Monday, December 17, 2007

What's the frequency, Kenneth?

This is a reply to Jay's comment on ARCHN that people who live their lives pridefully and rationally are happier and more successful.

During my brieft stint as a Objecti-curious person, I remember being bothered by the fact that I taking great pains to live my life RATIONALLY and objectively and I didn't get anything in return, but some nutter who assaults Dan Rather screaming "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" gets immortalized in a REM hit single. And come on, everyone loves REM, at least all Objective people.

It led to a huge crisis of faith, and I renounced Objectivism forever.

hah, i wish, it took a bit more crises of faith and tears before it really happened

Jay also mentions in another comment:
I don't have any evidence of that. But I do have to wonder: does anybody grow up dreaming to be a government-employed diversity trainer?

Jay, you're an undergrad, right? I'm sure there are plenty of feminist studies majors at your school who'd cream their girly pants at the thought of that.

*not that i'm a fan of feminist studies majors, quite the opposite, but that's a story for another post...maybe.


Kelly said...

I don't know about diversity training but really, who doesn't want a government job? That should be the question. Union, benefits, very low responsibility, almost zero change of getting fired. Christ, it's like an alternate version of Heaven.

Jay said...


I don't know what you mean by taking "great pains" to live rationally and objectively. Everybody acquires their beliefs a little differently; I got into Objectivism when I turned 17. I had just dropped out of high school because I hated being there, and I had also just started a company with my buddy in the face of much criticism from family/friends who didn't understand what we were doing. So, that whole "men of unborrowed vision" thing really appealed to me. I also fell in love for the first time in the midst of all this, making Objectivism seem very powerful to me. I thought to myself "I deserve to feel pride in who I am. I've earned this."

Then a funny thing happened. A year later, a bigger company stole our idea, used it to get millions of dollars in VC funding. We had to sell what was left of our company for well below market. I lost my girlfriend. Now, it would've been easy to conclude "Well, looks like all my pride, rationality, and passion were worthless", but it wouldn't have been true. Instead, I grieved for as long as I needed to and got to work pulling myself back up. Today, I just finished my second Dean's List semester in a row at school, am a month away from launching a new startup, and am happily playing the field. The relevant point to all this disclosure is that if I simply gave up being rational because it isn't an infallible path to guaranteed happiness, then I'd just be spinning my wheels.

I believe it was Peikoff who said that virtue is not automatically rewarded, but that does not change the fact that it is rewarded. That's my story, anyway. Like I said, everyone gets (or loses) their beliefs in a different way.