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Atlas Shrugged - Week 6: Ch 1 & 2

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Atlas Shrugged Part II
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Ch 1 The Man Who Belonged On Earth
The whole world looks pretty bleak. Dr. Stadler talks to Dr. Ferris who has a new book and a new project, Project X. Dagny is looking for someone to help her build the motor.

Ch 2 The Aristocracy of Pull
It’s Sep 2, again. This marks the third year since our story began. Dagny has hired Quentin Daniels to try and build the motor. Lillian demands that Hank goes to the wedding party of Jim Taggart and Cherryl Brooks. At the party d’Anconio makes the finest speech about money that has ever been written in the history of man.

My thoughts: I just finished reading ten seconds ago.
 

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Primeperiwinkle

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Wake up people!!!

We’ve got quotes and characters and craziness to discuss and espresso to drink!!!!!!
 

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I started out reading too far ahead; now I've fallen way behind. Hectic holiday production cycles...

I'll catch up once I come up for air. Thank you for staying on top of this for us.
 
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I started out reading too far ahead; now I've fallen way behind. Hectic holiday production cycles...

I'll catch up once I come up for air. Thank you for staying on top of this for us.
Thank you for saying something!! I’m going to try and write more too.. it HAS been hectic this week.
 

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Thanks @Primeperiwinkle for keeping these threads going and staying on top of things!

Some notes on the plot:
  • The cigar guy said the box wasn't made by "anyone on Earth". Does that mean the secret society is in outer space?
  • Are John Galt, Hugh Akston's third student, and the motor guy all the same person? (This hasn't been explicitly confirmed yet but seems to be hinted at in multiple places).
  • Is the secret society only accessible with the fancy motor? Maybe this is what Francisco meant when he said "John Galt is claiming his line".
  • If this is the case, did the secret society exist prior to the invention of the fancy motor, or did the motor allow the society to form in the first place?
  • Is Project X related to the secret society? Maybe they're trying to build a motor that can access it, or a weapon that can destroy it.
I like how Francisco's speech was actually Ayn Rand's speech. Something that stuck out in the speech, that I feel is relevant to the real world, is the distinction between money and wealth. The looters are all ok with destroying real wealth in order to make their bank account numbers higher.

There's been plenty of "GDP growth" over the last decade, yet prices are rising faster than inflation for many basic services, such as healthcare, housing, and education. Is the economy getting better or worse each year? Is the "stock market" the same thing as "the economy"?
 
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The cigar guy said the box wasn't made by "anyone on Earth". Does that mean the secret society is in outer space?
OMG this is brilliant!! Ha! I wonder... this would be awesome..

Are John Galt, Hugh Akston's third student, and the motor guy all the same person? (This hasn't been explicitly confirmed yet but seems to be hinted at in multiple places).
Yes, they are. I’m convinced.
Is Project X related to the secret society? Maybe they're trying to build a motor that can access it, or a weapon that can destroy it.
I think the motor is synonymous with the world running. In these chapters the “two great attributes of life are motion and purpose” Galt is a Creator extraordinaire .. so he could also become some kind of horrible destroyer *cue scary muahaha music.

Did anyone pick up on the book that Dr. Ferris wrote?!? I thought it was hilarious that he said something like .. it’s not a philosophy book but a book to make a psychological impact. Sounds familiar.. ROFL.

The whole section on money was fascinating. I’m still prying apart the truth from half-truth from total bs in it.. but it definitely made an impact.
 

BizyDad

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The cigar guy said the box wasn't made by "anyone on Earth". Does that mean the secret society is in outer space?
Galt found Atlantis and the Fountain of Youth at the top of a mountain (both alluded to earlier in the book). Who knows where this is going...

But I can't wait to find out!

Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he’s evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek."

I finally found something I agree whole heartedly with Rand about...

More people on this forum need to read that.

"They have no way of knowing what he feels when surrounded by inferiors—hatred? no, not hatred, but boredom—the terrible, hopeless, draining, paralyzing boredom. Of what account are praise and adulation from men whom you don’t respect? Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down at, but up to?”

So. Many. Quotes.

At many points I found myself agreeing with Dagny, The professor, Fransisco, the old woman who feels truth, Reardon, Mrs Taggert, and James too.

I didn't see the scheming Lillian coming. That was a surprise. And her disloyalty caught me by surprise too.

These were great chapters. Too many quotes to pull out and discuss.

I've been resisting the book as I see it at least partly as a taken down on "Christian values". These chapters gave me some peace because it argues against those who think money is the root of evil. But of course the Christian value is that the love of money is the root of evil, and this distinction allows me to read the book more objectively.

Sure the characters aren't realistic, but they are... Thought provoking.

