Monday, August 07, 2006

These Are Crazy Days But They Make Me Shine

I've been stressed lately. In a good way. In the way that I know the pressure is on me and if I don't make things happen there is no one to blame but myself. Working on a lot of big things concerning the band and my personal life and a helping an amazing friend with a huge project in Marshalltown. Working nights at the Maid Rite on top of it all. Everything is up in the air right now...trying to pull it all down to the ground and set it all in motion. I want to blow past everyone who goes with the flow and allows themselves to be dragged around by forces the PERCEIVE to be stronger than their body/mind/soul...I want to make shit happen and make it last and I want to feel the satisfaction that can only come from hard work and accomplishment. I might sound like an asshole but I don't feel like one and I know I can't afford to be humble right now. Why have i sometimes felt that i should be common, mediocre and apologetic. Is this what I was taught? It takes all kinds of people to make the world go round...but who really moves the world? The real essence of life belongs to those who took risks and never doubted and succeeded...while others looked on nervously...discouraged them because they were cowards and didn't want to take a risk and fail...but inevitably came shuffling along to share in the success and recognition long after someone had to stand by themselves and beleif and fight and take criticism of a cowardly world. I have played both roles at different points in my life and I know which one makes me feel like i am bursting with life and I know which one makes me feel like a waste of skin.


Discovering Ayn Rand has helped me tremendously...this is one of the key concepts to her philosopy of Objectivism.

Ayn Rand's THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS Introduction:

The title of this book may evoke the kind of question that I hear once in a while: "Why do you use the word 'selfishness' to denote virtuous qualities of character, when that word antagonizes so many people to whom it does not mean the things you mean?"
To those who ask it, my answer is: "For the reason that makes you afraid of it."
But there are others, who would not ask that question, sensing the moral cowardice it implies, yet who are unable to formulate my actual reason or to identify the proufound moral issue involved. It is to them that I will give a more explicit answer.
It is not a mere semantic issue nor a matter of arbitrary choice. The meaning ascribed in popular usage to the word "selfishness" is not merely wrong: it represents a devastating intellectual "package-deal," which is responsible, more than any other single factor, for the arrested moral development of mankind.
In popular usage, the word "selfishness" is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment.
Yet the exact meaning and dectionary definition of the word "selfishness" is: concern with one's own interests.
This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one's own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man's actual interests. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions.
The ethics of altruism has created the image of the brute, as its answer, in order to make men accept two inhuman tenets: (a) that any concern with one's own interests is evil, regardless of what these interests might be, and (b) that the brute's activities are in fact to one's own interest (which altruism enjoins man to renounce for the sake of his neighbors).
For a view of the nature of altruism, its consequences and the enormity of the moral corruption it perpetrates, I shall refer you to Atlas Shrugged- or to any of today's newspaper headlines. What concerns us here is altruism's default in the field of ethical theory.
There are two moral questions which altruism lumps together in one "package-deal": (1) What are values? (2) Who should be the beneficiary of values? Altruism substitutes the second for the first; it evades the task of defining a code of moral values, thus leaving man, in fact, without moral guidance.
Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one's own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value-and so long as the beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes.
Hence the appaling immorality, the chronic injustice, the grotesque double standards, the insoluble conflicts and contraditctions that have characterized human relationships and human societies throughout history, under all the variants of the altruist ethics.

you can buy the book for cheap here if you are interested:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0451163931/sr=8-1/qid=1154995511/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-2806112-5490244?ie=UTF8

Comment if you want to discuss.


Ellis said...
There are certainly times in life when we have to hurt others feelings to take care of ourselves. I would have liked to read on further in order to discover just how Rand believes putting others first causes such a great deal of immorality and injustice, but I do feel that we have a moral obligation to love OTHERS as we love OURSELVES..hence, you must be willing to love yourself as you would any common man composing humanity as well as seek out the joy that is left in a world that grows more increasingly cold with time. My 2 cents...interesting stuff for sure.
12:59 AM

GI Kate said...
I think there comes a point in life when one decides if they want to be part of the machine that makes day-to-day life go around…or if they want to put themselves out there and say, fuck it…I’m going to do it my way…and maybe I’ll create something bigger and better. I think a lot of people find comfort in what’s right in front of them and that’s the only thing they will go after. I personally think its difficult when you strive to break away from everything you’ve ever known, including friends and family, to try and take a chance and then the people that are suppose to support you look at you like you’re selfish and greedy. Funny thing is, if you fail and have to start over they’ll be right where you left them asking you what went wrong and have the “I told you so” mentality. Needless to say, no one views life like you do…so why live your life the why they see fit?
8:32 AM

