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A Different Kind of Objectivist Romance

I just watched a video of a presentation by a self-proclaimed Objectivist.

He and his wife separated, so he talked for over an hour-and-a-half about how she is a psychopath. Not a figurative psychopath. And evil literal one.

:)

I don't know anything about this person (Anthony Dream Johnson) or his company (21 University), but what I gather, his main work is to offer dating advice to men.

His beef with his ex-wife (Marilee Johnson) is that she had been cheating on him from the start of their marriage and had even been doing escort prostitution work on the side. The really embarrassing part for him is that she was one of the celebrities of his company, giving presentations, interviews, etc. And, of course, they held themselves as an example of the perfect couple to his customers.

:)

I don't want to make light of what Anthony Johnson went through, though, because he was obviously hurt and hurt bad. I have been through the experience of being in love with a woman who constantly cheated on me without me knowing about it until the end. So, yeah, it's devastating.  But, from this presentation, we only get his side of the story. I say that because, from my experience, there are two sides to a story like this. 

What makes this relevant to Objectivism is that he publicly declared that Objectivism helped him through the darkness. He put up a picture of him and his ex sitting on a couch with Nathaniel Branden and he put up several quotes by Ayn Rand during the talk and riffed off them.

(No snide comments about the wisdom of getting dating advice from the wrong philosophy, puhleaze... :) )

I'm a bit ambivalent about how he claims to have handled his marriage. If what he said about his ex is true (and on first blush, my gut tells me it probably is), obviously she went into the marriage with horrible intent. More than that, he has a super-legitimate concern about her sleeping with countless random men without a condom, then sleeping with him, sometimes on the same day as he tells it.

But laying down a lot of rules and "deal-breaker" negotiations right from the start (like he said he did) just doesn't appear to me as the best approach to romance. To speculate from the subtexts I perceived (which, admittedly, is subjective on my part), I got the idea she wanted a knight in shining armor and got an opinionated CEO of an accountant firm trying to mold himself into a fiction character instead.

But he's not a loser. It seems like his company is doing quite well. Just from looking at his YouTube channel, he has worked with a lot of famous people. All men, though.

(Frankly, if I were a secret nymphomaniac, I would go where good looking but sexually insecure men who exercise a lot hang out and it looks to me like she did precisely that. What's more, she hit the motherlode. :)  She apparently slept with several--or many--of them.)

I have one main criticism of Anthony Johnson. Like a good Objectivist, after she hurt him, his response was to relegate her to subhuman status--it's not that she is a bitch. It's that she cannot feel normal human emotions, so she tries to suck these emotions out of those who can feel and destroy them based on the hatred she wallows in. (This is an extrapolation of Rand's "hatred of the good for being the good" more than a true psychological diagnosis of psychopathy, but there it is.)

At the very end, Anthony Johnson made a call to identify psychopaths like his ex and breed them out of the human race by refusing to sleep with them. According to him, they do not breed among themselves because they can't stand their own kind. So they will eventually die off and be eliminated from the human gene pool if the good people do not mix their DNA with them. To prove he's rational, he acknowledged that this is a long-term project.

I don't know...

Dayaamm!

:) 

Seriously, though, I feel for Anthony Johnson. A person who is hurt but, like he says, believes a blow job from his ex is meaningless and fundamentally different than having full normal copulation--so he did this several times during the breakup, is confused. I don't blame him for having sex with his ex during emotional turmoil. I do find his re-defining sex the way he did symptomatic of too many folks I have known in O-Land.

That means I would probably feel for his ex if I learned more about her from her side, too.

(I actually did look up a couple of videos of her interviewing people on his website. Go here and scroll down to videos three years ago, for instance. Or here is a direct link to one of them--24k views. I didn't get much of an impression of her either way, though. Not very charismatic.)

So there it is.

If you want to visit a different corner in the Objectivist subcommunity, I certainly found an interesting one to look at.

:) 

Enjoy, if you will...

At the very least, it's food for thought.

Michael

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At the very end, Anthony Johnson made a call to identify psychopaths like his ex and breed them out of the human race by refusing to sleep with them. According to him, they do not breed among themselves because they can't stand their own kind. So they will eventually die off and be eliminated from the human gene pool if the good people do not mix their DNA with them. To prove he's rational, he acknowledged that this is a long-term project.

