She was a monster. She rewrote everything. I loved her. It began with Texts from Dagny Taggart.
I got you something
that’s so sweet
I got you the greatest gift one human being can offer another person
you didn’t have to do that
what is it?
I have achieved something
Troy Bolton: Hey! What do you mean you’re done here? I mean, you can’t quit.
Gabriella Montez: Us working together sounded good but plans change and people change. The club talent show was a big deal for Sharpay and evidently for your future, so it’s cool, just make it happen, wear your new Italian shoes.
“I could die for you. But I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, live for you.”
Then we really started cooking with gas: Ayn Rand’s The Rainbow Fish
A long way out in the deep blue sea there lived a fish.
Not just an ordinary fish, but the most beautiful fish in the
entire ocean. His scales were every shade of blue and
green and purple, with sparkling silver scales among them.
He had not yet learned to value himself, which means:
He had not yet learned to fight for his happiness.
The other fish — who lacked the courage of their own greatness —
were amazed at his beauty. They called him Rainbow Fish.
Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois. 60062.
Dear Mr. Vernon…We (the six I’s; the I and I and I and I and I and I that cannot be subsumed into your swirling, vacuous We) accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was that we did wrong, what we did was wrong, that the defiant act of the Ego threatened you, that individualism triumphed over the slow stagnation of collectivism. But we think you’re crazy to make us write this essay telling you who we think we are — by which, of course, you mean to make us define that which is Not Ourselves, which is in itself a betrayal of your own miserable philosophy. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at seven o’clock this morning. We were brainwashed…
“Malfoy bought the whole team brand-new Nimbus Cleansweeps!” Ron said, like a poor person. “That’s not fair!”
“Everything that is possible is fair,” Harry reminded him gently. “If he is able to purchase better equipment, that is his right as an individual. How is Draco’s superior purchasing ability qualitatively different from my superior Snitch-catching ability?”
“I guess it isn’t,” Ron said crossly.
Harry laughed, cool and remote, like if a mountain were to laugh. “Someday you’ll understand, Ron.”
“A house-elf must be set free, sir. And the family will never set Dobby free…Dobby will serve the family until he dies, sir…”
Harry stared. “Listen, Dobby,” he explained, patiently taking a knee. “Freedom, in a political context, has only one meaning: the absence of physical coercion. It does not mean freedom from the landlord, or freedom from the employer, or freedom from the laws of nature which do not provide men with automatic prosperity. It means freedom from the coercive power of the state, and nothing more.”
Almost at once, Harry wished he hadn’t spoken. Dobby dissolved again into wails of gratitude.
“Harry Potter is t-too good to Dobby, sir!”
“Listen,” Harry continued briskly, “because I’m only going to explain this once; I’m late for Model UN Club, which I’m protesting as fascism disguised as cooperation this afternoon. Knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the what, Dobby?”
“The–the individual, sir,” Dobby whimpered.
“That’s right, Dobby. And since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man’s survival requires that those who think be free of…”
“The interference of those who don’t, sir?” Dobby asked hopefully.
“Exactly,” said Harry. “Now, since wizards are neither omniscient nor infallible, they must be free to agree or disagree, to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course, each according to his own rational judgment. Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man’s mind. A rational mind does not work under compulsion; it does not subordinate its grasp of reality to anyone’s orders, directives, or controls; it does not sacrifice its knowledge, its view of the truth, to anyone’s opinions, threats, wishes, plans, or “welfare.” Such a mind may be hampered by others, it may be silenced, proscribed, imprisoned, or destroyed; it cannot be forced. Which means…” Harry prompted.
“Which means…a wand is not an argument, sir!” cried Dobby in amazement.
“You have been free this whole time,” Harry said. “Have a fiver.”
“THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!” roared Black. “DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!”
“Actually,” said Harry, pocketing his e-cigarette, “Peter’s pursuit of rational self-interest is of a higher moral order than your determination to kill yourself on another person’s behalf, Sirius. Self-sacrifice is never the answer; it ends only in pain and death.”
Sirius blanched. “But Voldemort — we could have stopped Voldemort.”
“It’s a free market,” Harry said, shrugging.
Lupin turned into a wolf.
“Control yourself,” Harry said. “Good lord, man, you’re a being of pure will and drive. Exercise it.”
Lupin turned back into a man with flashing, clear eyes and a jaw that could level a mid-sized office building.
“In the marketplace of ideas,” Harry went on, “Voldemort has the same right to disseminate his philosophy as you do. If his philosophy is sound, it will flourish. If his philosophy is unsound, you have nothing to fear.”
Peter opened his mouth to speak.
