A creative man is motivated by the desire to answer earnestly, not by the desire to snark others. July 9, 2010 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Is there any reason why MetaFilter has to take Ayn Rand seriously?

I'm referring to this recent AskMe. In terms of informative or even recreational reading, there is nothing really of value to be found with Ayn Rand.

So, when an AskMe asks, "How can I finished 'Atlas Shrugged'?', isn't the best answer "DON'T READ IT".
posted by KokuRyu to Etiquette/Policy at 2:56 PM (216 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

The OP askes directly: Should I keep on going?
posted by yeti at 2:57 PM on July 9, 2010


No.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:58 PM on July 9, 2010


From a brief glance at the thread, isn't that what everyone's saying, pretty much?
posted by phunniemee at 2:58 PM on July 9, 2010


askes

Grrr. Sometimes I astound myself in the creativity of my English.
posted by yeti at 2:59 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be clear, the stuff deleted from the thread wasn't "don't read it", it was a random shitty derail that had very little to do with the question. I'm not sure if you're objecting to what you're supposing was a bunch of "don't read it" stuff or what; what's this post for?
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:02 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


The guy clearly wants to try to read it, so telling him not to read it is counterproductive.
posted by crunchland at 3:03 PM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ah, my bad. I had assumed "don't read it" was not a valid answer.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:03 PM on July 9, 2010


So, when an AskMe asks, "How can I finished 'Atlas Shrugged'?', isn't the best answer "DON'T READ IT".

Why should it be? I can think of plenty of reasons why a person should or might like to read Rand, none of them having to do with "to learn THE TRUTH about man's true potential in a world filled with MEDIOCRITY and JEALOUS HATERS."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:05 PM on July 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


It's OK. Now we have two threads to groan about Ayn Rand in! Happy early Birthday Metafilter!
posted by yeti at 3:06 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bioshocked!
posted by Artw at 3:07 PM on July 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Are you suggesting we all give the same answer? Because Ayn Rand's ideas are dumb?

...Wow.
posted by circular at 3:07 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are we reading the same Metafilter? The majority of the answers in the thread are different flavors of rationale as to why the OP needn't slog through it.

I can't stand Ayn Rand, but even have to say that your opinion that "In terms of informative or even recreational reading, there is nothing really of value to be found with Ayn Rand" is not a objective (no pun intended) truth.

(She's a hugely influential writer; I could argue that it's worth it to read something of hers to see what the fuss is about and grasp the appeal, even if it's just to bolster an argument against it.)
posted by desuetude at 3:13 PM on July 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why are you giving your answer in MeTa instead of the AskMe post?
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:14 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Should Ayn Rand be taken seriously? Hrm. Well, she's dead. I guess that makes her a ...

*puts on sunglasses*

... grave matter.

YEAAAAAAAHHHH!
posted by adipocere at 3:14 PM on July 9, 2010 [74 favorites]


Why are you giving your answer in MeTa instead of the AskMe post?

As I said upthread, I was unaware (mostly because I didn't read the original AskMe question close enough) that "Don't Read It" is actually an acceptable answer.

However, listening to Rush (Anthem, 2112, some parts of Hemispheres) may actually make Ayn Rand bearable, so my AskMe answer stands.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:17 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have trouble resolving this conflict myself:

1) My total revulsion and disdain for all things Randian would have a better leg to stand on if I gritted my teeth and read that horrible tome. (Having read Anthem as a high school English assignment doesn't count.) Reading a truly awful, hideous, eye-rollingly stupid book like Atlas Shrugged or The Bridges of Madison County becomes on some level as cathartic as a good old-fashioned hate-fuck.

vs.

2) There are a finite amount of minutes in my lifetime that I won't get back, and I'm not going to waste a metric ton of them on that trash.

But in terms of practical advice, I think the most important step to help ensure that you can finish Atlas Shrugged is to get a good, heavy hardback copy with a quality binding, one that can withstand being thrown across the fucking room in disgust 30 or 40 times.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:18 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


If Metafilter teaches us nothing else, it's that even the most idiotic writings of an imbecile have something to offer us.
posted by crunchland at 3:18 PM on July 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


Ayn Rand should have focused more on writing erotica.
posted by lover at 3:22 PM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm a fan of learning to think critically, and in an indirect way, she inspires that in some people.

Her work is pretty good for getting people to agree with her for a while, and then they'll think things through to reach different conclusions. I can think of at least three instances in which I've heard of this happening.
posted by aniola at 3:25 PM on July 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ayn Rand should have focused more on writing erotica.

Wouldn't it just all be masturbation?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:26 PM on July 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


The majority of opinions in the linked thread agree with you. Those that don't bring up some decent points about Rand's place in literary and political history, regardless of what one thinks about her (terrible) fiction.

Decent AskMe, decent set of answers.
posted by chaff at 3:26 PM on July 9, 2010


Hey if can anyone find the old Forum 2000/SONAD where Ayn Rand has a new idea of the book but is afraid to talk about it due to copyright (she's informed that copyright begins when she puts her ideas down) ... it is about an Objectivist amusement park where the people who ride the rides also take care of them. It was really funny, but I'm at a complete loss.
posted by geoff. at 3:28 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


... grave matter.

posted by adipocere at 3:14 PM on July 9 [1 favorite +] [!]


Eponysterical.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:35 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know what? I just changed my mind. abbat is totally a troll.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:36 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Are you suggesting we all give the same answer? Because Ayn Rand's ideas are dumb?

If it is worth anything I suggested he stop reading it because it is bad literature. Sure, the general idiocy and poor grounding of the philosophy adds to that, but it is also written poorly and no one should force themselves to read poorly-written work.

Imagine if the question had been "I can't get through this Harlequin NASCAR romance novel. Should I stop?"
posted by griphus at 3:36 PM on July 9, 2010


You know what? I just changed my mind. abbat is totally a troll.

I disagree. I think he's just a weird guy who doesn't have a fantastic grasp on the site. He's been doing better lately.
posted by griphus at 3:37 PM on July 9, 2010


What, no love for the objectivist dating pool as a reason to keep reading? Anyone?
posted by norm at 3:38 PM on July 9, 2010


it is about an Objectivist amusement park where the people who ride the rides also take care of them. It was really funny, but I'm at a complete loss.

It wasn't called "Ryan Amusements", was it?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:38 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


norm: "What, no love for the objectivist dating pool as a reason to keep reading? Anyone?"

That thread contains one of my favorite comments ever.
posted by griphus at 3:39 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The guy clearly wants to try to read it, so telling him not to read it is counterproductive.

If he wanted to read it, would he be saying "it has been a real struggle. [...] the characters are some of the worst I have ever read in a book"? That doesn't sound like the opinion of someone who wants to read a given book.

On the other hand, I suppose there are plenty of people who engage in gruelling physical challenges like Ironman Triathlons for recreation; I suppose pushing oneself to complete gruelling marathon reads could appeal to similar motivations?
posted by Mike1024 at 3:45 PM on July 9, 2010


However, listening to Rush (Anthem, 2112, some parts of Hemispheres) may actually make Ayn Rand bearable, so my AskMe answer stands.

Dear AskMe,

Help me finish 2112.

I have listened up to track 4 (out of 13 tracks) and it has been a real struggle. It's just about some guy trying to play a guitar. Not to mention the characters are some of the worst I have ever heard in an album. I am tempted to put the album down but after reading reviews of the album where people say the book changed their life (really?) I don't want to miss out on this album.

