Writer – Where’ve you been? I haven’t seen you in months.
Gardener – What do you mean where I’ve been?
Writer –You disappeared.
Gardener – Obviously I’ve been outside working my ass off. Where’ve you been?
Writer – Where reality is hard rock and unforgiving. . .
Gardener – The rock pile.
Writer – No, we have to work the rock pile searching for answers. This is different. I was swept away to another world, a land of absolutes, where good and evil are obvious. I hear voices. . .
Gardener – You’re not going south on me are you, like that night you were almost lynched?
Writer – No, I’ve been here. I’m always here.
Gardener – You were here that night too!
Writer – This is different. These voices live inside a book of superb clarity.
Gardener – Books were involved that night, too. There was The Virginian for one.
Writer – That’s true but this novel is different. This time there’s no mistaking the bad guys for the good guys. You can’t imagine how reassuring that is. And it’s all very real. Reality plays a very strong part in the book. That’s why it’s unforgiving. This is not just another comic book adventure, like Superman.
Gardener – I like Superman.
Writer – So do I, but imagine a world with more than one superman, that’s the world I was visiting. Actually they’re more like geniuses but on a heroic scale. They can do anything from growing lettuces to extracting oil from shale, from rolling cigarettes to building super generators that make nuclear energy seem like a camp fire. And the heroine is no Lois Lane. She runs a transcontinental railroad but she can also clean, cook and fly! They all can fly.
Gardener – Like superman?
Writer – I didn’t know she could fly but she gets into an airplane and flies off into the night to follow her soon-to-be-lover who was flying off in another plane, having kidnapped a bright young man she was trying to save. The young man needed the same kind of direction we all need from time to time.
Gardener – Flying airplanes is not the same as superman flying.
Writer – At first I was surprised. But this book is not about superhuman abilities but about what the intellect can achieve. Later her former lover flies over the mountains of Colorado looking for her. I realized that people of this caliber, this entelechy to use Aristotle’s word – Aristotle’s philosophy forms the bedrock on which these folks live – would naturally know how to fly without my having to know the whys and hows. They’re like the heroes in the film, The Matrix, only they don’t have to download their abilities from a super computer. I wouldn’t be surprised if she flew helicopters too! All the competents, as I like to call them or the uncommon as they like to call themselves, know how to think!
Gardener – Uncommon as opposed to common, we being the commoners. Sounds either old fashioned or far fetched.
Writer – It’s a story of adventure and love and a steamy love at that, but it’s much more than that, because it’s real. You see, the heroine is trying to keep the family railroad running in spite of the massive incompetence of suppliers and do-gooders. But really, without her knowing it, she’s searching for someone equal to her own energy and brilliance.
Gardener – And she has her pick.
Writer – How did you know?
Gardener – A gardener’s intuition.
Writer – She has no less than three super heroes for lovers, the last one fulfilling her dream. I actually found number three to be the most boring voice of all, even though he had the most to say. I liked number two better, but who am I, but a common man. But even someone like me, if I work hard for the uncommon heroes, that is, to the best of my abilities, will find a place in their world.
Gardener – The world you just visited.
Writer – Actually the world I was visiting was falling apart, just the way ours is falling apart. I meant the world of the uncommoners that will follow the collapse of this one world.
Gardener – You mean our world?
Writer – They’re the same!
Gardener – Sounds like St. John’s Book Of Revelations.
Writer – Sort of, but without the religious overtones. When you possess a mind like number one’s, I mean number three’s, anyway the leading man of the story, there’s nothing for the rest of us to do but get out of the way and let him and the rest of these people of great ability do great things.
Gardener – All we do is get out of the way?
Writer – That and willingly work for our living.
Gardener – Me gardening and you writing.
Writer – Our fair share will be based on the worth of our contribution – plus a world that runs perfectly! But here’s where it hits close to home, which even a commoner like me can appreciate, you see, the forces of evil want to enslave them, that is, make them work for the wrong reasons. When great people work for the right reasons their work rejuvenates them. As long as they continue working they remain young.
Gardener – Yes, I understand that. Standing around here with you I feel my aches and pains, but when I go outside and start working in the garden on something tangible, I feel energized.
Writer – Unfortunately the forces of evil are incompetents. They are ruining the world. It’s so obvious! They’re gutting the system in the name of love.
Gardener – Is love bad?
