Saturday, February 05, 2005

Like sighting a passenger pigeon in the wild....

It turns out that Craig of BUFFALOg is something I thought I'd never see, ever: he's a non-obnoxious Objectivist. I find that absolutely amazing, given that until now, every admirer of Ayn Rand's philosophy I have ever encountered is unimaginably irritating and obnoxious, like the creepy guy on the FilmScoreMonthly message boards who recently called me "sick" and "evil" because my views stubbornly don't align with his. It's very refreshing to find an Objectivist who, at the merest hint of disagreement from someone, doesn't start droning on about "A=A" and "the Law of Non-Contradictory Indentification" and taking the usual tactic of "Ayn Rand prized Reason above all else, I love Ayn Rand, therefore I prize Reason above all else, therefore my views are by definition reasonable and yours are not". Wow. And here I was being already amazed that Craig is a non-obnoxious Republican! [rimshot]

I read Rand's "heavy hitters", The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, the summer after I graduated college (or maybe a year after that), and I was not impressed with either book, neither from the philosophical standpoint nor from the literary standpoint. (I fail, for example, to see what's so admirable about Howard Roark -- an ass who is rock-hard consistent in his ass-ness is still an ass, isn't he?) I found Rand's work to be one goofy thought after another, contained in one goofy sentence after another, and since then I've pretty much been completely mystified over the level of admiration that has accrued around her. But then, when it comes to philosophy-drenched novels, Robert M. Pirsig has always been more my speed.

BTW, here's another good article about the Rand-cult. Craig's entirely correct that Objectivism probably shouldn't be strictly equated with the Rand-cult; but my experience runs to the contrary, in that until I read Craig's post, I never once encountered any adherent of Objectivism who wasn't also a big-time drinker of the Rand-cult's flavor of Kool-Aid. (What flavor would that be, I wonder? I suspect it would be some kind of horrible melange of melon and pineapple.)

UPDATE: Via Bookslut I see this bizarro example of Rand-cultist-speak. This, unlike Craig's blog, is how every Randian I've ever encountered has spoken, no matter what the topic:

A recipe is not a concept per se. It is, rather, a conceptual listing. A recipe is comprised of: 1) a formal and repeatable listing of the ingredients; 2) the specific, objective procedure by which those ingredients are to be integrated into a viable, non-contradictory whole; 3) a stipulation of the temperature at which and duration for which the food is to be cooked; and finally, 4) an explication of the manner and terms in which the food is to be served—served to man.

It should be obvious, here, that in this context, "service" is not be taken as "self-sacrifice." Ayn Rand rejected the notion of cooking and dish preparation as a form of self-sacrificial service. Only producers deserve to consume, Ayn Rand believed. And then, only if they consume rationally. Ayn Rand could not abide irrational eating, and did not permit it in her presence.

According to Ayn Rand, a recipe permits a range of options in the amounts of the specific ingredients and in the temporal order of their integration—but this range is objectively delimited by the nature, the identity of the dish being prepared, which in turn is defined and programmed by the recipe, which specifies the measurements and gives the methodology.

If a recipe describes a "pinch of salt," for example, any minor variations in the size of the pinch are all well and good, and we may omit the measurement of the variation in our measurement of the overall amount. But it would be impermissible to add a tablespoon of salt to the mixing bowl, let alone a cup.

Good Lord. You see, for the Randian it would be impermissable to add a cup of salt when a pinch is called for because it would be "irrational" and "contradictory" to do so. For a normal person, it would be impermissable to do so because the end result would taste like shit.

In my experience, whenever a Randian opens his or her mouth, I immediately open the nearest window and turn on all the fans.

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