I also want to recognize the audible narrator again. He's awesome.

Lastpoint. Who do you think Francisco thought was the most guilty person in the room? Reardon? Because he's the one enabling all the looting? What do you think?
 
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They have no way of knowing what he feels when surrounded by inferiors—hatred? no, not hatred, but boredom—the terrible, hopeless, draining, paralyzing boredom. Of what account are praise and adulation from men whom you don’t respect? Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down at, but up to?”
I agree and liked everything about your post except for this quote. I find it incredibly prideful and sad. I think it shouldn’t be “admire” it should say “someone you can battle against with the sharp edge of your will, someone whose mind is a match for your own pride”

I thought Francisco was the most guilty.. but I can’t recall why exactly.
 
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Ok my thoughts:
So of the outrageous things that caught my eye was about how Wesley Mouch is in charge of making oil from The Wyatt fields right? They’ve been trying for a while now and only gotten SIX and A HALF gallons. Oy!! AND they’ve been trying to put the fire out for THREE months?

Then the government imposed oil rationing, all the Science Institutes furnaces have been converted to coal but there’s no coal either!

The section about a great motor should never be made because it would “wound the self-esteem of the weak” actually sounded a LOT like our society right now where ppl get so butthurt over disagreements.

When Hank said he had never doubted “the nature of the world or man’s greatness as its motive power and its core” I felt bad for him.

When Dagny said “I feel that others live up to me, if they want me.” I kinda sat still for a while thinking about the men I’ve dated.. and agreed with her but she did sound like a prideful twat when she said it.

The section about Cherryl Brooks just made me feel so sorry for her and any woman that would hero-worship a man as worthless as James Taggart. But I realized that not too many years ago I had a crush on someone who I, for a short time at least, perceived to be powerful. It made me glad for my own moral compass, a compass which told me to dump that guy even though he could make me laugh and had his supposed millions.

Lillian being as conniving as she was did not surprise me. The bitterness of a woman is a vicious thing.

I had to mull over “The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life.” I think that’s true. I also think it’s something that is hard won after many transitions and trials. Feeling that the source of my income is something I can be proud of .. well.. it’s worth more than the money I make, at least, to me. One of the principles that really spoke to me several years ago is to always give more value than what you’re charging for and people will return.
So many deep thoughts in these chapters!

“Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue”.. hm. I don’t think this is entirely true. I think it’s one measure. Not THE measure.

I do NOT agree that the words “to make money” hold the essence of human morality.. at all. And yet according to the Bible at least, a man who does not work is worse than a man who curses God. So there’s that. I wish more ppl spoke up about how wretched it is to not work, not contribute, not try.

The sum up from Francisco is that there are no evil thoughts except for the refusal to think. Surely the refusal to think for one’s self is a great evil.. but not the worst one by far.

One last discrepancy. Francisco advises Rearden to NEVER buy d’Anconio stock.. so that made me think the fall of his company was a couple weeks or months away... not imminent. I’m slightly confused by the reveal. Was it a practical joke? Or has he really destroyed all his stockholders by destroying his own company?

These were phenomenal chapters. Best so far for me. Really enjoying the intensity of the book and the whirlwind pace.
 

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My point is that the quotes make me think about so much. This book makes my brain sizzle.

I agree and liked everything about your post except for this quote. I find it incredibly prideful and sad. I think it shouldn’t be “admire” it should say “someone you can battle against with the sharp edge of your will, someone whose mind is a match for your own pride”

I thought Francisco was the most guilty.. but I can’t recall why exactly.
Sure it's prideful. Sure it's sad. And yet...

What if it's true?

First I digress.

To me whether it is prideful, boastful or sad is a little besides the point. I don't want to judge it. As one who wishes to smith words someday, the ideas being hammered out here and in this book are fascinating to me as a reflection of life.

I've known people who felt this way.

How hard must it be for a great person to remain great if they are not surrounded by other greatness?

While the quote did make me think of this and a whole lot more, it also made me think of Francisco. It made me think of the type of man he is. And he did say admire...

Taken out of context the quote is sad or boastful. But in context...

I believe he was asking genuine questions of Hank. I believe he is setting the stage. I think the questions are foreshadowing.

Sure, having a mental sparring partner is one thing. It's great, actually. But training with an equal vs training with an Olympian? And Francisco doesn't even have an equal to train with.

So imagine being the mountain everyone looks up to. You tower above all others, you reach through the clouds. You are the tallest peak anyone has seen or heard of. What motivation is there to improve? Some surely... But to soar? You already soar.

Everyone praises you, but it means nothing to you because it just comes naturally.

Until one day, the clouds clear, and you see for the first time another peak, much much higher than yours.

That is the new standard by which you must now judge yourself. That is the worthy challenge to aspire to.

