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The Fountainhead (Student Edition)

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From Wikipedia - The Fountainhead's protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision.


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From Wikipedia - The Fountainhead's protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision.

30 review for The Fountainhead (Student Edition)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    Would you like to hear the only joke I've ever written? Q: "How many Objectivists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" A: (Pause, then disdainfully) "Uh...one!" And thus it is that so many of us have such a complicated relationship with the work of Ayn Rand; unabashed admirers at the age of 19, unabashedly horrified by 25, after hanging out with some actual Objectivists and witnessing what a--holes they actually are, and also realizing that Rand and her cronies were one of the guiltiest partie Would you like to hear the only joke I've ever written? Q: "How many Objectivists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" A: (Pause, then disdainfully) "Uh...one!" And thus it is that so many of us have such a complicated relationship with the work of Ayn Rand; unabashed admirers at the age of 19, unabashedly horrified by 25, after hanging out with some actual Objectivists and witnessing what a--holes they actually are, and also realizing that Rand and her cronies were one of the guiltiest parties when it came to the 1950s "Red Scare" here in America. Here in Rand's first massive manifesto-slash-novel, we meet the theoretically ultimate Objectivist -- architect Howard Roarke, who is so just completely sure of what he should be doing with his constructions, he won't even participate in his industry at all unless his client gives him complete and utter control over the final project; which is why Howard Roarke barely ever completes any projects over the course of his life, which according to Rand is because of the vast unwashed masses of the insipid keeping the obvious genius down. Righteous, Ayn, righteous! Ultimately it's easy to see in novels like this one why Rand is so perfect for late teenagers, but why she elicits eye rolls by one's mid-twenties; because Objectivism is all about BEING RIGHT, and DROPPING OUT IF OTHERS CAN'T UNDERSTAND THAT, and LET 'EM ALL GO TO HELL AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, without ever taking into account the unending amount of compromise and cooperation and sometimes sheer altruism that actually makes the world work. Recommended, but with a caveat; that you read it before you're old enough to know better.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This book is the equivalent of a drunk, eloquent asshole talking to you all night at a bar. You know you should just leave and you could never explain later why you didn't, but you just sit there listening to the guy ramble on. It's all bullshit, and his arguments defending, say, his low-key but all-consuming misogyny aren't that good and don't even really make sense, but just for a second you find yourself thinking, "Huh, the man might have a point..." before you catch yourself and realize that This book is the equivalent of a drunk, eloquent asshole talking to you all night at a bar. You know you should just leave and you could never explain later why you didn't, but you just sit there listening to the guy ramble on. It's all bullshit, and his arguments defending, say, his low-key but all-consuming misogyny aren't that good and don't even really make sense, but just for a second you find yourself thinking, "Huh, the man might have a point..." before you catch yourself and realize that no, he is just an asshole. You feel dirty and bad afterwards, realizing how close you came to the abyss, but there was that one second where, for some reason, his selfish, arrogant stances, which have hardened into granite truth for him, bluntly force you into a momentary empathy with his ideas--ironically, the one thing he will never, no matter how many shots of Jameson you buy him, give you. The only real difference between the drunk at the bar and The Fountainhead is that the drunk probably wouldn't go so far as claiming, when relating an account of rape, that the woman wanted it, even craved it. Ayn Rand goes there while remaining perfectly true to her Objectivism bullshit. At least the drunk might buy you a drink. Ayn Rand would probably object to it on philosophical grounds.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Eric_W

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I had not really paid much attention to Ayn Rand, darling of the conservatives (very surprisingly, actually) until I began reading her biography. When I asked around to see who had actually read any of her work, I found only a few, but lots of opinions about Rand herself. Often those comments ascribed beliefs to Rand that were at opposite poles of the spectrum, from conservative to radical, individualist to Nazi fascist. Obviously another case of what I call the “De Toqueville syndrome,” where I had not really paid much attention to Ayn Rand, darling of the conservatives (very surprisingly, actually) until I began reading her biography. When I asked around to see who had actually read any of her work, I found only a few, but lots of opinions about Rand herself. Often those comments ascribed beliefs to Rand that were at opposite poles of the spectrum, from conservative to radical, individualist to Nazi fascist. Obviously another case of what I call the “De Toqueville syndrome,” where everyone pretends to have read a famous book and to know what the author stood for, but has no firsthand reading knowledge. Her biography revealed a complex and very interesting individual, so it was time to dig into her works personally. The Fountainhead tells the story of Howard Roark, an architect. Thrown out of Stanton School of Architecture for his refusal to adhere to the standards of the past (the dean views Roark as a rebel who opposes all the rules of architecture and his society’s view of art that is representation of what has been revered in the past) and for turning in assignments that represented a complete break from the past. The conversation with the dean, who tried to persuade Roark to come back into the fold, represents the central theme of the book, the conflict between those who are realitycentered against those who define their lives through the eyes of other people. Roark seeks employment with Cameron, an architect whose designs tried to incorporate using the advantages of new materials, e.g., a skyscraper should look tall, not just like a twenty-story brick building trying to look like a renaissance house. Cameron began to design buildings the way he wanted rather than how his clients demanded. His business dwindled to nothing, but he was sought out by Roark. Following Cameron’s retirement, Roark seeks employment as a draftsman in a large architectural firm, where he gets a break by sketching a house that breaks with tradition completely but is just what the client wants. Roark is a brilliant but struggling iconoclast, while his rival and former classmate Peter Keating rises to the top of his profession by using obsequiousness, manipulation, and deception. His primary concern is how he is perceived by others. He designs by copying from the past, never thinking independently. Both men are in love with Dominique Falcon, a brilliant, passionate woman, who falls in love with Roark, admires his genius, but who is convinced his genius has no chance in a corrupt world. The villain of the book is Ellsworth Toohey, an architectural critic of note, who denounces Roark for his failure to adhere to the accepted standards of the day. Toohey believes that the individual must sacrifice his independence to the will of others, i.e. society or the group. Toohey is employed by Gail Wynand, a publisher whose paper caters to the lowest common denominator to gain power. He comes to admire Roark and must then decide whether he will continue to pander to popular taste or live according to his higher standards. Rand and her novels have been vilified by the left-wing as reactionary and praised by conservatives as brilliant and influential. Frankly, I cannot understand how conservatives can be so enamored of this work that celebrates independence and the rejection of tradition and “normal” morality. She celebrated atheism, a kind of free love, very strong women, and a rejection of parental values and social norms. She abhorred the subordination of reason to faith, of surrendering one’s own thinking to the beliefs of others. She despised the religious believer who without questioning adopts the religious beliefs of his parents, conforming without thinking. Morality becomes something practical and relative. For example, Roark dynamites a government building project that has been altered, so he can gain access to the courts since the government cannot be sued. Roark really doesn’t care what other people think. He has such strong personal will that he will just do what he thinks is right. He also pals around with one of the construction workers who admires him because he is the only architect that understands construction, and, indeed, Roark makes the point that he loves engineering and building. That sounds more like sixties liberalism than what I hear conservatives espouse. Rand is clearly a romantic who believed that man can live up to an ideal, and reason can help them achieve the independence and the happiness that depends on that independence. What infuriates liberals, as far as I can gather, was her unfailing adherence to capitalism. I suppose conservatives latched on to her vigorous rejection of collectivism, no doubt related to her childhood experiences under Communism. This is not to say Rand celebrates nonconformity for its own sake. That is simply another form of conformity because it’s living one’s life in reaction to the standards of others. The conformist must learn the beliefs of others to adhere to them; the nonconformist must learn the standards so as to avoid adhering to them. Both groups are psychological dependents. Rand celebrates the independent thinker, the individualist who lives on his own terms. The individualist creates his own standards and adheres to them regardless of what others do or think. He has a commitment to reason and facts. Roark represents the great innovator struggling against a profoundly conservative society against the traditionalist who says, “It was never done this way, so it can’t be good.” The climax of the book is Roark’s speech to the court when he is on trial. “I wish to come here and say that I am a man who does not exist for others. . . The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.” He represents a complete rejection of altruism, “the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self.” It’s truly a shame when books and authors get labeled as “conservative” or “liberal,” “communist” or “democrat” and then judged on the basis of the label. Read the book; make up your own mind!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Holley

