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Atlas Shrugged Week Twelve: Ch 3&4

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Primeperiwinkle

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ATLAS SHRUGGED Part III Ch 3 & 4

Ch 3
Dr. Stadler is brought to witness Project X, something he knows nothing about, as it’s called the greatest achievement of the State Science Institute.

Project X is a weapon based on sound waves. It can do horrific levels of damage from far awaybut they’ve only been able to build a small one because they can’t find more Rearden Metal at the moment.

Mrs Rearden tries to blackmail Dagny. Instead, Dagny reveals her relationship with Hank, on the radio station to 22 million people. Hank meets her and they cuddle even though he knows she’s now madly in love with someone she met in the mountains.



Ch 4
Cherryl Taggart has gained poise, understanding, philosophy and insight into exactly the type of man her husband is. Dagny meets with Cherryl but cannot convince her to stay. Then Cherryl discovers Lillian and James in post coital something. She goes crazy and takes a swan dive.



My thoughts:
Rand is such a good writer where it comes to pulling me into the emotions.. I had HIGH anxiety for chapter 3. I was freaking out about the poor little goat!! Gahh!

I knew Dagny would never be blackmailed by Lillian but ohhhhh man I did NOT expect Rearden to just be all cuddly and comforting even after he found out there’s another guy! What??? I mean.. that’s really.. good of him I guess??

But poor Cherryl!! To have gone from guttersnipe to poised gracious woman in just one year.. only to throw her life away.. so sad. I saw how Rand really attacked grace in this chapter basically saying that to be loved for your weaknesses is awful and again I just wanted to hug her and say so much.. sigh.

Anyhoo...

Guys! We are almost done with the book! Are you going to make ANY predictions?!?
 

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G-Man

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The Cheryl thing is both sad and predictable. At the beginning of the book, I looked at James Taggart as a sort of schmucky hanger on. Now he's gone full villain. Not like a cool, competent villain like Bane.

The now triangle surrounding Dagny kinda makes this like Twilight, but written by a more savvy woman. Also another example of Rand creating all these good guy characters that always act in a way that people never act in real life.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

Primeperiwinkle

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Oh I forgot to add.. OBVIOUSLY.. I was horribly wrong about my extensive theory... but darn it I could have sworn I had that right.

At this point I dunno wtf direction Rand is taking in this novel so I’m just gonna keep reading and hold on for dear life.
 

scottmsul

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This week I had a pretty big realization about Rand's moral system. In her book she takes her own moral system to its logical conclusion, and the (controversial) result is Ragnar Danneskjold. I think it's pretty clear that she's not a fan of taxes, especially when their purpose is to redistribute wealth. But that's just standard libertarian philosophy. What IS controversial, is that she goes a step further. Not only are high taxes corrupt, but paying your high taxes is also corrupt! In the same way that being coerced into paying a mob boss for "protection" money is a bad thing.

I think throughout the book I've mostly been agreeing with the protagansists and their moral philosophies, until I realized the full implications and had to do a double-take. She would put a tax-evading billionaire hiding all his wealth in fake offshore shell companies on a higher pedestal than an honest one who pays the correct amount of taxes! She would see the story about the Panama Papers and think "Good for them!"
 

BizyDad

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At this point I've stopped caring about Rand's political points for much the same reason.

But the book was still intriguing on a philosophical level with how characters were interacting.

But now there's a death ray. For some reason the railroad tycoon didn't make me feel like this book was dated, but death rays are so middle 20th century.

I don't have any predictions. I'm not even rooting for love to triumph because I am not shipping Dagault. Tagault? In these two chapters I even lost interest in what the characters had to say about anything.

The book began with the world decaying to a sense of blah. Now we're fully here. Blah.

Anton Chekhov had the famous line about writing, "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there.".

The Viking did all his plundering off-screen. We didn't really get to see him go full Viking. (yet? Quick, smebody spoiler and tell me he burns down DC). Francisco was supposed to be this guy who never lost, but we've watched him take a backseat to three people. There was such a sinister tone to the bad guys or at least what was going to happen, so I was kinda rooting for the "good guys" to triumph. But now that evil has a death ray, it just seems hollow.

Maybe this was just a blah couple of chapters. Crossing my fingers...
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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At this point I've stopped caring about Rand's political points for much the same reason.

But the book was still intriguing on a philosophical level with how characters were interacting.

But now there's a death ray. For some reason the railroad tycoon didn't make me feel like this book was dated, but death rays are so middle 20th century.

I don't have any predictions. I'm not even rooting for love to triumph because I am shipping Dagault. Tagault? In these two chapters I even lost interest in what the characters had to say about anything.

The book began with the world decaying to a sense of blah. Now we're fully here. Blah.

Chechov had the famous line about writing, "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there.".

The Viking did all his plundering off-screen. We didn't really get to see him go full Viking. (yet? Quick, smebody spoiler and tell me he burns down DC). Francisco was supposed to be this guy who never lost, but we've watched him take a backseat to three people. There was such a sinister tone to the bad guys or at least what was going to happen, so I was kinda rooting for the "good guys" to triumph. But now that evil has a death ray, it just seems hollow.

