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Atlas Shrugged IX: Growing Up Galt

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So. The childhood of Dagny Taggart. 

“[S]he always ran when Eddie yelled, “It’s Frisco d’Anconia!” and they both flew

down the hill to the car approaching on the road below.”

This sentence tells us two very important things. First, that Dagny and the shadowy Francisco d’Anconia are childhood friends, which will substantively affect their entire relationship right up through the end of the novel, where she flies off with him to his secret richy-rich fortress.

Second, it tells us that she and Eddie Willers are childhood friends, which will substantively affect their entire relationship right up through the end of the novel, where she abandons him in the newly post-apocalyptic world.

This should tell you everything you need to know about Dagny.  This is a novel that spends enough pages on the concept of integrity to have those pages turned into their own separate novel, but has characters who act with the integrity of a particularly rapacious robber baron.  The intensity of this fuck-you-jack-I-got-mine mentality transcends even the internal logic of the novel. 

According to Rand’s beliefs, the poor, disabled, old, less than perfectly brilliant (more on that in a bit) are, at best, grist for the mill. At worst they’re actively evil through the mere fact of their existence, and most of the time they have the same moral weight as a marshmallow- they can stick around for them as likes that, but you aren’t taking any on the lifeboat.

But Eddie is not just another poor person who never pulled hard enough on their bootstraps.  Eddie is incredibly useful. When Dagny has to go off and have rational sex with Hank, or Francisco, or John, Eddie is the one left in charge. Eddie works hard, Eddie doesn’t complain.  The only thing Eddie is not, is a total fucking bastard. Excuse me- the only thing Eddie isn’t is aware that his business abilities make him fundamentally superior to, oh, say, steelworkers.

Which, incidentally, and not to get to far ahead, is another problem with this book.  It’s elitist. Well, that is to perhaps cloud the issue. Undoubtedly Rand would brag about her elitism. Rather, this book is aristocratic in the nastiest sense- noblesse without the oblige. Throughout the novel, ordinary workaday schmucks will appear.  Not the entitled commies, or the lazy bums, but characters we are clearly supposed to like- hardworking, loyal, intelligent. Caring more for work than reward.

And these guys….get fucked.  Left to rot in what Rand makes very clear is a hellish, medieval world. Oh, true, in Galt’s gulch we will see what may be best described as token poor people. For the most part, though, the defining characteristic of those who go Galt is their wealth and (presumed) intelligence. Rand pays lip service to the idea that she values hard work and integrity and so on, but in reality, what Rand values is success. In Rand’s world, the unprincipled greed of Jack Abramoff is worth more than 40 years of work by a Detroit assembly line worker, because Jack made money and the worker didn’t.  When the dollar is elevated above all (and by the end of the novel, it is elevated to the status of religion) how those dollars are acquired ceases to matter.

And thus, a young Francisco d’Anconia (hereafter referred to as FdA because unlike Rand, I’m sick of typing that ridiculous name in full) says the following:

“We are the only aristocracy left in the world—the aristocracy of money”

Lil’ FdA is one of the most punchable creations since Christian in “Pilgrim’s Progress,” and for much the same reason- unbearable sanctimony and always being right.  FdA is the perfect person.

“The running to meet him had become part of a contest among the three of them. There was a birch tree on the hillside, halfway between the road and the house; Dagny and Eddie tried to get past the tree, before Francisco … they never reached the birch tree …Francisco always won, as he always won everything.”

Then:

“The reason my family has lasted for such a long time is that none of us has ever been permitted to think he is born a d’Anconia. We are expected to become one.”

 He pronounced his name as if he wished his listeners to be struck in the face and knighted by the sound of it.”

And:

“He spoke five languages, and he spoke English without a trace of accent, a precise, cultured English deliberately mixed with slang.”

And he can do so many pushups, and he knows karate and one time he went up to a rampaging bear and pulled a thorn out of its paw and the bear was his friend and they stayed up as late as they want and drank milkshakes all the time and then they made Francisco the king of the world because he had great abs. Or something.

Perfect protagonists (known in some parts of the internet as “Mary Sues”) are boring. Perfection is dull-it removes any hint of excitement from the plot. Drama is, functionally, seeing someone face an obstacle.  English 101- Person Vs. Person, Person Vs. Themselves, Person Vs. Nature, Person Vs. Society. Arguably, those four categories cover pretty much everything ever written.  Perfect people triumphing isn’t a surprise. Of course FdA becomes rich and awesome- he’s perfect, so naturally he’s perfect at becoming rich and awesome. 

