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Fountainhead Comments

Rereading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Some notes:
He remembered his last private conversation with her-in the cab on their way from Toohey’s meeting. He remembered the indifferent calm of her insults to him-the utter contempt of insults delivered without anger.
“Shut up, Alvah, before I slap your face,” said Wynand without raising his voice.
“Pipe down, Sweetie-pie,” said Toohey without resentment.
There's a theme here involving negative comments without negative emotions.
It was not sarcasm; he wished it were; sarcasm would have granted him a personal recognition-the desire to hurt him.
Negative comments due to negative emotions are easier to take. "Oh, you hate me, so you're being mean." But when it's impersonal, it's harder to dismiss the negative comments. If there's no motive besides the person thinks the negative comments are true, it's hard to ignore them without considering whether they're true or false (with objective reasons).

The position on sarcasm is notable too. I independently came to the same position. But few people are aware of this. Sarcasm is generally seen as more harmless than it is.
There’s an interesting question there. What is kinder-to believe the best of people and burden them with a nobility beyond their endurance-or to see them as they are, and accept it because it makes them comfortable? Kindness being more important than justice, of course.”
(This is a villain speaking, which is why the last sentence states a bad position.)

This issue is really important. You might expect people to like material such as The Beginning of Infinity. That book explains that problems can be solved, and people can make unbounded, unlimited progress. That's good, right? A better life is possible. The future can be awesome.

But people don't flock to ideas like these. It's not that they have counter-arguments. They can't refute it. They just don't actually like or want it. It burdens them with a nobility they don't want to deal with trying to live up to. It's easier if a bad life is all that's possible to man, so then they can live badly without feeling guilty.

With people like this, what could get through to them and help them become rational thinkers? What would get their interest so they'd (happily) try to live better?
“The worst thing about dishonest people is what they think of as honesty,” he said. “I know a woman who’s never held to one conviction for three days running, but when I told her she had no integrity, she got very tight-lipped and said her idea of integrity wasn’t mine; it seems she’d never stolen any money. Well, she’s one that’s in no danger from me whatever. I don’t hate her. I hate the impossible conception you love so passionately, Dominique.”
People lie. All the time. Especially to themselves.

And, what Rand's talking about: they lie to themselves about what lying is, so that they can believe they aren't liars!

Elliot Temple on September 6, 2014

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