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The One and Only Ayn Rand: A Pioneer in Objectivist Thought

Ayn Rand is a name that has become synonymous with individualism, Objectivism, and the pursuit of personal freedom. Her philosophy has been embraced by millions of readers worldwide, and her novels have become classics in literature. Rand’s works have been praised for portraying heroes who strive to achieve their goals despite their obstacles and for celebrating reason and rationality as the highest virtues. Though her success in these areas is indisputable, her notoriety in Hollywood is due to the controversies surrounding her ideas. Regardless of these controversies, her legacy as a philosopher and novelist continues to impact and encourage readers in contemporary times.

Rand’s philosophy has inspired many prominent figures. Mark Zuckerberg, the mastermind behind Facebook, has acknowledged the impact of Rand’s novel, “The Fountainhead,” on his life. Similarly, Elon Musk, the visionary CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, has expressed his admiration for Rand’s work, particularly “The Fountainhead.” Lana Del Rey, the famous singer and songwriter, also referenced Rand’s ideas in her songs and expressed her admiration for her philosophy in interviews. Former US President Donald Trump has identified himself with Howard Roark, the protagonist of “The Fountainhead” as an example of individualism.

Numerous distinguished figures in Hollywood have been influenced by Rand’s philosophy. For example, actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has cited Rand’s philosophy as a significant influence on her work. In addition, filmmakers Oliver Stone and Vadim Perelman have shown respect for Rand’s ideas, particularly her emphasis on individualism. Although not all these individuals may agree with all aspects of Objectivism, their appreciation for Rand’s work exemplifies the ongoing impact of her ideas on various fields of study and artistic expression. Indeed, Rand’s influence has permeated even the glamorous world of Hollywood.

Rand was born on February 2, 1905, in St. Petersburg, Russia, and died on March 6, 1982, in New York City. She is best known for her novels “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” which have been widely influential in philosophy, politics, and economics. Rand’s family was Jewish and she grew up during the Russian Revolution, which profoundly impacted her worldview. Her father owned a pharmacy, but the Bolsheviks confiscated the business and the family was forced to flee to Crimea. Rand studied at Petrograd State University but left to pursue her writing career before completing her degree. She emigrated to the United States from Russia in 1926 where she found the intellectual and artistic freedom she had been seeking. As a result, she became one of the most influential writers and thinkers of the 20th century. Rand was a woman of strong convictions and a fierce personality who left an indelible mark on American intellectual history.

Various thinkers and philosophers influenced Rand throughout her life. However, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, and John Locke are the most notable influences on her philosophical ideas. Rand was particularly drawn to Aristotle’s ideas about reason and the pursuit of happiness and she incorporated these concepts into her philosophy. However, she was also influenced by Nietzsche’s individualism, rejection of traditional morality, and Locke’s emphasis on individual rights and the limitations of government power.

In addition to these philosophers, Rand was influenced by several literary figures, including Victor Hugo, Edmond Rostand, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. These authors helped shape Rand’s ideas about the importance of art and literature in shaping society and promoting individualism. Overall, while Rand’s philosophy was a unique synthesis of many different influences, she developed her own unique ideas about individuality, reason, and the pursuit of happiness.

Rand was a lover of music, mainly classical music. She believed music was a powerful medium for expressing emotions and ideas and saw a strong connection between music and her philosophy of Objectivism. She especially enjoyed the works of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff and even included references to music in some of her novels, such as “Atlas Shrugged.”

“I decided to become a writer not to save the world, not to serve my fellow men, but for the simple, personal, selfish, egoistical happiness of creating the kind of men and events I could like, respect, and admire. I can bear to look around me levelly. I cannot bear to look down. I wanted to look up,” she wrote in the “To the Readers of Fountainhead “letter in 1945.

Her unwavering attitude and charismatic speaking style often clashed with other intellectuals who disagreed with her views. Despite her success as a novelist and philosopher, Rand was a controversial figure in Hollywood. She believed that the film industry represented the worst aspects of American culture, including shallowness, materialism, hypocrisy, and decadence. Rand was critical of government power, arguing that its only legitimate function was to crack down on criminals. Rand believed that the highest moral purpose was the achievement of one’s happiness, which she saw as a natural result of living according to rational, self-interested principles.

In Hollywood, Rand was courted by movie stars hoping to influence casting decisions. She was given a high-paying job with Warner Brothers and a spacious office. However, she was unhappy with the Hollywood lifestyle and longed to return to New York. When the production of The Fountainhead was delayed due to the war, Rand entered a five-year writing contract with producer Hal Wallis and bought a home in Chatsworth, California, where she lived for seven years.

During her time in Hollywood, Rand’s worldview underwent a significant shift. She became involved in political activism, particularly in opposition to communist ideas infiltrating labor unions in the entertainment industry. She joined the Film Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals founded by Hollywood influencers including Walt Disney, John Wayne, and The Fountainhead director King Vidor. She was surprised to be elected to the executive committee of the group. Rand also served on the board of directors of the American Writers’ Association which opposed a plan that would have given a new authoritative body ownership of all copyrights for all writers.

Previously, the driving force behind her creative work was individualism – but later, she said in an interview: “Do you know that the goal of my philosophical crusade is not just a battle against collectivism or altruism? These things are only consequences and effects – but not the primary causes. Now I have identified the main cause, the root of all evil on earth – irrationality.”