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FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt
A Publius Essay | 23 May 2009 | Publius

Posted on 05/23/2009 7:14:53 AM PDT by Publius

Part II: Either-Or

Chapter IX: The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt

Synopsis

Dagny returns to her Manhattan apartment after her one month absence. Looking over the fogbound city, she yearns for the presence of that One Man she has never found, the man she yearned for the night the mysterious stranger lingered at the entrance of the John Galt Line’s offices.

The doorbell rings and it’s Francisco; he wants to talk to her about what happened and to convince her to leave the railroad to the looters. But she can’t; as long as there’s a railroad to run, she’ll be there to run it. Francisco tells her she will stop running the railroad the day she discovers that her work has been placed in the service of the One Man’s destruction. Dagny intends to force the looters to make terms with her, not the other way around, but Francisco tells her it won’t work. She believes she may come to beg Francisco’s forgiveness on her knees some day, but he says it won’t be on her knees. Until then she is his enemy; he will be working to destroy the railroad and her, not Jim or Wesley Mouch, and he will be working in the service of the One Man to whose purpose he has pledged his life. Francisco tells her the road to understanding leads to Atlantis, and Dagny now understands that Francisco is in league with The Destroyer.

Then Hank Rearden arrives. Hank is furious at Francisco’s presence in the apartment of his lover, and Francisco struggles to maintain the famous d’Anconia courtesy. Hank accuses Francisco of trying to add Dagny to his list of conquests. He is willing to accept Hank’s reproaches, but not in Dagny’s presence. Hank tells him to stay away from Dagny. Francisco is willing to give his word, and at that moment Hank realizes that Dagny was the women that Francisco had loved all along. Hank slaps Francisco, and it takes all of Francisco’s self control not to kill Hank Rearden on the spot. Dagny realizes in that moment that she is witnessing Francisco’s greatest achievement. As Francisco leaves, Hank wishes he could retract the last few minutes.

Dagny admits that Francisco was her only lover before him, and Hank reels from the knowledge. Dagny expects in that moment to be killed by Hank, or at least beaten, but instead he takes her brutally, as though to drive Francisco out of her body.

The building superintendent comes to deliver a letter to Dagny that he has been holding in her absence. It’s from Quentin Daniels, and it prompts her to grab the phone and call Utah in a panic. Daniels will not work under Directive 10-289, will not work for the looters, but intends to work on the motor for his own pleasure without accepting further remuneration from Dagny. She tells Hank that The Destroyer probably has Daniels and that she has met one of his agents. Then Daniels picks up the phone at Utah Tech. Dagny wants to meet with him in person and gets him to promise not to leave until she has spoken with him. Dagny calls Eddie Willers and asks him to place her private car on that evening’s Comet. Hank agrees to meet her in Colorado.

Eddie comes over to Dagny’s place to coordinate. He informs her that the railroad building effort is going well, even though it has been difficult to find the necessary men. Eddie had even asked Dan Conway to come out of retirement from his Arizona ranch, but he had refused. As Dagny packs, Eddie notices Hank Rearden’s robe in her closet and is floored; for a second he is afraid he will speak of his secret love for her.

After seeing Dagny off, Eddie sits down to dinner with the Anonymous Rail Worker in the corporate cafeteria and brings him up to date, to include Dagny’s mission to Utah to beat The Destroyer to Quentin Daniels. After hinting of his own feelings for Dagny, he lets slip that Dagny is sleeping with Hank Rearden. The Anonymous Rail Worker bolts from the room without further word.

Discussion Topic

Next Saturday: The Sign of the Dollar


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Free Republic; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: freeperbookclub
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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1 posted on 05/23/2009 7:14:53 AM PDT by Publius
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To: ADemocratNoMore; Aggie Mama; alarm rider; alexander_busek; AlligatorEyes; AmericanGirlRising; ...
FReeper Book Club

Atlas Shrugged

Part II: Either-Or

Chapter IX: The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt

Ping! The thread is up.

Prior threads:
FReeper Book Club: Introduction to Atlas Shrugged
Part I, Chapter I: The Theme
Part I, Chapter II: The Chain
Part I, Chapter III: The Top and the Bottom
Part I, Chapter IV: The Immovable Movers
Part I, Chapter V: The Climax of the d’Anconias
Part I, Chapter VI: The Non-Commercial
Part I, Chapter VII: The Exploiters and the Exploited
Part I, Chapter VIII: The John Galt Line
Part I, Chapter IX: The Sacred and the Profane
Part I, Chapter X: Wyatt’s Torch
Part II, Chapter I: The Man Who Belonged on Earth
Part II, Chapter II: The Aristocracy of Pull
Part II, Chapter III: White Blackmail
Part II, Chapter IV: The Sanction of the Victim
Part II, Chapter V: Account Overdrawn
Part II, Chapter VI: Miracle Metal
Part II, Chapter VII: The Moratorium on Brains
Part II, Chapter IX: By Our Love

2 posted on 05/23/2009 7:16:03 AM PDT by Publius
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To: Publius

Atlas shrugged a long time ago when he created NAFTA, brought China into the WTO and moved most of our non-defense factories overseas.


