The New Yorker: ‘Ayn Rand reviews children’s movies’

I really got a kick out of this feature in The New Yorker headlined, “Ayn Rand Reviews Children’s Movies.” Excerpt:

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

An industrious young woman neglects to charge for her housekeeping services and is rightly exploited for her naïveté. She dies without ever having sought her own happiness as the highest moral aim. I did not finish watching this movie, finding it impossible to sympathize with the main character. — No stars.


The biggest and the strongest are the fittest to rule. This is the way things have always been. — Four stars.

“Old Yeller”

A farm animal ceases to be useful and is disposed of humanely. A valuable lesson for children. — Four stars.

91 thoughts on “The New Yorker: ‘Ayn Rand reviews children’s movies’

  1. Bryan Caskey

    “The Polar Express”

    Although this movie started with great potential (as a train was prominently featured at the outset!) it became apparent why the train is not more profitable – the children are given tickets completely for free. Obviously, this is no way to run a railroad. -Half a star

  2. Bryan Caskey

    The Wizard of Oz

    An ungrateful runaway girl and her three mooching friends travel down a road in hopes that a self-made man will bestow them with gifts. To demonstrate that nothing is free, he demands they kill someone as payment. I liked the flying monkeys. -Three stars

  3. M.Prince

    “The Song of the South“
    An insipid and insufferable story of a friendship between a boy and a slave. The film is redeemed only and rather inadequately by the slave’s tales of Brer Rabbit, a proto-objectivist hero refreshingly adept at assessing his own interests and how to go about attaining them. Sadly, these brief respites of clear-eyed rationality are too few to compensate for the unrealistically saccharine fare offered by the main plot. Children would have been much better served by a larger helping of Brer Rabbit’s life lessons. – Two stars.

    1. Lynn Teague

      Miss Meadows and the gals are also likely to represent a lesson in monetizing one’s assets, as I only realized after childhood was long past.

  4. Silence

    “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”
    “Half a star off for the grandparents, who are sponging off the labor of Charlie and his mother. If Grandpa Joe can dance, Grandpa Joe can work.”

    I have always thought this. Why didn’t the grandparents try to help out? Apparently they were just lazy, but quite able to go on factory tours and dance and whatnot when it suited them.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’ve never seen more than a couple of minutes of that movie, and have never understood the appeal of any of it. It’s been suggested to me that that’s because I’m allergic to the main attraction. Perhaps. But the whole thing seems insipid.

      I mean, I thank flying ace and intelligence officer Roald Dahl for his service in the war, but I don’t get it…

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Gene Wilder was an excellent choice for Wonka in that movie. He had just the right amount of smugness for Wonka. He makes that movie. You put anyone else in that role, and I have a hard time seeing it work so well.

        Admittedly, it’s not Wilder’s best work, but that’s a whole other discussion.

      1. Bob Amundson

        Rand’s Objectivism is so passe; we are entering the age of Enlightened Self Interest. I hope . . .

    1. Doug Ross

      More people read her works by choice than read all the “literature” shoved down the throats of students. The themes resonate with successful people.

      1. Doug Ross

        How many other books more than 50 years old can boast these sales figures? ] Total sales of the novel in 2009 exceeded 500,000 copies.[75] The book sold 445,000 copies in 2011, the second-strongest sales year in the novel’s history.

          1. Doug Ross

            In what way, Mark? That was a direct cut-and-paste from Wikipedia on the sales figures.

            There is no denying that Ayn Rand’s books sell better today than any other books from 50+ years ago.

            I checked yesterday and Atlas Shrugged was #1627 on Amazon’s top sellers list.

            My guess is that many of the people who criticize Rand and the people who connect with her writing never have read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead. They just parrot commentary by others.

            Alan Greenspan was a huge fan of Rand.. . to paraphrase another saying “Wise men still seek her”.

            1. Doug Ross

              Would you consider reports from the publisher to be “cherry picked”?

              ” Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” sold more than 500,000 copies in 2009, more than double the previous record set in 2008, reports Penguin USA, publisher of the four American editions. For the first time, combined annual sales of Ayn Rand’s four novels totaled more than 1,000,000 copies.”

