Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

I was listening to this address on the way home and found the first portion highly pertinent in this coming election cycle:

Ayn Rand Institute Multimedia Library

From Ayn Rand’s address “A Nation’s Unity” on October, 1972 at the Ford Hall Forum (click the graphic or link to hear the full audio of the address)

Every four years, at about this time, we begin to hear louder and louder appeals for national unity. We hear them between Presidential elections as well—particularly when something is about to be put over on us—though they are uttered in a more perfunctory manner.

Observe, however, that in recent years it has become fashionable to disparage unity, between elections, and to praise dissent as a kind of moral or patriotic duty. But the pattern of a Presidential election remains the same: first, there is a campaign in which the candidates denounce each other and seem to appeal to some sort of unstated principles; then, when the election is over, the appeals become, in effect: now let’s forget all about principles—national unity comes first.

This is, therefore, an appropriate time to examine the issue of national unity and to ask certain questions: Is such unity necessary? Is it possible? What makes it possible? What is the alternative? What are the consequences? The present election campaign offers many clues to the answers.

As in the case of many other errors or evils, today’s appeals for national unity are based on a perverted element of truth. It is true that, in order to exist as a nation, the large number of men who live in the same geographical area and deal with one another, must agree on some fundamental principle(s). And more: any two men who choose to deal with each other must have some sort of basic agreement, at least for the duration of their joint action. If you joined forces with another man in order to lift a heavy boulder, and you strained to lift it while he strained to push it down, nothing would come of both your efforts but failure, frustration, and—if the issue were important enough to both of you—the recourse to blows and mutual extermination.

The fact that in case of disagreement men can resort to physical force, i.e., to human destruction, is the reason why every human association is based on some sort of agreement, which is implemented by certain rules of conduct. An agreement, in this context, does not necessarily mean a common purpose: you may make an agreement with a neighbor that you will not attack him so long as he does not attack you—and if both of you abide by it, you are free to go your own ways and, perhaps, never see each other again. The fundamental agreement which is required of a nation is an agreement on the rules of peaceful coexistence. A territory inhabited by men engaged in perpetual conflicts, chronic fighting, physical violence, and general hatred of all for all, is not a nation nor a country, but a bloody mess. Internal peace and some sort of harmony are the precondition of the existence of a nation.

The big questions, however, are: Peace—at what price? Harmony—on what terms? Agreement—about what? And more: Can such terms and agreements be chosen arbitrarily? Can men choose any terms and make them work simply by wishing them to do so? Or are there objective factors which necessitate certain principles of human association, and defeat all others? In sum, the fundamental social question is: What principles should men agree upon in order to live and deal with one another?

The best way to answer questions of this kind is to start not with an enormous, floating abstraction, such as “society as a whole,” but with one member of society, the one you know best: yourself. Ask yourself: What rules of conduct would you be able and willing to accept in order to deal with your neighbors?

Let us say you are a young man who knows that he must work in order to support his life. You have a good job, a small family, and a home in the suburbs. Since you do not intend to stagnate, you maintain a certain financial and intellectual balance between the present and the future; you budget your money and your time: your money, to provide for your present needs and to improve your standard of living, For example, to pay off the mortgage on your home—your time, to do your present job well and to study in order to qualify for a better one. You like some of your neighbors, and you dislike others, but you are not afraid of any of them: they are not a threat to you, nor you to them.

This is the normal pattern of your life and you take it for granted, as if it were a fact of nature. But it is not. It took thousands and thousands of years to achieve it. Let us see what it depends on.

Suppose this country’s political system was changed. It was decided that the affairs of each community are to be determined at a monthly meeting of all it’s citizens – by general democratic vote, and that the rule of the majority is absolute – without limits or appeals. It would mean that you could be thrown out of your home and out of your community if the majority so voted. It would mean that you could be sentenced to die, if not liking your manners or your ideas, the majority so voted.

This is not fantasy. This was the social system of many Greek city-states – pure democracy, unlimited majority rule. Would you agree to accept it in the name of communal unity? No? Than would you agree to accept it on a much larger scale and by remote control?

Suppose it was decided but never announced openly and explicitly that the nation holds the absolute power of a Greek city-state. But since one cannot convene an entire nation to a monthly meeting, the people are compressed into groups representing various interests, and the government acts as arbiter and ruler – who listens to their clashing demands and enforces the will of those it deems to be representative of the public interest.

