Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Inadvertent Symbolism?

During this year 2012 (which marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Ayn Rand), I have been re-reading Atlas Shrugged.[1] Besides doing a little Ayn-alysing,[2] I have been struck by the inadvertent symbolism of her $-sign on a cigarette butt. That symbol has proven profoundly apt for those devoted above all things to self-direction, achievement, and profit.

Yes, Ayn details huge problems that plague mankind. There is also much truth and progress in self-direction, achievement, and profit. But is it the whole truth? And are Ayn’s solutions really beneficial (as many seem to believe!) or are they more in the line of addictive, ephemeral gratifications leading to dreadful consequence?

In the words of Ravi Zacharias:
There are elements of truth in [great thinkers] thinking, but they often go into assumptions that are unsustainable and create a systemic failure.[3]
Have we not seen that systemic failure where self-direction, achievement, and profit have been untempered by additional values?

So, considering the tortured history of man and his profit motif, it seems “divine” that Ayn should choose a mysterious $-sign imprinted on a cancer-causing, smoking stick to symbolize her single-minded worship of achievement and money.

And that $-sign sketched by John Galt upon the sky?[4] When all things are considered, it seems that Ayn’s inadvertent symbolism trumps the purported truth of her idealism.
[1] References are from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, (35th Anniversary Edition), A Plume Book.
[2] http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/2012/06/ayn-alyzing-1.html is the first in a short series of posts entitled, “Ayn-alysing.”
[3] RZIM Canada / Spring and Summer 2012 Newsletter, p. 5
[4] Atlas Shrugged, last sentence, p. 1168
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