By Ayn Rand
Rebecca read my previous post, where I complained at the end that there were too many characters to keep up with, and commented that I had neglected to mention Dr. Robert Stadler. I said that was because I didn’t care about him. She simply smirked, so of course this chapter opens on Dr. Robert Stadler, renowned theoretical physicist and head of the State Science Institute.
Dr. Stadler has currently got his panties in a twist because the Institute building is cold due to the oil shortage and because the Institute recently published a book denouncing thinking (yes, that’s right — I don’t even know what’s going on any more). After he confronts his colleague who authored the book, the man explains that the book is intended for public relations, to build popularity for the Institute:
“You see, Dr. Stadler, people don’t want to think. And the deeper they get into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they feel that they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they’ll bless and follow anyone who gives them a justification for not thinking. Anyone who makes a virtue — a highly intellectual virtue — out of what they know to be their sin, their weakness and their guilt.”
I couldn’t have come up with a more concise analysis of how I feel about Atlas Shrugged.
The whole thing is a bit of a blow for Dr. Stadler, and he is starting to sink into a depression when Dagny reluctantly calls him as a last-ditch effort to find someone who can help rebuild her motor. He jumps at the chance to escape his literal ivory tower, and is able to recommend someone to help her.
We then jump over to Hank Rearden, who is being harassed by the government, and falling into a bit of a depression himself. He cheers himself up by refusing a government order for Rearden Metal for a very top-secret, hush-hush Project X, which I am assuming is not going to turn out to be lining the bones of a self-regenerating mutant with Rearden Metal (nerd joke).
Ha-ha-ha! Rearden Metal is really Adamantium. And Dr. Stadler will be taken down by Prof. Xavier! I want to read that book.
But actually it was Hugh Akston that I noted was missing from one of your previous posts: the philosopher who shocks Dagny, firstly, by being a good cook who does not want to move to the city, and then by being an intelligent philosopher who does not want to work in academia. Doesn’t he realize that “success” is solidly defined and there’s a correct progression of things that one might want?
But that actually reminds me that there was a point in chapter 10 that was kind of an anti-passengers comment from chapter 7.
“Then she remembered the old man at the cigar stand of the Taggart Terminal, and smiled, thinking that his was a specimen for his collection. She stamped out the fire and dropped the butt into her handbag.”
Here was a point at which Dagny spontaneously thought of someone else’s thoughts and desires and decided to do something nice for them, without any personal benefit. The existence of this passing thought demonstrates that Dagny (and Rand, for that matter) is not a sociopath. She is capable of empathizing with other people.