Atlas Summer: Part III: Chapter V: Their Brothers’ Keepers
Everyone’s a hero in their own way
you and you and mostly me and you
Captain Hammer, “Everyone’s a Hero”
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Pages: 909 – 962
Copper cables break throughout the United States and the nation is taken closer and closer to the brink of the Looter Apocalypse. In the words of Dr. Peter Venkman, “Human sacrifice! Cats and dogs living together … mass hysteria!”
(Hey, come on, this is also a pop culture blog. Where else will you get cutting edge references from movies made in 1984?)
As matters become more desperate, people riot and rebel against the government. The government urges people to stay calm, disregard the rumors of violence, and to eat soybeans. This last dietary measure created by Emma “Ma” Chalmers in Operation Soybean.
When Dagny meets her brother James, he implies a big plan is afoot. He tries to keep it a secret. He stands to gain lots of unearned wealth from the nationalization of D’anconia Copper. The plan includes nationalization of all D’anconia properties in South America. Then, in spectacular fashion, Rand takes the lazy way out and uses a radio announcer to narrate the destruction of all D’anconia properties.
Philip Rearden begs his brother for a job, his desire for a job now actually genuine. Hank, in predictable Hank fashion, refuses and has him booted off the property.
While the word devolves into a more medieval society, utilities dying out and industries going under while mystics and despots control the masses too scared and/or too stupid to think for themselves, Dagny is forced to make a fateful decision. Following a meeting with the Usual Gang of Looter Idiots, she press-gangs many unskilled laborers to work on the rail line. Communications had gone out and there was a major risk of disaster. Trains had to enter and leave the Taggart Terminal with orchestrated precision. During her orchestrations, she thinks she sees John Galt working as an unskilled laborer. They meet up by the cavern where she stored his engine and then, to quote Captain Hammer, “Yeah, we totally had sex.”
And what a sex scene it is. Well … not really. In probably one of the worst sex scenes ever committed to print, Dagny and Galt boink each other.
The many names of John Galt.
Galt vows to meet her again, when the time is right. He tells her to give him a signal: a dollar sign at the base of Nat Taggart’s statue.
Everyone’s a hero in their own way!
Everyone can blaze the hero’s trail!
Don’t worry if it’s hard, if you’re not a friggin’ ‘tard
You will prevail!
Did I say I wanted to see the characters have sex again? (As opposed to the longwinded speechifying?) I take it back. The major irony is the sex scenes in the beginning of the book were qualitatively better than the Dagny-Galt scene. (Not like those scenes represented good writing either.) The early scenes, while not exactly erotica, had a rough-hewn realism. The Dagny-Galt hookup possessed all the eroticism of a credit card contract. Let me enumerate the flaws:
- Plodding pace. The momentum of the sex seemed to occur in geologic time.
- Philosophical distractions. “The sum of her highest values,” oh yeah, that’s hot. Seriously, the convoluted philosophical writing smeared itself all over the scene. It rendered the real physical contact of the two Objectivist Heroes into something cold, abstract, incomprehensible, and boring! Dear Reader, do yourself a favor and read some George Bataille. Bataille was a philosopher, poet, anthropologist, literary critic, and novelist. He also wrote some incredible erotica, not to mention his daring philosophy.
- Just plain boring. A sex scene between the two protagonists who personify the Objectivist philosophy should not put your readers to sleep.
- Objective Reality: Don’t believe me? I’m sure my literary criticism in this matter must really steam the Objectivists out there. How dare I criticize the smartestest person ever to walk the Earth. Here’s a passage:
It was not the pressure of a hand that made her tremble, but the instantaneous sum of its meaning, the knowledge that it was his hand, that it moved as if her flesh were his possession, that its movement was his signature of acceptance under the whole of that achievement which was herself – it was only a sensation of physical pleasure, but it contained her worship of him, of everything that was his person and his life – from the night of the mass meeting in a factory in Wisconsin, to the Atlantis of a valley hidden in the Rocky Mountains, to the triumphant mockery of the green eyes of the superlative intelligence above a worker’s figure at the foot of the tower – it contained her pride in herself and that it should be she whom he had chosen as his mirror, that it should be her body which was now giving him the sum of his existence, as his body was giving her the sum of hers. These were the things it contained – but what she knew was only the sensation of the movement of his hands on her breasts.
Rand is a terrible, terrible writer, a below-average propagandist, and seems hellbent to throttle the English language into submission. One only has to count the times she uses the terms “progressive” and “humanitarian” in such vehemently negative situations.