Writer – Absolutely. The incompetents are parasites. They feed on the body of work that our heroes produce convincing them that self-sacrifice in the name of love, rather than self-interest in the name of greed, is the only moral way. The heroes believe they are working for the right reason but in reality they are working for the wrong reason. Gardener – You mean CEOs shouldn’t be altruistic.
Writer – Absolutely not! That would indicate incompetence.
Gardener – Not generosity?
Writer – CEOs help society when they realize there is something in it for them. In other words when they seek maximum profit for their efforts. A genius is worth his or her weight in gold. But an incompetent who feels entitled to an equal share of the GNP is dead weight because he or she taxes the nation beyond its means. That’s why we have debt! Among these is the heroine’s brother who is the president of the family railroad. He depends on his friends in Washington to help protect him from competition. He even brags to his sister that he makes more money on subsidies than she does on service. Social justice is the road to hell.
Gardener – What if two CEOs have a differing opinion on what is good for society?
Writer – That is where the competition comes in! Let the better product win! But for those without product, who don’t want to produce their fair share, let them starve! It’s not my concern. I’m a taxpayer, why should I foot the bill. In the coming world there will be no entitlements.
Gardener – I never did understand that word. Until recently I thought it meant things like my entitlement to vote, to worship, to love the person of my own choice.
Writer – Rest assured! No one will ever take those rights away from you. We’re talking about consumer products, like healthcare. I mean if you can’t pay for it you’re not entitled to it.
Gardener – What if I’m sick and I’ve gone through all my money. No one’s going to help me?
Writer – I’ll help you. I’ll loan you money at a fair interest – what are friends for.
Gardener – That’s swell. Considering you’ve probably grossed no more than 10,000 dollars in you whole career as a writer, it seems I’ll be loaning you the money, in fact, I’m supporting you now!
Writer – I was writing your gardening articles! I never thought of charging you for it.
Gardener – You weren’t writing for me, but for an editor.
Writer – I forgot about that. But now as the writer of the margin I understand why I’ve been in seclusion. There are people out there who envy my creativity. They want to silence me! But that’s all going to change. You and I are guaranteed a place in the coming world because we use our minds and see the world as it really is.
Gardener – I use my hands.
Writer – But you don’t expect a handout. That’s the real world. God forbid we try to see the world as we feel it should be.
Gardener – What about the children of those who don’t want to work, do we let them starve along with their parents?
Writer – Won’t our children starve in the future paying for the freeloaders of today! Isn’t that debt undeserved!
Gardener – Can I take your temperature?
Writer – I’m not sick!
Gardener – I’ve never heard you talk like this. This book has infected you.
Writer – That’s because you insist on feeling what is right. But you’ll see the light.
Gardener – I suppose those who can’t work for some physical reason, let’s say their minds are impaired, you know, they lack the ability to use their intellect or perhaps they dream too much, will not be allowed to enter your new world?
Writer – It’s not my world! But I suppose as long as these impaired ones don’t expect help we can help them with basics. Buy them a diner now and then, give them an old overcoat. It should be up to me, not the government. Besides in a competitive world run by genius, money will be made on those who need help! Everyone will be happy. But these are details. The voices didn’t go into them.
Gardener – We just read about CEOs who made lots of money on Medicaid while caring for mentally challenged people.
Writer – Exactly, only there won’t be Medicaid or Medicare.
Gardener – According to the families of many patients these corporate styled executives actually did a great job providing excellent care for their children.
Writer – We, the taxpayers will not be saddled for problems that aren’t ours!
Gardener – Remember when the mentally challenged were released during the Reagan years and wandered the streets a danger to themselves and to the taxpayer! It became our problem then!
Gardener – Government regulation is the kryptonite that weakens the super heroes. Because of it they grow old and weary like the rest of us. In their enthusiasm to do great things these heroic geniuses don’t realize how much the government impedes their work. They think something is wrong with themselves, that they aren’t generous enough or loving enough. But number one, I mean number. . .
Gardener – I know who you mean!
Writer – sets them straight! Geniuses must compete to succeed and must profit from what they produce. If you can’t compete then step down and work for someone else.
Gardener – These voices sound all too familiar in our world.
Writer – Of course! That’s because it’s real. Why just the other day Gimme Markdown, a fierce competitor who is president of a large company that provides everything a commoner would need, and who has the best interests of the consumers and his employees in mind, said that it was becoming evident our nation was going fascist. Another genius who runs casinos and knows the power of an unrigged economic system said he was disturbed by our president’s weird political philosophy. They all felt it was shameful that business and finance should always get a bad rap.
