Friday, May 20, 2011

Atlas Shrugged... I just shake my head

Dear Rev. Know it all,

Who is John Galt?

Al Truhyzm

Dear Al,

John Galt is Alisa Rosenblum’s imaginary boyfriend.

the Rev. Know it all.

P.S. You may have heard of Alisa Rosenblum by a name she made up for herself, Ayn Rand. A lot of people are talking about her these days. Her book, Atlas Shrugged of which John Galt is the fictional hero, is finally being made into a movie.

John Galt doesn’t show up in the book until the story is almost finished, but everyone in the book keeps asking, “Who is John Galt?” He is a revolutionary capitalist who convinces all the other big capitalists to hide out in the mountain until the world collapses and they are finally recognized as the best people in the world, proving that selfishness is the highest of virtues.

Why should we care about Alisa Rosenblum/Ayn Rand and her boyfriend John Galt at all? Because Ayn Rand is one of the most influential authors in American culture. Such luminaries as Glenn Beck a former Roman Catholic, current Mormon, and Representative Paul Ryan, current Roman Catholic of Wisconsin are great fans of hers. In fact Paul Ryan requires staffers to read Atlas Shrugged. Perhaps her most famous disciple is Alan Greenspan, whose “laissez les bons temps rouler” (that’s French for “Whoopee!!!”) economic policies have recently crashed and burned. Greenspan was one of Rand’s inner circle and his opposition to financial regulation is pure Atlas Shrugged.

This is an important book. With the movie coming out soon, Ayn/Alisa is about to raise a new generation of followers because she appeals to the selfish acquisitive streak that occasionally appears in the otherwise generous American spirit. So let me tell you about little Alisa and how she clawed her way to fame.

Alisa Rosenblum was born in Russia in 1905 in St. Petersburg in a prosperous non-observant Jewish family. She didn’t quite fit in with her Russian schoolmates who were devoutly Russian Orthodox and devoutly anti-Semitic. She seems to have suffered from “I’ll show you all someday when I’m rich and famous” syndrome. She was a remarkably smart child who loved to read romantic heroic novels, imagining handsome heroes who would recognize her inherent superiority and sweep her off her feet. No such luck.

The Russian revolution interrupted her life when she was twelve and thus she added intense hatred of Socialism to her intense hatred of Russian Orthodox Christianity. She really came close to starving in the revolution. She perceived a connection between Russian Christianity and Socialism: collectivism. At the age of thirteen she decided she was an atheist and began to develop her philosophy of rational egoism, which became objective realism, or simply objectivism. Her literary work was always at the service of her philosophy in which selfishness was a positive virtue and altruism the greatest vice.

She survived the worst of the revolution and studied in the state schools where she became interested in film and writing and there she adopted her pen name, Ayn Rand. In 1926 the family managed to scrape enough money together to get her out of Russia. She went to live with relatives in Chicago who owned a movie theater where she spent the days watching free movies. Though she had fallen in love with New York upon seeing all those big tall buildings, she knew that a true realist could only flourish in that Mecca of truth, Hollywood.

The Chicago relatives scraped together enough money to send her to California, and to fame. Needless to say they never saw a dime of their investment returned and they were happy to tell you about their disappointment. She struggled in Hollywood, but was clever enough to stalk director Cecil B. De Mille who gave work as an extra in The King of Kings, and then as a junior screenwriter. There she met Frank O’Connor, another extra who, in toga and sandals, looked just like the handsome hero of whom she had always dreamed. They got married in 1929. Rand became an American citizen in 1931. Taking various jobs during the 1930’s, her lucky break came with the sale of her screenplay Red Pawn to Universal Studios in 1932.

People were looking for stuff on the Russian Revolution written by someone who had actually been there. Long story short, Alisa had arrived. Her book The Fountainhead (1943) made her famous. It’s hero is a maverick architect, Howard Roark who is supposedly modeled after Frank Lloyd Wright, but with rippling muscles and a penchant for rape and long speeches. (Rand thought that, under the right circumstances, rape was a moral, indeed obligatory act. If it happened at the hands of a superior man. Rand seems to have thought the superior woman revolved around the superior man. She seems to have had some very interesting personal issues. She was delighted to have once been called the most courageous man in America. You figure it out. I can’t.)

Next she moved on to Atlas Shrugged in 1957, whose dashing superior male lead is John Galt who gets all the movers and shakers in America to go on strike and then the world comes to a crashing halt because the takers would no longer have the producers to kick around. After the publication of Atlas Shrugged, Rand became depressed and would mutter "John Galt wouldn’t feel this!” So much for the realist.

In 1950, at age 45, Alisa/Ayn met a special friend, 19-year-old Nathan Blumenthal. He and his girl friend, later wife, met Frank and Ayn and soon all were fast friends. Blumenthal changed his name to Branden, a Hebrew acronym for Ben Rand, son of Rand, and he called her his true father.(!?!) Soon father and son were in the sack together. Ayn/Alisa and Nathan/Nathaniel explained to their respective spouses that since they were both superior people, their liaison was really the only moral thing to do and Barbara and Frank would just have to put up with it. Which they did.

For years. Ayn/Alisa decided that Blumenthal/Branden was her intellectual heir, the only one capable of receiving her insights fully, the Messiah and the best thing since sliced bread. Frank went on to become a painter, a gardener, an alcoholic and a chain smoker. Barbara just put up with it.

Finally, Branden/Blumenthal was let off the hook when Rand/Rosenblum went into a heavy depression. He promptly became interested in a young Hollywood starlet, and then Ayn/Alisa snapped out of it. Branden was otherwise involved and tried the “It’s not you; It’s me” routine but finally he leveled with her. She had a meltdown. Branden, the standard bearer of the Objectivist Movement was thrown out of the Objectivist Movement. Ayn frequently held counseling and group sessions in which she critiqued people and occasionally her followers gathered to excommunicate heretics. Branden was now a heretic. He, his wife, and his girlfriend were sent packing and he went on to make a tidy living as the founder of the self esteem movement.

Ayn Rand/Alisa Rosenblum was a nasty, ill-tempered tyrant and sexual predator. She lived much of her life high on amphetamines. Her personal hygiene was deplorable and she destroyed the lives of those who came into close contact with her, from her one aborted child on to the disciples who didn’t agree with her totally.

The most telling illustration of who Ayn Rand was came toward the end of her life. One of her disciples came to visit her in the hospital and Ayn commented on how odd that she could see a tree in her window on such a high floor of the hospital. The disciple said that it only the reflection of the IV pole in the window. Rand/Rosenblum flew into a rage. It was a TREE!!! To say that she had perceived external reality incorrectly was to strike at the heart of who she was.

This is the woman who so many believe distills the true American spirit. God help us! Ayn Rand believed that she could perceive reality objectively. Christians were dreamers with imaginary friends like God and Christ and the saints. She was a realist, a realist who lived her life strung out on amphetamines, dominating a much younger person in a sexual relationship, believing in her imaginary, heroic lover, forcing poor, drunk, handsome Frank O’Connor to play the bit part of her consort. This is realism? Give me Jesus. You can have John Galt and his delusional girlfriend.

the Rev. Know it all

P.P.S. Why, you may ask do I insist on using Alisa Rosenblum instead of Ayn Rand? I do so because the woman was so delusional that she wouldn’t even use her own name or acknowledge her own heritage. If this is what you call realism then you are as delusional as she was.

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