Monday, July 28, 2008

Close Encounter Of The Objectivist Kind

Remember my customized Starbucks card? The one that says "Ayn Rand was right" on it? Well, I used it today to get myself and the kids some drinks after we went to the bank [insert gasp of amazement that I actually ran an out-of-the-house errand, not to mention am blogging about it, here].

The Starbucks Peopleguy who rang up my order noticed it and said to me excitedly, "I love Ayn Rand! I'm reading Atlas Shrugged right now! It's amazing!" He looked like he's probably a college student, about the same age I was when I first read everything.

So of course I said "Hooray!" and "It changed my life, reading that book!" and bragged about the Rearden Steel sticker on my back window and was generally just as happy and encouraging as I could possibly be. And glad I'm not in college any more, that I could be an example of an adult-type person with a minivan and rugrats and still be into Objectivism. Such a sight would have floored me when I was in college. I always enjoyed meeting post-college-Objectivist-types back then, I think because I had a niggling suspicion that many people "dropped" Objectivism after a while (and perhaps that's true). But I never met a person with a family. In fact, I never even met a woman, now that I think about it!

I love having these kinds of moments--they happen a few times a year. In fact, I had two separate wonderfully positive conversations about Ayn Rand in the parking lot of the homeschool enrichment program earlier this spring. It's usually been the case that people who take the time to comment have nice things to say. Every once in a while I get an eye roll and every once in a very great while I'll have someone try to argue some point with me (and they have often grossly misunderstood Ayn Rand or Objectivism in some way, e.g., that Objectivists never ever give to charity and the like). But mostly, I get happiness and enthusiasm. Isn't that a happy thing? :o)

So yay for Starbucks and their customized card program and for not rejecting my Ayn Rand card (despite their silliness over the phrase "laissez faire"--maybe 'cause it's French?)! And the banana chocolate smoothie thing is really yummy, too.


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Hi, Jenn,

It's wonderful when you do those first little errands after delivery, reminding you that there's "a whole world out there." I remember feeling wonderfully decadant after my first when I could actually stroller down to the post office in less than 2.5 hours and two diaper changes! Welcome back to the land of living, as my Bapoo used to say.

Well, you know, I read Ayn Rand first in high school and early college. I got to actually see her on the Phil Donohue show (I am dating myself) a few times, too. But I never did meet another woman who wanted children that also enjoyed her work, as I did.

I am not, and probably will never be considered an Objectivist, and I strayed far from my early fascination with her work--I'll have to blog that sometime--mostly due to some of the rather nasty behavior I encountered among her supporters and followers.

This year, though, partly due to your blog as well as other influences, I re-read Atlas Shrugged. I am amazed all over again at what a good read the book is, and how prophetic Rand was about where our culture was heading even then.

This is overlong, but my point is that I would have so liked to have met you, then.

Rational Jenn said...

Hi Elisheva! Each time I have emerged from the New Mommy Cocoon, it's been slightly surprising to me that the world has somehow continued without me! (The nerve of people, really, LOL!) But it's also very comforting in a way. I'm definitely ready to be Out There, and little by little we'll get there.

I'm glad you re-read Atlas and am interested in hearing your thoughts about it. It's a shame that you--so many of us, really--have encountered some not-very-nice people who call themselves Objectivists. It was a big turnoff for me as well--I distanced myself from "official" Objectivists for many years after college for that reason. Eventually, I found some friends who are Objectivists and very nice people, too. It happens more often than I realized, I'm happy to say, and I wish I hadn't stayed away so long.

The events depicted in Atlas Shrugged are eerily paralleled these days. Makes me wish more people would read it. Hopefully some of the good things that happen in the book will be paralleled, too.

And I can't remember when I've had a nicer compliment, thanks! I've always enjoyed meeting thoughtful people who are interesting and I'm happy to know you (in cyberspace at least)! Although there is a possibility that my parents will move back to Santa Fe, so if that happens, we'll have to meet up sometime!

Bye for now!

Rob Diego said...

Nice post. I was re-reading Anthem a few weeks ago and had a copy with me at the local Grindstone Charlies. The waitress told me she loved Anthem and that it was her favorite book. She was very young and it was almost unbelievable that she would say such a thing. Wow! even in my own neighborhood. I wanted to say, "Would you like to meet my son?" lol. Sometimes I wonder what it means when someone says they have met Objectivists and they were not very nice. If a person is truly rationally selfish, which means they are pursuing values that are indeed in their self-interest, I can't see that they would be "un-nice" people. Perhaps they really weren't Objectivist. Sometimes I think people assume that if someone is aggressive and chauvinistic that they are Objectivists simply because they claim to like Ayn Rand...but really don't understand Ayn Rand.

Rory said...

Someone already pointed it out: the people who drop Objectivism are the ones that don't understand it. Hell, I know I've barely just begun, but 'Objectivism Through Induction' is already making me realise how, without it, I could have gone on with a completely rationalistic understanding without even realising it.
He describes the average Objectivist thought process, when thinking about Objectivism as, 'Well, I know reason is man's means of survival because man is the rational animal and because he has a conceptual faculty and therefore he doesn't live like an animal'.
It's not that the individual claims here aren't true, it's just that they aren't a legitimate basis for knowledge.
I think the problem is a lot of Objectivists are pretty smart, smart enough that they can learn pretty much all of OPAR, they can even put it into their own words, but they still never actually induce the thing from reality. They just deduce it from what they read in books - they just connect ideas together.
The ideas eventually combine into a giant Zeppelin of a floating abstraction, tied down with a few cables which are casually snipped by some arguments you didn't think of, until eventually you get sick of carrying that weight around and cry that you want the freedom to be non-Objective at times... and so you run off and join The Atlas Society. :D That their namesake is that of a man bearing a huge weight upon his back is very appropriate.

Sue said...

That card is really cool and so is your encounter. Where did you get a Rearden Steel sticker? I just read Atlas Shrugged a few months ago, although I've been learning about it from my father for a while (he first read her books when he was 21). I'd love to get him that sticker.