25 October, 2002

Dominique & Alvah

"We few... We happy few..."
(From Henry V)

::sigh:: I admire Shakespeare, but it is wise to remember that he wrote for the common man, for mankind in general.

From The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand, a speech by Dominique, to Alvah:
"You know, it's such a peculiar thing -- our idea of mankind in general. We all have a sort of vague, glowing picture when we say that, something solemn, big and important. But actually all we know of it is the people we meet in our lifetime. Look at them. Do you know any you'd feel big and solemn about? There's nothing but housewives haggling at pushcarts, drooling brats who write dirty words on the sidewalks, and drunken debutantes. Or their spiritual equivalents. As a matter of fact, one can feel some respect for people when they suffer. They have a certain dignity. But have you ever looked at them when they're enjoying themselves? That's when you see the truth. Look at those who spend the money they've slaved for -- at amusement parks and side shows. Look at those who're rich and have the whole world open to them. Observe what they pick out for enjoyment. Watch them in the smarter speak-easies. That's your mankind in general. I don't want to touch it."

"But hell! That's not the way to look at it. That's not the whole picture. There's some good in the worst of us. There's always a redeeming feature."

"So much the worse. Is it an inspiring sight to see a man commit a heroic gesture, and then learn that he goes to vaudeville shows for relaxation? Or see a man who's painted a magnificent cancas -- and learn that he spends his time sleeping with every slut he meets?"

"What do you want? Perfection?"

"-- or nothing. So, you see, I take the nothing."

"That doesn't make sense."

"I take the only desire one can really permit oneself. Freedom, Alvah, freedom."

"You call that freedom?"

"To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing."

"What if you found something you wanted?"

"I won't find it. I won't choose to see it. It would be part of that lovely world of yours. I'd have to share it with all the rest of you -- and I wouldn't. You know, I never again open any great book I've read and loved. It hurts me to think of the other eyes that have read it and of what they were. Things like that can't be shared. Not with people like that."

"Dominique, it's abnormal to feel so strongly about anything."

"That's the only way I can feel. Or not at all."


"I suppose you're just an unfortunate product of our times. That's what I've always said. We're too cynical, too decadent. If we went back in all humility to the simple virtues..."

"Alvah, how can you start on that stuff? That's only for your editorials and ..." She stopped, seeing his eyes; they looked puzzled and a little hurt. The she laughed. "I'm wrong. You really do believe all that. If it's actually believing, or whatever it is you do that takes its place. Oh, Alvah! That's why I love you. That's why I'm doing again right now what I did tonight at the meeting."

"What?" he asked, bewildered.

"Talking as I am talking -- to you as you are. It's nice, talking to you about such things. ..."

'We stupid few' is more like it.
I'd settle for an Alvah. I could talk to Alvah, I think. He may not be fully cognizant of all that I know, but it is not knowledge that it is important -- it is the capacity for knowledge that it is important.
But I have no one who will talk to me.
I have friends, of course. And they're nice and all... I enjoy the time spent with them, of course. But they don't know me. Not because of any fault by them, but rather by me. I feel so much like Keating. I feel pressured to not be whom I am in front of everybody, everybody but Roark. Except Roark doesn't exist. And so I am nobody. I am me, but who am I? What constitutes me?
Maybe if I talked to Alvah, I'd know. But Alvah doesn't exist either.
There are people that I could truly talk to, but they all hate me. I ruined them; I ruined what friendship might have been by being stupid and illogical.
And there is no one left.
People say this is a big world; yet it is not from what I have seen. There is no one out there. Not in the sense that I am speaking of. Even the intellectual crowd is full of retarded people.
Even when I go to philosophy club meetings, all I am met with is stupidity.
Woe is me! I wish for discussion, that is all. Just simple discussion. But the trick is that no one out there is willing to think. No one I know is willing to actually stop what they are doing and think. Mankind, in general, is nothing but nothing.
"This and this alone."
And so I cry... In public, and no less. I sit here, crying, in full view of other students around me. They must think I am as weird as they come. Yet I don't care. Their opinion of me does not matter in the least. And so I continue crying, wishing for something more. Anything more.
Even Alvah would be enough.



    1. Sorry; this was quoted by a much younger me. In the future, I'll try to cite my quotes.

      For reference, I'll link you to the passage in The Fountainhead on google books.