Posts Tagged violence

3:6 The Concerto of Deliverance, “Bureaucrazy”

PREVIOUSLY: Poindexter the Regulator warned Hank that Wesley Mouch was quietly filling all the jobs in Hank’s mills with “goons.”

Hank learns from the newspapers that his workers asked for a raise — but they asked the Unification Board and not him. And the Board turned them down. The newspaper articles breeze right past that fact and paint Hank as a villainous robber baron. He thinks the “lamestream media” is

counting on the public to forget legal technicalities under a barrage of stories implying that the government was the natural cause of all miseries suffered by its citizens.

Wait, excuse me, that’s a transcription error. What Ayn wrote reads:

counting on the public to forget legal technicalities under a barrage of stories implying that an employer  was the natural cause of all miseries suffered by employees.

Sorry, wrong egregious generalization. Here I thought Ayn meant to satirize false media narratives from REAL life. My bad. Anyway, FOX, er, the “fictional press” is using heated populist rhetoric that Hank grimly thinks might incite the gullible to violence.

Meanwhile Hank gets a notice in the mail that all of his assets have been frozen to pay for back taxes that he doesn’t actually owe. He starts getting calls from IRS agents apologizing for the mistake, just a technicality, the hold will be lifted soon we promise etc. The highest-ranking guy Hank speaks to cajoles him into a friendly off-the-record meeting with the top power-brokers at State, just like the one Dagny had to attend last chapter. Hank takes all of these events in with keen diffidence, certain this is all some shell game to fuck with him but uncertain as to what for.

NEXT! Hank gets a call from his mom Lucille, pitifully asking him to meet with her and brother Buster. He relents and visits his house for the first time in months. Lillian is also there, which pisses him off, but he sits down and hears their case, the gist of which is that they’re terrified Hank will disappear like the others. They tell him they know they’ve been ungrateful and cruel and wrong, and please please will you forgive us?

But Hank is past caring. He rolls his eyes at them and tells them it’s too late. They didn’t respect him when it could’ve made a difference, and they’re only coming around now out of desperation. They haven’t earned forgiveness, they’re still just trying to dilute his awesomeness with their patheticness.

As he moves to leave, Buster tells him he can’t disappear without money and Hank realizes that’s the purpose of the tax freeze. Then, in a last desperate play, Lillian vindictively tell him that before they divorced she fucked Jim Taggart, who she doesn’t even like, so there.  Hank is nonplussed. “Oookay… what are you telling me for?” With that parting remark he sees her soul die inside and her face crumple in defeat. She has degraded only herself, and now she realizes it.  Hank exits.

NEXT! Hank is in New York for his meeting with Mouch, Taggart, Ferris, all the usual shitbags. They’re very unctuous, “Hank Hank, come in, we love your input, we should hang out more often!” He’s as bored with this schtick as I am. They run a Steel Unification Plan by him and he’s like “Makes no sense, everyone will go broke.” They do their best to ignore that and insist they must “equalize the sacrifice.” Hank is about done here, thank you.

Jim, like Lillian before him, makes a last ditch effort to keep Hank’s attention, but left with no rational argument defending the plan, he simply says he’s sure Hank will do something. This makes Hank realize (for like the sixth time) that their whole plan is to leave all the work to him and then consume all the value he creates. Jesus this chapter is nearly as repetitive as the last one.

Hank’s (and our) time thoroughly wasted, he storms off and drives back to the mills, only to see upon approach that while he was diverted the gang of goons Mouch had been slipping into his labor force has started a riot at the plant.

Before he reaches the mob at the gates Hank fishtails to a stop. Down a slope on the side of the road he sees a discarded body and rushes down to it. It’s Poindexter!

Poindexter explains he was shot for refusing to help the rioters. The riot itself has been staged so that Mouch has an excuse to pass the Plan he pitched to Hank even if Hank won’t sign off. And sure, he’s coughing blood and dying now, but he feels good about himself for the first time ever because he finally stood up for something. Hank makes him promise to use that newfound will power to keep breathing just a little bit longer, until Hank can find him a doctor. Nevertheless, as Hank picks him up and scales the hill back to his car, poor Poindexter expires in his arms.

