Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ayn Rand

Recently, I was asked what I think of Ayn Rand, the author.  Then the same subject came up on IHRO.  Here is my response. 

I have always considered Ayn Rand to be an interesting character, a period piece from the Stalin era.  She could write.  Man, could she ever write!  She could tell a story that could grip the reader from the first page to hundreds of pages later (skipping through the speeches, of course).  "Plot,"  she used to say, "plot, plot, plot and plot."  The woman could write.

Her most entertaining book, imo, was The Fountainhead, one heck of a good read.  And it is FICTION.  The most popular passage is where Howard the Hero rapes Dominique the Diva.  If you don't believe me, visit any library and open its copy - any copy - of The Fountainhead and see where it opens.  Case made.

This is pure fantasy.  She is an extremely imaginative fantasy writer who has created a fantasy world that some people mistake for our physical universe.  She herself was a  megalomaniacal person who first created this world and then attempted to live in it.  She was the god there and she managed to find others who worshiped her.  Some, including one of my dearest friends, still do today.  Quite an accomplishment for an atheist.  She reminds me of my high school friend who asserted that the perfect government system was a theocracy with himself as god.   She beat him to it.

My suggestion is to go ahead and read Ms. Rand's books - it is OK to skip over the speeches unless you want to study the structure of her Utopia of Ubermenschen - and enjoy them;  just remember that they are the fictional ravings of a deluded madwoman.  Her world is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there!  

And remember, it is all fiction.  Even her nonfiction, such as The Virtue of Selfishness,  is fiction.

And she romanticised smoking.

Top picture adapted from the cover of the book, Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller: 


  1. Hi!!! I'm back!!!
    I love that you've got a new blog.

    And I love that you're talking about Ayn Rand. I read Atlas Shrugged several years ago and it gave me a world so different from how I usually see things that it actually helped me a lot. Is hard to remember exactly how it did this, but, I think it gave me an insight into how the world works for most people and ... I don't know. I'll have to have a look at it again.

    She is rather fascinating isn't she. Wasn't Fountainhead based on that architect guy (name eludes me)? I'd like to read that selfishness one. Hmm, maybe that's how she helped me, to stop being so wimpy? Dunno.

    Will email you soon and catch you up on my home moving and all! xo

  2. Ellie - I mean Eleanor ji - I hope I'm not rude; I was just so happy to see you. How very British I'm sounding. Bah! YIPPEEEE!!!! HURRAY!! ELEANOR HAS RETURNED!! And she has a new house out in the sticks far away from deciblitical neighbours, somewhere south of beautiful Perth.

    Frank Lloyd Wright. And his buildings are awesome, even now.

    Ayn Rand's ideas sound really good and noble when you read them, but, for me, at least, the were dull, colourless and empty in practice.. I'm a Sikh; I guess I just don't have the right stuff to be an atheist Ubermensch.

    I colourised the picture of her. A friend gifted me with Photoshop CS4 (Extended) and I'm learning to use it. Obviously I have no respect!

  3. Hi Mai, I just want to check in to your new space and say "hello". HELLOOOO! I am thrilled and hopeful this new site will work better for all. Back soon.

  4. PP ji,

    Hurray! You found the third incarnation of my personal blog. I created it just for you, you know. Unfortunately, I haven't had much writing time.

    I hope you enjoyed my musings on Ms. Rand. She was quite a piece of work, eh?

  5. Oh Mai, now you know how forgetful I can be. I sent you two notes on FB asking about this post and here I had already read it! What else can I say except perhaps that I do think I will read this book just to see what all the hoopla is about. Take care and please don't tell anyone about my memory lapse (:-))~~

  6. Anonymous ji,

    Now we are even. I don't remember you asking me about this post. I actually posted it in FB a couple days ago. I thoroughly expected to be crucified by the Objectivists, but nary a peep out of them.

    Do read any of her books. As I said, she can write. Just remember that Mai says you are reading "the fictional ravings of a deluded madwoman."

    Here, let me give you a turban to go with your beard! @:-)~~