I laid breathlessly into blue sun storms,
Smoke rose from our skin in the darkness of the Universe,
You pulled my hair back, tighten your hand around my neck
And descended above me in light like the God that you are.
Tiffany: “I was a slut. There will always be a part of me that is dirty and sloppy, but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself. I can forgive. Can you say the same for yourself, fucker? Can you forgive? Are you any good at that?”
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
She let loose her wide waves of dizzy hair
and filled the air with the sharp green from the bottom of the seas.
Spring came that day, in the afternoon, before sunset,
descending from the heights of her Greek contour,
White like the buds,
white like the walls of timeless buildings,
white like the color of the calmness she puts on top of things,
lingering everywhere like the surreal color of her skin.
“In what act or thought of his has there ever been a self?
What was his aim in life? Greatness – in other people’s eyes. Fame, admiration, envy – all that which comes from others. Others dictated his convictions, which he did not hold, but he was satisfied that others believed he held them. Others were his motive power and his prime concern. He didn’t want to be great, but to be thought great. It’s his ego that he’s betrayed and given up. And isn’t that the root of every despicable action? Not selfishness, but precisely the absence of a self.
Look at them. The man who cheats and lies, but preserves a respectable front. He knows himself to be dishonest, but others think he’s honest and he derives his self-respect from that, second-hand. The man who takes credit for an achievement which is not his own. He knows himself to be mediocre, but he’s great in the eyes of others. The man who wants money for a personal purpose – to invest in his industry, to create, to study, to travel, to enjoy luxury – he’s completely moral. But the men who place money first go much beyond that. Personal luxury is a limited endeavor. What they want is ostentation: to show, to stun, to entertain, to impress others. They’re second handers. Aren’t they all acting on a selfish motive – to be noticed, liked, admired – by others? They place others above self… in the exact manner which altruism demands. A truly selfish man cannot be affected by the approval of others. He doesn’t need it!
It is so easy to run to others. It is so hard to stand on one’s own record. You can fake virtue for an audience. You can’t fake it in your own eyes. Your ego is your strictest judge. They run from it. They spend their lives running. It’s simple to seek substitutes for competence – such easy substitutes: love, charm, kindness, charity. But there is no substitute for competence.
That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They’re concerned only with people. They don’t ask ‘Is this true?’ They ask: ‘Is this what others think is true?’ Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not merit, but pull. When you suspend your faculty of independent judgement, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life. Second-handers have no sense of reality.
Look at everyone around us. You’ve wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it… If any man stopped and asked himself whether he’s ever held a truly personal desire… he’d see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men. He’s not even struggling for material wealth, but for the second-hander’s delusion – PRESTIGE. A stamp of approval, not his own. He can find no joy in the struggles and no joy when he has succeeded. He can’t say about a single thing: ‘This is what I wanted because I WANTED IT, not because it made my neighbors gape at me. Then he wonders why he’s unhappy. Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched.
I think the only cardinal evil on earth is that of placing your prime concern within other man. I’ve always demanded a certain quality in the people I liked. Now I know what it is. A self-sufficient ego. I COULD DIE FOR YOU. BUT I COULDN’T AND WOULDN’T LIVE FOR YOU!”
Ayn Rand / The Fountainhead