Media References to Ayn Rand
Mentions of Ayn Rand and her works constantly appear in the news media and in prominent online sources. Here are a few recent examples.
- Anthem movie news: Writer-producers Jim Snider and Kerry O’Quinn announced that they have acquired the films rights to Ayn Rand’s Anthem, according to their news release dated January 19, 2004. They are currently at work on a script, and hope to begin independent production during 2004. A short novel about a nightmarish collectivist future, in which all references to individual identity have been eradicated, Anthem has sold over three million copies during its 66 years in print.
- In a feature about the history of San Francisco’s Market Street, appearing in the February 21, 2004 San Francisco Chronicle, writer Peter Plate makes this comparison: “The San Francisco Mart at 10th Street, a wholesale home furnishings center, resembles a stage setting from Ayn Rand's novel ‘The Fountainhead.’”
- Ayn Rand was a huge fan of the U. S. space program. It’s therefore sadly ironic that one of the astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster was herself a huge fan of Ayn Rand’s writings. Kalpana Chawla, India’s first woman astronaut, was among those who died in the shuttle crash on February 1, 2003. In a newly released biographyKalpana Chawla: India’s First Woman Astronautauthor Dilip M. Salwi reveals the Rand connection. An excerpt from the book, printed February 20, 2004 on the Indian news site Rediff.com, tells us that in college…
“Kalpana had a few select friends and would restrict herself to them and her studies. She learnt karate and became a black belt. She was mentally prepared to fight if any man tried to act smart with her. She also had an aesthetic sense in clothes, was fond of eating simple food and collecting precious stones. She loved a quiet environment and reading books. During those days, her favourite writers were Ayn Rand, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Salman Rushdie, Richard Bach and Oriana Fallaci. She would even persuade other friends to read these writers… Although she believed herself to be no less than any boy and could do any task that they could, she disliked the more aggressive women's liberation movement of the West.”
- A widely syndicated February 18, 2004 Bloomberg News commentary by Andy Mukherjee cited recent remarks by Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve. Greenspan, addressing the issue of the “outsourcing” of many American jobs to foreign nations, blamed declining educational standards in the U. S., which is making high-paid American workers less competitive than equally or better educated foreign workers. Mukherjee notes:
“Now, consider where Greenspan is coming from. In his youth, he was a disciple of novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, who, for all her commitment to laissez faire, was nonetheless a champion of teachers exercising control over students.
“Most followers of Rand don't believe in fads like ‘whole math’a system of math instruction adopted in California and other U.S. states starting in 1992 in which the role of the teacher was severely minimized, all computation was left to calculators, and students were encouraged to think that there were no right or wrong answers to mathematical problems. There is some indication that U.S. educators now realize that they've gone too far with ‘whole math,’ and they see merit in a more traditional Asian curriculum. According to a report last year in Singapore's Straits Times, at least 200 schools across the U.S. are now using Singaporean math textbooks.“
- Jana Taylor, founder, president, and CEO of Jana’s Classicsa cookie dough company in Tualitin, Oregonhas achieved local fame for her recipes. A profile interview in the February 17, 2004 Portland Oregonian asks her: “If you could invite anyone in history to dinner, who would it be and why?” Taylor’s reply: “Ayn Rand, author of ‘Atlas Shrugged.’ I am intrigued by her ability to express the depths of man's spirit, particularly as it intertwines with the panorama of life: business, politics, world economics, the social system and power.”
- We previously noted that the Communist Party, USA, had predictably nasty things to say about Ayn Rand. Equally predictably, so does the World Socialist Web Site, which carried these comments about Rand and Alan Greenspan on February 16, 2004:
“As chairman of the Federal Reserve, Greenspan has to at least give the impression of political neutrality, claiming to base himself on the findings of economic analysis. But, as his history shows, he is flesh of one with some of the most aggressive defenders of the ‘free market’ and private property and wealth within the American ruling class.
“These views were clearly set out in an article published in 1966 defending the gold standard as the real basis of all finance, and subsequently reprinted in the book Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal by extreme right-wing philosopher Ayn Rand. According to Greenspan, ‘chronic deficit spending’ was the hallmark of the welfare state, while the welfare state itself was ‘nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate the wealth of the productive members of society to support a wide variety of welfare schemes.’