    THIS HORROR STORY IS TO SCARY FOR ME IT HAS A CREEPY GINGER KID AND HE RAPES ANN COULTER BECAUSE SHE WANTS HIM TO!!1! THEN THEY HAVE A LOT OF TICKLE FIGHTS AND BUILD SUM HOUSES THATS ALL i REMEMBER.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jrule

    Yes 5 stars, why? Because whenever i rethink about this book i become speechless. The lessons it taught me and the life it showed me are invaluable. So whatever you may find below are the mixed emotions which i could withdraw out of it. This books helps you realize the pain and agony of a person who stands on his own beliefs, defying the society rules and so called modern world culture. So today whenever i see a person fighting with the world just for his own beliefs and his own values, i can alwa Yes 5 stars, why? Because whenever i rethink about this book i become speechless. The lessons it taught me and the life it showed me are invaluable. So whatever you may find below are the mixed emotions which i could withdraw out of it. This books helps you realize the pain and agony of a person who stands on his own beliefs, defying the society rules and so called modern world culture. So today whenever i see a person fighting with the world just for his own beliefs and his own values, i can always see a bit of Roark in him. The most important thing of a man's character is his Integrity, that is what holds him true to himself and gives him courage to fight everything else in this world. Society and the second handers always keep on trying to make others a second handers and they will never let them do something which they were not able to do. It is the man's own Ego which gets him thru.It is the love of his work which makes him happy. But the society teaches him that everything that makes him happy is a sin and he shall never be a happy person. But it is a man's basic right to be happy and the general world calls it his Selfishness. "...It was the only thing I ever really wanted. And that’s the sin that can’t be forgiven--that I hadn’t done what I wanted. It feels so dirty and pointless and monstrous, as one feels about insanity, because there’s no sense to it, no dignity, nothing but pain--and wasted pain...why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world--to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage...."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

    As literature, I found the book dry, predictable, and overwrought. As philosophy, I found it circular, wholly unfounded, and completely contradicting reality. This book is like a net set for unsuspecting minds. It breaches their defenses with a twisted logic, attempting to preclude any conclusions but the ones it sets forth. Of course, it follows a natural flow from the author's assumptions: power, will, and self-determinism are the foundations of all life. Nothing matters, except that you do what As literature, I found the book dry, predictable, and overwrought. As philosophy, I found it circular, wholly unfounded, and completely contradicting reality. This book is like a net set for unsuspecting minds. It breaches their defenses with a twisted logic, attempting to preclude any conclusions but the ones it sets forth. Of course, it follows a natural flow from the author's assumptions: power, will, and self-determinism are the foundations of all life. Nothing matters, except that you do what you want. Only if you violate your own integrity are you doing wrong; and yet, this violation is quite easy: it involves believing anything contradictory to those first three assumptions. If you believe this tripe, then you've probably already found a more intelligent and articulate champion for these values. In that case, I'd encourage you to read those authors instead, but ultimately come to the (correct) conclusion that the three aforementioned assumptions are a load of bullshit. If you don't believe this stuff, don't waste your time on this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Let me begin by saying that after reading this, and especially after reading her novel Atlas Shrugged, that I do not much like Ms Rand. I think her philosophy must surely have been created as a reaction to her experiences with Bolsheviks. That said, I think this is a modern masterpiece, Rand's reformation and restatement of Nietzschean mythos. This was beautiful yet brutally simple, shockingly hypnotic; like a bull fight, difficult to watch but you cannot turn away. Many archetypal characters, ve Let me begin by saying that after reading this, and especially after reading her novel Atlas Shrugged, that I do not much like Ms Rand. I think her philosophy must surely have been created as a reaction to her experiences with Bolsheviks. That said, I think this is a modern masterpiece, Rand's reformation and restatement of Nietzschean mythos. This was beautiful yet brutally simple, shockingly hypnotic; like a bull fight, difficult to watch but you cannot turn away. Many archetypal characters, very influential; how many insidious modern day villains began as Ellsworth Toohey, how many strong silent idealists descend from the Howard Roark model? I can see how someone would consider this a five star book, maybe even consider that this is a favorite book, but looking back, while accounting for the strength and quality of her narrative, I cannot say that I loved it, and I still don't like Rand.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    I went over to the other side... & made it back!! I will admit that I had been properly warned (Liana, others...). You read “The Fountainhead” because many other readers have, before you; its a book as popular as “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” This awful novel begins strong, climaxes early (no pun intended) with an insipid rape scene, then’s all downhill. The tones mismatch, but not in an interesting way, but dull! Is there, indeed, a tone? I don’t think so. The androids which make-up the I went over to the other side... & made it back!! I will admit that I had been properly warned (Liana, others...). You read “The Fountainhead” because many other readers have, before you; its a book as popular as “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” This awful novel begins strong, climaxes early (no pun intended) with an insipid rape scene, then’s all downhill. The tones mismatch, but not in an interesting way, but dull! Is there, indeed, a tone? I don’t think so. The androids which make-up the ensemble of characters are as vanilla as the writing itself. No, it is not badly written, so much as its deceitful (some parts are alright, reminiscent of the boring bits in The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe; others are droll, ridiculously redundant, you try to scan the pages for something...different). The impulse to read on, however, IS there, just as the direction of the novel becomes hopeless & it becomes a harrowing chore (since there are just so many other books out there to choose from). It's a novel to disenfranchise the casual reader from the world of literature. It is truly incredible how all the villains become your best friends, how a hero could be so utterly boring, practically an empty husk. OK Ayn, if it is indeed individualism that defeats pathetic altruism to the ground, why then make your main characters such animatrons? I just really do not accept this apocalyptic vision of life. Never had I had this disgusting, sour taste in my mouth (The Ayn Rand Experience... fulfilled!), and I’ve read pretty awful drivel in the past. Her arguments are strong--just oh so wrong…! Odd, boring, lame, wretched experience! A person can definitely go without.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Manzoid

