Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ayn Rand - Where Will She Lead Us?

PHILABURBIA, Pennsylvania, USA. "A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

It was a Sunday morning, early, and the wife had just gone out the door on her way to her church.  It was quiet, dead quiet, just the atmosphere needed to write.  It was a good thing because I could not get the thought out of my mind.  So I turned on the computer, went to the discussion list web site and put in a search word in the archive of emails. There it was...
"I read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead before I was 21 and almost flunked out of school reading the two books.  Could not put them down.  Her writings have stayed with me ever since and have had a significant impact on my political thinking all of my adult life."
I had written a reply back then, not asking my friend why the profound impact.  But instead I had asked what the questions should be from someone who had not read the whole book yet.  As of yet my friend has not replied to my post.  But that is okay.  He probably will eventually, in his own way.  In the meantime his statement had become one more reason to keep reading.  Back then I had read a bunch of preliminary stuff first - background info on the author and the book.  Then I had just started reading Leonard Peikoff's Introduction to the book.  Now I am just starting Chapter X on page 273.
I don't have a problem putting the book down when I need to.  But like I had written in my reply to my friend back then, reading this book was going to be like running a marathon to me.  Better explained, for me it has become like my old days as a staff sergeant in the Army.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday there was PT in the morning - Physical Training.  Part of that was the Unit Run when we all ran in formation like you see in military movies if you have never been in or around the military before.
More often than not I was either the Pace Man at the front right of the formation.  Or, I was the one out on the left side of the formation, by myself, calling the Cadence. It might be a formation of twenty soldiers or a multiple formation of over a hundred.  You might run three miles. Or like when I was stationed in Panama, you might do a run of ten to twelve miles.  How do you run that far on a small post like Fort Clayton?  You do it by running from the front gate to the back gate and by going up and down what I believe was called "Hospital Hill" more than once.
What was the purpose of a marathon like that?  The obvious thing was good exercise.  But more important, perhaps most important, was unit cohesion, staying together as one body, one force, no matter where the Commander took you or how long the run was.  The cadence calling kept  everyone together and in rhythm. The pace kept soldiers from dropping out to a very small number if any. The Commander out front with the guidon bearer holding the unit flag high kept everyone focused on what had to be done - go all the way no matter what. After the first two miles you did not pay attention to the pain anymore.  You just kept going. God, I loved it.  In my memory's eye I am still there...
C one thirty rolling down the strip,
Airborne daddy goin' to take a little trip.
Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door.
Jump right out and count to four.
If my Main don't open wide,
I've got another one by my side.
If that one should fail me too,
Look out Saint Peter 'cause I'm a comin' through.
Never was Airborne like the 101st out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  I never jumped out of a plane like the Cadence Call above describes.  But I sure loved a good Unit Run.
Unit Run, marathon, or reading a keep going until you finish.  Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand...1,069 pages...piece of cake for an old Pace Man and Cadence Caller.  But how do you pace yourself through a book like this?  Well, what might the questions be that need answering?  They might be like the following:
1.  Who was Ayn Rand?
2.  What is the essence of the philosophy that she is teaching using the genre of a novel?
3.  How does the story line relate to 21st Century America?
4.  Can you define the term co-belligerant?
5.  How is the significance of the question, "Who is John Galt?" played out in the story line?  So far, up through chapter nine, the question has been asked twelve times in various settings by different people.
If you need to pace yourself reading this book, answering the fifth question as you read will help.  If you need to focus on something, the question, "Who is John Galt?" is the flag held high beside Ayn Rand as she leads you through her words at the front of the formation.
Where will she lead us?  That is still the biggest question.  We may not know until the very end of the Run, the end of the book.  We will see...time to get into chapter ten...
"A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

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