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Atlas Shrugged - Week 3: Ch 5&6

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Primeperiwinkle

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Atlas Shrugged - Week 3: Ch 5 & 6
Book Discussion Guidelines and Schedule


It’s Friday people let’s discuss!!! Woooot!

Chapter 5
Eddie hands Dagny the newspaper which announces that the San Sebastián Mines are worthless, have always been worthless and that d’Anconio had to have known for the last five years that they were worthless. The failure of this mine means the loss of fifteen million dollars to him but forty million to Taggart Transcontinental. She goes to meet Francisco. On the way she remembers their childhood together.

She remembers their close friendship, their twin ambitions to honor their separate ancestors. She remembers his determination to work, his keen mind, and his claiming of her at sixteen. She remembers a night where his control broke and he whispered to her that “I can’t give it up! I can’t!” but never fully explained what he meant, only telling her “Don’t wait for me, Dagny ... Remember that I told you this and that it is was all I could tell you.”

Ten years have passed since that intimate night, during which he did not visit her but instead acted consistent with a playboy.
She goes to his hotel room in the present day, angry about the San Sebastián line. She guesses only some of his full intention about this farce but it is clear that Francisco actually planned the entire thing for several inexplicable reasons.

Chapter 6
Rearden has forgotten about his anniversary party that Lillian planned. He forces himself to get ready while wondering about their marriage. Lillian uses highly refined passive aggressive techniques against him. Francisco and Rearden meet. Rearden notices Dagny’s physical attractiveness.
Dr. Pritchett who teaches at the same school Francisco went to says that “There aren’t any standards.... the duty of thinkers is not to explain but to demonstrate that nothing can be explained.” Francisco didn’t study under Dr. Pritchard but under another teacher, Hugh Akston who was “one of the great names of the last century” Francisco defends all his actions by declaring that he was just practicing what the whole world was preaching.
Old ladies discuss a pirate named Ragnar Danneskjöld who also went to Patrick Henry University.

We hear the origin story of John Galt who chose to sink his ship to reach Atlantis.

Dagny trades her diamond bracelet for Lillian’s simple Rearden Metal, publicly.

After the party, Hank again meditates on his eight married years of tortured loneliness and has no answers about Lillian.

My thoughts:
Saved for later so as to force ppl to share their thoughts first. Ha!
 

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Kak

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Let’s not mistake the act of voluntary philanthropy with support for central control.

Musk is a bad example that leads to such comparisons. I just think he is a good guy that wants to leave his mark.

Being a good person and wanting to improve the world around you doesn’t necessarily make you some Jim Taggart.

A much better example of capitalist altruism with this in mind is Charles Koch. Why? Because he believes that he already made the world a better place by employing hundreds of thousands and providing value to millions. That is not all though. He also supports nonprofit organizations like CATO and Americans for Prosperity. These are organizations that exist to help Americans continue to have to ability to build things that matter. Their own masterpieces. He does this BY CHOICE... Not by force.

On the other side of the fence we have the REAL Jim Taggarts... How about Jamie Dimon? Warren Buffet? Ray Dalio? These are the guys that will still be rich even if they get a central control. The JTs of the world are already large enough that they can comply easily with new regulation perhaps even help draft it while it severely hurts competition. So they support forcing their will on others in the name of economic freedom, the greater good and giving back. Ironically, handouts and government propped up advantages do not equal economic freedom, they equal economic slavery and all they do is take.
 

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Jon L

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So I was going to follow along with just two chapters a week, but then Audible just kept turning on somehow every time I got up to do something (gym, car, kitchen, etc). Finished the book yesterday. All 52 hours worth.

Is it 'great literature?' No, not in the traditional sense. But its the kind of thing that makes me think about things differently. It got under my skin in a way that not many books do, even as I was annoyed with the writing style and the apparent lack of depth of the characters.

What's interesting about the characters is that, yes, they are all shallow archetypes, as other people have mentioned. However. And this is a big 'however,' what happens after you walk away from the book for a bit is that you begin to notice a bit of Dagney in someone, or a bit of James Taggart in someone else. I've noticed some interesting combinations of several characters in myself just today.

