May be the mistake I made here was to read "The Virtue of Selfishness" first. As a consequence, from the beginning itself I approached the characters...moreMay be the mistake I made here was to read "The Virtue of Selfishness" first. As a consequence, from the beginning itself I approached the characters prejudiced in a way. At instances where Rand never made moral evaluations I already presumed what the course of the protagonists' development would be. I knew upfront who the heroes and who the villains are. Or may be it's just that the characters are plain obvious, no matter whether one is acquainted with Rand's philosophy or not. The moral dilemma is very much black and white, but as she states in her philosophical essay "The Cult of Moral Greyness", grey is just an excuse for the sheeplike state of mind (I'm not strictly citing here), for the indecisiveness and confusion that don't get any respect in her world of Individualism and Integrity. Yet I couldn't be persuaded that doubt doesn't have a virtue of itself and that's not a symptom of intelligence.
In other instances though I fully associate with her visions.. I also often find the way people enjoy themselves repulsive. Especially if they are many, in a crowd. But that's how we elitists are.. ;) I previously thought of something put in Gail Wynand's mouth - "A feeling that changes never existed in the first place.", which I explained with my desire for consistency. I've always perceived permanency as superior to the transit, even in my most hedonistic periods. And I don't take for granted that that's the case with everybody else. On the other hand, contrary to Mrs. Rand's convictions, I wouldn't say that change damages integrity. I find it naive as an adult to enjoy the same books as in your adolescent years, as the same character states at one point. Neither I resent the notion of finding yourself. Back to the positives... Another impressive thing is the magic she creates around the buildings and sculptures and all types of art she describes, and the moral value that they posses (or don't). She makes one imagine, or more like wonder, what the physical dimensions of those works would be. And I also associate with the progressive views on architecture, if I may say so.
I admire authors that build up characters so when they speak through them revealing their own opinions, it's in a certain context. The words are justified and make more sense when coming out of a fully developed and completed character, culturally preconditioned to act or talk in a specific manner. Here I explicitly have in mind Ellsworth Toohey, representing an Oscar Wildish hypocrisy of the social, and the same type of cynicism. It seems the intellectual orgasm for Mrs. Rand comes when she meets Roark with Gail (introduced much later in the novel) as she unfolds her Objectivist philosophy in their conversations. Likewise is Ellsworth Toohey's monologue revealed in front of Peter Keating, and of course Howard Roark's speech at the trial when he finally vouchsafed an explanation.
As for the love story, quite electrifying in the beginning, it gets kind of hard to comprehend as it goes. Too idealistic, impossible and with its own perverted logic.
The happy ending might be expected if you let go with the spirit of the novel but it could be as well surprising for the more realistic mind. Whether you conform or stay true to yourself, either way society may crush you. It's a matter of chance. And if in today's reality I had to bet on one of two horses I would go with the adaptive and slick Peter Keating. It still stays unclear to me how did they, the public, otherwise so despised and unworthy, all at once got what Roark is all about.. A moment of sudden enlightenment?
Honestly, way too long of a read. Long enough to get you the feeling of a high class soap opera. Still, I would argue that Rand writes well and engaging. The mere fact that I went through it all is eloquent. (less)
The reason I am not particularly fond of Utopias, Dystopias and others of the kind is that in those ideal societies one (or few) aspects of human natu...moreThe reason I am not particularly fond of Utopias, Dystopias and others of the kind is that in those ideal societies one (or few) aspects of human nature are taken and exploited to the extreme where others are totally neglected, thus laying out the conditions for devastating unsatisfaction. The formula is predictable like in a crime story. May be that is why I wasn't struck by Orwell's 1984, nor by Rand's Anthem... I get the point. And I got it not from reading voluminous novels. It was just there in the collective consciousness.
So in that sense, what does Brave New World have to offer?
I suppose this book is more or less like his drum playing – enjoyable and gripping but simultaneously unveiling a lack of talent and literary skill. I...moreI suppose this book is more or less like his drum playing – enjoyable and gripping but simultaneously unveiling a lack of talent and literary skill. It is just another one of his many successful undertakings but not successful enough to top my chart… Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! has no literary nor artistic value whatsoever and simply presents a series of events in one’s life. Unique events indeed!, like working on the atomic bomb or having Einstein himself listen to a lecture of his.. Plus a whole bunch of other accomplishments hard to believe could occur in a single lifetime. Only that I couldn’t help but think all this was not delivered the proper way, it is just exhibited out there as clean laundry. But let's not be too harsh, 'cos all in all, it’s a pleasant and easy read, I feel good about coming across it and I’m glad he chose to share his curious, nerdy life with us. (less)