Dagny crashes plane, sadly not dead
Apart from illustrating the author’s homeliness, the dust jacket says the richest, and therefore most capable and worthy of life, are disappearing from a society that’s persecuting them through regulations and tax proposals so bizarre and surreal they’d make Nicolae Ceaușescu loose his bowels. All they want to do is make things, and drain the currency out of the country, but people keep insisting on maintaining a civilization. They’re unabashed in their controversial position that money is awesome, and that existence totally exists.
But as usual, it’s the heiresses who suffer the most, and Dagny is watching helplessly as all the noble CEOs are disappearing. Without them the workers just mill around, aimless and disoriented, until they starve to death or dehydrate from apathetic masturbation. As we all know, bosses are intimately aware of the finest workings of a company, employees being empty psychic instruments through which the individual CEO’s greatness is channeled; and that managerial positions are always taken by the brightest and most inventive people in the world. Reality proves this. Don’t furrow your brow at me.
Without Colonel Sanders and Orville Redenbacher to kick around anymore, everything is blowing up or on fire. Sure, a lot of that’s due to sabotage by the butthurt executives themselves, but that’s no reason to suppose things wouldn’t have blown up or caught fire on their own. It just makes objective sense. They did this to prevent their legacies falling into the hands of the common folk who didn’t appreciate their ingenious administrative skills, or innovative concepts like Ellis Wyatt’s idea of pulling petroleum out of he ground. But wait…if sabotage was needed, that means they were afraid regular people could run their industries without them. And the execs didn’t exactly build those things alone, so the workers could’ve just not helped them build in the first place, and they’d have fuck-all for all their enterprising claptrap. No, I’m clearly not thinking objectively. I have to learn to reason properly by taking the word of a woman who dubbed her own opinions objective; free from peer review, logical proofs, or evidence.
When it seems like things can’t get any worse for Dags (not life-threateningly bad, but even more devastating: obstructive to her ambitions), she gets a phone call from Quentin Daniels, the engineer dicking around with that prototype motor she dug out of the factory ruins. He’s quitting the project immediately, without explanation. Miss Taggart believes he’s succumbed to “The Destroyer”; her name for the mysterious figure (guess who!) she suspects is luring all her upper class twit friends away from their lifelong passion of overseeing industrial operations. She resolves to find Daniels before he bounces, but arrives at the airstrip too late to intercept.
Naturally, she knows how to fly a plane herself because she’s rich, and she sets off in pursuit. Sadly, she makes it out to the Rockies in one piece.
In failing to spectacularly eat shit like any decent gadabout with a pilot’s license, Dagny callously denies any gratifying schadenfreude to the earthbound working man and woman, leaving the audience with the sour grapes equivalent to blue balls (I dub thee blue grapes). Admit it, something regrettable in you lights up when you hear about a crinkled Cessna found scattered in the wilderness; the last hurrah of some rich dilettante who thought the aircraft could be held aloft by self-importance alone. Or hearing about a frozen duke in the alps, a real estate heir trampled by a polo pony, a music mogul smothered by his own dirigible, a hedge fund manager found dead from suspected auto-erotic asphyxiation in the Ty Warner Penthouse suite — or really anyone maimed indulging in the bourgeois sort of hobby an aristocrat might’ve taken up in the 1900s. You laugh a little. Inside. Outside, if you don’t have a reputation to protect. (What? You think you’re better than me?)
In general, evil is entertaining but fleeting. Unlike Rand, real people don’t coax their misanthropic impulses to consume them, feeling like a failure for feeling anything; proceeding to spin some pedantic saw around it through convoluted straw-man setups, sculpted in Nietzsche’s lukewarm cud. If even half the people in the US adopted and conformed to Rand’s simplistic, cynical view of humanity, things would…oh.
In an experience I liken to getting surgery under incomplete anesthesia, I was fully aware Dagny was the main “protagonist,” and she’d waste my time until the end. Yet, against all logic, I was still hoping her Barbie Dream Plane would be swept up in this shit-storm narrative, whisked into a tightly spiraling tautology, and abruptly slammed against the acute boundaries encircling Rand’s intellectual limitations (objects may be closer than they appear). But that would’ve ended the book at a slender 500+ pages. Unless the CEO dudes turned to each other for comfort. Which I can’t rule out since, well, there are several occurrences of men referencing each other as “the only man they’ve ever loved.” I’m not exaggerating. They say that. It’s never occurred to me to say anything remotely like that. I don’t know any dude who has said anything like that. (Rand’s curious sentimental digressions remind me of right wing closet cases explaining how “everyone” gets “confusing” urges in their youth. Heh, hate to break it to ya dude, but they don’t. Thanks anyway for letting us know that you did. Kind of explains a lot. That’s cool, though. Good luck with that GOP nomination/mega ministry/pray-gay-away foundation/funeral picket.)
Examples of Homoerandicism:
- The former owner of the derelict factory Dags and Hank played house in, William Hastings, died with a man-crush on his star engineer, inventor of the (haha) static electricity-powered motor (guess who that is!)
