Cheryl Brooks Moment

Posted by tkstone 3 years, 11 months ago to Philosophy
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My wife is reading AS for the first time. She enjoyed the movies, and our discussions have been more meaningful as she has progressed through the story. However she says she is feeling a palpable sadness engulfing her.She actually broke down crying yesterday and said she needed a break. She had just read the part where the looters had discussed Directive 10-289. I think Fred Kinman's speech put her over the top. I encouraged her to continue until Dagney spends some time at the cabin. I hope that will help her get past her Cheryl Brooks Moment. Anyone else have any advice for someone whose eyes are starting to open?


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  • Posted by ewv 3 years, 11 months ago
    I originally found Atlas Shrugged to be very positive because of the sense of life of the best characters. There was adversity, but the heroes of the novel always 'lived in their own world', even before the Valley was revealed in the plot. Ayn Rand emphasized that it was a philosophical, not a political, novel, written to present her idea of the ideal man. The decline in the plot, fictionally accelerated by the "mind on strike", only further enhances the heroic optimistic aspects of the heroes' lives, as almost any heroic story does, and Ayn Rand's sense of life projected in the characters raised this to a new level. "Those who fight for the future live in it today". If she had somehow not done that and the novel had only been about a decline, it not only would have been depressing by nature, the novel would never have become as popular as it has.

    The advice for new readers who find the parallels with today's culture to be so alarming as to dominate their reading experience, is to focus on the kind of life projected by Ayn Rand and what makes it possible, i.e., her philosophy of reason and egoism. The genuine sadness comes when you realize how much is possible to mankind -- and every individual -- from the capabilities of his mind and how it is being destroyed and squandered by bad philosophical ideas voluntarily accepted. That is much deeper than politics. But even that cannot destroy what you do with your own life in whatever context is still left.
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  • Posted by sdesapio 3 years, 11 months ago
    I went through a very similar situation with my wife. It was long before the movies came out so she really had no frame of reference. There were so many OMG moments for her where she was like, "Why didn't you make me read this sooner!?" I was like, "I TOLD YOU!"

    I remember walking in on her one day while she was reading curled up in a chair in the bedroom and her jaw was literally dropped and her eyes were wide open. She looked up silently. I nodded. She lowered her head, mouth still agape, and went back to reading as I quietly exited.

    She went through it all - mad, sad, happy, enlightened. It was a great time for both of us.

    Quick story...

    - - SPOILER ALERT - -

    From time to time during her reading, I would read the book aloud, and she would listen. As she was nearing the end of the book, we decided to go outside and read some together.

    She was in the middle of the torture scene.

    So we begin and she's totally into it, again eyes wide open, hanging on every word. Now, of course I knew that John Galt was going to essentially die and come back to life - but she had no idea. I even said to her, "I think you might want to read this without me and experience it for yourself." She said, "No, no, no. I love when you read to me. C'mon." So of course I relented.

    So, as we began to move toward his "death", I read it purposely at a low volume, slowly, and with a hint of melancholy...

    ... In mounting panic, the watchers lost their sense of context and language—and their three voices blended into a progression of indiscriminate shrieks: “We want you to take over! . . . We want you to rule! . . . We order you to give orders! . . . We demand that you dictate! . . . We order you to save us! . . .We order you to think! . . .” They heard no answer but the beating of the heart on which their own lives depended. The current was shooting through Galt’s chest and the beating was coming in irregular spurts, as if it were racing and stumbling—when suddenly his body fell still, relaxing: the beating had stopped.

    I paused, eyes on the page. After a short moment, I took a deep silent breath and looked up. My wife immediately broke into tears. She couldn't believe it. I asked softly, "Should I continue?" She nodded.

    Yep. I can be an evil bastard. Of course she proceeded to slap me silly when Galt, "came back to life." ;)

    - - END SPOILER - -

    In any event, as she was reading, I did take special care during discussion not to prematurely reveal anything she hadn't experienced herself yet in the book. I tried to lend clarity where I could, but for the most part I tried to just leave it to Rand - as I realized she (Rand) had done a great job without any help from me for some 50 or so years. :)

    Have fun, keep encouraging her, and tell her we're all pulling for her to finish and waiting for her join us here in the Gulch.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 3 years, 11 months ago
    "Anyone else have any advice for someone whose eyes are starting to open?"
    Is she upset because of the story or because she knows people in the real world who are like the villains?