Anonymous said...
I have to say that I am very intrigued by what you wrote here. Given my own experiences I feel that I am in a similar position as you. Many friends of mine are on their way to finishing college or have just finished and for the most part they all have fantastic jobs lined up for them but I noticed the dynamics as well as the content of our talks has changed dramatically. We used to discuss how big the world is and how it’s just there for us to reap but now it seems like I’m being lectured on the importance of getting good health care plan. You know…just in case something happen. All the time I think to myself “what’s the fucking point of having the health plan, if your thoughts are ‘in case something happens’.” There is no need for risk management, if no risks are going to be taken.Now I feel like a little bit of a fan boy quoting you but it’s like the lyric you have “how did it feel to fail, how did it feel to feel?” people want their lives to be exciting and meaningful and almost euphoric but the don’t understand that simply isn’t going to happen unless they put everything on the line. I study literature and writing at school and came across this interesting passage that I think illustrates the point:"My definition of story excludes many narrative pieces that others routinely call a story. What are they if not stories? What are these written accounts in which characters, goals, conflicts, and struggles are not clearly defined? We will call them incidents.An incident is simply an event, something that happens. We tell each other about incidents every day. Few real stories happen to us, but incidents happen regularly. Rational humans work very hard, in fact, to keep incidents from becoming stories by avoiding the conflict and struggle, the risk and danger, that are required of a story. Most of what we share in informal, daily conversation and storytellings are really incidents. Incidents can, and often do, contain tragedy, trauma, and loss. They describe and engender strong emotions. Still, without identifiable conflict and struggle, an incident is simply something that happens.Incidents become stories when the writer redirects the presentation, away from plot and toward the characters. Only after the writer makes this conversion will characters, and their goals and motives, conflicts and flaws, risks and struggles, be brought to the fore to engage the reader."I sometimes too feel like an asshole because regardless of how much I am doing in my life, I still don’t feel like it’s enough. I am never satisfied with what I’ve done. Perhaps I want to be like John Galt and achieve something so big that it stops the world. It could be sheer egoism on my part but I believe we have that potential. Look at celebrities; they barely do anything and still they press and radio and film revolves around them. That’s not even mentioning all the everyday people who obsess over them and spend their idle time talking about these celebrities. Imagine what would happen if that kind of power was used to bring people together in a positive manner. To create community.I feel as if I am ranting now, but I would like to discuss this in a more in-depth manner.Scottie
8:34 AM

Elona said...
Hey, I think the reason why people feel the need to be mediocre and apologetic is because of the type of role models around us at an early age. I can only speak for myself but I remember witnessing adults that I grew up around being complacent and wearing a fake smile all day and when in the privacy of their own home they voice their frustrations about their career, life, friends, etc. and trying to find another way to live. I used to ask them why don't they do something else, something they've dreamed of and they'd say "I'm too scared" "I won't make any money" "I'm not good enough" etc. which very cowardly way to get through life. For most of my childhood I thought you had to be that way. I thought that you had to go with the flow and never go against the type of societal bullshit out there because if I did then I would fail or I wouldn't have a lot of friends. Sometimes the people you surround yourself with would rather you fail so they can feel comfortable with their own mediocrity. Well, now I have learned that if I don't go for what I want then I'll never have it and I'll be like most people, scared to express their ideas for fear of rejection amongst their peers. And I never ask another person's opinion about something I really want to do before I do it because they always try to talk you out of it, then when you succeed they say they were behind you every step of the way.Most people want to put others on pedestals that are already gotten their success because they think there is a certain type of personality/background that is deserving of success.I think thats bullshit. Everyone has the ability to succeed in what they want its just a matter of how much they are willing to work for it. I also think that in today's society people have lost pride in hard, honest work.I think this quote by Oscar Wilde sums it up: There are moments when one has to choose between living one's own life, fully, entirely, completely - or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands.
10:45 AM

