Philosophy

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged is more popular than ever among economic conservatives, precisely because it offers a full-blown defense of rapacious, predatory capitalism in a time of vast inequality.
 
Source and more on Rand

This is Francisco D’Anconia’s Money Speech from the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. An article on the Alternet site, ’10 Things I Learned About the World from Ayn Rand’s Insane “Atlas Shrugged”‘ reminded me of the book that I first read almost forty years ago. Atlas Shrugged is a fantasy about intense inventive individualistic industrialists who Rand presents as the ‘Atlases’ that sustain the world. Rand appeals to the individualist in all of us and we can empathise with the dedication and determination of her heroes. I’ve not re-read Shrugged in thirty years or so but I remember it fondly, as a fantasy, as I also remember ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Dune’, ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ and ‘The Dispossessed’ all of which I read in the 1960’s and 70’s. I took ideas from these novels and they have all influenced my imagination and the way that I see the world. It’s quite likely that Rand’s book (which is really quite vicious in a heroic Wagnerian) warped my perception for a while but I’m a fundamentally decent chap and it didn’t corrupt me too much or too long. Unfortunately Rand does seem to have corrupted and warped the perception of generations of Americans with her presentation of capitalism as a corollary of freedom and competence. Those who have read ‘Shrugged’ can hear its baleful echoes in a lot of the discourse of US politicians and media pundits, many of whom openly treat Rand’s text as sacred script as is revealed in this article.

Forgive

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Ask for forgiveness, forgive others, forgive ourselves. Move on. Strive to be better. Failing, forgive again and strive again.

The prayer in the poster is Buddhist but forgiveness is pretty much the essence of Christianity. In the Gospels Jesus drives this message home time after time:

“Forgive us trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

“And to him who strikes you on your cheek, offer the other, and from whoever takes away your cloak, withhold not your coat also.”

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you.”

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Who is Mooji

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I had no idea who Mooji is before seeing a Facebook post with this passage but I find his insight here to be very profound and beautifully put:

Relax without laziness
Focus without tension
Perceive without projecting
Witness without judging
Enjoy without craving
Reflect without imagining
Love without condition
Give without demanding
Receive without possessing
Serve without self-seeking
Challenge without dominating
Meditate without identity
Correct without blaming
Overcome without pride
Laugh without cynicism
Cry without pity
Confront without hatred
Guide without superiority
Be without self-defining
Live without arrogance
Enter without self-importance
Depart without regret
Be one with God

~ Mooji

At first this seems like an unattainable aspiration but then I realise that:

Where there is laziness there is not true relaxation
Projecting distorts perception
And the witness that judges tampers with his own witnessing
We do not fully enjoy a moment if there is craving that it be better or other or that it last forever.

And so on. There is a lot here to reflect upon.

Colin Wilson

“When I’m bored, my sense of values goes to sleep. But it’s not dead, only asleep. A crisis can wake it up and make the world seem infinitely important and interesting. But what I need to learn is the trick of shaking them awake myself . . . And incidentally, another name for the sense of values is intelligence. A stupid person is a person whose values are narrow.” ~ Colin Wilson The Black Room (1975)

I learned that one of my favourite authors, Colin Wilson died in December at the age of 82. I never read his most celebrated mainstream book ‘The Outsider’ but I read some of his other work including two science fiction novels, ‘The Mind Parasites’ and ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’, that I rate very highly. One of his themes, the major one, is that there is something blocking humans from being all that we could be. In his sci-fi he identifies the blockage with discarnate alien entities who have some reason for inhibiting our development. In his non-fiction he talks about boredom and the ‘trick’ of shaking ourselves from it.

Wilson’s writing draws us into his quest for finding this ‘trick’ of shaking ourselves awake and he constantly reminds us that it is necessary and possible to stay awake. He was a very optimistic writer and one whose writing and ideas may well be worth revisiting.