Gardener – Sounds like paranoia too me. Anyway why would government want to impede genius? It’s in the best interests of the nation to have people with ability up and running at full capacity.
Writer – We agree. But the incompetents are cowards. They use government regulations, and force if need be, to stifle competition. This way they can live off the hard work of you and me. But you know what? The leading super hero has called a strike.
Gardener – Number one.
Writer – Actually number. . .
Gardener – Does it matter!
Writer – I suppose not. Anyway, he has led all the super heroes to a place that reminds me of Shangri-la, where they can all work to their hearts content without the incompetents and freeloaders benefiting!
Gardener – Without freeloaders they can stay young.
Writer – I hadn’t thought of that.
Gardener – If no one competent is left what happens to the government?
Writer – Shuts down! And not just government, but everything! And it’s all happening as predicted by number one. Our Government bonds just lost their stellar rating!
Gardener – I guess there’s no need to worry about starving children. There’s nothing we can do anyway.
Writer – It’s the only way! The protagonist told me it would get worse before it got better because the enemy was everywhere and only those who were strong and those who believed would arrive.
Gardener – In Shangri-la?
Writer – In our perfect capitalist world of unimpeded creativity.
Gardener – What if the investor with capital is just one of millions who doesn’t really know how his capital is being invested, a small player in a giant mutual fund? Isn’t his only concern his percentage of growth?
Writer – That’s the whole point! Self interest is the seed bed of creativity!
Gardener – So you are saying that someone who doesn’t care where his money is invested so long as the fund manager keeps the percentage high or climbing is indirectly investing in a genius or perhaps indirectly he is the genius, an idiot savant who has miraculously channeled his money through the labyrinth, like a pin ball machine, until it lands in the worthy hands of an inventor.
Writer – The banker financing the strike of the competents expects a return.
Gardener – Like the Crotch brothers we’ve been reading about.
Writer – Of course they expect a return. But remember this new world will be based on the ancient precepts of Aristotle. In this world the mind prevails over the emotions. The facts preside. So you needn’t worry.
Gardener – That doesn’t line up with what you once read in the happiness book?
Writer – Happiness book?
Gardener – Something about the emotions and the intellect complementing each other?
Writer – The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.
Gardener – I remember you liked the metaphor of the elephant and the rider.
Writer – Haidt stated in his book – but to use my own words – that without emotional input our reasoning is seriously marred.
Gardener – Yeah, that was it.
Writer – Well, from what number one just told me. . ,
Gardener – He’s talking to you now?
Writer – Of course not, that’s just a figure of speech, I’m not crazy. As I now understand it, Haidt was mistaken. You see all the super heroes subjugate their emotions to the authority of reason, because these two separate forces, emotion and reason, are fighting for control of the body.
Gardener – So they believe that reason inhabits the mind.
Writer – Precisely. Isn’t that easier to understand than all the wishy washy rationalizations of some professor?
Gardener – By that line of deduction, according to your own method, self-interest depends on reason and not emotion.
Writer – Why all you have to do is watch the incompetents who rule the country through their political proxies. They wallow in emotional stupidity. In their fear of being out competed they compensate for their lack of ability by handicapping the super stars with rules and regulations. But that’s all going to change. The uncommon assured me that one day I would be free, that nobody would tell me what to do anymore.
Gardener – Whose been telling you what to do?
Writer – The incompetents. The people who always think they’re smarter than me! You know who I mean, the know-it-alls, the intellectuals and the progressives, the people who run community organizations. . .
Gardener – Since when are you anti-progressive?
Writer – Well, you remember the progressives in high school. . .
Gardener – Back in the days of the Youth?
Writer – I remember they could get pretty haughty around the Youth, know-it-alls, the guys had long hair long before anybody else and the girls. . .
Gardener –There are know-it-alls everywhere, and they’re not just progressives but anybody.
Writer – The irrefutable logic of the novel runs as straight as a railroad. It’s a fact!
Gardener – Is it possible the information highway, or railroad if you like, has become a wedge dividing people. That the more facts a person possesses, the less intelligence he can bring to bear when interpreting those facts.
Writer – Besides the super hero made me feel good. He told me I didn’t have to worry about others anymore, about hurting their feelings, that the most important thing was to do what I thought best.
Gardener – What if you thought it was best to kill all those kids in Norway? Are you saying the genius is above the law?
Writer – If the law ignores the irrefutable logic of Aristotle!
Gardener – What’s the use, a lot of kids will starve anyway before you get a chance to kill them.
Writer – I’m not going to kill anybody. I’m just defending my inalienable rights against big government.
