By Mark Frauenfelder at 6:13 pm Fri, Jun 10, 2011
[Video Link] "Ayn Rand asked her husband to wear a bell on his shoe so she'd know when he entered & left the house" (Via Maude Newton)
In a recent BoingBoing post about Roald Dahl being kind of a jerk http://www.boingboing.net/2011/06/07/roald-dahl-kind-of-a.html people seemed more sympathetic with the juxtaposition of crazy personality vs. his great works. I realize being an apologist for Rand is not popular here on BoingBoing where Rand-bashing is a good old past time, but just wanted to point out that supporting Rand’s philosophy while simultaneously realizing that she was a nut is not necessarily inconsistent or hypocritical. She did tons of crazy shit, like boiling all her dirty dishes for fear of infection, cutting off relationships for trivial reasons etc; Hey, Einstein was a misogynist and you still can’t go faster than the speed of light, whaddya gonna do? Also, you’ll find many philosophers were dicks if you listen to Monty Python’s philosopher’s drinking song :)
I realize being an apologist for Rand is not popular here on BoingBoing where Rand-bashing is a good old past time, but just wanted to point out that supporting Rand’s philosophy while simultaneously realizing that she was a nut is not necessarily inconsistent or hypocritical.
That is a fair point. For me, the thing that makes Rand’s personal life relevant to the quality of her work is that unlike Roald Dahl and Albert Einstein her writing was a direct means of promoting her personal philosophy of how people should treat each other in society. That’s why her characters’ dialogue reads less like human conversation than long-winded mission statements.
The implications of the theory of relativity have little to do with the person who first proposed it. Likewise, it’s hard to see how “Matilda” relates to Dahl’s antisemitism. But when you have a woman who spends her career proclaiming that society would be better off if everyone put their own needs before those of others, and you see the clear and direct result of how that played out in her own personal relationships, then it’s harder to separate the “crazy shit” from her life from the crazy shit in her books.
Yes, I understand your point. Promoting a personal philosophy and not living up to it is obviously different than Einstein discovering a physical feature about nature. But, you have to understand that Objectivism is an idealistic philosophy – no human being could actually be John Galt, he’s a superhero fantasy. Rand planted the flag of where we could go, but could not even live up to those ideals herself (nor her husband). I read Jennifer Burns’ book and the most interesting part was exactly that point – Rand conceived of this ideal rational world but was too human in the end to be able to follow through with it completely. Should this unworthyness stop a thinker from trying to imagine a better idealistic reality? You’ll have to read her works and come to a rational conclusion about their merits on your own.
What you’re calling ‘ideals’, other people refer to as ‘sociopathy’.
Based on your charged response I’m guessing you haven’t read any Rand philosophy. Am I right?
Based on your charged response I’m guessing you haven’t read any Rand philosophy. Am I right?
The Fountainhead is quite good. Atlas Shrugged is entertaining, but not great. Anthem is not on the same level at all. Havenâ€™t read her other novels. I read one of her philosophy books back in 2002 and several years after I enjoyed her novels. It was like what a moron would come up with after reading Nietzsche. The metaphysics added nothing new to an old argument about the nature of reality. Her â€œethicsâ€ was particularly stupid and contrived. Verdict: she was a halfway decent novelist and a flimsy philosopher. I donâ€™t think her ethics was sociopathy, thatâ€™s giving her moral reasoning too much credit.
And yes, thereâ€™s a good chance most who bash Rand have never read her work â€“ itâ€™s called pile-on â€“ but you canâ€™t be sure so youâ€™re being just as presumptive as you conjecture them to be.
When you use words like moron, stupid, contrived and sociopath, it’s difficult to have a conversation about the actual philosophy and I realize this is not the right forum for it. I think it’s fascinating how polarizing her philosophy is though.
When you keep using the word philosophy to describe her writings, it makes you sound like a missionary. Just because somebody hasn’t read the Book of Mormon doesn’t mean that they have to answer the door when the bell rings.
