Oct
04

Nerd Revenge Porn

By

Wherein John Scalzi, the Creative Consultant for Stargate: Universe and current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, shares his thoughts on Atlas Shrugged and the sociopath Ayn Rand:

… it’s a totally ridiculous book which can be summed up as Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs… Indeed, the enduring popularity of Atlas Shrugged lies in the fact that it is nerd revenge porn — if you’re an nerd of an engineering-ish stripe who remembers all too well being slammed into your locker by a bunch of football dickheads, then the idea that people like you could make all those dickheads suffer by “going Galt” has a direct line to the pleasure centers of your brain. I’ll show you! the nerds imagine themselves crying. I’ll show you all! And then they disappear into a crevasse that Google Maps will not show because the Google people are our kind of people, and a year later they come out and everyone who was ever mean to them will have starved. Then these nerds can begin again, presumably with the help of robots, because any child in the post-Atlas Shrugged world who can’t figure out how to run a smelter within ten minutes of being pushed through the birth canal will be left out for the coyotes. Which if nothing else solves the problem of day care.

All of this is fine, if one recognizes that the idealized world Ayn Rand has created to facilitate her wishful theorizing has no more logical connection to our real one than a world in which an author has imagined humanity ruled by intelligent cups of yogurt. This is most obviously revealed by the fact that in Ayn Rand’s world, a man who self-righteously instigates the collapse of society, thereby inevitably killing millions if not billions of people, is portrayed as a messiah figure rather than as a genocidal prick, which is what he’d be anywhere else. Yes, he’s a genocidal prick with excellent engineering skills. Good for him. He’s still a genocidal prick. Indeed, if John Galt were portrayed as an intelligent cup of yogurt rather than poured into human form, this would be obvious. Oh my god, that cup of yogurt wants to kill most of humanity to make a philosophical point! Somebody eat him quick! And that would be that.

That’s why Scalzi has a Hugo Award and makes his living writing Sci-Fi, while I make mine designing factories…

[h/t Digby]


Categories : Bread and Circuses

Comments

  1. byafi says:

    It’s difficult to believe that anyone with the problems he has makes a living doing anything, much less writing.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  2. John Scalzi is a wonderful SF writer and I was in the audience at the World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles (2006) when he won his first Hugo.

    But as a science fiction writer myself and also a member of SFWA, I gotta zing you a little Tom.

    It’s “science fiction” or “SF” … calling it “scifi” is somewhat of an “N” word in the field. Here’s an article that explains it a bit better:

    http://www.jvoegele.com/literarysf/scifi.html

    Of course the *shudder* “scifi” term was popularized by one of the legends of science fiction, the late Forest J Ackermann (NEVER use a period behind the J).

    Forry was well known for his puns. I, too, have some reputation for using puns (and there is this guy closely related to me called Chuck Upmann who published a bunch of “horrid pun” SF stories) … anyway, when Forry was guest at the SkyCon SF convention here in Asheville in 1984 (we used to be a big SCIENCE FICTION town), I got to introduce him and used just about 84 puns in doing so, which he loved and gave as good as he got (okay, a lot better) in his speech.

    Back on topic, while this might make local advocates of Ryn such as Tim Peck cry, I read it for myself years ago and agree with John.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  3. John says:

    Picking on Rand freaks again? Yawn.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  4. Tom Sullivan says:

    Ralph, I bow before your superior nerdiness and lay my golden pocket protector on the ground at your feet.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  5. No prob, Tom…. You have a GOLDEN pocket protector? I mostly just had while plastic ones with electronic company advertising on ‘em. I think I did have a yellow one for special days. That was back in the early seventies when I was still doing engineering, working for NASA and for Kearfott here.

    Trying to remember what I carried in them. Pens, yes. Pencils. Had a neat little five inch slide rule.

    Still have several slide rules.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  6. Thunder Pig says:

    Going Galt Works

    I’ve Gone Galt since September of 2007, and have found my life to be fuller since I dropped out of the rat race.

