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Thread: Can't believe there's no thread for Atlas Shrugged [by Ayn Rand]

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW erika's Avatar
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    Can't believe there's no thread for Atlas Shrugged [by Ayn Rand]

    In my mind, one of the greatest books of the twentieth century. Ayn Rand is brilliant, her imagery captivating and her philosophy world-changing. Can it possibly get any better?
    Erika
    "I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a good bottle of port would do that." C.S. Lewis

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    Banned Mayor of Moronia's Avatar
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    Erika

    Ayn Rand was a tremendous influence during her life but she tends to be intentionally ignored in our time. Her books continue to sell extremely well, and she consistently ranks high on the Amazon Bestseller List. But her other writings remain abrasive to pudding-head pedagogues, and they ignore her. It takes people a while to discover her magic.

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    delicate #!&@*#! flower Perks's Avatar
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    It's a great book. This board is relatively new, so we've lots of slots for all the important stuff.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW erika's Avatar
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    How about the Fountainhead? Some people allege that's her best. But I love John Galt. Such a great hook.

    Haven't read any of her other writings.
    Erika
    "I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a good bottle of port would do that." C.S. Lewis

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    Banned Mayor of Moronia's Avatar
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    Rand wrote lots of books. My favorites are her two books about writing: THE ART OF FICTION and the ART OF NON-FICTION. But I definitely enjoyed the first 600 pages of ATLAS SHRUGGED.

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    practical experience, FTW erika's Avatar
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    Since I consider myself a Christian, some people think that loving Rand is odd, perhaps (dare I say it) ungodly. Of course, I also think Nietzsche is brilliant.

    I think she makes very good points about the inadequacies and deficiencies of religion. And I would also add that politically and economically, Atlas Shrugged was prophetic. Much of which unfolds in the book has come to pass in the last twenty years.
    Erika
    "I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a good bottle of port would do that." C.S. Lewis

  7. #7
    Living the dream CaroGirl's Avatar
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    The only Ayn Rand I've read is We the Living. The profundity of her views on socialism and communism, as they are portrayed in that book, moved me. It's still with me now. After I read it, I was shocked and thrilled to have read something so textured and complex, but set within such a rich story. I don't know why I never read anything else of hers. I'll have to remedy that.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW erika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomescreed202
    You're exactly right. But we can now see the kind of corruption and chaos that results from the practical application of Rand's ideals: "hero" CEO'S making in the low hundred millions a year, the exporting of good jobs and the defense industry, not to mention the tract-mallization of America.

    I think there's a direct line from Rand's admittedly valiant championing of the capitalist ideal , to the current trash culture of the country, same as there was a direct line from Marx to the Soviet debacle. Objectivists may congratulate themselves that the casualties of secular Globalism have been low, compared to the totalitarian monstrosities, but it remains to be seen what the ultimate effect will be.

    If the current world struggle is between Fundamentalist Islam (which posits God first and foremost, however much you may disagree w/ their take on the matter) and secular, agnostic Globalism, the casualties indeed may eventually be in the billions, and many of them cd. and shd. be placed at the Objectivists' doorstep.
    That's a bit much. How can you justify this statement? How can you possibly relate the struggle with Islam to Objectivism? The struggle with Islam would exist if we were a Christian theocracy. (Crusades, anyone?)

    Rand's issue is anything that condemns the ego, which most religions do. The Fountainhead pretty soundly declares that ego enables progress. There is a lot of truth there. But to take a Buddhist turn on it, does progress bring inner peace and if not, then neither does the ego.
    Erika
    "I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a good bottle of port would do that." C.S. Lewis

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW Gary's Avatar
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    Add my vote to Atlas Shrugged being a wonderful book! I didn't read it until I was in my 50's, but wish I had read it when I was young and directionless.

    It's too bad she couldn't have written it for a modern society, since her points are even more applicable today than when she wrote it.

