Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who was Atlas, and why did he shrug?

Ayn Rand owns the key to Jason Lewis’s blackened, calcified little heart

rand_picJason Lewis tells a love story Sunday, April 17th about being entranced by the chain-smoking dominatrix Ayn Rand. We must assume that Jason’s love was unrequited, but with Rand, one never knows. (I don’t think that Rand was actually a Shriner, though.)

Lewis sums up Rand’s influence on him thusly:

There are seminal moments in the philosophical underpinnings of everyone's life. Some are recognized, and some, I suppose, remain just beneath our consciousness.

Certainly for me, the crystallization of a worldview that put liberty as its epicenter came into much clearer focus when I read "Atlas Shrugged." Obviously, I wasn't alone.

According to Lewis, he read the book in 1983 – I’m guessing here – in a pubescent fever. I mean, I know guys who read Lady Chatterly’s Lover in a similar condition, and I know it had an effect on them.  Maybe Jason meant it was a semenal moment for him.


Atlas Shrugged is the feel good classic for every piker, scrub, grifter, and Social Darwinist to come down the pike since it was published in 1957. Gordon Gekko summed up Rand (in Wall Street) in three words,”Greed is good;” Gekko can save you a helluva lot of time reading if that’s your philosophical bent.

If you're looking for more stuff with less guilt, why, Ayn’s the gal for you!

Lewis gushes than Rand and Atlas Shrugged are second in influence only to the Bible. This comes, of course, as sad news to Aristotle, Plato, Dante, John Donne, or even  humble novelists like Robert Penn Warren, George Orwell, John Steinbeck, William Golding, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Harper Lee, and many others.

That they would be bested by a hack screen writer is a tribute to somebody’s imagination.

Anyway, again.

Here’s a little more from the worshipful Lewis:

Her philosophy of Objectivism, placing a premium on individual reason and productive enterprise, had always been somewhat intuitive in the human condition. The statist's demand of self-sacrifice, on the other hand, has to be inculcated at an early age.

What made Rand so popular (her books have sold more than 25 million copies) was that she gave validation to millions by challenging the false altruism that remains the basis for modern liberalism to this day.

Collectivism, which uses the power of government to undermine self-interest, was anathema to Rand. And for that she was never forgiven -- especially by left-wing intellectuals.

Lewis is not only a philosophic lightweight; he doesn’t score well in science, either. There is evidence that altruism is the innate state, and it takes distant parents like Jason’s or genetic defects to turn you into the selfish dweeb who writes for the Strib.

So, who was Atlas, and why did he shrug? Probably because he didn’t have a clue.

Update: And now, for your dating pleasure: the Ayn Rand dating service. Thanks to Slate for the link.

Further update: The perverse allure of a damaged woman, a link from Avidor.

No comments: