Louis Sullivan: The Art of Expression: One

[Note: The text is from Kindergarten Chats, condensed and edited]

Why do you do this? To help you make of yourself an interpreter, a poet. And why should I be a poet? In order that you may evince power of interpretation, and extol poetry in your useful art. And how can I express poetry in my art?

As one expresses poetry in anything–by first living it. For poetry is life. To express life we must know life, and understand it in its bearings. To know the simplicity of all life we must grasp its complexity;we must view it from many angles, envisage its many moods and seeming contrarieties; and to know its complexity we must grasp, with all the power of understanding its deep-down simplicity. To know the soul we must arouse the soul, liberate it and let it face the open and move in the open until it knows not fear.

Nature is ever the background across which man moves as in a drama. So have I taken you to Nature, to show you how our moods parallel her moods; how her problems parallel our problems, to make plain to you what man may read in Nature’s book, to the end that her processes may be our processes: that we may absorb somewhat of her fertility of recourse, her admirable logic, her progression from function into form, her fluency, her lyric quality–her poetic finalities.

Should man do less in satisfying his utilitarian needs! It is the function of the poet, in whatever walk of life, to regard these things, to make them his own; to express them in his work: whatever those works, whatever his special activities may be.

You cannot express, whatever your walk in life, unless you have a system of expression; and you cannot have a system of expression unless you have a prior system of cognate thinking and feeling; and you cannot have a system of thinking and feeling unless you have had a basic system of living.

When all is said and done, the great masterpiece, or the little masterpiece, whatever its kind, is but the condensed expression of such philosophy as is held by the worker who creates it. It stands for his views, his more or less ripened, organized and rounded views of Nature, of Man as an entity in Nature, of his fellow men, of his views and convictions concerning the human mind, the human heart and soul, and the progress and destiny of the race: in short, his philosophy of life.

To assume that man may create a great work without in his own way having held a communion with the flow of life, without having in his own way contemplated humanity–would be to express crudely what is crudely thought. To fancy, languorously, that a man may create a great work by reproducing a Greek temple, or any past vital work, is an example in such crude vacuity of thinking: indeed, the misapplication of the very notion of thinking. It is simply minus-thinking. A great work is, always, a great individual expression; the expression of a single thought or a single mood born of a contemplative, active, clear-sighted creative mind.

For a great work, must be an organism–that is, possessed of a life of its own; an individual life that functionates in all its parts; and which find its variations in expression in the variations of its main function, and in the consequent, continuous systematic variations in form, as the organic complexity of expression unfolds: all proceeding from one single impulse of desire to express our day and our needs: to seek earnestly and faithfully to satisfy those needs. To make our world a pleasant place.

Do not mistake my meaning, nor my attitude towards the great works of the men of the past. None can, I believe, venerate them more sincerely than do I, nor more clearly and gratefully discern their beauty, their worth, their inspiring evidence of what man can do when he wills. Bus such appraisal, such enthusiasm would go to nought were I to stultify both myself and them by denying them their privacy.

For, my lad, beauty has not really departed from the sons of Earth.
Nor is high thinking but a memory of days gone.
Nor is the winsome art of saying done for.
Nor has the power of man forsaken him.
If he has lost them, on his way, he has but to call to them:
They will answer and come gladly.
His spirit will revive.

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Atlas Shrugged Movie Report: May 8, 2011

1. After it’s fourth weekend, Atlas Shrugged movie has taken in a total of $4.2
Million at the box office. Last weekend it played in 228 theaters taking in around $137,000 averaging a low $600 per theater.

2. Atlas Shrugged has remained steady in Amazon’s top 100 Bestseller list at around #50 for the past week.

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Atlas Shrugged Movie Report: Aglialoro Shrugged?

1. On April 22, John Aglialoro’s company Cybex announced that a $62 million judgement had been entered against it with respect to a December 2010 jury verdict in a product liability lawsuit. See the news item here. This judgement equals half the annual revenues of the company. The company is appealing the award. I am saddened that Atlas Shrugged is looking more and more like reality, in this case at a personal level. This is perhaps a part of the context for the future of the Atlas Shrugged Movie.

2. In an interview in LA Times, Mr. Aglialoro complained bitterly about the treatment of the movie by critics, and attributed the poor second weekend performance of the movie to the critical reviews. “”Critics, you won,” said John Aglialoro, the businessman who spent 18 years and more than $20 million of his own money to make, distribute and market “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1,” which covers the first third of Rand’s dystopian novel. “I’m having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2.” ”

3. I do not think that the critics had the power to influence the performance of the movie: a) The producers ran a brilliant grassroots campaign for very little cost that was effective in getting the fans in to see the movie in the first weekend. b) The conservative press had largely positive reviews of the movie and recommended the movie. c) The liberal press, which consists of most of the “critics”, covered the movie in droves, getting the movie a windfall of free publicity. d) Palpable in most of the critical reviews in the liberal press was an undisguised hatred of Ayn Rand’s ideas–if anything, that would entice an Ayn Rand fan to see the movie.

4. The pattern of success of Ayn Rand’s novels was a slow buildup through word of mouth, followed by sales for many, many years. The DVD/Netflix medium is well suited for that kind of pattern of sales, but the big screen is not. Relative to the box office revenues, the DVD/Netflix revenues of this movie are likely to be higher than expected. The producers have already built a great network of people interested in the movie–they should be able to use it in the next phases to drive revenues. The success of the movie will be limited by factors such as the size of the market, the speed of transmission of word of mouth, effective use of social media to market it, and the production quality of the movie–not Roger Ebert, et. al.

