The joys and perils of giving ( A small poem)

Giving is truly a joy,

When desires not the other.

For the man who is happy in himself,

Is indeed a worthy soul of high character.

He neither has expectations,

Nor will burden another.


The joy can easily turn into pain,

On offering to even a gentle, yet craving soul.

That’s when you hear folks often yell:

‘Oh, you give them an inch,

And they want an ell!’


Yet, I say, with all the joys,

A decent soul can bring,

The rose is definitely worth,

Its occassional thorns.


But heavens protect you dear,

If you offer even goodwill,

To the cold, dominating and calculating eyes.

Very sweetly, they will charm you,

Into some treacherous social bond.


Then, using your benevolence and noble feelings,

They will tower over you,

Demanding you live for theirs

And their collective’s sake.


In this fashion dear,

They will feed on you,

Till the last drop of life,

Dries in you.

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The ‘Platonist’ Objectivist

One of the biggest challenges to applying any set of abstract principles, ideas or any philosophy to your life is this: Most people try to wear ideas as one would wear garments…they tend to wear these ideas on themselves, and believe that they are being rational or are properly following the idea or principle by doing that. The basis of that approach is what Ayn Rand calls being a Platonist, the belief that ideas exists as entities in some other realm, as opposed to being an *Aristotleian.

In the Art of Non-Fiction, Ayn Rand says (Pg 29)…” The purpose of philosopy is to guide a man in the course of his life. Unfortunately, many Objectivists have not fully accepted, concretised, and integrated this principle. For example, in the presence of a given event, work of art, person etc., too many Objectivists ask themselves, “What do I have to feel?” instead of, “What do I feel?” And if they need to judge a situation which I have not discussed before, their approach is, “What should I think?” instead of, “What do I think?” This is the childhood remnant of anyone who to some extent was influenced either by the religion of the culture or, later in college, by Platonism….”

I can think of an example to explain this point and bring out the problems that would follow. Let us suppose that an “Objectivist” knows twenty prospective women whom he could consider to pursue romantically (i am visualising that he is in a party surrounded by all of them…) And let us say, that the twenty of them are at different levels of ability, character, rationality etc…so they would have amongst them women who have no character and are pretty irrational, to ones who are slightly better, to ones who are more rational, to ones who are able and rational to ones who are pretty integrated, intense and developed. Now, how does an Objectivist who is basically a Platonist approach this situation. He will ask himself what is he supposed to do as an Objectivist? 🙂 (The answer is that he is supposed to value someone who is a heroine, who has a lot of character and ability as opposed to someone who is not). Based on this criterion, he tells himself that he “has to feel love and admiration for the heroine” amongst them and properly pursue her. ‘What he feels in the matter’, whether he desires her or would be happy with her would be besides the point for him.

Instead, what he should have asked himself is which out of the twenty would HE be happy with, irrespective of their level of character/ability. The point is that he will be happy only with somone who matches or comes close to his level of self-esteem..if he chooses someone below it, he will get bored of her, if he chooses someone above his level, she would frighten him and not value him as much…so, in any case, it would not work. Let us say that he himself is not very rational and has lot of flaws…so, as a natural response, he would get attracted to someone like him, who also has flaws.

Now here is the classical conflict for the Platonist Objectivists…’Reason’, seems to be telling them to pursue the heroine, but their ’emotions’ tells them to pursue the woman with flaws. Now, the Objectivist who is a Platonist, has also read somewhere that ‘one must never given in to his emotions and always follow reason’ (a statement least understood among “Objectivists”, I would say)…So, he would suppress what he really feels, and orders himself to start valuing (or at least pretending to value) the heroine.

Incidentally, as an aside, when he would approach the heroine, she would instantly sense that he is faking it, that he is artificial, doesn not really value her, but is imposing it on himself…in turn, the Objectivist would come out as dogmatic and find it difficult to mingle with her and make would never work. This also answers the first question as to why many of them find it difficult to make friends. Had he rather sought whom he found attractive, then he would be at ease, be his true self, and had found it very easy to strike to relate with her and strike friendship. Also, many of the Objectivist have a nagging fear that others will disapprove of their choice and judge them as being irrational…(“how can you possibly think of befriending Mary, who is so irrational, and not befriending Jane, who is such an achiever…you can’t be a true Objectivist..phew..”)