    This book is a big epiphany-getter in American high school and college students. It presents a theme of pure, fierce dedication to honing yourself into a hard blade of competence and accomplishment, brooking no compromise, ignoring and dismissing the weak, untalented rabble and naysayers as you charge forth to seize your destiny. You are an "Army of One". There is undeniable sophomoric allure to this pitch. It kind of reminds me of all those teenagers into ninja stuff and wu shu and other Orient This book is a big epiphany-getter in American high school and college students. It presents a theme of pure, fierce dedication to honing yourself into a hard blade of competence and accomplishment, brooking no compromise, ignoring and dismissing the weak, untalented rabble and naysayers as you charge forth to seize your destiny. You are an "Army of One". There is undeniable sophomoric allure to this pitch. It kind of reminds me of all those teenagers into ninja stuff and wu shu and other Oriental mystical crap (supported by a cottage industry of silly how-to magazines and catalogs for throwing stars and whatnot). "I will forge myself upon the white-hot anvil of hard experience into a mighty warrior..." or some such. I read "The Fountainhead" in college, and so did a bunch of classmates. I found that the people who were *really* taken with it tended to be borderline-pompous cretins who had some moderate talent in something -- art or music, say -- and thought that Ayn Rand had just given them permission to uncork their amazing true spirits, that only an over-adherence to social convention was holding them back from greatness. Uh, no... that's not what's holding you back from greatness... It reminds me of how so many students "really relate" to Holden Caulfield, when the real Holden would think they were total phonies. To be fair, Rand's ideas about the supremacy of self-reliance, the false comfort of altruism, the exaltation of a gritty and decidedly male competence, the sublimeness of pure laissez-faire capitalism... they are interesting to consider. Not making excuses, getting off your ass and working to become really good at something that's in line with your true nature, staying true to your personal ideals of what Quality is, not compromising those ideals for expediency, fear, or social pressure -- these are workable ideas in themselves. However, they are put on a ridiculously high and isolated pedestal in Rand's work. If children did not exist in this world and life was entirely about your career, maybe I could agree a little more. But only a little. Her worldview is just too cold and transactional and rigid and productivity-oriented. She's a libertarian wet dream, I guess, and I feel the same way about them both -- some thought-provoking ideas there, but I don't see it working at all as a broad basis for any kind of world I'd want to live in. Oh yeah, and to circle back for a bit to the actual novel -- the prose is wooden, and characters are flat, and it is twice as long as necessary. Maybe three times as long. It's basically a giant propaganda tract. But it has a surprisingly strong grip on a certain stratum of the American consciousness, so I think it's still an interesting read in that respect. In order to invest the time in it though, I think you have to be the literary equivalent of the film buff who eagerly takes in B-movies as well in order to savor their peculiar inverse contributions to the art form.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Russian-American author Ayn Rand, her first major literary success. The novel's protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who designs modernist buildings and refuses to compromise with an architectural establishment unwilling to accept innovation. Roark embodies what Rand believed to be the ideal man, and his struggle reflects Rand's belief that individualism is superior to collectivism. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Russian-American author Ayn Rand, her first major literary success. The novel's protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who designs modernist buildings and refuses to compromise with an architectural establishment unwilling to accept innovation. Roark embodies what Rand believed to be the ideal man, and his struggle reflects Rand's belief that individualism is superior to collectivism. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دهم ماه آوریل سال 2001 میلادی عنوان: سرچشمه؛ نویسنده: آین راند؛ مترجم: مینا شریفی ثابت؛ تهران، نشر آبی، 1379؛ در 1063 ص؛ داستانهای نویسندگان روس آمریکایی - سده 20 م سرچشمه، داستان یک آرشیتکت نابغه، با دقت وسواسگونه است، که از عدم درک، و راحت طلبی دیگران، به تنگ آمده است. آرشیتکت «هوارد روارک»، در برابر دادگاه ظاهر میشود: او به منفجر کردن ساختمان بزرگ نوسازی متهم است. اتهام او نابود کردن اثری ست، که خود طراحی کرده، چون اثر او را به رغم تضمین اکید، مبنی بر اینکه مطابق نقشه ی او ساخته خواهد شد، از محتوا خالی، و گویا بی پدرش کرده، و نمای ساختمان را با سلیقه ی مردم، منطبق کرده اند. خوانشگر در این فصل با یکی از صحنه های متداول دادگاه، در داستانهای آمریکایی مواجه میشود. «روارک» به تنهایی از خود دفاع میکند، وی دفاعیه خود را چنین آغاز میکند: «چند هزار سال پیش، مردی برای نخستین بار آتش روشن کرد. به احتمال زیاد خودش روی انبوه چوبهایی که آتش گرفته بود، زنده زنده سوخت. او را بزهکاری انگاشتند که از یکی از شیاطین، رازی را که از بشر پنهان شده بود، دزدیده و برملا ساخته است، اما این کار او باعث شد که انسانها خود را گرم کنند، خوردنیها را بپزند و غارهاشان را روشن سازند(...). «پرومته» به این دلیل که آتش را از خدایان ربود به صخره ای زنجیر شد، و لاشخورها بدنش را تکه تکه کردند. آدم به دلیل خوردن میوه درخت شناخت، محکوم به تحمل رنجها شد (...). افراد دارای خلاقیتهای بزرگ؛ متفکران، هنرمندان، دانشمندان و مخترعان همواره یک تنه در مقابل دیگر انسانهای دوران خود ایستاده اند.» ... روارک، این پرومته نوین ارزشهای فردی را ستایش میکند. ا.شربیانی