5. The decision of whether to make Part 2 and Part 3 is entirely Mr. Aglialoro’s to make. We are all capitalists, each of us has our own context, and multiple options exist to make the most of the assets one has built. By demonstrating that a decent Atlas Shrugged Movie can be made and marketed in today’s culture, Mr. Aglialoro might have increased the resale value of his rights to make Part 2 and Part 3 of the movie. Perhaps someone who thinks he can make a better Part 2 & 3, and make more money doing it will make Mr. Aglialoro an offer.

6. The movie will be playing in around 400 theaters in it’s third weekend, and Atlas Shrugged holds #30 on Amazon’s Bestseller list.

7. Update: From Mr. Aglialoro’s interview with The Hollywood Reporter on April 27 “The man who says he spent $10 million of his own money to bring Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 to the big screen vowed Wednesday to go through with his plans to make the next two installments, even though critics hate the movie and business at movie theaters has fallen off a cliff.” It looks like the remarks to LA Times were made in the heat of the moment. Stay tuned.

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Atlas Shrugged Movie Report: April 25, 2011

1. The second weekend numbers for the Atlas Shrugged Movie have been disappointing. The movie played in 465 theaters, up from 299 theaters the first weekend. In spite of the number of theaters going up by 50%, the receipts fell 48% to $880,000. Per theater receipts fell from $5,600 to $1,900. A falling of revenue in the second week is common, but the fall appears to be sharper than expected. I do not know what it means to the plans of opening the movie in additional theaters this coming weekend. We should be seeing the announcement regarding that soon on the official theater listing page.

2. My polls on Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand have generated over 1,850+ responses so far. My favorite poll so far with 550+ answers is “What single idea of Ayn Rand has had the maximum impact on your life?” See all the answers and participate in all the polls here.

3. Atlas Shrugged has held steady in Top 20 around #19 in the Amazon’s Bestseller list for around a week.

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Atlas Shrugged Movie Report: April 20, 2011

1. Great News! “Business has been brisk enough for producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro to expand from 299 theaters to 425 this weekend and to 1,000 by the end of the month, they told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday. The two said they fielded 500 inquiries from theater bookers Monday but didn’t have enough film prints to fill orders. ‘Things have turned for us,’ Kaslow said. “When we started, exhibitors were not embracing the film like we thought they would. Now, we can pretty much go into as many theaters as we want. It’s just a matter of logistics.’ ”
How ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Shocked Hollywood’s Marketing Machine – The Hollywood Reporter

2. See reactions of hundreds of Objectivists to the Atlas Shrugged Movie in Atlas Shrugged Movie & Ayn Rand Polls (Over 650+ answers and counting…)

3. After rocketing all the way up to #4 on Amazon’s Bestseller list over the weekend, Atlas Shrugged remains in Top 20.

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Atlas Shrugged Movie & Ayn Rand Polls (Over 4,000+ answers and counting…)

Who are your Top 5 Heroes of all time?
Add your own answer, and see others’ answers. Over 2000+ answers already!

What is your most favorite scene in Atlas Shrugged?
Add your own answer, and see others’ answers. Over 50+ answers already!

Who is your favorite character in Atlas Shrugged and Why?
Add your own answer, and see others’ answers. Over 110+ answers already!

How has Ayn Rand’s ethics made your life better?
Add your own answer, and see others’ answers. Over 150+ answers already!

What is your favorite book by Ayn Rand and Why?
Add your own answer, and see others’ answers. Over 230+ answers already!

What single idea of Ayn Rand has had the maximum impact on your life?
Add your own answer, and see others’ answers. Over 560+ answers already!

How many stars do you give to the Atlas Shrugged Movie?
Vote now! Over 410+ answers already!

What is your Least Favorite thing about the Atlas Shrugged Movie?
Add your own answer, and see others’ answers. Over 280+ answers already!

What is your Most Favorite thing about the Atlas Shrugged Movie?
Add your own answer, and see others’ answers. Over 320+ answers already!

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Atlas Shrugged Movie Report: April 17, 2011

1. Atlas Shrugged Part 1 Movie opened in 300 theaters nationwide and took in an estimated $1.7 million in its first weekend–14th highest grossing movie this weekend. It made $5,600 per screen, higher than all movies playing except the top 2 movies. The other number I was watching closely was its performance on Saturday compared to Friday–because I knew that the bulk of Objectivists were seeing it on Friday. It performed almost as strongly on Saturday as it did on Friday–which is a good sign.

2. The movie and associated publicity enabled Atlas Shrugged to rocket up Amazon’s Bestseller list this week from outside Top 100 all the to #4! It has held the #4 spot for the last 24 hours. This is my favorite development of all. Now the big question is how long it remains on Amazon’s Top 100 bestseller list and at how high a level. As of a week ago it had been in the Top 100 for around 260 days. I am predicting that thanks to the the Movies Part 1, 2 & 3, Atlas Shrugged will be a permanent fixture on Amazon’s Bestseller list for at least the next two and a half years. I urge Penguin, the Estate of Ayn Rand and ARI to dramatically step up publicity for the book–at no time will a dollar spent on publicizing the book will bring more dollars back as the next two and half years.

3. How was the movie received by Objectivists? I conducted a poll of my Facebook friends asking them to rate the movie as wither Excellent (5 stars), Good (4 stars), Average (3 stars), Poor (2 stars) or Awful (1 star). With 64 votes so far, ranging the entire spectrum, the average is 3.5 stars. You can see the poll results onmy Facebook wall here. If you have trouble viewing the poll results or voting in the poll because you are not my Facebook friend, you are welcome to send me a Facebook friend request. You will also be able to see my frequent updates about Atlas Shrugged Movie as they are posted on Facebook. Please add you own vote in the poll

4. The next critical questions for the movie is whether its good performance in its first week enables the movie publicists to convince more theaters to show it next weekend, and how much money it can take in the next weekend, which will demonstrate the movie’s wider appeal.

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