Sunday, September 02, 2007

Ayn Rand annoys me

I'm employed again. Don't think I mentioned that, since it was right before the wedding, and everything was crazy. High school, near the house, start-up.

Anyway, for work I've been reading some novels on themes of rebellion against social strictures and beliefs, and a website led me to Ayn Rand's Anthem.

It's not a bad book, overall, although Orwell did so many of these themes so so much better. Short novel set in a future collective agrarian society set up after the collapse of modern civilization as we know it. The word "I" has been removed from the vocabulary, as have first person nouns--everyone refers to themselves collectively. The hero eventually is cast out from/escapes from this community with his girlfriend (one isn't allowed romantic ties either). They head off and find a house from the before-times.

Here's where I started to get cranky. The last word of the book is EGO. (All caps.) The entire, pounded-home-with-a-hammer message is the importance of the individual and their right to self-determination. Now I don't believe that as strongly as Rand, but I do believe it. But nearly the last thing that happens in the book is that our hero abandons his community name and number and renames himself "Prometheus". (He's been doing some reading.) And he names his girlfriend "Gaea". (She's been spending a lot of time staring into the mirror.)

He. Names. His girlfriend. And she says "That will be my name."

Great. And then he goes off in a happy reverie about how his sons will be free men. His daughters, I guess, will be good mothers and wives.

(Additionally, I nearly choked over the part where he asks her, before they escape, how old she is, and nearly dies of relief when she says 'seventeen', which means she's a virgin, because she hasn't done the 'time of mating' thing yet. He's been twice, of course, and thought it was just awful, but forfend that SHE should have been contaminated. Then they make love in the forest, and despite the fact that neither of them knows a dang thing about romance, and his only exposure to sex was apparently pretty grotesque, it's perfect and dreamy. Groan.)

Sometimes you just want to hit someone with a wiffle bat, even if they are dead.


Eliyahu said...

at least there's probably not yet a mechitza at the tomb, like there is at some in Israel. i've not read Rand, and it's because i don't want to be more annoyed.
blessings of wonderful times with your new school!

aliyah06 said...

Check out "This Perfect Day" by Ira Levin for another look at abysmal, collectivist future. I liked it better than Rand's book and now can't remember if it was more sexist or not.....old age, the cells give out, the memory goes...