Anthem

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Hobgoblin
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Anthem

Postby Hobgoblin » Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:09 pm UTC

So for school, I had to read Anthem by Ayn Rand. Every classmate I asked about it (being that I don't read things until the night before they're due) said that it was an awful book that didn't mean anything, and nothing cool happens in it.

I disagree completely, and I loved it. It's probably one of my favorite books now; it's so full of meaning and thought provoking substance.


Did anyone else like Anthem? Dislike Anthem?

Discuss.
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Re: Anthem

Postby mewshi » Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:12 am UTC

I liked it when I read. Besides, Anthem is probably shorter than anything else you had to read.

Those who think there is no meaning to it are looking too hard for the symbolism. It's easy if you just read it like a story.

I mean, hell, the symbolism of the lightbulb is simple and elegant.

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Re: Anthem

Postby Spinoza » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:39 am UTC

Ayn Rand is a strange literary figure. She is almost universally ignored and/or reviled by academic philosophy, not without good reasons, for the most part (namely, because her actual "philosophy" just isn't any good). From a literary standpoint, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are mildly noteworthy for their subject matter, their approach, and their length. Her writing isn't stellar, even for someone who was clearly not writing in their first language. What made me love The Fountainhead throughout high school, though, was not the writing, but her character development. If Rand had one talent that no criticism can take away, it was an adroitness for exposing the subtle intricacies of nearly any personality you'll ever experience. Regardless of whether "objectivism" is a silly, childish, naive philosophy (it mostly is), or whether she is at all comparable to a great writer whose back-story is somewhat analogous, Joseph Conrad (she is not anywhere near the level of his genius), one thing can be said for Rand, imho, and that is that she created a heroic, idealistic world into which the young and talented cannot help but be drawn (or rather, place themselves at the centre of, as the real life embodiment of Howard Roark, Hank Rearden, or John Galt). I give her that much.

Anthem was an interesting story, if only for its use of the first person plural, which made reading it an exercise in alienation for those of us with egos. As far as "symbolism" or "meaning" go, Rand is a pretty straightforward writer. It's just obvious that Anthem is a criticism of Communism, there's nothing particularly clever about the symbolism. Though, that doesn't mean the book isn't worth reading.

So, long story short, I enjoyed it. I read it a few times, but there are so many amazing books out there that I doubt I'll ever go back and re-read it. At least, not any time soon.

Might I recommend some summer reading for the high school students here... if you're looking for a challenge and like this sort of philosophically motivated reading?

Check out Dostoevsky's "Brothers Karamazov" from the library. It's long, but you'll thank me later. :wink:

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Re: Anthem

Postby NO1PCKTHS » Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:06 pm UTC

Great post on Ayn Rand.

I read Atlas Shrugged not too many years back, mainly because I had heard so much about Rand, and so little good, that I was intrigued. Much to my surprise, I couldn't put it down (which provides some difficulties--cramping, lack of productivity, etc.--with a book of that length). Her philosophy (and I gather this extends to her other work) is quite interesting, yet decidedly undeveloped. The character and plot development, however, is what keeps you reading. You truly do find yourself part of the story.

Side note: (it's a small world style)

Shortly before I started reading Atlas Shrugged, I was visiting my roommate over summer break when his mother happened to find my copy in my bag. She promptly calls me out over breakfast brandishing her copy, autographed by Rand. My roommate's mom had been Ayn Rand's nurse.
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Re: Anthem

Postby Guiro » Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:16 pm UTC

I haven't read Anthem, but I loved The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I don't buy the whole philosophy aspect, but the books are good reads with strong and well-developed characters.

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Re: Anthem

Postby Filius Nullius » Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:33 pm UTC

If you liked Anthem, (as I did) you should read Asimov's The Naked Sun, which is the second novel in this robot series. There are some very stark comparisons.

- Ayn Rand is one of my favorite authors. Character development/interaction is where it's at, her books are melting pots of political philosophy & agenda, and I like them.

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Re: Anthem

Postby Deep Fried Pickles » Sat Feb 14, 2009 2:23 am UTC

I thought Anthem was pretty good. A lot of the other books I had to read were far worse.

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Re: Anthem

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sat Feb 14, 2009 2:37 am UTC

I'm very undecided on Ayn Rand. I read the Fountainhead, and like it. The themes of individuality and integrity really resonated with me, and I agree with whoever said the thing about character development above.

