Monday, October 31, 2011

Fixated? Indeed.

It has been noted to me that I have developed something of a fixation with the message of Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. I plead guilty as charged.

In my youth, I was asked to read it as part of a college class. Like all good students will do when confronted with the task of reading a thousand-page book, I worked smarter, not harder--or so I thought at the time--and read the Cliff's Notes instead.

So for 30 years I missed out on insights I could have desperately used. Over the years, I have fought and railed against "idiots" who simply didn't seem to see how the world plainly worked. I've tried to educate fools who spent their lives lurching from one personal disaster to the next, simply because they thought they could wish their desires into reality--and always failed. I've been angry, frustrated and just generally pissed off at the entire thing. I've written off people and friendships because I simply couldn't stand to watch them self-destruct, when the answer was so plainly before them.

The audio book of the novel made it approachable for me. Sure, it takes something like 56 hours to listen to, but I spend at least 90 minutes a day driving. It was doable in a reasonable time. And I detest broadcast radio for the most part--and it gets really old listening to the engine noise and the tires on the road.

So I listened. At first it was interesting, but I couldn't see where it was going. Then is simply bursts out--the real message that Rand is sending through her writing. And I was looking for any need to drive somewhere. I started carrying the MP3 player around, listening whenever I could. I got to the end of it, and was disappointed it was over.

But I also "got it". I understand why that novel speaks to me. It seems almost as if Rand was capable of seeing into the future, reading the headlines we face every day, and decided to write a book about it.

Nah. It turns out that she isn't a seeress, but something even more rare--an acute observer of mankind.

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