Wednesday, August 31, 2005

venue...

This page shows the last few entries of my notes/commentaries on Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged. For the full bunch of entries, check the August 2005 Archives.

You may contact me at yosun[at]nusoy[dot]com.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Chapter 30: In the Name of the Best Within Us

This final chapter, like the preceding chapters following Galt's speech, presents to the reader more events which review the salient points of Galt's speech.

Dagny, the only one amongst the heroes who is still officially in the world, goes up to the sentinnel guarding the entrance to Project F. She gives him the ultimatum of "to think (thus live) or to obey (blindly)," when she demands entrance. Because the guard utters the insidious bromide, "who am I to think?"--which implies who am I to live--and because when faced with the danger of a gun, the gun terrorizes him less than the act of choosing to stand down instead of obeying the late (mentally) Ferris' orders--that he would choose to exist without consciousness--Dagny shoots him.

Dagny, Rearden, d'Anconia and Danneskjold are the first of many others in Galt's Gulch to reach Galt. They, the force guided by mind, effortlessly manage to bypass the armed guards--brute force without mind. When Dagny reaches him, Galt has obtained the one value he wanted to win from the outer world. The other Gulchers who risked their life to save him did not do so at a sacrifice, either. Galt is too big of an asset to leave in the hands of the looters, and, in full consciousness of his superlative value, they would risk their lives to save this asset.

Eddie Willers finds himself stranded in the middle of nowhere when the diesel of the last Taggart Comet dies on him. A band of men traveling by means of horse-drawn wagons offers him and the passengers a ride, whilst telling him the news that the Taggart bridge had fallen. Eddie had previous found out that Headquarters isn't responding. He refuses to join the band of men who have resorted to the primitive, as if he were a sea captain who would rather drown in his ship, rather than be saved by savages rowing in their canoes.

In his fall to desperate mindlessness, Willers realizes the exact nature of the best within us--it is that in men which makes business and making a living possible. His desperate panic loses coherence, when he calls out--in the name of saving it, the best within us, he had to get the train going. He does not allow himself to accept that it cannot be saved in the outer world; and thus, because of this negation of mind, however slight, he is doomed to perish.

The final section of this book is supposed to convey the sense of an immense deliverence of freedom of release and tension of purpose, of space swept clean, leaving nothing but the joy of unobstructed effort. The heroes plan to repopulate and remake the world. This has to be because A is A, and the world they are to create will be the one for man qua man. (man by virtue of being man)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Chapter 29: The Generator

The generator is the source of... Stadler's physical demise (generator as Project X), Dagny's epiphany (revelation of true nature of villains), and Taggart's mental realization and demise. The latter two vie the generator as Project F.

Stadler realizes the fatal dead end of his submitting to the looter's game. That once the looters have exhausted their use of him, he would no longer be safe from them and whatever power he had would instantly disappear. He plans on seizing control of Project X. His means: somehow. His motive: his terror of Thompson, the fact that it now is either Galt joins them or Galt refuses to surrender, wherein Stadler would be tortured to attempt to goad John. Stadler's liquid brain of thoughts without connections feels that his plan is a practical necessity.

Stadler finds that the Friends of the People have taken over the project a few hours before him. Stadler's terror when he encounters Meig, the vigilante head of the project, is the realization that Cuffy Meigs is his final spiritual son--the imbecile whom Stadler had sold his soul to. Meigs' terror in his moment of triumph, of gaining control over a weapon capable of mass destruction, is finding the mystic intellectual present, here, and refusing to fear him and defying his power! Meig, as per the psychological defense mechanism evident in his bullyism, lived in chronic terror his whole life, and now, it is as if the sum of his triumph has become the sum of his fears.

Megis, in his drunken panic, louts about and accidentally presses the lever for the weapon to self-destruct. Stadler, et. al., perish. Justice is blind as to who dies--whether the worthless lout of a bulley symbolized by Cuffy or Stadler, the once inviolate mind who had confronted the syllogism that A is A enough to have created the theory making the weapon possible.

Dagny listens in on the looters' plans after Galt's outbreak. Morrison panics and runs away (presumably to his well-stocked country home), stating that he's tried everything he could, etc. The rest of the villains realize that no matter what private escapes they'd provided for themselves, the full fact is that all are trapped. That if they were to run away to their country fortress, their lives could very well be taken by bandits. "They had the relieved look of cheats who could believe that the game could end no other way and were making no effort to contest or regret it." Even at checkmate, they would blank-out the solution of giving up, and they would still want their own way (who are they to know that their way is right?).

Mouch and Thompson give up their "liberal" stance and lets Ferris deal with Galt via force.

Dagny's epiphany comes about when she realizes that the nature and method of rebellion they had against existence--their undefined quest for some unnamed Nirvanna--was that they did not want to live, that they wanted to die.

As Galt lies trapped in the torture rack of the Ferris Persuader--Project F, Taggart screams out to them to increase the current, to deliver more pain to Galt, (to increase the current enough so as to kill him). When the generator breaks, Galt is the only one who can instruct the mechanic on how to fix it. The mechanic runs away, while Taggart attempts to fix it.

In the midst of his frenetic mindless action, Taggart realizes the truth about himself. That he wants Galt to die knowing that death would follow after wards, that given the choice of reality or die, he would forsake reality to die. That underneath the superficiality of "the public good," hidden from himself by his miasma of feelings and blank-outs, Taggart's core is:
  • Lust to destroy whatever was living for the sake of whatever was not.
  • To defy reality by the destruction of every living value, for the sake of proving to himself that he could exist in defiance of reality, never bound by facts.
Ferris and Mouch drag Taggart away, halting their torture of John for the time being, fearing that if they were to continue, they would reach a similarly self-stifling realization of self.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Chapter 28: The Egoist

John Galt is an egoist in the purest, most undiluted sense of the word: he lives for his own sake, his own life. Therefore, the looters' attempts to chain him via references to "moral responsibility" and such are useless. Moreover, he's not open to a deal without a mutual trade: value given and received on both sides; Thompson's attempts to negotiate with him are pointless because the world of the villains has no value to offer him.

After Galt's speech, the villains panic. Dagny is the first to speak of a solution: she tells the villains to quit, to give up. Stadler tells them to kill Galt. Thompson, in his attempt to denial his true thug-like nature, views both views as too extreme. He decides to strike a deal with John Galt. While he is correct that a man like Galt is always open to a deal, he doesn't allow himself to realize that he has nothing of value to offer as his part of the deal.

More people quit, and seemingly random acts of violence become more rampant. Barns are burnt, whole families destroy themselves. Factories and vital industries fall as everyone avoids the jobs of responsibility. People reacted apathetically to the wage-raises for making effort; it is as if people don't care to live or they don't care to live on present terms. The incumbents send out radio messages of distress on every available channel, in hopes that one of them would reach Galt. In desperation, Thompson asks Dagny for help, subtly leaking out the possibility that Galt might be in danger to goad her into action. Thompson tells Dagny that he can't help it if Ferris catches him first--Ferris believes in using force and harm as a means of discipline, while Thompson, claiming that he and Mouch are more liberal, would go for none of that.

Dagny, who is too guileless to believe the villains could be playing good-cop/bad-cop on the issue of a great man's life, stalks down Galt's river-side slum house. For twelve years, Galt had lived in the real world 11 months out of 12. His home is in the worst side of town, as befits the monetary-means of the lowest of track laborers. Yet, he has a secret locked inside his home: the world's most coveted lab, filled with discoveries that could move the world. A clipping of Dagny's joyful image taken on the launch of the John Galt Line symbolizes what Galt wants to achieve; what men expect of feel about their life once or twice in a while--that is what Galt chose as the constant and normal.

Galt tells Dagny that they've little time left together on earth. That the villains would crack down on them any moment now. Dagny is horrified, but Galt assures her that this meeting was worth it; in fact, he would have been disappointed had she not come. While Dagny has never expected to resort to prevarication, she sees that the only way that Galt would escape them is if she plays along: the mind and its own force against the mindless brute. When the villains break into Galt's apartment, they force their way into the locked room of his secret lab. When the door gives, they find that it is a room of black nothingness--the demise of the room is strikingly symbolic of the creed: "do not force a mind," lest you lose (access to) it.

With full consciousness, Dagny claims she hates Galt because he wants to destroy her railroad. She knows that if the villains believe there is any affinity between them, Dagny would be used as a torture hostage. Because the villains can only extort from the victim's own values, and that Galt doesn't care to exist without values, Galt would kill himself if Dagny is used to goad his obedience--it would only be a hopeless prolonged torture.

Three stories of the Wayne-Falkland Hotel is converted into an armed prison for this very special POW. Who is John Galt?

Thompson attempts to negotiate with Galt. He offers Galt the ludicrous position of Economic Dictator. To Thompson, this position is one of the most coveted offices a villain would desire. Reason is the enemy Thompson dreads, as he clearly did not let his wits process Galt's speech: "every dictator is a mystic... a mystic craves obedience from men, not their agreement... he feels that men possess a power more potent than reason--and only their causeless belief and forced obedience can give him a sense of security." Indeed, Thompson not only disbelieves in reason and staid reality--that Galt had already denounced all dictators--he also fails to understand the meaning of words, telling John that "if you want a free economy--order people to be free!"

John replies aptly, "If you're able to pretend you haven't heard a word I said on the radio, what makes you think I haven't said it?" (Blank-out.)

Thompson's negotiation with Galt is unproductive aside from his realization that he would have no chance to speak to Galt except at gunpoint, that because he has Galt trapped, Galt's life is at his mercy. But, Galt states that because Thompson does not have any values of his, Galt's life is not his to sell. Thompson is unsettled by this conversation, and he would rather blank-out the growing revelation that he is nothing but a thug, a gun-man who threatens with the symbolic logic statement: your life or your mind.

Some other guys attempt to talk to Galt. While seemingly post-climatic reveberations of Galt's speech, each villain's to suade him does further reveal his character.