Witness said...
Thanks for all of your thoughts...so much to respond to i don't know where to begin. Scottie...where you from? I might or might not know who you are. I think a distinction to be made is that Rand isn't really talking about feelings or love implicitly. She is talking about Actions and Tangible things. Whether that be a great work of art or the steel that built the railroads....those things that were NECESSARY and helped humanity in some way. In either of those cases...let's say it's Hank Reardon and Van Gogh...so they both get rich and famous from the things they did...wouldn't they inevitably be called "selfish" and "egotistical" "antisocial"? but why? if they were truly all those things why did they spend their lives giving a gift like that that helped so many people and enriched so many lives? Why is the poor unemployed man not the selfish, egotistical, greedy one?? He lives off the generosity of employers, government, landlords. Maybe because he makes no one feel uncomfortable, cowardly or unaccomplished? He is a good guy because you can look down on him and know that you are superior in some way?
11:59 AM

Anonymous said...
Except that it isn't that black and white. Rand isn't saying the poor man is necessarily greedy or useless. She argues that the freedom to use our abilities and make full use of our productivity are to embraced. (Hence why she supports capitalism on principle) And those that do not fulfill their potential, should not expect handouts from those that do.Good Will Hunting is a Rand-ian example.
2:08 PM

Anonymous said...
Scottie here, I don't think you know me. I live in Connecticut and go to shows just about wherever but We've never met. I wrote you an email a few weeks ago. I cannot remember what its content was, but most likely as a response to the band or your blog.I understand what your getting at with the idea of being paid for your art. My roommate and I constantly debate over the validity of Shakespeare. Shes coming from the idea that essentially writing for the Globe was his job and his motivations were fiscal rather than art.I myself take another stance. I myself feel I have not realized the impact he had; I often say he is somewhat overrated. The thing is its that impact that cannot be denied, Yes this was his day to day job, and perhaps he was getting paid handsomely for it. But we can't forget that it was art nonetheless and given the content of his work, it was made without passion. Dude obviously cared about the craft of writing.Not to marginilize the conversation here either but look at that last comment you made in the scope of punk rock, or anything really. Once you start to set your ambitions a little bit higher, they start to get shit on, often times by many of your peers or people who once respected your art . In the scope of music; when a band plays a larger club or gets a better deal the screams of "sellout" are almost immediate. Same things with friends, they support you to a point. Once you get out of the zone they are comfortable with, they stop supporting you or almost secretly want you to fail so they can say " i told you so" and like you said before, its all bred from the idea that never in their life would they muster up the courage to do something like that. its that fear of failure that paralyzes them.In a larger scope it can become a little harder to make sense of the issue. You look at all these tycoons who make hundreds of millions of dollars with thier services. They had a dream and they went out thier and achieved it. Because they make the money, people see them as greedy like you mentioned. what are you thoughts on success in that fashion; when is enough money for someone? is it okay as long as no one is exploited? there are legitimate businesses who treat employees well and still turn a strong profit. Also If you have the time i'd like to know what you think abotu the double edged swoard situation. I live in a Willimantic, a town that was featured on 60 minutes for its Heroin epidemic. We have a Wal-Mart and its a given that a store like that is pretty much the antichrist. However many people of the town work there and its the only place that would employ them. Also its the only place where many of the residents can afford to shop. In a way it's a saving grace to these people. Sure there are many who hate the place but often they are the same ones who are well above the poverty line.any thoughts?Scottie
2:27 PM

