Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ode to hermithood

More Objectivist oddities from the ObjectivismOnline forum:

"David Blaine" says:

In a world where world is concerned only with world,
where people are concerned only with people, [whatever that's supposed to mean!]

...where quite people concentrated on living their life are being looked down lower than the street beggar,

ummm.. I don't know what kind of "world" you are referring to here lol

where as much as you try to escape the 'formalities' of the society... you're not allowed to survive or exist unless you follow it...

Ok, I don't even need to go on. How about we dump his ass on a mountain middle of nowhere, miles away from the nearest human being? He'll be allowed to "survive and exist" without the "formalities of society" to his heart's content.


Michael Prescott said...

That "poem" is pretty sad - in every sense of the word. I would guess that it was written by a high school student. Hard to say if he's really this depressed or just posing. If his depression is real, he needs counseling, as he could be suicidal.

In general, I would say that the quality of people attracted to Rand's ideas has declined somewhat since the days when I was involved in the movement (late '70s to mid '80s). The reason, I think, is that so much more is now known about Rand that it's harder to view her as an infallible guru. When I became an Objectivist, the only bio of Rand was the hagiographic Who Is Ayn Rand? by the Brandens. It was still possible to see her as the living embodiment of rationality and heroic individualism. Now we know so much about her personal life that it requires massive evasion and rationalization to see her as anything other than a profoundly screwed up person.

Also, in the old days there was almost no detailed criticism of Rand's ideas in print. It was still possible for her followers to maintain that Rand's arguments were unanswerable. Today, any Web search will turn up cogent critiques of Rand's theories, and books by Greg Nyquist and Scott Ryan are readily available via Amazon. It's much harder for anyone to be bamboozled by her rhetotic.

The result is that the people who still fall for her tend to be even more immature and cultish than Objectivists of the past. Or at least that's how it seems to me.

I'm not talking here about people who read Rand and agree with only part of what she says, or people who just like her fiction. I mean people, such as the author of this "poem," who construct a rigid worldview out of Rand's writings and basically act as supplicants genuflecting before her sacred memory. To be that passionate about Ayn Rand, given all that we now know about her and her ideas, is a sign of something other than intellectual agreement.

Meg's Marginalia said...

No doubt the kid in question has issues. Maybe he's depressed but even if he is the thing that strikes me is his sense of entitlement - he thinks he wants, no deserves, to live free of the aspects of "society" he doesn't like. Like you said, I was trying to point out the bitterness and immaturity so common in Rand's fans, and the untenability of their views.

So they think, a la Rand, that they want to live and exist apart from society, but I don't think they actually mean it. Unless you want to live all by yourself on top of a mountain, grow your own food, build your own shelter, you NEED the goods and services that other people produce, and need to interact with people. That's the free market of economics, which Randians hold so dear.

When it comes down to it Objectivists want the benefits of living in society, ie access to food, shelter, transport etc etc but don't want play by its rules, even the most basic ones of being civil in interactions with others. I was just trying to point out the irony in his, and Rand's contempt for society. Seriously without the moochers and looters and libertarians and liberals and conservatives and other non-Objectivist abominations, that grow the food that he eats and runs the banks, transport services etc that he uses, where would he be?

Jay said...

The poem is a bit melodramatic but not completely unfounded. However I think a much more sensible post was made a bit further down the page..

"Do you know why men similar to Roark manage to survive? It's because they know that all the evil in the world cannot penetrate their souls. No matter how much it accumulates, the 'formalities', the abuse, the guilt, the shame, the rebuttal of reason - it's all based on fear, irrationality and denial. One clean soul can cut through it all like butter."

That seems like a healthy way to think. When I was 17 I was probably closer to the kid who wrote the poem. These days (21) I try to focus more on positive things: building a company, doing well in school, trying to win over a girl I like. Ultimately that stuff is what matters, not some protracted culture war.

Hopefully he'll realize that one day.