Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt"? He looks a little pudgy

There is a scene near the end of James Manera’s “Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?” where Galt (a slightly pudgy and scraggly Kristoffer Paloha), returning to his little secret Manhattan walkup where he stores is “Motor” in a secluded panic room, passes a hapless homeless person sleeping on the stairway.  That little pass-by does highlight the moral problems with objectivism.
Absolutely true, Galt has accomplished more in life than the homeless person.  And most of it has been by Galt’s own efforts.  Galt can do more with his own hands, even without hiring labor, than most people.  But it is true that Galt is also more “fortunate” than the homeless person.  He most likely had attentive (probably monogamously married) parents who could sacrifice some of their own personal “prestige” for his own future when necessary (which is not always).  He probably inherited better economic circumstances.  But he probably started ahead in line. True, he probably didn’t “exploit” the hidden labor of others overseas as much as most of his do, and that leads to other morally problematic areas which Malcolm Gladwell would love to analyze.

Without some moral ukase to respond to the homeless person's entreats sometimes, he is left to die, or perhaps be eliminated, following what the Nazis or ancient Spartans would have done.  But sometimes so did Stalin and the Khmer Rouge. We also need to remember, if we allow people to live too freely off the unseen sacrifices of others, "money" loses its meaning and society becomes unstable.  But true, without rewarding someone like John Galt, there's no innovation. And people become powerful wrongfully and corrupt by trying to implement "equality".

Of course, it's easier for someone like Galt to be generous, because doing so might not cost him something, and might promote his own agenda.  Most of us are beholden to others in ways we don't want to admit and it's a lot more challenging to become generous, especially in personal ways, especially when people come knocking.
Back at in the Valley (“Galt’s Gulch”)  in Colorado, which Galt runs more or less like it were an intentional community known to the left (even if he uses gold coins rather than work hours as “currency”, which places like Twin Oaks and Acorn in central Virginia do), Galt has a sign above his master motor, which he shows proudly to his first uninvited guest, Dagny Taggart  (Laura Regan).  It reads something like, “I will not live for the purposes of someone else, nor will I expect anyone to live for me.”  (The Gulch is protected by an electronic dome that probably inspired Stephen King’s novel and the current CBS series.)
I feel that way. I read “Atlas Shrugged” while in the Army, and I remember reading the torture scene on the bus home from Fort Eustis.  The “extreme rendition” by a US  government that has turned out to be rather like Vladimir Putin’s is handled rather clumsily.  Galt’s meager body hair survives the repeated electrocutions, and Dagny gets him out.  Then all the power goes out forever – not because of a solar storm or coronal mass ejection, or because of an EMP terrorist attack, but because the nation has run out of copper wire.  And Galt sees the dollar sign in the sky.  The men who produce and who went on strike will go back to the world. (I recall Galt as being described as tall, lean and blond in the book, but not so in the movie.) 

The torture scene does remind us that people can go into need because of the hostility of others.  Galt overcomes it with Dagny's effort.  Galt says that if he ever has to submit to the purposes of someone else, he will end his own life.  That sounds defiant to be true, maybe offensive to some.

The idea of making electricity from the air counters the idea in NBC's "Revolution" but getting power from lightning would be interesting.
I have to say, the Taggart Transcontinental train looks like a model railroad.

 The official site is here. The official Community Forum is here.  The film is also known as "Atlas Shrugged: Part III" (or "Atlas Shrugged III" or "Atlas Shrugged 3").
Yeah, the dialogue in this film, as in all three, is rather silly, stilted and forced.  You wonder if a comic book treatment would work.  Why does a series like “Smallville” work (Clark Kent is more like a real John Galt than this character), and this film seems flat?

I saw the film late Friday before a small audience at Regal Ballston Common in Arlington VA (in regular aspect ratio in a small auditorium).  Two people got up and walked out.   

No comments: