Pop Culture Experiment #1: Three days with the Randster

Well, I am now three days and 70 pages into my crucial experiment to determine whether reading Ayn Rand makes you a big, big jerk. Here's how I'm doing at the 1/10 waypoint (for a complete explanation of the measurement criteria, click the link above):

  • Rage at the depredations of strangers: 2/10 (the only thing I'm mad about this morning is the wasp that flew into my neck and stung me in the throat. But that is not effectively captured by any of my metrics)
  • Rage at taxes: 1/10
  • Consideration for others (where the lower the number, the great the consideration): 4/10
  • Extent to which romantic relationship has become a titanic struggle: 2/10
  • Sense that I am being dragged down by mediocre society: 5/10 (although to be fair, I usually feel like this)
  • Desire to build tall buildings: 5/10 (Rand is spectacularly effective at making architects seem like gods. I tried to make a thrilling spire of light and steel out of mashed potatoes on Wednesday, which ended in predictable failure. But I refuse to accept blame; the potatoes are WEAK.)

Overall, I would say that 72 hours of moderate Ayn Rand exposure has note made me any more of a jerk. However, I do have the following general comments:

  • No author - ever, anywhere - should be allowed to write a forward to their own work. And if that author is Ayn Rand, then martial law should be imposed to prevent it. You can only read so many lines like "Certain writers, of whom I am one, think or write on the range of the moment" without wanting to stab yourself in the eye.
  • Ayn Rand needs an editor. It's not that she's a bad writer, she's just a startlingly inefficient one. I'm quite sure we could get The Fountainhead down to 400 pages with no appreciable loss in narrative. On the other hand, I would pity any editor given this task. Given Rand's views on the immutability of art and the human spirit, she'd probably messily eviscerate anyone who dare suggest her work be cut. Imagine this shrieking harpy coming at you, angular features twisted in a howl of rage, crazy eyes looking, well, crazy, and armed with the sharpened femur of the last editor who has the temerity to remove one of her precious adjectives:


Terrifying. This picture alone goes a long way to explaining The Fountainhead's hefty page count.

  • People spend a lot of time talking about things in this novel. The only event of significance so far - Roark's expulsion from the architecture school - happened before the novel even started, and everyone seems to want to just talk about it. A lot. For pages on end.
  • Hee hee.  Roark.

So there you go. Tune in next Friday for the second update on this important - nay, essential - experiment.