An example that comes to my mind from AR’s fiction, which is not the right example, is Peter Keating choosing to marry Dominique over Catherine. Mind you, Keating is not doing it for the above reasons, for him, marrying Dominique is more a practical advantage…but all the same, in the sense of the disastrous results, this example could suffice. Catherine is at Keating’s level of self-esteem, if he had married her, then both would have been happy, at least as happy as they could hope to be, with their internal flaws etc. But Dominique is way, way above Keating’s level of self-esteem, and Keating would never be comfortable or at ease with her, and Dominque would never find Keating exciting or worthy…in short, it would never work…and it doesn’t.

To sum up, the example of romantic love is just one example…most people have a similar approach to all aspects of their lives (with disastrous results) and that too, with the different aspects of any philosophy, be it at the level of understanding it, integrating it, or applying it. And when they find that ideas cannot be ‘worn’ like garments, they sooner or later discard the ideas…become cynical and give up attempting to live by any principles, as Shruti points out.
To generalise this point, let me use another example: Let us say that “Z” is the ideal action that one ought to take in a particular context, according to Objectivism. Also, one has to be at the level of ‘E’ in terms of maturity and proper habits, to actually have arrived at, both emotionally and practically to be able to take that action (in other words, one is at the stage where one actually values and desires to do “Z” from within, as opposed to imposing it on himself).

“E” would most likely be the stage at which Ayn Rand herself would have reached, in terms of personal development and integration, when she wrote about doing “Z’…Now, an aspiring Objectivist might be many counts below that level of “E” in terms of maturity, he might be, say, at the level of “A”. Now, what most people would do (and I have gone through this myself) is to impose that choice of “Z”, even if he is nowhere actually valuing it…this is what they think is being loyal to Objectivism is. This is the intrincists in action…”Z” is like a garment to be worn by him…To quote Ayn Rand again from the Art of Non-Fiction….”For example, in the presence of a given event, work of art, person etc., too many Objectivists ask themselves, “What do I have to feel?” instead of, “What do I feel?” ”

But since he is at the level of ‘A” and not at “E”, he will not be able meaningfully value or be happy with ‘Z”…what he should have done instead is accepted himself as he is, at the level of A, and done something appropriate to that level, say “M’ or N. That would be being true to yourself…at least having the courage and honesty to live by what one really is, rather than pretend to be better or bigger than one’s own shoes. At the same time, through an active mind and constant effort, he should have worked himself to evolve gradually from A to B to C to D to E…and when he would have reached the stage of E, he would have found that now, he naturally desires to do Z. Now it actually makes sense for him to do Z as he is happy doing it.

And the truth is, there is no other way….any other means is impractical and self-defeating…the person attempting it will sooner or later conclude that ideas or any philosophy is all meaningless and become cynical.

Notes: *The Aristotleian looks within his own experiences and primarily using his own judgement, forms and validates concepts while a Platonist seeks to find ready-made concepts evolved or floated by others and his primary focus, at best, is to be loyal to these ideas (such as being loyal to ‘Objectivism” or the ideas of X or Y or Z, as opposed to being loyal to his own judgement and grasp of reality…of course, to stand solely on one’s own judgement is a tall and scary task at times. This is not to say that one doesn’t learn anything from others, but that an Aritotelian treats what others have to say as ‘raw material’ to be processed and validated by his own mind, while a Platonist treats what others have to say as a ‘final product’ to be directly applied, consumed or worn by him/her).

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Was the Indian PM right in grumbling about high CEO salaries?

(Written in response to a newspaper contest)…

No, I don’t think the Indian PM was right in his comments about high CEO salaries.