And drama doesn’t need to be huge- sure, War and Peace is pretty freakin’ epic, but so is To Build a Fire. There are two fundamental conditions that must be met in a good drama, however- the characters must have something to overcome, and the character must change. Grow, shrink, rise, fall- a good story is about someone changing in some fundamental way.

And that is a critical failure on Rand’s part- This Francisco we see here- young, cocky, arrogant, strong, handsome rich accomplished tall blond able to eat all the cookies he wants without getting fat, is the exact same person we see at the end of the novel. Twelve-year old Francisco is functionally indistinguishable from forty year old Francisco.  As are twelve-year old Dagny, and even twelve-year old Jim. There is no moment, or storyline, wherein Jim becomes the weak and miserable man we see in the present, there is no moment when a young, carefree, Francisco d’Anconia decides he will be rich and more awesome than Batman. They simply always were this way.  FdA has blond hair and blue eyes and will be a great freethinking industrial potentate, and Jim has brown hair and brown eyes and will be weak and cowardly. As inevitable as DNA.

Anyway, another trend appears pretty soon- child labor.  FdA decides, like pretty much every good guy in a Rand story, that he is gonna start working right away.  He does this working for the Taggart railway as a call boy.  Which- fair enough. Actually sounds like a good job for a 14-year old boy.  My first job was shoveling snow in Maine, so I’m not all that impressed- running errands on a sunny railroad in the middle of the day sounds hella nicer than waking up at 5 AM to shovel a foot of snow before school.

Incidentally, my favorite bit of retarded St. Francisco-can-do-anything shows up here:

“They tried to follow him once, through the cold, pre-morning darkness, but they gave it up; no one could track him when he did not want to be tracked.”

Francisco d’Anconia.  Business magnate. Olympian sprinter.  Last of the Mohicans.

But this, of course, isn’t good enough. He also shipped out the summer before as a cabin boy on a cargo steamer.  Apparently his father looked for him for three months, but the only thing he asked Francisco (who was apparently too busy cabin-boying to write a freakin’ letter) was if FdA had done a good job.

Nice.  Loving, responsible parent there.

Anyway, Dagny asked him why he took this call-boy job, and he says:

“”To learn what it’s like, Slug,” he answered, “and to tell you that I’ve had a job with Taggart

Transcontinental before you did.”

Is…is it wrong to want to strangle a fictional child?

 

Anyway, FdA is awesome. His can play baseball. He drives speedboats. He…

Ok. Seriously?

“[Dagny’s] father picked them up…then asked,

“Francisco, how many years of algebra have you had?”

“Two years.”

“Who taught you to do this?”

“Oh, that’s just something I figured out.”

…[W]hat her father held on the crumpled sheets of paper was the crude version of a differential equation.”

 

….Let’s just move on, ok?

This may seem like it’s not about Dagny, but it is. And Jim.

Imagine you grew up with, apparently, the Messiah. Someone with the Godlike power to do anything he puts his mind to. Now, my mother, and probably yours, told me that all the time. “You can do anything you put your mind to.”  Except that for Francisco, there is no effort involved. He <i>watches</i> and then does it. Perfectly. Whatever it is- riding a horse or stripping an engine.

 Francisco isn’t smart. Francisco isn’t even a genius.  Francisco is what idiots think people with eidetic memories are like. I’m not sure there is a word for what Francisco is, because there is no one like him- at least, not in every possible field of human endeavor. There are people like Mozart who have a literal genius for music- they can transcribe a work they only heard once, for example.  But Mozart couldn’t look at an engine running and reconstruct it from scratch.  Mozart probably couldn’t just pick up a bat and ball and hit a home run (something else Francisco does).

(What’s more, even in music, Mozart wasn’t perfect without effort. His earliest works are beyond belief for a ten year old, but compared to the work of an ordinary mature composer, they’re only decent. Even Mozart needed to put in some work before he mastered music. )

But imagine living with this literal freak of nature, this being hardwired for mechanical perfection. Imagine seeing all your hard work, your practice, your struggles and triumphs swept away in moments by someone who just watches you for a moment, then does it better than you.

No wonder Jim Taggart ends up the way he is. His entire childhood, no matter how hard he works or how hard he tries, he can never win. The simplest victories- running faster, hitting a ball harder, being a faster reader, better at math, or history, or building a treehouse- are snatched from him again and again. Imagine that.  Imagine living with that.  You’d develop an inferiority complex like Superman’s younger brother, Tim Kent (Tim’s a farmer on a little spread outside Smallville. Grows peas.)

