Our far flung correspondants
We received the nicest response to our Ayn Rand post yesterday from our friend T. Here it is, almost unaltered -- well, names have been changed to protect the liability of this weblog.
"Nice recollection. I was a little more fortunate in my teenage introduction to La Belle Ayn insofaras what I read was a hell of a lot shorter than your intro.
I was fourteen and spending a lot of time in detention during after regular school hours. This was fine with me as there were always lovely girls in detention and, as we couldn't exactly wildly grope each other, as I would have preferred, I had my first real experiences talking to girls, in conversation about hopes and dreams and hates and fears and all that stuff that teenagers believe to be so vital and forevermore and always; also, the detention room had a bunch of books on those stupid, steel, vertical, rotating towers. It was in that detention room that I read, in order, Brave New World, 1984, and Rand's Anthem. I cannot recall why I read them, but I do have a recollection of what I got from them: that the future will be far far worse than ever this terrible present; these were imaginative futures which see
med all so possible and sensible, and awful. Another lesson learned: the vicious, self-righteous brutality of order. Although I read a bunch of Huxley (esp. when I was fifteen and found hallucinogens and The Doors of Perception) and a bunch of Orwell later, but never touched AR again. There was nothing shrewed or clever in this aversion, its only that once I heard the word "Objectivist", without knowing anything of its definitions, I smelled something bad and walked away.
You are absolutely right about the fact that the likes of Brave New World, Animal Farm, 1984 are taught because the are teachable (writ testable). I add a link to an article about this same status for Catcher in the Rye and Old Man and the Sea. Fortunately, I met the books I mentioned above on my own; it was my own very humble introduction to "comparative" literature - that habit of 'compare and contrast' was one that was hard to break.
Now that I am recalling those years I recall another passage. This one was freshman English, coinciding with my detention time, instructed by a little man named L. Now, while I really didn't have any reason to dislike L., save his all to finely manicured beard and his condescending manner and his pointy shiny shoes and his flowing pants with cuffs much too wide and his small manicured hands, I disliked him; the saving grace of that classroom was this classmate named Tom who could occasionally steal a few joints from his older brother and sell them to me. Sexually totally inexperienced me, I had no sentiment pro or con in the rumors of L. being a "fag" - I didn't have a clue what that meant; I did, obviously, know that it was a bad thing, but I didn't know what it meant (didn't really have fags in the suburbs, I guess). I disliked him, in part, because his overly tidy appearance clearly was a front for a rage; he was not well presented because he enjoyed being so, but because he desired to contain the chaotic rage that he carried in his body. I had no sympathy for him, as I do now, for I had only hatred for the seeming hypocrisy.
My dislike for him came to a head when we were assigned another eminently testable book: Jack London's White Fang - what a horror! So, I sez to myself, L. want me to write a little paper on this stupid book; well, I sez to myself, you just read this crazy little book called The Metamorphosis and thinks if kinda cool - why not write a paper about our man Gregor. And, sezing to myself again, why not fuck with L. and write about feeling like a cockroach....so I did.
Well, L. got red-in-the-face mad and flunked me and made sure that I did some time in detention and, with the powersthatbe of the high school, convinced my parents that therapy is necessary in my case, and blah blah blah its tough being fourteen blah blah blah......anyway, I also learned of The Clash in that detention room, and I got to all so inexpertly grope a lovely girl in a bathroom adjacent to that detention room, so its all good. Thank you L., wherever you are.