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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Constant Advice

posted by on September 20 at 12:15 PM

Someone in the office—named Amy Kate Horn—just declared Paul Constant’s thing about dressing oneself “the best paragraph in the Back to School guide.” Here tis:

Guess what? People don’t wear clothing to be comfortable. People wear clothing to be attractive. If comfort was our only goal as a species, we’d all be wandering around in velour sacks, idly masturbating, and eating fistfuls of pudding. So don’t wear your pajamas around campus. Sweatpants suggest that you have a load in your drawers. Crocs are for special-ed students who can’t lace their goddamned shoes. And if your clothes have holes in them, either learn to sew or throw them away. It’s a basic sign of respect for the species that you not dress like a sexless hobo.

That’s pretty good advice for college students. (More one-paragraph pieces of advice here.) But not as good as Constant’s advice—about not letting books turn you into an asshole—over here:

Jesus fucking Christ. Are you reading Atlas Shrugged? Don’t you know it’ll turn you into an asshole for at least two years? When you’re college-age and your parents are paying for everything, you’re likely to be a big believer in people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Ayn Rand appeals to your age group for that reason, but the problem is, once you actually have to pay your own way, bootstrap-pulling gets a whole fuck of a lot harder, and Rand sounds more and more like a creepy Republican. If you’re over 25 and you still think her books are great, you’re (a) white and (b) an asshole.

RSS icon Comments


I had my Ayn Rand phase in college. I have come to the realization her philosophy is a wee bit fascist, but she made a few good points that have stuck with me over the long run(yes, I am a selfish asshole).

Posted by Rotten666 | September 20, 2007 12:23 PM

i've always assumed anyone who's reading an ayn rand novel is doing so because they think it makes them look smart. i read syndey sheldon for the same reason.

Posted by brandon | September 20, 2007 12:28 PM

Show me any copy of Atlas Shrugged, and I'll show you where every single copy in the world falls open. Three guesses where it is.

Pie-in-the-sky libertarianist philosophy palls in comparison to steamy-for-its-day sex scenes every time.

Oh, and Paul Constant, I think I love you.

Posted by Geni | September 20, 2007 12:29 PM

Great point about dressing yourself in college. There's a great thread going on right now about it in the SomethingAwful forums, with similar sentiments to Mr. Constant's being echoed. It's only been a few years since I was in college, but I'm astounded that people consider wearing pajamas to class even halfway normal or acceptable.

Posted by laterite | September 20, 2007 12:29 PM

Oh, fer crying out loud. You know that you all sound like a bunch of cranky old men whining about kids wearing pajamas. So they wear pajamas? Who cares. If I could show up to work in sweats and a tee-shirt, I would.

And the same whiners who think college kids shouldn't wear pajamas complain when they wear low rise jeans and low cut tops. Frankly, given the choice of pajama clad college students and scantily clad college students, I'd go with pajamas.


Posted by arduous | September 20, 2007 12:34 PM


I think I will take the scantily clad co-eds, thank you very much.

Posted by G$ | September 20, 2007 12:36 PM

he forgot (c): chairman of the federal reserve.

Posted by bing | September 20, 2007 12:44 PM

Ayn Rand did make me at least a bit on a asshole for a couple years in high school. Especially after I read the biography The Passion of Ayn Rand I reaslized just how full of it she is. However, I sort of agree with the first poster that some things she wrote about have stuck with even though I've turned into a liberal Democrat. For example, people can be motivated to do good things by selfishness. And collectivists (or social activists) are oftentimes full of shit. And of course I'm still and athiest.

Posted by Peter | September 20, 2007 12:53 PM

Yeah, I got through my Randian phase early in high school, which actually worked out pretty well, since I became just enough of an asshole in my junior & senior years to finally fit in with "the cool kids".

Which was so much better than being an object of their derision, ridicule and scorn. Not to mention the pummellings.

Strangely, I still have a complete collection of her works, along with a couple of biographies, but I don't think I've cracked a single one of them for at least a decade.

