February 7, 2012

Off Topic: Ayn Rand is the Anti-Christ.

Alright, The Fountain just made it's way up the Netflix que and I therefore was able to see it on Sunday. I don't want to right an actual review (there is nothing artistically worth commenting on) but I do want to say some things about it.

First, Ayn Rand's philosophy is so bizarrely irrational and self contradictory that I feel obligated to argue that Ayn Rand's The Fountain probably represents the greatest contribution of all time to American anti-intellectualism. Admittedly though, at this point I have not seen Atlas Shrugged.

There are two fundamental claims being made in The Fountanhead.

1) People should hold rational self interest above all else. No character in the film actually bothers with this so let's look at claim number 2.

2) A person's work is his own, and the only way society has advanced is thanks to the innovations of a small number individuals who were smarter and brighter than the unwashed conservative, change hating, innovation repelling masses. Furthermore, any man who refuses to compromise and lives only according to his own vision without *any* assistance or aid from anyone else is the ideal man. Also, you can blow shit up whenever things don't go your way.

I will assert that these two concepts are in direct conflict with each other and the only reason they never come into direct conflict with each other in The Fountainhead is because of the complete fantasy land Ayn Rand created for her characters to play in.

The first instance where they almost come into conflict is when Roark almost manages to sell his first architectural design but refuses to compromise in any way. I felt that Ayn Rand was having a nice little laugh during this scene and deliberately flipping a giant birdie at the very notion of rationale self interest. By being principled and uncompromising, Roark, the anti-capitalist, anti-rationale self interest poster boy, gives up an early chance at having a successful career as an architect.

This is the first time Rational Self Interest loses out to Adhering to Principled and Uncompromising Vision of the Artistic Genius. It happens later as well when Roark blows up the apartment complex that he designed but for which the design had ended up being altered by others. Again, there is no reason the man adhering only to rational self interest should do this, only a visionary, uncompromising artist would have any reason to blow it up. Again, I could very clearly hear Ayn Rand telling rationale self interest to go fuck itself.

Ultimately, this is what the conflict of The Fountainhead boils down to. Roark, the genuis architect, refusing to compromise his artistic genuis in any way and basically throwing a hissy fit and blowing shit up real good after the one time that he ends up being inadvertantly forced to comprimise his artistic vision.

So let me sum up what I found the take home message of The Fountainhead:
-Rational self interest and capitalism can suck it, because they make too many demands on the artistic vision of geniuses like Ayn Rand.
-Socialism can suck it, because the ways of being dependent on others in a socialist society are somehow, much worse than the ways capitalism makes people dependent on corporations and artistic genuises like Ayn Rand.
-Being nice to others is really bad, because contrary to what a socialist like Jesus might have preached at one point, only the rational self interest of artistic geniuses like Ayn Rand matter.

Regarding that last point, I just want to say this but Ayn Rand is clearly the anti-Christ. Not in a harbinger of the apocalypse kind of way, I just mean that her views are completely antithetical to the message of Jesus. Nietzche, who pointed to Jesus as one possible pre-model for the ubermenzche, had a more Christian message to deliver. This isn't a problem so much for Ayn Rand herself as she was an atheist. However, there is a trend I find disturbing, namely that in this day and age, many adherents of Ayn Rand (namely certain Libertarian/Republican politicians) also proclaim that we are or need to be a Christian nation. Talk about worshipping two masters.

However, while Ayn Rand was an atheist, I could not help but notice that she has Roark following a very messianic path. Roark is beset, from the beginning, by the temptation of giving into the demands of a capitalist society, yet refuses to comprimise his vision, even going so far as to work in a rock quarry. Over time, he even gains his own followers and disciples. Eventually, Roark is forced to take drastic action, in order to maintain his non-rational, non-self interest serving principles and artistic vision, which results in him being arrested and placed on trial. During this time, his darkest hour, even his followers/disciples are forced to abandon/deny him. Eventually, thanks to Roarks willingness to endure these trials and tribulations, he emerges triumphant over evil.

The difference between Roark and Jesus, is that Jesus argued for principles such as humiliaty and empathy for ones fellow man, while Roark sticks his noise in the air, and declares that he, the ever tortured artist, must make a martyr out of himself because his artistic vision is just that awsome.

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