These groups are not elected. They are formed informally, spontaneously, democratically. Anyone is free to form them and to clamor demands for anything. How will you adjust to it?

First, there is a business lobby. But you don’t mind it, it helps your boss.

Then there is a labor lobby. But you don’t mind it – it helps you!

Then there is a farm lobby. But you don’t notice it. It is too remote from your activities.

Then a neighbor on the next block forms a group demanding better roads, and two blocks further a woman forms a group demanding better schools.

Another group demands ‘free lunches‘ for all school children and a rival group demands ‘free textbooks‘.

Your windows are smashed one night by a group of the ‘local juvenile delinquents’ or ‘problem adolescents‘. They show non-negotiable demands which you cannot quite untangle, but you gather it has something to do with ‘Youth Power’.

The residents of the local old-folks home form a group demanding ‘Senior-citizen power’.

The old-maid file clerk at the office – that you can’t stand because she can’t keep the files straight – is given a promotion with the help of a group that demands the liberation of women.

You have no time to keep track of it all. You notice only that your taxes keep rising and rising, and your money keeps buying less and less.

You are late getting to the office one morning because the local ‘welfare recipients’ group lies stretched out across the highway demanding a yearly income greater than half of your’s. You slam on your breaks just in time to avoid running over the group’s leader: a lady known as ‘fatso’ who has 12 children and no visible husband.

You had planned to have three children but you decided to wait a little for the third one – you cannot afford them.

A long haired, young man forms a group to forbid anyone to have more than two children, and a short haired young woman forms a group to forbid abortion and the use of contraceptives.

There’s a group that demands the display of sexual intercourse on the screen and another group that demands censorship of all movies above the intellectual level of a 6 year old. So you give up going to the movies.

You fall behind in your mortgage payment but your property taxes keep rising and rising. You consider giving up your house and renting one in a new development five miles away. But a local ‘birdwatchers’ group is suing the developer, demanding that the land he cleared be turned into a public park.

Your boss has promised you a promotion: the job of managing a new branch factory he is planning to build in your district. But he does not build it. The lady who used to have the local poetry club now has a group that demands the preservation of the beautiful ‘swamp’ he was going to kill.

Then, an educational group decrees that you cannot send your children to the local schools which so much of your property taxes has gone to pay for. So your children are bussed to a distant town: a daily trip of two hours going there, and another two hours coming back. This you are told will achieve ‘racial integration’.

You have never thought of it before, but you have become race conscious and try to untangle your own ancestry. You find it so mixed that you cannot qualify for any of the groups into which your community is [based]. The afro-americans, the chicano-americans, the italo-americans, the jewish americans, the irish americans, etc. And you … you are just a ‘mongrel-american‘. (so am I)

A title of which you would have been proud at one time but which is becoming ‘dangerous’. If you lose your job, there will be no preferential quota to help you get another one, and no way of knowing how many ‘ethnic’ applications will be pushed ahead of you. There will be no preferential quota for your son’s admission to a college when the time comes.

You are alone, unprotected, defenseless – and the only reason you know that you are living in a human society and not on a deserted island is the fact that your ‘taxes’ keep rising and rising.

How do you adjust? To whom and to what? The first thing to go is your future.

You can barely keep up with your current expenses. You have no way to plan ahead. If you try to save, you do not know which demands of which groups will eat up your savings in the form of new taxes and higher prices.

Why study to develop your skills? You do not know if you will ever get a better job or what new obstacles will spring up overnight or whether there will be anyone left to hire you.

You used to plan your course in terms of years. The range of your concerns shrinks to one year, then to one month, and then to next payday. You can see nothing beyond but a black void.

Strange things happen to a man without a future. You begin to act like the type of man you once despised.

You become sloppy at your job. You can barely summon the effort just to get by.

You get drunk too often. You buy a luxurious lawn mower which you have no time to use and you quarrel with your wife over the expensive cut of lamb chops she bought for dinner.

And when you hear a seedy lecture at the group meeting that declares that Horatio Alger’s stories are a myth, [and claims] that man cannot rise by individual effort and ability, you applaud defiantly and beligerently.

Oh yes! You have joined a group! You have joined several groups.

You do not know exactly what they stand for but they talk of community action and mutual protection and they denounce other groups. You do not know clearly which ones or why. You had tried to get it clear but gave up.

Everytime you read the newspaper or listen to the snarling voices on television, things grow murkier.

You do not know by what steps your attitude toward your neighbors has changed. You have begun to watch them suspiciously.

