So I've been reading at several different blogs how a small but vocal cadre of
So in lieu of that rant, I will simply say this: If you're basing your lifestyle, your belief system, or even the name of one of your pets on Atlas Shrugged or anything else written by Ayn Rand, you are a tool.
This isn't even the cranky asshole left-wing liberal in me telling you this, this is the cranky asshole English-lit minor: Atlas Shrugged sucks. It sucks as both a political allegory and a work of fiction. It sucks hard. Atlas Shrugged is not a novel, it is a pissy, monotonous political treatise disguised as a novel, only the disguise is as threadbare as literary gloss gets, because less than 100 pages in it's clear that Rand never bothered to listen to the "show, don't tell" part of her creative-writing classes, nor did she listen to the part where somebody might've taught her how to base her characterizations on anything deeper than what brilliant, calculating industrialists her characters are. It is melodramatic, cartoonish, and as deep as a kiddie pool, but while the simplistic banality of Rand's central conceit seems like something that the average writer could explain and wrap up pretty efficiently, she manages to go on and on and on for more than a thousand pages. Here's a tip: If you're trying to write something as cut-and-dried as a political allegory but you can't bring that bird in for a landing in anything less than 1,088 pages, maybe you need to hang up your literary ambitions and go get your MBA instead. Either that, or find a more diligent editor.
If you're still of an age where teachers or professors are still making you read certain things, I have a bit of advice for you: If any of your teachers have put Atlas Shrugged on your assigned-reading list, drop that class and don't look back. Atlas Shrugged is not just awful, it is godawful. It does not need to be read or analyzed, much less lived; it exists for only two reasons: first, to demonstrate that economic conservatives can be just as annoyingly self-righteous as liberals and religious conservatives, and second, to show you whom you should avoid getting involved in conversations with at parties. I speak from experience here, for I've had the misfortune of running into a few Rand devotees in social settings, and to call them dipshits would be an insult to both dip and shit. This is not meant as a slam against libertarians in general, because I've known some very bright ones, but Ayn Rand is to libertarianism what Fall Out Boy is to punk rock: It's what you get into before you grow up and start actually thinking.
And if you actually liked the book (or claim to), then the best way you can "go John Galt" is by killing yourself. Seriously. If what you really want is to remove yourself from society, it doesn't get much more definitive than that.
ADDED: What do you know, right about the same time I was composing the rant above, the inimitable TBogg was Twittering this:
Short, sweet, to the point. More so than I was, anyway.