  11. 5 out of 5

    brian

    yesterday i spent the day mainlining bookface and discovered that one of the most reviled books on the site was the fountainhead. i can think of a few reasons: 1) it feels good (perhaps a marker of personal progress?) to reject or condescend to that which we once loved. (see also: catcher in the rye and on the road) 2) those (the overwhelming majority of bookfacers) who fall on the liberal end of the spectrum find the residual conservative drool all over the book a bit yukky? 3) the philosophy is u yesterday i spent the day mainlining bookface and discovered that one of the most reviled books on the site was the fountainhead. i can think of a few reasons: 1) it feels good (perhaps a marker of personal progress?) to reject or condescend to that which we once loved. (see also: catcher in the rye and on the road) 2) those (the overwhelming majority of bookfacers) who fall on the liberal end of the spectrum find the residual conservative drool all over the book a bit yukky? 3) the philosophy is unrealistic; the characters are stand-ins, mouthpieces, wooden fantasy archetypes; the plot is full of contrivances; at its best the prose is serviceable, at worst, it's cringeworthy. 4) its themes of personal accountability scare the shit out of people. i found this book terrifically useful in high school. with not enough life experience to understand why i was perpetually on the outside, i read the fountainhead and reconfigured it all to believe that i wasn’t part of the group b/c the group was a dead-end of groupthink and i was unique. whatever. a load of shit, but it helped me get by, y’know? and as i grew up i realized that along with the personal accountability part and the urging on to remain an individual despite societal pressure to conform (both of which i still appreciate), was a good degree of selfishness and unreality. but whatever… i approach this too-long book as containing a highly flawed system of belief, but one that works for a specific time in many people’s lives. shit, they should start pushing this as a young adult’s book. that’s really what it is. and though ayn rand might not like it, there’s really nothing wrong with that.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    So there was this girl I loved, deeply loved, and our love was key to the end of my first marriage. We didn't cheat physically, although there was no avoiding or denying the intellectual and emotional cheating that just being in each others' presence elicited, but my partner/wife felt that something was wrong with our "friendship," and she was right. C--- and I had been in love for a couple of months, and it was the night before I was leaving for my anniversary trip. I was meeting my partner/wif So there was this girl I loved, deeply loved, and our love was key to the end of my first marriage. We didn't cheat physically, although there was no avoiding or denying the intellectual and emotional cheating that just being in each others' presence elicited, but my partner/wife felt that something was wrong with our "friendship," and she was right. C--- and I had been in love for a couple of months, and it was the night before I was leaving for my anniversary trip. I was meeting my partner/wife for a weekend of Shakespeare plays, good food and theoretical love making (which never happened), and I was having a final cast party at our home after the summer production of one of my plays. My partner/wife was already near Stratford, Ontario -- home of Canada’s Shakespeare Festival. She was at her family reunion, and at the time I had no idea she was with her lover (I later discovered that their affair had spanned countries and years); I felt paradoxical Catholic guilt for my pseudo-adultery and the liberation of being freshly in love as I sat at my backyard pool and let my feet brush C---'s in the cool water under the moonlight. That night she told me of her love for Ayn Rand's Fountainhead, a book I'd long ignored, supposing it and its politics were not for me. She opined about Objectivism and selfishness, and I was intrigued as only one in love and full of their own selfishness could be. So when I reached my first airport bookstore in DC the next day, I sought a copy of Fountainhead and bought it during my layover. It became a constant companion during the rest of my trip. The next day I began racking up the largest cell phone bill I've ever produced, talking to C--- at all hours of the day and wherever I happened to be: once I was on the edge of a field full of dairy cows, often I was at the local pub imbibing Black & Tans, and the rest of the time I was in my cousin's empty house (he was on a camping weekend, and I was staying there until I hooked up with my partner/wife) amidst his kitschy Elvis memorabilia. When I wasn't talking to C---, I wrote, I watched bad T.V., and I alternated between Rendezvous with Rama and Fountainhead. Somewhere in those three days I rented Boondock Saints (another favourite of C---'s), and then, as if fate were taking a hand, I turned on the CBC and caught the documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life. Coincidence, but a fascinating one that made me enjoy and love the book more than it deserved. And I did love the book. I’ve never read it again -- and I really disdain Objectivism -- but there was a clarity in Rand’s prose that was captivating. She goes on and on, but she does it beautifully, which makes me understand why her ideas are so beloved by those on the other side of the political membrane. She propagandizes like Goebbels. She makes you want to believe. Hell, she even makes rape seem acceptable (ish). And as long as you don’t pay too much attention to what she said and focus, instead, on how she said it, the Fountainhead is a masterpiece. If it weren’t for C--- I don’t know that I’d have given this book another thought, but there was a C---, and this book means something more to me than it should. How bizarre is man?

  13. 5 out of 5

    Foodpie

    This book is easily described as garbage. Poorly imagined, poorly conceived and poorly written it is only exceptional in the lengths it will go to justify the morally, ethically and socially reprehensible behavior of the central character who's vaunted genius amounts in the end to nothing more than being a willful disobedient ass. He is neither original or exceptional, he is simply an ass, and is treated as an object of admiration for it. A thoroughly disgusting piece of writing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Overall, this is not only great fiction, but Rand also has some great ideas which are presented with an uncanny amount of clarity. The architectural profession serves as the backdrop for the story. The story itself is quite interesting; either Rand did a great deal of research or she did a good job faking it. I maintained a complete disinterest in architecture before reading the book, but still found myself actively engaged while Rand discussed the matter. I wonder how many young readers are stee Overall, this is not only great fiction, but Rand also has some great ideas which are presented with an uncanny amount of clarity. The architectural profession serves as the backdrop for the story. The story itself is quite interesting; either Rand did a great deal of research or she did a good job faking it. I maintained a complete disinterest in architecture before reading the book, but still found myself actively engaged while Rand discussed the matter. I wonder how many young readers are steered towards the profession after reading this book for the first time. With the exceptions of a few monologues that went on a bit too long, the story kept me engaged for the entire 700 pages. The characters are well developed; I found myself attached to some while despising others. There is adequate conflict to keep the plot moving. While I understood the motivations of the actions carried out by Dominique and Roark, the actions themselves bordered on the edge of the extreme. At various times in the book, both engage in acts of violence and destruction which don't seem completely rational. These issues aside, it's a very well written book. As to the philosophy..... Rand's message is fairly clear. She doesn't abstract the message at all. In fact, she grinds it in as thoroughly and as clearly as she can. The book provides us with Howard Roark as Rand's idea of an ideal man. He never falters in his convictions. He remains completely independent and relies on nobody. His only interest is to his work; to the manifestation of his creative genius. He doesn't care what others think - he only cares about his own productive achievements. He is an egotist - a term which carries a positive connotation in her book. She argues that it's the egotistical desire of man that build great civilizations. “All that which proceeds from man’s independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man’s dependence upon men is evil.” The book is full of weaker people like Peter Keating. Keating lives through the thoughts and feelings of others. He is completely dependent upon others to justify his existence. Through Roark and Keating, Rand asserts that dependence upon other men is evil in nature. Keating lives not for himself, but for others. Rand has a title for such people - second handers. He can't do what he desires, as he is constantly worried about how others think of him. In a world where self-interest is ideal, acts of altruism are counterproductive and should be despised. At first I was lost on this point, as it didn't seem to me that altruism was necessarily all bad. I see no problem with people giving of themselves to people they love. I also don't see a problem with my donating money to various charitable endeavors. After reading The Fountainhead, I now see that such acts are not altruism. Altruism is the unselfish concern for the welfare of others - a state of complete selflessness. When I give to those I love or to causes I believe in, my actions are selfish. I provide for my family because I hold them to be the most important thing in my life. That check to the local SPCA goes towards providing a better life for animals, a cause I place some value in. Charity and kindness are not altruism; they're actually quite selfish acts. However, to an extent society seems to feel that I should give to those who are less fortunate with no care for myself simply because the intended recipient is deemed to need such assistance by those who insist that I give it. Most social welfare programs are like this. I am forced to pay taxes on my earnings, which are then distributed to others via a variety of social programs despite the fact that I have no interest giving in such a fashion. This is nothing more than forced altruism.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adita ✨The Slumbering Insomniac✨

