He tried to explain and to convince. He knew, while he spoke, that it was useless, because his words sounded as if they were hitting a vacuum. There was no such person as Mrs. Wayne Wilmot; there was only a shell containing the opinions of her friends, the picture post cards she had seen, the novels of country squires she had read; it was this that he had to address, this immateriality which could not hear him or answer, deaf and impersonal like a wad of cotton. - p.162
Wynand and Dominique sat in the center of the fourth row, not looking at each other, listening to the play. The things being done on the stage were merely trite and crass; but the undercurrent made them frightening. There was an air about the ponderous inanities spoken, which the actors had absorbed like an infection; it was in their smirking faces, in the slyness of their voices; in their untidy gestures. It was an air of inanities uttered as revelations and insolently demanding acceptance as such; an air, not of innocent presumption, but of conscious affrontery; as if the author knew the nature of his work, and boasted of his power to make it appear sublime in the minds of his audience and thus destroy the capacity for the sublime within them. The work justified the verdict of its sponsors: it brought laughs, it was amusing; it was an indecent joke, acted out not on the stage but in the audience. It was a pedestal from which a god had been torn, and in his place there stood, not Satan with a sword, but a corner lout sipping a bottle of Coca-Cola.
There was silence in the audience, puzzled and humble. When someone laughed, the rest joined in, with relief, glad to learn that they were enjoying themselves. Jules Fougler had not tried to influence anybody; he had merely made clear- well in advance and through many channels- that anyone unable to enjoy this play was, basically, a worthless human being. "It's no use asking for explanations," he had said. "Either you're fine enough to like it or you aren't."
In the intermission Wynand heard a stout woman saying: "It's wonderful. I don't understand it, but I have the feeling that it's something very important." - p. 491