Friday, December 31, 2010

Quote of the Day

"As Paul Krugman recently quoted,

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."


Paladin said...

They're both important works to read, in very different ways. If I had to pick one to read for the pure joy of reading it - LOTR wins hands down. If I had to pick one for the underlying message - Atlas Shrugged takes the ribbon.

Atlas Shrugged probably isn't for the casual reader. Not because the concepts are difficult to grasp, because they aren't. It's overly long, for one thing. Ayn Rand's preoccupation with hatred of anything resembling religion while elevating her own beliefs to rapturous proportions is another.

In order to "get" Atlas Shrugged, though, you have to understand that the characters she creates are characitures of their counterparts in real life. They are exaggerations. If someone IRL were to launch as frequently into long preachy monolouges I'd strangle them - even if they were saying something I agreed with.

1000 + pages of Atlas Shrugged condensed to one paragraph:

There are people who work, produce, and grow the economy. There are people who do not. There are people who see the gap between the two and strive to regulate, overtax, and steal from the workers to transfer wealth from the workers to the slackers - all while lining their pockets and building their power. This is done by "bribing" a growing lazy voter base with free stuff payed for by an ever shrinking working class. Eventually the insatiable appetite of the slackers and power grabbers over-runs the ability of the workers to keep up and everything falls apart.

The End.

Like I said - they are charactitures meant to emphasis a point. If you want more realistic examples just turn on the news and look at what's happening in Greece, Ireland, Spain, and England.

Kal said...

Sometimes I so hate reading your stuff when I am tired because you almost convince me that you are right and right now I don't want to accept that.

But you do make a lot of good points. I am sure though that my side could sum up our position in one paragraph while looking at the same set of facts and that is what makes the debate so fascinating.

We all want to pull the other side closer to our side not only for the satisfaction of being right but also through an honest belief that our sides way is the only way.

In reality neither of us know how to fix the clusterfuck we barn apes have gotten ourselves into again.

Happy New Year right? I look forward to many such conversations with you in the next 12 months.

Just keep the crazies on your side of the divide.

Kelly Sedinger said...

Atlas Shrugged is shit. Infantile, idiotic shit masquerading as deep and insightful by virtue of its giant page count and prose so turgid it's amazing anyone can get past page 50. Philosophical points that aren't interesting to anyone who has done any real study of philosophy at all. Horrible characters who aren't reflective of any actual action in the real world. Rand's dream world would be a stunningly horrible place to live, in the short time it could exist before it would break down entirely when people other than the Great Capitalists realize how badly they've been had.

And it's not just that book, either. It was all of Rand's books (well, to be fair here, I only read two of them -- but they're the big hitters, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead). And it was Rand herself, a woman who was charismatic for a certain mindset of people, but who was ultimately a moral midget, a bully, and generally a giant bag of character faults (such as her fetishizing a child murderer).

Reading Ayn Rand is a lot of hours I'm never going to get back.

Kal said...

I am so glad I was never forced to read her books in school. My entire understanding of them and her comes from others who have read her work. She is either loved or despised. She is the Leni Riefenstahl of the book world but without the technical skill that Nazi filmmaker naturally possessed.

Paladin said...

Jaquandor - If you made it through both Atlas Shrugged *and* the Fountainhead you deserve congratulations and bonus points for tenacity. After Atlas Shrugged, I'd personally had quite enough of Rand's writing style and had no desire to pick up Fountainhead.

M. D. Jackson said...

I have about six different copies of Atlas Shrugged which I have never read. I kept forgetting that I already had a copy and kept picking it up.

I have read LOTR several times even when I didn't ownb a copy.

Never read The Fountainhead although it is one of my favourite movies. Cary Cooper and Patricia Neal are absolutely teriffic in it.

I read Rand's Anthem in an old SF paperback version. I sensed it was saying something important about society but I wasn't quite sure what.

I suppose I will read Atlas Shrugged one day.