Archive | September 24, 2009

The Perils of Low Time-Preference

Ayn Rand and the World She Made

Anne Heller’s new bio Ayn Rand and the World She Made comes out next month, but Amazon has already posted the first chapter, and it looks pretty interesting. If you think that after reading Barbara Branden and Chris Sciabarra there’s nothing new to learn about Rand’s early years, think again.

I was especially struck by this passage:

When Rand was five or so, she recalled, her mother came into the children’s playroom and found the floor littered with toys. She announced to Rand and Rand’s two-and-a-half-year-old sister, Natasha, that they would have to choose some of their toys to put away and some to keep and play with now; in a year, she told them, they could trade the toys they had kept for those they had put away.

Natasha held on to the toys she liked best, but Rand, imagining the pleasure she would get from having her favorite toys returned to her later, handed over her best-loved playthings, including a painted mechanical wind-up chicken she could describe vividly fifty years later.

When the time came to make the swap and Rand asked for her toys back, her mother looked amused, Rand recalled. Anna explained that she had given everything to an orphanage, on the premise that if her daughters had really wanted their toys they wouldn’t have relinquished them in the first place.

Yup, her mother couldn’t have done better if she was deliberately trying to create Ayn Rand.

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