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Good one, Micheal. If I attended a funeral where the minister used something like your post in the eulogy, I think I would join that church immediately.

In my more cynical moments, I imagine my debriefing will be a doozy...

This really is a great blog, I've been reading previous posts for the last couple months and now check almost daily for new entries. Its encouraging, to say the least, especially for those of us who struggle so much with attempting to find deeper answers to very tough questions.

Based on the stories I've read here, and the evidence that's been presented, this post is a great perspective on how to view the transition period we all butt heads with in the near future. Thanks Michael.

I read your article "Romancing the Stone Cold Killer" which was written in 2005. I know this is 7 years late, and I'm assuming you've improved as a writer and philosopher since then, but I'll be the annoying naysayer anyway.

The whole article was one long hyperbolic reflex to a single marginally relevant anecdote. It focused far too much on praise of the man she had given when she was still young. That you entertain the claim in the article and still go on to further its case seems congruent to this claim. And even as you read the quotes themselves an adept reader may find themselves understanding Rand's message as being of a hypothetical man and not of a literal man. That her life did not intersect with him outside of an adolescent idealizing lays good evidence in my mind of this concept. Really if you were looking to argue that she was a sociopath, at least entertain me and make convicted accusations of her desire to see others suffer or something.

Excellent post Michael, and I like Rabbitdawg's comment.

"It occurs to me that extraction is a useful metaphor for dying . . . an undercover mission, a foray into hostile territory, a dangerous assignment with an unpredictable outcome."

That reminds me of another metaphor for dying. Did any of you see the movie "The Game"? Michael Douglas was in it. Not one of my favorites overall, but I will never forget the ending.

I can't remember the exact setup, but the Michael Douglas character has been given a "gift" of sorts for his birthday. Except he only comes to understand the nature of the gift at the very end of the film.

But for most of the movie, everything that can possibly go wrong in his life, goes wrong. And that's a gross understatement. He's chased for almost the entire two hours by a variety of villains, most of whom seem intent on killing him for no apparent reason.

The action, danger, and suspense build until the final scene, in which, at the climax of a thrilling chase sequence, he falls through a glass roof, plummets an enormous height . . . and lands on something deep, soft and comfortable.

As he looks around him, he sees every one of the sinister characters who were hounding him for the whole movie. And they're all smiling at him.

And suddenly he realizes--it was all a game! Every one of those people was in on it, and it took infinite skill and coordination to pull the whole thing off.

And now they're all enjoying the moment together--Michael Douglas's great relief at still being alive, the "villains'" pleasure at playing their own roles so well, and the sudden, unexpected camaraderie between them all. (Unexpected by Michael Douglas, anyway!)

Maybe that's what heaven is like.

A.E Hall, because it is a slow day at work (for once), out of curiousity I went and read the post (actually it is a series of posts) you refer to.

Yeah sure. You're right*.

Hero worshipping a psychotic killer that kidnapped a little girl, took ransom money and then cut the the girl into pieces, throwing some of the pieces in front of the girls parents is a normal thing for a 23 year old; at worst mere youthful indescretion. Moreover, accusing society of being the real culprits because they captured and locked away the killer....excuse me, visionary free thinking hero..., is definitely a logical conclusion and the sign of clear thinking. Unmitigated geniuse, really. I would blindly follow any philosopher capable of such sublime understanding.

*sarcasm alert

Maybe I am not an adept reader, but my understanding of "hypothetical" is apparently different than yours. The killer was a real person who did some real extremely horrible things. Ayn Rand took this real sociopath, lionized him, and sought to base a character on him because she saw heroism where apparently lesser intellects (like my own) see extreme violent sociopathology.

I don't care what age she was, this is the sign of a disturbed mind and very addled thinking. It's so far off the deep end that it is not the kind of thing one bounces back from.

A shorter Ayn Rand: There are two kinds of people. Geniuses and suckers. Geniuse = good. Sucker = bad. Rules are for suckers. Suckers are meant to be the prey of geniuses. Let's declare ourselves geniuses so we don't have to follow rules and can pillage and kill the suckers. In between criminal acts we can mentally masturbate - objectively, of course! - over why we are justified in being A-holes to those we deem to be suckers. Oh, and we will also come up with a bunch of ideals that we don't (can't) even adhere to ourselves, the failure to do so which will serve as justification when we screw our own geniuse cult members.

It's a beautiful thing! Where do I sign up?

Great post and thoughts, Michael, as always.


Ayn Rand really does suck.

No one, your shorter version of Ayn Rand is, sadly, pretty accurate. It's especially on point when considering her early years, when she was wildly enamored of Nietzsche. She developed a slightly more reasonable populist strain later in life, probably under the influence of Isabel Paterson, but the old Nietzschean ugliness would reemerge at the slightest provocation.

