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Happy Randsday! Give Yourself A Present This Randsday!

February 2nd is the birthday of Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Ayn Rand developed and defended Objectivism, a philosophy that advocates rational selfishness.

To celebrate Randsday, you do something not done on any other holiday: you give yourself a present. Randsday is for getting that longed-for luxury you ordinarily would not buy for yourself. Or for doing that long-postponed, self-pampering activity you cannot seem to fit into your chore-packed schedule.

Randsday is for reminding ourselves that pleasure is an actual need, a psychological requirement for a human consciousness. For man, motivation, energy, enthusiasm are not givens. Psychological depression is not only possible but rampant in our duty-preaching, self-denigrating culture. The alternative is not short-range, superficial fun, but real, self-rewarding pleasure. On Randsday, if you do something that you ordinarily would think of as fun, you do it on a different premise and with a deeper meaning: that you need pleasure, you are entitled to it, and that the purpose and justification of your existence is: getting what you want—what you really want, with full consciousness and dedication.

In The Fountainhead, Peter Keating comes to realize this:

Katie, I wanted to marry you. It was the only thing I ever really wanted. And that’s the sin that can’t be forgiven—that I hadn’t done what I wanted. It feels so dirty and pointless and monstrous, as one feels about insanity, because there’s no sense to it, no dignity, nothing but pain—and wasted pain. . . . Katie, why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world—to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want. As I wanted to marry you. Not as I want to sleep with some woman or get drunk or get my name in the papers. Those things—they’re not even desires—they’re things people do to escape from desires—because it’s such a big responsibility, really to want something.

Randsday is the time to challenge any duty-premise, re-affirm your love of your values, and honor the principle that joy in living is an end in itself.

Have a selfish Randsday!

Made available from www.randsday.com

  • http://twitter.com/Attritive Chad Merritt

    Sounds like an ordinary day.

  • Ryan Jamieson

    There’s certain loaded premises built-into this post. Namely, the author is assuming I don’t already pamper myself and live for my own happiness every day, which may or may not include spending money (which I may or may not have) on gifts to increase my psychological pleasure. In a certain sense, it reminds me of the slogan of a bank where I live, which is: “You’re richer than you think.” Am I? Are you? I know at least one guy who pampers himself with consumer items he really cannot afford–and thereby digs himself deeper into personal debt. He isn’t richer than he thinks: quite the opposite, he’s living beyond his means. Hence the slogan is presumptuous. It assumes without basis that which isn’t necessarily justified on the part of the reader. The same is true of this post. As another commenter wrote: “Sounds like an ordinary day.” And if it doesn’t sound like an ordinary day for you–say you’re living as an altruist or a Keating–then trying to live selfishly for merely one day a year, i.e., on “Randsday” (a name I dislike), is pretty useless.

  • Brian Wright

    Jamieson

    The article is written by Harry Binswanger, an ardent Objectivist and former associate of Ayn Rand. He is proposing a positive action on Ayn Rand’s birthday that could serve as a rallying point for people interested in her writing. Possibly, it could catch on and serve as a yearly celebration for those who are interested in advancing Objectivism.

    I see in your post a tendency in the Objectivist world to argue and disagree when no disagreement is necessary. Instead of trying to understand the other person, the intent is to engage and argue. For example, why do you assume he is referring to you in your, “the author is assuming I don’t already pamper myself?”

    Dr. Binswanger has no knowledge of your existence. His intention is to offer up a positive action on Ayn Rand’s birthday. Why not join in and embrace the suggestion instead of opposing it as if he is talking to you personally and taking it as a personal insult?

    On a further note, I should point out that a failure to live for one’s own happiness does not equate to altruism. A person can mistreat self or be self-destructive without being devoted to others in self-sacrificial actions of altruism.

  • Ryan Jamieson

    Wright (maybe I should call you ‘Brian’ or ‘Mr. Wright’?):

    “The article is written by Harry Binswanger, an ardent Objectivist and former associate of Ayn Rand.”

    Yes, I can read that, and for your information I know who Harry Binswanger is. In fact, I purchased several of his philosophical lectures, including “Consciousness as Identification,” “How to Study Ayn Rand’s Writings,” “Selected Topics in the Philosophy of Science,” among others, probably going back 10 years now. I have been familiar with his existence since around 1998, when he appeared as a guest on one of Leonard Peikoff’s nationally syndicated radio shows, and plugged his book, “The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts,” if I recall correctly.

    “He is proposing a positive action on Ayn Rand’s birthday that could serve as a rallying point for people interested in her writing.”

    From my read of his foregoing post, my understanding is that he’s specifically targetting people who may or may not be interested in her writing–in fact, who may not even have heard of her, since it would be superfulous to introduce her “as the author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead” and the developer and defender of “Objectivism, a philosophy that advocates ‘rational selfishness,'” to a person already interested in her writing. But above all, in terms of his audience, he seems to have in mind a person who definitely does not live according to her espoused philosophic principles.

    “Possibly, it could catch on and serve as a yearly celebration for those who are interested in advancing Objectivism. I see in your post a tendency in the Objectivist world to argue and disagree when no disagreement is necessary.”

    Please note that in this case I do not actually agree with what is being advocated, which would make disagreement necessary. (Notice that since you agree with Binswanger here, you are in fact disagreeing with my disagreement of him – so if you apply that rule to yourself, you shouldn’t have even replied to my post! I’m not sure, though, who counts as a member of the “Objectivist world”?)

    On the subject of “the Objectivist world,” to which I have no known connection: If that world exists, I’ve never actually met an Objectivist (or someone who claims to be an Objectivist) in my dealings with people in my actual, real life, outside of the Internet. A small, small world it must be indeed – perhaps it’s limited to a few enclaves in Orange County and New York City?

