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Jill

Psychological Visibility

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I wanted to learn more about the idea in this post, as I'm still somewhat confused.

Thomas was mentioning how he likes to be admired by his writing and poetry, but I have nothing to be admired for. I like my art but I don't do anything that is original and worth admiring. I see it this way: if I was studying science and had discovered a theory on my own that had already been discovered, what would be the point of showing it? It wouldn't be new to the world. The same I see no point in showing my art, although I still feel compelled to at times, not sure why. Yes, it's just my own personal plaything, it has no importance to the world whatsoever. While insults take away the pleasure of enjoying my characters, compliments make me feel like a fraud. I never feel good by showing my work, yet I still feel compelled to do it?

What are my thinking mistakes? Thanks in advance. :dough:

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This is an error. If you are in a creative field, you can't judge your work by a comparative standard. You have to create the work to please yourself. The consideration for the outside world should be a secondary one. If you have no interest in showing your art, but you love doing it, that is all that matters. On the other hand, if you are being mediocre and don’t seek to correct it, then you’re not worthy of admiration, but contempt. Your work must be achieved by your standards. Aim to be an artist, not an entertainer.

Edited by Howard Roark

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Sigh.

I know that. It's not about comparing with others. But even art has standards. New ideas can be created. Ayn Rand knew she was original and had something important to say. A person can please oneself doing wrong sums, it won't make the sums any good. If the person realizes one couldn't in fact do any maths, where does the person goes from there?

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Sigh.

I know that. It's not about comparing with others. But even art has standards. New ideas can be created. Ayn Rand knew she was original and had something important to say. A person can please oneself doing wrong sums, it won't make the sums any good. If the person realizes one couldn't in fact do any maths, where does the person goes from there?

Buy a calculator?

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Psychological visibility as Thomas was discussing it doesn't mean being admired necessarily, it means being *understood*. It's no good being admired in a vacuum or, worse, being admired for all the wrong reasons. Personally, I prefer constructive critics to admirers--the critics help you learn how to be *better*. Fans are an intellectual dead-end and a drain.

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I wanted to learn more about the idea in this post, as I'm still somewhat confused.

Thomas was mentioning how he likes to be admired by his writing and poetry, but I have nothing to be admired for. I like my art but I don't do anything that is original and worth admiring. I see it this way: if I was studying science and had discovered a theory on my own that had already been discovered, what would be the point of showing it? It wouldn't be new to the world. The same I see no point in showing my art, although I still feel compelled to at times, not sure why. Yes, it's just my own personal plaything, it has no importance to the world whatsoever. While insults take away the pleasure of enjoying my characters, compliments make me feel like a fraud. I never feel good by showing my work, yet I still feel compelled to do it?

What are my thinking mistakes? Thanks in advance. :dough:

Art should be made first to satisfy the artist, or at most a group the artist conceives as suitable. When writing, for instance, it is common to have a readership in mind. You are not writing to please the readership, but you will construct and word your story appropriately. If the world in general appreciates your work, so much the better.

Keep in mind: most new works are reimaginings or recombinations of existing works. The basic story plots have been established for centuries. Pop music has been recycling the IV, V, and I chords for decades. All western music follows a few variations of chord progressions. And movie plots...heh. The fact that we're literally recycling movies from previous decades tells you a lot about them. The fantasy-novel realm is littered with Tolkein clones, my own attempts included.

So if you're not producing something truly novel, that doesn't mean you're not creating something worthwhile. You bring your own perspective and abilities to whatever you create. I mean, my goodness, we've seen pictures of people for centuries, and people haven't changed all that much. Last time I checked, photography as an art was still going strong. :lol: Get out there and create!

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It is certainly possible to be too concerned with others on this issue of psychological visibility. So long as you create something that can be understood by a rational mind, and so long as it is artistic (it concretizes abstractions), then the originality will come from your unique perspective on the issues. You are certainly not required to come up with and to concretize a whole new philosophy, as Miss Rand did.

