A couple of weeks ago, I was perusing my Facebook news feed, as I do sometimes, and I came across a link: Holy Shit: They’re Making Atlas Shrugged Into A Movie. The article begins like so:
When it comes to dating, I have only one simple rule. If I go over to a girl’s house and she has a copy of The Fountainhead, or — god forbid — Atlas Shrugged, then I’m out the door in 0.5 seconds. Liking Ayn Rand novels is a guaranteed sign that someone is crazy, and though crazy people are often good in bed, it’s really just not worth it.
This made me remember the following:
Look. We all have dealbreakers, and if seriously, out of all the writers in the world, a guy’s absolute favorite is Ayn Rand, then I just know it’s not going to work out. Reading Ayn Rand is one thing, and placing Ayn Rand above all others in one’s own personal pantheon of favorites is another thing entirely. And I’m sorry, but if you love Ayn Rand’s books that much, then dude, we have some serious fundamental differences in the way we view the world, and while I think relationships can work between people whose philosophical outlooks differ, I know myself well enough to be absolutely certain that mixing myself up with someone who loves Ayn Rand that much could only end in ruination and despair. And while ruination and despair can make for some entertaining stories later on in life when I’ve found myself to be emotionally-distanced enough from said ruination and despair to find humor in it, I think perhaps I am over ruination and despair as an outcome. I’d like to try something else perhaps. To experiment. You know. For science. 1
But then I thought about myself. Because if I’m going to be so snap-judgmental, then it’s only fair that I consider the possibility that others are snap-judging me. I have several favorite writers (I think most people do) and if someone were to ask me, “Hey baby, did you wash your pants in Windex? Because, um, I mean, who’s your favorite writer?” 2 I could pick one of several and not be lying, but these days I’d still probably go with my homeboy, William Faulkner. I’m trying to figure out what this says about me. I keep making this face:
It’s kind of funny how the face I make when I’m trying to figure out what it means that I love Faulkner like I do is pretty much exactly the same face I make for… well, many things (I do bite my thumb, sir); it’s kind of like my Blue Steel. 3 Does liking Faulkner signify someone very few people like due to a high degree of difficulty? Perhaps. Me, I think it speaks to my fondness for bourbon and the fact that people often don’t get when I’m joking. 4
Anyway. Remember when I declared myself the world’s only living authority on the hotness of reading material? Maybe you don’t remember. It’s okay. But I did. I declared myself to be the world’s only living authority on the hotness of reading material, and since I’m officially an authority, I do what all authorities do: sit around and wait for the speaking engagements to roll in. I’m sure it’s going to happen someday, and I can give lectures on what books are hot and then have question-and-answer sessions at the end where I can say things like “Sure, read that if you want, but if you take that book out in public with you, you are never getting laid.”
If people only knew how in-demand my brilliance would be if they would just demand it, they would start demanding it already. 5
Right. So, since we define ourselves for the public by what we like (or at least by what we say we like), I think it’s important to take literary favorites into account, though I’m not sure it’s necessary to judge people by their bookshelves. I have all kinds of things on my shelves that I haven’t read. Out of the books I own, I’ve read more than I haven’t, but I’m going to admit here that I’m probably never actually going to pick up that copy of Infinite Jest and work my way through it 6 though it does make a handy bookend and I have used it to prop things up on occasion. I really like Nabokov, but I still haven’t finished Pale Fire. I’ve started it several times and I always really like it, but then I get distracted. I have read all those Jane Austen books, some more than once. I do wish I hadn’t decided that I had to read One Hundred Years of Solitude in the original Spanish because if I’d gotten a copy in English, I might’ve finished it by now, but instead I pick it up every so often and read the same 50 pages and then my brain hurts and I give up. So one could judge me by the books on my shelves or not, but I’m not sure what conclusion there is to make. 7 And I don’t know if I care too much, because if a guy is perusing my bookshelves, he’s already trapped in my evil lair. Muahaha… ha… ha… hm. And I don’t assume that other people have read all the books they own, either, and reading something doesn’t necessarily mean liking it.
When I started writing this post, I had a point, though right at this moment I couldn’t begin to tell you what it is. Had you guessed that I’d lost the plot somewhere in the middle of this? Maybe you hadn’t guessed and I shouldn’t be telling you that I have no idea what I’m going on about. Alas, perhaps. But if I’m going to have a point, if that’s necessary, and it seems like I should after all of these paragraphs, then it would be this:
Seriously. Ayn Rand?
1. I am, after all, nothing if not a scientist.
2. Last night, I got hit on by a guy who made a flower for me out of Kleenex. And then he asked how old I was, because I think he wanted to know if I was legal or not. He was a series of dealbreakers.
3. It’s pretty good, referencing Shakespeare and Zoolander in the same sentence, isn’t it? You liked it. Admit it.
4. Or maybe just the bourbon thing.
5. Oprah should call me.
6. I mean, seriously, it’s longer than Ulysses. It took me more than a year to read that one. I have the attention span of a gnat. I’m saying now that it just ain’t happening, unless perhaps I find myself stranded on an island with Infinite Jest and nothing to do but figure out how to make margaritas out of island things and read. Even though I am a fan of footnotes.
7. I mean, other than about the Samuel Beckett. I like him a lot. Because I have a sunny disposition and a cheerful outlook on life.