Jun 16, 2008

Your Questions Answered!

My most favorite Left Coast thinker, the 'mouse, has once again piqued my brain-pan synapses into blogging overtime. And once again, I find my comments more insightful than my post. (I should start a feature called, "Ask the Slacker." )

I think that's as it should be, really. Because what good is blogging if all you have is an echo-chamber? I like to think and consider, and like to be challenged to "come up higher" in a conversation. I don't always succeed, but I always benefit from the conversation, even if my esteemed colleague walks away shaking his head!

The 'mouse asked me for my thoughts on Ayn Rand. How delightful, since it's been years since I read her, on my own, and have rarely discussed her philosophy with anyone. So, my answer was so long and tedious I thought, "Blog fodder!" Lucky you...

Well, Ms Rand was a good palate cleanser for me years ago. I admit to running to Wiki to refresh the details. However, I am glad I read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, for I will never forget how they "hit" me.

The enormous chasm of aching emptiness at the center of her books left me with little to take away for the long term. I think that her portrayal of a man realizing his own selfish potential is inspiring on the plane of the ego, and unrealistic in the real world of relationships.

Her passion for the pure gave her some fantastic insight while depriving her of the healthy skill of finding perfectly lovely things in the imperfect presentations that life affords.

She was not so much wrong as too quickly satisfied with her own answers. When her "hero" lover in real life acted in his own selfish interest--one that did not include her, she labeled him irrational. It belies her heart, her disappointment, her earth-bound soul. I think that's the yawning abyss of incompleteness I felt in her writings, too. Too pat, too perfect, and set up so as to hide from a life so grand and rich terrible and awe-full as the one we have.

I think that what works in her philosophy on the scale of government does not easily translate into the personal. Which is why I am tempted to be a libertarian. Her philosophy in the books I read possibly misses the dynamic tension of of the Relationship and the Rule; that sticky wicket of irrational rationalizations that most folks clothe themselves in just to move through the land-mines of job and spouse and unspoken expectations. Not unlike the age-old problem people face in their search for religious Truth.


The world is a messy place. Some of us who clean up after it, can mutter about the mess, and even know what caused it and how to eliminate most of it. But it doesn't keep us from our compassionate task of picking up the pieces, helping where we can. Many folks of other philosophies take offense at anyone pointing out a problem and muttering a solution, as though it makes the sighted person guilty for seeing. Or hateful for speaking.

Persons constitute a family, from whence flows love, accountability, and forgiveness. That's the job of Relationships, whether familial or communal. The Government never can be a person, a family or a compassionate entity. Nor should it be.

I could, with very little stretch, take the scenario of the poor wretched dog being conditioned to pain, and relate it to the taxpayer who is asked to suffer just a bit more financial pain for the sake of the Social Experimenters and their jobs. But I didn't, you'll note. This isn't about my pain, it's about the poor who are made so, through the ghastly aberration of Government as a Relationship. I can only visualize it as the alien in Men In Black, who puts on a human skin to hide his agenda.

You can't have a relationship with an agenda. You can only subject yourself to it.

Or draw up your own and follow it.


'mouse said...

Hah! Success.

See. I knew you'd have a good explanation for where your intrinsic goodness comes from. It's much more clear now -- the way you separate the human, the family, the relationshp from the government/ideology.

All well said. I'm glad I nudged you to write, even tho I feel guilty for interupting your Monady afternoon slack.

Irrelephant said...

Gonna have to go and drag out my old battered "Atlas Shrugged" now. *s* Thanx, Joan. *wince*

GUYK said...

Heh. Rand wasn't near as good at fiction as she was a philosophizing.
But she did manage to warn of the dangers of socialism in Atlas Shrugged..and keeping in mind that she wrote the book..or at least it was copywritten ? is that a word?..in 1957 she was a visionary also. Much of what the wrote about in Atlas Shrugged is happening today. The Copper Mines in South America that were nationalized? Yeah it has happened and yeah..there was nothing left when it happened. And of course the looters are demanding more from the producers..and the producers are rebelling by moving out of the country. And the looters are demanding more from government who in turn demands more from the few producer left who just don't have much more to give.

And we have the savior..looks like he will be elected to the White House and no doubt in my mind will make a grab for the constitution. The only thing that she didn't see was that there ain't no one JOhn Galt.

But there may well be millions of individual John Galts who be around to pick up the pieces of this once great republic and try to put them back together again once this madness has passed..if it in fact ever does.

In any event I do believe that Rand was right about a lot of things..and I have found that when one calls me selfish it is because they want something that I have that they themselves will not or else cannot earn for themselves..and uses the term to try to make me feel guilty because I will not share..

And, Rand's ideas of pure capitalism is just as unrealistic as pure socialism because of human greed.

Anonymous said...

I hear Angelina/Brad and Daddy John purchased the movie rights for Shrugged. Swear they'll not botch the job like the folks did with 'head. Dunno, could be rumor or the opposite other way 'round. ;~)

PS Whimsy? We're even. Bucolic. heh heh heh

Hammer said...

Rand influenced my current political attitudes as well.

I guess her and a couple others had a profound impact on my libertarian attitudes.

GUYK said...

Yep Hammer..for me it is a toss-up between Rand and Heinlein on which influenced me the most..and it might have been Heinlein..a sci fi writer, heh.

Kelly(Mom of 6) said...

Pretty much how I feel, too...you cannot embrace her philosophy as pure..and be a mother. There's a conflict between the two. However, as applied to business applications, she was pretty good.

TalkinHorse said...

I read Ayn Rand's novels when I was at Starfleet Academy. They hit hard; basically made it clear how I was being coerced into acting as my own jailor. Helped me give myself permission to reject the enslavement of others without feeling quite so guilty. However, I couldn't go all the way with Rand, who seemed to want to turn worship of unworthy others into self-worship...not necessarily an improvement. I need something bigger than Me. I accept the authority of God, and I want to serve Him. Of course, the devil's in the details; we know Islamist genocidal maniacs say the same words. But we judge the tree by its fruit, don't we? Anyway, Rand was an atheist and her heroes were unrealistic, and alpha leaders like those Rand created would have killed each other rather than formed a co-op. And indeed, Rand made a huge mess of her personal life; see Barbara Branden's fascinating biography, "The Passion of Ayn Rand". That's a shame, but it's par for the course: Rand was a genius, and in a class by herself; she had no peers and she was lonely. She tried to create a better world and there was a fantasy element in it that didn't quite mesh with reality. But in spite of her flaws, she gave us a piece of the puzzle that nobody else could articulate. If she fell short...well, who doesn't?

Joan of Argghh! said...


Very nice comments, for a horse that went to Starfleet.

I like what you said about her giving us a piece of the puzzle, because I think it's the very thing about her. My comments about her were in the context of my previous post.

Everyone's additions have made for an interesting muse for me the last couple of days. Thanks, all!