Hi Mike. How does Mr Johnson reconcile his views of genetic determinism with O-ism's free will doctrine Ms Rand wrote about in Galt's speech regarding the virtue of pride.

Quote

—that as man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining—that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul—that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has no automatic values, has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man, the rational being he is born able to create, but must create by choice

How does one go about shaping one's core emotional responses (soul?) into an image of what they've adopted from O-ism as their moral ideal? 

 

Thanks. 😃

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Robert,

Some people in O-Land (I am one of them) wed chosen values with cognitive values inherited from evolution.

Other people try to deduce all of human nature from principles they read and interpreted from Ayn Rand.

(And some of these last go even further and try to come up with their own principles to deduce reality from. To me this is ass-backwards. The correct is to observe reality and identify what you observe the best you can, then induce principles from observation (including adding context, etc.), then use these principles as guides while you check them through trial and error tests, deduction, etc.)

To the first kind of person, there are both chosen and unchosen high-cognitive-level values.

To the second, it's either-or. The doctrine these people hold is that you either accept that you choose ALL your cognitive values or you have to believe you choose NONE. 

Johnson falls within the first kind (both chosen and inherited cognitive values), so suddenly I'm defending his view. To put this within the frame of your question, pride has both chosen and inherited components.

But I only do that up to a point because he went seriously off the rails. His mistake is not making a wrong choice between these two positions. His mistake is to imagine the human brain, through an evolutionary glitch, produces a large number of psychopaths with brains that are so deformed, they are incapable of filtering experience and thinking through more empathetic parts of their brains. Thus, to Johnson, the best system is a weird form of eugenics. Just don't mate with them and they will die out. :) 

At least it's a colorful and entertaining thought.

:) 

Michael

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Luckily for some guys, mother nature tells them which lady to like and they don't have to dwell on it. "Well hello! I haven't seen you here before."

Peter

Lyrics from the old Drew Carey show: "All the little chicks with the crimson lips, Cleveland rocks, Cleveland rocks." 

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On 5/16/2018 at 9:28 AM, Robert_Bumbalough said:

How does one go about shaping one's core emotional responses (soul?) into an image of what they've adopted from O-ism as their moral ideal? 

Robert,

I didn't address this. Sorry.

Having shaped some of my own core emotional responses and pulled myself out of some dark. dark places, I think it starts with realizing your own limitations. (I am using the editorial "you," so I mean "one" or "we" or "person in general" or "reader," etc., not you Robert, although I don't exclude you from the human race covered by this "you." :) So "you" actually means "you" Robert and everyone else... whew! I think I finally nailed it. :) )

The question is, will you be able to shape all of your emotional responses? No. You can shape some, not all. Law of identity and all. It's just the way humans are.

Next is what I call recognizing and being cool with the limits of human size. Humans cannot see the universe from a God's eye view. We see things from a human size, whether looking at the big picture (galaxies, etc.) or the micro picture (subparticles on down). If we do not invent instruments to bring these views to a size humans can process through human senses, we simply don't perceive them. And that means there's a lot out there that we don't know because, by our very nature, we can't know it. At least not yet.

For an easy (albeit clunky) example, a fish doesn't perceive what life is flying above treetops like birds. Its very nature limits its perception. So, to a fish, that does not exist.  (I can do a better metaphor than that, but I'm pulling these thoughts out of my brain from off the top of my head. Some might say from where the sun doesn't shine. :) )

There are people out there who can't stand accepting this state. They have "factual" (meaning dogmatic in this case) answers to questions like: is the universe finite or infinite? The correct answer is: Damned if I know. :) One day if I ever I get to the edge of the universe and see it, I'll tell you about it. :) And if I have an instrument with me, I'll take a pictures of the universe's borderlands on the way to the edge. :) 

Until then, I must go to my death knowing that there are questions I know how to ask, but not how to answer. Thank goodness I have imagination to answer them, but that's all I've got for these cases until I evolve other sense organs or new mental capacities, or grow to the size of a gazillion galaxies, or something like that. And I don't think my lifespan will permit that radical of a change in who and what I am. That part is beyond my control. (Rand calls this "the given" although I don't think she ever framed it the way I just did. :) )

The good news is there are many things I do know how to answer and many things I can control.

Now we get to other people. Who really knows what goes on in the head of someone else? And how on earth do you control those little suckers called humans (especially women humans :) )?

