CLoM » Atlas Shrugged, Part I

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Atlas Shrugged, Part I
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So where you can go to read someone dissecting Atlas Shrugged -- possibly the ugliest book ever written, in every possible way -- and showing you exactly what is wrong with it? Apparently nowhere. This is deeply wrong, and I intend to correct this oversight. Good, righteous people shouldn't have to read this stuff themselves just to be reassured that it is moronic. So since I'm bored and I have some time to kill, I'm going to do it myself. I do this in the hope that in the future people will say "Don't bother reading 'Atlas Shrugged', just read 'Mei Yelling At Ayn Rand'." It's also kinda fun.

First, the vital statistics. As if you didn't already know, this book is a thousand pages long, and dedicated mainly to telling "collectivists" why they are evil. Atlas Shrugged is a pretty open depiction of Ayn Rand's personal philosophy, Objectivism. This philosophy consists of self-evident truths ("A=A", "existence exists") with not-so-self-evident moral implications spray-painted over the top ("money is fantastic", "stop disagreeing with me").

Understandably, the mindset of "I am objectively correct" isn't so nice to look at close up. If you were to reduce the sum total of all human hatred and small-mindedness to one sentence it would be "other people don't count". If you were to string that sentence out into a huge novel, it would be Atlas Shrugged. This is what we're dealing with. And I'm going to read all of it. Every word, even the bad ones.

Make peace with your gods. This is happening.

So anyway, I own Atlas Shrugged, because I found it on a shelf and I thought it looked interesting. I never read it but I always thought it would come in useful some day. For example, I could cut a rectangular hollow in it and use it to store sports equipment. Later I discovered that other people had read it and turned it into a religion. This interested me.

I'll be doing this "blind", since I have never read past the end of the first chapter. Although I'm pretty sure I know most of the plot. I'm not going to quote all of it, because a lot of it is just boring. Despite this, I will definitely read all of it, even when it is really boring.

Anyway...

"Who is John Galt?"

This is the beginning of the "names that sound made up" subplot. It's my favorite part of the book.

The light was ebbing, and Eddie Willers could not distinguish the bum's face. The bum had said it simply, without expression. But from the sunset far at the end of the street, yellow glints caught his eyes, and the eyes looked straight at Eddie Willers, mocking and still —as if the question had been addressed to the causeless uneasiness within him.

OK. When you're in the middle of writing a paragraph and you have to refer to recent events as if they happened a long time ago, you know you have a problem. The second sentence refers to the bum's line. It's the kind of thing you put right after dialog, but here it's been pushed back so that Rand can fit the first sentence in. OK, now read that first sentence again. Why in God's name was that so important that Rand had to stop the flow of events to fit it in? It's an observation on the local weather. We don't need that sentence at all.

I'm not convinced we need "simply, without expression" either. What exactly does that tell us about anything? For this section, I would have kept "Who is John Galt" but skipped any kind of description. You know how that would look? It would look simple and without expression.

"causeless uneasiness" might be the stupidest thing you can possibly say in two words. I'm not sure I can even say it out loud.

"Why did you say that?" asked Eddie Willers, his voice tense.

The bum leaned against the side of the doorway; a wedge of broken glass behind him reflected the metal yellow of the sky.

"Why does it bother you?" he asked.

"It doesn't," snapped Eddie Willers.

  1. "Why did you say that?" does not sound realistic at all for this situation. Something like "Huh?" or "Excuse me?" would be more plausible. Making it a full-blown "Why did you say that?" (complete with "his voice tense") makes it sound like Eddie has already decided this is a plot point.
  2. We don't need that semi-colon. It's just there to look pretty.
  3. "a wedge ... behind him" sounds wrong to me, somehow. Something like "the glass behind him" would be better. Starting with "a" makes it seem "distant" somehow. I might be wrong. This kind of thing is probably quite subjective.
  4. Yellow sky is already a very evocative concept, if you can pull it off. Making it "metal yellow" is pushing it. Can anyone describe what color "metal yellow" is?
  5. "snapped Eddie Willers" is just awful. We already know his full name. We have now read his full name four times in the first handful of paragraphs. This is just bizarre. I genuinely can't imagine how any writer could want to write like this. Besides which, his dialog now sounds like a sulky teenager.
He reached hastily into his pocket. The bum had stopped him and asked for a dime, then had gone on talking, as if to kill that moment and postpone the problem of the next. Pleas for dimes were so frequent in the streets these days that it was not necessary to listen to explanations, and he had no desire to hear the details of this bum's particular despair.