“Asked in 1993 if he still agreed with the conclusions of his article, Greenspan replied: ‘Absolutely.’ That basic agreement seems to have been underlined once again by his insistence that the answer to the growing fiscal crisis in the US is to make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy while slashing domestic government spending.”
- The Richmond Times-Dispatch carried a story on February 11, 2004 profiling a young local entrepreneur, Casey Halloran, who established a travel and marketing firm based in Costa Rica.
“He left everything behind in the United States--his job at the software company, his family in Pennsylvania and college friends--to set up Mercadeo J. Galt S.A., meaning J. Galt Marketing. He had author Ayn Rand's highly popular novel ‘Atlas Shrugged’ in mind. John Galt is the mysterious character throughout the 1,000-plus page book. The book, popular among businesspeople, is the story of the rise of a company in an impoverished society; perfectly fitting for Halloran's new company in a country where the per-capita income is $8,300.”
- In a February 10, 2004 Toronto Star column, writer San Grewal decries today’s culture for extolling mediocrity instead of talent. Giving several examples, he continues:
“Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead also cautions those who have gone overboard with their pursuit of equality at all costs, advocating that genius, in striving to fulfill its destiny, is justified in ignoring the opinions of those who are left behind. It's become a very unpopular view in our times. When many people watch American Idol, for example, they not only want to believe they could be on that stage, they have been told they can. That's why we get to watch so many make fools of themselves.”
- A feature story in the February 8, 2004 Palm Beach (FL) Post presents a glowing profile of Dr. Charles Weissmann, a world-class scientist currently based in London, who will soon direct The Scripps Research Institute's expansion into Florida. To find superlatives sufficient to describe Dr. Weissman and his many accomplishments, staff writer Stacey Singer had to make comparisons with Ayn Rand’s heroes.
“Weissmann is a tall, imposing man with a dignified demeanor, a pointed wit and a love of art, cinema and music,” she writes. “Like an Ayn Rand character, he is a captain of both industry and science. He has cloned interferon, helped found the billion-dollar biotech firm Biogen, served on the boards of numerous business and scientific groups including pharmaceutical giant Hoffmann-La Roche, and contributed to the basic understanding of prions, misshapen proteins that cause disease, distinct from viruses and bacteria.”
- On February 1, 2004 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette carried a review of a new book on the history of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous house. As part of that history, Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann and America's Most Extraordinary House “also involves such key figures of the 1930s as Frida Kahlo, Albert Einstein, Henry R. Luce, William Randolph Hearst, Ayn Rand, and Franklin Roosevelt.”
- This interesting item was sent to us by Howard Dickman, Assistant Secretary of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a long-time Ayn Rand fan:
“Cheri Person Yecke is a former middle school teacher or administrator, now in the Department of Education. She wrote a book published late last year, The War Against Excellence: The Rising Tide of Mediocrity in America's Middle Schools. The thesis is that the educational establishment, in order to promote egalitarianism, is actively discouraging and destroying gifted students. Indeed, waging a war explicitly to sacrifice the able to the incompetent.
“On page 162 of the book she tells the story of a ninth grade girl who wrote an essay on Rand's novel Anthem (quoting liberally from the essay) to protest the collectivist nature of "Outcomes Based Education," and how school authorities treated her shoddily because of it. The girl was Yecke's daughter.”
- Surprise! Communist Party, USA doesn’t like Ayn RandIn a January 22, 2004, posting on its official Web site, the Communist Party, USA, favorably reviews the liberal political book, Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America, by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose. Says the review:
“The authors attack the Bush administration because it is being driven by an extreme rightist ideology combined with the power and influence of large corporate interests. They observe that ‘All this abstract, ideological, the free-market is God, Ayn Rand piffle is doing cruel things to real people. This book is about them.’”
Alasif only their charge against the Bush administration were true…
- Playbill marks “Night of January 16th” premiere Playbill, the publication of record for the theater world, runs a daily feature on its Web site, “Today In Theater History.” For January 16, 2004, we found the following entry:
“1935 Actually, the opening night is September 16, but the play is The Night of January 16. The Ambassador Theatre is the site of a nightly trial in Ayn Rand's drama. Members of the audience are sworn in and endings are written to suit either a guilty or innocent verdict. Walter Pidgeon and Doris Nolan are in the courtroom.”
