Brief Statement on Rand

24 Nov 2008

Good lord, this won't make sense to anyone, but... I don't have time for a long entry on this topic yet, but I wanted to post one more item atop my "Patrick on Politics" blog, just for future visitors. You see, I get the occasional email from Ayn Rand devotees praising my apparent devotion to the philosopher. It's true; I went through a long and thorough study of Rand's works. Drink deep or taste not the waters, right?

But, I was a bit of a different person then... While I have my personal, philosophical problems with Rand (some of which I've previously disclosed herein), I'll be the first to admit that I still regard her highly among philosophers. (Not that my opinion means anything in the grand scheme... but, hey, *you're* here reading my opinion -- so it matters a little, I guess.) While people change ideologies sometimes, as I have, I also do not believe that it's necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I may not, for example, revere the modern skyscraper as a symbol of mankind's greatest potential achievement, but I do acknowledge that, for the individual who built it (meaning, in Randian terms, the Howard Roark), it's a stunningly phenomenal accomplishment. So, a lot of her ideas about man's potential and economics and political corruption still resonate.

But, back to the skyscraper example... I'm likely more frustrated with myself for not recognizing earlier that such monuments, while achievements for those who designed them, serve out their utilitarian lives largely as self-inflicted prisons for their inhabitants. It's a weird thing, really -- that something like that could simultaneously be one person's greatest accomplishment and another person's prison. I'm not suggesting it takes away from the accomplishment of the architect, either. For, the inhabitants of such prisons put themselves there on their own (many not realizing why). On the other hand, if the architect is aware of the building's ultimate function (providing an enormous waste of time for all human life inside), then seeing it to fruition is actually not an achievement but rather an act of extraordinary malice.

For me personally -- and, how *else* are we to judge anything, but subjectively? -- the skyscraper, the legendary-mythical taroic "tower," came crashing down in September 2008. It was revealed to me then that many of the things I'd thought were important in life (e.g., occupying an office in said skyscraper) meant absolutely *nothing* in the grand scheme. I thought of Shelley's poem: "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

This stuff, this corporate BS, doesn't last. We're not meant to labor our lives away shuffling papers around uninspiring offices in exchange for a pittance. Or even for a fortune. Money is fine and dandy, but we so freely give our lives away these days, uncaringly wasting precious time that could be put to use on things much, much more rewarding. What lasts are memories, experiences, loves, spiritual development, interactions with others, journeys, laughter, music, literature, the arts, joy, light. Not "finishing the Ferguson report." God, I'm so fucking done with that.

I could imagine two awful scenarios related to all this: (1) Never having experienced the awakening I've had lately, or (2) Having had it very late in life, just prior to death. I'm not sure which would have been worse. But, fortunately, here I am at nearly 40 years old, and I'm finally "awake." Better late than never, my friends. Maybe that's my message after all.

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