Saturday, January 07, 2006

Atlas Shrugged (by Ayn Rand)

ATLAS SHRUGGED: THE ABRIDGED VERSION (with spoilers)

AYN RAND
Hello, I'm Ayn Rand. I wrote a novel based on my Objectivist philosophy called The Fountainhead, but I don't think 700 pages was quite enough to get my point across, so I will write the exact same novel, only it will take 1100 pages this time.

READERS
Hey, great.

HEROINE
I'm Dagny Taggart. I am a railroad tycoon, woman-in-a-man's-world, stunningly beautiful heroine. I am the only person capable of running this railroad. I am the only woman in the universe worth a damn. I am also the only woman in the universe with a real job. I am basically the only woman in this novel.

LOVE INTEREST #1
I have worshiped you, the only woman in the universe worth a damn, from afar for my whole life.

HEROINE
That's nice.

LOVE INTEREST #2
I have worshiped you, the only woman in the universe worth a damn, naked on the forest floor. Yet I will nobly step aside in the name of noble idealism, despite the fact that I love you and want you, the only woman in the universe worth a damn, desperately.

HEROINE
Okay.

LOVE INTEREST #3
I worship you, the only woman in the universe worth a damn. Let us have creepy rape fantasy sex now. I will not ask permission to do all these kinky things to you, but luckily you want to be forced into all the kinky things, you dirty bitch.

HEROINE
This is clearly true love! Stick it in me.

ALL
Who is John Galt?

AYN RAND
I am not telling. Instead, please listen to someone pontificate about my Objectivist philosophy for a while.

SOMEONE
[Pontificates]

VILLAINS
There are many of us, but we are all exactly the same. We are caricatures of evil socialists and embodiments of pure evil. Let us create a perfect socialist world order ruled by the inept! We all suck! Socialism sucks! Ha ha!

HEROES
We are all exactly the same. We are noble and perfect and have very angular and insolent faces. We can read each other's minds and the minds of everyone else in this novel, leaving less room for misunderstanding and more room for pontificating. And we are all in love with Dagny Taggart, the only woman in the universe worth a damn.

ALL
Who is John Galt?

VILLAIN
[Threatens hero.]

HERO
[Flips coin]
If it's heads, I will gaze apathetically. If it's tails, I will laugh heartily.

VILLAIN
Although these are the only two things any of you heroes have done for the past 800 pages, I am shocked at this response! How could you! How dare you!?!

HERO
I will now pontificate about Ayn Rand's philosophy. It has been at least 50 pages since you've heard it.

AYN RAND
It is so convenient that all of my heroes are in perfect agreement about my philosophy so that their pontificating is so interchangeable.

ALL
Who is John Galt?

JOHN GALT
Hello. In this, the culmination of all the pontificating, I will explain Ayn Rand's philosophy for a full 57 pages. No, I am not kidding. This one monologue will last for 57 pages. Oh and also, I love Dagny.

DAGNY
I love you too. Man, this is really going to suck for Love Interest #3.

LOVE INTEREST #3
Despite my passionate love for you and enjoyment of our rape sex, and the fact that there is no other woman on earth worth a damn, and the fact that I sacrificed my life's passion on your behalf, and that I spent my entire fortune to get a divorce to be with you, I will now nobly step aside in the name of noble idealism.

DAGNY
Great! I will miss our creepy rape sex. Farewell.

LOVE INTEREST #3
Bye.

READER
Wait, what?

ATLAS
[Shrugs]

THE END

40 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I followed the link here from LiveJournal. Having read The Fountainhead I thank you for saving me from having to read this one too.

Great synopis, I'm sure it captures the entire plot and spirit of the book.

Traci (Pogodragon on LJ)

2:55 AM  
Anonymous Marianne said...

Oh, that was hilarious.

6:38 AM  
Blogger K said...

Deary me.