If you are aiming to become a commercial success, then others have to be aware of the value you have to offer and be willing to pay for it. However, you shouldn't be motivated to please those others, but rather to create what you want to create (by a rational standard) and then see if you can sell it. You may or may not find an audience willing to pay for what you have to offer, but you can still do that which is rationally pleasant to yourself, in your spare time as personal fuel. There are many good artists out there who just never reach a wide enough audience to be commercially successful, but they still create their art for their own sake, since each mind needs concretized abstractions to function properly.

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Buy a calculator?

:dough:

So, by analogy, if I buy art instead of doing it, that gives me self-esteem? How, exactly?

Keep in mind: most new works are reimaginings or recombinations of existing works.

Maybe most, but not all. New ideas get developed.

You are certainly not required to come up with and to concretize a whole new philosophy, as Miss Rand did.

But if what I value is genius and originality, how can I be I satisfied with less?

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But if what I value is genius and originality, how can I be I satisfied with less?
If it comes down to it and the case is so, you're going to have to accept that you're not a genius in a specific area, or a genius in any area. You'll then move on with your life and figure things out for your own self, what to do with yourself. That's worst-case scenario.

But I think you might not have in mind what genius actually means, the way you're approaching it. If genius is judged by what has already been achieved by somebody, there are a LOT of "geniuses" who aren't the smartest ever, or who possess the most potential ever. "Achievement genius" happens mostly because of ambition, determination, and follow-through. If you're talking about the actual brain potential, even that can be judged in a lot of different ways, and it's rare. Take our favorite genius philosopher, Rand. She had a great mind, for sure, but even more so she was determined and hardworking. It took her decades of sticking with it to achieve what she did. It didn't just come to her.

Are you smart enough to figure things out? Do you want to do things? Then I bet you'll be able to achieve great things with yourself.

Edited by JASKN

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:)

So, by analogy, if I buy art instead of doing it, that gives me self-esteem? How, exactly?

Not instead of. Bought art and calculators both can provide examples of how it is done, both can be instrumental.

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I know that. It's not about comparing with others. But even art has standards. New ideas can be created. Ayn Rand knew she was original and had something important to say. A person can please oneself doing wrong sums, it won't make the sums any good. If the person realizes one couldn't in fact do any maths, where does the person goes from there?

Well, your goal should be to achieve something rational and worth doing. Why this person enjoys doing wrong sums? You won’t find happiness acting irrationally. If he thinks an emotion is more important than the truth, then he is an evader. Doing sums is not creative work, you’re mixing categories. Why can’t you do any maths? You’re not mentally retarded. It takes effort, there is no other way around. These examples you give, are acts of evasion. You cannot expect to achieve some value without taking any actions to gain it. Is this person seeking admiration? If a man wants certain effect, it is his responsibility to discover and enact the necessary cause. He cannot sit and wait for this to happen “somehow”. This principle applies to the desire for wealth, happiness, freedom, or any other value.

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Psychological visibility as Thomas was discussing it doesn't mean being admired necessarily, it means being *understood*.

Yes, absolutely; the admiration has to come from the understanding of one's consciousness by another. As an example, I've tried various on-line dating avenues, and got an interest by one girl in a foreign country. We've been communicating a lot, but I'm not sure the understanding is there due to both the language barrier and the philosophy barrier. I like her and I would date her, but I can't say it goes beyond that because of the difficulties; I'd even help her to move to the United States by offering her advise and guidance; but I can't promise her anything beyond that, in part due to the psychological visibility factor.

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There was no effort when I was a child. My mind just did things and I just experienced them. Yes, I did just sit and it happened. I felt an urge to draw and I did it, it happened, I was happy with what I did. I was surrounded by people that genuinely valued the creativity, joy and promise of children unless they are so bitter they cannot appreciate it. Now all the effort I put in things give me no rewards whatsoever. I find the most basic things in life very difficult to do.