Rand's predictions on where certain philosophies lead is pretty spot on, so, when I notice myself whining, I have a little more reason to avoid the fate of a James Taggart. I can also notice when I should be more bold about things - for example, not apologizing for charging a fair price for the value I bring to a client.
 

Kak

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Fun stuff. Sorry I missed it yesterday.

I really like Fransisco's dad. Bringing him up to understand the world. Bringing him up as a producer. The education thing was a bit much, but I applaud Fransisco for respecting his dad, the head of the empire, the patriarch. I really liked that he felt he had to earn his good name.

I can relate to his frustrated side. He has an understanding of the world that is not necessarily hard for him to explain, but it is hard for others to understand.

I agree with his reasoning for letting the mines be a total letdown. I agree with punishing the Mexican government and imprudent followers. An interesting notion to say the least. He is making a statement. He and his efforts are not here for YOU. He is NOT your errand boy and he does NOT work for anyone, but himself.

Some may say it was a swindle. I say it is a man at his wits end with society and their collective expectations of him and other people like him. He lost money. He didn't steal. He simply entered an imprudent investment and people followed.

This reminds me of people following Warren Buffett into every investment he makes. What if he one day got pissed off and just bought something idiotic? The dumb money would be so pissed at him.

As far as Hank's family and family friends... Yikes. It is hard to feel sorry for him though because it was his choice. I still do. Although, being a family man and a world class businessman are not mutually exclusive. Maybe if he had chosen better, he would excell at both.

I understand what it can be like in a social situation among people I have no respect for or anything in common with. Not really wanting to socialize. Those people may even call me an introvert. Obviously those from the forum that know me know that isn't the case among like minded people.

We all know those social circles where everyone talks over each other and nobody listens. I sit quietly or just leave depending on obligation. I don't interrupt stupid, they don't listen anyway. My favorite thing to say and it always makes me the villian... "Oh, I am sorry... Did I interrupt the beginning of your sentance with the middle of mine?"

The equalization act or whatever it is called parallels to today where they are regulating in the name of freedom. And regulating in the name of equality. The end result being neither freedom nor equality.
 
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BellaPippin

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If I remember well from the chapter is that Lillian doesn’t think twice about the bracelet. I feel it’s either another super forced/unrealistic or she’s a sociopath of sorts lol. Like after the fact she didn’t learn anything or thought anything of it. Still in conflict with this extreme-ness of some characters. Like can you be that oblivious or are you Paris Hilton or what

P.S. since yesterday I was like “tomorrow is the new thread!” Look at me so early to answer lol
 

G-Man

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Really love this book, especially a lot of the grandstanding speeches, but I feel like there's only two sorts of characters:
  • Antagonists and peripheral characters who are utterly contemptible and totally realistic
  • Protagonists that are archetypes of ideas and therefore totally unrealistic.
I'm rooting for Hank and Dagny, but they're not real people. Even Lillian doesn't come off as real in the bracelet incident, which tells me she's going to be some sort of Deus Ex mechanism later in the plot.

Only positive person that comes off as kinda real is Francisco, but even he's an archetype. I think Ayn Rand was just visualizing her perfect crush, and the result is the character of Francisco. Don't get me wrong, she clearly has good taste in men, but damn.
 

broswoodwork

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Ok but let’s discuss the convo between Hank and Francisco. Is it just me or is Francisco sizing him up to later destroy him too??
Yes on sizing him up, but I think it’s a soft approach for a future recruitment of some kind
He definitely keeps the story moving. Re-reading it, you half expect him to turn and wink at the audience.
 

scottmsul

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Elon IMHO is like a James Taggert at least in two areas:
  • His government assistance for his businesses (tax rebates (Telsa), public loans (Telsa), usage of his company services (SpaceX), etc.)
  • He promotes altruism which society very much likes.
Obviously Elon is much much more than that, but that is at least in my eyes why he's well-liked.
I've read his biography, highly recommend it. The guy works around 100 hours a week. He knows his technical stuff and supervises a lot of the engineering work. He's a Dagny/Rearden/Wyatt for sure. If he's gotten help from government subsidies, it's because he's using whatever resources he can get. He's running a business.

