Atlas Shrugged (and a bit of Office Space)

I finally finished reading Ayn Rand‘s beloved (or loathed) masterpiece Atlas Shrugged. I began reading the book with a bit of skepticism (for some it is the Bible, and I tend to be on the cynical side for novels with so grandiose a significance placed on them), and it took me more than a while to get into it; the first 300 pages took many months because I just was not engaged with the story, nor more importantly, the characters. But I stuck it out, and in the end found the book to be very conversation worthy. I do not agree with Ayn Rand’s Objectivism philosophy in whole, but her work did get me asking many good questions about my life, my work, and my choices and their related motivations.

In a wide world of conversation topics centered around Atlas Shrugged, I focus this entry on a particular thought:

To whom do you relate to in the novel, Atlas Shrugged?

Before I read the end, I related to Eddie Willers…. The hard working, honest, behind-the-shadows guy who definitely wanted more (his desire) and was not necessarily content with things but was satisfied with how he carried out his life–with integrity. The book begins and ends with Eddie Willers prominently featured, and his is perhaps one of the most heart wrenching (even if unclear) endings in the book. It’s been said he is the “common man”, but not in a derogatory way. Rather, he is both too able and too moral to be a hero, a villian, or simply a tool.

While a more noble self-relation might be to Dagny Taggart, I realized there is Eddie Willers-esque pop culture icon: The lead character in Office Space.

Of course I’m talking about pre-gangsta Peter Gibbons. The company could be seen as the type of society that America evolves into in Atlas Shrugged, and Peter has no good way to evolve… so he gets creative. He does evolve into some kind of Ragnar Danneskjold, but starts off very much the Eddie Willers.

So who knows… maybe there are more exciting things in store for Eddie Willers 🙂