Saturday, March 07, 2009

Honk If You Like John Galt

I saw this bumpersticker you can buy:

Will Wilkinson disapproves of the sentiment:
By the way, Atlas buffs, the point of Atlas Shrugged is not that you are John Galt. The point is that you are not John Galt. The point is that you are, at your best, Eddie Willers.
But if avid readers routinely miss "the point" of a novel, is it really the point?

Here's my view on Eddie Willers - he's the reader's entry point into the novel. He's there for exposition. He is to Dagny as Horatio is to Hamlet - as Watson is to Holmes. He is the sidekick.

The point of the novel is to make you feel "I want to be like one of these heroes."

Rand was pretty explicit about this:
In the privacy of his own soul, nobody identifies himself with the folks next door, unless he has given up. But the generalized abstraction of a hero permits every man to identify himself with James Bond, each supplying his own concretes which are illuminated and supported by that abstraction.... Nobody could feel: "I want to be like Marty." Everybody (except the most corrupt) can feel: "I want to be like James Bond."
Substitute "Eddie" for Chayefsky's "Marty" and "Galt" for Fleming's "Bond".

And so, to be fair,
I can't find fault
with cars that declare
"I Am John Galt".

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