Whenever you see two of them in a heated discussion or observe several cars parked in front of a house you feel a touch of anxiety. You do not know what they might be up to, what ‘new group’ might be formed and what it will do to you.

You learn to feel ‘fear’. You are afraid of your neighbors – of any human being.

You are afraid to speak. You smile and you agree with everyone you meet.

You are afraid to think.

One day, you discover that what you feel for men … is hatred.

In that moment, you wonder ‘what has happened to your neighbors?’ They were decent people once – you remember vaguely. They did not act like wild packs, scrambling to get at one-another’s throats – and pockets!

You do not know how many of them are wondering the same thing about you.

You know only that there was a time when the local bird watcher, and the problem adolescent and the poetry-club ladies and ‘Ms fatso‘ were of no danger to anyone – but now they are! Why were they better in the past?

If someone answered:

Because – they – did – not – have – a – GUN!

you would not understand it.

You have come to believe that people are no good and that force is the only practical way to deal with them, since ‘reason’ – they all tell you – has failed.

You cannot cope with the enormous complexity of an entire nation’s problems. You have no way of knowing – you conclude – who is right or wrong, so let some groups force others and re-established order.

No one has explained to you that the ‘golden rule’ applies to politics. If certain conditions of social existence are unacceptable and unbearable to you, you cannot expect others to accept them and make them work. And what these conditions do to you, they do to society as a whole.

Do you agree to accept a social system of this kind?

It is of course, the system under which we are living today, but which we have never ‘chosen’.

It is important to consider it now because, in the coming presidential election one of the candidates is asking us to agree – and in the name of ‘national unity’ – explicitly to accept the principle that society has an unlimited power, and that our lives belong to the state!

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I am no fan of pragmatism.  Pragmatism is the historical cop-out.  I am not a fan of apathy or complacency either, but these are the direct off-spring of pragmatic thinking.  The combination of these elements turn even the most principled men (and women) into wet noodles and ultimately into willing slaves.

An interesting concept popped into my head this week.  It’s one that I’ve actually spoken on in the past such as with my previous entry on Galt’s Oath.  For lack of a better term for it, I am going to call it ‘anti-pragmatism’, but it is in fact a form of pragmatism and one made possible through either apathy or complacency.

My thoughts on this concept came up, among other discussions, in regards to a discussion on the ‘Sanction of the Victim‘ from Atlas Shrugged.  The Wiki entry does a good job of explaining this concept from the book saying:

The concept “Sanction of the victim” is defined by Leonard Peikoff as “the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil, to accept the role of sacrificial victim for the ‘sin‘ of creating values”.[23] This concept may be original in the thinking of Rand and is foundational to her moral theory: she holds that evil is a parasite on the good and can only exist if the good tolerates it.

This ‘Sanction of the victim’ extends from the kind of pragmatism I speak of, a pragmatism spawned from either a complacency or a judgment call on behalf of the individual.  Those that choose to call it a judgment call will defend it staunchly as the ‘moral’ and ‘rational’ choice.  This is the principle I have been mulling over in my head this week – is it really?  In reality, this is the concept I’ve been mulling over my whole life – probably that most volitional people struggle with – but I have arrived at a different conclusion.

My life is non-negotiable!

Property that has been ethically obtained is a product of the application of one’s life.  When someone comes to appropriate your property without proper cause or your specified consent, they are appropriating a portion of your life.

If someone came and demanded your foot, or your eye, or your kidneys would you be so willing to concede out of expedience?  Yes, I understand, one cannot survive without a lung and losing a hand is more significant than losing 25% of your latest check, but that’s the point – that’s why it’s easier to take your paycheck – because you will accept it!  Because you will tolerate it!

There is an evil embedded in those that will take advantage of the willingness of people to accept levels of tyranny knowing that those exploited will tolerate it rather than fight it.  There is an evil inherent in those that are fully aware of this fact and continually push the border of it gradually, but stay just short of exceeding the tolerance of such tyranny.  But that evil is enabled by the evil that is the tolerance itself.

Pragmatism is summed up by ‘the ends justifies the means’, but the type of reverse-pragmatism I speak of is summed up by asking ‘What difference will it make to compromise your own ethics and morals [for the sake of expedience] if the end result comes out the same?‘  In other words, it results in convoluted logic such as “I pay my taxes because the government forces me to.  I do it because they hold a gun to my head.”  I say if that is your argument, then make them show up with the gun – then and only then pay with reluctance.  It is because people continue to comply that nothing ever changes.

