Over the past few months, I've been reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as well as its two sequels. I absolutely loved the books, and I read them very quickly. When I finished the third book, I had nothing else to read. I decided that I'll read Atlas Shrugged again, since it's been two years since I finished it the first time around. When it came to the part where it flashbacks to the history and childhood of Dagny and Francisco, I get very discontented and anxious. It's not envy over the two characters because I don't resent them. I admire them. If Ayn Rand designed the characters as people who can and ought to be, how can they be as intelligent as they are? We all have the free will required to choose our philosophy, but not intelligence. Also, Dagny and Francisco wanted to work even before they became teenagers. I haven't had those desires when I was at that age. Has anyone else felt some apprehension when they read Atlas Shrugged? It's a feeling I still cannot completely articulate. I'm sure Ideas for Life will answer this shortly. I look forward to his answers.
I'm sure Ideas for Life will answer this shortly. I look forward to his answers.
I don't think Ideas for Life has the faintest idea why any particular reader of Atlas Shrugged would feel apprehension triggered by the intelligence of Dagny and Francisco in their youth. I can speak with authority for Ideas, but for others I can only speculate on the first possibility that comes to mind, namely, that the reader may be resisting taking responsibility for his own choices in life. But only the reader himself (or his therapist, if he has one) can confirm or refute such "speculation at great distance."
I can also point out that the childhood responses of Dagny and Francisco were shaped by philosophical premises which constitute "life at it might be and ought to be," not necessarily life as it is today. I.e., Atlas is romanticism, not naturalism; it's role in man's consciousness is to inspire and motivate (through concretization of what is possible). Assuming that my speculation about an apprehensive reader may be remotely close to being "warm," I can ask a further question of such a reader: do you think Atlas is saying that everyone in their youth can be like Dagny and Francisco, and that "it's too late" and "you've missed the boat" if your own youth is just about over and you weren't like that? If so, I think it's too narrow a view of romanticism and philosophy. The premises that motivate Dagny and Francisco aren't limited to the age of the practitioners; anyone can learn those same premises and learn to live by them at just about any age, except perhaps very late in life if one has spent a whole lifetime living by and upholding opposite premises. But I must always defer to the reader to evaluate independently whether or not "the shoe fits."
answered Nov 10 '13 at 22:17
Ideas for Life ♦