The Fountainhead rocked my world

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leprechaun's picture
The Fountainhead rocked my world

(Note- no option for posting this in book club).

I just read this, finally got around to reading Ayn Rand, starting with this. Actually reading it a second time, before I start Atlas Shrugged, which I bought because this was so good. Why was it so good, in my mind?

I've read a lot of books in my life- less than others of course, but I've read Les Mis, Tolstoy (Karinina I liked better than War and Peace) and Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice and Phantom of Opera and lots of Nietzsche (that latter lifted me out of college depression and depression at other times even if it didn't provide all the answers). Read the entire bible actually, read Dosteovsky's Crime and Punishment. Read other stuff too, fiction and nonfiction. Read a book on memes before they were things on the internet. I should say memetics (the Meme Machine). Read lots of Hesse. Didn't read a lot last 5 years, at least not much fiction. Read a lot of technical stuff for work and pleasure.

Started reading Fountainhead on vacation to my sister in Florida but put it down. Hard to believe I ordered this in 2017. Just read it now- stayed up 2 nights in a row to finish it. My god.

Where to start? The characters are extreme examples of principle she wants to demonstrate, and she does well I think. Most people aren't so extreme but hey, some actually are, and it's a way to craft a narrative 'argument'. When arguing for the ideals represented in Howard Roark, she contrasts them with the best representative of the other ideas- such as Peter can't think for himself Keating. I mean Peter was materially successful and successful with girls. I appreciates this. She doesn't make him a dweeb or even lacking apparent confidence. He only lacks inner confidence.

It is a great book in my view from a purely literary point of view, and a psychological one as well, without trying to come up with any philosophical take-aways. Reading it a second time is powerful. I see hints now in the first chapters that are so obvious to me but I missed. I read fast the first time through anyway usually as I'm gripped by the narrative and don't want to learn about porticos or whatever. I want to know what happens! Now I have that luxury of going slow.

It really is a great book from a psychological point of view, and at least a pretty good one from a literary one. No spoilers but I was kind of nervous near the end when there was the explosion- a book that kept blowing my mind, I didn't want to turn into a cheap dollar store action book, which is what I feared, but at the end I realize she handled it well. I didn't want to be let down, and I thought I might be. I'm so glad I wasn't. That said she could have maybe done that different. I"ll have to re-read and see what I think.

This book blew my mind or something. I have to be careful with that cliche. I just mean it gave me mental breakthroughs and rushes. As everybody, I've gone through hard times. I relate to both Keating in that I have been unknowing of my purpose, my career wants or ignoring them in favor of common sense and consensus, but also I am like Roark psychologically in that when I do know or think something, I can stand alone and take the consequences- and there are consequences. I just didn't know what I was doing in college, and when I went back-- because I didn't want to go back until I knew what IW as going for. No more general ed, no more "financial economics" bs. I wanted to go back with a clear plan and for a good degree that could get me a job and a career, and I did choose one- accounting, but not the right one. My uncle dissuaded me from engineering. I keep thinking of engineering these days. I build things in my woodshop and like to work on houses, and learn science, but I don't want to be a carpenter, so engineering. But I let him dissuade me. I'm Keating. But when I have a conviction, I'm Roark. Besides career, my main problem is loneliness. Roark is amazing in his ability to withstand that, but of course he's fiction, but it's an ideal to aspire to as I do what makes me happy.

I had an Italian gf for a brief amount of time that read a TON unlike her family. Maybe she read Rand. Anyway she was atheist/agnostic and maybe but she would tell me do what makes me happy. She was trying to figure out (lovingly) what the issue with me was and she concluded I was "maladjusted". I also probably lacked self esteem but she would say do what makes you happy. Funny you had to argue for me to to accept that point of view- just do what makes you happy. She didn't because I valued and esteemed her but another would have. Lord. That's a big theme of Rand, happiness and self esteem and reason.

I have been religious. Just confused primarily. Ungrounded, in both philosophical outlook and career and life. Much better now. Mostly just lonely now but whatever. I got books. I'm 38 btw. I want a family, a large family even.

I've learned (late) that selfishness is what it's about. Being an individual, but being a social one. I just mean gotta put yourself first before you can think of saving others-- and don't live in the promise or think doing good things will give you 'credits'. you gotta look out for #1. You can in fact still have love. In fact, your love as a selfish discerning guy is worth more- arguably. Anyway I was already ready to resonate with Rand when I read this but she advanced and accelerated me. One thing I like, that you cannot dispute- her 'fountainhead' is reason. She is pro capitalism but she says that derives from egoism and that derives from reason. You can dispute her conclusions but she is not about faith and mysticism. I loved Nietzsche because he was brilliant. Oh I don't agree with everyone on everything so if there are parts of him objectionable, I may have not even paid attention to those parts. People think if you like someone you like everything about someone. I was aware of his psychological insights, his attempt at philosophical "realtalk", his poetic language (don't believe in god that doesn't dance) and that he's right about morality- it's a human invention. Few have the courage for what they 'really know'. Anyway now Rand bested him while giving him the honor he deserves. She called him mystic and that may be it. He is irrational in some areas. Did she subsume him? Maybe. I dunno. He's still good for what he's good at but I'm upping the value of reason and diminishing any mysticism. Never abandon reason, although it requires facts for food, and emotional clarity- to have your inhibiting emotions cleared out of the way for reason to lay its foundations on a given subject.

The book "blew my mind". I'm only using those words as a placeholder. It's just an idiom, but what it did was one-two punch me again and again in the middle parts. Shock and awe in a book doesn't create that effect. Many try that. What does, or what did for her, was setup, and then show illustratively how the character and situations come to their natural (if not inevitable) conclusions and what they are, with deep psychological insight.

