For a long time, I refused to call myself an Objectivist. And really I don't think it is healthy to identify so with a philosophy. Not deep down, at root. You are an individual. That's the bedrock -- a unique, unrepeatable combination of mind, body, and soul. I feel that way about my life. But I also know and can no longer deny that fundamentally, in my basic approach to life, I am an Objectivist. It's perhaps not even so much my approach to life as my philosophy of life. My sense of life is opposed to Rand's in many ways -- she was so angry and bitter, I feel -- I can't even read her novels anymore because of it, except Anthem. From the time of my earliest youth I was a sunny, bright, optimistic, idealistic, benevolent person. I rejected even that for a long time in order to be more like Howard Roark (who put people on edge when he walked in the room) than Peter Keating (who was like a ray of sunshine to everyone he met). But you've got to accept who you are. It's taken me a long time to do that. But I don't see a dichotomy between my person and my thoughts. To a great degree, I am an Objectivist in my thoughts but in my person I am Peter Saint-Andre, with all of my capacities and abilities and experiences.
Most people that I have known who have been touched by Ayn Rand's ideas reject the person, reject the individual that one is before Rand. Eventually they may tire of that and then they reject the ideas (I'm not a damn Objectivist anymore!). But they never integrate the two. Oh, some do, but it's rare. I guess I've realized that I don't have to throw out the Rand to keep the Peter. There's no necessary conflict there. And at this point I just ignore orthodox Objectivists like Peikoff and his ilk. Indeed, I would say that they are not Objectivists!!! I call them Randians. They worship Rand. They deify her and demonize their opponents. They are religious about the philosophy. As someone I used to know liked to say, Objectivism is a great philosophy but it makes a lousy religion. There's a lot of truth to that.
To hell with the Randians! We have to find our own way to integrate these ideas into a life that is full of "joy and reason and meaning" (Fountainhead, first page of Part 4 -- my favorite passage, on Monadnock!!!). What Rand said about individualism is true, I think. Perhaps even truer than she would have liked! I have to do my own thinking, and you have to do yours. I was talking to my friend Eric a while back and we were hashing things around concerning these damn Randians and Objectivism and all that. And I said to him, you know, those Randians are a bunch of Neanderthals, but we (the more open, IOS types) are only a bunch of Cro-Magnons! Translation: they are primitive and their evolutionary line is going to die out, but we aren't much better, yet -- we've got a long way to go. And I believe that: we are in possession of this revolutionary set of tools, as radical in its own way as the tool of fire was to ancient men, but we don't really know what to do with it yet. We are at a primitive stage, yet, in our inner lives. There is so much we have to learn. I believe Objectivism is a powerful tool but so far there have been a lot of people exposed to it who've gotten burned. That doesn't mean the tool is bad!! It just means we have to learn how to harness it for happiness.
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