How many of you have actually had a tax man show up at your door with a gun?  What you are saying is that it ‘could’ result in that, and I don’t want to put up with that.  (what would the neighbors think?  what would my boss think?)  I can’t afford to and still maintain the ‘other’ things I want. (after all, you might have to give up the SUV or the big screen TV!!!)  I’ll trade my morals for security and comfort.   You are saying in big bold letters to all the lawmakers “my life is negotiable so long as the balance is tolerable.”

The end result is the same.  Government grows, freedoms wane and tyranny wins because people are willing to tolerate a given quantity of it.

I say again, My life is non-negotiable!  When you tolerate a given amount of evil for expedience, you only teach those pursuing the evil that there is an amount of it you will tolerate.  At that point, all they need to do is change that level in gradual steps, bit-by-bit, until it is too late for you to realize you are a slave.

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Originally posted on Facebook Notes

A lot of the topics I discuss hinge on the principle of ‘value’. A topic that seems simple enough but that requires further clarification because ‘value’ is a very subjective concept.
Since I am often speaking about – or at least from – an objectivist standpoint, value plays a very important role in that one of the key tenets of Objectivist philosophy is that any interactions between men, to be ethical and moral, must involve an equal exchange of value. So what is value and how do we define it – especially in the case of these interactions? In this case, the value is relative to each person involved in the exchange – i.e. they must mutually agree that what they are giving and what they are receiving in such an exchange is a worthy exchange of value.

To demonstrate this fact I often use an analogy, interchanging the nature of the allegory to suit the circumstances and to better suit the audience. The most basic form is essentially as follows:

Imagine that at some point in your life, someone you care about and have great admiration and respect for offers you a gift. Perhaps you are seeking your first job or leaving home for the first time, and this person you admire – for example your grandfather – hands you a copper penny. You ask them “what is this for?” and they tell you that when they were first going out on their own, their grandfather handed them a penny as a gesture to get them started. They explain to you that they carry that penny with them always and even go so far as to pull out their wallet to show it to you and you see the tell-tale circle worn into the outside of the leather to back up the claim that he always had it with him.
You too carry this penny with you until you find that first job and continue to carry it with you always as a reminder of your grandfather’s gesture to teach you a lesson or show you support when you got started.
How much then is that penny worth? To everyone else it is worth $0.01 but to you it may be something with a sentimental attachment that you would not give up for all the money in the world.

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Originally posted to Facebook Notes

“I want to make something clear… I am not a conservative. I think that today’s conservatives are worse than today’s liberals. [..] If anyone destroys this country, it will be the conservatives. Because they do not know how to preach capitalism, to explain it to the people [and] because they do nothing except apologize [..]” – Ayn Rand {excerpt from the Tomorrow Show, 1979}

SW comment:
I have often said that as far as my identification with ‘being an objectivist’, it was not Ayn Rand and her writing that made me ‘decide’ to be an objectivist – i always was an objectivist thinker, Ayn Rand’s words simply validated a world view I already had and eloquently communicates the nature of that view in both her works of fiction and her essays and public speeches.
It never fails to astound me that when I find some other writing or read an essay I have not yet read or stumbled on footage of an interview, how things coming out of her mouth are almost identical to things I have thought, said or written myself.

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Originally posted to Facebook Notes

Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent but by compulsion, when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing, when you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods but in favors, when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you, when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice, you may know that your society is doomed.

– Ayn Rand (Francisco D’Anconio to Hank Reardon in Atlas Shrugged)

