I was reading The Feminine Mystique the other night, and I came across this seemingly innocuous passage:
They were told that the cold dimension of loneliness which the war had added to their lives was the necessary price they had to pay for a career, for any interest outside the home. The mystique spelled out a choice – love, home, children, or other goals and purposes in life. Given such a choice, was it any wonder that so many American women chose love as their whole purpose?
And for some reason, my mind was immediately transported to a wooded plot of land somewhere in upstate New York, overlooking a deep blue lake, a rustic but still elegant cabin somewhere in the background, and three teenagers watching a road under a blue sky. This is a mental image I created while reading Atlas Shrugged a few years ago, as part of the description of one of the childhood homes of Dagny and James Taggart.
I have no idea why this image popped into my mind, but it really goes to what I love most about reading. I don’t have a physical memory of such a place, only a mental memory created when I read a book. I didn’t even like Atlas Shrugged very much (at least, I’m not a member of the cult of John Galt). But books have created a space in my mind and memory similar to that of a well-loved vacation or beloved childhood recollection. Despite my ambiguity towards Atlas Shrugged, that still life from Ayn Rand’s novel made me happy. I thought, “Ah, those were good times. … That was a good read.”
Note: I also find it ironic and strangely satisfying that reading a passage from The Feminine Mystique should remind me of the annoyingly anti-progressive Ayn Rand, who still created one of the strongest women characters in literature. Rand would be so pissed, and that makes me laugh.