    BTW, the villains ring true, which I love the books. The scenes with Cheryl and James Taggart IMHO showed him at his worst.

    Anyway, if the problem is real people who are like those villains get them out of your life and spend time with people who are getting something done. If the problem is with the characters and she doesn't know anyone that loathsome in real life, then it's just a book admired by millions of people who condemn second-hander behavior.
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  • Posted by  $  winterwind 3 years, 11 months ago
    Frankly, I'm not sure that urging her to continue right away is the best strategy. There are many difficult spots [different for different people, some that almost everyone has trouble with] and we each have to work through them at the pace of our own mind and spirit. When I read it now, almost 50 years after the first time, I have to take breaks sometimes- remember the trailer for AS3 that showed the Atlas in NYC ripping apart? It says "everything [I think -might be everyone] has a breaking point"? Let her pick it up again - which she will - at her own pace.

    Keep in mind, if you can, that she's not just processing - she's greiving for time lost, actions taken, thought patterns changing - in some sense, as many have, she's determining to re-make herself. You can certainly - and should - check in with her if it appears she's stepped off the path, and offer support, encouragement, strength - be John's ceiling.

    It takes as long as it takes, for the reader as well as the supporter; the journey is worth its price. And just think of what it will be like when you can say to her "We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?", and she can say, understand and mean "No, we never had to."
    WW
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    • Posted by ewv 3 years, 11 months ago
      The novel is fiction with an exciting plot that should be read for enjoyment, by those who have a compatible sense of life to begin with. (Others don't get it at all.) Many people "can't put it down" in their excitement. The plot has no difficult spots to follow. The time to "work through it" is when going back to re-read it to better understand it and the philosophy that made it possible, and even then it should be enjoyed, with intellectual ambition and without hand wringing. In particular, Ayn Rand spent two years writing Galt's speech in a way that summarizes the essence of her philosophy in a way consistent with the plot, making explicit what had only been implicit, and that takes time and effort to really understand and absorb.

      She described the relation of "The Speech" (and more) to her philosophy in For the New Intellectual, quoted recently on gg here: http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/posts.... You really understand how much is in "The Speech" and how much Ayn Rand accomplished when you can see it in the context of a knowledge of the history of philosophy http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/posts...
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      • Posted by  $  winterwind 3 years, 10 months ago
        Everyone reads, understands and processes differently - some read the adventure story; some read thoughtfully, making sure to understand the points as they are presented; and others concentrate on some parts and rush through others. My point to tks [or anyone]was to allow his wife to have her own experience and not urge her to read the book the way he hoped she would or thought she should.
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        • Posted by ewv 3 years, 10 months ago
          That is not what you wrote. You urged her to stop reading, claimed that "there are many difficult spots" that "almost everyone has trouble with" and speculated that "she's grieving for time lost". Atlas Shrugged was written as and was intended to be read as a philosophical novel projecting a theme in a fictional plot.
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  • Posted by Mamaemma 3 years, 11 months ago
    I have read AS many times, and I have a hard time reading it cover to cover now because it makes me so sad. When I first read it almost 50 years ago I was absolutely enthralled, but I know that I read it as a cautionary tale. I remember thinking how insane the government in AS was and thinking how that could never happen, but it's good to read about what would happen if it did. Now as I read it, I am reading about what HAS happened, especially how the general public thinks as opposed to so long ago, and it's heartbreaking.
    So the Gulch is a lifeline and a breath of fresh air, and I look forward to your wife being here.
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  • Posted by salta 3 years, 11 months ago
    The mental process sounds similar to a breakthrough in a therapy session, after breaking some long held internal beliefs. I went through something like it, but before I read Atlas Shrugged. Despite the positive "rebirthing" feeling, I found it hard to admit I was so wrong before.

    Its also worth recognizing how the mind resists changes to existing beliefs, sometimes in spite of external evidence. I found a book that helped me understand what happens in my mind was "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)" by Carol Tavris. Its psychology and entertaining, with plenty of anecdotes from politics and other areas of life.
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