[RUSSIAN ACCENT] This is Ayn Rand speaking. Like all of the great thinkers of world history, I am dead.
I have, however, returned here to criticize this conference. I do not approve of “no smoking” sections. The whole place should be designated “mandatory smoking”.
But I digress.
A passage from Procrustes Stretched.… I wrote this passage in 1955 and I am as proud of it today as I was then. It was for reasons of space deleted from the final draft of my novel Procrustes Stretched. It has never before appeared in print. I am offering it now as an example of Romantic writing at its best.
Romanticism, which has always been my philosophy of art, sees the goal of art to be the portrayal of man as a heroic being. The Romantic artist selects certain facets of reality and reassembles them “in order to create in concrete form the abstraction which is his sense of life.” (The Virtue of Rudeness, page 178) Note this: he selects, just as a physicist selects the numbers which go into his mathematical equations. The antithesis of Romanticism is Naturalism, which holds that every bit of reality, no matter how trivial, is worthy of inclusion in a work of art. For example, a Naturalistic pianist would try to press all the keys of his piano at once. The logical results of such a philosophy are insanity and ugliness just as those of Romanticism are order and beauty.
I shall let the reader judge for himself whether a Naturalist could have written this passage. Its context is as follows: Ellis Island has gone into hiding and has taken with him his secret of his process of getting blood from a turnip. Canada has declared itself to be a fool’s paradise. Dallas Stank is heading West [on a train], searching for a scientist who can reconstruct the mouse trap that she and Nick Rearden found in an abandoned factory. [END OF RUSSIAN ACCENT]
“Who is John Goat?”
Dallas turned away from the window and looked at the man in the seat beside her. He had got on at one of the stops outside New York City but she had not noticed him before now. He had a bald head that seemed to rest like an unused bowling ball atop a pillow of fat that had once been a neck. His eyes were pale and lifeless.
“Who is John Goat?”
“I don’t know. Besides, those words are just meaningless nonsense.”
The man nodded dully. His nod seemed to reject the possibility of objective knowledge. Dallas turned back to the window and gazed out on the vast blank prairies. A lighted billboard flickered and her heart trembled with joy. She remember her thrill when, long ago, she first heard a radio commercial. Her brother had told her that bird songs were prettier but Francisco had laughed and said, “When I grow up I will make birds out of copper and sell them for money!” And the next day he had presented her with his first copper bird made from metal he had mined with his own hands.
“Does it know any songs,” she had asked.
“Only radio commercials.”
And, then, they had made love.
“Pardon me Miss.” It was the bald man.
“My name is Waldo Mudge. What’s yours?”
“Stank. Dallas Stank.”
“Stank! The same Stank who runs the railroad?”
“Yes!” Dallas proudly threw back her head.
“You loathsome capitalist, I hate you! I abhor you! Don’t look at me that way; you have no right! I give all my blood to the poor! Organs, too, when I have the chance. All I have left are three ribs and a testicle. Stop looking at me like that! I live for others, for love…something YOU would never understand!” He sneered hysterically.
“You’re right, I wouldn’t,” she said.
She turned back to the window. Suddenly, she felt a rush of air go past her head. She turned around and gasped. Waldo Mudge had deflated.
Dallas turned away, overcome with disgust. A voice inside her head seemed to say “This is what altruism leads to.” But the whole world was deflating, being sucked down an infinite black hole of misery and despair. Nothing worked anymore. Dallas couldn’t even get men to wash her train windows. ‘Wait,’ she thought. Her window was clean. She leaned closer. It was perfect. Not a single streak or water spot. It shone with an energy that was more than reflected light; it shone with the energy of intelligence. Yet the window puzzled her. It was almost too clean. That was it; it was too clean. It has been washed on the outside, and quite recently.
National Directive 1089 forbade window washing on the outside of a moving train. One of her men had broken the law to do his job. Dallas knew she had to find him, for her sake and for her windows.
She opened her window and stepped outside. The wind nearly blew her off the train. She only smiled and lighted a cigarette. She remembered the old man in New York City who had once owned a cigarette factory. It had gone bankrupt when all his customers died of lung cancer, but that had not broken his spirit. She finished the cigarette and threw it down.
She saw the window washer then. He was on the next car at the end of the train. He was clad in what Dallas recognized to be the robe of a Capuchin monk. She climbed toward him; she reached the gap between the cars, and hesitated. She had been good at car jumping…once, but that had been years ago. Could she still do it?
She softly whispered her grandfather’s proud motto, “I think I can, I think I can…”
The air and the train screamed past her as she hurtled through the rushing air. A fingernail snagged on the aluminum of the next car as she pulled herself to safety. In a few minutes, she was at the side of the window washer.
“I want to give you a raise,” she said.
“No Miss Stank,” he threw back his hood and laughed. His face was like one she had never seen but always known. It was a proud face with hard, angular cheeks and cold, clear eyes, and it was crowned by black, angular hair. Intelligence shone from it like light off an expertly cleaned window.
“Because my mind is not for sale.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Who is John Goat?”
“Do you see these tools?” He held up his belt of window washing tools. “Who do you think made them? Man did or, rather, man’s mind did. Squeegie, wash bottle, soap…each is the product of man’s mind. Man makes his tools with his mind; with his mind man, makes his tools.” He paused, “But man who makes his tools with his mind can also discard them. Like this…” he hurled the belt into the darkness.
“Who is John Goat? If you really want to know, you’ll have to come with me Miss Stank.” He tore the robe from his body and was naked.
Dallas gave him her hand and he took it.
She felt a value pass between them.
They leapt from the train and flapped their arms like the wings of a great copper bird. They flew upward into the objective moonlight, and freedom.
Written with admiration and affection by Anonymous.