21 March 2010

Anthem

(See below for explanation)

The Death of Logos


The spirit . . . the mind – how different are these two entities which inhabit the human psyche? The essence of the human – I am, I think, I will – is found in the mind. Most scholars would agree that the “spirit” or “soul” is the core of humanity. But isn’t the mind the core? It is with the mind that we think, feel, and create.
If the mind – the essence of “I” – is broken there is no longer an individual. The great “We” reigns supreme and there is no reason to have either guards or locks at the Palace of Corrective Detention. The mind – the will, the spirit – is broken. A being not capable of thought has no will, and thus is unable to act. To such a being self preservation means nothing, there is no self to preserve.
The person who has surrendered to the indoctrination of “We” has no desire to act in discordance of the whole. To this person that is all there is, the overwhelming desires of We. “I” has no place in the thoughts of the mindless. Persons with no will have no need of prison bars to hold them; they have tethered themselves by surrendering their ability to think. The creative thought which would make escape possible has been executed on the altar of the majority. The Council has nothing to fear – the prisoners have no desire to escape.
When will is surrendered along with conscious selfish thought the desire to live also perishes. What kind of existence is a life free of “I”? If there is no me to begin with, then the truth of the matter is that “I” am already dead, and a dead man needs not fear anything. The lone prisoner does not know to fear death, for what is death to him? He is not a person, not an individual. He does not exist – only “We”, and if “We” wills it then he is subject to the whim of “We”.
There is nothing to fear in death to the dead man, the only thing that he must fear is life. Living without a mind, a mindless existence, is a life that no man would – should – wish for; unable to act, to desire, to love, to think . . . to be. To be free one must have one’s own thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. If the ideas are another’s, then ego is a slave to the other’s superior mind. The thoughts must be owned, the desires personal. The majority may desire something – that does not bequeath it with goodness.
The prisoners have no will and no identity. The question raised – by the absolute void of will and inability to action – is why there are any locks at all. If the prisoner has no will, reason, or inclination to escape why go to the – fairly futile – effort of securing rusty locks? The answer can be found in the survival instinct humanity possess. When faced with dire straits – where death is imminent – life will break forth. The instinct to survive – even if there is no sense of self – remains intact. The fear of pain, the terror that the final death of the body holds for creatures awakens the latent and instinctive fear of death.
Though the prisoner may have a strong urge to save the body from pain, the lock on the door prevents him from attaining this goal. He lacks the creative and innovative thought necessary to formulate a plan at escape. The surrender which forbids him conscious thought has signed his death warrant and he is helpless to thwart the sentence.
Being carried away in the mob of majority is comfortable. In the crowd there is no pressure to make choices and thus no fear of mistakes. Thought – logic – is hard. It is bleak, sad and lonely . . . but if humanity does not use its soul – its mind – what are we but cattle? Cattle are beasts led by the wind and the grass, shuffled around by forces outside their control. The mind is the most important thing humanity possesses, and a logos – no thought – is the fatal weapon.
Is pleasure preferable to pain if in the bliss of ignorance one loses oneself?


EXPLANTAION: The Ayn Rand Institute hosts an "essay contest" every year for students. The essays are based on one of Ayn Rand's books and - depending on which grade you are in - you are allowed to write and submit one essay on either Anthem (8th, 9th or 10th grade) The Foutainhead (11th and 12th grade) or Atlas Shrugged which is for college students, graduate students and/or anyone who is "re-attending" college. I read Anthem - a good, if disturbing, book - and wrote an essay. My prompt for this paper was - "The old locks and lack of guards in the Palace of Corrective Detention indicate that prisoners never try to escape. Why do you think they do not? Explain." This might help you better understand the content! Hope you enjoyed. . .

4 comments:

The Militant Pacifist said...

Wow...hmmm...

nottmb said...

You have written a very thought-provoking essay. I have never read Ayn Rand, and now, after reading your essay, I remember why not. I left home when I was 17, and I told my parents I was leaving “to find the truth.” (It was a case of the “I” seeking escape from the great “We.”) There was obviously a lot of rebellion in my reasons for leaving home, the whole drugs, sex, rock and roll thing of the late 60s and early 70s. But I weakly continued to think about life and truth, when I was sober and had a clear mind, and I would even talk to friends about some of my own thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. I visited an old girl friend of mine living in Atlanta, only to find her strung out on drugs, and I remember telling her that there’s got to be something inside us to make us high on life. She immediately asked if I had become a “Jesus Freak.” To which I just as quickly replied, “No!” Looking back now over 40 years, I only wish I could have replied, yes. A couple months later she was murdered by her own brother who split her head with a hatchet. But, hey, he was only acting out his own thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. His sister had given up using her mind; she had become one of the “cattle” shuffled around by forces outside of her control.

I wrongly thought that I, as a “sovereign individual,” could arrive at what Francis Schaeffer called “true truth.” That is, that I could find truth independently on my own without any help from God or even other men. That’s what the philosophers and our teachers tell us; that is, they tell us we can know the truth on our own. But I never stopped to think that if I didn’t have any outside help, someone to tell me what truth is, then how would I know what truth was when I finally found it. Of course if we believe in the autonomy of man, we can then suggest that truth is whatever we want it to be (Humpty Dumpty’s philosophy as explained to Alice on the meaning of words).

To make a long story short, God intervened. In His mercy and grace, He opened my eyes to see the truth as recorded in John 14:6. God had to show me that He existed and that the Bible is His written revelation to man. The “true truth” is found in the true Logos, Jesus Christ (John 1:1).

I know that Ayn Rand is popular among many Libertarians, and I think that’s because her “objectivism” is seen as an answer to communism. The political state of our own nation seems to be similar to what you described as the great “We.” Modern Libertarians want to be “free” and celebrate the “I.” The prisoner in your essay with his “latent and instinctive fear of death” is modern man wanting to be autonomous but discovering he is incapable of true freedom—simply because he doesn’t know what that means. Without an objective standard (The Bible) which sits above man, modern man makes himself the measure/standard. The fear of death in man is what the Apostle Paul calls “the wrath of God” which he says is “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18). And “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom 1:22).

Thanks for taking the time to read Anthem and then to write about it. I enjoyed your thoughts—makes me want to read the book myself (well, almost….).

Tell your Daddy, I said, Hi.
Tom Brewer

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http://whisperedroars.blogspot.com/

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