"Man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress."
I gave two months of my life to this book and I know what I have gained for life.
Howard Roark, Peter Keating, Gail Wynand, Dominique Francon, Henry Cameron, and Ellsworth Toohey—have taught me what years of experience couldn’t have; in all probability my survival would not have the meaning it has today.
For those who have no clue what I am talking of please rush to your nearest bookstore and grab a copy of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand!!
The book, in these two months, saw various emotions on my face—of sorrow, of joy, of pain, of revelation, and of fear… In the process of discovering the “I” in me I found Peter Keating in me. I noticed myself quivering with fear then. It was too much for my self-obsessed soul.
"Never ask anyone what you should do when it comes to your career, how can you be so ignorant, how can you ask what you should be doing?"
Within the complexities of the book I understood a lot of complexities of life. You cannot decipher anything external unless you interpret your own self…your ego….your esteem…your worth. Once you do that ‘others’ do not matter. Their opinion does not leave you in doubt. You do not wait for the approval of others. You become independent. You realize you are an individual. And then you will discover the strength of that individual.
The most poignant message comes at Roark’s trial when he tells the world:
"I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. I wished to come here and say that I am a man who does not exist for others."
Love is selfish.
"Before one can say 'I love you', one must first learn to say the word 'I'."
Would you torture the one you love? Would you do everything possible to make your lover suffer? Would you love the one who raped you? Dominique did. And for not one moment did I doubt the chastity of their relationship. Read about Dominique and Roark’s complex affair and you’ll understand this.
So are we…
"Man—every man—is an end in himself…" We must live for our own sake. For our happiness. Morality does not consist in living for others or for society. It consists in living for your self.
"The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."
Reason is the only absolute
Reason is man’s only means of knowledge. Life is not about accepting things and blindly following them. It’s about questioning the beliefs, understanding them and if need be negating them. Absence of reasoning has made this a world of “second-handers.” A world which Ellsworth Toohey talked about:
“A world of obedience and of unity. A world where the thought of each man will not be his own, but an attempt to guess the thought of the next neighbour who’ll have no thought – and so on, Peter, around the globe. Since all must agree with all. A world where no man will hold a desire for himself, but will direct all his efforts to satisfy the desires of his neighbour who’ll have no desires except to satisfy the desires of the next neighbour, who’ll have no desires – around the globe, Peter. Since all must serve all. A world in which man will not work for so innocent an incentive as money, but for that headless monster--prestige. The approval of his fellows – their good opinion – the opinion of men who’ll be allowed to hold no opinion. An octopus, all tentacles and no brain.”
You live a life when you read a book. A good book makes you feel the emotions of the characters and you feel the presence of characters around you. Catch-22 (by Joseph Heller) made me laugh. The Kite Runner (by Khaled Hosseini) made me cry. The Fountainhead made me think.
The book is so intense that I took several minutes to come to reality every time I read a few pages of the book. The philosophy is quite subtle and you need some time to take it in completely. Besides, it is full of literary fireworks, incredible word pictures, and the power to make the reader read 10 pages when the intention was to read just 2 at that time.
My only problem with Ayn Rand is that in certain portions the philosophy is so dragged that it seems she doubts the aptitude of the reader in understanding what she wished to convey. Nevertheless, do not miss out on this book. Rest assured, it shall enter your list of favourite books when you are not even half way through it.
My favourite quotes:
“I’ll never remind you afterward that you’re crying, Dominique.” [Roark when Dominique calls the press.]
"She thought how strange it would be if she ever said 'Hello' to him; one did not greet oneself each morning."
"Being with Howard is like being alone with myself, only more at peace."
"Don't allow men to be happy. 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."