Dear Phrontis is our new advice column, featuring the questions we imagine people would put to us were anyone batshit crazy enough to write us for advice. The questions may or may not be made up or entirely drawn from our own personal lives, and the answers may or may not be safe to apply to your own.
Recently, I’ve been seeing this great guy. He’s smart, kind, considerate, funny, tall, handsome, the works. I really like going out with him, and I wouldn’t say no to some hand-holding on park benches and other similar shenanigans in the near future. The only problem is, I was at his house the other day, and was naturally very interested in the contents of his bookshelf. Imagine my horror when I saw, third row from the top, not one, not two, but three Ayn Rand novels. It’s not even that the mere thought of Rand’s sex scenes temporarily kills any desire to ever interact with any man ever again, it’s just that I cannot date a guy who likes Ayn Rand! I absolutely cannot date an objectivist wannabe! But I really like him! Should I dump him? Should I figure out if he actually believes the philosophy or just inexplicably likes the writing? What do I do??
Subjectivist in Seattle
First of all, what on earth were you doing in his house? Nice Catholic Girls do not go to men’s houses, or ride in their cars, or look at their bookshelves. Why buy the cow when you can get the literary criticism for free, as I’m sure you’re mother must have told you. You have got a mother, haven’t you?
Secondly, take a deep breath and get. a. grip. What makes you so high and mighty and prissy just because you have the good taste to avoid Ayn Rand? Good taste isn’t something you earn, and I bet you’re not without your shameful pleasures.
Finally, burn those books. No, I’m serious. Ayn Rand poisons everything, and must be treated accordingly. Sure, it would be helpful to ascertain whether he’s merely committed a literary blunder or is deep, deep in her pernicious clutches. But this is just diagnostic. To address the problem, you must go the source. Burn those books, and if he buys another set, burn them again. Keep doing this until a Pavlovian response sets in. Eventually he will associate seeing you (which I am assuming he enjoys) with not owning Ayn Rand books. You will now be ready to continue your happy, healthy relationship.