Yes, I understand your point. Promoting a personal philosophy and not living up to it is obviously different than Einstein discovering a physical feature about nature.
Actually my point was the opposite. The aspects of Objectivism Rand DID live up to (like relentless pursuit of self-interest) were exactly the qualities which made her such a horrible companion.
I have read Rand. “Hero” is not a word I would use to describe any of her protagonists.
I really have no desire to engage the BoingBoing Zeitgeist on this, not the right forum. I yield! How about we agree she was one crazy bitch and we should just go about leading our individual lives?
Works for me.
A Rand is a stupid phase many college sophomores go through. She is one of the most poorly adjusted, misanthropes to appear on the scene. Her books and philosophy are pure crap. The wet dreams of closet wannabee tycoons, the timid nobodies latch on to this clap trap so they can fantasize about being a capitalist lottery winner.
Ayn, Ayn, are u serious. How totally pretentious to spell her name that way. What a total poser she was. Married some rich dude to keep her while she screwed around like a little whore. What a hypocrite.
Unfortunately she was too blinded by her forced over-consumption that was a re-action to the privations of Commie land, to realize that the US, where she was tolerated, is a great mixing pot of Fascist and Commie social structures. Libraries, freedom of the press, community spirit just whizzed right past her consciousness.
Read her stuff when you are young and naive and you might be impressed. Get some real life experience, and recognize it for the claptrap it is.
Face it, she was a control freak. Beneath the libertine exterior of ever Libertarian (upper-case L) is the soul of a petty tyrant yearning for their own private dictatorship.
Totally. The whole thing is strange. I can understand needing solitude, but it actually seems like the bell would be more distracting and one could normally trust one’s spouse not to bother you while you’re in your study anyway.
The whole thing sounds… well typical for Ayn Rand actually.
a large house, little traffic, i know people who require a “yelling” upon entry to announce a presence, apparently they expect robbers at every corner as well.
Aside from the fact that this must have been thoroughly degrading to her husband, wouldn’t it be simpler just to put a bell on the DOOR?
One of the great joys in life is finding out that someone who’s work you admire is also a wonderful person. Mr. Dahl and Ms. Rand are not candidates for one of these moments.
A lot of men would consider themselves lucky if their wives made them wear leashes.
What an aynhole….
“That spoke volumes about their relationship” Ummm, yeah, it sure does, not what you think it says though. Did he wear a gimp suit too? Two wet-suites *and* a dildo?
all i could think about was her lovely pearl necklace. i think i have found my fetish. thanks ayn rand!
In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, a great Humanist, describes the gardener for a cloister who wears a bell while he works for the extremely devout sect of nuns. It is there that Jean Valjean learns to garden. He pretends to be the the gardeners cousin or brother to have work and in order to hide from the police and to raise the girl in a protected environment. The bell keeps the nuns from seeing any man except for the priest. This also prevents the police from entering.
I imagine their entire relationship would have been different if instead of shoes with bells on them Rand’s husband had always worn one of those cock rings you can get with little bells on them.
*My* husband constantly reminds me how lucky he is to have a leash and an owner, and such a tolerant one that doesn’t make him overnight in the backyard, no matter how richly deserving he is.
Of course, this is more an agreement than a dictate.
Is that woman intentionally trying to look like Rand? She needs to smoke a few hundred more packs a day if that’s her goal.
I was thinking the same – I wonder if doing the research caused her to slowly/creepily transform into a Randian clone, or if she was just that much of an admirer in the first place, hence why she chose to write the book? Fascinating.
I was wondering the same thing.
Mom used to put bells on my little brother’s shoes when he was two so she could better keep tabs on him. Call it the 1969 version of the leash some parents in more recent times would put on their toddlers in shopping malls.
It is very fortunate for him that the nickname we had for him at the time, “bellshoes,” didn’t catch on.
