Friday, November 07, 2008

Who Is John Galt?


After more than 20 years of wishing and dreaming it finally looks to be a reality. One of my favorite books of all time (and one of the most influential in my life) is in pre-production:

Atlas Shrugged.

Rumored talent for key roles? Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. If that happens, there will finally be a movie they do that I'll want to see.

Here’s the synopsis of the book’s character JOHN GALT:

John Galt is the heroic main characters in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, although he is absent from much of the text. Instead he is the subject of the novel's oft repeated question: "Who is John Galt?", and the quest to discover the answer.

As the story is revealed, Galt is discovered to be a creator and inventor who embodies the power of the individual. He serves as a counterpoint to the social and economic structure depicted in the novel. The depiction portrays a society based on oppressive bureaucratic functionaries and a culture that embraces the stifling mediocrity and egalitarianism of socialistic idealism. He is a metaphorical Atlas of Greek mythology holding up the world and namesake for the title Atlas Shrugged.

An engineer by trade, Galt's actions include withdrawing his talents, 'stopping the motor of the world', and leading the 'strikers' (in this case the captains of industry) against the 'looters' (in this case the mob rule of strikers and the common man). The storyline unfolds by exploring rumors and legends about the identity of the Galt. The Galt's actual identity is learned only after a prolonged search by Dagny Taggart. She is the female heroine of the story, with whom Galt has a romantic relationship. Galt is also referred to in the story as the Mystery Worker.

The son of an Ohio garage mechanic, Galt left home at age 12 and began college at Patrick Henry University at age 16. There he befriended Francisco d'Anconia and Ragnar Danneskjöld. All three of them double-majored in physics and philosophy. They were the cherished students of the brilliant scientist Robert Stadler and the brilliant philosopher Hugh Akston.

After graduating, Galt becomes an engineer at the Twentieth Century Motor Works where he designs a revolutionary new motor powered by ambient static electricity with the potential to change the world. Like Ellis Wyatt, he creates what many had for years said was impossible. When the company owners decide to run the factory by the collectivist maxim, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", Galt organizes a successful labor strike (but this time getting employers, inventors, businessmen and industrialists to go on strike against statist laws that violate their rights), proclaiming his promise to stop the motor of the world. Galt begins traversing the globe, meeting the world's most successful businessmen, systematically convincing them to follow in his footsteps; one by one, they began abandoning their business empires (which, Galt convinces them, were doomed to failure anyhow, given the increased nationalization of industry by the government). This strike forms the backdrop of the novel as the mystery which protagonist Dagny Taggart seeks to uncover, with Galt as her antagonist (the novel was originally titled The Strike).

Secretly, these captains of industry, led by Galt and banker Midas Mulligan, create their own society—a secret enclave of rational individualists living in 'Galt's Gulch', a town secluded high in a wilderness of mountains in Colorado. Taggart accidentally finds the town—and a shocked John Galt—by crash-landing a light aircraft while pursuing Quentin Daniels.

Since everyone across the country is repeating the phrase, "Who is John Galt?", it is natural that many people have attempted to answer that question. The phrase becomes an expression of helplessness and despair at the current state of the novel's fictionalized world. Dagny Taggart hears a number of legends of Galt before finding the real John Galt and eventually joining his cause, and learning that all of the stories have an element of truth to them.
- From Wikipedia

Of course I also learned that this story has been bouncing around studios and filmmakers for more than 20 years with many false starts. Based on current political affairs, my guess is it will make it this time.


Anonymous said...

You sure look a lot like your Dad, Pete.

From an old Argusville, NY friend