Rebirth of Reason


AR--Ayn Rand: Audacious Revolutionary!
by Lindsay Perigo

Last week I retraced the steps of SOLO in its three brief years of existence. Since I'm still in seasonally nostalgic mode, let me reminisce about the day Ayn Rand died, twenty-one years ago. I was presenting Morning Report on New Zealand's National Radio that day, & it fell to me to read the announcement of her death. As a recent, awe-struck young convert to her ideas, I found it difficult to report to the nation that her valiant heart had stopped beating.

Much water has flowed under the bridge since then, & I find myself asking, just what do I make of this unique woman now? Back then, I routinely carried a flaming sword on her behalf. I had all the unbridled zeal of a new convert, unable to understand why the rest of the world didn't "get it" straight away, all too ready to damn it as evil & stupid. Now, I get that way every third Tuesday only, or when reading something by Hayek. But Ayn Rand still means the world to me.

She was everything I ever wanted—& want—to encounter in another human being. Bored by trivia, exasperated by prattle, laser-fast in penetrating the core of things, sizzlingly passionate about her values, exultantly enamoured of greatness, devastatingly dismissive of mediocrity, shudderingly contemptuous of the air-headed Lillian Rearden-type preoccupation with "respectability," fearlessly defiant in her pursuit of the truth ... she was to me what Roark was to the boy on the bicycle. She rumbled the stars, & gave me the courage to face a lifetime on an earth crawling with maggots in human guise.

I had nearly got to meet her a year earlier. I was in America in my capacity as a New Zealand broadcaster, under the auspices of the United States Information Service. I could nominate whom I wished to meet & interview, & they would try to make it happen. I nominated Ayn Rand. The good folk at the USIS did their best, but we were told that, though not averse to the proposal, she was too ill to do interviews. In hindsight, I think I'm glad of that. I would assuredly have made a fool of myself. I was not yet persuaded of the entirety of her case, & would doubtless have said very silly things. Likely I would have provoked one of her legendary explosions. Yet, to have had the privilege of gazing directly into her big black eyes, of being dazzled first hand by that luminous intelligence ...

I am content to have been alive when she was, to have been a part of a generation influenced by her epoch-changing ideas, to be part of a generation imparting her total passion for the total height. We haven't heard the last of Ayn Rand by a long shot. Her shot will be like another in the history of the country she loved ... heard around the world. When this unspeakable Age of Nihilism finally collapses, its destruction will be in large measure her achievement.

May SOLO help speed the day.

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