Tolli said...
What I got out of reading Ayn Rand was a very strong conviction that man's natural state is to come to understand that he is human. We all have an ego, a desire to proclaim something as "I" and "mine"; a need to change and alter things to suit our vision of how they should be. Not necessarily for good or bad, but because it feeds our need for self-efficacy. We feel in control of our lives, and hard work serves that need, so that we are fulfilled. In that way I am sure happiness can be achieved because our productive interests can combine to allow us freedoms that were not possible without others (ie. the village utopia at the end of the book). This picture of man in his natural state - with ego comes the hard work of a man, and to that man his territory... land, riches. In a time when the world was still expanding you had the freedom to do that.I think what the book was saying is that in a world that's run out of space, in which riches are available to those who don't work and will not learn the means to produce, the only way to preserve the ego and to carve out your own path is to drop out. Drop out of society's ideals and expectations and refuse to compromise your own being to those who don't understand what it means to be "i". It's like Hank Rearden, it's like the Long Distance Runner, it's the Young Man Blues of every punk kid growing up in the suburbs when they realise that all they strive to build can be taken away or co-opted. Security means nothing and hard work is its own reward if it makes you feel alive.The problem we face though, is that there's no space left, no peace and no rest for those of us who set ourselves up in direct opposition to the common aim of society, which is to collect security for the "what ifs". Without the confidence that they can rebuild the lives which have come into their possession. To us a life of shit and grime is preferable - but I can't agree with Rand, that we should sit back and watch it all fall apart.We should not apologise for who we are or be meek or subservient to those weaker than us. But when conflict is the only alternative, when we need the strength to actively oppose and tear down what others have built, as did Francisco D'Anconia, i can't agree with it. Because for those minds that are not yet developed, have not yet grasped the message and the punk spirit that drives us, they must be given time to decide their place in it, the same as we were afforded when growing up. Ayn Rand's morality justifies killing those with free will who oppose you... but there was a time when I was the mindless fool, and you were too, and I'll be damned if i let any disagreement between rational minds allow that kind of action. Basic human empathy is why governments exist in the first place. If we were all strong enough to be men as we should be, then we'd all be taking care of ourselves.There will always be an element of society that are capable of living up to an egoistic ideal, but are too young or too frail or too misinformed to be who they could yet be. And for all that "ego" brings you, the happiness and sense of self, there is an empathy towards others that demands your ideal be altered to include the fellow men which you can no longer escape. If there is no more space, and nowhere to go, then maybe our own happiness is not all that should drive our decisions - and it should be our desire to desire less, to want and to need only that which is necessary to survive.A meek existence need not be a failure to live your life, but a strength to see that we should not all fend for ourselves if indeed we could not have been happy without others. Because as much as selfishness and ego is in our nature, so is empathy to let others live their lives without interference.
10:37 AM

Tolli said...
After all I've said though, the fact that a guy like you working at a Maid Rite and a guy like me working as a teacher without reward, broke as all hell, putting all we've got into life and love, still causes anger that it is right to feel. For all it's worth, there are people out there who respect you for who you are and what you do. I just figured you deserved to know that.Your music reminds me that I may never be happy, but a restless heart that feels anger and takes action makes my life worthwhile nonetheless.
11:05 AM

Angie said...
Jeff,We are gonna get through all the BS together! But in the meanwhile, start singing yourself this song every morning. Love ya!Moon ChaplinxoInvincible by Pat B.This bloody road remains a mysteryThis sudden darkness fills the airWhat are we waiting for?Won't anybody help us?What are we waiting for?We can't afford to be innocentStand up and face the enemyIt's a do or die situationWe will be invincibleThis shattered dream you cannot justifyWe're gonna scream until we're satisifiedWhat are we running for?We've got the right to be angryWhat are we running for?When there's no where we can run to anymoreWe can't afford to be innocentStand up and face the enemy
9:42 PM

Anonymous said...
I have a dear friend who spent twenty years in prison. He's an artist and political activist, and a brilliant thinker. His time spent in prison was a result of his fight for the liberation of his people. The greatest thing he ever told me was this:"The only way to create change... is to be a part of history."It's simple, it's open, it's a point of departure, really. It's the bold words of a man who has endured torture and missed the first twenty years of his son's life for something he believed in. And he says that all those years, with all the time he spent in that cell and the three in solitary confinement, he never felt like he had enough time in a day. He loves life that way. He values every minute of his own existence. There's pockets of people who care, you know? In the later days we'll all be drinking whiskey on ice together and saying long goodbyes. Our youth is so isolating and I think it's the time where we find our divides. I don't believe coward is a word I would choose for anyone, considering the system of things and the hyperculture we develop in - it's all very isolating, and that isolation is still very present in your writing, here. It's good because it makes us desperate just to find the words. Attachment and pity naturally dont sit well in the hearts of the desperate cause we see too much in everything. That's our selfish root. There's solitude in furious living, in the love of plain air. Kid, you got your love. Just keep that, and smile while you watch the world turn. Because the world has to keep you, too.
7:23 PM

11 Comments:

Blogger Ellis said...

There are certainly times in life when we have to hurt others feelings to take care of ourselves. I would have liked to read on further in order to discover just how Rand believes putting others first causes such a great deal of immorality and injustice, but I do feel that we have a moral obligation to love OTHERS as we love OURSELVES..hence, you must be willing to love yourself as you would any common man composing humanity as well as seek out the joy that is left in a world that grows more increasingly cold with time. My 2 cents...interesting stuff for sure.

