On 19th February, it was the turn of The Bookworm (Church Street, Bangalore) to host us for a discussion on the philosophy of the Objectivism exponent – Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand, who has written a few of the most widely known books of all times including The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged has been a subject of great interest among readers of all ages and nations. We were aware by the virtue of our own readings and our discussions with fellow readers and friends that Ayn Rand’s usage of literary devices to drive her beliefs about man, society, and economy into the reader’s realms of imagination is intoxicating.
There have been readers, many of them who have tried to model their lives on the lines of Howards Roark or John Galt, sometimes successfully for a few days and months, sometimes for a lifetime. However, there is another section of people who having been smitten by the stories that she wrote couldn’t relate to the person that was Ayn Rand after reading her non-fiction works. The books that appear completely harmless and great works of fiction turn into Bible of Capitalism once a reader explores more extensively and tries to understand Ayn Rand and her ideology.
This kind of dichotomy makes for the perfect soup for an enriching discussion. The event was titled – ‘Ayn Rand and her manifesto’ and there were participants who could talk of Ayn Rand like the crickets sing about rains and there were participants who came to propel themselves into the Randian space. There were also people who had just started to taste the flavors of an Objectivist world.
With a round of introduction to the concept of Yard of the Bards followed by personal introduction of the participants seated in a circle, the session started with ‘what books people had read and their reflections on her body of work’. The discussion warmed up fast with almost all the participants pitching in succession with their analyses of the writer and the thinker. A few prominent questions that drove the discussion were –
“Is the character of Howard Roark really selfish? What is Ayn Rand’s definition of selfishness?”
“Does an artist or a creator possess the right to destroy his own creation, even when the creation is being used by millions?”
“Do we see a touch of hypocrisy in Ayn Rand’s own life vis-à-vis her characters?”
“Does Ayn Rand inject all the best possible qualities to her protagonists who toe the line of her ideology and deliberately picks bad examples for socialism and communism?”
“What makes Ayn Rand so readable and her character development so intense and absorbing?”
“Is Ayn Rand still relevant?”
Participants came up with their interpretations of the questions and the discussion encompassed the Indian situation, the American situation in today’s world and how Randian philosophy performs against these backdrops. The discussion remained healthy and harmonious throughout the session even though there were disagreements on almost every point and aspect raised.
BookStalkist’s Opinion – One might argue that an absolute Randian world cannot exist or should not exist but it’s difficult to disagree with the view that that any world that is being created or would be created in future must include a few chapters from the Ayn Rand universe. A perfect society would need Randian protagonists and would need them aplenty.
Important Note – You’re invited to our next event ‘George Orwell & the language of politics’ that is happening at Freedom Park at 5 p.m. on April 2, 2017. Please visit the event page on Facebook for more details.