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Randed for life
Business Standard, India Thursday, June 03, 2010


My favorite Ayn Rand stories are how she named herself, and how she presented her philosophy standing on one foot. Ayn Rand believers find it hard to realize that some people outgrew it, and Ayn rand sceptics find it hard to accept how so many are swayed.once you’ve been Ayn Randed, the scar is permanent, writes Nilanjana S Roy in Business Standard.

Review of "Any Rand and the world she made" by Anne C Heller

Here is my second-favourite Ayn Rand story. Challenged by a journalist to present her philosophy while standing on one foot, the philosopher, novelist and all-round provocateur stuck her foot in the air and stated her creed: “Metaphysics: Objective Reality. Epistemology: Reason. Ethics: Self-interest. Politics: Capitalism.”

The longer version of these principles is also well-known, and forms, to this day, a Canticle of Rand for true believers: “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” “Man is an end in himself.” “Give me liberty or give me death.”

...

It is impossible to explain to Ayn Rand believers why some readers outgrow The Fountainhead and why Atlas Shrugged and Anthem are not taught in universities; it is impossible to explain to Ayn Rand sceptics why millions of readers never outgrow the lure of Rand’s philosophy. G B Shaw at once skewered and (faintly) praised another seductive ideology in his famous aphorism: “A man who is not a communist at the age of twenty is a fool. A man who is still a communist at the age of thirty is an even bigger one.”

...

Heller’s objectivity about Objectivism did not go down well with the Ayn Rand Institute; she was denied access to Rand’s unpublished diaries, letters and other documents. She did have access, though, to 40 hours of taped biographical interviews with Barbara Branden in the early 1960’s, Russian archives and privately recorded interviews with Rand’s friends. What she produces is an impartial and often acute account of Rand’s extraordinarily forceful life.

...

It’s hard to explain what constitutes charisma, so much more powerful and inescapable than beauty, intellect or charm, but what Ayn Rand possessed and honed was in the nature of an undeniable, inscrutable inner force. She was a heavy Benzedrine user, and displayed some of the characteristics of the addict, from a restless, relentless mind to paranoia. In later years, she had an affair with Nathaniel Branden, a much younger acolyte who would become a kind of founder of the American self-help movement. It is characteristic of Rand that it was not enough to have the affair — she had to gain the consent of her husband and Branden’s wife, and when Branden fell in love, years later, with another, younger woman, Rand would deal with it by endless rounds of “therapies” with him before a final, irrevocable break.

...

None of this explains the continued force of Rand’s ideas, or the continued power of The Fountainhead and Atlas ShruggedM, in particular, to sway the minds and hearts of readers. Heller’s biography will make Rand sceptics and the faithful uncomfortable in equal measure — but like its subject, this book is impossible to ignore. To steal a phrase from the Simon & Garfunkel song, once you’ve been Ayn Randed, the scar is permanent.

 

This article was published in the Business Standard on Thursday, June 03, 2010. Please read the original article here.
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Tags- Find more articles on - Anne C Heller | Ayn Rand | Ayn rand And The World She Made | Nathaniel Branden

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