Hank kisses his forehead and is suddenly overwhelmed with “a desire to kill.” Not the thugs who shot Poindexter, or the bureaucrats who hired the thugs. No, he wants to murder all of the nation’s college professors, just as a class of people, for teaching Poindexter the wrong values. He thinks Poindexter’s mother should have poisoned him as a child rather than send him off to higher education. Once again let me emphasize that I am not embellishing here. I just… there are no words.

PAUSE. Well, a few words. Seriously?? This is the sort of stuff you’d find in a serial killer’s notebooks after he was caught and be like, “Oh, I get it now.” Just, holy shit.

PLAY. Hank generously tempers his bloodlust for… teachers… by thinking how there were once good educators like Hugh Akston, the World’s Greatest Philosopher, who now lives in Galt’s Gulch and who, last time we saw him, was similarly extolling the satisfaction he’d feel if he murdered his peers. What a coincidence! A disturbing, disturbing coincidence…

Hank, in his blinding fury, strides right into the mob at the entrance to the mills. He sees that the workers loyal to him have somehow armed themselves and mostly quelled the rioting on the inside. Somebody on the roof is shooting down at the rabble around the gates with a semi-automatic in each hand. Hank admires his competent, efficient gunmanship. Yes, nothing more inspiring than a man on a rooftop firing indiscriminately into a crowd of people, am I right? Bashar Assad gets it.

Okay to be fair, in this particular case the mob is state-sponsored and here to do innocent people harm — and to prove that, a couple of the rioting thugs advance on Hank and beat him about the head, as thugs are wont to do. As he passes out he sees the gunman leap down from the roof, blow the thugs’ heads clean off, and carry him away.

Some time later Hank wakes up in his office. The staff doctor and superintendent are there taking care of him. They tell him the mills have been secured. The gunman was a newly-promoted foreman who smuggled in the arms so they could protect themselves, and no doubt he saved a lot of lives. He is waiting outside to see Hank.

The doctor and superintendent leave, and in comes the new hire: it’s Francisco! He’s been slumming it on the bottom rung of Hank’s ladder since he disappeared, just like Galt has over at Dagny’s. Frankie and Hank don’t fuck in the mud like Galt and Dags did, but you can tell they’d both be down if someone suggested it. It’s okay guys, your insane authorial God is cool with the socially liberal stuff.

Anyway they stare deeply into each other’s eyes and it’s pretty obvious that Hank is finally ready to leave the world behind for Francisco’s warm embrace and the pastoral beauty of Galt’s Gulch. Without further hesitation, they do just that.

NEXT — 3:7 This is John Galt Speaking, “Hype Machine”

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3:2 Utopia of Greed, “The First Rule of Right Club”

PREVIOUSLY: Our heroine stumbled upon John Galt and his organic, locavore, good-vibes utopia in the Rockies. It’s a little weird.

Dagny wakes up to find John Galt staring at her. She’s into it. She offers to cook them breakfast. He’s into it. He goes off to run some errands, and Dagny is all like, “Wow, I’m a feminist prototype but I’m really enjoying this traditional domestic gender role right now,” until there’s a knock at the door.

Whaddya know, it’s the Dread Pirate Ragbeard. He’s here because all the secret meritocrats come every June for summer vacation. Francisco, apparently, is late. Galt gets back and they all have a drink together. Mimosas? Who knows. It is early.

Ragbeard goes on about his noble mission to rob from the poor and give back to the rich. He mentions that Dagny has an account waiting for her at the top-secret World’s Greatest Bank here in the valley. He does not mention to Dagny that he dedicated his life to this mission as a big fuck you to a folk tale. Idiot.

After he leaves, Dagny tells Galt she doesn’t want his money because that guy is a fucking moron. Preach it sister. She and Galt settle on an arrangement. She will stay in Galt’s Gulch for the summer vacation month, then decide whether to join or leave permanently. In the meantime she will pay her way by being Galt’s servant. Which is her idea, by the way, because this bitch is mad kinky.

So then Dagny’s old employee Owen Kellogg pops by with news from the outside world. Everybody thinks Dagny is dead, including and especially Hank Rearden. Kthanksbye! Owen leaves. Dagny gets to patching up Galt’s shirts, fretting about how to send Hank word that she’s safe, when Francisco shows up.

