Friday, November 28, 2008

Intellectual Properties

I don't quite know how to say this, so I'll just come out with it. The title of this column is a pun, and not a very good one. Allow me to slaughter it further by explaining the double-meaning: "intellectual property," of course, refers to the classic capitalistic notion that innovative ideas are encouraged when the innovator's rights of property are protected. We recognize that everything from Walt Disney's "Mickey Mouse" to Aaron Copland's "Rodeo" belongs, just like a material good, to their respective creators. This right is one of the cornerstones of our civilization. I am also, in the title, using "Intellectual Properties" to denote the intellectual qualities of a given creation. I envision this column as a place where I weekly recommend something for viewing, something for listening, and something for reading. The selections may not always be directly related to a conservative worldview, but we will always keep in mind the fact that these artistic innovations would not be possible without the property rights of the mind. So, considering both possible meanings of "intellectual property," I subtitle the column: Heroes of the imagination brought to you by the benefits of liberty.

For viewing: The Lives of Others

Oscar-winning German-language film about a playwright under Stasi surveillance in Communist East Germany. This film does happen to be very relevant to the deeper meaning of this column. The playwright is the last of his artist friends still sponsored by the state, and has to decide how to use his art. A moving portrayal of the "bad kind of individualism" brought about by a totalitarian state (withdrawal from the community). Incredible performance by actual former victim of East German repression. Very fine soundtrack, as well.

For Listening: the Bach: Violin Concertos, Chaconne
from Bach's Partita No. 2 in D Minor for violin. Brahms says of the chaconne: "one of the most wonderful and most incomprehensible pieces of music." A lengthy display of inconceivable virtuosity, full of profound feelings; a whole universe of pain and triumph. Bach, of course, wrote "for the glory of God alone," but his compositions were made possible by the appreciative patronage of Prince Leopold of Cothen.

For Reading: Capital
by Karl Marx. One of the greatest systematic philosophers of all time (and it's actually a pretty good read, for philosophy). It's important, for one thing, to truly understand where the social goals of Marxism originate. Also, we don't want to throw around terms we don't understand, or "straw man" our opponents. It's ironic (and significant for the purposes of this column) that Marx copyrighted his monumental work, and was supported in his research and leisure by the patronage of Friedrich Engels.


  1. Thanks Joe - I've been looking for some good stuff to dig into.

  2. For anyone w/ Netflix, The Lives of Others is available to "Watch Instantly" until Dec 3.