I spent the first while going "I know who John Galt is. He's that Scottish writer that wrote The Annals of the Parish, not that I've read it or anything, but you know. It's one of those pale grey Canongate Classics."

But I suppose he isn't, is he?

It had never occurred to me that Ayn Rand was a woman. Dagny is an awfully funny name. Then again, so is Ayn.

3:24 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

This is exactly why I only read the first 150 pages before putting the novel down in disgust. Honestly, how much do I really need to know about imaginary wonder metal? You're a stronger woman than I.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Purl said...

Thanks for the synopsis! Now, I can cross it off my reading list. Why oh why are her books on the Radcliffe list?

12:02 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

That sounds.... sort of like The Fountainhead.

6:43 PM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Aaron, I mention at the very top that it is, in fact, the same novel. It's just longer.

6:16 AM  
Blogger distracted diva said...

I'm coming late to this party... but thank you thank you THANK YOU for this. This is one of the very few books I've ever stopped reading. Utter monotony. Cardboard characters. Creepy sex.

And yet, I know waaay too many people who think that this is the best book ever written, and that everyone should read it. "Every middle/upper class whiteboy's wet dream," one of my friends calls this novel.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous M. Kienan Briscoe said...

wow....you are a dumbass!

And as for everyone else who didn't even finish it: I know this book is boring for the first 400 pages, but you just need to endure for awhile; I assure you it is indeed rewarding. I actually find it ironic that the book's philosophy revolved around 'working' to live when you guys can't even work hard enough to get past the first 100 pages.

And do you know why the heroes are "perfect"? Because they WORKED to become perfect. That's one important fact that you faild to include in your synopsis...they're rich and intelligent because they know how to live and 'think'! Maybe your readers would understand better if you mentioned that.

Send all your defenses, and hate mail to me at: eva02kienan@msn.com, thanks!

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delightful parody, you had me laughing and shrieking and laughing more. Not unlike Dagny's experiences with Hank only a tiny bit more volitional.

My boss gave me a copy of _Atlas Shrugged_ in 1989. Got all the way through it except for the 57 pages of pontificating toward the rear, which I paperclipped. Clearly no plot, character, or scene development involved, easily stuff I would come back and read later. It is 2006. My copy of the book still has that paperclip. Now I read your review, and "I'm not missin' a thing."

Thank you.

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, but I'm going to try to defend Objectivism without seeming like a retard.
1)I must admit: that was a very entertaining synopsis.

2) The problem with Rand's work is Rand, not the work. The creepy sex and pontificating is because Rand wrote it, not because it's Objectivism.

3) You may not want to admit it, but Objectivism has some good points: unflinching individualism, capitalism as the only fair way to interact in business, the stupidity of trying to disagree with Ayn Rand fanatics, etc. (the third is a joke, I'm afraid)

Lastly, I am not claiming that Atlas Shrugged is a good novel, or even a good philosophical work. I'm just claiming that it introduces an interesting philosophy, and if you look at it in that light, the weaknesses may be forgiveable.

9:35 PM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Anonymous, I didn't mean to imply that I was harshing more on Objectivism than Rand. I remember studying it as an undergrad and I thought it was a really interesting philosophy. I also liked The Fountainhead when I first read it for exactly the reason you suggest: it introduced an interesting philosophy.

The problem is, if you're already familiar with Objectivism, then what you get out of Atlas Shrugged is more of the same, and not in a good way. Know what I mean?

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

obviously these are minor points, but this synopsis is just flawed in many ways. The sex scene in atlas shrugged was quite not rape- the one in the fountainhead was- but the one in atlas was just violent (nothing wrong with that). Also, Rearden (love interest #3) did not spend a fortune getting his divorce, and he did not do it to be with Dagny. He specifically told his lawyer to do whatever he had to to ensure that his wife got nothing. (though I guess that does require buying judges)
Also, although Dagny is the only woman in the world with a real job- she's not the only woman worth a damn. There was also Kay Ludlow (but she was an actress)
And finally- Dagny's feelings for Francisco (love interest #2) should resemble more her feelings for Rearden- not her feelings for Eddie (love interest #1) Heck, she even kissed Francisco while she was in love with Rearden.
Anyway, like I said, these are small points, but I just threw them out there to show that you sacrificed honesty for a laugh. And even if that's the point, it's still misleading (some people might read all damn 1100 pages and at the end wonder 'where's the rape scene?')