These are current events, yet they read like exposition. Do we need to know the exact circumstances that lead Eddie to give this guy some change? If you refer to him as "the bum" and describe Eddie giving him a dime, I think we can pretty much guess what is happening.

"Go get your cup of coffee," he said, handing the dime to the shadow that had no face.

Continuity error - we've already seen his face. Nice try, Ayn, but I never forget a face.

Also, how is he a shadow? There is sun reflected behind him, and the first few lines talk about "yellow glints" catching his eye. What the hell is happening to the sun?

"Thank you, sir," said the voice, without interest, and the face leaned forward for a moment. The face was wind-browned, cut by lines of weariness and cynical resignation; the eyes were intelligent. Eddie Willers walked on, wondering why he always felt it at this time of day, this sense of dread without reason. No, he thought, not dread, there's nothing to fear: just an immense, diffused apprehension, with no source or object. He had become accustomed to the feeling, but he could find no explanation for it; yet the bum had spoken as if he knew that Eddie felt it, as if he thought that one should feel it, and more: as if he knew the reason.

This is going to be one of those books with hundreds of random semi-colons, isn't it? Oh god.

  1. "said the voice" - What is this for? Did you get tired of calling him "the bum"? Usually people are only "the voice" before they're identified.
  2. "and the face leaned forward for a moment" - He was a shadow without a face like three seconds ago. Now Eddie can only see his face when he leans forwards. I am starting to worry about Eddie.
  3. "Eddie Willers walked on" - This is a change of pace and requires a new paragraph. Moreover, I'm really sick of reading his full name now. His name can be shortened to two letters, Ayn. Think about it.
  4. "nothing to fear: just an immense diffused apprehension" - Definitely a teenager now. This is canon: Eddie Willers is an emo kid.
  5. "yet the bum had spoken as if he knew that Eddie felt it, as if he thought that one should feel it, and more: as if he knew the reason" - Might be reading too much into that.
Eddie Willers pulled his shoulders straight, in conscientious self-discipline. He had to stop this, he thought; he was beginning to imagine things. Had he always felt it? He was thirty-two years old. He tried to think back. No, he hadn't; but he could not remember when it had started. The feeling came to him Suddenly, at random intervals, and now it was coming more often than ever. It's the twilight, he thought; I hate the twilight.
  1. "i hate the twilight" - Rand is trying to evoke an actual emotion here, and I kinda get what she is going for, but why choose such a pretty, artificial word like "twilight"? Ideally, this passage should remind readers of something they have felt, and no one has ever thought "I hate the twilight". Twilight is a word you choose because you want to sound sophisticated - it's a pretense. But emotions themselves do not have pretenses. Your emotions don't rephrase themselves to sound good, they just are.
  2. Eddie hates Twilight because he's a huge Anne Rice fan. He has a tattoo of Lestat on his ankle. Canon.
The clouds and the shafts of skyscrapers against them were turning brown, like an old painting in oil, the color of a fading masterpiece. Long streaks of grime ran from under the pinnacles down the slender, soot-eaten walls. High on the side of a tower there was a crack in the shape of a motionless lightning, the length of ten stories. ... The glow was red and still, like the reflection of a fire: not an active fire, but a dying one which it is too late to stop.

Observe how the phrase "like an old painting in oil" actually reads OK. Rand cannot allow this, and sabotages it by adding "the color of a fading masterpiece"... which is god-awful. Also, I'm trying to picture a tower with "soot-eaten walls" and "long streaks of grime" and all I can see is a big piece of liquorice.

No, thought Eddie Willers, there was nothing disturbing in the sight of the city. It looked as it had always looked.

