[First posted to Starship Forum, March 2002]
I've been planning to digitize some of the correspondence I've received over the past 25 years or so, beginning with letters in response to the "Project Starship" essay in 1976 -- back before email and the internet, before the personal computer -- back when the modern writing instrument was the electric typewriter.
Then I decided it would be appropriate, and as a way to archive them, to post some of them here to Starship Forum. Some of you might be interested to get a glimpse, through these letters, of what some people back then thought of their world and their future, and then compare that with the outlook today. Perhaps, some of these people may still be around and come to see these words they had written so long, and not so long, ago.
Most of the letters were hand-written, like the letter from the Minerva pioneer that I posted in January (1/10/02), so I can't easily scan them in and will need to manually type them out. That will take some time, and will appear here over the next few days, maybe weeks.
In no special order, here is the first one.
I have read "Project Starship" and enjoyed reading it.
"Starship", as you have described it, is a excellent symbol for the human-built paradise which is possible and attainable. I definitely aspire to make my envisioned paradise a reality too, as you do. I haven't decided on a name for my "starship", but I identify with what you have written.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (and everything else she has written) has had a profound influence and impact upon me. Many people today view the world as bigger than them, filled with evil, etc. I see more reason for hope, more opportunity, and more brilliance in every way today than ever before in history. I believe such things as technology and beauty as more rapidly increasing than can be stopped. Contrary to those who feel the world is always the same, I believe evil really is getting worse (meaning less potent, as its true colors are being revealed and producers wake up to what they're supporting) and good really is getting better. The ultimate triumph of good, of the producers, of persons like yourself who envision the concept of "starship", is inevitable.
As to what I personally am doing, I am involved with number of things: Building my nearly invisible business which means capital and economic freedom to those I value, investing in producers and inventors I believe in, personal creativity (music, poetry), writing up what I consider to be some very important theoretical advances in psychology and economics, finding other persons with like-minded interests, and this is preliminary to what I have in mind for the future. Life in truth is very, very good.
May you be successful in your endeavor.
I read your ad in "Reason" magazine. You have stirred my curiosity...
I am a student of Objectivism who is disgusted with an irrational environment. I am a
computer scientist, but I'm tired of the way the profession is run...
Jan 6, 1977
...My "curiosity" is more than "disgust" with society -- it's more like a science-fiction fantasy,
which is what your project sounds like to me... I am interested in knowing more about your
Feb 9, 1977
After long and careful consideration, I have decided that Project Starship is the noblest, most romantic ideal ever suggested to me...
I know the sense of life required. I have been a student of Objectivism for nearly seven years...
My first step is complete. My starship is LOGOS.
...I am an avid fan of Poul Anderson (_Trader to the Stars_ is personally my favorite) and Robert Heinlein (_The Moon is A Harsh Mistress_). I am also a libertarian.
As I see it, travel to the stars is important not merely for the adventure of it, but because a fresh start is needed. The earth is too crowded now, too many governments. Also, the possibilities for trade in space is simply mind-staggering.
My fields of expertise are two-fold: I have a professional degree (community college) in Behavioral Science (applied psychology and sociology) and am at present working on a BA in Environmental Resource Science. I have also undertaken a private study course in hunting, survival, mechanics, gunsmithing, agronomy, first-aid, and so on.
I am very interested in the possibilities of Project Starship.
I am presently studying for a Masters Degree in Information Science, undergraduate work in Psychology (Counseling).
"Project Starship" caught my eye for numerous reasons, both positive and negative. As you say, the starship is the concretization of man's highest values. The idea of traveling in space has held my fancy since I was very young. Also this planet doesn't look to have much longer to go unless some dramatic changes occur -- too much to hope for...
[Some of you may recognize the author of this letter, one of my most important finds.]
- - -
It makes my heart soar like an eagle to know of your existence.
I am my own star and the light I radiate enlightens those in darkness.
In your brilliant conceptual integration...I build starships. If you and I get together we would change the world.
Alas, Eagles do not flock, they soar so high and move so fast none can surpass the glory of their Flight.