        1. M. Prince

          You confuse quantity and volume with quality, distinction and merit – which is perhaps an indication of how your value system has been warped by the likes of Rand

          1. Doug Ross

            Thank you for your assessment of my value system. I appreciate your insight based on, well, nothing.

            Please provide a list of your favorite novels so I can assess your value system. I assume they are all on the bargain table at Books A Million where all the important books read by a small number of people go to die.

            1. M. Prince

              My judgement of your value system (in terms of books, at least) is based on your own comments. Perhaps you were being disingenuous?

              But since you appear to judge books by sales, I’m can only assume you’d find titles such as The Thorn Birds, The Bridges of Madison County, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Pokey Little Puppy and Who Moved My Cheese, among others, to be considerably more significant than anything from Rand, since they have sold considerably more copies than her books have. I myself thought a great deal of The Pokey Little Puppy.

            2. Doug Ross

              I don’t judge books by sales only. A useful metric would be sales combined with other measurements – for example, in 2008, Atlas Shrugged was in the top 10 favorite books for all Americans based on a Harris poll. So high sales plus high regard makes Ayn Rand more influential than the authors of the books you mentioned.

              My value system is based on several concepts that you apparently cannot comprehend from my posts. I value hard work, honesty, family, self-sufficiency, personal responsibility, efficiency. Which of those do you find abhorrent?

              But, please, tell me what YOU think my value system is… having never met me nor knowing anything about me.

            3. Doug Ross

              Also, please tell me that you have at least read Atlas Shrugged.. because it would be pretty silly to try and engage in a conversation about the book otherwise.

            4. Silence

              Shruggin’ Part 2, Electric Boogaloo was an outstanding follow-up to Rand’s original Atlas Shrugged. In it, Doug Ross and several breakdancing inner city youths rally to save capitalism from the evil bulldozers of Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

            5. Doug Ross

              By the way, Bridges of Madison County ranks 29,128th on Amazon’s sales list; Thorn Birds is 7,889th. Atlas Shrugged is 1,744. Fountainhead is 4516.

              Oh, and in the category of Literature->Fiction->Classics? Atlas Shrugged Kindle Edition is #62 and the paperback is #70. Must be a bunch of values-deprived people buying all those copies.

            6. M. Prince

              I’m sorry, but after outbursts like this, Douglas, I’m afraid you’ll have to go to bed without a single bite of shortcake.

            7. Doug Ross

              Yes, facts do get in the way of trying to malign people. Enjoy your anonymous trolling – that’s a value I have yet to develop.

            8. Brad Warthen Post author

              As to Doug’s “Also, please tell me that you have at least read Atlas Shrugged…”

              I can’t. The only one of her books I have read is “Anthem.” It was assigned to me in the 7th grade, but I read it anyway. I thought it was pretty cool at the time. It was sort of my introduction to dystopian futuristic novels.

              Now, having gone back and read it again (something you can do at a sitting), I think it’s fairly absurd — offering a dichotomy between complete self-absorption and total negation of the self, as though those were the only choices available — but I still remember it fondly from when I first read it…

              When I was young, I was more into the “brave and brilliant individual standing up against the great mob of idiots” plot line. It fit with the way we tend to see ourselves as adolescents. I remember I was really into Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People,” which also fed into that way of looking at the world…

              Then I got to college and read Crime and Punishment and saw how dangerous it is for a brilliant individual to cut himself off from the herd and stew in his own thoughts — as I’ve written before. I call it “Raskolnikov Syndrome.”

            9. Doug Ross

              I think Catch-22 is the dumbest book ever written. I haven’t read it, but I saw the cover and flipped through a couple pages in the bookstore when I was 11 years old. That’s really all I needed to do in order to comment on it as an adult. My vivid recollection of those few pages are all I need to disparage the book and people who like it.

              And then there was all the Twain junk assigned to me in high school. I didn’t read Tom Sawyer – just the Cliff Notes version – but it wasn’t funny and lacked character development. Twain is way overrated based on what I didn’t read 40 years ago.

            10. M. Prince

              Who’s anonymous? My comments run under my real name.

              Sorry you feel personally skewered by my inability to take your literary hero seriously. I do not suffer fools well – especially fools who pass off their cynicism as clear-eyed rationality. And lest you take that comment personally as well, I’m talking about Rand (whose writings I actually have read — and found to be hopelessly overwrought and turgid, written by a Russian immigrant who never properly understood her adopted country and thought she was still battling Bolsheviks). So, no, I can’t take any of this seriously – least of all Amazon sales numbers and Harris poll lists of Americans’ favorite books, which includes in its top ten two novels by Dan Brown, another by Steven King as well as the Harry Potter books.

            11. Silence

              As someone who had lived through the Russian revolutions, and suffered greatly under the Bolsheviks, can you blame Rand for continuing to “battle” them even after she emigrated to the United States? We may look back on Soviet Russia as just a blip in history during Capitalisms victorious march, but the same overthrow could have happened here, but for Rand and her ilk standing as a bulwark against it. Her life experience informed her writing, that’s undeniable. Do you disdain black writers who lived through the 1950’s and 1960’s for viewing the world through the lens of civil rights? Perhaps Rand (and many other immigrants to the United States) understand their adopted home far better than many of us who were born here….

            12. M. Prince

              The important thing is: the Russian Revolution did not happen here – and I appreciate that there are some (the ilk who stood and stand with the likes of Rand) who fantasize that it was they who prevented it from happening, seeing themselves as so many Bravehearts ready to holler the battle cry of “Freedom!” In fact is, however, it was the very New Deal programs folks like Rand vilified that served to deflate the socialist urges evident in some quarters in the US during the 1930s. I also note that toward the end of her life Rand herself supped from those same programs (Social Security and Medicare).

            13. Silence

              Or, the “New Deal” programs that failed to pull us out of the Great Depression turned us onto the path of a slow march towards socialism that has continued until this day.

              But take your pick.

        2. Kathryn Fenner

          Yes, and Keeping Up With the Kardashians and The Real Housewives of the World get better ratings than The Wire ever did. Your point is?

          1. Doug Ross

            My point is that in order for a book to maintain its position as a top seller over five decades there must be some reason for that to occur. Ayn Rand has more staying power than Kim Kardashian. Her books have a message that some people “get”.

            It’s funny how a book with a message based on the values of hard work, ethics, and the power of an individual’s mind is so scary to some people. Better to be part of the mediocre collective, I suppose.

            1. M. Prince

              It enjoys an attraction in certain circles.

              But, no, it hasn’t remained a top seller for 5 decades. It saw a resurgence in sales post-2008. Hm, wonder what happened then??

            2. Doug Ross

              2008? You mean when the economy collapsed due to the actions of corrupt politicians, unethical corporations (aided by corrupt politicians), and moochers who were taking second mortgages on homes to pay for vacations to Disney World before declaring bancruptcy? You’re talking about all the worst people described in Atlas Shrugged. So maybe it isn’t a novel, but a history book.

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        The themes resonate with (SOME) successful people because (SOME) successful people discount the effects of luck and randomness and the altruistic assists they got from others.

        1. Silence

          “There is no such thing as luck; there is only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe.” – Robert A. Heinlein

          “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

          This is known as ‘bad luck.'” -Robert A. Heinlein

          1. Doug Ross

            Amen, Mr. Heinlein.

            Luck is winning the lottery. That word does not apply to most successful people. It’s what you do in response to the opportunities and setbacks that occur that defines your “luck”.

        2. Doug Ross

          Yes, Kathryn, we are all just equal blobs of flesh who randomly achieve success or failure without regard to intellect, ambition, perseverance, or ethics.

          There’s a difference between luck and achievement. One is a random event and the other is a process with specific inputs and outputs.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Intellect is luck.
            And how about grossly overstate what I said so you can knock down that straw man.

            1. Silence

              SOME unsuccessful people attribute their failure to the effects of luck and randomness, or to being held down by THE MAN, rather than to SOME unsuccessful peole just being lazy sacks of crap, or making poor decisions.

              Good decisions: Staying in school, waking up in the morning, getting right out of bed and going to work, saving for retirement, abstaining from alcohol/drugs/tobacco, keeping a balanced checkbook, saving for a rainy day, living within one’s means, being physically fit, not financing a boat, reading the works of Ayn Rand, etc.

              Bad decisions: Voting for “Hope” or “Change”, playing the lottery, being generally lazy, financing rims for your car, payday loans, engaging in sexual behavior with multiple partners, breaking the law, using drugs/alcohol to excess, gluttony, etc.

            2. Doug Ross

              So if I did grossly overstate what you said, please tell me what impact luck has in general on a person’s success? A small part? a large part? Sure, we all have lucky moments and unlucky ones. Some people succeed despite having many unlucky moments while others fail despite being given every opportunity.

              There is no such thing as luck when it comes to a person’s entire life.

            3. Doug Ross

              Intellect is genetics. What you do with it has nothing to do with luck. There are plenty of successful people with average IQ’s and plenty of geniuses who can’t hold a job.

            4. Brad Warthen Post author

              Yes, but the average people who succeed possess other traits, traits they were born with or which came to them through no credit of their own, that make them more likely to succeed than the geniuses.

              It might be something as simple as a temperament that makes working with others come easily to them. Or… and I place great store by this one, based on personal experience… a high boredom threshold, which I suspect is more likely to accompany an average IQ than a high one. The ability to plug away, day after day, at a job that pays well but is not at all interesting is a rewarding talent that not all of us possess…

            5. Brad Warthen Post author

              Also, some people are born with a tendency toward enthusiasm, which I think both helps and hurts them, or helps OR hurts them depending upon the circumstances they encounter.

              I marvel at enthusiastic people, and wish I was able to summon up their tremendous stores of energy. But they can have their own crosses to bear.

              A good friend of mine who I used to work with at The State was VERY enthusiastic about almost EVERYTHING. Very peppy, and happy to tackle anything that came her way. I once asked her how much coffee she drank each day. Maybe a cup, she said.

              Then what, I wondered, caused her to be so pumped up about everything, all the time? She said it was just her nature; she had been born that way.

              I said she was lucky to be that way. She got unusually sober and said no, I was wrong. She said it was hard to get people’s respect; because she was so upbeat, they assumed she was silly and superficial. I saw how that could be the case, and I thought it sad and unfair…

            6. Doug Ross

              Are all your siblings the same as you and have they had the same level of success? How about your children? Do you blame any failures in your life or their lives on genetics? Or, can you envision different outcomes if different choices were made?

              The worst “luck” I ever had was a major health issue that occurred just as I was about to graduate from college and start a new job with IBM. It was a nightmare. I had to quit the job before I even started. And yet the bad luck forced me into a different job with a different company which provided me the opportunity to do well over the next decade. Then that company had the bad “luck” of making some poor marketing decisions and started laying people off or offering employees the option to move to places like Columbia, SC. I chose to move – another “lucky” event, I guess.. and then chose to leave the company five years later “luckily” before it completely crashed. Then I somehow lucked into 15 years of promotions at the next company before “luckily” deciding that I was underpaid and chose to go to another company where I was very happy for a year before the company was “unluckily” bought by a much larger company, leading to the worst six months of my career, which “luckily” drove me to quit my job and start my own business which “luckily” has allowed me to have the most enjoyable 2.5 years of my career. I have a friend who started with me at the same company 30+ years ago.. same background (white, lower middle class upbringing, mid-tier C.S. degree), he’s probably smarter than me.. he’s made different choices over the past 30 years that left him in a dead end job, on call at all hours of the night, counting the days til he can retire. Was he unlucky or just a product of his choices? I say the latter.

            7. Brad Warthen Post author

              Doug, that’s a false dichotomy. When you make a choice, and against expectations what looks bad at first turns out well, how on Earth do you see that as not a matter of chance, totally outside your control.

