The Value of Art in Man’s Life

… Only an arrested modern mentality would go on protesting that the events portrayed in a thriller are incredible or improbable, that there are no heroes, that “life is not like that” — all of which is thoroughly irrelevant.

Nobody takes thrillers literally, nor cares about their specific events, nor harbors any frustrated desire to become a secret agent or a private eye. Thrillers are taken symbolically; they dramatize one of man’s widest and most crucial abstractions: the abstraction of moral conflict.

What people seek in thrillers is the spectacle of man’s efficacy : of his ability to fight for his values and to achieve them. What they see is a condensed, simplified pattern, reduced to its essentials: a man fighting for a vital goal — overcoming one obstacle after another — facing terrible dangers and risks — persisting through an excruciating struggle — and winning. Far from suggesting an easy or “unrealistic” view of life, a thriller suggests the necessity of a difficult struggle; if the hero is “larger-than-life,” so are the villains and the dangers.

An abstraction has to be “larger-than-life” — to encompass any concretes that individual men may be concerned with, each according to the scale of his own values, goals and ambition. The scale varies; the psychological relationships involved remain the same. The obstacles confronting an average man are, to him, as formidable as Bond’s adversaries; but what the image of Bond tells him is: “It can be done.”

What men find in the spectacle of the ultimate triumph of the good is the inspiration to fight for one’s own values in the moral conflicts of one’s own life.

If the proclaimers of human impotence, the seekers of automatic security, protest that “life is not like that, happy endings are not guaranteed to man” — the answer is: a thriller is more realistic than such views of existence, it shows men the only road that can make any sort of happy ending possible.

Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto


Also see, Art : Fuel for Man’s Soul

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at and

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5 Responses to The Value of Art in Man’s Life

  1. Greg Swann April 15, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    Gorgeous. Thanks for that.

  2. doctornucci April 16, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    Love this post bro! Great quote, speaks the truth to the soul! -Mario

  3. Dasani April 16, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Beautiful. I’ve avoided the Romantic Manifesto because I have little interest in art. I see how wrong I was.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson April 16, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      Thanks, and no worries Dasani. I did an even bigger #faceplam after I read The Fountainhead/AS, which I attribute entirely to your comparing me to Roark.

      Without that post, there’s a real chance I would still think AS was a weird book about trains.

  4. Mark Plus April 23, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    You might like the audio of Rand’s talk on “Our Cultural Value Deprivation.” This has gotten more relevant since the 1960’s, not less:

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