rough notes

things carried

with one comment

one of the first books i ever read was ayn rand’s atlas shrugged. i don’t mean that i read this piece of objectivist pseudo-philosophical trash then i was three years of age. i mean it was one of the first books i read when i decided i did like reading after all. that some some time in my early teens.

(one of the first books i ever actually read was just me and my dad by some guy named myer. was his name malcom myer? i can’t remember the details now, but it was one of those Little Golden Books featuring a family of hedgehogs. for some reason, I didn’t ever get to read Where The Wild Things Are until I was ten or eleven.)

Anyway, one of the first books I ever read was Ayn Ran’s Atlas Shrugged. I had some friends. And those friends listened to a lot of Rush. I was unduly influenced by these friends, so I too listened to my share of Rush. I still get down to a little bit of A Farewell To Kings from time to time. “Xanadu”, for instance, is pure brilliance – and I’ll kick anyone in the shins who thinks otherwise. Geddy Lee is playing that rickenbacker like no one else can. But as I was saying, my friends listened to, Rush, so I too listened to Rush. And my friends, being fairly smart, decided that they had to go all the way and read some Ayn Rand in order to really understand what Rush was all about. this was at the end of the end of the summer, and i was bored out of my mind, so I figured I’d might as well give it a shot.

That was one of the worst decisions of my life. Why should some one give up on the thick sounds of Xanadu to read Ayn Rand? Why should someone skip over Neil Peart’s rendition of the “Kubla Khan” to read obtuse, arrogant, and plainly illogical philosophy when there was Samuel Taylor Coleridge to look over instead? Idiots. I trudged my way through Atlas Shrugged, guessing fairly quick how the storyline was going to complete itself: who Daphne was going to sleep with, how Hank would persevere, etc etc, when I could have been reading Coleridge’s Kubla Khan to “figure out” what Xanadu meant. (As if reading the Kubla Khan ever brough understanding to anyone!)

(Allow me to digress and say that I’m no fan of Coleridge. In the Coleridge/Wordsworth debate, good Willie wins every time.. But when it comes to choosing Rand or STC, well, I’d sooner take waterboarding than her philosophical junk, so Coleridge should have been an easy choice).

There were moments of Atlas Shrugged that I did enjoy, I must admit. But those moments all occurred in the first forty pages or so. I thought I liked Rand’s style. She wrote lit in these short, sweet little sentences that packed a serious punch. Or so I thought they did. Around page thirty it was clear to the senses that she couldn’t sustain these punches for more than three rounds, let alone the full twelve. Rand, I believe, liked the way Hemingway acted, and tried to emulate his own writing style. I say this in hindsight, since I didn’t read any Hem until my twenties. But I do say it with enough knowledge of their styles to easily pick up which one was the hack and which one actually had the style and grace to properly pull it off. Hemingway, despite was we’d all like to argue, was not a hack.

That godforsaken Rand book still sits on my bookshelf. I can’t sell it to a book dealer. I can’t even give it away. I’ve nearly recycled it a couple times now, but I’ve found myself fishing it out of the paper bin a couple day after I chuck it. Now its become some beast of burden that I carry around with me, reminding me of the poor taste of some of my friends and of those two weeks lost forever.

(They were a lost two weeks in the first place, though. I likely would have lounged around a pool during the end of that summer anyway..)


Written by mitchellirons

March 26, 2008 at 9:37 pm

One Response

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  1. Mercer Mayor, I believe.
    From what I understand, superior to Rand in almost every way.


    March 30, 2008 at 12:05 pm

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