3 posted on 05/23/2009 7:31:53 AM PDT by MontaniSemperLiberi
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To: Publius
Atlas Shrugged is a fine book, but let's face it, it's 50 years old!

Trains are great, but not quite cutting edge.

May I humbly suggest a replacement that is up to date, and fresh off the presses:


4 posted on 05/23/2009 7:54:09 AM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Travis McGee
Atlas Shrugged is a fine book, but let's face it, it's 50 years old!

... and currently ranked #69 on Amazon's Best Sellers list. Not bad for a book a half-century old.

5 posted on 05/23/2009 8:09:44 AM PDT by 6SJ7 (atlasShruggedInd: ON)
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To: 6SJ7
It's an outstanding and a worthy novel. It's current success shows that there is a great desire for a novel to fill this niche. There is another novel out there now that does so, which is not set in the train era, but in 2009.
6 posted on 05/23/2009 8:16:22 AM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Travis McGee

I love the smell of shameless self-promotion in the morning.

;^)


7 posted on 05/23/2009 8:35:10 AM PDT by Disambiguator
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To: 6SJ7

Somehow, I get the strange feeling that Wesley Mouch is right out of Today’s Headlines........


8 posted on 05/23/2009 8:39:48 AM PDT by radioone
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To: Publius
Hank accuses Francisco of trying to add Dagny to his list of conquests.

An interesting choice of words, Publius.

The reader knows what is really occurring. That Hank is assuming a sexual conquest was intended is probably a good thing for Francisco. Had Hank known that Francisco is after much more than that, Hank probably would have killed him.

9 posted on 05/23/2009 8:44:09 AM PDT by whodathunkit (Shrugging as I leave for the Gulch)
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To: radioone
Somehow, I get the strange feeling that Wesley Mouch is right out of Today’s Headlines........

Found him. His title is Regulatory Czar.

I think it's a bad sign when we currently have more Czars than imperial Russia ever had.

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/05/20/regulatory_czar_nomination_clears_senate_panel/?rss_id=Boston.com+--+Latest+news

10 posted on 05/23/2009 9:06:48 AM PDT by seowulf (Petraeus, cross the Rubicon.)
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To: Disambiguator
I feel like I'm screaming over the ocean waves, after nine years spent on my trilogy. I've never done this before, but here is an unedited email I read five minutes ago.

Hello Matt,

Just finished your masterpiece. And I don't use that term loosely. It is a beautiful tour de force, in which you certainly hit all the right notes. Conservatives in America should take to this like the colonists took to Paine in '76.

Endearing heroic characters, tension racked plot that unfolds with surprises right up to the end. The scene where Acorzado turns and joins the rebels is emotional perfection. So many scenes in this book (from Jenny in the ravine, to Carson's "time to act" speech with the flag, Bible and beret) bring that tingling feeling all up and down my spine and the back of my neck. Excellent underlying message between all the lines throughout the entire book. Which Constitution? Yes, indeed, which one will we follow? You write so vividly and integrate all the subtle nuances of the socialist brainwash beautifully with the dialogue. Your grasp of all their pernicious semantic sophistries is so good, which is what drew me to your first two volumes. And you've merely carried that grasp forward with this one in spades.

Also the didacticism of the book is just the right amount, and integrated into the scenes perfectly in my opinion. No long-winded lectures like Edwin Vieiera's recent Crashmaker; but pithy and powerful expressions of what freedom, the Constitution, and America are all about from your characters. They possess the right length and the right emotional note.

This book could be one of the turning points of American history, Matt. I only hope that you can convince someone like Glenn Beck to get interested in it. It is a book that would take off like wildfire if he ever started promoting it. Of course, there is a downside to big recognition and sales. The left will come down on you in full smear mode to try and kill the book and its author if it looks like widespread popularity is coming your way. So be prepared. But then I don't need to tell you how vicious they can be.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book immensely, not just because it is a terrific rendition philosophically and politically of what America's problems are and how the military must be aroused to face the coming crises, but also because it is a crackerjack story. You have combined the two areas of "message" and "plot" together in a most persuasive and entertaining manner. Bravo!

What are your promotional plans? Any ideas on how to get a copy into Beck's hands? Hope you're going to send a copy to Buchanan. Are you going to send out review copies to all the conservative magazines and websites? Also all the radio shows. Have you ever heard of Radio TV Interview Report? It might be a way for you to get noticed with all the conservative radio shows. I used them back in '98 to book interviews for my tax book that I wrote when I was working for Citizens for an Alternative Tax System. Got lots of bookings. The costs of advertising with them will soak up much of your profits from sales, but it is a stepping stone to be "noticed" by bigger shows such as Beck, Savage and Limbaugh. So even if you break even profit-wise with all the interview bookings they bring you, you are still putting yourself out there where the big boys could notice you. They can be reached here: http://www.rtir.com/index.html Also here: Bradley Communications Corp., 390 Reed Road, Broomall, PA 19008; Phone: 484-477-4220; Fax: 610-541-0281.