The city has always been on fire.

It was the calendar that the mayor of New York had erected last year on the top of a building, so that citizens might tell the day of the month as they told the hours of the day, by glancing up at a public tower. A white rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets below. In the rusty light of this evening's sunset, the rectangle said: September 2.

After all, it was very successful at Hogwarts. The only problem is, on Halloween you occasionally end up summoning Batman.

Eddie Willers looked away. He had never liked the sight of that calendar. It disturbed him, in a manner he could not explain or define. The feeling seemed to blend with his sense of uneasiness; it had the same quality.

He thought suddenly that there was some phrase, a kind of quotation, that expressed what the calendar seemed to suggest. But he could not recall it. He walked, groping for a sentence that hung in his mind as an empty shape. He could neither fill it nor dismiss it. He glanced back. The white rectangle stood above the roofs, saying in immovable finality: September 2.

This man is disturbed by large calendars. I... can't really add anything to that.

Eddie Willers shifted his glance down to the street, to a vegetable pushcart at the stoop of a brownstone house. He saw a pile of bright gold carrots and the fresh green of onions. He saw a clean white curtain blowing at an open window.

Sure. Because what this book really needed was some random colors.

When he came to Fifth Avenue, he kept his eyes on the windows of the stores he passed. There was nothing he needed or wished to buy; but he liked to see the display of goods, any goods, objects made by men, to be used by men. He enjoyed the sight of a prosperous street; not more than every fourth one of the stores was out of business, its windows dark and empty.
  1. That semi-colon should be a comma.
  2. That third comma should be a semi-colon.
  3. "fourth one of the stores"? Are you kidding me? A child could tell you that "every fourth store" sounds infinitely better.
  4. "it's windows dark and empty" - I suppose this is a good place to describe the appearance of a closed business. It can be quite an affecting image, after all. This attempt is so generic, though. I don't see anything at all when I read those words.
He did not know why he suddenly thought of the oak tree.

I don't know either. And I never will, because Ayn Rand's saying nothing.

The great oak tree had stood on a hill over the Hudson, in a lonely spot of the Taggart estate. Eddie Willers, aged seven, liked to come and look at that tree. It had stood there for hundreds of years, and he thought it would always stand there. Its roots clutched the hill like a fist with fingers sunk into the soil, and he thought that if a giant were to seize it by the top, he would not be able to uproot it, but would swing the hill and the whole of the earth with it, like a ball at the end of a string. He felt safe in the oak tree's presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was his greatest symbol of strength.

What a selfish tree. This tree is circumventing the free market. What this tree needs is some deregulation.

One night, lightning struck the oak tree. Eddie saw it the next morning. It lay broken in half, and he looked into its trunk as into the mouth of a black tunnel. The trunk was only an empty shell; its heart had rotted away long ago; there was nothing inside—just a thin gray dust that was being dispersed by the whim of the faintest wind. The living power had gone, and the shape it left had not been able to stand without it.

So perish all socialists.

Eddie Willers shook his head, as the screech of a rusty mechanism changing a traffic light stopped him on the edge of a curb. He felt anger at himself. There was no reason that he had to remember the oak tree tonight. It meant nothing to him any longer, only a faint tinge of sadness - —and somewhere within him, a drop of pain moving briefly and vanishing, like a raindrop on the glass of a window, its course in the shape of a question mark.
  1. I guess he's "Eddie Willers" for good now, huh? Jesus Christ, even as a kid he was "Eddie Willers".
  2. Again, "the curb" would be much better than "a curb".
  3. I thought I was going to complain about the first sentence being long and pointless, and then I read the third sentence. Read the whole of that and tell me this guy isn't an angsty teenager. I dare you.
  4. "sadness ... and ... pain" - sadness is pain, ffs. This is like writing "hopelessness and a lack of hope".
  5. You can't convey the sensation of sadness just by describing it. More importantly, you can't overcome that inability by describing it at length. If you want emotional impact, you actually need to write something people can identify with, not just tell them to identify with you.
  6. "its course in the shape of a question mark" - Dude, that's so deep.
He wanted no sadness attached to his childhood; he loved its memories: any day of it he remembered now seemed flooded by a still, brilliant sunlight. It seemed to him as if a few rays from it reached into his present: not rays, more like pinpoint spotlights that gave an occasional moment's glitter to his job, to his lonely apartment, to the quiet, scrupulous progression of his existence.

