Editorial - This & That
There are lots of things I want to say this issue, so rather than editorialise on a single theme, I shall regale you, dear reader, with tidbits.
• SOLOC 3, Philadelphia. Every bit as magical as previous SOLOCs. The fact that SOLO is making waves in the Objectivist world was attested to by Yaron Brook's (ARI) denunciation of us on the eve of SOLOC 3, and by Will Thomas' attending on behalf of TOC to defend it against SOLO's criticism of its "pallid pollyannaism." Will's presentation led to a frank but friendly exchange of views on how Objectivists should conduct their crusade. Mr. Thomas and all SOLOists present were clearly of the view that differences between SOLO and TOC should not prevent collaboration between them where appropriate.
My own presentation was entitled, "What can we be thinking?!" - are we certifiably insane to be seeking to help usher in a new Age of Reason in a world of 6.4 billion people of whom the overwhelming majority are explicitly committed to irrational world views ... a world whose fastest-growing religion is the virulently anti-reason Islam? I argued that "changing the world" is an ongoing, active process, not a static end-point whose distance from where we are now should daunt us; that it helps if we realise that the battle is primarily epistemological - i.e. it’s about the methodology of thinking rather than the content of one's thinking (because it's the former that leads to the latter); that this realisation - perhaps, on the face of it, surprisingly - helps one generate the inner intensity necessary to fight a successful crusade. My full presentation, along with the others from SOLOC 3, will be released on CD and merchandised on SOLOHQ.com in due course.
Testimonials and photographs from SOLOC 3 are on page 16. I can only echo them, loudly. There were many enchanting vignettes. I suspect my fellow-SOLOists' favourites might include my fleeing from the headbanging caterwauling on the Friday night. Well, they can't say they weren't warned! Tee-hee! My own most special moment was when the normally reserved and inscrutable Logan Feys, as we were all saying goodbye outside a Philadelphia café on the Sunday afternoon, suddenly exclaimed, "Rational passion and passionate reason!" within full earshot of passers-by. I took that to be a resounding "Yes!" to the events and spirit of the previous two days.
• Post-SOLOC 3, meeting the dreaded Dr. Diabolical Dialectical, purveyor of Polish, "Saddamite" Sciabarra, in the flesh! Well, it was every bit as wonderful as I expected, then some. It's a source of deep regret to me that Chris is wrong about some things, but, when not speaking Polish (my term for his academese) he makes a darn good case for his positions (see his response to me in this issue) and remains open at all times to counter-arguments posited in good faith.
Chris is a dynamo - scholar, journalist and historian rolled into one. I have never met anyone who could drive so fast and talk even faster, simultaneously and safely. This virtuoso performance, I gather, occurs routinely during his famed guided tours of Brooklyn, about which Chris has a parochial fervour almost as intense as his devotion to the Yankees. My memories of Brooklyn are of a bewildering succession of piers, parks, landmarks, sidewalks, mafia homes, the best pizzas and cheesecake I've ever tasted, staggeringly gigantic black men having loud debates at Junior’s Restaurant (makers of said cheesecake), veiled Muslim women & stockinged Jewish men - and most of the world's nationalities - peacefully going about their business ... and the Bee-Gees, to whose "Staying Alive" it is claimed I scandalously swivelled my hips along the Coney Island Boardwalk, where the Brothers Gibb were blaring out. Oh, and I mustn't forget the Greek Orthodox Church into which Dr. Chris ushered me, whose founder and first priest was ... his grandfather! Devout atheist though I am, I was solemnly moved by the beautiful music, the flickering candles, the eloquent icons ...
Then there was The Flood. (Forget Noah!) As it happens, October 7, the day of the aforementioned tour of Brooklyn, was the anniversary of Mario Lanza's death. It was that night that I reintroduced Chris - predominantly a jazz lover - to the Lanza voice. The results were beautiful, but nearly catastrophic. The available box and a half of tissues was nowhere near equal to the task of containing the torrent of tears that Magic Mario induced from Sentimental Sciabarra, and I feared at one point that Chris' Chihuahua would be drowned in the cascade. In the event, no lives were lost, and Chris had the musical ride of his life - to which my conducting histrionics must have added something, since he subsequently wrote on the SOLO Forum:
BTW, I had the great honor of listening to a Mario Lanza CD with Linz. I have always loved Lanza - from the time that my father first exposed us to him, in movies like "The Great Caruso." But there is simply no experience more powerful, more shattering, more intense, than listening to Lanza with Linz as your listening partner. He should come packaged with every Lanza CD. I was brought to tears - and laughter - as Linz provided his own virtual "liner notes" with each track. Awesome.
All in all, whatever our disagreements, Chris Sciabarra is my kind of human being - super-bright, passionate, prolific, committed, generous of spirit, on the side of reality, reason and freedom (most of the time!). Our time together was one of the high points of my life.
• Was it not enough that the last Free Radical led off with an article by a Labour back-bencher? Can it be that this issue is kicked off by a Labour cabinet minister?! Indeed it can. When I asked Ms Hobbs to contribute an article, she agreed because she wanted to encourage “rational debate” on the lifting of the GE moratorium. Fine by me. I asked in the first place because as far as I'm concerned, Marian Hobbs has been on the side of the angels in lifting the moratorium in the face of hysterical troglodytes who oppose human reason and the right to exercise it in the cause of human well-being. Of course, as a libertarian I believe that private agencies, market mechanisms (such as the willingness of insurers to insure) and legitimate non-trespass laws (that would deal with "contamination" issues) would be immeasurably preferable to the bureaucratic monolith on which the government will be relying for safeguards against any dangers associated with GE - but in the context of our non-libertarian world I say the Government has acted responsibly and sensibly. Overall, it has advanced the cause of freedom (to use one's mind and act on one's conclusions) by lifting the moratorium. It’s entitled, in this matter, to two cheers at least.
• That’s it for 2003, folks. Issue 60, coinciding more or less with ten years of publication, will be in your mail-boxes in February, 2004. It will contain notice of a huge, celebratory knees-up. Stay tuned - and compliments of the season to you all.
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