Taggart vs Galt: Taggart attempts to convince Galt that he's not right, that no one can be sure of his own knowledge, that it's a selfish luxury to hold out when people need you. Galt, the egoist, flicks off each one of Taggart's impotent lines: he knows that he is wanted because he is sure of his knowledge and that it is right, on an absolute scale, and that it is his ideas that people need. Yet, the core of Taggart's arguments can be summed by this line, "People are suffering and perishing--and you who could save them join us even if you think we're wrong... sacrifce your mind to save them." If Taggart wants Galt to sacrifice his only means to save them, then that would be death to all. The insidious nature behind Taggart's facade of the public good is revealed in the next chapter.

Morrison vs Galt: Morrison attempts to wring pathos from Galt by bringing him the petition of a bunch of schoolteachers begging Galt to save them. Essentially, Morrison feigns begging Galt's pity for all those who suffer. Galt asks Morrison whether all those who suffer had pity for Rearden. "Those who suffer" has, traditionally, been used as the chain to wield the shackles binding the heroes; once the hero falls for the trap of pitying, he will realize that the ones to be pitied are actually the ones destroying him. Morrison, then, attempts to use the age-old weapon of wringing guilt and pity from Galt. He would quit, run screaming out of the room, in the next chapter, when he realizes that such traditional weapons are now impotent.

Ferris vs Galt: (In the current author's opinion, Ferris sounds nigh too much like your typical college "ethics coordinator." The current author is haunted by such memories as the mandatory "ethics seminar" she had to attend as part of her summer REU in physics--wherein the "ethics coordinator" of the large public university that hosted the event regurgitated the essence of Ferris' argument.) Ferris attempts to force Galt to believe that it is his "moral responsibility" to the people. Using the excuse of the food shortages, Ferris threatens to kill every third child under ten and everyone over sixth years of age. (Bye bye octogenarians, et al.) "To fail to save a life is as immoral as to murder." Galt does not respond at all to Ferris. Who is the government--and Ferris, for that matter--to decide who gets to live? That a family would work hard and have their children killed, while another family would slouch around in lassitudes and be dealt the same blow--that punishment be blind, the good suffer with the bad. From the current state of the world, it is evident that the few good who remain would stop wasting their energies, and Ferris' plan could only end in disaster. Therefore, his plan speaks volumes about his own character--that because killing would not make the final disaster inevitable, he would kill for the sake of killing.

Stadler vs Galt: Once, he was a man who truly believed in the virtuous saying, "to the fearless truth, the involate mind." Twenty two years ago, he had told Galt that "The only sacred value in the world is the inviolate human mind." It is a depressing degrading that he would violate his so-called inviolate human mind, that he would stifle his thinking a bit with each step until he suffocates and dies. He attempts to defend himself against John, when by virtue of his mind--his once inviolate mind, he shouldn't need to...
  • The mind is useless against force. (I can't help it!)
  • All I wanted to do was to force the mindless materialists (The gun was aimed at them, not us!)
  • I had no choice except to play their game with their rules and beat them at it.
  • Human knowledge set free of material bonds was the great ideal I wanted (Unlimited end unrestricted by means.)
  • There is no other way to live on earth (Stadler then thinks of the speech: It was only logic... one can't live by logic, rationality twenty-four hours a day with no rest, no escape... ... ...)
  • YOU ARE THE MAN WHO HAS TO BE DESTROYED!
One sees that as the points above get darker and darker, Stadler's mind declines and descends deeper and deeper into the realm of the mindless. The conclusion Stadler reaches is that Galt, the inviolate mind, has to be destroyed. To blank-out and melt is to be the anti-mind, therefore the anti-mind.

Morrison attempts his final pull at Galt by forcing him to attend a celebration in honor of him--one to prove the merger of his ways and ours, that anything can be reconciled and united. The purpose of the celebration is valueless and immaterial, but that is no surprise because the villains' world has no objective values remaining. The blind irrationality of the event would fail to acknowledge that neither their God or their Guns would make the celebration mean what they were struggling to pretend it meant.

The luxuries offered in the event epitomized the best that the looters' view of existence could offer. Essentially, it is the sum of blank-out mindlessness--of the sacred value of the inviolate mind rescinded, perhaps never even found in the first place--the spread of mindless adulation, the unreality of enormous pretense:
  • Approval w/o standards
  • Tribute w/o content
  • Honor w/o causes
  • Admiration w/o reasons
  • Love w/o a code of values.
They would try to tempt Galt with their view of "life's highest fulfillment," which are worthless according to Galt or any of the heroes because unpaid virtues are... valueless. The "prizes" of their game are utterly not worth winning.

Dagny wonders whether they even see Galt, whether they wanted him to be real. If Galt is what a man can be... would they be stopped by the looters, who have not chosen to achieve it, and regard the looters and mouchers as humans and Galt as the impossible?

The John Galt Plan is announced to be the abomination of ensuring the few faithful remaining that the impossible would be possible--that all conflicts would be reconciliated and everyone would be pleased. By placating the irrational, one rescinds the rational. When they finally let John have the mic, his valliant words go like:

"Get the hell out of my way!"

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Galt's Speech

Detailed summary and commentary at http://galt.yosunism.com

Chapter 27: This Is John Galt Speaking

The bulk of the content of the chapter is in Jon Galt's 4+ hour radio speech, to be expounded upon in detail in the next post. The chapter begins with the media's muckracking of Rearden's desertion--going from outrage to denial. When Dagny finds out, she triumphs that Rearden is free, finally out of their reach; but, simultaneously, she becomes more determined to withstand her quest, that there's still a chane to win, "but let me be the only victim." Taggart then drags Dagny to Mr. Thompson's speech on the world crisis, and Galt uses the publicity Thompson created for the event and talks in his stead.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Chapter 26: The Concerto of Deliverance

Like Halley's Concertos, this chapter, The Concerto of Deliverance, involves struggle before reaching the light. Rearden makes the intellectual leap necessary to accept the state of the world, the true effects of his own actions: that the more he works, the more he kills--he is the guiltiest man because he supports the looters by working, and as long as the looters rule, the fate of men is in malicious hands. Dagny's realization of the secret of the looters, when they invite her to their meeting to decide the fate of the world--that the looters would set stricter directives to further stifle the men of ability, to subdue them, make them more pliant--along with Cherryl's aptly-put horror line that "people like you will always work, struggle to rise; we're safe, you have no choice" foreshadows Rearden's self-recognition of his superlative value and the self-powered, self-removable fetters the looter had over him.

The chapter begins with Rearden receiving an odd attachment order, a vague threat that he hasn't been straight with his personal income taxes. He doesn't react to it, and the day later, a Washington bureaucrat calls him, making the excuse that it was all a mistake, going through the same apologizing spiel twice to see his reaction. Even though the bureaucrat directly encourages him to file a claim against the file, Rearden still doesn't react, saying and doing nothing. Shortly later, Tinky Holloway calls him to attend a dinner conference, pleading for a hearing. Rearden agrees to go. The morning of the meeting, Rearden's mother calls him with a desperate insistence that he comes by, that whatever it is she needs to tell him can't be said over the phone. Rearden also agrees to her, setting her meeting before the dinner conferenec.

The above events that start the chapter are all meant to bind Rearden into staying; the looters have caught on with the latest rage and have finally figured out who would go next.

Rearden's family attempts to wring pity, guilt, and forgiveness from him. However, their method, although yellow enough to incite pity, betrays their true intent. One one level, they are desperate to keep him because if Rearden leaves, they would be left with nothing--the looting government wouldn't help the family of deserters and Rearden Steel would be nationalized. They apologize profusely, attempting to blame their mistakes on their ignorance and inability to think; they urge that Rearden feels. They're his family. Yet, their idea of forgiveness is twisted: they regret that they've hurt Rearden and to atone, they would ask for total immolation from Rearden--begging him to stay, when the hopelessness of his industrial position and the futility of his struggle should have provoked a truly loving family to tell him to leave. Indeed, his family wishes "to make him let them devour the last of him in the name of mercy, forgiveness and brother-cannibal love. (891)"

When Philip accidentally blurts out that they had to see him before the dinner conference, he reveals that the purpose of the attachment order is to bind Rearden from escaping, but limiting the avail of funds at Rearden's disposal. "You can't run away... without money." The looters have machinated the practical back-up of keeping his money away from him in case the trio who occupied the bodies of his family members failed as hostages to get Rearden to stay.

Lillian attempts to deal her last blow at Rearden by revealing her infidelity to him--as his wife, as "Rearden Wife." It is as if unable to have his value, she could surpass it by destroying it, as if she would thus obtain a measure of his greatness. Lillian had chosen Rearden for his best virtues and placed him as the center of her life, as one's love should be, but if love to Rearden is the celebration of one's existence and of existence, then self-haters and life-haters would see love as the pursuit of destruction--Lillian's goal in life had been to destroy Rearden. She had tried myriad times to lower his self-esteem, attempting to get him drunk, to interest in an extramarital affair--her attempt to steal Rearden's self-esteem is based on her knowledge that if a man surrenders his value, he would be at the mercy of anyone's will. As if by destroying Rearden, his moral purity and confident rectitude, his resultant depravity would give her the right to hers. But, Rearden is not affected by Lillian's final confession of her breaking of the purity of Rearden Wife; Rearden had long ago discredited her with the title and, moreover, he does not hold the belief that one's moral stature is at the mercy of action of another.