It seems unfair to compare Ayn Rand to another Russian émigré writer, Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov’s family was forced into exile because the Russian Revolution. So he’s not a fan. Nevertheless, Nabokov wrote prolifically (in three languages!) and penned some of the greatest literary works, establishing himself comfortably within the Western Canon. Rand takes her place in the Hall of Crackpots.
Anyone claiming Rand was a great writer is being either intellectually dishonest or monumentally naïve. It’s getting harder to call this overwrought, overlong, incoherent mishmash, this Everest of Poorly Executed Pretentiousnes, a novel. Ayn Rand is to fiction what Coleman Francis is to cinema.
What should have been an awesome Doc Savage-Bette Davis hookup read like a nine-year-old describing calculus. Any more needless steps in that scene and it would come across like badly translated directions from IKEA. Do I need to emphasize this any more? Ayn Rand probably would, since she considers you a “friggin’ ‘tard.”
- “There had been a time when the railroad was called the blood system of the nation, and the stream of trains had been like a living circuit of blood, bringing growth and wealth to every patch of wilderness it touched.” Unfortunately, by 1957, railroads were becoming obsolete due to the construction of the Eisenhower Interstate System, a vast public works project (Socialism!). It is truly ironic how many pro-business conservatives make it an axiom of their libertarian rhetoric to stand against any rail project. Way to defend the outdated, Ayn! Even at your peak of popularity, you were about as in touch with reality as C. Montgomery Burns.
- “There was no way to tell which devastation had been accomplished by the humanitarians and which by undisguised gangsters.” I know, I get the activities of Dr. Albert Schweitzer and Al Capone mixed up all the time.
- “For some reason which nobody could define, the death of her son [Kip Chalmers] in the tunnel catastrophe had given her in Washington an aura of martyrdom, heightened by her recent conversion to Buddhism.” No philosophy is as diametrically opposed to Objectivism as Buddhism. Buddhism is at root a rejection of the self. It declares that attachments cause suffering. Paradise is Nirvana, a term meaning “nothingness.” On the other hand, Objectivism’s goal of personal greed comes across as monomaniacal and its adoration of gold is masturbatory.
- “But they – she looked at the face of her signal engineer – they believed that that muscular contraction of a hand was the only thing required to move traffic – and now the tower men stood idle – and on the great panels in front of the tower director, the red and green lights, which had flashed announcing the progress of trains at a distance of miles, were now so many glass beads – like the glass beads for which another breed of savages had once sold the Island of Manhattan.” That sure is a long way to go for a backhanded insult to Native Americans. Here’s what she said at a West Point commencement: “They (Native Americans) didn’t have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using. What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their ‘right’ to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent.” It sounded better written in the original German: “The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent, who has remained racially pure and unmixed, rose to be master of the continent; he will remain the master as long as he does not fall a victim to defilement of the blood.” Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf.
Yep, that about sums it up.
Reflections: Double standards, anyone? Let’s break it down with some bullet points.
- Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden: When our Objectivist Heroes cheat on their spouses, it is a guilt-free, life-affirming act of awesomeness.
- James Taggart and Lillian Rearden: When looters commit adultery against their respective spouses, it is a hideous act of obscene nihilism.
- Hank Rearden: Threatening to beat down his wife, Lillian Rearden, like a hoodlum for insulting the moral character of his mistress, Dagny Taggart, is not only justified, but morally correct within the Objectivist philosophy.
- James Taggart: Actually smacking his wife Cherryl in the face is a horrible, horrible thing that drives Cherryl to suicide.
- Looters stuck in a tunnel: Asphyxiated due to the inadequacies of their relativist nihilist egalitarian philosophies. The novel tacitly approves of their deaths when one examines the hateful terms given to the men, women, and children in the train stuck in the Winston Tunnel. Because they espoused the wrong philosophies, they deserved to die.
- Cherryl committing suicide: Because Cherryl had the innate yearnings to be like Dagny and achieve the status of an Objectivist Hero, her death was tragic and horrible.
It becomes apparent that the act itself is not what counts, but the intention. Could this be extrapolated to political assassination? According to Objectivism, murder is bad for all sorts of reasons. But … but, if the target was a vocal opponent of a dishwater weak health care reform bill that allegedly takes away their economic freedom, then would a political assassination be justified? The fact that Ayn Rand praised murderers, sociopaths, and the genocide against the Native Americans does not help those who seek to distance themselves from the latest acts of political violence.
