Thursday, August 11, 2005

Chapter 11: The Man Who Belonged On Earth

The man who belonged on earth is actually the man to whom the earth belonged. The first two sections allude to Stadler's memories of a man who should have moved the world by now if he were still alive--in later chapters, his identity will be revealed as John Galt. While thinking of Rearden, Dagny verbalizes in her mind the title and association above belonging to Rearden. The last two sections reveal that Rearden is akin to Galt in that he is an earlier version of him, one who has come to cogent grips with the evils of reality, but has not yet come to the conclusion to shrug.

The great Dr. Robert Stadler is presented in the context of a fragile self-restraint. He wishes that it wouldn't be cold and he tells himself that he isn't vexed by Dr. Floyd Ferris' new book, Why Do You Think that You Think? He looks out into the distance at a patch of light in the midst of clouds, as if it brings him the hope that there is an intelligence akin to his in the world. Ferris arrives late due to unavoidable car-problems. When Stadler confronts him as to why he wrote the book--especially when it is libel to the imprint of the State Science Institute--Ferris tells him that it is meant to make them popular: people don't want to think, but they believe it is a sin not to think, thus they will bless and follow anyone who makes a virtue out of what they know to be their sin. Ferris claims that the public is intrinsically bereft of intelligence, that this issue should not waste the time of one such as Stadler, and when he rises to leave, Stadler is forced to end his inquisition, lest he loses face. It is his greatness that is the defining trademark of the institute, but it is as if he has been reduced to a mere prisoner. He cannot outright denounce the work, and yet his name is used to countenance it. It is as if his greatness--which, in allowing the Institute to bear his name, he has let the Institute own--has been drained from him. As he looks out into the distance at the dying patch of light in the sky, Stadler fears what Galt, once his most promising student, would think.

As the boys with friends in Washington reap in their kill, the "field day of the little fellow" becomes his hey-day. After Wyatt's fire, the lesser oil companies had banded together to supply what Wyatt had once provided. A fortune "requiring no competence or effort" is bound to run out. When the lack of resources makes it so that the cost of production is more than the profit, the little fellow dies out--unless he has friends in Washington. Washington would provide them emergency subsidies, and the like, as if by magic. James Taggart runs trains in "blighted" areas for the public good even when there isn't enough transportation for the industrial centers--because he receives huge amounts of government subsidies for the act, he believes he has made great profits for Taggart Transcontinental. Yet, where does the money truly come from? It is the moratorium on railroad bond-paying that supplies the funding--it is at the livelihood of men who had worked hard to earn their money and entrusted it in railroad bonds. The hellishness of this all is abated by the thought of finding the man who created the motor, and Dagny allows herself to meet with Stadler regarding this. Stadler claims that he knows no man who can make it, that such a man must have died a long time ago--that he has to be dead--and he suggests Quentin Daniels, who might be able to piece it together. Stadler desperately needs Dagny's sanction of his greatness because she is one of the few individuals of intelligence remaining; however, he fears the accusation from Galt, that it was really Stadler who gave others the sanction to steal his greatness.

Although they have once issued negative statements regarding the metal, the State Science Institute now demands a huge order of Rearden Metal for their secret Project X, the purpose of which is mysterious, and only an incholate tagline is given: "an undertaking of great social value that may prove of inestimable public benefit." Rearden denies them this--as is his right--but the Institute gives a hint of a threat in reply. The Wet Nurse sent down to monitor Rearden's adherence to the new pieces of legislature tells him that although there are no absolutes, Washington's words are absolute--if they say it's highly important, then it is. Mere earthlings must not think--for thinking is just an illusion--but must obey the government, which incidentally, is the conclusion of Ferris' book.

Dagny and Rearden meet in haphazard intervals after long, hectic days--the tedium of the days are inherently insidious: it isn't as if they've lived, but as if they've survived their work. Through Rearden's revelations, their relationship develops, as well as Rand's Theory of Sex. Dagny verbalizes that their love is based on the knowing of each other's values--of how he lives up to her if he wants her. And as such, he has already won the right to view her as a luxury item ever since he poured the first Rearden Metal. As Dagny contemplates Rearden, she likens him to the man who belonged on earth--more precisely, the man whom the earth belonged to. But, from his realization that the question "why" is now answered with the muzzle of a gun--that no reason is given to him as to why he has to give all his customers equal shares of Rearden Metal when the arbitrarily-determined equal-share of 500,000 tons is not even enough for three miles of railroad track, that no explanations are given for any of the issued directives--and from his disillusionment that action is now impossible, Rearden is driven to a depression, wherein he feels no desire for Dagny--no will or care to live! It is only when he regains the world, his love and sense of it that the desire returns to him. He finds that that desire is a celebration not of his body but of himself.

The man to whom the earth belonged to must love it in order to live on it--to do so he must love his own life.

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