              I really don’t understand how you separate “choices” from “luck.” They are certainly not mutually exclusive.

              It’s like you and your friend each had to choose a door, behind which was either a fortune (or the lady in the story) or a tiger that would tear you limb from limb. You have no way of knowing which is which, but you have to choose.

              You get the fortune (or the lady, or as Tony Montana would have it, you get the fortune, THEN you get the lady), and you congratulate yourself on having made the right choice. No luck at all; it’s because you’re such a terrific guy.

              Your friend — having no more information than you did — ends up being eaten by the tiger. But that’s not bad luck, is it? It’s the CHOICES he made, right? All his fault…

              As Paul Simon said, “Some folks’ lives roll easy. Some folks’ lives never roll at all…”

              There are moments when a person obviously makes a bad decision, and it’s his fault. Using drugs before the urine test for a badly-needed job. Holding up a liquor store. Drinking too much at the office party and telling the boss what you REALLY think of him.

              But most choices we make that effect our work lives aren’t so open-and-shut that you can be blamed for choosing the wrong option…

            8. Brad Warthen Post author

              I just don’t see how anyone thinks, as Doug would say (or at least imply), that it’s all up to you, and think that explains everything. Nor do I see how anyone could believe, as Bud tends to imply, that it’s all luck.

              It’s one of those false dichotomies, like nature-vs.-nurture, or evolution vs. faith. The options just aren’t mutually exclusive. Life is complicated…

            9. Doug Ross

              So if you knew someone who was, say, in the business of selling pagers ten years ago and was still trying to sell then today, you’d say that’s still a luck-based outcome? My friend stuck with the same programming language ten years longer than he could have. He had the same training opportunities as me. He had the same optIons to move laterally or up. He chose not to.

              Look how long it has taken your former colleagues at The State to embrace social media. And they still don’t use it nearly enough. That’s a choice. It’s not bad luck that they work for an entity that may not exist in ten years. What are they doing on a daily basis to create opportunities for different outcomes? When the next layoffs come, are they going to call it bad luck?

            10. Doug Ross

              Another example: although The State now allows comments via Facebook on opinion columns, I never see any response from the writers of the original piece. That’s missing a huge opportunity these days. Information consumers want to engage, not be preached to. The model has changed. Choosing to do the same thing and expect everything else to remain the same is foolish and career limiting.

            11. Silence

              “but the average people who succeed possess other traits,” – Brad

              Is success the average now? I think success (as defined by me) is pretty damn exceptional.

              “I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen” – Frank Lloyd Wright

            12. Doug Ross

              Brad – if a representative of another company came to you today and said “We like what we’ve seen of the work you’ve done over the past few years and we’d like to hire you at double your salary plus provide you with a Christina Hendricks look-a-like as your secretary”, would you consider that offer luck or an outcome based on your efforts? Well, other than the Christina Hendricks part…

  5. M.Prince

    Well, this exchange has proven enlightening in one sense at least. It now seems apparent that the core appeal of Rand’s fiction for her readers lies in how it allows them to vicariously imagine themselves as sturdy, even heroic individualists while relegating the rest of us to the role of soft-headed rabble. Of course, this is in essence merely a form of self-aggrandizement played out in an imaginary social-Darwinist paradise.

    1. Doug Ross

      Not sure who the heroes are here. There are people who work everyday to better themselves and their families. That’s not heroic. It should be the norm. It’s those who believe they deserve something from those who do the heavy lifting who are the problem. Rand uses the terms looters and moochers. They are people who live off the production of others and believe there is some right or honor in doing so.

    2. Silence

      Matt, do we not all imagine ourselves as sturdy, heroic individualists, the protagonist in the feature film of our own lives, while others are relegated to supporting roles, or even play the role of the villian? Of course we know best, and of course many of “the others” out there in the world are soft-headed rabble. And is not the world a real Darwinist paradise?