Rearden walks away from his family's last attempt to leech him for alms unharmed, only the wiser. When he arrives at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel, he finds that the men are meeting in the room Francisco used to occupy. As he goes through more revelations, he is haunted glimpses of Francisco's wraith. The men attempt to sell him the Steel Unification Plan, and Rearden attempts to explain to them how it wouldn't work, how it's perfectly absurd, how if they want the alleviate this mess of national emergencies, they ought to just sit back and let him take hold. But, the looters are adament in stating that that wouldn't work. They give their stream of excuses--"it's only a matter of gaining time, all we need is a chance." What are they counting on? Rearden realizes that they are counting on him. That Rearden himself had allowed them to put over his head the Equalization of Opportunity Bill, Directive 10-289, "that he had accepted the law that those who could not equal his ability had the right to dispose of it, that those who had not earned were to profit, but he who had was to lose, that those who could not think were to command, but he who could was to obey them." He had given them cause to believe that reality was a thing to be cheated, he had made their irrational universe work: he had provided for it. He was always to do without asking why, and they were always to receive and demand without asking how. Their ultimate weapon that has prevented their world from collapsing as it should have was that no matter what "he'll do something!" Rearden leaves them, realizing the full significance of the sanction of the victim.

When he returns to his mill, he finds that it is under seige by a mob attack. His Wet Nurse had attempted to save it, by voiding Washington's demand for him to let the mob into the mill. (Apparently, the looters had another backup in their machinations in case Rearden doesn't agree. They want the Steel Unifiaction Plan, and they had planned the mob attack so that the media would muckrack it to appear as if Rearden's workers are underpaid and thus that a Steel Unification Plan was necessary.) Tragically, he is fatally wounded. The Wet Nurse represents an honest man's attempt to find the right path in the midst of the evil world of the looters; if he good man gets in the looters' way, they die. Moreover, the looters would plague their children with the belief of the non-absolute to keep them in line. The vicious cycle of their world...

When Francisco d'Anconia under the nom de guerre of Frank Adams comes to reap his greatest conquest, Rearden is ready. He reacts with indifference to the destruction of his mill because he knows that if he does anything to save it, he would only be helping the looters continue to avoid reality: he is ready to leave the world behind.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Chapter 25: Their Brother's Keeper

The term "brother's keeper" has biblical origins. According to The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3rd Ed... The line "Am I my brother's keeper?" was said by Cain in answer to God's questioning the whereabouts of the brother whom he killed. This has come to symbolize people's unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of their fellows--their "brothers"--in an extended use of the term.

The four section of this chapter all involve the welfare of others, and as if following the precedene of the original murderous context in which "brother's keeper" was first used, each is tinged with an insidious air. The usual sequence of an overal happy/good- sad/bad- happy/good- sad/bad section series is used.

The first section begins with Taggart's nervous anticipation of the announcement of the nationalization of d'Anconia Copper, whilst the pitiful state the nation has succumbed to is expounded upon: how "pull peddlers" in every possible concern--transportation, steel, wage-raise, suspended sentence--have replaced competent men, dynamic like their predecessors, but also unseemly, like that which breeds, feeds, and moves upon the stillness of corpses--parasites. The news arrives that on the moment of the official nationalization of d'Anconia Copper, the company--each of its ports--had simultaneously committed suicide, the workers having long been evaluated and paid. Francisco would later leave a message asserting the exact conscious knowledge of what he had done, replacing the 1984-like calander on the towers of New York with the line "Brother, you asked for it!"

"In this enlightened age, we have come, at last, to realize that each one of us is his brother's keeper." Eugene Lawson would say as the "higher ideal" of seizing Nebraska's future via taking their graneries, their vital food sent to support Illinois. "Men had been pushed into a pit where, shouting that man is his brother's keeper, each was devouring his neighbor and was being devoured by his neighbor's brother, each was proclaiming the righteousness of the unearned and wondering who was stripping the skin off his back, each was devouring himself, while screaming in terror that some unknowable evil was destroying the earth."

In truth, they have reached the ideal of the centuries: where need as the highest ruler wrecks the first claim upon them, where need is the standard of value, the coin of realm, more sacred than right and life. Is the world that results irrational? The chaos and deaths and catastrophes are merely the consequences of a world where need comes before right and life.

The connection with the biblical reference of "brother's keeper" becomes obvious when Ramirez, who comes to power over the People's State of Chile, declares his moral slogan as "man is his brother's keeper"--implying that men are responsible for others first before, if ever, himself.

The Minnesota disaster is a tragedy that shed lights on the true intention behind the excuse of man being his brother's keeper, of serving the public welfare. Even though food is a bare necessity for the public welfare (with the prospect of starvation over the coming winter impending), the rail-cars necessary for the Minnesota harvest--the only source of grain--is sent to Ma Chalmer's soybean project. Chalmers obviously has more pull-power, and thus the reader sees that it is pull-power that determines who must be "kept" and what the public welfare needs. Rand's description of this single incident is all-encompassing in that it epitomizes the essence of the struggle of the myriad men who have committed suicide or quit the world. It shows the blatant injustice served to the good and competent by the impotent: this is Minnesota's best harvest, and yet it is left to rot next to frozen rail-lines, where the cars needed for its transportation have been sent to California for a premature harvest of inedible soybeans. Moreover, the farmers' reaction--the haggard farmer who drags a sack-full of grain on his back only to fall down dead into a ditch, the product of his harvest wasted, as if their work is but an aimless struggle with an end that a pull-peddler could easily push out of their reach. It is only when enough violence arises, much of the grain already rotten and the rest doomed, that the masses of farmers "bulley" Washington into sending the needed cars--but it is too late. The farmers who burn their own farms and kill themselves do so in acts of mercy-killing, like the industrialists who commited family-homicide. They know that if the culmulation of their work--the harvest as a magnum opus--comes to such a pitiful end, then there is something deadly evil about the world and they would rather die and destroy the goods they own than serve it. It is also the amelioration of the good man: if the world is about pointless suffering and aimless actions, then death be our final viaticum.

Dagny realizes the evil of the villains, and Cherry's haunting realization and subsequent suicide aptly prepares the reader for the beginning of Dagny's freeing from the thinning strings that still binds her to them.

At the meeting in the Wayne-Faulkland Hotel, where the head honcho pull-pedlers (Lawson, Taggart, Mouch, Ferris, Weatherby, Meigs) meet to decide the fate of the world, they mention her name in her presence not to delude her into believing they are consulting her but to attempt to delude themselves into believing she had agreed to the preposterous actions they merely "hinted" to each other at. They want her approval without knowing whether she approved or not. She had attended because this was the first they had included her in their meetings to decide the fate of the world, and she had thought this would be her chance to get them to turn it over to her.

But, instead, she comes to grips with their insidious nature. She had thought they had seized factories in acknowledgment of their values. But, as long as men exist, they will always be able to seize. The harder men work, and the less they gain, the more submissive the fiber of their spirit. They had seized factories in order to make the producers more pliable. She sees through the superficial facade of the humanitarian hiding Lawson's pleasure in the prospect of human starvation. She sees that Ferris, the scientists, dreams of the day when men return to the hand-plow. But, she reacts with incredulity--she doesn't see how a man could be reduced to such a base state--and indifference--because she no longer regards them as men.

In the fourth section, Dagny becomes Galt's keeper by consumating their relationship. Galt, in his desires to claim her before they are both safely and determinedly out of reach of the villains, has put his life in Dagny's hands; he knows that Dagny would not resist tracking him down, and in the process of such, Dagny would lead them straight to him. They make passionate love in the depths of the Taggart Tunnel--this is symbolic because the tunnels are the source of a fount of blood, ichor, and Dagny and John are the living power.

Dagny brings the enjoyment of life back to the rightful owners, her look of energy and reward intertwined, together, and Galt is the first man who stated in what manner these two are inseparable.

Dagny finds that Galt had been working as a mere track laborer down here for twelve years. This is symbolic of the relationship between a thinking man and Atlantis. Atlantis is hidden by nothing but an optical illusion, just as Galt's identity is hidden by nothing but the error of Dagny's sight. The thinking man does not see past the fetters of the looter's hold over them, and thus they cannot reach Atlantis.



References
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3th ed., edited by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., et al. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. www.bartleby.com/59/. [Date of Printout].

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Chapter 24: Anti-Life

This chapter is grotesque, disgusting, and ends with bathos that implies that in what the world has deprecated into, good men (and women) can either die willingly and of her own hand or die via being leeched, working for the ever-hungry moochers. Its structure follows the familiar bad, good, bad, except the fourth is good depending on whether one sees its significance or not.

The chapter begins with Taggart finding himself bereft of the care to live or die. He recalls being disgusted at a party held by Senor Gonzales and his wife. Gonzales has become the new "rich and powerful," which in contrast to the "old wealth" that Taggart and Weatherby (and Lillian) are a part of, is a class populated by muscle-men, like those of Cuffy Meig's like. He had left because he felt like he should celebrate--nay, he wanted to celebrate, but he could not admit the purpose to which he wanted to celebrate. He feels a danger in finding the truth of self, and thus he suspends judgment on the premise that danger would remain unreal by the sovereign power of the wish to not see it. The party marked the inevitable nationalization of d'Anconia Copper to come in less than a month on September 2, and because it was Taggart who had machinated it, he felt he ought to celebrate.

He returns home to Cherryl, but he becomes irritated when she questions him on the great business deal he pulled off today. That her look of admiration--which he needed--would wan when he goes past the superficial bromides and describes the nature of the event. He is irked that she is a trader and expects him to be one, too. That she would not take unearned love, would attempt to live up to Mrs. James Taggart in return for the kindness he had shown her, and that she had envisioned him to be like Hank Rearden, and she had loved him because she had faultfully mistaken him to be like him. Taggart wants from Cherryl the admission of fgreatness without any specific consent to his greatness, wanting her to see in him the spirit of a producer--so that he might loot that spirit, have unearned love, be Rearden without the necessity of being anything, of being. He had thought that by giving Cherryl wealth that she could never have earned, he would be able to tie her to him, and he is disgusted by the fact that she would want to try to live up to it. If analogized to the Starnes heirs, Taggart is akin to both Eric and Gerald.

