Ego In A New Light… Ayn Rand’s “Anthem”


“He lived in the dark ages of future. In a loveless world he dared to love the woman of his choice. In an age that had lost all trace of science and civilization he had the courage to seek and find knowledge. But these were not the crimes for which he would be hunted. He was marked for death because he had committed the unpardonable sin: he had stood forth from the mindless human herd. He was a man alone.” TAKEN FROM THE BACK COVER OF THE CENTENNIAL EDITION OF THIS BOOK

Ego In A New Light… Ayn Rand’s “Anthem”

I’m the first to admit that I don’t read all that much… I never have. I’ve always heard that the best Writers, or at least Most Writers, are also ‘avid’ readers.

But for me, Math, and Creative Writing were my best areas in school.

A’s and B’s in Math, and B+’s in Creative Writing.

D’s and C’s in Grammar, Lol.

My mind just worked a certain way.

That said, though I’ve averaged over 1,000 words a day in the last 17 months in what has been the beginning of my pursuit of being a Writer for a living, I just don’t read very much.

Either I get sleepy when I try, or I feel like “You should be Writing, not Reading”… And so it’s gone, Lol

mzl.dbvwkaekHowever, for Christmas, a very good friend of mine sent me a copy of Ayn Rand’s “Anthem”.

The “Centennial Edition” to be precise.

Which includes both her Original 1938, England Published Version in the back of the book with her notes on it showing some changes she had made in the style of it (Not the Content/Or meaning). But the Edited/Style updated version is the main version in the front of the book.

That said, my friend, knowing that I’m not all that much of a Reader, but also knowing that I have some Familiarity with Ayn Rand, primarily from my upbringing, and most recently from seeing the New “Atlas Shrugged” Film (Part I, I haven’t seen Part II yet).

Sent me Ayn Rand’s “Anthem”, because she knew that it was one of her Shorter Books, and thus I might end up reading it.

My History With Ayn Rand;

Though limited, I do have some history in regards to Ayn Rand.

I’ve never before read any of her books (Until now), but My Boss, and Mom’s Boyfriend of 30+ years, is indeed an Avid Reader, and had read many of her books years ago.

fountainhead1In fact, “The Fountain Head” was a major influence on him in college, which lead him to switching his Major in Art (I believe it was Art), to Majoring in Architecture. (I believe the main character in The Fountainhead is an Architect)

30+ Years Later, he’s one of the Best, most Interesting Architects I’ve ever been exposed to.

Moving on… My Mom and her Boyfriend actually met one another at was called a “Workshop”… This Workshop was run by a Psychologist, who not only Practiced Counseling, but also ran Workshops based on the work of a man named ‘Nathaniel Branden‘.

And Nathaniel Branden actually was in a relationship with Ayn Rand many years back.

And so you see, I definitely had my exposure in regards to Ayn Rand.

All indirectly… And yet, exposure none the less.

My Opinion/Review of “Anthem”;

My Friend was right… Due to it’s length, who had Written it, and who had Given me the book, these things lead to me actually making the time to read it.

Some of the Introduction a couple weeks ago, and the rest of the Introduction, the Author’s Forward, and the Newer Edited Version of the Story Late Yesterday Afternoon/Last Night.

The Central Message;

Now like I say, I’m not much of a Reader (Though I am an Avid Film Watcher), and this is my First Ever Book Review… But I’d say the Central Message in this book is based on Ayn Rand’s Philosophy of Objectivism.

