The Fountainhead. Don’t put columns on my building!

Your fearless leader of Mince Words with June is mincing with death, is what she is. She left work at 3:00 and has been in bed in her stunning Delta College Tshirt ever since. Delta College is a community college. Fearless leader June attended said Delta the first year after high school because she graduated with a 0.000001.

Nyq

That said, let's sniffle over to The Fountainhead, shall we?

I wasn't really smart enough for this book (see Delta college reference above). For example, did anyone really understand why Dominique wouldn't be with Roark, other than to build tension for the reader? It was some crap about how she admired him too much to not destroy him, and okay, what? I really didn't understand that part.

I enjoyed the whole Luke and Laura let-me-rape-you-and-then-we'll have-a-nice-relationship action, as well. What do you make of that scene? This was the only time I didn't like Howard Roarke, but I guess we're supposed to think that Dominique really wanted him even though she herself calls it rape. I also think it symbolizes how Roark will do what he wants, whether the rest of us see it as good or bad.

I was taught in college to never dismiss an offensive part of a book because "that's how it was back then." But I'm tempted to do that with the rape scene. Women were supposed to resist desiring someone.

Other than the part where he's a big rape-y pants, don't you wish you could be like Hoard Roarke, with his uncompromising ideals?? I am so not him. I would have been like Peter Keating, doing what everyone wanted me to do. Like participating in a book club discussion while I have swine flu.

But of course, the big crux of this book is the whole idea of objectivism, which means, as Ayn Rand herself said, "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral
purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and
reason as his only absolute."

So, she's basically saying that in her world, we'd all be like Roark, only being happy living up to your own standards.

Well. You know what? She may be right. But the concept is so foreign to me that I can't hang with it. Throughout the entire book, I kept thinking, come on, Roark, just DO the assignment they gave you! Don't you want a nice career? And fame? And for everyone to like you?

Perhaps this makes me a putz. But I am completely influenced by everyone around me and by everyone else's standards. Do I betray my moral principles to make sure everyone likes me? Yes. I mean, if you all told me you wouldn't read me anymore unless I played that terrible Facebook quiz, "Should the president be killed"? I wouldn't do it. But I compromise in all sorts of subtle ways all the time.

So Howard Roark is selfish because he lives only to please himself, and I am selfish because I live only to please myself because I've pleased all of you. That's what I think. Either way, I think most of our motivations are selfish.

Now, what do you think about altruism, after reading this book? Ayn Rand said altruism permits no concept of a self-respecting, self-supporting man. Well, jeez Louise, this is so counter to how I grew up that I can't even stand it. There are people in my immediate family who give away more than I make in a year. Plus, I was the recipient of Pell Grants in college. Did that make me someone who didn't respect herself? No. But maybe that's because I had to work so hard to get the REST of my college money.

At any rate, I'm glad I read this book. It was interesting to look at life from her completely different perspective. And I think anyone's first reaction to something different is to shun it, and I'm trying hard to see and respect her point of view, even if I end up not agreeing with it.

Oh, and by the way, I found it ironic that I read this book, then looked online to see what I should think of this book. That is exactly the kind of activity that would have made Ayn Rand spit up.

So what'd you think?

83 thoughts on “The Fountainhead. Don’t put columns on my building!

  1. Sleeping Beauty is KILLING me tonight. I have been laughing out loud. You know who doesn’t die? At the end? Sleeping Beauty. Because she is only sleeping deeply. Then the Prince comes and wakes her with a kiss. At the end.
    Are there any references to the Cassidine’s, The Ice Princess or Robert Scorpio in The Fountainhead? Because I didn’t read it, which I wish now that I had because the comments would make better sense. But if it has the same story lines of an early 1980’s General Hospital then I’ll totally go read it.
    I am IN for the next selection. When will you be naming the next tome, June?

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  2. Read The Fountainhead a few months ago – part of my “bone up on the classics between chicklit” strategy. As an artist I was seriously jealous of Roarke – aside from the starving, it must be nice to be that sure of what your vision is. The rest of us get cluttered. Seems to me objectivism is pretty self-centred and it would be pretty hard to be an objectivist if you actually had a family!

