Saturday, July 4, 2009

The New York Skyline

Conversation between Dominique Francon and Gail Wynand:

He stood, slouched carelessly, one arm raised, grasping a stanchion. She saw the sparks flowing, forming the edges of waves, framed by the curve of his body.

That, too, was becoming to him. She said:

"May I name another vicious bromide you've never felt?"

"Which one?"

"You've never felt how small you were when looking at the ocean."

He laughed. "Never. Nor looking at the planets. Nor at mountain peaks. Nor at the Grand Canyon. Why should I? When I look at the ocean, I feel the greatness of man. I think of man's magnificent capacity that created this ship to conquer all that senseless space. When I look at mountain peaks, I think of tunnels and dynamite. When I look at the planets, I think of airplanes."

"Yes. And that particular sense of sacred rapture men say they experience in contemplating nature—I've never received it from nature, only from..." She stopped.

"From what?"

"Buildings," she whispered. "Skyscrapers."

"Why didn't you want to say that?"

"I... don't know."

"I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes, the shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window—no, I don't feel how small I am—but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body."

The Fountainhead
, Ayn Rand, p. 446

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