Does Penn & Teller's Teller Lend Out His Copy of Atlas Shrugged?


From the NY Post's always-inneresin' "In My Library" feature, here's Teller of the great Penn & Teller. Snippets:

"I stopped speaking on stage because I was intrigued about the idea of lying without speaking," says the silent partner of Penn & Teller, who sent away for a magic set advertised on TV's "Howdy Doody" more than 55 years ago, when he was 5.

Among the books in his arm's reach:

Atlas Shrugged

by Ayn Rand

The fable that clarifies everything about the importance of the individual, and how a smart person can do tremendous good in the world. One of the terrible things I've seen happen is that we're adopting what Australians call "the tall poppy syndrome": If you stick out, your head's lopped off. We deride Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, when the benefits they've provided us are so vast.

Read more here.

Speaking of Atlas Shrugged, when the porn version—Atlas Fugged—gonna be made? went on set at the recently filmed movie version of AS:

More on Ayn Rand here.

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  1. I must be the only libertarian who didn’t like that book.

    1. Maybe you’re actually a Democrat.

    2. I thought it was pretty terrible.

      I actually think that Atlas Shrugged and the Communist Manifesto are the same book with alternate endings.

      1. Ha ha ha! I’ve never heard that.

        1. Rand and Marx both seem to think capitalists are soulless monsters who would do anything to make a buck. She just sees that as a good thing.

          I’m more drawn to the whole freedom and prosperity for all thing.

          1. Rand… seems to think capitalists are soulless monsters

            Ha ha ha!

            1. I’d trust a capitalist over a socialist any day.

          2. The Soviet gulags were a terrible waste of human life.

            If they had been privatized and for-profit, the oppression could have been carried out more efficiently.

    3. Never read it. I don’t really like novels.

      1. More of a South Park fan, then?

        1. Yes, I do absorb fiction mainly from television, movies, and video games. I prefer to devote my time reading about actual subjects, mainly from magazines and the internet but also the occasional sciency, businessy, or history book.

          1. I do absorb fiction mainly from television, movies, and video games

            Ah. Stay away from Ayn Rand, then.
            Too hard to “absorb” her un-actual subjects.

    4. I loved it. But to answer your question, no you are not. When I was involved in my local LP I met a guy who said “I’m glad I became a libertarian BEFORE I read Atlas Shrugged. I don’t think I’d be a libertarian if I read it first.”

      Ayn Rand’s approach simply turns some people off. I think it probably works best when given to someone from the Conservative end of the spectrum. When dealing with a leftist you might want to try something else first. Ruwart’s “Healing our world” might be better for someone coming from the left end of things.

      1. She’s kind of similar to Anton LaVey — both espouse a core message of respect for individual rights over enforced “altruism”, but alienate many with a self-consciously “I spit on your traditional values” militant approach.

        1. Yeah. Mustn’t hurt the feelings of the traditionalists. Torquemada was a traditionalist. But he was misunderstood. If only the Inquisition had an Oprah or a Dr. Phil to bring people together, nicely, on a sofa.

          1. You must be an excellent communicator. Do you have a seminar I can attend?

            1. You must be an excellent communicator.

              I am. Thanks for noticing, and for taking the time to comment.

          2. Far better to sit alone in the dark with your perfect theory than to act in a way that has a shot at convincing others and making that theory reality.

    5. You’re not the only one. AS is terrible. Cross between the script for a 50s TV drama and a romance novel, interspersed with long lectures from your grandpa about the value of a buck.

      1. Ha ha ha! I’ve never heard that.

    6. I tried to read it about 15 years ago and didn’t care enough to get through it. Enjoyed The Fountainhead though.

      1. I find AS easier to read than The Fountainhead. Other than that one chapter – just skip ahead 60 pages, you wont miss anything.

