Atlas Shrugged (while I tried not to heave)

I always get a shudder of revulsion when I see someone, especially those in their 20’s, reading the works of Ayn Rand. A reaction that I feel is totally understandable in its unreasonableness. It’s like making a judgment call on someone’s basic personal drives when you see them masturbating on public transport – it may be unfair, as you know not what inspecific tradgedies brought them to that point, but you’re sure as hell not going to get close enough to offer them a wet-wipe.

Despite these basic belief structures (if one may call them that), I find myself reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’, Rand’s ‘masterpiece’. A very good friend of mine recommended I give it a whirl as, regardless of Rand’s philosophies, her expression and ideas are fascinating in of themselves and have a remarkable adaptability if one isn’t weighed down with Randian hero worship beforehand. All of which, at my age, I should be able to read and understand without fear of some sort of meme-like contagion stripping my mind of all my current values and re-wallpapering it with new, shiny, Objectivist ones.

I’m actually a wee way into the 1000+ page behemoth and am finding it engrossing for all kinds of fucked up and sensible reasons. Many of which I think I will come back to on my first attempt to write an ongoing piece on this blog. Gotta say though, for a woman who was capable of saying a number of complex things in a clear and succinct manner, she sure can waffle on for pages and pages about the most trite stuff, I can totally understand various literary accusations of melodrama.

It would be fair to say I’m going into this with highly preconceived notions about Rand and Objectivism, but, hell, it’s always interesting to test one’s own ideas by bashing them repeatedly with someone else’s. And, in my case, when my world intersects with that of reality and the personal doubts and conflicts generated by that friction are surfacing more and more violently, I find it easier if I can anchor my thoughts and feelings on important matters by the land masses of other philosophies. I do wonder at the wisdom of choosing Ayn Rand… well, if I wake up a different and more Objectionable person at the end of this, just remember to blame Sara.

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4 responses to “Atlas Shrugged (while I tried not to heave)

  1. That’s one helluva first paragraph you got goin there… Confession: when I was APPROACHING my twenties and before I knew anything about Ayn Rand or her politics, a copy of The Fountainhead ended up in my possession, I read it, and I kinda liked it – I think, from what I can recall, because the protagonist didn’t care what other people thought about him, for instance, if he wanted to satisfy basic personal drives on public transport he would and to hell with anyone who didn’t care for that! Maybe I’m misremembering. It was years ago…

    • There is definitely something alluring about her main characters. I totally dig on a couple of them from Atlas Shrugged, so far.
      From what I understand The Fountainhead was Rand’s description of her perfect man – the basis of thought that allowed him not to care what others thought about him was key in that description – so let’s hope, for her sake that that character didn’t take a shine to public displays of personal affection.

  2. I always rather enjoyed Rand, because she did have an especially freeing take on the whole concept of egotism and self-worship…but there was never any room in her world for children, and that was the largest hole in her theory. If one lives wholly for one’s self, with no regard for others, then of course one doesn’t propogate because of the amount of self-sacrifice raising a kid takes.

    • That hadn’t occurred to me but once I read it it made perfect sense. Rand has an easily observed habit of not bringing aspects of an argument or theory or philosophy up that she is uncomfortable dealing with and, you’re right, children and what they represent in one’s life don’t fit into her world at all.
      It’s a much smaller point but one thing I’ve noticed, the further into the book I get, is that there’s no humour either, no jokes or quips, no joy for the sake of joy, just the occasional ‘reward’ chuckle that has the ring of righteousness. I don’t know how someone could construct a world that doesn’t have laughter for its own sake.

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