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William O

Should this quote about your first glance at someone really be in the sidebar?

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Here's a quote I came across in the sidebar, attributed to Ayn Rand:

Quote

There’s nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge.

Google indicates that this quote comes from The Fountainhead.

I don't think this should be in the sidebar, because it is patently false - your first glance doesn't tell you everything about a person. Rand probably intended for this fictional ability to play some role in the world of The Fountainhead, but the quote doesn't say that it's from a work of fiction, and it isn't particularly insightful out of context.

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Replaced it with a quote from Howard Roark, rather than Ellsworth Toohey:

I've always demanded a certain quality in the people I liked. I've always recognized it at once --- and it's the only quality I respect in men. I chose my friends by that. Now I know what it is. A self-sufficient ego. Nothing else matters.

Edited by dream_weaver

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4 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Replaced it with a quote from Howard Roark, rather than Ellsworth Toohey:

I've always demanded a certain quality in the people I liked. I've always recognized it at once --- and it's the only quality I respect in men. I chose my friends by that. Now I know what it is. A self-sufficient ego. Nothing else matters.

omg a quote of Ellsworth Toohey was attributed directly to Rand on Objectivism online?  

Start looking for a mole, double agent, saboteur... lol

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18 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Start looking for a mole, double agent, saboteur... lol 

You wouldn't know how to notice it. Sneaking is one art they're expert at.

:)

Edited by dream_weaver
Attribute Atlas Shrugged quote.

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One time, at the end of a Criminal Minds episode, there was a quote attributed to Ayn Rand.  It sounded a lot to me like a quote from Ellsworth Toohey, although I haven't checked to make sure of this.  As I recall, it went "All men are brothers under the skin, and I for one would gladly skin humanity to prove it."

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So disgusting.

The idiot mentality who choose to take a statement from a fictional character which is clearly portrayed as an absolute villain by an author, and attribute the fictional statement to the author, as if that author made that statement in reality or endorsed the meaning of that statement,  is complete and utter scum.

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5 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

So disgusting.

The idiot mentality who choose to take a statement from a fictional character which is clearly portrayed as an absolute villain by an author, and attribute the fictional statement to the author, as if that author made that statement in reality or endorsed the meaning of that statement,  is complete and utter scum.

I don't think it's so sinister. It's a misattribution that without context doesn't say anything much negative because it's too ambiguous. I found the quote here, about four minutes in: 

 

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In defense of the Criminal Minds people, I should mention that there was at least one case of a better quote from Ayn Rand at the close of an episode.  It started "Reason is not automatic."  I forget the exact wording of the rest, but it was to the effect that those who reject it can not be swayed by it.  The episode involved a deadly confrontation between a religious cult and the authorities.

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.

“The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.” --Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

First Glance has long been a facet in characterizations of romantic love. In this old song, it is in the setting of unrequited love or perhaps just unfeasible love. Passing By

The following song is more for the First Glance that works into forever. Some Enchanted Evening

I had three First Glance, but really First See, in my life. In the earliest, my good friend had begun to read AS on account of me introducing him to it. The moment was a visit to me where I was working, having dropped out of college due to lack of funds. I was at my desk. After our talk, as he was leaving, he mentioned he had begun the book and that he liked Dagny Taggart. We became a couple the following summer, when we were both nineteen and continued together to his death twenty-two years later. In that whole trajectory it was to me as if that one particular visit at that office was the first time ever I saw him, and we were one. / The second time was three years after his death. I had gotten to know a friend better and better, and on one of my visits, she was showing me how she did her creative craft and that launched in me what I call, from the old lingo, a flip. A transition to being in love. That was unrequited, though we became ever better friends, after I could get over some of the pain. / The third time was the relationship begun on a definite evening (19 Jan. ’96) and continue to now and to death. It was not that we were in love at the first glance. But we would never forget it.

 

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Edited by Boydstun

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Copied from the Ayn Rand lexicon, here is a relevant quote from Ayn RAnd.

A given person’s sense of life is hard to identify conceptually, because it is hard to isolate: it is involved in everything about that person, in his every thought, emotion, action, in his every response, in his every choice and value, in his every spontaneous gesture, in his manner of moving, talking, smiling, in the total of his personality. It is that which makes him a “personality.”

Introspectively, one’s own sense of life is experienced as an absolute and an irreducible primary—as that which one never questions, because the thought of questioning it never arises. Extrospectively, the sense of life of another person strikes one as an immediate, yet undefinable, impression—on very short acquaintance—an impression which often feels like certainty, yet is exasperatingly elusive, if one attempts to verify it.

This leads many people to regard a sense of life as the province of some sort of special intuition, as a matter perceivable only by some special, non-rational insight. The exact opposite is true: a sense of life is not an irreducible primary, but a very complex sum; it can be felt, but it cannot be understood, by an automatic reaction; to be understood, it has to be analyzed, identified and verified conceptually. That automatic impression—of oneself or of others—is only a lead; left untranslated, it can be a very deceptive lead. But if and when that intangible impression is supported by and unites with the conscious judgment of one’s mind, the result is the most exultant form of certainty one can ever experience: it is the integration of mind and values.

There are two aspects of man’s existence which are the special province and expression of his sense of life: love and art.

