Sunday, March 28, 2010

Atlas Strugged for retrospection

Now this one was a heavy read! Even if some situations are unbelievable, characters delusive and text too preachy; but it does leave a lasting influence. Skilled dialogues, plot - suspenseful and ideology - profound! Three words to sum it up: brilliant, beautiful and bitter.

"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." (Appendix)
The best part of this novel is philosophy being told in the form of an action thriller! Leaves one with many intriguing ideas - so here are some thoughts for retrospection:

On happiness: No one's happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy.
On possibility: I thought by the time the sun was exhausted, men would find a substitute.
On pain: Never think of pain or danger or enemies a moment longer than is necessary to fight them.
On truth: Your mind is your only judge of truth–and if others dissent from your verdict, reality is the court of final appeal.
On doubt: Every form of causeless self-doubt, every feeling of inferiority and secret unworthiness is, in fact, man's hidden dread of his inability to deal with existence.
On integrity: Integrity is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake your consciousness, just as honesty is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake existence.
On compromise: In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.
On purpose: I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. (Axiom that opened the sound-lock)
On emotions: Emotions are inherent in your nature, but their content is dictated by your mind. Your emotional capacity is an empty motor, and your values are the fuel with which your mind fills it.
On judgment: The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world.
On pity: A morality that holds need as a claim, holds emptiness–non-existence–as its standard of value; it rewards an absence, a defect: weakness, inability, incompetence, suffering, disease, disaster, the lack, the fault, the flaw–the zero.
On one's actions: There might be some sort of justification for the savage societies in which a man had to expect that enemies could murder him at any moment and had to defend himself as best he could. But there can be no justification for a society in which a man is expected to manufacture the weapons for his own murderers.
On desires: Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark. In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.
On perception: You have been called selfish for the courage of acting on your own judgment and bearing sole responsibility for your own life. You have been called arrogant for your independent mind. You have been called cruel for your unyielding integrity. You have been called anti social for the vision that made you venture upon undiscovered roads.
On money: Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked, ‘Account overdrawn.’ 
On struggle: Fight for the value of your person. Fight for the virtue of your pride. Fight for the essence of that which is man: for his sovereign rational mind. Fight with the radiant certainty and the absolute rectitude of knowing that yours is the Morality of Life and that yours is the battle for any achievement, any value, any grandeur, any goodness, any joy that has ever existed on this earth.
On love: Love is its own cause! Love is above causes and reasons. Love is blind. But you wouldn't be capable of it. You have the mean, scheming, calculating little soul of a shopkeeper who trades, but never gives! Love is a gift -- a great, free, unconditional gift that transcends and forgives everything. What's the generosity of loving a man for his virtues? What do you give him? Nothing. It's no more than cold justice. No more than he's earned.
On existence: You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness. You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live. You, who have lost the concept of the difference, you who claim that fear and joy are incentives of equal power—and secretly add that fear is the more “practical”—you do not wish to live, and only fear of death still holds you to the existence you have damned.
On prejudice: From the first catch-phrases flung at a child to the last, it is like a series of shocks to freeze his motor, to undercut the power of his consciousness. 'Don't ask so many questions, children should be seen and not heard!'–'Who are you to think? It's so, because I say so!'–'Don't argue, obey!'–'Don't try to understand, believe!'–'Don't rebel, adjust!–'Don't stand out, belong!'–'Don't struggle, compromise!'–'Your heart is more important than your mind!'–'Who are you to know? Your parents know best!'–'Who are you to know? Society knows best!'–'Who are you to know? The bureaucrats know best!'–'Who are you to object? All values are relative!'–'Who are you to want to escape a thug's bullet? That's only a personal prejudice!

PS: Picture courtesy Google.