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    • Michael Stuart Kelly

      Major Update to OL (please click to open)   02/09/2016

      Sorry for the inconvenience, but we had to update OL and there have been some serious changes made by IPB. The real bad news is that they had to merge User Names and Display Names. This meant that I had to choose between bad and bad. I opted to keep the log-on information the same, so you can get on OL like you always did, but now your User Name is displayed. If your User Name and Display Name were the same, you will not feel the change. If they were different, you are probably irritated right now. I will figure out how you can change this so you can revert to the Display Name you used before if you like, however this may entail a change in how you log-on. The good news is that OL is now searchable from the very beginning. This means all the old posts from the A-Team in Objectivism (and everybody else) will finally show up when you search for something. I will keep changing this announcement as we adapt to these new changes. It's a pain, I know, but after looking around the backend for a bit, I believe the benefits will far, far outweigh the current irritation. They changed things in a hamhanded way and I don't like that, but I can't do anything about it. Benefit-wise, they actually did a good job, so please bear with us. In addition to this change, many good things are coming over time. You are the reason OL exists and I am sorry you have to go through this. Think of it like birth pangs... (All right, all right, that's forcing it.  ) Michael
Hazard

Hazard is back after 2 long years (or so)

38 posts in this topic

Hello everyone!

I'm going to reintroduce myself because its been quite a while since I've been on this forum. My name is Jordan. I first found out about Objectivism when I was about 16 - I started out a little over zealous, but my beliefs and standards are much more defined now. I call myself an Objectivist, though I disagree with Rand on some inconsequential points, because Objectivism is the closest philosophy that I can identify with. I greatly admire Rand and the intellectual leaps she has made. I am also an Agnostic - formerly Protestant Christian.

I am 20 years old now, and still struggling to find my nitch in life. I am back on the forum because things aren't going too well for me, and I feel like I could use some intellectual stimulation. I am looking forward to the discussions and debates! Also hoping to possibly get some advice from you folks who have been around the block a few times more than me. :)

Regards,

Jordan

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Welcome back...Jordan!

Still in Michigan?

Voting on Tuesday?

Adam

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Hi, Jordan. Welcome back! Can you explain the dif for you then and now?

--Brant

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Hi Adam, Its good to be back. Yes I am still in Michigan, but I am not voting on Tuesday. As much as I know I should - my life is far to chaotic right now to spend the time to make an educated vote. To be honest, I didn't even know there was a vote on Tuesday.

Hi Brant, Back when I first joined I was a fresh Objectivist and discovering myself philosophically for the first time. Now, I've got some real life experience under my belt, and I've seen some (only some) of the punishment that life can dish out. Unfortunately, I am much less optimistic than I was back then. I haven't done very much thinking lately (whereas back then, I did all the time), so I'm hoping that OL can bring me back to the old me (in some respect). I liked who I was then a lot more that who I am now.

Jordan

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Jordan,

Welcome back.

What's wrong? What's not working out?

I do have some comments on the niche thing, but I'll get to them later when I see if they will be relevant.

Michael

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Jordan:

No problem.

It is much more important that you get yourself grounded.

I look forward to our conversations and of course, if I can help in any way, I would be more than happy to work with you.

Adam

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Nice that you chose to come back. I lived in Michigan for many years: Lansing, Fowlerville, Ann Arbor. My wife is from Traverse City and we lived there for about 18 months. Depending on where you are, there are Objectivist groups, cells, meet-ups, and individuals, some of them interesting, others annoying.

I left Michigan in September and came to Austin because I gave up on the local economy there. Automotive is what it is, of course, but Pfizer pulled out of Ann Arbor and then Borders went bankrupt. I liked Rick Snyder's advertisements in 2008 and got on his mailing list intending to volunteer with his campaign as a path to paying work. (I have some government experience.) But Snyder's politics are just mainstream Republican. He is not innovative in the least. If you stop and think about it, for all his talk about entrepreneurship, he is just a corporation manager, not a true innovator.

