26 February 2014

Ayn Rand on stamp collecting

From her essay "Why I Like Stamp Collecting" (Minkus Stamp Journal, 1971):
The pleasure lies in a certain special way of using one’s mind. Stamp collecting is a hobby for busy, purposeful, ambitious people – because, in patterns, it has the essential elements of a career, but transposed to a clearly delimited, intensely private world…. A career requires the ability to sustain a purpose over a long period of time, through many separate steps, choices, decisions, adding up to a steady progression to a goal…. Purposeful people cannot rest by doing nothing…. They seldom find pleasure in single occasions, such as a party or a show or even a vacation, a pleasure that ends right then and there, with no further consequences.

The minds of such people require continuity, integration, a sense of moving forward. They are accustomed to working long-range…. Yet they need relaxation and rest from their constant, single-tracked drive. What they need is another track, but for the same train – that is, a change of subject, but using part of the same method of mental functioning. Stamp collecting fulfills that need….

In stamp collecting, one experiences the rare pleasure of independent action without irrelevant burdens or impositions. Nobody can interfere with one's collection, nobody need to be considered or questioned or worried about. The choices, the work, the responsibility - and the enjoyment - are one's own. So is the great sense of freedom and privacy.

 People cannot interfere, but they can be very helpful and generous. There is a sense of "brotherhood" among stamp collectors, of a kind that is very unusual today: the brotherhood of holding the same values...

The pursuit of the unique, the unusual, the different, the rare is the motive power of stamp collecting. It endows the hobby with the suspense and excitement of a treasure hunt - even on the more modest level of collecting, where the treasure may be simply an unexpected gift from a friend, which fills the one blank spot, completing a set...

In all those years (when not active in stamp collecting) I had never found a remedy for mental fatigue. Now, if I feel tired after a whole day of writing, I spend an hour with my stamps albums and it makes me able to resume my writing for the rest of the evening. A stamp album is a miraculous brain-restorer.
From Trish Kaufmann's CSA Dealer.


  1. Yes, Ayn Rand, you are a purposeful and, therefore, SPECIAL human being. You are superior to the rest of lowly mankind, for you, YOU, AYN RAND, collect stamps. I am one of the few conservatives, I suppose, that thinks Ayn Rand was, well, not all that, and that she tried way too hard to demonstrate that she was not like the unwashed masses, but was somehow superior. Apparently, if you have an idea, stand up for anything, etc., you are special. We call that being American nowadays. It's pretty standard.

  2. We call that being American...

    And, erm, "unwashed masses"? I think what you did mean by that latter word/phrase was Americans themselves. And, yes it's "pretty standard" for your 'average-between-the-ears', American kinfolk to always stay unwahsed.

    Don't suck up way too much air from your anal cavity, Anonymous: Remember, you;—as Americans, mainly, and as individuals, substantially—are the world's most hateful and pity-woe-worthy (non)-people on the face of Earth.

  3. FWIW, this post wasn't intended to be a paean to Ayn Rand, about whom I could care less. It was intended to express someone's view about the hobby of collecting stamps.

  4. If you take into account that this was written after a failed career met with extreme criticism and an affair with a married man that ended quite badly, it all comes into perspective.

  5. Ironic considering what the Randroids are trying to do to the Post Office.

  6. I'm (slightly) fascinated by the fact that anyone could find stamp collecting fascinating.

  7. Do people know that this woman actually collected Social Security and Medicare benefits? Her inconsistent, bankrupt ideas are used by people trying to defund the government programs that she (under a different name) used. She also hated religion. Does the Tea Party know this?


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