NOTE: This is another in a series of interviews with field managers of cosmic baseball teams. Other installments in this series include interviews with William Allingham (Pre-Raphaelites), Kurt Cobain (Pisces), John Lennon (Woodsox), and Anne Sexton (Virgins)Alice Rosenbaum was born in 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Like the city of her birth she changed her name. St. Petersburg became Petrograd and then Petrograd became Leningrad. Alice Rosenbaum became Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand became the "avatar of rational egoism" and the "goddess of individualism" (an appelation the atheistic Ms. Rand would reject.) She was deeply affected by the Bolshevik Revolution which occured as she moved through puberty. Her family lost nearly everything they owned. Rejecting the collectivist ideology of the Marxist-Leninists she moved to the United States and evenutally became widely known as a novelist (Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged) and then as the founder of the philosophy she called Objectivism.
Rand was named field manager of the Heartland Capitalists in December, 1998 [see Ayn Rand to Lead Capitalists]. In two seasons at the helm she has compiled a respectable 166-158 won-loss record. Prior to managing she was a cosmic baseball player for two seasons with the Alphatown Ionians, the Cosmic Baseball Association's team of philosophers and scientists. She had only a fair career as a player with less then average skills in the batter's box and in rightfield.
This interview was conducted on February 2, 2001 which would have been Ms. Rand's 96th birthday if she hadn't died in 1982 at the age of 77. Ms. Rand met us in her private office on the 88th floor of the the Heartland Building/Stadium Complex.
Cosmic Baseball Association Is it appropriate to wish a dead person happy birthday? Well, happy birthday anyway.
AYN RAND Your the first person today to offer the wish. Thank you.
CBA It's no surprise that your office is on the 88th floor of this magnificent skyscraper is it?
AR You mean given the meaning of the number 8 according to the numerologists?
CBA Exactly. Eight is the number of power, authority, big creations and enterprise.
AR Oh, it means more then that. Eight means harvest and reward, abundance, strength and intensification. It is the number of bearing the fruit of your labors, multiplication of power.
CBA And if you rotate the number 8 ninety degrees you get the sign for infinity.
AR I suppose you would.
CBA You know the appeal of Ayn Rand seems to be eternal, if not exactly infinite. Are you aware of the fact that in the last three years there have been two films made about you and there are reports that the TNT television network is producing another filmed version of your novel Atlas Shrugged? And a rumor was circulating that Oliver Stone might direct another version of The Fountainhead.
AR Yes, I've heard the rumors. Also Samuel Goldwyn Films might make a film based on my short story "Anya." And somebody, the name escapes me, is making a filmed version of We The Living. I'm delighted that my work and my ideas are still capturing the imagination of people.
CBA Are you delighted with the film The Passion of Ayn Rand?
AR Not exactly. But then that is an adaption of the ill-informed and ill-mannered biography Barabara Branden published in 1986. I believe she was in fact a technical advisor to the film makers. Unfortunately Barbara indulges in what the writer David Hayes calls her use of rationalism to glue together undigested thoughts. I do not put much credence into her obscenely subjective story of my life.
CBA But she knew you, and knew you well for some eighteen years.
AR Yes, that's true but her memories are not reliable. Her interpretations of events and facts are under the sway of what I think is severe psychological buffeting. She felt hurt, very hurt by me.
CBA Do you suppose your affair with her husband [Nathaniel Branden] might have something to do with that?
AR That's not the point, is it? The reliability of her biography, it's faitfulness to facts and reason is what we are exploring. I must admit, I was aggravated when the book was released. I had died almost four years before so I was not exactly in a position to debate the merits, was I? And of course the film perpetuates and exaggerates the misconceptions, especially with regard to my private life. I did like Peter Fonda's portrayal of my husband Frank O'Connor in the film.
CBA Your last work of fiction, Atlas Shrugged was published in the same year as Jack Kerouac's On the Road. Did you ever read Kerouac?