I was going in this direction but Ayn Rand Fountainhead is a good read and a good movie adaptation.

PS my dad read it in college. We don't see eye to eye. He's a weak passive man- a man that can hardly exist. A well off man from inheritance who nevertheless did not squander it. A man that married well but his wife my mother was unhappy but he was no less happy for it. He really is very nice and 'selfless' and usually a guy such as that would never find himself in money. I'd see him rather stocking shelves at CVS (no offense) or low pressure sales at best, or driving a tractor or something but not making decisions or moves and getting what he got. He's passive. He gave us little guidance or help. But he's smug and goddy. (I use the word goddy to describe someone who is full of their belief in god- exactly as the word 'giddy' originated). So he says to me the other day- oh he read that in college, but he couldn't really remember. He's a fan of rush limbaugh. Huge fan. I am too. I take from all sides as one must and a small government is a more safe and prosperous country. But conservatism is not an identity unlike leftism. (I consider the 'religious right' to be a different form of leftism or impose morality social justice because it is that in every ascertainable way) You can be on the left for any given identity or several, and the meta-identity- a zealous religious do-gooder, but there's no 'conservative' identity. They are for smaller government but they get their identity elsewhere- as 'farmers' or 'rural folk' or 'whatever else- it can literally be anything- what they decide, but they don't identify deeply as "the man that wants a smaller gov". Except my dad does. My mom hated this. He has little identity outside church (passive lutheranism) and talk radio conservatism, and maybe being a father (a weak one) and he hasn't built anything. I guess I'm trying to say he's impressed with these guys on the radio but they would look at him as nothing. He's a fanboy. He's a cheerleader personality. He hasn't built anything, like Roark or someone in the real life. I haven't lived up to my potential but I've done a lot more in terms of accomplishments. But anyway we were talking.He said it read it. One criticism he had of Rand- he wished she'd talk about God more in her books. He's just clueless. I think somewhere along the line he assumed if she was capitalist and liked by the people he likes, she must be theist. He is totally clueless. He takes a casual carefree view of everything, but obivously this book didn't grip him and that's fine. Last in birth order, to well off family, married strong woman, maybe he never had to exercise his decision making powers. Then he surrendered it all to god anyway. He's goddy. Why do I care? Besides him being my father and inheriting my childhood from him, I dunno. This book is just a book. A great book but people will bring their prejudices to it. There may even be some Toohey's that read it.

It's a great book. I'm sure I'll say the same about Atlas Shrugged by this time next year. I'm not one for systems but Objectivity seems pretty sound, simple and water tight. Not a lot I can 'object' to pun intended. But this book is amazing as a standalone- at least to me. Reading it again, I see myself more strongly siding with the protagonist at the beginning, maybe because I know the end, but also just because - don't even start on a path that you don't love.

She's a sweet soul. You can't write that and not be sweet. Some of the lines. "Do you like what you do, Peter?" said Roark. My God it gives me chills. What a book. I can't even. Not trying to bring even a single person to Rand or objectivism. I do not even care. I can see leeriness to embrace 'systems' even atheist ones. Me too! But that said a lot of it would align with a skeptical atheist's point of view. I'm never dogmatic about anything. A virtue taken to its extreme case can become a vice, but she elevates reason as well as self esteem and individuality and value- exchange. What kind of cult leader does these things? But she is atheist so a lot on the 'right' accept her capitalism (Ben Shapiro for one) but not what she says gives foundation to it. Instead, to them, God. The Bible (the great cut and paste job haha).

Do what you want.

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Cognostic's picture
@Ayn Rand has certainly had

@Ayn Rand has certainly had an influence on my "right leaning' tendencies. Still, I recall people telling me I should read her books long before I ever did. Apparently I was already leaning towards the philosophy of "Personal responsibility for the decisions I make" before I ever picked up one of her books. I also love listening to Ben Shapiro, Articulate, accurate, statements backed up by facts, except for when he goes off into woo woo land. Agree with Ben or not, the man is going to make you think more deeply about any issue being discussed.

Whitefire13's picture
@ leprechaun... “I've learned

@ leprechaun... “I've learned (late) that selfishness is what it's about. Being an individual, but being a social one. I just mean gotta put yourself first before you can think of saving others-- and don't live in the promise or think doing good things will give you 'credits'. you gotta look out for #1. You can in fact still have love”

Ohhh - not too sure where to go with these statements. Personally, I’ll give you some “benefit of doubt” in that you are discovering yourself but there are many on here, my self included, that manage to live and care for others regardless of their faith, age or “contribution” to us.

“... I can see leeriness to embrace 'systems' even atheist ones. Me too! But that said a lot of it would align with a skeptical atheist's point of view. “

Actually, there is no atheist system. We are all people working out our own shit, minus a belief in god.
That’s it.

boomer47's picture


"@ leprechaun... “I've learned (late) that selfishness is what it's about."

Yair, that concept comes from the notion of egoism***. I'm not convinced that deep and innate selfishness is either viable or desirable for a member of a post industrial society

I've always had problem with Ayn Rand and Libertarians .Plus the implied notion that Ayn Rand was intellectually deep.

My take on her and libertarians that their guiding principle is "Fuck you Jack I'm OK". Imo that's an appalling attitude. It seems to me that's also the basis for the prosperity doctrine taught by some of the very conservative Christian sects. EG Such as one finds among televangelist.

But hey, these people don't appear to be living in Oz,so I don't have to interact with them in real life. So it's just academic to me.


***'Altruism and Egoism' Ronald D Milo

LogicFTW's picture
There is a whole Ayn Rand

There is a whole Ayn Rand movement.

To me, it is a long winded rationalization why it is okay to be very rich and huge income inequality is okay because that is "the natural order of things."

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