One of the more poetic events in The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand is when the protagonist, Howard Roark comes to watch Dominique posing naked for Mallory's marble sculpture. The sculpture is of the human spirit destined for the Stoddard Temple. The three of them experience a perfect synergy of admiration, creativity, and beauty. Further plot events see the destruction of the Stoddard Temple, one of the many painful obstacles Roark needs to overcome to continue his unique and innovative vision of architecture.    Stills from Song of Songs starring Marlene Dietrich and Brian Aherne In a way, we can look at art history and see some patterns similar to The Fountainhead that include the beautiful nude, innovations, and the power of the creative artist.  First Artists to Sign their Works Tydeus, 560 BC "Sophilos and Tydeus, were the first artists to sign their artworks." In the 6th Century, BC, Greek artisans such as Sophilos and Tydeus were the first artists to sign their artworks, taking pride in their originality and skill in depicting the human subject clothed and nude: In a sense copyrighting them. Paralleling the significance of the individual at this time Solon, the lawgiver, "is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy." Larger than Life Nudes in Honor of the First Democracy Some 50 years later the heroic sculpture group Harmodius and Aristogeiton by Antenor was commissioned in honor of the creation of the...
The term “neoliberalism” is being flung around everywhere these days, usually with a haughty sense of “everyone knows what this is.” But do we really? You may think you know, but there’s very little agreement among everyone else. Looking up the term on Google Trends reveals some interesting clues about what’s going on. Searches for the term have soared since late last year, racking up more searches than “libertarianism.” The most common search phrases are these: “definition neoliberalism,” “what is neoliberalism,” and “define neoliberalism.” The confusion is understandable. Sometimes the term is used approvingly by the mainstream press, as with France’s election of Emmanuel Macron. He is said to be a solid “neoliberal” and therefore vastly better than his “rightest” opponent. More often the term is used as a pejorative by the far left and the alt-right. Here it is said with a sneer to be a synonym for capitalism, globalism, elite rule, ruling-class privilege, and the administrative state. Everyone in Latin America who has ever favored privatization, deregulation, or tax cuts, has faced the sharp accusation that he or she is a neoliberal, with overtones that the person is probably in the pay of the CIA or State Department. In this case, the word is used as a synonym for US economic colonialism. We need a firmer fix on what this term means. Is there a founding thinker,...
In The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature, published in 1971, Ayn Rand articulated a simple framework for classifying art. Using literature as the primary exposition tool, Rand constructed a dichotomy which addresses the making of art in a most fundamental way—which she designated as Romanticism vs Naturalism. It does not mean that every artistic work is completely one or the other; most, in fact, are mixed. There is a spectrum, not two boxes; nevertheless, it assists us to identify the two bookends of the spectrum. Rand redefined Romanticism, then a pre-existing literary movement, while also defining its opposite as Naturalism, thus: “Romanticism, which recognizes the existence of volition---and Naturalism, which denies it.” One could say that it is Romanticism if it showcases well the efficaciousness of purposeful action by which men and women try to shape the world around them as against being shaped by it. Of special interest to Rand was Romantic Realism, which showcased the real world as it could be, as opposed to a fantasy world from which we could derive allegorical lessons and a few thrills. The medium of film is tailor made for showcasing the effects of purposeful action, so let’s look at a few illustrations from the world of screen stories. Note that we are not primarily concerned with good beating evil here, but human efficaciousness. In other words, it’s better to showcase events constructed by human action, even if virtue doesn’t win in the end (e.g. We...
Section II features autobiographical reflections on Branden by his friends and associates Roger E. Bissell, Mimi Reisel Gladstein, Tal Ben-Shahar, Deepak Sethi, and Michael E. Southern. Limited space for review necessitates that I roll my thoughts on these reflections into one sketch. Compressing several autobiographical accounts into one summative analysis does not mean the accounts are unimportant or uninteresting. In fact, they are among the most enthralling contributions to the collection—in particular, Southern’s highly detailed tribute that contains a wealth of insight and information. But the appreciative tone, personal nature, and intimate recollections in this section are difficult to fully and justly convey as a secondhand report. I thus urge readers interested in Branden’s private friendships and relationships to consult this part of the collection for themselves. I hope that highlighting a few anecdotes will suffice to show the depth and quality of the stories involved. In one, Bissell relates that, while he was in high school, at the suggestion of his band and choral teacher, he read an essay by Branden. He then read Atlas Shrugged. Testifying to the transformative power of these experiences, he claims that the two texts “irreversibly changed” his life. He suddenly knew he should pursue music, ideas, and writing rather than mathematics. Southern had a similar experience: He read Branden’s The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Breaking Free, and The Disowned Self, and...
A few years ago, my mother called me to ask me if I’d heard of her new favorite writer. “Ayn Rand. She was a philosopher. I thought, of course Catherine will know her. Do you know her? Have you read The Fountainhead? Atlas Shrugged? Of course you have.” Of course I had. Mom was a total convert. “It just makes sense, sweetheart.” She went on at enthusiastic length about the virtue of selfishness and the value of prioritizing one’s own happiness. Rand was a light on the grey landscape of her semi-rural Canadian life. Imagine if you didn’t have to pretend to want to volunteer at the community center, or to bring potato salad to the arts board meeting? Imagine putting yourself first! Finally, she was validated in wanting to reject the empty communalism of shared duty, the posturing around selflessness and sacrifice in service of the community that can be particularly intense in small towns. She could be selfish and feel good about it, and she loved it. I loved her newfound spark, but to be honest, at the time I didn’t think that it would amount to much. She’d skip a few board meetings, refuse to volunteer at the community center, and reference Dagny Taggart to the neighbors (who would have no idea what she was talking about), but that would be it. As a former philosophy scholar I was happy to be able to talk theory with her, but I didn’t think that it would really stick. I certainly didn’t think it would ever prove useful. But I was wrong. It turned out Ayn Rand would prove immensely...

Subcategories


Donate to The Atlas Society

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please consider making a donation. Our digital channels garner over 1 million views per year. Your contribution will help us to achieve and maintain this impact.

× Close Window
atlas red email pop

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive the most recent news and articles directly to your inbox.