So paddled my way through Atlas Shrugged a couple weeks ago (actually finished the night before one of my finals…oops!). I think it is officially my longest book, so hooray hahaha 🙂 But yeah, so I read this later in life than I think most people do, and as an econ student, a lot of her philosophy seemed very natural to me: that of free market economies; that good businesses should be rewarded with profits, and bad businesses should fail; that rewarding businesses or people based on need rather than merit is deplorable rather than honorable, etc. Probably the best thing I took from Atlas was the fact that “the good” always tended toward clear, direct dialogue that laid open the truth, and took responsibility for faults. “The bad” on the other hand tended toward vague, nice, and clouded dealings in which participants deluded themselves into thinking they were in the right by ignoring reality. Rather interesting. Made me think about how sometimes I play these strange games in which I hide from fault by blaming outside factors or misunderstandings because I didn’t make things clear beforehand. All rubbish! And at first I was very upset about all the deserters just packing their bags and giving up…by the end I was convinced they were doing the right thing, and now that I’m reading 1984 I realize that refusing to play a part in something you don’t believe in is much better than unconsciously going along with what’s wrong, blinding yourself from the truth only so you can act in good faith. I found it really hard to deal with Rand’s view on love…like when Dagny comes back from Atlantis and has fallen in love with Galt, Reardon is like, “I know you met the man you love there…” and IS COMPLETELY FINE WITH IT. Not upset or anything that he’s lost the only love of his life. Like, come on. Of course I do ascribe to true love as consisting of admiration of another’s values, so there’s that. But gosh, Reardon just letting her go like that just killed me. And also, this could be a factor of there having been more research done on utility theory since Rand wrote this book, but she kind of neglected the fact that it’s probable that people in love will take the other’s utility into account of their own. For example, when Bill is happy, that makes Susie happy. And the fact that Susie endeavors to increase her own utility doesn’t rule out the fact that she’ll also try to make Bill happy. Particularly in the sex scenes, it was a little lost. But yeah, I also could have dealt with about 1/3 of each of those long speeches she has throughout…since they just repeat themselves over and over. I found myself reading the topic sentence and then skimming the rest because it was really just ranting and preaching afterwards. The plot was a lot better than I was hoping for, and the dialogue in between characters was great overall. I think everyone should read this book, as it is deeply moving and still applicable to today’s politics and role of government (particularly Obama’s healthcare plan I think would make Rand turn over in her grave!!!). I wonder if she would think we had made any progress since the 60s?

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