I assure you that living in Starnesville can shade your viewpoint. When our daughter turned 18, she got a job with a telemarketer, saved her money and moved to Miami Beach and never looked back. Texas is a fascist state and being surrounded by Texas is the downside to living in Austin. But Austin suits me well enough. Before this, we lived in Albuquerque. We also checked out Portland, Oregon, but did not relocate there. The point is there's lots of places to live. Usually, the "geographic cure" fails because you always take yourself with you wherever you go, but at some level, it makes a difference where you are.

Beside Metaphysics, what do you like about philosophy?

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Michael,

Well, here's my situation: I'm 20 years old, a Freshman at Community College, and living with my Dad. I skipped my first year of college in order to work and get a feel for life. To be honest, I hate formal education. The thing I hate the most is wasting time and I am a very good self-teacher, so college and I don't mix; but here I am in college because I don't really have another choice - retail isn't taking me anywhere. I have many health problems: chronic back and neck pain and tendonitis.

I'm at school part-time and I still work part-time at Best Buy, but I am not finding any satisfaction at either. My parents are divorced and I hardly ever get to see my friends anymore between school and work. In general, I'm depressed and I feel like I'm just being pushed from one meaningless task to another.

Adam,

If you have any advice regarding the former passage I'd be happy to hear it.

Mike M,

As a former Christian, I have taken interest in philosophy because it has helped me form a standard by which I live my life. I believe that men can be moral without divine instruction and I believe that philosophy and reason are the ways to accomplish this.

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Jordan,

It sounds like you need a vision--or mission if you prefer that language. Something you can believe in--in the good sense of being able to commit to it and have the emotional juices flowing at the same time, not in the blind faith sense.

It sounds like you need something exciting that allows you to use your rational mind at the same time.

This point has always been a difficult one for people in O-Land who do not have what Rand called "the curse" in her notes. Some people just know what they want to do and love it intrinsically. They see what others cannot or do not.

Other people--many others--get shoved from here to there as they grow up and now can't feel any real passion for anything on a vision level.

What to do if you are one of those?

Well, you can adopt the vision of someone else. I know because that's exactly what I did with Ayn Rand. I was shoved. My parents didn't divorce like yours did, but I got beat a lot. Hillbilly crap. That sure as hell works for shoving and it did get my attention growing up. It also spoiled any chance I had at learning what a glorious vision was from observing my parents and their world.

We are primates and one of the fundamental ways primates learn is by modeling--by imitation--by monkey see, monkey do. We are wired that way. (It's not the only way we learn, but for a kid, it is the predominant method. And we never shake free from it, but that's another discussion. I've been studying applied neuroscience and psychology, so this isn't second-hander stuff. More later if you are interested.)

Maybe I didn't get a good vision from my parents, but I didn't get rid of the hunger for one, either. This sounds a lot like you sound right now.

Then along came Rand. She painted such a shining vision I was blown away.

Were you?

Regardless, there's a trap. If you adopt her vision, it's her vision, not yours or mine. If you don't come up with your own vision, you will always be referencing hers as a standard, even for stuff like the person you fall in love with and what you do as a profession. (I speak from experience.)

Some of her vision doesn't reflect reality--by definition. She called art, "a selective recreation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value judgments." I would take that further and say according to the knowledge and the time/space constraints of the artist. Note that she is explicit. She says she is not giving you the whole picture. She's being selective on purpose.

I'm not sure if the expression "living a stylized life" came from her, but I have seen this used in several places in O-Land. That's her art premise applied to life.

Well, here's the news. You (and I and everyone else) have a life that includes a lot of stuff that is not covered in her vision. Some of it's not even implied.

What to do?

Simple. You have to come up with a vision of your own. One you can believe in. One that you can commit to. One that excites you and gets you out of bed in the morning.

That sure is easy to say, ain't it? Heh. Say it, wave a magic wand and it's all resolved. Life suddenly has meaning. Yeah, right.

But if you do acquire a vision like that, you can add selections of Rand's vision to it if you love her works. In other words, you can use Rand's world to enrich your own--and be selective as all get-out yourself--rather than stepping into the selective world she devised and trying to become part of that.

So how do you come up with a vision?

How do you come up with a profession you can love?