It’s been 20 years married for me. One marriage. What we call “cheating on each other” is going to a thrift store or garage sale-alone. Makes us rather vanilla eh? So maybe I might never have a following.. That’s ok, it would not be worth my marriage.
There’s a cult element invoked frequently- “fame must be outrageous” to consider too. Boringly mundane Vs shocking seems to be a presumed duty of art creators.Either they feel that have to be 100% yawn or 100% shock? Rand may have been a product of her time and devoured for that more than many other reasons. People wanted a manual for life. Romantic fiction that embeds an integrated set of rules to live by has a long history.
As stand alone *FICTION* Ayn Rand’s work deserves immense respect for craftwork and addressing things few authors dare to take on.
Anthem stands apart as dystopia most liable to be drudgingly real and in our future. Saddest of all, Rand never lived to see the Teabaggers. I’d suspect she’d have dismissed anyone suggesting them as fiction of being unrealistic.
HEY everyone! This is The United states of America – where the worship of a godless meth head is protected by the Constitution.
Call Objectivism what you want, at best a philosophy, at worst, just an idea, but an idea all the same, independent of the dead crazy woman who conceived it. Whether one’s life is better through following that idea is a personal issue. I respect the idea and believe it results in the maximum happiness for all of society that participates in it – you and many other people disagree, yep. But to stay on topic, I do also love a good Rand bashing! This is my favorite: a one act play written by Murray Rothbard who was briefly in her “inner circle” and later banned from it – low budget, but pretty funny, he makes fun of her controlling, intellectual-elitist personality.
“Mozart Was a Red” [14min]
She really was in another world.
Testify to that…
I don’t get it. She could hear a tiny bell on his shoe but she couldn’t hear him open the door or walking across the floor or putting his baskets of fruit on the table?
That makes no sense. Like pretty much everything Ayn Rand did, come to think of it.
WoW, that was as weird and stupid a marriage tip as I would expect from the shallow, small minded idiot Ayn Rand.
brainy with a dash of Joan Cusack and a pinch of Meg Ryan AND a pearl necklace? I think I’m in love! Ayn just sayin’.
I guess I get to be the first person to comment that this author has pretty much the same hairstyle as her subject. I think that’s kind of intersting.
Yes, she was in another world, and that was the one she wrote about. Meanwhile, to see what happens to John Glatt, Dragnie Tagbord, and the rest of the demi-god gang, ten years later, go here. It’s the only Atlas Shrugged parody you’ll ever need:
Thanks, Mr. Wonderful. I Purchased Atlas Slugged II, and am already 30 pages deep. Hilarious, best parody of epic nothingness since Bored of the Rings.
Ayn Rand: Dinner tonight?
Husband: I’ll be there with bells on!
Thinking of having sex with Ayn Rand, I think of that scene near the beginning of Borat where his wife makes a ‘i will snap your dick off asshole’ gesture.
When you use words like moron, stupid, contrived and sociopath, it’s difficult to have a conversation about the actual philosophy and I realize this is not the right forum for it.
I said I didnâ€™t think her ethics were sociopathy, just flimsy, so I was disputing that particular assessment. As for the other descriptives, Iâ€™m just being frank about my opinion of her philosophy. That doesnâ€™t mean I think she was stupid or a moron about everything, just her metaphysical and ethical philosophy. This interview by a posthumous biographer is the first Iâ€™ve ever heard anything about her personal life. Canâ€™t say it sounded very interesting, but peopleâ€™s personal lives donâ€™t generally interest me. I said she was a fairly good novelist, so obviously I think she had some kind of intelligence.
Beyond my opinion, we could have a prolonged discussion of her philosophy, but thatâ€™s not really a priority for me right now. I donâ€™t say to be insulting â€“ I donâ€™t doubt youâ€™d hold up your end of an enjoyable debate â€“ but online debates can become drawn out and consume time I canâ€™t put into it right now.
I think it’s fascinating how polarizing her philosophy is though.