Just a fantastic book old friend. Let me know how you progress in the upcoming months.

Best as always, (redacted)

11 posted on 05/23/2009 9:08:53 AM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Travis McGee
i'm just to the point where they are going in after Brad...
12 posted on 05/23/2009 9:11:03 AM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - Obama is basically Jim Jones with a teleprompter)
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To: Chode

That’s back in Enemies Foreign And Domestic. You only have two and a half novels to go!


13 posted on 05/23/2009 9:26:28 AM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Travis McGee
don't forget to sign my Foreign Enemies...
14 posted on 05/23/2009 9:40:24 AM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - Obama is basically Jim Jones with a teleprompter)
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To: Chode

You didn’t get it yet? All of the pre-orders have been signed and sent. Over 700 of them.


15 posted on 05/23/2009 9:44:23 AM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Publius

This chapter seems to set up later ones more than anything else. Esp the whole ‘love triangle’ (which kind of morphs into a love Venn diagram with Dagny in the middle).


16 posted on 05/23/2009 10:06:14 AM PDT by Betis70 (Keep working serf, Zero's in charge)
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To: Publius

Ahhhh.... We’re back to the sex again.

You really did a marvelous job summing up this chapter, Publius.

Too bad there was only Charlie’s Angels in her later years, because Rand would have loved The Bachelorette. One woman and several men, all fighting for her! What a fantasy!


17 posted on 05/23/2009 10:17:20 AM PDT by Mad-Margaret
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To: Mad-Margaret
The tragedy was that Rand didn't live longer. Had she lived 7 more years she would have seen the fall of the Berlin Wall. Nine more years would have permitted her to see the end of the Soviet Union.

She might well have been an honored figure in Russia in the early Nineties.

This chapter is very short and sets up the whole Quention Daniels thing that leads to -- well, we know where that leads. It's an interlude, although perhaps it should be spelled interlewd.

18 posted on 05/23/2009 10:24:47 AM PDT by Publius
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To: Betis70
She's the alpha female, and everybody wants her. Even poor Eddie.
19 posted on 05/23/2009 10:25:44 AM PDT by Publius
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To: Travis McGee
Maybe you can start your very own book club thread and discuss your own book to your hearts content. This, however, is a book club devoted to the discussion of Atlas Shrugged. Feel free to either 1) Discuss Atlas Shrugged; or 2) Go away.
20 posted on 05/23/2009 10:26:06 AM PDT by r-q-tek86 (The U.S. Constitution may be flawed, but it's a whole lot better than what we have now)
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To: whodathunkit
Hank and Francisco both come to the edge of killing each other for her. There is something kinky going on in Rand's mind.

At least after this chapter we can put the sex back into the bottle until a bunch of chapters later.

21 posted on 05/23/2009 10:28:28 AM PDT by Publius
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To: r-q-tek86; Travis McGee
Actually, Travis, you should organize a FReeper Book Club based on your books. I don't have a monopoly on this concept. It's one surefire way to get your work to an agent and publisher.

The work generated by these threads has already garnered me an agent, and maybe I'll get a book published.

Go for it! You'll generate sales, and I might even join your book club as a spectator.

22 posted on 05/23/2009 10:31:30 AM PDT by Publius
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To: radioone
Somehow, I get the strange feeling that Wesley Mouch is right out of Today’s Headlines........

(Quick aside... I have an agreement with a lib friend of mine that I will listen to NPR from time to time if she will listen to Mark Davis/Rush/Laura from time to time.)

So... I'm listening to NPR yesterday and they start talking about how great the Cap and Trade tax will be. You see... it will be great... no one will have to worry about how much supply or demand to have to plan for because every year will be the same as the last... it will really be a relief for almost everyone...

I thought I was listening to someone doing a dramatic reading from AS.

23 posted on 05/23/2009 10:35:06 AM PDT by r-q-tek86 (The U.S. Constitution may be flawed, but it's a whole lot better than what we have now)
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To: Travis McGee; Billthedrill
It's an outstanding and a worthy novel. It's current success shows that there is a great desire for a novel to fill this niche. There is another novel out there now that does so, which is not set in the train era, but in 2009.

I'll give you this: you're MUCH better at dialog than Rand. I can see Dagny or Hank type individuals thinking the things Rand has them thinking, and perhaps even doing the things they do, but they definitely wouldn't say the things she has them say. Billthedrill was griping last week, rightfully IMHO, about Dagny saying "…when the flood swallows it we’ll go down with the last wheel and the last syllogism…". So far, I haven't caught one of your characters use the word "syllogism". Eschew obfuscation.

24 posted on 05/23/2009 11:26:14 AM PDT by Still Thinking (If ignorance is bliss, liberals must be ecstatic!)
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To: Travis McGee

I think we need more fiction from this perspective... maybe libertyfic.proboards.com will actually get some members some day? I just posted the first 2 pages of a story I started yesterday, based in a future of a crumbling America


25 posted on 05/23/2009 11:41:31 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: Travis McGee
Trains are great, but not quite cutting edge.