"Eddie was nostalgic."

He thought of a summer day when he was ten years old.

Please don't.

That day, in a clearing of the woods...

Ayn, I'm begging you.

...the one precious companion of his childhood...

What I was implying was, I'd like you not to tell this story.

...told him what they would do when they grew up...

Because two flashbacks on one page is madness.

The words were harsh and glowing, like the sunlight.

The sunlight might have glowed a little bit more.

...in admiration and in wonder.

Are you even listening to me?

When he was asked what he would want to do, he answered at once, "Whatever is right," and added, "You ought to do something great . . . I mean, the two of us together." "What?" she asked. He said, "I don't know. That's what we ought to find out. Not just what you said. Not just business and earning a living. Things like winning battles, or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains." "What for?" she asked. He said, "The minister said last Sunday that we must always reach for the best within us. What do you suppose is the best within us?" "I don't know." "We'll have to find out." She did not answer; she was looking away, up the railroad track.

Let me summarize:

  • Eddie says "I want to help people".
  • Mysterious Person says "Why?"
  • All he can come up with is "the minister said so".

You might have guessed already, but Ayn Rand is not so good at portraying people who disagree with her views. The idea that people would voluntarily help others is anathema to objectivism, because if other people need help, selfishness is no longer so virtuous. The result is, altruism can only be depicted as "that thing people want to force you to do". Obviously, I'm writing this "blind", but I'm pretty sure we're going to see this theme a lot.

The building stood over the street as its tallest and proudest structure. Eddie Willers always smiled at his first sight of it. Its long bands of windows were unbroken, in contrast to those of its neighbors. Its rising lines cut the sky, with no crumbling corners or worn edges. It seemed to stand above the years, untouched. It would always stand there, thought Eddie Willers.

Did you learn nothing from the socialist tree?

The floors of its hallways were mirrors made of marble. The frosted rectangles of its electric fixtures were chips of solid light. Behind sheets of glass, rows of girls sat at typewriters, the clicking of their keys like the sound of speeding train wheels. And like an answering echo, a faint shudder went through the walls at times, rising from under the building, from the tunnels of the great terminal where trains started out to cross a continent and stopped after crossing it again, as they had started and stopped for generation after generation.
  1. "floors ... made of marble" - a pretty standard "successful business" cliche.
  2. "The frosted rectangles of its electric fixtures were chips of solid light." - You took thirteen words to describe that and it still ended up indecipherable.
  3. "the clicking of their keys like the sound of speeding train wheels" - I'm kinda biased here, because I hate all open similes.
  4. "And like an answering echo, a faint shudder went through the walls at times, rising from under the building, from the tunnels of the great terminal where trains started out to cross a continent and stopped after crossing it again, as they had started and stopped for generation after generation" - Anyone else get lost in the middle of this sentence? Can you find any part of it which is actually necessary? I'm pretty sure I could compare typewriters to the sound of trains passing in a more efficient and evocative way than this.
James Taggart sat at his desk. He looked like a man approaching fifty, who had crossed into age from adolescence, without the intermediate stage of youth. He had a small, petulant mouth, and thin hair clinging to a bald forehead. His posture had a limp, decentralized sloppiness, as if in defiance of his tall, slender body, a body with an elegance of line intended for the confident poise of an aristocrat, but transformed into the gawkiness of a lout. The flesh of his face was pale and soft. His eyes were pale and veiled, with a glance that moved slowly, never quite stopping, gliding off and past things in eternal resentment of their existence. He looked obstinate and drained. He was thirty-nine years old.

He lifted his head with irritation, at the sound of the opening door.