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This book is waaay over hyped. Someone said the book is worth reading because it introduces a "new" philosophy. What new philosophy? That it's better if men work and try to better their position? That it's better if men are encouraged to use their brains and create new things for the betterment of society? That it's better if they get paid for this then paid on the basis of need? That bureacrats should be watched carefully so that they not tax or otherwise impede those who can think and produce? Wow, what revolutionary ideas.

My guess is that 90% of the people who say they've read this tomb haven't.

That this book has sold so many copies and influenced so many is beyond my understanding. I guess I should try and find a hidden valley somewhere where I can be liberated from this kind of tripe.
I couldn't believe how difficult it was to get through the end pages when Galt goes on and on and on and ...............
I will say this in the book's favor, despite the fact that the characters are so pathetically one dimensional I found myself caring what happened to them.

That i used the word "that" way too often in this comment is also pathetic.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous John Byrd said...

Brilliant. You get +2 Bracelets of Irony. They glow blue whenever Alan Greenspan comes within 10 meters.

9:27 PM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Thanks!

9:53 PM  
Blogger Kingfisher said...

Absolutely hilarious, and perfectly on target.

I read half of Atlas Shrugged before throwing it in the trash, which is a sacrilege in my life.

Ayn Rand was a pompous annoying pseudo-intelellectual with a dysfunctional libido.

Thanks for the laugh (and corroboration.)

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about this book but just wanted to reply to the one comment that said that Dagny was a funny name.
As funny as it might sound it is Icelandic in origin and fairly common. Spelled DagnĂ˝ and means "new day".
ElĂ­sabet

4:44 AM  
Blogger Independent Warlord said...

just awesome.....

great shot, kid. one in a million....

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay so I have to read The Fountainhead for my highschool senior English class. Out of curiosity when exactly does the sex scene occur.

12:16 PM  
Blogger joey said...

Great job!

Ayn Rand blows and her disciples are pseudo-intellectuals.

To me, "The Fountainhead" is a tired manifesto for people who are just proud of themselves for reading a book with no pictures. People who like that book are the same people that thought Gladiator was a great movie because they are too dumb to appreciate Shakespeare and too small-minded to grasp Braveheart. It's the chosen book of the smartest guy on the construction site.
The bartender/scholar who is going to use that marketing degree and open his own free-lance firm someday.

You dig me?

7:34 AM  
Blogger Nikhil Kamma said...

I agree with Mo Pie's views about the book. But in reading a novel, it's important to know the context. Ayn Rand, who was born Russian wrote these novels when the concepts of Communism and socialism were at an all time high and at a time when these philosophies were deteriorating the society. Ayn Rand was passionate about capitalism and at such a time, she felt the need to write a lot about the same. (she mentions the same in the introduction and epilogue of the book). But for what its worth, the book is worth a skip if one has read 'The Fountainhead'.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Raghav said...

Mopie, certainly a very irreverent and consequently funny expression of your thoughts on Atlas Shrugged. Don't get me wrong, if this was only meant to be a joke, I'd take it as such. I even laughed at some of your thoughts, very funny indeed. but what gets me is the responses people have left as comments.. I'm not sure this book review is meant to be serious, but so it seemed to people who have decided the give the book a pass at reading, the people who threw the book in to the trash after reading a few pages -- all of that, my friends, is proof only of your inadequacies.


Even Ayn Rand's personal life was a bit of a mess, and in some ways distinctly different from her philosophy.

But that is real life. We are talking about fiction here.

