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Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 2:15amSanction this postReply
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Thank you, Orion, for posting this. I have never needed something like this more in my life than now: when my disillusionment with people in general ( I have a very few exceptions) and Collectivist Objectivists in particular has never been more profound. I was happy as a loner. I have been unutterably miserable trying to depart from the path. I know now exactly where I am headed. I really will try and get this book.
Cass (probably for the last time)




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Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 7:43amSanction this postReply
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I am purchasing this book immediately.  All I can say is:  It's about time.



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Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 8:43amSanction this postReply
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Do you know, Orion, Rudyard Kipling said this a long time ago, very poetically in a short story called "The Cat who walked on his wild wild lone"  After making a deal with humans to his own satisfaction " still he walks on the wild wet roof tops, waving his wild wild tail, and walking on his wild wild lone" Yeah.



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Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 12:00pmSanction this postReply
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"Wild, wild lone"... I like that phrase!  Do you know I do?



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Post 4

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 12:19pmSanction this postReply
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My only problem with this book, is that it didn't focus enough on one particular reason why certain people enjoy being alone:  integrity

The book focuses primarily on the "different temperament" motivation for being alone:  that being around people is too jostling, too overstimulating for the loner, and so they need to be alone.  Now, while I think that there is truth to that idea, for me there is another neglected dimension that needs to be discussed: 

Too often, it becomes an either-or choice, as to whether you can have your integrity or be around people.  True, many of us want to be around people, but we too often come to be highly pained and disillusioned when we find out that we crave a peer group, and those others crave diffusion of responsibility and a cowardly sort of clinging.  So they form their cowardly little herds.

For those of us who want to live a good life -- one filled with joy and quality of achievement -- we quickly come to find out that others don't want that.  Around most people, we are reviled for our striving to be admirably happy and content, and for our need to achieve.  The others, they have apparently gotten together to establish a "safe zone" to roll around in their own filth, undisturbed.  We don't know this beforehand, but after we've endured enough social harassment and sabotage from these lowlife, we come to get the point.

The naive but only apparent choice then becomes:  Do I crave the company of people so much that I am willing to become someone I would frankly loathe?  Could I handle living a life that made me ill?  Am I that weak and afraid and dependent? 

Sometimes, we forsake ourselves and conform.  Sometimes, we try for awhile and then flee the group.  But in the end, we find that we have to be able to be loners. 

However, the belief that you can either be social or be a loner, is a false one.  Because, somewhere out there, there just may be -- and likely is -- a group of people who think, believe, and behave in much the same way as you do:  they value their integrity.  And that is your true peer group.

For me, a group like SOLO is exactly that.  I have spent much of my life being popular with people, yet incredibly lonely.  I could never put my finger precisely on what my "problem" was, until I found Ayn Rand and her book, The Fountainhead.  For the first time, it was not just okay to give a damn, but it was portrayed -- correctly -- as something that no person should really live without.

And that's why I'm here.





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Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 5:10pmSanction this postReply
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"However, the belief that you can either be social or be a loner, is a false one.  Because, somewhere out there, there just may be -- and likely is -- a group of people who think, believe, and behave in much the same way as you do:  they value their integrity.  And that is your true peer group"

I liked this post, Orion. I agree that there is not necessarily a choice between being social and being a loner. I think I am essentially a lonesome kinda person, not in a way that displeases me, but in that I prefer to be alone much of the time. I think there are lots of people out there who have integrity. They may not agree with me in every way, or even in many ways at all, but if they have active and creative minds, if they are thinkers, if they are not just another person going with the flow, then I can certainly base an evening's worth of companionship on that. In fact I am usually interested in spending time with anyone who is an achiever or who has a passion for something. Even when they are directly opposed to my own way of thinking I can get excited by seeing them try to work things out. As long as they are actually thoughtful, and not just oppostional.

I suppose I don't have a peer group that I spend a lot of time with en masse, but I have a wide circle of people I like to spend time with occasionally.

