Cavett on Ayn Rand’s Demands


Here’s a bit of conversation that didn’t make it into the published interview with Dick Cavett. I’m sharing it because a) it amuses me and b) I don’t care for Ayn Rand.


GREEN: I know people say they’re inspired by great writers, but to me it’s demoralizing. Because you know, no matter how hard you try, you’re going to fall short.

CAVETT: You read it, and say, “Aw, shit.”

GREEN: I guess as long as you’ve made your peace with being a distant second, you’ll be okay.

CAVETT: Yeah, right. Another terrible thought, of course, is, “Think of all the good stuff I’m never going to read.” That’s beginning to obsess me, more and more. A friend of mine was concerned about it in high school. He went on to be a professor at Harvard. But think of all the stuff we’re never going to read. What if we were killed in a car accident? Think of what we wouldn’t have read.

GREEN: Sure, but so much of it would’ve been crap, though.

CAVETT: Oh, well, that’s so, too. You can piss away valuable hours of your life reading Ayn Rand—her wretched appeal to the young, her wretched writing, her wretched person.

She was supposed to be on my show; I was kind of sorry she wasn’t, because I was kind of laying for her. I did not succumb, as a kid, to being enthused by Ayn Rand, and that sense of power, as every kid was at one time until they outgrew it. The old bag sent over a list of fifteen conditions for appearing with me, or for appearing with anyone, I guess. One of them was, “There will be no disagreeing with Ms. Rand’s philosophy.”   

GREEN: You’re kidding.

CAVETT: No! I wrote at the bottom of the list, to be sent back to her, “There will be no Ms. Rand, either.”