He glanced at her and did not answer. Then he said, "I like cigarettes, Miss Taggart. I like to think of fire held in a man's hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips. I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great things have come from such hours. When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire in his mind—and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression.
"Do they ever think?" she asked involuntarily, and stopped; the question was her one personal torture and she did not want to discuss it.
The old man looked as if he had noticed the sudden stop and understood it; but he did not start discussing it; he said, instead, "I don't like the thing that's happening to people, Miss Taggart."
"I don't know. But I've watched them here for twenty years and I've seen the change. They used to rush through here, and it was wonderful to watch, it was the hurry of men who knew where they were going and were eager to get there. Now they're hurrying because they are afraid. It's not a purpose that drives them, it's fear. They're not going anywhere, they're escaping. And I don't think that they know what it is that they want to escape. They don't look at one another. They jerk when brushed against. They smile too much, but it's an ugly kind of smiling: it's not joy, it's pleading. I don't know what it is that's happening to the world." He shrugged. "Oh, well, who is John Galt?"
"He's just a meaningless phrase!"
She was startled by the sharpness of her own voice, and she added in apology, "I don't like that empty piece of slang. What does it mean? Where did it come from?"
"Nobody knows," he answered slowly.
"Why do people keep saying it? Nobody seems able to explain just what it stands for, yet they all use it as if they knew the meaning."
"Why does it disturb you?" he asked.
"I don't like what they seem to mean when they say it."
"I don't, either, Miss Taggart."
– Atlus Shrugged, Ayn Rand
Thursday, November 7, 2013
I find it puzzling when others discover that I enjoy the works of Ayn Rand and automatically assume that I must therefore be a selfish, egotistical individualist.
I am a member of the scientific community.
The implication that I would not understand the inherent benefits of cooperation is so ludicrous that it is almost unintelligible.
It is possible to agree only partially with someone else's ideas.