What’s the big deal?

Too many people have recommended Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead to me. I also have the book along with Atlas Shrugged which I got together in a deal some time back. Actually a long time back, to be precise. And I am yet to start reading them. Recently there was a very very heated argument (they call it constructive discussion, but I disagree because I was the lone spectator to that incident and it felt like an argument to me) between three of my friends about the Ayn Rand and her ideals, or especially one particular one where she was saying something about being selfish and that being perfect fine or something like that. I don’t remember the exact quote of hers that triggered that argument but it was based on why she should not be preaching something like that or why it is OK to say something like that because it is the truth etc etc. You get the point right? Since I don’t have a clue about her works, except that I have got her books with me, I kept quiet and was observing the exchange.  And now, I am tempted to read her work. It is just that I am not sure if I will have that much time at hand for some serious reading now. I did that during Game of Thrones last year and I had some serious deprivation of sleep at that time, because that is how I read. I just get immersed in it and don’t come out until I am done with the book. So I am little skeptical on this book too. But since I have the paperback, I can pick it up anytime this year and I hope I get the chance to do it. Its been pending for too long.


Part of Linda’s Just Jot It January Post and prompt till 10th is Reading.

20 thoughts on “What’s the big deal?

  1. Fountainhead is brilliant. The philosophy is good if you can look over some absurd traits of her characters. While Atlas Shrugged for me was trash. Completely unrealistic and as your friend said – selfish! Do read though. A cup of Joe helps 🙂

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    1. Ha Ha… Okie. Will have to try it then. Hopefully the work will relax in a while and I can pick it up. I don’t want work pressures colliding with the book. I get super cranky during those times 😉

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        1. Yeah. I end up reading those one-day books (mostly romance) to relax during those times. And for some time now, it has become the norm. I want to start with some serious stuff. Fingers crossed.

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  2. I first read Atlas Shrugged 15 years ago. After reading it I fell a little too far into the selfish category. 15 years later, I still read it as some people read the bible(I will pick a random page, read a few paragraphs and try to grasp the deeper meaning and apply it to life). Yet, I have matured from the young zealot I was at first. I would like to offer some reflection, spoiler free.

    First, let me say this, philosophy aside, please try to appreciate her work as an author. She captures some human dynamics in ways that speak so boldly.

    Second, her heroes and villains are superheroes and arch-villains. There are numerous other characters at so many different points on the spectrum. She works very hard to show you the shades of grey, but does not pull her punches with the black and white. This is literature, not a book of philosophy or religion or history. It is not even, as some seem to think, a book of prophecy.

    Third, and this is the most important realization. She used the wrong word. I list it third because if you read this much of my rant, you may be interested enough to actually consider it. Ayn Rand grew up in Soviet Russia. English is not necessarily the language that her mind works in. There is a major flaw in the English Language, and I dare say most languages around the world. There is selfishness which means “without concern for others” and selflessness which means “without care for yourself.” Ayn Rand used the word selfishness because she spent her formative years in a society that espoused selflessness and saw the flaws in that way of thinking. However, we live in a world that has predominantly embraced selfishness and we see the flaws in that way of thinking. We would champion selfless people as a result. Her heroes demonstrate neither, while her villains demonstrate both.

    My plea to you is simple. If you do read the book, mentally replace the word “selfishness” with “selfness.” Even the meaning of that word is shifting. I will say no more and let you form your own opinions. I do hope you read it and get something out of it. And I would love to hear what you think.

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    1. Phew!!!! That was a lot to take in and I appreciate your inputs on her works. Thank you so so much. Will definitely keep these in mind when I get to the book.
      Cheers.

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  3. Here, in her own words, is Rand’s philosophy of life; her philosophy is called Objectivism: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” — Ayn Rand

    I suppose I could agree in principle with her philosophy. However, I get hung up on what would happen if my idea of happiness harms someone else’s happiness. Whose happiness trumps whose? It’s a conundrum!

    ~victoria

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    1. Thank you Victoria. Hmmm that was exactly what was discussed between my friends and they agreed to disagree later. But once I read her works I might start a constructive argument 😉

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  4. I read one of Ayn Rand’s books back in high school – I don’t remember which one now. But we studied it in one of my English classes, which gives you an idea of what you’re getting into if you read her. Having said that, I hope you enjoy! Let us know what you think. 😀

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  5. I read most of what Ayn Rand, has written, more than 50 years ago. She made a lot of sense sometimes, other times she preached an ideal that left out the majority of the population. We are not all exceptional people and to base a society on those principles, gives you pretty much what we have today.
    I have also seen pictures of Ayn Rand lunching and hobnobbing with Allan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve. I have no doubt that a large part of our economic problems today are a result of this very “selfish” concept of economics. The rich get richer and middle class disappears along with the poor.
    This was an enormous experiment on our society and the results of these ideas can be clearly seen in present day events – unwarranted and unjust wars, racism, radicalism, disintegration of democracy, slavery – you name it – just about any unsavoury thing you can think of.
    It is good to know about these ideals but it is a tragedy that we allowed them to be engendered into our economic system. We are living today with the results of a the society that this philosophy produces.
    Leslie

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  6. I have not read any Ayn Rand, so this is my uninformed opinion. In general I’m opposed to selfishness presented as a virtue, and I suspected I would not thrive well under an Objectivist regime because I wouldn’t have the killer instinct to thrive.

    Again, let me stress that I haven’t read her works, I just know it second hand from people that I like who read her stuff and were appalled, and by people who I know that I really don’t like who think she’s awesome. So I have my own biases that I want to acknowledge.

    I found it interesting your mentioning Game of Thrones (which was not mentioned in relation to Rand’s works) and from my limited understanding of Rand, Game of Thrones characters that I don’t particularly like (like Littlefinger) I’d identify as Objectivist, and people that I admire (like poor doomed Ned) are not so much.

    Anyway, if you read them, I’m interested in hearing your review. You’ll certainly be more informed on the matter than me.

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    1. Killer instinct ? I wouldnt survive a day. I dont have it in me. Am no Katniss ( from Hunger Games ).
      Now that you mention it the friend who is fond of Ayn Rand abhors Littlefinger. He always says he is the root cause of all evil 😉 I am gonna show the responses of this post to him. Its gonna be interesting. Thanks for that input and the association.

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