Pop Culture Experiment #1: Wherein I weaken to Ayn's inexplicable charms

A little about me: I read books like I watch television. Lots of flipping between channels/books, much to the apparent annoyance of any female in the room. I typically have about 4-7 books on the go at one time, which means it takes me a long time to finish any one volume but tend to finish a whole bunch at once. This is all by way of an awkward mea culpa. Since my last update on the Ayn Rand investigation, I have only managed another 80 pages. Look, it's not my fault. Rysard Kapuscinski's The Emperor is too damn good. And Rand's turgid prose is slow going at the best of times.

Nevertheless, there have been some interesting developments. But first, the rankings:

  • Rage at the depredations of strangers: 5/10 (this week has been characterized by a forest of hairy eyeballs)
  • Rage at taxes: 1/10 (pending the outcome of the City Council garbage strike vote, anyways)
  • Consideration for others (where the lower the number, the greater the consideration): 4/10
  • Extent to which romantic relationship has become a titanic struggle: 1/10
  • Sense that I am being dragged down by mediocre society: 7/10
  • Desire to build tall buildings: 4/10 (I now kind of want to build a house like Austen Heller's.)

General Comments:

I've got to hand it to that crafty little minx. She's wearing me down, either by appealing to my intellect or my ego. I suspect it is the latter. Somewhere in the murky depths of our subconcious, we all believe we are a little exceptional. We all yearn to do something pure and brilliant. Rand fairly screams at you, "yes, you are brilliant. Now go out there and build something without compromise. And if you don't, you're a moral failure." Lucky for Rand, my ego is vast and wildly vulnerable to this kind of message.

My experience with The Fountainhead has been improved by the addition of actual events to the narrative. Roark built a house! Keating met Dominique! The pawns are in play! Of course, everyone still spends an inordinate amount of time talking about things that are happening or have just happened. But as long as one important thing goes down per chapter, I'm along for the ride.

I would very much like to read the phonebook for 1920's New York to see if Rand's crazy character names have any basis in fact. Howard Roark, Guy Francon, Alvah Scarlett, Ellsworth M. Toohey...it's a veritable orgy of fantastical syllables and wondrous, sonorous vowel/consonant combinations. I've actually taken to jotting little character notes in the margins, as the sheer bulk of crazy-named people popping in and out of the story makes it difficult to keep track or everyone.

Oh, and by any clinical standard, Howard Roark and Dominique Francon are sociopaths. Just saying.

Onward into the viscous stew!

Heh. Roark.