That's not I was talking about anyway, but I am not good at making myself understood and used a bad analogy. Nevermind what I said about sums.

Other people won't see what I create it as I see it. What happens is I end seeing it as they see it and it's painful. They will connect it to their own experience. Sometimes they even comment "it reminds me of..." To me my characters are the sum of my creativity, my life experience, my ideas, my stories, in reality they are just lame characters with no importance whatsoever. I don't want that to be visible.

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There was no effort when I was a child. My mind just did things and I just experienced them. Yes, I did just sit and it happened. I felt an urge to draw and I did it, it happened, I was happy with what I did. I was surrounded by people that genuinely valued the creativity, joy and promise of children unless they are so bitter they cannot appreciate it. Now all the effort I put in things give me no rewards whatsoever. I find the most basic things in life very difficult to do.

I'm not sure what you're talking about here. Do you find brushing your teeth difficult? Fixing lunch? Walking?

Other people won't see what I create it as I see it. What happens is I end seeing it as they see it and it's painful. They will connect it to their own experience. Sometimes they even comment "it reminds me of..." To me my characters are the sum of my creativity, my life experience, my ideas, my stories, in reality they are just lame characters with no importance whatsoever. I don't want that to be visible.

This is a totally alien outlook for me. Are you satisfied with what you create? Do you have your own standards to judge your work by?

If you can't objectively judge your own work then you need to spend more time defining a rational standard to judge it by. Other then that, who cares? There will always be people who don't understand or value your work. Why hold their judgment over your own? What are you afraid of?

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I wanted to learn more about the idea in this post, as I'm still somewhat confused.

Thomas was mentioning how he likes to be admired by his writing and poetry, but I have nothing to be admired for. I like my art but I don't do anything that is original and worth admiring. I see it this way: if I was studying science and had discovered a theory on my own that had already been discovered, what would be the point of showing it? It wouldn't be new to the world. The same I see no point in showing my art, although I still feel compelled to at times, not sure why. Yes, it's just my own personal plaything, it has no importance to the world whatsoever. While insults take away the pleasure of enjoying my characters, compliments make me feel like a fraud. I never feel good by showing my work, yet I still feel compelled to do it?

What are my thinking mistakes? Thanks in advance. :)

As a fellow artist, I can offer the following advice for motivation: Create art with the purpose of improving - sketch a lot, read books that can help, draw whatever comes to your mind to improve your imagination and self expression. And if you create something that looks professional enough to you - you can show it to others.

The logic of that is that the learning process is a "sensitive" time for external input. It can distract and damage motivation, and therefore there is a need for a firm separation between practice and display. The process of learning is good either alone or with a drawing teacher, but not when you are aware in every step of the way that this will be displayed.

As for psychological visibility for an artist; I find it very satisfying to be understood (when my art is) and getting compliments is very fun too.

I think a person's art is the key to his/her soul (much like seeing what art someone likes is revealing, only more so). When someone really understands your art, he also understands who you are (or at least some aspects of it), and because of it he can share your kind of world and enjoyment of it. This is a very high level of psychological visibility - the kind not normally achieved between strangers.

So there are great reasons to share your art. However, if you show your art as a way to bypass insecurity, then it's counter-productive. Your first priority needs to be your progress. If you don't yet understand why you need to share, but you feel that it damages your motivation, better limit it.

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(Edited to add some more thoughts)

Myself, it's not about what others think. It's about what the work is in reality. When people say "it looks like so and so character of famous film" it's true, although I never intended it to be such or "your art looks dated and there's nothing new in it" it's also true. It hurts that it's true. I cannot be blind at what the rest of the world produces.

Ifat, I'm not sure about some things you said. When I'm studying I often need the input to know how to improve and to correct obvious mistakes I might have missed. I can't pay for a course and it seems a good idea to take advantage of the free knowledge other artists offer in online forums.