However, when I read Atlas Shrugged, I found that I didn't quite line up with the heavy libertarianism. Of course, some of this was present in the Fountainhead, but it was made far more explicit in Atlas Shrugged. I guess that, while I like the idea of individuality from a moral point of view, when viewed in economic terms it comes off as a little off-putting. I thing the problem is just with extremes. "I shall never live my life for another man", I can understand--there's no self-worth in that. But when it's translated as "I shall never help anyone else unless they compensate me", I can't support that. "...nor ask another man to live for me", again, I get when it means that you don't take advantage of people. But when it means that you ought not ask for nor accept help when you need it...I can't take that. I believe in a shared responsibility towards each other as humans, and part of me wonders if this is inconsistent with the individuality I mentioned above. I guess I'm still thinking it through.
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Re: Anthem

Postby benbw » Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:18 am UTC

I had to read this before, and really enjoyed it. Of course, I ate up anything about dystopias then, so I think my judgment isn't really trustworthy.

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Re: Anthem

Postby Spinoza » Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:44 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:I'm very undecided on Ayn Rand. I read the Fountainhead, and like it. The themes of individuality and integrity really resonated with me, and I agree with whoever said the thing about character development above.

However, when I read Atlas Shrugged, I found that I didn't quite line up with the heavy libertarianism. Of course, some of this was present in the Fountainhead, but it was made far more explicit in Atlas Shrugged. I guess that, while I like the idea of individuality from a moral point of view, when viewed in economic terms it comes off as a little off-putting. I thing the problem is just with extremes. "I shall never live my life for another man", I can understand--there's no self-worth in that. But when it's translated as "I shall never help anyone else unless they compensate me", I can't support that. "...nor ask another man to live for me", again, I get when it means that you don't take advantage of people. But when it means that you ought not ask for nor accept help when you need it...I can't take that. I believe in a shared responsibility towards each other as humans, and part of me wonders if this is inconsistent with the individuality I mentioned above. I guess I'm still thinking it through.


Rand repudiated any connection with Libertarianism. :|

I think both are inherently ridiculous, but never mind that.

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Re: Anthem

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:58 am UTC

Libertarianism, or minarchy, or whatever you want to call it.
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Re: Anthem

Postby Vaniver » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:54 pm UTC

I actually had something of the opposite approach; I liked Atlas Shrugged more than I did the Fountainhead, because it's a lot easier for me to dislike economic dependency than emotional or personal dependency. The short point of Fountainhead is "you get to decide how much you owe your family;" the short point of Atlas Shrugged is "you get to decide how much you owe your neighbors."

I haven't read Anthem; I probably should at some point.
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Re: Anthem

Postby torrentaddict2012 » Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:06 pm UTC

I liked Anthem because it just cut to the chase, it's a perfect example of more being said with less like a lot of Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft's work. Short, sweet, simple, and to the point. Atlas Shrugged is a goodread also that's almost has to be paced like the bible to read that I recommend. If you don't have the time to read The Fountainhead watch the old black and white movie made in 1949 about it. Ayn Rand played a big role in the development of the movie and it keeps a lot of the important dialogue and themes that she was trying to convey within it.

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Re: Anthem

Postby DarkKnightJared » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:07 pm UTC

I liked Anthem, if not just because it is short--I don't regret reading Atlas Shrugged, but with it being the size it is, I'm probably not going to read it all the way through again.

Rand is a bit of a conflicting figure for me--I like her philosophy concerning individual freedom and her economic theories to an extent (like any economic theory, when pushed to the extreme it has plenty of problems). As a writer, she does some great imagery, some good character work, but she can get ranty to a degree that defies description.

If I were to recommend her work to someone who's never read it, I'd definitely recommend Anthem first, if not for the aforementioned shortness.

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Re: Anthem

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:47 pm UTC

I liked Anthem all the way up to the end. The woman kinda got objectified hardcore, and then the fatuous self-congratulation Ayn Rand the narrator assumed in the concluding paragraphs really turned me off.
tenet |ˈtenit|
noun
a principle or belief, esp. one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy : the tenets of classical liberalism.
tenant |ˈtenənt|
noun
a person who occupies land or property rented from a landlord.

