If your life were a song, what kind of a song would be it? Would it be a Latin American protest song, trova music fatalistic and sad yearning for the communist dictatorships to free you from your freedom; ‘Todavia Cantamos’ by Mercedes Sosa, “We still sing, we still beg, we still dream, we still wait. Despite the beatings—”. Maybe ‘Ojala’ by Silvio Rodriguez, “Hopefully something will happen which will erase you forever, a blinding light, a burst of snow, or at least let death come for me to see you no more—”. Maybe it would be a cotton candy pop song, epicurean and nihilistic, Avicii signing about ‘The Nights’, “One day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember” until he killed himself, leaving the world early and with no memories at all to speak of.
For Ayn Rand life is to be lived as an Anthem, “a song or hymn of praise or gladness”. There’s something about Rand’s writing which only those who understand it catch; those who do not being too busy desperately seeking to identify flaws or denigrating its style (that is if they have even read it, most of its detractors reading only cherry picked blurbs from Huffington Post or ranting about a three word title). So what is it, that we identify with?
It’s the feeling of wonder.
Anthem is a novel about wonder. It’s a novel about discovery: the discovery of self, the discovery of privacy, the discovery of love, the discovery of creative ability, and the discovery of the world – the wondrous world all around us. A world that wills us to throw off the chains which hold us fast and march fiercely and fearlessly forward, ignoring those who tell us we should not, that we must not, that we cannot. Desperate voices which tremble in fear and weakness, anxious in their own impotence because they know that we are held in their world with only the strength of a lie; a lie, however, like any good lie, which has a spark of truth. That spark being that we are essential to them; that in fact their world crumbles away at the quietest breathy utterance of that single word, “I”.
Those whose worlds are built upon the employ of slaves fear this word above all else. Those who don’t understand Ayn Rand won’t know what I’m talking about (and will mostly likely fill my Twitter feed with sewage).
Anthem is not a new novel – what is new is the “Graphic Novel” edition recently released by Jennifer Grossman and Dan Parsons at the Atlas Society. I found this short novel to be extremely compatible with that genre; and the Atlas Society did a magnificent job with the art which is sort of “Soviet Socialist Realism” turned on its head – which was Ayn Rand’s style all along (the haters won’t recognize this either) – we can call it maybe “Idealist Realism” or maybe, just maybe “Realism of Wonder”. Yes I like that last one the best.
So buy this novel, its not on Amazon right now but you can go to their web site here and purchase a copy. You’ll be happy you did; and mine is going in my Ayn Rand collection… But probably after I read it again.