Meh, lots of people who opine on her ideas likely havenâ€™t read anything by her, and most who have are probably going by her novels, not her philosophy books. I think itâ€™s sort of odd how much people read into her legacy. My guess would be that for many sheâ€™s just a totem to fight over. People often prefer simple caricatures they can idolize or demonize, and it helps if the real person is safely interred in the ground. Hero cults and straw men are nothing new, and theyâ€™ve been part and parcel to philosophy and politics since at least ancient Athens. I dove into this thread because I momentarily got mildly annoyed at the egocentric lumping together of everyone whose politics certain individuals disagree with into Rand worshipers. Iâ€™m over it.
It makes sense when you realise that she was sleeping with Nathaniel Branden, rather than writing her wicked books.
Muskrats are really cute when they play, but once they catch a fish the illusion is shattered. What once seemed the ultimate snuggly friend, now seems like a real nose chomper.
I think this works both ways…
An extreme startle reaction is symptomatic of PTSD and/or some sort of childhood abuse.
Such considerations might be relevant to explaining her other evident mental and emotional disorders.
An extreme startle reaction is symptomatic of PTSD and/or some sort of childhood abuse. Such considerations might be relevant to explaining her other evident mental and emotional disorders.
That actually explains Newt Gingrich and many other conservatives as well. There’s a book on this somewhere where a researcher looks into this, but the title of it escapes me now.
I don’t think you people understand Ayn Rand. I feel pretty connected to her in the ways that I process information and view the world.
I’ve never read anything formal on this but I wouldn’t be surprised if she was autistic. I’m autistic and can see a lot of signs of that in her writing.
That being said I can understand where she is coming from with the bells. I hate abrupt noises and am easily startled. It’s important to me to be both alone and undisturbed, and I like a good way to know if someone is going to be entering the house.
You people who think she is crazy for this just don’t understand where she is coming from.
Ayn Rand as a person is one thing. The fact sheâ€™s such a â€œthingâ€ inspiring what is essentially a cult-like mentality is what people rail against.
Just because she exhibits one trait of autism, doesn’t mean she was autistic. Don’t get me wrong, we get her. She was cruel, manipulative, and wanted everybody to worship her. That was how she led her life and she got it. Only when her cult started to unravel did the truth about her as a person leaked out.
Bells on his shoes? She must have been a real joy to live with.
I know, I was married to someone who wanted to live in a house full of people, kids, animals but would always get extremely annoyed when life intruded on her solace. Now she lives on her own and is happy as a clam (me too!)
Please. I am not a fan of Rand, but “crypto-nazi” hardly works to describe extreme anti-totaliarians, anarchists, and radical libertarians. Rand was reacting against her experiences growing up in communist Russia, a system very similar to Nazi Germany in many if not most salient aspects.
Probably the most interesting put-down of Rand is that for all her vaunted statements about seeing clearly and rejecting illusions, she imagined her husband as a great figure of real historical importance, rather than seeing him as the charming part-time actor with drinking problems that he evidently really was.
From what I have read of Booth-Luce, this slur makes no sense in her case either. Care to provide some evidence?
You’re quite right about this aspect of Rand’s life. She always said that emotion should be ruthlessly subordinate to reason, one of the bedrock tenets of Objectivism. She insisted that Nathaniel should desire her above all other women even if she were eighty and in a wheelchair, since she was the supreme paragon of reason.
That she, the fountainhead of Objectivism, couldn’t come close to living this way, is one of the reasons I long ago abandoned any interest in her philosophy (as opposed to Rand herself, who is a fascinating woman in many ways, both admirably and horrifically). She insisted that Frank, a decent, drop-dead handsome alcholic ex-actor, was a protean genius deliberately on strike against a collectivising world, since it fit her ideololgic view of herself and her choice of a mate.
But she truly loved Frank, in my opinion, and never hid from him what she was doing. They reached accomodations in their marriage that allowed it to endure, as many do. Rand is almost always ignored when feminists make lists of the most influential women of the Twentieth Century, even though her works sell a quarter-million almost thirty years after her death, ideological bias at the most blatant.