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I found myself staring at a tree today. I was sitting in my car pondering a great many things – I had just finished watching the movie ‘Dark City’, something I had been putting off watching it for some time. (the movie was recommended to me amongst a list of others after getting enthralled in the Matrix trilogy as ‘must see’ type movies of a dystopian genre) Such movies pose philosophical questions in the process of twisting their plot lines and thus I often get into a philosophical mindset after viewing them.
I was pondering everything from Maslow’s hierarchical needs, the meaning of life, the expanses of the universe to the intricacies of an atom. And as my mind wandered my visual focus wandered to a tree in the neighbors yard.
It is some sort of fruit tree and for those how have never stared a fruit tree they are identifiable from any other type of tree. It is autumn here and the leaves are starting to fall off the trees and fruit trees tend to be one of the first variety of trees to lose the majority of their leaves and thus expose their bare branches. But this is not the uniqueness of which I speak.
Fruit trees are gnarled messes of interweaving malformed branches, bent this way and that, from their scored up trunks to their outer tips of the highest most branches. A huge spaghetti mass of trunks and branches squirreling out in all directions presumably to seek the sun.
It wasn’t the twisted and bent nature that snapped me out of my deep train of thought however. What caught my attention and suddenly arrested my thinking was a single branch way down in the lower off-branches of the tree.
It was not unique to the tree I later discovered but it did appear to be unique upon my discovery of it’s being there. For here was this one little branch growing in a straight line for a good two to three feet – and going straight up.
Here amongst a ‘normality’ of abnormal, of the seemingly unexpected – of branches who’s purpose is to extend outward toward the sun, on a tree that seems to do so in the most haphazard and random methodology imaginable, was a branch doing it in the way that at least seems to make the most logical sense. The sun is ‘up’ – therefore grow straight up and keep going.

Now, as I mentioned, although this initially appeared unique I soon discovered many similar branches on the same off-shoot as well as upon many of the other lower extensions off the trunk – all these little branches doing their best to shoot straight up amidst a surround mass of mutated brethren.

It then struck me that even though this growth pattern appeared to make sense, that in many ways it was also a futile effort. Although the leaves are gone off the tree now making these efforts of extension quite visible, the branches themselves make this vertical climb right up and through the inner reaches of the tree. Reaches that in the height of summer would be completely surrounded by all of the other disjointed branches that had already found the outer limits of the parent tree’s growth span, and therefore are taking in the vast majority of the nourishing rays of the sun.
Surely they must receive some sun this way or why would there now be so many such branches that I see doing this low down in the tree? But I was left to wonder if it was enough to justify this seemingly noble effort that obviously still fell far short of the full height of the fruit tree as a whole.
Then I went on further to ponder; “why then, if this is the growth that seems to make the most sense, why don’t the branches on top do the same thing? They are all bent over and twisted, curled and crooked, hunched over and spun around like every other portion of the tree!” The answer to this almost seemed too simple. “Well why should they? They have reached the summit and simply need to spread themselves out and take in as much surface as they can!” In a way it almost seemed a lazy existence compared to the unrealized efforts of those lower counterparts.

Where am I going with all this? I don’t really know. I just found it an interesting thought-breaker and have a feeling that both observations – the lazy gnarled branches that had reached and found their goal, and the futile valiance of these attempted sky-shooters lower down but being made in vein – that they were both somehow significant.

I looked briefly for some kind of middle ground, some formation of growth that exhibited some kind of compromise between the two, but it did not seem to exist in that tree. It didn’t seem to exist in any other fruit trees that I could find within line of sight. (although I did see similar ‘straight’ branches low down in all the others as well) All of the branches save for those few dozen or so straight ones on the lower limbs all shared the same characteristic bending to-and-fro. To some extent, even the very trunk of the tree itself writhed on it’s growth in this fashion.
It was an interesting extreme to observe to say the least and I couldn’t help but fathom what a shame it was that the fruit trees could never learn from those lower branches or at least find some peace between these two seemingly competing methodologies…

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A few years ago I came up with an analogy to signify what it is I seek in people with whom I have relationships (all types of relationships mind you). At that time, I came up with an analogy to help explain it. I have referred to that analogy ever since as the ‘other side of the card’. The analogy basically goes like this:

“If you hold up a playing card between two people sitting on opposite sides of the table, then ask each of them to describe what they see on the card, each will describe something completely different but neither of them is incorrect.”

The concept being, that everyone has different perspectives. Sometimes the matter of where you ‘are’ in life will make a difference on how you see things. The person sitting on one side of the table will, for example, see something like the jack of hearts – the person on the other sees a white-on-blue pattern of someone riding a tricycle in front of a lot of elaborate circles and lines.

In any situation in life, there are going to be people seeing the same thing from different vantage points. At the same time, there will be some people that won’t even be looking at the card, but will instead be checking under the seats for gum or examining the interior decorating of the room. My interest was to find someone who would be looking at many of the same things as me (e.g. the card) but seeing it perhaps in a different way than I had because they would come at it from a different vantage point.

It is a very interesting way to go forward and it has brought me some interesting friends and relationships. But even when I coined the analogy, I still felt there was something missing. I eventually added the thought of someone ‘looking around the room’ as one thing I would not be interested in – I was definately seeking to be around people who were looking at the same things (e.g. the card) and not focused on other things around the room (at least as far as the analogy was concerned and as related to those things I find important in any particular situation).