Objectivism is a philosophy created by Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982). Objectivism’s central tenets are that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness (or rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-fairecapitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans’ metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form—a work of art—that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.[citation needed]

Rand characterized Objectivism as “a philosophy for living on earth”, grounded in reality, and aimed at defining human nature and the nature of the world in which we live.[1]”


And in Ayn Rand’s own words;

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
—Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged[2]
also ala WIKIPEDIA
Alright, so this story takes place in a Dark Dystopian Future, where Men (And Woman)  follow a ‘We’ Philosophy, as opposed to an ‘I’ Philosophy.
Where all things are based on a ‘Collective’ mentality. Meaning all that we do, is for the Greater Good of our Fellow Man/Woman, and is not based on our Individual Needs, and/or Wants.
And all of our Decisions, including what field of work we go into, and who we ‘Mate’ with, are supplied by an Appointed Council.
I don’t want to get all that technical, but I think you get the gist.
we-are-the-borg-borg-base-picard-all-your-belong-star-trek-demotivational-poster-1249788313For me Star Trek’s ‘The Borg’ come to mind… But that’s mainly because this book was Written in 1937, and thus this Fundamental Idea has been used in many ways in Stories, and/or Television and Film.
A Man Called “Equality 7-2521” (Nope, People don’t even get to have True Names), considers himself cursed, because as he goes through the early part of his life, he can not seem to control his ‘Own Personal Interests/Passions’ Etc.
And so the basic Plot is about how he suffers because he is different, and slowly, piece by piece, starts to more and more figure out ways to Express Himself as an Individual (As Opposed to one of the Collective)… And when I say “Express” himself, I don’t mean Publicly Initially, I mean Privately. And when I say Privately, I mean when he is Alone, which is supposed to be ‘Never’, but he finds/makes a way.
To me the main Character, initially, is Quite Tormented Internally… Partly because he can not Pursue his Own Individual Interests/Passions Etc… Partially because he feels he is Cursed, and is Ashamed of himself that he does not only think of his Brothers/Sisters, and instead thinks about what Makes ‘Him’, as an Individual, Happy.
The Girl… The Girl, or as he comes to call her “The Golden One”, appears to have some Inner Strength inside her as well, and is Instantly Drawn to him.
I have come to find out that Ayn Rand generally has Cut and Dry/Working Titles for her Books, and then Changes them for the Sake of Publishing. The main part of this seems to be that her Working Titles “Give Too Much Away”, and thus she Creates Names that are not as Obvious, and also wants them to be more Intriguing… So to speak. Her reason, she wants people to figure out the meanings of the Books for their selves.
A Noble/Admirable thing I think/feel.
And so, the Initial Title of “Anthem”, was actually “Ego”… On that note, I’d highly recommend Reading Both the ‘Introduction’, and ‘Author’s Forward’, prior to Reading this Book. This is where she explains these things, and I found it very insightful going forward into the Reading of the Story.
Now the Funny thing about the word “Ego”, in my opinion… Is in my experience of the word Ego, it is, and/or has been, primarily used, and/or thought of in a Derogatory Light…
In such statements as “He has a Huge Ego… So watch out”… Or, “That Guys Ego is out of control”.
Now this is in my, American, mostly Southern California, experience of the word.
Here’s what Webster thinks of the Word;
1 : the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world
3 : the one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that serves as the organized conscious mediator between the person and reality especially by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality — compare
Hmm… A bit different than the Common Use of the word… Or at least in My Experience.
But Ego is a word that I had already, in my own life, come to realize ‘Isn’t’ a Derogatory Term in its ‘Purist’ Sense…
It basically has something to do with an ‘Individual’s’ Sense of Self, and Self Worth I believe.
That said, Ayn Rand’s use of the Word, I believe, has more to do with its ‘True’ Meaning, not what we, or at least I, have been most often exposed to.
And this is True with many Words. It’s funny how Words so often Mean One Thing to one person, and something Completely Different to another. I think this is even more evident, when the people speaking are each from different countries. But that’s just my opinion.
My Overall Opinion of The Book;
In the end, something in addition to the Fundamental Message in the Book, which is basically the ‘Importance Of The ‘I”, and the Potentially Destructive/Devastating Nature of the ‘We’ way of thinking…
At least what I found Truly Fascinating, was the Process that the Main Character goes through in ‘Breaking’ down one Philosophy (Which he’s known all of his life), and basically ‘Creating/Building’ a Whole New Philosophy, and Way of Being/Living, pretty much wholly based on a Human’s Innate Primal Instincts, in all respects… Be it Love, Survival, Time Alone, Internal Thoughts Etc.
I think if I had been brought up in a ‘Less’ Freedom of Speech/Thought Etc. kind of Environment, this Book would have had an even More Profound Impact one me.
But because I was not, what it did for me is 1) Gave Me Further Appreciation For Ayn Rand, A Writer/Person Who Literally Breeds The Importance of “Free Will” 2) Reminded me of the Simplicities of Life, that we often take for granted, often by no fault of our own… 3) A Sense of Appreciation of, like I say, The Breaking Down of One Belief System, and Building, From Scratch, of Another 4) As a Writer, it also Reminded me of some of the Fundamental Essences of ‘Sci-Fi’ Writing, that you can find in such Films as “Logan’s Run”, “Planet Of The Apes” (The old one’s), and even “Journey To The Center Of The Earth”… Touching on such Fundamental (And I’m using this word a lot)… Lets switch up to ‘Rudimentary’… Primal, Basic things, that really Give One’s Insides a Tussle… So to speak, Lol
It’s a Good Book… Very Basic (Meaning Simplistic In Form)… Very Primal… Very, yes here I go again, ‘Fundamental’… And I feel, Very Important… And I Highly Recommend it.
Keep in mind, if you’re like me, or even if you’re not… It’s only 105 Pages (At least in this Edition).
And it gets you thinking… And it gets you wanting to Write Your Own Stuff… And it might even Inspire you to Read More of other People’s Stuff, which it has for me.
Nuff Said
Thanks For Listening/Reading
Would Love to Hear Your Thoughts

