Thursday, March 26, 2009

Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her

I started on Atlas Shrugged, at the behest of a friend. Now, normally I wouldn't choose to write about my feelings on a book until I'd finished the thing, but at present this blog has a dearth of things to write about, I'm going to chronicle my progress through this fucker.

I'm about seventy pages in. I've had the book a week. It takes me a while to get inertia started on any new novel, but that's neither here nor there. I had to read The Fountainhead in High School and I say "had to" because I found certain aspects of the plot to be morally reprehensible and in general Randian Objectivism (as though it comes in other flavors, I dunno) to be contrary to every natural instinct I've ever had in my life. Or maybe it's more the Objectivists, and the Conservatives who now who use Fountainhead and in particular Atlas Shrugged as clarion calls like they use the parts of the Bible and the Constitution that appeal to their vision of the world as shaped through Institutionalized Assholery.

Obviously I came to this tome with some baggage. Which was sort of the point for me. Because it's my friend's favorite novel, I felt I owed the thing a second chance, to take it on its own terms rather than through the prism of my own prejudices or through legions of line-quoting fucktards. Objectively.

Spoiler alert: Did I meet John Galt already?

Seventy pages in and here's what I can tell you. The lady likes the obvious dialogues. And cyphers. These two devices in tandem are slowly building up her philosophy, and that's fine. Speaking of John Galt, I like the way they're setting him up. He's not even a person yet, he's a cultural artifact, a saying, something in the background. Rand is fairly clever in the way she parses out information, and I'm willing to see where she goes with this.

We're setting up two sides, the people who are competent and the people who are largely incompetent. And the competent people, while not uniformly of the same viewpoint, are all squarely on the opposite side of the morons, who seem to parrot the same lines interchangeably.

This is where the book doesn't quite work for me. Rand portrays these titans of industry as wanting to share, and being concerned with keeping up the status quo, and of being frightened and repulsed by the idea of making any more money than their station in life already allows for. I have to call foul on this. From my experience at least, this isn't how the world works and it isn't how the powerful stay powerful.

Still. The book has potential. More to follow.

1 comment:

  1. As someone recently said, "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."