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Many great creators have a partner to their genius -- whether muse, mentor, or moral support.  For novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, it was his wife Zelda; for composer Gustav Mahler, it was his wife Alma.  For Ayn Rand, that person was her husband, Frank O'Connor.Many people close to their inner circle have made observations about their relationship — always loving, and sometimes difficult. Frank’s main claim to fame was being married to Ayn Rand -- a philosopher and novelist of towering talent.  There are nine Frank O’Connor’s of enough public note to merit their own Wikipedia page, for what that’s worth.  Our Frank O’Connor is not one of them. But while he does not show up as noteworthy to the masses, he was of utmost importance to Ayn Rand, one of the most influential intellectual forces in history.  Indeed, when asked in an interview what she considered her proudest achievement, Rand answered: "Marrying Frank O'Connor.” So on this anniversary of his death -- November 9, 1979 -- let us look at a few...
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Fifty years ago today I was born in New Delhi, India. My parents were in the Peace Corps — my father as a doctor, and my mother as social worker. My aya taught me  Hindi, and I rode elephants with my first baby boyfriend, Omar, with bells on my feet and rings on my toes. Back in the United States, Ayn Rand had just published Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Her Atlas Shrugged had come out a decade earlier, and The Fountainhead, a decade and a half before that.  While I wouldn’t discover Ayn Rand till many years later, her ideas were starting to take root in the seemingly inhospitable soil of the Indian subcontinent even then. India’s collectivist political tradition, its spiritual mysticism, its racialist caste system would seem the antithesis of the rationalist, individualistic philosophy of Ayn Rand. How could Rand possibly resonate in India’s patriarchal culture — which gave birth to the now...
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Eamonn made a face.  He was looking at an Instagram photo of a sculpture I showed him over dinner, and frowned his disapproval.  It was Richard Minns’ sculpture of Pygmalion and Galatea.  He had no way of knowing that the photo was of a recent acquisition by our dinner host.  The resulting fracas was more feisty than any dinner table disagreement over politics or religion. Insult a man’s mother, question his manhood, challenge his honor and heads may roll.  But somehow questioning someone’s taste in art can seem even more fundamental, more threatening. Why is that? Ayn Rand would argue that our relationship with art is so primary and personal that it reflects our view of the world -- and our place in it.  Even to devoted Objectivists, Rand’s views on ethics and politics are more familiar than her thoughts on aesthetics, elucidated in The Romantic Manifesto. But for me it remains one of my favorites, because while I admire Ayn Rand the novelist and philosopher, above all, she is an artist. Art, by Rand’s own definition, is “a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical...
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Have you ever met someone and within moments discover so many affinities, coincidences and connections that you feel you’ve known that individual all your life? Yesterday I arrived at Roehampton House a stranger. Just another admirer among the legions of fans of the great artist and sculptor Richard Minns. But after several hours, dining with him and his wife, working out with him in the private gym the former bodybuilder had himself designed, something happened. Of all the actual precious mementos I’d acquired during this trip, Richard and Mary Minns were the true crown jewels of my visit, a double diadem of rare grace and sparkling wit.Three similarities that fed this instant attraction: Richard and I both grew up in interfaith households, he as the son of an Irish father and Jewish mother, who raised him on a ranch in Texas. My mix was Louisiana Catholic (mom) and Jewish dad from New York. We both love fitness – though my daily yoga is nothing compared to the athletic prowess of this 12-record-holder in endurance sports. In addition to diving off 170 foot Mexican cliffs and water skiing nonstop at...
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The annual question: What to wear for Halloween? These past three years I’ve recycled the same costume -- a black spandex bodysuit that premiered in 2013 as “Catwoman,” returned 2014 as “Spider Lady,” and was reinvented one more time last year as a “Bat Babe.”  I was running out of ideas.  Moreover, as I approach my mid-century mark, I thought: Why not go for an icon who wasn’t famous for sex-appeal, but for intellectual influence and literary achievement?  The answer became clear. This Halloween, I would dress up as Ayn Rand. Revered -- and reviled -- Ayn Rand had a style all her own.  The side-swept choppy bob.  The flamboyant capes she favored.  The long cigarette holder.  The dollar pin.   How hard would it be to pull this off?  Well, I was about to find out.   While Ayn Rand (nee Alyssa Rosenbaum) and I shared some similar ethnic roots in our Eastern European/Russian semitic genes, we were physically opposite in some ways. So I enlisted the help of one of the young women I’ve met through the informal Ayn Rand meetups I host.  Adeline Li is a 23 year old Au Pair and freelance makeup artist...

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