A Greeting to the Group
Posted 02 May 2009 - 01:56 AM
My name is Thom Pham, and I am an Objectivist.
I did not read anything by Ayn Rand or even heard of her or the subcultural movement she started until near the end of my college education when, while on a student-exchange program in French-speaking Switzerland, a friend visited me and handed me a battered copy of The Fountainhead. She had gotten it from a fellow exchange student while in Finland, and who knows where that guy got it from. But it arrived in my hands as my friend departed on a train.
I'll always remember Corinne Ruty as the girl who introduced me to Ayn Rand's ideas, although I resisted the introduction at first. Corinne gave me the book because she said that I reminded her of some characters in the book. Standing on the steps of the train, her parting comment to me was, "There's something innocent about you." Now, for a twenty-one-year-old guy, that is just not cool. No matter the interpretation, no young man wants to be known as "innocent." Partly for that reason I did not care to read the book immediately. For another reason, the book was published in 1943. That's old. I was into science fiction and things high-tech. Except for studying French, all of my education was in the natural sciences, not in the humanities and social sciences. I did not care for mundane literature. It was not until several months later near the end of my traineeship that I decided to read the book. Knowing that Corinne was soon going to quiz me about it, I took up the chore of reading it.
When I did read the book, looking back, I was very surprised that my sense of life was affirmed. I was shocked that someone had found the words to name what I had felt about the world. With those words, a new world lit up for me. The world was the same, but it was as if I was seeing it from a new perspective. There is no need to describe to you the practical impact of Rand's ideas. It suffices to say that I couldn't wait to read everything else by Rand.
After I returned to the University of Tennessee, I read all of Ayn Rand's fictional works. I browsed through the essays from the bound collections of the Objectivist letters, which were found in the library. I caught up with the history of the subcultural movement.
I date my calling myself an Objectivist on the evening I read "What Is Capitalism?" Before this, and having informed myself of the way the subcultural movement developed and devolved, I only called myself an Ayn Rand enthusiast. But when I understood the objective theory of values, why only capitalism was the proper social system for rational beings, and why only the Objectivist ethics could properly defend capitalism, when all the pieces fit together, there was this quiet realization that against a mountain of misinformation I learned a high truth. Crediting the Objectivist ideas for this personal achievement, I called myself an Objectivist from then on.
I now have several copies of The Fountainhead. I have several boxes, each with 24 copies, of Atlas Shrugged to give out to new people I meet. I organize my own biweekly study group to study Objectivism in more depth. As for the original battered book, I gave it to my sister.
Posted 02 May 2009 - 03:14 AM
Welcome to OL. Enjoy yourself.
And . . . the University of Tennessee? I was on the faculty there from 1989 - 2006. Are you there now?
Posted 02 May 2009 - 07:13 AM
When I did read the book, looking back, I was very surprised that my sense of life was affirmed. I was shocked that someone had found the words to name what I had felt about the world. With those words, a new world lit up for me. The world was the same, but it was as if I was seeing it from a new perspective.
This describes my experience to a tee.
I have already seen some things by you, but a belated and warm welcome to OL anyway.
Posted 02 May 2009 - 01:58 PM
Welcome to OL! You'll always feel welcome here if you ignore me.
Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--Libertarian
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