I know a lot of people feel like the passage below from The Fountainhead, but they are afraid to say it out loud in O-Land. After all, who wants to be Peter Keating?

"If you want my advice, Peter," he said at last, "you've made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"

"You see, that's what I admire about you, Howard. You always know."

"Drop the compliments."

"But I mean it. How do you always manage to decide?"

"How can you let others decide for you?"

"But you see; I'm not sure, Howard. I'm never sure of myself...."

As a vision for a way of being (Roark, that is), this is a wonderful place to get to. But as a method for someone who has deep doubts, this "method" really sucks. (And I say that will a great deal of love and respect for Rand and her work.)

You know what to love and do because, well... you just know. And you don't know how anyone can be any different. And when a person asks how, he is wrong just for asking.

That's great.

Dayaamm!

I listened to Peikoff once say he received a lot of questions asking what someone should do if they don't have a driving passion in life. He didn't dismiss it as something icky like Rand did here (probably because of the sheer number of questions he received about this--and that made it so he could not ignore it), but I remember his answer was extremely unsatisfying.

I'm going on memory, so this may not be accurate. As I recall, he basically said to find something you like, commit to it, try to grow into it and see if the passion comes. And he added that's not perfect, but what else is there to do?

I can think of a butt-load of things to do and I am working on a project about it right now.

But I'm not sure if this is what you want to discuss.

Are you with me or have I gone off on a tangent and am not addressing your problem?

Michael

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Michael,

Thank you very much for your reply. Yes, you are spot on, this is exactly what I need to talk about right now. Well, where to start?

When I was first introduced to Atlas Shrugged by my dad, I was a Christian. I was spending the summer dry walling his garage while listening to the audiobook and it was glorious. "Blown away by her vision" is an understatement. I was so happy to be exposed to someone with such a vision about the world. Rand believes that reality is to be conquered and adversity to be over come. And she doesn't rely on prayer or the "will of god" to allow this to happen. I took to Objectivism right away. But over the years I have found that there are some differences in what I believe about the world and what Rand does, which leads me to my predicament.

As you know, Rand holds the opinion that men own the power to conquer adversity and shape the world. This vision was beautiful for me and I reached for it, but over the years I have come to see things more pessimistically. My chronic physical pain keeps me from doing the things that I am most passionate about. Let me give some background.

I despised High School, so much that I almost dropped out 2 months before I graduated. (keep in mind, that I wasn't a bad student, I graduated with a 3.94 GPA - I just hated it, it was a waste of my time). So when I finally finished, I said "to hell with education" and left for Portland, Maine in order to "seize the day". I got a job with Best Buy and at first I thought things were going well, but there was one day that I remember very clearly. I was working as a cashier, which meant that I stood in the same position for hours at a time, and when I came home after a long day I had severe back pain. Over a span of two weeks it got worse every day, until one day I remember lying on the couch in my apartment feeling completely hopeless. I felt like I had the mind to "shape reality" but not the tools (my body). I felt like no matter how hard I tried, I would run into some brick wall. That problem was remedied when Best Buy let me sit on a stool between customers, but that thought - that I am not physically capable of taking on the world - has stayed with me.

The fact is, I think that I do have a vision, but its been so long since I've thought about it that I've lost my grasp on it. This hopelessness has stayed with me and ground me down to the point where I hardly ever look towards my vision with anticipation. I know its cliche to say "believe in yourself" but this is exactly what I am struggling with. I don't believe in my self, and not for a lack of trying, but because whenever I try something, an external adversity steps in my way like my physical pain.

So now I find myself, having completely forgotten about my dreams, just floundering around.

Also, I happen to be highly emphatic which means I feel guilty for hating my life because other people have it worse off then I do. How fucked up is that?

Anyway, I feel trapped. I haven't felt the exhilarating feeling of taking on a challenge with confidence in a long time.

Thanks for bearing with me,

Jordan

P.S. what do you mean by "I am working on a project about it right now."?

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Jordan, first of all,you are young and your own youth is the first problem. Siddhartha by Hermann Hess is all about that. It is why Existentialism appeals to young people.

