Chapter 29: The Generator
Stadler realizes the fatal dead end of his submitting to the looter's game. That once the looters have exhausted their use of him, he would no longer be safe from them and whatever power he had would instantly disappear. He plans on seizing control of Project X. His means: somehow. His motive: his terror of Thompson, the fact that it now is either Galt joins them or Galt refuses to surrender, wherein Stadler would be tortured to attempt to goad John. Stadler's liquid brain of thoughts without connections feels that his plan is a practical necessity.
Stadler finds that the Friends of the People have taken over the project a few hours before him. Stadler's terror when he encounters Meig, the vigilante head of the project, is the realization that Cuffy Meigs is his final spiritual son--the imbecile whom Stadler had sold his soul to. Meigs' terror in his moment of triumph, of gaining control over a weapon capable of mass destruction, is finding the mystic intellectual present, here, and refusing to fear him and defying his power! Meig, as per the psychological defense mechanism evident in his bullyism, lived in chronic terror his whole life, and now, it is as if the sum of his triumph has become the sum of his fears.
Megis, in his drunken panic, louts about and accidentally presses the lever for the weapon to self-destruct. Stadler, et. al., perish. Justice is blind as to who dies--whether the worthless lout of a bulley symbolized by Cuffy or Stadler, the once inviolate mind who had confronted the syllogism that A is A enough to have created the theory making the weapon possible.
Dagny listens in on the looters' plans after Galt's outbreak. Morrison panics and runs away (presumably to his well-stocked country home), stating that he's tried everything he could, etc. The rest of the villains realize that no matter what private escapes they'd provided for themselves, the full fact is that all are trapped. That if they were to run away to their country fortress, their lives could very well be taken by bandits. "They had the relieved look of cheats who could believe that the game could end no other way and were making no effort to contest or regret it." Even at checkmate, they would blank-out the solution of giving up, and they would still want their own way (who are they to know that their way is right?).
Mouch and Thompson give up their "liberal" stance and lets Ferris deal with Galt via force.
Dagny's epiphany comes about when she realizes that the nature and method of rebellion they had against existence--their undefined quest for some unnamed Nirvanna--was that they did not want to live, that they wanted to die.
As Galt lies trapped in the torture rack of the Ferris Persuader--Project F, Taggart screams out to them to increase the current, to deliver more pain to Galt, (to increase the current enough so as to kill him). When the generator breaks, Galt is the only one who can instruct the mechanic on how to fix it. The mechanic runs away, while Taggart attempts to fix it.
In the midst of his frenetic mindless action, Taggart realizes the truth about himself. That he wants Galt to die knowing that death would follow after wards, that given the choice of reality or die, he would forsake reality to die. That underneath the superficiality of "the public good," hidden from himself by his miasma of feelings and blank-outs, Taggart's core is:
- Lust to destroy whatever was living for the sake of whatever was not.
- To defy reality by the destruction of every living value, for the sake of proving to himself that he could exist in defiance of reality, never bound by facts.