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Re: Anthem

Postby 6453893 » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:32 am UTC

I got so sick of the way Rand tries to pack volumes of description into the most insipid things. "Her laugh betrayed both her fear of the unknown and the realization that the fear no longer mattered to her, because she was intent on victory and elated to have a purpose once more, even if that purpose entailed this fear." "He raised an eyebrow, and eyebrow that expressed his disdain for the modern economic system and the individuals that sustained it. The individual before him was one of those, and he received the full force of the dissatisfaction expressed by that raised eyebrow, the sheer contempt he focused into the movement of every muscle. But that raised eyebrow revealed something he didn't intend; the eyebrow told his opponent that he was close to buckling point about bla bla bla." Fuck you Rand. The whole way through Atlas Shrugged, I hoped that there would be a single gesture that didn't contain a paragraph of meaning.

It's fairly clear that Rand was not a good writer. She knew this herself too; she left the world of fiction as soon as she was established name. Were her novels the most effective way (at the time) to trick people into reading her philosophy? Yes. Did I love Atlas Shrugged in spite of all the crappy prose? Yes. To consider her fiction as anything but a shiny wrapper for gritty philosophy is to completely miss Rand's intent.

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Re: Anthem

Postby Velict » Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:58 pm UTC

Rand is one of the few fiction authors I enjoy reading, simply because of the deeply philosophical undertones in her works. She's not just another David Baldacci that pumps out amusing, well-written, but ultimately shallow literature; her work is highly intellectual, something that is sorely lacking in a large amount of modern literature. I put Anthem, Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged up there with novels like Tess of the d'Urbervilles: literature that is more valuable for its intelligence and message than its literary elements.

I find it saddening that this sort of writing is written off as "an attempt to trick people into reading her philosophy". This sort of belief is anti-intellectualism at its worst; a rejection of the presentation of ideas that one may or may not agree with, a rejection based off a principle that one should read for pure mindless enjoyment, not for intellectual stimulation.

Besides, if you picked up Atlas Shrugged with the intent to find a novel devoid of meaning and philosophizing, you've probably have been living under a rock for the past half-century.

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Re: Anthem

Postby 6453893 » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:47 pm UTC

Velict wrote:Rand is one of the few fiction authors I enjoy reading, simply because of the deeply philosophical undertones in her works. She's not just another David Baldacci that pumps out amusing, well-written, but ultimately shallow literature; her work is highly intellectual, something that is sorely lacking in a large amount of modern literature. I put Anthem, Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged up there with novels like Tess of the d'Urbervilles: literature that is more valuable for its intelligence and message than its literary elements.


Where the hell have you been? Dos Passos, Kafka, Camus, Orwell, Huxley,
Gaddis (and several more that I will probably remember about ten minutes after I leave the house) were all better modern intellectual writers than Rand. I don't know what kind of books you've been reading, but if the only two books you'd ever read were Atlas Shrugged and My Sister's Keeper, I could understand your absurd position.

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Re: Anthem

Postby Velict » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:57 pm UTC

6453893 wrote:
Velict wrote:Rand is one of the few fiction authors I enjoy reading, simply because of the deeply philosophical undertones in her works. She's not just another David Baldacci that pumps out amusing, well-written, but ultimately shallow literature; her work is highly intellectual, something that is sorely lacking in a large amount of modern literature. I put Anthem, Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged up there with novels like Tess of the d'Urbervilles: literature that is more valuable for its intelligence and message than its literary elements.


Where the hell have you been? Dos Passos, Kafka, Camus, Orwell, Huxley,
Gaddis (and several more that I will probably remember about ten minutes after I leave the house) were all better modern intellectual writers than Rand. I don't know what kind of books you've been reading, but if the only two books you'd ever read were Atlas Shrugged and My Sister's Keeper, I could understand your absurd position.


You're setting up a strawman here. I never said that Rand was the greatest writer since sliced bread, nor did I ever say that intellectualism in modern literature is non-existent: it's just sorely lacking in most examples. If you want to refute this, fine, but I think that's rather difficult point to make considering the current state of popular literature; when names like Cussler, Picoult, Grisham, Roberts, King, Evanovitch, and Baldacci dominate the literary landscape, it's clear that there has, by and large, been a shift away from intellectualism. The handful of authors that do continue to imbue their work with some degree of meaning are simply exceptions to the rule.

Also, amusingly enough, the authors we're mentioning as intellectual - Camus, Dos Passos, Huxley, Kafka, Orwell, and Rand- are all half a century old at this point in time. Perhaps these authors are simply remnants of an older era?