Should I keep on going? It get way way better and really soon right? Please help me out with some motivation.
posted by GuyZero at 3:46 PM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ah! Found a copy, Forum 2000:

Ayn Rand: Would you like a preview of my next novel?
Ayn Rand: Let me consult with my lawyer.
The Anti-Xalton: Although someone could steal the idea, Ayn, the particular expression is copyrighted from the moment it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
Ayn Rand: It concerns a heroic man who designs and builds rides for amusement parks.
AR: I haven't yet picked his name, but I'm wavering between "Rock" and "Mark Thrust".
AR: Anyway, Mark designs a component that will allow amusement park rides to spin faster and higher than they ever have before, yet still be perfectly safe.
AR: He is opposed by a trio of craven collectivists. Their names are Winky Mallow, Trip Vestinil, and Biff Martindale.
AR: They conspire (and succeed) in stealing the amusement park owned by Mark Thrust's lover, who is a strong woman named either Ulrike or Dagmar.
AR: While celebrating their victory with a ride on the "Cone of Terror" the ride malfunctions and throws them over a cliff. They have just a few seconds on the way down to contemplate that if only they had not subscribed to the philosophy of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs," they would not have come to such a bitter end.
AR: Mark Thrust and Ulrike retake the park through force of arms and declare that only people able to service and operate the rides will be allowed in.

Her arguments with Dr Andrej Bauer are also classic:
AR: Which, by the way, implies that you are immoral.
AB: How so?
AR: Because you deny that A is A.
AB: Of course I do not deny that.
AR: But you do. Your failure to use your reason at all times exhibits that you deny the fact that you, as a man qua man, are a rational animal. In other words you deny that you are who you are. Therefore, you deny that A is A. I rest my case.
AB: That's such bullshit.

And,
Ayn Rand: Sometimes I regret having invented logic.

Okay, okay I'll stop, but really ... this stuff needs to be in a book somewhere.
posted by geoff. at 3:48 PM on July 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Come for the John Galt speech, stay for the objectivixens.
posted by norm at 3:50 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


man, forum 2000 and the conversatron were such amazing sites.
posted by boo_radley at 3:51 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Should I keep on going? It get way way better and really soon right? Please help me out with some motivation.

Give up and try Moving Pictures and Signals instead.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:51 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


objectivixens

Whoa, whoa, WHOA. We get objectivixens?! That changes EVERYTHING!
posted by zarq at 3:54 PM on July 9, 2010


I think the Conversatron is up in some fashion, but they barely update.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:54 PM on July 9, 2010


Not really, that goddamn Matrix online game killed it :(
posted by boo_radley at 3:58 PM on July 9, 2010


At least she was funnier.
posted by special-k at 4:15 PM on July 9, 2010


Whoa, whoa, WHOA. We get objectivixens?! That changes EVERYTHING!

Google it and prepare for disappointment.
posted by GuyZero at 4:24 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Google it and prepare for disappointment.

Believe me, no one is more surprised by that than me.
posted by norm at 4:29 PM on July 9, 2010


AR: I haven't yet picked his name, but I'm wavering between "Rock" and "Mark Thrust".

Ayn Rand: Comedy Machine.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:44 PM on July 9, 2010


I don't get the Atlas Shrugged hate, it was good pulp/love opera novel. But then again, I was reading Flowers in the Attic at the same time....
posted by new brand day at 4:45 PM on July 9, 2010


I don't get the Atlas Shrugged hate

You know how most people intolerant of religions actually just don't like the followers of the religions? Like personally, I think Jesus was a pretty cool guy and doesn't afraid of anything, but man, Christians are a bunch of assholes so imagine if the Bible was written by Ayn Rand and was about Objectivism.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 4:57 PM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't get the Atlas Shrugged hate

Uh-oh...you will, you will.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:00 PM on July 9, 2010


You know how most people intolerant of religions actually just don't like the followers of the religions?

The problem is that Ayn Rand is the prototypical Randian.

Her followers are just like her, except they are likely younger, more able-bodied, and sometimes more intelligent and attractive. Just not quite as talented as her.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:02 PM on July 9, 2010


Man, I don't know. I really had to put a conscious effort into Fountainhead, and even after what basically plays out like a soap opera co-written by Glenn Beck and a bitter 14-year-old drama club reject, I still ended up shaking my head in disbelief as I read the 20+ page courtroom speech at the very end. "Talent" is not a quality I would associate with Rand. "Self-assured" and "secure in her worldview", certainly.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:08 PM on July 9, 2010


Do you have any other mandatory opinions we should all abide by?
posted by Falconetti at 5:09 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The deliciousness of cilantro.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:10 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


D&D 4e sucks.
posted by griphus at 5:12 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]



Do you have any other mandatory opinions we should all abide by?

H or J?

H OR J?
posted by The Whelk at 5:13 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uh-oh...you will, you will.

Nah, I thought it was a fun, if overly long, sci fi/mystery. The philosophy elements seemed too blatantly silly via Rand's ham fisted extreme illustrations of the "moochers". I think I was hoping for a mindblowing three some at the end, hence the determination to finish it. Teenage hormones are powerful things.

The book reminded me vaguely of a short sci fi story (by Bradbury maybe?). Martians had come to America in the 1950s and offered the poor negroes a chance to get off planet, which many happily took. This worried white people a lot, as they wondered how all the work would get done. That seemed more believable than Rand's silly theories.

Does anyone know the short story I'm speaking of?
posted by new brand day at 5:13 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm having trouble making it through this thread. Can someone tell me if I should finish reading it?
posted by cjorgensen at 5:17 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I am not allowed to explode with righteous indignation at people recommending friggin' R.A. Salvatore, David Eddings, Mercedes Lackey, and crap like that in the "recommend me some well-written SF" threads, then you can damn well suffer the Ayn Rand thread! SUFFER IT.
posted by Justinian at 5:17 PM on July 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


In terms of informative or even recreational reading, there is nothing really of value to be found with Ayn Rand.

Well, what I find of value in Ayn Rand is figuring out why so many other people value her writings or otherwise find her compelling. You don't have to read Atlas Shrugged to figure that out, but it's definitely the only reason people even talk about her as opposed to just passing her by like thousands of other hamfisted crappy writers. Saying that something has nothing of value usually implies some sort of lack of understanding that other people are different from you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:18 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


And if all else fails, if someone can't finish Atlas Shrugged, there's always this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:20 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ayn Rand should have focused more on writing erotica.

What, Kushiel's Dart wasn't enough for you?
posted by alms at 5:23 PM on July 9, 2010


I think I was hoping for a mindblowing three some at the end, hence the determination to finish it. Teenage hormones are powerful things.

Oh, snap!

Twilight is to Atlas Shrugged

like

________ is to ________!
posted by P.o.B. at 5:23 PM on July 9, 2010


Oh, if you hate Ayn Rand you should avoid like the plague the works of John C. Wright. At first he would end his stuff by metaphorically having the decaying corpse of Ayn Rand show up and explain how the universe is Objectivist in nature and punching you in the face. Then he got religion and it went even further downhill.
posted by Justinian at 5:26 PM on July 9, 2010


Twilight is to Atlas Shrugged

like

________ is to ________!


Diet Coke is to Drain-O
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:26 PM on July 9, 2010 [16 favorites]


Well, what I find of value in Ayn Rand is figuring out why so many other people value her writings or otherwise find her compelling.

Someone said it so many words the other night. "The appeal of Ayn Rand is that she posits a worldview where poor people deserve everything they get. They just lack integrity."

A lot of Republicans believe this, too.
posted by philip-random at 5:30 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, I hate diet coke with burning passion but I'd drink 8-liters a day for a week if it meant I never had hear about Twilight OR Atlas Shrugged every again.
posted by The Whelk at 5:30 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Man, I hate diet coke with burning passion but I'd drink 8-liters a day for a week if it meant I never had hear about Twilight OR Atlas Shrugged every again.