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  3. I did not read our book this time, but please explain as I am confused by the Luke and Laura rape references. Was this really in the book? Because I only remember this from General Hospital when I was in college in the late 70’s…

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  4. The whole point of the book is to extol the virtue of the individual! And frankly, it doesn’t matter a crap if ANYBODY dies, including you, Sleeping Beauty!

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  5. Here is what objectivists say about having children.
    One clearly identifiable obligation is that of parents towards young
    children, who need to be looked after until they develop the ability to
    think rationally and independently. In having children of their own free
    will, parents take on this moral responsibility. Their reasons for having
    children may range from rational motivations such as the enjoyment of
    watching a new life develop, to irrational ones such as carrying on their
    family name. But whatever their reasons, in order to be good parents, it is
    necessary for them to invest emotionally and financially when their children
    are young and incapable of taking care of themselves.
    This investment however, does not give parents a lifelong claim on their
    children. When they become adults, children may or may not appreciate their
    parents, depending on the type of relationship they have had. They should
    recognize that their parents are the source of their lives, but also realize
    that this does not constitute an obligation to automatically love their
    parents. There is also no reciprocal obligation for children to look after
    their parents when the parents are old. Such a demand or expectation is
    irrational, since this arrangement obviously cannot be settled on before the
    child is born.
    On Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 11:18 PM, wrote:

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  6. Is it too late to comment?
    I found the similarities to today’s culture in America troubling. As a parent of small children, I am so used to the wave of political correctness. No one is ever better than anyone else anymore, if you show up you get a trophy and no one should ever hurt anyone’s feelings by exalting one over another. Not to mention the dumbing down of standardized tests, etc. etc. I found Toohey (sp?) particularly sinister and found myself connecting his personality with several prominent figures in today’s world. The idea that if you elevate the mediocre you can undermine the supreme. Really chilling for me. Thanks for having us read this (again!) June! Hope you haven’t died. (If you did, is Sleeping Beauty taking over?! Will Jan make us all try hookers and blow?! Will Hulk reveal his true identity? It’s like a soap opera here 🙂 )

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  7. I am so mad that I got called into work at my part-time job, because I had specifically asked for that night off so I could do Mince Words. And then the girl who was supposed to be working “forgot”, and lives too far away to make it in, and since I’m the only one they could get ahold of, guess who got to work? Awesome. I didn’t even get to eat Ding Dongs.
    But since I got bored with the book after it took me 3 weeks to get to where Peter first meets Dominique, I suppose my lack of presence last night wasn’t really that big a loss. I really WANTED to finish it, but I just COULDN’T. I didn’t like or care about any of the characters. I couldn’t even feel bad for poor Catherine, whom Peter had been treating badly even at that point, because she just TOOK it. I mean, I know “that’s how it was back then”, but I feel like even back then women were allowed to say to their boyfriends “You suck, I want to start seeing other people.”
    Although I too am now intrigued by the rape-y bits and the dying, and might have to go back and skim through, or at least read the Cliff’s notes.
    Perhaps we should let Sleeping Beauty pick the next book, so that she will actually want to read it and not just eat Ding Dongs 😉

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  8. I read Atlas Shrugged and that was all the Ayn I’ll ever need. And too? It’s a constant struggle to call her Ayn-rhymes-with-nine. Looks like plain old Ann to me. Why she got to be all pretentious and shit?
    Sleeping Beauty for Mince Words Princess this month.
    What’s our next book? Maybe I’ll read it this time.

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  9. OK…Sleeping Beauty? I love you. You are the new Hulk here!!
    You were cracking me right up!
    Junie, your commenters are the best!