12:59 AM  
Blogger GI Kate said...

I think there comes a point in life when one decides if they want to be part of the machine that makes day-to-day life go around…or if they want to put themselves out there and say, fuck it…I’m going to do it my way…and maybe I’ll create something bigger and better. I think a lot of people find comfort in what’s right in front of them and that’s the only thing they will go after. I personally think its difficult when you strive to break away from everything you’ve ever known, including friends and family, to try and take a chance and then the people that are suppose to support you look at you like you’re selfish and greedy. Funny thing is, if you fail and have to start over they’ll be right where you left them asking you what went wrong and have the “I told you so” mentality. Needless to say, no one views life like you do…so why live your life the why they see fit?

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say that I am very intrigued by what you wrote here. Given my own experiences I feel that I am in a similar position as you. Many friends of mine are on their way to finishing college or have just finished and for the most part they all have fantastic jobs lined up for them but I noticed the dynamics as well as the content of our talks has changed dramatically. We used to discuss how big the world is and how it’s just there for us to reap but now it seems like I’m being lectured on the importance of getting good health care plan. You know…just in case something happen. All the time I think to myself “what’s the fucking point of having the health plan, if your thoughts are ‘in case something happens’.” There is no need for risk management, if no risks are going to be taken.
Now I feel like a little bit of a fan boy quoting you but it’s like the lyric you have “how did it feel to fail, how did it feel to feel?” people want their lives to be exciting and meaningful and almost euphoric but the don’t understand that simply isn’t going to happen unless they put everything on the line. I study literature and writing at school and came across this interesting passage that I think illustrates the point:

"My definition of story excludes many narrative pieces that others routinely call a story. What are they if not stories? What are these written accounts in which characters, goals, conflicts, and struggles are not clearly defined? We will call them incidents.

An incident is simply an event, something that happens. We tell each other about incidents every day. Few real stories happen to us, but incidents happen regularly. Rational humans work very hard, in fact, to keep incidents from becoming stories by avoiding the conflict and struggle, the risk and danger, that are required of a story. Most of what we share in informal, daily conversation and storytellings are really incidents. Incidents can, and often do, contain tragedy, trauma, and loss. They describe and engender strong emotions. Still, without identifiable conflict and struggle, an incident is simply something that happens.

Incidents become stories when the writer redirects the presentation, away from plot and toward the characters. Only after the writer makes this conversion will characters, and their goals and motives, conflicts and flaws, risks and struggles, be brought to the fore to engage the reader."

I sometimes too feel like an asshole because regardless of how much I am doing in my life, I still don’t feel like it’s enough. I am never satisfied with what I’ve done. Perhaps I want to be like John Galt and achieve something so big that it stops the world. It could be sheer egoism on my part but I believe we have that potential. Look at celebrities; they barely do anything and still they press and radio and film revolves around them. That’s not even mentioning all the everyday people who obsess over them and spend their idle time talking about these celebrities. Imagine what would happen if that kind of power was used to bring people together in a positive manner. To create community.

I feel as if I am ranting now, but I would like to discuss this in a more in-depth manner.

Scottie

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Elona said...

Hey, I think the reason why people feel the need to be mediocre and apologetic is because of the type of role models around us at an early age. I can only speak for myself but I remember witnessing adults that I grew up around being complacent and wearing a fake smile all day and when in the privacy of their own home they voice their frustrations about their career, life, friends, etc. and trying to find another way to live. I used to ask them why don't they do something else, something they've dreamed of and they'd say "I'm too scared" "I won't make any money" "I'm not good enough" etc. which very cowardly way to get through life.

For most of my childhood I thought you had to be that way. I thought that you had to go with the flow and never go against the type of societal bullshit out there because if I did then I would fail or I wouldn't have a lot of friends. Sometimes the people you surround yourself with would rather you fail so they can feel comfortable with their own mediocrity. Well, now I have learned that if I don't go for what I want then I'll never have it and I'll be like most people, scared to express their ideas for fear of rejection amongst their peers. And I never ask another person's opinion about something I really want to do before I do it because they always try to talk you out of it, then when you succeed they say they were behind you every step of the way.

