There is of course an unlimited list of things I will never understand, me being finite and the universe being effectively infinite (not to mention God and all that). High upon that list, just under why people, under no threat of torture or death, voluntarily watch Dukes of Hazard, Charlie’s Angels and ‘reality’ TV, is the appeal of Ayn Rand. Specifically, I don’t understand why anyone would read more than about half of either of her novels.
To hear her fan boys and fan girls talk reminds me of the first time I ever made a snowball. After growing up in Los Angeles, where we wisely keep our snow up on the mountaintops where we can admire it from afar as we work on our January tans, I ran into my first snowfall up close and personal a couple months into my first semester of college up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. About a 16th of an inch if snow had fallen, and I just had to scape about a quarter acre of landscaping to come up with a workable snowball, which I threw at a friend – a friend from Colorado.
He looked at me with a mixture of bemused disgust, as I had just cemented in his brain every goofball stereotype of the stupid Californian. By the third day, any enthusiasm I harbored for wintery outdoor activities had died, and I settled into waiting for Spring. I had learned what every Midwesterner and Northerner knows in his heart: snow sucks.
Basically, if you’ve never read a book with ideas in it, never thought a thought deeper than to wonder if anything good is on TV, never had occasion to exercise the thinking part of your brain at all – then, well, I suppose Rand could be kind of bracing, at least for a short while.
But if you’ve read anything good, you’d immediately recognize Rand as a writer of pot-boiler dreck. If you’d ever actively entertained any of the real thoughts out there in the world, like the stuff in Plato or the Bible (read to understand, not for proof texts) or Chesterton or Tolkien, then Rand’s ‘ideas’ would be instantly recognized as utterly sophomoric posing. Or, finally, if you’d ever loved a child or someone old and ‘useless’, then you see Rand as pure evil.
Make your snowball, throw it at somebody you love, and get over it.