Inoculated against Ayn Rand

I appreciated Marilyn Leys’ Sifting & Winnowing column about her role in covering an Ayn Rand lecture on campus in the early 1960s [“Reporting on Rand”]. As a photographer for the Badger yearbook, I attended the novelist-philosopher’s seminar the next day.

Rand arrived with the unfortunate haircut and ill-fitting suit that marked her public image. She wore a huge silver pin that was a dollar sign and commenced to chain-smoke in the tiny room, even though the space was posted as No Smoking and someone mentioned that. She couldn’t be bothered, and the space quickly filled with her smoke. I took several pictures and hoped to duck out, but there were too many people crowded in to let me escape.

Having experienced her belief in individualism, selfish materialism, and in her own narcissist genius firsthand, I was forever inoculated against her fiction or essays when I came across them later in life.

Chuck Kleinhans ’64
Eugene, Oregon

Published in the Winter 2013 issue

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