Rebirth of Reason

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unread

Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 0

Sunday, December 19, 2004 - 10:21amSanction this postReply
"The dark dreary industrial world that I’d gone to sleep on had burnt itself out finally, and the old bourgeois prudery and conformity had lost their hold on the American mind.

"People were adventurous and erotic again they way they were in the old days, before the great middle-class revolutions of the late 1700s. They even looked the way they had in those times.

"The men didn’t wear the Sam Spade uniform of shirt, tie, gray suit, and gray hat any longer. Once again, they costumed themselves in velvet and silk and brilliant colors if they felt like it. They did not have to clip their hair like Roman soldiers anymore; they wore it any length they desired.

"And the women – ah, the women were glorious, naked in the spring warmth as they’d been under the Egyptian pharaohs, in skimpy short skirts and tuniclike dresses, or wearing men’s pants and shirts skintight over their curvaceous bodies if they pleased. They painted, and decked themselves out in gold and silver, even to walk to the grocery store. Or they went fresh scrubbed and without ornament – it didn’t matter. They curled their hair like Marie Antoinette or cut it off or let it blow free.

"For the first time in history, perhaps, they were as strong and as interesting as men.

"And these were the common people of America. Not just the rich who’ve always achieved a certain androgyny, a certain joie de vivre that the middle-class revolutionaries called decadence in the past.

"The old aristocratic sensuality now belonged to everybody. It was wed to the promises of the middle-class revolution, and all people had a right to love and to luxury and to graceful things.

"Department stores had become palaces of near-oriental loveliness – merchandise displayed among soft, tinted carpeting, eerie music, amber light. In the all-night drugstores, bottles of violet and green shampoo sparkled like gems on the sparkling glass shelves. Waitresses drove sleek leather-lined automobiles to work. Dock laborers went home at night to swim in their heated backyard pools. Charwomen and plumbers changed at the end of the day into exquisitely cut manufactured clothes....

"In giant fluorescent-lighted emporiums you could buy tapes of medieval madrigals and play them on your car stereo as you drove ninety miles an hour down the highway. In the bookstores Renaissance poetry sold side by side with the novels of Dickens or Ernest Hemingway. Sex manuals lay on the same tables with the Egyptian Book of the Dead. ... Through shop windows I gazed stupefied at computers and telephones as pure in form and color as nature’s most exotic shells. ... Glittering office towers pierced the night sky like Egyptian obelisks ....

"And no small part of this unpredicted miracle was the curious innocence of these people in the very midst of their freedom and their wealth. The Christian god was as dead as he had been in the 1700s. ... As for sexuality, it was no longer a matter of superstition and fear. The last religious overtones were being stripped from it."
from Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat, quoted from Roderick Long's Austro-Athenian Empire.

Post 1

Sunday, December 19, 2004 - 7:30pmSanction this postReply

Anne Rice wrote The Vampire Lestat in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and this is indeed how America was in those glorious years. 1986, when the paperback came out, was also the year when a coalition of Christianists and Gender Feminists began to turn the tide against freedom in America, with legislation that revived prosecutions for "indecency" and "obscenity" etc. For half a century, America had been the last free refuge for the whole world's exiles from tyranny, Ayn Rand among them, and many others, different from each other in everything but their love of freedom. Between 1975 and 1985 the culture that those refugees built was everything that Anne Rice wrote about in the passage you cite.

Since 1989 the world has changed. Starting with Poland, many of the countries we came from have become free enough to stay in. Today there is no corner of the world without a free country near by. If Russia once again became a tyranny, its intellectuals would only need to escape to Estonia, not America. This is of course better for the world, and for all of us in the long run. But there will be no more Ayn Rands coming to America to give America The Fountainhead. No one knows if there will be, in the future, enough individualists growing up in America itself to take our place.

Post 2

Thursday, March 10, 2005 - 1:32pmSanction this postReply
I'm currently re-reading The Vampire Lestat with an idea of doing a review of it for SOLO.  It's still one of my favorite books, and one of the (unfortunately) few things I still cherish since before discovering Objectivism. The passage that Jeanine posted is one of my favorites.  I love Anne Rice's use of these characters from other eras to comment on historical trends and modern-day life. 


Post to this thread

User ID Password or create a free account.