    “Instead of trying to understand the other person, the intent is to engage and argue.”

    Not at all. I always first make an attempt to understand what is being said and then only later point out my disagreements, if and when they should arise. As Robert Mayhew notes of Rand in the book he edited on her ‘Marginalia,’ agreements usually amount to: “Oh yes,” “I agree,” “correct,” etc. They don’t tend to be as dramatic and flaming as disagreements. If I completely agree with every last point made in an article, I might write something like: “Great article, I agree completely.” See?

    “For example, why do you assume he is referring to you in your, ‘the author is assuming I don’t already pamper myself?'”

    The second portion of the title of the article is: “Give Yourself A Present This Randsday!” Since I am the one reading the article, who else am I to assume he is referring to by “yourself”? The girl next door?

    “Dr Binswanger has no knowledge of your existence.”

    I don’t believe this is true. I’ve had actual documented correspondence with him, though he may not remember me at all. Yet again, this follows in the same pattern of presumptuousness as Binswanger’s article, but this time on your part. Why do you assume this, merely because I referred to him as “the author,” instead of “The Honourable and Great Objectivist Pillar”?

    “His intention is to offer up a positive action on Ayn Rand’s birthday.”

    Yes, I know.

    “Why not join in and embrace the suggestion instead of opposing it as if he is talking to you personally and taking it as a personal insult?”

    For one, I don’t like the name of the proposed ‘holiday’ for the same reason, if you must know, that Rand didn’t like her adherents to be called “Randians.” (I could get more into the psychology of why I dislike the name, if you are curious.) Second, I don’t regard it as “insulting”–I simply disagree with the way he presented/phrased the article, which is clear and obvious to anyone who read my previous comment. Third, I’m against the idea of trying to popularize her name in the culture with such a holiday, given that virtually nobody outside of a tiny minority lives consistently, let alone has even heard of, her basic premises. It’s putting the cart before the horse.

    To follow-up on the audience issue, maybe Harry Binswanger had a specific person or group in mind when he wrote it, but as I said in my previous comment, the article is too presumptuous and assumes things about his audience which appear to be arbitrary (how does he know the person reading the article has a “chore-packed scheduled,” for example?). Furthermore, to a non-Objectivist, the advice to “live one day a year for yourself, for what you truly want” seems a little gimmicky or even useless, if the long-term goal is consistent application of the Objectivist virtues — shouldn’t a person live for his own existence every day of the year? The other remaining 364 days of pleasureless, duty-bound, self-denial and self-abasement is definitely going to negate a single day of trying to achieve your own happiness. “Reason, purpose, self-esteem” should be applied for yourself from a long-term, whole-life perspective, all waking hours, continuously throughout your life, if you are an end in yourself.

    With all that said, I remain puzzled by who he actually has in mind as his intended audience for this post.

    (I apologize if this was exerpted from some other post to a specific person on his private, pay-only ‘HBList,’ but I simply read it as is after searching around on this web site – I have no other connection to his ‘HB List’.)

    “On a further note, I should point out that a failure to live for one’s own happiness does not equate to altruism. A person can mistreat self or be self-destructive without being devoted to others in self-sacrificial actions of altruism.”

    Fair enough. However, most ‘normal’ people in the culture who claim to be–or want to be seen to be–or perhaps in some way actually are–“good” equate or at least associate ‘goodness’ or ‘being a good person’ with the dominant Christian (or some other religious) ethics, which definitely means altruism as symbolized by the cross in the case of Christianity.

    Best,

    Ryan Jamieson

  • http://twitter.com/Attritive Chad Merritt

    I think you dealt with that poster’s ad hominem quite well, although I don’t think much will come of it.

  • Ryan Jamieson

    The name sounds made up, so it might just be a troll. I could be wrong.

  • Brian Wright

    Mr. Ryan Jamieson

    The way you referred to HB as “the author” led me to believe you didn’t know who he was and was dismissing him. If you are fully knowledgeable of who he is, I offer you a sincere apology. Obviously, you are an advanced Objectivist, and in that case, what could I really relate to you since you seem to have all the answers, including some inside knowledge that my name could be a troll.

    Good adventures in your future pursuit of Objectivism.

  • Ryan Jamieson

    Cheers! All the best, Brian.

  • KaelVarnson

    No, he’s not assuming anything about you. He’s introducing a new holiday for *conscious commemoration* of Rand’s ethical system, which does not imply whim worship or short term hedonism, as you imply. A truly selfish person does not live beyond their means.

  • Pepe Restrepo

    A agree with Ryan’s interesting post.. Isn’t it a little patronizing to suggest this to intelligent, independent people? Do we need an excuse to treat ourselves like the intelligent and accomplished people most Objectivists are?

    Perhaps this is just another over-the-edge vision put forth by HB on par with his great support for George Bush and the Iraq War, and of course, his scenario of open immigration which would turn the U.S. into England and its barrios where Sharia law and burka-clad women are the norm.

  • gravenimage

    I decided to reread “Anthem”–my favorite work of Ayn Rand’s.

    I also set myself a deadline for the graphic novel I’m working on–and got twice as much done as usual on the book on February 2nd.

    I didn’t see this as a day for indulging a whim–although having pleasure in your life is very important. But I wanted it to be something rather more meaningful than just a generic “treat yourself” day.

    As for those who take issue with having a special day for this, I believe–with respect–that Ms. Rand herself might have disagreed. She saw holidays as a legitimate time for reflection and rededication to your vision. I believe that “Rand Day”–yes, this is a bit awkward as a name–could nonetheless serve as a day when we reflect on whether we have gotten too far away from what makes us truly happy, and to rededicate ourselves to that goal.