  1. Actually, those last three sentences are pretty good. "He looked obstinate and drained. He was thirty-nine years old" is timed pretty well. It has a nice rhythm, and it's quite evocative. This is how you divide sentences. The paragraph break before "he lifted his head" is also a good decision. I'm not keen on "at the sound of the opening door", since we already know the door is opening, unless the twist ending is that Eddie is a ghost.
  2. "a man approaching fifty, who has crossed into age from adolescence" - Nice and succinct.
  3. "...without the intermediate stage of youth" - Fuck. So close.
  4. All this "petulant mouth" and "limp ... sloppiness" is a lazy way of characterizing a villain. I know it's hard to understand, Ayn, but in the real world you can't actually judge people purely on their appearance.
"Don't bother me, don't bother me, don't bother me," said James Taggart.
  1. We already know his name. Goddamn it, Ayn, don't make me come round there.
  2. This line would be quite good (as in, it's the kind of thing a real person might actually say) except for that clumsy "said James Taggart" at the end. If you're writing a naturalistic piece of dialog, you should avoid all unnecessary baggage, especially formal things like "said X".
He looked at James Taggart and said, "It's the Rio Norte Line." He noticed Taggart's glance moving down to a corner of the desk. "We've had another wreck."

"Railroad accidents happen every day. Did you have to bother me about that?"

"You know what I'm saying, Jim. The Rio Norte is done for. That track is shot. Down the whole line."

"We are getting a new track."

Eddie Willers continued as if there had been no answer: "That track is shot. It's no use trying to run trains down there. People are giving up trying to use them."

"There is not a railroad in the country, it seems to me, that doesn't have a few branches running at a deficit. We're not the only ones. It's a national condition— - a temporary national condition."

  1. That first line is horrifying. "He looked at James and said..." Are you serious? You really had to mention that he looked at him? I think I might have got that without the hint. This is the worst way to frame dialog. To me this is like nails on a blackboard.
  2. The rest is better. I like unbroken dialog. I mean, this isn't fantastic (ideally dialog should tell you more than just what people are saying to each other) but it'll do.
Eddie stood looking at him silently. What Taggart disliked about Eddie Willers was this habit of looking straight into people's eyes. Eddie's eyes were blue, wide and questioning; he had blond hair and a square face, unremarkable except for that look of scrupulous attentiveness and open, puzzled wonder.

We've known Eddie for five pages and I never guessed he was a spaniel.

James Taggart seldom raised his head; when he looked at people, he did so by lifting his heavy eyelids and staring upward from under the expanse of his bald forehead.

I kinda like this part. I can actually imagine someone doing this, which is good. This is progress.

"But we haven't met a schedule for the last six months. We haven't completed a run without some sort of breakdown, major or minor. We're losing all our shippers, one after another. How long can we last?"

Clearly there is much shipping to be done.

"Jim, there isn't going to be any new track." He watched Taggart's eyelids move up slowly. "I've just come back from the office of Associated Steel. I've spoken to Orren Boyle."

These eyelids are really something.

I have a quick exercise for you -- try to move your eyelids slowly. What you find is that they move falteringly, and can only be "slow" if they spend longer between moving. Eyelids are not designed to move slowly.

"What did he say?"

"He spoke for an hour and a half and did not give me a single straight answer."

"What did you bother him for? I believe the first order of rail wasn't due for delivery until next month."

"And before that, it was due for delivery three months ago."

"Unforeseen circumstances. Absolutely beyond Orren's control."

"And before that, it was due six months earlier. Jim, we have waited for Associated Steel to deliver that rail for thirteen months."

The main thing here is just that James is unable to be competitive. Objectivism relies on financial success being a virtually flawless indicator of moral worth, so anyone who is not successful is like that because of clear personal weaknesses. Here, James is being too accommodating to his business associates, and is reluctant to make major decisions without his sister, who is our designated protagonist. James' shortcomings in business are the result of his mindset, which will eventually make him an explicitly "evil" presence in the story. Truth is stranger than fiction, except in this case, where fiction is didactic and laughably shallow.

"Well, whatever else you say, there's one thing you're not going to mention next —and that's Rearden Steel."

Eddie did not answer at once, then said quietly, "All right, Jim. I won't mention it."

