The Fountainhead (Centennial Edition Hardcover)“>                                                                                                                                                                             

I decided to start a series of reviews on the books I’ve read over the years that have contributed to my thinking and even enhanced it. I think more people should list the books that have been the most influential in their lives as a way to share some of their knowledge and interests.Knowing what books people have invested their time in reading can tell you a lot about a person. Plus I would have never known about some of the masterpieces I’ve read had not somebody shared their latest recommendation with me. Now this series of blogs is in no particular order as it pertains to the importance or influence each has had. I’m just reviewing them as I think of them. So with that said . . . the first book I’m going to discuss is . . . “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. I read this book back in 2007 and the only way I can describe reading it is that it was more than just reading a book for me, it was an event in my life. “The Fountainhead” was a 1943 bestseller, written by Russian philosopher/author Ayn Rand. 

It’s the story of a young architect named Howard Roark who refused to compromise the integrity of his work against a society that promotes mediocrity and seeks to extinguish heros and the all important . . . ego. Roark, by the exhibition of his character, is his own hero. The book is in fictional form but written to convey deep philosophical meaning behind all characters and events. Rand was an avid objectivist, defying the establishment and damning collectivism . . . basically she was anti-committee. She believed in the power of the individual and achievement. She surfaced her beliefs through Roark’s character as she shapes him to be the portrait of what man (creative man) should be. Roark’s sole purpose on earth is creating and he is in touch with that. The book starts with Roark in school with friend and classmate Peter Keating, the anti-Roark you could say. Keating is the man who lives for other people’s eyes and opinions, he’s been described by Rand as “the man who couldn’t be, and doesn’t know it” He lacks morals and chases riches through manipulation and ass-kissing. He is a victim of buying that selflessness and altruism are noble and as you read the book he becomes unhappy even after achieving much success. Roark and Keating are friends in the book but you notice Roark feeling bad for Keating as he sees him not being true to himself and there not being any hope for him.

Then there is Dominque Francon . . . the only kind of woman who a man like Roark can end up with (as suggested by Rand). Dominque is a free spirit and goes to drastic measures to find herself. She’s the daughter of a rich, rock quarry owner that Roark works for at one point. You could almost take her for being a spoiled brat. Then there is Ellsworth Toohey . . . to me this man stands for the ULTIMATE evil in people’s hearts. This book wasn’t necessarily written with “villains”, just villainous traits in certain characters but Toohey is as close to a bad guy as you can get. In the book he’s an art critic (see? useless already) that tries to destroy Roark anyway he can. He hates the individual heroism in man and promotes obscurity just to raise his own merit. It’s kind of like to have the tallest building in the city you tear all the other buildings down. He is talentless and basically what we call in modern times a “hater”. His character personally struck me because I know so many people with his tendencies. He befriends  Keating, a perfect person to buy into his ideas, by telling him that man’s only job is to serve other men and that all must give up their individualism to remain one of the crowd. Dominque even helps Toohey try to destroy Roark on occasion because she feels the world doesn’t deserve a man like Roark or his uncompromising work.

Then there is Gail Wynand, a self-made, rags to riches, newspaper publisher that Rand describes as “the man who could have been”. He climbs to success in life only to possess control over others which is also anti-Roark. A real man strives for success to give him more freedom to create. Control is an illusion just as life is a breath. I believe Wynand isn’t a villain, he just becomes bitter from his struggle and the chaos that is his life that he’s been so conditioned to always execute control to control outcomes. He marries Dominque in the book after Keating divorces her and tries to control her. Only by her marrying a man like that does she see the importance of living for herself so that she would be the woman for Roark. There are other characters in the book but these are the main ones and I was giving a brief description of the content to go into what I took from it all. I feel every artist should at least read this book once in their life.

Now architecture isn’t exactly TRUE art in the respect that there are certain limitations, art is more subjective and immeasurable. But with that said Roark designs many buildings in this book but he designs them for himself. He undergoes a lot of criticism and attacks on his character but he treats it all with indifference. A lot of reviews I’ve read suggest Roark is an impossible man, dehumanized, due his indifference but I don’t think that’s true. I think his focus on creating for his own happiness, just to create, made him indifferent. When you’re focused in life, I mean DEADlock fixed on something, you tend to block all the bullshit out. This book emphatically helped build into me that I am here on earth, in this existence, to merely create and be happy . . . and that’s it. There are the Toohey’s that can’t do what you do so they try to employ and brainwash the world into thinking they should be just as talentless and dispassionate as they are. It also portrayed to me how a man’s ego and his purpose to merely create should connect and not bend for anything. Also with the love story between Dominque and Roark, I’ve noticed a LOT of similarities in my own dating life. In the book Roark has to take Dominque almost caveman style, she wanted to be conquered by Roark. In my own relationships (well the happy ones) I’ve ended up with the free-spirited, brat that I had to let go for her to find herself then comeback. I know it’s bittersweet but hey, that’s life. Anyways, I feel this book was written for right-brain individuals like myself who need to see how their left-brain filters should work towards what their right-brain is wanting.

Sometimes people get wrapped up in what can be that they don’t see what is . . . to form a path to what can be. The highlights for me were the powerful speeches Roark gives toward the end of the book. He doesn’t talk much before that in contrast to the other characters but eventually breaks down how he views the world and how man ought to live. It’s inspirational and I go back to his speeches once in a while just to get hyped and relate it to my everyday doings. I felt a lot of what Roark feels in “The Fountainhead” even before reading the book. Jobs I’ve turned down because it would have meant me swallow too much pride. A man’s pride sometimes is the only thing that keeps him running and Ayn Rand’s novel exalts it. This book brings in perspective that man lives to create and achieve, because only your creations and achievements last.


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