The Romantic Manifesto

“Philosophy and Sense of Life,”
The Romantic Manifesto, 31

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Regardless of who said it, and whether or not it’s true, the quote states a matter of profoundest conviction for Rand, and I think it’s a key to the enduring hold she has over her readers.

When we meet a character in one of her novels, we get a physical description as we do in just about any novel. We come across Roark immediately in The Fountainhead and James Taggart and Dagny Taggart very early on in Atlas Shrugged. Rand’s descriptions are largely in terms of acquired, character-revealing traits such as facial expression, carriage, posture or eye focus. The impersonal narrator makes these matters of fact like hair color or eye color. On a few occasions we get this indirectly, through the words or thoughts of a character recollecting a first sight (Rearden’s first sight of Dagny Taggart, Galt’s first sight of Rearden). What these descriptions and the many others like them have in common is that they are never wrong. Rand’s characters turn out to be just what they first seemed to be. Sheryl’s first impression of James Taggart doesn’t fit this pattern, and she misjudges him disastrously, but: (a) she sizes him up on the strength of his name, not of his visible air; (b) we first saw him a couple of pages into the book, and he has amply lived up to the expectations that his appearance gave him.

In her theory of art Rand spoke of eliminating the inessential: in life, one ignores the unimportant; in art, one omits it. False visual clues are among those forgettable contingencies that have no place in her art. In the Randian universe, our first impressions are correct. People don’t let us down in this respect.

This habit spilled over into her personal life. In her obituary for Marilyn Monroe, she says Monroe had “the radiantly benevolent sense of life, which cannot be faked”. Readers have quoted this remark many times over the years, more times, I venture, than Rand expected. Yet I’ve never seen anyone ask why it can’t be faked. Monroe was an actress. Faking what she didn’t feel was her job. Elsewhere in the same column Rand says she “brilliantly talented” at it, but here she says Monroe couldn’t act. She wanted MM to be the person she saw up on the screen, and convinced herself that she was.

Rand herself and her biographers have told various stories of how often this acquaintance or that public figure “disappointed” her. She wanted people to live up to her expectations, and their failures to do so were a personal hurt. We’ve all known this feeling, and we’ve all been glad to meet somebody finally who is what we hoped, but it doesn’t loom as large for most of us.

Barbara Branden tells a story of Rand’s girlhood once in her 1962 biography and again in 1986. Young Alisa admired a schoolmate and wanted to get to know her. She asked, point-blank, what is the most important thing in the world to you? She replied, My mother, and Rand walked away in disappointment. That was the end of that.  In her earlier telling, BB makes this the other girl’s fault for not being was Alisa wanted her to be. In the later version, she says it’s typical of Rand’s failure to consider other people’s context before judging them. This failure on her part, and her idealism, may be closer than we realized.

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.

The lines are given to Ellsworth Toohey, speaking to Kiki Holcomb at a party (in Part II, §VI – pages are from first edition):

“Toohey moved through the crowd, and smiled at his friends. But between smiles and sentences, his eyes went back to the man with the orange hair. He looked at the man as he looked occasionally at the pavement from a window on the thirtieth floor, wondering about his own body were it to be hurled down and what would happen when it struck against that pavement. He did not know the man’s name, his profession or his past; he had no need to know; it was not a man to him, but only a force; Toohey never saw men. Perhaps it was the fascination of seeing that force so explicitly personified in a human body.” (279)

“Kiki turned to him when Dominique had gone. 

“‘What’s the matter with both of you, Ellsworth? Why such talk—over nothing at all? People’s faces at first impressions don’t mean a thing.’

“‘That, my dear Kiki’, he answered, his voice soft and distant, as if he were giving an answer, not to her, but to a thought of his own, ‘is one of our greatest common fallacies. There’s nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge. Have you ever thought of the style of a soul Kiki?’” (281)

I imagine this last paragraph gets its “first glance” as a takeoff from the Hugo quote I gave in a post above. The “style of a soul” is likely lifted from Nietzsche, though put to a new service in which individual character is more fixed than in Nietzsche. It serves well the continual analogy in Fountainhead between fundamental themes in the architecture of a building and in the individual soul. That parallel is itself a parallel (acknowledged by Rand later in a letter) with Plato’s parallel in Republic between constitution of various sorts of souls and constitutions of various sorts of city-state government.* Indeed, Rand continues on 281–82 to have Toohey muse further about styles of civilization and their having underlying supreme determining conceptions.

Rand gave lines to Toohey, Dominique, and Wynand (and to Dr. Stadler in Atlas) that she agreed with or thought a delicious possible truth and anyway a good timber for her fiction and the philosophical views raised therein. I don’t know if this “first glance” picture of people has been taken to heart by readers and brought into their real-life interactions with people. As William has remarked, that would be a disaster. We do, of course, for safety and for other ends, try to read people in some elementary ways, even though the initial data is sparse.

At least after Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, she spoke often of individuals and of societies as being of “mixed premises” in real life.

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32 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

I don’t know if this “first glance” picture of people has been taken to heart by readers and brought into their real-life interactions with people.

If it has, then it would probably be part of the "Howard Roark" phase some Objectivist teenagers go through where they're not sure which parts of The Fountainhead are intended to apply to real life and which are just artistic.

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