Why wasn't Eddie Willers invited to Galt's Gulch?


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I think Eddie Willers was given shoddy treatment by John Galt. Galt used Willers as a source of intelligence. Galt pumped him dry. He also knew from what Willers said in their conversations that Willers was competent, honest and upright. So why no invitation?

In Galt's Gulch there were not only Industrial Giants, Movers and Shakers, but also a variety of Lesser Folk (for example, the fishwife). If they were invited, why not Eddie?

That has bothered me in my readings of -Atlas Shrugged-.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Eddie was still psychologically second handed. Those invited to the Gultch were purer.

On what specifics do you base your conclusion? In what way was Eddie inferior to the Fishwife? Or the truck driver. Or the guys who carved drill bits.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Eddie was still psychologically second handed. Those invited to the Gulch were purer.

Well, he had pretty low self-esteem as he wanted Dagny but never acted on it. I wouldn't describe this as "second handed" which implies some kind of social metaphysics, but it is inferior. The characters in Atlas are generally plot driven. I call the denizens of Galt's Gulch "rational" conformists. That is, once they've seen the light they all agree with each other with just about everything--they agree with Galt. Since Rearden hadn't yet got religion--and this is religion, essentially--it made sense that he would slap Francisco when he found out about Francisco's feelings for Dagny. It made no sense that he would do other than meekly go along with John and Dagny. After all, he gave her up years before to follow Galt to save the world from its orgy of self-destructive altruistic sacrifice with the insane idea he would get her back someday. Now if Francisco and John had gotten into a tussle over Dagny, that would have been something else! Ayn Rand created and ruled the world of Atlas Shrugged and transliterated this need for control and protection of her novel (and Objectivism) into the real world and, unfortunately, her private life with disastrous results.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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I agree with Bob, and think that Rand treated the character with disrespect in general. His position at the railroad was one that required quite a bit of independence and ability (essentially, Dagny's second-in-command). And yet she has him acting childlike in many ways, referring to Rearden as "Mr. Rearden", when Rearden consistently calls him "Eddie", calling himself "Eddie" at his age, etc.

Had I ever found myself in Dagny's position at the beginning of the book, I would have considered him excellent romantic partner material. They shared the same values. The only difference between them was that Dagny was smarter. Rand had this big fetish about a woman always having to look up to a man. She suffered for it in her life because she was so damned smart that just about no men were smarter than she was, so she either had to be alone or to delude herself into believing that her man was smarter than she was. Better to look at shared values and "enough" intellect than to insist on the superior intellect.

Judith

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I had a non-Objectivist question me pointedly on the treatment of Eddie Willers just last week. I could give a rationalization, but found it lacking myself. It reminds me of the train disaster, where every person on board deserved to die. I wonder if anyone actually thinks she did right by him.

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I agree with Bob, and think that Rand treated the character with disrespect in general. His position at the railroad was one that required quite a bit of independence and ability (essentially, Dagny's second-in-command).

Exactly, I've always thought that too. To have such a position requires a lot of ability and independence, certainly with Dagny as boss as she wouldn't have accepted anything less, and it is incomprehensible that a truck driver was admitted to the valley and Willers not. It's probably related to Rand's notion that the distribution of ability in a company is very lopsided: one brilliant leader and the rest consists at most of reasonably competent followers. That is of course also the basis of the plot of AS, which would never work in real life: if you eliminate a few dozen leaders of industry, nothing spectacular will happen, there are many, many who immediately could take over (and might even do better). Perhaps such a situation might have worked in earlier centuries, but not in the 20th century.

She suffered for it in her life because she was so damned smart that just about no men were smarter than she was, so she either had to be alone or to delude herself into believing that her man was smarter than she was.

Oh, there were no doubt enough men who were smarter than she was, but they probably wouldn't be found in Hollywood.

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Oh, there were no doubt enough men who were smarter than she was, but they probably wouldn't be found in Hollywood.