Romantically, though, I know someone who is very much like me, and I still find that I prefer to spend a large part of my time alone. I don't think that finding "kindred spirits" changes your nature if you are wont to be lonely. Maybe it will change as I get older, I'm not sure. Right now it seems like the time I use to process information about my life and environment and work things out.

I did read once that the difference between an introvert and extrovert was that introverted people gather energy from the time they are alone, while extroverted people gather energy from the time they spend with others. I don't really know if that is true, but it feels right for me. I definitely feel that there is a "cost" to me to spend time with others, and that my spirit feels that it is being fed when I am alone. I find that this is true *EVEN* when I am around SOLOists. (Unbelievable, I know).



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Post 6

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 5:10pmSanction this postReply
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Actually, I slightly mis-remembered. It's "The Cat who walked by himself" (and all places were alike to him!). It's been a long time since I read it. Well, I didn't  "know" you would like the phrase, but I had a pretty good feeling.
I have long  known that true "loneliness", as apart from aloneness, was not having your own kind of people around you, and having the suffer range of emotions from boredom to downright disgust that most people give us. You can't keep associating with them out of self-protection. As Regi Firehammer once wrote "if you lie down with skunks you end up stinking, even if you are a different specie".
So, from one "wild wild lone" cat, to another, see you around Orion. Maybe.
Cass 




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Post 7

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 9:06pmSanction this postReply
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Cass, I read that Kipling story long ago, and I loved it.

Orion, I was slightly dubious when I read your earlier denunciation of the young women of your generation. I am completely opposed to your denunciation of . . . just about everybody except, perhaps, some Soloists.

You wrote: "For those of us who want to live a good life -- one filled with joy and quality of achievement -- we quickly come to find out that others don't want that. Around most people, we are reviled for our striving to be admirably happy and content, and for our need to achieve. The others, they have apparently gotten together to establish a 'safe zone' to roll around in their own filth, undisturbed."

I live in the world, too, Orion, (and have lived in it much longer than you) and I haven't found that others don't want lives filled with joy; nor have I found myself reviled for wanting to be happy; nor have I found that most people want to roll around in their own filth. I have found that people often don't know how to create happy lives for themselves, although they struggle to do so. I have found that most people are relatively decent, and have little filth in their lives to roll around in.

As Objectivists and Soloists, we all have exalted dreams which we try to reach -- and some of us assume that we are alone to have such dreams. Life is not easy for anyone, and many give up their dreams in despair, but that does not make them monsters. There are monsters in the world, but let's reserve that condemnation for those who deserve it.

I have a picture in my mind of millions of people saying to themselves: "I have great dreams, and great goals -- and I am bitterly lonely because no one else has them." Surely there's a contradiction in this picture worth thinking about.

You wrote: "Too often, it becomes an either-or choice, as to whether you can have your integrity or be around people," Where did you get such an idea? What do other people have to do with the maintenance of one's own integrity? Are you saying that because we are "around people," we have to be dishonest because some of them are? Do we have to cheat and rob and murder because other people do?

I know people who are concentration camp survivors, but who have not given up on the human race or on themselves, who have not given in to despair, who have not sentenced themselves to lives of loneliness and misanthropy. If they haven't done so, by what right do we?

You wrote: "Do I crave the company of people so much that I am willing to become someone I would frankly loathe?"

"The company of people" does not make anyone become someone he loathes. If that occurs, he has done it to himself, and to blame others is simply a copout. Look around you without fear, Orion, and you will see that there are decent people everywhere -- even if many of them do not agree with you in every particular. Yes, we have to be able to be loners -- for the joy of being alone with ourselves, not out of hatred of others.

George Washington said, of America, "We must set a standard to which the wise and honest will repair." That is what all of us can do when we are "among people."

Barbara



Post 8

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 10:36pmSanction this postReply
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Ms. Branden,

I understand completely that you're opposed to my denunciation of most people, Objectivists aside.  I wish the situation wasn't that way, either -- because it bothers me too -- but alas, most of the time these days, that's very much how I feel.

