Last night Wadhwa, Arunav and self were having this whole discussion about Atlas Shrugged and the character John Galt. For those who have read the book, they’d remember the question everywhere, “Who is John Galt?”. Well there is this beautiful line in the book that says something to the effect that ‘John Galt is Prometheus coming back to take the fire that he had given away.’ Wow!.


For me the very idea of stopping the motor of the world had been a fascination. Galt and Howard Roark used to my heroes at one point of time. Not to forget, Ive read the books twice. But while Ayn Rand’s idea and philosophy is something to admire, the bigger question is that should we really stick by it and follow it all through our lives? This question was a major part of the discussion that the three of us were having last night. Rand seems to be our heroine, but we ourselves are rational beings. We know what to borrow and what not? For example, the idea that man must do what he feels is right or as Wadhwa put is straight ‘He must do what gives him pleasure’.


A para from wikipedia on ‘Atlas Shrugged’ reads,


Like the Greek Titan Atlas, individuals rationally and circumspectly seeking their own long-term happiness believe that they hold the world on their shoulders. The novel’s title is an allusion to the Titan, discussing what might happen if those supporting the world suddenly decided to stop doing so. In the novel, the allusion comes during a conversation between two protagonists, Francisco d’Anconia and Hank Rearden, near the end of part two, chapter three, where Francisco suggests to Rearden that if he could suggest to Atlas that he do one thing, it would be to shrug.

Howard Roark in Fountainhead is equally famous. Though he is not as voracious as Galt in stopping the motor of the world, he does only what he thinks is right. But why do I feel that these two characters are important in our lives at this institution (NALSAR)? The reason is simple. We live in this place bound by four walls and rules that we just are meant to follow in as much as we don’t want to follow them. Two thing I feel we must realise; a) that there is life beyond the four walls of this college, b) Reading law or gossiping all day will restrict our creativity and we need to find new avenues.


In light of this, I am glad that Galt found a place in our discussion. We need to look beyond the 300 faces that we see everyday and do something productive with our lives. Roark decided to look beyond, we must encourage people to do the same too. There’s so much to do in life that we forget and spend the whole day chatting about our daily morose lives in trying to bring about some happiness. To that extent, I approve of Rand. Because she has now become the symbol of someone who wants some direction in life. She has become the object and sensuality of a few people who decided to ’screw’ the rules and do whatever they feel like doing. That does not turn into a revolution, but creates an idea in the minds of the few who give it a thought. I propose to breed this thought in a few.


Also read –

Lietmotif on the Terror of increasing freedom and John Galt.