      Of course we all have a cognative bias, that of overestimating our own qualities and abilities, vis-a-vis everyone else’s. I have never met anyone who said: “I am a worse than average driver.” or “I am a terrible investor.”
      This is not Lake Wobegon, not all people can be above average, of course. Half are better, half are worse, give or take… So yes, there is a soft-headed rabble out there, but fortunately one can choose or not choose to be a part of it. I think that is part of Rand’s appeal, one can must choose to rise, choose to be exceptional, choose to succeed. Nothing is preordained.

      Of course, do we not read many other writers of fiction the same way? One thing about people is we all want to be exceptional. What boy didn’t imagine himself in the shoes of Tom Swift, in the bare feet of Tom Sawyer, in the mail of Sir Lancelot, or in the Air Jordans of Michael Jordan? Don’t girls put themselves in the role of Nancy Drew, or (god forbid) pretend to be a princess? Don’t women imagine themselves as Anastasia Steele? Yes, every boy wants to be a knight, a general, a sports star, a hollywood star, a famous musician, or a business magnate. Girls want to be a princess, a fairy, a mommy, an actress, musician, Annie or something else equally impressive. Central characters are usually heroic individualists, so perhaps, all successful stories are libertarian in nature?

      1. Doug Ross

        “Girls want to be a princess, a fairy, a mommy, an actress, musician, Annie or something else equally impressive. ”


        Although I do get your excellent (heroic!) point.

      2. Doug Ross

        Another point that must be emphasized: Rand’s novels are NOVELS. They are fiction. They present fictional characters with certain traits (good and bad). They are not bibles. I’ve read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead multiple times. Do I agree with everything Rand writes? No. I am not an atheist. Her protagonists are all childless and don’t speak of the good things that come with having a family. Atlas Shrugged has one long passage on objectivism that I basically skim over each time I read it because it’s too deep for me to wrap my head around. But I like the themes of the novels and can see direct parallels to the world we live.

  6. M.Prince

    “do we not all imagine ourselves as sturdy, heroic individualists, the protagonist in the feature film of our own lives, while others are relegated to supporting roles, or even play the role of the villian?”

    Actually, no, all don’t. But self-absorbed people do.

    “And is not the world a real Darwinist paradise?“

    No, only to those who (like you and Ms. Rand) attempt to turn this cynical view of their fellow men into a public virtue.

    As for the rest, you’re clearly sugar-coating Rand’s philosophy, which is more succinctly summarized by Mr. Ross, above.

    1. Doug Ross

      I agree, Mr. Prince. Not everyone imagines himself as a hero.

      Some imagine themselves as heroes while others imagine themselves as victims — victims of bad “luck”, victims of their own jealousy of other’s success, victims of a system that is “unfair” because it doesn’t hand them what they want when they want it. These are the moochers.

      Others imagine themselves as heroes because they champion using the power of taxation, regulation, and social pressure to conform others to a set of ideals in order to “level the playing field” or “redistribute income fairly” or “suffer white privilege”. These are the looters. (Ref: Elizabeth Warren, Al Sharpton, Nancy Pelosi)

      1. Doug Ross

        By coincidence, I watched a segment on ESPN last night about a high school wrestler. Born to a 17 year old girl who gave him up for adoption because he had severe cerebral palsy, he had no use of his legs and one arm. Bad luck, right? Yet, somehow he literally dragged himself on to the wrestling mat when he entered high school and worked every single day for four years to improve himself. He lost every match he wrestled in for four years (over 100 matches) — and expected his opponents to not give him any breaks. Finally, near the end of his senior year, he won his one and only match of his career. That’s the difference between luck and success. Luck is an event.. success comes from how you respond to the event.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          What if he’d lost that match, too? Which he easily could have. Would you then deem him successful?

          He would still be praiseworthy, for his sticktoitiveness. But he would not be “successful.” He would be just as worthy, but a failure.

          Which is kind of what the rest of us are on about. Doing the right, brave, hard-working thing does not always yield success. There are always factors beyond your control. Especially in a wrestling match. I say that as an ex-high school wrestler myself. An unsuccessful one, by the way. I got a horrible case of bronchitis right at the start of my first season on the team, and when I came back to school was too weak to be competitive.

