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


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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.

Galt is a place-holder for Rand's not fully formulated notions of the Ideal Man. I could never get a grip on his persona. I could relate to Francisco very well. Francisco was born with a smart-ass gene. My kind of guy. I could (somewhat) understand Reardon, but I never fully grasped why such a smart fellow took so long to figure out what was what. I got it in my mid 20s.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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SL, That's part of the problem when using examples, and only examples, as the arguments. But there's even a deeper problem. Can a hatchling or chick build a nest by instinct? No it

I would think the reason a lot of discussions around instinctual behaviors and the like are center around infancy is due to the fact that infancy is the time with the least amount of experience, the i

TG, Now you are beginning to see it in all its glory. Once you see it, you can't unsee it. And then the argument always boils down to: An instinct is an instinct unless it isn't. O

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I'd say that the fate of Eddie Willers in AS was dependent on the country having a rational political-philosophical system.

No problem if she wants to illustrate that, but the point that bothers many people is that the heroes are completely indifferent to Willers' fate. There is something wrong if a truck driver is invited to the valley and Willers not. The heroes have pleasant talks about the state of the world and about the future, but not one of them is wondering what has become of Willers. He has been completely forgotten as a quantité négligeable, and that message strikes a jarring note. It's no coincidence that even many AS admirers have problems with Willers' treatment in AS, and it's no doubt one of those messages of callousness conveyed by the novel that repels many readers (other examples are the description of the train wreck and the infamous shooting of the guard).

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I'd say that the fate of Eddie Willers in AS was dependent on the country having a rational political-philosophical system.

No problem if she wants to illustrate that, but the point that bothers many people is that the heroes are completely indifferent to Willers' fate. There is something wrong if a truck driver is invited to the valley and Willers not. The heroes have pleasant talks about the state of the world and about the future, but not one of them is wondering what has become of Willers. He has been completely forgotten as a quantité négligeable, and that message strikes a jarring note. It's no coincidence that even many AS admirers have problems with Willers' treatment in AS, and it's no doubt one of those messages of callousness conveyed by the novel that repels many readers (other examples are the description of the train wreck and the infamous shooting of the guard).

Well, when Ayn Rand was done with Eddie Willers she was done with him. True of some other characters in AS too. She had a great ability to cast off friends she was displeased with. The greatest exception to the last was her own husband. Once at the Ford Hall Forum she cancelled the entire Q&A for an "urgent telephone" (Judge Lurie) which years later I came to believe with additional information must have been concerning Frank left behind in New York because of illness. The primary reason she had an audience there was for the Q&A. The speech would later be available in print. They wanted AR extemporaneously. If those talks had been labeled "Lecture Only" hardly anybody not in the Boston metro area would have come. She could have done the telephone thing and come back--maybe--the audience would have waited. It seems that there was a general disconnect with other people. She longed for a "just war" (FHF) with the Soviet Union. She complained in print she didn't understand ("obscenity"[?]) why someone didn't realize that whether that one person died alone or by a nuclear bomb he was just as dead. Maybe that one person didn't want to see 10s or 100s of millions killed regardless?

--Brant

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I think Eddie Willers is treated with respect and sympathy, much like Cheryl Taggart.

See, I have no problem with Cherryl's character or her ending. I don't think Rand patronized her in any way or was in any way "disrespectful" to the character. People who say that Rand's characters are hard, cold, unfeeling bastards just don't get it when they read the scene between Dagny and Cherryl at Dagny's apartment. I'm inclined to agree with Brant that Rand "sacrificed Eddie to the point she was making".

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.

I agree completely that the mark of the hero is character, not intelligence. I've met MANY people of average or less-than-average intelligence with whom I'd FAR rather spend my time, and with whom I'd MUCH rather trust my life, than a number of highly intelligent jerks whom I've been unfortunate to encounter.

Rand realized this fact consciously, and said so, and paid tribute to it in her writing by putting in characters like Pat Logan, and Jeff Allen, and Mike. But I also suspect that she had a less conscious worship of intelligence that sometimes overrode this conscious knowledge of hers, and came out in little ways such as in the way she treated the character of Eddie Willers.

Judith

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To respond to the rumor that Shockley stole the concept of the transistor, here is a quote from wikipedia:

The first patent[1] for the field-effect transistor principle was filed in Canada by Austrian-Hungarian physicist Julius Edgar Lilienfeld on October 22, 1925, but Lilienfeld did not publish any research articles about his devices.[2] In 1934 German physicist Dr. Oskar Heil patented another field-effect transistor. There is no direct evidence that these devices were built, but later work in the 1990s shows that one of Lilienfeld's designs worked as described and gave substantial gain. Legal papers from the Bell Labs patent show that William Shockley and Gerald Pearson had built operational versions from Lilienfeld's patents, yet they never referenced this work in any of their later research papers or historical articles.

