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A Discussion on Ayn Rand

Posted on 01-31-2013 by Elise Joan

Anyone who knows me, understands that i am a voracious reader, and i enjoy all kinds of literature from fiction, to histories to self - help.  Yesterday, as i often do, i posted a quote on my facebook page, which seemed to invoke a lot of interesting discussion.  i thought i would post the chain here on my blog to share.  the names have been changed to protect the innocent (whooooo posted on a public internet chain 🙂 SO...  off we go! please feel free to add your comments!

“Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing."-The Fountainhead. (still working on this one. it seems... expectations lead so often to disappointments. working toward non-attachment.)

  • Roger  No, this is Ayn Rand defining terms to get you to hate any kind of socialism.
  • Elise Joan Or maybe she speaks of Love. The same theme runs in Don Miguel Ruiz' "the mastery of love"
    Roger  I think it can apply very well to Love, and I think you should consider it in those terms because it's probably more instructive that way. But her intent is to tear socialism to pieces, not to talk about love. That book is beautifully written and is worth reading for that reason, but the whole point of her writing it was her absolute hatred of socialism.
  • Eli  · You can make the words mean what you will (the power of an aware reader), but to understand that Rand wrote from a place of anger at society is meaningful. Living life without expectation is an incredible feat, to live without attachment might mean losing compassion which is a terrible waste of time
  • Elise Joan Agreed. Which is why i haven't quite mastered non-attachment, as it is the ONE yoga sutra I find incomprehensible. As someone who lives almost entirely based on emotion/connection (often at the expense of sense & reason) and operated from a place of deep compassion, I often feel hurt or saddened when that compassion is not shared. So i often wonder if it might be more painless to give love without hoping for it's return. An aware reader would also realize that rand was expressing her ardent philosophy, and as most philosophers do, does so in absolutes & extremes, so as to convey her point. i think of her writing less as angry, and more as a vigilant fight to encourage ALL people to rise above the temptation of mediocrity & be their very best.... Thereby propelling society to it's pinnacle. I also find it interesting that rand, Ruiz, and the yoga sutras ALL encourage this non-attachment as part of the road to happiness.
    Noel  I know things are different for everyone, but for my relationship/psyche it seems to work well to have a LOT of expectations... tempered by a lot of affection, communication, mutual support and the constant desire and effort to provide what I expect to the ones I love. Maybe I'll never be a Yogi, though.
  • Ben you can use it as a tool to cut the heavy emotions, and then the lighter more joyful emotions percolate up
  • Adrian Freedom = Responsibility
  • Jaime one of my two fav books! atlas of course it the first.
  • Jaime Try Marianne williamsons A RETURN TO LOVE and ILLUSIONS by RIchard Bach
  • Christine  Agree that Elise, who is all about love & joy makes more sense than Ayn, who wants us to hate lots of things! My friend says "love everyone exactly as they are!" and another says "Take what you want and leave the rest". The sweet spot is challenging to find but it lies in being your best and with others-letting to of what doesn't work and holding only what does....and being honest with yourself about who or what you find yourself dealing with. It's never all or nothing, gotta see good & not-working both in one package. With that said, it's easier said than done sometimes not to take it personally or as some kind of failure! I'm learning this one too, with lots of screw ups along the way..
    Adrian  Not sure how my high-school classmate, Elise knows my college classmate Christine. ... also not sure what Ayn wants any of us to hate.
  • Chris I'd like to know more about how they define non-attachment. Being disconnected emotionally all the time isn't healthy, but temporary detachment can help us gain perspective. I think that is one of the points of meditation and yoga. I think freedom when defined in terms of love and relationships means we should try to avoid the need to possess, control, own, etc. These lead to jealousy, envy, and other destructive feelings.
  • Christine Adrian...what!!! You're everywhere! Ayn wanted me to hate everything from politics to architecture to anyone without 17 post graduates degrees from what I remember in several books..
  • Adrian hahaha... politics sure.... more specifically government... not sure about architecture. I imagine she was hard to get along with on a personal level. I personally find her books hard to read, but i just don't enjoy fiction.
  • Chris  Ayn took very extreme positions in support of free market capitalism. I'm a strong believer in the benefits of free market capitalism but believe we still need some amount of regulation. Still, her books are thought provoking and much can be learned from her ideas. Taking Atlas Shrugged as an example, I thought it was a very articulate argument for capitalism. But being a novel it didn't reflect her most extreme positions. If you've ever watched any of her old TV interviews, that's where you see the extreme nature of her thinking. The idea of charity doesn't exist in her utopia. It's survival of the fittest, end of story.
