Antenna Guru

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Tag Archives: Atlas Shrugged

Brain Damage

I was doing my best to read Atlas Shrugged, because the book is in the news and mentioned by friends of mine. I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t seem to connect with the story – I just felt I didn’t know any people who thought and acted like these characters and I could not suspend my disbelief.

Instead, I indulged in one of my favorite pastimes, reading about near-death experience (NDE).

There was another book being talked about, a new one, entitled, Proof of HeavenI pre-ordered the Kindle version and read it through in about a day-and-a-half. [Disclaimer: I have tried to link to op-ed pieces that distinctly disagree with my PoV hoping to enrich the dialog for you.] As I was reading Dr. Alexander’s description of his experience, it struck me how similar his word choices were to my attempts to describe the World of Ideas… 

I am aware of other PoV’s. That there is a religion gene. That spirituality is a mind virus. Scientists, by definition, do not have these kinds of thoughts; therefore people such as Drs. Alexander and Taylor have disqualified themselves as scientists. Clearly, there are people who think religious faith and spirituality are forms of brain damage.

Some of us think the opposite: To not perceive the spiritual portion of reality is akin to being color blind or tone deaf. Thankfully, it doesn’t last forever.

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Left Out

Quote from novelist Ayn Rand.

Quote from novelist Ayn Rand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might be wondering, “What does Ralph Waldo Emerson have to do with either Ayn Rand or prepping?”

I Googled +Ayn +Rand +Ralph +Waldo +Emerson and found this quote:

[Some People] might say: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” They got it from a very little mind, Emerson.

http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/essays/emerson.html

The word, ‘foolish’ is left out, as is the end of the sentence, “… adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Without that word, foolish, the quote fragment sounds as if it could have come from some spoiled teenage ditz’s reference to her hair-do.

This is similar to another problem I keep having: When I read Atlas Shrugged, I don’t find myself. A character like me is just not there, so I feel left out.

It is far easier to disagree with someone’s ideas if you leave out some of their words.

What might RWE have been thinking when he wrote those words? How about party politics? How about a philosophy that says in essence, “If I can’t take a picture of it then it isn’t real?” Maybe he was speaking against religious fundamentalism?

Maybe RWE was simply saying we should say what we honestly think & feel and if in the future our thoughts & feelings change, we should own that change.

Self Reliance

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. …

English: Daguerreotype of Ralph Waldo Emerson,...

Ralph Waldo Emerson. Courtesy of the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.— ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ —Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ayn Rand contributed Objectivism to society. I see it as a nice counterpoise to Emerson’s philosophy (Transcendentalism). Atlas Shrugged is similarly counterpoised to prepping, perhaps. I am thankful for the space created by the tension of things set in opposition, the fabric, pegs and pole of a big circus tent where we all get to participate.

Having a sort of anti-realist point of view as I do, it is hard has become impossible for me to insist on matters of fact; I certainly have my own, and you probably have your own, but I don’t expect you to share all of mine nor vice versa. Gridlock ensues when we insist on our personal facts of the matter.

Strike!

Stanisław Lentz [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“What if I went on strike? What if all the creative minds of the world went on strike?”

–Ayn Rand

I grew up near Delaware County, New York, learning about the Anti-rent War of 1839 to 1852. The anti-rent war was definitely about makers vs. takers. Here is Howard Zinn‘s description:

When a deputy arrived in the farming area [of the Catskills] with writs demanding the rent, farmers suddenly appeared, assembled by the blowing of tin horns. They seized his writs and burned them. That December, a sheriff and a mounted posse of five hundred rode into the farm country, but found themselves in the midst of shrieking tin horns, eighteen hundred farmers blocking their path, six hundred more blocking their rear, all mounted, armed with pitchforks and clubs. The sheriff and his posse turned back, the rear guard parting to let them through. This was the start of the Anti-Renter movement in the Hudson Valley, described by Henry Christman in Tin Horns and Calico. It was a protest against the patroonship system, which went back to the 1600s when the Dutch ruled New York, a system where (as Christman describes it) “a few families, intricately intermarried, controlled the destinies of three hundred thousand people and ruled in almost kingly splendor near two million acres of land.” … Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs trying to serve writs on farmers were surrounded by calico-clad riders who had been summoned by tin horns sounding in the countryside-then tarred and feathered. The New York Herald, once sympathetic, now deplored “the insurrectionary spirit of the mountaineers.”

English: A poster supporting the Anti-Rent Mov...

English: A poster supporting the Anti-Rent Movement, aimed to end the patroon system in Rensselaer County, New York, United States, set to take place in the town of Nassau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When a deputy sheriff tried to sell the livestock of a farmer named Moses Earle, who owed $60 rent on 160 stony acres, there was a fight, and the deputy was killed. Similar attempts to sell livestock for rent payments were thwarted, again and again. The governor sent three hundred troops in, declaring a state of rebellion existed, and soon almost a hundred Anti-Renters were in jail. Smith Boughton, a country doctor on horseback,  was brought to trial. He was charged with taking papers from a sheriff but declared by the judge to have in fact committed “high treason, rebellion against your government, and armed insurrection” and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The power of the law thus crushed the Anti-Rent movement. It was intended to make clear that farmers could not win by fighting-that they must confine their efforts to voting, to acceptable methods of reform. In 1845, the Anti-Renters elected fourteen members to the state legislature. Governor Silas Wright now commuted to life imprisonment the two death sentences and asked the legislature to give relief to the tenants, to end the feudal system in the Hudson Valley. Proposals to break up the huge estates on the death of the owners were defeated, but the legislature voted to make illegal the selling of tenant property for nonpayment of rent. A constitutional convention that year outlawed new feudal leases.

The farmers had fought, been crushed by the law, their struggle diverted into voting, and the system stabilized by enlarging the class of small landowners, leaving the basic structure of rich and poor intact. It was a common sequence in American history.

I, as a “creative mind”, have gone “on strike” against corporate wrongdoing. Without going into details, I can assure you that the injustice I fought against ultimately subsided, but at a huge personal and professional cost. When you “go on strike” in the real world, you don’t get to just disappear; you get more visible, become easily targeted, your bills continue and the stresses on your family escalate. So, I somewhat agree with Ms. Rand’s “Sanction of the Victim” argument. But I would instead re-cast the argument to read, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

Atlas Shrugged? Really?

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Le...

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Lee Lawrie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every Sunday morning I try to write something down about what happened to me during the previous week. This past week what has been most interesting to me (personally) is that my struggling business endeavor has found a measure of success. But two other events occurred that, taken together, have persuaded me to forego discussing my personal happiness and attempt to present my philosophical perspective on current events.

This will take some time, because I don’t want to “shoot from the lip” –probably the rest of August– and I may take the time to post mid-week updates.

Thanks for being patient with me.

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