Here is a passage from Rand’s journals gushing over murderer William Edward Hickman:
[Hickman] is born with a wonderful, free, light consciousness — [resulting from] the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling. He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people … Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should.
It does seem strange, in light of recent events, that the same group that supports Rand’s deregulatory dogmas is the same group of people that claim to be Christians. Again, does this sound familiar? The political violence, the murderous rhetoric, the conservative religiosity. Add beards and add jumbo jets aimed for major New York City landmarks. Am I making too broad an inference or is this simply a case of pointing out that the Objectivist Emperor does indeed have no clothes?
Update #1: The Arizona assassin’s favorite books included those of Ayn Rand. Now before you get on your “hip hop music causes violence” high horse, let’s make one thing clear: Banning books / music / video games, etc. because of an alleged link between their content and real violence will do nothing. I take the opposite approach. I would encourage everyone to read Ayn Rand, especially to understand how Objectivism cultivates a sociopathic mindset. (Generalizations are a bad thing … usually … most of the time. I’m not implying all Objectivists are cold-blooded snipers … in the same way Objectivists don’t generalize that those for moderate health care reform are dedicated Communist cadres.)
Atlas Summer: Part III: Chapter IV: Anti-Life
Chapter Four: Ayn Rand and Edward Albee have a boring, long-winded baby.
Summary: Chapter Four finds the unfortunate reader thrust back into the unpleasant company of James Taggart. He presides over a grim collection of government cutthroats and foreign dignitaries all celebrating the impeding nationalization of D’aconia Copper by the soon-to-be People’s State of Argentina. This move will somehow give Taggart unprecedented power and wealth, even though the world economy is collapsing. Of course, none of this makes poor Jimmy happy, because he’s a joyless sack of failure. We also learn that, even though he’s obscenely rich, he’s not the right KIND of rich for Rand: it doesn’t really love money, after all. He’s driven by self-loathing and resentment of his betters, nothing more. Back at home, James is confronted by his closet-Randian wife Cherryl, who is in the painful process of realizing that all the things she admired about Taggart and Taggart Transcontinental were the work of Dagny, and that James is a resentful, whiny freeloader. They fight, she apologizes to Dagny for cursing her out at the wedding and has a sister-to-sister-in-law chat about the virtues of selfish love, and to top it all off, she comes home to find James in bed with Lillian Taggart! They fight again, James smacks her in the mouth, and Cherryl flees into the night. After a painful trek through the ruins of New York City, finding herself alone and trapped in a world run by vampires, where achievement and talent will be crushed and exploited, Cherryl ends the chapter by fleeing from the “altruistic” hectoring of a social worker into the welcoming embrace of the (East?) river.
Don’t do it, Cherryl! There’s a Gulch! A Gulch!
Observations: In case you were somehow craving further explications of Rand’s theory of love, this chapter is lousy with ’em. It’s interesting, because while some (okay, most) of Rand’s arguments are self-refuting (art can only be appreciated by the artist, essentially), others are just empty. For example, in this section, Rand rails endlessly against then notion of loving people for no reason. She’s arguing against Jim’s assertion that “love is it’s own cause.” But every single person who has ever been in love fell in love for a reason. And they know what it is! And relationships end when people stop providing the “reason” for that love to each other. Seriously, who goes around demanding to be loved, but not due to any attributes of their own? Can we explain Rand’s psychotic egotism as the product of a traumatic childhood spent around needy, talentless assholes? That’s that most charitable theory I can come up with.
Quotes: “‘This is not an old-fashioned grab for private profit. It’s a deal with a mission–a worthy, public-spirited mission–to manage the nationalized properties of the various People’s States of South America, to teach their workers our modern techniques of production, to help the underprivileged who’ve never had a chance to–‘” –James Taggart. Okay, we have to settle this once and for all: does Rand condemn altruism in this book, or is she arguing that altruism doesn’t exist, and is simply a way for the dull masses to exploit the brilliance of the elite? Does she not realize that these are separate propositions? Is she fundamentally incapable of visualizing a truly selfless act, and therefore fails to credit the existence of said? Sadly, this question will remained unanswered.