I don't know... With all the talk of stimulus porkulus money going to "high speed rail lines" to be developed (not just from LA to LV, but all over, including the state of MO), sometimes it seems as if the looters actually trying to use AS as a guide! As if they are currently reading the book, and saying to themselves, "I see myself in these pages! How cool! What a bunch of great ideas!" But they haven't quite gotten around to reading the ending...

Mark

26 posted on 05/23/2009 11:44:44 AM PDT by MarkL (Do I really look like a guy with a plan?)
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To: r-q-tek86

I linked Cap N Trade to Directive 10-289 pretty quickly too, believe me.. the similarities are amaZing


27 posted on 05/23/2009 11:46:05 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: Publius

Interlewd!!

You are good!


28 posted on 05/23/2009 12:25:38 PM PDT by Mad-Margaret
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To: Publius
This chapter ties in with an earlier chapter where Hank visits Francisco in his suite at the Hotel.

Francisco explains his facade of being a playboy and explains in depth that sexual attraction, the act of sex is an extension of the man and his moral code.

There are a great number of exceptional men in the novel, many of them snatched away by the “destroyer” , but Dagney is the only exceptional woman.

If you recall, Francisco told Hank that there was only 1 woman that he loved, still loved and hoped to win back.

I don't think Hank sees Franciso’s presence as conquest.

What he is really afraid of is that Dagny may still harbor the love she once felt for Francisco.

Hank is a smart guy, he'd have put Dagney’s previous confession and Franciso’s confession together pretty quickly.

29 posted on 05/23/2009 12:46:27 PM PDT by TASMANIANRED (TAZ:Untamed, Unpredictable, Uninhibited.)
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To: MarkL
Do I really look like a guy with a plan?

I always have plan A, B, C, D and wingit...for some reason, plan "wingit" seems to be the one I use most often....

30 posted on 05/23/2009 12:51:59 PM PDT by stylin_geek (Senators and Representatives : They govern like Calvin Ball is played, making it up as they go along)
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To: Travis McGee
as of today's mail, no... i'll keep an eye out. the first ones took a long time to get here too.
31 posted on 05/23/2009 1:50:39 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - Obama is basically Jim Jones with a teleprompter)
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To: MarkL

That’s all train projects will be today: make-work porkulus.


32 posted on 05/23/2009 1:59:08 PM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Publius

Now that the last book in the trilogy is a completed work and in print, I will take a breath, take some time, and focus on marketing. This type of thread is a very good idea. I’m also going to look into this new-fangled “facebook” and “twitter” thing.

I’ve had lots of agents and editors puff me up, and it’s great until the Editorial Board of Angry Liberal Lesbians gets their say. Then my books get the axe. They are just too anti-PC.

And the two conservative publishers are too dim to reach out to conservative fiction. Ann Coulter or any talk show host can put together any 100 brain farts and they’ll be published. But not conservative fiction, they are too high-brow for that! Unless it’s 50 year old fiction by Ayn Rand. But current fiction? No way! (There’s a reason it’s called ‘the stupid party.’)


33 posted on 05/23/2009 2:24:53 PM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Still Thinking

“I shall always strive for dialogue of the highest and most realistic caliber, Darling. Or Dear.”


34 posted on 05/23/2009 2:26:03 PM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Chode

Check this new Amazon review of FEAT:

Foreign Enemies and Traitors is a beautiful tour de force that combines the clash of values at the heart of America’s present political / economic crisis with an Atlas Shrugged like story. Conservatives in America should take to this tale like the colonists took to Paine in ‘76.

The Second Great Depression (what author Matt Bracken has dubbed the “Greater Depression”) rages throughout America. The country is splitting up geographically with several secessionist movements in response to a radical leftist administration recently ushered into power in Washington, but also geologically due to a once-in-a-century earthquake that levels Memphis, TN causing massive panic confounded by hordes of refugees, pillaging war lords, and the inevitable reversion to barbarism that such societal collapses bring.

Mr. Bracken thrusts into this mix a cast of heroic characters with names like Boone Vikersun and Phil Carson (think Daniel and Kit if your historical memory is sluggish) — to fight a guerrilla war in, of all places, the state of Tennessee against the overweening powers of a grotesquely corrupt Washington. Pure gold! Boone and Carson in the 21st century fighting for the Republic.

The female lead, Jenny McClure, is a winsome, feisty teenager — just waking up to the cruelty of an adult world turned upside down — and about as courageous as humans get. Upon reading of her trials and how she measures up to them, the emotion felt is twofold: immense awe and the hope that if life’s tribulations ever presented such dilemmas to ourselves, our reactions would be equally as spirited in manner.

The plot is tension-racked unfolding with surprises right up to the end. There are countless scenes in which courage, patriotism, and honor come into play in such riveting ways as to bring that tingling sensation up and down one’s spine and the nape of one’s neck for long spells.

At stake is a clash of governing philosophies between the socialist left and the free-enterprise right, between the “new Constitution” illegally rammed through in a panicky Constitutional Convention and the “old Constitution” which spawned America from the beginning and was the law of the land for over 125 years until collectivists degraded it into a “living document” to be reinterpreted with Mad Hatter’s logic.

