The pageantry is purely imaginary, built around shadows that are projected internally, summoned out of an implausibly brilliant kernel that, despite the quality of the output, is nonetheless inchoate in motivations and intent. I can’t summon it, in point of fact, because summoning implies some kind of active participation, some movement towards the goal, that brings into being other identities and motivates them, couples them in arabesque brocades of plots, then supports their emergence as active referents.
If it were that easy.
I can only frame the problem and watch, once removed, as if I was looking at a jerky Eidoloscope cycling with ideas that enter the frame briefly, get burned through by the matrix of my own history, and last for just long enough to take on a ghostly impermanence in the weave of the storyline.
Limns, sharp edges protruding across towards eclipsing the fair face of the disk, and yes, the more scientific association, as best that can be set in contradistinction to the merely literary form that delineates or describes, shone from a dozen facets in the middle night as I opened my eyes. Moon, Luna, Selene, sister of the daylight, her daughter sliced apart by her over Pan, limned in fractal relief off the china cabinet. Gentle white, so pure. The house was otherwise dark and silent. I tried to stop Galt’s death from intruding on the emptiness surrounding me, but there he was again, carping pretense with presumptuous certitude out to a cowling universe. Rappers holding their guns at dumb angles might shoot him as a casual afterthought, though it would require some kind of time travel to reconcile the periods. There is nothing in randomized killings except a naked reference to noir and anti-hero films from the 70s. I wanted the man dead but it needed meaning without cliché or murkiness. It is a parody, admittedly, so perhaps an invocation of humor would blot out obviousness. Drown in red ink. Drowning in bureaucracy. Drowning in self-righteousness. Stoned to death at a union rally as he shouts “every man for himself!” Fire in a crowded theater.
I have to build an empire of compassion, Galt, if I decide to accept Winborn’s offer. I have to recruit strident and capable young people who were raised to contribute to the collective good while perfecting themselves with carefully manicured life histories. They have intersected the individual and the group, the community, the nation, and the future of the world and arrived at perfect beings who would ask for help and understanding and commitment while you prattle on about selfish self-regard. They will perfect that, too. There is no mutually exclusivity.
A postmodern conceit: Rand herself, dissatisfied with Galt’s performance in bed (likely worn down by weeks of elliptical radio addresses), stabs him in the eye with a fine fountain pen, holding it fast and firm enough that he spasms a few times and stops still. There, there, OK, she tells him, her complex Russian overtones blurring the consonants with palatalized hissing as she strokes his hair. “You ver never a real hero,” she whispers as a last spasm curls his fingers together.
The pageantry is purely imaginary.
It might scan, but introduces a new thread that forces reworking, reorganization: the presence of the author herself. Not easy, daunting even, but with nontrivial payout on both the humor front and as a symbolic full stop in the parody. The entire fabric could be restructured to lead her to him, drawn moth-fire towards his arrogant disputations of altruism, but convinced that an immanentist presence in the scaffolding of the ideology had to die at her own hands to enforce the intellectual order that only the great individuals matter and they matter like lions matter. Like a lion, the blood drizzling down from Rand’s mouth as she smears her face and tastes her quarry. What would she say to the police? “Be men, be great men, rise up against the conformity of the force and say enough, and let your conscience be your guides.” They haul her away smirking over another loony dame in a degenerate city. She appears later on a special Firing Line that takes us inside Bayview in a lurid women’s prison segment where she stares blankly out at Hoboken and laments the existence of New Jersey. William F. Buckley asks her if it was worth it and she responds absolutely, that there is perfection and heroism in what she did. She is also getting a lot of writing done inside, when they let her have pencil and paper.
I have a coffee meeting with Winborn a week later following pushy rounds of meeting requests from his admin. He cycles down the hill to meet me. I comment that we could have found something closer and that he has the uphill to contend with going back. “That’s what I look forward to,” he enthusiastically responds as he orders his coffee. I take a seat and watch as he argues with the barista over some problem with the quantity of foam in his drink. The girl, not more than twenty, looks confused over his directions and he is angry, his neck pulsing and reddening as he puffs up. I feel flight or flight rising in me as other customers turn around to assess the situation. The voices are hidden behind the whir of the coffee grinder for a moment, and then Winborn sits down with me. He has his drink and is calm.
“Everything alright?” I ask.
He nods agreeably, “Yes, fine.”
I wait for a moment for him to frame the meeting.
“Are you ready to start?” he asks directly and without hesitation.
“I think so, but need a few weeks to get everything I’m currently working on complete and ordered.”
“I thought you are unoccupied? I almost said ‘retired’ but that isn’t appropriate for our age group.”
“I am. I just have one quarry in my crosshairs right now,” I responded, avoiding grinning about the literal referent lashed to what was otherwise a common abstraction in business circles. Winborn was suddenly looking out the window of the coffee shop, apparently dropping the conversational thread as he peered at something. I followed his gaze and saw a police cruiser was pulled parallel to a black SUV. Windows were open and there was an ongoing discussion between shadows in the vehicles. A hand emerged and shook a flat palm in the air. I wondered if Winborn was concerned that his bike had been taken, but could see it leaning against the plate window of the coffee shop.
“Uhuh, right,” he distractedly responded, excused himself and headed for the bathroom. He was gone for more than ten minutes before finally returning, much calmer. I had distracted myself with The Times on my phone during the interim. Winborn had been caught off guard by gastrointestinal distress, I decided, and he seemed distant even after returning, excusing himself after a few minutes of discussion and making his way to his bike, his clip-on shoes clattering on the tile floor. He waved cursorily as he fixed his sunglasses and began pedaling away, bioluminescent logos glowing off his back.