There was one other thing that I missed, however. I have sought to enter relationships (of all types) that allow me to get the perspective of that ‘other side of the card’. I seek to find people who can help me see the same things I am interested in looking at from a different perspective. But there was another big problem hiding somewhere that I wasn’t able to put my finger upon.

The problem comes in when the people with whom you are interacting fail to recognize that the side of the card you are seeing may in fact be different than theirs. Yes, I am trying to go forth understanding that what they see (based on where they ‘sit’ in life) is different from what I see. But when you find someone who fails to recognize that what YOU see (based on where ‘you’ sit in life) is going to perhaps be different from what they see, then troubles are bound to occur.

So what do you do then? Don’t ask me, that’s the part I am going to have to figure out next. *sigh*

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From Johnathan Livingston Seagull
by Richard Bach

No, he thought. I am done with the way I was, I am done with everything I learned. I am a seagull like every other seagull, and I will fly like one. So he climbed painfully to a hundred feet and flapped his wings harder, pressing for shore.
He felt better for his decision to be just another one of the Flock.
There would be no ties now to the force that had driven him to learn, there would be no more challenge and no more failure. And it was pretty,
just to stop thinking, and fly through the dark.
Dark! The hollow voice cracked in alarm. Seagulls never fly in the dark!
Jonathan was not alert to listen. It’s pretty, he thought. The moon and the lights twinkling on the water, throwing out little beacon-trails through the night, and all so peaceful and still…
Get down! Seagulls never fly in the dark! If you were meant to fly in the dark, you’d have the eyes of an owl! You’d have charts for brains!
You’d have a falcon’s short wings!
There in the night, a hundred feet in the air, Jonathan Livingston Seagull – blinked. His pain, his resolutions, vanished.
Short wings. A falcon’s short wings!
That’s the answer!
He climbed two thousand feet above the black sea, and without a moment for thought of failure and death, he brought his forewings tightly in to his body, left only the narrow swept daggers of his wingtips extended into the wind, and fell into a vertical dive.
The wind was a monster roar at his head. Seventy miles per hour, ninety, a hundred and twenty and faster still. The wing-strain now at a hundred and forty miles per hour wasn’t nearly as hard as it had been before at seventy, and with the faintest twist of his wingtips he eased out of the dive and shot above the waves, a gray cannonball under the moon.
He closed his eyes to slits against the wind and rejoiced. A hundred forty miles per hour! And under control! If I dive from five thousand feet instead of two thousand, I wonder how fast..
His vows of a moment before were forgotten, swept away in that great swift wind. Yet he felt guiltless, breaking the promises he had made himself. Such promises are only for the gulls that accept the ordinary.

One who has touched excellence in his learning has no need of that kind of promise.

Come fly with me!

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I stumbled on this old posting earlier tonight on one of the Objectivist groups I used to frequent (dated 3/22/2004):

