Simply Me

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas, it is said, bore the weight of the sky on his shoulder. There are variations in this myth... Some say he held up earth... Well either ways, it seems a Herculean task... I never thought that reading Atlas Shrugged would be quite so difficult a task... I am talking difficult of mammoth proportions here... and not because the book is uninteresting...

I knew I wanted to read this book... I had loved 'The Fountainhead'... Couldn't see any reason why I wouldn't want to read this... and complete it... and love it.... My first look at the book though and I got an idea of the impediments ahead... THE SIZE OF THE BOOK!!!! 1000 ODD PAGES!!! Now if I owned the book, I couldn't care less. I'd take an year if I wanted and still read it... The book, however, was brought from Vishwas library... OK given that Vishwas kaka has known me ever since they started the library in Rambaug colony... that I was the youngest member to join the library... that he is one of the only 2 people in the world who is allowed to call me Teju... But come on he definitely wasn't gonna allow me to keep the book for atleast... well I don't know how long this book is gonna take me to read... OK let it be. I had decided to borrow the book, I was gonna start reading it.

So I start the book. From the beginning I couldn't relate to the characters... I couldn't relate to the sort of helplessness people felt... the lack of competition in their hearts... they didn't want to do anything because they felt pleasure in doing it... What is the point of doing something if you feel pleasure in doing it? As Lillian Rearden says... well I am not quoting her but the gist of it was, what is the point of admiring a woman if she is already beautiful, the real compliment is when you tell a woman who is not beautiful that she is beautiful. That is being human. (???!!!!) WHATEVER!!! But that is about how the people in this book think.

The book starts with the words 'Who is John Galt?' I am not sure why these words made me so uncomfortable when I read them, but they did make me uncomfortable... All the more because I couldn't understand what these words meant... Somehow though I couldn't not continue... I wanted to read. If for no other reason than to find who John Galt was and what the words meant. I saw some hope when Dagny was introduced... I could definitely recognise the woman who wanted to find her place in a 'Man's World' of railways... She wanted, all her life, to run the Taggert Transcontinental that her ancestor Nat Taggert had built. She is not afraid of challenges... she thrives on competition.

Her biggest challenge, however, is her brother, James Taggert, who would rather run the railroads to the ground than buy steel from anyone other than Orren Boyle who seems utterly incompetent and lazy, more ready to try and get publicity than really work for producing steel n his factory... Jim is the kind of louse who would rather lose all his money just to find happiness in the fact that his sister is wrong... that she can be anything but right...

Dagny, though, has other plans. She decides to cancel Boyle's order... it has been pending for more than 9 months or so with promises of soon... very soon. She orders the new rails made of Rearden Metal... the metal which is supposed to be lighter and stronger than steel... what Henry Rearden believes would be to steel what steel was to iron. Against all kinds of hardships and public outrage, Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggert fulfil their dream of making the Rio-Norte line made of Rearden Metal a reality... But it isn't called the Rio-Norte line... Jim wouldn't want his precious Taggert Rio-Norte name be allowed to be associated to the infamous line that is being built.. that the public is sure would collapse... The metal.. the line that everyone shuns... Dagny calls it the John Galt line... why not? The name is associated with helplessness... she wants to prove everyone wrong... So that's what it would be named... The first train plied runs at the speed of 100 miles per hour an impossible task till then...

The day the run is successful... suddenly Rearden metal is the most sought after metal... and Hank would definitely run his factory at full capacity to fulfil all those orders if it were not for the 'Equalization of Opportunity' Bill, which doesn't allow him to produce any more metal than any other factory can. Everyone should get an equal right to survive... if he can't produce the metal needed, then others who produce steel would get the opportunity to sell their wares... No matter that the steel produced by Orren Boyle, if it is ever produced that is, couldn't be as good and strong as Rearden metal...

Helplessness reaches new heights or should I say depths of misery when Ellis Wyatt sets fire to his own Oil wells when the Bill makes Dagny reduce the length and speed of her train to those at which other trains can pull and run...

All the great people philosophers, entrepreneurs suddenly disappear... their fortunes gone with them... no one knows where they went... whether they are alive or dead... nobody can or tries trace them...

I have read one third of the book till now. Tomorrow amma will return that book. I just can't find the time to read it on weekdays. I have told her to return it and get it back next weekend. Inspite of the miserable nature of most of the characters... the spirit of Dagny and Hank makes me want to still read the book. I hate leaving a book half read and I won't start with this one... I still have to find 'Who is John Galt.'

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posted by Tejaswini Shenoy at 10:44 PM

2 Comments:

I ain't sure if this problem is only with me or others feel it too...but when 1 says a book is nice... n i pick it up to read it n inspite of not liking the first few lines I continue....i end up not liking the book. (mostly happens with the so called philosophical books).. so have given up reading such books.

here too I haven't read the gist/ story part that u have mentioned. the book cover page bores me to death...though ppl have sworn it to be a GREAT inspirational/ philosophical/ motivational book...i wonder who needs inspiration that badly!

well thats how i feel abt it...if someone has liked the book or whatever... no comments n no offence meant!

October 15, 2007 at 12:20 PM  

Honey.. I liked the book... I wanna complete it... all I am saying is it takes a lot of energy concentration and patience... Don't know why inspite of being tiresome and not being able to identify with anyone, the book has this un-put-downable quality

October 16, 2007 at 12:14 AM  

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