Ayn Rand/Objectivism Sightings
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Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand!
She was everything I ever wanted—& want—to encounter in another human being. Bored by trivia, exasperated by prattle, laser-fast in penetrating the core of things, sizzlingly passionate about her values, exultantly enamoured of greatness, devastatingly dismissive of mediocrity, shudderingly contemptuous of the air-headed Lillian Rearden-type preoccupation with "respectability," fearlessly defiant in her pursuit of the truth ... she was to me what Roark was to the boy on the bicycle. She rumbled the stars ...
This "Year of Ayn Rand," the 100TH anniversary of Rand’s birth on a cold winter night in St. Petersburg, is, for me, a reason to remember the "stops along the way" that I experienced when I read The Fountainhead at the age of fifteen, and later, in my early twenties, when I had the privilege of reading the manuscript of Atlas Shrugged as Rand was writing it.
Do you recall your stops—the passages in Rand’s works that reached you most deeply and personally and after which you knew your life would never be quite the same again? Perhaps you will want to recollect them as I’ve been recollecting mine and examining them to understand more fully what points I had reached. It is an incomparable way of learning about oneself. ...
With me, it started with The Fountainhead, a book my oldest friend (of 58 years) gave me saying, "I think you will like this." Thanks Joe. That was in the late 50s or early 60s. And the rest is history, or at least philosophy. But not instantly. I later read and re-read Atlas but had no clue Rand was a philosopher until, in 1964, I walked into a bookstore in Philadelphia and saw The Virtue of Selfishness. I sent in the postcard that was inside the book and started on what was to become a career in philosophy. ...
I am grateful to Ayn Rand for many things, but most of all for her conception of this larger-than-life character who has come to mean so much to me. Her words were so incredibly vivid that Francisco jumped from the pages of Atlas Shrugged to pull me into his world and live in it alongside him, moment by moment.
In the end, what Rand gave to me in Francisco d’Anconia was a kindred spirit who, though he lived only in the pages of a novel, could be honored and celebrated with every one of my heartbeats. ...
The greatest gift she gave me was her uncompromised love of living, what she called her sense-of-life. It permeates everything she wrote and makes her stand out for me, alone, above all others. Ayn Rand wrote the words that explain MY love of life, my inspiration, a thousand times, in a thousand places, in a thousand different ways. She described the joy of the battle not only for survival, but for the achievement of the good and the true. ...
Ayn Rand will not only be remembered as a major intellectual of the 20th century who challenged a collectivist world, her powerful and cohesive philosophy is capable of significantly improving the future. Her works can be highly instrumental in teaching people about the importance of meta-normative mutual consent and the desirability of a libertarian political system grounded in the larger framework of her Objectivist philosophy. Rand’s philosophy is a powerful tool to educate, persuade, and convert people to a moral political and economic order that reflects the true nature of man and the world. ...
After all these years of too much distracting gossip about Ayn Rand, it is time to stop it and have everyone get to the meat of her philosophy. It doesn’t matter how angry she tended to be at times, how she blew up at folks, how many people she slept with, how often she gave in to the temptation to make her own idiosyncratic tastes the stuff of universally great art. OK, Rand was, contrary to her own self-delusions, not perfect.
It doesn’t matter. What matters is whether what she thought about various philosophical topics is true, as true as possible in philosophy. ...
The radical way in which she induced and integrated ideas, provided incisive methods of thinking and challenged us to go to the root of social problems to find their solutions means that, a further hundred years from now, the name Ayn Rand will be inscribed alongside those of the giants of Western thought. ...
And finally, a tribute penned by me and published with nine signatures attached in The Evening Post, Wellington New Zealand, shortly after Rand’s death in March, 1982:
For your magnificent achievement in formulating the philosophy of Objectivism;
For your incomparable literary epics, The Fountainheadand Atlas Shrugged;
For your untiring battle against mediocrity, triviality, the cult of the parasite & the second-hander;
For your fearless advocacy of reason, individualism and laissez-faire capitalism;
For your unassailable exposure of the moral bankruptcy of all forms of collectivism, mysticism and altruism;
For your unflinching commitment to the heroic, the perfect–the total passion for the total height—and your own embodiment thereof …
We salute you!
May all lovers of freedom pause and acknowledge their debt.
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