Archive | May 13, 2011

Atlas Shrunk, Part 7: Parturiunt Montes

In related news, I finally saw the Atlas Shrugged movie – twice (once in San Diego during the APA, and once here in Auburn where it surprisingly showed up after all). I disliked it less on the second viewing than on the first, but it still left me mostly cold.

This is actually one of the most successfully Randian-looking images from the film

This is actually one of the most successfully Randian-looking images from the film

Admittedly any film of Atlas was going to have a hard time satisfying me; after all, Atlas was the book that introduced me to philosophy in general and to Aristoteleanism and libertarianism in particular, so it’s a pretty important book in my life.

All the same, Lord of the Rings, Dune, and Chronicles of Narnia were pretty important books in my life too, but despite various gripes I enjoyed the film versions of those a lot more than I enjoyed Atlas. (Re LOTR and Dune I’m referring to the Peter Jackson and John Harrison versions respectively; I didn’t much enjoy the Ralph Bakshi and David Lynch versions.)

I could give a long list of particular things that bugged me about the Atlas movie, but in a way that would be beside the point. After all, I could probably produce an equally long list of things that bugged me about Jackson’s LOTR, but those complaints don’t add up to anything like the same sense of overall dissatisfaction. And after all, the Atlas film was relatively faithful to the plot, and the casting was mostly sensible.

The difference is that, despite my many many gripes about Jackson’s LOTR, I nevertheless felt transported into Tolkien’s universe. And in watching Atlas I never felt transported into Rand’s universe. I’m not talking about the decision to set the story in the present day, in a real-world timeline; given the budgetary limitations, the alternative, though preferable, wasn’t feasible. But a skillful director and screenwriter could have captured Rand’s stylised universe despite that constraint. Essentially, what I was worried about here turned out to be exactly right.

The irony is that Rand, presumably in part because of her Hollywood training, wrote very cinematically. It takes a real effort to de-cinematise her scenes; but Johansson, O’Toole, and Aglialoro have unfortunately pulled it off.

Aynalytic Philosophy

Aristotle and Ayn Rand

I forget whether I’ve announced this previously, but my 2000 monograph Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Randcurrently running, insanely, from between $199.99 to $1115.92 on Amazon – a) will soon be reprinted by the Atlas Society, presumably once more in the $15-20 range; and b) in the meantime is available online for free here. (The orientation of the pages makes it tough to read online, though. But there’s probably some fix for that. Or you can kill a tree and print it out. I have no idea why it says “Ashgate,” which is the publisher of my anarchism/minarchism anthology, but not of this book.)


Here’s another version, this time with the orientation correct. (CHT bile.)

Hinc Illae Lachrymae

(CHT Tom Palmer.)

One might object that the song buys into the idea that the u.s. military is generally fighting for our freedom. But I think all it assumes is that u.s. soldiers have generally believed they were fighting for our freedom, which is probably true.

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