Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ayn Rand: The Personal Toll of Brilliance & Influence

Ayn Rand is often touted as a proponent of destructive selfishness and her fiscal philosophies are cited as a cause of the recent collapse of the financial markets. Like most authors who challenge engrained societal beliefs, Rand gets a bad rap. However, some of her proponents are no better. They love to use Rand’s writings to support ultra-conservative ideals. Poor Miss Rand can’t seem to win.

After taking four months and pounding through all 1300 pages of Atlas Shrugged, I believe Ayn Rand is an incredibly misunderstood author who provides brilliant insight into our society and human nature. Needless to say, I’ve become a big Ayn Rand fan. As with most authors I become obsessed with, I’ve been craving to learn more about her personal life. My good friend sent me an email entitled “Ayn Rand is as ass” (he’s not a fan) with a link to a great interview with author Anne C. Heller who recently wrote a biography about Rand entitled “Ayn Rand and the World She Made.” The interview is wonderful and gives an extremely balanced overview of Rand and her philosophies. But more interesting is Heller’s discussion about Rand’s personal life. According to Heller, Rand had a friendless, torrid childhood in Russia, an open affair with a much younger man, a cult-like group of followers (which included Alan Greenspan), and an undying love for herself and her ideas. My favorite part of the interview is a story Heller tells about an 11 year old Rand writing a paper for school and citing Pascal and Descartes to support the thesis that “childhood is just a bunch of silly games that you play while you wait to grow up.” Maybe Rand’s overly developed sense of reason led not only to her brilliance but also to her delusional narcissism and tattered personal life.

Do you know of an influential philosopher/writer who does not come from a mess of a home life? (I don’t.) Do these influential people create such incredible works because their personal lives are in shambles or do their personal lives get crushed by a self-fulfilling prophecy of never being as great as their creations?

Oh and by the way, poor government regulation of our financial markets did not cause the current economic disaster. Relentlessly question anyone who says otherwise.

Tom Murtaugh

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1 comment:

    As a nation, we have allowed ourselves to drift too far from our roots, those established when the Pilgrims arrived and when our system was codified by the 19th century Democrats from Jefferson, Madison on to Cleveland, as cited in The Changing Face of Democrats on and We’ve allowed the Old World ideas of Rousseau and Marx to infect our politics through the 20th century Democrats, and now we are paying the price for it. Whether we will regain our proven way again remains to be seen. Whether enough of the electorate will choose the New World way or stay the course being laid down by Obama and become just another nation ruled by the few elite over the wishes of the many with individual freedom a thing of the past is yet to be decided. America proved prosperity comes from freedom, not dictatorship.