Our Man Frankie is all in a tizzy. He’s late for summer vacation because he was desperately searching for Dagny’s body in the mountains. Galt is like, “Yeah about that…” and calls Dagny out of her servant’s quarters or wherever to reunite with her childhood sweetheart.

Frankie is overwhelmed. He confesses his undying love to Dagny, ecstatic that she is finally here and can appreciate this utopian valley, this place that he became Batman to fight for. He reminds her of the night he had the nervous breakdown in her bed, explains that he made the decision to ally with Galt that night because of her, because of a vision of the three of them here, in this future, in this refuge of freedom, all liberated together.

Dagny is overwhelmed. Francisco soothes her fears that he expects her romantic devotion in return. He understands it’s been too long for that. He is just happy and grateful that all of the secrets are now out on the table. And Dagny’s thinking, “Yeah but this is still gonna get real awkward when I tell you I’m gonna fuck your best friend.”

She and Frisco visit his house, and they talk about Galt’s Gulch and their mission and the outside world, and as always when one of Galt’s acolytes considers the world beyond Galt’s borders, they get extremely resentful and bitter and threatening. But Dagny is so overwhelmed with the journey-to-Oz-like nature of her experience that even that is starting to seem natural. NOOO Dagny! Resist The Destroyer!

Anyway, summer vacation passes day by day, it’s all pretty uneventful. The community holds lectures and seminars on science and futurism but Dagny isn’t allowed to come. She can go to the concerts and plays though. We don’t get any details about them but I think we can be sure they are The World’s Greatest.

Meanwhile all the submissive roleplay at her new job is getting Dagny extremely worked up. Whenever Galt leaves the house she paces around thinking about all the dirty dirty things they could do together. Jesus, just rub one out Dags. You’re usually so ahead of the curve on this stuff.

This routine carries on. Galt comes home, flirts and taunts her, she digs at him right back. “I’ve been watching you.” “You want to hold me here, don’t you? Keep me to yourself?” “Yes.” Then, once the gears are wound, they go to their separate rooms and masturbate furiously Dagny listens to Galt lighting a sexually frustrated cigarette.

One day late in the month, Dagny is enjoying a private performance by The World’s Greatest Composer, Richard Halley. After he wraps up, he explains to Dagny in excruciating and rhetorically tortured detail that he loathes the outside world because audiences felt feelings when they listened to his music, instead of appreciating it as an abstract but specific intellectual argument that should be appreciated solely in line with authorial intent.

What the fuck is wrong with this guy? Maybe, if you want your work to be interpreted so specifically and intellectually, MUSIC was the WRONG FIELD. ASSHOLE.

Dagny also spends time with The World’s Greatest Actress, who is also Ragbeard’s wife by the way, just because.  She said “Fuck you world” because she kept getting type-cast as sexpots and bitches. Guys isn’t their cause so righteous? It’s inspiring.

The piece de resistance of this demographic sampling is when Dagny meets The World’s Greatest Mother, who is the only person allowed to bring children into Galt’s Gulch because they don’t fit neatly into Ayn Rand’s philosophy she wants to home-school them. And also banish irrationality from their lives. Good luck with that.

And then, on a quiet starry evening some time around halfway through the summer vacation, Dagny finds herself sitting outside The World’s Greatest Philosopher’s house with Akston, Galt, Francisco, Ragbeard, and Ragbeard’s Wife. The men reminisce about their time at Patrick Henry University, and that one time Galt came up with this crazy idea of living peacefully in a remote valley and oh yeah also destroying civilization because “Fuck you world.”

This reminds Dagny of her meetings with Dr. Stadler, the boys’ other mentor from Patrick Henry, the disillusioned man whose life-force finally atrophied because he… took a job funded by grant money? Ayn, we’re like 700 pages in here, could you please stop ruining evocative characterizations already? Ugh. Anyway if y’all think Stadler sucks now wait til you read the next chapter.

So Akston is like “If I could murder anyone on earth — not that I condone murder — but if I did want to murder someone — not that I do, because I definitely do not condone murder — I would totally murder Dr. Stadler. Theoretically. If I condoned murder. Which I don’t.” And Dagny just nods, because as fucked up as this place is getting, let’s face it: when you’re drowning in kool-aid it’s impossible not to drink some.

NEXT — 3:2 The Utopia of Greed cont’d, “The Second Rule of Right Club”

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