Oh dear God not another Atlas Shrugged party! I thought that the Rearden wedding anniversary was bad, but James Taggart's wedding party, in Part 2 Chapter II is even worse.
One of the reasons why Rand's party scenes are so excruciating is because they invariably contain lots of moochers and looters - those ugly, stupid haters of anything good, who speak as no humans at a party - or anywhere else - have ever spoken.
The funniest aspect of the whole thing is when Hank Rearden tries to get away from stupid women doing stupid women things but:
He could not find a single straight statement in the conversation of the men; whatever subject they seemed to be talking about never seemed to be the subject they were actually discussing.Rearden must be making a serious effort to find these seeming tautologies because everywhere else at the party people are saying exactly what they seem to be talking about, right out loud. Which leads to a series of confrontations: Lillian Rearden corners James Taggart to point out that he owes her for bringing Hank Rearden to the party; Lillian Rearden tells Dagny that if she doesn't return her Rearden Metal bracelet it will look like she's having a "scandalous" affair with Hank; and James Taggart and Francisco d'Anconia share with each other most of the contents of their brains concerning the state of d'Anconia Copper.
But mostly Francisco talks for four pages, in his role as the mouthpiece of Ayn Rand's monetary "philosophy" and instead of walking away from this stunning bore, the partygoers all stand around staring at him with their moocher/looter mouths hanging open, causing one woman (I think it's the "flabby-faced" one) to say, once he finally shuts the hell up, "Well it's certainly a funny way to talk at a party!"
Mais non, Madame Flabbyface, it is the only way to talk at an Ayn Rand party!
But at least d'Anconia finally clears up the difference between a moocher and a looter - I had been using the terms interchangeably, but that was wrong:
Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or the looters, who take it from you by force.
So there you go. So far we've only really seen moochers in action although we've heard of the Pirate King who steals government aid supplies - but surely he can't be a looter if he's one of the Randian Supermen.
But that d'Anconia - he's so suave. Is it any wonder that Hank Rearden has a gigantic man crush on him?
It was the muscles of his own face that made Rearden realize the nature of his reaction to Francisco's arrival: he noticed that suddenly he was smiling and that his face had been relaxed into the dim well-being of a smile for some minutes past, as he watched Francisco d'Anconia in the crowd.
He acknowledged to himself for the first time, all the half-grasped half-rejected moments when he had thought of Francisco d'Anconia and thrust the thought aside before it became the knowledge of how much he wanted to see him again. In moments of sudden exhaustion - at his desk, with the fires of the furnaces going down in the twilight - in the darkness of the lonely walk through the empty countryside to his house - in the silence of the sleepless nights - he had found himself thinking of the only man who had once seemed to be his spokesman. He had pushed the memory aside, telling himself: that one is worse than all the others! - while feeling certain that this was not true, yet being unable to name the reason for his certainty. He had caught himself glancing through the newspapers to see whether Francisco d'Anconia had returned to New York - and he had thrown the newspapers aside, telling himself angrily; What if he did return? - would you go chasing him through night clubs and cocktail parties? - what is it that you want from him?Pretty surprising coming from a huge homophobe like Rand. For a moment there I thought that Ayn Rand was going to go all slash fiction on her own novel.
And I discovered yet another humorous blog analysis of this awful novel, Atlas 'Clubbed - he concludes his discussion of Part 2 Chapter II perfectly:
The trigger pulled on his latest financial suicide-bomb, Francisco scans the room. Only he, Dagny, and Rearden are left, all exchanging looks. Frank himself is grimly satisfied. Dagny is nonplussed. Rearden is conflicted.
“So, look, I’m just throwing this out there,” he says. ”What are your guys’ thoughts on menage a trois?”