Dear Russell and Friends,
There she is. Demure smile, confident pose, piercing eyes & cigarette in hand. She created the best book title ever – – Atlas Shrugged – – a title that compelled me to read. Her first name rhymes with wine. She is worth arguing with. We could not disagree more on so many fundamental things. And yet.
Ayn Rand is one of the best, smartest, most incisive writers that I have read. She has strong opinions well reasoned that are diametrically opposed to my worldview and philosophy. Is reading her an exercise in frustration? No. Not at all.
Reading her is pure pleasure and reminds me that my life is too short to pick lesser books. I’ve just begun The Fountainhead in its 25th anniversary edition. Rand wrote the introduction in 1968 – – five years before I was born and a full 25 years before I could digest her ideas.
Now I’ll wrestle with Howard Roark just like I wrestled with Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden. From the grave their ideas and speeches echo. And so it is with Ms. Rand. I want to invite her to our table and listen. Then I’d share what enthralls yet disappoints me. Her protagonists are my antagonists – – they are Übermensch, gleaming strong and clear. I need these antagonists – – worthy opponents in the circus of ideas. Her antagonists are straw. Caricatures of bias, bigotry and weakness. If only she could revise. Would she? If only she had the courage to face the strong and not the weak. Would she? Oh well. Her gift to me remains – – enemies that I can respect and answer with a clear conscience. Enemies that best me in more areas than I usually admit. Enemies of concrete, steel, arcs and planes of soaring thought. Enemies that could become friends.
What of my antagonist to her protagonist? I hope to return her gift and not to duplicate her greatest mistake.
Pascal – – 1:16
Ayn Rand portrait by Phyllis Cerf (1916–2006) Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ayn_Rand1.jpg#/media/File:Ayn_Rand1.jpg
“Objectivist1” by Michael Greene – originally posted to Flickr as Atlas 2. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Objectivist1.jpg#/media/File:Objectivist1.jpg