Flight is a starship factory. Flight Starship Works builds 'em better and faster than the Rand Factory.
Our Starships are designed more on the concept of the Voltaire-Hugo design which, as you may know, was the firm that built the original Rand model that flew so well in the record "This is John Galt Speaking" Flight.
This design moves more from beauty to truth, than from truth to beauty. It realizes that Beauty is final cause and that it is the final cause that moves.
In stock at the present time we have a number of models you may choose from. Following is a partial listing: The Homer Simplicity One, The Aristotle Double A, The Confucius Maximum, The Dante Fireball, The Africanus Destroyer, The Tesla Discoverer, The Voltaire Mocker, The Paine Citizen, The Lao Tzu Spirit, The Volkship Mises, The Jesus Black Hole Flyer.
In production stages is the Flight Eagle, a new model that incorporates all the best features of our other models into one super-starship capable, among other amazing feats, of regenerating itself.
All of our ships are capable of one-man operation. This simplicity of operation incorporates the one-and-many principle, realizing that the one is the many.
The method of construction of our starships is based on four simple principles. A booklet describing this method is enclosed.
Another service of our Starship Works is Commander training. The commanders we have trained are invincible in battle.
[This is from one whom I had met personally.]
- - -
Though death's in their faces
But in tiny oases
Starship "Tong Aiw"
- - -
[This was all Ken ever wrote to me, those words, "Tong Aiw", with a starship symbol drawn above it. "Tong" means "Thought", and "Aiw" means "Eternal Vital Force". I also met him several times at objectivist events, but, unexpectedly and tragically, before I could get to know him better, this noble soul, at 26, chose to end his life. Who was to be blamed for it?]
[Bill Dwyer, in an earlier post, related his acquaintance with two youths who felt they couldn't "measure up" and so chose to end their struggle by ending their lives. How much despair and misery could one take before one says: No more! And in what form would that "No more!" take?
In the following letters, from the same person, the despair and misery is there, and so is the "No more!". But, I'm happy to report, that person did ~not~ choose the irreversible, final act.]
It's getting too much to handle and I don't know how else I can handle it. I ask myself over and over again: how else can I handle it? And I find no otherwise.
There is so awful lot of work to do and very few people to do it. I could do less and take longer -- but there is little time, or so I feel. I can find more people -- but I still can't find many. Am I looking at the right place, in the right way, for long enough? Am I looking? Yes, I am, but...
I feel lonely. Loneliness is sad. It makes working harder, slower, duller. Usually I don't think much about my alienation, but I know that the draining, gnawing feeling of fatigue and frustration is always there.
Can I hold out? Right now, I don't feel so -- with my will wounded and retreating, doubting that I can make it -- "on time" -- fearing that if I don't, it would be too late...
Who would help me?
April 11, 1982
There's so much to say and it's so hard to say it.
I am a man who works alone because it's hard to share it, as much as I try.
I came from a world much different from theirs, and I'm going to a far different world.
I feel like I'm trapped in the past and torn from the future.
I fear the awesome task of making the future come now.
I'm wearied by the lonesome task.
Sometimes I wish I could rest for a couple of centuries, but I'm afraid that I might never get back up.
I feel that I would die for my purpose and that I am.
The more I work, the more tired I feel.
The more I make, the less I love.
I feel like in my recurring dream: a long-haired uniformed soldier: a misfit, alone, and fighting anyway.
Is it impossible for me? That joyful, triumphant vision that might never be?
Can I go on for longer like this, go on for one more battle, one more argument?
Who can help me, show me their love and pride?
I won't go on like this! Unrewarded!
I have chosen a route, prepared my vehicle, and am underway. That is: I have re-confirmed my commitment to the principles of Objectivism, I exert effort towards the increased efficacy of my mind, and I am actively pursuing a career as an artist.
In light of my philosophical position, "Project Starship" is welcome and seems familiar. It is welcome in that it speaks of major concerns, essentials, life. (A delightful contrast to the concerns of the wild beasts inhabiting the intellectual jungle of the art college.) I sense familiarity in "Project Starship" in that it is like the place I want to create on canvas, like the place I visited in _The Fountainhead_, like the world as it ought to be.