          The second year, it was injuries. I injured my neck in a way that caused spinal problems so I could hardly hold a pen in class for awhile. Consequently, while I was pretty good on the practice mat, I never actually participated in an actual match against a wrestler from another school. Miserable failure, even though I had some basic talent (discovered by kicking butt in P.E.) and worked hard at it through two practice seasons…

          1. Doug Ross

            He was successful for trying.and for not giving up. The one victory was trivial in comparison. Call the victory good luck as a result of all the hard work he put in.

            There’s the saying that “I’d rather be lucky than good”.. not me.

            1. Doug Ross

              Success isn’t measured in victories or wealth. I measure success in terms of self-worth, happiness, freedom, and inner peace. If wealth or victories come as a result of the process of attaining those things, great.

              If you hate your job, you aren’t successful no matter how much money you make. I spent a lot of time working on a contract at the US Postal Service where I met a lot of miserable people in management who had financial wealth but also hated their jobs so much that they kept countdown clocks on their desk ticking off the days, hours, and minutes until retirement.

    2. Silence

      “Actually, no, all don’t. But self-absorbed people do.” – M. Prince
      I have trouble believing that all kids don’t read themselves into the books that they consume. It’s perfectly normal and a healthy part of growing up. When I was a child, I certainly did. When I was a baby, I was the one who patted the bunny. Later, I was Max, leading the wild rumpus and Peter, playing in the snow. When I was a teenager, I was Randy Bragg, trying to maintain and rebuild civilization after a nuclear war. I was Howard Roark, building the buildings I wanted to build. I was Johnny Rico fighting off alien bugs. I was Bilbo, and later Frodo Baggins.
      Later, I was Lewis Medlock, leading my friends on a canoe trip down the river. I was Alex DeLarge, looking for a bit of the old ultraviolence. I was Professor Humbert, well, never mind that one. I was Atticus Finch, defending Tom Robinson.

      TL/DR – Nobody imagines themselves as Friday. Everyone imagines themselves as Robinson Crusoe

      1. M.Prince

        “I have trouble believing that all kids don’t read themselves into the books that they consume.”

        Kids, maybe. But Rand did not write children’s books. Moreover, I would note that your identification with characters has a distinctly heroic bent – with no indication of much interest in characters who don’t lead the pack or somehow come out on top – you know, complex, realistic characters. But then perhaps that has to do with the kind of literature you consume. Which in turn could reflect again a (darkly) cartoonish view of humanity.

        1. Silence

          Well, I think we are meant to identify with the protagonists in novels, not the supporting characters, generally. Children and adults alike. It’s the protagonists who get the character development, and the most coverage, typically, isn’t it?

          When you watched Star Trek, if you watched it, did you say: “You know, I’d really like to be one of those unnamed red shirted guys in the landing party.” or did you say: “Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Sulu, Scotty, Bones, Uhura (etc,) are really cool!, they really make stuff happen on the Enterprise.”
          Of course, as adults we know that the Enterprise NCC-1701 wouldn’t run without all of the lowly unnamed characters, but nobody should aspire to be “dead engineering assistant #3” or “unnamed crewman in sick bay” really….

          1. Doug Ross

            I need to start reading more books about people who fail their way to the top and then fail even more. I think I’ll start with “The Audacity of Hope”.

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              And how exactly has POTUS failed? Monumental health care legislation in effect–more than HRC could do, economy recovered from worst recession since the 1930s, gas prices at all time low in real dollars…

            2. Silence

              America at a post WW2 low in the world power and influence rankings.
              A 70% increase in the national debt during his term (to 18T)
              Record numbers of people leaving the workforce (involuntarily)
              Negative interest rates propping up both federal borrowing, the stock market and the housing bubble
              need I go on?

            3. Doug Ross

              As Elizabeth Warren says “You didn’t do that, Barack!”.

              The economy has up and down cycles. Always has, always will. The fact that Obama wasn’t able to do a whole lot since 2008 probably helped more than anything.