You might grow up feeling overwhelmed by the world. You might even be so fucked up you develop a philosophy that equality should be enforced by law.  Either that, or end up worshiping them as your superior to be aped and followed blindly into whatever dumbass cult they end up starting.

Next time:  We finish up Dagny’s childhood, and return to the plot.

Written by newscum

October 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm

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Atlas Shrugged VII: Ecce Homo

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So last time (oh, so long ago) we looked at Hank Rearden. Today though, I’d like to talk about Philip and Lillian Rearden. The most interesting things about these passages, is that they are the first real glimpse we get of the Randian liberals in their native environment. I remind you again of Ayn Rand’s own opinion of her writing: She believed not that she was creating fiction, or propaganda, or even a parable. She believed she was reflecting real life in her work.

Again, the resemblance to conservative, evangelical Christianity is clear.  The fictional works of Tim LaHaye, the pamphlets of Jack Chick, the inane ramblings and obsessive sophistry of Harold Camping all have a common root. These deluded men truly believe, or seem to truly believe, that the fantastic scenarios they concoct are an accurate reflection of real life.

The other thing their works have in common is a strange, almost sociopathic view of human nature. In both Atlas Shrugged and ‘Left Behind,’ characters behave- inhumanly. Many times, the “heroes” of both Rand and LaHaye’s onanistic fantasies casually walk through horror with hardly a backward glance. Rayford Steele, the protagonist of “Left Behind,” walks through burning airports, plagues, and hellfire, thinking only of the inconvenience to himself. In the same vein, Dagny Taggart, John Galt, and even sweet Hank Rearden, will walk past wrecks, disasters, human suffering, with hardly a word or thought.

This common vein is simple- the dollar-sign Christ of Tim LaHaye preaches self-service above all else, as does Rand’s sociopathic Objectivism. This neatly explains why the far right has been able to preserve itself as a solid voting block. On the surface, LaHaye and Rand are fundamentally at odds with each other- on preaching submission to Christ, one the triumph of the new atheist man. (And ‘man’ is the right word- Rand has little room for women in her world.)

And yet these philosophies have at their root, a love of money that transcends all things- Christ or humanity or empathy- all fall before the dollar.

Also before we read this, here’s a piece of advice. If you have to insult your character so we know they’re the bad guys, you aren’t a very good writer.  Which is not to say that insulting your characters never works, but we should be able to tell that they’re schmucks based on what THEY do and say, not what YOU do and say. 

“Paul Larkin was looking at him with the devoted eyes of an inhibited dog.

“Hello, Paul,” said Rearden. “When did you get in?”

            “Oh, I just hopped down on the five thirty-five from New York.” Larkin was smiling in gratitude for the attention.

            “Trouble?”

            “Who hasn’t got trouble these days?”

 Larkin’s smile became resigned, to indicate that the remark was merely philosophical.

“But no, no special trouble this time. I just thought I’d drop in to see you.””

 

Charming.  You know, this could actually be good- if the point of this scene was to show how Rearden, as a total douchebag, saw the people around him. As an honest reflection of supposedly normal reality, it stinks.

 

“”Henry, you work too hard,” said Philip.”It’s not good for you.”

            Rearden laughed. “I like it.”

            “That’s what you tell yourself. It’s a form of neurosis, you know. When a man drowns himself in work, it’s because he’s trying to escape from something. You ought to have a hobby.”

            “Oh, Phil, for Christ’s sake!” he said, and regretted the irritation in his voice.””

 

Oh those silly psychology obsessed liberals with their silly ideas about brains! Everyone knows that Hank Rearden just punches his pain in the face with his big manly fists. Or whatever it is men are supposed to do with their problems.

And of course, Lilian: 

“Her face was not beautiful. The eyes were the flaw: they were vaguely pale, neither quite gray nor brown, lifelessly empty of expression. Rearden had always wondered, since she seemed amused so often, why there was no gaiety in her face.”

Ultimately, the difference between a good writer and a bad writer is empathy; the ability to FEEL for their characters. Even the bad ones. I have no objections to a Liberal as a villain, liberals do bad things all the time. I have objections to strawmen, to false and lying creations who are so devoid of sympathy as to be unbelievable.

