Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Release of “Atlas Shrugged” in Marathi

Posted by Jerry on February 17, 2011

Professor Mugdha Karnik from the University of Mumbai had undertaken the monumental task of translating Ayn Rand’s epic novel Atlas Shrugged into Marathi — the regional language of the state of Maharashtra–one of the most populous states in the country.

I have personally heard Prof. Karnik read an excerpt from her translation during one of the Atlas Sunday Club Philosophy Salon’s I organize in Mumbai. She read the passage in which Hank Rearden is holding the dying young wet nurse in his arms. It is a stirring scene in the original novel–and listening to Prof. Karnik read it out in Marathi was equally moving.

I remember telling her at that time that I believe she did not just translate the language of Atlas Shrugged but also managed to translate the spirit of the novel.

Anyway, all of this is in preamble to the reason for this post. The new Marathi version of Atlas Shrugged is being released officially in the city. The following are details. All who are in Mumbai or can travel to the city are urged to attend:

DATE

Saturday, Feb 26, 2011

TIME

7 pm to 8.30 pm

VENUE

Shivaji Mandir
Dadar, Mumbai

GUEST SPEAKERS
Veena Gavankar and Sharad Joshi
Dhananjay Karnik will introduce Sharad Joshi

COMPERE

Jyoti Ambekar

For more details and information about the book, you can reach out to Professor Karnik at the following address:

Mugdha D. Karnik,
Director
Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, University of Mumbai,
Vidyanagari, Kalina, Santacruz (E),
Mumbai 400098

Tel: 022-65952761/65296962
www.extramural.org

 

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, Culture, General Work/Life, India, Mumbai, Objectivism, Personal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Personal Activism

Posted by Jerry on February 27, 2008

I have played a significant part in introducing my friend L’Innommable to the ideas of Ayn Rand and Objectivism. In fact, I think I have done the same with most (all?) of my close friends, who have now read the major works of Ayn Rand and agree with at least some of her ideas to some extent.

I think it comes with the territory: out of happenstance, if I befriend someone, they are bound to be exposed to my value-system; indeed, I am certain that my values play a role in the kind of people I keep and value as friends.

As a matter of fact, I know that simply running this blog and writing the occasional article on Objectivism here has introduced several people to Ayn Rand and helped them get a more mature grasp of her ideas. I am happy of these consequences–and they are an added perk because they are not wholly intended. I write on my blog simply because I like setting my thoughts into words, and I derive a serene sense of pride from my writings. That my blog has resulted in some positive–and hopefully, challenging–intellectual experiences for some is a delight to learn about.

Anyway, L’Innommable is in the midst of reading Atlas Shrugged and he has written of his impressions of the book so far. I liked what he had to say. Here’s just an excerpt of his post:

“[Atlas Shrugged] reminds me of a symphony… I see hints, suggestions, undertones, and allusions to what is to come; an exposition on the philosophy of Objectivism. The thing is, it starts out as any good symphony would, not giving too much away in the beginning, but enticing the listener to continue listening for his enjoyment and edification, climbing ever higher to a crescendo that seems inevitable.”

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, General Work/Life, My Theories and Ideas, Objectivism, Personal, Philosophy, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Facets of Ayn Rand

Posted by Jerry on February 18, 2008

The book Facets of Ayn Rand is now available online for free! Published by the Ayn Rand Institute Press, the book is a personal memoir of Mary Ann and Charles Sures, who were both friends of Ayn Rand for more than 20 years.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction by Leonard Peikoff:

Mary Ann and Charles Sures were longtime personal friends of Ayn Rand—Mary Ann for twenty-eight years, Charles for almost twenty. Their recollec­tions in this delight­ful memoir make vivid­ly real the Ayn Rand they knew so well.

[HT: Medworth]

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, Objectivism, Personal, Philosophy, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Book Reviews and My Room Videos

Posted by Jerry on January 26, 2008

I realize I haven’t been blogging at all lately. I find that I have very little free time to myself; and the precious little that I do have, I must choose between spending it on finishing a book that I’m reading, watching something on TV to just relax blankly, or typing up my thoughts on innumberable things on my blog. Invariably, I end up choosing from the first two options.