And yes, I did read all of your other points... and I am glad that so much optimism still exists in the world.  I try to be optimistic, too, but I guess I've been forced to spend too much time around people who haven't been particularly good for me... and maybe that's where I'm coming from.

I do know that there are good and decent people everywhere, but from my more limited experience I conclude -- and I understand already that you disagree with this -- that they merely dot the landscape, rather then cover it in vast herds.  I guess their degree of prevalence is what's at issue here between you and I.  I see them as the Atlases of decency in the world, but sadly, I have come to believe that only a small number of them can exist and maintain their burdens for very long, before giving up.  They can only sacrifice their lives so much, while others romp, oink, and sling feces on them.

My goal here is not to be some sort of xenophobic misanthrope... far from it.  My goal from the beginning has always been to achieve mutual appreciation in the world, but after some tough lessons in reality, I have come to believe that my blanket of mutual appreciation is really only meant to cover a much smaller landscape of those who are secure enough in themselves to not be threatened by me, nor me by them. 

If I judged it to be a feasable option for me to still employ a sense of commonality with all other people, I would surely do so.  My present stance is as painful for me to live, as it no doubt is for you to read, but nonetheless, I judge it to be the only fair and workable conclusion.  I judge it most prudent to live under the default presumption that the average person today has already been "converted" to rottenness when I first meet them, until they demonstrate otherwise.    

I have had to spend too many painful years being made to feel self-hatred for being good at things, because too many of those around me would rather hamstring me and drag me down to their level, rather than letting me inspire and help them up to mine... On the other hand, I also realize that perhaps my style of existence would be as painful to them as theirs would be to me, and so that is why I have since decided that "good fences make good neighbors". 

I now stay on my side of the fence and let them be happy on theirs.  I expect reciprocity in this regard.      

(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 10/19, 10:43pm)




Post 9

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 10:43pmSanction this postReply
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Ashley,

I understand completely.  And now that I've read your post, it also occurs to me that a person's motivation for being alone doesn't have to be this either-or scenario of being due to either liking it or being relegated to it, by a corrupt society.  A person could do it for both reasons, or they could also not even choose it, but because they actually do like mainstream society, and are just outcast.




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Post 10

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 2:03amSanction this postReply
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Speaking as a loner in a loner forum, I think it is Miss Branden's inclination that must be emphasized. (If this were a non-loner forum, my focus would be different.)  

The reality of life or the loner's self may--tragically or not--relegate him to lonerism. (It is very, though implicitly clear--from the posts on this thread alone--that friends mean much more to loners than they do to socialites, the other extreme.) But one must always be honest. It is simply elitist and arrogant to assume that, just because you can't get along with a certain group of people, their happiness amongst each other is not genuine. Who are you to say it isn't? As for their harboring any resentment toward you--don't flatter yourself. If they don't know you, they're too busy enjoying their lives to care.  

I don't think that Branden's sentiments are mere "optimism"; they come from experience. As do mine, albeit from much less experience. Almost everything that Orion has described as being wretched about many group mentalities is true and prevalent, and I have experienced it, but there is a difference and one must be able to tell it. The solution isn't to cast aside all of those whose lifestyles you can't comprehend as unworthy group-whores, but to be able to distinguish between those from whom you're alienated, and respect them accordingly, and not subject the innocent ones to your scorn and bitterness. Perhaps, even, try to enjoy them on some unique level of your own.

"If you can walk with Kings--nor lose the common touch," as Kipling said.

Alec

(Edited by Alec Mouhibian on 10/20, 2:05am)




Post 11

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 4:54amSanction this postReply
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Orion, You seem to have a D'Anconia complex. Just Kidding. but seriously you may be able to pull inspiration from him. If you remember he did everything remarkably and perhaps you have this same skill in life. So use it and enjoy it, no-one brought Fransisco down.

