Saturday, April 17, 2010

Explore Atlas Shrugged: Podcasts and Questions

By Diana Hsieh

[Note: This post is part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays.]

Yesterday, I released a new podcast in my series called Explore Atlas Shrugged. As you might guess from the name, these podcasts concern Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

If you're a fan of the novel, this post on those podcasts is for you! If you've not yet read it, then I envy you: you have the unrepeatable experience of reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time ahead of you!

These podcasts grew out of the Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups created by Front Range Objectivism. The reading groups consist of about twelve regular members: some of us are knowledgeable Objectivists while others are new fans of the novel. We meet for twenty sessions total -- ten in the fall and ten in the spring. We meet every week for an hour an a half, except during the holidays, to discuss about 65 pages of the novel. I've lead two of these groups so far, and I've learned so much about the novel in the process. Others have said the same. Amazingly, we always have far more to discuss than time permits. Oh, and as a great bonus, I've met some fantastic new people that I'm continuing to discuss Objectivism with in a new monthly discussion group.

These Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups have been such a wild success that I want to see them done in cities outside Colorado. Plus, I want people -- whether fans of the novel, professors teaching it, or long-time Objectivists -- to dig deeper into the book than they ever have before. It's too easy to get wrapped up in the drama of the action! One needs to pause to consider and reflect on the meaning of the characters and events. But that's hard to do with Francisco at your fingertips!

To those ends, I've been recording podcasts and posting discussion questions for each of the twenty sessions of the Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups, under the heading of Explore Atlas Shrugged. The podcasts tend to last about an hour, plus or minus twenty minutes. So far, I've done fourteen of twenty. (I got a bit behind, thanks to my hypothyroidism and then the launch of Modern Paleo. I expect to have the final six podcasts done by the end of May.)

Happily, I think my podcasts have been pretty darn successful. Here's what some of my listeners say:

"Speaking as someone who listens to a lot of podcasts, I have to say that your Atlas Shrugged podcasts are the most pleasurable and exciting series to which I've listened. ... You really bring the novel to life, both as a work of fiction and as a work of philosophy. Listening to your podcast is simply exhilarating, which is not something I've ever said before about a podcast. I find myself looking forward to listening to it each time it downloads."

"I wanted to tell you how much I've been enjoying your superb podcasts. From the terrific content to your incredibly fluent delivery, I'm just staggered by the quality: I must say that as a child of the Internet generation, even I am amazed that such content is available for free!"

"I just wanted to let you know that I have been listening to your podcasts on Atlas Shrugged, and I am really enjoying them. It makes me wish that my commute to work was longer, since I mostly listen in the car. I have read the book three times in the past, but it has been about 15 years since the last time. Your podcasts have me thinking that it is probably time to read it again."
If you'd like to try a sample, here's my latest:
You can find the full list of these podcasts and discussion questions on Explore Atlas Shrugged. All the completed and forthcoming sessions are listed below too.

If you want to subscribe to the podcasts via iTunes, choose your format:
Those NoodleCast podcasts include a bunch of my earlier podcasts on practical ethics and basic philosophy. I hope to get back to those sometime in the next few months, but for now, I'm working on a new way of doing them.

Finally, I'd love your feedback on these podcasts! I hope to turn them into a book, so I'd love to hear what you found confusing, what you'd like me to discuss more, where you think I'm wrong, and so on. Please e-mail me at diana@dianahsieh.com with any such comments.

One final note: The pagination of the two larger hardcover and softcover editions differ from that of the smaller mass market paperback. I recommend using the larger edition. It's easier to read, and I don't always list page numbers for the smaller edition.

Completed Sessions

Session 1
  • Pages 1 - 63 (larger) or 9 - 67 (smaller)
  • Part 1: Chapter 1: The Theme
  • Part 1: Chapter 2: The Chain
  • Part 1: Chapter 3: The Top and the Bottom
Session 2
  • Pages 64 - 126 (larger) or 67 - 124 (smaller)
  • Part 1: Chapter 4: The Immovable Movers
  • Part 1: Chapter 5: The Climax of the d'Anconias
Session 3
  • Pages 127 - 185 (larger) or 124 - 178 (smaller)
  • Part 1: Chapter 6: The Non-Commercial
  • Part 1: Chapter 7: The Exploiters and the Exploited (Part A)
Session 4
  • Pages 185 - 252 (larger) or 178 - 241 (smaller)
  • Part 1: Chapter 7: The Exploiters and the Exploited (Part B)
  • Part 1: Chapter 8: The John Galt Line
Session 5
  • Pages 253 - 309 (larger) or 241 - 294 (smaller)
  • Part 1: Chapter 9: The Sacred and the Profane
  • Part 1: Chapter 10: Wyatt's Torch (Part A)
Session 6
  • Pages 309 - 378 (larger) or 294 - 358 (smaller)
  • Part 1: Chapter 10: Wyatt's Torch (Part B)
  • Part 2: Chapter 1: The Man Who Belonged on Earth
Session 7
  • Pages 379 - 438 (larger) or 358 - 412 (smaller)
  • Part 2: Chapter 2: The Aristocracy of Pull
  • Part 2: Chapter 3: White Blackmail (Part A)
Session 8
  • Pages 438 - 495 (larger) or 412 - 465 (smaller)
  • Part 2: Chapter 3: White Blackmail (Part B)
  • Part 2: Chapter 4: The Sanction of the Victim
Session 9
  • Pages 496 - 566 (larger) or 466 - 531 (smaller)
  • Part 2: Chapter 5: Account Overdrawn
  • Part 2: Chapter 6: Miracle Metal
Session 10
  • Pages 567 - 632 (larger) or 531 - 591 (smaller)
  • Part 2: Chapter 7: The Moratorium on Brains
  • Part 2: Chapter 8: By Our Love
Session 11
  • Pages 633 - 697 (larger) or 591 - 650(smaller)
  • Part 2: Chapter 9: The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt
  • Part 2: Chapter 10: The Sign of the Dollar
Session 12
  • Pages 699 - 751 (larger) or 651 - 699 (smaller)
  • Part 3: Chapter 1: Atlantis
Session 13
  • Pages 752 - 815 (larger) or 699 - 758 (smaller)
  • Part 3: Chapter 2: The Utopia of Greed
Session 14
  • Pages 816 - 863 (larger) or 758 - 802 (smaller)
  • Part 3: Chapter 3: Anti-Greed
Forthcoming Sessions

Session 15
  • Pages 864 - 936 (larger) or 802 - 869 (smaller)
  • Part 3: Chapter 4: Anti-Life
  • Part 3: Chapter 5: Their Brothers' Keepers (Part A)
Session 16
  • Pages 936 - 999 (larger) or 869 - 927 (smaller)
  • Part 3: Chapter 5: Their Brothers' Keepers (Part B)
  • Part 3: Chapter 6: The Concerto of Deliverance
Session 17
  • Pages 1000 - 1040 (larger) or 927 - 965 (smaller)
  • Part 3: Chapter 7: "This is John Galt Speaking" (Part A)
Session 18
  • Pages 1040 - 1069 (larger) or 965 - 993 (smaller)
  • Part 3: Chapter 7: "This is John Galt Speaking" (Part B)
Session 19
  • Pages 1070 - 1125 (larger) or 993 - 1045 (smaller)
  • Part 3: Chapter 8: The Egoist
Session 20
  • Pages 1126 - 1168 (larger) or 965 - 1045 - 1084 (smaller)
  • Part 3: Chapter 9: The Generator
  • Part 3: Chapter 10: In the Name of the Best Within Us

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