Men tend to get very particular and focused in their smarts. I wonder if Rand's feminine side kept her outlook broader enough to create Objectivism as an integrated whole. It seems she may have had the innate talent of an engineer--a bridge designer (very problematic)--or a visual artist. She did do some interesting sketching I believe. Genius is much more than raw brains. It has to do with how those brains are used if not why. I come from a very high IQ family, but my own IQ is probably only in the 130s. Strangely, I always felt I was smarter than my siblings and parents until I realized how smart I thought I was had a lot to do with simple moral courage. How people so terribly limit themselves because of fear of envy is only gradually becoming understood. It is the great curse of humanity.

--Brant

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I come from a very high IQ family, but my own IQ is probably only in the 130s.

--Brant

In I.Q. of 130 puts you in the 97-th percentile.

Richard Feynman had an I.Q. of about 125. "only 130" indeed!

Please look at http://www.audiblox.com/iq_scores.htm

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I come from a very high IQ family, but my own IQ is probably only in the 130s.

--Brant

In I.Q. of 130 puts you in the 97-th percentile.

Richard Feynman had an I.Q. of about 125. "only 130" indeed!

Please look at http://www.audiblox.com/iq_scores.htm

I was comparing myself to my immediate family. My own academic intelligence is rather mediocre. I could have done a lot better, though. Once you get over 110-120 in IQ it is easy for IQ to sharply diverge from genius. Feynman was an absolutely stupendous genius. There is no way to know if his IQ was only 125. He may have lied about it or didn't take the test seriously when he took it, etc. Francis Crick's is also only 125. William Shockley's was in the low 130s in spite of all his public blabbering about IQ 35-40 years ago. I know what his IQ was because my family knew his in the late 1930s. I have photos of him paddling a canoe on Lake George with his daughter Allison and my sister Joan. I saw him on TV once and his intelligence was as obvious as his racism. His credit for the invention of the transistor, BTW, might have been stolen by him. My Mother kept in contact with his wife and it was common knowledge amongst the wives of the three inventors. I do not know the truth about this. For instance there may have been professional jealousy or the other scientists did not like Shockley's have-to-be-in-the-spotlight attitude and he did divorce his wife whom he considered his intellectual inferior and put up his daughter as an example of "regression to the mean." Like my Father, he was the obnoxious type that was hard to like. Many of those he offended went on to found Intel. I have a letter he wrote my Dad in the 1970s signed "Bill."

--Brant

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I had a non-Objectivist question me pointedly on the treatment of Eddie Willers just last week. I could give a rationalization, but found it lacking myself. It reminds me of the train disaster, where every person on board deserved to die. I wonder if anyone actually thinks she did right by him.

My read is a bit different. I think the example of the fate of Eddie Willers is an eloquent illustration of Rand's viewpoint on the fate of the average to above-average, virtuous person in a society run by the "looters." The fact that Eddie Willers ended the way he did in the novel is to me a poetic illustration of the tragedy driven by a collectivist society. The average to above-average people do not get the benefit from the contribution of those at the top, in such a society.

I think Eddie Willers is treated with respect and sympathy, much like Cheryl Taggart. As a result, the reader senses their fates as being tragic. And I am certain Rand would point to the villians of the novel as the reason why so many Eddies and Cheryls can suffer as such fates.

Bill P (Alfonso)

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I had a non-Objectivist question me pointedly on the treatment of Eddie Willers just last week. I could give a rationalization, but found it lacking myself. It reminds me of the train disaster, where every person on board deserved to die. I wonder if anyone actually thinks she did right by him.

My read is a bit different. I think the example of the fate of Eddie Willers is an eloquent illustration of Rand's viewpoint on the fate of the average to above-average, virtuous person in a society run by the "looters." The fact that Eddie Willers ended the way he did in the novel is to me a poetic illustration of the tragedy driven by a collectivist society. The average to above-average people do not get the benefit from the contribution of those at the top, in such a society.

I think Eddie Willers is treated with respect and sympathy, much like Cheryl Taggart. As a result, the reader senses their fates as being tragic. And I am certain Rand would point to the villians of the novel as the reason why so many Eddies and Cheryls can suffer as such fates.

Bill P (Alfonso)

Rand sacrificed Eddie to the point she was making. Cheryl too. AS is not a primarily a humanistic novel. It's a philosophical one.

--Brant

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I had a non-Objectivist question me pointedly on the treatment of Eddie Willers just last week. I could give a rationalization, but found it lacking myself. It reminds me of the train disaster, where every person on board deserved to die. I wonder if anyone actually thinks she did right by him.

