Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Indecision — Death By Dagny

I always second guess myself but I don’t often get indecisive.

I mean I almost always can quickly work out some kind of real (or imagined!) philosophical justification for why one course of action is “better” than another. And then, generally, I get behind my thinking (or pretense!) enthusiastically.

Yesterday’s cartoon was a different story.

Yesterday’s cartoon seems simple enough, a measuring cup, a bit of text. But I worked on that all day Sunday from the time I got up until midnight when I posted it.

And it started out simple enough. It started out, in fact, exactly as the the cartoon appears. A measuring cup, a bit of text.

At some point I added a bit of background and it looked like this.

At other points I added links to half a dozen previous posts. Then I changed those links to a different half a dozen previous posts.

Then I considered scrapping the whole post.

Eventually, however, I fell back on the principle (or pretense!) of “going with my first idea” and posted the cartoon as I first imagined it.

But someday I may come back and talk about this “measuring cup” thing again. Maybe. It refers back to a lot of my earlier posts. Maybe.


Whenever I get indecisive I think about this scene from “Atlas Shrugged.”

Women who know how to run a railroad don’t tolerate guys who are indecisive.

If Dagny were my girlfriend I never would have gotten out of the weekend alive!

Dagny walked straight toward the guard who stood at the door of "Project F." Her steps sounded purposeful, even and open, ringing in the silence of the path among the trees. She raised her head to a ray of moonlight, to let him recognize her face.

"Let me in," she said.

"No admittance," he answered in the voice of a robot. "By order of Dr. Ferris."

"I am here by order of Mr. Thompson."

"Huh? . . . I . . . I don't know anything about that."

"I do."

"I mean, Dr. Ferris hasn't told me . . . ma'am."

"I am telling you."

"But I'm not supposed to take any orders from anyone excepting Dr. Ferris."

"Do you wish to disobey Mr. Thompson?"

"Oh, no, ma'am! But . . . but if Dr. Ferris said to let nobody in, that means nobody—" He added uncertainly and pleadingly, "—doesn't it?"

"Do you know that my name is Dagny Taggart and that you've seen my pictures in the papers with Mr. Thompson and all the top leaders of the country?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Then decide whether you wish to disobey their orders."

"Oh, no, ma'am! I don't!"

"Then let me in."

"But I can't disobey Dr. Ferris, either!"

"Then choose."

"But I can't choose ma'am! Who am I to choose?"

"You'll have to."

"Look," he said hastily, pulling a key from his pocket and turning to the door, "I'll ask the chief. He—"

"No." she said.

Some quality in the tone of her voice made him whirl back to her: she was holding a gun pointed levelly at his heart.

"Listen carefully," she said. "Either you let me in or I shoot you. You may try to shoot me first, if you can. You have that choice—and no other. Now decide."

His mouth fell open and the key dropped from his hand.

"Get out of my way," she said.

He shook his head frantically, pressing his back against the door. "Oh Christ, ma'am!" he gulped in the whine of a desperate plea. "I can't shoot at you, seeing as you come from Mr. Thompson! And I can't let you in against the word of Dr. Ferris! What am I to do? I'm only a little fellow! I'm only obeying orders! It's not up to me!"

"It's your life," she said.

"If you let me ask the chief, he'll tell me, he'll—"

"I won't let you ask anyone."

"But how do I know that you really have an order from Mr. Thompson?"

"You don't. Maybe I haven't. Maybe I'm acting on my own—and you'll be punished for obeying me. Maybe I have—and you'll be thrown in jail for disobeying. Maybe Dr. Ferris and Mr. Thompson agree about this. Maybe they don't—and you have to defy one or the other. These are the things you have to decide. There is no one to ask, no one to call, no one to tell you. You will have to decide them yourself."

"But I can't decide! Why me?"

"Because it's your body that's barring my way."

"But I can't decide! I'm not supposed to decide!"

"I'll count to three," she said. "Then I’ll shoot."

"Wait! Wait! I haven't said yes or no!" he cried, cringing tighter against the door, as if immobility of mind and body were his best protection.

"One—" she counted; she could see his eyes staring at her in terror— "Two—" she could see that the gun held less terror for him than the alternative she offered— "Three."

Calmly and impersonally, she, who would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of consciousness.

Her gun was equipped with a silencer; there was no sound to attract anyone's attention, only the thud of a body falling at her feet.

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