Feb 22, 2015

AC DC.... A Sense of Life

"I had drive. I wanted to do it, and I knew I'd do it. I just wanted people to sit up and take notice of me. The CHALLENGE. I never mellowed. I never changed. I just stuck at it."
Angus Young

I'm taking a break from the planned sequence of my blog entries which follow the outline of my personal mission statement, to say a few words about some of my HEROES, the rock band. AC DC.

I have often pondered whether it is a contradiction for me to love Objectivism and AC DC. Somehow, I could easily see Ayn Rand, not appreciating this music, and yet, I do see commonalities.

Certainly, AC DC may not be consistent, and I doubt they have intellectually analysed their sense of life, (neither did Howard Roark) but I believe they, and their music, personifies a sense of life that emphasizes love of life, happiness, as well as reason, purpose and self-esteem.

The sheer length of time that they have been as successful as they have been, is a testament to an alignment with some proper principles that are the essence of their appeal. (the Rolling Stones may have been around longer, but AC DC's latest record opened at #1 in 11 countries, and their upcoming tour dates sell out in one day.)

When you hear their music, whatever else you may think of it, I think you would be hard pressed not to see that these individuals are "giving it all they've got". One of my favourite quotes about them, is "if no one showed up, they would play just as hard as if it was a packed house".

If the sight of an achievement is the greatest gift that one human being can give another, then I think their appeal is largely based on this. One cannot help getting caught up in the passion and the energy that they put into everything they do. (including moving forward with an amazing album after their founding member, Malcolm Young was forced into retirement, which I understand was his wish for them to do).

A few years ago, I saw them two days after having seen a so called supergroup, called Chickenfoot composed of musicians arguably far more talented but still unknown at the time and largely to this day. They played for just over an hour and then got off the stage. AC DC who were among the top grossing acts in the world at the time, played their hearts out for well over 2 hours, as though they were a new band with something to prove.

Critics have pointed to the simplicity of their music, and the limitations of their musicianship. This is absolutely accurate, and I've heard Angus Young describe many of his influences as being "much more talented" than he, but while others may have more raw talent, it is about what they accomplish with the resources that they have to work with, and the fact that they don't even consider allowing any limitations to stand in their way, and to me, that makes them even more heroic.

Having said that, simple is not necessarily inferior. As I've listened to them for most of my adult life, I can pretty much recognize any of their songs within a note or two, and I believe that genius is not too strong a word for what they write, as I believe they capture the essence of a sense of life that states, "the question isn't who is going to let me, but who is going to stop me?"

It's not about some kind of second handed glory seeking, as over the years they have persevered beyond horrible critical reviews, and resisted changing who they are to fit in with any fashion of the day.

Some quotes that to me speak of their integrity and consistency with principles:

“We've always been a true band. You won't find one any truer. AC/DC will always be AC/DC.”

“The word ‘natural’ comes up a lot with us - if something doesn't feel natural to us, we don't do it.”

“Sometimes I pull the earpieces out and say, 'Awww, let's just go for it, and act young!'"

“By sticking to what we do, that's being brave. The pressures we were under in the '80s and '90s to use wind machines and wear leather coats, those were hard times. People thought we were dinosaurs, that we lost the plot because we weren't sparkly and cutie-wootie enough."

All I can say to summarize is that when I pick up a copy (or turn on the audio version) of Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, I am always blown away by the genius and the way those books can carry me away. I believe, Ayn Rand (my apologies for inaccurate paraphrasing), said that she wrote those so she could spend time with the type of heroes and in the type of world she knew "could and ought to be".

I get a very similar feeling when listening to or watching AC DC.

Thanks for reading!

Feb 15, 2015


THINK, DECIDE, ACT. "By doing this, I will be adhering to the following spiritual principles, Rationality, Integrity, Independence, Honesty, Justice, PRODUCTIVENESS and Pride."


PRODUCTIVENESS is a natural human state.

In beginning to write this, I looked for a quote from Atlas Shrugged that I remembered reading, that I felt would fit well into this blog entry. When finding it, on my ipad (Atlas Shrugged app), I was pleased to find that it came directly from the portion of John Galt's speech that deal with .... Productiveness.....

This list of principles of course, comes directly from that book, and in rereading that quote, I am struck, as always, by the sheer genius of Ayn Rand, and how my attempts to share my thoughts, which of course, are heavily influenced by her ideas, are so amateurish compared to her amazing work. I'm like somebody drawing stick figures compared to Michael-Angelo. And so, I've simply added some screenshots of that part of the speech. Hoping I'm not infringing any copyright. There is no monetary gain from this blog, I just wish to promote life enhancing ideas. Thanks for reading.

Feb 8, 2015


THINK, DECIDE, ACT. "By doing this, I will be adhering to the following spiritual principles, Rationality, Integrity, Independence, Honesty, JUSTICE, Productiveness and Pride.


As I continue through this part of my mission statement, dealing with spiritual principles, what occurs to me, are the similarities between them.

In fact, it seems to me that they are all words to describe objective reality. Not that they are synonyms per se, but they are used (or should be) used to describe the same thing. Objective reality is best described by Aristotle's "A is A", and all these principles naturally follow from this.

And because A is A, none of these principles can actually be broken, only evaded, but evasion does not change the consequences. While it may seem weird for me to use a biblical quote, I like Moses' "Man cannot break the law, he can only break himself against the law."

In my personal life, I have made great use of 12 step programs. I know many people have dismissed these as quasi religious organizations, that promote powerlessness and a status of being a victim. I actually disagree.

One of the principles of these programs is the freedom to choose a "god of your own understanding". The way I have aligned my atheism with these programs is to choose my own "higher power" or "god of my understanding" with "A is A" or objective reality.

