We first met when my friend handed me the iconic book ‘The Fountainhead’. I wasn’t a literature person then; this friend was my only medium to peep into what I now call ‘Anatomy of thoughts’. Friends are people through whom you get a glimpse of the abandoned aspects of life. They introduce you to the world of a ‘Strick No No’. So, whether I talk about watching the late night semi pornographic videos on YouTube, humming ‘Sutta Song’ or reading the classic ‘Fountain Head’, I owe it all to her.
She completed all the 753 pages in 2 days in the pretext of reading textbooks and when she started drooling over the personality of Howard Roark (the protagonist), I knew, I had to read it in all possibilities. And yes, her drooling was infectious. I was bitten by the snake of individuality. I met the inner thoughts of Ayn Rand in my teen ages and it affected my way of thinking profoundly. I was immediately enamored by her writing.
Imagine a kid who is trying to find her right place in the world – whether she should be friendlier and laugh at jokes she doesn’t find funny or should hang out with cool people and be more fashion conscious. Maybe trying to understand why are people rude, weird, awesome, deceitful- and how to cope up with them.
And then, Bam! Rand comes in and tells you to show a finger to anyone who doesn’t like you the way you are. And why is this? Because, you are an individual and have the right to live in this world the way it makes you happy, without any expectations from others. There is no point hating and wasting energy on things outside of our control.
She described the nuances of architecture and I deciphered her lines confining areas as rules liberating life. I started valuing freedom of expression at the cost of being ostracized from society. I thought it was okay to disregard the materialistic world and following the simple rule of doing good work without expecting anything in return. The introvert in me received an extra backbone to lean on. I didn’t only shake hands with Rand’s philosophy; I let it enter my veins too.
Although with time & tide, my views of me kept changing – a subtle part of me still believes that it is not okay to be pretentious. But the rest is quite chaotic in mind – now, I seek acknowledgement, I indulge in worldly pleasures and most importantly, unlike Dominique (the female protagonist) I don’t want to keep something away from the world just because I think that the world would not understand the worth. And her philosophy related to smoking that makes it royal and elite has never excited me to handle fire with passion.
There are many different interpretations of her work. Her attitude about ‘Being Right’ rather than convincing is often a questionable take, examples like destroying an entire building because you don’t are not satisfied with the output, or the infamous sex (rape?) scene of The Fountainhead – Rand has her fair share of opponents.
Here is a need to understand that her stories are in extremes, each character representing a totalitarian view of an ideology. The characters are not supposed to be realistic – they are simplified and their personality traits are exaggerated. Her novels are not meant to be a series of events, but a mindful journey committed to the philosophy of life. Roark (or Galt) is her ideal man upholding the values of individualism while Keating is the anti-hero who has no sense of what he stands for as an individual, he is only concerned with what others think of him.We need to decide an ideology in our lives and try to live up to it.
Her ideas always created tremors in my mind, however realistic or not- one cannot estimate the degree of accuracy, but it is worth thinking over. People have opted for architecture and have decided to marry another Ayn Rand lover; just because they were influenced by her philosophy. In any case, Rand’s work provides for interesting discussion material and you can discover a lot about a person based on her philosophical views.
And same favorite books make for long lasting love!