Visionary fiction has always been my favorite genre, even before I knew it existed as a genre. This post is about who influenced me to write visionary fiction. It’s bound to cause some controversy.
The drumroll please…
“The secrets of this earth are not for all men to see, but only for those who will seek them.” Ayn Rand, Anthem
I’m going to focus on the visionary fiction angle of Rand’s writing, which was what had influenced me. I view her politics as a minor aspect of her stories. It was the themes that strongly resonated with me and still do. I read Athem in my teens—when I knew little about politics. Today, I know a lot about politics, which is why I’m not a capitalist, socialist or anythingist. Nevertheless, like Rand, I do champion a society that respects the rights of the individual. That’s a consistent theme in all my writing.
While only Anthem is filed under visionary fiction, I connect all of Ayn Rand’s fiction to the genre.
“The creator requires independence. He neither serves, nor rules. He deals with men by free exchange and voluntary choice.” Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
Only a tyrant would disagree with the above statement. For those not familiar with The Fountainhead, the creator relates to anyone who contributes to society.
Because Rand defined herself by her politics and philosophy, the themes of her books are easy to overlook. In The Fountainhead, the protagonist, Howard Roark, is an architect who must compromise on his vision in order to appease his bosses and the heads of state. They shun his unique designs because they want every building constructed not to stand out. As the story continues, Roark becomes more humble, focusing more on his vision. It’s more important for him to see his building constructed than the recognition he would receive as the architect who designed it. He permits Peter Keating, another architect, to take credit for his work. When Keating acquiesces under the pressure of the state and ruins Roark’s design, Roark blows up the building. Quite an extreme reaction, but I recall feeling the power in the scene. Roark took a stand, not just for his own right to express himself freely as an individual, but for everyone’s right to do so. It’s through the freedom of self-expression that we thrive and continue to evolve.
How many of us would do what Roark had done? How many of us would sit in the background while another person takes credit for our work? Ayn Rand publicly espoused the virtue of selfishness, but her stories reveal the complete opposite. Did she ever see this contradiction? If so, did it confuse her? She had admitted to being an atheist, but the subtext of her work comes across as deeply spiritual.
“What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can’t stand still. It must grow or perish.” Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.
In analyzing Rand’s books at this level of my spiritual journey, I can clearly see that she was evolving through her own writing. Was she aware of it? Her personal life might have been less than ideal, but her words ring true even though she couldn’t live up to them. I feel the same about my own work. Damon, the protagonist from Unison, challenged me and continues to do so. I see him as an ideal—of something I can evolve into. Perhaps Rand viewed Howard Roark similarly.
Some people might argue as to whether The Fountainhead would be considered visionary fiction, but if Roark’s courtroom speech were understood and followed, the world would be at peace. That is the evolution of consciousness on a profound level!
“It’s the things that we admire or want that enslave us.” Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
The Rand Influence
Ayn Rand stories inspired me to grow and live my dreams without compromise. However, it took me a while to get here. It wasn’t until I had started writing visionary fiction that I connected to the meaning of what Rand was saying through her fiction. In hindsight, I used to compromise with my writing, but I stopped when I wrote Unison. After I had typed my last word, I felt the power behind Howard Roark’s conviction. I had intellectualized it many years ago but had never felt it from within. Now I produce what comes from my heart and mind, and I’ll continue to evolve with each book that I write. Like Howard Roark, I won’t compromise on my vision, which is why I chose to self-publish.
“An inventor is a man who asks ‘Why?’ of the universe and lets nothing stand between the answer and his mind.” Ayn Rand, from Atlas Shrugged
The Connection in My Writing
One important lesson I have learned on my spiritual journey is that I can only evolve as an individual. In all my books, my protagonists typically come to a similar understanding, either consciously or subconsciously. Perhaps after we die, we enter a collective reality, but we humans don’t do collective well. Collectivism has always led to less freedom. Ayn Rand used this theme, and I do so as well in Unison. The main difference is I don’t directly involve politics in my work. It may be the by-product but never the main focus as I don’t view any political system as an ideal. Nevertheless, if I’m ever referred to a spiritual Ayn Rand, I wouldn’t take offense to it!
If you’re interested to read more about how I connect Ayn Rand’s philosophy with spirituality, please click here to read my five-part series on spiritual objectivism.
Eleni Papanou is the author of two novels. Read more about them at her website.