To Terry Lung, a fan [Letter 468]

Item Reference Code: 038_04B_008_001

Date(s) of creation

June 28, 1960


Terry Lung


[Page 1]
c/o Random House
457 Madison Ave.
New York City

June 28, 1960

Dear Miss Lung:

Thank you for the photograph which you sent me. It is excellent—and, since you are devoted to your work, you may be pleased to know that it was the photograph that has earned my answer to your two letters.

What impressed me most, in that photograph, is the spirit which you caught in the young girl’s face. But I do not know whether that young girl is yourself or not. If you have a copy of your second letter, you will see that you have not stated it. I do not know whether “the purity of Self”, to which you referred, meant your own face or whether you meant it as a photographer who had found the right model to project her theme. I congratulate you in either case—if that photograph represents your idea of what you value in a human face and a human expression.

But I must tell you frankly that I do not understand your letters, particularly the first. They gave me no clue to your specific ideas, convictions or motives. If you have read ATLAS SHRUGGED, you must know that I hold reason (not feeling) as man’s highest faculty and as the only means of communication among men. (Feelings are the products of man’s conscious or subconscious value-judgments, and cannot be communicated directly; they can be communicated only via rational perception.) Your manner of writing is so confused that I do not know which of my books you have read. You state that you read my “first and second books”; my first and second books were WE THE LIVING and ANTHEM, but I doubt that that is what you meant.

I must object, most severely, to the following paragraph of your first letter: “At this point I will say that you are the writer, not I, so if what I have said is not too clear then I have a good reason. I paint my pictures with a camera, not with a typewriter.” I will

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answer that you write your letters, not I—and that the responsibility of making your meaning clear is yours, not mine. I have no way of knowing the content of your consciousness, if you do not make the effort to express it objectively. There can never be a “good reason” for intellectual carelessness.

I deeply appreciate your offer to photograph me, but I cannot accept it until I meet you and am able to understand you better. When you come to New York, please telephone me at Murray Hill 5-4843 and we will make an appointment to meet.

If you find it difficult to express yourself in words, I will help you as much as I can—provided that you do not consider verbal confusion a virtue and do realize the importance of correcting it.



Ayn Rand