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Rand, Ayn Rand February 13, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in America, ideas, KREC.

On Ayn Rand.

The final soap-opera–worthy flourish to their marriage came when Rand created a love triangle that closely resembled those in her own fiction. In 1955, Rand, then in her forties, insisted that she take Nathaniel Branden, twenty-five years her junior, as her lover. She expected both O’Connor and Branden’s wife, Barbara, to realize that it was the only “rational” outcome to their relationship. (According to Barbara, Rand’s exact words were: “Whatever the two of you may be feeling, I know your intelligence, I know you recognize the rationality of what we feel for each other and that you hold no value higher than reason.”) Thus ensued a hellish fourteen-year period, which ended when Nathaniel, after a brief break from Rand, decided that despite his intellectual respect for his mentor, then sixty-one, his sexual needs were better met by a young model named Patrecia.

I remember reading Ayn Rand about 7 years ago – on a recommendation that the book would change one’s life. I also remember being impressed, more so with the power of her writing than her ideas. With respect to ideas however, I felt there was so much hyperbole – lot of heat, very less light. Something about her extremist views I found and still find putting off. Dogma somewhere. Some of those around me who read her works appeared to have absorbed it and even attempted to live it, some others made pretensions to the same effect. It was somehow the cool thing at college. Like Pink Floyd. For many this was reputation by association.

I share my classical liberal ( libertarian if you will) views with her and overall appreciation of rational thought as well. Yet my consistent attitude towards her for the last 7 years has been almost that of repulsion. A lot is mentioned about the inherent contradictions in her work. To me though, its the contradictions and inconsistencies ( that I see ) in people who attempt to live the objectivist philosophy that is perhaps more bothersome. I may ofcourse be wrong. ( which also means that I might be right ).

Ofcourse, hearing so much her personal life has not helped either. But I do believe that in most cases, an artist/writer be judged by their work rather than their conduct in other spheres of life. So I try (somewhat unsuccessfully) not to hold that against her. Either way, inspite of having come across her books in bookshops, libraries and pavements in the many years since, the thought of picking one up and turning a page or two has never occured to me. I would still however recommend it – at least so you know that there is another way of looking at society – and your (non)obligation to it.



1. rand0mwalker - February 22, 2007

Hey Sharat, Nice blog!

I have been reading it for quite some time now, but only today I realized that you are from KREC (my alma mater too), you love-hate Ayn Rand ( same here being a KRECian) and you are from the konkani community (so am I 🙂 )

Keep up the good blog 🙂

2. sharath - February 22, 2007

good to know…which batch are you from and where are you these days….

3. rand0mwalker - February 22, 2007

I am a recent comsci graduate from the batch of 2006. At present I am at the institute since we are having our convocation on 24th feb.

These days I am a linux kernel engineer at Bangalore.

4. raosharath - February 22, 2007

Wow…m talking to a total CS geek !!

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