Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Indefatigable Yann Martel

And the list just keeps going....!!!!
Yann Martel's latest pick for our (soon to be former?) Prime Minister Harper:

Anthem by Ayn Rand

You've got to read his letter accompanying the book for a wonderfully sarcastic summary of Rand's one small book - here, I'll give you a taste:

The main problem with Rand’s libertarianism, this uber-Nietzschean cult of the heroic individual standing on a mountaintop, is that it makes not only society unworkable, but even simple relations. An example jumps out in Rand’s own novel. Equality 7-2521, now drunk with his own uniqueness, has naturally tired of his name. He says to the Golden One:

“I have read of a man who lived many thousands of years ago, and of all the names in these books, his is the one I wish to bear. He took the light of the gods and he brought it to men, and he taught men to be gods. And he suffered for his deed as all bearers of light must suffer. His name was Prometheus.”

Prometheus, the nice guy formerly known as Equality 7-2521, goes on:

“And I have read of a goddess who was the mother of the earth and of all the gods. Her name was Gaea. Let this be your name, my Golden One, for you are to be the mother of a new kind of gods.”

What if Golden One rather fancied herself as a Lynette or a Bobbie-Jean? Who is this Prometheus to tell her what her name should be? And what if she doesn’t want to be the mother of a screaming gaggle of kids? What if one child will do, and a girl if possible, thank you very much? But as headstrong as Liberty 5-3000 seemed to be in the City, so she is passive and submissive as Gaea, doing as she is told, because nothing and no one should get in the way of Ayn Rand’s romantic Superman, especially not his woman.

There is also a suggestion that, perhaps, there should be a Prime Ministerial reading list, to make the imaginative assets of a leader accountable to the public. While tongue-in-cheek, it is a very thought-provoking questioning of just what should go into the makeup of a visionary leader. But do take a look for yourself.


  1. Oh, I love Martel's suggestions! And I always love reading his letters to the prime minister. I haven't been to that site in awhile, though, so I'll have to go see what's happening. I considered, last year, starting a reading challenge for which we all just read whatever Martel tells the prime minister to read!

  2. Actually, maybe I still will start such a challenge. Yeah! I think I will!

  3. Dewey - well, if you do, I'm half done already! :)

  4. I was thinking about this - I'm wondering if he'll send books to the (oh please oh please) new PM?


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