This was the first "chapter book", as my teachers used to say, I have read for leisure since high school. I read it over the course of about a year or 2 with about 2 months of heavy reading, then a 6 month break, then 2 more reading months, etc. I read a lot of it during WD last year because Suboxone makes me want to sit down and read for some reason. I want to share some of my thoughts on the book and author with you.
For those of you who don't know, this a really really really
long book about a philisophy called Objectivism and its applications through ficticious literature. It is longer than War and Peace. She took amphetamine for weight loss while writing he most famous works, it kinda shows.
A concept that I like, is that it takes the premise of a fractured society and really does flesh out nearly every nitty gritty instance and detail of how a slowly decaying society falls, tries to repair itself, and continually fails through utter unwillingness to let go of a comfortable and familiar, but doomed, system. Hence, the length.
The writing style is romantic; it takes a "perfect" (in a sense) person and reveals glory through accomplishment. Romantic paintings, for example, follow this style by showing pure emotion and awe from the artist's perespective. When I think of Romanticism, I imagine a "New dawn", or ultimate triumph, so to speak. Rand does a good job of expressing this; tere's not a ton of new age romantic writers out there.
As this is more or less the manifesto of a philisophy, (Rand has written more formal works but they are much less popular) there is an almost divinely portrayed protaginst who emobdies Objectivism in totality:
A faultess man. This is a concept in which I run into a lot of my beef with Rand. She claims that she has always
held herself to her doctrine 100% of the time throughout her whole life. I understand that she's big on reason, which is great, so am I. But you can't tell
me that you have never done anything unreasonable before in your life.
I would argue that a lot of the best parts of life are unreasonable. Humour is unreasonable. Love, sexual proclivity, things that make you roll your eyes and smile. Humanity loves a contradiction. Ever notice how great movie villains tend to contradict themselves or be conflicted in their descision making process?
I agree that reason is the best course of action for business and material pursuits, as well as for gaining knowledge, pursing justice, and resolving issues. You have to ground yourself in reason to efficiently and effectively do these things. Fart jokes are funny because they just are.
If you read this book, you'll notice right away that Rand's verbiage is just awkward. I want to take her to a nice lunch and leave her with the bill everytime she uses the phrase "lighted a cigarette". Some of her more adult-oriented passages are well done and evoke a good response from me. Others just sound painful, violent, and there's nothing sexier than something along the lines of "he kissed her effieciently as the loosely stressed dimensions of her dress unfurled incredulously" - not a quote, I don't have the book on me. You will incredulously see the wordincredulously
every other page because that is her favorite word.
To the philisophy of Objectivism, which would be a better post for Oh The Humanites!, I'll briefly say that I agree with many, but not all of the principles and not to the nth degree of infinity as she does. Me not believing in 100% of her principles alone, literally makes me an untouchable in her view, and not worthy of life.
She is a purist, and the more I read, the more distanced I feel. To me, purists of any sort, whatever the position, tend to be complete asshole pricks incapable of empathy for any non-purist. She cannot see another point of view, therefor other points of view are not worthy of existing. What a shitty way to live, if I only talked to people I agreed with completely, I would talk to about 0 people. So would everyone else. I can empathize without agreeing with the opposing viewpoint. Rand cannot. She also ran out money and lived off SSI towards the end of her life but insisted she was consistent with her views.
It is a well written book, and is worth reading if your views fall within even distant earshot of the views of the intended audience. It remarkably doesn't lag either until the late second act. There are moments in the book that I have never seen done before in any medium that were extremely satisfying to read, and it deserves to be considered a modern classic, just one with several disclaimers attatched before picking it up.