  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW janetbellinger's Avatar
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    Ayn Rand lost me when she had one of her heroines make her lover pay her back with merchandising services. What happened to doing somebody a favour for the sheer pleasure of it, with no expectation of persoanl gain?
    Janet


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    I'll grant the sex was weird, but Atlas Shrugged gets my vote. Personally, I found its anti socialist message to be one of particular poignancy in this day and age where politicians are more than happy to dip into the pockets of the producers so they can press it into the palms of those who don’t contribute anything to society other than their votes. Not expecting handouts and making a successful life through hard work and education is a message that should make this book required reading in every American high school.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW erika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1
    I'll grant the sex was weird, but Atlas Shrugged gets my vote. Personally, I found its anti socialist message to be one of particular poignancy in this day and age where politicians are more than happy to dip into the pockets of the producers so they can press it into the palms of those who don’t contribute anything to society other than their votes. Not expecting handouts and making a successful life through hard work and education is a message that should make this book required reading in every American high school.
    Amen. As for Objectivism, I'll say I appreciate it but don't necessarily buy it lock stock and barrel. Rand does deify the ego a little much. But she did piss off the liberals. And that's worth a lot.
    Erika
    "I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a good bottle of port would do that." C.S. Lewis

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    Self-Banned jbal's Avatar
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    I just found this thread, and thought I would chime in with my vote for Atlas SHrugged as a genuine great. Rand does, however, make a lot of the same points in the Fountainhead without the bloat and preachiness, but Atlas Shrugged is more complete.
    Rand has classified herself as a romantic writer, which I took to mean that her characterization was not meant to be hyper realistic, but instead to embody the extremes of certain ideals. Too bad real industrialists are so seldom as ethical as her characters.

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    figuring it all out TSByrne's Avatar
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    I haven't read anything of hers (yet, at any rate) but from what I hear she champions ideals that are impossible to live up to unless one happens to be A) white and B) born wealthy; and if they aren't then f*ck 'em.

    Any thoughts?
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    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
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    TS--no, that pretty much sums up my impression, too.

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    practical experience, FTW Gary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TSByrne
    I haven't read anything of hers (yet, at any rate) but from what I hear she champions ideals that are impossible to live up to unless one happens to be A) white and B) born wealthy; and if they aren't then f*ck 'em.

    Any thoughts?
    I've heard the same thing from those who prefer to become dependent upon the state, rather than give their best to succeed and contribute to society.

  17. #17
    Self-Banned jbal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TSByrne
    I haven't read anything of hers (yet, at any rate) but from what I hear she champions ideals that are impossible to live up to unless one happens to be A) white and B) born wealthy; and if they aren't then f*ck 'em.

    Any thoughts?
    No, I never got that at all. Howard Roark in the Fountainhead works at a quarry for a while and lives in a shack, and this is portrayed as a noble pursuit of his ideals. In any case, check out some of her work before making up your mind.

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    It's been over thirty years (when I was in my early 20s) since I read (back to back) Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead. Although the plot details of both are now pretty foggy, the impact they had on me at the time was huge. I read Atlas Shrugged first, and I remember thinking that Fountainhead seemed rather repetitive. But the John Galt character has stuck in my brain for the last 30+ years. And I still remember that I was warned about the 50 or 60-page section about halfway through Atlas Shrugged that someone told me I should just skip over because it was just a long diatribe that basically represented the bare core of Ayn Rand's philosophy. But I read it anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetbellinger
    Ayn Rand lost me when she had one of her heroines make her lover pay her back with merchandising services. What happened to doing somebody a favour for the sheer pleasure of it, with no expectation of persoanl gain?
    Ayn Rand never did anybody, including herself, a favor for "sheer pleasure". Tobias Wolff said some very interesting things about her in an interview I heard a year or so ago. He was, as a student, very taken with her ideology, and somehow (I disremember the details) managed to meet her on something of a mentor basis. He grew out of that situation rather disillusioned with her and with her philosophy. Among other things, he learned that she had zero people she could call "friends", and was flintily proud of that fact. She apparently came across in person much as she does in her fiction: Brilliant, and inhumane.

    caw.

  20. #20
    figuring it all out crashbam's Avatar
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    I loved Atlas Shrugged when I was younger and it had a really powerful effect on me. I really took to heart the concept of self interest and not expecting a free ride.

    I remember very distinctly that the book I read write after Atlas was On the Road by Kerouac. Big mistake! With my head full of collectivist ideals, I had little patience for Sal, Dean and the rest of the deadbeats in that book. I really need to go back and reread Kerouac with a fresh mindset.