However, the core contention why he was not right in making those comments is not because the hardworking and highly productive CEO’s deserve their high salaries, nor is it that the company owners and stockholders are helpless in this matter and that high salaries are governed by market forces. Neither is it that reducing CEO salaries would be pointless as it would have a negligent effect on bridging the rich-poor gap. And not even that giving a free hand to the corporate world is the only way to eradicate poverty and bridging the rich-poor divide, as has been eloquently proved time and again during the last century.

True as all the above points are, the core issue is simply that the PM and the government have no right in meddling with the internal affairs of private companies. Whatever salaries the owners of a company decide to give, whether wisely or foolishly, is completely their prerogative. And the government has no business advising them. If anything, the PM should have been exhorting the inefficient political babus and government administrators to learn from the effective and efficient resource management of private sector companies.

Interestingly, had the judiciary given a similar unsolicited advice to the government in the management of its internal affairs, our present government, in all likelihood, would have accused the judiciary of judicial overreach. And yet, our Honourable PM is guilty of the same violation; in this particular context, of governmental overreach.

The real, fundamental issue at the bottom of this controversy is whether we Indians, as citizens and company owners, have an absolute right to our life and property, have the moral right to exist for our own sake, or whether some of our rights need to be curtailed or sacrificed for the larger ‘good’ of society or in this case, for bridging the rich-poor divide.

Fundamental as this premise is to the unfolding drama, it will unfortunately have little bearing on its outcome, simply because we as a society have long ago, explicitly, implicitly or by default, accepted altruism as a sound moral principle. Year after year, we have seen the government use its coercive powers on some segments of individuals to achieve the larger good, whether in the form of the high taxation of the rich and corporate sectors to be channelised to the poorer sections, or the nationalization of many privately owned companies in the past.

What is then more relevant in our present context, more as an expedient than a moral principle, is to point out that the alleged goal of bridging the rich-poor gap cannot be achieved by governmental interference in business.

During the last century, in whichever country it was attempted, socialism and governmental control of the economy in practice only achieved in furthering the rich-poor gap, making it harder for the poor prospective entrepreneurs and workers with no connections to break in and rise, while strengthening the stranglehold of the privileged and rich class. Witness the dismal conditions of the erstwhile USSR’s working class while the privileged political class with connections lived in luxury. Or similar conditions in our own country, during the pre-liberalised license Raj years.

It is only in post-liberalised India, that workers now have a real chance to rise; for the first time, there is optimism in the air, salaries of the workers have been rising, merit and not pull is now counted. In fact, for the first time in Indian history, we see the chance of bridging the vast rich-poor gap, where the city workers could afford decent housing, cars and other luxuries as in other capitalistic countries.

What then is surprising and at the same time, psychologically revealing, is that given the rosier conditions of our working class, which has been brought about by deregulations and less governmental interference in business, our champions of the workers (and the poor) are not rejoicing. They should have been taking heed of what’s taking place in our cities and should have applied the same principles to our villages, by liberalizing and reforming the agrarian sector, by setting the farmers free of governmental regulation.

However, in the face of all these developments, when our Honourable PM still clings to his socialistic prescriptions, one wonders whether the socialists from whom he mistakenly takes inspiration, have really been pro-poor and not been merely anti-rich. One wonders whether their secret hope of achieving egalitarianism is not a sinister wish to see everyone reduced to the least denominator (capitalists, CEO’s and workers alike) which most erstwhile communist countries almost succeeded in doing, rather than raising the poor to the level of the rich and our present CEO’s.

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Double standards in Indian media

The Vadodra paintings incident at MS University in Gujarat glaringly brings into focus the double standards that our intellectuals and the media use in dealing with issues relating with Hindus versus issues relating to Muslims. To illustrate the point, its first worth noting that our no-holds barred media organisations only discussed the issue in abstract terms and did not reveal the content of the contentious paintings — they, in fact, deliberately censored the concrete details of the paintings. One wonders that if they were so sure of their stand, then why were they afraid to show the details. Their reasons become clear on closer examination.