Thinking she merely needs a walk outside away from the house, Cherryl leaves Taggart. She ventures to Dagny's office, and she apologizes to Dagny for what she had said to her on her wedding night--she had mistaken Dagny for the real Taggart and vice versa. Cherryl is direct and open, stating that apologizing will not nullify her actions and she is presumptuous in her action to apologize, but she can only ask for a favor, that Dagny hears her apology. Dagny reveals to her the secret of the accusation that one is "unfeeling"--it means that the person is just, that she possesses no causeless emotions and will not grant the accuser the feeling he doesn't deserve: will not go against reason, moral values and reality. Justice is the opposite of charity. Those who grant sympathy to evil don't grant sympathy to guilt, none to innocence. Dagny reveals to Cherryl that she manages "to stay unmangled" by placing nothing above the verdict of her own mind--the highest, noblest and only good on earth. Cherryl admits that she once believed in that, but it seems the world would hurt her for it and that she must hide that innate innocence in her. Dagny is worried about Cherryl, but Cherryl assures Dagny that she is okay, not knowing the extent of her injuries.

In the third section, Lillian comes crawling to Taggart for help. She has delivered Rearden and now she would like her favors remembered; but, the problem is, the nature of this evil trading is that one must have further favors to grant, and she is bankrupt of favors. Taggart, though, claims that he would like to help her, but he isn't powerful enough, that Rearden is too powerful an adversary (implying that, from the freedom of guilt Rearden now flaunts, any further antagonization against him would very well tip him over beyond the looters' domain of leech).

Despite Lillian's dispicable appearance and behavior, Taggart finds himself enjoying her presence. In their world, damnation has become a value, and when he tells Lillian of the scheme he machinated to nationalize d'Anconia Copper--and Lillian points that d'Anconia was his friend, but yet he managed to beat him, use him, overpower him, her tone is that of admiration of a great deed. What the villains hold as accomplishments is destruction. Lillian drawls on that she can't lay tracks, erect bridges, or build mills, but she can destroy them; she can't produce metal, but she can take it away from him; she can't bring men to knees in admiration, but she can bring men to knees... Taggart tells her to shut up because this is cuts too close to the truth about himself, and he would rather live the lie of his self-abdication. However, he has sex with her because she is still Mrs. Rearden. It is an act that to them is the triumph of impotence, that the worthless husks that they are would be able to best Rearden, that Taggart would disgrace Mrs. Rearden, that Taggart had the power to do so, to defile Rearden's name embodied in a wife who would openly let Taggart rape her... They perform this action without feeling, with only the self-deception that it would hurt Rearden, in some way, because the act derides him, even if only in their perspectives.

When Cherryl returns, it seems Taggart has found his surrogate to harm in lieu of Rearden. He tells Cherryl that the woman he was with in her absence was Mrs. Henry Rearden--as if breaking Cherryl would break Rearden, because Taggart realizes that Cherryl, like Rearden, is one of those who would always work and struggle to rise. When Cherryl questions him, he admits that he wanted her to owe him gratefulness that could not be earned for loving her flaws, so that she would love him even though he is worthless, that they would be beggeres chained to each other. Cherryl realizes that Taggart could find this kind of lover in any woman, and she is perceptive enough to get from Taggart the truth that he married her because she wouldn't be that sort of woman. But then, she realizes that it is because she is not depraved, that he wants to destroy her, to chain her to him. Her revelation: that Taggart is a killer for the sake of killing.

Cherryl escapes the house, yet again the same night. This time, however, she feels it useless to visit Dagny. She feels the burden of the hopeless tragedy the good are all involved in, that by their nature, they would work, and thus the looters would be safe and they have no choice. When she kills herself, it is due to the conscious decision to not help the looters anymore. It is due to the conclusion that, in this world, we all die. Like the secret of the Railroad Unification Board, the company that runs no trains survives--and those who are good and who produce will be drained, to die. She destroys herself because she does not wished to be leeched anymore. In this, she represents the myriad suicides of the various industrialists checkmated by the Directives.

The significance of Cherryl's conscious suicide has to do with a) the thought process she reveals to the reader in making up her conclusion that it was either die or be used, drained to death slowly and b) Dagny's growing certainty that by helping the looter government, she would be helping the anti-life. The latter would be revealed later on in the novel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Chapter 23: Anti-Greed

Through portraying the contrast in self-denial between Dr. Stadler and Rearden placed in juxtaposition with Dagny's haggard and blatent self-admission and open truth, the ultimate meaning of this chapter is to show that the anti-greed is the anti-life.

Both Stadler and Rearden are flawed in that they believe (or believed) in a breech between mind and body. Stadler, however, lets this breech shackle his mind. Stadler's form of the breech is via the thought that the theoretical and pure is abjectly different and does not need to worry about the practical and politics--and one's source of funds. That he would believe that by praising the State Science Institute, he would set science free from the rule of the dollar, shows his abject naivity--from whence would the funds come from without the dollar? From himself, that he would be the one drained:

Stadler finds himself disturbed from his studies when two goons who are now considered physicists "escort" him to the field where Project X (The Thompson Harmonizer) is to be showcased. He does not accept the fact that he has now become a prisoner--that by being dependent on the "public good" for a source of funds, he has become dependent on the looting government that decrees who deserves the "public good."

The Thompson Harmonizer is a machine capable of massive destruction and works in the same way that the looters do; by striking the right key, one activates the machine, the act of which is similar to how one manipulates aptly the "right chords" to stifle and trap a man of ability.

Ferris thus strikes the right chord to deliver the final blow in activating Stadler's self-destruction sequence. Ferris claims that because the people would believe that an instrument of death and destruction is a tool of prosperity and peace, they would believe it if the government were to change their stance on the view of the State Science Institute and Dr. Stadler--that if the government were to denounce Stadler as an evil enemy of the state, people would believe this, that Stadler's greatness is dependent on what the state tells the people, that the meaning of his name is now no more significant than the common person's fault in believing it is still associated with greatness.

Because Stadler is a believer of the negating view of man's intelligence, having been disillusioned by too much ineptitude, he has succumbed to the helplessness summarized by the bromide, "what can you do when you deal with men?" This statement of helplessness embodies the paradigm the looters wish to throw as a funeral shroud against everyone's ability to see. That principles have no influence on public affairs (true if public affairs are actually machinated by a looting incumbent). That reason has no power over humans (true if everyone has been brainwashed to believe that the mind doesn't exist, that only the government does--and it has to because it determines who gets what, the bare necessities). That logic is impotent (true if reason is dead). That morality is superfluous, that questions of truth don't enter social issues.

In his most dire moment, Stadler does not allow himself to accept the truth. That through the betrayal of the fearless mind and the inviolate truth, he has delivered himself to the animal fear of physical destruction--in the midst of a civilized world! But, he does not allow himself the last glory which he can attempt to wring--the knowledge that the public would triumph in hearing the truth from him, that he had nothing to do with the weapon other than to invent to basic scientific theory. Perhaps he knows that because he has stooped to the stage where Ferris can checkmate him via manipulation of his mind, he has become worthless, that the name Dr. Robert Stadler has truly been deprecated.

He betrays the young newsboy, who rereprsents the man of intelligence and ability and devotion to the fearless truth, who cries out to him to tell the truth, that the people would believe him, and he makes the finalizing speech in acceptance of the Harmonizer--that he is proud that his years of hard work has placed in the hands of Thompson, a mere shyster, the tool of liberation (massive destruction), the device capable of forcing men to be civilized (by trapping them in a state where their life depends on the mercy of the shyster). Dr. Stadler is living out the hell that is the consequence of discounting ideals, of belittling the concept of material profit. There would be no profit left to be derived from whatever the Harmonizer destroys; the anti-greed is death.

Taggart attempts to pull the same trick as Ferris on Dagny. Taggart asserts the good of the Railroad Unification Board, as if naming what Dagny's opinion in advance, it would be set in stone. Then he asks that Dagny attend Scudder's radio show, to state that she is with the government, whilst implying that her presence has been advertised for so many times it would be a total embarassment to him if she weren't to attend. Dagny realizes that they needed her sanction to deceive themselves--as if their self-deception sought the extorted approval of the unwilling victim as the moral sanction they needed... they who deceive themselves, not just the world.

Dagny has not been reduced to the state of helplessness of Stadler's because she does not depend on the government for a source of funds, is not reduced to the possibility of death from hunger if the government were to withdraw its favor.

When Lillian threatens to reveal to the world Dagny's affair with Rearden as scandel, Dagny is finally forced to attend the show. Lillian triumphs in her mobilizing Dagny to attend, gloating that she is completely devoid of greed in her service to the government, but meanwhile acknowledging her power over Dagny, nay, even desperate to get Dagny to realize that Lillian is in power.

In the radio show, Dagny asserts that she stands by Rearden but then begins to divulge the very secret that should have checkmated her into submission to the government. She openly admits to her affair and she praises it, stating that it was good. After she has stated everything, she names the final piece--that it was used as blackmail against Rearden and now she.

Rearden, in the third section of this chapter, admits to Dagny that he loves her and always will and had--that the fact that he could not allow himself to say it had to be paid for by the gift certificate. When they extorted from him the rights to his metal, it made him realize how much he cares for Dagny, and this was his responsible payment of it, that he would rather her not suffer the stigma of public disgrace. But, his action had been shortsighted. He had not the wisdom to know that a lie--any lie--is self-abidication, that one surrenders one's reality to the person one lies to, that by allowing the affair to be kept secret, Rearden had made it public property (public in the perjorative way, i.e., the non-personified stooge the government claims to serve the good to whenever they grant a personal favor).

Rearden had initially kep the affair secret, had not directly divorced Lillian and married Dagny because of the "killer tenet" he had believed in--the breech of mind and body. He took pride in his ability to think and act and work for the satisfication of his own desires, the highest moral value, the one that makes life possible, but he surrendered his reason by denouncing ideas and thus crippled himself by cutting himself in two:

He who knew that wealth only means to end, took pride in ability to achieve satisfaction of desires let them prescribe his end and code of values.

