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THE UNSOCIABLE NETWORK
5/14/2011 4:22:41 AM

As a novelist, what I like best about Ayn Rand’s book ATLAS SHRUGGED is the title. Written in 1957, this magnum opus today would remain collecting dust in its manuscript form and be hard pressed to find a publisher, particularly if Ms, Rand were still an unknown struggling author, as once she was (and most of us still are.)

Like all works in progress, ATLAS SHRUGGED was a title later suggested by another writer, Ms. Rand’s husband, the renowned Frank O’Connor. The original title was THE STRIKE, which the author felt was trite but revealed the book’s “mystery” qualities prematurely. Ms. Rand always claimed ATLAS SHRUGGED was a “mystery novel, not about a man’s murder, but about the murder — and re-birth — of a man’s spirit.” Good dust jacket hyperbole, right? She was as good a marketer as she was an author!

In any event, it is a hefty tome running just under 1,400 pages (roughly 420,000 words, about as many as all 6 books of mine!) and now that it’s finally been made into a movie (they say eventually in 4 parts) I may get around either to reading it, or at least renting the DVD’s. Someday — after all John Grisham’s books have been filmed. (Actually, I might even succumb to viewing it at a popcorn theater, if I had the assurance some neurotic talk show host would not be delivering a preamble.)

Come to think of it, the movie may be the better resource —especially since it has taken more than 50 years to produce and is acted by “stars” no one ever heard of. The reviews I’ve read are mostly positive, but I’m not sure wading though almost 1,400 pages of a convoluted plot would be productive. When I see the roster of those having orgasms over it, I am beset with even stronger misgivings.

In researching the structure of the novel, I am convinced that a more contempory writer, Aaron Sorkin, for example, nailed the screenplay from Ben Mezrich’s story by releasing THE SOCIAL NETWORK a few month’s before ATLAS SHRUGGED was booked for limited engagements by right-wingers into select (if somewhat obscure) movie theaters.

If one were to dissect THE SOCIAL NETWORK scene by scene, my desktop would be littered with the bones of ATLAS SHRUGGED. I took the time to go through everything available on the plot of the latter, only to find one similarity after another played out in THE SOCIAL NETWORK.
Note this comment by Ayn Rand (who’s been dead nearly 30 years and about six presidents ago): “What we have today is not a capitalist society, but a mixed economy — that is, a mixture of freedom controls, which, by the presently dominant trends, is moving toward [a] dictorship. The action in ATLAS SHRUGGED takes place at a time when society has reached that stage of dictatorship. When and if this happens, that will be the time to go on strike, but not until then.

“. . . I have tried to characterize the actions of government employees in a way that is consistent with a public choice theory, describing how the language of altruism is used to pass legislation that is nominally in the public interest — the ‘Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule’, and ‘The Equalization of Opportunity Bill’ — but which in reality serves special interests and government agencies at the expense of the public and the producers of value.” Say what?

It gives me chills when I read what Aaron Sorkin, echoing the sentiments of exec producer Kevin Spacey, and the real-life Eric Zuchenberg, and also Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, said about THE SOCIAL NETWORK in 2010: “. . . [this] is probably going to be a lot funnier than people might expect it to be. . . .the book and film [is] about greed, obsession, unpredictability and sex, and asks although there are over 500 million Facebook users, does this mean Facebook can become a profitable blockbuster movie?. . . . [is] Zuckerberg not happy with the movie being based on him?, to which he replied, ‘I just wished that nobody made a movie of me while I was still alive — this is my life, so I know it's not so dramatic,’ and that he spent most of the past six years focusing, working hard, and coding Facebook.

“Speaking to an audience at Stanford, Zuckerberg stated that the film portrayed his motivations for creating Facebook inaccurately; instead of an effort to ‘get girls’, he says he created the site because he enjoys ‘building things’. However, he added that the film accurately depicted his real-life wardrobe, saying, ‘It's interesting the stuff that they focused on getting right — like every single shirt and fleece they had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own’.”

Zuckerberg went on to say, “A lot of exciting things happened in 2004, but mostly we just worked a lot and stressed out about things; the version in the trailer seems a lot more exciting, so I'm just going to choose to remember that we drank ourselves silly and had a lot of sex with coeds....” Aaron Sorkin later added, “The plot of the book/script unabashedly attacked [Zuckerberg], but I actually felt like a lot of his positive qualities come out truthfully. . . . At the end of the day, we could not help but portray him as the driven, forward-thinking genius that he is.”

Sorkin also stated, as if eerily deferring to Ayn Rand, that, “I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling. What is the big deal about accuracy purely for accuracy’s sake, and can we not have the truth be the enemy of the good?”

Thank heaven he took far less than 1,400 pages to accomplish it. Most negative criticism to THE SOCIAL NETWORK came from tenchnology writers who said the film was well-crafted but was anti-social, harping on Sorkin because of his decision to alter events and characters for effect; they, like critics of Ayn Rand, dismiss it as nothing more than a story about people who resist change — to which Sorkin retorts, “I was writing about a very angry and deeply misogynistic group.”

Shrug that off, Charlie.

Copywrite©2011 by Robert A. Mills, all rights reserved


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Life Goes On, A Skeptic's Afterlife Education by John Weiss

This is a true account of a series of profound afterlife experiences that taught me many fascinating things about a very wide range of subjects including, the origins of Christiani..  
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