by Kleitia Vaso

Looking at the girl who sits everyday at the same spot, constantly on her phone while her boyfriend works, I often wonder how she finds the strength to do the same thing every day, namely simply passing the time doing little that benefits her or anybody else, monetarily or otherwise. For one thing, she looks miserable as in unhappy, not in terms of appearance, and one can sense the terrible mix of lethargy and frustration ready to be transformed into poison to be unleashed on others. This state, for which unhappiness is too romantic of a word as it excludes any active impulses, results from an obvious lack of internal and external activity.

We can imagine our girl as a common version of Hedda Gabler, my favorite anti-heroine, incidentally, but without these important elements: 1. A father who was a general and still an overwhelming influence on Hedda; 2. Above-average good looks; 3. Limitations imposed on women by 19th Century society; 4. Excessive intelligence and curiosity which made Hedda’s mediocre life unbearable. So, in the end, we are left with frustration, unhappiness, and poison, unfortunately. My anti-heroine and this girl meet in their inability to transform their emotions and drives into something positive and creative rather than negative, destructive, and ultimately self-destructive. Indeed, this girl is an example of a more widespread national disease; unhappiness as a result of a lack of activity (mental, emotional, physical), expressed as venomous passive-aggressive attacks on the lives of others. Where does this frustration come from?

Obviously, there are many reasons and I am sure that more politically and socially- involved and knowledgeable people will provide all kinds of explanations from a socio-political viewpoint. This is not my strong point, however, nor great interest. I definitely understand subjective states, though, as I analyze mine constantly and feel that I am capable of every single one of them: frustration, dissatisfaction, aggressiveness and so on. But, I despise wasted time. Wasted time is a relative concept as is everything, really, but I would consider as wasted anything that does not have any nutritional value, intellectually, emotionally, physically; anything that fails to add anything, even a tiny amount, to what one is before it.

I thought of the girl and her many faces as I was virtually discussing Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead with J. The novel’s protagonist, Howard Roark, is a modern architect who answers his calling of designing new, unappreciated shapes for the time, while surrounded by outwardly more successful architects who copy previous but affirmed styles. Roark embodies the individual who thinks of his self-fulfillment first and foremost without worrying about fulfilling the expectations of others. This individual never thinks directly about society’s good; society can only profit from an individual, implies Rand, who first respects him/herself, not a shapeless and assumed general good. Charity, for instance, is considered an easy way out in Rand’s world because it pushes both parties, giver and taker, to commit unnatural acts and puts them in false positions. If a person fulfills his/her potential without selling out or choosing the easier routes, he/she can be unhappy and beaten by the world at times, but not frustrated with the betrayal of the self, a betrayal which later, as we know, turns into wasted time, undue attention paid to the lives of others, and petty intrigues and interferences into other people’s business. Rand, though radical, is right; people who do what they are meant to, without altogether skipping self-reflection and choosing immersion into easier and brainless activities, do not have time to waste on other people and irrelevant problems. And of course, chatting, having coffee, Facebook activities, etc. disguised as keeping social relations or something more than what they are, do not count.

by Kleitia Vaso