Saturday, September 5, 2020


Interesting piece from TLS where the writer, while admitting that Ayn Rand was controversial for repugnant ideas, was actually a good prose stylist on occasion. The best aspect of this article is why Rand's philosophy is again gaining traction, but the defense of her as a writer is a weak sell. She was competent as a writer, as a communicator. Still, the idea that she was "good," as having a genuinely poetic and unforced capacity with language to express the world in explicit yet suggestive cadences, is ludicrous. Whether arguing that selfishness is a moral virtue, government programs for the poor are theft and unethical, that genuine creators have the right to their work above and beyond anyone else in the mass culture, and that said geniuses have absolute, final, and irrevocable rights that override democratic traditions and the general welfare, and that having such rights as geniuses they are allowed to rape as the mood comes to them to further fulfill and confirm their transcendence over the rest of the rotten, greedy, consumerist population,

Rand over rights to the degree that it always seems that every encounter in her fiction is power-plays among straw men and women in a world made of very little happiness, joy, or genuine sorrow. It's a tone-deaf argument to make. Even in the examples of her writing, he proves her occasional precision and elegance with the English word, her descriptions of character actions are overstated and awkward. It's the kind of writing that is the printed equal of someone talking too loud, just under the level of shouting, and too quickly, in a manic effort to outpace the sheer absurdity of her worldview and the bulldozing logic she uses to insist this narcissistic fantasy is a model for how the "real" world should function. I invite the reader to insert their three favorite writers, of any genre, in between these dashes as their own examples of scribes who can write about life in this existence in a way where imagination has made one think harder and clearer of their limited tenure on this planet.

The complaints of the literary elite, the taste-makers, the culture mongers in universities, and the media on Rand's qualities as a writer are absolutely on point: she is a mediocre thinker, a mean spirit as a philosopher, and a braying, uncorked didact as a writer. The argument is a nice try to defend something about Rand's status as a writer, but no sale. A reader of authors who have the skill and craft to speak of unaddressable matters in terms of the unforgettable would note in Rand's paragraphs a constant veering toward the cliche, the fast summation, the received idea culled from the backwater of stale ideas. Experience again the kind of overwriting that is little else than a manic attempt to get away from the cliched expression and the lifeless whims it contains and replace it with hammering rhetoric and unending clauses that come off as nothing less than someone intensely practicing a rant in a steamy bathroom mirror.

I might to a casual reader of this post that you remind yourself that you're in an adult in existence infinitely more complex, subtle, unpredictable, and maddeningly disobedient for not behaving the way any self-declared genius wants it to and find out for oneself how wretched a writer Rand indeed was. Her prose was as awful as her philosophy, a delusional habit of mind that supplied the tinny, thin and brittle intellectual justification that greed, avarice, and unconditional assholism are good things to be. Rand was a creep, a very horrible person.

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