inafoxhole (inafoxhole) wrote,


I've started reading (well, technically listening to) a book by Ayn Rand, her "magnum opus" Atlas Shrugged.

Ayn Rand is one of those authors that everyone seems to assume that if you're an atheist you've read her, kinda like Nietzsche. My experience in real life with libertarians who embrace Ayn Rand's objectivism are best described as aggravating. (No offense.) But someone I know, whom I think I respect, suggested I read it. And frankly, I think he thinks I'll be converted if I read it, and I look at it more as a way to convert him back to a viewpoint which is slightly more compassionate by using the language of the book, and arguing against specific points that it makes.

Okay, perhaps I am a little insane.

Currently, I'm about 5.5 hours into the audiobook, which is about 50+ hours long, so roughly a 1/10 of the way through. Since the book is 1000 pages or so, that'd be like 100+ pages at this point. (Around where Reardan agrees to get Dagny the track order in 9 months instead of 12. And I actually did a little reading about the book just so I could spell everyone's names properly because I was thinking "Riordan".)

So far, I like Dagny. She reminds me of me. And there are some things about the book I think I will appreciate. Dagny's interest in men is directly proportional to the man's ability to intrigue her intellectually. And sex becomes an expression of that intellectual and emotionally attraction. I agree. Rather Platonic, actually. I don't think I agree with the premise that altruism is inherently bad. One of the contrasts that need to be drawn between rational self-interest and enlightened self-interest (to which I subscribe) is how one's self-interest is calculated. The latter allows for altruism to be beneficial (to oneself), the former doesn't seem to. So far, I do also agree with the notion that being a sacrificial lamb for no good reason is stupid. This is a Christian notion to which I object. It's one thing if there is some greater good to be had, but there is no reason to lie down and take it passively.

One thing I appreciate about the book is a dearth of references to religion so far. That's what a good atheist book should do. I may enjoy listening to it if only for that reason.

In reading the Wikipedia entry on it linked above, I think I will also agree with Rand about the resentment of the masses against the success of those with real talent. I don't think this is universal, but it is grossly endemic in America. I have several other books on my reading list that discuss this. I don't see how, however, one can simply withdraw from society. Frankly, getting a ranch in Montana is not my cup of tea. I don't want to be a rancher. I want to do things I can't possibly fund myself. But, we'll see where the book goes. I'm nowhere close to the point where she gets around to making this point.

So far I've only been able to listen to it for a couple hours on the weekends. So, it may be some time before I finish it. Months even.
Tags: anti-intellectualism, atlas shrugged, audiobooks, ayn rand, libertarians, links, nietzsche, objectivism

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