Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« No He Didn't | Post-Gender? »

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What Should We Do with this Portrait of Ayn Rand?

posted by on March 19 at 12:45 PM


This drawing of Ayn Rand—sorry about the blurry pic—was created for the first Genius Awards party in 2003, by the artist Kathryn Rathke, and has been hanging in the office ever since—along with portraits of Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Samuel Beckett, Brian Wilson, and Jenny Holzer. All geniuses in their way. For a long time I’ve been sitting under Dorothy and Robert and Brian, and the copyeditors have been sitting under Ayn, but today I’m moving to the office where the copyeditors used to sit and the copyeditors are moving to an office with a view of the park. Here’s my problem: I sorta don’t want Ayn Rand hanging above me.

Because this is clearly worth something—it’s by Kathryn Rathke!—and because a lot of people do like Ayn Rand, it seemed right to ask Slog readers for some advice. What should we do with Ayn Rand? (She’s approximately two-and-a-half feet by three-and-a-half feet.)

The options:

(A) We auction her off in next year’s Strangercrombie and give the proceeds to a worthy charitable cause, which would make Rand (who despised altruism) roll over in her grave.

(B) We hang it over Paul Constant’s desk, after all he’s the one who wrote in The Stranger: “If you’re over 25 and you still think her books are great, you’re (a) white and (b) an asshole.”

(C) Cut holes where her eyes are and put it over a urinal. (Paul’s idea—which really kinda makes you want to tack her up on his wall, doesn’t it?)

(D) We hold an essay contest in Slog comments under the subject: “Why This Portrait Is Rightfully Mine and No One Else’s.” No word limit.

Please, help me decide how to get rid of Ayn Rand. Dorothy, Samuel, Jenny, Brian, and Robert are not available.

RSS icon Comments


Do you know what Ayn Rand needs? An enormous penis!

Posted by Ayn Rand's Enormous Penis | March 19, 2008 12:43 PM

4. but with a word limit. a small one.

Posted by hillpagan | March 19, 2008 12:46 PM

I want it. Badly. Let's go for D.

Posted by Dawgson | March 19, 2008 12:48 PM

She's a witch...burn her.

Posted by michael strangeways | March 19, 2008 12:49 PM

A. Why isn't this a proper poll? What's with this old school comments voting?

Posted by Levislade | March 19, 2008 12:52 PM

Cut a hole where her mouth is and make her into a glory hole.

Posted by Todd | March 19, 2008 12:54 PM

Burn it.

It has no worth.

It creates no value.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 19, 2008 12:55 PM

Have you thought about selling it and buying a portrait that you DO like? Or is that not clever enough?

Posted by mattymatt | March 19, 2008 12:57 PM

Photocopy it. Sell the original for charity. Put the copy over Paul's desk. After he inevitably removes it, tack it to the urinal. Give it to the winner of the essay contest after it's done it's time in the urinal.

Posted by KJ | March 19, 2008 12:58 PM

Auction for charity...Ayn would hate that.

Posted by Gidget | March 19, 2008 12:58 PM

If D, we need a word MINIMUM of no less than John Galt's speech at the end of Atlas Shrugged.

Posted by Dawgson | March 19, 2008 12:59 PM

Who is this John Galt, of whom you speak?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 19, 2008 1:01 PM

It's a shitty portrait, so I don't care.

Posted by Mr. Poe | March 19, 2008 1:03 PM

if i remember high school correctly, there are already far too many superfluous essays on account of ms. rand.

Posted by el | March 19, 2008 1:03 PM

Option 1 sounds best to me, though anything involving bodily fluids does have a certain appeal.

Posted by Mr. X | March 19, 2008 1:04 PM

Toss it into a very large crowd without any instructions or design and then obviously the person most fit to end up with it will end up with it.

Posted by kinaidos | March 19, 2008 1:04 PM

Crumple it up and put it in the recycling. Save the frame. It's a terrible picture of a terrible novelist.

Second thought: glue appropriately-sized photographic eyes over hers, and then bolt it to the wall over Paul's desk.