I always wondered how a great genius could also be a racist since it contradicts Rand's prototype so strongly; it appears Shockley wasn't as much the innovator as he presented himself to be.

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Folks:

I just had a discussion with my friend in NH as to Presidential Assassinations and gave a Wikipedia cite, he, being as effete as he is, quickly pointed out that "current universities no longer accept Wikipedia as sources, but of course he was wrong on the question, lol.

The fact that the current centers of alleged reason, critical thinking and research no longer accept Wiki cites does not impress me.

Therefore, I would like to know much more about this "factual" issue,

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Lest we forget:

http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/li...ches/thanks.htm

Adam

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To respond to the rumor that Shockley stole the concept of the transistor, here is a quote from wikipedia:

The first patent[1] for the field-effect transistor principle was filed in Canada by Austrian-Hungarian physicist Julius Edgar Lilienfeld on October 22, 1925, but Lilienfeld did not publish any research articles about his devices.[2] In 1934 German physicist Dr. Oskar Heil patented another field-effect transistor. There is no direct evidence that these devices were built, but later work in the 1990s shows that one of Lilienfeld's designs worked as described and gave substantial gain. Legal papers from the Bell Labs patent show that William Shockley and Gerald Pearson had built operational versions from Lilienfeld's patents, yet they never referenced this work in any of their later research papers or historical articles.

I always wondered how a great genius could also be a racist since it contradicts Rand's prototype so strongly; it appears Shockley wasn't as much the innovator as he presented himself to be.

Shockley considered himself a genius of the second or third rank. Maxwell would have been of the first rank, but I can't remember if he referenced him on that. The trick was to build something that worked and Shockley, Brattain and Bardeen did that. My Father was always of the opinion that Bell Labs forced Shockley to share the credit, but it may have been the other way around. Supposedly Shockley was so pissed off he left Bell. But I think the Nobel should have gone to the valid theoretical work, whosoever's it was. Anyway, it's not important to me. I just don't understand why grown-ups want to be famous. I do understand children going through that kind of thing in adolescence--I did--but it's properly a developmental stage. Who wants to be a Peter Keating? As for how could a genius be a racist in Rand's world: How could Dr. Stadler be a state scientist? There are things that Rand didn't address in her fiction. Racism was one. It must have been too distasteful to her. Remember that horrible story in AS where the guy hanged himself? When I first read it I said to myself this is not a made up story. Rand couldn't have imagined this. Decades later I learned that it really happened.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Remember that horrible story in AS where the guy hanged himself? When I first read it I said to myself this is not a made up story. Rand couldn't have imagined this. Decades later I learned that it really happened.

No, actually, I don't remember. Would you refresh my memory and tell about the real world event, please?

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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)

Bill, what you've stated was exactly Rand's reasoning. If one objects to the tragedy of Eddie Willer's fate, one could as well object to Kira's fate in We the Living. She was a woman of great talent, intelligence, and courage, yet she is killed in the end. Rand's point is that this is precisely one of the great evils of a totalitarian society -- that it destroys the best and most valuable of human beings. . The tragedy of Eddie Willers illustrates the fate of the good and able man who cannot find a way to destroy the looters, and is doomed to go down in a hopeless battle against them. In a sense, Eddie is his society's Joe the Plumber, whom the looters world will prevent from creating his own business and doom all his years of work toward that end.

Barbara

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Then I'll repeat my argument too: the point isn't so much that Rand used Willers to illustrate the fate of an average virtuous person in a collectivist society (an explanation that has been given already more than 40 years ago), but the way it's done. A similar example is the fate of the "wet nurse", but in that case the victim is at least treated with respect by one of the heroes, namely Rearden, who only comes too late to save him. But John Galt probably wouldn't have survived either if he hadn't been rescued by his mates (and what does that illustrate? That geniuses can survive while they have loyal and competent friends?). However, nobody cares about the fate of Willers, not even Dagny. Truck drivers and fish wives are invited to the valley (probably to also make a point), but not Willers. No one is interested in rescuing him. No matter how many rationalizations you can come up to explain that, the implicit message remains. Whether it is intended or not is irrelevant. It isn't the intentions of the writer that count, but the effect on the reader. And the fact is that Willers' fate bothers many readers, who are not bothered in a similar way by Kira's, Cheryl's or the wet nurse's dying, how tragic those cases may be.