AGAINST .... (but) LET THEM
  1. looter's attempt to set price/value of steel .... moral value of his life
  2. unearned wealth ... duty to wife whose love was unearned, unearned respect to mother who hates him, brother who plots for his death
  3. undeserved financial injury ... undeserved pain
  4. proudictive abilty is guilt ... his capacity for happiness is guilt
His acknowledging of his errors and how he has reacted to them, having not let them cripple him but teach him worthwhile lessons, has made him stronger--strong enough that he can accept Dagny's finding of a lover who is not he.

But, it is not sacrifice that guides his acceptance of Dagny's new lover. Both Rearden and Dagny know that they will always love each other by virtue of their capacity of happiness, ability to produce. Rearden accepts it because he knows that Dagny's happiness would be hers, as well as his--he loves her.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Chapter 22: The Utopia of Greed

The haven that Galt's Gulch is... is essentially an utopia of greed. Every single action done by its inhabitants and creators is greedy--for one's own good without letting someone else's good come before one's own. Yet, with every man for his own good in absolute greed does not lead to the demise that the conventional view would decree; in this chapter, Rand expounds on values and achievements--more importantly, that all that is good comes from greed.

Worth for worth, every single man in this value contributes to its existence; those who create it utilize tremendous strength and invest the time of their own lives into the process--but they do not succumb to the desecration of sacrifice. Ragnar explains his part in contributing to the Valley, that he is withdrawing the products of man's spirit, the wealth of the capable, the body of the world, whereas John is withdrawing man's spirit, the men of reason, the soul of the world. But, he chooses to contribute by being a pirate, undergoing dangerous missions to raid the ships sent to People's States. As he pointed out to Rearden earlier, this is not a sacrifice; instead, it's a downpayment for his future, that, through his actions, after the end of the looter's regime, the men of the mind would be able to build and recreate the world faster. It is for his own good.

In finding Dagny, again, it is as if Francisco has refound the meaning of his twelve year struggle and crusade. He had set out to abandon the outside world in order to destroy it, to make possible the future that they will recreate, where the rulers of society would not be the looters, but the men of the mind. Yet, the idea is embodied in the vision of creating the world of Dagny's dreams, the one she expects to wake up to everyday, but fails to find in the desolate leech the outside world has become. It's the world the heroes expect to find but did not find in the real world that has been created, here--and the fact that it exists now, even on a small scale, makes the struggle worth it.

When Dagny realizes that she wants John, she does not yet allow herself to fulfill that wish; she does not believe she has earned him. Moreover, the trouble of the love triangle (quadangle) haunts her--would John succumb to the sacrifice of his mutual desire for her in order to save Francisco the pain? To do such would mean that the three (four, if we count Rearden) live forever in a vicious cycle of lies and self-denial; the three of them living with the frustration of not being able to make unreality real, sacrifice based on another's self-deceit, the hopeless longing, the vain conclusion that love is futile and happiness not to be found on earth. John states that he would rather not have Dagny stay with Francisco for the last week of her stay, and Dagny sees this as John's statement that he would not undergo the sacrifice of one's dearest love common to the outer world. But, John tells Dagny that the destruction of a value which is will not give value to that which isn't; that lying to oneself, the destruction of truth via denial, would be an ultimate form of destruction. That she shouldn't have doubted the virtue of either he or Francisco to have believed in the paranoia of a love polygon.

Halley performs for Dagny, and he tells her that all work is an act of creating--all work comes from the same source, an inviolate capacity to see, "to connect and make what had not been seen connected and made before." He performs for her, but Halley receives a mutual payment for the joy she receives from his music: that he's found a viewer, a rational mind to appreciate and understand his work.

Dagny joins Akston's trio of students and Kay in his backyard, and he tells her that his version of a prayer, his hope which he held through the years of uncertainty, is "a full, confident, affirming self-dedication to my love of the right, to the certainty that the right would win and that this boy would have the kind of future he deserved." They fight for the love of their lives; they struggle to create their love; their certainty of the good, that this day would come, that it would be worth it. That of all men, Stadler is the guiltiest. He is the mind who knew better, the man who sacrificed his name of honor to fuel the looter's power--the man who denounced ideals, and by doing such, became the man who committed suicide consciously. In contrast to Stadler's forced denial of the real practical, Akston further explains the inevitability of what they did, that it was what must be done:

To make the fallacy of viewing evil as a necessity, one must check one's premises. What is good and what are the conditions it requires? "Those who cry loudest about their disillusionment, about the failure of virtue, the futility of reason, the impotence of logic--are those who have achieved the full, exact, logical result of the ideas they preached. So mercilessly logical that they dare not identify it."

"In a world that proclaims non-existence of the mind, the moral righteousness of rule by brute force, the penalizing of the competent in favor of the incompetent, the sacrifice of the best to the worst--the best have to turn against society and have to become its deadliest enemies."

The Valley, the process that went into devising it, creating it, populating it by means of draining the outer world of abled men, is thus a measure of what Galt, Danneskjold and d'Anconia have preserved and of what they are--they who have made no concesssions to others, who have brought into reality the image of his thought.

Akin to the fountain of youth, this Valley embodies the world of reason each hero had seen in the days of his youth; "to hold an unchanging youth is to reach, at the end, the vision with which one started," and the fact that they've reached it by creating it is a form of youth eternal. "It is not this valley, but the view of life held by men in the outer world that is the prehistoric image." The valley is the sheerly real proof of gloried existence in reality--the love of the human spirit, the experience of life, proudly, guiltlessly, joyously, alive--each hero had set out to reach in his youth.

To stay in the Valley, to remain worthy of it, one cannot defy reality. Dagny must face every single bodkin tearing at the flesh and blood of Taggart Transcontinental, while in the Valley. "Conscious choice based ona full conscious knowledge of every fact involved in his decision." Brutally truthful, John states to her the simple truth that, "Nobody stays here by faking reality in any matter whatever."

But, Dagny cannot abandon the world and Taggart Transcontinental, what is hers--and the men of the mind's--by right... and all the men who desire to live--outside Galt's Gulch. "So long as men desire to live, I cannot lose my battle."

And so, to win the greatest prize he could ever achieve, John has to prove to her that men outside do not desire to live.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Chapter 21: Atlantis

This chapter describes Atlantis, a.k.a. Mulligan's Valley or Galt's Gulch--its scenery and layout and which tycoon runs which farm. It explains for the existence of Atlantis, as well as what qualifies a hero to enter; the latter concretizes on the meaning of the story.

Atlantis appears to be, at first, the greatest sacrifice a man could make. Its inhabitants are the rich and the productive of Earth. Yet, having forsaken the established comforts of the mortal world, with only the Valley's basic tools and resources and the lack of men, the immortals are reduced to to being farmers, grocery-store owners, plumbers, cafeteria-workers--instead of designing and building great cars, engines, masterpiece constructions, or movies.

Wyatt would argue that he's done more here of value than in the real world. Wealth is the means of expanding one's life--two ways to expand one's life: to produce more or to produce it faster. Wyatt is doing things faster, thus manufacturing time. The greater efficiency here is worth it; moreover, he has everything he needs. Nothing is wasted, to reach the end of its course at the mercy of a looter's indifference. It's a mutual effort. Wyatt improves his methods so that the men he serves--only the men of ability--would, in turn, return benefits to him by their subsequent increased productivity. Here, achievement is traded--instead of failure.

A man is not hired because his superior knows that the man will not be able to take over his business and challenge him; instead, only the type of men with such potential is hired. Moreover, businesses compete to rule out the other--but not with the help of laws or machinations to "buy out" a company's well-being, rather, with honest productive work to prove who's better.

Atlantis is the ideal capitalism--capitalism freed of the corruption of the insecure and incompetent.

It is difficult to abandon the real world because it was the product of the men of ability, and it seemed their right to possess it, to live in it and add their individual contributions to it. Yet, one cannot ignore the hell that has become of earth. Galt summarizes his radio speech to come:

Throughout history, it is always the men of ability to moved the world--who fed its people, who invented the technology to move it forward, who produced the fount of work. He produces, and would die to produce, because of his love of achievement and existence, and yet he lets the villains cripple him with the notion that he should be guilty of his glory.

Man--man's mind--has consistently been sacrificed--to the soul, to the body. When a man denounces his mind, it is because his goal is of a nature the mind would not permit to confess. Contradictions are preached with the knowledge that someone will accept the burden of the impossible; destruction is the price of any contradiction.

By the despoiling of reason, this has become the age of the common man--the human Incompetent, the "man who may claim to the extent of such distinction as he has managed not to achieve. (679)" The man of ability, the complete opposite, is thus the slave of the Incompetent; the man of ability has no voice, must work for him--must atone for his guilt of being competent.

They are counting on the producers to go on to save them from the consequences of their ludicrous new world miasma. Whether or not the plan may have longetivity is beyond their concern; "their plan is only that the loot shall last their lifetime." It's always lasted, and precedence and history are heavy founts of faith they lounge on.

This time, however, the men of ability have gone on strike. The looters can believe whatever they want--they will believe it and exist with it without the help of the heroes... an either-or statement with potentially hazardous consequences.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Chapter 20: The Sign of the Dollar

The most obvious significance of the sign of the dollar is that of Owen Kellog's brief speech on the meaning of the dollar: that it is the monogram of the U.S.--and of depravity. Yet, the sign of the dollar plays many other roles in the chapter.

As Dagny looks out the window of the Taggart Comet, she sees the products of money--or, rather, the remnants of money. The closed factories, the conveniences--a beaten up car, an ice cream parlor--simple luxuries allowed only by the once-existence of the factories. They are remnants of an age when the sustenance of one's life had not been made a crime, when money was still pure. They won't last.

Knowing that she can't stand the sight alone, Dagny heads towards the train diner. On her way, she meets a tramp about to be kicked off the train. The tramp, despite his beaten-up jacket, holds an air of dignity about him, and she offers him board as a guest in her car. The tramp is Jeff Allen, a shop-foreman in the Twentieth Century Motor Company.