The example that always springs to mind is nonfiction, actually. Albert Speer’s “Inside the Third Reich”, is a long, intimate portrayal of Hitler and the rest of the Third Reich’s ruling elite. When I first read it many years ago, I was struck by how drawn I was to Hitler. He was portrayed as charming, funny, caring and intelligent. I felt the same sort of draw to him that one might feel reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography. And that feeling frightened me at first. I knew intellectually that Hitler must have been charming, magnetic, and so on, but actually experiencing it was deeply disturbing. I liked this sorta nuts but ultimately sweet man who cared about his employees and loved his dogs.

However, what Speer is doing is good writing- very good writing. To take the ur-villain, the official Worst Person Ever, and make him likeable, requires a great deal of skill. And it is here that Rand’s most fatal flaw is revealed.

She has no Empathy. None at all.

Empathy is a good thing, despite Glenn Beck’s claims. Empathy is what allows us to care for our friends when they suffer. It is what makes the human experience not one of ‘I’ but “we.” More practically, it is impossible to be a writer of any skill without empathy. It may be possible to be a good painter with no empathy- one need not feel for the light to be a Rembrandt. It may be possible to make good music, beautiful sculptures, or strong bridges without caring about people. But writing, the art and craft of writing, is getting inside of someone else’s head. Presenting the inner self of another being with such feeling as to seem real. Fundamentally, as far as Rand is concerned, Philip and Lillian know they’re the bad guys.  Which misses a rule of humanity so basic it is often missed- everyone thinks they’re the good guy. The worst people to ever live had a mile long list of justifications, and we are no different- we walk through life spreading small graces and petty cruelties almost unconsciously. Who among us doesn’t know at least one right bastard of a human being- and who among us hasn’t been one, at least once? Even when we acknowledge our wrongdoing, it is rarely through our own observations, and never in the heat of the moment. 

Yet Rand’s villains are- cartoonish. The most direct example is not from this book, but from “The Fountainhead.” Ellsworth Toohey often brags about his badness in a false psudeo-villiany. He talks about how he enjoys tearing down better men then he, how much he enjoys destruction for the sake of destruction. He is aware of his badness as if he were his own psychiatrist.

In contrast, look at another villain- Tony Soprano. He spends six years in therapy, and at the end, still justifies his evil, his transgressions as necessary. As excusable. As not so far different from what other people do. Or “Breaking Bad” where chemistry teacher Walt justifies his murderous avarice as being all for his family. Or Scarface, where Tony Montana is just trying to make his way in a hard world.

Everyone has a reason, even the bad guys. Rand does not understand that. She is so subsumed in her own truth that she is incapable of seeing that others hold other truths just as dear.  And in her total lack of comprehension, she is incapable of making her characters real. Real people who have real arguments and real reasons for what they do.

Another sign you’re a bad writer is when you are forced to create strawmen to serve your plot.  When moving your story forward requires characters to act not only in an unrealistic but an inhuman way, it is time to reconsider your plot. No person has ever talked like this, no person has ever acted like this.  The Roman playwright Terence wrote “I am a human being, I consider nothing that is human alien to me.” We can recognize in ourselves the love of a Gandhi or the hate of a Hitler- we may not have felt so strongly but we have so felt.  . But what Rand creates is nothing human and it is, therefore, something alien to ourselves, and has no power over us. 

Rand’s failure of empathy means that she is not moved. And in not being moved, she cannot be moving. No tricks of language, no elegance of composition, can substitute for that. 

Written by newscum

September 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Atlas Shrugged II: Who Is John Galt?

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Atlas Shrugged pgs 2-5

*sob*

I don’t wanna do it, don’t make me! Please mommy, don’t let the bad lady hurt me anymore. I won’t use anymore wire hangers…

*sigh* So, without any further sobbing, wailing, attempts to give myself testicular cancer with a glow in the dark watch, or trying to change my name to Juan and move to Tijuana…Ladies and Gents: Atlas Shrugged!

“Who is John Galt?”

That’s how she starts the book off. Well, in case you haven’t heard, John Galt is the perfected man. He won’t show up for about another 700 pages though, so don’t hold your breath. In Rand’s world, the phrase “Who is John Galt?”is pervasive. It is an expression of despair and depression, that the world is fundamentally screwed and there is nothing that can be done about it.

Of course, this is also a sign of the incredible low level of curiosity shown by anyone besides Our Craggy Heroes ™. No one bothers to do any research, investigation, zip. At the end, it will turn out that “John Galt” has been on the payroll of Taggart Transcontinental all along. And no one noticed. No one looked at his pay stub, none of the people he worked with, none of the people who paid him ever commented on it. These people aren’t just uncurious, they’re inhuman. Think of your reaction if you met someone named Thomas Cruise, or even Henry Ford. Their name, their face would stick with you more clearly, even though they only shared a name with someone famous. Humans search for patterns, and the idea that no one would comment, that no one would notice this guy has exactly the same name as the guy in that saying is literally impossible. Humans don’t work like that.