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Then I'll repeat my argument too: the point isn't so much that Rand used Willers to illustrate the fate of an average virtuous person in a collectivist society (an explanation that has been given already more than 40 years ago), but the way it's done. A similar example is the fate of the "wet nurse", but in that case the victim is at least treated with respect by one of the heroes, namely Rearden, who only comes too late to save him. But John Galt probably wouldn't have survived either if he hadn't been rescued by his mates (and what does that illustrate? That geniuses can survive while they have loyal and competent friends?). However, nobody cares about the fate of Willers, not even Dagny. Truck drivers and fish wives are invited to the valley (probably to also make a point), but not Willers. No one is interested in rescuing him. No matter how many rationalizations you can come up to explain that, the implicit message remains. Whether it is intended or not is irrelevant. It isn't the intentions of the writer that count, but the effect on the reader. And the fact is that Willers' fate bothers many readers, who are not bothered in a similar way by Kira's, Cheryl's or the wet nurse's dying, how tragic those cases may be.

Let's take a look at Rand's portrayal of the final parting of Dagny and Eddie (the excerpt from AS is in bold):

"I can't leave New York," she answered stonily.

"I know," he said softly. "That's why it's I who'll go there to straighten things out. At least, to find a man to put in charge."

"No! I don't want you to. It's too dangerous. And what for? It doesn't matter now. There's nothing to save."

"It's still Taggart Transcontinental. I'll stand by it. Dagny, wherever you go, you'll always be able to build a railroad. I couldn't. I don't even want to make a new start. Not any more. Not after what I've seen. You should. I can't. Let me do what I can."

"Eddie! Don't you want—" She stopped, knowing that it was useless. "All right, Eddie. If you wish."

"I'm flying to California tonight. I've arranged for space on an army plane.… I know that you will quit as soon as … as soon as you can leave New York. You might be gone by the time I return. When you're ready, just go. Don't worry about me. Don't wait to tell me. Go as fast as you can.… I'll say good-bye to you, now."

She rose to her feet. They stood facing each other; in the dim half-light of the office, the picture of Nathaniel Taggart hung on the wall between them. They were both seeing the years since that distant day when they had first learned to walk down the track of a railroad. He inclined his head and held it lowered for a long moment. She extended her hand. "Good-bye, Eddie."

Please note Dagny's compassion for Eddie. Please note how she urges him not to go. Does she invite him to join her in a place she is herself not ready to go to? No.

I don't think it's an accurate representation of Rant's portrayal of the Willers/Dagny relationship to suggest she didn't care about him.

Again, I think she is showing, via the fate of the Eddies, the Cheryls, the Wet Nurses, etc what a collectivist society does to good people. To portray that is to show some serious actual affection for the REAL PEOPLE (not just the fictional ones in the novel).

Bill P (Alfonso)

Edited by Bill P
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Remember that horrible story in AS where the guy hanged himself? When I first read it I said to myself this is not a made up story. Rand couldn't have imagined this. Decades later I learned that it really happened.

No, actually, I don't remember. Would you refresh my memory and tell about the real world event, please?

P193 The Passion of Ayn Rand. It was a young lady who committed suicide in the apartment of Albert Mannheimer.

--Brant

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I don't have Atlas Shrugged in front of me.

Didn't all of the people who were invited to the valley have special powers? If they were a fishwife or truck driver, didn't they also have just-about-to-be-discovered world-class talents, but Galt had gotten to them prior to their achieving success out in the real world? Unlike them, Eddie was not a prime mover. He wasn't burning with passion to build skyscrapers or to compose operas. The thing that existed in the place where his life-long ambition would have been was the vague desire to do "whatever is right" (or something like that).

Eddie grew up spending his summers on the Taggart estate, climbing around on engines with young Slug and Frisco, exploring factories and learning the mechanics of everything, and, yet, at the end of the novel, he suddenly knows nothing about how engines work, and he has zero interest in thinking about it and trying to repair them in order save his own life, no? As gloomy and rudderless as Eddie was throughout the novel, including the end, I looked at him as always having the potential for suicide. In fact, in the passage that Bill posted above, Eddie seems to be clearly telling Dagny that he no longer cares if he lives or dies, and that he wants to go down with the ship. And rather than inviting him to the valley, where everything is bright and shiny and full of achievement, respect, love and happiness, a place where Eddie might get a new sense of hope, Dagny basically says, "Okay then, Eddie, good luck with your suicide. Bye."

