Robin Field: The Most Delightful Performer Ever to Say “A is A”

I recently discovered that a full performance of Robin Field’s Reason in Rhyme: A Philosophic Oratorio is available online. (Warning: It’s an hour long, and if you start watching you won’t be able to stop.)

Anyone familiar with Robin’s work knows that to say this is worth watching would be a profound understatement. For those unfamiliar with his work, here’s an indication by way of a few excerpts transcribed from the performance. The excerpts, however, cannot begin to do justice to this man’s brilliance as a thinker and entertainer. If you want justice, you’ll simply have to enjoy the video (see below).

Here are a few excerpts to whet your whistle. These first few stanzas are from early in the performance:

Why should you study philosophy
With all there is to pursue?
Simply because your philosophy
Underlies all that you do

Why bother checking your premises?
Why should you make that a goal?
Premises can be your nemeses
If they’re not under control

What is regarded as knowledge
Is garbage we’ve got to outgrow
That which is taught in our colleges
Ain’t necessarily so . . .

Field then proceeds to review the history of philosophy—in poetry and song. And he weaves basic principles of Objectivism seamlessly and humorously into the mix.

Here’s another excerpt:

Existence is an axiom
Upon which all else rests
Regardless of who says so
And regardless who protests

See, existence is self-evident
Which simply means you know it
It’s verified ostensibly
Which simply means you show it

It cannot be refuted
It’s irrational to try it
The man who doubts existence
Has to use it to deny it . . .

An earlier title for this performance was Three Questions: A Philosophic Oratorio because Field addresses the following three questions in some detail: “What is so? How do you know? And so what should you do?”

Here’s another excerpt, this one pertaining to the first of those questions:

Reason is the faculty
From which all thought commences
It integrates material
Provided by the senses

The senses gather data
And transmit it to the brain
In simplest form sensations
Are of pleasure or of pain

And sensations are retained
By means of mental integration
This stage is called perception
More complex than mere sensation

We share this stage with animals
It’s virtually static
Because this integration
Is completely automatic

Man’s level is conceptual
Requiring his volition
This means that he must choose to use
Awareness for cognition

Nothing forces man to think
On every new occasion
He makes that choice himself each time
It’s thinking or evasion

The choice to think or not to think
Is man’s prerogative
This doesn’t change his nature though
He needs to think to live

And all thought is done with concepts
Which identify a fact
To know what’s so man must be sure
His concepts are exact

Since man is not infallible
And man is not omniscient
He needs to find a way to make
His thinking most efficient

Logic is the method that
Gives thought the right restrictions
It puts it to a simple test
It’s called non-contradiction

See, a contradiction can’t exist
Or life would just be terror
To hold a contradiction
Is to know you’ve made an error

We cannot eat and have our cake
No matter how we pray
It’s either-or, and facts are facts
The law is: A is A . . .

Like I said, you’ll want to watch this.

Although Robin doesn’t mention Ayn Rand in the performance—no doubt out of concern not to misrepresent her views—he does add this acknowledgment: “Reason in Rhyme is an entirely original work, and I am solely responsible for the ideas expressed here. However, I would like to acknowledge the enormous influence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, which serves as the theoretical basis of my work. — Robin Field.”

Enjoy the performance. And look for my interview with Robin Field in the forthcoming (Summer 2016) issue of The Objective Standard.


Comments submitted to TOS are moderated and checked periodically. Anonymous posts are not permitted; commenters must use their real names. To be considered for posting, a comment must be civil, substantive, on topic, and no longer than 400 words. Ad hominem attacks, arguments from intimidation, misrepresentations, off-topic comments, and comments that ignore relevant points made in the article will be deleted. Thank you for helping us to keep the discussion intellectually profitable.