In My last post I made fun of a character in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Surely one of the worst written novels ever excreted by an author. Here I will just make a few points about the philosophical centre of the novel. John Galt’s truly horribly written speech.1
An interesting aspect of Galt's speech is how it violates two things at once. Good writing and good oratory. I make the distinction because a speech that reads bad can be performed well if you know how to deliver a speech. Hitler is an outstanding example of this. In that Hitler's speeches, (The great majority of which he wrote or extemporized himself.), do not read very well and many come across has bad to mediocre. However Hitler was very effective at delivering a speech and even in the bad to mediocre to read speeches that comes across.
However there is no indication, (I've just tried to read Galt's speech again I got about half way through before I gave out.), in what I've read that Galt can not effectively deliver a speech. In fact I have decided to not quote from John Galt’s speech given that it is boring repetitious, convoluted and frankly philosophically idiotic and turgid. It has all the literary excellence (sarcasm) of the novels of Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susann. Although in fairness at least those two writers wrote badly in such a way it was fun to read their stuff. Ayn Rand’s novel is just painful and without a doubt the worst written part of the novel is Galt’s speech. The speech was intended by Ayn Rand to be the summation of her philosophy and a tour de force of her philosophical brilliance. However the speech didn’t do a good job of doing so.
Instead the speech comes across has violating the standards of good writing and oratory.
1, The speech is way to long for the points that it is allegedly making.
2. The speaker makes it absolutely clear that he has nothing but contempt for most of his audience.
3. The speech is delivered it appears in a dull monotone it appears.
4. The speech itself shows little colour, or variety.
5. The speech is needlessly verbose.
6. The speech has Galt talk much of the time in a convoluted, fake baffle-gaffle that serves to confuse and alienate listeners.
7. The speech uses a special vocabulary, with words meaning not what people generally think they mean.
8. Related to number 2 - the speech giver talks down to his audience.
9. The speech is repetitious to a truly extraordinary extent.
10. The speech is poorly constructed, not just with being repetitious, but poor word choice and a stream of uninteresting stream of consciousness style of speaking.
11. The speech maker should know that uttering ever thought that comes into your head is not a good idea.
As literature the Galt's speech is very poorly written, as oratory it is a disaster. I would suggest that the name Galt should be given to the amount of energy required to turn off 100 million TV sets and Radios at the same time.
As for the argument itself - the amount of straw manning, argument by assertion, non sequiturs is amazing; so is the philosophical simple-mindedness of the speech.
Has either a piece of literature or oratory the speech is a stupendous failure.
1. Rand, Ayn, Atlas Shrugged, Random House, New York, 1957. Galt’s Speech is the entire of Part III, Section 7, called “This is John Galt Speaking and runs over 60 pages in most editions. In my electronic copy it runs from p. 767-814. Or 47 pages of jammed together crowded paragraphs.
* The three Atlas Shrugged movies are each very much like the book - a really bad piece of artistic excrement.