J

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Years ago someone asked this very question at one of Branden's lectures in LA. His answer was that the valley was "a private club for geniuses" and that Willers - no reflection on his character - wasn't the type, as the previous post mentions. The novel may treat him badly, but this isn't a case in point.

Virtually everyone in the valley had a small-scale job. This does not mean they were the type to do the same job under normal circumstances in the wider world, as the previous post also mentions. I thought the book was pretty clear about this.

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Remember that horrible story in AS where the guy hanged himself? When I first read it I said to myself this is not a made up story. Rand couldn't have imagined this. Decades later I learned that it really happened.

No, actually, I don't remember. Would you refresh my memory and tell about the real world event, please?

P193 The Passion of Ayn Rand. It was a young lady who committed suicide in the apartment of Albert Mannheimer.

Thanks. The screenwriter of Born Yesterday. What is the incident in AS?

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As I recall, this took place during the secret Taggart-Rearden vacation in Wisconsin. A sheriff recounts to them that one of the Starnes heirs had a creepy obsession with a woman in town and that, just after she married someone else, he committed suicide in their bedroom.

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I think Eddie Willers was given shoddy treatment ...

...but also a variety of Lesser Folk (for example, the fishwife). If they were invited, why not Eddie?

The fishwife was a novelist whose works could not be sold in the world as it was. So, she is not a lesser light. However, there was a truck driver.

"What were you, a professor of comparative philology?" was Dagny's question on seeing this roughneck. And he replies, "No, ma'am, a truck driver... but that is not what I wanted to remain..."

That always seemed to me to have come about behind the scenes. One of the heroes would have been hitchhiking across the country, either working (like Owen Kellogg) or going to the Valley and would have met this truck driver. The driver would have had to have expressed one or more spectacular insights, but it is not hard to see him invited to the Valley.

Owen Kellogg is another example. He is not an inventor of anything. At the end of his life, he might have made division manager or perhaps a vice president at most, but Kellogg was only competent. That is saying a lot, but still, there were many competent people out there. Galt was specifically pulling the props out from under Dagny. He needed Eddie as a funnel. No one cherrypicked Rearden Metal, for instance. They just went after him and let him bring his best and brightest.

So, there is sort of a Nietzschean element in all of that. The pursuit of John Galt's self-interest is the standard for action by others as well. They said that they expected it to take generations, not years, so presumably, Galt would have been happy to have Dagny mend his shirts whether or not the world actually came to an end. And, more to the point here, the presence of Eddie in the Valley would have created a queue of guys walking behind her all over town. I mean, how would Eddie have taken it? Rearden, he understood. He got that and felt desperation for them, that they were on a doomed ship, so to speak. He had sympathy for Rearden as well as for Dagny. I cannot see that same resignation if he figured out Galt... which, he of all people should have ... that "His name was Johnny or something..." made him seem like he had an IQ of 85. He could never have functioned as her secretary if he had so little capacity.

And would it not have been better all the way around if Eddie had married Cheryl?

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Michael; I always thought Eddie and Gwen Ives, Reardan's secretary, would have been a good match. She is one of several people who quit when Reardan does.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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Michael; I always thought Eddie and Gwen Ives, Reardan's secretary, would have been a good match. She is one of several people who quit when Reardan does.

Ah, yes! Of course... Or, hey, Gwen and Cheryl ... or Gwen and Cheryl and Eddie...

And how come nobody in ATLAS had pets? I mean, it would have been silly for Dagny to have a pekapoo or something, but, the only Rand character to have a pet was Wynand and then only as a boy or young man.

How come no one mentioned sports. You'd think that New Yorkers would have some interest in the Yankees... And Rearden's mills were outside Philadelphia. "Gee, Hank, how 'bout them Phillies?"

A maxim from literary criticism says, "Do not criticize the book that the author did not write."

Edited by Michael E. Marotta
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Remember that horrible story in AS where the guy hanged himself? When I first read it I said to myself this is not a made up story. Rand couldn't have imagined this. Decades later I learned that it really happened.

No, actually, I don't remember. Would you refresh my memory and tell about the real world event, please?

P193 The Passion of Ayn Rand. It was a young lady who committed suicide in the apartment of Albert Mannheimer.

Thanks. The screenwriter of Born Yesterday. What is the incident in AS?

Read the book.

--Brant

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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

An interesting sidelight here: Ayn Rand viewed the fishwife's presence in Atlas Shrugged as her "Hitchcock moment." Recall that Hitchcock would have a brief cameo in his movies, perhaps just walking by, . . . This was Rand's Hitchcock moment, with her as the fishwife.

Bill P (Alfonso)

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