  • Elise Joan love all the feedback. Rand is no doubt polarizing. Roger  i fully understand rand's purpose, & people's reaction to finding so much anger & hate in her work, but i have found the opposite. any great literary work can be appreciated on multiple levels. and when filtered through different minds & hearts, can be interpreted from one end of the spectrum to another. to give a broad example, there are thousands of people in this country alone (who vote, by the way) who read into the bible an excuse to hate. to condemn. to punish themselves & others. they read the bible, which to me is a book of love and acceptance, (and possibly the ultimate argument for socialism) from a place of fear and self-righteousness, and then manipulate the words to match their fear & hate. with Rand, i read it from a different perspective..... i filter it through my own experiences and feelings, and am able to see the value. i disagree with more of her philosophy than i agree with, but i find great value & assurance in the emphasis she puts on true genius & innovation. and THAT is what i glean from her writing. my tatto is a self-designed representation of the Reardon metal bridge. because to ME.... it symbolized one person's innovation & invaluable contribution to furthering society for the good of ALL people. it symbolizes believing that anything is possible, and faith in oneself & one's talents is paramount. the bridge (to ME) also symbolizes true love, and one woman's ability to fall in love with a strong soul and put her life in the hands of the man she loves & trusts. now i digress...... but these themes of strength & love & rising above what a mediocre society says is "possible" are also present & prevelant in her books...   so to categorize a book as broad & deep as Atlas Shrugged or the Fountainhead as nothing more than a treatise on capitolism & greed seems narrow-minded to me.
    Adrian  Elise, next time leave off any reference to "Ayn Rand" on your post!
    I think the quote describing freedom you posted, refers to relationships, in that when most people ask, depend, and expect things from their others, it leads to a reflected sense of self... ie "Does my partner find me attractive?", "Does My partner think I'm right?", "Does my partner believe I can do this?".
    Freedom lets you have your own sense of self, that asks "Do I find myself attractive", "Do I think I am right?", "Do I believe I can accomplish this?".... If the answer is yes, then what other people think doesn't matter so much - as if you should spend your time trying to change others! As we know people can deal with other's differing points of view.
  • Roger  I hope, Elise, that you don't think I was reducing the book to just a treatise. I love Rand's writing, just not her politics. I was just stating a fact about her reasons for writing the book as she said herself. And her hatred of socialism is well-documented.
  • Elise Joan   @Adrian  exactly!!!! and to Chris' point.... of COURSE i don't think anything i mentioned implies that we should walk around emotionless. the distinction, is that we should walk around taking responsibility for our own emotions & cultivating happiness & tranquility from WITHIN, rather than looking for the affections, acceptance, or validation from outside ourselves. and exactly as you say chris.... we are taught that we cannot wish to control or possess others, but how can there be monogamy without responsibility to your partner? and when you are responsible, as Noel  says, should there not be expectations? no more or less than exactly what you yourself are willing to give to your partner? isn't there a very very fine line between a symbiotic relationship of mutual love & respect and a co-dependant one? one former being the ideal, and the latter being damaging & detrimental? these are the challenges of finding & cultivating a well-balanced relationship. and since Noel (my sister) has managed to find that relationship for almost 11 years of a great marriage, i may trust her instinct (which parallels mine) that expectation IS a requirement of a great relationship. in her case, having chosen the right Man, expectation leads to success & stability. in my case... constantly choosing the wrong "Men", (until now, when i change that pattern) it leads to disappointment. so..... ya know. food for thought
  • Noel BUT...it's still hard as Hell to foster a healthy relationship. And don't get me wrong things get rough with every couple. You are on the right path!!! Keep exploring and changing and discovering!!! The world travel will help!
  • Noel Ps. You guys are all super smart and much more educated than I am!
    Elise Joan @Roger haha yes. i know alllllllllll about her hatred of socialism. and i value her work, while disagreeing with her politics. but i do think, that just as capitolism in it's extreme is dangerous, socialism in it's extreme is also detrimental. rand saw a world that was moving in that direction, and lived in a time where she saw real danger down that path & retaliated (a bit too violently) against it. i just chose to read her work & glean inspiration for the divinity & brilliant capability of mankind.
    Jason Before learning about non-attachment I was in a state of chronic disappointment because of so many unmet expectations, but now I'm growing in freedom from slowly letting things go. Each life expectation that I have released has opened up so much space and energy for the things I really care about, and I'm able to commit more of myself at higher and higher levels of excellence.
  • Elise Joan  @Jason: exactly.
  • Michael Interesting. Having read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged I have much the same reaction as Elise. The books are more about personal integrity to me. It is an accurate portrayal of what it is like to resist group-think. Rand's style at times (especially during "the speeches") is often pedantic and chunky. She writes with characters as purely good or purely evil like in Greek Myths. So that view of human nature alone is antithetical to our relativistic society today. And while her disdain for socialism is understanble since she witnessed Russia go uneasy from feudalism to communism, I don't think she would have problem with a Mother Theresa whose life was given to charity. It is because charity should be freely given, not required. So I have never found validity in the Rand=Hate syllogism that may claim.
  • Elise Joan  @Michael- exactly. I think Ayn Rand would highly approve of Mother Theresa... Because she found her true purpose & her highest self & contributed unabashedly to humanity. (Also because of her angular, sharp features which were not soft, rounded or ambiguous thereby suggesting useless lethargy)
  • Michael  @Elise Joan LIKE - the Randistic description.
    Elise Joan So there we have it! a discussion on the themes, socialism, love, triumph, strength, literature, and faith all in one social media chain.  perhaps, this will inspire you to pick up one of Ayn Rand's books & decide for yourself.
    with Love,

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