Standing around at a cash register is harder than walking for the same eight hours. I grant that, but your pain sounds more psychosomatic. It is real, for sure, but internal nonetheless. Again, clerking may be harder physically than true physical labor, but that is not the real problem, or you could get jobs installing sheet rock since you seem to be OK at it.

Nutrition is more than getting calories. A multiple vitamin, B-supplements, 5HTP, ... I was just prescribed Vitamin D even though I live in Austin where sunshine is abundant. You live in Michigan where it is not. My doctor said in passing that Vitamin D (prescribed for me because of my age and the risk of stroke) is also good for depression. (She meant, you know, good for not getting it.) We know so little about health. Too much of health is called "not being sick." If you don't feel well, then explore some modalities and alternatives. There's tons of them out there. I won't go into all the things I've tried, some of them fairly mystical, but none irrational (I think). Just tai chi and yoga, for starters... maybe a course of chiropractic adjustments... I am not recommending that you do what worked for me: I cannot even see you. But I am recommending that you find out what you need and get it.

Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw were Objectivists at one point. They wrote two books on scientific approaches to life extension. (Durk has a master's in physics from MIT. Sandy's BS is in chemistry, from UCLA, I think.) You don't have to buy their products, but their advertising is based on empirical evidence from peer-reviewed journals and they are big on the brain and the mind and happiness.

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Mike M.,

Thank you for the suggestions. I would be surprised if my problems were psychosomatic, but who knows? I go to a chiropractor/nutritionist who has helped me "keep it under control", but my problems aren't gone, just being managed.

Out of curiosity, if it were psychosomatic, is there a way that I could tell for sure? A lot of my pain happens when I am not paying attention, which leads me to believe that it isn't.

If it is, do you think that tai chi/yoga etc is a solution to psychosomatic pain.

Thank you for the suggestions,

Jordan

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I do not mean that your physical problems are imaginary or unreal or that you are making them up, but only that your anxiety is being expressed through the body. Not that you do not have somatic problems. I have an old injury to my arm. Pain comes and goes. Why, I have no idea. I am not a doctor. I have no special insights. I have never made a formal study of any health issue, not even my own. I'm just saying that based on what you have posted here so far, getting yourself into a management lifestyle will probably result in fewer medical issues. If you are already pursuing all the paths in which you have confidence, and still have these problems, then I can only admire you for working despite them.

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Thanks Mike.

Jordan:

Chiropractic care can be quite effective. You should look into acupuncture and tai chi.

Tai chi is very good for your general health and significantly helpful for your mental balance. It can be conducted with low physical impact.

Lots of older Chinese folks engage in it in public parks in the morning all over this country.

http://taotaichi.org/ <<<<this is the link to the Michigan Tai Chi and Taoist Arts Association.

Adam

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Ayn Rand said:

"If you want my advice, Peter," he said at last, "you've made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"

Worst. Advice. Ever.

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Ayn Rand said:

"If you want my advice, Peter," he said at last, "you've made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"

Worst. Advice. Ever.

Bob:

The link under my name does not have that quote in it.

Jordan:

Chiropractic care can be quite effective. You should look into acupuncture and tai chi.

Tai chi is very good for your general health and significantly helpful for your mental balance. It can be conducted with low physical impact.

Lots of older Chinese folks engage in it in public parks in the morning all over this country.

http://taotaichi.org/ <<<<this is the link to the Michigan Tai Chi and Taoist Arts Association.

Adam

Please correct the inaccurate attribution.

Adam

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Please correct the inaccurate attribution.

Adam

Done. Not sure what happened....

Thanks Bob.

i was surprised also, as it was not my style, even when in my sarcasm.gif modality.

Adam

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I took to Objectivism right away. But over the years I have found that there are some differences in what I believe about the world and what Rand does, which leads me to my predicament.

As you know, Rand holds the opinion that men own the power to conquer adversity and shape the world.

The problem is that your chances of being a world-shaper are miniscule. This is not an insult, just a simple fact based on probability. A better (more likely) career "choice" would be to plan to win the lottery. But assuming you're "the one", being really really good at something is a still very much a necessary, but not sufficient, prerequisite. Either way, you gotta put in serious time to get good at something. And if you don't have the magic combo of skill, luck, timing and whatever else, you still end up good at something and therefore most likely still have a realistic chance of lesser successes. To "buy the ticket" or "take a swing" at being a world shaper, you must have skill.

