The artistic theme tonight (as it always is on Remembrance Day) is the morality of sacrifice—of which I am no enthusiast.
The video linked above begins the theme. Its an excerpt from “John Galt’s Speech,” by Ayn Rand, given visual form as part of an ongoing project by YouTube user GaltSpeaking. (Embedding of the video is disallowed, so click here or on the pic above to watch it.) Appropriately, perhaps, it’s Episode 13. Consider it.
The sculpture above and below is by Australian artist Rayner Hoff, inside the Australian War Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park.
It is called ‘Sacrifice.’ At the very focal point of what is virtually a temple to the slain, a stylised man-machine lies prostrate on his shield (with the words “come home on either with your shield or on it,” noble wives would send away their husbands to war) across a sword too weighty to wield, atop a stylised column lauding the ultimate sacrifice of a life.
Few twentieth-century sculptures celebrate the morality of sacrifice in war more nobly. More starkly. More appropriately…
Under a morality of sacrifice, the standard of value is not your own happiness, but that of others. Not your own prosperity, but that of others. Not your own life, but those of others. (As W.H Auden sarcastically summarises, “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I can’t imagine.”)
The result of all this sacrifice amounts to a row of zeroes; or as the excerpt from Galt’s Speech linked above points out:
"Under a morality of sacrifice, the first value you sacrifice is morality…"
Think about it.
In the meantime, and as an antidote, let’s talk about happiness. “What else could be more important?”
From a 1961 interview of Ayn Rand by Prof. James McConnell of the department
of psychology at the University of Michigan. Here, Rand gives her views on the
pursuit of happiness. The complete interview is available here.