    ★★★★★★★★★☆[9/10] My mind is blank. The Fountainhead is a saga. It had been a part of my day for six months, until today. All these days, I had so badly wanted it to be over, but today, now that it's over, I don't know why I should feel a great sense of loss. It is such a ginormous vacuum which is going to take a while to be filled with an equally good, if not better, mind-numbing piece of literature. I had always wondered, while writing reviews, who the review should be addressed to- one who has ★★★★★★★★★☆[9/10] My mind is blank. The Fountainhead is a saga. It had been a part of my day for six months, until today. All these days, I had so badly wanted it to be over, but today, now that it's over, I don't know why I should feel a great sense of loss. It is such a ginormous vacuum which is going to take a while to be filled with an equally good, if not better, mind-numbing piece of literature. I had always wondered, while writing reviews, who the review should be addressed to- one who has already read the book or the one who hasn't. Since my brain is not conscientious enough to cater to a particular demographic, I always throw in a lot of spoilers. That's why I have come up with an ingenious(lol) plan to divide my review into two sections here after, where I shall jot down my thoughts and views appropriately and accordingly. ⏩ For Neophytes: Brace yourselves for the Ayn Rand downpour. You will be thoroughly drenched. You will be carried away gently like a paper boat. You will be shoved against a rock, when you are least expecting it. All through the book you will have this wonderful feeling of getting a handle on the not-so-obvious. You will be proud of yourself for deciphering the literature that was intended to talk to you in codes. For a fleeting moment, you will be impressed that you can be such a dilettante who can actually probe into the mind of an eminent writer like Rand. And then everything that made sense starts to fade into obscurity. You will be mired in self-doubt and perhaps self-pity too for even daring to think you can conquer Ms. Rand's wordplay and coerce the words into making themselves that much discernible for the audience. In Leornard Peikoff's afterword, you'll have the complete profiling of the characters done, thus sparing you from some embarrassing ponderings later on. The lead character, Howard Roark, one of the most lauded characters in the world of literature, is also one of the most cryptic, incomprehensible, frustratingly inscrutable, complexly simple characters you'll ever read about. Ms. Rand has conceived the lead character in such a way that you'll be very often tempted to move over to the tenebrous side to fall in step with Howard Roark. The character defies all human logic and defying all human logic is what Rand calls the paragon of what a man ought to be. Dominique Francon, the only female character with gravitas, is only second next to Howard Roark in discombobulating anyone she comes across. Within the story, Dominique is the perfect epitome of social elegance; out of it, she is the greatest enigma. If you don't have the slightest clue what you are getting into, this masterpiece has the cunning to throw you off balance and laugh at your face. For someone who is so used to the 700-page Harry Potter books, this will be a paradigm shift. You keep slogging at it long enough and you'll be off your rocker soon. But, know this- craziness is totally worth it. ⏩ For Virtuosos: I never attend calls for help without bringing a book along with me. My dad thinks that it's a stratagem I have invented to evade work and this has made him averse to books in general. So, one day, when my book-hating dad talked about his young days as a reader, I had to pay close attention. That's where I picked up words that sounded like "Ayn Rand" and "The Fountainhead", which I was hitherto oblivious to. I had to see for myself what could have possibly enticed my dad into reading. And I regretted my impulsive action for many days afterwards. There were days when I couldn't go any further, but abandoning a book midway is simply not me. The primary difference between a 700 page children's book that I am used to and this 700 page long mind-boggler is that while the former is made of sequential order of events, where not even minute details like that of the flight of an inconsequential fly in the background is not spared, the latter is devoid of any detailed elucidation of the ways of the world, other than the bare necessities of who did what- instead of how it was done. Not knowing the mechanism of human interactions and knowing only the manifestations of the actions is what makes this story a skillful dilemma thrown at inexperienced readers like me. Keating leaned back with a sense of warmth and well-being. He liked this book. It had made the routine of his Sunday morning breakfast a profound spiritual experience; he was certain that it was profound, because he didn’t understand it. Roark felt like the most empyreal, ethereal, intangible, other worldly book character among all the fictional characters I have encountered so far. Something about his stolid, aloof, unflappable persona makes him utterly unbelievable than even the impossibly ridiculous super heroes with superpowers. It was very peculiar, thought Keating. Toohey was asking him a great many questions about Howard Roark. But the questions did not make sense. They were not about buildings, they were not about architecture at all. They were pointless personal questions—strange to ask about a man of whom he had never heard before. “Does he laugh often?” “Very rarely.” “Does he seem unhappy?” “Never.” “Did he have many friends at Stanton?” “He’s never had any friends anywhere.” “The boys didn’t like him?” “Nobody can like him.” “Why?” “He makes you feel it would be an impertinence to like him.” “Did he go out, drink, have a good time?” “Never.” “Does he like money?” “No.” “Does he like to be admired?” “No.” “Does he believe in God?” “No.” “Does he talk much?” “Very little.” “Does he listen if others discuss any ... idea with him?” “He listens. It would be better if he didn’t.” “Why?” “It would be less insulting—if you know what I mean, when a man listens like that and you know it hasn’t made the slightest bit of difference to him.” “Did he always want to be an architect?” “He..,” “What’s the matter, Peter?” “Nothing. It just occurred to me how strange it is that I’ve never asked myself that about him before. Here’s what’s strange: you can’t ask that about him. He’s a maniac on the subject of architecture. It seems to mean so damn much to him that he’s lost all human perspective. He just has no sense of humor about himself at all—now there’s a man without a sense of humor, Ellsworth. You don’t ask what he’d do if he didn’t want to be an architect.” “No,” said Toohey. “You ask what he’d do if he couldn’t be an architect.” “He’d walk over corpses. Any and all of them. All of us. All the Objectivism, Individualism vs Collectivism stuff was too high-brow, finespun for me to comprehend. There were many glad moments when I found out that things were indeed what I thought they were; followed by my whoops of triumph, but The Fountainhead was way more intense and profound for an average reader to grasp. The creator lives for his work. He needs no other men. His primary goal is within himself. The parasite lives second-hand. He needs others. Others become his prime motive. To sum up, ❗ The Fountainhead explains four types of men-✅ the man who was; ✅ the man who could have been; ✅ man who couldn't be(doesn't know); ✅ the man who couldn't be(knows) and contends that the first one is the ideal for all of us to swear by. And somehow this averment sounds like the most preposterous one as much as it is to accept Roark as someone to be put on a pedestal and worshipped as a trend setter. ❗ The Fountainhead extols egotism as the superior most virtue, which highlights the cause of the story- one man against the world as we know it. The egotist in the absolute sense is not the man who sacrifices others. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner. Rand's outright proclamations in this novel invited the ire of the society of "people for the greater good." In my honest opinion, Rand's audacious undertaking is what added to the greatness of an individual and romanticized the concept of "ego", thus making it one of the greatest literary works of the 20th century.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    If I were to suspect the artist of having written out of passion and in passion, my confidence would immediately vanish, for it would serve no purpose to have supported the order of causes by the order of ends. ~ Sartre It is not literature. It is not philosophy. It lacks any understanding of how an economy functions. A childish affirmation of pure entitlement. It is just a rant told through a really bad piece of fiction. Ayn Rant. +++ (the 4 stars rating was given at a very early and impressionable If I were to suspect the artist of having written out of passion and in passion, my confidence would immediately vanish, for it would serve no purpose to have supported the order of causes by the order of ends. ~ Sartre It is not literature. It is not philosophy. It lacks any understanding of how an economy functions. A childish affirmation of pure entitlement. It is just a rant told through a really bad piece of fiction. Ayn Rant. +++ (the 4 stars rating was given at a very early and impressionable age)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    There's a certain kind of gentleman who comes to my reviews and says: "WRONG!" which is seriously what some dude led with just today, and I play a game with people like this; the game is, go to their profiles and find the five-star review of Ayn Rand. It's always there!* Ayn Rand is the patron saint of mansplainers. Other things mansplainers are super into reading - Tropic of Cancer - Alan Moore * To be honest today's dude didn't have her**, but he did have an "essential reading" shelf with The Bell There's a certain kind of gentleman who comes to my reviews and says: "WRONG!" which is seriously what some dude led with just today, and I play a game with people like this; the game is, go to their profiles and find the five-star review of Ayn Rand. It's always there!* Ayn Rand is the patron saint of mansplainers. Other things mansplainers are super into reading - Tropic of Cancer - Alan Moore * To be honest today's dude didn't have her**, but he did have an "essential reading" shelf with The Bell Curve on it, which is literally the same thing. ** Haha never mind, I just checked again because I didn't believe myself and yep, there's Anthem. Anyway. John Oliver on "How is Ayn Rand still a thing?: "Ayn Rand has always been popular with teenagers. But she's something you're supposed to grow out of, like ska music or handjobs." It's pronounced Ine and this is her least awful book, which is not saying much at all: it is still really terrible, as philosophy and as literature. If you want to read some Rand, start with Anthem, which is awful but short so you'll get the idea. If you still want more, go ahead and read Fountainhead but we can't be friends anymore. No one should read Atlas Shrugged and in fact no one ever has. Listen, Ayn Rand's entire philosophy comes down to "I'm an asshole." If you disagree with that assessment, well, you know that old saying - "If you can't spot the sucker at the poker table, it's you"? You appear to be having difficulty spotting the asshole, friend.

