Sunday, July 13, 2008

atlas shrugged

Instead of cleaning yesterday, I ended up finishing off the final 400 pages of Atlas Shrugged... (If you haven't read the book yet and don't want spoilers, don't read!)

a) It's not quite as depressing throughout the book as everyone made it out to be. From the valley on, I was no longer depressed while reading it because there finally existed some much-needed hope in the book. Plus, anyone who knows me well knows I hate secrets that I'm not a part of. So I was just really annoyed and pissed off for the first 500-600 pages or so where the mysterious "destroyer" kept coming and claiming people, and Francisco kept making implications about the greater secret he was hiding and fighting for.

b) I think my dislike for physics and probability (and probably philosophy as well) were best defined by this book. I can't regard and understand the world in absolutes, in perfect situations. My brain has never really been able to wrap itself around the idea of looking at isolated situations where EVERYTHING is perfect and all the other factors that could affect the formula are ignorable for the sake of science. That's what this book was to me. People were basically put into black and white categories of perfect or imperfect. There were no real in betweens (and I'm sure someone will argue with me that that's not true, look at Eddie, Cheryl), but really as I read it there were none. And the perfect people were perfect all the way through. I mean 4 men fall in love with Dagny, 1 man gets her -- her OTL. Two of the men, the "perfect" ones are okay with it because they know who she loves and they understand and it's enough to know that she loves them, but just not in the way she's meant to love her OTL. The third one was okay with it because he never had her anyway, and he always knew he never would (at least that's my interpretation). How can one so perfectly emote with reason? I just can't grasp this "perfectness," this equation.

3) I agree with some concepts from the book but not all.
-- The concepts I agree with: Man should never feel entitled to something they didn't work for. Government control of society, economy, genius must be prevented. The greatest good you can do for society is to do the best you can do for yourself (once again, just my interpretation). Communism is evil.
-- Things I don't agree with: Don't do anything for others, do it for yourself. Let the weak, the stupid, the looters and leeches run themselves into the ground; you have no obligation to them. Communism is evil.

4) John Galt is exactly what I'd imagine a cult leader to be like. To me I felt that people were following him simply because what he said seemed to be so deep and beyond what they were able to comprehend that it MUST be right. Okay, so the men of Galt's Gully probably did believe and understand it, but I don't think that *every* single person who was taken there did. I think that they just felt that they must follow him because he must be right. That kind of blind trust to believe someone, isn't that how cult leaders are born and their power thrives? And for that, I am grateful Ayn Rand gave us Dagny. Because she is the only character who allowed the reader insight into their inner struggles of accepting the philosophy. Even if she was deeply in love with him, so it didn't matter anyway.

::sigh:: I'm just glad to be done with the book.


Mira said...

Ooh, I think I figured out something else that's been bothering me. The preachings, to me, seem to indicate that charity is a bad thing. If you are going to be a hard-core industrialist, do it for yourself and to satisfy your own genius. Don't do it for the others. Do it with the "pure" goal of making money, not to help others. Because then you have nothing to apologize for.

Well, looking at how industry has affected our world (for good and for bad), how is that correct? What about how not just industrialists, but industrial thinkers and supporters (which includes me!), have destroyed our environment? If we allow ourselves to believe that it's okay to act on the motivation of capitalism but ignore everything else, isn't that saying it's okay to continue to destroy the world?

I don't know. So, in any case, I believe in charity, and I believe in living for the greater good, not just yourself.

frisco said...

Have u ever thought that the environment is another problem for us which merits a solution ? i mean the person who solves it will do it solely to save his own house .. his place of survival! These people who talk about the earth as a a society and that we have to save it will ultimately end up in only a blame game and nothing else... may be am too pessimistic or who knows too optimistic abt that one man!i dont know who he is but sure enuf there will be one person to whom this problem will trouble the most and he will solve it

burkie said...

i really loved ayn rand's "the fountainhead" and when i see "atlas shrugged" on the shelf, i'm always tempted and start to reach for it....and then my eyes focus on the width of the book and, in the end, burkie shrugs and grabs the latest, equally thick harry potter book. i don't think i can handle rand's seriousness & intensity for that many pages. but i'm glad you got through it!