On the other side of the fence we have the REAL Jim Taggarts... How about Jamie Dimon? Warren Buffet? Ray Dalio? These are the guys that will still be rich even if they get a central control. The JTs of the world are already large enough that they can comply easily with new regulation perhaps even help draft it while it severely hurts competition. So they support forcing their will on others in the name of economic freedom, the greater good and giving back. Ironically, handouts and government propped up advantages do not equal economic freedom, they equal economic slavery and all they do is take.
I think it's hard to think of real-life Jim Taggarts, not because they're rare, but because they're common and forgettable. I think it's easy to think of companies like TT though. Companies that were once great and innovative, then the technical leadership was taken over by finance/business people. Some examples that come to mind are GE (check their stock from the last 20 years), Boeing (with the 737 Max disaster), Xerox in the 90s (as explained below by Steve Jobs, another PRODUCER):


Article on Boeing:
Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers
Rabin, the former software engineer, recalled one manager saying at an all-hands meeting that Boeing didn’t need senior engineers because its products were mature. “I was shocked that in a room full of a couple hundred mostly senior engineers we were being told that we weren’t needed,” said Rabin, who was laid off in 2015.
On another note, I saw this article today. Reminded me of all the silly rules getting passed in Atlas Shrugged. Probably won't pass, but still, eerily similar to the book?

Climate change: Firms failing to tackle crisis will be delisted from stock exchange, Labour says
 

BizyDad

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Oh, we do book discussion all week long now?!?!

And do my eyes deceive me? Did you all turn @Primeperiwinkle into the Dan Conway of the group? She is accepting the will of the group against her own interest. Fascinating.

I stop playing bad cop for two freaking days and look what happens. Well, I don't like it.

The Dagny in me wants to urge her to fight, but it occurs to me that my previous somewhat militant bad copping may be the actual reason she's getting DM's from people not feeling comfortable sharing, and not anything anyone else was doing.

By the end of this post I hope to remedy all these maladies. Let me introduce you to the softer, gentler side of BizyCop.

I have looked forward to a scheduled book discussion like this for a long time (I'm always too busy). And I have looked forward to my introduction to Ayn Rand for a long time (I'm always too busy).

So doing this "right" is important to me.

Notice, this is my introduction to Ayn Rand. Yes it is possible to go through a life of decades and not explicitly be familiar with Ayn Rand's philosophy. And I study philosophy! So don't assume we all know it. Sorry @Bekit , I'm the one. Perhaps Rand's influence is all around me, but it hasn't been made explicit to me. I am approaching this reading with about as fresh eyes as possible.

Which is why I am asking us all to stick to the rules. They are laid out and linked to at the beginning of every week already.

I think part of the problem is many of you seem to think this is a traditional book discussion. You know, where we all read the book and discuss themes of what we read.

But this is a SCHEDULED book discussion. That's a different animal. Keep in mind, this is a proven model for book discussion. I've casually seen a couple happen, but never been an active participant. It's awesome.

We don't read the whole book. We read chapters at a time. You guys all agreed to the rules by joining in. Why are you so gung ho to break them? Did you forget them?

Here are the rules:

-----

1. We read at an assigned pace together.
2. Each week I summarize what the book said then we talk about what we think it means and how we felt about it.
3. We can only talk about that weeks chapters in that thread. There will be a new thread every week.
4. You CAN ONLY TALK ABOUT the chapters we have already read.
5. No spoilers.
6. NO FREAKING SPOILERS OR I WILL CUT YOU!!!

Also "I can’t possibly make this an inviting and flourishing book discussion if everybody just reads the whole book really fast. I want to read it together. WITH you. Not AT you. My intent is to ponder and wonder about the book NOT TEACH. I’ve never read the book and I will not be reading any summaries or cliff notes or websites about it."

------

If this has been difficult for you, please read that again. It seems pretty easy to me.

So what rules were broken? Well, is anyone trying to teach the rest of us? Maybe teaching us about themes or Ayn Rand's philosophy? No? No one is teaching? Ok, let's move on...

