[LMB] OT: Mar(t)y Sues

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Thu Sep 26 01:37:51 BST 2013


She was pretty clearly wrong about the nature of human sexuality, for
example.  It's not nearly as closely tied to one's appreciation of another
person's virtues as she seemed to think... although clearly it's about more
than physiological desires, at least in emotionally healthy relationships
between sane people.

A lot of people (myself included) think that *The Fountainhead* was a
better novel than *Atlas* not least because there's virtue and weakness
mixed.  We see the heroes overcome their problems (or fail to in specific
ways and suffer accordingly despite their other strengths), and the
villains are properly villainous because they have the power to harm that
'pure' evil doesn't.  In both cases, we're taught better than we are by
watching pure virtue or pure evil.  Errors are great teachers.

People joke about Ayn Rand and Tolkien being similiar, but actually their
works were both based on certain ideas that Aristotle held - namely that
evil is an absence of virtue, and ultimately has no power or existence of
its own.  I think there's a certain amount of semantic obfuscation involved
there, but there's certainly a point.  It follows that those that do evil
manage to do so only because they still retain a certain amount of goodness
- recognizing that, and identifying how evil people accomplish their works,
makes it possible for us to analyze them and recognize what traits and
properties they possess that are good - that's how we figure out what's
good in itself.

Sauron wouldn't be effective at villainy if he didn't retain some virtue
that he had at the beginning... the same with Morgoth who was once Melkor.
For example.

When Rand gave in to the temptation to make her heroes totally heroic, and
her villains totally depraved, in *Atlas*, she undercut her own rhetorical
efforts severely.  The best characters in *Fountainhead* are the
partially-flawed secondary characters, not the perfect 'hero'.

It's a lot like Ista's journey.  Her spiritual attainment at the end of the
novel is significant in the context of her overcoming of her flaws and
problems earlier - she'd be a lot less interesting, and less instructive,
if she started at virtue and remained there.

Matt G.


More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list