Anyway, I felt the same way for many years. for about 8 years I was on a telephone answering customer service type request [1 was for bank research, 2nd was a technical support position] You get down on things when you all you see is the wretched and it is a tail spin that is difficult to get out of. I personally wrote a poetry book during that time that I recently had published. I am on an up-swing now and I just wanted to share how I think that that happened because; I do believe that you are correct by saying it is an "optimistic" statement that Barbara made. It is in our perception.

Yeah there is ugliness grief and constantly you feel like people don't want to be happy, how could they when they are running around with their heads cut off? But for me I was getting that negative aspect because I actually found that I was becoming stagnant in life. I just did the same job, and knew most of the answers, I could even predict the questions, Life had no wonderment for me. Eitherway, there has to be something that makes you say I wonder what is around the next corner of life for me and re-discover its beauty. I know it is easier said than done and for me my 3 kids helped me to see life through new eyes. But my recommendation is that if this applies then find a way to shake life up and don't fall into some stagnant place where you lose your potentials.
thanks,
JML



Post 12

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 4:58amSanction this postReply
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Oh yeah and Alec, "Honesty" what a wonderful and powerful thing. To be honest with yourself and your environment and outwardly towards others. If we lived by this one virtue what beauty we could create as humans. Honestly, it may be the answer to just about everything. thanks for the words.

Thanks,
JML



Post 13

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 10:19amSanction this postReply
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Well, I do appreciate all the words of encouragement and clarification...

And for the record, I would like to make even more clear, that for a long time I was certain that there was only one standard of happiness for everyone... and that I was pursuing it.  I had no comprehension that people who were living lives that I considered barren and reckless, and subsisting of little else than short-term thrills to hold them together, could actually be happy and fulfilled by that.

Honestly, I'm still not fully convinced they're really happy and well-adjusted... but then again, I have moments where I wonder if even I am.  You know, awhile back I read a college newspaper article where a library historian was interviewed about his life and his job, and he said something to the effect of -- and I found these to be brilliant words, even though they're paraphrased:

You will ultimately only be happy in a job that fits your neurosis. 
 
Or, as I would say it: 

Neurosis dictates niche.
 
Now, as I recall, this comment was jokingly made in regard to the question of how he came to pick his job and why he likes it so much... being a library historian, that is.  And granted, "neurosis" is not the most optimistic view of that mysterious quality in mention; I suppose you could also call it "need"... but then again, "need" to me, doesn't carry the sense of "kryptonitic" compulsion that "neurosis" does.  "Neurosis" connotes a weakness, a need that cannot be reckoned with, and must be fulfilled.

At any rate, the reason I mention all of this, is that perhaps it relates to what each of us regards as "fun" and "fulfillment".  I suppose that if your childhood were spent trapped in some scenario, say, with a childish, snarling, drunk of a father and an emotionally catatonic mother, out in some stark, understimulating, far rural area in a broken-down single-wide mobile home or something, then you would develop a set of very specific unmet needs in life that will dictate what your niche must later be.

I understand all of this.  What I don't understand and have little tolerance for, is people who are supposedly "happy" in their respective niches, and taking sniper shots at those whose niche would be described by psychologist Abraham Maslow as being "higher" -- however relative and/or correct that notion ultimately is -- and who are just trying to find their happiness, unmolested.


(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 10/20, 10:43am)




Post 14

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 10:37amSanction this postReply
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Jeffrey,

You may be kidding about my having a d'Anconia complex, but I have to agree with it.  Out of all of Rand's characters, he was the one I most identified with.

In my off-hours acting class, I am planning on turning his and Dagny's dialogue into an actual scene to perform, and I will perform Francisco.

(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 10/20, 10:44am)




Post 15

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 8:02amSanction this postReply
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Great topic. I made peace with the fact that I was an introvert years ago. I do draw my energy from solitary activities - reading, thinking, writing. I dont't think I have found any group that I feel comfortable in for more than a little bit of time. I value highly groups that energise me in some way, intellectually or otherwise (SOLO being one such), and always find it interesting that without thinking about it, I can tell if a group of people are filling or sucking from, the energy bank. In the latter case I will invariably feel a physical let down, and feel drained. Thats my body telling me its time to cut them loose.

