Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Aaron Leitch, author of several books, including Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, The Angelical Language Volume I and Volume II, and his new Essential Enochian Grimoire.
Some of you may recognize Objectivism as the philosophy developed by author Ayn Rand in such books as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. And if you know anything about Ms. Rand and her writings, you also know Objectivism is pretty much the exact opposite of any spiritual or occult philosophy. Let me give you a short quote from the Wikipedia entry as an illustration:
“Objectivism’s central tenets are that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic…”
Really, it just gets worse from there. (We’ll talk about Rand’s sad position on human morality shortly.) However, the above is enough for any occultist to shake their head and look elsewhere for wisdom. It posits that consciousness has nothing to do with reality, and that we can always trust our senses to tell us the truth about the world around us. As occultists, we know better, don’t we?
And what about the Objectivist stance on morality? Well, Ms. Rand was born in Russia during a particularly difficult period of their history (this was during the fall of the Russian Empire and the rise of the Bolsheviks), and she doubtlessly suffered some deep traumas during her childhood. As an adult, she preached a philosophy of pure self-interest. The poor should be allowed to starve and die. The rich should be supported and given rule over the rest of us. Get what is yours while the getting is good, and give nothing to the weak. Here is another snippet from the Wikipedia article:
“…the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness (rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is one that displays full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism…”
A few of you may recognize this as foundational to such worldviews as American political conservatism as well as Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. (The latter, by the way, are strict atheists.) Certainly this is the kind of philosophy that should be avoided by anyone with a spiritual worldview! Or anyone with an ounce of compassion or charity in their heart. Obviously I have some rants against Objectivism and Ayn Rand (who, by the way, lived out her elder years on the public assistance she would deny to others).
So, why is it that I constantly find myself identifying with fictional characters who embody the Objectivist philosophy?
Let me give you a great example: If you have a drop of nerd blood in your veins (I have several pints), you’ve surely seen the movie The Watchmen. It’s a movie about a group of has-been superheroes who must come out of retirement to solve a murder of one of their own. One of the primary protagonists in this story is an anti-hero named Rorschach. He is the story’s representative of Objectivism, and he’s my favorite character.
Why? Because he refuses to put up with the philosophical b.s. of those around him. When bad stuff happens, others try to find some “meaning” behind it all, to explain it away with existential platitudes that, in the end, don’t mean a damn thing. To Rorschach, the world is a real place with real problems (and real suffering!) that need to be addressed with real action. He sees no value in sitting on his ass and waxing poetic when he could just go out and break some kneecaps to make the world a better place.
Now don’t get me wrong here. In real life I could never support Rorschach or even be friendly toward him. To apply some Objectivist reality to his character: he’s a fascist, plane and simple. He believes that might makes right, that he has the right to define whether you are “good” or “bad,” and if he deems you “bad” he has a right to break you. (Let’s face it, most comic heroes possess that flaw.)
However, that is not what draws me to Rorschach and similar characters. For many years I couldn’t grasp what it was about them that I identified with so strongly. I’ve certainly never met an Objectivist in the flesh that I liked. Yet I sometimes find myself nodding my head when I read about the philosophy. How can it be that I simultaneously agree with and vehemently oppose Objectivism?
Somewhat recently, the answer finally dawned upon me. The reason for my dual mind on this matter is because Objectivism has two main branches. In fact, I’ve already highlighted them in this post. One is the view that reality is reality and we shouldn’t paste mumbo-jumbo over it. The other is the moral stuff. You probably don’t have to guess that it is the moral nonsense I find reprehensible.
But the Objectivist stance on reality… now there is something that strikes a deep chord with me. Of course, I certainly don’t agree that consciousness has no part in our perception of reality, nor do I believe for one second that my five basic senses are the final word on what I perceive. However, I also feel that occultists often go much too far in the opposite direction: they insist there is no reality at all, that only consciousness and perception matter. They believe that magick is all in your head, that you can just make it up as you go along and “reality” will simply mold itself to your intentions.
And nowhere are such occultists are more guilty of this flaw than when they interpret the results of their magick. These are the types that take credit every time a nearby street lamp goes out (or suddenly turns on), for every traffic light that turns green when they approach it, and for every random coincidence in their lives to prove to others (and themselves) that they are vastly powerful wielders of magickal forces. And when it comes time to purposefully cast a spell, it does not matter what results they getâ€”even no results at allâ€”because they will philosophize events in whatever manner is necessary to make it sound like they achieved their goal.
(Example I just totally made up: I did a spell to obtain a car that I need. I didn’t get the car, but my friend’s cousin’s butcher was suddenly given one for free! So my spell worked, and I was responsible for someone getting a car who—obviouslyâ€”needed one more than myself. Yay me!)
And that, my friends, is where I personally identify the most with Objectivism. In fact, I owe my success as an occultist to it. From the very beginning of my path, I have steadfastly refused to “justify” or “re-interpret” my magickal failures just to avoid hurting my own feelings. (In occult circles, doing so is often called “mental masturbation.”) If I performed a spell, I either achieved my goal or I counted the working a failure and figured out what I did wrong. And I kept doing that until I damn-well got it right!
To this day, I never attempt to convince myself an operation worked when, clearly, it did not. In that sense, reality really is reality. Did you get the car or not? Plain and simple. I may believe that my consciousness can indeed help a car to manifest in my reality. But if it doesn’t, then it just plain doesn’t, and all the rationalization in the world won’t change that.
What will change it is accepting the defeat and doing it better the next time. Keep working through trial and error and you’ll eventually find out what gets real results and what is a waste of your time. If you accept nothing but objective results from your magick, and you are willing to work for decades to achieve them, then you’ll find success that doesn’t need to be explained into existence.
Accept nothing less from your magick, your spirits, and your Self than concrete results!
As for Ayn Rand and her Objectivist pals: hey, even a stopped clock has to be right twice a day…
Our thanks to Aaron for his guest post! Visit Aaron Leitch’s author page for more information, including articles and his books.