He was left, not with a sense of attainment, but with a sense of his own degradation.
She made it clear that she took it for granted that men had degrading instincts which constituted the secret, ugly part of marriage.
If you barbarians had to degrade the name of a great city of yours, you could at least refrain from doing it to me.
For that degrading need, which should never touch you, I have never wanted anyone but you …. I hadn’t known what it was like, to want it, until I saw you for the first time.
Whatever quality of human greatness I have the talent to portray-that was the quality the outer world sought to degrade.
She knew also that this was his rebellion against the world around them, against its worship of degradation, against the long torment of his wasted days and lightless struggle-this was what he wished to assert and, alone with her in the half-darkness high in space above a city of ruins, to hold as the last of his property.
I accepted their code and believed, as they taught me, that the values of one’s spirit must remain as an impotent longing, unexpressed in action, untranslated into reality, while the life of one’s body must be lived in misery, as a senseless, degrading performance, and those who attempt to enjoy it must be branded as inferior animals.
This is a train made of steel …. running on rails of Rearden Metal …. moved by the energy of burning oil and electric generators …. it’s a physical sensation of physical movement through space …. but is that the cause and the meaning of what I now feel? …. Do they call it a low, animal joy-this feeling that I would not care if the rail did break to bits under us now-it won’t-but I wouldn’t care, because I have experienced this? A low, physical, material, degrading pleasure of the body?
With an awed contempt-awed by the enormity of the sight-she wondered what inner degradation those men had to reach in order to arrive at a level of self-deception where they would seek the extorted approval of an unwilling victim as the moral sanction they needed, they who thought that they were merely deceiving the world.
He remembered her hammering derision of his work, his mills, his Metal, his success, he remembered her desire to see him drunk, just once, her attempts to push him into infidelity, her pleasure at the thought that he had fallen to the level of some sordid romance, her terror on discovering that that romance had been an attainment, not a degradation.
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It was as if a sum of years hit Rearden in the face, by means of a sensation and a sight: the exact sensation of what he had felt in the cab of the first train’s engine on the John Galt Line-and the sight of Philip’s eyes, the pale, half-liquid eyes presenting the uttermost of human degradation: an uncontested pain, and, with the obscene insolence of a skeleton toward a living being, demanding that this pain be held as the highest of values.