Allen tells Dagny of the insiders perspective of the fall of the company. How practically everyone had voted for the plan for "each to work to the best of his ability, to each the extent of his need." How anyone who disagreed with it would be deemed as base as a child-killer. How the real reason why people agreed to it was that they saw only the people above them--how they could loot from them--and forgot about everyone below who would leech ichor from them.

It was how the happiness of the producers was not deemed a "need" and was thus sacrificed for petty deeds, such as braces for an ugly girl's teeth to raise her self-esteem. It was how the producers are punished when the company's productivity declined. It was how the producers started hiding their ability to avoid punishment. Need claimed ability, above all, and by right of the majority--by vote--one could not gauge one's own ability.

It was how "the man who never could" capitalized on the concept of the "needy"--how they mulched as much as they could, bringing every relative they knew in as a "dependent," becoming obscenely promiscuous to sire babies to further their list of human dependents--the fellow needy part of the looter's keep.

It was about the good man being forced to become bad. The good man, enchained by their negating virtue, would feel ashamed of every mouthful of food he took, thinking that it could have gone to a more needful purpose--how anything they use is not as needed as when someone else could use it. People began hating friends for having babies--it would take more from the "company family" than the collective could afford; every dependent meant another drain.

But, really, it was about the hypocrisy of the proprietors--the Starnes heirs. Of Eric, the Director of Public Relations, who wanted undeserved love, and thought that by reminding everyone (the untruth) that he gave them the factory, they would love him. Of Gerald, who pranced around in exorbitant riches, claiming his profligate spendings was for the need of the public image of the company--at a time when workers had to sacrifice their favorite pasttimes and forms of amusement, when they couldn't afford to send their children to college. Of Ivy, the Director of Distribution, who dictated who is classified as the "needy" and who as the "punished"--a mutually exclusive dichotomy whose gauge is nothing but the illegitimacy of bootlicking: Ivy would punish those she doesn't like and award those who kiss up to her. Playing god when she didn't have the creative power in her to run the company without the men she punishes, she adhered to the creed of "Those whom I choose to live lives," thereby choosing the death of the company... and issuing the death warrent to the motor of the world.

While the communistic microcosm of the Twentieth Century Motor Company might be an extreme, it does hold analogies with the world at large at this point in time in Atlas Shrugged. The heroes have already realized that the villains used what is good in them, attempting to shackle them with negating moralities to hide the fact from them. This is, in essence, similar to what the Twentieth Century Motor Company's demise can be summarized as: To work with no chance of seeing or receiving any of the goods of one's work, to work without nourishment, to punished if one doesn't work... the moral law has become the credo to work until the death for the needy--not oneself.

When the train stops to become another frozen train, Dagny lapses its span to find someone to run it. She finds Kellogg, who had been a passenger. They walk down the tracks to find a phone to summon up a crew. (Why didn't they just unhook the engine car and save a bit of walking and time?)

Along the way, they have a conversation of money when Dagny sees "the sign of the dollar" imprinted on Kellogg's box of cigarettes--costing five cents in a pure gold standard. It is something Dagny's inflation-infested money in this world deprecated by looters cannot buy, because it represents an idea that is pure and good but is no longer regarded as one by the mortals on this earth. The sign of the dollar is the emblem of the US, its symbol the monogram of the U and the S.

The US is the only country in the world where money is not gained by force or loot, but by trade--free trade, of mutual benefit; the sign of the dollar is the symbol of man's mind, his right to his own work, his life, his happiness. Owen boldly states that if the sign is now a brand of evil, then people such as himself will accept it and choose to be damned by the world--but they'll wear it as a badge of honor and fight for it to the death.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Chapter 19: The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt

At the end of this chapter, one finds that the face without pain or fear or guilt isn't the face of any of the characters the reader has gotten to known thus far. The heroes all feel pain and guilt. And Eddie feels all three--pain, fear, and guilt.

Francisco comes to visit Dagny in her apartment. Dagny reveals that she is powered by the ultimate act of honor--the belief that she would trade her services, providing transportation, with that of the man of ability, the intransigent mind and the unlimited ambition. She wants to prevent another catastrophe from happening--because that man could have been on her train! Francisco tells her that the man cannot be destroyed.

Rearden comes into Dagny's apartment, and Francisco realizes that the only woman he has ever loved has been taken by Rearden. Francisco's pain is that of a silent victory against his physical rage, the acknowledgment that in his war to rid the world of the villains, he has lost his most dearest. Rearden, too, is outraged by Francisco's presence; Rearden is certain that Francisco has no right to be present, and he slaps Francisco. When he discovers that Francisco is Dagny's first lover before him, he lets his rage out in the form of violent sex--the act of claiming her, as if his and only his, of triumphing against Francisco's getting to her first by owning her now. The section ends with Dagny feeling fear--the express letter from Quentin Daniels implies that he might have been another conquest of the Destroyer--in her frantic calls to reach Quentin. It would be a tentative relief that Dagny receives when Quentin answers; she makes immediate plans to visit him, fearing that the destroyer would get to him soon...

(But, she rides the Comet, instead of taking Rearden's private plane. The Comet will take five days to get there, and she lets herself deal with a bunch of business actions along the way instead of arriving in Utah directly.)

Dagny summons Eddie to her apartment to dictate to him the tasks that must be done in her leave, as well as her plans. Seeing Rearden's robe, Eddie realizes two things about himself: that Dagny is not impregnable (Eddie loves her) and that Dagny is sleeping with Rearden. Eddie reveals this to the worker (Galt), as well as Quentin's location and significance. Eddie feels guilt for loving Dagny, that he shouldn't think about it, and he feels pain as well. But, he also feels fear--that the world is falling apart, that it's all hopeless, that she had once been his hope, their mutual love of life.

The face without pain or fear or guilt is difficult to find.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Chapter 18: By Our Love

The idea that the heroes are held by bondage to torture--by their love--is made obvious in its application to Dagny Taggart in this short chapter.

Dagny's resignation from Taggart Transcontinental to Woodstock is supposed to be a time of peaceful resting, but she is too often agitated by feelings of despair. She would wake up in the middle of the night with TT tasks that need to be done, analogize the repetition of common events--cooking, gardening, fixing up her cabin--to the futility of a circle; a circle being movement proper to physical nature without consciousness and a straight line--that of the tracks of a railroad--being the "badge fo man." The despair would come when she realizes that it's all useless, and yet, she longs for it--a part of her certain that "the truth and the right" to her railroad were hers. A part of her feels compelled to fight--"her rightful acheivement had been lost, not to some superior power, but to a loathsome evil that conquered by means of impotence"--that renunciation would be more evil than giving up. The pain blunting her capacity to feel joy is tremendous. Once, she had viewed the act of leaving TT as a sort of amputation, and indeed, it is as if a part of her were severed--her love of her work, of TT, makes it seem as if she has sacrificed it to the looters...

Moreover, Dagny is hopefully optimistic. She believes that evil is only temporary and unnatural. Francisco tracks her down (most likely by word from John who heard from Eddie), and he states that "we can never lose the things we live for. We may have to change their form at times, if we've made an error, but the purpose remains the same and the forms are ours to make." In short, the immortals (heroes) create the values and meaning of material objects. (The mortals (looters) would rather prefer that the immortals don't exist, a view that is in sync with their idea that the industrial is completely materialistic, devoid of the spiritual--the mind--that any muscle and brute force can run an industry; the mortals believe that the objects hold both meaning and values.)

The producers created the wealth of the world, but let their enemies write its moral code. Although the heroes live by a different code, they accept punishment for their virtues--betraying their own code. It is the love of the producers that binds them in bondage--the looters know that the producer would bear anything to work and produce. The heroe's moral code is that achievement is man's highest moral purpose, that he can't exist without it, that love of virtue is the love of life. There is no effort too great in the service of one's love, and even if the looters don't know why the heroes love what they do best, the looters know that they love their work and will use that as a neverending source of funds.

Francisco's visit and impending "conquest" would be cut short by the announcement of an emergency broadcast--the Taggart Tunnel catastrophe. It is tragic that Dagny would fight to go back with the desperate intensity of strength of a cornered animal--it is instinctual that she saves her love, her work by which she is bound.

The second section begins with implicating the general reason behind the villains' version of quitting the world. That of escape from the mess they've created, the blame. That they would bribe doctors to claim they've a fatal disease (Locey) or have a pre-written letter of resignation (James Taggart) to escape the consequences of the Winston Tunnel catastrophe.

Taggart attempts to wring from Eddie Dagny's location. Eddie, however, protects her locale, as if guarding a citadel--her sentry against the world. Dagny rushes in, and Eddie collapses into sobs, foreshadowing his deeper attachments to Dagny. Mouch calls, but Dagny does not want to speak to him because of what he did to Rearden (viz., double-cross him while he was Rearden's Washington man for a position in the Bureau), and she would only speak to Mr. Weatherby. She tells Weatherby to not interfere with her work, and it seems like the looter government would comply to her orders completely. Dagny believes they are now on her terms because they need her, but she returns home and finds herself wanting to wash away the metaphorical dirtiness she now feels towards her work.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Chapter 17: The Moratorium on Brains

The concept of a moratorium on brains is built up to in the two sections preceding the third and final section setting up the catastrophe of the Winston Tunnel. In the first, Eddie tells Galt (currently the anon worker) that he almost quit because of Locey's insistence that the backup diesel in Winston is taken to be used for Morrison's "special," when it's kept there for the far more important issue of backup safety to bridge continental traffic. In the second, Ragnor gives Rearden a bar of gold; Ragnor states that he wanted to give Rearden a piece of the "gold-back" he has been holding as payment for every injustice ever done to Rearden--especially at such a moment, when Rearden has been forced to sign away the rights to the production of Rearden Metal. Ragnor explains the right to his madness--he only loots ships (with items stolen from men like Rearden) sent to people's states. It is amazing that no one notices the trend that the hijacked ships are only "charity" ones, but it is just another of many facts that lead up to the presentation of the moratorium on brains. Ragnor states that there are only two kinds of people left in the world: a looter who robs disarmed victims and a victim who works for the benefit of his own despoilers. The moratorium on brains' source is that of the men with brains realizing that they're the victims, and thus they have relinquished the practical use of their thoughts.