Top Russian economic advisor is a Rand fanIt’s widely known that U. S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is a fan of Ayn Rand’s political-economic ideas. But Russia (of all places!) has its own Rand-supporting counterpart to Greenspan: Andrei Illarionov, who is Russian President Vladimir Putin's chief economic adviser. Read all about this champion of free markets in an online profile, published January 12, 2004, on the TechCentralStation Web site.
Denver Post editor praises his pro-Rand professorRecalling the great teachers of his college days, Bob Ewegendeputy editor of the Denver Post editorial pagepaid tribute to Professor John O. Nelson, a noted supporter of Ayn Rand’s views on ethics and politics. “I tapped the mind of a brilliiant scholar who ignored his own biases and concentratednot on converting mebut on equipping me with the tools for tough intellectual combat,” he writes in a column published January 3, 2004.
Many Rand references during Playboy’s 50th anniversary 2003 was the 50th anniversary of the launch of Playboy magazine. Best known for its centerfolds, Playboy also carried articles and interviews by noted writers and thinkers. In an effort to emphasize that the magazine had intellectual weight, many recent articles and commentaries about Playboy’s history mentioned the magazine’s famous 1964 interview with Ayn Rand. For example, a piece in the December 18, 2003 issue of The Economist cited the magazine’s “interviews with Vladimir Nabokov, Ayn Rand, and Orson Welles…” And in a December 23, 2003 online interview at the Washington Post’s Web site, Christie Hefnerdaughter of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and CEO of Playboy Enterprisesdefends the magazine against charges that it exploits women. “This is a magazine that has published the wit and wisdom of some of the most interesting women around from Ayn Rand and Dr. Mary Calderone, to Betty Friedan, Joyce Carol Oates and Germaine Greer,“ she argues. (You can purchase a copy of Rand’s interview with Playboy at The Objectivism Store. )
Reviewer likens novel’s anti-hero to Howard Roark Tucson Weekly book reviewer Leigh Rich somehow finds that the neurotic, anti-hero protagonist of a new novelCareless Love: Or the Land of Promise, by Kate Horsleyeminds her of The Fountainhead’s heroic Howard Roark. In the December 25, 2003 review, Rich writes: “Set against the dusty backdrop of Albuquerque in the 1880s, Horsley may have deliberately debilitated her leading actor, like some bizarre alchemy of Richard III and Hamlet or Iago and Howard Roarksomeone who despises mediocrity but is unable to rise above it. In the end, he could very well be any of us and we him.”
Rand’s theory of art cited by a reviewerIn a December 21, 2003 commentary, Fort Worth Star Telegram staff writer Alan Cochrum refers to the lives of Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden, and Rand’s theory of art, to explain the power of heroic examples to move us. Though Cochrum indicates that he doesn’t particularly care for Rand’s own fictional heroes, “The author of Atlas Shrugged knew the power of examples embodied in fiction and real life. The principle of her writing, Rand said, was "the projection of man as he might be and ought to be…" He concludes: “Looking at a failure, fictional or otherwise, one can say: There but for the grace of God go I. Looking at a hero, imaginary or not, one can think: There, with the grace of God, I can go.”
Newspaper article on altruism quotes Rand’s viewA Philadelphia Daily News feature on December 18, 2003, gave a glowing endorsement of altruism. But it’s culturally significant that the writer felt compelled to quote Ayn Rand’s contrary view: “Altruism is self-sacrifice, novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand wrote five decades ago. ‘The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value,’ she wrote.”
Filmmaker James Hill hopes to remake “The Fountainhead”On December 15, 2003, the San Diego Union-Tribune published a story about up-and-coming local filmmakers. One was screenwriter, director, and producer James Hill, a big fan of Ayn Rand’s work. Some years ago, says the article, “Hill threw himself into adapting Ayn Rand's monolithic novel ‘The Fountainhead.’ (Hill's production company, Galt Films, is named for a Rand character, John Galt.) As a newcomer to film, Hill was unable to get backing to make the movie.” He is now promoting his new film, "The Streetsweeper," in order to raise his profile in Hollywood. “My long-term goal is to get (the 'Fountainhead' project) back, and I need the credibility," he says. "That's what got me to try and make my own film that would get some recognition."