A lot of people broke #1. And now its causing issues. What issues? Well, they are breaking rule #2 and #4 and not even knowing it. They are crying innocence. And being defended by those who also read ahead.

Also people are sharing things they read online or read in the past, etc. This isn't the place to give us cliff notes. Copy and paste someone's blog post? No.

Keep in mind, if you make reference to Rand's philosophy or her other books, or even what she meant, then you are relying on things outside these chapters to draw those conclusions. That's not ok.

Why isn't that ok Biz?

Well, as an example, I DIDN'T KNOW AYN RAND'S DEFINITION OF ALTRUISM!

Ok, sorry, lost my head there. Good BizyCop is back. And having been exposed to just 6 chapters of her body of work, which is only what, like 1.79% of her written work, it is way way way to early for me to be able to draw such a conclusion. I had only just started to consider what she actually means about altruism. And along comes someone reading online and citing sources.

@lludwig , my knowing what Rand means by altruism will definitely impact how I approach the rest of this book. You may not have been trying to tell me what to think, but you absolutely did tell me what to think. You left no room for doubt. I can't ignore it, I've already read it.

I won't shoot the messenger, but only because I put down my nerf gun for this post. Mistakes happen, just learn from it.

And you aren't the only one, I'm not trying to pick on you, yours was just the longest discussion, and to me, the best example of what could go wrong trying to discuss.

So what do we do?

First off, this isn't that hard. Here's a vision statement.

To quote @Bekit "For those of you who have already read the book before and can't "wonder about stuff" because you already know how things will unfold, please try to preserve the mystery for us who haven't gotten there yet."

How?

Well, look at how @Kak does it. Pop in, memes or asks a quick question and boom, 3 pages of discussion. Ok we can't all be Kak.

So for one, don't share other people's ideas, opinions, or words.

This includes Ayn Rand herself. Don't speak for her. Speak only for you. Only share your thoughts or feelings. It's in the rules, not that hard.

If you are copying and pasting, it probably isn't your thoughts or feelings. (I hope it is obvious I am not referring to the headlines posts we're sharing, even I did one of those.)

Some other tips:

Ask yourself, do I know this for a fact (about Rand, her philosophy, or the themes of the book)? If it is a fact in your mind, it might cross the line. See you probably only know this as a fact because you have read more than just these 6 chapters. And rule #4 says only discuss the chapters we've read.

For those of you who've read ahead, all hope is not lost.

Look at what @csalvato does. I could make a drinking game out of how many times he starts a sentence with "I think". And I appreciate that. Because I know he knows, but he allows room for disagreement. He isn't saying "This is absolutely what Rand meant based on my research".

But what I would absolutely love to see more is something like this:

"I think Rand has a skewed view of women. They are all either vapid or willfully clueless and are all hopelessly dependent on a man or secretly longing to be dominated by a man. I believe this because of any scene where the mom did nothing interesting, all the women who are basically background characters, and also because Dagny enjoyed being slapped. Is she a supporter of a patriarchal system or just a product of an era? She seems thoughtful, so this seems like a calculated choice."

Present your "facts" not as facts but as your opinion based on examples from the chapters. If you can't use the words in these chapters to make your point, just wait to make it.

Here's a good example of how waiting would have paid off. I think it was @Bertram who wrote that (still a spoiler) Last week there was NO WAY we could have known it so I asked him to change his post and not ruin the mystery for others (thanks again). But if he had just waited and done the same thing in this thread, I wouldn't have said anything because the book has introduced this idea now.

(Edit: my first use of the fancy spoiler code trick obviously failed. I tried to fix it. Meh, I'm new. Y'all will just have to go back to last week to find the spoiler...)

Oh, do you see how I (attempted to) self censor? That's another solution. No one wants to ignore anyone because everyone is sharing way more value in these posts than "rule breaking content".

The people discussing themes are insisting it is there, because they've read ahead so they know it is there. But they do not seem to be really diving solely into the reading material.

Again, to flail at the equine carcass, if you are discussing "the book", or "Rand's philosophy" or worse "what Rand really intended" then you are discussing chapters we haven't read yet. If you refer to "the book", you are basing your comments on facts not in evidence yet. Don't do it until you can back it up with stuff from the chapters.

