Inoculating my Daughter
I have just had the honor of giving my daughter Hannah an inoculation against a common teenage ailment. I refer to Objectivism; for she asked me about Ayn Rand, and I gave her my informed opinion.
Specifically I told Hannah about the infamous railroad scene in “Atlas Shrugged”. I detailed the set-up; the dangerous tunnel, the idiotic bureaucrat’s suicidal demand, the chain of buck-passing, the fatal go-ahead, the complaisent workers, the train’s doom... all of which I described with admiration for Rand’s meticulousness (for once not tiresome) and her passion. A death machine of incompetence and spinelessness, clickety-clicking right there before your eyes! A masterpiece of eldritch horror! That scene was this close to Literature!
But the moment the train entered the tunnel, her writing all went horribly wrong! For Rand then focused on the passengers; a risky move if you do it wrong, and she did. For what if (I asked Hannah) that train had been full of good people? Or perhaps even a few of them super-virtuous by Rand’s elitist Objectivist standards? For them to die alongside the idiot bureaucrat would been supreme injustice; a raw red wound, an affront against humanity! What if Rand had raged and wailed against the sick cruelty of the idiot world? That (I told Hannah) would have been writing!
But no! By the way Rand told it, everyone on the train was an idiot moocher, as bad as the bureaucrat, and so everyone got what they deserved! (Hannah rolled her eyes upon hearing this.) Instant justice, automatic karma, all’s well with the world! Rand got that close to Literature, but at the last moment she turned it into Propaganda!
The trainwreck scene was itself a trainwreck! And that (I told Hannah) is Ayn Rand.