- Hank Rearden ♥’s San Francisco Calypso Jujitsu Falafel D’Anconia LXIX (whose compulsion, I reiterate, is elaborately staging pretend debauchery with nubile society bimbos, because of his *snort* “dedication” to Dagny);
- and finally, apropos of nothing, coal magnate Ken Danagger confides to Dagny his silent smoldering for Hank’s Rearden.
For a frothing bigot like Rand, she’s giving Dorian Gray a run for his murse.
Speaking of cockpits, Dagny continued to stalk her star engineer into the skies above the Rockies. In a rare — but predictably self-centered — display of concern for another living thing, she watched in dismay as her meal ticket banked into a narrow canyon, and vanished. Without him, her dream of the (hahaha!) static electricity motor would never come to fruition, and she’d be stuck making choo-choo noises in her darkened office. Anxiety overtook her as the reality of humanity’s interdependence struggled to be realized, and the mammalian components of her brain began to flicker to life. She constricted her proverbial anus around such rash emotions, and “wouldn’t permit herself” (one of Rand’s go-to phrases) to [do something or another.] She buzzed the canyons tentatively, and in a fit of pique, banked tightly, and corkscrewed into the pit. But the canyon floor was an illusion and — like my outlook since beginning this book — her plane continued its descent beyond what’d once seemed possible.
She woke up with only minor injuries (because she crash landed on grass). The kind of “Ooh no, I broke my heel,” owies that plague women in monster movies. Y’know, chicks with aerodynamic mid-century boobs engineered by Hughes Aircraft. It’s this whole scene with the gimpy ankle, the limp-wristed brace against a rock/tree/log, the theatrically frustrated gestures precipitating tears of despair; then the dreamy blockhead lumbering in, all like, “Oh, I guess I’ll carry you out of the swamp/collapsed parking garage/smoldering wreckage and inevitably become your love interest/rapist.”
Dragged against our will into that cliché, we find out who this John Galt clown is. The name referenced in that cumbersome refrain repeated throughout the book, and on real life picket signs in the worst parts of the country, brandished by the dumbest people in the world — as though it meant anything to anybody but them (if that).
But, by this time who cares? There are exactly three archetypes in this book, and he’d have to be one of them. There are the featureless, dimly conscious, nigh invisible, dehumanized poor/middle class people seized in the act of melting; the sniveling postmodernists that Rand’s too lazy to write convincing rhetoric for, even for the sake of condemning it; and the only people whose contentment or well-being matters: rich CEOs and their wandering minstrels. That’s it, in toto. I’m bored even remembering it. But if Rand had surprised me with a believable character, I think my head would’ve collapsed to the size of an aspirin.
For the sake of pretending it makes a difference that there are multiple characters (in that they have different names), I’ll sketch out John Galt for you. He’s Indiana Jones with sub-threshold autism. Supposedly he’s a rugged adventurer, except instead of running through mazes, swinging from vines, whipping things, shooting fools, melting Nazi warlocks, and retrieving lost artifacts, he retires to a secret crack in the Rocky Mountains to eat Häagen-Dazs and sulk in his jammies, singing a big chorus of “Baaawwwwwwww!!!” with his bitchy little famous/rich/powerful poo-butt friends, and their dreary, trifling mayonnaiser families. I hope they have a Wahmbulance at the bottom of this cliff to fetch them before their Utopian crevice is flooded with their big, fat fucking crocodile tears.
Dagny sticks around to recover from her plot-convenient and non-disfiguring wounds, volunteering to earn her keep in Galt’s Gulch (groan) by playing the limping housemaid, and awaiting her inevitable rape (what I’d guess the atmosphere might’ve been like in the founding fathers’ homes). Technically, she’s earning a salary which is being put toward the rent, because it’s really important to distinguish it from barter for some reason. Their currency is solid gold — which is gravely significant…somehow — yet their total transactions so far haven’t exceeded change for parking; which I gather is also meant to propound some bold statement that libertarians pretend to understand, and feign adamant agreement with, but which ultimately has no bearing on anything.
They enjoy driving Miss Dagsy around Galt’s Gulch (retch) in the world’s finest automobile, a little number from Hammond Motors. Even then, prophetess Rand knew that America, and particularly Colorado, would come to dominate the auto market; in a future that’d be like the ‘50s, but slightly more so. She meets all the emotionally crippled windbags that go there to cry their beady little eyes out when regular people fail to praise them sufficiently — or try to tax them for the public services they use, or to draw a fairer wage for actually helping them build their altars to insecurity. There’s a meal with this asshole banker, Midas Mulligan, who rents land to Galt (for cents — why is this important? Is this some half-assed commentary on inflation?), and some other memorable characters. They reflect on how fulfilling it is to be around people that think and sound exactly alike (just’a’like Rand).
There was an arduous monologue about Mulligan elsewhere in the book, but I missed who was speaking at the beginning. I couldn’t discern from their words or personalities midway though, and didn’t feel like backtracking to find out. Trust me: It doesn’t matter. Basically, he’s a rich, mean-spirited, shallow, selfish, myopic, smug, impatient, crotchety old fart with a name too embarrassing to read aloud — so he fits right into Rand’s pantheon.