Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Was Shitting You People - A Message From Ayn Rand

To Whom It May Concern:

I gave my lawyer instructions to release this message after my death. A joke I concocted when I was a kid has gone way, way too far. The most important thing you should know is this: Nothing I have ever written was meant to be taken seriously. You really don't want to build some kind of philosophy around Atlas Shrugged, okay? I'm sorry if I caused any trouble. I owe you an explanation.

Back in the early 1940s I was living in Tenafly, New Jersey with a guy named Ronnie Hubbard. He was hiding out in his brother's basement so he could avoid the draft, and I was working at a rendering plant. Most nights we'd lie on this cot he'd found on a curb and drink, fuck like weasels, and smoke opium. I'll be honest: We smoked a shit-ton of opium. Anyway over the course of a few weeks -- it's hard to piece it all together -- we started talking about pranks.

"What's the worst prank you could possibly pull?" he wanted to know. I can still see those piggy little eyes glinting while he said it. He was an ugly man. I have no idea how I ended up with him. But he asked the question a few times, and I didn't really have much of a reply. Until one day, the answer just came to me.

"The worst thing you could do would be to somehow take the most terrible people in the world, and make them even greater douches than they already are. Find a way to zero in on all of their ugliest faults and vices, and just... just amp them up beyond belief. That would be something."

He sucked on his pipe, adjusted his filthy kimono, and thought a bit.

"I'm going to convince actors they have super powers."

It sounded like drug talk when he first said it. I mean, what the fuck did that mean, right? It took years before I realized -- before any of us realized -- what he was going to do. Anyway, at the time I argued with him that actors weren't worth it. They couldn't cause any real damage, because no one with any sense would take them seriously. (I know, I know.)

"Fine," he said huffily. "Who would you go after?"
"Rich white college kids."
"Jesus," he said. "That's... that's perfect."
"I know, right?"
"They're the worst."
"God, they're horrible."
"But what are you going to do to them?"
"I'm going to convince them... that they're just too nice."

We laughed for twenty minutes. I was tearing up, and Ronnie was wheezing like he was going to stroke out. I didn't even know where I was going with this idea. But it felt just so fucking wrong. In a good way. In a great way.

Of course we never thought we could do any of this. You figure even the most entitled, morally backward people kind of know they're being dicks. No one is going to believe that being selfish and irresponsible is actually a good thing. Right?

Next thing I know Ronnie's goaded me into writing this wooden, transparently stupid novel. And it sells, like, a bajillion copies. I kept waiting for someone to figure out it was all a joke. But the reporters kept asking serious, thoughtful questions, and the goddamn college kids kept joining those clubs.

In 1959 I was interviewed by Mike Wallace (Attorney Note: Clip below).


I was sure Mike would catch on. And I was more stoned than two Carrie Fishers. But it just made me more successful. The years passed, and the money kept coming in. They wanted more books, more essays, more appearances at university debate clubs so we could talk about how great life would be if everyone was running around being an absolute first class knob to everyone else.

As I write this it's 1981 and Ronald Reagan is in office. I assume people will come to their senses, and the whole thing will unravel soon. But if it doesn't, I want you to know the truth. Because someone has to shut this crap down. I'm sorry.
BIBEAU NOTE: READ THE NEXT SECRET AYN RAND DOCUMENT HERE.

(And If you enjoyed this, you should know that I began my career as a desperate magazine writer and low-level scrub at the now-defunct Mademoiselle. My novella, The Big Money, is a funny, fictionalized account of my experiences, and it's available for your Kindle or your Nook for 99 cents.

It features sexual fantasy sequences, World War II trivia, drunkenness, betrayal, murderous rages, the Spider Demon at the end of
Doom, and a weird love story involving cat-sitting. It is loosely based on the truth. And when I say "loosely" I mean that it is true in the emotional, but not legally actionable sense.)

35 comments:

  1. genius, satire. and i even think ayn was correct in her philosophy.

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  2. Oddly enough, speaking of pranks, Philip Jose Farmer once told me in all seriousness that Hubbard started Scientology as a $50 bet that he could start a religion. (He also pointed out that Hubbard never spoke to him again after he joined Scientology for awhile while living in L.A. but quit.)

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    1. Someone I know asked Asimov if this was true at a con in the '70s (He claims, I don't know this guy that well.) & he says Asimov didn't confirm or deny it, but did say, "You're a smart young man."

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  3. My good lord, she has wonderful teeth!

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  4. Danny Adams: He said that to a lot of people, including Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. Eshbach's version of the quote, in his autobiography Over My Shoulder (http://www.amazon.com/Over-My-Shoulder-Reflections-Science/dp/1880418118), is as follows: "I’d like to start a religion. That’s where the money is."

    In Over My Shoulder, Eshbach also describes, in a dismayed fashion, the hold Hubbard had on the legendary Astounding editor John W. Campbell. He even describes the birth of Dianetics as having taken place with Campbell's willing and eager assent.

