Saturday, August 06, 2005

Chapter 6: The Non-Commercial

The essence of the non-commercial is that of reason being stifled, suffocated by the miasma of unreason, the thinking mind forced to succumb to the blankness of aimless joy--a party where those involved do not know the purpose of celebration. Nay, the purpose of the hidden shackles in this social event is to compel in Rearden a greater sense of guilt in his flawed associations of certain vital things. The idea of his wife, whose virtue must be protected, undermines his capacity for happiness--that he does not view Lillian as his wife, as if he were the one who is depraved. The irony of his enemies coming to his party, protected from the storm outside under his roof, as if helpless children whom he supports, not noticing the burden of the action. Of Francisco, who would present himself as a man capable of reason, yet still succumb to actions that seem more degrading than that of the helplessly mindless. Of Dagny, who would have the audacity to trade her diamond bracelet for Lillian's bracelet of Rearden Metal--the very first thing that was created from Rearden's magnum opus. Of Dagny's actions which would provoke him to stoop down to being the doting husband, to avoid accepting the seemingly discordent feeling of affection he has for Dagny's realization of the worth of the bracelet, as well as pain for Lillian's disregard of the symbol representing that which means the most to him. This chapter is about Rearden's attempt to betray his own mind, to forgive his ability to reason.

Rearden does not believe that The Equalization of Opportunity Bill would ever be successful, and yet he does not let himself accept the nature of the guests at his party--the pronounced people of influence in society--their adament support of the bill, as well as faulty convoluted circular "reasoning" for it; he does not accept the fact that the remaining people of influence are from this stock of the most depraved, these apparently helpless people he's carrying. The fault is that if those who are in control have been reduced to this group of the dispicable--Eubanks, Pritchett, Scudder--then the realization of the Bill is perfectly likely. He believes that the world is sane, that its people good, that it cannot be that these scum and scudder would be the ones who decide, the ones in control. His constant tendency to avoid the party, to walk off to a quiet corner away from it all, embodies his will to ignore this fact, to continue living in the universe that he knows--that of Rearden Steel's blazing sign in the distance, the realization that it is he who works and effortlessly supports these people, the pride that he can afford to hold such a party, that his wealth came from his own ability.

Francisco warns him about the sin of forgiveness. Rearden can forgive his family for wishing him the pain of having to avoid the urgency of his work for their aimless chatter. Yet, forgiveness depends on one's ability to reshine the evil as something good. Rearden's tendency to ignore the malice of his family--his mother's insistance that it was she would had helped him through, yet had, in reality, been the one who constantly denounced the good in him--is due to his interpretation that their actions are good, that his mother wishes to show the pride of motherhood, and he would grant them happiness, only because he sees in them a reflection of him, refusing to see their true base nature.

A part of Rearden realizes this; he reacts to this nearly unconscious revelation in a twisted self-harming way. He is supposed to receive triumph in having taken his wife, but instead, when he feels that what he's won has no meaning--and he is left with a sense not of attainment, but of degradation. Because he has been wrongfully generous enough to give Lillian the title of "wife," he thus feels that his revulsion towards her is unjustified. His "love" for her has become the need to hold an anonymous woman as his "wife," now that he is no longer under the delusion of her reflection of him. He becomes convinced that his desire of her is depraved, that women who have no desire for physical pleasure are pure--that his desires of the physical are to be condemned. The weapon they have against him is wrought of his own psychological chains, and it is the one that makes him unhappy--the man who is denied the sympathy of his brother purely because of his non-commercial core.

The fact that Lillian invites Scudder, someone who has lambasted Rearden, though without solid facts, but with strings of meaningless adjectives, sheds nature of her "alliance" in this battle for earth. Her defense is her undercover identity as "his wife"--the fact that Rearden cannot bring himself to disassociate her from this standing, the shackles of duty he still harbors towards her. When Dagny trades for Lillian's bracelet of Rearden Metal, Rearden is faced with the transferrance of identity--to him, it is only proper that his wife wears that bracelet, and when Lillian gives Dagny the bracelet, it is a wreck against his paradigm. It also foreshadows the transferring of the title of "wife" from Lillian to Dagny. Lillian's shortsightedness that she holds onto Rearden by the unbreakable chains of guilt--that he had given his word to be a loving husband--undermines her hold over him.

With the realization of the sort of fetters his family has him by, Rearden would be equipped to escape the miasma of the world, to abandon his work, and stop supporting a world that holds joy as sin, happiness as being produced by the depraved. He would escape the chains of the non-commercial, to return to the rational universe of the commercial.

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