Sunday, June 29, 2014

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged
This is actually among the most brilliant books I have ever read. It's a pity, then, that I do not believe that I can really recommend it to almost anyone.

Just to note: This book, of course, is said to be THE book that ultimately epitomizes Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. If you'd like to read how exactly she pictured society in a rather implausible 1,000-page novel, then go ahead and indulge. However, if you just want to know what exactly her principles were about, save yourself the trouble, and just check out the Wiki.

And now, my review.


This is the story of how Atlas looked over the world, saw what was happening, and just decided to shrug it off. Well, in a figurative sense.

The plot itself is quite convoluted. It deals with a question, as well as the story of a woman desperate to run her railroad. It shows the pristine character of ugly faces, as well as the deceiving lies behind the most influential of speakers. It has a great landscape to carve its story, coming from countries other than the US, and finally honing into THE financial district of the great nation itself. It discusses the primal tones of sexual relationships, and what "love" actually is. It is mysterious and complex, rich and dynamic.

There are sparkling characters, and three-hour long speeches. There are plenty of parties and ribbon-cutting ceremonies, plenty of house calls and lunches with companions. There is dinner at the cafeteria, work at the underground, and scientists working for a new tomorrow. There are playboys, pirates, politicians, philanthropists, and powerful people. There are rail tracks, copper mines, man-made steel, shiny vehicles, and delicious food. There are airplane-flying women, incredible just judges, and the smartest of the smartest.

There is also John Galt. I can fawn over and over again for John Galt. I love Francisco D'Anconia, but John Galt just takes the cake. However, who is John Galt? ((highlight for spoilers))

However, it is a great mess. While the plot itself moves in a somewhat linear fashion (with plenty of twists and turns to keep the mind alert and the head guessing), the content itself can be quite an amazing turn-off. One time, I knew that I could easily skip almost 10 pages, knowing that these pages would have done little to pull the story forward. While the storytelling is interesting, the infomercials that Ayn Rand flashes about her philosophy can get annoying. Too much commercial, not enough show.

Add to this the seemingly plausible implausibility of the entire thing. It's too crazy, that, in reality, it might just work... (Hint: Not.) The story is too ugly, too big, too political to wrap your head around with. It's too complicated, although the grimy layer of reality is just all over the place. It is the truth that everyone wishes to deny, it is an undeniable ugliness that we wish were not true.

If you are deep in your (mis)conceptions of society, and view the society as just how it is, this book will be incomprehensible and unfathomable to you.

If you are too smart, too theoretical, you will probably laugh or argue.

If you are realistic, you will see reality here, with an unreal touch.

As for me, I take it with a grain of salt, and consider the possibility.

Nevertheless, though, I think that a lot of people would probably take it the way Officer Barbrady had:

... And for all it's worth, I really don't blame them.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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