Saturday, March 19, 2016

Being A Bit Like Martin Shkreli Is Good?

OK, I wasn't going to get into this but there has been flack thrown my way over it and I went back and read Duncan Black's tiny little post about how reading Ayn Rand and learning the virtues of selfishness were good for him.  Here it is, verbatim:

Confessions Of A Young Ayn Rand Fan

I admit that I was. I'll also admit that I think reading Ayn Rand was good for me! I don't think Ayn Rand novels are generally a force for good in the world. Reading her novels did not make me more conservative. They did not make me more libertarian. But I did grow up in an environment (not my parents, other social factors) in which being selfless was a bit too much hailed as an unambiguous good, and selfishness was derided. Atlas Shrugged is an 1100 page piece of crap, but The Fountainhead isn't the worst thing in the world.

Rand didn't make me a conservative, but at that moment in my life she did teach me that having my own wants and needs didn't make me evil. I'm not saying that was her entire message, just that it was the message I heard.

You have to wonder just what the difference between what the young Duncan Black heard from his reading of Ayn Rand's glorification of the self and elevation of selfishness into a virtue was and what your typical greed-ball right-winger-corporate pirate heard on reading  The Foutainhead.  And just how far in that direction the once-renowned lefty blogger would go.

The message that is, actually, in Rand's thinking is absolutely destructive of the American style of liberalism which is, in fact, the only secure basis of egalitarian democracy.  Equality means that you do, actually, have to sacrifice your own wants and even, at times,  your needs on behalf of other people.  The extent to which someone holds back from doing that is the extent to which they are NOT liberals.

I am first impressed at how he left out what most young readers really got out of it, the rape scene, the rape of the sappy Dominique by the comic book rapist-hero-hero-thug,  Howard Roark.   I would imagine the young, straight  Duncan didn't read Susan Brownmiller's  study of rape in reality and in pop culture,  Against Our Will.  If I thought it wasn't too late I'd suggest it.   The utter perversion of Rand's thinking is probably best considered in terms of sex because without the sexual content of her writing, no one would ever open one of her books.   I would imagine that's what really attracts young men in such numbers to read her and absorb the adolescent pleasing messages that their young egomania and greed isn't something to outgrow but to celebrate and that it will make girls susceptible to their Superman manliness, no matter how much they might tell them that they don't want it, it's what they really want.  I wish it was possible to know the percentage of straight-white men, middle-class and above "get something" out or reading Rand as opposed to members of other groups.  Off hand, I'd have to say that's the identity of just about everyone I've ever heard saying anything good about her crap.

Frankly, the message is no different from any other degenerate literature, selfishness, self-indulgence, etc.   Howard Roark's heroic quest - the quest of Rand's heroes - is one big tantrum over insisting on having everything MY way.  That's something most of us are persuaded to start outgrowing at the age of 4 and, if we're lucky, the task is well underway by the time we reach the age of majority so that we can achieve the adulthood the law assigns to us out of practical necessity.   I would be mildly curious to know how many of the hard-core Randians are only children, raised in families where the parents didn't have to introduce the necessity of not getting your own way all the time at an early age.

One thing I know is that anyone allegedly on the left who could have been anything but revolted by Rand's objectivist cult, her ridiculous and perverse writing is probably not going to keep up the pose of being anything like a liberal for long.   It will most likely be a pose that is abandoned as they find that it doesn't get them what they really want.  I should probably thank Duncan Black because his blog has taught me so much about what's wrong with the left and why that pseudo-left, that play-left is, in fact, what has always been wrong, why liberals, whose ideas should be considered the very basis of egalitarian democracy have so often failed to convince people to vote for liberals.  It's not all on the character flaws in our opponents, it's also those same character flaws held by us.

And there is the Martin Shrkeli style harassment of those who used to be regulars that emanates from his current regulars.   If that wasn't something that has happened to me, personally, almost every day for going on the past six years, I probably wouldn't pay him or his dime-store version of a cult any attention whatsoever.  Far as I know Duncan doesn't do that, himself, but he knows about it and he hasn't done anything to distance himself from those who use his blog as a base for doing that.


The motive for Duncan making what, for him, is a major effort in his otiose middle age,  was the news that a comic book movie director, Zack Snyder, has been working on some movie treatment of The Fountainhead.   I don't follow the ass-end of Hollywood crap or much of else issuing from that crap factory town so I don't know how accurate this is.  But if the derivative nature of Snyder's production is as stated, the irony of his working on a book allegedly celebrating the virtue of the unsullied artistic achievement of the pure vision of one super-mind couldn't possibly be greater.

Zack Snyder’s announcement on Thursday that he has “been working on [Ayn Rand’s] ‘The Fountainhead,'” because he’s always “felt like ‘The Fountainhead’ was such a thesis on the creative process and what it is to create something” only surprised those who haven’t been paying attention to Snyder’s particular brand of formally derivative, philosophically empty film-making, in which rich comic-book tapestries are ripped from their panels and transformed into pointless spectacles of sex and violence.

His only successful comic book adaptation was of Frank Miller’s “300,” and its success was entirely predicated on the fact that it contained the same amount of ideological complexity as the average Trump supporter. Post-9/11 Frank Miller is the best object-lesson this side of Dennis Miller about how freaking-the-fuck-out isn’t an appropriate reaction to a national tragedy, so when Snyder teamed up with Frank to make a film about the inherent evils of the inhuman once-and-future Iranians, alarm bells should have sounded.

"Formally derivative, philosophically empty film-making,"  I would estimate that in virtually 98% of film making that phrase would be tautological, all film making derived from literature and, in this case, what passes as the such is derivative and philosophically empty.  Producers, directors and writers who adapt material are all doing what Ayn Rand raged against like the mini-Hitler she was.

I will grant that the phrase "philosophically empty" would make someone of Snyder's description about as appropriate a person to be treating this material a you could imagine.   I would guess he's aware that it's been done before, the 1949 movie with Rand serving as her own screen play writer. Though I wouldn't bet on anyone in Hollywood being aware of the past to that extent. And in which the 46 year-old Gary Cooper is matched with a 21-year-old Patricia Neal.   Hollywood is largely about servicing the sexual fantasies of the male geezers who produce and direct the movies. Anyone who thinks Hollywood is about reality and that it can serve progress is living in a fantasy land.

Considering what Rand was all about and what Hollywood is all about, it's not surprising that her crap gets made into movies.  It only works in a perverted world of make-believe, it doesn't work in real life.  It can't be anything but destructive of liberalism and of liberal politics.  Anyone who doesn't get that has no business peddling himself as being anywhere near the left. 

1 comment:

  1. There's plenty in the world, with our without Ayn Rand, to teach you to be selfish.

    Selflessness is stronger and tougher than it's usually given credit for. Which is the insidious nature of the world's lessons on selfishness. Any deviation from the norm is weakness; any movement in the direction away from selfishness is dangerous and self-defeating (literally!) and not to be countenanced. But any move back toward selfishness is good because after all, you aren't THAT selfish now, are you?

    The only lesson to be learned from Ayn Rand's novels (or the movies made about them) is that you can lose precious time in your life which can never be regained.

    I'm watching people come to the end of very long lives and finding that selflessness wins friends and confuses enemies, while selfishness leaves you even more alone at the end. Truly you can't take it with you, but friendships are worth more in your final years than accumulations and ambitions and the "virtues" of thinking of yourself, even if that means you did it "just enough" by the world's standards. The most selfless people I've known are the ones who are never alone in this world.