Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead still survives
by Jon Rappoport
July 18, 2017
This may seem like a strange way to start an article about Ayn Rand, but…
Sociologists and psychologists and other pseudo-academics miss the boat on almost every analysis of human culture they perform. They’re like surgeons reading the wrong X-rays before opening up the patient on the table.
For example, the “puppet factor” should loom large in studies of human endeavor. But it doesn’t. Puppets not only obey orders from above, they find other puppets and commiserate. They form groups. They share. They devote themselves to each other, struggling to believe that “human bonds” will mitigate and surpass the grinding years, during which they carry out the same orders and functions over and over.
“It’s not what you do in life, it’s the people you connect with. It’s expanding the sense of family.”
Somehow, the tedium of puppethood can be ignored, because people become people-people…and that’s sufficient, that’s what love is all about…you judge your value by what you can contribute to other marionettes…and the degree of appreciation you can garner from them…
I’ve written several articles about Ayn Rand and her work. No need to recapitulate my output here. Her 1943 novel still survives, as both the most hated and loved novel of the last three-quarters of a century.
Those who hate the book and want a hook for wounding it often say: the world Rand constructs isn’t real; it doesn’t and couldn’t exist; the people aren’t real, either.
How interesting. Novels are fiction, the last time I looked.
“Yes, but Rand is saying the world of her novels is the actual one.”
No, she’s saying her world is the underlying core of the real world. She’s claiming to reveal what’s percolating and boiling and steaming in back of mere social discourse and pretense and puppetry.
From people I’ve spoken to over the years, people who hate The Fountainhead, I would say they see themselves in a character in the novel, and they don’t like what they see.
For example, somewhere inside themselves, they see a no-hold-barred impulse for success without compromise, or they see a surrender to the flaccid norms of society and culture—and in either case, they’re disturbed.
Here is a sprinkling of quotes from Rand’s book. They challenge cultural platitude with a visceral and intellectual stroke of electricity. And that’s why The Fountainhead still lives, both for those love it or hate it:
Howard Roark (architect): “Every man creates his meaning and form and goal. Why is it so important—what others have done? Why does it become sacred by the mere fact of not being your own? Why is anyone and everyone right—so long as it’s not yourself?”
Roark: “I’ve chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I’m only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find the joy only if I do my work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards—and I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one.”
Roark: “I don’t intend to build in order to have clients; I intend to have clients in order to build.”
Rand: “Men hate passion, any great passion. Henry Cameron made a mistake: he loved his work.”
Dominque Francon: “Ask anything of men. Ask them to achieve wealth, fame, love, brutality, murder, self-sacrifice. But don’t ask them to achieve self-respect. They will hate your soul.”
Roark: I don’t make comparisons. I never think of myself in relation to anyone else. I just refuse to measure myself as part of anything.”
Ellsworth Toohey (newspaper columnist and social engineer, who sees his ultimate nemesis as Roark): “Happiness is self-contained and self-sufficient. Happy men have no time and no use for you. Happy men are free men. So kill their joy in living. Take away from them whatever is dear or important to them. Never let them have what they want. Make them feel that the mere fact of a personal desire is evil. Bring them to a state where saying ‘I want’ is no longer a natural right, but a shameful admission. Altruism is of great help in this. Unhappy men will come to you. They’ll need you. They’ll come for consolation, for support, for escape. Nature allows no vacuum. Empty man’s soul—and the space is yours to fill.”
Roark: “…the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary consequence. The primary act—the process of reason—must be performed by each man alone.”
Roark: “The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive.”
Roark: “Men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created. Creation comes before distribution—or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement.”
Roark: “As poles of good and evil, he was offered two conceptions: egoism and altruism. Egoism was held to mean the sacrifice of others to self. Altruism—the sacrifice of self to others. This tied man irrevocably to other men and left him nothing but a choice of pain: his own pain borne for the sake of others or pain inflicted upon others for the sake of self…Man was forced to accept masochism as his ideal—under the threat that sadism was his only alternative.”
These words are still capable of provoking thought—and not because they were merely intended to inflame or polarize.
And there are still people who will search for any reason under the sun to reject them—to avoid the need to read them, understand them, and make up their own minds about them.
(New piece up at my OUTSIDE THE REALITY MACHINE blog entitled “I’m Putin, I’m the US president, I am Russia, hear me roar, I sit in the White House”)
(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, Exit From The Matrix, click here.)
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.