    7. It’s execrable stuff

      1. We concur. Too intellectual.

        1. Too turgid, bloated, and lacking in intellectual sophistication or human concepts like irony, you mean.

      2. This. Rand’s writing is awful – like the exact opposite of Hemingway (whose writing I also detest). I’ve tried Atlas Shrugged three or four times. Make it a little further each time, but keep thinking, this is just awful reading, and I already know the ending….

        1. Have a banana. That’s a good ape.

        2. It took me a couple of times to get past that goddamn description of the tree, which always reminded me of what a high school kid might turn in if his English teacher assigned him to write something using symbolism. It really is poor writing, but it’s a great story that’s worth the pain of reading it. You should try harder.

          Also, as a resident of Oxford, MS, I take issue with your suggestion that the opposite of Hemingway is anyone other than William Faulkner. I actually like both of their writing styles. Rand, as a writer, isn’t on the same plane.

          1. …still read Hemingway and Faulkner. If greatness is not being read, they’re the greatest.

  2. I just saw Penn & Teller live last night. Damn good show. Teller was outside The Paramount afterward talking to people, doing autographs, that sort of thing. For people who don’t know, he is only mute on stage; otherwise, he talks plenty.

    1. . . .as in Heap Big Plenty?

      1. You are such a fucking racist. Don’t you know that Indians have feelings? I’m talking about the “hey-oh-hey-oh” Indians and not the “ooooooohhhh-aaahhh-dot-in-forehead” Indians, of course.

        1. That’s just the peyote talkin.

        2. When you fall asleep, I’m gonna fart in your face.

          1. Ewww. Peyote farts.

          2. I’ll be asleep, so it won’t effect me at all. Duh. If you are going to clown me, if I don’t know about it, what good is it?

            By the way, I pissed in your cornflakes this morning. Just so you know.

            1. What if I had a sulfuric acid enema right before I did it? Then you would be breathing in sulfuric acid farts.

              1. You go ahead and try that. I’ll wait, and when your screams of agony die down, I’ll fart in your face.

                1. Video or it never happened.

                2. Obviously I would be wearing a female condom in my rectum during the enema, you fool.

                  1. I forgot that you always have one jammed in there. I guess you might be able to do this after all.

        3. You mean blackjack Indians, not javascript Indians.

    2. Both time that I have seen them they hung out and talked to people afterward. They both seemed genuinely friendly.

  3. You know who else wasn’t really a mute? Yup. Harpo Marx. He could talk!

    1. And Marcel Marceau was faking muteness too.

      1. But he was very chatty, after the show. Doing autographs, that sort of thing.

  4. Uh, oh — thread hijack. … Oh, wait, no one else will care–


    Is anyone else not charmed by Nick’s baby talk and affection of good ol’ home-cooked speakin’? (I love the apostrophe eliding what I presume is the final “n” of “inneresing.”)

    1. …final “g”

      1. You got a problem with Nick’s edgy snark? That’s the lingo, Daddy-O.

      2. Yeah man don’t be a total square. Be groovy man.

    2. …affectation of.

      Or for the shortest correction: …affection for.

  5. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have artificially stifled competition whenever they had the chance. Their fortunes have been made not by producing good products but by leveraging market share and locking down hardware, respectively.

    They deserve all the derision they get, and then some.

    1. Ha ha ha! I’ve never heard that.

      1. What are you, some kinda wise guy?

        1. Nyuk nyuk.

    2. “leveraging market share and locking down hardware, respectively.”
      So, they’re better than their competition? Is that what you’re getting at?

      1. Competition isn’t fair if you’re too good at it! This isn’t a dog-eat-dog world. Fascist!

      2. But not in a way that’s valuable for their customers, is his point, I believe. Government-run or government-favored businesses are also better than their competition, if “better” refers to their capacity for making profit.

        1. So are bank robbers, but that wasn’t the example, was it?

          1. Point is that there are a lot of very clever things you can do to extract more money from the market that are more or less zero sum in nature. Take the capitalist’s benefit out of the total, and it’s negative sum for everyone else (relative to a less clever businessman, I mean, not relative to the absence of the transaction at all).

