Ayn Rand has always been a blank spot in my education.
Even the spell checker for this blog posting tool thinks that her first name should be Ann.
So I am not alone in my ignorance.
But I take full responsibility for my educational shortcomings. They are the result of not having been born to a family of the proper sort, to laziness and to abject stupidity.
So when sometime back I finally became aware of the name Ayn Rand, and coincident with that awareness, became aware of the awe that her name elicits in some circles, I decided that she was someone whom I should read.
But somehow Trollope, Hardy, Maugham and even Hemingway and Faulkner (ok only one Faulkner, and there were quite a few Asimovs and Heinleins) kept coming ahead of Ayn.
When I left for Paris recently that changed.
I read a lot at night when I wake and can’t immediately return to sleep. Calvados helps, but reading is the best use of that time, and ultimately the best soporific.
The amount of time I have planned to be in Paris dictated that I need quite a few pages to fill my inevitable waking hours.
Having heard endless references to the fact that the deep thinking Ayn Rand is the spiritual god mother to the current republican party – especially true with Paul Ryan – and having discovered that Atlas Shrugged in the version that has been languishing for years on the paperback bookcase across from the washing machine in our first floor multi-use area is over a thousand ten pitch, densely written, pages, I decided that the time had come to eliminate one more missing piece of my education.
Simply stated, there appeared to be a curious confluence between that chink in my educational armor and my requirement for a large content, low physical weight, book to carry on a plane.
So when I got here I started reading Atlas Shrugged.
Almost immediately I found myself immersed in a good tale well told. But I was surprised to find it lacking – at least for me – any deep sociological, political, economic or philosophical heft.
I quickly decided that this apparent lack was due to the already admitted frailty of my education. One can’t make up for that, it turns out, by trying to make up for that.
I just wasn’t “getting” it on the same level as the republicans.
But, the tale being engaging, I kept reading.
It had already became apparent – before my realization that I wasn’t “getting” it - that Rand had introduced, unheralded by the shouting machine that tells us all what to read - and before its time, a genre book.
“This thing” I said to myself as, early on, I saw the inevitable direction of the major plot points “is a bodice ripper.”
Having never read one of those, I was intrigued, and lurched forward with lechery.
The parallel realization – and one that to me as a writer of sorts was equally intriguing – was that, in tandem with the inevitable future heated encounters that she was obviously setting up for a couple of her main characters, she was setting up two types of characters, not just one.
Those two types can be given generic names.
There are long lines of straw men/straw women.
There are a precious few noble leaders all of whom have blue eyes and most of whom have angular faces and ash blond hair that tends to hang in wisps.
But there is more to this dialectic .
All of the straw folk – as a vast generic mass - have a purpose for Rand. They are to be incessantly flailed into vast clouds of polemic straw dust with her flail-like pen while she tells the tale of the noble few as they wage their nearly hopeless struggle against the hoards of straw, their blue eyes gleaming and their ash blond hair wisping.
(I guess I could say she also introduced the zombie genre, but I won’t.)
If nothing else, Rand is a a flailer of massive vigor.
But let’s move on to whatever point I seem to be trying to make.
Last night, in a late waking moment, the first payoff to forging ahead through all the failing and wisping has finally come.
“I was right” I chortled to myself.
It finally happened.
Dagny and Hank have finally copulated with intimately documented, heatedly, pantingly, breathlessly delivered high test prose.
As described it isn’t love.
It isn’t even lust.
It is rape.
On the face of it Hank is the rapist.
But, if you have bought into the character of Dagny, as I have, it may be her (she).
But who cares?
“Rape is rape” as I heard someone say recently.
At least now I know where the republicans got their doctrine of legitimate rape.