Edited by Jill

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It's not about what others think. It's about what the work is in reality.

If you're not happy with your work why show it to others?

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I like my work, but not in reality. I like what it means to me. If I show it to others they see what it is in reality, not what it means to me.

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I like my work, but not in reality. I like what it means to me. If I show it to others they see what it is in reality, not what it means to me.

The implication is that you are not actually concretizing abstractions, but only putting across something vague and not clearly defined. Either that, or you are focusing on your emotional reaction to your own work instead of focusing on the facts as they are presented in your work. The solution is to improve your skills, both in the technical sense (better drawing capabilities) and in the philosophical sense (learning what it takes to convey your ideas, and develop those skills). I know I have a strong attachment to my own artistic work, but I also learned that I needed to improve what I wanted to convey. Showing your work to important others (honest friends and associates) can give you appropriate feedback as to if they understand what you are conveying given what you actually did.

However, I do think you are focused too much on what others get out of it, and not focused enough on developing your skills. Once your skills are developed more, you won't be so dissatisfied in your abilities; so that even if you cannot be Michaelangelo, you will be able to accurately convey your abstractions in your art.

In other words, think about what facts you have to present and what style you must present it in to better convey the overall meaning your work has to yourself. It takes a while to learn how to do this, but it is worth it.

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so that even if you cannot be Michaelangelo

But this is what I want to be. How do you become like those people? How do you create something new, something only you could have created and nobody else?

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(Edited to add some more thoughts)

Myself, it's not about what others think. It's about what the work is in reality. When people say "it looks like so and so character of famous film" it's true, although I never intended it to be such or "your art looks dated and there's nothing new in it" it's also true. It hurts that it's true. I cannot be blind at what the rest of the world produces.

Different people can look at your art differently. The kind that judges it in terms of being out-dated or not are probably not the type that really understand art anyway. It's the same type that shops clothes for what is fashionable, not what they like aesthetically. You shouldn't put so much weight on other people's opinion.

Ifat, I'm not sure about some things you said. When I'm studying I often need the input to know how to improve and to correct obvious mistakes I might have missed. I can't pay for a course and it seems a good idea to take advantage of the free knowledge other artists offer in online forums.

I was talking about other people in general, for example, the person who tells you your art is out-dated. Can this sort of input help you to improve as an artist? no, it can only stand in your way. You should really get advice only about technical matters and only from people whose opinion you value. That's what I meant.

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But this is what I want to be. How do you become like those people? How do you create something new, something only you could have created and nobody else?

Well, you have to work at it. Nobody is born with a skill set and nobody is born with a creative ability. If you want to be a great artist, then you have to develop your skills over time and think of things yourself that you want to concretize. And you shouldn't be thinking "this has been done before." Given the long history of human art, you may very well be presenting something that someone else has presented -- so it is more the way your present it that will be unique qua artist when you decide to do it using your own skills and your own ideas of what you want to present.

I don't really think of other artists when I write my poetry or my short stories or my novel. I don't ask, "How would Miss Rand present this?" or "How would Michelangelo present this?" Other artist might inspire me, and there are great examples of poetry and short stories and novels, but I don't try to write like they do, except very abstractly -- i.e. study what facts they presented to convey that idea, to learn how to become a good to great artist. However, the particular thing I am concretizing is mine -- my own idea -- and how to do that is also mine, because I have learned how to do it.

Let me put it this way, Howard Roark learned from Henry Cameron, but he didn't think, "What would Henry Cameron do with this assignment?" He took the skills that he learned as his own knowledge and worked on it from there, facing reality himself, and concretizing what he wanted to concretize utilizing his skill set.

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I wanted to learn more about the idea in this post, as I'm still somewhat confused.

