Wednesday, March 11, 2009

To say "I love you" one must first be able to say the "I."

Current book: Atlas Shrugged
Pages read: 442-491

Blah. It's still the same and still obnoxious. Rearden finishes his trial statement, which is just as I described yesterday, and is cheered as a hero by the public and the witnesses in the courtroom. Rand makes it clear, however, that that celebration won't really have any effect, and public opinion will continue to go against the industrialists, regardless of the fact that the public can clearly see that the government is really at fault. (I don't know where Ayn Rand came up with the theory that people don't blame the government for their woes, but apparently she'd never read, listened to, or seen anything related to actual politics when she wrote this. I exaggerate, but come on.)

Where I was I? Oh, right, it doesn't matter because every page is the same damn thing. Ahem. More industrial collapse happens, and eventually Taggert Transcontinental makes the decision to close the John Galt Line, which is the only rail line still running to Colorado. Dagny Taggert's upset, but not crushed, by the decision, and Frisco D'Anconia (who is obviously, at this point, John Galt's disciple and mouthpiece) comes to console her in her time of need. (No, not in the biblical sense.) Just afterward, Lillian Rearden, Hank's wife, finally confronts him about his affair with Dagny, and Rearden refuses to give it up, regardless of her shrill and even violent demands. However, Lillian vows to remain married to him in order to keep his money and make him as miserable as possible. (Lovely woman.) Rearden, as a result of her vitriol, feels freed by the fact that he no longer needs to worry about her feelings, and realizes that they don't, in fact, matter.

A couple of things. First, I was really turned off by Rearden's realization that his wife's feelings don't matter. I accept that fact that she's a pretty horrible person and only used him for his money and position, but at the same time, the description of his realization indicates to me that he finds her feelings unimportant simply because they offer no benefit to him.

"It was the knowlege that it did not matter to him what Lillian felt, what she suffered or what become of her, and more: not only that it did not matter, but the shining, guiltless knowledge that it did not have to matter," (491).

Hmm. I read that as a statement about the inherent worth of a person that implies that some people have none. While there have been times in my life when I might have agreed, I would argue that the suffering and feelings of a human being always have to matter, even if it is only because of the recognition of the fact that that person could, but for the machinations of chance, be you.

Second, I actually quite liked Frisco D'Anconia's explanation of the Objectivist understanding of love. The person you choose to love, he says in a conversation with Hank Rearden, represents your assessment of yourself. If you love someone who is as good a person as you can find, who you believe is one of the paragons of humanity, it is a reflection of the fact that you believe in and recognize those qualities in yourself. While it may sound like a form of conceit, I really like this idea, and I feel that it's reflected in the love that I have experienced myself and that I've seen in the world around me. I certainly see it in successful relationships, and I see that unsuccessful relationships are often crippled by the fact that at least one of the participants doesn't believe that he or she in inherently worthy, of either the other participant or, in fact, love itself. I often see people choose unworthy partners, as well, because their self-esteem does not allow them to find someone who is truly their equal. So that bit of philosophy was actually new, interesting, and enlightening, which was a lovely change from the last 400 pages or so.

1 comment:

  1. I think that the quote you lifted from page 491 is one example of the ideas stated in this book that cause "dicklike" behavior in people who have just finished reading it.



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