I just finished reading Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It’s an explosive book!–what a fascinating story, a heroic life, an incredible journey of a real heroic giant of a woman! It should be compulsory reading for every crazy multiculturalist and Islamic fundamentalist out there. In fact, everyone should read it, and be inspired by it. Ayaan Hirsi Ali defies cultural determinism, cultural bonds, traditions, religious injunctions, the threat to life and soul, family, clan, nation–practically everything that an average mediocrity finds as constituents of his self-identity. Rising from the tribal muck of primitive Somalia and the backwardness of Islamic traditions, Ayaan charts her own course, explicitly based on reason, individualism, and enlightenment ideals. Infidel is the autobiography of this strong, young, and heroic woman. It’s the story of a woman that exemplifies Ayn Rand’s words: “man is a being of self-made soul.”

Then, I plodded through a terribly clunky, horribly-written book on Poincare’s Conjecture in the mathematical field of Topology. The book is about the story of an unknown Russian mathematician Greg Perelman, who suddenly shot to fame after quietly submitting a paper on the Internet in which he had written up a proof for Poincare’s Conjecture—a problem that had remained unsolved until then for several centuries. This incident had happened on a few years ago, and at that time (sometime in 2001, I think), I remember reading about a Russian man solving a centuries-old problem in the newspaper. I still recollect being intrigued by the story and wondering what the details of this solution and the mathematical problem was. 

Now, I love reading books on mathematics, although I am terribly weak in the subject myself. I have never been good with numbers: we are as mutually repelling as opposite poles of a magnet. However, I am fascinated by the story of mathematical achievements, geniuses, mathematical research, inventions, explorations, thoughts, etc. I had immensely enjoyed reading about Godel’s theorems and Fermat’s proofs. And the more I read about the field of mathematics, the more I understood it, because each new book contains several references to similar themes, ideas, topics, problems, and personalities–and they approach it from different angles; and when you identify these similarity and begin making integrations in your mind based on these vantage points, the feeling of awe and wonder is more than gratifying.

However, as I was reading Poincare’s Prize, I thought to myself that the contributors to Wikipedia write far superior articles, and they are more captivating as well! The author of Poincare’s Prize seems completely scattered in his organization, overwhelmed by the complexity of the subject matter he’s tackling, and unsure of how to simply progress from one paragraph to the next. His transitions are clunky and distracting. He dwells on irrelevant–almost encyclopedic–details of personalities that add little to the progression of the storyline.

In any case, all of these deficiencies can be overlooked as nothing more than mild annoyance. However, what I found most egregious is the author’s gall to inject his sense of morality and judgment on the actions of the mathematicians he discusses. Instead of staying clear of such moral evaluations in a topic dealing with objective facts and dry logic–or at least letting the reader make his own moral judgements of the characters, the author generously indulges in moralizing. It should go without saying that my heightened senstivity to this aspect of the book is primarily because I deeply disagree and detest the author’s moral evaluations.

Anyway. Moving on to something unrelated. For my recent birthday, I was gifted a Nikon CoolPix L11 digital camera. I decided to tinker around with it in the privacy of my room. Here are some short videos of my room.

And another:

And finally:

Posted in Books, Culture, General Work/Life, India, Islamo-loony, Movies, Mumbai, Personal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Undercurrents

Posted by Jerry on November 7, 2007

I really like this beautiful opinion piece written by Maggie Gallagher on the 50th anniversary of Atlas Shrugged. Since it is on Yahoo! News, I’m afraid the link might become inactive in a few days when the page will be moved. So, I’m including the entire article here.

THREE CHEERS FOR AYN RAND

“Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand‘s monumental 1,000-plus-page valentine to the America of her dreams, turns 50 this year.

The occasion has been marked by nerdy paeans to her philosophy, and grudging acknowledgements by sophisticates that Rand’s novels may not be so very bad, after all. For the latter ersatz tribute, see, for example, the famous art critic (and my friend) Terry Teachout’s essay on Rand at 50 in the current issue of National Review.

Ayn Rand deserves better.

Fifty years after it was published, “Atlas Shrugged” lives on like no other book outside of, well, the Bible. Eight percent of Americans have read it, according to a 2007 Zogby poll. Yet a 1991 Library of Congress and Book of the Month Club poll found that, next to the Bible, it is the book that had most frequently “made a difference” in people’s lives. I just checked on Amazon.com: “Atlas Shrugged” was the No. 1-selling book in the category of “literature and fiction-classics” and No. 310 on the overall Amazon list.

Most novelists would kill for an audience this big on the day they appear on the “Today” show, much less more than 25 years after they’re dead. Among reading Americans, no other novel has ever generated any response remotely like this.

And “Atlas Shrugged” became a genuine American classic without ever making it into the official “canon” of great, near-great or even so-so novels — all of which guarantees a certain number of mandatory sales and reads among bored high school students and eager undergraduates.