“Knowledge did not seem to bring her a clearer vision of Jim’s world, but to make the mystery greater. She could not believe that she was supposed to feel respect for the dreary senselessness of the art shows which his friends attended, of the novels they read, of the political magazines they discussed–the art shows, where she saw the kind of drawings she had seen chalked on any pavement of her childhood’s slums–the novels, that purported to prove the futility of science, industry, civilization and love, using language that her father would not have used in his drunkenest moments–the magazines, that propounded to cowardly generalities, less clear and more stale than the sermons for which she had condemned the preacher of the slum mission as a mealy-mouthed old fraud. She could not believe that these things were the culture she had so reverently looked up to and so eagerly waited to discover. She felt as if she had climbed a mountain toward a jagged shape that had looked like a castle and had found it to be the crumbling ruin of a gutted warehouse.” Concise as always, Ayn. And “dreary senselessness” is the best description for this book I’ve yet come across.
“‘I know that it was you who ran Taggart Transcontinental. It was you who built the John Galt Line. It was you who had the mind and the courage that kept all of it alive. I suppose you thought that I married Jim for his money–as what shopgirl wouldn’t have? But, you see, I married Jim because I…I thought that he was you. I thought that he was Taggart Transcontinental! Now I know that he’s…some sort of vicious moocher, though I can’t understand of what kind or why. When I spoke to you at my wedding, I thought that I was defending greatness and attacking its enemy…but it was in reverse…it was in such horrible, unbelievable reverse!…So I wanted to tell you that I know the truth…not so much for your sake, I have no right to presume that you’d care, but…but for the sake of the things I loved.” –Cherryl Taggart. And “Atlas Shrugged” skirts with the only thing that could make it even crudely interesting at this point: lesbianism.
Don’t fight it, Cherryl!
Atlas Summer: Part III: Chapter III: Anti-Greed
There’s plenty of dross to choose from in this chapter. You just can’t beat Hank Rearden’s insane reaction to being dumped by Dagny, for starters. That’s the second man who loves this woman more than anything on earth who accepts the end of their relationship with a smile. I know that this is because they’re all perfect Objectivist specimens, and therefore would never deign to impose their desires on an unwilling partner, but the on-its-face ridiculousness of it all just shows what a fanciful worldview we’re dealing with.
No need for that bauble, Tin Man. All you need is a copy of “Atlas Shrugged”!
For me, though, the most interesting moment in “Anti-Greed” is a quote that Karl highlighted in his chapter recap:
“He saw defensively belligerent men and tastelessly dressed women – he saw mean, rancorously, suspicious faces that bore the one mark incompatible with a standard bearer of the intellect: the mark of uncertainty.”
Let’s break this down for a minute. Rand is saying explicitly that uncertainty and intellect are mutually exclusive. Well, what sort of uncertainty is she talking about? Given the situation, the looks of uncertainty would be due to the fact that these people are about to find out what “Project X” is. Since they would have no way of KNOWING what Project X is, then uncertainty seems to be the only reasonable reaction right there. In fact, a look of “certainty” would suggest that they have a totally unearned confidence in what they’re about to see; not really a hallmark of intelligence. So, we’ve established that the only look of “uncertainty” that an observer could reasonably read on the faces of the spectators is NOT incompatible with intellect. Just some more evidence that Rand can’t really write for shit.
Now, since we know that she couldn’t have meant what the scene suggests she meant, we’re left to guess her real intentions. Since characters in Rand novels are always having their innermost attributes divined from facial shape and expression, we can deduce that the “uncertainty” on the faces of these schmucks if of a deeper sort. So, Rand is positing that the fundamental condition for intellect is “certainty.” Leaving aside the question of whether it’s possible for looter scum to be “certain” of their beliefs (I’d bet Rand would say no, because of their adherence to relativism), we’re left to wonder about Rand’s view of the mind. This seems to be one more piece of evidence that Rand essentializes intellect. Her character’s don’t really go through any sort of intellectual journey through the course of the book; their weltenschauung is just as inborn as the set of their heroic cheekbones. Her heroes don’t struggle with their moral or philosophical view of the world: Dagny and Hank only struggle with what degree of allegiance they own to society. It makes you wonder why she even bothered to write books in the first place: the only person would would look to a piece of fiction for philosophical insight is a person incapable of really thinking at all. Unless her books are meant to activate the already-extant philosophical structures in the minds of her readers. Or, at least, those of her readers with the inherent cognitive capacity to possess such structures. She’s the Noam Chomsky (linguistics edition) of philosophical thought.
This article marks the first time in human history that a connection has been made between Noam Chomsky and Ayn Rand! Well, just the generative grammar stuff, but still!