Most people want to put others on pedestals that are already gotten their success because they think there is a certain type of personality/background that is deserving of success.I think thats bullshit. Everyone has the ability to succeed in what they want its just a matter of how much they are willing to work for it. I also think that in today's society people have lost pride in hard, honest work.

I think this quote by Oscar Wilde sums it up: There are moments when one has to choose between living one's own life, fully, entirely, completely - or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Witness said...

Thanks for all of your thoughts...
so much to respond to i don't know where to begin.
Scottie...where you from? I might or might not know who you are.

I think a distinction to be made is that Rand isn't really talking about feelings or love implicitly. She is talking about Actions and Tangible things. Whether that be a great work of art or the steel that built the railroads....those things that were NECESSARY and helped humanity in some way. In either of those cases...let's say it's Hank Reardon and Van Gogh...so they both get rich and famous from the things they did...wouldn't they inevitably be called "selfish" and "egotistical" "antisocial"? but why? if they were truly all those things why did they spend their lives giving a gift like that that helped so many people and enriched so many lives? Why is the poor unemployed man not the selfish, egotistical, greedy one?? He lives off the generosity of employers, government, landlords. Maybe because he makes no one feel uncomfortable, cowardly or unaccomplished? He is a good guy because you can look down on him and know that you are superior in some way?

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except that it isn't that black and white. Rand isn't saying the poor man is necessarily greedy or useless. She argues that the freedom to use our abilities and make full use of our productivity are to embraced. (Hence why she supports capitalism on principle) And those that do not fulfill their potential, should not expect handouts from those that do.

Good Will Hunting is a Rand-ian example.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scottie here, I don't think you know me. I live in Connecticut and go to shows just about wherever but We've never met. I wrote you an email a few weeks ago. I cannot remember what its content was, but most likely as a response to the band or your blog.


I understand what your getting at with the idea of being paid for your art. My roommate and I constantly debate over the validity of Shakespeare. Shes coming from the idea that essentially writing for the Globe was his job and his motivations were fiscal rather than art.

I myself take another stance. I myself feel I have not realized the impact he had; I often say he is somewhat overrated. The thing is its that impact that cannot be denied, Yes this was his day to day job, and perhaps he was getting paid handsomely for it. But we can't forget that it was art nonetheless and given the content of his work, it was made without passion. Dude obviously cared about the craft of writing.

Not to marginilize the conversation here either but look at that last comment you made in the scope of punk rock, or anything really. Once you start to set your ambitions a little bit higher, they start to get shit on, often times by many of your peers or people who once respected your art . In the scope of music; when a band plays a larger club or gets a better deal the screams of "sellout" are almost immediate. Same things with friends, they support you to a point. Once you get out of the zone they are comfortable with, they stop supporting you or almost secretly want you to fail so they can say " i told you so" and like you said before, its all bred from the idea that never in their life would they muster up the courage to do something like that. its that fear of failure that paralyzes them.

In a larger scope it can become a little harder to make sense of the issue. You look at all these tycoons who make hundreds of millions of dollars with thier services. They had a dream and they went out thier and achieved it. Because they make the money, people see them as greedy like you mentioned. what are you thoughts on success in that fashion; when is enough money for someone? is it okay as long as no one is exploited? there are legitimate businesses who treat employees well and still turn a strong profit. Also If you have the time i'd like to know what you think abotu the double edged swoard situation. I live in a Willimantic, a town that was featured on 60 minutes for its Heroin epidemic. We have a Wal-Mart and its a given that a store like that is pretty much the antichrist. However many people of the town work there and its the only place that would employ them. Also its the only place where many of the residents can afford to shop. In a way it's a saving grace to these people. Sure there are many who hate the place but often they are the same ones who are well above the poverty line.

any thoughts?

Scottie

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Tolli said...

What I got out of reading Ayn Rand was a very strong conviction that man's natural state is to come to understand that he is human. We all have an ego, a desire to proclaim something as "I" and "mine"; a need to change and alter things to suit our vision of how they should be. Not necessarily for good or bad, but because it feeds our need for self-efficacy. We feel in control of our lives, and hard work serves that need, so that we are fulfilled. In that way I am sure happiness can be achieved because our productive interests can combine to allow us freedoms that were not possible without others (ie. the village utopia at the end of the book). This picture of man in his natural state - with ego comes the hard work of a man, and to that man his territory... land, riches. In a time when the world was still expanding you had the freedom to do that.