Overlying all this is the defense backbone of the nation, our military forces, and what side they must choose in this epic clash between the treasonous forces of statism in Washington and the loyalist forces of freedom amidst the patriotic states. The former trumpets the “new” Constitution and its implementation, while the latter fights for the “old” Constitution and its restoration. Which Constitution do we uphold? The military’s leading generals must decide which to defend, and it makes for a crackerjack story that will keep you reading late into the night as Bracken’s trio of Americanist heroes — Boone, Carson, and Jenny — pull off one escapade after another to defend the rebellious states and attempt to take the country back from a quisling President and his squalid entourage of socialist apparatchiks.

Bracken writes vividly and integrates all the subtle nuances of today’s leftist media / academy brainwash into the dialogue. His grasp of all their pernicious semantic twistings is impeccable. Moreover the didacticism of the book is just the right amount, and integrated into the scenes perfectly. No long-winded lectures to take away from the pace of the story; but numerous pithy and powerful expressions of what freedom, the Constitution, and America are all about from his characters. They possess the right length and the right emotional tone.

Foreign Enemies and Traitors could be one of those turning point books of American history. I only hope that someone like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh will read it. It is a book that would take off like wildfire if they ever started promoting it. Of course, the political left will come down on this tome like a blitzkrieg to try and kill the message of its talented author if it looks like widespread popularity is coming his way. But that goes with the territory when one writes of patriotism and honor in an era that worships acquiescence and popularity.

This is a book that all red-blooded Americans will enjoy immensely — not just because it is a terrific political accounting of what America’s problems are and what the military’s proper response to the constitutional implications must be, but also because it is a splendid, scintillating story. The author has combined the two areas of “message” and “plot” together in a most persuasive and entertaining manner. Move over Tom Clancy.


35 posted on 05/23/2009 2:30:28 PM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Publius
Hank and Francisco both come to the edge of killing each other for her. There is something kinky going on in Rand's mind.

Well, on some level Rand was still the high school girl fantasizing - though the fictional Dagny - about all the top football players being in love with her. Doesn't take away from the main message of the book, though. :)

36 posted on 05/23/2009 2:31:53 PM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("If you cannot pick it up and run with it, you don't really own it." -- Robert Heinlein)
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To: Publius
Howdy, Pub’!

A bit late to the thread this week, for which I apologize. I found that chapter 19, “The Face Without Pain Or Fear Or Guilt,” made me angry again, as it did when first I read it nearly forty years ago. It is not, as will become apparent, my favorite chapter. I apologize in advance for the rant that follows, but that’s what Book Clubs are all about, isn’t it?

The problem, I think, stems from an overly sympathetic appreciation of Francisco d’Anconia, a fellow who has given up more than anyone in the story (up to this point), fortune for looming penury, fame for notoriety, the love of his life for an empty bed, and for self-respect, nothing, because if there is one core value in Rand’s moral calculus it is self-respect. His will be sorely tried in this chapter. In Rand’s opinion he triumphs in this regard; in mine, well, I’m not so sure, and that’s what makes me angry.

To events. This is the next to last chapter in this middle section of ten, after which we have a real break in the overall narrative. One has to admire Rand as a novelist for sticking to her outline – a novel of this sweep and dimension would be lost in chaos without it. As a writer of dialogue, however…well, we shall see.

Dagny is back in the fight after a month of self-exile. It is the railroad that has drawn her out of her refuge but she finds herself caught between the poles of two men: one, her old lover Francisco d’Anconia, who wishes to pull her out of it all, and the other, her current flame Hank Rearden, who quite inadvertently is pulling her back in. The railroad is the trump card in this and she’s shackled to her desk because she has locked the thing in place with her own two hands.

It is Francisco who comes to her first. Here there is the wistful flavor of a man who has lost his love but hopes in the end to win her back. There is also the sympathy and loyalty of an old friend who knows she’s in need of one at the moment, and it isn’t the first time. One must admire that loyalty whether it were directed at a dog, who merits it, or Dagny, who one might be tempted to wonder about. They both have the same values, beliefs, and yet they are pursuing them in opposite directions. Why?

“Dagny,” he [Francisco] said slowly, “I know why one loves one’s work…what is it you see when you think of a moving train?”

She glanced at the city. “The life of a man of ability who might have perished in that catastrophe, but will escape the next one, which I’ll prevent…the kind of man who is what we were when we started, you and I. You gave him up. I can’t.”

Clearly Dagny does realize that her passengers are her trust and that there were, after all, innocents aboard the doomed Comet, or at least might have been. It is a rather grudging moral epiphany but it’s something. And yet Rand will have none of it. Is Dagny serving that hypothetical ubermensch by saving his life if it means perpetuating the system that enslaves him?

“All right, Dagny. I won’t try to stop you. You will stop on the day when you’ll discover that your work has been placed in the service, not of that man’s life, but of his destruction.”

“Francisco!” It was a cry of astonishment and despair. “You do understand it, you know what I mean by that kind of man, you see him too!”