Arun Jaitley in the Indian Express described the two contentious paintings in the following words, ” My curiosity led me to discover that the first painting was that of a ‘cross’ on which Jesus Christ stood crucified. Below the said ‘cross’ was an English-style WC. The painting displayed the sexual organs on the art piece, with the liquid drip from them going into the WC. The second painting was a portrait, ostensibly of the Hindu goddess ‘Durga’, in the nude with a full grown human male emerg ing out of her sexual organs. The young artist had obviously used the artistic freedom to paint religious figures in a sexually explicit manner.”

The young artist had also been clever enough to only paint Jesus Christ and the Hindu Goddess Durga in such a manner, and not depict Prophet Mohammed in a similar sexually explicit manner. Had he done that, then we all know very well what our champions of artistic freedom and the media organisations would be saying and doing: They would have scooted off from issue as fast as their heels could carry them, or would have reversed their stand, just as they did during the Danish cartoon controversy. During that controversy, most of the writers blamed the Danish cartoonist for needlessly insulting the Prophet of Islam and provoking the wrath of muslim people, and sympathised with the hurt feelings of the muslim people. There were just a few who mentioned freedom of expression but failed to take a principled stand, and were again apologetic to the sensititivies of the muslims. But in the present Vadodra case, no sympathies for the hurt sentiments of the Hindus or for the Christians.

What’s more noteworthy is that a very similar incident took place in Bhopal just days after the Vadodra incident, where muslims ransacked and damaged an exhibition/display which they claimed portrayed muslims in a bad light. Besides a brief mention of it on one of the news channels, our media behaved as though the incident never happened, and our champions of artistic freedoms remained deaf and dumb to that incident. There were no discussions, criticisms, talk shows, demonstrations on that. But that was to be expected from our biased intellectuals.

Arun Jaitley in Indian Express (19/5/2007):

Anxious to study and analyse the real issues in this controversy, I made a conscious effort to investigate as to what the two impugned paintings were.

My curiosity was further strengthened by the fact that media organisations that championed freedom of artistic expression, projected the issue in the abstract, without informing viewers and readers what the exact expression of artistic freedom in this case was.

My conscious effort led me to discover that the protest was with regard to two paintings whose contents were being censored by the responsible section of the media. I am unsure whether this was deliberate or whether it was an act of responsible journalism to prevent people from viewing an obnoxious piece of art.”Anxious to study and analyse the real issues in this controversy, I made a conscious effort to investigate as to what the two impugned paintings were.

My curiosity was further strengthened by the fact that media organisations that championed freedom of artistic expression, projected the issue in the abstract, without informing viewers and readers what the exact expression of artistic freedom in this case was.

My conscious effort led me to discover that the protest was with regard to two paintings whose contents were being censored by the responsible section of the media. I am unsure whether this was deliberate or whether it was an act of responsible journalism to prevent people from viewing an obnoxious piece of art.

My curiosity led me to discover that the first painting was that of a ‘cross’ on which Jesus Christ stood crucified. Below the said ‘cross’ was an English-style WC. The painting displayed the sexual organs on the art piece, with the liquid drip from them going into the WC. The second painting was a portrait, ostensibly of the Hindu goddess ‘Durga’, in the nude with a full grown human male emerg ing out of her sexual organs. The young artist had obviously used the artistic freedom to paint religious figures in a sexually explicit manner.”

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The Mecca Mosque blast & the response

The Mecca Mosque blast in Hyderabad is highly regrettable and strict punishment should be meted out to the guilty. However, when I saw the reactions of rioting by thousands after the Mecca blast in Hyderabad, and also stone-pelting by mobs in Mumbai (kurla) and the way the way the media portrayed the incident (Star News for instance), it not only brought out the difference of a pre-dominant Muslim mindset compared to the Hindu mindset, but also brought out the glaring media bias and double standards in coverage.