I have to agree with you there. Hm. Let me try again.

Twilight is to Atlas Shrugged

like

Justin Bieber is to Prussian Blue
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:33 PM on July 9, 2010 [18 favorites]


The appeal of Ayn Rand is that she posits a worldview where poor people deserve everything they get.

No, the appeal is that she posits a worldview where certain individuals are literally above the law and either ignore it and reshape it to their own ends.
posted by new brand day at 5:37 PM on July 9, 2010


There's a stunningly beautiful convergence of snark and utility going on in that Ask. I love you guys so much some times.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:40 PM on July 9, 2010


The one time abbat asks a straightforward and kind of interesting question...
posted by Burhanistan at 5:41 PM on July 9, 2010


R.A. Salvatore.

I met this man. He was very nice. He was also very big (muscles, not fat). He was in the process of writing some "Demon" series of books. We talked about world building and how he'd spent a year doing that for this series before he ever wrote any of the story. I was just some stranger that accosted him in a bookstore (it wasn't even a signing).

I figured the guy did nothing but sit around and think about writing and lift weights.

I haven't read anything by him in two decades, but he entertained me well enough when I was in high school. I'd love to be able to write as well as he does. I'd also love to be as nice as he is, but that's not going to happen. Sometimes we have to accept these things about ourselves.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:43 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]



AskMe: Help me finish Atlas Shrugged!
Eliza: Tell me more about Atlas Shrugged...
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:43 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, the appeal is that she posits a worldview where certain individuals are literally above the law and either ignore it and reshape it to their own ends.

Crowley did that much better.
posted by Errant at 5:46 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


And Ozzy Osbourne is better than Rush.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:47 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Absalom Shrugged Absalom?
posted by buzzman at 5:50 PM on July 9, 2010


And Ozzy Osbourne is better than Rush.

If we're talking solo Ozzy only, I don't actually agree. Nevertheless I see what you did there, and I approve.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:52 PM on July 9, 2010


And Jimmy Page is better than both of them.

He lived in Crowley's house where he liked to do black magic and bone 14 year-old chicks with an octopus or something.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:53 PM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ayn Rand should have focused more on writing erotica.

That would've made her Ayn Rice, amirite?
posted by octobersurprise at 5:54 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think he's just a weird guy who doesn't have a fantastic grasp on the site. He's been doing better lately.

From the observer's perspective, it suggests that the distinction between "somewhat wet behind the ears college kid" and "highly focused troll" is finer than taffeta, which tells you a lot about why trolling works.
posted by holgate at 6:09 PM on July 9, 2010


KokuRyu: Is there any reason why MetaFilter has to take Ayn Rand seriously?

I don't know about the collective, but personally when I see someone take Ayn Rand seriously I point at the screen and giggle derisively. There are a few other cues for this response, but she is definitely one of them.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:11 PM on July 9, 2010


Ayn Rand should be taken more seriously than almost any religious question. After all, we have proof that Ayn Rand existed.
posted by DU at 6:14 PM on July 9, 2010


what basically plays out like a soap opera co-written by Glenn Beck and a bitter 14-year-old drama club reject

An 1100-page version of The Overton Window. That sounds, uh, terribly, uh, it sounds terribly.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:50 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]




as i said in the thread - unless hot repression sex is at the end, there is no reason.
posted by nadawi at 7:00 PM on July 9, 2010


I'm one of those who said no, but you know, reasonable people can disagree. The thread was a good place for someone with a strong argument for finishing the book to come and make that argument. Nothing wrong with this discussion at all.
posted by Miko at 7:18 PM on July 9, 2010


Believe it or not, I recently had a conversation about Atlas Shrugged with the Roll, a friend of mine. I've known him since freshman year of undergrad, and we studied poetry together. He's the roommate who threw records at me when I snored (that story is in some answer I gave on AskMe on sleep apnea or something).

Anyway, he went on to get an MFA in creative writing. He's a great poet. He then went on to law school, and is part of a large, successful firm. He would hate his job but for the fact that he can basically come into work on most days, listen to the cool air flow through the A/C vent, stare into the distance and work on his writing.

The Roll is well-read, cultured, earnest, and basically one of the most awesome guys I've ever known.

One night we were catching up on old times, and he said that he's been really wanting to read Atlas Shrugged, and learn about Ayn Rand. I told him I thought Atlas Shrugged sucked big donkey dongs, but he would not be dissuaded. The conversation briefly touched on the manifold reasons why the book is awful, but by the end we agreed that EVERYONE should read Ayn Rand. Everyone. Why?

Because there are so many great things to gain from it, and comparatively little to lose. We came to the conclusion that the people of the world can be classified into two categories: those who've read Atlas Shrugged, and those who haven't. Ok, no problem so far. Now, split those who've read the book into two again: invariably, you come up with a group that absolutely loves the book, and a group who hates it. Extreme passion on both sides.

By reading the book, you, too, will invariably fall into one of those two camps. This is a great thing for interpersonal relationships. Imagine, if you will, the following scenarios:

1. You meet someone who hasn't read the book. No problem. Proceed with standard operating protocol for making friends and having sex.
2. You meet someone who's read the book, and loves it. You hate it, and know to drop this new person like a two-ton heavy thing and minimize time wasted. Inverse the interest, same result.
3. You meet someone who's read the book, and loves it. You love it, too. Or you hate it, but this person is super hot, in which case you can feign loving it. Proceed down the advanced two-step algorithm for priority makeout.
4. You meet someone who's read the book, and hates it. You hate it, too. Or you love it, but this person is super hot, in which case you can feign hating it. See #3.


Sex, brother. Sex. Lots of it. Atlas Shrugged instills so much passion in people. I can't tell you the number of times I've been introduced to people who've read it, with whom I've had intense conversation with regarding our mutual love or hate for the book, feigned or not. There is no middle ground. It's always either, "OMG DOOOD, I LOOOVE ATLAS SHRUGGED!" or "FUCK YEAH! FUCKING AYN RAND BULLSHIT MOTHERFUCKERS!"

I actually offered the Roll my copy of Atlas Shrugged. I told him he should carry it around with him and read it in public. I said, hey, look: people will see it and think one of three things: they'll either a) have no idea what the book is, but might be impressed by the sheer number of pages it has, b) know what it is and will try to ascertain whether or not you love it or not, or c) FUCKING AYN RAND BULLSHIT IMAGONNA PUNCH YOU IN THE THROAT!

But no, he said he'll get his own copy. So my copy remains on my bookshelf, placed conspicuously enough so that people can see it easily and engage in one of the aforementioned scenarios. Wait. I haven't had sex in a long time. I'm so lonely. I blame Ayn Rand.
Must work on my algorithms. SCIENCE!
posted by herrdoktor at 7:28 PM on July 9, 2010 [14 favorites]


What about the reactions of people for whom simply talking about or hearing the words "Ayn Rand' make them feel like they've been dipped into a warm vat of post-nasal drip?
posted by The Whelk at 7:31 PM on July 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Jesus, it wasn't distasteful enough to have Ayn Rand in this thread? You had to bring in such gross-iosities as Diet Coke, Twilight, Justin Bieber, and warm vats . . . ugh.

What's next, Clamato?
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:47 PM on July 9, 2010


How about Sunny D? That shit is a retroperistaltic with a lot of advertising on how damn tasty it is.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:56 PM on July 9, 2010


"What's next, Clamato?"

i can beat that - budweiser and clamato
posted by nadawi at 8:00 PM on July 9, 2010


thank you I really needed a flashback to that Sunny D "Sangria" inflicted on me in college.
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 PM on July 9, 2010


What's next, Clamato?