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Re: Anthem

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:31 pm UTC

it's clear that there has, by and large, been a shift away from intellectualism


The world isn't getting dumber. It's easy to pick a period of the past and say "look at this awesome thing, why doesn't the present have this?" Thing is, it's always been easier. Today we remember "classic rock", forgetting the absolute floods of music that was decidedly not up to that quality that was made back then. Similarly, give the world a century and our time will have its literary marvels picked out and held on a pedestal. Fame takes time. You think there wasn't fiction for the sake of exciting stories back then?
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Re: Anthem

Postby 6453893 » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:01 am UTC

Velict wrote:
Also, amusingly enough, the authors we're mentioning as intellectual - Camus, Dos Passos, Huxley, Kafka, Orwell, and Rand- are all half a century old at this point in time. Perhaps these authors are simply remnants of an older era?


I gave those examples because you said:

her work is highly intellectual, something that is sorely lacking in a large amount of modern literature


If you wanted contemporary examples I'd have said Pynchon, Foster Wallace, DeLillo, and the like.

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Re: Anthem

Postby psychosomaticism » Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:54 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:I guess that, while I like the idea of individuality from a moral point of view, when viewed in economic terms it comes off as a little off-putting. I thing the problem is just with extremes. "I shall never live my life for another man", I can understand--there's no self-worth in that. But when it's translated as "I shall never help anyone else unless they compensate me", I can't support that. "...nor ask another man to live for me", again, I get when it means that you don't take advantage of people. But when it means that you ought not ask for nor accept help when you need it...I can't take that. I believe in a shared responsibility towards each other as humans, and part of me wonders if this is inconsistent with the individuality I mentioned above. I guess I'm still thinking it through.


This was basically my problem with Rand as well. I agreed with the whole "do you own thing, be proud and stand up for yourself" thing, but I wasn't so keen on the portrayal of everyone but the main characters as inferior and dragging down the world. I thought it was oversimplified; people don't just fit into heroes or zeros categories. And maybe it's just my inexperience with the world at my green age of young adult, but I just didn't feel like the setting she wrote was all that indicative of real life. Then again, Communism lost out, or morphed into something else, and Capitalism got a little softer and socialized than the industrial era.

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Re: Anthem

Postby philly13 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:46 am UTC

I really enjoyed Anthem, it had a good message and wasn't drawn out...I think I read it in the car rides to and from a Yankees game (I live in CT). The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are on my to-read list, everyone I know that has read them says they're good reads.

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Re: Anthem

Postby Pimmip » Sun May 03, 2009 7:23 pm UTC

In all honesty, Ayn Ran's more lengthy books are a bit over my head at the moment. I can comprehend her writing, I just don't have the patience for it. Nonetheless, I have Atlas Shrugged on my bookshelf for when I want to give it a go.

I read Anthem for school about four years ago and loved it. I read it all in one night and again two weeks later (I purchased it before we read it in-class.)

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Re: Anthem

Postby katadams » Fri May 08, 2009 2:47 pm UTC

I love Rand's work. If she seems to over explain everything, it's because she's not a post-modernist. In her fiction, everything has meaning, a reason or purpose, or it doesn't belong. I don't need to know a man had a twitch unless there's a solid reason for that detail. Maybe it indicates him being nervous? Good enough reason, bam. But if the only reason is that he has a medical condition... then it just distracts from the account. She's a structuralist. And a damn good one at that. Her writing isn't flippant or pointless, and she did not stop writing once she had a name.

As for her philosophy, the books show the extreme, true, but even in Atlas shrugged we see a different ideal, one she perhaps truly wanted: The man Dagny takes in on the train tells her of their town before they were forced to care about one another. In that case they gave to those who gave back, they treated each other kindly because that's what neighbors did. But they made their own way and weren't beholden to anyone. But take human nature into effect and force them to give things up based on the need of others, suffer them goods based on their needs, start measuring and dosing everything, and people become stingy and greedy. They begin to resent each other because of that enforced bond. Ignore the long prose and detailing of a nascent philosophy (even Aristotle was hardly a perfect thinker-as I'm sure he'd have said himself) of a woman creating a philosophy from need and reaction and you get the basic idea that man has to choose his own bonds and ties–not have them thrust upon him.

Anthem is delightful, Fountain head all the more so. January 16th and We The Living are wonderful as well. I've read each of her books a few times over, and while I don't personally align with all her ideas, her core belief in taking care of oneself and looking only to your own is solid and, in the end, what every one does, though some do it in different (and arguably less or more righteous) ways.

