It’s September 2nd, the day Ayn Rand began writing Atlas Shrugged in 1946, and the first calendar day in the novel.
My grandma sent me a copy of the novel when I was in 8th grade with a note on the inside flap that it would be one of the best reads of my life. It was. More than any other fiction book than perhaps The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged has shaped my philosophy and the practical course of my life.
Since I’ve been writing a lot recently about college, here’s one quote from Rand on credentialism, or what I call “Keating-ization,” in Atlas Shrugged:
Wesley Mouch came from a family that had known neither poverty nor wealth nor distinction for many generations; it had clung, however, to a tradition of its own: that of being college-bred and, therefore, of despising men who were in business. The family’s diplomas had always hung on the wall in a manner of reproach to the world because the diplomas had not automatically produced the material equivalents of their attested spiritual value.
…In high school, Wesley Mouch had been one of the worst students and had passionately envied those who were the best. College taught him that he did not have to envy them at all.
And here’s one more related passage from the novel:
Dan Conway was approaching fifty. He had the square, stolid, stubborn face of a tough freight engineer, rather than a company president; the face of a fighter, with a young, tanned skin and graying hair. He had taken over a shaky little railroad in Arizona…and he had built it into the best railroad in all of the Southwest.
He spoke little, seldom read books, had never gone to college. The whole sphere of human endeavors, with one exception, left him blankly indifferent; he had no touch of that which people called culture. But he knew railroads.
I like to think of Rand as the anti-academic. She was an intellectual of self-made soul and self-made body. Her “credential” was her mind and its practical application in writing some of the most influential novels in American history and the most important philosophical essays ever.
Do yourself a favor today and pick up a copy. You won’t regret it.