So the book opens from the perspective of Eddie Willers. And here’s the thing. I like Eddie. Eddie is a nice guy. Eddie acts like a human being. He isn’t some inhumanly dramatic Nordic God of Industry, he isn’t some whiny schmuck. He’s just a guy, caught up in events beyond his ken. Actually, Eddie might be the most important character in the book. See, Eddie is one of those people that keeps things running. The secret that Rand missed, even though it runs through the book like a thread, is that the John Galt’s and Dagny Taggart’s of the world don’t actually run things. Dagny spends about half the book traveling, in hiding, working on another railroad, and generally doing things that are not “Running Taggart Transcontinental.” Who runs it while she’s gone? Eddie. When she goes missing in Colorado and plays “hide the gold bar” with Galt, who runs things? Eddie. When she and Rearden travel around the US hunting down motors, who runs the office? Eddie.

One of the turning points of this book will be the eventual, inevitable downfall of Taggert Transcontinental. Dagny spends pages raging against this like the good lil’ ubermensch she is. Eddie doesn’t. Eddie just keeps things running.

I like Eddie.

When we meet Eddie, however, he is having a little crisis. A bum has asked him for a dime.

“Who is John Galt?”
The light was ebbing, and Eddie Willers could not distinguish the bum’s face …yellow glints caught his eyes, and the eyes looked straight at Eddie Willers, mocking and still-as if the question had been addressed to the causeless uneasiness within him.
“Why did you say that?” asked Eddie Willers, his voice tense.

“Why does it bother you?” he asked.
“It doesn’t,” snapped Eddie Willers.
He reached hastily into his pocket. The bum had stopped him and asked for a dime, then had gone on talking, as if to kill that moment and postpone the problem of the next. Pleas for dimes were so frequent in the streets these days that it was not necessary to listen to explanations, and he had no desire to hear the details of this bum’s particular despair.
“Go get your cup of coffee,” he said, handing the dime to the shadow that had no face. ‘Thank you, sir.’ said the voice, without interest, and the face leaned forward for a moment.”

Yep. This is the most likable character in the book. Look dude, you’re going to your high-powered, well paying job. Give the guy a fucking dime and spare us the drama, ok? You can afford it. Hell, he even thanks you. I mean you gave the guy a dime, what do you want, a boot licking? (Also, literary note. WE KNOW THE GUYS FUCKING NAME, AYN. YOU DON’T NEED TO KEEP REPEATING IT LIKE WE’RE UNUSUALLY SLOW KINDERGARTENERS.)

Again, this illustrates a fundamental part of Libertarian thinking. It’s not just the idea of charity or generosity that bothers them. It’s the idea that people aren’t grateful enough. Never mind that this is a polite, respectful bum, he is “without interest.” Because you know, when someone gives me a free dime, I am overjoyed. This poor bum doesn’t realize the simple joy of a dime. I mean, a dime! What ecstatic joy is in the word! Stupid bums not appreciating the value of a good dime.
But Eddie is feeling a “causeless unease”

“It’s the twilight, he thought; I hate the twilight.”

(Say it with me everyone: SYMBOLISM!)

“He turned a corner. In the narrow space between the dark silhouettes of two buildings, as in the crack of a door, he saw the page of a gigantic calendar suspended in the sky.”

Worst. Acid trip. EVER.

“It was the calendar that the mayor of New York had erected last year on the top of a building, so that citizens might tell the day of the month as they told the hours of the day, by glancing up at a public tower. A white rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets below. In the rusty light of this evening’s sunset, the rectangle said: September 2.”

That’s a really, really, really stupid idea. I mean, really stupid. A giant calendar? Who the hell wants a giant calendar? I mean if it had some kittens playing with string, or a bunch of classic ‘vettes, yeah, I could see that. But just a plain old calendar? It’s like the worst present ever from your grandmother. Except that your grandmother is the Mayor of New York. And she just blew a few million of your tax dollars on a friggin’ sky calendar.

“Eddie Willers looked away. He had never liked the sight of that calendar. It disturbed him, in a manner he could not explain or define. The feeling seemed to blend with his sense of uneasiness; it had the same quality.”

Really? It doesn’t make you angry, Eddie Willers? You don’t think it’s a horrible waste of public money, Eddie Willers? It just makes you sad, Eddie Willers? You’re such a puss, Eddie Willers.