That's a big subject, but you asked about controlling your own emotions to forge your own transcendence, so to speak. And that's part of it. But I'll have to give you the short answer. You deal with what you can know for sure and what you can control. You can learn about yourself (from observation and from others) and know your own subjective perspective (you are the only one who can know that). And, as for control, you can control your own volition. You can even use it to create new neural pathways and neural networks while letting old ones atrophy. This includes emotions. Not all, but a lot. And you extend the courtesy (and I would say metaphysical imperative) of letting others do the same for their own lives according to their own volition, not according to what you want them to do.

The implications of this is you will not be accepted by everyone (regardless of the reason--it's their decision, not yours) and you will run across people ranging from assholes to wonderful folks. And even then, an asshole might be carrying a cross too heavy to bear, but hiding it from everyone so the asshole part is an act to cover real pain. You can only learn this if they open up and tell you and you can't control that. They control it. The best you can do is offer conditions for them to open up, whether by being a true friend or whether by covert manipulation (if you favor the dark side).

What are the signals you can detect from others that guarantee they will accept you with goodwill and strive for the same kind of transcendence you seek? There are a bunch of signals that arose over evolution (which is one of the things that got me studying neuroscience and psychology). And, of course, people can tell you they are in sync with you. But, that by itself with no further input, well... we know what that's worth, don't we? :) 

I'm meandering too much here. But I keep seeing the heartbreak of Johnson in the opening post and I feel for him. I know his pain and something inside me responds to it like anyone does to a cry of distress of a similar being. I want to tell him to forgive himself and just accept that he loved one person and got another. And without damning her as a subhuman psychopath. Rejection hurts regardless of the reason. There is no need for comeuppance during the phase of letting the hurt run its course. Having gone through something similar, I want to tell him that indirectly blaming and punishing the other for my own lack of perception and hardheadedness in refusing to recognize reality only prolonged my pain. Oh well... 

But how do you guarantee you will never be hurt like that? Well... it's reality check time. There are no guarantees. In Brazil, they say the one thing you can do to ensure you will die is be born.

And that's just the way it is. Everything else comes with context. Including being hurt.

For acting within different contexts, there's a procedure called the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, act) to tip situations you don't control in your favor. I don't know if you know about this, but anyway, for the benefit of the reader, here is a nutshell explanation. This process was created by an Air Force dude, John Boyd, for fighting battles. Later people applied it to all kinds of areas where humans engage with each other (business, lawsuits, etc.), and even out in the wild when you're on your own. It's mostly a fighting tool, a weapon, but it can be used as a way to work on transcendence, or work your way through developing a new skill, and so on. The problem is it demands total honesty or it doesn't work.

And here is where Objectivism gets in the way unless you see the problem. Rand pushed people toward transcendence. She kept telling folks to focus not on what life is, but on what it can and should be (to use her language). She even set up the goal of her art (to create the perfect man) as a way to show what that future would look like. But to get there, you have to correctly identify what life is. Why? Because, presumably, that is where you are starting from (unless you're a Martian or something. :) )

This gets really hard when using the OODA loop on your own self to identify and eliminate weaknesses so you can achieve a transcended state. It's so easy to lie to yourself, it's not funny.

To illustrate, here's just one problem. We all come with a cognitive bias about our own abilities and importance (Dunning-Kruger effect) and the blast of cortisol in our brains when we get feedback that we aren't so hot is painful. Our brains can't tell the difference between that kind of pain perception and physical pain (both trigger cortisol squirting on the same relevant neurons and that hurts like hell), so it's something we all really really really try to avoid.

But if you feed cognitive bias garbage into your OODA loop, you will get garbage back and fail a lot and/or fail mightily. In other words, reality is not forgiving if you do not accept it as it is for input. And as the OODA loop is powerful way of directing action, if you feed garbage into your detection and orientation steps, imagine what you will end up doing. Kaboom in your life. that's what.

Observation (detection) mean no "shoulds." When you are in that stage of the process, you have to deal with what is, not what you want something to be. Orientation means no kneejerks. You orient based on what you observe dispassionately, both what is and where you want to go to act, not ingrained habits you have come to believe in. If that means checking a premise for the upteenth time, well, you better check it as best you can. Reality doesn't care if you're right or wrong about how you set yourself up within reality itself. If you succeed or if you get killed, reality if fine with it.

