Monday, October 19, 2009

Jennifer Burns about Ayn Rand - NBIH

New Books in History went along with a recommendation I made, of all people. I was alerted to a book written by historian and history podcaster Jennifer Burns (Berkeley's History 7b) and passed this on to Marshall Poe, the host of New Books in History. On the show two weeks ago, he interviewed Jennifer Burns on this book of hers about Ayn Rand and the American Right.

Ayn Rand, was not born in the US and Ayn Rand was not her original name. She actually came from the Soviet Union and Burns and Poe discuss with awe and excitement how Rand managed to become an icon of the American right. Not just any right. These days, the right is mostly associated with strong conservatism, but Rand's was another kind of right. She propagated a life of stark individualism, atheism and libertarianism with a free market and little government.

She also lived that life. Taking on few bonds, being libertarian also about sexuality and drugs - she used amphetamine. Some of her erratic behavior can be ascribed, as Marshall Poe sees it, to her addiction, though Burns seems less inclined to go that road. In any case, Rand seen in this light, I wonder, may in some years' time be viewed as a leftist rather than as a rightist. Or the god-fearing, family values conservatives must have turned left, by then. They won't fit in the same church, that is for sure.

More NBIH:
Atlantic History,
Political rationalizations in Nazi-Germany,
Whalen / Rohrbough,
Confronting the bomb,
Henry Hudson's fatal journey.

More Jennifer Burns:
History 7b - history podcast review,
American Civil Rights Movement,
Whittaker Chambers,
Scopes Trial,
US History - from Civil War to Present.

Petty frustrations - Namaste Stories

The latest story on the fictional podcast Namaste Stories (feed) is full of innuendo. More than ever Dave P plays his magic. As always the podcast is filled with a certain atmosphere that just hangs there and is not made explicit by any one sentence of the tale. And it is not just the music or the fatalistic voice of the narrator - although they undoubtedly add in.

In The Spoiled Brat that aboding presence is woven into the descriptions, the lines and the actions of the characters Melissa and Casper. This is what makes literature powerful: subtext. You will have to look beyond the subject of Capser and Melissa's conversation, the spoiled brat. What really matters is why they discuss him and not what their expressed convictions are, but what they tell us. The more they emphasize the brat is spoiled, the more they are envious of him and the more they reject him, the more they are attracted.

In the seeming consensus of their dialog, their petty frustrations are played out. Their repressed sexuality, the dissatisfaction in their relation, their failure of accomplishment. And all of this is expressed with utterly unconvincing self-congratulatory self-righteous bourgeois judgmental statements or silently and childishly hidden aggression. What a feat.

More Namaste and Dave P:
Surviving those family dinners on the holidays,
The new direction of Dave P,
New York Coffee Cup,
Namaste Stories, podcast as an art,
Namaste Stories, fiction podcast.