So, the much maligned idea of "powerlessness" in my view, is not about being powerless per se, but in having no power to circumvent reality.

In fact, the root of my problems with substances, I've come to realize, had much less to do with physical dependence, and much more to do with "reality evasion" and "whim worship". When I accept Reality as my higher power, I stop trying to control things I can't control as per the serenity prayer, and move into the power that comes with....

"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed".

A farmer has the power to command nature to produce a harvest, but only if he obeys the rules about planting in the spring, watering adequately, weeding and fertilizing if needed, and shielding his crop from freezing.

In fact, that is only rational, integrated, and honest (loyalty to the facts) farming, and no amount of whim worship on the part of the farmer will produce a crop otherwise.

Ayn Rand, I believe, spoke of a benevolent universe, to which I understood, rational, purposeful actions will tend to produce desirable results.

That sounds like Justice to me.

Would justice, then not simply be a way of expressing how the universe actually works.

One could argue that natural, uncontrollable events can cause suffering, which is of course true, but that doesn't change the fact that the solution to preventing those things in the future still lies in discovering and taking of rational, purposeful actions.

Also, happiness (the ultimate desirable result) is not based, in my opinion on the absence of suffering but rather on the sense of purpose and self-esteem that comes from living a purposeful, rational life.

Of course, a free society does require a legal system based on objective legal principles, in order to allow men to deal with each other in a peaceful manner when these is a disagreement as to what is just. This is critically important to avoid all the unnecessary suffering that has happened throughout history and continues to happen today in countries that do not have a rule of objective law.

However, even in the absence of such a system, I don't believe anyone actually ever gets away with anything. The so called victor pays the price in untold ways, because of his second handedness, his self-esteem is destroyed, while the so called victim or loser retains his dignity, and if he is truly a person of integrity, will, like Howard Roark, only allow it to "hurt down to a certain point".

I guess I'll conclude by repeating that I think Justice is simply a matter of acknowledging that whim worship can't work, and that in my life, I will only "get what I pay for."

Thanks again for reading.

Feb 1, 2015


THINK, DECIDE, ACT. "By doing this, I will be adhering to the following spiritual principles, Rationality, Integrity, Independence, HONESTY, Justice, Productiveness and Pride.


Two posts ago was about Integrity, in which I contrasted integrity and honesty by stating that I felt that part of integrity was being true to yourself, whereas honesty is about being true to others.

The simple definition for honesty is about not telling lies, and is sometimes referred to as a moral absolute. However, it is obvious to any reasonable person, that there are in fact examples where lying is warranted and moral. Two that are often cited is lying to a mugger about having money hidden in your shoe, or to a nazi asking if you are hiding Jewish people in your cellar.

The definition that I prefer is "loyalty to the facts". I apologize in that I don't remember the exact source of that phrase, but my guess would be either Ayn Rand or Leonard Peikoff.

Loyalty to the facts truly is the only rational choice, which should be obvious by considering the opposite, "loyalty to .... an illusion?..... a whim?....."

A is A.

Being rational involves logically dealing with facts, or at least our best interpretation of what the facts are, if we don't yet have access to sufficient reliable information.

So, therefore "think" means considering all the facts (that we know of), and making decisions about our actions that we then follow courageously.

Like all these principles, trying to get around them, as previously stated, is like trying to ignore gravity. There will be a consequence, regardless of our whims.

Last night, I happened to watch a movie called Arbitrage, in which Richard Gere plays a billionaire businessman, who has been dishonest to business associates, the government, as well as his wife and family. As the movie ends, after seeming that he is headed for certain disaster, in terms of being apprehended by authorities, and being publicly exposed as a fraud, not to mention being divorced by his wife; through a complex series of manipulations he appears to evade all these, and my daughter, who was watching with me said, "what a terrible ending, he got away with it!"

However, I corrected her by saying that he truly didn't get away with anything, in that, he has completely lost any respect from his daughter (who is his business partner and is initially innocent but is pulled into his transgressions and could have faced prison due to choosing at one point to protect her father, and her future self-esteem is now ruined, and he has to live with having done that.) plus his wife has no real love for him, and most importantly, his self-esteem has to be decimated, as he realizes that, despite, public fame and fortune, he is nothing more that a facade.

Some would argue that his money and position compensate for this, but I strongly disagree, because like a drug addict, who tries to fill a void (where self-esteem should be) with chemical substitutes, but fails dismally, no amount of fame, fortune, etc. can compensate for the self-esteem needed to be truly happy.

Of course a person can delude themselves and perhaps achieve some semblance of occasional peace of mind by rationalizing that they were being pragmatic and that the means justified the ends. (an all too common practice)

Others may point out that some people are sociopaths, people who are supposedly born with no conscience or have no concept of right and wrong. All I can say about this, is that whatever is achieved by self-delusion is not what I would call happiness. As for sociopaths, I'm not a psychologist, and could stand to be corrected, but whatever that person is, is not a human being, and the unacceptably high price for not feeling guilt is to also be devoid of any happiness.

Either of these people may also rationalize that pleasure, hedonistic or otherwise may be the same as happiness, but they may have forgotten, (if they ever knew) what true happiness feels like, or perhaps in their dismal sense of life, accepted that happiness is not attainable for anyone and that pleasure is the best anyone can hope fo, as a fleeting respite from desperation, and the gripping fear that they may ever have to truly look at themselves honestly. This recalls the part in Atlas Shrugged when James Taggart, in the room where John Galt was being tortured, finally sees his true self absent of self-delusion and ratinalizing , and is destroyed at that moment.

Thanks again for reading.