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Back in the '60s, when my husband and I lived in Manhattan and represented Ayn Rand for a time as her attorneys, I fell in love with the skyline. But while I felt a dim sort of pleasure at the Art Deco buildings I regularly encountered on the streets of New York, and was enthralled by the more spectacular treasures—the Chrysler, Chanin, and Empire State buildings, and Rockefeller Center—it was Ms. Rand who instilled in me a passion for the linear simplicity and sumptuous ornamentation typified by late '20s and early '30s architecture, furniture, and decorative objects.
Which is why, purely from a design point of view, I'm convinced that—had she been granted the opportunity to enter this Web site's "World of Atlas Shrugged"—Ms. Rand would have reacted with almost childlike delight to the stylized depictions of heroic men and women...of trains against the backdrop of skyscrapers...of Atlas holding an open book.
I think she'd have especially approved of what that open-book symbol suggests: a gathering place of people devoted, not to brain-cracking philosophical or psycho-epistemological discourses, but to her works of fiction. For one thing, given the site's format and declared intentions, Ms. Rand would not have been called upon to engage in something she found extremely distasteful, not to mention utterly exhausting (at least, during my legal tenure): the need to act as an ideological policeman.
I think she would have responded as well—with the same kind of delight she experienced listening to what she called her "tiddlywink music"—to the site's overall atmosphere: lighthearted and adventuresome, a place of spontaneity and bright colors, providing an opportunity to steep oneself in the very special universe that she had created.
I say this because I have vivid memories of enchanted evenings when—legal business completed for the night—Ms. Rand, my husband Hank, and I would invariably fall into that all-too-welcome fictional universe and become so engrossed that none of us would notice how the hours flew by.
I say this because during one such evening, this brilliant philosopher—who had influenced countless lives, had had a lasting impact on heads of state, and had (however unwittingly) spawned a political party—responded to something I said in such a way that it became luminously clear in that moment who, above all else, Ayn Rand really was.
We were talking about a character in Atlas, the fatally flawed scientist Robert Stadler, and how Stadler could not comprehend why a man of John Galt's genius—having made a major scientific breakthrough—would use that discovery "merely" as a means to a practical end.
"Ayn," I broke in excitedly, "isn't there an exact parallel here? You created the philosophy of Objectivism simply as a means to an end: to your plot—to Atlas Shrugged!"
She turned to me with a stunned expression. It was true! She had never made that identification, she said slowly, but it was true…
That's when I realized that, first and foremost, Ayn Rand was a novelist.