Who is John Galt? We have a partial answer.

He is the man Francisco D'anconia looks up to. Loves. Reveres.

Francisco, the man who never lost anything to anybody. He loved him (Galt) so much (Did anyone catch that he used the past tense?) , he'll even toss aside his own childhood dreams.

"Who is your John Galt?" is the next question that popped into my head...

This is me being brief in this post. I can't possibly share everything off just this one quote.

Then there's these:

"Words are relative. They’re only symbols. If we don’t use ugly symbols, we won’t have any ugliness. Why do you want me to say things one way, when I’ve already said them another?” “Which way do I want you to say them?” “Why do you want me to?” “For the same reason that you don’t.” The boy had remained silent for a moment, then had said, “You know, Mr. Rearden, there are no absolute standards. We can’t go by rigid principles, we’ve got to be flexible, we’ve got to adjust to the reality of the day and act on the expediency of the moment.

(I agree with Rearden on cutting to the chase, but there are some interesting counterpoints here...)

I don’t know,” he said indifferently, and went on intently. “I know only that if it’s vicious, then let me be damned for it, but that’s what I want to do more than anything else on earth.

I can't even explain where this takes my brain.

“But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich—will not remain rich for long."

So. Many. Quotes. :rofl:

One last discrepancy. Francisco advises Rearden to NEVER buy d’Anconio stock.. so that made me think the fall of his company was a couple weeks or months away... not imminent. I’m slightly confused by the reveal. Was it a practical joke? Or has he really destroyed all his stockholders by destroying his own company?
He explained it though. His company is so strong it's going to survive what is happening tomorrow. Because the looters will prop it up.

At first I bristled at the word looters in the book. I didn't get it. Now that I get it, I kind of want to start using it in my daily life.
 
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What if it's true?
But it’s not.. the greatest men who have ever lived still readily admit learning something from someone you’d least expect.. the idea that someone is so much better than everyone around him he can’t learn from them or be challenged.. is faulty.

He is the man Francisco D'anconia looks up to. Loves. Reveres.
How are you coming to this conclusion? I did not get this from the text.

He explained it though. His company is so strong it's going to survive what is happening tomorrow. Because the looters will prop it up.
Ahhh! Thank you for reminding me. I had forgotten. I read very fast that day.. sigh.
 

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But it’s not.. the greatest men who have ever lived still readily admit learning something from someone you’d least expect.. the idea that someone is so much better than everyone around him he can’t learn from them or be challenged.. is faulty.
In real life, yes. But this is a book.

Still, in real life there are people who say things like

When Dagny said “I feel that others live up to me, if they want me.” I kinda sat still for a while thinking about the men I’ve dated.. and agreed with her but she did sound like a prideful twat when she said it
Was this just pride, or was it true? Surely if this is true, you can relate to the sentiment at least a little. I mean, if I only dated women who tried to live up to me, I know I'd be bored. I might learn from them, but it is a completely different experience dating someone you admire, right?

Anyways, it is a moot point, because....

How are you coming to this conclusion? I did not get this from the text.
Oh shoot! I thought it was Francisco who said the quote. It was the professor!

That does change some things... Haha.

There have been several questions Francisco has asked and comments he made in easier chapters that got me close to this conclusion. I do think it's right.

But my being wrong about the quote knocks a peg from it.

Unfortunately I'm mostly listening on audible in my car, so I don't have good notes and a totally got my signals crossed. Hahaha.

Thanks for catching that.
 
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Was this just pride, or was it true? Surely if this is true, you can relate to the sentiment at least a little. I mean, if I only dated women who tried to live up to me, I know I'd be bored. I might learn from them, but it is a completely different experience dating someone you admire, right?
Ahhh ok! That’s not really how I was thinking of it. It’s more “you make me want to be a better man” and less “I’m trying to reach your imperial heights of grand virtuousness”. Or whatever. Lol
That’s all I meant.

And yes, finding someone whom I admire is like nothing on earth.
 
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OH MY GOSH I COMPLETELY FORGOT!!

I’ve been crazy busy!! But the other day one of my clients, who is always adorably stressed out, came in while on the phone and proceeded to have a very important conference call for the entirety of his session with me. Ive has clients do this occasionally but it never upsets me because 1) it’s their time 2) they’re paying me and 3) THE CALLS ARE INTERESTING!!!

He was explaining his most recent negotiation for their oil drilling property ****ATLAS SHRUGGED MOMENT****
and then one of the guys asked about transportation and then another asked about investments and and and..

I couldn’t even pay attention because THE WHOLE TIME I was like.. My client is Hank Rearden!!!!!!!!!!!

LMFAO. So many connections with this book! Ha!
 

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