Atlas Summer: Part III: Chapter III: Anti-Greed Or, When Atlas Shrugged Turned into David Lynch’s Dune
Atlas Summer: Part III: Chapter III: Anti-Greed or, When Atlas Shrugged Turned into David Lynch’s Dune
Pages: 816 – 863
Summary: A new year and I’m still not done with this infuriating book! Only seven more chapters to go. I hope that my sanity can stay intact.
The chapter opens with a strange meeting in the rural outskirts of Iowa. Dr. Stadler joins a nefarious cabal of government officials and other economic traitors to the One True Faith of Objectivism™. Finally, Dr. Ferris unveils Project X to the public. Dubbed the Thompson Harmonizer, it is a machine that inspires fear in the crowd and blows up an abandoned farm and a baby goat.
In the second part, Dagny gets bullied into appearing before a live radio audience to discuss her disappearance and assuage the parasitic sheep audience that everything is hunky dory. Dagny takes control of the situation and outs herself as an adulterous hussy, admitting her extramarital affair with muscular industrialist/Minnesotan sexpot Hank Rearden. To use the parlance of our time, she totally pwns the looters.
Finally, Dagny and Hank are reunited. Since this a novel written by Ayn Rand, the reunion of lovers is met with a long speech by Hank Rearden to Dagny. Then Dagny tells Hank she’s ending her affair with him. Hank, a man without fear and guilt and pain, accepts it without any protest or anything resembling a plausible human emotion. The claim that Atlas Shrugged contains characters possessing any resemblance to human beings – rather than cheap ideological constructs fit for disgorging essay-length tirades – has been highly exaggerated.
Observations: The chapter has a number of confusing scenes. The confusion arises from Objectivism’s collision with basic human emotions and implausible behavior. How is one supposed to react to the death of the baby goat? Let’s quantify it in coldly intellectual terms:
- It’s a goat, not a chromium counter top. (“Hooray technology, Nature can suck it!”)
- The goat was vaporized by a human invention.
- The human invention was created by evil looter bastards who stole the knowledge from heroic Objectivist inventor industrialist superheroes.
- The Thompson Harmonizer gets its name from Mr. Thompson, Head of State and shyster.
- Dr. Stadler felt sad that the goat died. (“Emotions be damned!” – Richard Halley)
- The Harmonizer will be used to intimidate the populace. Looters with weapons are far more dangerous than Ragnar blowing up aid shipments. (That would explain the twisted logic behind opposition to helping out 9/11 first responders.)
So … what am I supposed to think? Objectivist Commissars help me out here. Actually, my first response was “Wow, this novel sounds a lot like David Lynch’s Dune. The looters will prevail with their Weirding Module.”
“One of my premises is false” falls flat to the above listed mélange. If anything, it proves this is a philosophical system all too willing to cash in its credentials for cheap political points. But philosophy itself has gone through various political and ideological iterations since Aristotle and Heraclitus. Rand’s aggressive personal Messianism and economic specificity put her on par with kooks and eccentrics, not within the long lineage of philosophers and thinkers. (Depending on one’s adoration of Atlas Shrugged, my last statement can be read as either an egregious insult or a laudatory compliment.) At least to this lowly book reviewer, Rand’s philosophy possesses the same staying power of Ezra Pound’s economic crackpottery, although Old Ez could write a poem like nobody’s business. (Ezra Pound’s poetic output will last the ages, his economic and political thought … not so much.)
The other sticking point this chapter drove home was the complete lack of humans in Atlas Shrugged. Granted, there are plenty of bipedal hominids acting as major and minor characters, but the ideological stridency of this epic slab of free market agitprop strips off any plausible human behavior. This is even appraising the novel on its own terms: the idealistic, the epic, and the heroic. Even Ulysses had his frailties. It’s like a Russian Reversal of the medieval Everyman plays. In the plays, Everyman represented us. In the novel, we are supposed to aspire to these industrialist heroes whose hobbies include adultery and making long speeches.
Am I the only one who noticed that the characters have stopped having sex? This is less an observation dealing with the prurient and more an observation that sex is an intimate relation. Beneath the hardness metaphors and science fictional inventions, these characters have no plausible link to each other or they did in the beginning of the novel. Unfortunately, long multi-page speeches on various topics have entirely replaced the turgid eroticism. Just look at the objective reality: Dagny and Hank are reunited following her harrowing confession on the radio program. Instead of turning this long-awaited reunion into an opportunity to engage in some efficient Objectivist intercourse, it’s Hank who rambles on and on in yet another non-fiction essay masquerading as conversation. Seriously, who does that? And this is his mistress, the female companion he actually has sex with. Dagny is vital, sensual, and beautiful, unlike Lillian, his frigid castrating shrew of a wife.