When the Taggart Comet is derailed near Winston, it faces the disgrace of being late by maybe 18 hours--a stigma that's never happened before. There is no diesel nearby to do the task of carrying it forth. Yet, the tunnel is eight miles long, with horrible ventilation, and a coal-burning engine would basically suffocate everyone aboard the train. On the most superficial level, the tragic catastrophe of the Winston Tunnel happens because a coal-burning engine is sent in despite the promise of catastrophe in the act.

The moratorium on brains does not imply that there is a lack of brains everywhere. While it's true that after the local train people panic and contact New York--James Taggart and Locey--the executives only end up issue ambiguous orders more or less along the lines of "just do it; I don't care the means, but you're screwed if you don't do it." Superiors are supposed to be ones with superior abilities--and in this case, they should have been able to provide directions on how to do it. But, they couldn't, and it's up to the locals. The locals, however, do have brains, and it is heart-wrenching to observe their forced bar on their own thought processes.

The foreman realizes that if he loses his job, his family would bear the burden. His family is his greatest pride and love, and he can't let them starve. Because of the Unification Board, if he loses this job, he wouldn't be able to find another one, even though he is a competent man. But, the restrictions of Directive 10-289 has put him in a bad rut: He is faced with the decision of sacrificing either his family's livelihood or the lives of the anonymous on the Comet. He goes with his family's. He knows that if he does not summon the engine, the board would take it out on him. The policy of the day requires obeying orders and restrains a man from thinking. If he thinks, the products of his labors would be futile because he wouldn't be able to follow suit with his logical deduction.

Even Dave Mitchum, the lackey who spent his whole life complaining that no one told him to do it and that it was just bad luck that he had trouble getting a job, is capable of thinking. He reasons out the consequences of sending the train into the tunnel with a coal-burner, and he reasons out the consequences of failing to do action. His direct orders from Locey (who, after sending the order had run away from the world) is to send Mr. Chalmers into the tunnel without delay. He comes to the idea that he could follow suit directly, sending Chalmers' car into the tunnel, but then the danger of the situation would have been obviated. While that would be the most rational thing to do, as apparently Chalmers does not realize the dangers of sending a coal-burner into the tunnel and wants the train to be moved despite the blatent impossibility of it, Dave does not go with it. Instead, he realizes that he must do the thing he does best. He, too, follows the trend of sending ambiguous orders to his lessers--ambiguous because otherwise blame would be attached to him. He realizes the ponderous nature of the matter and makes the excuse of going off to a nearby station to find a diesel. When the rest of the staff in the station quits, he leaves a boy in charge of making the decision to issue the order to send the coal-burner.

It is said that catastrophes are the result of pure chance. Yet, the thought processes of each local are far from random. The state of affair of the country itself--the fact that the Directive has been enacted and the fact that the railroad executives are morons--are all key factors affecting the affair, and arguably sources fueling its potency. It isn't randomity that allowed those events to happen... And, it is with fatalistic beauty that a boy who follows order based on the faith of the competence of railroad executives would be the one who tells them to send the dastard into the oblivion of the tunnel. The boy who is a victim working for his despoilers has to be the one to make the final decision because there are only two types of people left in the world, and looters can't do jack.

The moratorium on brains is essentially due to the restraints put on brains from following their own common sense--people are prevented from carrying out the product of their logical thought. Instead, the credo of the day is that one shouldn't think, one should just obey. The last thing those on the train see is Wyatt's Torch--a symbol representing the ultimatum "brain then life or no brain then death." The fettered brain leads to myriad deaths.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Chapter 16: Miracle Metal

This chapter is about miracles--in the pejorative sense. A miracle is something extraordinary that happens by means of divine intervention--supernatural forces beyond a human's domain of influence. What the villains need in their enactment of Directive 10-289 on May 1st is a miracle, and it is symbolic that Rearden Metal is to be renamed Miracle Metal--after all, the hard work that went into inventing it doesn't exist because rationality and the mind don't; it's all muscle, the repetitive labor that the blue-collar workers put into it, and with no mind involved, only a miracle could create anything.

The League of Non-Extraordinary men meet to discuss the problems of the nation. There's James Taggart, Orren Boyle, Floyd Ferris, Clemen Weatherby, Eugene Lawson, Wesley Mouch, and two new guys: Fred Kinnen and Mr. Thompson. Apparently, Mr. Thompson is something of a world controller, but unlike the breed of perfectly-bred man--whose life had been pre-planned from his genetic map to be not prone to one bit of chance--the "sole secret of Thompson's life was the fact that he was a product of chance and knew it and aspired to nothing else."

At the roundtable discussion, complaints are brought up, but it is always money that is the bar to ameliorating the complaints. Observe the structure of speech (paraphrased):

FK: Men with starving families to feed need jobs. Thus, they'll need a 1/3 increase to pay.
JT: But, where does the $ come from?
FK: Well, need is above all.
JT: (establishes understanding of a mystic sort) Well, I do understand the plight of working men... if the frieght rates could be doubled...
OB: Can't even afford the current rates!
JT: Need requires that we make sacrifices. Need is above your profits.
OB: Whoever said anything about profit. I've never profitted, especially when considered to (implied) Rearden. But, if I could get a subsidy for the next year or two, until things get better.
CW: But, you haven't paid any of your loans! We've granted you myriad extensions, suspensions, moratoriums. Where do you expect us to get money from for a subsidty:
WM: I need wider powers! (his constant whining)
Mr T: Well, gentlemen, let's go ahead and declare it a state of total emergency. Enact 10-289

Need is always made to appear as if some sort of essential virtue. Understanding of need or claiming that one hasn't profited (thus has need) opens way to a new request. Money is the bar against the new request... until the gov resorts to what only they can do--make something worthless valuable by enacting directives, akin to hiding bankrupcy in the midst of a bunch of laws. The trouble with that is that it will, ultimately, clash with another bar of money... when the moratorium on brains wrecks its toll.

When Dagny finds that the Directive has been enacted, she resigns.

Rearden discovers the gratest mistake of his life, and he atones for it by selling his Metal. His realization sheds light on the source of pain in the world for the men of virtue.

Rearden realizes that the villains' punishment is one that requires the victim's own virtue. That his possession of Rearden Metal--the creation which resulted from his exercise of the highest moral purpose, to exercise the best of his effort and the fullest capacity of his mind--was used as a cause for expropriation. That Dagny's honor and their love would be used as blackmail (when Ferris threatens to publicize this as some base scandel if he refuses to sign away Rearden Metal). That the millions of people in the People's States were held by means of their desire to live, "by means of their energy drained in forced labor, by means of their ability to feed their masters, by means of a hostage system of their love for their children, wives, friends." Essentially, they are held by means of their joy tied to fear or threat; they are enslaved by whatever living power they possess. (Joy: motive power of every living being.) The only man with nothing to fear would be the man without v irtues--there are no chains shackling him. Virtues thus became agents of destruction, binding heroes to their torture racks. One's best became the tools of agony, and life on earth became impractical.

Rearden had broken the code of accepting joy as depravity, but he had fallen into the trap. He damned himself, his existence, by hiding the affair--by seeing it as base, his happiness as evil, letting Dagny bear the disgrace when he should have divorced Lillian and married Dagny. He had thought that he would be the only person who would suffer under injustice, but:

"When one acts on pity against justice, it is the good whom one punishes for the sake of the evil; when one saves the guilty from suffering, it is the innocent whom one forces to suffer."

There is no escape from justice, just like how a payment cannot remain unpaid. If the guilty do not have to pay for it, then the innocent do. Rearden reaches the conclusion that he would become guiltless: by signing off Rearden Metal, he would "pay off" his guilt. He would accept his love for Dagny as the pure, and he would accept the solidity of his mistake--that of viewing it as a furtive evil--by relinquishing his Metal... because otherwise, it would be Dagny, the innocent, who has to pay, and he, the guilty.

He would remain faithful to the one commandment of his code he had never broken: "to be man who pays for his own way."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Chapter 15: Account Overdrawn

This chapter is about money, in both its solid absolute form and its relative "friendship" currency. Specifically, it is about running out of money: what one has to do in the event of an account overdrawn. More specifically, it is about how running out of money is transferred.

Railroads connect the country, and without it, producers would not be able to send their stuff to others, and they would produce at a loss. The chapter begins with the plight of various smaller industries due to the growing inefficiency of the stifled railroads. Many of the cases are due to the various directives: the limits on speed of the train and the limits on Rearden metal, crucially needed to reinforce bridges. In winter, the country is depicted as a place about to crumble, people dying of hunger, lack of heating systems rending eternal coughs--even the skyline of New York has been decapitated down to the 25th floor in order to conserve energy. Those with "friends," of course, could obtain essential need permission to run elevators above certain floors. The vast majority of people suffer when the goods of the producers have been stifled--when Taggart trains are bridled down to run at the arbitrary and inefficent specifications of the directive, when Rearden is forbidden to sell enough metal to the producers who could truly make use of his metal. Without the brilliance of production, the public welfare is doomed, the account from which they need to survive on overdrawn.

The board of Taggart Transcontinental meets along with with the government-assigned vulture, C. Weatherby. They discuss how to pull TT together. The chairman suggests that the John Galt Line is running at a loss, and that it has the best rails in the country. He does not directly imply that the John Galt Line should be cut. It takes the men much deliberation, much "it seems to me," and "it is my opinion that" before they finally make the vote to end the JG Line--a vote in which Dagny steps out from. Prior to this, Weatherby had suggested that they raise the wages, against the unamious decision of the Alliance of Railroads; it would win back Wesley's friendship for James Taggart. However, Taggart exclaims that TT can't afford that. Weatherby shrugs it off as "merely a suggestion," and he sits back and quietly await the men to make progress. When the men have finally decided to end the JG Line, Weatherby breaks from his inertia and points out that because the railroad is a venue of public service, they would need to obtain permission from the government before they could do that. Special need, of course, could be granted if Taggart raises the wages. Such would be impossible, however, and this will later (sometime after this meeting) give Weatherby the advantage of giving Taggart an option other than raising wages--a possibly impossible option, that of giving the government the dirt on Rearden. Taggart is beginning to find that his credit card of friendship is starting to max out.