Posted by Fnarf | March 19, 2008 1:05 PM

@12: He was Ayn's super man / romantic ideal. Throughout the book characters repeat the phrase "Who is John Galt?" as a sort of curse without realizing who he is.

This weekend I saw "Who is Ron Paul" spray-painted on a sign on 50th in Wallingford. I puked a little in my mouth. Right-wing Libertarians ARE NOT the same as Obectivists.

Posted by Dawgson | March 19, 2008 1:12 PM

@12: I am embarrassed at how long it took me to get your joke.

Has anyone seen the "Who is Ron Paul" sign on 50th? It made me yak in my mouth a little.

Posted by Dawgson | March 19, 2008 1:14 PM

Shrug, why do I have to pen this anthem and be the voice of reason in this city in which we are living. Why don't you throw it in a fountain. head.

Posted by giffy | March 19, 2008 1:14 PM

D sounds AWESOME.

Posted by ace | March 19, 2008 1:19 PM

i have no doubt my shrink would put it up in his office.

you wouldn't think ayn rand & buddha could meet, but in his mind, they do.

Posted by max solomon | March 19, 2008 1:21 PM

Slow on the uptake and a double poster... Ms. Rand would not be proud. It's just exhausting trying to be the One Small Voice against collectivism on this blog.

Posted by Dawgson | March 19, 2008 1:21 PM

No word limit? I say a 70,000 word minimum, and every noun must be modified by a minimum of three adjectives.

Posted by Postureduck | March 19, 2008 1:27 PM

(A) Is the best answer.

@16 and @24: Excellent.

Posted by tabletop_joe | March 19, 2008 1:30 PM

Auction it off and use the funds to raise awareness about the relationship between Objectivism and Homosexuality:

Or, just place it above the urinal. ;-)

Posted by Oklahomo | March 19, 2008 1:32 PM

I vote for D, though if that loses the ironic qualities on A appeal to me most.

I remember my senior year in highschool my mom tried to make me apply or a scholarship that was awarded based on essays on The Fountainhead. I despised the book and never wrote the essay, but I was amused that the winners of the essay contest were decided by committee.

Posted by Beguine | March 19, 2008 1:35 PM

Hang it above Chaz's desk. He would agree with her about absolutism.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 19, 2008 1:39 PM

A. Definitely A. She would roll over in her grave. Especially if you gave the money to something like FareStart again, whose clients she would despise. Or, to really infuriate all of Rand's latter-day disciples in Seattle, the El Centro Day Center.

Posted by Murgen | March 19, 2008 1:41 PM

I always find it ironic and amusing that her detractors tend to be absolutist in their opinions.

Ayn Rand represents a viewpoint that exists, and to that end, I find thinking about her ideas interesting. I don't feel the need to entirely agree or disagree with her.

But, to dismiss her absolutely is certainly ironic.

Posted by Timothy | March 19, 2008 1:46 PM

The portrait doesn't have the volition to decide it's own fate? That can't be right.

Posted by Dougsf | March 19, 2008 1:52 PM

I absolutely love it. D, please.

Posted by Heidi | March 19, 2008 1:53 PM

She's a Nazi cow.

And, the portrait makes her look fairly attractive, in a tom-boy sort of way (apologies to all the tom-boys out there) and therefore is wildly unrealistic.

But basically, she's a Nazi cow, burn her.

Get philosophical with that Timmy.

Posted by Daniel | March 19, 2008 1:54 PM

Give it to Erica.

Posted by Warren Pease | March 19, 2008 2:01 PM

D) Hold a Randoff!

Posted by Max Blair | March 19, 2008 2:03 PM

Another vote for A, but if you do decide to burn it, let me know - I have a copy of Atlas Shrugged I'd happily add to the fire.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | March 19, 2008 2:09 PM

@25 is right, @16 and @24 have the best ideas.

I'll light the match, since I'm most fit to burn it, as a former Burner and member of the Fremont Fire Circle.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 19, 2008 2:22 PM

The essay idea sounds hideous. I like #9's suggestion -- photocopy it, sell the original and do funny shit to the copy.

Posted by Katelyn | March 19, 2008 2:23 PM

Are we really talking about burning books now? I love the weird crossover between "extremely progressive" and "fascist."