  18. 5 out of 5

    dead letter office

    this review is bizarrely getting votes from people i don't know, so let me just reiterate that the text of the prediction is from mcsweenys, in case it's not clear that all i did was a little cutting and pasting. instead of reading this book, just read ayn rand's superbowl prediction in mcsweeney's and you'll get the idea: When he saw Bill Belichick in the hallway before the press conference, Tom Coughlin's face contorted into a whine. "It isn't fair!" he shrieked. "You have all the best players!" this review is bizarrely getting votes from people i don't know, so let me just reiterate that the text of the prediction is from mcsweenys, in case it's not clear that all i did was a little cutting and pasting. instead of reading this book, just read ayn rand's superbowl prediction in mcsweeney's and you'll get the idea: When he saw Bill Belichick in the hallway before the press conference, Tom Coughlin's face contorted into a whine. "It isn't fair!" he shrieked. "You have all the best players!" he whimpered. "What happened to helping your fellow man?!" he mewled. "You ... all you care about is winning!" he sniveled. The muscular coach set his prominent jaw, and his hard, handsome eyes glistened. "Why, Tom," he asked with a smile, "isn't winning what the NFL is all about?" Coughlin's face turned bright red as he flapped his effeminate hands in hysterical gestures. By this time, a large crowd of reporters had gathered. "But, but ... your players are the best in the league! Your offense is unstoppable! How am I supposed to go on the field with my weak players or my simple, predictable playcalling?? We'll be destroyed! I tell you it isn't fair! We deserve to be helped! This is social treason!" Belichick squared his broad shoulders as he stared Coughlin in the eye. The smaller man cowed and threw his hands to his face in a pathetic flail. "Tom," said Belichick, "I bet nobody has been honest with you in your entire life, so let me be the first. I was taught in the ways of strength. Yes, my men will win today. But it's because we've had the courage to act on our judgment, and the fortitude to trust our decisions. Long ago, we were faced with a choice—the same choice you faced. We chose conviction. You chose impotence. And now, today, you ask me not only to cut my wrists and bleed on your behalf ... oh no. You would also have me fund, design, and build the knife. You accuse me of social treason, and yet you beg me to betray myself." The beautiful man laughed a throaty, attractive laugh. "You are a coward, Tom, and a coward in this world deserves nothing." With a great cheer, the reporters stood in unison and applauded. Prediction: Patriots 326, Giants –27

  19. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    The Fountainhead is a tale of both defeat and triumph. It is depressing and exalting, inviting and repugnant. And its philosophy, like all great lies, is more than three-quarters true. In this lengthy novel, Ayn Rand presents her ideal man and her philosophy of objectivism. The philosophy rejects mercy, altruism, charity, sacrifice, and service. These proclaimed virtues are portrayed as either weaknesses or as tools of subjugation. Her philosophy is a sort of extreme capitalism applied to every The Fountainhead is a tale of both defeat and triumph. It is depressing and exalting, inviting and repugnant. And its philosophy, like all great lies, is more than three-quarters true. In this lengthy novel, Ayn Rand presents her ideal man and her philosophy of objectivism. The philosophy rejects mercy, altruism, charity, sacrifice, and service. These proclaimed virtues are portrayed as either weaknesses or as tools of subjugation. Her philosophy is a sort of extreme capitalism applied to every aspect of life; as with Adam Smith’s invisible hand, if men pursue their own selfish interests, mankind will ultimately benefit. Altruism, Rand argues, forces men to keep others subservient, so that they may make themselves righteous; it has been the root of the greatest evils in the world (Communism, Nazism, etc.); but egoism has resulted in creations that have alleviated the sufferings of man for generations to come. Her philosophy is most succinctly expressed by her architect hero Howard Roark, who says, “All that which proceeds form man’s independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man’s dependence upon men is evil.” Rand's philosophy stands in stark contrast to the collectivism which was then sweeping the world in an ocean of blood. Collectivism "has reached,” says Roark, “a scale of horror without precedent. It has poisoned every mind. It has swallowed most of Europe. It is engulfing our country.” Roark aruges that “only by living for himself” can man “achieve the things which are the glory of mankind” and that “no man can live for another . . . The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves.” And yet Roark is himself the quintessential intellectual, who shares the same failing of the intellectuals who created Communism, Nazism, and the other “altruistic evils”; that is, he is capable of loving man in the abstract but incapable of loving him in the particular: “One can’t love man without hating most of the creatures who pretend to bear his name.” The Fountainhead expresses an individualism that is uniquely American, and it is therefore surprising that The Fountainhead, as far as I know, has never been in the running for the title of “The Great American Novel.” Of course, although it emphasizes that individualism has made our nation great (and it has), it must of necessity ignore and dismisses another progressive force in our nation’s history: American Christianity. So what about the story? Despite the copious philosophical dialogue, the story is not sacrificed to create an ethical treatise. The characters are fascinating, very well-developed, and the story is at times gripping. However, the relationship between our hero and heroine is never fully convincing to me, and I find it highly disturbing that Rand felt it necessary to make rape an essential and even positive element of their union. The story drew me in at first, and then began to lose me for several chapters, as Rand breaks one of the rules of good structure and does not begin developing a main character until over half way through the novel. I give it such a high rating because I like novels that truly make me think and reconsider my assumptions, whether I maintain or reject them as a consquence. I am glad I did not read Rand when I was a teenager and not yet a Christian, as I'm afraid her Objectivism might have taken a cultish hold of me; she has a way of speaking to (and perhaps luring?) the independent-minded student who feels the pressure of intellectual conformity. I give it four stars also because I read it at a time when I found fiction difficult, and it brought back my love of reading.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Egads, I hate this book. I first read it 6 years ago when I was 16, and I thought to myself, this book is an enormous pile of compressed dog feces. However, because I'm aware of the fact that our judgement at the age of 16 is not necessarily quite so excellent as most of us liked to think it was, I decided recently to reread it, and see if I understood what other people saw in this book. I still have absolutely no clue. After slogging through it for a second time, I still think that it's 700+ pa Egads, I hate this book. I first read it 6 years ago when I was 16, and I thought to myself, this book is an enormous pile of compressed dog feces. However, because I'm aware of the fact that our judgement at the age of 16 is not necessarily quite so excellent as most of us liked to think it was, I decided recently to reread it, and see if I understood what other people saw in this book. I still have absolutely no clue. After slogging through it for a second time, I still think that it's 700+ pages of Ayn Rand's litany of "for the kingdom, the power, and the glory are mine, fapfapfap." Its plot is nonexistent, its characters are two-dimensional, and its philosophy has more holes than Swiss cheese.