Maybe this was just a blah couple of chapters. Crossing my fingers...
Really? You weren’t sitting on the edge of your seat about the goat?!? Man.. that little guy really got to me. Anyway..today I found the following in another book I’m reading. It provides a bit of insight into Nietzsche’s philosophy which, I think, is the blah undercurrent you’re picking up on.

“We come now to a third difference with Darwin. While both Darwin and Nietzsche considered different moralities to have arisen as after effects of the struggle to survive, Nietzsche divides them into two essential kinds, the morality of the fit and the unfit, the aristocrat and the democrat, “master morality and slave morality.” Master morality is natural morality, built upon the natural ascendancy of the more fit over the less fit, the stronger over the weaker, better over the worse.

For the natural master, the natural aristocrat, there is no opposition of good and evil; he divides things between “‘noble’ and ‘contemptible,’” master-like and slave-like. Whatever is strong and great is good, whatever is weak and trivial is bad. In contrast, slave morality is the attempt by the weaker to protect themselves from the stronger, to endure their sorry lot, and to make themselves as comfortable as possible: Suppose the violated, oppressed, suffering, unfree, who are uncertain of themselves and weary, moralize: what will their moral valuations have in common ? . . . The slave’s eye is not favorable to the virtues of the powerful: he is skeptical and suspicious, subtly suspicious, of all the “good” that is honored there [by the aristocrat]—he would like to persuade himself that even their happiness is not genuine. Conversely, [in slave morality] those qualities are brought out and flooded with light which serve to ease existence for those who suffer: here pity, the complaisant and obliging hand, the warm heart, patience, industry, humility, and friendliness are honored—for here these are the most useful qualities and almost the only means for enduring existence [for the slave]. Slave morality is essentially a morality of utility. Here we cannot help but recognize that the “virtues” of slave morality bear a striking resemblance to virtues honored by Christianity. This also brings us, at last, to the core of Nietzsche’s atheism. Nietzsche considered Christianity to be (at least in certain respects) a species of slave morality, and hence a cause of the West’s degradation. In focusing God’s love on the weak, the least, the slaves, the poor, Christian charity has worked “to preserve all that was sick and that suffered—which means, in fact and in truth, to worsen the European race.”

I’m less intrigued more, weary by the casual flipping of values that Rand continually does... it’s like the whole book is her most excellent imagination telling a story to explain a late night conversation she had, a convo full of lust and pride and arrogance. Meh.

I want to go read biographies of actual leaders to counterbalance her ideas.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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Next week is up!

Really proud of you guys for hanging in there and not reading ahead.

All three of you. ;)
 

BizyDad

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Really? You weren’t sitting on the edge of your seat about the goat?!? Man.. that little guy really got to me. Anyway..today I found the following in another book I’m reading. It provides a bit of insight into Nietzsche’s philosophy which, I think, is the blah undercurrent you’re picking up on.

“We come now to a third difference with Darwin. While both Darwin and Nietzsche considered different moralities to have arisen as after effects of the struggle to survive, Nietzsche divides them into two essential kinds, the morality of the fit and the unfit, the aristocrat and the democrat, “master morality and slave morality.” Master morality is natural morality, built upon the natural ascendancy of the more fit over the less fit, the stronger over the weaker, better over the worse.

For the natural master, the natural aristocrat, there is no opposition of good and evil; he divides things between “‘noble’ and ‘contemptible,’” master-like and slave-like. Whatever is strong and great is good, whatever is weak and trivial is bad. In contrast, slave morality is the attempt by the weaker to protect themselves from the stronger, to endure their sorry lot, and to make themselves as comfortable as possible: Suppose the violated, oppressed, suffering, unfree, who are uncertain of themselves and weary, moralize: what will their moral valuations have in common ? . . . The slave’s eye is not favorable to the virtues of the powerful: he is skeptical and suspicious, subtly suspicious, of all the “good” that is honored there [by the aristocrat]—he would like to persuade himself that even their happiness is not genuine. Conversely, [in slave morality] those qualities are brought out and flooded with light which serve to ease existence for those who suffer: here pity, the complaisant and obliging hand, the warm heart, patience, industry, humility, and friendliness are honored—for here these are the most useful qualities and almost the only means for enduring existence [for the slave]. Slave morality is essentially a morality of utility. Here we cannot help but recognize that the “virtues” of slave morality bear a striking resemblance to virtues honored by Christianity. This also brings us, at last, to the core of Nietzsche’s atheism. Nietzsche considered Christianity to be (at least in certain respects) a species of slave morality, and hence a cause of the West’s degradation. In focusing God’s love on the weak, the least, the slaves, the poor, Christian charity has worked “to preserve all that was sick and that suffered—which means, in fact and in truth, to worsen the European race.”