            Inventing new things or more efficient means of production, on the other hand, are beneficial both to the capitalist and to society. Subtract the capitalist, and it’s still a net benefit. If you’re trying to sell capitalism, the latter helps you and the former hurts you.

            Locking down hardware and “leveraging market share” tend to fall into the former category, although one could certainly argue that there is some benefit to consumers in each (whether or not it outweighs the downsides depends on the consumer).

      3. Winners in the market are not necessarily better than their competition. If that were true we’d all have to admit that Michael Moore was an excellent documentary maker.

        I support free markets because their operation does not harm individual rights and they run more efficiently than any other system would under plausible circumstances. That doesn’t mean I have to worship those who win at the market game.

        1. “That doesn’t mean I have to worship those who win at the market game.”
          And appreciating success doesn’t mean ‘worshiping’.

          1. If you define ‘success’ as ‘making the most money possible’ rather than ‘generating the most wealth’ then by all means ‘appreciate’. Do you also ‘appreciate’ Ponzi schemes and government sanctioned monopolies?

            1. “Do you also ‘appreciate’ Ponzi schemes and government sanctioned monopolies?”

              1. No, it’s not a strawman. It’s a comparison and it’s apt.

          2. The quote I was criticizing:

            “the benefits [Gates and Jobs] have provided us are so vast.”

            That’s some worshipful praise right there.

            1. “The quote I was criticizing:
              “the benefits [Gates and Jobs] have provided us are so vast.”
              That’s some worshipful praise right there.”
              OK, opinions vary.

        2. Winners in the market…Michael Moore

          Does not compute.

          1. Michael Moore’s documentaries have made more money than any other documentary maker in history.

            1. Proving that even socialist dirtbags like to make money.

            2. Michael Moore’s documentaries have made more money than any other documentary maker in history.

              Not a very high bar. Kind of like being (wait for it)…the world’s tallest midget.

              [rim shot]

              I know. Sue me.

              1. “Socialist dirtbag” is hate speech. I should get a law passed banning the phrase.

                1. I agree with Bernie.

                  1. I agree with Shrike.

                    1. You do My heart good, My children.

                  2. I agree with Bernie only on his weekends

            3. Michael Moore’s FILMS have made more money than any DOCUMENTARY in history. Remember folks, calling something a documentary doesn’t necessarily make it so. There comes a point of disingenuity in editing where you don’t get to call it a documentary anymore, regardless of where the original footage came from.

    3. I finally fired Microsoft. Running Ubuntu 10.10 now.

      I’ll NEVER use Windows again.

      1. Why? Windows 7 is pretty great. I’m biased because I work on the Microsoft stack and get all their software for free, but still, Windows 7 is very nice.

        1. I’m sure it is, but I just dig on this new (to me) world of Linux.

        2. Try running it on a computer sold five years ago. An OS that requires a gig of RAM, a gigahertz-clocked processor, and 16GB of hard disk space is bloatware by any definition of the term, no matter how aesthetically pleasing the user interface is.

          1. That’s part of the reason I’m using it. My budget doesn’t allow for a new or even newish computer.

            1. Libertarians don’t care about people with old computers. If you can’t afford a new computer, it just means you’re lazy or inherently inferior according to them.

              1. Go damn it, you got in there just seconds before me.

              2. Are you saying we should care? Does anyone care?

                1. I care. That’s why I’m willing to use government as a positive tool to keep them from being left behind, instead of justifying my selfishness with incoherent ideology.

                  1. That’s some smug bullshit there, Misto.

                  2. Wait, wait, so your willingness to use other people’s money to buy new computers for poor people makes you unselfish? Please explain.

                    1. I, personally, would not take a “free” computer. I gots my pride, yo.

                  3. I don’t understand

          2. I’m sorry, I don’t understand the language of poor people. Can you rephrase this in a way I can comprehend? All I understood was that you seem to have an underpowered computer; why don’t you buy a new one?