John



Post 16

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 12:21pmSanction this postReply
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Orion, Not really kidding just it seems a little funny to call it a complex and I certainly did not want to be name calling. but it seems like you could really relate with that character which is what Rand mentions in her Romantic Manifesto. I don't have the book handy [i use the library alot] but it was something to the effect that one identifies with a character and they find themselves asking what would Roark or D'Anconia or Gault do in this situation.
Regardless, I can relate to the quote "You will ultimately only be happy in a job that fits your neurosis." The only difference is that I would consider them Tendencies. Each of our personalities have them and they can dictate ones niche if a person is open to them. and this may be where we both stand, that many people are open to acknowledge them so how could they ever find happiness. if they don't want to see then can they truly be happy. Gets frustrating for sure but try it this way. If the majority do not want to see what is right for their own happiness isn't their self-destruction just leaving your path open for you? I don't know. i have been playing with this for a little while. let me know what you think of it.
Thanks,
JML
(Edited by Jeffrey M Lewis on 10/20, 12:58pm)




Post 17

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 7:00pmSanction this postReply
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Orion, you wrote: " I guess I've been forced to spend too much time around people who haven't been particularly good for me."

We all have, since we all went to school.

You also said: "I do know that there are good and decent people everywhere, but from my more limited experience I conclude -- and I understand already that you disagree with this -- that they merely dot the landscape, rather then cover it in vast herds."

I don't disagree with this. But why would anyone need "vast herds?"

You then said: "I judge it most prudent to live under the default presumption that the average person today has already been "converted" to rottenness when I first meet them, until they demonstrate otherwise."

And so you do to others what you resent them doing to you. You pre-judge them in the most negative possible way, you judge them as guilty until proved innocent. If you say they treat you unjustly, don't you treat them exactly the same way? Why are you so afraid of other people? What can they do to you?

Jeffrey, your posts are very wise. You said, "There has to be something that makes you say I wonder what is around the next corner of life for me." Yes, indeed. And when one has that, the state of other people's souls becomes much less important.

Barbara



Post 18

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 9:42pmSanction this postReply
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Jeffrey,

Well, I appreciate your want to not hurt my feelings... that's a damn sight better standard than what most of the world practices. 

However, I recognize that when you're right, you're right.  If you had compared me to anyone else but Francisco d'Anconia, I might have felt exposed in a shameful way, but I took it the opposite way.  In fact, there might even be some people who are deemed "rotten" by conventional wisdom that you might compare me to, but who I would not judge as "rotten", and so I wouldn't feel that bad.

And I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "If the majority do not want to see what is right for their own happiness isn't their self-destruction just leaving your path open for you?"... But if you mean that there might not be enough niches to go around for a given type of personality, then perhaps you're right.  I'm not sure.  I also tend to somehow think that people find niches if they create them.... but the conditions also have to be amenable to that.




Post 19

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 9:53pmSanction this postReply
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Ms. Branden,

Well, I agree with what you've said... But I think I may not have made myself clear earlier, because you said this in response:
If you say they treat you unjustly, don't you treat them exactly the same way?

Let me be specific about how exactly I treat them:  When I first meet strange people in a situation whereby I feel I might be instantly resented -- such as someone in the general public -- I am a person of few words, very little eye contact, and a very formal, serious, and politely cautious manner.  I'm not spitting in their faces and calling them names, if that what you perhaps thought; far from it. 

Basically, I regard members of the general public as most likely unpredictably volatile, indiscreetly vicious and immature, and so I handle them like I would handle plutonium:  apprehensively, gingerly, and always prepared for the very worst, far beyond my darkest imaginings.  And when I'm thankfully done, I peel out of there so fast, I'm surprised I don't leave skid marks.

And rather than ask me why I have such an unusual prejudice towards the average person, I would request that you perhaps ask yourself what sort of people-creatures I have had to endure in the past, in order to have this pre-packaged frame of mind now

(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 10/20, 9:55pm)




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