Yeah if you would have said anarchist to Ayn Rand that would probably not have gone down very well… The anarchist movement in Russia and after had very little to do with Ayn Rand. It wasn’t until kinda late that members of the right wing liberterians seemed to notice that they could use that little add-on.
Makhnovtchina. Bakuninists and Kropotkinists. Workers Council anarchists… or Durrutis militarism. None of these would go down well with the group of liberterians and objectivists who seem think they can just take a word and slap on to themselves. The closest you can get is calling yourself an individualist anarchist, but that would be … well it would be kinda wierd considering.
When I think of Ayn Rand you know what I think of? Happy non-cuckolded marriage!
I would tie bicycle horns to the bottoms of my shoes and pace in a circle.
Not that she viewed people as just so much livestock
Had I been her husband, I’d have put a bell on, walked out the door, and never returned.
I’ll never forget seeing Rand interviewed on the Phil Donahue show. It was late, very late in her life and despite the fact that she came across as not-very-nice, there was one moment when things were different.
When asked about God and an afterlife, she dismissed all such as nonsense. She said if she believed in an afterlife, she would instantly kill herself so she could be with her husband again. The horrific emotional pain on her face as she said those words was evident to all, despite the way she was trying to keep up appearances.
No matter how much of a jerk she was in real life, that was a tearjerker moment.
The part of the interview with Phil Donahue you refer to here. I couldn’t find anything touching in her words or expression. If you found it a tearjerker moment, it may say much more about you capacity for empathy than that of the old battle axe, and good on you. Rand doesn’t seem much more than glib to me.
When asked about God and an afterlife, she dismissed all such as nonsense. She said if she believed in an afterlife, she would instantly kill herself so she could be with her husband again. The horrific emotional pain on her face as she said those words was evident to all, despite the way she was trying to keep up appearances. No matter how much of a jerk she was in real life, that was a tearjerker moment.
That actually does sound very touching.
The one thing that’s admirable about her is her adamant atheism.
But besides that, she’s a scary misanthrope.
Sheâ€™s full of poo. She only misses her dead husband because she was never able to find another person to treat as crappily as that.
Iâ€™ve met more than enough dysfunctional sociopaths and Rand is one of them.
And how does that bode with the large bounty of Republicans, DINOs and Libertarians that worship her?
Not very well… not very well…
And how does that bode with the large bounty of Republicans, DINOs and Libertarians that worship her?
Alright. I’m going to try one more time here. I am not a libertarian, but I’m closer to them in the balance of my beliefs than I am to any other political ideology, so I will try once again to dispel the willful ignorance that Rand was in any way a libertarian:
Hell’s bells… so much for individualism when you have an insane wannabe Nietzsche controlling you 24/7. And another thing, as JamesMason said: this woman is mimicking Rand’s sartorial style. Not. Very. Credible.
What a cheerful tone of voice to use when recounting harrowing tales of mental illness.
“What a cheerful tone of voice to use when recounting harrowing tales of mental illness.”
I would have thought this would fall under “Please do not make racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments,” but I suppose mileage may vary when it comes to offensiveness of mental illness jokes/insults/unsolicited armchair psychiatric diagnoses.
In her own little world
Bells? I wish! My wife makes me wear a leash. :(
Christ, what an Objectivist asshole.
Ayn Rand was a horrible person. I feel bad for all the naive university freshmen that have been forced to read her horrible books because of quid pro quos from the Any Rand Institute and the like that give money to hard up colleges and universities on the stipulation that they require students to read her books.
If this woman writer is a real Objectivist, shouldn’t she be writing biographies about how awesome SHE is, not someone else?
Here’s a tip from my folks’ marriage. Never mention Ayn Rand’s name in the house. I think she insulted my mom at a cocktail party.
If one simply had to talk about a prominent crypto-nazi lady back in those pre-war days, it was far more advisable to stick with Claire Booth-Luce at our house.
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