My read is a bit different. I think the example of the fate of Eddie Willers is an eloquent illustration of Rand's viewpoint on the fate of the average to above-average, virtuous person in a society run by the "looters." The fact that Eddie Willers ended the way he did in the novel is to me a poetic illustration of the tragedy driven by a collectivist society. The average to above-average people do not get the benefit from the contribution of those at the top, in such a society.

I think Eddie Willers is treated with respect and sympathy, much like Cheryl Taggart. As a result, the reader senses their fates as being tragic. And I am certain Rand would point to the villians of the novel as the reason why so many Eddies and Cheryls can suffer as such fates.

Bill P (Alfonso)

Rand sacrificed Eddie to the point she was making. Cheryl too. AS is not a primarily a humanistic novel. It's a philosophical one.

--Brant

That's what I said, that he was an innocent victim. My interlocutor objected that there was something wrong with those who could easily have saved him if they didn't try. I have to agree. Had he died or been lost due to some external factor, that's one thing. But to be abandoned out of disregard? Of course, for me, Dagny leaving Rearden for some cipher is the biggest problem. And the book is still his and my favorite.

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Ted; The cipher you refer to is John Galt. Reardan did tell Dagny "I have met him. I don't blame you." A note Reardan sent her from the valley.

On the question of Eddie I agree with Bill P. I think Barbara Branden thought that Eddie's fate is dependent on the men of ability.

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Ted; The cipher you refer to is John Galt. Reardan did tell Dagny "I have met him. I don't blame you." A note Reardan sent her from the valley.

On the question of Eddie I agree with Bill P. I think Barbara Branden thought that Eddie's fate is dependent on the men of ability.

And Eddie is one such man. He is competent, honest, hard-working and upstanding. While he is not the most brilliant of his kind, he has all the necessary virtues to lead a proper life in a world where he is not persecuted, tyrannized, interfered with, pestered and badly used. There is nothing wrong with Eddie Willers.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I never liked that Johnny Galt, he's such an awfully goody-goody boy, and he gets the girl in the end. And his treatment of Eddie Willers was shabby, although Dagny's behavior was even worse as she dropped her faithful and competent assistant unceremoniously and didn't even speak up for him. Now a novel may be philosophical, but what kind of message does this convey?

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I never liked that Johnny Galt, he's such an awfully goody-goody boy, and he gets the girl in the end. And his treatment of Eddie Willers was shabby, although Dagny's behavior was even worse as she dropped her faithful and competent assistant unceremoniously and didn't even speak up for him. Now a novel may be philosophical, but what kind of message does this convey?

I sense that Rand had a condescending attitude toward the "little people". Hero worship is fine (I suppose) but not when it leads to the denigration and dismissal of virtuous folk who happen not to be ueber geniuses. The mark of the man (or women) is his uprightness and integrity, not necessarily his I.Q.

Robert Burns expressed this sentiment in his poem: A Man's a Man for a' That

Is there for honest poverty

That hangs his head, an' a' that

The coward slave, we pass him by

We dare be poor for a' that

For a' that, an' a' that

Our toil's obscure and a' that

The rank is but the guinea's stamp

The man's the gowd for a' that

What though on hamely fare we dine

Wear hoddin grey, an' a' that

Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine

A man's a man, for a' that

For a' that, an' a' that

Their tinsel show an' a' that

The honest man, though e'er sae poor

Is king o' men for a' that

Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord

Wha struts an' stares an' a' that

Tho' hundreds worship at his word

He's but a coof for a' that

For a' that, an' a' that

His ribband, star and a' that

The man o' independent mind

He looks an' laughs at a' that

A prince can mak' a belted knight

A marquise, duke, an' a' that

But an honest man's aboon his might

Gude faith, he maunna fa' that

For a' that an' a' that

Their dignities an' a' that

The pith o' sense an' pride o' worth

Are higher rank that a' that

Then let us pray that come it may

(as come it will for a' that)

That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth

Shall bear the gree an' a' that

For a' that an' a' that

It's coming yet for a' that

That man to man, the world o'er

Shall brithers be for a' that

-------------------------------------------------------------

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Dragon; Reread the novel. There is a reason Galt is the hero of the novel.