You'll probably find out more about it from Dan edge's blog, "The edge of Reason". It's addressed in part 5 of his "The Psycho-epistemology of Sexuality" entries, which you can read it if you click this. But I think that N. Branden treats it extensively in his writing, since that, I think, was probably orginated by him, as Dan I think mentions/implies in that link too and Branden's "Muttnick Principle".

Edited by intellectualammo

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But this is what I want to be. How do you become like those people? How do you create something new, something only you could have created and nobody else?

By being true to your artwork and the meaning it has for you.

No one has ever understood my poetry, regardless of how many people I show it to. Regardless, I write what I feel compelled to write, when I feel such, regardless of what other readers do.

Some put in metaphor where none was intended, while others do not look for the meanings in each part, but they simply take it as a trivial and pointless whole.

Your artwork has meaning to you. Keep a journal. Write down the meanings of each piece. This way, when your artwork does become recognized for it's uniqueness, you can look back at the early pieces and remember everything it means to you. With the vast number of people who will look at a gallery piece, some people are bound to see what you do. Think of what people must have said to Salvador Dalí when he painted La persistencia de la memoria. "Clocks melting... Must be a really hot day out when you did that..." How long must it have taken him to have someone understand that? But in the end, he was finally understood, and the meanings he had were discussed at length by many.

In this case, Psychological Visibility is not about the world understanding you. It is about a few select people understanding the deeper meaning you instill within your own artwork. That said, they need not understand the meaning the first time they see it. They may even need to be told what it means by you. The important thing is that they come to see the same things that you do. If they look at your work after you tell them it's meaning, and still fail to see it, then that is painful. But if they come to see it as you do, to understand the meanings so much that forever afterword when they look at it, they intrinsically think of the same meanings that you do, then there is a powerful connection between you and the person, forged in your common understanding. Forever on, you would share a knowledge between the two of you that brings with it pleasure all its own. The pleasure of being understood and recognized for being who you are, and thinking how you do.

In that regard it is the same as the dog that gets excited by the person holding a ball... Both share the same meaning in the intent of the actions they display, and both are excited by the other's interest in that meaning.

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.

Here are some writings on seeing aspects of self by mirrors of self—particularly by mirrors of self in others—these writings being before Objectivist nonfiction writings on psychological visibility. 

Plato Alcibiades 1 132e–33c

Quote

 

Socrates: Have you, then, noticed that when someone looks at an eye, his face appears, as if in a mirror, in the eye of the person opposite? We call this the pupil [korê is literally a girl] because it is an image of the one looking.

Alcibiades: True.

Soc: So an eye would see itself when gazing at an eye and looking at that part of it which is best and with which it sees?

Alc: Apparently.

Soc: It would not see itself, if it looked at another part of a person or at anything else other than what it happens to resemble. 

Alc: True.

Soc: So if an eye is to see itself, it has to look at an eye and at that place in the eye where we happen to find generated the excellence of the eye—and I presume that is sight? 

Alc: Quite so. 

Soc: Well then, dear Alcibiades, with a soul too, if it is to know itself, it must look at a soul, and especially at that place in a soul where the excellence of a soul is generated, namely wisdom, and at anything else which this happens to resemble. 

Alc: So I think, Socrates.

Soc: Can we, then, say that any part of the soul is more divine than that involved in knowing and understanding?

Alc: No.

Soc: This part of the soul, then, resembles God, and anyone who looks at it and knows everything divine, God and understanding, would most know himself.

Alc: Apparently.

Soc: So as mirrors are clearer and purer and brighter than the reflection in the eye, so God turns out to be purer and brighter than the best that is in our soul?

Alc: It looks like it Socrates.

Soc: So it is when looking at God that we would use that finest of reflectors, and among human things when looking at the soul’s excellence, and that is how we would see and know ourselves most.

 

–Richard Sorabji, translator

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Cassius: Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?

Brutus: No, Cassius; for the eye sees not itself / But by reflection, by some other things.