Just be patient. At some point you'll have enough evidence in the chapters we've read to bring up what you want to bring up. We have 2+ more months of this.:party:

To sum up, if you are sharing something, please phrase it by leaving room for doubt or debate (I think, I believe, it seems like, etc), and hopefully use examples from the chapters to back it up. If you have to cite outside sources, her other books, or are simply regurgitating what you've heard or read "out there" then don't bring it "in here".

Or, as the OP said more succinctly, discuss your thoughts and feelings.

And if your reaction to reading this is "I don't wanna participate" well, that says a lot, and I'd still ask you directly to please participate. Just adjust things a little.

By giving people these tools and tips I hope I am encouraging more people to speak up as opposed to pipe down. We were all invited here under certain rules. Can't we just commit to following them? Is it really that hard?

(Side note, @broswoodwork I tried really really hard not to say spoiler! It was too hard! Couldn't do it. Hahaha.)
 
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Kruiser

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So, clearly the most unrealistic part of the book so far is that international business titans send their sons to school in Cleveland, Ohio. That is definitely part of the "parallel universe" aspect of the book. :)

D'Anconia is a fascinating mystery. International man of mystery. What's his deal? He feels forced to stay away from Dagny and won't tell her why. What is he giving up? What is "it"? Dagny? His business ambitions? And becoming an international playboy... is he for real? Is he acting? Is he simply lost? Is there some deeper, non-obvious purpose?

I suspect his undergrad studies in Cleveland has something to do with it. Was he philosophically corrupted at Patrick Henry? Maybe he now sees life as some nihilistic game and he is using his incredible talent simply to mess with people for the pure devious fun of it. Or is he playing some kind of three dimensional chess, like trying to bring the whole system down to ultimately take it all over?

The party scene shows the complete alignment of the "elites" against producers. Business folks like James Taggart, politicos, novelists, the press, and academia.

Dagny's bracelet move. Definitely bad a$$. But... could any words more clearly state, "Imma take your man," than her actions did?

Which leads me to ask, "Are Dagny and Rearden the heros of this story?" Some of Rand's characters are very one-dimensional (e.g. James Taggart). Is Dagny simply the one-dimensional opposite of James Taggart? I don't think so. Dagny, Rearden, and D'Anconia seem like they have a little more depth than some of the other characters.

Certainly Dagny is portrayed as a very attractive character. We follow her and cheer her on.

If she is a hero, will she be a tragic hero? And, if so, what is her tragic flaw that will bring her down?
 

Kruiser

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I am now just as obsessed about the Dagny/Francisco/Rearden triangle that I was about Twilight.
Don't forget about Wyatt. There could be a quadrilateral here.

Also, my new theory of D'Anconia: He's learned/decided that the way the world is going (everyone lined up against producers), it is not going to be possible for him to extend the D'Anconia empire the way his forefathers did. He can see farther than others and understands how everything will play out. But rather than simply fading/disappearing/quitting (as so many characters do, like Conway), he's decided to burn it all down to spite the folks that have made his dreams impossible.
 

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Kruiser

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  • Do you think there are any similarities to what we see in society today?
  • Do you see any of yourself in the characters? If so, who?
  • Has the book changed anything about how you look at the world?
1. As @broswoodwork already called out, someone's financing strategy for her Medicare plan seems particularly on point.

2. Now, when I even THINK about thinking a thought that James Taggart could possibly think, I quickly reconsider. Dagny, Rearden, and D'Anconia all have admirable qualities. The funny thing about those three is that, while they each have some very attractive qualities, they are all deeply flawed. "Unbalanced" isn't quite the right word. Maybe "unintegrated" is better. I speculate that Rand is NOT making them out to be heroes. But, what are they then?

3. I think I am much more attuned to thoughts and actions that are excuse-laden and deny self-responsibility, both in others and in myself.
 

Bekit

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Observations as someone who has not read the book before:

I don't feel like anyone is telling me what to think. The points raised by lludwig and csalvato have been illuminating and have contributed to the discussion in my opinion without giving anything away.

But the discussion got a bit uncomfortable, even if everyone involved was having a good time and not offended.