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Re: Anthem

Postby katadams » Fri May 08, 2009 3:01 pm UTC

psychosomaticism wrote:
Sir_Elderberry wrote:I guess that, while I like the idea of individuality from a moral point of view, when viewed in economic terms it comes off as a little off-putting. I thing the problem is just with extremes. "I shall never live my life for another man", I can understand--there's no self-worth in that. But when it's translated as "I shall never help anyone else unless they compensate me", I can't support that. "...nor ask another man to live for me", again, I get when it means that you don't take advantage of people. But when it means that you ought not ask for nor accept help when you need it...I can't take that. I believe in a shared responsibility towards each other as humans, and part of me wonders if this is inconsistent with the individuality I mentioned above. I guess I'm still thinking it through.


This was basically my problem with Rand as well. I agreed with the whole "do you own thing, be proud and stand up for yourself" thing, but I wasn't so keen on the portrayal of everyone but the main characters as inferior and dragging down the world. I thought it was oversimplified; people don't just fit into heroes or zeros categories. And maybe it's just my inexperience with the world at my green age of young adult, but I just didn't feel like the setting she wrote was all that indicative of real life. Then again, Communism lost out, or morphed into something else, and Capitalism got a little softer and socialized than the industrial era.


It isn't just "heros and zeros", though. She does use extreme characters as her main focus, but that's just because they're the ones moving the world. It makes sense to follow the interesting folk most. A bit of possible spoiler stuff below.

Spoiler:
But look at Eddie in Atlas, we don't even see what eventually becomes of him. Does he fix the train? Does he fail? Does he just waste away, unable to try? Eddie isn't a hero or a failure–he's a question and in my opinion represents to reader: we're cheering Dagny along, and after the book, we'll have to carry on without her. Can we? Can we get the machine rolling, or is it all lost? There's another character whose name I forget, but was the young engineer Dagny hires to reclaim Galt's engine. He ends up just another worker. A promising one, but he's no great shaker just yet. It's implied that there are a number of people like this. Smaller characters run throughout the books, but Rand avoids spending more time than the plot needs on them, which is only rational. People aren't just great or a drag, I mention the drifter Dagny takes in and feeds and talks about his entire town and how it dissolved.

As for the setting, it's meant to be in her near future, a time when the balance of power between economic ideals was very much in question, and still is in many parts of the world. More and more nations have taken to nationalizing resources–most of these are ingrained failures to begin with and the nationalization is little more than cannibalization. But many also come back from that, only to give corrupt men with money in politicians the goods, which, really, keeps the resources in the hands of an illegitimate and unofficial part of the government. Industry and capitalism can work in a way that isn't corrupt, so long as they aren't allowed to interfere with the government that supposedly keeps them in check. But as we see in Atlas Shrugged, when industry controls Government, and government controls industry, it becomes a cycle of exploitation that can only lead to Very Bad Things. That's the main problem with Socialism and Communism, and with how Capitalism works. Perhaps it's not a question of the economic system in place, so much as the people.

Rand questions that as well, pointing out how we demonize money as the source of all evil, but asks what the source of money is. It's us, and unless we are free of corruption, money cannot be. So perhaps it isn't Capitalism–a system that requires men support themselves and find their own path, but the men themselves that cause the economic failures we see.

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Re: Anthem

Postby alitheiapsis » Fri May 08, 2009 3:40 pm UTC

I've read Anthem maybe three or four times, and my opinion of it has worsened incredibly. The first two times I read it, I really enjoyed it and sought out more of Rand's work. I read We The Living and Atlas Shrugged the summer after I first encountered Anthem, enjoying them thoroughly. However, on reading Anthem for class (with a teacher who practically worshiped Objectivism but obviously didn't understand it fully), I began to see the flaws in Anthem.

I thought it lacked creativity (the only novelty I saw was the use of "we". Everything else you could find in another dystopian novel). The society had no originality or depth. The writing was really bad, in my opinion. I know English wasn't her first language, but there was just something I can't put my finger on. I hated how Equality ended up discovering electricity through the same way Galvani (I think it was?) discovered static charge--the dead frog, metal instrument thing. Instead of meaningful, it seemed simply to be laziness. The ending, too, I disliked:
Spoiler:
instead of going back to overturn the regime he so despised, Equality/Prometheus decided to stay huddled up in the house with Liberty/Gaia. So typical of Rand's philosophy, but that just didn't seem like what a reasonable person would do. *shrug*


The premise itself had promise, but I think a combination of laziness, bad writing, and an unwelcome injection of Objectivism ruined it for me.