Dagny’s actions bring up some pressing questions: Is Atlas Shrugged nothing more than a philosophic edifice created to justify adultery? A pretty shallow assessment. Let’s examine the Objective Reality™:
[…] Objectivists tend to gloss over the extra-marital affair Rand had with her protegé, Nathaniel Branden. Despite their 25-year age difference and the fact that they were both married, the two carried on a lengthy affair that was allegedly approved by their prospective spouses; Rand even tried to “rationalize” the affair by claiming that she and he were the two greatest living minds on the planet. (She didn’t have an ego – did she?) It came to an end when Rand discovered that Branden was actually cheating on her behind her back with yet another woman. This led to Branden’s excommunication from Rand’s inner circle and his demonization by the Objectivist movement. Rand rejected many of her close friends in the later years of her life, and much of the movement dwindled with her death in 1982. Today the Center for the Advancement of Objectivism (a.k.a. the Ayn Rand Institute) is led by Rand’s hand-picked successor, Leonard Peikoff, and he rules it with an iron fist. In the eyes of the ARI, Ayn Rand is nothing less than the greatest human being who ever lived.
Let’s run down Dagny’s affairs thus far:
- She had a youthful fling with Francisco D’anconia.
- She was the mistress to Hank Rearden.
- This is just a hunch: She will have an affair with Living God Free Market Messiah Literary Caricature John Galt.
Francisco = Nathaniel Branden; Hank = Leonard Peikoff; John Galt = Rand’s Jupiter-sized ego; A = A.
If I were suddenly reunited with my long lost love who was presumed dead, who then promptly dumped me, I would probably act differently than Hank. Since emotions are anathema within the Galtverse, it isn’t surprising that Hank’s reaction seems more robotic than human. Hell, even Cylons have more human responses than these characters and they are robots!
- “Why didn’t you come for me in person, instead of sending those incredible young hooligans with their mysterious gibberish that sounded half-science, half-pulp-magazine?”
- “He saw defensively belligerent men and tastelessly dressed women – he saw mean, rancorously, suspicious faces that bore the one mark incompatible with a standard bearer of the intellect: the mark of uncertainty.” OBAMACARE IS SOCILISM!
- Oh noes!
Dr. Stadler turned to Ferris, “What is Project X?” he asked sterly.
Dr. Ferris smiled in a manner of innocence and insolence together.
“A non-profit venture,” he answered.
“The Ayn Rand Center (ARC) is the public policy and outreach division of the Ayn Rand Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.”
- “From the respectful whispers of the crowd, Dr. Stadler learned that the little man in a wilted suit, who looked like a shyster, striding briskly in the center of the new group, was Mr. Thompson, the Head of the State.” [Emphasis added.] Really Ayn? A few sentences later, we get “Dr. Stadler saw the little shyster’s eyes studying him for a fraction of a second.” [Emphasis added.] Etymology: shyster, from the German, Scheiᵦer (“shitter”). Not sure what annoys me more, the lack of subtlety or rancid tackiness of the description. Rand’s caricature of Mr. Thompson is so broadly drawn it can be seen from space.
- “Dr. Stadler could not bear to watch the graceful, undulating, effeminate motion of Dr. Blodgett’s hand as it pulled the first lever of the switchboard, then the next.” What’s Objectivism without a nice dollop of homophobia?
- “Oh, Miss Taggart … Miss Taggart!” said, in a joyous moan, the voice of the severe, unemotional Miss Ives. (Count the contradictions in this sentence.)
- “The grapefruit special is for the Smather brothers. The Smather brothers bought a fruit ranch in Arizona a year ago, from a man who went bankrupt under the Equalization of Opportunity Bill.” Mom liked you best.
- “Let me finish, dearest. I want you to know how fully I know what I am saying.” Hank to Dagny when they are reunited.
- He took her hand and pressed it to his lips. “Then you know what I feel,” he said, “and why I am still happy.” (Hank seems to take being dumped rather well.)
- Another classic conversation:
“So there is a John Galt?” he asked slowly.
“That slang term refers to him?”
Duh. Color me unimpressed by this revelation. Hank is as dense has his Metal.