Dagny and Rearden take their last ride on the JG Line. People panic to board the train, but none of them think through their actions, and it is as if they're running around like lemmings. A great track had to be disassembled in order to pay for the debt of production--a debt created and nurtured by directives concocted for "friends".

Taggart is desperate, and he schedules a lunch meeting with Lillian Rearden--the woman who could deliver him Rearden. Taggart needs to pay Weatherby/Mouch, and because he cannot raise the railroad wages, he has to find information with which to blackmail Rearden with. Moreover, the task is even more arduous than finding any common dirt--it has to be foolproof, as the scandel with Dannager had not weakened Rearden. Taggart is a bit disappointed when Lillian tells him that Rearden is not a bit less recalcitrant even after the prospect of destroying the John Galt Line, but when he hints at his difficulties with the government, Lillian understands the picture. In exchange for having Taggart at her mercy, Lillian would give him the ultimate dirt on Rearden. Lillian, of course, had just promised Taggart a payment she does not currently possess. It is now Lillian whose account is overdrawn.

Lillian gets lucky and she discovers who Rearden's mistress is. When she confronts Rearden about this, she makes it clear that she does not want to divorce him, although Rearden finds it puzzling. Lillian has her own ulterior motive for maintaining the officiality of her marriage, and it is appropos that it would be she who succeeds at delivering her to Taggart and Mouch. The drain is now put into Rearden's account, as he has just given Lillian the ultimate dirt over him, one which has the potential to bankrupt him of possession of his metal: the possibility of the media muckracking his scandalous affair with Dagny Taggart.


(Appendum to Sanction of the Victim) After his trial, Rearden breaks free of the chains of absolute laws. He breaks laws and manipulates deals in order to do what he knows is right. He gives dagny the rails she'd need, even though it would have to be given secretly.)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Chapter 14: The Sanction of the Victim

The first two section introduces the issue and Rearden's response of it, that he won't give the sanction of the victim, while the third deals mainly with Francisco's cueing Rearden in on the sanction Rearden still gives...

In their Thanksgiving dinner, although an exorbitant amount of money has been spent on it, Philip, Lillian, and Rearden's mother do not thank him for the meal, but thank others--the cook, God, and even the poor who might starve tonight. Lillian recaps on the modern morality, while stressing the fact that Rearden should not believe he is better than anyone else--capable of upholding some absolute right, as if absolutes exist in a world of relatives--because she knows that he is as depraved as any other man (viz. his furtive relationship with Dagny). Philip recites the bromide of the newspaper, insulting Rearden, saying that businessmen are taking advantage of the national emergency, that Rearden had violated the public welfare by selling Dannager the metal, and that he deserved to be punished. This section serves to reiterate much of the brainwashed public's opinion that will be used against Rearden in his trial the day after Thanksgiving.

Rearden's trial is reminiscent of Howard Hughe's trial: the judge and jury have been replaced by three men appointed by the government. When asked for his defense, Rearden refuses on the basis that the "law" holds that there are no principles. One of the three judges point out that Rearden is denying the principle of the public good, but Rearden questions the solidity of the ideal, the ambiguity of its various terms--such as who is the public? Rearden remains stoic: plain and truthful. He gives the judges the right to impose the punishment, but the judges claim that, by legal requirement, he needs to give a defense. Rearden will not play in the charade of feigned justice--will not help preserve the appearance of rationality when force is used as the final arbiter. "'But the law compels you to volunteer a defense!'" Rearden claims his right to his own volition--which cannot be forced--that if they were to impose punishment, they will have to drag him to jail, that if they were to seize his property, they will have to hire looters to physically steal it. The eldest judge attempts to belittle Rearden's stance. The judge recognizes Rearden's standing up for a sort of principle, but he is derisive, pointing out that Rearden is only fighting for his property, freedom to make money, nothing but his own profit. This introduces Rearden's stance:

He tells those present--the triumvirate judges, the crowd of gathered public in the court room--that he is in full agreement with the facts in the newspapers, but not with the evaluation. He works for mutual consent to mutual advantage. He has earned every penny on his own, and he is proud of every single penny. He would not pay more than what something is worth and he would not want to sell his product for a loss; he is earning his living as every honest man must. "I refuse to accept as guilt the fact of my own existence, and the fact that I must work to support it."

He states that he refuses to accept as guilt the fact that he's good at it, that he can do it better than most people, that his work is of greater values than of others--he refuses to apologize for his success. He has done more good for the public than the public can ever do, but he would refuse to state this because he does not seek the good of others as a sanction for his right to exist; he does not recognize the good of others to justify their right to seize his capital or to destroy his life--that the purpose of his work is for his own good, and he despises a man who would sacrifice his own good.

Rearden goes on to attacking the ambiguous credo of the public good:

The public does not serve the public good--"nobody's good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices," and that when one man's right is violated, everyone else's right is, too--"a public of rightless creatures is doomed to destruction (445)." He does not challenge the policy but the moral premise, the morality of sacrifice--that if he were asked to sacrifice himself for the interests of society apart from his own, he would refuse, "reject it as the most contemptible evil... with full confidence of the justice of his battle and of a living being's right to exist."

If it is now the belief that the public requires victims, then: "The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!"

When the crowd bursts into applause, Rearden is surprised, but he soon realizes a heavier guilt. "If we who were the movers, the providers, the benefactors of mankind, were willing to let the brand of evil be stamped upon us and silently to bear punishment for our virtues--what sort of "good" did we expect to triumph in the world? (447)" He realizes that while these people are cheering him on, tomorrow they would clamor for a new directive from Mouch. "What made them believe that this earth was a realm of evil where despair was their natural fate? (447)" The judges had imposed on him the paltry fine of $5000, but Rearden realizes that the real sentencec imposed on him is to discover the answer to that question.

The third section starts with the verbal comments of those close to Rearden, and then diverges to the smear of words by his fellow businessmen. His fellow businessmen tell Rearden that they do not agree with his stance, that they're proud they are working for the public good, having a good higher than earning his meals, while Mowen (who is too simple-minded to grasp the full nature of Rearden's speech) builds playgrounds for charity in order to prove that not all businessmen are bad. Rearden responds with, "I am sorry that I will be obliged to save your goddamn necks along with mine."

Rearden finally lets himself visit Francisco d'Anconia, who is a few floors above him in the Wayne-Falkland Hotel. Rearden is happily surprised that Francisco heard his trial over the radio, but he comes up to talk to Francisco in attempt to change him from being a playboy by asking him "no matter what you've given up, so long as you choose to remain alive, how can you have any pleasure in spending a life as valuable as yours on running after cheap women and on an imbecile's idea of diversions?" Francisco's reply expounds upon Rand's theory of sex, simultaneously tying it with the meaning of the novel:

"Sex is not the cause, but an effect and an expression of man's sense of own value." The man who attempts to reverse the law of cause and effect by trying to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind is akin to the man who despies himself and tries to gain self-esteem from sexual adventures.

The men who think that wealth comes from material means with no intelligence are the same who think that sex is independent of one's mind, choice or code of values. That love and whim are akin.

"In fact, a man's sexual choice is the rsesult and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. (453)"

Sex is the most profoundly selfish act, the act that cannot be performed for any motive but for one's own enjoyment. It is an act that forces one to stand naked in spirit as well as in body. "He will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself, the woman whose surrender permits him to experience--or to fake--a sense of self-esteem." The man who is proudly certain of his own values will be attracted to a heroine, and not a brainless slut, because only she would give him a sense of achievement. He would seek not to gain it but to express his value.

A man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to the woman who reflects his own secret self--"she will release him from that objective reality in which he is a fraud." Because love is one's response to one's highest values, when a man corrupts his sense of love by seeing it not as admiration but as charity, not in response to values, but to flaws, he would have torn himself in two. His body will not obey him, and it will always follow the ultimate logic of his deepest convictions. If flaws are values, then he has declared existence evil, and only the evil will attract him--he would feel that depravity is all he is worthy of enjoying. He would deny what his body does as sin, "that vice is the only realm of pleasure," and he will wonder why love brings him nothing but shame.

Francisco points out that Rearden has never accepted their creed. Even if Rearden has damned sex as evil, he would still find himself--against his will--actin on the proper moral premise. That he would know that just as an idea unexpressed in physical action is contemptible hypocrisy, so is platonic love. Just as physical action unguided by an idea is a fool's self fraud, so is sex when cut off from one's code of values. He would be incapable of loving a woman he despises.

The idealist man vs the practical man--both severed in mind and body. The idealist despies the material, but he cries with despair because he can feel nothing for the woman he respects, finds himself in bondage for a slut. The practical despises principles, philosophy and his own mind, regarding acquisition of material objects as the only goal of existence. He does not consider the purpose of his material acquisition, expecting them to give him pleasure, and he wonders why the more objects he accumulates, the less he feels. He will not acknowledge his need of self-esteem because he does not believe in a concept of moral value, but he feels profound self-contempt from believing he is just a piece of meat; he will not acknowledge that sex is the physical expression of a tribute to personal values--but he knows this. He chases after mindless women, bedding them (the effect) to gain a sense of his own values (the cause). He seeks the feeling of achievement, but he will never find it.

As for the women "chasing after" Francisco: The same theory applies to them, except what they seek isn't a sense of one's value, but rather, the impression on and the envy of other women. (Recall how Lillian defended Rearden's celebacy in her tea party; on first analysis, it seems like she's helping him, but on second thought, she's actually defending herself--affixing herself as the only woman of Rearden's to the envy of other women.)