I n P u r s u i t o f S e l f i s h n e s s
©1997 No study of 20th century intellectual movements is complete without a solid stare into the eyes of the beast Ayn Rand has created with her philosophical treatise dubbed "objectivism" propigated most lastingly in her gargantuan novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Harriman's edition of Ms. Rand's voluminous journals offer the reader an amply footnoted chronological progression of the writer's prolific rebellion against the collectivism and statism of a youth she spent in her native Soviet Russia. The journals trace the evolution of her thought as she puts her philosophy and its opposition into the mouths of her characters. One need not agree wholeheartedly with all of Rand's final conclusions to appreciate the depth of her thinking and the genuine insights she presents in taking the pulse of a society in plunder and weakness. She admires the true hero, and takes aim at the false heroes. Selfishness of the great spirit and achiever is the only true virtue. She points out the impossibility of self-respect and genuine strength for those mired in parasitism and collectivist thought. This book is not without its flaws. The editor claims to have removed much redundancy of material, but surely a full third of this 700 page tome could have been omitted if Harriman had more closely adhered to the purported criteria. In fact there are very few entries that strike right at the heart of the formalized philosophy. Instead the author's journals even over a period of years tend to repeat the character sketches seemingly word for word ad infinitum, and Harriman, for some reason did not intervene. However, whether a Rand fan or a Rand foe, one can presume the reader will find enough meat in these journals to feed the social mind over the length of a long cold social winter where bitter half-truths reign, bald-faced liars are kings, and no man but no man is a fool in the eyes of his very own mirror.
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S e a r c h f o r a W a l l e t - s i z e d T h e o r y
©1975 This Tom Wolfe title is an exquisitely hilarious book, rather short (121pgs) for us cheez whiz consumer types, quite easy to digest, and an absolute must read for anyone remotely interested in deflating (aw shucks, even INFLATING) the puffed shirt monomanical egotrippers still scavenging the artistic scene looking for a niche and a glittering name for themselves, even after all these years following on the spiked heels of the poste-haste cut-and-paste show-me-the-money revelation revolution, which took place some rudely unsubstantiated time ago between Van gogh's playing-it-by-ear incident and the flawed assassination attempt on Andy Warhol. But never mind. The painted arts have never been the same. But the pained and perfumed flood of new princes and their feminine counterparts continues. This splendid book tells us they can't get there however without a theory. In tracing the major and minor continental art movements of this century, our usually witty and always self-composed author reveals the long long secret that artists are made, not born. And he gives the names and exposes the methods of the great movers and shakers, those veritable makers of our preferred artists. Quite simply, no artist worth her harrumph or critic still critiquing by numbers should fail to grasp this book at least once in a busy lifetime. Some of us however prefer to memorize it!
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