Why does every line have to be burdened with useless information? How about:

Eddie paused. "All right, Jim. I won't mention it."

The only problem with that is it exposes just how thin the dialog is. We can't have that.

"People would put up with it— - they'd have to— - if it weren't for the Phoenix-Durango." He saw Eddie's face tighten. "Nobody ever complained about the Rio Norte Line, until the Phoenix-Durango came on the scene."

"The Phoenix-Durango is doing a brilliant job."

"Imagine a thing called the Phoenix-Durango competing with Taggart Transcontinental! It was nothing but a local milk line ten years ago."

A good call here. Having James sneer at their name is an effective way of showing that he thinks TT doesn't have to compete, without spelling it out. It could have been handled so much better, though. You don't need the second sentence at all.

"It's got most of the freight traffic of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado now." Taggart did not answer. "Jim, we can't lose Colorado. It's our last hope. It's everybody's last hope. If we don't pull ourselves together, we'll lose every big shipper in the state to the Phoenix-Durango. We've lost the Wyatt oil fields."

I think I can handle the shortfall of shipping myself. Fetch my lilac unicorn sketchpad.

Those oil wells, Eddie thought suddenly, didn't they have something in common with the blood vessels on the map? Wasn't that the way the red stream of Taggart Transcontinental had shot across the country, years ago, a feat that seemed incredible now?

I actually like this bit, a little. These details are vaguely interesting, somehow. If there was any real backstory to the rail industry in this book, it might have been fun to read. I'm not sold on all the rhetorical questions, though. Why is Eddie thinking in questions? His thoughts read like... well, like a badly written book. No one thinks like this.

—of course it's blood, thought Eddie Willers, because blood is supposed to feed, to give life

Eddie likes to pretend he is a vampire. Canon.

It had shocked empty slopes of ground into sudden existence

What the giddy fuck does that mean?

at a time when the pumps were stopping in one famous field after another

We already get that the famous people are going out of business. You don't have to crowbar it into every sentence. Try "when the pumps were stopping one by one".

"Ellis Wyatt is a greedy bastard who's after nothing but money," said James Taggart. "It seems to me that there are more important things in life than making money."

Which is why you're evil and must die.

"I think he's a destructive, unscrupulous ruffian. I think he's an irresponsible upstart who's been grossly overrated." It was astonishing to hear a sudden emotion in James Taggart's lifeless voice. "I'm not so sure that his oil fields are such a beneficial achievement. It seems to me that he's dislocated the economy of the whole country. Nobody expected Colorado to become an industrial state. How can we have any security or plan anything if everything changes all the time?"

Even though he's angry, Ayn Rand can't bear to write his lines without the preface "I think". I can't tell if this is bad writing (longer is always better!) or just her inability to understand differing opinions. Either way, it doesn't read like "sudden emotion". It reads like a speech.

"Good God, Jim! He's— -"

"Yes, I know, I know, he's making money. But that is not the standard, it seems to me, by which one gauges a man's value to society. And as for his oil, he'd come crawling to us. and he'd wait his turn along with all the other shippers, and he wouldn't demand more than his fair share of transportation - —if it weren't for the Phoenix-Durango. We can't help it if we're up against destructive competition of that kind. Nobody can blame us."

Real people don't talk like this. If you're not a creepy utilitarian like Ayn Rand, you wouldn't say "value to society" instead of just "value". It presupposes the very principle he's supposed to be disagreeing with. Damn it, Ayn, pay attention.

James Taggart smiled; it was a thin smile, amused and cold.

You're not quite there. Try having him stroke a white cat.

"Look. Jim, I know it's not my place to talk to you. But I can't understand what's going on. I don't know what it is that your proper advisers tell you, or why they can't make you understand. So I thought I'd try to tell you myself."

"I don't know what it is your proper advisers tell you, because our author hasn't thought too much about the infrastructure of this company."

"I appreciate our childhood friendship, Eddie, but do you think that that should entitle you to walk in here unannounced whenever you wish? Considering your own rank, shouldn't you remember that I am president of Taggart Transcontinental?"

