Ahira's Hangar

Ayn Rand
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Author:  Highdrake [ Sun Mar 23, 2003 3:37 am ]
Post subject:  Ayn Rand

I was only told about Ayn Rand about 2 years ago. I had seen her books on the shelves, but, for no particular reason, had assumed that she was sort of like Danielle Steele. I have no idea why I assumed that, but WOW was I off!! The first book I read was Atlas Shrugged. There are no words to say how much I love this book!!!! Rand's main ideas are the rights of the individual, and the role of the human mind. You can get a taste of what she's all about in smaller books, like Anthem.

Fountainhead was a big jump. It is much bigger than her previous books, and develops her ideas much more fully. Some are, imo, stated more succinctly here than in any of her other books. And since the story revolves around an architect, there are some short descriptions of buildings that are amazing. (I'll give one below.) Think of it the way SRD describes Atiaran and Findail singing.

And then there's Atlas Shrugged!! It is a rather big book. Over 1k pages in my paperback. I find the story to be much more tightly written than Fountainhead, giving a more satisfying feeling. In one way, it is just another vehicle for the concepts found in Fountainhead; but it more fully demonstrates their truth. You see the problems building and building, and you learn the basic flaw in history's societies that has allowed these problems to exist. And you get to see the brilliant, yet simple, solution. Where Fountainhead revolved around architecture, Atlas is set in the railroad industry! Huh? I can't believe how much I came to care about the railroad industry!

So here's a few quotes. I hope I've picked passages that are fascinating enough to make everyone who hasn't read them yet run right out!!

From Fountainhead:Quote:The house on the sketches had been designed not by Roark, but by the cliff on which it stood. It was as if the cliff had grown and completed itself and proclaimed the purpose for which it had been waiting. The house was broken into many levels, following the ledge of the rock, rising as it rose, in gradual masses, in planes flowing together up into one consummate harmony. The walls, of the same granite as the rock, continued its vertical lines upward; the wide, projecting terraces of concrete, silver as the sea, followed the line of the waves, of the straight horizon.Quote:        The building stood on the shore of the East River, a structure rapt as raised arms. The rock crystal forms mounted in such eloquent steps that the building did not seem stationary, but moving upward in a continuous flow - until one realized that it was only the movement of one's glance and that one's glance was forced to move in that particular rhythm. The walls of pale gray limestone looked silver against the sky, with the clean, dulled luster of metal, but a metal that had become a warm, living substance, carved by the most cutting of all instruments - a purposeful human will. It made the house alive in a strange, personal way of its own, so that in the minds of spectators five words ran dimly, without object or clear connection: "...in His image and likeness..."
        A young photographer from the Banner noticed Howard Roark standing alone across the street, at the parapet of the river. He was leaning back, his hands closed over the parapet, hatless, looking up at the building. It was an accidental, unconscious moment. The young photgrapher glanced at Roark's face - and thought of something that had puzzled him for a long time: he had always wondered why the sensations one felt in dreams were so much more intense than anything one could experience in waking reality - why the horror was so total and the ecstasy so complete - and what was that extra quality which could never be recaptured afterward; the quality of what he felt when he walked down a path through tangled green leaves in a dream, in an air full of expectation, of causeless, utter rapture - and when he awakened he could not explain it, it had been just a path through some woods. He thought of that because he saw that extra quality for the first time in waking existence, he saw it in Roark's face lifted to the building. The photographer was a young boy, new to his job; he did not know much about it; but he loved his work; he had been an amateur photographer since childhood. So he snapped a picture of Roark in that one moment.
        Later the Art Editor of the Banner saw the picture and barked: "What the hell's that?" "Howard Roark," said the photographer. "Who's Howard Roark?" "The architect." "Who the hell wants a picture of the architect?" "Well, I only thought..." "Besides, it's crazy. What's the matter with the man?" So the picture was thrown into the morgue.Quote:        If it were true, that old legend about appearing before a supreme judge an naming one's record, I would offer, with all my pride, not any act I committed, but one thing I have never done on this earth: that I never sought an outside sanction. I would stand and say; I am Gail Wynand, the man who has committed every crime except the foremost one: that of ascribing futility to the wonderful fact of existence and seeking justification beyond myself. This is my pride, that now, thinking of the end, I do not cry like all the men of my age: but what was the use and the meaning? I was the use and meaning, I, Gail Wynand. That I lived and that I acted.Quote:        The egoist in the absolute sense is not the man who sacrifices others. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner. He does not function through them. He is not concerned with them in any primary matter. Not in his aim, not in his motive, not in his thinking, not in his desires, not in the source of his energy. He does not exist for any other man - and he asks no other man to exist for him. This is the only form of brotherhood and mutual respect possible between men.
        Degrees of ability vary, but the basic principle remains the same: the degree of a man's independence, initiative and personal love for his work determines his talent as a worker and his worth as a man. Independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value. What a man is and makes of himself; not what he has or hasn't done for others. There is no substitute for personal dignity. There is no standard of personal dignity except independence.
        In all proper relationships there is no sacrifice of anyone to anyone. An architect needs clients, but he does not subordinate his work to their wishes. They need him, but they do not order a house just to give him a commission. Men exchange their work by free, mutual consent to mutual advantage when their personal interests agree and they both desire the exchange. If they do not desire it, they are not forced to deal with each other. They seek further. This is the only possible form of relationship between equals. Anything else is a relation of slave to master, or victim to executioner.