AR I read On the Road. Kerouac was basically seduced by priestesses, starting with his mother. He is too enshrouded in his religion addicition. A slightly later novel of his, The Dharma Bums attests to this point.
CBA How would you compare Kerouac's "spontaneous bop prosody" concept with your own writing style?
AR Spontaneous or automatic writing is the antithesis of conscious rational calculation, yes? But my approach to writing, the method I employed did not completely avoid taking advantage of certain subconscious influences. In my "Fiction Writing" lectures that I delivered in my apartment in 1958 I remember telling the students that as one approaches the writing of any given scene or paragraph, one has the sense or 'feel' of what it has to be by the logic of the context-and one's subconscious makes the right selections to express it. Later, one checks and improves the result by means of conscious editing. I probably edited my writing a lot more than Kerouac did.
CBA The intuitive, emotional approaches have quite an appeal. The entire "new age" movement seems based on principles and concepts that you abhor. Apparently, in the United States, more people are choosing religion and spiritual solutions.
AR As human beings our only choice is whether we define our philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation - or let our subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined convictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance. It is easier for people to let chance rule the day. Chance, the witch doctors teach, absolves responsibility.
CBA Speaking of witch doctors, were box scores or scoresheets ever kept for the games your students and followers played against each other in Central Park in the 1960s?
AR You are referring to the NBI League [Nathaniel Brandon Institute] that consisted of two teams, the Witch Doctors and the Attilas. I don't know if there are any records of those games.
CBA Did you ever play in those games?
AR Oh no, I never even watched them. I never liked going outside, especially during the day. I used to follow baseball a little bit, I wasn't really a fan. But I don't know many of the details of the NBI League.
CBA So you have no idea what Alan Greenspan's batting average was?
AR No, I don't even know if he played in the league. I recall Kathryn Eickoff played for the Attilas. She went on to become an Associate Director of the government's Office of Management and Budget.
CBA Do you know which team won more games?
AR No. Barbara Branden might know something about this or at least she might know someone who does know.
CBA Your ethics of self-interest, along with your devout atheism, is perhaps the most controversial aspect of your philosophy. The world has changed considerably since you died. Communism has lost the fight on most fronts, the economies of the developed nations have been globalized. Are there any changes or attenuations of your philosophy of selfishness?
AR The virtue of enlightened self-interest needs to be understood right now more than ever. If we are all obligated to sacrifice ourselves on behalf of the have-nots, then private property, the pursuit of wealth, and the entire free enterprise system are evil. The only virtuous system, according to religious doctrine, would be one in which the goods of this earth are common property, to be used selflessly, for the "public good" - i.e., a system of socialism. But that's the system that has failed. I would still passionately maintain that the pursuit of one's own rational self-interest and of one's own happiness is the highest moral purpose of life.
CBA One of the most charming aspects of your personality and your work, both fiction and non-fiction, is your unabashed fascination with ideas. Are you aware of the fact that the ideas of capitalism and individualism are under intense assault.
AR Yes. The old perception that the center is no longer holding scares people. Fearful humans become averse to risk-taking. Fearful humans become functionaries and civil servants.
CBA All of the economists and bureaucrats are gone from the Heartland Capitalists. You and team owner Peter Drucker have in just a couple of years completely remade the team. Instead of economists the team is staffed by mostly chief executive officers of major corporations. What makes you think a CEO is so well-suited to playing the game of cosmic baseball?
AR CEO's will become the heroes of the 21st Century. Their visions will permeate the cultures that are still dedicated to freedom and liberty. And if this speculation is accurate then why wouldn't you want a CEO standing up at the plate with a bat or on the mound with the ball or in the outfield with a glove?
CBA Well, good luck this season. The Middleleague looks to be the most competitive of the three cosmic leagues.
AR Right. And last year's league champions, the [Psychedelphia] Woodsox, are going to be the team to beat.
CBA That's fitting, isn't it, since that team is made up of mostly witch doctors?
AR Yes. It is fitting.
CBA Thanks very much for taking the time to talk with us today.
USPS Stamp Issued
April 12, 1999