To me it seems like unpacking Rand's concept of selfishness, altruism, etc. is intrinsic to the discussion. This does not feel like a spoiler, as it is fairly well known and essentially part of our cultural lexicon by now. (I had already been exposed to summaries of her ideas before reading the book, without trying. Just by being alive, you run into this stuff along the way.)

If we confine our discussion to the narrative, the characters, and the unfolding of the plot, that will feel stifling, as all of these things are merely a thin veneer over the underlying philosophy, which is the true essence of the book.

@Primeperiwinkle, there seems to be a fair amount of restriction around the idea of HOW we are discussing the book, i.e. the mechanism or model of book discussion that we are employing.

I feel certain that you have a very clear idea in your head of how this type of discussion is supposed to work and the rules around what is and what isn't a legitimate contribution to the discussion. It seems that you've been in these types of discussions before, and you want this one to run similarly to others that you've experienced.

But I'm in the dark, and it seems other people are, too. This is creating a source of frustration both for you and for those who don't know they're breaking a "rule" until they run into one and get told off.

I think it would smooth things out a fair bit if maybe at the beginning of the week 4 thread, you unpack the method or discussion model that we are using.

Something like, "Hey guys, just a bit of background, we are using a model of book discussion called [name] that is centuries old. It comes from [person/place/origin story] and was popularized [when? / more recently] by [so-and-so]. This method has been proven to help people to reflect on what they are reading, draw their own conclusions, and learn the material in an intuitive way. It's more like a process of discovery for each participant than a didactic approach where the teacher gets up and lectures the class about what to think. Some of the underlying principles behind this approach are [this, this, and this]. Here's how the ideal discussion would look: [example or illustration]. So I welcome [XYZ] types of participation, and I would discourage [ABC] styles of contribution. For those of you who have already read the book before and can't "wonder about stuff" because you already know how things will unfold, please try to preserve the mystery for us who haven't gotten there yet. Here's a resource on how this type of discussion works if you want to explore it further. [Link]

Something like that. I feel like you shared some rules in the initial thread, and I think I read them all, but if I'm feeling rusty/clueless about how this is supposed to work, I think others may be, too.

I also want to encourage you. Please don't give up! I hope this continues to be fun for you! You are doing a wonderful job. Someone's comment from a while back that "wow, y'all are reading this book a lot better than I did the first time around" is a reflection that the discussion method seems to be working, even if we don't know precisely what it is.

:Hugs:
 

Bekit

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If my behavior has caused anyone distress .. I’m sorry.

I think.. maybe this Friday when the conversation starts up again I will just stick to posting the summary and let you all discuss however you want.

The methodology is based much more on personal feelings and personal insights rather than generalizations or talking points created by third parties, even the author. It’s really rather simple but transformational, once you experience it.

You read the book. You talk about what you read. You talk about what it meant to you.

It’s possible that the type of discussion I want to have just isn’t possible here though I doubt that. I’ve seen it used on The Iliad and Shakespeare and Plutarch and Lolita.

I don’t know. I’m more than willing to give it a couple weeks and listen to you all discuss the themes or philosophy or whatever it is that you want to discuss. I will still be having fun. Just.. quieter fun. Lol.

Please forgive me. I don’t know what else to do at this point. I think me staying quiet is best for a while. Hugs to all of you.
No forgiveness needed, and please let me reiterate - you're doing a great job, we like you, we want you, and you've guided the discussion in a way that truly helps people to think about the book and draw out meaningful topics.

Plus, you're so fun when you're happy and giddy and handing out snacks and throwing napkins and nominating the keeper of the foam swords. If you go TOO quiet, we'll miss out on one of the best parts of this whole discussion!

:HUGS:
 

lludwig

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In chapter 6 parts of me feel sorry for Rearden while also wonder if he's the creator of his own issues.

Meaning with Lillian and their what sounds like a non-relationship marriage. Why stay married to her?
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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Looks like my guess they would ban Rearden Metal was wrong, but they're making an even dumber law so maybe I was half-right? And knowing how things work in Ayn Rand's universe there's a 100% chance it gets passed.