You know, I get it. I really get why their world is falling apart. Because none of the “movers and shakers” ever get angry. Well, they do, but it’s always a sort of helpless and confused rage. “What can we do?” they cry. “We’re only powerful industrialists! We have no ability to affect the course of anything!” They never start a petition or pay off a senator or even write a letter. They just sit around, and then get all sad and outraged, but in a quiet and noble way, like an Indian watching you litter.

And I find myself understanding old people now. The sort of anger that Dagny and Hank and John feel isn’t the anger of the dynamic and youthful men and woman of action they are. It is the sort of helpless, gnawing rage of someone grown too old, in a world they do not understand. And so they shake their fists and curse the youth and vote for whoever reminds them of Ronnie, because they don’t understand and this frightens them. It is understandable, and heartbreaking in the old. It is unforgiveable in the young.

And this is the same attitude we see among the superrich today. Witness the reactions of the car companies any time a new requirement is added, be it seatbelts, or mileage requirements, or safety glass. Instead of either A) doing it or B) listing reasons why it can’t be done, they simply wibble and whine like two year olds who just lost snack time.*

“But but but, we can’t possibly do that! Profit margins! Engineering! LAYOFFS!” You halfway expect them to bring their mothers to the Congressional hearings. And then, if they’re lucky, they get congressmen (*cough* Barton *cough*) apologizing to them for the heinous crime of expecting them not make a horrible mess of the entire world. Because they’re suffering!

So Eddie wanders down the street. He sees a stall full of fresh produce, and a well driven bus, and feels better. 🙂 But then he sees the calendar again and feels sad. 😦 And then he sees stuff for sale and he’s all 🙂 again. And then he thinks about a tree and is all :(. And then he gets to work and is all 🙂

Brutha needs some lithium, know what I’m sayin’?

So blah, blah, blah, childhood memories, the world is changing, I can feel it in the water, I can smell it in the air.

Two pages later, he finally gets to work. And meets his boss, the head of the company, one of the most powerful, wealthiest industrialists in the world. James Taggart. The very name is synonymous with trains, with energy, with motion. Oh, what a God this man must be!

“He had a small, petulant mouth, and thin hair clinging to a bald forehead. His posture had a limp, decentralized sloppiness, as if in defiance of his tall, slender body, a body with an elegance of line intended for the confident poise of an aristocrat, but transformed into the gawkiness of a lout. The flesh of his face was pale and soft. His eyes were pale and veiled, with a glance that moved slowly, never quite stopping, gliding off and past things in eternal resentment of their existence. He looked obstinate and drained. He was thirty-nine years old.
He lifted his head with irritation, at the sound of the opening door.
“Don’t bother me, don’t bother me, don’t bother me,” said James Taggart.”

Awww, shit.

Now, let us be clear here. Ayn Rand is not saying that all Liberals are ugly.

*flips through rest of book*

No, I tell a lie. She thinks all Liberals are ugly. Presumably her books of philosophy contains, (besides the “Liberals are ugly” argument) the “Liberals are smelly” argument, the “Liberals are poopyheads” argument, and most devastating of all the “So’s your old man” argument.

Again, I refer you to the statement included in the author biography.
“I trust that no one will tell me that men such as I write about don’t exist. That this book has been written-and published-is my proof that they do.”
Ayn Rand feels that her ability to write characters like Galt means that they somehow must exist. So presumably, in her mind, the fact that she writes liberals like James Taggart means that they too must exist.

And again, the sheer arrogance in that statement is so breathtaking, so very far beyond the ken of normal hubris, that it requires a full minute or two of thinking about before you realize what she has done. She has claimed that the fact that she has written something means that it is so.

“And Rand said, let there be Galt. And there was Galt.
And Rand saw the Galt, that it was good: and Rand divided the Galt from the liberals…”

Next time: Deals are made! Rail is bought! Woolen undershirts are sought! And introducing: DAGNY TAAAAAAAGART!

**EDITORS NOTE**

While I did not at all intend the particular edited line to be read that way, part of being a writer is being able to take criticism, and change what you did wrong. And yes, I’m still struggling with my male privilege. (I’m 21, cut me some slack.) And in this case…well, frankly, what I’ve got there now is a better metaphor that what was there before. Cheap shock value is one of those things I’m supposed to be rising above. And as always, thanks to Carolyn for calling me on these screwups. Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux and all that.

Written by newscum

July 14, 2010 at 3:23 am