Oh, I'm kidding guys. All in good fun. All in good fun.

Posted by Dawgson | March 19, 2008 2:25 PM

definately the essay, and you MUST publish an excerpt online or in print for us to read.

Posted by Zach | March 19, 2008 2:35 PM

Skate or Die Leonard Peikoff!!!!!

Posted by hosono | March 19, 2008 2:36 PM

1. Auction it off and donate the proceeds to the Ron Paul campaign.

2. Auction it off and donate the proceeds to the IWW.

3. Auction it off and use the proceeds to buy a really good fire extinguisher, then set fire to Charle's cubicle.

4. Ask Rathke to do a portrait of Bertolt Brecht in a similar style, then auction both off and see which one fetches a higher price.

Posted by COMTE | March 19, 2008 2:43 PM

hang it over Paul Constantís desk

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | March 19, 2008 2:47 PM

I like the Strangercrombie idea the best, though not because Ayn Rand opposed charity (she didn't).

Posted by NaFun | March 19, 2008 2:54 PM

Send it to the novelist Matt Ruff.

(note: this is only funny if you have read Sewer, Gas and Electric. and if you haven't, what the hell is wrong with you?)

Posted by Phred Meijer | March 19, 2008 2:55 PM

OrÖ Better yet! Hang Ayn over The Strangerís own resident Ellsworth Toohey: Chuck Mudede.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | March 19, 2008 2:56 PM

I'd vote A first choice, any of the others second.

Added irony: Make anyone bidding on it buy a copy of "Atlas Shrugged" and donate the proceeds from that as well.

Posted by Wolf | March 19, 2008 2:57 PM

I think the essay should be reasonably contained, viz: "In 25 words or less present a logical, cogent view of why you hate Ayn Rand." Without her and AnaÔs Nin, where would we cruciverbalists be? What is wrong with the concept that people should strive to be better than they are?

Posted by ATLAS SHRIVELED | March 19, 2008 3:00 PM

@30: yeah, being a selfish, arrogant asshole is a viewpoint. So fucking what.

Burn, baby, burn.

Posted by MichaelPgh | March 19, 2008 3:05 PM

A Nazi?

How embarrassing that yet another person doesn't have the slightest idea of what fascism actually is and why the Nazi's were in fact fascists to the extreme.

Perhaps if you actually read her books you might be enlightened enough to understand the difference between her beliefs as they are written in her books and true fascism.

Slinging the word Nazi around for everything you disagree with lacks intelligence and makes you seem somewhat doltish.

Posted by Alan | March 19, 2008 3:06 PM

oh man, i'm even more retarded than dawgson. it took me buying sprouts at the grocery store until i got the joke about the whole essay thing in general. jesus!

Posted by el | March 19, 2008 3:08 PM

52 comments on a thread devoted to a sketch of Ayn Rand is 52 comments too many.

Ayn Rand is to literature, what Larry King is to Journalism.


Posted by michael strangeways | March 19, 2008 3:39 PM

50: You're right. She wasn't a fascist. She was just a narcissistic idiot.

Though I can easily imagine her taking Leni Riefenstahl's place had she been a German film maker with a suitably masterful German man/Nazi party member around to hold her in his treetrunk arms. Of course, her complete lack of sex appeal might have nixed her chances.

Posted by Jay | March 19, 2008 3:41 PM

Why not give it back to the artist?

Posted by elswinger | March 19, 2008 3:50 PM

I can't imagine what kind of problem with having Ayn Rand gazing down on you.

You must be quite the collectivist parasite.

Also it rightly belongs collectively to my montreal loft, so you can send it on over. I guess we would join forces to do the whole essay thing as proof if it's really necessary.

Posted by John | March 19, 2008 3:53 PM

Actually, hang it somewhere totally random, like the women's restroom at Cal Anderson Park, or in the parking garage at the north Broadway QFC.

Posted by NaFun | March 19, 2008 3:55 PM

Why would anyone call a third tier romance novelist a Nazi?