  21. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    I once broke up with someone because she was an ardent follower of Ayn Rand. it just started bothering me more and more, and I started seeing the taint of Objectivism in so many of her comments. mind you, this was in college when i was much more obnoxiously political. after we broke up, she turned around and started dating my roommate... sweet revenge, and a fitting response from an Objectivist.

  22. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Based on everything I've heard about Rand, from her supporters, her detractors, or in interviews with the author herself, I feel there is no reason to believe that this book or any of her others contain anything that is worth reading, not even as 'cautionary example'. Since my goal here is to read as many good books as possible and to do my best to avoid bad ones, I'm going to be giving Rand a wide berth.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I read it at the right time- that time when the body is young and capable of only genius and having unapologetic mind sex on philosophical rooftops with someone else as young and genius sounds like the highest good...or at least better than making out in a Sunday School room while your parents are at choir practice. At 17 I thought this Earth-shaking and sexy. I thought it a moral imperative to try to get my little revolutionary hands on everything she ever wrote and by doing so stumbled right in I read it at the right time- that time when the body is young and capable of only genius and having unapologetic mind sex on philosophical rooftops with someone else as young and genius sounds like the highest good...or at least better than making out in a Sunday School room while your parents are at choir practice. At 17 I thought this Earth-shaking and sexy. I thought it a moral imperative to try to get my little revolutionary hands on everything she ever wrote and by doing so stumbled right into the pit of Objectivism. I tried to wade through the muck and come out on the other side smarter, but I ended up climbing out of the hole, brushing my pants off and moving on to greener literary pastures. I still like the book for its ability to garner fascinating discussions. But Objectivism's unforgiving nature (square pegs everywhere arise and prove your superiority to the round holes!)doesn't work so well now, at 30, with my own philosophy (sometimes you accidentally f*** up and it can't be helped and that's life and you apologize, go on, and try again).

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I hated Anthem so much that I vowed never to read another book by Ann Rand, but I still talk about how much I hate all of her other books, too. That's how much I disliked Anthem. I also think I have the right to hate The Fountainhead without having read it because: a) Ayn Rand is a horrible writer. Everything I've seen by her is badly written and I don't like badly written books. b) Ayn Rand thought she was a philosopher and injects her silly "objectionist" point of view into all her books. She wa I hated Anthem so much that I vowed never to read another book by Ann Rand, but I still talk about how much I hate all of her other books, too. That's how much I disliked Anthem. I also think I have the right to hate The Fountainhead without having read it because: a) Ayn Rand is a horrible writer. Everything I've seen by her is badly written and I don't like badly written books. b) Ayn Rand thought she was a philosopher and injects her silly "objectionist" point of view into all her books. She wasn't a philosopher, however, no matter what her silly followers think. Cult leader, perhaps. c) Ayn Rand's "objectionism" is simply selfishness dolled up a bit, so I will hate the "lesson" in her books. d) I hate books with clear lessons. Ayn Rand has clear lessons. e) Ayn Rand has such a knee-jerk, reactionary dislike of anything striking of collectivism that she makes Orwell look like a communist. Knee-jerk reactionaries seldom write good books.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Ever read a book that changed your life as a kid, I mean totally reconfigured your perceptions of life and how it should be lived? Yeah, me too. This was one of those books for me. It blew me away as a kid. My hero was Roark and his rugged individualism and integrity. Upon rereading this 50th anniversary hardback edition as an adult, I was appalled at this amoral tale. Roark is a sociopathic monster whose integrity is blind and callous. The Objectivism that Rand uses to undergird this story seem Ever read a book that changed your life as a kid, I mean totally reconfigured your perceptions of life and how it should be lived? Yeah, me too. This was one of those books for me. It blew me away as a kid. My hero was Roark and his rugged individualism and integrity. Upon rereading this 50th anniversary hardback edition as an adult, I was appalled at this amoral tale. Roark is a sociopathic monster whose integrity is blind and callous. The Objectivism that Rand uses to undergird this story seems to find ethics of communities, or how we should act towards each other, repugnant. Every character is a simple caricature of one facet of a human, there is no moral ambiguity or ambivalence in anybody. Everybody here is an absolute, and because of that, an absolute failure. She attempts to soften these granite facades with a love story, but Rand turns out to be inept at that too. Sure Roark has impeccable aesthetic taste, but if it isn't in service to bettering your life or your fellow man's (preferably both), then it's just an exercise in solipsistic torture. And the whole manifesto masquerading as a serious novel gave me eyeball sprain from all of the rolling it did. This book is probably dangerous for naive minds and too naive for adult minds.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    Ayn Rand is Nietzsche for stupid people

  27. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    (Update at end; latest is 2013-11-12) OK, I’ve got to explain this four-star rating, because I don’t want anyone to think I’d actually recommend this book... It has been many years since I’ve read either of Ayn Rand’s two doorstop books, and I can’t really recall the details of either. I’m pretty sure the one with John Galt had the absurdly long speech near the end, and all the cool kids smoked special cigarettes, and was mostly about railroads. This was the one with the architect, right? Anyway, I (Update at end; latest is 2013-11-12) OK, I’ve got to explain this four-star rating, because I don’t want anyone to think I’d actually recommend this book... It has been many years since I’ve read either of Ayn Rand’s two doorstop books, and I can’t really recall the details of either. I’m pretty sure the one with John Galt had the absurdly long speech near the end, and all the cool kids smoked special cigarettes, and was mostly about railroads. This was the one with the architect, right? Anyway, I think folks should need permission to read this. Frankly, I think teenage experimentation with pot is trivial in terms of risk to a kid’s soul compared to experimentation with Ayn Rand. Her books can much more easily destroy a life. Let me explain. Rand’s philosophy, as near as I can tell, is that great people shouldn’t be encumbered by the not-so-great. Taxes, regulations, all that stuff: just the shackles the large number of mediocre folks force onto their betters — pure parasitism. Her morality comes down to letting the best do whatever they want, and letting the rest starve. These books are her ideas about how that should work out, and as such are suffused with incredibly juvenile wish-fulfillment. The powerful are tormented by the weak, but through force of will rise above it all. I might not be remembering all this quite right — after all, it has been a long time. The above description is what my initial impression has distilled down to; your mileage may vary. So where’s the danger, and why the relatively high rating? Well, many teenagers look out at their world and feel victimized by the completely lame and restrictive world that adults impose upon them. It is clear to them that they are as smart and able as these authorities, yet those adults are so... clueless. Obviously, adult life somehow has turned them into a lesser breed of humanity, with all the vitality sucked out. Add Ayn Rand to this and you suddenly have the ingredients for a self-perpetuating sense of victimhood and entitlement. Most people have overcome their teenage angst and fantasies by, say, twenty-eight or so. At that point, Rand will have lost her magic and her books should be freely available. But between twelve and twenty-seven, a committee of wise elders should decide whether that kid is mature enough not to get sucked into it. Sounds unlikely? Yeah, well so does Rand’s puerile philosophy, but somehow we have self-righteous imbeciles getting elected left and right. Well, sorry, not so much “left” — mostly “right”. (The left has it's own cast of bad influences, of course.) But then, why the good rating? Because Rand provided a window into the strange logic of the pathologically extreme libertarian. We might have seen Hitler’s deeds, and learned of Nietzsche’s diktats, but we never saw the fantasies that drove them. Most folks that would enthusiastically agree with Rand are either too dumb to put pen to paper, or too smart to let the world see what sociopaths they really are. So: four stars for the opportunity to watch the slow-motion horror show of Rand’s political philosophy in action, warning us of where we’re heading.       •       •       •       •       •       •       • Update, late summer 2012— Romney's selection of Ryan as his running mate has got folks chatting about Ryan's on-and-off obsession with Ayn Rand. Not having made a study of Rand's life, I was pleased to learn that while her extremely anti-collectivist views are still antithetical to civilization (which is definitionally a collectivist enterprise) she was actually quite the social liberal. Not sure that makes her any more pleasant — ideologues of any stripe are quite annoying, even those that suddenly appear more complex and harder to pigeon-hole — but nice to know. A few more details? Check out the NY Times op-ed piece, Atlas Spurned .       •       •       •       •       •       •       • Update, summer 2013— I was catching up on my favorite intelligentisa magazine, the excellent Wilson Quarterly, and ran across a brief note in the Spring 2013 issue entitled “Fountainhead of Need”. As a young woman and recent immigrant to the United States, Rand was very poor while toying with a life in Hollywood — she worked as an extra in Cecil B. De Mille’s King of Kings — and at one point was destitute enough that she relied on charity to keep a roof over her head. Years later, she wrote a letter of thanks to the women's boarding house that helped her at a time of dire need. As the article puts it:“The Studio Club,” Rand wrote, “is the only organization I know of personally that carries on, quietly and modestly, this great work which is needed so badly — help for young talent. It not only provides human, decent living accommodations which a poor beginner could not afford elsewhere, but it provides that other great necessity of life: Understanding.” A paean to altruism? Not exactly. In the letter, Rand also declared that it was time to stop favoring “crippled children, old people, blind people and all kinds of disabled unfortunates” over “the able, the fit, the talented.” She continued, “Who is more worthy of help — the sub-normal or the above normal? Who is more valuable to humanity?” Aiding “the disabled” was fine, she said, but nurturing “potential talent” represented “a much higher type of charity.”Yup, that's the kind of woman she was.       •       •       •       •       •       •       • Update, autumn 2013— Wow, there are still folks out there that are explicitly adherents of Objectivism. If you would like to cringe, take a gander at "Give Back? Yes, It's Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%" at Forbes. Yeah, Forbes is the "church periodical for those that worship at the temple of weatlh" (as a FB acquaintance put it), but it still seems somewhat staggering that there are people that believe that It turns out that the 99% get far more benefit from the 1% than vice-versa. See if you can spot the basic logic error in the first paragraph! The proposal that the wealthy be exempt from income taxes is only capped by the appalling suggestion that “the year’s top earner should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.” Honestly, if this were in the Onion it would still be over the top. ­