    I have found that pulling out of the stock market (I was a short term technical trader) quitting my job, selling my equipment, growing my own food and bartering for services and food I can’t provide has reduced my tax burden significantly. I am not paying as much fuel tax as I used to (I often used 50 gallons of diesel a week going to job sites and running equipment) and I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have deprived the federal, state and local governments of something in the neighborhood of $30,000 a year in tax revenue…most of which would be going toward programs I object to supporting, especially with the Progressive Wing of the Democrat Party now ascendant.

    Now, imagine if millions of others started doing the same.

    Of course, I am single, never married, no children, own my own property, vehicles, house and I have managed to put back an average of 15% nearly every year since 1986. I also have had a habit of living frugally. I have always eaten out very rarely, don’t go to the movies, nor go out for entertainment, so the only thing that has changed for me, is I don’t have to travel back and forth between home and work, and spend all day away from the house. I’m not buying drinks and snacks and buying parts and having equipment repaired and all thousands of tiny little things that are taxed.

    I won’t return to work until the Progressive Grip on our economy is shattered.

    I may not anyway, because this lifestyle is much more to my liking.

    I won’t live my life for the sake of others who seek to take by force the fruit of my labors, and are unwilling to pull their own weight. [my modified version of John Galt's famous quote]

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  7. shadmarsh says:

    One wonders what would have happened had you “gone Jesus.”

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  8. Tom Sullivan says:

    Once had an odd dream something like the Tennessee incident.

    Smoke appeared in the house. Was told not to dial 911, but the “new number” for the fire department announced in a flyer posted beside the phone. They arrived with a hook and ladder truck. The firemen walked up onto the porch in logo tee shirts, one carrying a clipboard. As smoke filled the house, they calmly asked how we planned to pay for their services today.

    We had called “a” fire department, just not THE fire department. These guys were private contractors.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  9. Tom Buckner says:

    Thunder Pig didn’t Go Galt, he went Possum. Which I would too if I owned my land free of title.

    One of the key implicit points of Possum Living is that it’s important to understand low tech too.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  10. Dixiegirlz says:

    “Possum Living” was one I missed back in the ’70′s, but it looks similar to Stuart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog.” W.E.C. gave hundreds of ways to survive and live simply.

    ThunderPig’s way sounds suspiciously like going ‘hippie,” to me. Then again, dropping out, going “Possum” or WE, and hippie-dom are a hair’s breath from each other. Either way, it’s sticking it to the man.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  11. Thunder Pig says:

    @shadmarsh:

    Ben Franklin’s original fire department wouldn’t put out fires if the fire subscription fee wasn’t up to date. I believe that fire protection would be better if free market forces were allowed to operate, instead of having a government monopoly. Remember how the free market revolutionized telecommunications?

    @Tom Buckner:

    Thanks for introducing me to that term, Tom!

    The term Possum Living, as defined by one of the websites in Tom’s link:

    Possum living is all about living on our own terms, slowing down and kicking back and doing what we really want to be doing instead of burning ourselves out in the pursuit of what society tells us we should strive for. It is about finding easier and more interesting ways of providing what we really need, as an alternative to paying the high price in time, money and freedom that society extracts in exchange for servicing these needs; and about finding the strength to say no to those services we don’t really need.

    Going Galt describes my political motivations. Possum Living describes what I found.

    I grew up on a low-tech farm, milking the cows by hand and plowing behind mules.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  12. shadmarsh says:

    TP,

    Only a fan of Rand could read that story and think: “Serves you right, you freeloader!” Meanwhile, us non-sociopaths, will be over here, trying to have a society.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  13. TP — While Justice Scalia might be proud of those fire companies that have not innovated beyond the text and tradition of Ben Franklin’s original model, I think the telecom companies you cite would find it a little hard to operate, even in a glorious free market, if they had to get their electicity from a kite.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0