            1. Workin’ on it, but I have to spend more of my money on mundane shit like bills, groceries, and so forth.

              What, I can’t be poor AND libertarian, Mistoffelees?

              1. Have you ever heard of false consciousness?

            2. It’s only underpowered if I want to run a bloated OS. It’s plenty powerful enough to run Linux.

              1. You undoubtedly say something similar about your penis.

                1. Damn straight. My penis isn’t for the bloated.

              2. Yeah, I’ve heard of it. Don’t put much stock in shit like that.

                1. You’ve hard of my penis? I had no idea word spread that much.

            3. Times is tough, Epi. And while I may not have a lot of foldin’ money, at least I continue to not take welfare handouts.

              Unlike some people, I might add. *cough* Max *ahem*

              1. Did you know poor people tend to live in clusters?

              2. I’m running Windows XP on an eight-year-old Dell @ 1.60Ghz and 256MB RAM, yet I’m still able to comment on H&R, do all my banking, make crappy videos for YouTube and record, mix and master esoteric indie music nobody will ever buy! Huzzah, capitalism!

                1. I work two part-time jobs, Epi. Unfortunately, it’s the best I can do under the circumstances.

                  In the meantime, I’m spending what leftover cash I can to fix up my family home, a bit at a time, while I watch others take gov’t weatherization handouts.

                  IOW, it’s not for a lack of effort. I *could* be a bum and take money from the wallets of total strangers, but I’m not a liberal so that’s not an option.

                  1. Kind of hilarious that as much as you sacrifice not to be a burden on others, a leftist would still harp at you about the “selfishness” of your philosophy.

                    1. Well, maybe not to you…

                    2. Just can’t please leftists, cynical. They always bitch about something.

      2. I can’t fire Microsoft because Excel is fantastic software. Yay, spreadsheets!

    4. At least Jobs’ product is good. But Bill Gates, the man responsible for DOS and Windows?
      As for Atlas Shrugged, I finally read it a few years ago, and I can’t believe anyone takes that overwrought drivel seriously.

    5. How did Microsoft lock down hardware? I think they’re the ones who created the PC revolution by allowing any company to create peripherals, write drivers, etc. This is the main source of the blue screen of death, at least in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

      Sure they were ruthless business people but so what? Are they any different than business people in other industries?

  6. It strikes me that Nick posting about Atlas Shrugged has just got to bring Max into this thread…

    1. Why? Does it have something to do with Ron Paul being racist?

      1. ARFARFARFARFARFARFARF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Ha ha ha! I’ve never heard that.

          1. Ha ha ha! I’ve never heard that.

  7. I would like to subscribe to your blog.

  8. Is thees theeng on?

    1. [tap, tap]

      Ronaldo Paul’s cock! You suck on it? Yes?

      1. Thees place, eet is full of the Christo-fags.

        1. Externalities, bendechos!

  9. My seester, she cherry!

    1. I am not eenterested in your seester. But I do want a pony.

  10. Don’t FUG with me you motherfuggers. I FUG yo’ bitch asses up!

  11. Suck on ze Monsieur Paul’s le b?ton de manioc!

    1. Ees that you, Monsieur Anonopussy?

      1. Essen mein scheisse!

        1. ?tes-vous expr?s obtus, ou juste incroyablement stupide ?

          1. It is a good day for you to suck my cock!

          2. eh toh ne, Rono Pauluso cocku, watashi wa suckubeta koto ga dekimasuka?

  12. Kol otem ohevet ha-zayin shel Roan Pal!

    1. Atah ben kalbah. Arf! Arf! Arf!

  13. My dad and I read AS when I was in college. He thought it was a parody and was greatly offended.

    1. Were you sitting on his lap?

  14. Loved Fountainhead, but never made it passed a few hundred pages of AS. I found it excruciatingly dull.

    But Fountainhead had romance. Ah, that Peter Keating! He burned like a tall flame, lived the high life while he could going far beyond his talents, not letting his limitations get in the way. For a good part of the story he bested that brain washing rapist Howard Roark, and he took people DOWN to get to the top. Though the ending is a bit tragic, with him living with his mom, putting his hopes on meager paintings, you have to look at it in its totality. He lived the dream for as long as he could before the world crushed him. It just doesn’t get any more libertarian than that.

