Whoever told you that Atlas Shrugged is a boring book, they never mentioned that it features some pretty cool characters, love triangles by the truckload and one sex scene that would make Anne Rice blush! Well, maybe not Anne Rice but it’s definitely better than Murakami’s approach.
The sound came from his engine, from the control of his hands on the wheel; she held onto that; the rest was to be endured, not resisted.
She lay still, her legs stretched forward, her hands on the arms of the seat, with no sense of motion, not even her own, to give her a sense of time, with no space, no sight, no future, with the night of closed eyelids under the pressure of the cloth-and with the knowledge of his presence beside her as her single, unchanging reality, They did not speak. Once, she said suddenly, “Mr. Galt.”
“No. Nothing. I just wanted to know whether you were still there.”
“I will always be there.”
The attraction between Dagny Taggart and John Galt was there since the beginning, mostly caused by her admiration of his skills and life outlook.
“.. she knew that there was no meaning in motors or factories or trains, that their only meaning was in man’s enjoyment of his life, which they served-and that her swelling admiration at the sight of an achievement was for the man from whom it came, for the power and the radiant vision within him which had seen the earth as a place of enjoyment and had known that the work of achieving one’s happiness was the purpose, the sanction and the meaning of life.”
She’s also attracted to him physically, looking at him as she would look at a work of art that moves and breathes or at a mechanical structure created before its time.
She was looking at the inventor of the motor, but what she saw was the easy, casual figure of a workman in his natural setting and function-she noted the uncommon lightness of his posture, a weightless way of standing that showed an expert control of the use of his body-a tall body in simple garments: a thin shirt, light slacks, a belt about a slender waistline-and loose hair made to glitter like metal by the current of a sluggish wind. She looked at him as she had looked at his structure.
She felt a sudden pressure at the base of her throat, her head leaned back a little, no more than to feel the faint shift of a current against her hair, but it was as if she were lying back in space, against the wind, conscious of nothing but his legs and the shape of his mouth. He stood watching her, his face still but for the faint movement of his eyelids drawing narrow as if against too strong a light. It was like the beat of three instants-this was the first-and in the next, she felt a stab of ferocious triumph at the knowledge that his effort and his struggle were harder to endure than hers-and, then he moved his eyes and raised his head to look at the inscription on the temple.
Alone, she can’t name the feeling she’s feeling and is reduced to the most basic of human functions: instinct.
While the strength of her body was gone, while her mind had lost the faculty of consciousness, a single emotion drew on her remnants of energy, of understanding, of judgment, of control, leaving her nothing to resist it with or to direct it, making her unable to desire, only to feel, reducing her to a mere sensation-a static sensation without start or goal. She kept seeing his figure in her mind-his figure as he had stood at the door of the structure-she felt nothing else, no wish, no hope, no estimate of her feeling, no name for it, no relation to herself-there was no entity such as herself, she was not a person, only a function, the function of seeing him, and the sight was its own meaning and purpose, with no further end to reach.
When they meet again under the Taggart building, in the train terminal, she is in her full evening-gown attire and he is dressed as a lowly mechanic working for her. The shock of discovery soon passes and Dagny feels him close and the attraction kicks in into full gear. Enjoy!
She threw her cape back, she stood defiantly straight, as he had seen her stand on the steps of the tower-as he had seen her for the first time, ten years ago, here, under the ground-she was hearing the words of his confession, not as words, but by means of that beating which made it so difficult to breathe: You looked like a symbol of luxury and you belonged in the place that was its source … you seemed to bring the enjoyment of life back to its rightful owners …
you had a look of energy and of its reward, together … and I was the first man who had ever stated in what manner these two were inseparable…
The next span of moments was like flashes of light in stretches of blinded unconsciousness-the moment when she saw his face, as he stopped beside her, when she saw the unastonished calm, the leashed intensity, the laughter of understanding in the dark green eyes-the moment when she knew what he saw in her face, by the tight, drawn harshness of his lips-the moment when she felt his mouth on hers, when she felt the shape of his mouth both as an absolute shape and as a liquid filling her body-then the motion of his lips down the line of her throat, a drinking motion that left a trail of bruises-then the sparkle of her diamond clip against the trembling copper of his hair.