“Oh, yes,” he said simply…”Why should you be astonished? You said that we were of his kind once, you and I. We still are. But one of us has betrayed him.”

It is this in stark terms – to Rand the system is a moral abomination and its cessation worth the price paid in blood no matter who pays it; that to maintain it does not avoid paying that same price and worse. We will encounter this moral absolutism frequently in the coming pages. Atlas may fight this conviction but when finally he comes to accept it, he shrugs.

There is a charm, even a nobility, in Dagny’s stubborn insistence on keeping a dying machine running, a recognition and defense of the achievements that were against the ruthless attrition exacted by the Destroyers. But, for the latter’s program of renascence to take shape the societal machine must halt. And she is keeping it running.

“Until then, Dagny, remember that we’re enemies. I didn’t want to tell you this, but you’re the first person who almost stepped into heaven and came back to earth…It’s you that I’m fighting, not your brother James or Wesley Mouch.”

“Francisco!” she cried, in desperate defense of him against herself. “How can you do what you’re doing?”

“By the grace of my love” – for you, said his eyes – “for the man,” said his voice, “who did not perish in your catastrophe and who will never perish.”

An odd usage, that. Coupled with a phrase dropped earlier in this same conversation concerning “that man” permitting no tribute to Caesar, permitting no Caesar, we realize that Francisco is not speaking of an individual here but an archetype, which is well, because very few individual human beings are likely to survive an ammunition train explosion and a mountain being dropped on them. Once again we see that Rand has pressed godhead onto her idealized perfect human being, her ubermensch. In my opinion that isn’t a hat that fits very well. But let’s roll with it for now.

“I wish I could spare you what you’re going to go through,” he said, the gentleness of his voice saying: It’s not me that you should pity. “But I can’t. Every one of us has to travel that road by his own steps. But it’s the same road.”

“Where does it lead?”

He smiled, as if softly closing a door on the questions that he would not answer. “To Atlantis,” he said.

So does he still love her? Of course he does.

“I’ll always wait for you, no matter what we do, either one of us.”

It is the loyalty of a gentle soul, warding off the bleak image of a lonely future with a scrap of hope. The present, however, bursts through the door in the person of Hank Rearden, who imagines despite his previous insight into Francisco’s character that the latter is there to make Dagny one of his petty conquests. It is a brutal scene, one of accusations that cannot be answered, of false assumptions that may not be challenged. Perhaps it is Dagny’s presence that works to madden Rearden but it is not at all a flattering moment. And at its end comes an admission out of context that causes Rearden to put Francisco to his greatest trial.

…he asked, pointing at Dagny, his voice low and strangely unlike his own voice, as if it neither came from nor were addressed to a living person, “Is this the woman you love?”

Francisco answered, looking at her, “Yes.”

Rearden’s hand rose, swept down, and slapped Francisco’s face.

Francisco forces himself to take the blow unanswered.

He was looking at Rearden, but it was not Rearden that he was seeing. He looked as if he were facing another presence in the room and as if his glance were saying: If this is what you demand of me, then even this is yours, yours to accept and mine to endure, there is no more than this in me to offer you… She knew that what she was witnessing Francisco d’Anconia’s greatest achievement.

I find this more than a little disturbing, actually. Francisco is a complete believer, a dedicated revolutionary striving for utopia. But in this paragraph his dedication is not directed at an ideology, and apparently, no longer at an archetype. It is unmistakably directed at a specific man. What man? We’ll table that for the moment but we certainly aren’t short of clues. This is the devotion of a religious follower worshipping that godhead that is embodied in the person of a man of achievement, the man Dagny is running her trains to save, the man Francisco is destroying his mines to free. But this one is real. He is godhead taken unto flesh. For an atheist Rand certainly doesn’t skimp on the Christian imagery, does she? But this is no Christ. And Francisco’s religious fervor is, for my taste, a little creepy.

Nevertheless, Hank has delivered the blow, and realizes too late

- that he would give his life for he power not to have committed the action he had committed.

There is more, actually – Dagny chooses to reveal that Francisco was no threat to her, that in fact he was her first lover. Francisco has departed with what dignity is possible in such a shattering situation, his mouth bleeding. And so the two of them dash through the streets of New York in pursuit of Francisco, to tender an abject apology for an unforgivable insult…

Well, no, they don’t. What they do instead is to copulate like a pair of fever-maddened spring rabbits. It gets worse.

…she felt Francisco’s presence through Rearden’s mind, she felt as if she were surrendering to both men, to that which she had worshipped in both of them…which had made of her love for each an act of loyalty to both.

An act of what? Perhaps in Dagny’s endorphin-soaked brain this is some sort of cosmic twofer but in plain point of fact one fellow is boinking her with the enthusiasm of a sailor fresh off a six-month cruise and the other fellow is walking through the streets with a bloody mouth. Those are the facts on the ground, my dear, and the rest of it is sophistry that even a Dr. Pritchett would be embarrassed to bleat.

I’m angry again.