A December 7, 2003 New York Times review of a book on the life of the late composer Deems Taylor refers to his friendship with Ayn Rand.
- Arbitrary Features Have No PlaceFlorida’s Bradenton Herald carried an architectural critique by local expert Joan Altabe on November 30, 2003, which opened thus:
“The mind bulges with this unasked question: How is it that Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead," her 1943 novel about good architecture winning over bad architecture, sells a reported 100,000 copies a year when so much bad architecture keeps mucking up our streets? Plans for condos at Riviera Dunes in Palmetto conjure up Cortland Homes in "The Fountainhead." No, not the handsomely spare example designed by Rand's hero, Howard Roark. The comparison I'm making is between Riviera Dunes and Cortland Homes after builders vulgarized Roark's work. Like the fictional housing project, every inch of Riviera Dunes seems taken up with the cultural aspirations of other places and times, without a single visual pause anywhere…If you remember, Roark dynamited Cortland Homes. But you needn't worry. I'm not going to blow up Riviera Dunes; although I've seen finger shadows on the wall by the family 5-year-old that look better.” The articles title was pure Howard Roark: “Arbitrary Features Have No Place.”
A November 23, 2003 Baltimore Sun review of the latest thriller by author Mickey Spillane repeats a famous fact: “He was a good friend of Ayn Rand, the late archpriestess of libertarianism, who was a huge fan of his work; there's got to be some substance there, even if it's weird.”
The Phillipines Daily News of November 23, 2003, profiles bookstore owner Marilou Gonzalez. Where did she get her passion for book collecting? “She was a precocious reader even during her grade school and high school days at Assumption, collecting and reading as much as she could. "I was so in love with Ayn Rand's work when I was in grade seven," Gonzalez says. "Another of the first books I really liked then was Alexander Solzhenitsyn's 'The Gulag Archipelago.'" Whatever is an otherwise normal teenager doing reading about Objectivism and Stalin-era labor camps? ‘I have no idea why, I was just attracted to those books.’“
- Ayn Rand is a character in new novelAyn Rand was such a colorful individual that fictional portraits of her have figured in several novels in recent years. Tobias Wolff’s Old School is the latest of these. Wolff is interviewed in the November 12, 2000 issue of The Atlantic, where we find these references to Rand.
- Rand reference on the Rush Limbaugh Web siteAccording to Iris Bell, a long-time friend of TAS, one of the highlighted quotes at the top of web site’s home page on October 29, 2003 was this one from Ayn Rand:
“Pollution is to be the next big crusade of the new left activists, after the war in Vietnam peters out -- and just as peace was not their goal or motive in that crusade, so clean air is not their goal or motive in this one.”
- “One Tree Hill”On the second episode of the new Warner Brothers (WB) network teen drama “One Tree Hill,” which aired on September 30 and October 5, 2003, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged figured into the story line. According to viewers who reported this “sighting” to TAS, the main character was having difficulty facing his fears regarding a basketball game, and was being bothered by another teammate. A third teammate then gave him a hardback copy of Atlas Shrugged, saying, “You don't have to take it.” The cover of Rand’s novel filled the screen for several seconds as the main character read the title. At the end of the episode, he was walking toward the basketball court while the final sentences of Galt's speech were read in a voice-over.
- Gilmore Girl “Rory Gilmore” -- Character “Rory Gilmore,” played by Alexis Bledel on the WB network’s series The Gilmore Girls, has her own online “book club” for her young fans. And one of the Rory’s Book Club recommendations, under the topic “old school faves,” is Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.
- Romanian Holocaust survivors were inspired by We the Living
An inspiring story by Reuven Brenner appeared in the July 26, 2003 issue of Canada’s National Post. The story“The children of hope gather to remember: offspring of Romanian city's Holocaust survivors reunite in New York”describes how Holocaust survivors, who had also later been persecuted under communism in Romania, had managed to survive and keep up their spirits.