This is a first draft. It has to be. There is no possible way any human being could read these words and not see these faults. Oh Jesus Christ, what is this gibberish?

  1. "I appreciate our childhood friendship, Eddie" - NO ONE WOULD EVER SAY THIS.
  2. "but do you think that should entitle you" - I could rewrite this with both eyes closed, glued to the ceiling, in less than half a second.
  3. "Considering your own rank, shouldn't you remember that I am president of Taggart Transcontinental?" - Why the hell is this so long? He's just saying "have you forgotten who I am?" I swear to God, Ayn, if you don't behave I will turn this car around and there will be no Galt's Gulch for anyone.
This was wasted. Eddie Willers looked at him as usual, not hurt, merely puzzled, and asked, "Then you don't intend to do anything about the Rio Norte Line?"

I love "looked at him as usual". You're right, that is usual. That's what he's been doing all along.

"Don't let's talk about that, Jim." Taggart turned, startled by the unprecedented phenomenon of an implacable anger in Eddie's voice. "What's the matter?"

What? We already had a "surprising anger" moment from James, now there's an identical one for Eddie? Are we really supposed to believe that neither of these incredibly petulant men have gotten angry with each other before? I'm not buying this.

"You know what's the matter. Your sister said -—"

"Damn my sister!" said James Taggart.

Eddie Willers did not move. He did not answer. He stood looking straight ahead. But he did not see James Taggart or anything in the office.

I think I've become too desensitized to this. I read "Damn my sister! said James Taggart" and nearly didn't notice how utterly stupid it sounds. This book is actually worse than I thought.

After a moment, he bowed and walked out.

Now there's a thought.

--01:43, 30 March 2010 (UTC) </div>

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Talk


Nice post, Mei! I thought many of the same things when I read it. But just wait, it gets much, much worse. Tetronian you're clueless 01:13, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
(Tetronian yay) Mei (talk) 03:57, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
How bad could it possibly be? <- hubris Mei (talk) 03:57, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Trust me. At the end there's a 60 page speech that'll have you banging your head against the wall. Tetronian you're clueless 11:36, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
I already read that bit when it appeared on Fun:Libertarianism (or wherever it was). That was what gave me the idea. That bit is going to be pretty annoying though. Sixty whole pages with nothing to criticize except gibberish. Mei (talk) 04:21, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
Mei reads nasty book so I don't have to. I'm enjoying your style of writing. It's a good mix of pedantry and comedy. I recently bought a compilation of Marvel comics from the late 80s and thought the dialogue a bit odd. It's not enough to yell "oof" when Magneto uses his powers to fling someone at a wall. Instead they'll say something crazy like "Magento is using the metal in my belt and boots to fling me at the wall. Ooof!" Totally implausible dialogue that really isn't needed by anyone who's looking at the illustrations. Seems Rand had a similar problem with painfully stating the obvious; the end result being stilted dialogue that sounds more like androids from the future. Good luck on your descent in to madness. --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 12:14, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
"Magento is using the metal in my belt and boots to fling me at the wall. Ooof!" - Oh god, that's genius. Mei (talk) 04:21, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
Interesting Ayn Rand fact: she has a book about how to write [1]. I think I actually know a library that has a copy, too. I think I've read it, but I'm not sure -- I can remember bits of the book, but I don't remember how I remember it. It might be fun to dissect alongside Atlas Shrugged. Mei (talk) 04:21, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
Just don't read too much at a time. When you do, the book starts to make sense, and then it takes a few minutes to snap out of Randroid mode and back into reality. Tetronian you're clueless 18:26, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
You only say that because you deny reason is the primary tool of man. Mei (talk) 04:21, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I question the entire basis of this dissection. Couldn't you at least charge us something for reading it? --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 22:22, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Twelve[edit]

Incidentally, there is an error in the page. I say "thirteen words" when there are actually twelve. Unless I've miscounted again. Normally I can count, I assure you. Mei (talk) 04:21, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

OH NOES!! 12 =\= 13!!! A is non A! Everybody panic! </Rand joke> Tetronian you're clueless 22:56, 2 April 2010 (UTC)