Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Facets of Ayn Rand -- now available online

It is important for people to know the truth about Ayn Rand the person, as well as Ayn Rand the novelist-philosopher. A good place to begin are the memoirs of Mary Ann and Charles Sures, now available for free online. The Sures family knew Ayn Rand for almost 20 years, and Mary Ann knew her even longer. The memoirs paint a picture of an intelligent and highly passionate woman -- passionate about ideas and about life. At the same time they show a woman who lived on this earth, not in the clouds, who enjoyed spending time with her friends, playing games and even joking around occasionally. Here is a representative excerpt:
ARI: This brings me to the ques­tion: what kind of a boss was Ayn Rand?

She was, in a word, a love­ly boss, very easy to work for. She never issued terse orders, or showed impatience, or stood over my shoulder. She was not your stereotypical temperamental genius. There was a graciousness in her manner — there was always “please” and “thank you” when she had a request. But she wasn’t chatty; there was seldom any small talk before I started to work, if she was already at her desk. We agreed on the day’s work and I got right to it.

This raises what I call the spiritual atmosphere of the household. In a few words, it was sheer, unadulterated, never-end­ing good will — an atmosphere created by both Ayn and Frank. Here were two unpretentious and considerate peo­ple. In that home, there were no meta-messages or hidden agendas or speak­ing between the lines — there was always complete candor. And no tension hang­ing in the air. It was, truly, a benevolent universe.

When there wasn’t a full day’s work for me, she apologized. I didn’t mind; I used to float to work, eager to get there. Once, I told her that I liked com­ing over because it was a sane and friend­ly place, and she said, “Oh?” in her characteristic way, and nodded and said, “Well, yes it is, you’re right.” And she added that I was free to come over and br­ing work of my own on days when I wasn’t scheduled to work for her.
Those who are curious what kind of person Ayn Rand really was would be well advised to take a look.

1 comment:

Burgess Laughlin said...

One of my favorite passages from Facets of Ayn Rand is Charles Sures's description of their visit to a stamp convention. (Both he and Rand were avid stamp collectors.) At one display table, the dealer behind the table spoke brusquely to her when she indicated she wasn't planning to buy at the moment.

She looked him in the eye and calmly asked, "Have I offended you?" (p. 60)

The dealer was embarrassed, and he apologized. They went about their business.

Her etiquette in this situation was perfect. There was none of the hissing, the screaming of insults, or the calling of other people "morons" that characterizes so many inferior cultures of the world, and none of the emotionalism that marks so much of the internet today. There was instead one human being respectfully asking a respectful question that went right to the heart of the matter: justice.

By the way, Rand had collected, at one point, over 50,000 stamps! (p. 58)