Rebirth of Reason

Sense of Life

Weaving the World's Dreams
by Matthew Graybosch

The world needs a hero. Not a hero to save the world from itself, but one who can inspire man to rise up, take responsibility for his fate, and create his own salvation. It is religion that promises to save man from himself and creates a Hell on earth by leading men from sin that is truly virtue and into virtue that is truly sin, if sin truly exists. The world has seen too many saviors that promise a heaven that cannot be reached if men would only give up reason, give up pride, give up all that he values and give up, give up, give up.

A hero to inspire men to save themselves: where does such a hero come from? Such a hero is born of passion and reason; it is the artists that must serve as midwives for the birth of heroes, for a hero is made of words and images instead of flesh and bone. Because of his composition, a hero cannot act in the physical world; he walks through the dreams of men rather than alongside them.

As Objectivists and students of the philosophy, we're committed to reason and to life in the real world. Dreams are to be put aside upon waking, so that we can live in reality. However, Ellsworth Toohey did not have the whole answer: killing reverence with laughter is a potent tactic, but most men are best reached through their dreams, for the best of them work to make their dreams real - the girl reading Asimov's I, Robot who ends up working in artificial intelligence research, the young man who looks at the ugly buildings around him, reads Rand's The Fountainhead and finally understands why the ugliness offends him and decides to fight with all he has against it, or even the clerk who comes out of a cinema after viewing a James Bond film who makes up his mind to make a more interesting life for himself.

It is a dream that drives these people and others, a dream inspired by the art around them. It is the artists that weave the world's dreams, and it is those dreams that can drive men to rise up and take their lives in their own hands or huddle in despair. As artists, we can weave dreams of reason and passion, nobility and justice, pride and romance. We can weave dreams of minds and hearts unconquerable, determined to weave their own destiny from the threads of their own choices; we can weave dreams that build a better reality.

Or, the artists can weave dreams of ugliness and despair, of pointless sensation and self-mocking nihilism, dreams of emptiness and mindless bravado. It is the artist's choice to weave dreams of nobility or depravity, and too many artists choose depravity. Fortunately, it is also a man's choice to accept or reject the dreams offered him; the best of men will reject the dreams of ugliness and depravity offered them and weave their own dreams, inspiring others until they themselves walk as heroes through the dreams of other men to inspire further heroism. Rand wrote that it was the philosophers that controlled the world. As a rule, this is true. But rules are made to be broken: the philosophers are not almighty; there are people willing to defy the dominant philosophy even if they lack an explicit philosophy of their own. If their passion is strong enough, their reason and their sense of life can be enough to foment rebellion against the dominant thinkers. Rand herself may have forgotten this; she was an artist long before she became a philosopher.

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