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Solo Conference Testimonials
by Various Authors



This conference filled me with confidence in where SOLO is headed. Before the conference I was starting to wonder whether SOLO was just a discussion forum where people were mostly prattling off a crock. (Of course, Sam et al.'s witty remarks were the exception). The speeches last weekend brought home to me just how much intellectual firepower there is in the group. So thanks,

Andrew Bates.

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The conference was amazing. I won't insult it by trying to describe it to those who didn't attend, because nothing but immersion in such a stunning assembly of goodwill and brilliance can possibly get across the point. I will say this - to all the people who have asked me if it's good to be home, I've said "NO!" Coming back to America after a week of intelligent, fun, rowdy and passionate people is utterly anti-climactic. If I didn't know better, I'd drop out of UNH, sell my belongings, and go back. But there's always SOLO Conference 2003...

Matt Ballin

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I was in the most incredible of moods all weekend - uplifted, enthusiastic, optimistic, informed, thought-provoked and most importantly, happy. allow me to add my voice to those who proclaim that the conference was one of epic proportions. The immense wealth of knowledge, thought and experience which was present at Waitomo was, quite frankly, bloody fantastic. Although I would have liked to have taken part in a few more of the spirited discussions which filled the weekend, my limited understanding of Objectivism and philosophies in general made me somewhat self- conscious amongst such intellectual giants. It was simply sufficient to sit and listen, in child-like joy, to realise that intelligent thought *does* exist, that life is not a huge cesspit in which people demand and demand and demand and scream, "We are the customers! We are always right! Give me free pizza because I'm an imbecile!"

Whew. That felt good. See you all next year!

Kyle McFarlane

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On Saturday evening I sat between Joseph Rowlands & Cameron Pritchard, on a couch in the main lounge. There was the buzz of voices coming from the bar, and I think Anna Moffo was playing. We had nothing to say to each other. None of us was uncomfortable about that. I broke the silence with an observation that we had a problem. We didn't disagree about anything. I tried to think up a something controversial to light the fire. I said to Joe, "How about colonising Africa?" "Sure" he said, nodding his head in gentle, thoughtful agreement. "But not straight away. There's a few matters at home to attend to first." And you Cameron? "Yeah. That'd be fine."

I've been used to fighting for ideas in ignorant and/or hostile environments. So I was used to feeling a kind of internal bracing. It was a very strange & unfamiliar feeling to be around people with whom you did not have to fight, but rather with whom you discussed, learned from & explored with. To build, rather than protect. It was a different kind of world.

Someone quipped, upon leaving; "Time to return to unreality".

Sam Pierson

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What a wonderful weekend, inspirational, intelligent, passionate, everything I hoped SOLO would be. Speeches, conversations, videos that tapped my mind, my heart, my body and made me think. From Linz's introduction and welcome, to Jim Peron's speech that cannot fail but bring tears to my eyes (and should be distributed to as many young people as possible), it opened my mind and was fuel for the future.

The venue allowed everyone to find places to relax, to talk, to peruse the fine selection of books from Aristotle's, to drink well past the bar closure at 1.30am and for SOME to lust after a couple of members of bar staff. Memorable moments in no particular order:

  • Bates' auctioning of the Ayn Rand first day cover and SOLO book, and the magnanimity of those who bid;
  • The heart warming stories of the Young Guns, all individual all different and all bursting with pride;
  • Michael Newberry's fascinating story of the coming battle between post- modernist vomit (I mean "art") and his heroic new renaissance work, and subsequent conversations with him, which gave me a new appreciation for the values expressed in art;
  • Barbara Branden's video speech on the sense of life of Ayn Rand in her own life and as expressed (or not expressed) in Howard Roarke and John Galt;
  • Robert White's intellectual tearing apart of the altruism in Adam Smith and assertion of true laissez faire capitalism;
  • drunken arm wrestling and digital photo taking;
  • Joseph Rowlands and Matt Ballin's complementary discussions on what a sense of life is which were both inspirational;
  • Hooch's newly earned Directorship of Conviviality;
  • Videos of Ayn Rand interviews, John Stossel on Greed and the Power of Faith, all fascinating and entertaining.


