Monday, March 23, 2009

I Chose Wisely

Kung Fu Monkey:
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.



Anonymous said...

My boyfriend for most of high school was really into Ayn Rand. Whenever I think back on that, I feel like I dodged a bullet.

David Schraub said...

Jill likes at least one of Ayn Rand's books (I think Fountainhead?). I don't understand why: (a) she's very smart, and (b) she is, if anything, considerably to my left, and about as far away from Rand's politics as is imaginable.

PG said...

I read and enjoyed The Hobbit, and to a lesser extent The Fellowship of the Ring, when I was in middle school. My school library didn't have the Two Towers, so I never got any further into Tolkien. I was a huge Ayn Rand fan during my sophomore and junior years of high school and have probably read more of her writing than most conservatives and libertarians have.

If Jill has good literary judgment, I hope it's "We the Living" that she likes, which draws heavily on Rand's own experiences and thus is far more plausible.

Anonymous said...

On some level, I get the appeal of Ayn Rand in high school. You feel exceptional and misunderstood. But when that love continues into adulthood, you get folks like the men placing these ads on Objectivist dating sites.

Sample: "I am interested in meeting someone that truly embodies the values and virtues of Objectivism. I have found very few women that have not already been beaten down to a flimsy, irrational, empty pulp. I have changed many girls’ lives, but no one has blown me away yet."

PG said...

Re: the guys leaving ads like those, Will Wilkinson nailed that one recently:

The point is that you are not John Galt. The point is that you are, at your best, Eddie Willers. You’re smart, hardworking, productive, and true. But you’re no creative genius and you take innovation — John Galt — for granted. You don’t even know who he is! And this eventually leaves you weeping on abandoned train tracks.

Anonymous said...

I liked the Hobbit, because its a creative story. I think the Lord of the Rings gets bad before the first book ends and worse from there, as all of the charming characters and fantastic vision gets absorbed under Tolkein's moralizing and mythologizing. I'd say Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged both go on the pile of books that might be "good" for a fourteen-year-olds to read if it leads them to read something better, but certainly aren't worthwhile literature in their own right.