Saturday, January 9, 2010

on the subjects of Ayn Rand and Mad Men

The other day at work, I spotted a book called "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand. I was drawn to the cover, and then to the size of the book, and then to the raw-cut edges of the pages, which I haven't experienced since East of Eden by John Steinbeck (and because of that I now associate ragged edges with books that are considered to be substantial pieces of literature). I knew right away that Ayn was someone I should have heard of before and for some reason hadn't.
I then saw another book by Rand with a cover that appealed to me more (I know you aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I'm an artist and I think beautiful visuals only enhance beautiful literature!), and this second book was "Atlas Shrugged." The title itself even appealed to me more, because I love the art of coupling of words so that they sound as though they've been grabbed out of the middle of a sentence, when you aren't sure what came before or should come after them.
I read the back of "Atlas Shrugged," and Ayn wrote that after her first novel, "The Fountainhead," she was inundated with questions. She wrote Atlas as an answer to those questions, and it became so grand that Fountainhead was now merely it's predecessor.
So, weirdly enough, tonight when I was watching Mad Men (I finally got season one from the library), the president of Don Draper's place of work, Mr. Cooper, was going on and on about Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged." She and her novel came up in at least two episodes. So now I know that I have to read Atlas. I'm not even going to try and read Fountainhead first, since Ayn herself and Mr. Cooper on Mad Men seem to find the second novel so much more important.
So I might as well talk about Mad Men a little bit, too. I love it! It's somewhat depressing, but I expected as much. It makes me wonder why my whole life I've loved that era so much - an era where people, for the most part, hid their thoughts, feelings, ambitions, etc. And it's not like Mad Men just awoke me to all of that. I've known. 
The past has always been magical to me, and despite the social limitations that I'm certain caused so much heart ache, I like to think of the people who dared to break the mold and use their minds and not care what anyone thought. There's something incredibly special to me about old literature and art that I don't really apply to modern creations, because I know the guts it took to make things back then. Everything was simpler, and that kind of provided this beautiful blank canvas for writing and art. Everything feels so cluttered nowadays.
The girls I paint are all set in the past - the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and they are nothing but themselves. They are thinking. I like to surround them with objects and settings that indicate who they are. I love painting them.


Ashley Henry said...

Ayn Rand is one of my favorite writers ever. Anthem and We The Living are some of my favorite novels. Definitely check out her other works.

Amanda Atkins said...

ooh, I will. Thank you, Miss Henry!

amy said...

my mom has always been a fan of Ayn Rand. I have her old copies of both Atlas and Fountainhead, though i lent Fountainhead to someone and I don't think I am going to get it back. i tried reading Fountainhead first and could not get into it. mom thought i would like Atlas better anyway and I DEVOURED it. It was amazing. Then I later read Fountainhead and did have an easier time with it though I think it still took me awhile to get into. I have wanted to read some of her other works and just haven't done it yet. i don't know why!
You will have to tell me what you think of Atlas when you are done. (I still have to tell you about Boston and Sleep no More!)

Kirsty said...

Yet another brilliant post! :)

Because your blog is so brilliant, I've left you an award over on my blog :)


~ Kirsty x

Andi B. Goode said...

I definitely want to read some Ayn Rand, one day! And I still have yet to watch more than two or three episodes of Mad Men. =\
-Andi x

Angela said...

I have not read any of Ayn Rand's works, but I am obsessed with Mad Men. I've seen all three seasons and the show is brilliant. True, it definitely gets depressing, made worse by the knowledge that that's how life was in those times (women at work till they meet a man and become "homemakers"). But, the costume design and attention to detail, along with great acting really makes the show stand out as something special. Peggy is one of my favorite characters because of her determination to succeed in a "man's world".