As for evidence that she enjoyed making people suffer, it's abundantly available in various bios written of her, most obviously in the sections dealing with her years as a cult leader in Manhattan in the 1960s. She is even said to have driven one young ballerina to suicide. This may or may not be true, but it's undeniable that she enjoyed holding show trials in her apartment in which erring followers were convicted of various intellectual crimes. These faux trials were intended to be as humiliating and degrading as possible.

Michael, I am glad you didn't find my critique of Ayn Rand too harsh or inappropriate for your blog.

I have an intense personal dislike for Ayn Rand and her accolytes. Someone I care about was in a bad marriage and her husband was a hard core "objectivist". He was a heinous sociopath. He physically abused his wife to the point of hospitalization. He abused his children. He was a thief and a liar. He justified it all using Ayn Rand's philosophy. In helping out the wife (actually a family member of mine) in getting away from this guy, I encountered some more members of the little local Rand cult. They were about as bad as he was. They couldn't tell right from wrong. All they wanted to do was argue and they argued like the worst psuedo-intellectuals I have ever met. They were all angry jerks.

You should have seen this fool trying to obtain custody of the children in court. What an ass. Some of his objectivist buddies were there lending "support". He ended up with all of his parental rights severed. LOL.

I have never actually read Rand myself. No desire to. I have heard more than enough. The wife/relative of mine that was rescued had been thoroughly exposed. They had tried to indoctrinate her. She resisted, but she had been exposed to the entire scene and all the writings and inside scuttlebut. Over the years she has explained to me what it's all about. We have some good laughs over it all now.

Sometimes I wonder if Rand was really a very deep sleeper agent of the Bolsheviks, a Communist infiltrator sent to "heighten the contradictions" of capitalism and undermine it from within.

She was a mirror image of everything she claimed to hate. The various biographies of her paint a portrait of a person with a very serious personality defect, a highly-intelligent and educated sociopath.

My amateur diagnosis of Rand is borderline personality disorder and narcissism (a common combination).

I've known some very nice Objectivists, and some real horrors. The people running the movement tend to be the worst, in my experience. And they are constantly fighting among themselves and excommunicating each other.

Rand had major personal problems, but she did write one authentic classic, The Fountainhead. Her issues are pretty similar to those of many other modern thinkers; see Paul Johnson's book Intellectuals for an eye-opening overview of the private lives of various 20th century writers and philosophers. Rand was not really that unusual; what makes her stand out is that she claimed to be for rationality and individualism while behaving irrationally and crushing dissent!

she claimed to be for rationality and individualism while behaving irrationally and crushing dissent!

Sounds like a certain group of people we know and love, who defend the glories of Reason and Science while being unreasonable and unscientific...

Interesting blog post. On the one hand, I think, how could life possibly be a game, and all the players meet afterwards and share a moment of amusement? Life can be just so hard for many. On the other hand, every now and then I have an experience with someone, even just a stranger who exchanges a joke with me, and I get the feeling it IS a game, and for a moment I can almost see past the person's outward appearance and "person" to something else. With some people I can't sense it at all, with others I can see it right away. Weird.

This is somewhat related.

A guy got into a car accident and now is missing a huge part of his brain with no apparent loss in cognitive ability (although he was dumb before the accident so there wasn't much to lose). Video contains explicit dialogue.

"with no apparent loss in cognitive ability (although he was dumb before the accident so there wasn't much to lose)."


Enoch, that is a amazing video. Wow.

I came across this skeptic site trying to debunk psi and mediumship experiments. What does everyone think?.

I sometimes have the similar idea that life is actually a total immersion game, and that I'm going to snap out of it and find myself in the company of other beings who were watching me play. They'll point out sarcastically how "well" I did in this or that situation where I performed miserably, but thought before going in that I would handle the pressure well.

Then they'll soften up after the ribbing and slap me on the shoulder and say something like "Live and learn."

I've read Ayn Rand, and I think the more she wrote the worse she got. I think her first novel, We The Living, was also her best. Also the least philosophical. Reminded me of Dostoevsky at the time.

Concerning the Felix Circle I have a link for you. Check my comments (notallfrauds)if you are interested.

Sorry if I post this on the wrong section, I just did not realize how to mail you directly...)

Warmest regards.

The comments about The Game reminded me of the ending of Titanic, when the Kate Winslet character, now very elderly, drifts off to sleep and apparently passes away. The camera travels under the sea to the ship's wreckage, then through a corridor and into the brightly lit ballroom, which Winslet, now young again, enters. She is greeted by all the passengers and crew (except for the bad guy, I think), who burst into applause. I think most audiences interpreted this as a dream sequence, but IMO it was inspired by NDE imagery and is meant to suggest that she has died. (BTW, as she is falling asleep - or dying - the camera pans across photos showing various phases of her life, rather similar to a life review.)

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