The Ayn Rand bit I mentioned in the New York post wasn't just a throwaway joke. I'm rereading Atlas Shrugged for the 4th time right now. It's not a small feat toting the 1000 page tome around NYC. Luckily, I was able to scavenge a yellowed paperback copy from 1985 and didn't have to resort to carrying my hardcover copy.
I decided to reread the book because, in all honesty, Ayn Rand makes me feel like a man. I first read The Fountainhead when I was 15 years old. All of my teenaged self-esteem issues melted away as I learned about how Howard Roark lived his life free of other people's criticisms. I followed it with reading Atlas Shrugged, which showed a much wider view of Rand's Objectivist philosophy.
The characters in her books are surrounded by people who are incompetent. Not just incompetent, but they suck the energy and production out of the people who have talent and ambition. They suck the energy in order to feed the machine of their own ineffectual lives. Which is pretty extreme, Rand's books do a great job of using extremes to prove a point.
What they mean to me: reading Atlas Shurgged make me feel that producing something is the most moral thing a man can do. Making something from nothing is exactly what sets apart man from animal. And anyone who prevents you from doing that is merely sucking energy.
The last time I read the Fountainhead was in 2000, I hadn't picked up Atlas Shrugged since my junior year in college. I used to pick up one or the other when I was feeling down. When I was feeling like I was a piece of shit who never does anything. And in my recent depression, I suddenly realized what would pull me out. Reading about Dagny Taggart and Hank Reardon fighting the moochers has indeed given me a jolt of pride. I know that I can make something. I am making something right now. And that's all that fucking matters.