It is here that Rand’s sexual theories reach the far shore of adolescent fantasy. Dagny is not being disloyal, mind you, for the simple reason that she is not having sex with another human being, but with an idea; and as long as she remains true to the idea, the human being in whom it is embodied at the moment is essentially irrelevant. It is a credo that is consistent in its internal logic, personally extremely convenient, and perfectly monstrous. It is a portable morality with padded, ergonomic handle. It is simply another manifestation of that preference for the exigencies of the moment that Rand professes to find distasteful when it is applied by her villains anywhere else.

As a male I shall not presume to draw any broad conclusions from this ethical Three Card Monte as to how well Rand knew women, but I am not in the least reluctant to state from narrative circumstance how poorly she knew men. Francisco is, by Rand’s specific description, a scion of old-world honor, and here he has been offered a physical blow, by the successful rival to the love of his life, in her very presence. Rand regards this as the provocation that it is, but I don’t get the impression she fully appreciates just how outrageous. It is insufferable, unforgivable, a mortal insult in the precise sense of the term. I like Rearden too but if he’d done that to me the New York Fire Department would be prying my fingers off his throat with the Jaws of Life.

And yet Francisco withdraws from the confrontation like a whipped pup, not, in fact, an alpha dog suddenly turned beta, but one who has been a beta dog for quite some time. Should Dagny’s idealistic bed-hopping land her in another hutch – it’s almost inevitable by now, isn’t it? – Rand apparently feels the two men will be able to shake hands and be pals again, secure in the happy status of eternal beta-dom. It is a resolution as unlikely in real life as a gargoyle suddenly sprouting wings and littering the landscape with rose petals. These three characters are each admirable in his or her own way, I suppose, but far from being avatars of moral clarity, these are some seriously dysfunctional people, all three of them. In my humble opinion.

We move from this quagmire of solipsism, sweaty bodies and sexual abandon to the somewhat more prosaic field of Afton, Utah, (not that Aftonians, if they exist, do not enjoy the pleasant frisson of the flesh but that they are likely to do so in the more morally well-founded confines of a cut-rate brothel), wherein Dagny’s hired engineering genius Quentin Daniels has come to his own independent conclusions concerning the propriety of giving the miracle motor to an unappreciative and exploitive society. He too has traveled the road that Francisco predicted for Dagny and at its end is the abnegation of the flesh for the good of the soul:

“And this is the thing that I cannot take, even were I able to take all the rest: that in order to give them an inestimable benefit, we should be made martyrs to the men who, but for us, could not have conceived of it. May they be damned, I will see them all die of starvation, myself included, rather than forgive them for this or permit it!”

One more Atlas has shrugged, and lest we miss the significance of this moral epiphany Rand drives it home with another curious image. Daniels isn’t actually going anywhere, he’s continuing as a janitor, he’s just giving up working on the motor. However,

“It is a strange feeling – writing this letter. I do not intend to die, but I am giving up the world and this feels like the letter of a suicide. So I want to say that of all the people I have known, you are the only person I regret leaving behind.”

The contrast between the two cases of the sober Daniels and the Francisco/Hank/Dagny triangle of whatever it is – the term “love” seems inadequate – could not be any clearer. Rand has at last returned to her very formidable case and it has taken the monk-like asceticism of Quentin Daniels to bring her there. One might be forgiven for suspecting that to be a revelatory moment lost on its own author, especially in the light of what follows.

Because there is, once one has cast off the sweat-soaked sheets, a railroad to be rebuilt, the full weight of which act has fallen on the shoulders of Dagny’s right hand man Eddie Willers. She is off to chase Daniels, to attempt to convince him to re-enter her tumultuous and failing world, and all Eddie has to do in the meantime is the entire reconstruction of a transcontinental railway line. It is no real surprise that under this sort of pressure Eddie seeks out his own safety valve, his unnamed track-worker confidante in the company cafeteria. And the track-worker has, as a plateful of cigarette butts attests, been waiting for him. An odd fellow, really, isn’t he? He is still voiceless but now we are made aware of his appearance.

“Do you know what’s strange about your face? You look as if you’ve never known pain or fear or guilt.”

Hence the chapter title, and our own growing awareness that this track-worker is something more than he appears. This time he offers a reaction – the fellow is, after all, due to commence his month-long vacation, so perhaps that’s it. Or perhaps it’s the knowledge that Quentin Daniels has made landfall on Atlantis on his very own, perhaps the notion of Dagny launching herself out on a hazardous mission to Utah. Or perhaps it’s Eddie’s sudden and embarrassing admission that the woman that Eddie, too, has discovered that he loves, is sleeping with Hank Rearden when the two of them manage to find time for slumber. Eddie is undoubtedly a magnificent manager of projects but he possesses all the private discretion of a giggling schoolgirl on Valentine’s Day. And he is clearly in the grip of his own existential crisis.

“Why is there nothing but misery left for anyone? What are we doing? What have we lost? A year ago I wouldn’t have damned her for finding something she wanted. But I know that they’re doomed, both of them, and so am I, and so is everybody, and she was all I had left…the world is perishing and we cannot stop it. Why are we destroying ourselves? Who will save us? Oh, who is John Galt?!”