From Atlas Shrugged:Quote:Somewhere, he thought, there was this boy's mother, who had trembled with protective concern over his groping steps, while teaching him to walk, who had measured his baby formulas with a jeweler's caution, who had obeyed with a zealot's fervor the latest words of science on his diet and hygiene, protecting his unhardened body from germs - then had sent him to be turned into a tortured neurotic by the men who taught him that he had no mind and must never attempt to think. Had she fed him tainted refuse, he thought, had she mixed poison into his food, it would have been more kind and less fatal.
        He thought of all the living species that train their young in the art of survival, the cats who teach their kittens to hunt, the birds who spend such strident effort on teaching their fledglings to fly - yet man, whose tool of survival is the mind, does not merely fail to teach a child to think, but devotes the child's education to the purpose of destroying his brain, of convincing him that thought is futile and evil, before he has started to think.Quote:Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man's values, it has to be earned - that of any achievement open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of our own character - that your character, your actions, your desires, your emotions are the products of the premises held by your mind - that a man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining - that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul - that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has no automatic values, has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man, the rational being he is born able to create, but must create by choice - that the first precondition of self-esteem is that radiant selfishness of soul which desires the best in all things, in values of matter and spirit, a soul that seeks above all else to achieve its own moral perfection, valuing nothing higher than itself - and that the proof of an achieved self-esteem is your soul's shudder of contempt and rebellion against the role of a sacrificial animal, against the vile impertinence of any creed that proposes to immolate the irreplaceable value which is your consciousness and the incomparable glory which is your existence to the blind evasions and the stagnant decay of others.

Oh, you have no idea how difficult it is for me to stop now!! I have many more quotes. Some pages long. But it would be too much of a spoiler. And sometimes they are the culmination of chapters, and aren't as clearly understood without seeing where they came from. Highdrake's mastery of spells and sorcery was not much greater than his pupil's, but he had clear in his mind the idea of something very much greater, the wholeness of knowledge. And that made him a mage.<i></i>

Author:  taraswizard [ Mon May 21, 2007 5:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Fictional exemplars of Randian ideals

Fictional exemplars of Randian ideals: John Galt, Howard Roark, Tony Soprano.

Author:  MsMary [ Tue Jun 19, 2007 1:04 am ]
Post subject: 

I was a big fan of Ayn Rand's writing when I was in middle/high school. I became aware of her philosophy of life, Objectivism only later, and definitely don't agree with it. Specifically, I find this statement a very selfish and self-centered philosophy of life: "The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."

It would be interesting to read the books, knowing what I know about her now, to see how I would react to them the second time around.

Author:  Highdrake [ Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:28 am ]
Post subject: 

The problem with that quote is that it cannot stand alone. It was her character's realization that others, individuals as well as society as a whole, were trying to force him to sacrifice himself. Not his life, but everything else. They thought he should be required to give his mind, energy, and the fruits of his labor to them, so they could sit around and do nothing. A society of cannibals says their right to eat, and to eat human flesh if that's what they prefer to eat, outweighs my right to live. Rand's character saw that he was being forced into the role of a human sacrifice - in all ways but actual death.

The quote means that we should all be allowed to fully and freely realize our own minds, creativity, potential, etc., and that we should take extreme joy in doing so.

Author:  MsMary [ Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:58 pm ]
Post subject: 

After having read many of her books and read much about her philosophy, I am sorry to say I don't really understand it in the same way that you do.

Author:  Highdrake [ Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:26 pm ]
Post subject: 

I can only recommend reading Rearden's trial again. I can't imagine a better way of stating her principles. Hell, she could have ended the book there, 600 pages shorter. :lol:

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