  • This was in a background of a venue that was largely rained out, but not cold, with plenty of drink, food and good music, fine conversation that was friendly and interesting.

    To the organisers and participants, you have much to be proud of, and this is only the beginning.

    Scott Wilson

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    Wow. I just cannot even begin to put into words what this conference has meant to me. But I will anyway! It was nothing less than the most enjoyable few days I have had in my life for as far back as I can remember. It was like returning home after being in a foreign land, and finally being able to speak one's own language again. No translations, just fluency. Understanding.

    The people were evidence that the heroic is out there - making one of the themes of my own speech even more concrete to me and I hope, to others. Intelligent, warm people oozing with passion, enthusiasm and praise for the best in each other. I mean, I have rarely felt that kind of camaraderie and it's such a powerful, inspiring feeling that leaves such a wonderful afterglow.

    The intellectual quality of the speeches was just amazing. Lindsay - an inspiring call-to-arms, opening the way for Objectivism as it could and should be. The Young Guns - I was proud to share this segment with the talent of Sam, Andrew and Matt. Robert White - a brilliant scholar who is nothing less than an inspiration to me as someone who also seeks to work in the academic field. Barbara's video - a thought-provoking presentation, with hopefully more to come at SOLO 2. Michael Newberry - what a revolutionary, it's impossible not to soak up the enthusiasm he generates for his cause. Joe Rowlands - a fascinating speech that gave me new tools to use in my own life. And Jim Peron - well, as Hooch said to me, I don't think there was a dry eye in the room after his speech.

    And of course it wasn't just the speeches. It was the conversations, the walks and conversations, the food and conversations, the drinks and conversations, even the arm-wrestling and conversations! It was meeting again old friends, getting to know people even better and making new friends. And all of this in an atmosphere of goodwill and open-mindedness, no religious-style dogmatists to be found anywhere near Waitomo during this weekend!

    To all the speakers, and to everyone who worked the nuts and bolts to make it happen and especially to Lindsay who ignited the SOLO flame in the first place - a thousand times thank you.

    Cameron Pritchard

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    Here's my own assessment of SOLOC 1: for three days at Waitomo, we felt free, that we never had to take all the other crap seriously. It was wall-to-wall reason, passion, benevolence, untainted by any hint of The Drooling Beast. Whoever, at the end of the conference, made the quip Sam referred to - "Now, back to unreality" - said it all.

    Speakers:

    Perigo - a timely repudiation of the mean-spiritedness that has led Objectivism astray, & an esthetics-infused vision of the future.

    Pritchard - An endearingly sweet celebration of his heroes & an inspiring salute to Ayn Rand for giving him the courage to worship them.

    Pierson - again, an endearing insouciance, which belied the seriousness of his memoir. A horror story that turned to hope - & what courage to tell it!

    Bates - funny & frenetic, as is Andrew's wont. A potent reminder of the personal relevance & efficacy of good ideas.

    Ballin - Imp, showing flashes of wit & charm - & an ocean of intelligence - with more on Objectivism APPLIED.

    White - an intellectual tour de force, demolishing Adam Smith & the altruistic defence of capitalism.

    Branden-on-video - the unbelievably glamorous & polished Barbara with a heartfelt tribute to Ayn Rand coupled with a salutary reminder of the destructiveness of her (Rand's) going into denial re her own pain.

    Newberry - unorthodox presentation style, but riveted, inspired & horrified his audience with competing images of postmodernism & romanticism, & captivated them with his own sense of life.

    Rowlands - utterly stunning. Had everyone's brain abuzz with the implications of his static/dynamic distinction. And whence DOES he get that gorgeous chuckle??

    Peron - the perfect closure. The Day Ayn Rand Died. Beautifully delivered, each word straight from the head & the heart.

    There are nits I could pick re the technical aspects of delivery in some cases, but they are of miniscule significance next to the intelligence & passion all speakers brought to their presentations.

    Then, there was the letting down of the hair - impromptu video & CD playings, dialogues, arm-wrestles, catapult-shootings, lust-ventings, etc..

    All in all, utterly, utterly magnificent. Here's to SOLOC 2, 2003

    Lindsay Perigo

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