Thursday, July 10, 2008

Objectivist Carnival

Objectivist Round-up at Rule of Reason. Go there now! You won't regret it.

Oh, and if you have not bought it, grab your copy of Sparrowhawk, our own Ed Cline's masterwork. I ordered Book 6 today!

Maybe Nick will put me on his blogroll now. :)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Notes from the UnderCON II

Happy 4th of July! I'd write something about the celebration of the founding of the most moral country (as originally conceived) on earth, because that truly is something to celebrate, but I've only a few moments, and I need to get something out about the conference.

Session 2 has started with a whole new set of classes, and more discussion. The standard was set right out of the chute as Tara Smith delivered what will probably be the most memorable lecture of the conference, a scathing indictment of pragmatism. For those of you who've read both of her books, Viable Values, and Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics, you know her style to be clear straightforward and essentialized and this lecture was a beautiful example of this sort of analysis and thoroughness, with a bit of Tara's dry humor tossed in.

Diana Hsiegh assembled all our Obloggers together for a great after dinner discussion session. This included Nick Provenzo, Galileo Blogs, Khaight, myself and several others. Amongst other topics of conversation included John Lewis recounting his experience facing down a crowd of rabid islamists at George Mason University, Nick and company discussing fellow Rule of Reason blogger, Ed Cline's great historical fiction series, Sparrowhawk, and what Leonard Peikoff's favorite drink is (according to Diana, it's a Kettel 1 martini with blue cheese - yum!)

My classes for Session II include Ed Locke on Introspection, Alex Epstein on the History of the Oil Industry, and what is shaping up to be a fantastic course by Sandra Shaw on the fall of art due to the influence of Kant, and the prospects for the future of rational art. Alex and I spoke at length on opening banquet since his course and the pages of this blog echo many themes important to me, and Sandra's course, complete with visual examples, is so clear and well-presented!

Ray and I continue at least 2 hr daily discussions and I meet more new people every day!

Only 3 more days left and this week which has been like food for my soul will be at an end. Wish you were here.

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 OO.net 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.