What a day I have had. I just finished reading “We the Living” on the same day I got a notice that I was not going to be called back for an interview on a job I was seeking that I ‘thought’ I was well qualified for.
So here I was commiserating over the melancholy end of that Rand novel and even feeling guilty in a way. I took great interest in the subject in that I am a fan of Rand, a life long objectivist (even before I knew there was a word for it) and due to the setting – as my mother’s family was from around the borders of Poland and Ukraine and fled for the U.S. around the time of the Bolshevik uprising.
While I found myself feeling getting angry in this here election year to hear all the pretense of class warfare against the backdrop of the ‘true’ suffering portrayed in this excellent portrait of a post proletariat uprising, as aforementioned, I found myself guilty that – even though the characters are of a work of fiction, they no doubt represent a real time, a real place, of real suffering and real individuals who probably met the same fates and burned with the same desires. Yet here in my life, with no true suffering to compare, “what have I done to live up to their example? To ‘live’ as they lived? With the desire and burning for living as the essence of their being?”
I know, you are thinking, ‘what does this have to do with a posting in a dating forum or a rejection email about a job? Well, serendipity has a sense of Irony. I just left a job which lasted for 5 months. Prior to that, I was a victim of the .com crash and was essentially unemployed for 25 months with nothing but a few contracts and some fortunate circumstances to help me survive. Heretofore whenever I received a rejection, I just moved on to the next job.
At the same time, when someone would ask me “how are you doing?” my answer was almost consistently “I am surviving” – and that was more telling than any casual observer might ponder to understand, if they should care.
So, today, amidst reading the final chapters, I receive the rejection. For the first time ever I asked them for an explanation of why they were not interested in having me back for a second interview. In the meantime, I finished the book through tears and anguish and joy and confusion. I was emotionally wrought by the time I was through and left …. well, just in a daze of thoughts, emotions, sad yet reflective. And feeling guilty! Feeling guilty and questioning myself if I have, if I do live up to those objectivist principles I hold so dear.
That was until I got home. An email response awaited my question. Paraphrasing, he said in essence that they were very impressed by my skills and experience. That they thought I would be very well qualified… technically… for the task they had in mind. But then he went on to describe how I was too ‘domineering’ – in essence too independent and self-motivated to solicit a desire to have me back.
I have been grinning like a Cheshire cat ever since. So many rejections over 25 months and I turned to myself to find ‘fault’ – this may only be one representation of one employer, but I know it likely is akin to many over that period – over periods prior and jobs I left or was asked to leave. I am too into ‘I’ to be attractive to the corporate collective.
Sure, I will still seek work – and I have decided to also seek more opportunities where I am not dependent upon or accountable to someone else’s whim. I went to the store after reading the email, almost dancing on the way. Someone at the counter who recognized me as a ‘regular’ there, asked me “how are you doing today?” Without hesitating I told her with a smile too big for the question asked and said with great enthusiasm “I am alive! My dear, I am alive!!!”
So tomorrow will be a busy day as I set some more wheels in motion to take care of those mundane material needs, but for now I set forth to search the net for places where like minded folks may be hanging about.
Out of sheer disgust, I went into my normal ‘chat’ venues – more to mock them – and asked “so who wants to talk about objectivist philosophy and the epistemological review of their application in the real world?” Some guy answered that he has an 8″ penis and someone else mentioned they wouldn’t mind meeting a 14 year old boy! Ahh the internet!
So here is where I ended up! Sorry if I rambled on, but I felt it was important to describe my mindset before asking if any females out there understood. If any would like to talk more about what it’s like to be ‘alive’ as I feel at this moment!
Let’s be selfish! ‘I’ would love to hear from you if you understand….

Just for the record, I am now working for another company doing computer consulting and I have consequently been placed onsight with that very company. I can see now they were right – I would have been way too self motivated for the work they do which amounts to little more than assembly line programming from cookie-cutter program code. It seems I won’t have as much contact with that coding environment but will instead be working as a middle-person between project managers of two different companies. It’s a curious turn of events to say the least…

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Tis that time of year when I like to go out to our wild woodlands. Anyone truly daring does not stick to the beaten path when adventuring. Of course there are risks if you go into unbroken ground (or at least ‘less traveled ground’), the least of which is finding yourself somewhere that you didn’t expect to end up. I figured it was a good time to post an entry on some recommendations for what to do if you get lost when on such a journey.

So what should you do if you suddenly look around and find yourself to be off your desired path? Of course, that might depend on where you were going and whether or not you were simply going to go back the way you came. However, the first and most important thing is to gather yourself together.
When you get disoriented or otherwise find yourself somewhere you didn’t realize you were headed and didn’t want to be, the best thing to do is to take some time out to gather yourself. Being lost can be emotionally overwhelming. To get back on the right course, you will need to have your wits about you. You might choose to take inventory of your situation during this time – it would be wise to take as much time as necessary but of course you might wish to guage this against whether or not you are also chasing daylight and how far you may have as of yet to go.
Once things have settled down sufficiently enough and you are prepared to think straighter, the best bet is to backtrack – recover your tracks carefully to try to find where you have been. It might be wise to also mark the trail now as to where you ended up to avoid going down that wrong course again. (Feel free to take your time – if you properly prepared yourself for your journey or at least have recovered your senses enough – the worst case scenario is that you might have to wait out the night. Other creatures do it all the time. In such a case, you can face the following steps with a new day and an even clearer head.)
If you find familiar landmarks you passed on the way, be sure to mark and remember them – once you find familiar enough ground to know where you were headed in the first place, perhaps you can figure out where you went wrong the last time and continue your journey (or head back as the case may be). It is still wise to never wander far from familiar territory without properly marking your way even if you are the adventurous and daring type – once disoriented, it is even easier to get further so with little effort.

Happy exploring!

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