While we engage in a very welcome and enlivening debate over on elephant journal, about the new mat collaboration between John Friend and Manduka, and the finer points of Anusara yoga, what to me is the truly interesting discussion over on ej is languishing for comment.
Yoga sports apparel store Lululemon has sparked controversy with new shopping bags that promote a novel by Ayn Rand. The bags have the words “Who is John Galt” on them — a phrase from the book Atlas Shrugged. Lululemon founder Chip Wilson is a fan of the book. Guy Raz speaks with Globe and Mail reporter Simon Houpt, who is covering the response to the bags.
RAZ: Right. Yeah. On the company’s blog on its website, they try to explain this, essentially saying, look, society encourages people to be mediocre. This quote urges people to break free of – and this is a quote – “the constraints and limitations on ourselves, which impede us from living our best lives.”
Explain why the company decided to put this on the side of their bags.
HOUPT: Well, I do have some trouble with that because, in fact, in reaching out numerous times to the company, they actually refused to speak on the record to offer their opinion to me. However, in the blog post you refer to, they do offer an explanation and they believe that this book inspires people to embrace greatness rather than this life of sad disappointment, which apparently where all the rest of us are leading.
Here’s an excerpt from Houpt’s Globe and Mail piece.
But a Rand expert says the blog post displays a misreading of the author’s philosophy, known as objectivism. “She wouldn’t put it as an issue of living life fully or mediocrity,” said Onkar Ghate, a senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. “It’s between pursuing your own happiness and self-interest and understanding why that pursuit is right, and to regard that pursuit as noble versus a society that regards it as wrong and ignoble.”
I believe that self and society are in creative tension. I think that resolving that tension too facilely on behalf of an individual is destructive to community and that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that. Moreover, I think such views are at odds with most yogic views I have heard expressed. With all due respect to the many who find that Lulu’s clothes work for them, this should very well be controversial.