I have more predictions, pretty much all based on Francisco's off-hand comment about confirming the story of John Galt.
If we assume Atlantis is real (which is likely since Francisco confirmed it and Francisco never lies), a lot of the puzzles start to make sense. The people of Atlantis probably only let certain outsiders in, most likely based on their greatness/purpose. I'm predicting they took in Richard Halley after he "retired" where he wrote his 5th concerto. That train mechanic guy has probably been to Atlantis and heard it (how/why would a random train worker go to Atlantis though?). I'm also predicting that Francisco's already been there, and his purposeful destructive actions are connected somehow. They're also very secretive about it, which is why the train worker hushed about it, and Francisco couldn't tell Dagny anything in their final flashback meeting.

I was thinking a lot about Jim Taggart too. We know that Atlas Shrugged is supposed to be an exposition of Rand's philosophy, so I think each of her characters was written to believe in some moral value as "supreme" and then follow that moral value to a T. In Jim's case, if that moral value if Fairness, then all his actions make perfect sense.
Your spoiler idea is EVEN BETTER THAN MINE!!! Hahahahaaaa check it out!!

And it’s not a spoiler is it?? I mean we haven’t read the book so we don’t know. They’re all just guesses. Also I wrote the following very late at night and I was feeling quite silly and happy when I wrote this. Js.

My Ridiculously Humorous Thoughts To Lighten the Mood of The Very Dramatic Chapters:

I had no clue I was going to be discussing a romance novel but here we are. I’m going to need ppl to keep me focused on the actual business plot line because I am now just as obsessed about the Dagny/Francisco/Rearden triangle that I was about Twilight. Idgaf if that makes me sound weird - romance novels are a billion dollar industry.
Now that my brain has been rearranged by this new plot line I can safely say that based on my EXTENSIVE research into romance novels that
  1. Francisco is the actual protagonist
  2. Dagny should have read up on Greek mythology and then vowed to wait for him. He loves her.. SO MUCH!
  3. He’s totally gonna use Hank to destroy everything so that
  4. Dagny can see the “truth” of the corruption in the world and then
  5. Something about the Viking. Oooo! Viking. Rawr! I love Vikings.
This book better get back on track soon. If I wanted to read about a chick falling for a dashing Latin guy and then passively receiving sex after he claims her I could go back in time to me when I was 16 and.. nope.. I was already reading about vampires. Lol.
 

Kruiser

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I was thinking a lot about Jim Taggart too. We know that Atlas Shrugged is supposed to be an exposition of Rand's philosophy, so I think each of her characters was written to believe in some moral value as "supreme" and then follow that moral value to a T. In Jim's case, if that moral value if Fairness, then all his actions make perfect sense.
I'm not sure Taggart values fairness supremely. He likes to think he does and he utters statements about fairness all the time. But a lot of his actions are pretty unfair. Taking credit for other people's work. Colluding to deprive other business owners of the benefit of their efforts, etc.

I think what Rand is trying to say through Taggart's character is, "A lot of times the folks crying out the loudest about fairness and the common good are complete hypocrites and full of s***, mooching off the people who are producing value and supposedly being 'selfish'."

That's fair, as far as it goes.

But I think Rand will ultimately go too far in pressing this, arguing that anyone who ever thinks of fairness or the common good is a hypocrite and full of s***.

I could be wrong, but that's my prediction.

And I think that's what I'm ultimately going to conclude about her work: she has some real insights and good points, but pushes them too far and oversimplifies everything.
 

G-Man

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I agree and yet THATS the beauty of it. I swear this book is half comic book/ half fairy tale which goes directly to the heart of us and make us rethink our own archetypes.


He’s a trope. It wasn’t overused in Rand’s time but it definitely is now.. powerful guy, slightly haughty, foreign, rich, brilliant and emotionally distant?!?

He’s NOT a great man at all just what modern women conceptualize as a great man. To compare characters all I have to do is bring Little Britches or The Odyssey or any novel where the guy stands by his family, fights to get to them, or endures hardship while caring.

He essentially abandoned her rather than respect her ability to understand his “great” breakthrough. It’s actually a very subtle way of minimizing her inner strength.