Dagny, all the Villains, all the heroes, have ridiculous similarities (the long, angular faces, the villains pretty much photocopies of each other), love interests 1,2 & 3 giving Dagny up etc., because THIS IS FICTION. IT HAS BEEN DRAMATIZED to prove a point of view. It's not exactly how Ayn Rand imagines such a society actually functioning. It's not even much different in terms of semantics from a james bond movie where bond dispatches of a 100 men, sleeps with 4 women, drinks a few vodka martinis, crashes a dozen cars, saves the world all in one day.

Oh and another thing, the major difference between "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" is that the former is about one man's personal philosophy and method of living his life in society without seeking to effect mass change in the world at large, while the latter is about the a group of people within a society who seek to live their lives, organize society around their way of living, even "imposing" on society a moral code. What would happen if this group decides to bring change into the world is the question being answered.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading about a dozen comments I felt I had to post. In contrast to most of your reactions to this book, I'm enjoying it quite so. Whilst the first few chapters had me derisively quoting excerpts to my friends, I came to enjoy the explicit nature of Rand's writing. The character of D'Aconia even defends Rand's own style by saying that words have an exact meaning and should hence be used accordingly.

Having read Part I of III, (clearly with much more to read), I'm enthralled with her world of objectivism which is so similarly based in the real world at some extent, and concurrently envious of the bravery and motivation envisioned in the "heroes" which is so sadly lacking in our world. And if the culmination is as rewarding as m. kienen briscoe has commented it to be, then I'm highly looking forward to reading the chapters ahead.

As a post script, I don't believe I've read the "creepy sex" part that has been mentioned on this blog, though my conclusion would be that those describing it as such either aren't seeing it as Rand had meant it to be read or simply have comfort issues and/or insecurities about sex in general. Perhaps it just seems weird to people reading about it and the emotions we subconsciously feel, just as it seems weird to some to watch it and see how strange it appears. But I reserve judgment until I find this part in the book.

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude you SO hit it on the head !!. I quite liked "Fountainhead" but rereading AS on a friend's insistence that i must have read it with complete disinterest in the first time and thats why i didnt quite get it . Well im on page 341 and i still dont get it !. This torture is not worth it even to salvage a 14yr old friendship , in which the discord came only coz i happened to comment that rand didnt live up to her own philosophy wrt her affair with Nath.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous kanak said...

Im midway in this longer-than-life and half-as-compelling book and i must say after reading your parody , i will atleast be able to plod through this tomb with some humor which is so glaringly lacking in all her works ! I know im gonna be mocked at by all those pseudo intellectuals but give me a harry potter anyday instead !

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is the greatest book of all time and even though this parody is amusing, you should all read it and get the intelligence and determination to read through the most enjoyable 1100 pages ever written

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was actually surprised at all these comments. I enjoyed Atlas Shrugged because it was the first time I had heard anything about Objectivism and I was really inspired by parts.

Many Kudos on this sketch! I loved it. I recognize all of the weaknesses highlighted here, but I still loved the novel (apart from the 57-page monologue and the creepy sex).

Of course, I'm not implying that this was supposed to make me love "Atlas Shrugged" less.

In fact, I think I enjoyed this delicious bit of satire even more because I liked the book.

-----Read here for the short version: Yay! Loved it!------------

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Traci doesn't seem to have learned anything from The Fountainhead, if she will take somebody else's opinion as gospel.
In fact the satire really reflects a lack of comprehension.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice fun post. You could try writing something a little more influential. Oh wait, I'm sorry, you don't have the ability. Well then, stick to the witty stuff. At least you'll get comments!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Gan said...

Ayn Rand championed individualism but she had no problem in creating a cult of personality around herself

12:53 PM  
Blogger oedalis said...

Wow some people took this SO personally.
I have to say---if a book doesn't manage to grab you in the first half (that's being generous) it's a failure as a book. What the fuck is this shit about having to plod through the crap in order to get to the gold? Authors should just cut the crap and leave the gold. Literature should not be about torturous without a purpose.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Philosoraptor said...