For instance, after the Varanasi temple and MumbaDevi Blasts (in Mumbai), even after loss of lives, there was no rioting by the Hindu people, even though their worship places were targeted. And I can say pretty confidently that had there been rioting, then the media would have endlessly picked on the RSS and BJP leaders for fuelling sentiments, and politicizing the issue, while columnists would have criticized the mobs and questioned what gave them the right to target innocent people who have nothing to do with the incident. The columnists would also be telling us that Islam and the muslims have nothing to do with this, and how one must maintain peace and harmony.

Compare this with the present blast. There is every real possibility of this conflagaring into a major riot throughout India, and everyone knows the reason but dares not say it— it is because of the pre-dominant muslim mindset, which considers violence against innocent as a legitimate means of settling scores. We saw this happen after some miscreants demolished the Babri Masjid, and the muslim mob started killing innocent Hindus who had nothing to do with it in Mumbai, it happened after the municipality partly demolished a dargha in Vadodra for road widening and the muslim mob started rioting and hitting out at innocent Hindus, who had nothing to do with it, and in the process killing two Hindus, and it is happening presently.

In all these situations, the media’s bias is very loud and clear: Instead of criticizing muslim religious leaders for fuelling the riots, or for not doing anything to placate the sentiments of the people, just the way the media would have criticized the RSS and BJP leaders had the hindus resorted to rioting, the media is preoccupied with its favourite whipping boy, the police. Instead of blaming the agressors of violence and their supporters after the blasts ( however regrettable the blast is), Star News among other channels, has been just focusing on the execessive use of force by the police to quell the violence. Clearly a biased approach based on a double standard. What’s more, the media in this sensitive times, should have been more judicious and exercised discretion and not have been airing a one-sided view which could potentially provoke further the sentiments of an already inflamed and physically active section of the society.

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The intrinsic approach to Objectivism

The ‘intrinsic’ approach to Objectivism is what makes many ‘Objectivists’ stiff, artificial, dogmatic and not themselves and in turn, I believe, this would be the main reason why they would find it difficult to mingle with people and make friends.

In The Art of Fiction/Non-Fiction, Ayn Rand says that ‘Objectivism’ as such is not an entity that exists in reality, (just as a tree or a rock etc) which one must look upto for guidance. In the sense, there is no ‘Truth’ out there that she has revealed to us which we have to follow. She emphasises that any philosophy just gives broad guidelines, but one must essentially live by one’s own judgement. (In essence, what Objectivism says is value ‘reason’… you have a mind capable of understanding reality, reality is an absolute. So use YOUR own mind to uphold this life and make the most of it…Objectivism nowhere says that you have to follow what Ayn Rand has said, unlike some Koran or the Bible)…And if one doesn’t use his own judgment and just takes AR’s words for it and tries to impose Objectivism on him or herself, the result is really disastrous.

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Roark in the quarry…

I have often wondered about the implications of Roark in the quarry…Conventionally, Roark is so far removed from the realm of ‘what other people think’, that he almost comes out as ‘weird’ conventionally. For instance, if we take the conventional hero of the best of the movies ever made (and there have been some real worthy movies made), it is quite plausible that he might end up choosing to be in a quarry or some other similar predicament rather than compromise on his principles, like Roark (conventional heroes are shown at times as choosing death rather than compromise their values). Yet, they would not behave mentally and more importantly, emotionally like Roark.

Roark has no sense of bravado that he is doing a great thing, that he has given up his career for his principles, he also has no sense of grievance with the world ( ne koi gila ya shikwa hai kissise, Ellesworth Toohey se bhi nahin…). He has no sense that some injustice is being done to him, nor is he angry with anyone for not seeing his genius nor does he hate anyone for choosing to be irrational.

If I can imagine a conventional hero in a similar situation, I would at least see him finding a need to talk to his fellow labourers after work and telling them that he is actually an architect, and in fact, knows more than the guy who is giving orders. Roark doesn’t feel any such need. He doesn’t even feel the need to reveal to anyone that he is an architect, not even to Dominicque. Nor does Roark feel frustrated, except for the fact that he cannot give shape to the buildings that he would like to have built. But he fights that self-pity and works to eradicate that.