I too am building a starship, or at least one part of it. Perhaps the astronomy or navigation sector. My work will provide man with a looking glass, a vision, a picture of what could exist.
For this summer break I have planned the beginning of my thesis which is required of fourth year students at the art college. For my thesis I intend to state what I know about the nature of art, based on Ayn Rand's work, and address myself to some area not yet dealt with fully. I would perhaps attempt to clarify the area of qualitative aesthetic judgments. There seems to be a double standard of evaluation for works of art.
If works of art are aesthetically judged in terms of how well the artist's sense of life has been portrayed, then, a Van Gogh would have to be valued as a good work of art, just asThe Fountainhead would be valued. The problem lies in that Van Gogh produced go art for mental cripples, Any Rand produces good art for healthy minds. There must be some consideration that disallow psychotic art entrance into the realm of good art.
It may be of interest to you to know that the following performance is taking place in Banff [Alberta, Canada]: The Night of January 16th, by Ayn Rand, performed by the Banff Community Theatre at the Margaret Greenham Theatre. I know nothing of this group or of their motives in presenting one of Ayn Rand's works.
And my starship: -- "Cheiron".
My curiosity has been aroused to the point where I must finally write you to find out more about it.
I am an aspiring poet and director-designer (currently a student at the National Theatre School in Montreal). At the same time I am fascinated by the sciences. The universe, both the immediate and the distant, is to me a place to study and explore as well as a space within which to grow and work.
If your project is what it appears to be, then I cannot help but be a little skeptical. But perhaps there are still enough people in this world with the genius and, more important, the spirit to pull it off. If you can find them.
No, I am not being cynical; I believe that either as individual or as a group of individuals we can build "a starship to happiness", although perhaps only in a symbolic sense. To make an attempt at a dream that is within the limits of reality, with one's eyes open and with full knowledge of the difficulty involve, is a means to happiness, whether or not one ever achieves the dream.
J. T. C.
I was pleasantly astounded by the material you sent me. It was inspiring to say the least.
To say a bit about myself: I am presently a medical student trying to hang onto my sanity until December 77, when I graduate. I'm a libertarian individualist who is not pleased with present trends in world governments. You might say I've been looking for a way out of the illogical world in which I'm immersed.
When I read your work, my imagination was sparked and I decided to rush a letter to you to see if you were "for real". You see, the idea of building a sophisticated spacecraft has occurred to me once or twice, also. I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on concerning space travel / exploration / exploitation.
I consider such a project as yours to be much more than a "Noah's Ark". And I don't consider it impossible by any means.
P.S. Although I am a medical student, my interests are diverse and many. My imagination is fertile and my mind is relatively open. I enjoy philosophy and science/technology. (And many related things.)
I really admire and like your sense of life. Thank you for "Project Starship".
I too have been influenced by Ayn Rand. I owe my spiritual salvation to her. When I started to get into the reading of Atlas Shrugged , I felt as if I had just become awake to what it is all about. Through Ayn Rand, I discovered a whole new world, the world of the mind and the spirit as seen through the rebirth of the intellect. I was 22 when I discovered her by word of mouth (my brother) 11 years ago. At the age of 22, I was born....
"Starship" is my kind of world. To see "Project Starship" inspires me and gives me hope. To believe that people such yourself really exists uplifts me!
There can be only one name for my starship: The Starship Aurum.
Thank you for the privilege of discovering you!
May we all be forever starbound!
Emerson G., MD
If my interpretation...is correct, I shall be interested in learning more about you. I have already been down such a trail as it implies to me, once. We may have a lot to discuss.
We bought a ship and sailed there, cleared the airstrip and made some other improvements in the beginning of 1975.
In September of 1975, I moved my family to Hawaii expecting to further the Palmyra project. However, the requisite support was not forthcoming, so that out of monetary survival necessity, I moved my family back to Canada, to B.C., in late 76, and am presently practicing medicine.
My philosophy has not changed, but presently I am not able to pursue its logical implications.
I'm certainly interested in finding people of like mind and communicating and working with