finale—the longest single issue in the history of our journal—to our twentieth anniversary volume.

As I said in the Introduction to Volume 20, Number 1: “Here’s to another two decades and beyond of JARS triumphs . . . two decades, or until such time as Rand studies have so penetrated the literary and philosophic canon that specialized journals of this nature are no longer required.”

Whitey Ford, RIP

I just learned that legendary New York Yankees pitcher, Whitey Ford, died last night at the age of 91.

A native New Yorker, the Hall of Fame left-hander pitched with the Yankees through eleven pennants and six World Series championships (earning the World Series MVP in 1961). He was a Cy Young Award winner and ten-time All-Star, a true baseball great whose #16 was retired to Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park.

The Yankees could use a little Whitey Ford magic tonight as they face off against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth and deciding game of the Division Series, which catapults the winner into a best-of-seven series against the Houston Astros (grrrr…). This Yankee fan will settle for a great game from pitcher Gerrit Cole and some fireworks from the Yankee line-up.

In mourning the passing of the Chairman of the Board (not to be confused with that other Chairman of the Board), I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it was just last Friday, that the baseball world lost another pitching giant: Bob Gibson (who died at the age of 84). This, after the loss, in September, of the great Tom Seaver.

I know this has been a screwed-up baseball season—a mirror image of a screwed-up year. All the more reason to celebrate the stars of baseball’s yesteryear, as we cherish whatever the great American pastime has to offer us today, tomorrow, or in future seasons!

RIP, Whitey; RIP, Bob.

Postscript (10 October 2020): Alas, the Yanks coulda used a couple of more hitters last night… no American League Pennant or World Series this year. Good luck to the Tampa Bay Rays—here’s hoping they beat those Cheatin’, Lyin’ Astros, and go all the way, to bring to their city a World Series Championship to match the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup Win.

Postscript (15 October 2020): Sadly, I failed to note the passing of three other Hall of Famers this year: Lou Brock (September 6, 2020) and Joe Morgan (October 11, 2020). And way back on April 6th: Al Kaline. RIP.

Eddie Van Halen, RIP

There are so many articles and posts that have been written in memory of the legendary rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who died yesterday at the age of 65. I couldn’t begin to do justice to the legacy he left behind as one of the most influential rock guitarists of his generation.

But one story did give me a chuckle—as well as insights into Van Halen’s creative contributions, even to other artist’s work. Several writers, including Denise Quan, Damian Jones, and Hillel Italie, recount the story of how the great Quincy Jones contacted the guitarist to provide what would become a sizzling, memorable star-turn solo for Michael Jackson‘s groundbreaking “Beat It” from his 1982 album, “Thriller“—transforming that song into a bona fide Grammy-winning Record of the Year. As Italie writes:

Before Eddie Van Halen agreed to add a guitar break to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” one of the most famous cameos in rock history, he had to be sure the phone call from producer Quincy Jones wasn’t a practical joke.

“I went off on him. I went, ‘What do you want, you f-ing so-and-so!,’ ” Van Halen told CNN in 2012, 30 years after he worked on the song. “And he goes, ‘Is this Eddie?’ I said, ‘Yeah, what the hell do you want?’ ‘This is Quincy.’ I’m thinking to myself, ‘I don’t know anyone named Quincy.’ He goes, ‘Quincy Jones, man.’ I went, ‘Ohhh, sorry!’ ”

Van Halen, who died Tuesday at age 65, needed less than an hour in the studio and 20 scorching seconds on record to join white heavy metal to Black pop at a time when they seemed in entirely different worlds, when the young MTV channel rarely aired videos by Black artists. “Beat It” became one of the signature tracks on Jackson’s mega-selling “Thriller” album, won Grammys in 1984 for record of the year and male rock vocal performance and helped open up MTV’s programming.

When Van Halen arrived at the studio in Los Angeles, Jones told him he could improvise. Van Halen listened to “Beat It,” asked if he could rearrange the song and added a pair of solos during which, engineers would long swear, a speaker caught on fire.

As he was finishing, Jackson walked in. “I didn’t know how he would react to what I was doing. So I warned him before he listened. I said, ‘Look, I changed the middle section of your song,’ ” Van Halen told CNN. “Now in my mind, he’s either going to have his bodyguards kick me out for butchering his song, or he’s going to like it. And so he gave it a listen, and he turned to me and went, ‘Wow, thank you so much for having the passion to not just come in and blaze a solo, but to actually care about the song, and make it better.’ ” …

After the record’s release, Van Halen would remember shopping in a Tower Records while “Beat It” was playing on the sound system. “The solo comes on, and I hear these kids in front of me going, ‘Listen to this guy trying to sound like Eddie Van Halen,’” he said. “I tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘That IS me!’ That was hilarious.”

Another amazingly talented musician has left us. And for those who forgot how good he sounded on “Beat It”—check out the Bob Girardi-directed video again:

RIP, Eddie.

Postscript (8 October 2020): Courtesy of my cousin Michael Turzilli, I learned that there was footage from the Victory Tour—the only time Eddie Van Halen appeared on-stage with Michael Jackson (and the Jacksons) to perform “Beat It” live in concert in Texas. Apparently, once word got out that Eddie had done this, his record label pretty much said: “There will be no more of that.” Check it out below!