Tuesday, October 16, 2007

AYN ADDICTION ("AYN" NOT BEING A TYPO)

A polite warning: This post isn’t funny, pop culture appropriate, pretty, or really all that interesting, but as I use my blog as a spot for the refuse my brain has a tendency to produce, I’ve little choice but to toss this out there. Gentle readers, the few that you are, pass this post by if you’re looking for humor, human interest, or interesting reading. Come back later for the mindless drivel and photos that pleasant blogs must be made of.

Though I don’t participate in it nearly as often as my intellectual conscience (whatever’s left of it after years of neglect) says I ought, I love to read. To me, it’s a positive endeavor in that it enriches my vocabulary (if I am paying attention) and turns the rusty wheels in my brain. However, I think of reading as a negative endeavor in the respect that I consider it living as a bystander—watching characters live their lives without living my own.


The above is on the wall next to our television. I hope for it to serve as an encouragement to get off the couch, turn off the television, stop watching others’ experiences, real or imagined, and live. I feel similarly about reading as I do television—but I don’t; my brain argues with itself.

One author that repeatedly draws me is Ayn Rand. Her books are magnetic through her characters' values or reader-perceived lack thereof. When reading her books, the exhilaration I feel imitates the feeling of riding a bicycle downhill, the wind shoving hairs askew and speeding up the heart.

She glorifies humanity; it is the only thing able to reflect a hint of immortality, and only glorifies that humanity which is held, by its possessor, to the highest integrity—integrity only to the self and to human ability. Lives lived second-handedly—or vicariously, through actions prompted by the opinions of others or a set of socially prescribed values—are repugnant. Only the life lived to fulfill itself holds honor.

I read her book, The Fountainhead, annually and have for the last 5 years. There comes a time each year when I’m rummaging through our cookbooks, tomes of self-help nonsense, expiring textbooks, and novels and that my fingertips hit The Fountainhead and the vying between volumes is over. I find myself ready, as I did the year before, to experience Objectivism (what I understand to be Ms. Rand’s theory of the life highest lived) as a spectator.


My dad introduced the book to me shortly after I graduated and moved back home. The book sometimes finds itself making a cameo in our conversations and each time he tells me that he can’t stand the characters’ behavior. In saying that, it’s my understanding that he’s referencing her star characters—the one’s her tone glorifies. It’s my guess that he can’t abide these characters because of the behaviors that Rand exalts, what she calls “selfishness” but what most would call “selflessness.” I like to watch their behavior from behind the bars of black ink on white paper, even pretend that my integrity to my own abilities could somehow reach the state that her characters’ do without my committing social sin. It’s only pretending.

I recognize that this treatise of sorts seems like disjointed jabber. That’s because it is. I’ve been reading Rand, as I often do, and it makes me lofty, as it often does—or as lofty as I presently have the ability to be. Fall into one of her novels: The Fountainhead, or Anthem, or Atlas Shrugged. I could try to explain why, but commentary on these books is worthless. They say it all by themselves.

8 comments:

Pop & Ma Peterson said...

I have the same love affair with The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander; though mine is young adult lit. and not nearly as cultured as Rand. But I find myself drawn to them often, and even went as far as to buy them for my iPod. We all have reads that speak to our souls time and time again. I am just glad we bother to read.

M. & M. Romo said...

So according to our current social mores, is my soul corrupt?

Pop & Ma Peterson said...

Yes, matter of fact, it is.

M. & M. Romo said...

I wish you were kidding.

Pop & Ma Peterson said...

Am I ever serious?

Janeen said...

Megan, You make me smile!

M. & M. said...

I live to serve.

Mallory Gallery said...

I think your very smart. Mabye even a genius...