All poor Ayn needed was a good editor, and she could have been the Jackie Collins of her time. Unfortunately, there was no one to save her from her inner Libertarian.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | March 19, 2008 4:18 PM

A. or 6). Or, let Paul "dispose" of it, since he is correct about Ms. Rand.

Posted by Tlazolteotl | March 19, 2008 4:23 PM

I think A is probably the right way to go. But I'm sure the results of D would be hilarious...

Posted by Morgan | March 19, 2008 4:24 PM

Give it to these assholes:

Posted by Nora | March 19, 2008 4:46 PM

They don't seem to be big on attending meetings, do they?

Except Bill. Bill's the Man.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 19, 2008 4:54 PM

The reason Ayn Rand books still exist, is because of the principle that books shouldn't be burned; along the lines that some people are only still alive, because it is illegal to kill them. I say wrap it up, send it USPS to Greenspan, with a note: please shove this in your arse.

Or have Savage present it to Hugo Chavez so he can say, "I'm still sooo cool and ironic".

Posted by crapitalism the unknown ideal | March 19, 2008 5:25 PM

#9 got it right. Strangercrombie, photocopy, Paul's desk, urinal, essay contest.

Posted by Christin | March 19, 2008 8:27 PM

@51: I'm differently able, not retarded. Come on, get it right.

Posted by Dawgson | March 19, 2008 8:59 PM

I don't really care a lick about Ayn Rand. Kathryn Rathke (the artist) is a cute girl. I think she is neat.

Posted by macintosh mulligan | March 19, 2008 9:33 PM

Although I'm sure nobody cares, I'd like to explain that Ayn Rand wasn't unintelligent, nor simply an asshole, but rather was emotionally retarded and didn't understand how to healthfully process emotion and logical thinking at once. Therefore she dismissed the validity of feelings with no rational basis and allowed herself to grow into a kind of megalomaniacal freak of philosophical wastepaper.

It's a kind of madness, you see. It's like being colorblind. It's like autism. I think they will teach her one day in psychology; she certainly shouldn't be mentioned in advanced philosophy or lit.

While little Ayn deserves to be berated to no end for her endlessly faulty way of thinking, I don't think most people who criticize her quite understand what's going on in those books of hers, nor do they quite grasp why she continues to maintain a kind of thrall over teenagers and maladjusted freaks much like herself.

Kudos for Ayn, though, for being such an addicting meme that she should still attract so much attention, and so many commenters.

Posted by B | March 19, 2008 10:58 PM
I like the Strangercrombie idea the best, though not because Ayn Rand opposed charity (she didn't).

Posted by NaFun | March 19, 2008 2:54 PM

NaFun, you're not right about that. Check it.

Posted by christopher frizzelle | March 20, 2008 1:13 AM

@66: I think Ayn is a polarizing figure and many of her detractors have never read anything she's wrote or make judgments based upon the press releases of the Ayn Rand Institute which seems to have drifted towards being a Neo Conservative think tank.

Like any philosopher, some of Ayn Rand's ideas bear contemplating and others are off in left field. I think people get caught up in her use of the word "selfishness" and her dislike of altruism but ignore her love of the driven passionate spirit and the uncompromising artistic spirit.

Although that statement would probably make her crazy as Objectivism was sort of an all or nothing proposition for her.

Posted by Dawgson | March 20, 2008 7:24 AM

@67: Hey Mr. Frizzelle,

I've read the linked page several times and can't see anywhere where it says "Ayn Rand says charity is bad."

It does say "self-sacrifice is irrational and therefore evil" but I think there's a wide gulf between those two statements.

Basically: Martyrdom is bad, but giving to/helping others can be good, depending on the situation and the (in)tangible benefits to the self.

Posted by Dawgson | March 20, 2008 7:31 AM

I don't care if she is unavailable, auction Ayn off with Dorothy.

Posted by idaho | March 20, 2008 8:25 AM

Yeah, she felt that if you wanted to give to a charity, go for it, make yourself feel good by doing it, do what you can to achieve the ends you seek, but don't do it out of a feeling of obligation or 'selflessness'.

Posted by NaFun | March 20, 2008 12:09 PM

Thank you, Dawgson.

Posted by B | March 20, 2008 12:28 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).