Atlas Shrugged

My oldest brother, Drew, is a professional oboist, reedmaker, and composer. He also writes witty things on Facebook which don't get out the wider world, like the bullet-point review of Atlas Shrugged below. While I still haven't gotten around to reading anything by Ayn Rand (shocking!), this hits the high points of pretty much everything I've heard of her, so I'm re-posting it here (with his permission). With a new movie coming soon we're all going to be inundated with a new generation of Objectivists, so it's time to read up. His review:

  • Atlas Shrugged is 50% story and 50% sermon. It would've been a better book had it been half as long, or at least half a venomous.
  • Atlas Shrugged is an eloquent expression of a beautiful idea that (like all beautiful ideas) becomes grotesque when unchecked by counterbalancing forces.
  • Atlas Shrugged is a fantasy novel. The real world is not powered exclusively by a dozen productive geniuses who all happen to agree on everything. Elves and dwarves are more believable.
  • In the real world, businessmen are not demigods, and politicians are not devils.
  • In the real world, wealth is inherited by George W Bush, not Francisco d'Anconia.
  • Ivy Starnes says, "The plan was a noble ideal, but human nature was not good enough for it." Sadly, Rand does not realize that her villain's words apply equally to her own ideology.
  • At first it's confusing that an author capable of such brilliantly concise dialogue so often launches into long-winded and half-baked rambles. But there's a reason for it: outrageous ideas seem less outrageous with repetition. Partisan media understand this. You don't have to justify a claim if you repeat it often enough. I laughed out loud when Rand first referred to the "looters." But by the end of the book, that peculiar usage seemed almost normal.
  • Not since Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has a book so clearly shown that brilliant novelists often make lousy philosophers. Of course, brilliant philosphers often make lousy philosophers, too.