Chelada.

You're *gag* welcome.

On preview: dammit nadawi, you beat me to it.
posted by millions of peaches at 8:01 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


herrdoktor, you're missing the hidden side of the brain. By reading Atlas Shrugged, you will inevitably come to look at the world with a more economic perspective, even if you disagree with its thesis. It sets the rules for the debate, and whether you realize it or not you'll come to play by them. This especially goes for 15 year olds.

It's sort of cruel to say "The Bible works the same way", but there are many Japanese people who attributed obnoxious Western cultural habits like knee-jerk rudeness to one's parents as an effect of too many children reading the Bible.
posted by shii at 8:08 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


So my copy remains on my bookshelf, placed conspicuously enough so that people can see it easily and engage in one of the aforementioned scenarios.

You missed the scenario where, upon seeing that you've made a point of displaying the spine of ATLAS SHRUGGED, certain people conclude that you're a horrible, horrible person and quickly excuse themselves never to be seen (by you) again.

A rash response, it's true, but like the Whelk pointed out, they do genuinely fear they're about to be dipped into a warm vat of post-nasal drip (figuratively speaking, of course).
posted by philip-random at 8:13 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jesus, it wasn't distasteful enough to have Ayn Rand in this thread? You had to bring in such gross-iosities as Diet Coke, Twilight, Justin Bieber, and warm vats . . . ugh.

Clear your brain-palate by watching this baby opossum eat a grape. If I had a pouch, I'd totally store grapes in there.
posted by heyho at 8:23 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


CHINCHILLA MASSAGE
posted by The Whelk at 8:26 PM on July 9, 2010


......Hmm.

You know, I think I'm actually going to give some advice in the thread about how TO finish this -- not because I'm all "WOO YAY AYN RAND"! or anything.

However, I do think there's something to be said for exploring something before you dismiss it. And this guy wants to complete his task, and it sounds like it may be for no other reason than the fact that he can now be comfortable in asserting that "yes, I DID read it, and that's why I can say that it sucks." If he finishes, now the Randians he runs into will not ever be able to say, "well, you didn't read the book!"

If he finishes, he can pull a Roger-Ebertesque "Your movie sucks" moment. And I say, yay to that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:30 PM on July 9, 2010


R.A. Salvatore.

I met this man. He was very nice.


I wrote a fan letter to him back in 1993 or so. And he wrote back. I still have it. Framed in all of its dot matrix glory. (I believe I called him out on a future plot point in my letter. I knew what he was planning. Because I'd consulted my Monster Manual II, and knew what Yochol's could do.) (I was right.)

His last decade or so of stuff is hit-or-miss. But you'd be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable, space opera-ish read than the Icewind Dale or Dark Elf trilogies.
posted by Cyrano at 8:30 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


If we're doing cute animal videos, I think any objectivist could agree that letter opener is DAMNED CUTE.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:37 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's next, Clamato?

Just be happy you live in a place where nobody knows what the hell a Bloody Caesar is.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:47 PM on July 9, 2010


I'd like to call this thread out as being the best I've seen in Metatalk in quite some time. Plus, I lol'd at the drain-o analogy.

and I squee'd at the grape-eating marsupial
posted by Maximian at 8:59 PM on July 9, 2010


Is there any reason why MetaFilter has to take Ayn Rand seriously?

Yes.

No, wait: No.

OK, maybe.

On more important topics, decent beer with Clamato or plain tomato juice is fantastic. As are cheladas and micheladas when made by hand. I can't imagine how horrible the premix canned stuff must taste, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:18 PM on July 9, 2010


One thing Ayn Rand forgot about is that sharing your ideas is a very selfless thing. If she was really only looking out for number one she would've kept her ideas to herself. If she was right, she would've won at life. If she was wrong, no one would've known. Either way, she didn't see past her own hypocrisy so no one will ever know.
posted by bam at 9:34 PM on July 9, 2010


Chelada.

we call it a "beer and clam" or a red eye round these parts. so delicious.
posted by threetoed at 9:40 PM on July 9, 2010


I like Ayn Rand because this Wikipedia citation makes her sound like the missing Peanuts character:

"On one occasion, when a school assignment called for her to write about the joys of childhood, she instead wrote what she later recalled as "a scathing denunciation" of childhood..."

C'est tout.
posted by YamwotIam at 9:51 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


We used to drink Olde English and Clamato to, um fortify us for the sex shows. Whether it was a druken placebo or a fine chemical cocktail, it has never failed. And honestly, I always thought it tasted horrible.

But what works, works.

YMMV.

Do not taunt happy fun erection.
posted by Splunge at 9:54 PM on July 9, 2010


The = The
posted by mullacc at 9:56 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I sometimes feel as if I am the only person to have read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (as a teenager) and just felt . . . indifferent about them. I would say that I possibly vaguely enjoyed The Fountainhead (it's been a while), and found Atlas Shrugged largely forgettable (All I can remember is something about some alloy, maybe?), except that there was a 100-page whine about somethingorother in the middle. I also felt the same way about that 100-page whine as I did about the 100-page SHERMAN MARCHES INTO TOWN in Gone with the Wind.

I wouldn't say that reading the book is worth it, but I don't hate Ayn Rand either. I don't really see the point of hating a dead person.
posted by that girl at 10:11 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


> but I don't hate Ayn Rand either. I don't really see the point of hating a dead person.

I don't think people here actually "hate" the person of Ayn Rand--more the philosophy and the mindset it has engendered in people who resonate with it.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:26 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Randians are such an insufferable lot; Shallow and pompous. And Objective realism is so tediously self-congratulatory it's off-putting.

An alternative for you might be the 1949 King Vidor directed film of The Fountainhead with Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. Some of the B&W cinematography is stunning actually, and even the underlying ideas are occassionally exhilarating and even a bit inspiring, but ultimately the film has a lot of unintentionally funny scenes thanks to Rand's heavy handed wordy and clunky screenplay results in some strange scenes. There's a lot of goofy unintentionally funny Freudian symbolism and repressed sexuality. And (daring this for the time and they way they handle it), there's a rape scene, that's not really a rape because the woman wants the guy (Howard Roark/Gary Cooper) to do it, because being the extraordinary uberman that he is, makes it okay.
posted by Skygazer at 10:59 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've never met anyone who didn't hate it, actually. Do I live in a bubble?
posted by cj_ at 12:36 AM on July 10, 2010


If that bubble is called "reality" then yes, you do.
posted by trondant at 1:18 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I knew a couple people in college who liked a Rand book or two, actually, and one of them even wasn't an insufferable asshole. So there's that.
posted by hattifattener at 1:22 AM on July 10, 2010


I've never met anyone who didn't hate it, actually. Do I live in a bubble?

Oddly enough, I wasn't aware until I started reading Metafilter that people hated it so much. I've met quite a few fans of the book, but that may be because I've spent a lot of my life around conservative, science/math/engineering type people who grew up sheltered from economic difficulties/realities.

I didn't hate the book on sight, either, so the more I read these threads the more I wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong with me.
posted by millions of peaches at 1:32 AM on July 10, 2010


Yeah I guess I should say I haven't met many people that have actually read it, but those who have (or even know about it, for that matter) hold it in pretty low regard. I'm thinking bubble. I'm OK with this.