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  10. two things. first, ayn rand’s name pronunciation –
    Excerpted from a letter to a fan, 1937:
    “Your letter inquiring about the origin of my name has been forwarded to me. In answer to your question, I must say that ‘Ayn’ is both a real name and an invention. The original of it is a Finnish feminine name. . . . Its pronunciation, spelled phonetically, would be: ‘I-na.’ I do not know what its correct spelling should be in English, but I chose to make it ‘Ayn,’ eliminating the final ‘a.’ I pronounce it as the letter ‘I’ with an ‘n’ added to it.”
    second, if this sleeping beauty person is going to be a part of your discussions then i might have to stick a fork in my mother flippin eyeball >:|

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  11. June, thanks for the comment about objectivists. I guess what I meant by Dominique and Roark having “non-human” qualities is that it doesn’t seem humanly possible to say, I will love you by doing the cruelest things possible and be with someone else because I think it is the best possible way to show you my love. Wierd. But I think everyone else has left The Fountainhead room, so I will gather my ding dong wrappers and let it go.
    This was fun – I even liked Sleeping Beauty’s contributions!

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  12. Did no one see a politcal comparison to our time? The quote on page 605 was stricking to me. It ends with, “I’d have no desire to penalize a man because he’s worth only fifteen dollars a week. But I’ll be damned if I can see why a man worth forty must be penalized–and penalizd in favor of the one who’s less competent.” Also.. on page 666 “everything enjoyable, from cigarettes to sex to ambition to the profit motive, is considered depraved or sinful. Just prove that a thing makes men happy—and you have damned it. We’ve tied happiness to guilt. and we’ve got mankind by the throat.” If one listens to Toohey, one hears what is happening today. He lives! Roark is dead..individualism is dying!
    Your oldest viewer.

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  13. Hannah,
    I did think of that, too, and I forgot. I also went online to see how much $15 and $40 would be today. Of course I have forgotten how much it’d be, because this was all last month. Maybe I need to take notes while I read these book club books.

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  14. June-
    My dang internet has been down for two days and I missed the book club discussion! Urgh!
    I also missed the ding dongs, which I so want right now. Can you just see me running to the grocery story at 9pm to get just a box of ding dongs? I’d have to get some other stuff too, just to try to hide the fact that I want the dongs, like a pack of gum, some toilet paper, fish food…
    Sorry you didn’t exactly enjoy Fountainhead.
    Here is the deal in my perspective. In Rands eyes, sex is submitting yourself, and losing a part of you in the process.
    She didn’t want Roarke to submit, since he didn’t lay himself open to anyone else, why would he for Dominque? She knew that, and didn’t even want to go there.
    Very different from the real life Frank Lloyd Wright that she modeled Roarke from. He didn’t cave on his designs, but he sure got around otherwise!

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  15. Finally finished it! Only 9 days late, ahem. I’m moving house blah blah. Anyways…
    I was finding it pretty readable until the last quarter or so when everyone started justifying their actions with long rants. My, but Toohey could be dull. And awful. I felt uncomfortable about the rape origins of Dominique and Howard’s relationship but I think it’s not meant to be seen as rape. And as for Dominique and Howard choosing not to be with each other, I think that was explained at one point. She was the one thing he cared about other than architecture. If he had her while he was an unsuccessful architect then he might lose his drive in his professional life. He stayed single to keep his edge.
    Peter passing over Catherine to marry Dominique was horribly believable and I didn’t like how Catherine went on to turn into a caricature of her uncle’s teachings. She was always pretty malleable but she ended up without any personality. Which was the entire point, but sad still.
    The whole objectivism philosophy sounds like a good idea in some ways. I mean, I see how it came about. People standing up for what they believe, speaking up about it, having a sense of self (not to mention self worth) would be great. BUT what about when you’re wrong? I mean, everyone’s wrong sometimes. And I definitely believe in charity.
    I found it a little odd that the philosophy Rand was trying to sell was embodied by a character who spends most of his life struggling. I mean, I know he’s not supposed to care about money or food or whatever but if his great joy was to see his buildings built, then he spent a lot of his life unhappy, right? That’s not a convincing argument to me.
    Thanks for getting me to read it. I keep seeing Ayn Rand referenced everywhere now. I feel much more knowledgeable 🙂

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  16. I believe “Ayn” is pronounced Aine, not like Ann.
    I read this book a few years ago, and I really loved it. In fact, this is the book that sparked my desire to go into the architecture field. I loved Mr. Roark, loved that he did what he wanted to do, loved that he was unconventional and snarky. The only reason it worked, of course, was because he was a friggin’ genius. Anyways, I think it is a great book. I need to reread it, though, because apparently I missed some stuff.

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