Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happiness and Success Are Natural

This is the essential message of "Atlas Shrugged". Dagny is in Galt's Gulch. She is speaking with Ragnar Danneskjold.

"How can"—she tried to stop, but the words burst involuntarily, in helpless indignant protest, whether against him, fate or the outer world, she could not tell—"how can she live through eleven months of thinking that you, at any moment, might be...?" She did not finish.

He was smiling, but she saw the enormous solemnity of that which he and his wife had needed to earn their right to this kind of smile. "She can live through it, Miss Taggart, because we do not hold the belief that this earth is a realm of misery where man is doomed to destruction. We do not think that tragedy is our natural fate and we do not live in chronic dread of disaster. We do not expect disaster until we have specific reason to expect it—and when we encounter it, we are free to fight it. It is not happiness, but suffering that we consider unnatural. It is not success, but calamity that we regard as the abnormal exception in human life."

This ties in with the dialogue at the beginning of the third section of the book:

"'We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?" she whispered. "'No, we never had to.'"

The essence of "Atlas Shrugged" is not the political aspects. It is not "Going Galt". It is not about Ayn Rand being "prophetic". The essence is about living your life happily and how to do it.


  1. Thank you. I was looking for the quote when Dagny and Galt first meet... instead I landed on this!! You can imagine my delight. The part with Ragnar is also fantastic. Thanks for putting these uplifting quotes out into the interwbes.

  2. A friend shared your blog URL with me... I am now wondering how I will thank him. :)

    In all the years when I have tried to defend my love for Ayn Rand, even amongst her supporters, I haven't ever found anyone who looks upon her work as I do. I will no longer say the same, and I am glad, VERY glad. :D

    Thank you for this.