And except for this fact, he doesn’t even think there is anything strange or funny in his choosing to work in the quarry…it wouldn’t matter to him if the quarry was next to his college and the dean and other instructors and students who knew him saw him there, he would probably find it strange that they are laughing or finding it funny, just as he finds it strange that Ellesworth Toohey should think that he should have a need to think about him (it would be like ending up selling bananas outside the college you graduated from, and finding it strange that others who knew you find it funny…).

He is shown as someone who would be the same, even if he had to end his life retiring as a common, anonymous labourer. He expects nothing at all from people, neither rationality or integrity or anything…(any virtue/value he sees in another person is like a bonus to him)…he is serene, peaceful and compact even in the quarry.

In comparison, a conventional hero would be very unhappy in his situation. In the least, he would have a sense of bravado and a need to impress upon his fellow-men that he is not just a labourer, that he has what it takes to be a great architect, but has taken a stand for his principles…he would then get their affection/sympathy etc. He would have a sense of injustice done to him, and on some occasions, when drunk, might even voice out his frustation in shrilled tones, abusing the Elesworth Tooheys and spitting on the Peter Keatings and despising the clients who reject his work as an architect. And once in a while, he might say forcefully, “One day, I will show them all, who I am” (mein dikha dunga mein kya hu..)

This is why, Roark may look unreal at times to many readers of the Fountainhead, as most people as have existed, have some expectation or another from people around them…This is also why I find it funny, when I read testimonies of people who say that they were already more or less like Roark before they read the Fountainhead.

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Deriving self-esteem from others

This is what a person who has a need to derive self-esteem from others wants from the others…He firstly has a pretense of his self-worth or superiority, which he keeps asserting either through his mannerism or through recitals of his so-called alleged ‘achievements’, and he wants the other person to help him fake this pretense by his approval or aquiesence. This is what he wants from the other person, an acknowledgement of his fake self-worth, a moral sanction.

In cases where James Taggarts meet Orren Boyles (where both parties are parasites), I think both the person might compliment each other, as both would readily each other fake their self-worth. At the same time, both of them would very well know how wretched the other is.

But in cases where the other person has some self-respect, he would feel very uncomfortable. I guess this is the reason why conventionally, no one likes a show-off. Only conventionally, they have got the semantics wrong…they call a show-off as one having pride (a proud man) —I guess false or fake pride would be a better clarification, and they call the person they like a humble person.

Actually what they like is a person who just sees personal relationships as an end in themselves, as a payment to others for their character and values, rather than a means to gain anything out of them, whether material or spiritual. In this sense, a humble person is not the right word, as it may come with a package-deal of a self-debasing person, which is not desirable. Haven’t found the right word for it though…Aristotle would just call him a person with pride (in the proper sense of the word).

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Relating with people

Personally, I have stopped categorizing or judging people based on their supposedly conscious convictions, what they themselves think they believe in. From experience, I can say that good people and bad people exist in any group of people, whether the grouping is based on their ideas, ie Objectivists, Christians, Hindus, or on economic status, ie rich or poor, or geographically.

I am tempted to say that almost no one, at least I haven’t yet come across anyone, who is fully integrated and can trace the path of all his abstract ideas to reality and vice-versa (except for Ayn Rand, I could say…). Hence, from what I have seen that it is a common prevalence that well-meaning, earnest people often hold ideas which are irrational, as they themselves are not integrated enough, for one reason or another.

Based on their actions and their sense-of-life, we can divide people roughly into two categories, ones who are more on the producer side and ones who are more on the parasitical side. Ones who do not want the unearned, spiritually or materially, and those who use others, either to gain material value or spiritual value. Of course, degrees differ from individual to individual, and so would the intensity of your friendship/aversion towards them.

What I mainly rely is on a sense-of-life or subconscious level affinity…if you can click with a person, it is his actualized values and ideas that matter, what kind of a person he is at his subconscious level.