Why? Teachout concludes that Rand writes a pretty good potboiler, a plot “complete with sex scenes and a shoot-’em-up finale. No wonder that it has sold like soap for half a century.”

Really? Let’s consider sales among three popular authors with whom Teachout compares Rand: John Grisham’s “The Firm” is No. 71,739, Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” is currently No. 148,043 and Zane Grey’s “Ranger of the Lone Star” is No. 28,965 on the Amazon list.

Novels, even page-turning potboilers with lots of sex and gunplay, do not typically sell like soap, year-in and year-out, for half a century.

Like Terry, I first read and fell in love with “Atlas Shrugged” when I was 16. At 47, I see her as a great artist in somewhat the same way that I so acknowledge Theodore Dreiser: Despite the obvious flaws in the prose, the whole adds up to a genuinely unique achievement.

The key to Ayn Rand is that she pictured America largely from early films from Hollywood. As a young girl growing up in the grim world of communist Russia, she saw America as we dreamed ourselves to be, and she longed her whole life with a child’s intensity to make this vision real, to live in it. We respond to her novels because they offer us one deep strand of American self-identity — as individualists, yes, but individualists who together dream big dreams, conquer wild frontiers, invent the future, remake our very selves.

She understood, the way so many pampered Hollywood artists don’t, that much of the romance of America is in business — in our dreams of making it, by making big new things, things no man has ever made before. Rand is virtually alone in seeing businessmen as fellow artists: makers, creators, inventors. In her novels, the greatness of the artist was matched by the greatness of the architect, the scientist, the entrepreneur and the railroad executive. The Homer of our era, she sang the song by which so many Americans live our lives.

I gave up being a Randian (as I called it) at 22, when I had my first baby.

For the first time, I saw the limits of the grand myth of the self-made man. I saw how completely life itself depends on a love that cannot be rationalized, but is pure gift.

Grace entered my life, and I submitted to the necessity of gratitude — including gratitude for the stubborn, peculiar, determined, brilliant little Russian girl who, virtually unassisted, remade herself into one of the best-selling American novelists of all time.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, Culture, Objectivism, Philosophy, Philosophy of Art, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Tracinski’s Article in FoxNews

Posted by Jerry on October 9, 2007

This is one of the best and well-formulated articles I have read on the historical significance of Atlas Shrugged.

Robert Tracinski writes:

[Ayn Rand] saw the dramatic potential in asking a single question: what would happen if the innovative entrepreneurs and businessmen — after decades of being vilified and regulated — started to disappear? What if the men condemned as parasites who somehow grow rich by exploiting manual laborers — the whole Marxist view of the economy — what if those “exploiters” were no longer around? The disappearance of the world’s productive geniuses provides the novel’s central mystery, both factually and intellectually.

Factually, the story follows Dagny Taggart, a woman in the then-unconventional role of operating vice-president of a transcontinental railroad, as she struggles to keep her railroad running in the face of strangling government regulations, while trying to solve a series of mysteries: a promising young railroad worker refuses a promotion and takes up a menial job instead; a spectacularly talented heir to a multinational copper company abandons his work to become a flamboyant playboy; a genius who invented a revolutionary new motor abandons his creation in the ruins of a derelict factory.

The factual questions are: Where did all of these people go? Why did they give up their work? Is there someone or something that is causing them to disappear?

The philosophical questions raised by this plot are: What is the role of the entrepreneurs and innovators in a society? What motivates them, what are the conditions they need in order to work and what happens to the world when they disappear? The factual mystery is integrated with the novel’s deepest philosophical question: What is the moral status of the businessman and industrialist?

Read his entire article for its many good insights. Especially tantalizing is Tracinski’s concluding statement in the article. It’s such a brilliant device to push the reader to learn more!

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, Culture, Economics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Philosophy of Art, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Atlas Celebrations in Landmark, Mumbai

Posted by Jerry on October 6, 2007

Atlas ShruggedAtlas ShruggedI have been working with Barun Mitra of the Liberty Institute in Delhi to organize a celebratory event in Mumbai. Hyderabad and Delhi will be having celebratory events simultaneously with the one in Mumbai. Check out the Liberty Institute announcement for more details.

Here are the event details in Mumbai:

October 12, 2007
7:00 P.M.
Landmark bookstore
Infiniti Mall
Andheri Link Road
Andheri (West)

Expect snacks, cake, a lively discussion, and an opportunity to meet Ayn Rand fans from across Mumbai.

UPDATE: Check out the Liberty Institute Web site for the announcement of the Mumbai event, including the program of events in Hyderabad and Delhi.