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Re: Anthem

Postby Vox Imperatoris » Wed May 12, 2010 4:12 am UTC

katadams wrote:I love Rand's work. If she seems to over explain everything, it's because she's not a post-modernist. In her fiction, everything has meaning, a reason or purpose, or it doesn't belong. I don't need to know a man had a twitch unless there's a solid reason for that detail. Maybe it indicates him being nervous? Good enough reason, bam. But if the only reason is that he has a medical condition... then it just distracts from the account. She's a structuralist. And a damn good one at that. Her writing isn't flippant or pointless, and she did not stop writing once she had a name.


I completely agree. I love her writing; I don't even understand where the people who think it's crap are coming from. You can tell that every page is meticulously designed to serve a purpose. Her characters are obviously the best part of her books, but her prose is also very good. Obscurity and pointless detail does not equal good writing, which is why most literature from the end of the Victorian era to the recent decline in rampant postmodernism is awful. (One reason science fiction is one of my favorite genres is that it does this kind of thing much, much less, and science fiction works generally have a real point, as opposed to postmodernist works that depict an ineffectual protagonist buffeted by the forces of society at every turn.) I thought her diction in describing the evils of collectivism was very powerful, and the slightly formal quality her writing took on by virtue of English being her second language just made it more dignified. Just compare Atlas Shrugged with something like The Moviegoer: it's almost infinitely better. Ayn Rand's writing appeals to the human spirit, while postmodern writing is evidently designed to grind it into a pulp.

katadams wrote:It isn't just "heros and zeros", though. She does use extreme characters as her main focus, but that's just because they're the ones moving the world. It makes sense to follow the interesting folk most. A bit of possible spoiler stuff below.

Spoiler:
But look at Eddie in Atlas, we don't even see what eventually becomes of him. Does he fix the train? Does he fail? Does he just waste away, unable to try? Eddie isn't a hero or a failure–he's a question and in my opinion represents to reader: we're cheering Dagny along, and after the book, we'll have to carry on without her. Can we? Can we get the machine rolling, or is it all lost? There's another character whose name I forget, but was the young engineer Dagny hires to reclaim Galt's engine. He ends up just another worker. A promising one, but he's no great shaker just yet. It's implied that there are a number of people like this. Smaller characters run throughout the books, but Rand avoids spending more time than the plot needs on them, which is only rational. People aren't just great or a drag, I mention the drifter Dagny takes in and feeds and talks about his entire town and how it dissolved.


Spoiler:
Yes, Eddie Willers definitely represents the good, hardworking common man. The great men of the world are able to overcome the horrors of collectivism and fight against it, but the average guy just gets crushed under the wheel, and Eddie represents that man. It's implied quite clearly that he dies in the end because he simply can't deal with a society design squash all forms of initiative. The common man is the productive force that a rational society is built on, but it takes a hero to actually fight against society and rewrite its mores.
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Re: Anthem

Postby BlueNight » Wed May 12, 2010 5:52 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:I guess that, while I like the idea of individuality from a moral point of view, when viewed in economic terms it comes off as a little off-putting. I thing the problem is just with extremes. "I shall never live my life for another man", I can understand--there's no self-worth in that. But when it's translated as "I shall never help anyone else unless they compensate me", I can't support that. "...nor ask another man to live for me", again, I get when it means that you don't take advantage of people. But when it means that you ought not ask for nor accept help when you need it...I can't take that. I believe in a shared responsibility towards each other as humans, and part of me wonders if this is inconsistent with the individuality I mentioned above. I guess I'm still thinking it through.


In my interpretation, her assumption is that "living my life for another man" is forced upon one by the state, by an external morality, by a religion, by whining and wheedling, by misuse of logic, but never by choice.

The existence of any "shared responsibility" assumes that you must yield goods, services, or means of exchange to another without benefit to yourself. Such an arrangement is known as slavery or theft, no matter how many or few your masters may be, no matter how large or small a cut of your life's work is required of you. (BTW, slavery is theft.)