              Obamacare is in its infancy. It will take a decade to determine if it works or not. The rollout was an abject failure of planning and political gamesmanship. April will bring the first results of people doing their taxes and finding out that they made more money than allowed for the subsidies they received. Doctors are already stating that unless Medicaid reimbursement rates are not cut, they will limit the number of patients they see. Obamacare is just a tax-and-spend program.

              What exactly did Obama do to drive down gas prices? Gas prices are a result of supply and demand. He certainly isn’t in favor of increasing supply.

    3. Silence

      Yes, the world is heavily Darwinian. 6 billion years of history can’t be wrong!
      How am I sugar coating Rand’s philosophy?

      1. M.Prince

        By attempting to claim all fiction on Rand’s behalf, as essentially nothing more than tales of personal self-absorption.

        1. Silence

          You know, the fictional novel doesn’t lend itself well to celebrating the collective. It’s The Three Musketeers, not The Entire French Army.

            1. Silence

              But just among Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Also, possibly D’Artignan.
              Even Dagny Taggart and/or Howard Roark didn’t act alone.

  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    You know, I was feeling bad that I didn’t post for several days, so I put up a couple of posts yesterday…

    But I see y’all are still going to town on THIS one.

    I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it.

    Maybe we should make it a regular feature. Say, Ernest Hemingway reviews The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

    A man and a boy travel down a river on a raft. The river is big, in the way that makes a man and a boy feel small. They travel by night to avoid people, because they want to put something behind them — possibly their war experiences. They live off the fish they catch, and the fishing is good and right and true. There is an honorable bond between the man and the boy, one neither would ever betray, but they don’t talk about it. To talk about it would be to lose it…

    1. M.Prince

      Or how about book blurbs by famous people who don’t exist:

      — Rick Blaine: “Here’s lookin at you, kid.”

      Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
      — Gomer Pyle: “Shazzam!”

      Moby Dick
      — Martin Brody (of Jaws fame): “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

      The King Must Die (Renault)
      — John “Bluto” Blutarsky: “Toga! Toga!”

      Mein Kampf
      — Gollum: “My precious!”

      Finnegan’s Wake
      — Rhett Butler: Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

      The Indian in the Cupboard
      — Tony Montana: “Say hello to my little friend!”

      Naked Lunch
      — Dorothy Gale: “I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

      The Gilded Age (Twain/Warner)
      — Gordon Gekko: “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”

      Call of the Wild
      — Jed Clampett: “Eee doggies!”

  8. bud

    I think Catch-22 is the dumbest book ever written. I haven’t read it, but I saw the cover and flipped through a couple pages in the bookstore when I was 11 years old. That’s really all I needed to do in order to comment on it as an adult.

    This pretty much sums it up. Doug condemns others for not reading Ayn Rand, a woman who openly admired a psychopathic killer. Yet Doug slams a book that he has never read. This passage is the gold standard for hypocricy. I’m certainly not going to read any of Rand’s books cover to cover but when my stomach is strong enough I’ll attempt to at least skim through some of her Objectivism crap.

    1. Doug Ross

      Uh, bud, please look up the word “parody”. My comment was related to Brad’s comment that the only work of Ayn Rand he had read was a minor piece called “Anthem” back in 7th grade and then again sometime later.

      I’ve never read Catch-22 so I wouldn’t have the nerve to comment on it or people who like it.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I loved it. Haven’t read it since my school days, though. Don’t know if I’d like it as much now.

        And the fact that I’ve read Anthem DOES qualify me to have an opinion about it, one that quite legitimately kept me from wanting to read anything else by her. I got the point — the almighty, courageous individual standing defiant against the great, stultifying, undeserving herd.

        If anyone can make the argument that her other works offer a very different worldview from that, maybe I’ll consider reading them. But if they make the same points and take a whole lot more words to do so, what’s my motivation?

        1. Doug Ross

          They may not offer a different worldview, but The Fountainhead is an actual story with a plot and characters spanning a couple decades.

          If you can’t be bothered to read The Fountainhead, watch the movie with Gary Cooper (although he was way too old to play Howard Roark).

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