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Ayn Rand

2011/09/05

I’ve felt confusion about Ayn Rand ever since I read ‘We the Living’ and ‘The Fountainhead’.  I was a teenager when I read both.  At the time I didn’t know about Rand’s philosophy of ‘Objectivism’.  I think there was something about it on the flap of the book.  I also read ‘The Fountainhead’ around that time.  My mother is a big reader, and she told me about the film made from the book, and she loved both.

I approach reading, film from an artistic perspective, I think.  I’m not sure.  I just know I didn’t understand objectivism at all.  I was curious about it, and, based on ‘The Fountainhead’, I had the idea that it was about being true to one’s art, not altering it for the sake of others.  I could relate to that.   In fact, I loved ‘The Fountainhead’, and being entertained is my goal, usually, when I read.

‘We the Living’ seemed to me like a historical novel about the Bolshevik Revolution.  I read it during the Cold War, when Communism was the resident evil in the US.  I sort of understood her anger.  On the other hand, not being born into a life of entitlement and upward mobility, I was confused by it as well.

That, perhaps, is the crux of my issues with Rand.  Her views are anything but objective.  They are entirely subjective.  The corporate takes the place of government in creating wealth.  Like communism, if no one were greedy or power hungry, pure capitalism would work.  We know that is not the case.  The group has to have a consensus for the better of all, and the group has to be diverse.  Not everyone had her extreme ability to view the world in black and white.  She experienced her views and opinions, it seems, as the only acceptable reality for all, rather collectivist in my view.

Naturally curious, I read everything I came across that pertained to Rand and Objectivism.  I really wanted to understand Objectivism, but I’ve always been confused by the labels in Philosphy, and while I think I can grasp ideas easily, philosophy is difficult for me.  I think it means different things to different people.

By 1987 I was fairly knowledgeable about Objectivism, but not enough to explain it to anyone.  I say this because when Alan Greenspan became chairman of the federal reserve that year I was concerned.  I read of his relationship with Ayn Rand.  I read of him living at her home with a group of devotees, although I can’t find a reference to that at the moment.  I read of his participation in a group that read ‘Atlas Shrugged’ while she wrote it.  In 1987 and onward I was concerned that someone who had such a close relationship with Ayn Rand was in charge of the Federal Reserve.  It felt very unbalanced. I was only 24, so what did I know?

I tried to read ‘Atlas Shrugged’ but it didn’t engage me.  I’m lazy when it comes to reading.  If my interest isn’t piqued in the first 10 pages I put it down, especially with novels.  Fantasy is my least favorite genre in books and film.

Anyhow, those are my thoughts on Ayn Rand.  Just her position as a guru obviates her position as an Objectivist.  I haven’t read everything she wrote, but I read 2 books as a teen and they entertained me.  I felt a romantic admiration for Howard Roark, the hero of ‘The Fountainhead’.  I admired him for being true to his art.  I was also attracted to the modern art element in his work as an architect.  It impressed me more as a book about art and ideals rather than politics.  I guess I’ve always been a little political, even unconsciously.

I’m going to see if I have anything interesting to share with you.  Oh, here’s a photo of a great uncle with a ‘friend’, ca. 1922, I think.  Love it that he was able to enjoy his life.  At least I hope he did.  He died young of natural causes.

 

 

 

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