4 Responses to “Ego In A New Light… Ayn Rand’s “Anthem””

  1. Hey James!
    Wow that’s a review alright!
    I’m so glad you took the time to read it, I really thought that since it was her shortest book, you’d give it a try and you’d end up liking it; maybe even read more 😉
    She’s an amazing writer, one of a kind and a writer can learn a lot from her thanks to those introductions as you explained it yourself. Such as her choices of titles, character persona & names, …
    I don’t know much about objectivism myself and I don’t agree 100% with her view, almost but not with the reason as man’s only absolute. I know she didn’t believe in anything spiritual or supernatural, but I think it’s a question of words and definitions; plus she grew up in another time. Today she might say otherwise because quantum physics brings up the universe in a new light, so it’s still very rational 🙂

    Anyway, great review, totally there with you on the word Ego. Love your idea of it “an ‘Individual’s’ Sense of Self, and Self Worth”
    It’s not just you, the word Ego has been totally bashed these last 15 years I’d say. While it’s not what most people think it means; but hey if a word only = its definition, we’d all speak the same “language” 😉
    It’s like the word egoism, it’s a negative word for most people, but Ayn Rand showed how it can be a virtue, and since I found it is a virtue, I’m happy to be an egoist 🙂 If everyone would care more about their own happiness, the world would be a better place!

    As a psychotherapist, I love that you noticed the process He had to go through with his belief system. It’s indeed very well shown in the book, although in a subtle way. But that’s what’s nice with Ayn Rand, one needs to read between the lines… or not! because it’s indeed very simple, so evident!

    So, yes, great choices of words: fundamental, primal, simplistic form…

    And indeed, it leaves you with a creative feeling, a need to express YourSelf 🙂

    Thank You for reading it & Sharing your Thoughts on it!!!

    • I agree that if more people would care about their own happiness, the world would be a better place.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the Review, and I can’t thank you enough for sending the book to me…

      It definitely left me wanting to Read More People’s Books

      And I’m glad you can relate about the ‘process’ he goes through breaking down an old belief system, and creating a new.

      Pretty Cool, Powerful, stuff.

      Thanks again H



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