Monday, Feb. 7: Celebrating Rand’s Birthday
Since last Wednesday, February 2nd, was the 100th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s birthday, I decided to have an "Ayn Rand day" of my own. Here’s my report on what I did:
I rolled out of bed and enjoyed a symbol of the fire in man’s mind. (I.e., a cigarette.) The previous day, in purchasing tobacco in anticipation of this celebration, I had been a little puzzled: just which brand is the most rational? Finally, I decided to buy a pouch of Golden Virginia and some rolling papers, as that way I could engage in productive activity (rolling) before smoking. (Of course, I bought a cigarette holder as well.)
After finishing my smoke, I showered, dressed, and got ready for my first big event of the day. I watched the house across the street out of my window until I saw all of my neighbors head off for work or school. Then I fetched the dynamite I had bought the day before, and headed over to get rid of the building. It’s pretty architecturally hideous, one of those awful fake Tudors, so, like Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, I figured it would be OK, especially today, to blow it up.
However, as I placed the dynamite, I recalled that in Rand’s novel Roark freely admitted to having blown up the building. Hmm, the house was pretty ugly, but I wasn’t sure it was so ugly that I was willing to do some time to be rid of it. I might be doing others a favor, but, then, to suffer in prison myself for their benefit would be altruistic, and acting unselfishly was surely no way to celebrate Rand Day. Let them blow up the building if they want. I shuffled back across the street and put the explosives back in my room. Crap, what is my landlord going to think if he finds enough dynamite to blow up a house in my dresser?
Well, time to enjoy the fire in the mind again – must remember not to do so too near the dresser! – so I rolled another fag and lit it. Fire, a dangerous force, was tamed at my fingertips. Well, maybe not quite tamed, since I hadn’t rolled the cigarette too well, and a burning chunk of man’s rationality fell on my trousers. Unfortunately, I was watching the smoke and thinking, waiting for great things to come into my mind, so I didn’t notice the mishap until the ideas burned right through my pants and I felt the sharp, hot sting of the mental united with the physical on my leg.
After patting out the burning thoughts – I worried that such a response might be irrational, but, damn it, my leg hurt! – I decided it was high time to charge someone with plagiarism. I called my friend Bob Murphy and told him that I felt he had stolen his article on the origin of money from my work.
"What are you talking about, Gene?"
"Well, you write that money arose through indirect exchange, as some commodity came to be a commonly accepted medium of exchange, don’t you?"
"And don’t I say the same thing in my book?"
"And isn’t it true that you read my book before writing that article? In fact, that you read it very carefully, taking notes on it, since the publisher paid you to read it before it was even published?"
"Yeah, but what about Menger…"
"No, my friend, I’ve got you nailed. I demand that you come to London for a trial. If you refuse, I will break with you and announce that you are a looter."
"Uh, yeah, whatever, Gene. Maybe you should cut back on the partying a little bit, huh?"
The plagiarism bit, I thought, had gone significantly better than the house demolition project. I had some more fire from within – oh, wait, that’s the wrong guru! – some fire from the mind of man, and mentally prepared myself for my next challenge. I called up a friend of mine – for the sake of her privacy, let’s call her Ann, even though her real name is Barbara Johnson. "Ann," I said, "I’ve always admired you. As the logical outcome of that admiration, I’m coming over to force rough sex on you in a way verging on rape. But don’t worry, you’ll enjoy it. Is that OK?"
"Um, Gene, first of all, if you’re going to force sex on someone, you can’t really ask them if it’s OK. It kind of refutes the whole ‘force’ idea."
"Oh, yeah… good point."
"And, secondly, I have a boyfriend. I don’t think he’d be too keen on that."
"What, he doesn’t want us to unite the mental and the physical in a way that expresses our highest ideals? Should we instead sacrifice our own happiness at the altar of some death-worshipping ‘morality’? Is he anti-life?"
"No, I don’t think so. But he is a bouncer at a London night club, and a black belt in karate."
Well, then, forcing sex on Ann was out. I was at a loss to imagine whom else I might take in the roughest way possible, until I happened to glance into the mirror. Suddenly, I knew what would happen, as I caught myself staring at me with a look of such smoldering passion that I knew resisting my life-affirming desire was futile…
After that was over with, it was high time for a smoke before setting off on my next task. I traveled to central London, where I spent a couple of hours lurking in alleys and doorways, awaiting passers-by whom I could mysteriously accost with the question, "Who is John Galt?" Most of them just pretended that they hadn’t heard me – clearly, those were folks who wanted to exist without thinking – but a few people stopped long enough to answer, "That fellow from Atlas Shrugged. Have I won something?"
Clearly, my question wasn’t having the same effect that it had had in Rand’s novel. Therefore, it was irrational to continue asking it. I played some Rachmaninoff on my I-Pod, lit another fag, and contemplated – quite rationally, mind you! – what I should do next.