Now, you can find something you really love and hope people will pay you for doing it, or you can find something other people thing you're good at and are willing to pay for it, then learn to love or at least like or tolerate it. THis is not selling out. The world owes you nothing. You want wealth? People pay for something they like, want or need. In a service economy "like" is more and more important.

My chronic physical pain keeps me from doing the things that I am most passionate about. Let me give some background.

.....

I despised High School, so much that I almost dropped out 2 months before I graduated

Wanna know what an employer thinks if they know this?

Impulsive, entitled, unreliable whiner - stay away. That's what they think. Are your ailments legit? They don't care. They care what you can do for THEM. If you work hard, get good at what you do, you can expect a certain amount of loyalty from an employer, but that's very limited. But if you're good and you provide great service, someone else will almost always be willing to pay you. You don't have a privileged position to start from. This means you have to start small. Tough.

Doing a great job (even if its a crappy job), plus self-inprovement is usually the best way to a better job - within or external to your current employer. Pity, or especially self-pity is useless.

Sometimes this isn't enough, and you have to fail and learn a few times. The world ain't fair.

I suggest you don't become an Objerktivist. Take the few limited nuggets of wisdom and run. Otherwise you'll have all the "true" and "proper" justification of how great you are while pondering the deep philosophical implications of poverty and homelessness.

Bob

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Mike M, As a former Christian, I have taken interest in philosophy because it has helped me form a standard by which I live my life. I believe that men can be moral without divine instruction and I believe that philosophy and reason are the ways to accomplish this.

Jordan,

I like this, the thought and the expression. Exactly states my earliest thoughts on religion-free morality.

I'd suggest not being side-tracked by either the angry nay-sayers or by those literalist O'ists - both of whom probably have had difficulty transposing Rand's idealized characters into their own lives, and react with bitterness, or confusion and self-alienation..

But avoiding that trap, her basic ideas are solid and true: a lot of living and observing has convinced me of that.

The final arbiter is you - in your case an unnecessary reminder, I'm sure.

Best of luck.

Tony

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Jordan,

I just did a long thing on forgiveness, so now I can get to the mission stuff I started talking about a few days ago.

Let me just say right now that since I have done some work on this for a bigger project, I will be unfolding my comments according a learning system called the 4Mat outline: Why? What? How? and What If?

I already did the "why" part. (I probably could have done more, but this is a discussion forum, so I think it's often good to work through these things in a rough form.)

I will be having a "what" coming up soon.

So I haven't forgotten about you.

Stay tuned.

(btw - After that, I will share some thoughts I have on free will.)

Michael

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The problem is that your chances of being a world-shaper are miniscule.

-No. They might be minuscule though......

"I despised High School, so much that I almost dropped out 2 months before I graduated"

Wanna know what an employer thinks if they know this?

Impulsive, entitled, unreliable whiner - stay away. That's what they think.

Bob

Why do you think Jordan would tell an employer this? He was talking to Michael, whom he had asked for advice, not going for a job interview. He finished high school with good grades

Jordan has not told us what he is studying at college, or what he would rather be studying or doing instead. At his age it is not uncommon to still be looking for your own combination of passion, skill and marketability in the workplace.

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The problem is that your chances of being a world-shaper are miniscule.

-No. They might be minuscule though......

"I despised High School, so much that I almost dropped out 2 months before I graduated"

Wanna know what an employer thinks if they know this?

Impulsive, entitled, unreliable whiner - stay away. That's what they think.

Bob

Why do you think Jordan would tell an employer this? He was talking to Michael, whom he had asked for advice, not going for a job interview. He finished high school with good grades

Jordan has not told us what he is studying at college, or what he would rather be studying or doing instead. At his age it is not uncommon to still be looking for your own combination of passion, skill and marketability in the workplace.

Carol:

Unfortunately, and this is what the Face Book generation has still not absorbed, this is all in the public domain.

Adam

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