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Question re: AR statement on human motivation

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In The Art of Nonfiction there is a section where Ayn Rand compares her own article on the Apollo 11 launch event with that of Loudon Wainwright. Here is a paragraph where she describes a part she particularly dislikes:

'Now consider this line of Wainwright's: "this vast picnic crowd had gathered to see the booster belch out its tremendous power and hurl likenesses of themselves at the Moon." It is disgusting [...] I would use a word like "belch" only if I wanted to degrade something [...] And "likenesses of themselves" provides a disgusting glimpse of his ideas about human motivation.'

I see right away why the word "belch" is inappropriate. Its connotation is negative. But I've so far been unable to find anything disgusting about the notion of people wanting to see "likenesses of themselves hurled at the Moon". I took it to mean that the spectators wanted to see and project themselves onto this great achievement. Ayn Rand did like Wainright's line about people being there to "watch 30 seconds of history", and in the book she describes why, but on this point she didn't elaborate.

What am I missing?

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In The Art of Nonfiction there is a section where Ayn Rand compares her own article on the Apollo 11 launch event with that of Loudon Wainwright. Here is a paragraph where she describes a part she particularly dislikes:

'Now consider this line of Wainwright's: "this vast picnic crowd had gathered to see the booster belch out its tremendous power and hurl likenesses of themselves at the Moon." It is disgusting [...] I would use a word like "belch" only if I wanted to degrade something [...] And "likenesses of themselves" provides a disgusting glimpse of his ideas about human motivation.'

I see right away why the word "belch" is inappropriate. Its connotation is negative. But I've so far been unable to find anything disgusting about the notion of people wanting to see "likenesses of themselves hurled at the Moon". I took it to mean that the spectators wanted to see and project themselves onto this great achievement. Ayn Rand did like Wainright's line about people being there to "watch 30 seconds of history", and in the book she describes why, but on this point she didn't elaborate.

What am I missing?

From Collins English Dictionary:

One of three meanings of the word belch: to expel or be expelled forcefully from inside smoke belching from factory chimneys

ruveyn

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Describing other people as "likenesses of themselves" is odd in the least.

Taken in the context of the demeaning emotional connotations of "belching" -- it makes me think of a lout at the dinner table -- the idea of "hurling likenesses of themselves" makes a great human achievement seem like a vain act of vomiting.

These comments were made by Ayn Rand in her discussion of the connotations of words. While Wainwright used words that were literally descriptively correct, the fact that he chose words like "belch" and "hurl" that are also applied to -- and have connotations of -- a digestive upset, is very significant.

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the fact that he chose words like "belch" and "hurl" that are also applied to -- and have connotations of -- a digestive upset, is very significant.

Probably deliberate?

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the fact that he chose words like "belch" and "hurl" that are also applied to -- and have connotations of -- a digestive upset, is very significant.

Probably deliberate?

There's no way to read his mind, but I suspect he had a negative attitude toward human achievement and so, without deliberately planning it, he chose those words because they just kinda felt right.

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I didn't make the connection between "belch" and "hurl", good point. But AR seems to object to the "likenesses of themselves" part?

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I didn't make the connection between "belch" and "hurl", good point. But AR seems to object to the "likenesses of themselves" part?

"Likenesses of themselves" is an interesting choice of words, too.

Why did all those scientists think and discover and plan and build? To achieve their grand goal of sending a man to the moon and returning him safely to the earth? To discover what was on the moon? To stretch the limits of the human frontier? To boldly go where no man had gone before? Not according to Wainwright. It was the vanity of unworthy humans seeking to impose themselves on the universe by "hurling" (vomiting) "likenesses (cheap, flat, unreal images) of themselves" onto the pristine moon.

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There is no way to read Wainwright's mind, but my overall impression of his piece is that it is a belittlement and denigration of the greatest achievement in the human history. Even if it wasn't explicitly intentional, it clearly testifies to the writer's cynical sense of life.

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