However, if you are talking about a conscious choice you yourself make without being forced to by any outside agency, that is a free-will choice which is up to you and you alone. Then it is a gift, not a theft. However, you cannot force anyone else to freely give a gift; that again is theft or slavery.

Jesus of Nazareth would prefer you retcon thefts committed against you into being gifts, via the simple (but difficult) means of giving to them who would take from you: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." This does not count as a general duty or responsibility of all mankind. This is self-sacrificial agape love, translated "charity" in the King James, and it is a free-will decision which is personally up to each follower of Jesus.

(I note that I was emotionally manipulated into living my life for another person. It has taken me four years to heal, and not a day goes by that I don't think of my regret at having given my free will to another.)
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Re: Anthem

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed May 12, 2010 9:57 pm UTC

Jesus of Nazareth would prefer you retcon thefts committed against you into being gifts, via the simple (but difficult) means of giving to them who would take from you: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." This does not count as a general duty or responsibility of all mankind. This is self-sacrificial agape love, translated "charity" in the King James, and it is a free-will decision which is personally up to each follower of Jesus.


You may want to choose a different person to represent Ayn Rand's beliefs.
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Re: Anthem

Postby Vox Imperatoris » Wed May 12, 2010 11:02 pm UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
Jesus of Nazareth would prefer you retcon thefts committed against you into being gifts, via the simple (but difficult) means of giving to them who would take from you: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." This does not count as a general duty or responsibility of all mankind. This is self-sacrificial agape love, translated "charity" in the King James, and it is a free-will decision which is personally up to each follower of Jesus.


You may want to choose a different person to represent Ayn Rand's beliefs.


If I understand him correctly, he's offering Jesus as the antithesis of Ayn Rand's beliefs. Otherwise, it would be pretty weird.

On a related note, it is important to recognize that, passages such as this aside, Christianity did not until Kant take charity towards other people as the highest moral good. Rather, the primary aspect of "charity" was the "love" of God and resultant unwavering devotion to Him. Loving your neighbor was seen as nice, but not as important as first sacrificing everything you have to God. By the way, even in the modern understanding, "Faith, Hope, and Charity" are absolutely horrible virtues: faith, blind adherence in defiance of the facts as opposed to rational thought, hope, expectation of unearned gifts as opposed to working for just rewards, and charity, the indiscriminate love of all men as opposed to loving them for their virtues.
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Re: Anthem

Postby Nullifidian » Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:41 pm UTC

I liked Anthem a lot more when I read it as the previously published We, authored by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

The one redeeming feature of Anthem is that it is short. And despite its brevity, Rand still manages to pack in her typical overwriting, leading one to conclude that in a better writer's hands Anthem might have made a halfway decent short story. The difference in quality between everything else we were reading in my 10th grade class and between Anthem was so stark that I had to ask my teacher why she even bothered to assign it. She admitted to me that her only reason was to give her students a chance to enter into the Ayn Rand Institute's scholarship contest. I always thought that was a poor reason because it was obvious that the only people who were ever going to win were the ones who sucked up to the ARI and wrote hagiographies of Rand.

Though I was a young conservative back when I was reading Rand, she failed to win me over either as a writer or a thinker. In fact, I can say that Atlas Shrugged (which I inflicted on myself over a three-day trip from home) is the worst novel I've ever read. I wouldn't have finished it except for the fact that I was far away from home and didn't know where I could find a bookstore. I should have called myself a cab and had the cabbie take me to a local bookstore, but it was a school trip and they get a little paranoid about people wandering off on their own. Anthem is the third worst, and The Fountainhead (assigned in 11th grade) comes in second-to-dead-last.

As a writer, she strikes me as someone who never thought her scenarios through and who also couldn't stop writing, so the result is mutually contradictory logorrhea. I found a copy of AS the other day, and I flipped through the first few pages and saw a perfect example of what I mean: a "bum" is trying to cadge a dime from Eddie Willers. Willers is facing west, towards the setting sun, and the bum is directly in front of Willers with the sun to his back. But Rand tells us that the setting sun glints off the "bum's" eyes and, immediately after informing us that the "bum" was a mere "faceless shadow" (as opposed to those shadows with faces), she goes on to describe his face! That is just plain bad writing no matter how you slice it. No doubt I could find examples easily enough from Anthem too, which is now public domain because nobody thought to renew copyright on the British edition. But I find it difficult to work up enthusiasm for the idea of even skimming Anthem, given that the thought of reading more Rand makes me cringe.


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