Then she was conscious of nothing but the sensations of her body, because her body acquired the sudden power to let her know her most complex values by direct perception. Just as her eyes had the power to translate wave lengths of energy into sight, just as her ears had the power to translate vibrations into sound, so her body now had the power to translate the energy that had moved all the choices of her life, into immediate sensory perception.
It was not the pressure of a hand that made her tremble, but the instantaneous sum of its meaning, the knowledge that it was his hand, that it moved as if her flesh were his possession, that its movement was his signature of acceptance under the whole of that achievement which was herself-it was only a sensation of physical pleasure, but it contained her worship of him, of everything that was his person and his life-from the night of the mass meeting in a factory in Wisconsin, to the Atlantis of a valley hidden in the Rocky Mountains, to the triumphant mockery of the green eyes of the superlative intelligence above a worker’s figure at the foot of the tower-it contained her pride in herself and that it should be she whom he had chosen as his mirror, that it should be her body which was now giving him the sum of his existence, as his body was giving her the sum of hers. These were the things it contained-but what she knew was only the sensation of the movement of his hand on her breasts.
He tore off her cape and she felt the slenderness of her own body by means of the circle of his arms, as if his person were only a tool for her triumphant awareness of herself, but that self were only a tool for her awareness of him. It was as if she were reaching the limit of her capacity to feel, yet what she felt was like a cry of impatient demand, which she was now incapable of naming, except that it had the same quality of ambition as the course of her life, the same inexhaustible quality of radiant greed.
He pulled her head back for a moment, to look straight into her eyes, to let her see his, to let her know the full meaning of their actions, as if throwing the spotlight of consciousness upon them for the meeting of their eyes in a moment of intimacy greater than the one to come.
Then she felt the mesh of burlap striking the skin of her shoulders, she found herself lying on the broken sandbags, she saw the long, tight gleam of her stockings, she felt his mouth pressed to her ankle, then rising in a tortured motion up the line of her leg, as if he wished to own its shape by means of his lips, then she felt her teeth sinking into the flesh of his arm, she felt the sweep of his elbow knocking her head aside and his mouth seizing her lips with a pressure more viciously painful than hers-then she felt, when it hit her throat, that which she knew only as an upward streak of motion that released and united her body into a single shock of pleasure-then she knew nothing but the motion of his body and the driving greed that went reaching on and on, as if she were not a person any longer, only a sensation of endless reaching for the impossible-then she knew that it was possible, and she gasped and lay still, knowing that nothing more could be desired, ever.
He lay beside her, on his back, looking up at the darkness of the granite vault above them, she saw him stretched on the jagged slant of sandbags as if his body were fluid in relaxation, she saw the black wedge of her cape flung across the rails at their feet, there were beads of moisture twinkling on the vault, shifting slowly, running into invisible cracks, like the lights of a distant traffic. When he spoke, his voice sounded as if he were quietly continuing a sentence in answer to the questions in her mind, as if he had nothing to hide from her any longer and what he owed her now was only the act of undressing his soul, as simply as he would have undressed his body:
“… this is how I’ve watched you for ten years… from here, from under the ground under your feet… knowing every move you made in your office at the top of the building, but never seeing you, never enough… ten years of nights, spent waiting to catch a glimpse of you, here, on the platforms, when you boarded a train…
Whenever the order came down to couple your car, I’d know of it and wait and see you come down the ramp, and wish you didn’t walk so fast… it was so much like you, that walk, I’d know it anywhere… your walk and those legs of yours… it was always your legs that I’d see first, hurrying down the ramp, going past me as I looked up at you from a dark side track below…
I think I could have molded a sculpture of your legs, I knew them, not with my eyes, but with the palms of my hands when I watched you go by… when I turned back to my work … when I went home just before sunrise for the three hours of sleep which I didn’t get…”
“I love you,” she said, her voice quiet and almost toneless except for a fragile sound of youth.
He closed his eyes, as if letting the sound travel through the years behind them.
This is one of the reasons I loved this book. And Ayn Rand herself confessed in an interview made after the book was released in 1957 that she was asked whether the men she depicted in the book really exist. And she answered mysteriously that they do. That without them the book wouldn’t exist today. I got goosebumps.