Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

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DennisK
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Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Post by DennisK »

I just finished Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Now, I know she is a controversial author, but I am not out to pick a fight with anyone – I'm just curious. I read this book a few decades ago, and as I am much older, now, I wondered how I would interpret this book from the perspective that I have now. It was like reading a completely new book – an entirely new story. It is interesting how our view of life affects our interpretation of those things that we read.
I found it a difficult book to read clear thorough, as she would, at times, get stuck on one aspect of the story, like a love scene or someone's speech and she would rattle on, page after page after page on this one scene. Exhausting! What I found really interesting, was that this book was written back during the 40's, and how relevant her characters were to the posturing of today's politicians. This story is timeless.
What I got from reading Atlas Shrugged, wasn't so much an epiphany. as it was a confirmation and expansion to an idea about which I have been thinking. We have a concept that is fundamental to our morality. The greatest expression of love is the act of sacrificing ourselves for the betterment of someone or something else: The serviceman who gives his life for his country, Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, giving to the poor – the act of diminishing ourselves for the sake of someone else. Rand challenges this primes on which we base our moral lives. She treated the act of charity as an obscenity, and the act of commerce as a higher moral concept: I have something that you need and you have something that I need, so we trade – we share. We are both lifted up and no one is diminished. In this context, it seems more congruent to this life that we are born into. But what about those who have nothing with which to share? What would Rand say to that?
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Mountainbreeze23
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Post by Mountainbreeze23 »

I read this book when I was fourteen and was completely blown away by it. I know now that it is false for so many reasons. No character in real life can be as one- dimensional as Kira and John Galt, nothing in life can be as clear as she suggests it is. I think this book can be dangerous because it gives one so many false ideas.
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DennisK
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Post by DennisK »

Hello, Mountainbreeze23, Yes, that was one of the things that first came to my attention – the over-glorification of John Galt, D'Anconia, Dagny and Rearden. I dealt with these unrealistic characters by equating them with today's Superman, Spiderman and the members of the Justice League. While I read the book, I kept in mind that it was written back in the 40's. I remember some of the 40's and I can tell you, their (here comes a word:) zeitgeist was a lot different than ours is today. I read your review of My Living Will, and I think I can understand where you are coming from with how this can be dangerous to young impressionable people. I do agree with you in that life isn't as clean and simple as her story depicts. I think she makes a valid point, but that point isn't THE point – it isn't an answer to all our concerns – no story, that I can tell, does.
...so to my question put to you and anyone else reading this - who has read this book: Picture Ayn Rand coming across a person down on a sidewalk, begging for money. She squats down on her haunches and looks straight into the beggar's eyes: What do you think she will say? In her place, what would you say?
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