A quick read about Rand's life might make these books seem less of a childish caricature, and more of an attempt at dramatic philsophy. At least it would make getting through the book less of a hateful chore. Some should learn to separate this one woman with ideas from the massive spirit of capitalism that has appropriated and swallowed her whole just as enthusiastically as she embraced economic freedom.

I am, however, unimpressed with the all these pro-Rand comments that essentially say, "You just didn't understand it." That is the mightiest of cop-outs. No one can deny that Rand's way of thinking can lead to idolatry of the self. If Rand cares so much about individuals and their inherent worth and reason, what of their fate under the self-assured rationality of WWII fascists? What about the stats-based support for the Vietnam War which led to mass suffering of individuals?

She does seem to oversimplify in these books, and it doesn't help her philosophy or streamline it as she perhaps intended. Oversimplification creates more opportunity for disagreement and confusion than not.

Anonymous wrote: "The character of D'Aconia even defends Rand's own style by saying that words have an exact meaning and should hence be used accordingly."

So? The character of D'Aconia is written by Rand; of course she would defend Rand's style. Completely unconvincing argument. Words mean different things to different people, they conjure up different images, they give different lives different meaning when taken taken to heart. Philosophers have been commenting on the ambiguity of the spoken or written word for more than 2000 years. To assert that words have "exact" meanings is to deny the psyches and insights of a great number of individuals--namely those that would disagree.

This is perhaps why I have never been impressed with Rand, though this is not to say that Objectivism is rubbish. Regardless of what Rand intended, her ideas have come to stand for a narrow self-interest which lacks the intended distinction between healthy self-love and brutish self-indulgence which is ultimately harmful and base to all.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous kittenman said...

That's entertaining, thanks for saving my time. I saw the Fountain Head the movie, guess that's enough.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Compassrosa said...

Amazing. You've saved me so much time (and grief, probably). They must give out scholarships for reading her books because it proves dedication.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Atlas because it was well written. I was not put off by the overwhelmingly rabid feminism and preaching. Nor was I threatened by the length or intimidating philosophical sections. Ayn Rand wrote a fabulous novel about romance and arrogant people. Also, you say creepy rape sex too many times. Not with clever repetition, but with an overexcitement for silly words like creepy, rape, and sex. Meh.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

now I don't have to see this,

http://www.atlasshruggedpart1.com

6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since Alyn Greenspan was balling her back in his youth do you think it was the rough 'sex' that caused his brain damage or is he really too stupid to learn?

I read AS as a teen (there is a creepy organization that gives the damn thing away to kids for free) and found the novel part painfully bad. Your reduction reduced the pain but hides are really badly written it is.

As a political/economic philosophy it is perfectly suited for 14 year old boys.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Awesome summary of a truly awful book. Regardless of the philosophy, the book is complete crap. Just as one does not have to read the entire old and new testaments to understand the principles of Jesus' teachings, one does not have to suffer through reading it to understand objectivism. Look it up on Wikipedia.

Or, you don't even need to do that. Just be as selfish as you possibly can. For example, If you come to a new country and freeload off of your relatives and contacts before becoming famous and wealthy, be sure to give them nothing in return, not even acknowledgement. Then you will be an objectivist, exactly like Ayn Rand.

Although Objectivism is an illogical philosophy that violates the rules of pretty much every society. It spun out of paranoia about communism and today serves as a defense for selfish behavior by selfish people. It is unfortunately alive and well and lives with every "Obama is a fascist" or "Obama is a socialist" or "Obama is both a fascist and a socialist" comment. According to its proponents we must worship CEO's such as Jeffrey Skilling and Lloyd C. Blankfein, and any attempts to do anything except turn a profit will fail despite the success of businesses such as Patagonia, Green Mountain Coffee, Tom's Shoes, etc.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is reality much better?

5:19 PM  

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