Galt conceived of and led The Strike. (I read somewhere that -The Strike- was the original title that Ayn Rand planned for her Big Novel). So that made him both the Hero and primary protagonist of the novel.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I sense that Rand had a condescending attitude toward the "little people".

Bob,

If you go by what Rand cut from We The Living, she had a Nietzschean attitude toward mankind in the beginning (some heroes just are and the rest of mankind is made up of the unwashed masses), so the thing to do in life is to make sure you are one of the chosen few. Although this initial attitude is genetically-oriented, she laid a course of being able to get there through productive volition. That is unless you are an Eddie or Cheryl person, in which case you are a washed mass good guy, but you will never get there no matter what you do.

I don't know if a feeling of "metaphysical entitlement" is a good term, but it sounds better and more accurate than conceit or vanity for the sense of superiority over the rest of mankind Rand's heroes exhibit. Rand liked her aristocracy and this is prevalent in her books. (She had a thing for capes, too.)

This sense of life stayed with her probably until the breakup with NB, at which time she turned bitter and more abstract sense-of-life-wise. I am going by her writing and by her reported history.

Michael

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Dragon; Reread the novel. There is a reason Galt is the hero of the novel.

Yes, yes, I know all that, I've probably read the book more times than you. My point is that Galt is not a real flesh and blood hero like Hank Rearden (with whom I can sympathize), but some irritating Objectivist version of Jesus Christ, and equally unpleasant.

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I sense that Rand had a condescending attitude toward the "little people".

Bob,

If you go by what Rand cut from We The Living, she had a Nietzschean attitude toward mankind in the beginning (some heroes just are and the rest of mankind is made up of the unwashed masses), so the thing to do in life is to make sure you are one of the chosen few. Although this initial attitude is genetically-oriented, she laid a course of being able to get there through productive volition. That is unless you are an Eddie or Cheryl person, in which case you are a washed mass good guy, but you will never get there no matter what you do.

I don't know if a feeling of "metaphysical entitlement" is a good term, but it sounds better and more accurate than conceit or vanity for the sense of superiority over the rest of mankind Rand's heroes exhibit. Rand liked her aristocracy and this is prevalent in her books. (She had a thing for capes, too.)

This sense of life stayed with her probably until the breakup with NB, at which time she turned bitter and more abstract sense-of-life-wise. I am going by her writing and by her reported history.

Michael

In spite of being in the 98-th percentile for abstract intelligence, I never felt that this granted me any superior moral status among my fellow humans. Good is, as good does. Noble is as noble does. I consider any person who earns his way in the world through competence and productive activity, to be Royalty. A man who -earns- his keep and lives by his honest and independent judgment is, by my estimation, very high class. That is so whether he is a plumber, a grocer or nuclear physicist.

In a rational and sane society our economic status will fall out in the market place. But our moral status is determined by our character and quality of our choices, regardless of their cash value.

To quote Burns -- the rank is but the Guinea's Stamp, the man's the gowd for a'that.

If what you say about Rand's view is true, then I fault her for it. Perhaps she had a shitty attitude. However, she was very well behaved during the Snyder interview.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Ted; The cipher you refer to is John Galt. Reardan did tell Dagny "I have met him. I don't blame you." A note Reardan sent her from the valley.

On the question of Eddie I agree with Bill P. I think Barbara Branden thought that Eddie's fate is dependent on the men of ability.

I'd say that the fate of Eddie Willers in AS was dependent on the country having a rational political-philosophical system. Dagny didn't know Eddie was stuck in Arizona irrationally clinging to a dead train, his fate indeterminate. Remember the old system had collapsed and they were going back into the world. Dagny may have fully expected to find Eddie there when she did. Eddie was an allegorical figure. What everybody seems to be really complaining about is that Rand didn't ruin the plot of the novel by creating more humanistic, realistic characters. The plot is a house of cards. Change a little here and a little there and soon enough it all comes crashing down. The queer lesson we can derive from how she treated her characters is how we don't have to be like them from a humanistic perspective and let our own lives be plot-driven through rationalistic conceits. For instance, disowning parents because they believe in God or they are liberals.

--Brant

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