    Here is to you, Peter Keating, a real libertarian hero!

  15. My copy of Atlas Shrugged was given to me in college by a guy who kept several copies on hand. It took a while to connect Rand with my early favorite, Heinlein.

    Reading The Fountainhead right now for the second time, planning on re-reading Atlas when I finished.

    … Hobbit

    1. “I’m finished”

      Preview is your friend.

      … BH

      1. Given that Heinlein wrote a whole book (Starship Troopers) about how people who are willing to lay down their lives for others are superior to those who won’t and Rand considered altruism the root of all evil, it doesn’t surprise me it took you a while to connect them.

  16. “Atlas Shrugged” only reads well if you *stole* or *borrowed* the book first. If you actually paid for the book before you read it the first time, you obviously don’t deserve it.

  17. I couldn’t make it past a couple hundred pages either. The “message” was spelled out in a handy summary at the end – I figured why put up with these hateful creeps for another eight hundred pages.

    1. Join us. We aim low. Wallet height, to be precise.

    2. Join us. We aim low. Wallet-height, to be precise.

      1. The Democrat has his hand in your wallet before he has even bought you a drink at the bar.

        1. Then we leave you in a tub of ice with your wallet and kidney missing.

        2. Money can’t buy love, but it improves your bargaining position.

  18. Is AS the greatest story ever told? No. Is it a piece of crap that is impossible to read through in a few days? No. The biggest problem with AS is that it is most peoples introduction to Rand and libertarianism. That distinction should go to “The Virtue of Selfishness”. If you give someone that book and it doesn’t change their lives, they are a lost cause and you might as well move on.

    1. Is AS the greatest story ever told? No.

      Is it a piece of crap that is impossible to read through in a few days? Yes.

      AS is supposed to change people’s lives?

      What planet are you on?

      1. “Is it a piece of crap that is impossible to read through in a few days? Yes.”

        Ya, it’s been made clear in many preceding comments that some people hold that opinion. There’s really no reason to repeat it.

        “AS is supposed to change people’s lives?”

        No. “The Virtue Of Selfishness” is. Of course if you didn’t understand that from my comment no wonder you can’t read AS since your IQ seems to be sub par.

        1. Dude, if Das Kapital doesn’t change your life, you’re lost!

          If any single book “changes your life” you’re the one with the shallow intellect.

          1. “If any single book “changes your life” you’re the one with the shallow intellect.”

            Says the guy too moronic to make it through “Atlas Shrugged”, the second most read book in history.

  19. “how a smart person can do tremendous good in the world.”

    I wonder how much of her own hair Ayn Rand would tear out in hearing that summary of her work.

    Actually, I wonder how much of Teller’s hair she would try to tear out.

    ‘Zat is vat you get out of my novel, idiot! Doink good in der vorld! Vot are you, some kind of altruist? You fascist swine, you had *better* do a disappearing act, before I stuff my cigarette up your . . .”

    1. Doing good doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with altruism. If I develop a cure for cancer because I want to sell it and become rich, I’ve done good for the world for selfish reasons.

  20. The better porn title would be ATLAS TUGGED.

  21. Never caught the Rand bug, but became a libertarian (note small ell)anyway.

    Like someone said about a different writer, there’s so much real literature about, why would I waste my time on her?

  22. I doubt anyone can apply Atlas Shrugged to real life. Normal human beings don’t behave like the one-dimensional creatures in her book.

    After reading Atlas Shrugged, I recall thinking to myself, “This woman must have had a really dry c*nt.”

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