One suspects it might be from the distraught Eddie’s uncomfortable and contrived monologue that the track-worker flees suddenly. I would certainly forgive him.

Have a great week, Publius!

37 posted on 05/23/2009 2:41:07 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: stylin_geek
I took the line "do I really look like a guy with a plan?" from Heath Leger's character, "The Joker" from the movie, "The Dark Knight." If you haven't seen that movie, I suggest you do so. I don't think that there's ever been a movie villain done better... First off, you don't actually notice just how violent and evil this guy is until after the movie. Secondly, everything he does is planned out to the microsecond, and he's like a chess player, looking 10 or more moves ahead. The guy really nailed the part. I found I needed to see the movie (on DVD) about 5 times before I really had the character figured out.

Mark

38 posted on 05/23/2009 3:37:51 PM PDT by MarkL (Do I really look like a guy with a plan?)
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To: MarkL

So Heath Leger really “nailed the part” in the “Dark Knight”.
The same way he “nailed the part” in “Brokeback Mountain?”


39 posted on 05/23/2009 3:41:59 PM PDT by BnBlFlag (Deo Vindice/Semper Fidelis "Ya gotta saddle up your boys; Ya gotta draw a hard line")
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To: Travis McGee
"I shall always strive for dialogue of the highest and most realistic caliber, Darling. Or Dear."

Well, I always strive for the highest realistic caliber, as well. ;-)

40 posted on 05/23/2009 3:44:32 PM PDT by Still Thinking (If ignorance is bliss, liberals must be ecstatic!)
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To: BnBlFlag
So Heath Leger really “nailed the part” in the “Dark Knight”.

The same way he “nailed the part” in “Brokeback Mountain?”

Never saw "Brokeback Mountain." Have you seen "The Dark Knight?" Leger deserved the Academy Award for that character portrayal.

Mark

41 posted on 05/23/2009 3:59:43 PM PDT by MarkL (Do I really look like a guy with a plan?)
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To: Travis McGee
....and Phil Carson (think Daniel and Kit if your historical memory is sluggish)

Good job.

V.C. Carson

42 posted on 05/23/2009 4:00:14 PM PDT by Vigilantcitizen (This tagline has been shutdown due to lack of funds.)
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To: Billthedrill
Nevertheless, Hank has delivered the blow, and realizes too late...

- "that he would give his life for he power not to have committed the action he had committed."

Rand obviously didn't get the memo.

Rearden had taken to carrying a gun and according to the current gun control crowd, it would have been impossible for him not to have used it.

43 posted on 05/23/2009 4:12:09 PM PDT by whodathunkit (Shrugging as I leave for the Gulch)
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To: whodathunkit

LOL - yeah, or it would have just gone off all by itself. I have to get one of those - it would sure save range time.


44 posted on 05/23/2009 4:43:37 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Travis McGee
BRAVO ZULU!!!
45 posted on 05/23/2009 5:17:38 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - Obama is basically Jim Jones with a teleprompter)
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To: Billthedrill
Great analysis, drill.

And you hit the nail on the head for what became for me the first crack in my admiration ( need I say heroine worship !) of Rand nearly forty yrs ago when I first read this chapter.

. It just rang so false. Men don't act like that in real life. Here's a couple of tough guys caught in the same room with a woman both of them have been sleeping with and one of them slaps....not punches, or kicks in the balls....but SLAPS!........the other one and the slapee just friggin walks away. In front of the woman, no less !And for this act of timidity or cowardice or whatever, we are supposed to feel admiration for the guy as a paragon of self control. Give me a break. Nobody I know would do that.

I can't say it better than you:

It is here that Rand’s sexual theories reach the far shore of adolescent fantasy.

And I agree about the God like references. But when I first read AS I thought she was writing like a modern day Homer, with all those multiple gods interacting with mere humans. I knew she was talking about real men but it had that Greek Pagan quality for me. Maybe because at the same time I was reading Homer for school. Who the hell knows what she was thinking. Except to say she never really could grasp what actual sexual desire is all about...at least from the man's side......and it ain't your mind, cowgirl ! In her fiction or her real life. Witness her Nat Brandon interlude.

46 posted on 05/23/2009 5:19:28 PM PDT by mick (Central Banker Capitalism is NOT Free Enterprise)
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To: Billthedrill
I like Rearden too but if he’d done that to me the New York Fire Department would be prying my fingers off his throat with the Jaws of Life.

Hear, hear. And not an honest punch in the chops, but a slap! Could he get any more demeaning?

47 posted on 05/23/2009 6:49:32 PM PDT by Still Thinking (If ignorance is bliss, liberals must be ecstatic!)
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To: Still Thinking

Just stay away from the .45mm caliber that authors sometimes mention.


48 posted on 05/23/2009 7:52:01 PM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Chode

It’s a good start.


49 posted on 05/23/2009 7:52:50 PM PDT by Travis McGee (--www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Travis McGee
Trains are great, but not quite cutting edge.

It's not about trains.

ML/NJ

50 posted on 05/24/2009 7:32:13 AM PDT by ml/nj
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