Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rand Flashback

Here's a scene from Rand's characters' childhood. Even when young, Rand characters know what they want. At least, the good ones do. For another perspective on Rand, try this hilarious article (warning: lots of profanity) by "Gentlemen's Quarterly" reviewer Andrew Corsello.

I should say, whether you believe me or not, that I am not a "Randroid" and do not agree with many (maybe most) of her ideas. I am more interested in her as a pop culture phenomenon who appeals to geeks. She was one of the first well-known writers in America who made geeks feel good, even heroic, about themselves.


Mary said...

That article was fantastic. Do you know my college philosophy professor actually assigned the Giant Speech from the end of Atlas Shrugged as required reading for the class -- following right after a Nietzche book (I can no longer remember which one.) I think his goal was to point out the parallels rather than to promote Ayn Rand (or Nietzche), but he was very careful never to impose his judgments on us. By that time I had already been through my own Ayn Rand Asshole phase and out the other side -- I was immunized. (It was, thinking of John Galt coming down with some disease, through no falt of his own, requiring the attention of a nurse to change his soiled bedsheets, that made me realize the desperate importance of altruistic people like nurses in the real world.)

I certainly believe that you are not a Randian, but I suspect you of being a former Randian like myself. :-)

After all, I know you are in fact fascinated by those only two worthwhile pursuits... Physics and philosophy.

Do you read "Shtelt-Optimized" -- a very sporadic blog by funny quantum mechanic Scott Aaronson? He's another former Rand-fan. He says:

Rand’s portrayal of an anti-mind, anti-reason cabal of collectivist rulers, who spout oleaginous platitudes about love and self-sacrifice even as they mercilessly repress any spark of individuality, happens to be extremely relevant to at least two cases I’m aware of:

1. Soviet Russia.
2. The average American high school.

Tristan Alexander said...

Mary, how bout 3 examples, 3. America under Bush 2 and the current Republican party.

Pyracantha said...

Mary...ya got me. But as Corsello says, you never quite get over Rand.
One of the things that is misunderstood about Rand was that she was not against people doing altruistic stuff for other people, as long as they WANTED to. She was against forcing people to be altruistic. The nurse that tends John Galt, in Randworld, has a genuine desire to help sick people. This bit was lost in her later insanity.

Rand-ism is just like Communism, in a way. It's a system that looks good on paper but totally fails in the real world.

As an artist, I'm into the "looks good on paper" part.

johngalt said...

Dear friends, (whom have never met but have shared a couple of comment exchanges with each other)

There are a hundred different ways I could reply to the GQ ad-hominem but perhaps the best is to offer a counterpoint: Debi Ghate's Thanksgiving article in Christian Science Monitor -

"But morally, each one of us should reach for the sky. Electricity, profits, and pie can only be truly earned through individual production – giving each of us the right to savor their consumption. Every decision, from which career to pursue to whom to call a friend, should be guided by what will best advance an individual's rational goals, interests, and, ultimately, an individual's life. We should take pride in being rationally selfish."

If "Randians" sometimes act like "assholes" it is a response to having been deluded from making their own decisions by a society rife with altruism.

And if Rand disapprortionately "appeals to geeks" it is because Dilberts like them are naturally predisposed to "reach for the sky." At least, that is, until they are bombarded with anti-life "morality" that says they must "love their neighbor like themselves."

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.