I think what the book was saying is that in a world that's run out of space, in which riches are available to those who don't work and will not learn the means to produce, the only way to preserve the ego and to carve out your own path is to drop out. Drop out of society's ideals and expectations and refuse to compromise your own being to those who don't understand what it means to be "i". It's like Hank Rearden, it's like the Long Distance Runner, it's the Young Man Blues of every punk kid growing up in the suburbs when they realise that all they strive to build can be taken away or co-opted. Security means nothing and hard work is its own reward if it makes you feel alive.

The problem we face though, is that there's no space left, no peace and no rest for those of us who set ourselves up in direct opposition to the common aim of society, which is to collect security for the "what ifs". Without the confidence that they can rebuild the lives which have come into their possession. To us a life of shit and grime is preferable - but I can't agree with Rand, that we should sit back and watch it all fall apart.

We should not apologise for who we are or be meek or subservient to those weaker than us. But when conflict is the only alternative, when we need the strength to actively oppose and tear down what others have built, as did Francisco D'Anconia, i can't agree with it. Because for those minds that are not yet developed, have not yet grasped the message and the punk spirit that drives us, they must be given time to decide their place in it, the same as we were afforded when growing up. Ayn Rand's morality justifies killing those with free will who oppose you... but there was a time when I was the mindless fool, and you were too, and I'll be damned if i let any disagreement between rational minds allow that kind of action. Basic human empathy is why governments exist in the first place. If we were all strong enough to be men as we should be, then we'd all be taking care of ourselves.

There will always be an element of society that are capable of living up to an egoistic ideal, but are too young or too frail or too misinformed to be who they could yet be. And for all that "ego" brings you, the happiness and sense of self, there is an empathy towards others that demands your ideal be altered to include the fellow men which you can no longer escape. If there is no more space, and nowhere to go, then maybe our own happiness is not all that should drive our decisions - and it should be our desire to desire less, to want and to need only that which is necessary to survive.

A meek existence need not be a failure to live your life, but a strength to see that we should not all fend for ourselves if indeed we could not have been happy without others. Because as much as selfishness and ego is in our nature, so is empathy to let others live their lives without interference.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Tolli said...

After all I've said though, the fact that a guy like you working at a Maid Rite and a guy like me working as a teacher without reward, broke as all hell, putting all we've got into life and love, still causes anger that it is right to feel. For all it's worth, there are people out there who respect you for who you are and what you do. I just figured you deserved to know that.

Your music reminds me that I may never be happy, but a restless heart that feels anger and takes action makes my life worthwhile nonetheless.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Angie said...

Jeff,

We are gonna get through all the BS together! But in the meanwhile, start singing yourself this song every morning. Love ya!

Moon Chaplin
xo

Invincible by Pat B.

This bloody road remains a mystery
This sudden darkness fills the air
What are we waiting for?
Won't anybody help us?
What are we waiting for?
We can't afford to be innocent
Stand up and face the enemy
It's a do or die situation
We will be invincible

This shattered dream you cannot justify
We're gonna scream until we're satisified
What are we running for?
We've got the right to be angry
What are we running for?
When there's no where we can run to anymore

We can't afford to be innocent
Stand up and face the enemy

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a dear friend who spent twenty years in prison. He's an artist and political activist, and a brilliant thinker. His time spent in prison was a result of his fight for the liberation of his people. The greatest thing he ever told me was this:
"The only way to create change... is to be a part of history."

It's simple, it's open, it's a point of departure, really. It's the bold words of a man who has endured torture and missed the first twenty years of his son's life for something he believed in. And he says that all those years, with all the time he spent in that cell and the three in solitary confinement, he never felt like he had enough time in a day. He loves life that way. He values every minute of his own existence.

There's pockets of people who care, you know? In the later days we'll all be drinking whiskey on ice together and saying long goodbyes. Our youth is so isolating and I think it's the time where we find our divides. I don't believe coward is a word I would choose for anyone, considering the system of things and the hyperculture we develop in - it's all very isolating, and that isolation is still very present in your writing, here. It's good because it makes us desperate just to find the words. Attachment and pity naturally dont sit well in the hearts of the desperate cause we see too much in everything. That's our selfish root. There's solitude in furious living, in the love of plain air. Kid, you got your love. Just keep that, and smile while you watch the world turn. Because the world has to keep you, too.

7:23 PM  

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