Great men trust the women in their life with shit. Great women trust the men in their life with shit. Bottling it up and not confronting it (like Rearden) or changing the world to avoid confrontation is the mark of an emotionally weaker person.
Yeah, I think the only antidote to this is a solid weekend of watching Liam Neeson or Harrison Ford try to get his family back. :rofl:
 

csalvato

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I think the more important question that could be asked at this point in the book is do we want to be like any of these characters?

Do I want to be like Dagny? Or Rearden? Or D’Ancinio or any of them?
I personally think that's the wrong question/frame.

These characters are so off to an extreme that they are all impossible to personify fully in real life.

I believe a better question is around their values (no surprises here, since I went on a rant about values in the last thread).

What do they value? What does it cause their extreme, hyperbolic personality to do? What impact does that value have on this fictional world? What can I learn about myself and the real world from that?

The reason I don’t pay attention to politics is because it’s all awful.
I believe the counterpoint here is that such policies are not simply politics; its deeply moral.

People live and die by these political and economic decisions.

For example:
  1. The ability for Bill Gates to do his philanthropic work which is saving hundreds of millions (billions?) of lives is impacted by economic policy.
  2. The ability for abortion centers to operate is dictated by the same underlying philosophy of liberty that impacts economic policy.
  3. The ability for a 7 year old to choose and modify their gender is dictated by the same underlying rules of freedom/liberty that impact economic policy.
In other words, it's all connected. In some ways indirectly (e.g. applying the philosophy to one place necessitates it be applied elsewhere); in other ways it's very direct where economic policy hinders people from affecting maximal good or enables people to cause harm on a mass scale.
 
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csalvato

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Im in a very low mood today.. I’m a weird reader too. I doubt everything. Until the end of the book I’ll still be wondering if it isn’t all a dream or an idea or if the whole thing could be turned inside out.. somehow. I’m awful at mysteries. I never guess the right person.

I think talking about values is incredibly intimate. I don’t enjoy doing so here where my values are in print and up for debate. At all. It feels too personal. It’s not that I’m unsure of what I believe but I can’t explain them all to people who don’t share my vocabulary in such things. I feel like you, in particular are coming from such a foreign place compared to me. This book is hard work to read..

Talking about the book is even more so.. I don’t know if I value half the things these people do (and I’m assuming most of you) but I don’t feel like I have the intellectual capability to defend myself well enough to pierce through the ... something.. that is fundamentally awful about this book. Because I’m getting the distinct impression that it IS awful. Like a Tour de Force of evil.. but that sounds a bit much. Lol.

Plus the book makes one feel terrified and anxious about impending doom. Gah.
I think it’s pretty common for people who don’t share the values of the protagonists in the book to absolutely HATE Atlas Shrugged.

Entrepreneurs tend to share those values, so most of them love it.

If you were to post this book discussion on a Communism forum, this discussion have very very different sorts of responses in it :)

This book is very polarizing; I think that’s already coming through :D

Just my take from reading a bunch of analyses from both sides of the table.
 

BellaPippin

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Curious: how so?

I don't think I've seen him support altruism. Do you have an example that I missed?
He runs a part of Tesla in the red so that he can use the money on other ventures like:

He donated a million trees to the #teamtrees initiative (trying to plant 20 million trees by end of the year)

He put in resources to try to send help to the trapped students in that Thai cave, he paid for water filtration systems for schools in Flint, Michigan.

He envisions the Hyperloop to connect downtown to O'Hare so people skip traffic.

Nobody is a saint but I think he's proven to be a chill dude that already has the money he needs and envisions new and better ways to do stuff. Musk foundation has donated quite a bit of money to medical research, AI research and things like renewable energy.

Is he cocky about it? Yes, I'd be proud of myself too if I was able to do all that. He's like a Tony Stark :p
 

BellaPippin

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Agreed. Also reminds me of all socialist leaders in South America preaching "we are with The People" blabbla bla pocketing everything and vacationing in Miami, using the most expensive hospitals while ours fall apart etc etc. you know how it goes. Every page of this novel makes me think of how things work down there.

Fake altruism at its finest just to manipulate for your own personal gain.
 

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