Like other ideological trailblazers,nRand created a secular religion —nwhich, for a militant atheist whondamned faith as “mysticism,” was quitena feat.nHer books, treated as revelation bynfollowers, projected a self-containednworld view: suffering is the result ofnaltruism (which subjugates the humannspirit) and collectivism (which enslavesnman physically). Salvation lies in capitalismn(with its corresponding economicnand technological progress) and thenliberating doctrine of rational selfinterest—breakingnthe psychologicalnchains of bondage to others. Only thendeity could appoint the apostles of thennew creed. After Branden was banishedn(with the malediction that henbecome impotent for at least twentynyears, as atonement for his sins), LeonardnPeikofF, a psychiatrist, became thennew supreme pontiff. The punishmentnfor heretics was banishment from the.ndivine presence and eternal damnationnas a “mystic” (irrational), “whimworshiper”n(one dominated by his desires),n”second-hander” (uncritical absorbernof ideals drawn from thensurrounding culture) or other speciesnof Randian apostate.nSome of her admirers have tried tonexcuse Rand’s quirky, tyrannical naturenwith the observation that she wasnthe architect of a noble creed, whonregrettably was incapable of living upnto her ideals — a transparent rationalizationnthat Rand herself would havensneeringly dismissed as an “evasion ofnreality” when applied to the conduct ofnlesser mortals. In fact, her life — anmiserable, bitter, vindictive, lonely existencenin the midst of fame andnfortune — was the direct result of thenethos of Objectivism. Ayn Rand livednonly for herself, measuring the value ofnothers solely in terms of the benefitnthat she could derive from them. Shenwas a user who exploited the blindnadoration of her immature followers,nrelied upon her husband, Frank O’Connor,nfor emotional support, beforencoolly asking him to exit their apartmentnfor her twice-weekly trysts withnBranden.nLike secular humanism. Objectivismnis founded upon the deification ofnthe individual. By enshrining the self, itntends to rationalize human failings andnexalt human appetites, which, after all,nserve the greater good (the humannself). Rand, worshiping the ego, becamenthe supreme egoist: self-assertivento the point of boorishness, candid tonthe point of cruelty, displaying a totalnlack of sympathy for the frailties ofnothers. This is the creed she championednand lived by, a remorseless dogmanwithout room for tolerance, compromise,nor compassion.nAyn Rand did make a number ofnpositive contributions to the politicalndebate. Having lived through the RussiannRevolution, she was an ardentnanticommunist: no one was morentrenchant than she in damning thenevils of the gulag state. And her oppositionnto collectivism was unsparing. Innan age of anti-heroes, of hopelessnessnand determinism, she made a persuasivencase for free will and celebratednthe transcendence of the human spirit.nHer failure was the downfall of mostnsecular intellectuals: an obsession withnideals to the exclusion of human beings,na belief in the ultimate perfectibilitynof humanity, an attempt to create anman-centered moral code divorcednfrom the eternal. Her private life standsnas the ultimate refutation of her philosophy,nas well as proof that utopianismnof the right can be as delusionary andndangerous as utopianism of the left.nDon Feder is a nationally-syndicatedncolumnist and writer for The BostonnHerald.nNothing Out ofnSomethingnby Loxley F. NicholsnCaroline Gordon: A Biographynby Veronica A. MakowskynNew York: Oxford University Press;n221 pp., $21.95nMoving by fits and starts, this biographynof the Southern novelistnand wife of Allen Tate lacks focusnand — ultimately — purpose. VeronicanMakowsky’s is a dull account of anninherently interesting subject. This relativelynsmall book is essentially a failure,nrendering, as it does, a diminished,nfragmented, and elusive portrait of CarolinenGordon.nThe book does include some enter­ntaining anecdotes, but these generallyninvolve a funny comment made by thenTates’ young daughter Nancy that isntranscribed verbatim. Unfortunately,nwhen the humor turns on action rathernthan on words, Ms. Makowsky’s ineptnessnbecomes painfully visible as shentakes rich material, such as Gordon’sninitial encounter with William Faulkner,nand renders it limp, pallid, andnanticlimactic.nMakowsky deals too much with thenwork and not enough with the life. Onenfeels that she was perhaps trying toncompensate for a dearth of information,nor maybe she felt preempted by AnnnWaldron’s 1987 biography, Close Connections:nCaroline Gordon and thenSouthern Renaissance (which, whilenflawed, is much the better of the twonbooks). When not putting the readernto sleep with plot summaries of MissnGordon’s work, Ms. Makowsky is busyndousing him with buckets of Freudianninterpretations. Recounting Gordon’snexplanation of how she first learned tonread — a spontaneous experience involvingn”Beauty and the Beast”‘—nMakowsky helpfully explains: “Althoughnat the end of the story Beautynturns the Beast into a handsome princenwith her kiss, much of the tale’s suspensenconcerns the fate of Beauty’snfather. . . . Little Caroline, who worshippednher father, may well havenidentified with Beauty and longed for ansimilar opportunity to prove her love.”nWorse than her tendency to makenmuch put of little, however, is Ma-nRSVPnnnLIBERAL ARTSnDENVER—No one will eat—or evennshow up — tomorrow at the second annualnNo-Show Banquet in celebration ofnWorld Food Day.nCARE-Denver, a branch of thenworldwide agency that provides food,nshelter, clothing and money in disasterstrickennareas, is sponsoring the “nonevent.”nInvitations sent last week requestednthe absence of Denver residents at then”most important social function you’llnnever attend.”nThose wishing to be absent at thenbanquet may contribute to CARE . . .n—from the Denver Post,nOctober 15, 1989nJANUARY 1990/43n