Off topic with Ayn Rand and Howard Hughes
I recently saw the The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and I started making some interesting connections. I read up on Howard Hughes, and found out they he owned (among many other things) a lot of movie studios, including RKO pictures. I also found out that Ayn Rand, the founder of objectivist philosophy, also worked at this company as head of wardrobe. Even though they never worked there at the same time, it made me think about the character of Howard Hughes and the characters created by Ayn Rand in such books as The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged.
Both Rand and Hughes were attracted to the movie industry, and worked their way into roles of leadership there. Then they both went on to focus on industry and business, one of them writing stories about the men of unborrowed vision,” who live by the judgment of their own minds, willing to stand alone against tradition and popular opinion”. While the other is arguably the clearest example of these traits America has produced. Hughes was a major player in every field he played, from lingerie to aeronautical engineering. However, while the protagonists of an Ayn Rand novel exhibit lives free of self-doubt and personal frustration, the persona of Hughes is quite possibly one of the most tormented, tragic and pathetic personal stories in the history of American business. This may be, in part, a condemnation of Rand’s ideals, if the only individuals capable of them are insane, driven by unknown horrors of the mind. What is most interesting is the unlikely link they share through Hollywood, and how it must have shaped their “ideals”.
If anything, it’s gotten me interested in both of them again. I might even have to read through Atlas Shrugged again… soon…. ok, I’m kidding myself, I can’t make it through that again.