Saturday, June 04, 2011

Our Prophet

WB has speculated that his dog is a psychopath.  I have my doubts.  Dogs are social animals, and have the shame instinct, and desire for approval.  Cats - not so much.  The characteristics that mark off the psychopath intersect heavily with the difference between the normal person and the solitary beast of prey - the instincts that make man a social animal.

Ayn Rand's early journals show an infatuation with William Edward Hickman, one of the most famous persons of 1928.  She described her hero based on Hickman:

Other people have no right [to exist], no hold, no interest or influence on him. And this is not affected or chosen -- it's inborn, absolute, it can't be changed, he has 'no organ' to be otherwise. In this respect, he has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'

Ah yes, the Nietzschean Superguy, once again - the "blond beast" of prey.

So why did Rand celebrate Hickman?  In her words:


It is the case of a daring challenge to society. It is the fact that a crime has been committed by one man, alone; that this man knew it was against all laws of humanity and intended that way; that he does not want to recognize it as a crime and that he feels superior to all. It is the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul."

To be a bit more specific, Hickman was a small time forger, thief, robber and murderer who was catapulted to notoriety when he kidnapped and murdered a twelve year-old girl and delivered her dismembered body to her father in return for the demanded ransom.

Hickman's character, though not his deeds, became the model for the hero of The Foutainhead, Rand's first big novel, and the favorite book of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, one he has all his clerks read.

The character of Rand's version of the Nietzschean Superman is indistinguishable from the classic psychopath.  She is hardly the only person attracted to those psychopathic traits: notorious convicted murderers get lots of letters, and even proposals of marriage, from women everywhere.  Infamous dictators, and wacko cult leaders seems to attract their followers despite or because of their psychopathy.  Likely enough, a non-psychopathic pimp or gang leader would be at a competitive disadvantage compared to his fellows.

It scares me that at this juncture the influence of this creepy woman is peaking, with politicos, radio talking heads, economists, and tea partiers everywhere flogging her books.