I couldn't make it through it myself, and I made a few half-assed attempts. On one level I wish I had read it so I could gripe about it from a position of authority. On the other, fuck that.
posted by cj_ at 3:17 AM on July 10, 2010


My own image of Ayn Rands work is that it is as popular with adolescents and as hated as it is for 2 reasons:

1 it resonates with narcissists; i.e. people who feel they can't be loved but for excelling at something. There's some tragedy in narcissism because it means they feel they can't be loved for who they are themselves. This need to put oneself above others can annoy people for understandable reasons. It's easy for the committed narcissist to accredit this annoyance to jealousy and lower intelligence.

2 there's a certain logical consistency in the übermensch/solipsism theory. When you're an adolescent you don't always have a lot of experience with the workings of your own emotions and how that interacts with others. And then logical consistency of ideas is all you have. And given the script that narcissists grew up with where it's all about excelling it's natural to think in 'higher' and 'lower' people. Speaking for myself when I became more grown up I realised that logical consistency doesn't work very well because we as people are not consistent; we have built in inconsistent tendencies depending on the context. In my experience those many parallel warring tendencies; altruism, egoism, etc, are primary and our conscious cerebral consistent story is secondary.

So that's my explanation why Ayn Rands ideas can trigger such violent dislike and be so popular with certain people at a certain point in life as well.
posted by joost de vries at 3:32 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Don't read it, it will poison your brain. The endearing message of Rand is one of selfishness.
posted by caddis at 5:20 AM on July 10, 2010


I rather most teenagers read it, so they can experience it, then grow the fuck out of such one dimensional reasoning.
posted by new brand day at 6:27 AM on July 10, 2010


Couldn't they read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress instead? It's at least a good read and has mass driver catapults.
posted by Artw at 6:41 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but sadly no Rearden Metal. Or trains.
posted by new brand day at 6:59 AM on July 10, 2010


I feel bad about leaving my copy of Atlas Shrugged in a laundromat in West Orange, NJ on purpose some twenty years back. You see, it became clear to me that watching the big front-loading tubs spin and foam was far preferable, and brought more insight to my avid young mind, than that dreadful doorstop. So I feel bad in that I abandoned this more-or-less innocent laundromat to the cruel mercies of that horrid book.
posted by Mister_A at 7:01 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd rather people read it so that they can engage with those who praise it to the heavens in a meaningful way, rather just glibly say "oh I heard my liberal friends say it was an awful book and I'm liberal too so I guess I agree it must be awful."

I think it is a terrible, terrible book. But at least I've read it and can justifiably argue that point with fools who see it as a valuable tract of political philosophy.
posted by modernnomad at 7:06 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd rather people read it so that they can engage with those who praise it to the heavens in a meaningful way...

How many volumes of Battlefield Earth do I need to read before I'm allowed to say Scientology is crap?

Fortunately I can reliably determine that Atlas Shrugged is crap without reading it by using ScienceTM. Many people have read it previously and determined it is crap. I could, if I desired, replicate their experiment and verify the results myself. Therefore, I don't need to read it unless there is some new evidence suggesting the original results may be flawed in some way.
posted by ecurtz at 8:42 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey what if the Tea Party based their philosophy on Dune instead of Atlas Shrugged?
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:50 AM on July 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Bud Light Clamato Chelada is the worst beer in America. I'd rather drink poopwater from my stillsuit.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:55 AM on July 10, 2010


Hey what if the Tea Party based their philosophy on Dune instead of Atlas Shrugged?

Sales of blue contacts would go through the roof, and then crash again once the Tea Partiers realized they were modeling themselves after metaphorical arab warfighters.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:00 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I rather most teenagers read it, so they can experience it, then grow the fuck out of such one dimensional reasoning.

Which brings to mind - what's the sort of left-leaning analogue to ATLAS SHRUGGED? That is, one dimensional from top to bottom, politically, psychologically, spiritually, and as such, it drives any THINKING conservative (note the small "c") mad with frustration.

Is there such a thing?
posted by philip-random at 9:06 AM on July 10, 2010


Hey what if the Tea Party based their philosophy on Dune instead of Atlas Shrugged?

They'd probably muck it up anyway. Some kind of radical interpretation where they declare "God Emperor" as the one true book and all the others are banned or they'd worship Brian Herbert as the son of the Prophet.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:08 AM on July 10, 2010


The CULTURE novels are supposed to the liberal answer to the huge meaty vein of authoritarianism in SF.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on July 10, 2010


Hey what if the Tea Party based their philosophy on Dune instead of Atlas Shrugged?

They'd likely be much better dressed. Initially, anyway. I'm sure someone would try to find a way to stencil George Washington's profile to the back of a stillsuit.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:25 AM on July 10, 2010


Hmm... given sapere audestheory regarding 9/11 and the faliure of Firefly I wonder if in some paralell universe it didn't get made until now and was immediately a huge hit with the Tea Party crowd.
posted by Artw at 9:43 AM on July 10, 2010


God Emperor of Dune rules. Leto II is probably the most quotable character of all time, everything he says is either awesome or hilarious.

I PREFER THE COMPANY OF PREDATORS ABOVE THAT OF PREY.

However, I agree that the teabaggers should not be encouraged to read it. Somehow they'd interpret the pharaonic model as a good thing.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 10:10 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


...what's the sort of left-leaning analogue to ATLAS SHRUGGED? That is, one dimensional from top to bottom, politically, psychologically, spiritually, and as such, it drives any THINKING conservative (note the small "c") mad with frustration.

Is there such a thing?


I have always thought Upton Sinclair's The Jungle comes close. I have had this fantasy for a while of an animation of something very Ultimate Deathfight-y between Rand and Sinclair.
posted by Tchad at 10:15 AM on July 10, 2010


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"THE SLEEPER HAS AWAKENED, YOU BETCHA"

posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


"The Tea Must Flow"
posted by zarq at 10:27 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've long thought that The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a socialist Atlas Shrugged. It's a great book, but overlong for its message, and at the end the hero/authorial mouthpiece makes a speech about socialism that goes on, and on, and on, similar to the Galt speech.
posted by WPW at 10:34 AM on July 10, 2010


If no one's called Rush the Three Man Ayn Rand Band yet, someone should.
posted by klangklangston at 10:48 AM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


...what's the sort of left-leaning analogue to ATLAS SHRUGGED? That is, one dimensional from top to bottom, politically, psychologically, spiritually, and as such, it drives any THINKING conservative (note the small "c") mad with frustration.

Is there such a thing?


You know, I was trying to come up with titles, but they're all non-fiction. I have a hard time thinking of any liberal fiction pieces, period, let alone those that are so infuriatingly badly written and filled with caricatures rather than characters.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:10 AM on July 10, 2010


Which brings to mind - what's the sort of left-leaning analogue to ATLAS SHRUGGED? That is, one dimensional from top to bottom, politically, psychologically, spiritually, and as such, it drives any THINKING conservative (note the small "c") mad with frustration.

A friend of mine once proposed a theory that precocious jackass high-schoolers become briefly obsessed with either The Fountainhead or Ishmael. Those seem pretty opposite on the ol' political spectrum.

(I was into the former, for about a month or two during 11th grade)
posted by Greg Nog at 11:27 AM on July 10, 2010


Jonathon Livingston Seagull, Ecotopia, and Herland could all be considered didactic liberal fiction for certain values of didactic and liberal. None of those really have the widespread grip that Atlas Shrugged has, though.

The real hated liberal fiction bugaboo is Hollywood taken as a whole. (Initially wrote "as a hole," which also applies.) Rand herself thought the story of Robin Hood was depraved, and robbing from the rich to give to the poor, both literally and figuratively, is a common theme in mainstream entertainment. And that's just one aspect; look at our old friend CAPalert to see how nearly every movie is full of ostensibly anti-Christian messages.