Gardener – Your inalienable rights sounds like an entitlement!
Writer – Don’t shout at me!
Gardener – What about big business? Hitler defended the rights of big business as long as they went on producing tanks and bombers.
Writer – The heroine kills a man, but she’s trying to save her number three, our number one, who is being tortured. Violence is the last recourse in the book of tactics utilized by the super people.
Gardener – I see, letting the world collapse and the children starve is only a tactic.
Writer – See, you’re letting your emotions rule! If violence has to be applied it’s because the incompetents force the hands of the good guys. Even with the nation collapsing and the lights of New York City about to go out, the incompetents are busy torturing number one, the only one who can save the country. To stay in power they want him to take the reigns of government and lead the nation out of chaos. Naturally he refuses. I’m afraid you’ll have to read the ending yourself in order to understand. I’m glad the author made the horrible torture scene humorous.
Gardener – You actually found the torture scene funny?
Writer – Gratefully. Anyway by this time the progressives have already driven us into a great depression. The book conjures the images of Russel Lee and Dorothea Lange who were working under Roy Emerson Stryker in the government sponsored Farm Security Administration.
Gardener – Isn’t it true that for many people during the depression government sponsored programs kept them at work.
Writer – Milton Friedman, the author’s friend, considered the WPA, where he found work as a young economist, a lifesaver? But he later learned that such programs are detrimental to the unemployed, because they’re an emotional response to poverty. The voice of the super hero set me straight. I can see the people in the Lee and Lange photographs objectively without my crippling feelings. I can’t tell you how liberating that is. But this is not an historical novel about the 1930s.
Gardener – What a relief!
Writer – Not the word to use! But I know what you mean. Everything but the kitchen sink is thrown into the astounding plot without concern for the details that mire most of us in daily trivia. There must be at least 584 pages of didactic speeches which are necessary to assure our complete understanding. Time, place and consistency, all those elements that mar the modern novel, are gratefully dispatched. For example there is only one railroad bridge spanning the Mississippi River. A literary effect. Imagine a single bridge connecting the industrial east with the agricultural west and it’s up to superwoman to maintain it.
Gardener – Ah, the woman that flies!
Writer – Please, don’t interrupt me. I can’t tell you what would happen if this bridge fell into disrepair. It’s as if Dagny Taggart, that’s the heroine, is that bridge holding the eastern line with one hand and the western line with the other.
Gardener – What about the machine that makes a nuclear reactor look like a camp fire? That’s more like science fiction.
Writer – The super hero, John Galt. . .
Gardener – Who is John Galt?
Writer – Precisely! John Galt, the heroine’s number one, is an inventor, not an industrialist like number two, Hank Reardon, although Hank is a self-made man, like John, and the inventor of a new alloy. Forget what you’ve heard about Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Galt advances science and technology without having to acknowledge modern physics at all. It’s an act of his mind. He can unequivocally say that reality is an absolute, which is, after all common sense. He doesn’t waste his time building a nuclear reactor which I’m sure he could easily have done but instead builds a generator running on static electricity.
Gardener – Like the static on an old radio?
Writer – It’s over my head! But if you’re after details, look up Walter Owen of Florida. He claims to have invented a generator that does the same thing. In fact Dagny discovers remnants of Galt’s first generator while searching through an abandoned car factory with her second lover the self-made industrialist who invented the miraculous steel of superior strength and durability. This generator becomes the holy grail of the novel. She spends 879 pages searching for the inventor.
Gardener – It’s difficult to believe that incompetents can lord over people who have all these super powers.
Writer – You weren’t listening. The super people have fallen under the spell of love. They are willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of lazy ingrates. But naturally deceit doesn’t always work, so the ingrates have also invented a machine. Unlike the competents who invent constructive machines, the incompetents invent a death machine that can destroy people with sound. That’s how the bridge crossing the Mississippi is finally destroyed.
Gardener – The heroine must take this disaster personally.
Writer – By this time she has learned to objectify her feeling. She understands cause and effect! This isn’t a fairy tale world like Mr. Tompkins In Wonderland by George Gamow.
CEO Generous Medicaid Payments: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/nyregion/for-executives-at-group-homes-generous-pay-and-little-oversight.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=NY%20executives%20pay%20for%20daughter%27s%20apartment&st=cse
Home Depot President:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/26/bernie-marcus-knocks-obama-adviser_n_909917.html
Walter Owen : http://www.overunity.com/index.php?topic=1732.0;wap2