Cassius: ‘Tis just; / And it is very much lamented, Brutus, / That you have no such mirrors as will turn / Your hidden worthiness into your eye, / That you might see your shadow. . . . And, since you know you cannot see yourself / So well as by reflection, I, your glass, / Will modestly discover to yourself / That of yourself which you yet know not of.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Herder’s Treatise on the Origin of Language (1772)

If for human’s instinct must disappear, “then precisely thereby the human being receives ‘more clarity’. Since he does not fall blindly on one point and remain laying there blindly, he becomes free-standing, can seek for himself a sphere for self-mirroring, can mirror himself within himself” (82).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hölderlin’s Hyperion (1794)

“Where is the being that knew her as mine did? in what mirror did the rays of this light converge as they did in me? was she not joyfully frightened by her own gloriousness when she first became aware of it in my joy?”

“. . . when the dear being, more faithfully than a mirror, betrayed to me every change in my cheek . . . .”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We the Living (1936 edition) 

In the first meeting of Kira and Leo: “Her face was a mirror for the beauty of his (58).”

“He looked into her flaming eyes with eyes that were like mirrors which could reflect a flame no longer” (445). The setting is Kira urging Leo to continue the struggle for a free life, even though he no longer desires such life.

 

The Fountainhead. (Page citations are from the 1943 first edition; all emphases are mine.)

The steel frame of Howard Roark’s house for Austen Heller has been erected. On site the workers notice that Roark’s hands “reach out and run slowly down the beams and joints.” Workers say “‘That guy’s in love with the thing. He can’t keep his hands off’.” Absorbed in work at the site, Roark’s “own person vanished,” but “there were moments when something rose within him, not a thought nor a feeling, but a wave of some physical violence, and then he wanted to stop, to lean back, to feel the reality of his person heightened by the frame of steel that rose dimly about the bright, outstanding existence of his body at its center” (138). 

Of Roark the morning after first time with Dominique: “In some unstated way, last night had been what building was to him; is some quality of reaction within him, in what it gave to his consciousness of existence” (231–32).

Of Dominique’s visits to Roark’s room and bed. “In his room, there was no necessity to . . . erase herself out of being. Here she was free to resist, to see her resistance welcomed by an adversary too strong to fear a contest, strong enough to need it; she found a will granting her the recognition of her own entity . . . . / . . . . It was an act of tension, as the great things on earth are things in tension. It was tense as electricity, the force fed on resistance . . .” (301).

On their last time, before they are separated for years, Roark says “‘I love you, Dominique. As selfishly as the fact that I exist. . . . I’ve given you . . . my ego and my naked need. This is the only way you can wish to be loved. This is the only way I can want you to love me’” (400). 

Roark and Dominique are definite entities, definite selves, exposed to each other. Their tensed sexual occasions heighten awareness of their selves, awareness of each to own-self and to other-self. (Cf. Sartre’s Being and Nothingness 1943, 505–14 in the translation by Hazel Barnes.)

In her marriage to Keating, Dominique is a non-entity. (No tension, strength, resistance, or ecstasy in bed.) Keating is a non-entity in most of his existence. Most all of his desires and candidate desires and most all of his opinions receive their value to him by their potential for impressing others. Dominique is a mirror to him, and she makes herself not more than a mirror (452–55). She says to Keating: “‘You wanted a mirror. People want nothing but mirrors around them. To reflect them while they’re reflecting too. You know, like the senseless infinity you get from two mirrors facing each other across a narrow passage. . . . Reflections of reflections . . . . No beginning and no end. No center and no purpose’”(455).

Of Wynand and Dominique: “She sat at her dressing-table. He came in and stood leaning against the wall beside her. He looked at her hands, at her naked shoulders, but she felt as if he did not see her; he was looking at something greater than the beauty of her body, greater than his love for her; he was looking at himself—and this she knew, was the one incomparable tribute” (537–38).

 

Atlas Shrugged (1957, page – first edition)

“. . . 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” (957).

 

 

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