Alvah Scarret: “What if you found something you wanted?”
Dominique Francon: “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 open again 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.”
AS: “Dominique, it’s abnormal to feel so strongly about anything.”
DF: “That’s the only way I can feel. Or not at all.”
DF: “You know, I love statues of naked men. Don’t look so silly. I said statues. I had one in particular. It was supposed to be Helios. I got it out of a museum in Europe. I had a terrible time getting it – it wasn’t for sale, of course. I think I was in love with it, Alvah. I brought it home with me.”
AS: “Where is it? I’d like to see something you like, for a change.”
DF: “I broke it.”
DF: “I threw it down the air shaft. There’s a concrete floor below.”
AS: “Are you totally crazy? Why?”
DF: “So that no one would else would ever see it.”
– Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand’s novels are one of my greatest sources of inspiration. Her characters have always spoken to me in a way that nothing else does. Amidst the awkward teenage years of identity confusion, Rand’s ideas provided me with the courage I needed to face the world, to create my own purposeful vision, and to strengthen my sense of self with conviction and independence. However, after learning from Rand about the true potential of humanity, I’ve begun to notice the discrepancy between this wonderful ideal and the ugly reality of the current state of the world. Rand’s novels still bring me more joy and motivation than anything else, but they’ve also started to evoke within me something else entirely: a feeling of loneliness as a result of my desire to witness humanity at its best in reality, not just in fiction.
While I don’t have a malevolent view of the world, I do have moments of pessimism which resemble the character of Dominique. I’m normally able to ignore the incompetence evident in the world, but some days I let it get to me. The result is not pleasant – I become completely consumed by indignation and disgust for some of the individuals with whom I have to coexist. In this respect, I admit to having what I have termed a Dominique Complex – an extreme frustration with the grotesque state of human nature which transpires when greatness is replaced by mediocrity. Dominique is well aware of the evils which humans are capable of. In an effort to prevent others from controlling her, she destroys everything she loves. I can relate to Dominique on my darker days, when the thought of others degrading the things I value the most is threatening enough to generate a temporary mindset of cynicism.
In the unfortunate state of the world today which sometimes seems to contain more depravity than achievement, it can be exhausting to live with such conviction and purpose. The ideological mess that America and the rest of the world have become is overwhelming. It’s horrifying to consider how much worse the future of human existence could become if things don’t change for the better soon. Maybe it’s a mistake to hold everyone to such a high standard, but why shouldn’t I expect prosperity to be the rule, not the exception, after knowing the extent of greatness which humans are capable of?
“I want to see, real, living, and in the hours of my own days, that glory I create as an illusion. I want it real. I want to know that there is someone, somewhere, who wants it, too. Or else what is the use of seeing it, and working, and burning oneself for an impossible vision? A spirit, too, needs fuel. It can run dry.” Ayn Rand