UPDATE: Professor Shehernaz from the Philosophy faculty at Wilson College may be speaking at the event on Ayn Rand’s philosophical influence on the Indian academia and culture in general.

UPDATE: View the Atlasphere announcement here. Also, sign-up for free on The Atlasphere to find fans and admirers of Ayn Rand around your local area. I noticed that their list of subscribers for India is quite substantial. In fact, the owner of the site–Joshua Zader–tells me that India is only second to the US in number of subscribers!

UPDATE: I’m working on screening a short 1974 video interview of Ayn Rand at the event. I should be getting the DVD by tomorrow.

UPDATE: Several members of the press are sending in inquiries! Therefore, I anticipate good media coverage. I am also in talks with some journalists who are fans of Ayn Rand and who have promised to make every effort to attend the event. I am beginning to have strong reasons to believe that there will be many more people attending than I had originally envisioned.

UPDATE: I have news that several other cities in India have come on board with their own celebratory events on this Anniversary: Bangalore, Calcutta, and may be even Patna. However, these cities will most likely have their events later next week, to have the time for preparations and such.

In any case, I am delighted to hear of it. I think India has beaten the United States with respect to the number of cities commemorating 50 years of Atlas Shrugged. I also believe there is a good reason for this. In my preparations for this event in Mumbai, I have become acquianted with so many Ayn Rand lovers from the older generation; i.e., people who have known, studied, and loved Ayn Rand’s works before the boom of the Internet and the phenomenon of blogging in India. Their access to Rand’s ideas were through more legitimate channels like actual audio/video recordings of her lectures and interviews, her books, and the newsletters. This is unlike the more recent crop of young Indian literates who for the most part rely on Internet searches and adulterated Wikipedia articles for their source of information.

For more on why Ayn Rand is respected more widely in India than in the United States, read this and this.

POST-EVENT UPDATE: In my assessment, the event I organized was a great success! 🙂 I was pleased with the number of people who turned up (22 people signed the information sheet, although I believe some more may have been present), and more importantly, I was pleased to learn of their deep interest in Ayn Rand. I think all of them loved the Ayn Rand interview from 1974. There was a diverse mix of people–from a boy who said he was in high school to older men and women who’ve been Rand fans for several decades. In the audience, there was a filmmaker, an author, fashion designer, editor, marketing professionals, stock broker, etc.

I asked a lovely lady with stylish black-rimmed glasses–who had come with a little tiny girl–whether she had read Atlas Shrugged. This is how she responded: “I have read *all* of Rand’s books. … Twice!”

I had to love that! 🙂

Anyway, it’s way too late in the night, and I have been literally surviving on 10-minute power naps for the past 10 days. So, a substantial post-event update is forthcoming, but only after I rest to my heart’s content! In the meantime, all my blog readers that I met this evening, now I know who you are and that you’re lurking around here. Place your comments about what you thought about the evening, about Rand’s interview, our discussions, the organizing–anything.

Here’re a couple pictures from the event:Atlas Shrugged Anniversary; Event audience. I’ll upload the rest later.

MEDIA UPDATE: I have just been contacted by a reporter from the Telegraph. She is interested in writing up a story on our Mumbai event.  I gave her some details and described the event to her. I also gave her the contact information of some who attended the event on Friday. She might contact you for quotes or opinions. [See the Telegraph article on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged celebrations. See my interview with the Telegraph reporter here.]

The Times of India has a short article on the Hyderabad event. The Pioneer ran an editorial on the Ayn Rand event in Delhi.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, Culture, India, Mumbai, Objectivism, Philosophy, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

My Bookshelf

Posted by Jerry on September 24, 2007

Upon an invitation from a friend, I recently registered on two book-cataloging Web sites. They function as a kind of online bookshelf that you can share with your friends, categorize according to various parameters, comment on and rate the books, view and review the books that others have read, etc.

I like the idea.

So, here is my list of books on the two sites:

Library Thing shelf

Shelfari

All the books listed are either on my real bookshelf at home or are ones that I have read/currently reading. I have not bothered to select the exact editions for each book I read (since I’m not even aware of their particular dates of publication); therefore, I may not actually have the specific edition of a book that I have displayed on the list.

Feel free to add me to your friend’s list (if you already have an account), write your reviews of books that you and I have read, give your ratings, and even offer some suggestions of books that you think I might enjoy reading–given the pattern in the kind of books I read.

P.S. The above links can also be accessed from the bottom of the sidebar to the right.

P.P.S. It should go without saying, the list is not exhaustive.

Posted in Books, General Work/Life, Personal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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