    One comment on this book and some of the comments here: I never really saw Rand's arguments in a liberal vs. conservative context. I think people in each of these supposedly ideological groups suffer from many of the afflictions Rand discusses. There are several "children of privilege" in both the democratic and republican parties who did not work to be where they are or earn their positions, and I always saw the collectivists as separate from this pissing match.
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    "the fountainhead" is one of my all time favourite books. i love it from beginning (roark on a hilltop naked) to the end. although i do admit to skimming over toohey's speeches near the end.

    i find it's such a great statement on the false nature of celebrity and the struggle to not sell out in a capitalist world. roark would rather sweat in the quarry than change his designs. he allows that slimy peter keating, the talentless celebrity architect, to take all the glory for his work. and who can forget dominique, one of the most fascinating characters of all time?

    i also read 'atlas shrugged' but just couldn't get through to the end. perhaps architecture is more interesting to me than steel and railroad tracks, who knows. everytime i see it sitting abandoned on my shelf, along with 'war and peace' i shudder a little.

  22. #22
    wrapped in plastic Inkdaub's Avatar
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    I have always avoided Rand's work. The reason being that when it was described to me or discussed by friends who were Rand fans I got the vibe that there was an ideal running throughout of the welathy being wealthy because they work hard. That's just not true. There are wealthy people who work hard...just like there are poor people who work hard. There are also wealthy people who hardly work just as there are poor layabouts. Becoming welathy is far more complicated than simply working hard. Being poor is far more complex than being lazy. I am also at odds with this idea of deserving or earning things. It seems far too malleable an ideal for me to support except in extreme cases. Have the wealthy earned their wealth? No. Have I earned my small paycheck? No. Do either of us deserve what we have or do not have? No...but the answers to these questions could easily be yes. The reality is that we all take what we can get. Do I deserve a new computer...or do I buy one simply because I want it and can figure out a way to afford it? Or does the second being true make the first also true?

    Anyway, as I say I've avoided Rand but do acknowledge her intelligence and ability. She's one of the greats no question.

  23. #23
    Untold stories inside Ralyks's Avatar
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    I've never been able to make it through Atlas Shrugged, though I intend to give it another try. I was blown away by The Fountainhead, however, except for that one rape scene, which really distrubed me and made me think Rand is a bit of a nutcase with regard to sex. I very much enjoyed reading her non-fiction philosophy as well, even though as a Christian I don't agree with her condemnation and characterization of either religion or charity. I find her arguments well written and compelling, even when I disagree. She really wows me. For political non-fiction, it's some of the most interesting writing out there. Of course, I guess I'd find Lucifer's arguments quite attractive if he wrote philiosophical fiction...I try not to be too drawn in by Rand, but she did have one heck of an impact on me when I read her.

    Quote Originally Posted by janetbellinger
    Ayn Rand lost me when she had one of her heroines make her lover pay her back with merchandising services. What happened to doing somebody a favour for the sheer pleasure of it, with no expectation of persoanl gain?
    Don't you know that's against her philosophy? Philanthropists are weak at best, manipulative at worst. Truly noble people take, they don't give. Speaking of weird sex--what about that rape scene in The Fountainhead? She wrote it like it was a good thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inkdaub
    I have always avoided Rand's work. The reason being that when it was described to me or discussed by friends who were Rand fans I got the vibe that there was an ideal running throughout of the welathy being wealthy because they work hard. That's just not true.
    That's not really her point. Her point is more: the successful are successful because they don't take %$#@ from anybody, and people should seize their own success rather than becoming dependent on others. Collectivism is evil. Charity is for the weak (on the receiving end) and the manipulative (on the giving end). Poverty, wealth...it doesn't really come into the philosophy that much. Those who "succeed" aren't necessarily wealthy in her stories--some go through long periods of poverty like Roark--but they are free. It's about freedom and independence more than it's about wealth.
    Last edited by Ralyks; 09-15-2006 at 10:47 PM.

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    wrapped in plastic Inkdaub's Avatar
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    Yeah I can dig that. I sort of started rambling a bit. The reasoning I have avoided Rand is not based on personal experience with her work but rather based on conversations with fans that went down a certain path. That sort of thing usually leaves the actual work behind rather quickly.

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    Untold stories inside Ralyks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inkdaub
    Yeah I can dig that. I sort of started rambling a bit. The reasoning I have avoided Rand is not based on personal experience with her work but rather based on conversations with fans that went down a certain path. That sort of thing usually leaves the actual work behind rather quickly.
    Well, you have to understand, too, that Rand doesn't have "fans" in the way, say, Stephen King has "fans." She has disciples.
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