We The Living

Just finished We The Living by Ayn Rand. I have to admit I got started only because I thought it would be a deeply philosophical introduction to Objectivism, but I completed it only because it turned out to be a romance-novel-esque romp through Communist Russia.

Which was good, because I managed to finish it in three days instead of the weeks I usually take to finish anything with a philosophical bent to it.

Perhaps I’m a little desensitized to tragedy – the sufferings inflicted upon a bourgeoise family in Communist Russia didn’t seem much worse than the standard dished out to Taiwanese-drama-serial people-in-agony. Which I believe to be the result of the Chinese habit of glorifying suffering – a quick survey of the mando-pop songs in the market will reveal over 50% of them being about terrible relationship breakups inducing all manner of trauma and pain upon pitiful creatures.

I’d like to get my hands on something about the suffering suffered by the bourgeoise during China’s conversion to Communism. I vaguely remember watching a film about the Last Emporer, but all I remember of it was that it was very boring (I was very young), I needed to go pee halfway through it but there were no toilets within the cinema (I was very young, and Singapore’s cinemas weren’t quite as nice as they are now), and my father managed to coax me into peeing into a drink bottle, which he disposed of later in the rubbish (I was very young, cinemas weren’t very nice and I knew no shame back then).

The situation described of Russia in the late 1910s was so familiar I had to look up Animal Farm in Wikipedia to see if it was a critique of the Russian Revolution. And it turns out it is! Forgive me – I’m a Science major, we don’t learn these things in class.

On the other hand, I can still remember an algorithm for the conversion of Decimal to Binary – someone called me about it today and I actually remembered it off-the-bat, which leads me to wonder how much of my memory is occupied with these relatively useless algorithms.

Now to use that 40%-off voucher for Atlas Shrugged – hopefully it’ll be better.

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