The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand (Powerbooks, P400)
Status: Back Track
4 eyeglasses out of 5
Audio Pair-up: Band of Horses
The emotions Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead solicited from me were a surprising mix of elation, shame, adolescent inspired giddiness and utter perplexity. All heightened emotions felt are to be accorded to the outwardly stoic yet profoundly passionate character of Howard Roark, the hero of the 704-paged-painstakingly 6 font sized work of fiction. Rand created an antagonistic protagonist. Roark who rarely spoke, armed with a strong physique though carved with a plain man’s looks had only one goal: to live for passion (which was architecture). He had no other motivation and in fact did not care for social norms.
“I often think he’s the only of us who’s achieved immortality. He’s living it. I think he’s what the conception really means. You know how people long to be eternal but they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they’re not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict – and they call it growth. At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unreserved or unbetrayed; as if there had never been an entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass. How do they expect a permanence which they have never held for a single moment.“
Ayn Rand’s approach to writing philosophy, which was mass philosophy, while seemingly condescending still did not fail to please. In a way, what she has done was to plainly and directly point out things that we’ve known, felt and even acknowledged, at one time or another.
“I was thinking of people who say that happiness is impossible on earth. Look how hard they all try to find some joy in life. Look how they struggle for it. Why should any living creature exist in pain? By what conceivable right can anyone demand that a human being exist for anything but for his own joy? Every one of them wants it. Every part of him wants it. But they never find it. I wonder why. They whine and they say they don’t understand the meaning of life. There’s a particular kind of people that I despise. Those who seek some sort of a higher purpose or universal goal, who don’t know what to live for, who moan that they must find themselves. You hear it all around us. That seems to be the official bromide of our century. It seems to be the noble thing to confess. I’d think it would be the most shameful one.”
While I am guilty of the same accusations Rand had on mankind in general, and while I completely agree with several ideologies voiced out through her characters, there still are several concepts I do not subscribe to. Still, I fell in love with Roark, as I fell in love with the light manner by which the book dealt with objectivism.