“Imagine our generation's surprise and disgust when we finally got to Western universities,” the author writes. “We found out that the most popular economics textbook at the timeby Paul Samuelson (who received a Nobel prize for his efforts)was teaching that it was a ‘vulgar mistake to think that most people in Eastern Europe are miserable.’ The book also implied that imprisoning and killing people can somehow be rationalized in the name of pursuing ‘equality’ (not before laws, though)the Communists' declared slogan.
“Our parents had talked to usbehind closed doors and windowsabout new worlds that we, as kids, could only vaguely imagine, a place where one is free to pursue one's dreams, and where being Jewish and having property were not considered crimes. Some parents talked about Israel, others about the U.S. We still recalled the book that circulated in secret, a few typed pages at a time, and that we read in our early teens, Ayn Rand's We the Living. And we also recalled what our parents taught us: Even if millions of people seem to believe in an idea, it can still be a very dumb idea. For many people can be fooled some of the time, and otherssome tenured academics in particularall the time.”
- Rand’s Novels Are Bestsellers At Barnes & NobleTAS member Don Hauptman calls our attention to the July-August issue of Barnes & Noble’s Book Magazine, where a chart on page 41 lists the top 50 classic bestsellers. It will surprise few Ayn Rand fans to learn that both of her major novels are on the listAtlas Shrugged at number 19, and The Fountainhead at number 35.
- Ayn Rand, In SpadesA delightful New York Times Magazine profile (June 29, 2003) of champion bridge player Adam Wildavsky, who credits Ayn Rand’s philosophy with his success in life, and at the bridge table.
- "Ayn Rand Takes a Bow at the Phoenix Tournament" was the remarkable headline in the New York Times' bridge column on December 12, 2002. It seems that the two top tournament champions are Objectivists.
- "Is John Galt Venezuelan?" by Thor L. Halvorssen appeared last January in "The American Enterprise Online," a publication of the respected American Enterprise Institute. It described the recent national "strike" of producers which threatened the socialized Venezuelan economy.
- Another article, in the October 31, 2002, Washington Post, also alluded to Ayn Rand. It discussed a new book about the famous group of scientists and businessmen in 18th century England known as "the Lunatics"including such worthies as thinker Joseph Priestley, inventor James Watt, and Jefferson mentor William Smallcomparing them to the heroes of Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged:
"The Lunar Men is a grand story imagine a kind of historical version of Atlas Shrugged set in 18th-century England (and minus Ayn Rand's tendentious economic didacticism). Of course, here James Watt, with the help of the industrialist Boulton, starts, rather than stops, the engine of the world. Like Rand's heroes, these over-reachers several of whom began their careers as boy apprentices were not merely gifted, they were determined and indefatigable…"
- In her January 19 New York Times column, "The Way We Are," writer Maureen Dowd opens as follows:
"Who is John Galt? What's new, pussycat? Is that all there is? Who shot J. R.? Who are those guys? Quo vadis? To be or not to be? Dude, where's my car? Seriously, dude, where's my car?
"Out of the many famous questions in the culture, we may soon get the answer to one: 'What do we do now?'"
Dowd's article goes on to talk about a forthcoming sequel to Robert Redford's 1972 political film, "The Candidate." But the significance of the article, for Rand fans, is that she could open her piece with the catch phrase from Rand's Atlas Shrugged, as one of the most "famous questions in the culture."
- In its "eShop" section, the Microsoft Network (MSN) offers one dozen famous novels as "Required Summer Reading." The titles include Rand's The Fountainhead. Check out the list
- The editor at "Refdesk.com"fast emerging as the Internet's most popular online reference sourceappears to be a fan of Ayn Rand's work. The "Refdesk Thought of the Day" has quoted Rand at least twice so far this summer.
The quotation featured on June 10th reads:
"Man's unique reward, however, is that while animals survive by adjusting themselves to their background, man survives by adjusting his background to himself.
On July 11th, the passage cited was from Anthem:
"I am done with the monster of 'We,' the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: 'I.' "
- Chris Matthew Sciabarra, a well-known Ayn Rand scholar, contributed an excellent plot summary of The Fountainhead which was published in the July 26th issue of The New York Daily News. Titled "Howard Roark," the essay is also available online