Sunday, March 15, 2009

Colbert on Rand

Stephen Colbert over at the comedy channel skewered Rand last week in a segment entitled "The Rand Illusion." As usual with Colbert, he is far more interested in drawing laughs than in being fair; he is, after all, a comedian, not a critic or philosopher. Colbert's best dig comes at the expense of John Reale, whose site goingjohngalt.org contains a solicitation for programming work.

12 comments:

Neil Parille said...

It's funny, but quite a bit unfair, even by standards of commedy.

Neil Parille said...

Stylistically, I prefer "the John Galt option" instead of "going Galt."

Kind of like the "nuclear option."

Cary Wilson said...

Unfair by standards of comedy? "Atlas Shrugged" IS comedy, albeit unintentional.

Michael Prescott said...

I suspect soome people will find the reference to Anton LaVey particularly unfair. But in fact, LaVey really was a Rand admirer who paraphrased chunks of her prose for inclusion in his book The Satanic Bible.

According to Wikipedia's entry on LaVey: "LaVey has stated that his religion was 'just Ayn Rand’s philosophy, with ceremony and ritual added', though many say that he should be given credit for his creative synthesis of the thought of others into what has become the most influential statement of modern Satanism."

Needless to say, Rand herself would have been horrified by any association of her ideas with LaVey's "Church of Satan."

Mogambo said...

I'd not encountered Colbert before, being a Brit (and a non-TV-watcher to boot), but that was funny... and not unfair in the least.

To support Cary Wilson's assertion, an anecdote:

One weekend a while back my daughter and I were hanging out with friends, talking about books, when I mention that the two worst novels I'd ever read were Patient Nurse by Janita Cleve (courtesy of my Nanna, bless!) and Rand's The Fountainhead... but being British and leaning to the left, none of them had heard of Rand.

(This is not unusual. I knew lots of Americans in my teens and was under the mistaken impression that she was a world-famous nutter rather than an American phenomenon. I was pleased to be proved wrong.)

So I went and grabbed my copy (50p in a charity shop!), and tried to explain... which didn't work.

Despairing of her wordy parent, my daughter (who's 12) grabbed the book from me and started reading it aloud, from the beginning.

She must've read four or five pages before we begged her to stop. Every person in the room (including the intrepid reader herself, at some points) was convulsed with laughter.

Damn, that's one funny book!

Daniel Barnes said...

Mogambo, I had a very similar experience when I was younger...;-)

meg said...

I would really like to see a pic of that John Galt guy

Harq al-Ada said...

I picture him as looking like Dr. Manhattan.

Nullifidian said...

She must've read four or five pages before we begged her to stop. Every person in the room (including the intrepid reader herself, at some points) was convulsed with laughter.

No wonder. I hadn't read The Fountainhead since high school, but reading this inspired me to check out the first pages on Amazon.

I read this:

"Howard Roark laughed.
"He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. The water seemed immovable, the stone flowing. The stone had the stillness of one brief moment in battle when thrust meets thrust and the currents are held in a pause more dynamic than motion. The stone glowed, wet with sunrays."

I've read better opening lines from entrants in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. This is, without a doubt, some of the worst prose I've ever laid eyes on.

Carrie said...

One problem I've noticed with the whole "Going Galt" thing: if all the "geniuses" and "elites" left to make their own society who would do all the grunt work? Like sanitation, farming and manual labor. Many of them would find such work bellow them and complain that they shouldn't have to waste their talents doing something for "the common good" of a society.

Unless they can create a supply of worker robots (like Bob the Angry Flower pointed out) or rely on slave labor, they're in trouble. One could argue that Galt would've allowed some of the working class join, but coming from a book that said certain people are inferior for being "irrational" or not as good as the "geniuses" that one should not feel bad if they face a tragic death do you think these average people would be treated well? Or that some of Galt's followers would even want them around?

Daniel Barnes said...

Carrie:
>One problem I've noticed with the whole "Going Galt" thing: if all the "geniuses" and "elites" left to make their own society who would do all the grunt work?

That's one of many reasons why for all the "Going Galt" talk I have yet to hear of any "Galts" who've actually gone...;-)

Carrie said...

Daniel Barnes: The game, Bioshock, brings up this point as well. (Have you played it?) Because most of the people in Rapture (the game's version of Galt's dream city) didn't want to do that, it was mostly ignored and was part of the reason the economy to collapsed.

It's just something I've never really seen answered how the Galt-Goers would handle this.