Didactics and rape in Rand

Witrack writes: Problems with the novel Atlas Shrugged – John Galt needed some more characterization. The long radio speech part of the book needed to be edited down about 75%, too preachy for a fiction piece. The parts that refer to American Indians as “savages” seemed rather dated. Rand’s views of sex are a little creepy as well. I think the woman had a rape fantasy complex. Same for the sex scene between Rourke and his gal in The Fountainhead, a vastly superior book.

It’s hard to simultaneously educate and entertain. Ayn Rand, like George Orwell, did a very serviceable job, but when push came to shove, her bias was towards the former. Political prose in particular is prone to being rather clunky. As Umberto Eco wrote of Orwell’s 1984, Atlas Shrugged was a masterpiece of vision, not of literature. The Original Cyberpunk and I battled this inherent tendency towards didacticism in Rebel Moon with some success, but we fell into another trap. Actually, two other traps, come to think of it. Live and learn.

I disagree that the notion of the American Indians being savage is dated, however. If anyone today was to experience life without toilets, electricity or the vast panoply of white European male inventions that make life so much more easy and long, I daresay they’d agree that it was a most uncivilized existence. The only reason that view is currently unpopular is because the average American has about the same sense of history as a fruit fly.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Rand had a rape fantasy complex. According to some philosophers of sex, this sort of thing was common among pre-Sexual Revolution era women, as it was a way of allowing themselves to sexually fantasize without having to take responsibility for the inherent immorality of the desire. This could be total hogwash, of course, but at least it sounds reasonable and jibes with the mentality of young women today, who prefer to blame their mindless promiscuity on social pressure or the date rape myth. Not being able to read the minds of dead women, I have no way of knowing if there’s any truth in the notion or not.