Ergh...

Look at me preaching...

Bah... humbug...

Enough... enough, I say!

:)

One final thought. Transcendence starts with recognising--to the absolute best you can without mercy or self-pity--your own limitations and potentialities. Then you try--in the same manner--to expand both.

That means accepting (1) what you inherited from evolution and (2) what you are able to choose, and even accepting that you need to detect the difference correctly irrespective of any bias or belief.  

Then can come the payoff based on that. When you can pull off transcendence from your own volition and not just from normal growth, man, is it a great feeling. :) 

Michael

 

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Michael wrote: Then can come the payoff based on that. When you can pull off transcendence from your own volition and not just from normal growth, man, is it a great feeling. end quote

Well said. Though I am leery of the word transcendence if it relates to mystics or over emotional people, who with tears in their eyes, thank Zeus for the sunset, a good life, an A on a test, good genes, or “The Star Spangled Banner.”

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Wow. That is strange. The Greek and Roman gods were sort of like the super heroes in Marvel Comics. So going retro gaga is a good thing if it breaks the habit of bowing to the modern 'gods." Or tithing. Or pretty nuns wearing habits and going to waste.

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11 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Pass.

Wolf,

I have a feeling these folks will never be your cup of tea, but these are good people. They're just trying to find their way (like we all are).

In the past, I've lived among scum--really bad people who kill and rob and things like that. Why? I reacted poorly to some painful deceptions I encountered and tried to join the dark side. But, me being me, I was also on a quest to find the Noble Bandit. :) 

Didn't find any. :) 

I did find some who were better than others, but most would have sold their own mothers into prostitution for a little bit of nothing.

Anthony Johnson and the people around him come nowhere near that (and neither do you, for that matter). The are about 180 degrees to the other side. So, despite my criticism, I have nothing but goodwill and love for these people. They are productive, peaceful and trying hard at being good to the best of their understanding. They are builders and creators of wealth for the world. They don't have to get everything 100% according to my way of thinking.

I can disagree with folks like that any day of the week and still think I live in a wonderful world. I would be happy to have any of them as my neighbor.

Michael

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7 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I can disagree with folks like that any day of the week and still think I live in a wonderful world. I would be happy to have any of them as my neighbor.

Michael

I understand both about Brazil (or Chicago) and, uh, less fearsome "friendlies." My bright line on Objectivism is a very tight circle, Billy Beck dead center, Brandt Gaede looming large overhead, the late Petr Beckmann and Ron Merrill (and other scientists) in a commemorative tomb of personal honor. Andrea Millen Rich and Camille Paglia should be knighted. I catapulted Sciabarra and Machan as far away as I possibly could. Weepy, self-righteous dysfunctional O'ists are flies buzzing somewhere over the rainbow horizon, cheek by jowl with snake oil salesmen Tony Robbins and Barack Obama. Like I always said about Cousin Leonard, sundry O'ist celebs minus Rand = zero. I don't personally have that problem, because I'm an outcast. My work repeatedly contradicts hers.

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58 minutes ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

I understand both about Brazil (or Chicago) and, uh, less fearsome "friendlies." My bright line on Objectivism is a very tight circle, Billy Beck dead center, Brandt Gaede looming large overhead, the late Petr Beckmann and Ron Merrill (and other scientists) in a commemorative tomb of personal honor. Andrea Millen Rich and Camille Paglia should be knighted. I catapulted Sciabarra and Machan as far away as I possibly could. Weepy, self-righteous dysfunctional O'ists are flies buzzing somewhere over the rainbow horizon, cheek by jowl with snake oil salesmen Tony Robbins and Barack Obama. Like I always said about Cousin Leonard, sundry O'ist celebs minus Rand = zero. I don't personally have that problem, because I'm an outcast. My work repeatedly contradicts hers.

I can't figure out what happened to Billy Beck.

--Brant

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1 hour ago, Brant Gaede said:

I can't figure out what happened to Billy Beck.

--Brant

He's on Facebook more or less daily, hasn't put any effort into blogging in years. Remember h.p.o.?

Billy is a much sought-after lighting designer/director for live shows, flies all over the world to do gigs, plays guitar in a really cool Utica band for fun.

I can't stand the guy, he's so cool, dammit.

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