Editorial - Soaring SOLO
Well, we did it. Just a year after its formation, SOLO scored its first international conference at the Waitomo Caves Hotel, New Zealand. Much of this issue is a celebration & commemoration of that fact. For me personally, it was one of the high points, if not the high point of my life. As I wrote in a subsequent Politically Incorrect editorial:
"For years I have attended Objectivist gatherings & wondered where the Objectivists were. Where were the people passionate about reason, ideas, knowledge ... & life? At Waitomo I didn't have to wonder. They were there. We were there, from New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, the United States ... for three days of unclouded exaltation. And we achieved it.
"Preparations for this conference were dogged by disasters, chiefly medical. In the event, none of them mattered. The absence of keynote speakers, though regrettable, was the last thing on attendees' minds as they were blown away by presentation after presentation. The impact of Joe Rowlands' speech, for instance, on the trap of treating life as a state rather than living it as a process, was palpable. And, to invoke an old cliche, was there a dry eye in the house at the end of Jim Peron's concluding address, 'The Day Ayn Rand Died'? I doubt it.
"Aside from the speeches were the impromptu video-viewings, discussions & rambunctious socialising. Friendships were forged, ideas (& bodies) were tossed around, arms were wrestled, the nectar of the gods was joyously imbibed. We all got far too little sleep, floating through the weekend on a wave of euphoria. Many of the attendees have since told me that this was quite literally the greatest experience of their lives. I think it was for me, too. I have thought for a long time that Objectivists could do better. At Waitomo, I proved it.
" 'Ah well, back to unreality,' sighed one attendee at the conference's conclusion. The good news is that we shall assuredly be doing it again - & that we can sustain ourselves in the meantime with memories of those three magic days when Waitomo, New Zealand, became Galt's Gulch."
The photographs taken of me at the time show clearly what I went through to get to this point. Knowing how much was riding on our inaugural conference being a success, enduring setback after setback in the preparations for it, I had been worried sick for weeks. The photos taken during my Saturday morning speech, the opening presentation, show me looking tense, tired & anxious. I was. My throat went dry & my hands shook whenever I sipped coffee. Eloquence & intensity were not compromised, however, & I knew as I concluded that we were triumphantly launched. Then came the Young Guns - Cameron Pritchard, Sam Pierson, Andrew Bates & Matt Ballin. Magic, one & all. A tour de force from Robert White in the afternoon, followed by a video of Barbara Branden in lieu of her being there in the flesh, & I knew that I had an unmitigated success on my hands. The relief & bliss I felt show clearly on my face in the photo taken with Dr Richard McGrath (page 23) during Saturday night's festivities (as does the level of well-deserved intoxication I had reached!). Michael Newberry, Joe Rowlands & Jim Peron confirmed my assessment the next day. Jim's address, "The Day Ayn Rand Died," left us all beautifully, emotionally drained. As I called the speakers & the organisers - Hooch Helen, Sally O'Brien, Shirley Riddle, Carol Potts & Anna Woolf - to the platform for a farewell round of applause, fatigue & euphoria prevented my finding words equal to the occasion. It didn't matter. No words were necessary.
This issue of The Free Radical reproduces many of the wonderful words that were spoken at the first SOLO conference; nothing can recapture its wonderful atmosphere. (Video & audio tapes will, however, be available in due course.)
SOLO is on the map. Now to cover the globe!
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