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  5. Ayn Rand died on benefits.

    http://bit.ly/ybM2Zi

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  6. Wonderful - Perhaps you have seen the following:
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves Orcs.”

    Couldn't stop laughing ;-)

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  7. Nice, though the word "douches" is an anachronism in the context.

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    1. Just to defend the parody (which I think is grand), I think "douche" is legit. I hung out with rich kids in the early '70s, and I'm pretty sure that was when I first heard "douche" as an insult. But I wouldn't swear to it. Why isn't the OED all over this question?

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    2. Definitely goes back to at least the early 70's, but to be accurate vernacular of the time, it should be "douche bag", not just "douche."

      JzB old enough to know, young enough to remember.

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  8. I think Ayn Rand got most of it wrong about good and evil, but you can't prove that by showing that she died on benefits - if she was forced to pay her payroll tax, she had the right to social security. One might wonder if an altruistic opponent of social security would forgo taking benefits, but altruistic Ayn Rand was not, and she never said so.

    Peter T

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    1. If you oppose something, you can't rationalize doing it simply because it's legal. Pacifists don't say they believe in peace, then go to war because their country is going to war. Hypocrisy is easy to understand...at least, if you're not Ayn Rand.

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    2. Anonymous, I completely agree! She paid into it, and so it was absolutely NOT hypocrisy to draw from it. In fact, any real understanding of her philosophy would reveal that it would be more hypocritical for her NOT to collect it; because she paid into it, and so to not collect from it would mean that she just 'gave' it to Social Security, and we all know how she felt about charitable gifts. And I'm not saying I agree with her about charity, or even that she didn't have some ideas that were contradictory; I'm just saying Social Security is not one of them!

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    3. By accepting the benefits of Social Security, she was implicitly admitting that Social Security is beneficial.

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  9. This is one of the funniest things I have read in a long, long time. You are comedic writing brilliance.

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  10. Watch her eyes when Wallace asks her about altruism. She knows she's cornered and she looks everywhere but at Wallace. Then he asks her about love and she lays down a view of love between husband and wife that would be totally alien to anyone who has been in such a relationship.

    And Wallace is right at the beginning when he frames her "philosophy" as contrary to every other philosophy that has ever been produced throughout the last few thousand years of human thought.

    The woman was a charlatan.

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  11. It was a bet between Hubbard and Heinlein. A friend of mine's grandfather ran the first SF convention in a hotel room somewhere (can't remember) in the late 40's. He witnessed the bet.

    The TV series "Millenium" had the best scientologist parody I've seen. Hunt it up.

    For more fine early scientology trivia, see my URL.

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  12. As pointed out above, a great many people recall Hubbard making the statement over the years before he wrote the first Dianetics articles which led to scientology. Given his confabulatory nature up to that point, spending the next three decades farting hot air and charging for the privelege of snorting it up seems like the natural thing to do.

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  13. Great snark Paul. I put a link to this article on my new anti-Rand cite. http://aynrandhatedjesus.blogspot.com/

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  14. Ugh.

    I could say a lot more, of course, but it's probably better for me not to get started.

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  15. I am cracking up, this little story is hilarious!

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  16. Video is blocked by youtube.

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    1. Thanks. I found another clip. This may well be blocked soon, but for now, it's up.

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    2. It was up for awhile. Youtube giveth, and Youtube taketh away. Thanks for the heads up.

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    3. I put yet another one up. And it will be taken down. And I will put it up again. Ah, the net.

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  17. I lol'd and lol'd and lol'd some more. My friends need a blunt object to the head to figure out she is full of it. And they are CHRISTIANS!!!

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  18. I remember seeing the fountainhead for the first time and thinking, who would buy this crap, this woman is exploiting him, shes useless... he's being co opted... it was infuriating. I hated it, and I really hated her. She is just a psycho hag . I LOVE YOUR ESSAYS!!! LOVE THE RON HUBBARD STUFF. GREAT FUN!!!

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  19. I'm no Rand fan, but what jumped out of the interview was this.

    Mike Wallace twice made reference to the idea that social programs were based upon "I am my brother's keeper." It is more clear today than in 1959 that just isn't the case. The foundation of social programs are based upon "We are the government and we intend on making you so dependent upon us that you will have no choice but to obey or be destroyed." The Democratic Party and liberals/progressives in general have made that viewpoint the focus of their existence. They are totalitarians. I have yet to met or hear a Democrat/liberal/progressive whose underlying philosophy was anything other than "Me, me, me."

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    1. I think you have to back off from use of the word "totalitarian." It's like liberals with "fascist." It's a real term, and real criteria have to be met in order to use it.

      As to the main point: What is the evidence that the government/the Democrats/liberals have created social programs with the actual aim of creating extreme dependency? I'm serious - is there a memo or manifesto or something? I'm a Democrat, and I just want the government to help poor people... I'm sure others agree with that notion.

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