Friday, September 14, 2007

I needed a laff...

...and who would have thought I'd get it from the New York Times?

Today, the NYT ran a story about Business Geniuses who were/are influenced by Ayn Rand.

PARENTHETICAL HERE'S-THE-EVIDENCE THOUGHT: You can find the story here, but y'all probably have to register to read it.


Give me a break.

I first read Rand's thousand-plus page epics at roughly age 17. By the second reading some years later, I realized how shallow and, well, stupid they are.

To begin with, a competent editor could have cut both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged down by hundreds of pages rather easily. The interminable speeches made by the Heroes could be blue-penciled to roughly 10% of the existing word count. Add that to slicing repetitious dialog and repetitive philosophy, and we're talking half-size books.

The characters are drawn in crayon, cartoonish Aryan gods and pathetic losers who couldn't tie their own shoes without help. You can often tell who's who simply by their names: Good Guys have names full of hard consonants -- Howard Roark, Hank Reader, John Galt -- and the pitiful failures have names such as Peter (Petey) Keating and Wesley Mouch. Could there ever be a Hero named Ellsworth Toohey?

And the women: lordy, how could a supposedly strong woman create characters of the stripe of Dagny Taggart -- railroad tycoon who sleeps with three Heroes in succession, one of whom is married? Or think about Dominique Wynand, spoiled daughter of privilege, who sleeps with (and marries) two losers -- after being raped by the Hero -- before the rapist/Hero gets her for good.

If they didn't spout the same babble the Aryan Heroes spew, these babes would be simple gold-diggers. Can't give it up to anyone who isn't successful, you know.

PARENTHETICAL REAL-LIFE THOUGHT: I wonder about some women I know. How many guys do they have to give it up to before they find their Howard Roark or John Galt? Where's the self-respect in that?

It's obvious that Rand had some serious hang-ups, sex-wise. She leaves the impression that she dug it rough, and with a variety of partners....

But enough of sex.

The primary flaw of Rand's "philosophy" is the stunning unreality of it. Work for yourself, p*ss on anyone you can't exploit, and be selfish as hell. The strong survive, and the weak deserve to die.

An Ayn Rand world would have no tax-supported services at all. We'd live in a world of toll roads and private fire departments and the rich would be, as they now are, the privileged class. Everyone else would be dirt. Humanity is a curse word for Rand; she comes damn close to espousing a Hitlerian philosophy while casting snide comments at any form of government that doesn't follow her own party line.

I know Rand has many followers even today -- I've met a few -- but I cannot believe that anyone has the cojones to admit it in public.

One of those mentioned in the NYT story is Alan Greenspan, a long-time Rand devotee.

No wonder our economy is in the toilet.

I'd feel more comfortable with successful people who credit Horatio Alger or John D MacDonald as inspirations. Hell, I'd prefer they followed the teachings of Kurt Vonnegut, Jnr.

Yeah, I'm being as simplistic as Rand, simply because I don't feel like writing a thousand-word rebuttal to her drivel.

But I wouldn't give much credence to an architect who pays no attention to the wishes of his clients or the inventor of an electric motor that draws power out of the air.

I might, however, be tempted by a wealthy babe who likes being roughed up a bit....


MaFanLaiLe said...

Boy! When you vent....I can see the steam hundreds of miles away. You write with such clarity too. One of these days, I may need to hire you to "tell off" an intellectual for me.

MaFanLaiLe said...

by the way...I opened an "account" over here today because I was afraid that JS was going down permanently. It was driving me nuts. I was ready to spend the day writing...but couldn't. I'll keep blogger for my back up just in case.

sugarcane said...

Sounds like you might have a new career telling off intellectuals... hell, I'd hire you.

By the way, the last paragraph cracks me the hell up. Go get em' Scrib!

John said...

I don't consider essential Rand elements drivel. The fact that it is presented in often impossible terms, and frequently seems to contradict itself is another matter. Her own escape from USSR and subsequent success is quite a story. I can see her, or many others, being an influence, which is not the same as their work being a Bible or their lives being a thing to copy in detail.
It is better than some of the creep authors who revel in the seediness of low life nihilism.

Class factotum said...

I hated "The Fountainhead." HATED IT!!!!!

I read "Atlas Shrugged" at the behest of a former boss, who is not ashamed to admit that he is an Objectivist.

It's a lousy book as a story. As a political screed, it has some decent points. I agree with some of the principles (that I remember) from the book -- that wealth is created through private enterprise -- but there was not an ounce of compassion for those unable to care for themselves in that book. I am a die-hard capitalist, but I don't think wealth has to be a zero-sum game, as she presented it.

MrScribbler said...

Ms C-F -- I agree with you and, to an extent, agree with John. Many of the basic principles are right on. But the absolute coldness of the way Rand applies them bugs me.

And the way she defined characters was the height of childishness. Anyone who couldn't utter unqualified declarative sentences was a loser. It seems to me that's incorrect....

I think I've met a sort-of real-world Dagny Taggart. But so far she's gone through far more than three men, and is no closer to her John Galt than ever.

As if he'd want her....