Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Notes from the UnderCON

Session one is almost over at OCON 2008! Diana over at Noodlefood is giving some great perspectives on the sessions at OCON, and I'll do that too. However, I also thought I'd give those of you who've never been a sense of what additional values exists at such events.

I was talking with Kathryn Oshay at the opening reception and she mentioned the wondeful feeling at the idea that here we were together with almost 400 people, all who shared our values. The sense of community and optimism is not to be understated.

Time is at a premium. Every meal finds me interacting and meeting some new Objectivist I'd not met before. Connections made yesterday turn into new connections today. Alex Epstein, Nick Provenzo, Ray Niles, the list goes on, as well as a ton of friends I'd known from yet never met personally.

And the converstations! I think I've had more substantive conversations about a wide spread of topics in the last 4 days than I normally manage to in 4 months! And the tone is different. Here I'm sharing ideas and news with people who I don't have to convince or persuade or attempt to teach my perspective. Instead it's about adding depth to my understanding, motivating others to think about their specific concerns in different ways, and figuring out ways to make a difference together.

And of course the conversations extend late into the night and early in the morning. Since we're still on East Coast time, my roomie, Ray Niles, and I seem to start out every morning with an engaging 2 hour conversation on some series of topics as a way to energize the morning before a start to the day's lectures. Today is was the intricacies of analyzing the Enron debacle, and thoughts about how ideas proliferate in the culture, as well as what sort of blog topics we're getting ready to post as a result of the conference.

For those who want a little relaxation thrown in, the conferences are always at a nice resort and blocks of free time do exist. Today I managed to waste the entire morning lounging in the spa, getting a wondrous massage, and indulging in a few simple pleasures.

And finally, the core of the conference is the course work. My session one agenda includes some great courses:

The beautiful Lisa Van Damme has brilliantly convinced me that there is value in reading great, if flawed, literature, and even though Russian Short Stories might make me want to slit my wrists, I should refrain from doing so.

Andrew Lewis, in his engaging manner is helping me understand how the intellectual awakening of the Renaissance began, and how Aristotle's ideas proliferated in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Finally, with his amazing ability to deal with the most basic issues in any field, Harry Binswanger is turning his intellect and microscope on the field of Economics, essentializing the basic tenets of that field and their cruicial linkage back to philosophy.

And now I'm ready for session two. More later. I have to go to sleep now! Wish you were here. Hope you do too.


Ergo said...

Yes, I do wish I was there as well. I'll make it my goal to attend the OCON within the next two years.

Myrhaf said...

I will certainly be buying some of these courses when they become available at the Ayn Rand Bookstore. Which ones are must buys?

Kendall J said...

Of the ones I took, and assuming you're interetsed in the topics, then I'd say Binswanger's Economics, Shaw's Future of Art, and of the General Sessions, the 3 part Ghate/Brook Intellectual Activism series are the ones to get. The rest are good, but not as high quality.

As far as others, everyone I talked to who took it loved Eric Daniel's Freedom of Speech course, and I am personally also buying John Lewis' Punic Wars class, which I could not attend.