Posted by COMTE | September 20, 2007 12:57 PM

Well..... I dress for comfort. If it itches, I don't wear it. If it cuts into my feet, I don't wear it. I obviously try not to look like a total slob, but sometimes it's unavoidable, and I'd rather look like a slob and be comfortable than look straight from the pages of a magazine and be miserable. Life's just waaaay too short.

Posted by Katelyn | September 20, 2007 12:58 PM

I missed out on having an Ayn Rand phase. I tried to read The Fountainhead when I was 25 but gaave up at the date-rape scene. This guy is supposed to be the hero of the story? Fuck that.

Posted by Matt from Denver | September 20, 2007 1:02 PM

I never went through the "obligatory" Ayn Rand phase. Even in tenth grade, when my friends were lapping up this shit, I knew better.

Nyah nyah.

Posted by tsm | September 20, 2007 1:06 PM

I still like Ayn Rand, but like everything else, with a grain of salt (especially her views on sexual ethics). If you like Salinger, do you have to become a loner? If you like Hunter S. Thompson, do you have to be a drugged-out lunatic? Just because she emphasized the power of the individual does not make a fan an asshole. Besides, many of us read her after reading all sorts of high school required pro-commie bullshit, so it's a refreshing change at an impressionable time.

Posted by MR. Language Person | September 20, 2007 1:12 PM

Rand is about as bad as Marx. Both ideologies are royally fucked up. But you should read it to understand why it is fucked up.

It bothers me when people try this quasi form of censorship and Rand was an atheist who predicted that the last big -ism civilization would need to fight off is religious fundamentalism. So she is not totally full of shit.

Read everything, understand everything and keep a critical/open mind.

Posted by Just Me | September 20, 2007 1:13 PM

Hahaha! I don't think you have to agree with Rand to appreciate her writing. I thought Atlas Shrugged was interesting as hell... do I believe in her Utopia? Uh, no.

@12: Good work! You didn't read. I'm sure you're a better person for not having experienced something.

Posted by Carollani | September 20, 2007 1:14 PM

All this talk of Ayn Rand has overlooked the most important point of the slog:

Crocs are for special-ed students who canít lace their goddamned shoes.

Posted by John Galt doesn't wear dumbass shoes | September 20, 2007 1:21 PM

@15 - oh, I did read some of Rand's work, particularly her essays. After wading through several dozen or so poorly substantiated assertions, I concluded that it was tripe and did not feel the least bit obliged to waste further neurons on her.

Posted by tsm | September 20, 2007 1:26 PM

Ayn Rand is just self-masturbatory "literature" for the idealist.

That road leads to Hubris and Red Bushies.

Avoid it like the plague.

Speaking of which ... it's back.

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 20, 2007 1:37 PM

@5 I couldn't agree more. Constant is like my grandpa telling me to wear a goddamn belt and telling my brother to take off his hat inside the house. Oh no, your clothes have holes in them! How can you be so disrespectful?

Posted by ben | September 20, 2007 1:38 PM

oh, and the PJs and flip-flops are cool.

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 20, 2007 1:38 PM

Dammit, I have brain damage (but I do not yet wear Crocs). It was the Fountainhead I was referring to in my post #3, not Atlas Shrugged. What can I say, I get them mixed up. They both put me to sleep.

Posted by Geni | September 20, 2007 1:43 PM

I have nothing nice to say.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 20, 2007 1:52 PM

Ayn Rand was 100% totally and absolutely right about everything (always) and never ever left the house in pajamas and flip-flops. The Stranger is a modern day New York Banner and Charles Mudede is the incarnation of Ellsworth Toohey.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 20, 2007 1:52 PM

The important thing for young people to remember is that college is a time for Big Ideas, many of which, no matter how much they may resonate for you today, will later make you feel embarassed. This embarassment may manifest in various attempts at retroactive overcompensation, such as urging the younger generation to avoid those very same Big Ideas.

The younger generation, to the extent that they read books at all, will for the most part ignore your advice and scorn you for being an old fart and a sell-out, and go right on reading books that make them feel smart in place of the books that make you feel smart. They will also stubbornly refuse to dress sensibly or show any respect for their elders, and they will keep right on cutting across your lawn no matter how many times you tell them not to.

Posted by flamingbanjo | September 20, 2007 1:54 PM

@23 wins.