I think the place of Hollywood on the political spectrum is a lot more nuanced and bizarre than that, but come election day there are going to be a lot more politicians denouncing Hollywood than Atlas Shrugged.
posted by lore at 11:43 AM on July 10, 2010


philip-random: ...what's the sort of left-leaning analogue to ATLAS SHRUGGED? That is, one dimensional from top to bottom, politically, psychologically, spiritually, and as such, it drives any THINKING conservative (note the small "c") mad with frustration.

It's difficult to find such a thing because conservatives are mostly wrong and leftists are mostly right (zing!) therefore their writing tends to be REAL LITERATURE.

So, with that in mind: The Grapes of Wrath - Steinbeck's masterpiece, would do well. Also the aforementioned genius Upton Sinclair's the Jungle (Guy was insanely prolific...he wrote a book every year from 1898 to 1961...) . or Sinclair Lewis's Main Street or Elmer Gantry or It Can't Happen Here. That last one, a novel about the rise of fascism in the United States.

Also, I'd throw in another contemporary of those guys who was just as prolific (I guess there wasn't much to distract you from your work in the early part of the 20th century), but died young. NO matter he is a giant and everyone should read You Can't Go Home Again. It's novel and great sweeping flowing brilliant prose - poetry. He takes apart Capitalism, and it's destruction to the fiber of the country during the Depression. It's pretty amazing. Also, as an aside, there's a section on his travelling through Nazi Germany in the early 30s (he died in 1938 at the ridiculously young age of 37) when he's doing a book tour of sorts (For his first masterpiece Look Homeward Angel), that is an amazing first person recounting of what he sees happening there and just how scary Nazi Germany was at the time and becoming progressively more so...

Anyhow, I love all that Modernist shit, which is why I like the 1949 film of The Fountainhead for the awesome Modernist imagery.

I'm sympathetic to just how harsh individual freedoms must've been savagely repressed and stripped away in the early days of the Soviet Union under Leninism in service to the idea of mass collectivism, and maybe in that context her philosophy and writings are more properly understood as the antidote for that losing of the self in a collective drama, but it seems her writings her are used to justify the worst in people. This country already had a healthy sense of self-determinism and individualism and suspicion of concentrations of power in government and religious organizations. It's the nation's DNA going back to its earliest days. And it had driven a lot of the people who had made their fortunes through their own guiles and brawn, and ruthlessness, and Rand's writing must be like ideological CRACK to those people. I mean hell, who doesn't want encouragement for their most selfish, unethical tendencies. I imagine even sociopaths and tyrants need a little encouragement now and again...

Funny thing is that Capitalism on crack mentality has infected Russia post- Berlin Wall and the country seems to be run by the Russian mafia...I wonder what Rand would have to say about that.
posted by Skygazer at 11:53 AM on July 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just checking the list of books Upton Sinclair wrote in his lifetime, (Thomas Wolfe worships the man as his literary hero in fantastic You Can't Go Home Again).

He wrote ELEVEN works in 1903 alone.


Here he is in 1927 selling his novel OIL! on the streets of Boston.

(
OIL! is the book, the film There Will Be Blood was adapted from.)

posted by Skygazer at 12:09 PM on July 10, 2010


Oh, my. I swear I made this comment before seeing this MeTa.
posted by qvantamon at 3:17 PM on July 10, 2010


Wait -- I like Rush but hate Ayn Rand. Should that be an Askme question?
posted by not_on_display at 3:43 PM on July 10, 2010


Oh, I see that's already been discussed. Never mind; I'm going to put on some Skrewdriver/Max Webster mashups now.
posted by not_on_display at 3:45 PM on July 10, 2010


what's the sort of left-leaning analogue to ATLAS SHRUGGED? That is, one dimensional from top to bottom, politically, psychologically, spiritually, and as such, it drives any THINKING conservative (note the small "c") mad with frustration.

It's certainly nowhere near as horribly written as anything by Rand, and it does some interesting technical things, but John Dos Passos's USA trilogy is pretty thinly veiled agitprop, of the sort that makes college sophomores charge off to join the Young Socialists' Sewing Circle.

In other words, I enjoyed it a lot, and it would make all Randians' heads asplode.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:26 PM on July 10, 2010


It's also enormous.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:29 PM on July 10, 2010


what's the sort of left-leaning analogue to ATLAS SHRUGGED?

A People's History of the United States. It's nonfiction, of course, but other than that it fits the bill: one dimensional from top to bottom, politically, psychologically, spiritually, and as such, it drives any THINKING conservative (note the small "c") mad with frustration.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:46 PM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Steinbeck? Dos Passos? Sinclair? Zinn? You insult those fine writers. I'll totally vote for Ishmael, though: it commits all of the same sins as Atlas Shrugged. A stupid plot, paper-flat characters, and a bunch of dishonest strawfigures to dismantle in a smug exercise of mental masturbation.
posted by norm at 7:18 PM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ahem, 59 Down
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:18 PM on July 10, 2010


Which brings to mind - what's the sort of left-leaning analogue to ATLAS SHRUGGED? That is, one dimensional from top to bottom, politically, psychologically, spiritually, and as such, it drives any THINKING conservative (note the small "c") mad with frustration.

Is there such a thing?


I haven't read it, but I've heard that Cement by Gladkov is a badly written book full of cardboard characters, strawmen and idiotic communist philosophy.
posted by stavrogin at 11:00 PM on July 10, 2010


Zinn is a terrible analogy; the first third or so of the 20th century saw some of the most radicalized politics in US history, a lot of which gets glossed over or simply omitted now. While he has an ideology, he marshals facts to support his opinion, not unpersuasive bullshit 50-page courtroom diatribes from some fictional rapist/architect.

A more apt comparison would be if Rand had explained why Hoover, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton were justified in firing on US veterans and their families, and gassing them, by letting said historical figures give self-serving 50-page courtroom monologues at their murder trials in her shitty novels histories. It would be even more impressive if any of them had actually been acquitted after such a performance, or even tried in the first place. Then maybe we could compare the two.
posted by trondant at 12:52 AM on July 11, 2010


Zinn is a terrible analogy; the first third or so of the 20th century saw some of the most radicalized politics in US history, a lot of which gets glossed over or simply omitted now. While he has an ideology, he marshals facts to support his opinion,

That's why I noted it was nonfiction, which I don't really think is what's germane to the argument. My point was that like Atlas Shrugged, the book is deeply ideological, tends to piss off the opposition and is often deeply cherished by young folk to whom the ideas seem fresh and important. I'm sure that some of the novels mentioned above are more similar to Atlas Shrugged in structure and method (and writing ability), but I don't think the ones that do continue to carry the same kind of cultural import as A People's History, and that seems important.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:42 AM on July 11, 2010


> I haven't read it, but I've heard that Cement by Gladkov is a badly written book full of cardboard characters, strawmen and idiotic communist philosophy.

I have read it, and 1) it's not as bad as all that (the main female character, for example, is surprisingly well drawn and, well, feminist), and 2) nobody but me has read it for decades as far as I can tell, so it's not a good comparison.
posted by languagehat at 9:17 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love all that Modernist shit, which is why I like the 1949 film of The Fountainhead for the awesome Modernist imagery.