One of the key I have found to easily relate with people is this: Most people get put off by a person who has a need to derive self-esteem out of them, be it an Objectivist or a religious person or any other…that kind of a person is out to get ‘something’ out of others, although it is a spiritual thing (self-esteem in this context). To the degree a person has this need, to that degree he, mostly unknowingly ‘asserts himself’ and irritates others. And most people do this without even realizing this: Consciously they think that they are really not concerned what others think about them, yet in their attitude, tone, mannerism, airs, it comes out —their need to show their superiority or smartness…

Some I have seen flaunt the expensive/fashionable products they possess (which they didn’t create, and never mind how they made the money to buy them), etc….some flaunt the ideas they got by reading some thinkers (ideas which are not theirs) and use that knowledge to derive their self-worth, by putting others down ( specificially those who haven’t read the same thinker) and establishing their superiority. In fact, I have come to believe that most people, including the good ones, in varying degrees and vis-a-vis different issues, suffer from this, including me.

The ideal, I tell myself, would be, if I can reach the stage, where I can be emotionally peacefully, even if the whole world lived and died thinking that I was a fool, or a nut. Imagine Howard Roark in the quarry, peacefully drilling away without concern that the whole world might live and die thinking that he was a worthless labourer, a fool and none better…(the only pain he experiences is from the fact that he cannot do what he loves, ie build, not from the fact about what others may or may not think about him).

If I reached that stage, then I would find it so easy to be the real ‘me’, to be myself in any situation ‘walk amongst kings and beggars, and still be the same (as Kipling says in ‘If’). I wouldn’t find the need to put on an act in any form…

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Thought provoking

I was again randomly flipping through AS, and invariably, any page I open turns out to be a gem…I just read the following paras, and Ayn Rand’s literary and intellectual genius comes out so well, where there is a reason for every word or phrase she uses. Only, there was one particular part which I didn’t understand…maybe somebody out here can pitch in…It’s a dialogue between Fransciso and Dagny, somewhere in the middle of the book, where Franscisco reveals partly to Dagny, the nature of the game that he has been playing, trying to destroy D’Anconia Copper etc. (Pg 586)

… Don’t ask me for help or money. You know my reasons. Now you may hate me — as, from your stand, you should.

(To add a bit of context, in the earlier paras, Dagny has become aware of how much Francisco still values her, and desires to sleep with her)

She raised her head a little, there was no perceptible change in her posture, it was no more than her awareness of her own body, and OF ITS MEANING TO HIM, (caps mine), but for the length of one sentence she stood as a woman, the suggestion of defiance coming only from the faintly stressed spacing of her words: “And what will it do to you?”

He looked at her, in full understanding, but neither admitting nor denying the confession she wanted to tear from him: “That is no one’s concern but mine,” he answered

(Persumably, Franscisco doesn’t want to burden her with his pain or loss of a value…)

It was she who weakened, but realized, while saying it, that this was still more cruel: “ I don’t hate you. I’ve tried to, for years, but I never will, no matter what we do, either one of us.”

Now why is what Dagny ends up saying, still more cruel … what would have been less cruel. I just tried to put my thinking cap on this one:

My Thoughts:

Dagny actually still loves Franscisco, but given the context of her knowledge of Franscisco’s actions, she cannot allow even herself to admit that she still loves him, inspite of his apparently wasted life.

So, instead of saying to Franscisco, that ‘inspite of everything, I haven’t stopped loving you,’ what she does is only tells him half the truth, that she doesn’t hate him. In the process of saying this, she realises that this would hurt Franscisco more, as this implies an indifference — if someone you loved intensely changed his ways, one can in the least, not be neutral about it: either one would start hating/despising that person, or one would be still loving him.

An indifference would imply that ‘you were no big deal for me, you didn’t matter much anyway.’

So in this sense, Dagny ends ups being more cruel while intending to actually soften the impact for Franscisco (though of course, I doubt Franscisco feels the pain just because of this statement, as he would be wise enough to realise that Dagny does have feelings for him and he does mean a lot to her, even if she doesn’t admit it.

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