Who is John Galt?
I'm reading Atlas Shrugged and I think it's especially pertinent that I'm in New York as I'm reading it. Even though the book doesn't specify a time or era in which its events take place, it's fun to imagine that all of the events occur in the present day. I like to imagine that some of the people I ride the subway with might be modern Dagny Taggarts (or Howard Roarks if you've read the Fountainhead).
Besides this yearning for a brush with greatness and a continual apprehension that I might meet someone famous on the streets of New York, I also wonder at how many superheroes are from New York. Spiderman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Hellboy for certain (plus Batman of Gotham and Superman of Metropolis). Am I leaving any superheroes out? And what is this obsession with Superheroes from New York?It's a pretty big contrast from The Last Airbender, the latest M. Night Shyamalan film, which, all its negative reviews and flashy 3D graphics aside, does a great job of casting the main hero as a bucolic, nomadic hero. Is it New Age? Is it just simple settings to contrast with a monumental story? I can't say for sure. What I do find fascinating however is The Last Airbender's ability to cast its hero in a stoic and spartan light (similar to Samurai Jack for those who remember that old TV show). Just as many other superheroes struggle with their power and responsibility, Aang of The Last Airbender proves no exception to the rule other than his existence in a pastoral, unadulterated landscape.This makes me wonder why New York, which, I would argue, is the major metropolitan hub for culture and economy in the Western World, is the place where so many super heroes choose to call home. Each of the heroes who live in New York certainly are a representation of the beliefs of the American way of life - compare any of them to The 99, a group of Islamic super heroes inspired by the 99 godly traits of Allah. Surely "American" heroes like those from New York take on a nationalistic, cultural, and arguably patriotic slant?
The characters from Atlas Shrugged seem no different from the classic New York-based superheroes, except that their abilities are closer to those of Batman, the classic "Superhero without super powers." Each of the characters exhibits a vast array of skills that are either mental, social, or economic in ability, and which make the character stand in brilliantly stark contrast to the petty New York citizens that surround them. I hope I'm not one of those petty citizens.
Who is the Howard Roark of our day? Who are the heroes that we idolize? Who is John Galt?