To anyone who loves Modernism, kitsch, camp, or, especially, all three, Vidor's Fountainhead is like fucking catnip to a kitty. And since the book is marginally better (though no less ridiculous, ultimately) than Atlas Shrugged, the answer to the original question should be: don't try to read Atlas Shrugged at all. If you must, must, must read Rand, read The Fountainhead instead. (Of course, not reading Rand at all is even better. As Artw notes above, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is cleverer, wittier, provides the same sense of adolescent superiority, and it has mass driver catapults and a dinkum thinkum.)

what's the sort of left-leaning analogue to ATLAS SHRUGGED? That is, one dimensional from top to bottom, politically, psychologically, spiritually, and as such, it drives any THINKING conservative (note the small "c") mad with frustration.

Howard Fast comes to mind, especially his early stuff when he was still pretty committed to the communist party line, but Fast was never nearly as popular with lefties/liberals as Rand is with certain kind of righty. I suppose a conservative might offer I, Rigoberta Menchú here. I wouldn't agree, necessarily, but I can see such an argument being made. But Menchú still doesn't exert the kind idolatry among her fans that Rand does among hers. Maybe the best candidate for the lefty Shrugged is Che's Motorcycle Diaries. Young American lefties/liberals tend to respond to that book with the same kind of wide-eyed enthusiasm and semi-evangelical fervor that Rand gets from libertarians. Certainly Che is the only figure on the left who gets the kind of adoration that Rand gets on the right. Yet even here, even if you argue that Che's diaries are partly fictionalized, they aren't made up entirely. (And not quite as one-dimensional, however flawed the man was.) There simply isn't a work of fiction on the left that is a precise analogue of Atlas Shrugged.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:02 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


what's the sort of left-leaning analogue to ATLAS SHRUGGED?

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
posted by desuetude at 11:38 AM on July 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


If tMiaHM is in the same bucket as Rand, then surely Stranger in a Strange Land is in the same bucket as the mirror-universe lefty-Rand.
posted by hattifattener at 12:21 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would argue that Che does not get nearly the respect in the mainstream "left" that Rand gets in the mainstream right.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:27 PM on July 11, 2010


Stranger in a Strange Land is by far the worst of the popular Heinlein books.
posted by Artw at 12:43 PM on July 11, 2010


Oh great, that's at the top of my 'to read' pile.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:47 PM on July 11, 2010


Well, there's worse Heinlein. Far worse...
posted by Artw at 12:53 PM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just remember lots of strange Martian fucking in Stranger In A Strange Land.

Didn't Heinlien say he wrote it deliberately to make money off hippies or something? The only concrete thing I remember about it was the idea of the Fair Witness, which tickled my just-having-read-Dune centers about people who've trained their minds to a superhuman level (in this case, memory).

Stranger contains an early description of the waterbed, an invention which made its real-world debut a few years later in 1968. Charles Hall, who brought a waterbed design to the United States Patent Office, was refused a patent on the grounds that Heinlein's descriptions in Stranger and another novel, Double Star, constituted prior art
posted by The Whelk at 12:54 PM on July 11, 2010


Didn't Heinlien say he wrote it deliberately to make money off hippies or something?

The timing doesn't really work out, does it? Stranger was released in 1962. The hippy movement began mid-decade (1963-65) and was called "beatnik" until '67 or '68.
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on July 11, 2010


I work from imperfect knowledge.
posted by The Whelk at 1:35 PM on July 11, 2010


Heh. It is the kind of thing he would have said, though.
posted by zarq at 1:40 PM on July 11, 2010


What I always heard was that Stranger in a Strange Land was Heinlein's attempt to start a religion. You know, to win his bar bet with L. Ron Hubbard.
posted by kindall at 1:57 PM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


And yet if you told me a sexual mystery cult would loose out to a SF ponzi scheme I would not believe you, but there it is.
posted by The Whelk at 2:04 PM on July 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I would argue that Che does not get nearly the respect in the mainstream "left" that Rand gets in the mainstream right.

No, I don't think he does, either. For better or worse, no Democratic candidate will ever allude to Che the way Republicans like to allude to Rand. No Democratic President will ever appoint a Chairman of the Federal Reserve with an affection for Che. But on "the left," broadly speaking, especially among people looking for someone to idolize (the audience I sort of take the question to be referring to), Che is the only figure I can think of who gets some of same kind of adulation that Rand gets on the right.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:05 PM on July 11, 2010


I would argue that Che does not get nearly the respect in the mainstream "left" that Rand gets in the mainstream right.

It helps that Rand didn't execute thousands of political prisoners.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:06 PM on July 11, 2010


But Rand would look terrible on a red T-shirt at a Phish concert.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:09 PM on July 11, 2010




Looks more like Bette Davis, but the beret with a $ sign is a nice touch.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:38 PM on July 11, 2010


....all the boys think she's a prize she's got objectivist eyes.
posted by The Whelk at 7:39 PM on July 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


It helps that Rand didn't execute thousands of political prisoners.

It really helps that she never had the chance. As Whittaker Chambers (no liberal he!) once wrote: "From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To a gas chamber — go!'"
posted by octobersurprise at 8:15 PM on July 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


It helps that Rand didn't execute thousands of political prisoners.

She did testify in front of HUAC. She may never have killed anybody, but she certainly destroyed them.

That being said, fans of Rand show a marketed propensity toward enjoying being spanked and dominated. As one of the world's few genuine tops -- that is to say, a top who doesn't secretly wish to be a bottom -- you take your pleasures where you can. Generally, it's a good idea not to talk books with objects of sexual desire anyway, as they are likely to blurt out something like The Secret or James Frey and kill the mood.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:56 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


That being said, fans of Rand show a marketed propensity toward enjoying being spanked and dominated.

Makes perfect sense to me. The office manager who screams at his staff during the day probably delights in getting a good, proper thrashing and a ball gag by night.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:06 PM on July 11, 2010


...as they are likely to blurt out something like The Secret or James Frey and kill the mood.

"Atlas Shrugged!" is my safeword. Am I doing it wrong?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:17 AM on July 12, 2010


> "Atlas Shrugged!" is my safeword. Am I doing it wrong?

Yes, but only because that's more syllables than you might be able to produce when you're gagged.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:17 AM on July 12, 2010


I've found that it intensifies the beatings.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:51 AM on July 12, 2010


If I am not allowed to explode with righteous indignation at people recommending friggin' R.A. Salvatore, David Eddings, Mercedes Lackey, and crap like that in the "recommend me some well-written SF" threads

You are not allowed, you are OBLIGATED to.

Neither well-written, nor SF.
posted by ersatz at 8:02 AM on July 12, 2010


Based on abbat's previous questions, he seems pretty young, naive and impressionable. This is exactly the kind of person who shouldn't be reading Ayn Rand novels. One should only read Atlas Shrugged when they have already determined through life experience that Objectivism is bullshit.
posted by rocket88 at 8:46 AM on July 12, 2010


One should only read Atlas Shrugged when they have already determined through life experience that Objectivism is bullshit.

I read it (started to anyway) when I was young, naive and impressionable. What stopped me less than a quarter of the way in was the ABSOLUTE absence of any humor in the thing. That many pages, and no laughs!?!? The world already had one Holy Bible. I guess I wasn't that naive after all.
posted by philip-random at 9:54 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


And it looks like we've finally driven abbat off the site. Great job, fellas.
posted by slogger at 9:55 AM on July 12, 2010


> And it looks like we've finally driven abbat off the site. Great job, fellas.

Was it voluntary or involuntary?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:21 AM on July 12, 2010


I think Atlas Shrugged is a pretty good title, anyway. Pity it's not the title of something better.
posted by Mister_A at 10:30 AM on July 12, 2010


I didn't see anything in that thread that would have "driven" him off the site. One person in this thread declared him a troll, but wasn't mostly agreed with at all. If that's all it took then... damn.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:33 AM on July 12, 2010


And it looks like we've finally driven abbat off the site. Great job, fellas.

