Atlas Summer: Part 2: Chapter 4: The Sanction of the Victim


“Who’s Ayn Rand”

“She wrote about how awesome awesome people are.”

–Kyle and Casey, Party Down, Steve Guttenberg’s Birthday Party



Behold: the Ubermensch!

Chapter IV: The Sanction of the Victim

Summary: Thanksgiving dinner at the Rearden household is a fraught affair, what with Lillian knowing about Hank’s affair and Hank’s impending trial looming on the horizon, not to mention the constant yammering of his idiot brother and shrieking harridan of a mother.  But today is the day that Hank realizes that he’s only made miserable by his family because he allows them to make him miserable.  So he tells his nitwit brother to pipe down with the fatcat-bashing or GTFO, tells his mother to shut it, tells Lillian to get bent, then goes to his show trial and uncorks a wicked speech where he refuses to cooperate with his persecution by recognizing the court’s legitimacy.  The crowd roars its approval and the flustered court issues a suspended sentence.  Rearden 1, Looters 0.

“It looks good on you, though!” Hank decides to let his freak flag fly at the family dinner table.

Flush with victory, Hank visits Francisco at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel, intent on figuring out the enigmatic Argentine once and for all.  Francisco lets Hank in on the fact that he’s not really the feckless skirt-chaser of tabloid imaginings, even though he intentionally cultivates that image.  Francisco assures Hank of this fact by way of another dull speech, this one about the nature of sexual attraction.  Awesome men seek to have sex with women who reflect their awesomeness, while lame-wads end up looking for “sluts” who reinforce their essential self-loathing.  Francisco is awesome, “sluts” are not awesome, therefore Francisco doesn’t go after sluts. Why he pretends to be s skirt-chaser is something he’s not ready to divulge yet.  Hank is more and more convinced that Francisco is hiding some essential mystery of the universe, and to help pry it out of him, he admits that he’s secretly bought a huge shipment of d’Aconia copper to fuel his mills.  Francisco is creftfallen, and insists that, no matter what happens, he considers Rearden a friend.  Three days later, Hank finds out that Ragnar Danneskjold’s pirate ship sank the entire payload to the bottom of the Atlantic.

You sank my Coppership!

Reflections: Ayn Rand’s sexual antics are the stuff of literary legend.  She famously took a young lover, her married protege Nathaniel Branden, and held a meeting with their respective spouses to let them know that they intended to embark on an affair. Then, when Branden couldn’t bring himself to mount Rand’s tobacco-cured carcass, she excommunicated him from the Movement.  This raises the question of just how truly awesome Rand could have been to have so much sex with a person who she would eventually deem unworthy of the mantel of superiority.  I have to believe that having sex with Ayn Rand was, to put it mildly, intense.  As we discover in this chapter, Rand viewed sex through the same prism as profit accumulation: as a way to express one’s inner awesomeness.  Basically, it’s assisted masturbation.  I was wondering just how Rand was going to turn something so inherently collaborative into another arena of defiant solipsism, but damn it if she didn’t find a way.

If you’re an Objectivist, and you’re NOT having sex in front of a full-length mirror, you’re doing it wrong.

Quotes:

“You can’t be hard on a man who needs you, it will prey on your conscience for the rest of your life.”

“It won’t”

“You’ve got to be kind, Henry.”

“I’m not.”

“You’ve got to have some pity.”

“I haven’t.”

“A good man knows how to forgive.”

“I don’t.”

“You wouldn’t want me to think that you’re selfish.”

“I am.” — Mother Rearden and Hank Rearden.  It’s like an Objectivist Abbot and Costello routine.

“Let there be no misunderstanding about me.  If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their mood requires victims, then I say: The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!” –Hank Rearden

“The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut.  He does not seek to…gain his value, he seeks to express it.” –Francisco d’Aconia.  I wonder how “I want to express my value” goes over as a pick-up line.

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