Monday, February 08, 2010
'Atlas Shrugged' Ayn Rand
Unquestionably the greatest achievement in human history. Greater than the invention of the wheel, greater than the invention of credit, and the discovery of pi and penicillin, the Reformation, the invention of agriculture and the harnessing of electricity, greater than the greatest invention of all time: the washing machine (or the adult diaper, I can’t quite decide on that one). Orginally entitled Atlas Farted, Ayn was persuaded by her publisher to change the name to Atlas Shrugged. I used it to practice my speed reading on, you know, that technique where you only read the first word of every line? And then guess the rest? So cool to learn that the technique was invented by Walter Bosenbonkers at MIT in the mid 1950s at around the same time Ayn was working on her magnum. It was a really good book to practice on, coz Ayn has no long words or difficult ideas, so it’s easy to practice speed reading on. Ayn’s great genius is that she can take the thoughts of your average 5 year old who resents the fact that her candy has been stolen by the playground bully but can’t do anything about it coz she’s like you know, too little and weak, and give them the weight and heft of Tolstoy or Nietzsche! (Don’t drop the book on your foot, by the way, it bloody hurts.)
A pean to unchained human intelligence Atlas Shrugged includes such gems as:
Learn to value yourself, which means: to fight for your happiness.
Wow, eh? WOW
Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned.
All right, that one is a bit difficult. I had to think about it for a whole day before I understood it, the complexity of the language so perfectly echoes the complexity of the thought. I reckon this puts her in the company of other such great philosophers as Dale Carnegie, Warren Buffett, my mate Bill down the pub, and Lord Ron Hubbard.
Oh, and this,
The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.
I know I know, I cheated a bit, that one isn’t from Atlas Shrugged, but from The Virtue of Selfishness (Totally cool title there, by the way, not like Atlas Farted, right? LOL.) I love that line coz it summarises Ayn’s entire philosophy and method of arguing it – in one sentence!!! The ancient Greeks had a word for that, I think, something like, acronym, aphorism, arsewipe, epitaph, epigram, telegram, or something, those Greek words are kind of complicated, aren’t they? LOL
Also, there's some really great soft porn in the middle. I dropped the book several times during that section coz it's kind of hard to hold with just one hand.
Anyway, I just want to say that I’m really grateful to Ayn Rand for having made life on this planet better for all of us, and for having enriched us all with her brilliant ideas (especially her publisher LOL).
And I’m also grateful to her publisher for managing to persuade Ayn to change the name, as I don’t think the book would have sold so many copies if it had been called Atlas Farted (I think Ayn was perhaps misinformed about the meaning of ‘fart’ - she was Russian remember, and very stubborn: did you know that she hated homosexuals and wrote about them that they are so loathsome a sense of life that an accurate commentary would require the kind of language I do not like to see in print? Me too, I don’t like to see that kind of language in print either. )
P.s: The book is really big, so it’s really handy for propping open doors and jacking up cars. Galt would have approved: so useful neh! Read this book. You will never be quite the same again.
P.p.s. I couldn't find a picture of Ayn Rand, but I found this nice picture of Bette Davis instead, she looks kind of similar, especially in" Who's afraid of Baby Jane" LOL (love that movie)