We would prefer not to talk about this at length, but abbat crossed a line that's pretty uncrossable in terms of how he was communicating with other members. Combined with the ongoing struggle we've been having with nearly all his questions and other responses in AskMe meant that this was where we had to let him know that he's not welcome here any more.

I am not happy with this, but we had been trying, at length, to work to resolve these issues with him and at some point we had to say "This isn't working. You seem to be unable to understand the baseline level rules about how to interact with other people here and we don't have the time or attention to continue working on it with you."

Again, I hate it when this happens, but we did not see a reasonable alternative.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:34 AM on July 12, 2010


Ack. My apologies for bringing it up, jessamyn. I'd thought it played out very differently...
posted by slogger at 10:44 AM on July 12, 2010


It's not a problem; people would have asked and it's probably better to have it out in the open. While we're not going to go on the record with specifics, people can email us if they have other questions/concerns about this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:57 AM on July 12, 2010


He sure was curious.
posted by Nabubrush at 11:01 AM on July 12, 2010


He sure was curious.

He was half a step away from his "fuckin' magnets" moment.
posted by GuyZero at 11:08 AM on July 12, 2010


That many pages, and no laughs!?!? The world already had one Holy Bible.

Dude, read the bible. Seriously. It is hilarious. The bit where one of Noah's kids finds him naked in a tent passed out drunk, and it's so gross that a couple of his other sons have to go and cover him up with a cloth while backing up so they don't have to look? Comedy gold!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:12 AM on July 12, 2010


This illumination of the Bible may provide you with the laughs you've been missing. At the very least, the laughter of madness as your brain breaks when you read his version of Revelation.
posted by jtron at 11:19 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's also fart jokes in there. Oh, wait, that's Moby Dick.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:20 AM on July 12, 2010


Huh, I'm rather thick and just now got the title of "Atlas Shrugged" (granted I've never read more than a synopsis of the book). He shrugged off the weight of the world because he needed to look after himself. Aha. Wouldn't the globe bounce around and trip him up sometime?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:22 AM on July 12, 2010


I a fan of the moment when the Elders of Zion join Moses on a picnic on Mt. Sinai, and God comes along and shows them his feet.

No, I'm not kidding.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:23 AM on July 12, 2010


I do like the bit at the beginning where God starts but he's all like "this sucks" than just erases everything like an etch-a-sketch and starts again.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:25 AM on July 12, 2010


I like the part where God's like "Yo, Moses, kill your boy to prove you're down" and Moses is like "You got it, dude" and then God's like "SIKE" and Moses is like "wtf lol".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2010


I like the part in the Odyssey where Polyphemus is all like "What's yr name? and Odysseus says "I'm Nobody," then when they stab him in the eye and Polyphemus calls out to his neighbors, and they come running and say "Who has beset you?" And he's all like "Nobody has!" and they go "Feh, whatever, we're outta here."

Was that the historic origin of Who's on First, or what?
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:28 AM on July 12, 2010


Mah divine feet let me show you it.
posted by Mister_A at 11:28 AM on July 12, 2010


BTW, in my version it's Moses that had to sacrifice one of his kids; not Abraham. It's a rare version of the Bible.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:28 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marisa, wasn't that Abraham? Or was that like a running gag with God way back when.

Bob Dylan says it was Abraham.
posted by Mister_A at 11:29 AM on July 12, 2010


Carry on.
posted by Mister_A at 11:29 AM on July 12, 2010


On left-leaning theory in fictional works, in the UK at least Robert Tressell's The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists was the classic introduction to socialism in novel form.
posted by Abiezer at 11:29 AM on July 12, 2010


Catchy title, too. It sounds like an Ed Gorey book.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:31 AM on July 12, 2010


But perhaps more importantly, here's the PLA in their previous incarnation as the Chinese Red Army doing Michael Jackson's Beat It. If that doesn't win the masses to communism, nothing will.
posted by Abiezer at 11:32 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's Abraham and Isaac. It was just an allegory though, to explain the cultural tradition of needing years and years of therapy to get past your childhood.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:38 AM on July 12, 2010


What about the part where Job was like "99 problems but my faith ain't one"? And than God was like "we'll see..." and Satan was like "let's party!" and finally Job was like "OMG, WTF?"
posted by P.o.B. at 11:40 AM on July 12, 2010


In BIZARRO METAFILTER there is a LADY named Marisa who DOESN'T confuse bible characters.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:40 AM on July 12, 2010


I started laughing when the vocals started, but lost it at the guitar solo.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:40 AM on July 12, 2010


In BIZARRO METAFILTER there is a LADY named Marisa who DOESN'T confuse bible characters.

Is it my fault you don't own a copy of David Lynch Presents: The Holy Bible?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:41 AM on July 12, 2010


Rocky IV is based on the bible.
posted by Mister_A at 11:44 AM on July 12, 2010


And ironically, The Passion of the Christ was based on Rocky IV.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


So is Mac and Me, but you have to do some serious deconstruction through critical analysis.

I'll help you get started, when there's only one set of footprints...

Boom. Go.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:51 AM on July 12, 2010


I like that in urban areas of the internet, bible passages are given the same treatment as Paris Hilton sex videos.
posted by heyho at 11:56 AM on July 12, 2010


One way to keep the Isaac and Abraham story fresh in your bean (the song, that is; can't vouch for the video)
posted by jtron at 12:25 PM on July 12, 2010


Shoot, in my book it was Ishmael, and I'm not talking about Melville.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:29 PM on July 12, 2010


The Book of Job is pretty funny.

Also, Lot's daughter's ..convinced the world was over and they were the only humans left trying to get him drunk so he'd impregnate them? I keep imagining this as an Arrested Development-esque sketch.


This is probably why I'm the only person on earth who liked Year One.
posted by The Whelk at 3:52 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll third (fourth? lost count) Ishmael as the bad left-ish OMG-So-Philosophical book that I worshiped and based my worldview on as a 15-year-old. I also really loved the sequel, My Ishmael. It wasn't until After Dachau that I finally started to suspect that actually, Daniel Quinn couldn't write for shit and maybe that's why he had carefully avoided traditional fictional elements such as characters and plot in previous works - it was a painfully bad book, and I was never really able to respect Quinn again. Then I acted super smug when I was assigned Ishmael in an anthropology class in college, and all those freshman minds who hadn't read it before were blown, just blown while I was so over it already.*

I still don't think anything he could ever do would be Atlas Shrugged levels of bad though. And at least Ishmael is shorter.

Ok fine, deep down inside I still have some teeny tiny secret warm fuzzies for Ishmael. But I TOTALLY KNOW BETTER.
posted by naoko at 9:53 PM on July 12, 2010


Another fantastic book, also from the modernist era (1939), is Christ in Concrete by Pietro Di Donato, about Italian immigrants working in construction just before the depression hit during the roaring 20s when NYC was exploding up into the sky.

The neorealism and intensity of the first chapter of that book, alone could grind the whole oeuvre of Ms. Rand into the worthless sawdust that it is, and bitchslap back to the Sic-fi section it's easily flattered, objectivist "realist" dorks.

Again, it's NOT, one dimensional, and is fact some of the best writing I've ever read and right up there with any Steinbeck and it came out the same year as The Grapes of Wrath, and should be required high school reading.

There's a story that shortly after the book came out Di Donato ran into Hemingway in a bar in Florida and was noticeably chuffed at Di Donato's achievement with the book.

There's also a film from 1949 that was unearthed not to long ago, too.
posted by Skygazer at 4:17 PM on July 13, 2010


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