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Ayn Rand Story Contest Featured Winner: The Woman, the Fiction, and the Philosophy

Ayn Rand Story Contest Featured Winner: The Woman, the Fiction, and the Philosophy

Gabriel Harrison

October 15, 2021

For me, the thing that really got me to bump Rand to the top of my reading list was the title:  "Atlas Shrugged."

At first, I thought it was all Latin -- that "shrugged" was two syllables: "shrugg-ed," and that it was some work on ancient literature. Atlas Shrugg-ed -- a tome on ancient Greek philosophy.... I couldn't have been more wrong.  

By the time I discovered what the title meant, I was hooked. Atlas, a great and powerful ancient Greek titan -- is sentenced to hold up the world. He stands, as D'Anconia describes, "knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders."

And all for nothing -- all he needed to do was shrug.  

I was fascinated. Ayn Rand, this strange Russian lady I'd never heard of, had just solved the Greek myth. Solved it. All these determinists never questioned that Atlas would just go along with his burden-- just give in. No -- Ayn Rand says -- he can shrug, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Reading Rand's fiction was amazing for me, but it was also strange. I could sense that she was onto something -- that she possessed some deep understanding of the world, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Never before had I met such virtuous, admirable protagonists who shared my ambition and disdain for the mediocre. People all around me talked about how flaws are what "make characters interesting" -- to me this is an absurd glorification of the mediocre. To this day, I identify more with Rand's characters than any others I have ever read. Rand was writing on my wavelength.

Rand remained to me primarily just a great fiction writer until earlier this summer. It was then that I began to dive into Rand's philosophy and nonfiction, and my love of her novels melded with my lifelong quest for knowledge and desire to make the world a better place.

My whole life, from a very young age, I've wanted to make the world a better place at the highest level possible. I've always read -- and read. My quest for knowledge has led me to teach myself everything from computer science to economics to politics. My aim has always been to understand how the world works so that I can take the right action to improve the state of human affairs. Until recently, I thought that the "highest level" human sciences that guided the course of history were economics and politics. Then Rand convinced me that philosophy guides the course of history. That philosophy -- the science that addresses the basic way that humans perceive and understand the world -- could be the guiding force in human affairs, is a possibility I never considered before I discovered Rand's nonfiction. This amazing author -- who wrote the first characters with whom I could really identify -- is now taking me on a remarkable journey into the world of philosophy to discover the true secret of the course of human affairs -- a secret that lies in men's minds. I am now embarking on an incredible journey into the world of philosophy, the latest stage of my life long quest for knowledge. On a road paved by Rand and traveled by many others before me, I hope to find a deeper understanding of the world and develop the knowledge and intellectual power it takes to make the world a better place, as I have always wanted.

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