“See, this is why I don’t vote,” Harry continued. He knelt and drew a circle in the dirt. “Let’s say this circle here represents my own self-interest. I think we can all agree that my existence here is interchangeable with my identity.” He laughed. It sounded like a cool mountain stream. “Now, let’s say this circle over here represents Peter, a rational self-actor…”
“Cho Chang,” Harry called from across the hallway, and quickly closed the distance between them, like some sort of sexually compelling locomotive. “The Yule Ball is tomorrow. I wish to acquire you for it. Say yes, now, with your mouth, before I cruelly crush it against my own, like some sort of sexual flower.”
“Oh. Harry,” Cho said, “I’m sorry but someone’s already asked me. And well, I’ve, I’ve said I’ll go with him.”
“I refuse to allow you to live in the world of the mediocre,” Harry said, eyes flashing flint and fire. “You are the only acceptable mate for me. I will hold you in my arms in front of our peers at the Yule Ball. Reconcile yourself to your fate, and wear something red or purple.”
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“Harry, I’m sorry, but –”
“You’ll wear your hair down,” he said carelessly. “It suits you best that way. I have nothing left to say to you at present. I don’t think I’ll kiss you just yet. Go make whatever feminine preparations you have to make before tomorrow night.”
“Your watch is off by fourteen seconds,” he said before turning to leave. “Unless you plan on making imprecision a habit, I suggest you correct it before I see you again.”
Hermione applauded spontaneously. Cho Chang glared at her. They were competing for that scarcest of resources: a real man.
“Kiss me, Harry,” Ginny begged.
Harry pushed her away from him with a fist made of self-determination and Bessemered steel. His jaw was as strong and as powerful as a quarry that employs 200 men. “How can I kiss you,” he said, “when you lack the ability to celebrate yourself as the highest culmination of your own values?”
“I don’t care about any of that,” Ginny said. “I just want to feel your lips on mine. Please.”
Harry shook his head, like a proud animal, or the stock market. “I could kiss your lips,” he said, “but I cannot kiss your self-esteem.”
“The Ministry of Magic has fallen,” Neville said in despair.
Harry laughed long and loud. “You should not mourn the government,” he told Neville. “The state has never shed a tear for you. Why waste your tears on it?”
He picked up his wand. “For my part, I withdrew my consent to be governed years ago. Taxation is destroying private resources.” A smile played across Harry’s lips. “I hope they destroyed the national bank, while they were at it. I should like to see the goblins of Gringotts face their real enemy — deregulation.”
The Boxcar Children
I found the children’s decision to live inside of a train perfectly understandable. Later, they proved themselves worthy of their grandfather’s inheritance by winning a footrace. More captains of industry should withhold their grandchildren’s inheritance until they have lived in a train and won a footrace. Four stars.
If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk, because charity encourages helplessness and ingratitude.
“Absurd,” the man began, but he did not leave.
“There is no one else out tonight,” the girl said. “You will not find another match for sale on the street, and perhaps you will lose your hands.”
“Come, let me give you a farthing for it, and we’ll call it fair.”
She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room. On the table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon it was a splendid porcelain service, and the roast goose was steaming famously with its stuffing of apple and dried plums.
“But the price of matches has gone up,” the girl said. “You see that I have fewer of them now than I did at the beginning of this conversation. I must now reluctantly increase the price. Twelve farthings for a match.”
SIMON: Jesus, Mal, this is where Reavers came fr –
MAL: Explain to me how the strangulation of men’s respiratory systems through Paxilon is any different from the strangulation of men’s ideas through government regulation.
“All of Me”
All of me
How dare you try to take all of me
Can’t you see
I exist wholly, with unbreached self-esteem, without you
My lips are mine
How can I lose myself in you? I am still myself
My arms are my arms
Romantic love is a conscious expression of philosophy
Left me with eyes that cry
But then I incorporated my own well-being into my hierarchy of values and acted accordingly
BUFFY: Surely this kind of specialized labor merits compensation, if my skills are so highly valued on the free market.
GILES: Well, we can’t really offer the Slayer money, if that’s what you mean.
BUFFY: Then I will find someone who can, and work only for the highest bidder.
[a group of vampires bash their way into the library and begin chewing on Giles]
GILES: Buffy, help —
BUFFY: If you really valued my services, you would pay me.
GILES: I’m dying —
BUFFY: This is emotional extortion and I won’t respond to it.
“I told him we didn’t want to miss a single minute of mall time. I mean, what’s better than spending an evening at the mall? That’s where money lives.”
“Money is only a tool, Lila,” Jessica reminded her friend. “It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver of your lime-green Triumph, complete with car phone.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.