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The good vs. itself?

I read this today in Leonard Peikoff's preface to Ayn Rand's synopsis of her screenplay Red Pawn (p. 124 in The Early Ayn Rand):

As in most Ayn Rand fiction, the story leaves one with a special, uplifted sense of human stature, and even grandeur, because the essential conflict is not between good and evil, but between good and good (the two men). In accordance with her view that evil is impotent, the villains in Ayn Rand's fiction rarely rise to the role of dominant, plot-determining figures. For the most part, like Fedossitch in this story, they are peripheral creatures doomed by their own irrationality to failure and defeat. The focus of the story, therefore, is not on man the sordid, but on man the heroic. (In The Fountainhead, the main conflict is not Roark against Toohey or Keating, but Roark against Dominique and Wynand. In Atlas Shrugged, the main conflict is Dagny and Rearden against Galt and the other strikers.)

Is this true? And does the attitude behind this interpretation explain—maybe unconsciously—the animosity Randroids have for libertarians, with the inner circle leading the charge?

It seemed like the major conflict in Atlas Shrugged was the good philosophy vs. the bankrupt philosophy, not marginally different facets of the good philosophy vs. each other. The inner conflicts of Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, as Francisco D'Anconia and John Galt repeatedly point out, stem from not fully ridding themselves of every last morsel of the corrupt code—you know, not checking their premises enough. In The Fountainhead, I never figured out Dominique except as an expression of Rand's desire to get her ass owned by an angular man, but Wynand was a mixture of good and bad, and that's why he sunk. Being 75% good isn't enough in a morality play.

The struggles essentially were of the good to examine out their imperfections and break free and out of the deadweight of evil, with Roark and Galt as the examples, not of one good man to best another. Especially since there's only one kind of good. It seems like Peikoff would know the stuff better than I would, but it's possible that Rand's intent didn't come through enough and that my reading, though not the intended one, meshes with the texts better. (See my previous post.)

Not to mention that the Stalinist elements in Objectivism retcon the Trotskyist elements out freakin' all the time.

Along similar lines, do they (Objectivists) hate us (libertarians) for our freedoms? Are they bitter as an accident of following Rand's personal whims when she got tired of trying to convince Hank Libertarian to join the movement? Notice that the orthodox Objectivists haven't quit the American economy en masse—there are limits to the battles you can fight in real life, no matter how glorious your fiction is.

Intention and meaning

I heard a talk today given by one Daniel Nathan of Texas Tech University called "Authors and Authority: Intention and Meaning in Law and the Arts." Given that it straddled two subjects, neither of which I'm remotely competent in, I can't discuss the whole thing here.

The End.

Well, I guess I can mention one thing. This cat Nathan opposes intentionalism, which view says that the creator's intention is important to the meaning of a work, either of art or of law. Art...yeah, not discussing that. Read more »


I finished reading The Gangs of New York last night. It was thoroughly entertaining, and the movie is only loosely related to it, but I'm not going to review it here—it's not very deep, just fun.

But at the end it contained a "Rogue's Lexicon" compiled by a police inspector and published in 1859. Several of the terms had meanings that would still be understood today, while most were Greek to me. I found it curious, though, that "O.K." was defined. This would suggest that as late as 1859 the term was not widely understood. Read more »

Technology accessible to ordinary people

Tim Lee has an interesting post at TLF in which he makes the following point:

If you think about it, Apple’s strength really doesn’t come from inventing things. I’ve been a Mac guy for pretty much my whole life, and so during college I was one of those people who’d watch the Steve Jobs keynote every year. Almost every time, my techie officemates would see a new Apple product and say “hey, there’s nothing new there. Linux has been able to do that for 6 months.”

The biggest crooks in New York

Earlier I wrote about Plunkitt of Tammany Hall and said I would inform you of any choice selections. As it turns out, it's an amusing and informative read, but didn't offer what I considered to be reasonably-sized quotations for the blog. Read more »

They must mean the <i>other</i> internet

Lieutenant about to be judged by the same group accusing him

First lieutenant Ehren Watada is facing a court martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq. He opposes the Iraq war saying that it is "morally wrong and a breach of American law" according to CBS News. The Army is charging him with one count of missing movement and two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. Army prosecutor Dan Kuecker said "He betrayed his fellow soldiers who are now serving in Iraq." Read more »

That seems a little high

During a discussion I was in recently the other guy mentioned, as partial justification of redistributionist policies, that the majority of the wealth in the United States is inherited. This sounds fishy, so I'm asking you, dear readers, can you weigh in on this statistic?

The mystery against the state

The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler are an interesting and very quick read if you like Chandler's work. You can see some of his ideas getting tossed around prior to being written, though some is just about the business of writing and publishing (which while historically relevant is not the high point of the book). Read more »

Blowhards also end up looking like idiots over PR awesomeness

Apparently the news story from earlier today that there were reports of "suspicious packages" in Boston which caused officials to shit bricks has been updated to reflect that these items were in fact neon light signs advertising the tv show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Read more »

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is full of instances when the democratic countries stuck together and the totalitarian countries refused to assist each other. If this is the case, what can we expect from hypothetical anarchist societies faced one by one with a hostile power? Do they, following the line from less free to more free, band together by ideology?


Here's a little historical treat: a Soviet anti-war short from 1983 called Conflict.

Notizbuch eines Philologen

Every couple of months I read George Orwell's Politics and the English Language and get really jazzed about writing something. Read more »