Thursday, August 16, 2007

Corporate Communications #4: Alison (Introduction)

Very early on in the novel “Atlas Shrugged,” there’s a scene— (‘very early on’ indeed—it’s around page 200 in my hardcover edition; how many novels can you say that 200 pages is ‘very early on’ in?!) —where Dagny swallows her pride, invites Francisco to her office and begs him to invest in her new railroad. When he refuses, they speak for a moment and Dagny explains her reaction to the famous question, ‘Who is John Galt?

He turned to go. He tossed his hand in a casual salute and said, “If it could be built, I’d wish good luck to the Rio Norte Line.”

“It’s going to be built. And it’s going to be called the John Galt Line.”


It was an actual scream; she chuckled derisively. “The John Galt Line.”

“Dagny, in heaven’s name, why?”

“Don’t you like it?”

“How did you happen to choose that?”

“It sounds better than Mr. Nemo or Mr. Zero, doesn’t it?”

“Dagny, why that?”

“Because it frightens you.”

“What do you think it stands for?”

“The impossible. The unattainable. And you’re all afraid of my Line just as you’re afraid of that name.”

He started laughing. He laughed, not looking at her, and she felt strangely certain that he had forgotten her, that he was far away, that he was laughing—in furious gaiety and bitterness—at something in which she had no part.

When he turned to her, he said earnestly, “Dagny, I wouldn’t, if I were you.”

She shrugged. “Jim didn’t like it, either.”

“What do you like about it?”

“I hate it! I hate the doom you’re all waiting for, the giving up, and that senseless question that always sounds like a cry for help. I’m sick of hearing pleas for John Galt. I’m going to fight him.”

He said quietly, “You are.”

“I’m going to build a railroad line for him. Let him come and claim it.”

He smiled sadly and nodded: “He will.”

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