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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged

What can I say?

Phenomenal. Off the hook. Mind-popping.

This book is pure CRACK... It's THAT GOOD.

The plot is pretty straightforward -- all the prime movers of the world (the captains of industry, scientists, artists, and even top manual labourers) are deciding to walk off the job. The metaphor being that Atlas, the figure from Greek mythology who holds the world on his shoulders, decides that he's going to drop the ball.

Atlas Shrugged is a book that's read by all sorts of high profile people (eg: Warren Buffet) as well as angst-ridden teenagers looking to find themselves.

At it's best, it offers tremendous insight into topics like...:
-Mastery over your physical reality
-Having your own values and standards
-Seeing past the standards and norms of the past
-Walking through the world with ease and competence
-Not being a victim or expecting handouts from anyone
-The joy and appreciation for that which you've EARNED
-Using your rational judgement instead of looking to mysticism
-How self-esteem is correlated mastery over your physical reality

The book is 1200-1500 pages (depending on the edition), and believe it or not, the size of the book is a selling point.

It means you're wrapped up in Ayn Rand's pseudo objectivist world for an extended period of time, and that the ideas are hammered into your head until they're internalized.

Think of it like having the needle in your arm for a few bonus rounds... Oh yes, it's soooo yum for your brain.

Now before you jump on this book (as many people do), understand that YES, I "get it" that a lot about this book is...:
-Melodramatic
-Oversimplified
-Circular and question begging
-Encouraging an unhealthy suppression of one's emotions
-Assuming an unrealistic level of integrity in laissez-faire capitalism
-Wooden (characters all sound the same -- although I think it gives it a secret society "competence recognizes competence" type feel)

Ayn Rand's ex-boyfriend Nathaniel Branden, a very intelligent dude who was basically tarred-and-feathered and ex-communicated by Ayn Rand after she caught him messing around behind her back (haaa!!), has also written about how people read themselves into a trance of delusion by taking this book too seriously -- www.http://www.nathanielbranden.com/catalog/rand.php#

So...

All that said, why am I recommending this book so highly?

Well first off, I wouldn't be surprised if Real Social Dynamics has even more people who who misinterpret our stuff and take it too seriously than Ayn Rand does.

It just goes with the territory -- it's the same with Tony Robbins or anything that's written by an author who communicates with a high level of certainty and passion for the material...

There will always be the sheep-like masses who gravite mindlessly towards the "certainty" they feel emanating from it, and who wind up turning-off the intelligent people who associate the audience with the philosophy even if they've never actually given it a fair reading.

Whatever...

This book is just so phenomenally intuitive.

Look past the cult-of-personality and find the value -- it's SATURATED.

I don't want to give away the plot here (very entertaining), so just to say what I like about it --

Atlas Shrugged breaks down the psychology of achievement versus the psychology of the victim on a level of detail I've never seen.

It has phenomenal descriptions of what it means to be truly competent and "walk through the world with ease."

The characters carry themselves with a sense of purpose and total conviction in the power of their own reason (as opposed to social conditioning).

More than anything, as a guy who dedicates his life to creating excellence, it gives you a feeling of "Yes, somebody GETS what I'm going through here..."

The general themes of the book are EXCELLENCE, COMPETENCE, and FOLLOWING YOUR OWN PURPOSE.

It's entertaining, sucks you in, and even after 1500 pages it leaves you wanting more.

I've also read that both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are huge fans of Ayn Rand and are gunning to play the roles of John Galt and Dagny Taggart in a possible movie release.

In spite of the individualist theme, both are tremendously active (as in -- they WALK THE TALK) in terms of humanitarian issues.

I've got to give this book a perfect 10 out of 10 in terms of "self actualization" value.

Go out and read it... Just do it... NOW.

Seriously. It will change your life.


Tyler

10 comments:

TheRoyalFlush said...

Is it recommended to read The Fountain Head before this?

noah said...

Good review. I'm glad you're a fan. Based on some of the ideas you hold I'm not surprised. Ayn rand's followers are like noobies in pickup . They dont grasp things well so they follow her principles blindly. Probably all intellectual fields are this way to some degree.

PS What is an example of begging the question in the book?

Tynan said...

Hey man... really glad to see that you have a blog!

I'm in the middle of reading fountainhead. I enjoyed it a lot in the beginning, but started losing interest when Toohey became a major character.

Once I finish it, I plan on reading Atlas Shrugged as well. Most of the people I really respect love the book.

Tynan

Tyler said...

Hey Ty --

Thanks bro..

Just keep pushing through the Ellsworth Toohey part and you'll be loving it..

I read Atlas Shrugged before Fountainhead and I felt it gave me a better understanding of The Fountainhead because Ayn Rand addresses a lot of the questions people had.

That said, I'm sure both are totally fine.

Tyler

sheriff said...

Hey,

I've written this elsewhere, so I thought I might add it at the source...

I'm over 50% through, and reading it compulsively at the moment. I'm finding it 95% trash, with an overwhelmingly redeeming 5% of pure gold :-)

My favourite quote from it so far is:

"He does not seek to gain his value, he seeks to express it"

Which sums up the opposite of the negative approach that almost seems to define the community.

Thanks for the recommendation - it's giving me all sorts of valuable insights!

-sheriff

Anonymous said...

Very true about the huge display of victim vs. non-victim. In fact it gets pretty ridiculous but still... very powerful.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you are recommending this book. It will make AFCs much worse. Anti-socialness is a major theme.

montanaditt said...

hey tyler,

I just found your blog recently..Have bought atlas shrugged and power of now on your recommendation..started atlas shrugged and it seems good so far..

Here are some some books im sure you have read but just in case you havnt you cant miss these....A man in full by tom wolfe..For me one of my favourite books i ever read..gives you a great road map on what being a real man versus being a reactive guy..love this book

Also read his latest book "I am charlotte Simmons"..i wasnt mad about it..but some great stuff from the different guys who try to pick her up..very different characters and her response to each type..ie the player,the jock,the nerd etc

I love Tom Wolfe..His book the right stuff gives a profile of Chuck Yeager..Amazing..He was a real man..also his book Bonfire of the Vanities is great

Also books by philip k dick like "the man in the high castle" and "the penultimate truth" are great books about reality

Noam Chompsky Understanding power

Im sure you know all these but if not they are great stuff particularly a man in full

MrPimp from Russia said...

Ayn Rand has some good thoughts, although her philosophy seems a little biased. I loved her interview more than Atlas Shrugged, becouse I generally like short format and dislike unnecessary repetition.

A more logical, factual and scientific book on the virtues of free market society is "Free To Choose" by a famous economist Milton Friedman. I highly recommend that book.

Ryan said...

dude, I started reading this book solely because you recommended it, and I LOVE IT!