Posted by Rotten666 | September 20, 2007 2:03 PM

Fortunately, I got done with Ayn Rand in high school. It did make me a total asshole, particularly as my family is upper middle class, and it led me to lecture working class people about the inherent fairness of a flat tax.

Posted by Gitai | September 20, 2007 2:04 PM

Fuck, what is with the reactionary attitude here? No one's talking about ascots and spats here. Going out wearing pajamas, even in college, makes you look like a total apathetic slob. Christ, how hard is it to put on jeans and a fucking t-shirt?

Posted by laterite | September 20, 2007 2:07 PM

I like my fake $7 crocs... They are pink and make me happy. Pink is the Christian liturgical color of joy and the Rajput color of hospitality. And they are bright, which just makes me feel happy. Naturally I have real shoes, even non-tennis shoes, which I wear when I want to be taken seriously. But there's no reason (except sheer snobbery) for me to forgo the crocs for a trip to the pharmacy or a late-night foray to QFC for frozen pizza.

Posted by Katelyn | September 20, 2007 2:27 PM

I like the general tone of the comments here. I, too, like reading Rand, not because I agree with her (I think she takes a pretty good idea way-too-far) but because she becomes a foil for an idea that I think should be in the mix. So, while I am a progressive who tends to side with social democrats, there's a sprinkling of Randian worship of the individual mixed in.

What drives me crazy is this notion, often found here among my friends, that there are good books to read and bad books to read (or music, or art, or etc.) and that we can make judgements of others based on these things. I sure hope that no one judges me by the books on my shelf; many are there precisely because I disagree with the viewpoint, but find the engagement with the ideas healthy.

Oh, and yes, #23 wins. :-)

Posted by Timothy | September 20, 2007 2:42 PM

Using people with special needs as the launching point of sarcasm is a very cheap shot indeed. Grow up - oh I forgot, you are still hoping mom and dad will pay someone to do that for you.

Posted by Mom of Special Ed Student | September 20, 2007 2:45 PM


phew. i said it. it's a shameful thing, and i hate myself a bit every time it do, and my best friend dies a little inside every time i do, but they're so comfy. i only wear them to wait tables and i swear i'll never buy another pair and contribute to the company, but god, they're the best table-waiting shoes i've ever had.

please don't hate me.

Posted by erin | September 20, 2007 3:33 PM
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 20, 2007 3:39 PM

rand sucks for one reason: she tries to use language in a horrible non-genuine way and relies on so called "logic" to guide her.

but thats not the only problem. the people that love ayn rand are sheep like scientologists.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | September 20, 2007 3:40 PM

I actually spit tea at my laptop screen when I got to "fistfuls of pudding". Just so ya know.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | September 20, 2007 4:15 PM

Oh, and I luv my Crocs.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | September 20, 2007 4:17 PM

@27 - I used to own an ascot.

It was part of my military uniform.

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 20, 2007 4:40 PM

Man, has Paul seen how I dress? Uh, wait. Probably.

Posted by Dan Savage | September 20, 2007 5:10 PM

Dan, are you wearing that velour sack again today???

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 20, 2007 5:15 PM

@10 and everyone else who thinks looking like a slob is okay:

Life is to short to look awful through it. You're only young once. Take advantage of it.

Actually, I don't really care that most people are too insecure/lazy/indifferent to clothing to bother trying, because with a little bit of effort I am pretty much the best dressed person wherever I go (and I bet my whole outfit cost less than your sweats).

Posted by exelizabeth | September 20, 2007 5:36 PM

The way you dress shows how seriously you take what you're doing. A college kid going to class looking like shit tells me they don't really appreciate the opportunity they're getting, whether or not they say they do.

And Ayn Rand was thankfully more of a punchline among my peers and I than mandatory reading during HS.

Posted by Gomez | September 20, 2007 6:49 PM

I have to admit, college students who have just discovered Ayn Rand to tend to be a complete pain in the ass. The kids who just discovered Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky are also complete choads, too. If only there were some way to get them to share dorm rooms with one another...

Posted by Roger Williams | September 21, 2007 3:45 AM

Chili-print chef pants try to be better than pj's.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | September 21, 2007 8:14 AM

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