  28. 5 out of 5

    j

    5 stars for being a ludicrously entertaining soap opera. The most lurid, overdone philosophical text I've ever read (probably because I haven't gotten to Atlas Shrugged yet). Whether you agree with Rand's ideas or not (please say you don't!), it's pretty damn entertaining to watch them played out via a cast of steely heroes and sniveling villains. The S&M sex scenes are probably the best part - objectivism in the bedroom. Worth reading for sure, if you can keep your head on your shoulders and 5 stars for being a ludicrously entertaining soap opera. The most lurid, overdone philosophical text I've ever read (probably because I haven't gotten to Atlas Shrugged yet). Whether you agree with Rand's ideas or not (please say you don't!), it's pretty damn entertaining to watch them played out via a cast of steely heroes and sniveling villains. The S&M sex scenes are probably the best part - objectivism in the bedroom. Worth reading for sure, if you can keep your head on your shoulders and not succumb to a 600-page argument full of pedantic speeches and flimsy straw men.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jojo Bananas

    If you like your characters rendered in stunning Black and White, without all that pesky grey in between, this is the book for you. With characters as self-centered and unbelievable as they are unlikeable, is it any wonder that architecture students who are encouraged to read this end up so full of themselves? I wouldn't use it to prop up the short leg of the couch. I throw my poop at it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Quang Khuê

    Suối nguồn là một cuốn sách biết cách đẩy nhân vật của mình đi đến tận cùng, tận cùng của những yêu ghét, tận cùng của lý tưởng và quan niệm. Đó là cách cuốn sách lôi cuốn được độc giả trong một cái tôi rõ ràng, khảng khái đầy khẳng định. Cái tôi được miêu tả kĩ càng qua hành động, suy nghĩ, lời nói một cách chi tiết và nhiều mặt. Nhưng cũng chính vì lẽ đó, cuốn sách mang tính biểu tượng nhiều hơn là hiện thực. Độc giả sẽ bị cuốn đi trong dòng suy nghĩ rõ ràng của tác giả, không hề hoài nghi, kh Suối nguồn là một cuốn sách biết cách đẩy nhân vật của mình đi đến tận cùng, tận cùng của những yêu ghét, tận cùng của lý tưởng và quan niệm. Đó là cách cuốn sách lôi cuốn được độc giả trong một cái tôi rõ ràng, khảng khái đầy khẳng định. Cái tôi được miêu tả kĩ càng qua hành động, suy nghĩ, lời nói một cách chi tiết và nhiều mặt. Nhưng cũng chính vì lẽ đó, cuốn sách mang tính biểu tượng nhiều hơn là hiện thực. Độc giả sẽ bị cuốn đi trong dòng suy nghĩ rõ ràng của tác giả, không hề hoài nghi, không hề e sợ. Với một chút lâng lâng, người đọc tự tạo nên một hình ảnh bất định về một mẫu người mới với tất cả những gì rõ ràng và không hề pha tạp. Điều tôi hơi không thích ở tác phẩm này đó chính là việc quá thần tượng hóa Roak. Lẽ dĩ nhiên việc đó không có gì đáng phê phán. Nhưng việc thần tượng hóa Roak đã tạo nên một hình ảnh rập khuôn về mẫu người siêu anh hùng. Không, anh hùng thì không khuôn mẫu. Chẳng phải chính Roak đã luôn muốn phá vỡ những siêu anh hùng của quá khứ đó sao. Chẳng phải anh luôn muốn là một con người mới chân thực và không màu mè đó sao. Nếu là anh hùng, tất cả các nhân vật trong truyện đều có thể trở thành anh hùng chứ không phải chỉ riêng Roak. Tất nhiên họ sẽ là anh hùng ở những hình thái khác. Dominique là anh hùng trong tình yêu. Toohey là một nhà tư tưởng vĩ đại. Gail luôn là kẻ anh hùng trong việc vươn lên nắm lấy quyền lực. trong một mớ bầy hầy bẩn thỉu. Peter sẽ là một siêu anh hùng trong giới ngoại giao. Có điều, tất cả những kẻ khác ngoài Roak không bao giờ thấy thỏa mãn với việc làm một siêu anh hùng trong thế giới của họ, bằng chính những quan niệm của họ. Họ luôn xoay sở để làm một loại siêu anh hùng khác, một loại anh hùng dường như không thể chạm tới, như Roak. Tôi tự hỏi nếu như Peter không ham muốn điều gì khác ngoài sự nổi tiếng, Toohey không tha thiết gì khác ngoài quyền nắm giữ những tâm hồn, Gail không muốn gì khác ngoài tiền bạc và quyền lực; họ, mỗi người cứ đi theo con đường của riêng mình, cho đến tận cùng thì phải chăng Roak sẽ chả là gì chứ đừng nói đến một siêu anh hùng.

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