I’m less intrigued more, weary by the casual flipping of values that Rand continually does... it’s like the whole book is her most excellent imagination telling a story to explain a late night conversation she had, a convo full of lust and pride and arrogance. Meh.

I want to go read biographies of actual leaders to counterbalance her ideas.
Nietzsche, Nietzsche, Nietzsche. I've avoided diving in his work for many of the same reasons I've avoided diving into Rand all these years. I think I'm going to start soon. It's about that time.

I'll say this, the first half of the 20th century had some titans bantering back and forth about things that mattered. Rationalism. Right thought.

Apparently Nietzsche and Wells really got some others thinking.

Here's what I was just reading. I'm just copying and pasting the whole thing cuz I feel like it applies to what you shared, and the themes of this book, and because I was literally just reading it...

"Evolution is a good example of that modern intelligence which, if it destroys anything, destroys itself. Evolution is either an innocent scientific description of how certain earthly things came about; or, if it is anything more than this, it is an attack upon thought itself. If evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism. If evolution simply means that a positive thing called an ape turned very slowly into a positive thing called a man, then it is stingless for the most orthodox; for a personal God might just as well do things slowly as quickly, especially if, like the Christian God, he were outside time. But if it means anything more, it means that there is no such thing as an ape to change, and no such thing as a man for him to change into. It means that there is no such thing as a thing. At best, there is only one thing, and that is a flux of everything and anything.

This is an attack not upon the faith, but upon the mind; you cannot think if there are no things to think about. You cannot think if you are not separate from the subject of thought. Descartes said, “I think; therefore I am.” The philosophic evolutionist reverses and negatives the epigram. He says, “I am not; therefore I cannot think.”

Then there is the opposite attack on thought: that urged by Mr. H. G. Wells when he insists that every separate thing is “unique,” and there are no categories at all. This also is merely destructive. Thinking means connecting things, and stops if they cannot be connected. It need hardly be said that this scepticism forbidding thought necessarily forbids speech; a man cannot open his mouth without contradicting it. Thus when Mr. Wells says (as he did somewhere), “All chairs are quite different,” he utters not merely a misstatement, but a contradiction in terms. If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them “all chairs.”

Akin to these is the false theory of progress, which maintains that we alter the test instead of trying to pass the test. We often hear it said, for instance, “What is right in one age is wrong in another.” This is quite reasonable, if it means that there is a fixed aim, and that certain methods attain at certain times and not at other times. If women, say, desire to be elegant, it may be that they are improved at one time by growing fatter and at another time by growing thinner. But you cannot say that they are improved by ceasing to wish to be elegant and beginning to wish to be oblong. If the standard changes, how can there be improvement, which implies a standard?

Nietzsche started a nonsensical idea that men had once sought as good what we now call evil; if it were so, we could not talk of surpassing or even falling short of them. How can you overtake Jones if you walk in the other direction? You cannot discuss whether one people has succeeded more in being miserable than another succeeded in being happy. It would be like discussing whether Milton was more puritanical than a pig is fat.

It is true that a man (a silly man) might make change itself his object or ideal. But as an ideal, change itself becomes unchangeable. If the change-worshipper wishes to estimate his own progress, he must be sternly loyal to the ideal of change; he must not begin to flirt gaily with the ideal of monotony. Progress itself cannot progress. It is worth remark, in passing, that when Tennyson, in a wild and rather weak manner, welcomed the idea of infinite alteration in society, he instinctively took a metaphor which suggests an imprisoned tedium. He wrote—“Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.” He thought of change itself as an unchangeable groove; and so it is. Change is about the narrowest and hardest groove that a man can get into.

The main point here, however, is that this idea of a fundamental alteration in the standard is one of the things that make thought about the past or future simply impossible. The theory of a complete change of standards in human history does not merely deprive us of the pleasure of honouring our fathers; it deprives us even of the more modern and aristocratic pleasure of despising them. This bald summary of the thought-destroying forces of our time would not be complete without some reference to pragmatism; for though I have here used and should everywhere defend the pragmatist method as a preliminary guide to truth, there is an extreme application of it which involves the absence of all truth whatever. My meaning can be put shortly thus. I agree with the pragmatists that apparent objective truth is not the whole matter; that there is an authoritative need to believe the things that are necessary to the human mind. But I say that one of those necessities precisely is a belief in objective truth."

For all that I don't like about this book, one thing I do appreciate is that Rand is a staunch advocate for reason.

I look around the world and I feel like the "thought destroying forces" are winning some battles. And then I read this book from 60 years ago (Atlas) and this other one from 110 years ago (Orthodoxy) and I ask myself, "how did we end up here?"

People need to read more. And I'm going to have to read Nietzsche, because I think that dude predicted and predicated some of this.

Anyways, I said it before, and I'll say it again, I think GRR Martin spoiled me. I want the villains and the heros to be equally matched. I want to watch them vie for supremacy. At its best moments, Atlas Shrugged has had this. But I just feel like it lost it somewhere along the way. I'm just not that into John Galt.
 

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