You had Anthem foisted on you by your junior high school English teacher and later, as a pretentious college student, you slogged your way through The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. Somehow you never woke up to the fact that Ayn Rand is a terrible writer and a bogus intellectual whose chief claim to fame is coining the term “Objectivism,” which is a fancy, faux-philosophical term for a range of personality disorders such as “greediness,” “selfishness,” “piggishness,” “narcissicism,” and “psychopathy.”
What does this make you? A complete tool? A proud member of the target audience for a brand new exhibition of Rand's actual notebooks, which will be on display for the next few months at the Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives at Chapman University's Leatherby Libraries?
If you answered “both,” you're right!
According to the rambling, preposterously detailed, five-page press release titled “Ayn Rand at Chapman: An American Warning from a Russian Author,” the exhibit “commemorates the 75th publication anniversary of Ayn Rand's first novel, We the Living (1936) and the 50th publication anniversary of Rand's first nonfiction book, For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (1961)” and it “features a display of historical editions, reproductions on paper, realia and original manuscripts.”
There will be special screenings of two films–We the Living (1942) an Italian adaptation of Rand's first novel, and the 1997 documentary, Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life. But apparently, the highlight of the exhibit is Rand's so-called “Airtight” notebook, which the press release says “contains Rand's earliest handwritten notes on her novel” and is being “displayed in public for the first time.”
The novel to which the notebook pertains, the twice-aforementioned We the
Living, has been described by Rand as “near to an autobiography as I
will ever write.” It concerns a young engineering student in
Communist-ruled Russia who “feigns a love affair with an idealistic
member of the Communist party in order to save her actual love, a
self-destructive son of a Tsarist Admiral.”
What's really exciting to the diehard Rand fan about these notes? The curators are going to turn the pages of the notebook over the course of the two months the volume will be displayed, meaning that you can drop by every day of the week in the hopes of finding new pages to gaze upon.
The title of the exhibit is “We the Living and For the New Intellectual: Celebrating the Drama and Philosophy of Ayn Rand.” Exhibit hours are Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free.
You've been warned.
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is managing editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).