Friday, March 24, 2006

The Fountainhead

I don't even know how to completely express how much I loved this book. It's totally an experiential thing.

I feel like every other book I pick up now will be in the light of reading this. Very little will be able to compare. Everything else will feel trite. Pointless and weak. Infantile even.

There are a lot of good books out there, and there is a lot of fluff. And I don't think I can currently stomach anything that isn't excellence. We accept mediocrity all the time for a quick fix, an easy out. And in doing so allow ourselves to continue to be mediocre and not demand higher quality.

It took me about three weeks to finish as it was so long and took actual thinking to read it. And I haven't stopped thinking about it. I don't agree with so much of Ayn Rand's philosophy but there are points that cause me to stop and really analyze what it is that is attractive about it.

She created the philosophy that she called Objectivism.

The short translation is this:

1. "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed" or "Wishing won't make it so."

2. "You can't eat your cake and have it, too."

3. "Man is an end in himself."

4. "Give me liberty or give me death."

The slightly longer explanation is this:

My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:
Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man's feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by
man's senses) is man's only means of perceiving reality, his only source of
knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He
must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor
sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest
and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system
where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters
and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit.
It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting
to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against
others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man's rights;
it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who
initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
Copyright ã 1962 by Times-Mirror Co.

What does all of this mean to me? I'm honestly not sure yet. It is such a high ideal for man to live up to, but yet leaving out the entire concept of God, faith, beliefs. Which I am not able to do. And the problem with facts being facts is that they so often aren't. There are so many facts that are still intrinsically changed by whomever views them. Especially if man is dependant upon his own reason.

Her main character in this book is what she considers the highest ideal for man. Unfortunately he is practically an inhuman man.

I feel like I need to read something different, but I am also pulled to read more from her. I am also pulled to talk to whoisjohngalt. I think we need to meet.


heather said...

i know what you mean about being really moved by her writing but not sold on her ideas. after reading her work, i felt like i wanted to go create something really great and be true to myself, etc... but there are so many flaws with her theories i don't even know where to begin. and, i think you hit the nail on the head with the facts not being facts. i think that she would have to re-work a lot of her theories if she were alive today - this whole information age has really screwed with the idea of truth and fact... there is a new word added to the dictionary this year: "truthology" - it means truth, but not necessarily fact. the guy writing the article i read about this word said that until our culture learns to marry the two again, we need a word that diferentiates between them. yuck. ayn rand would be knocked off her rocker with that one.

kassi said...

I love books that make me think of them long after the last page. I agree that we settle for mediochrity far too often...and we shouldn't.

cory said...

i'm probably stating the obvious here, but if you enjoyed this book you should give atlas shrugged a read. it is her definitive work on objectivism and quite possibley the best novel ever written...

Jean said...

No wonder this took so long for you to read. It took me a long time to read the quoted section. :)

I always find it very interesting how people's different views are considered truth to them and them alone. To us, God is truth. To others He's not. What makes what we believe truth? And not even necessarily speaking about God. Just random thinking that you got me going on about :)

anne said...

From what I have read, I gather that Atlas is her best. And I am very anxious to read that one too. But I need to take a little bit of time away from her I think. I still have quite a few other classics on my shelves that I have to hit.

Heather-she really sounds like someone who I would love to have a conversation with. Or at least hear her talk. I wonder if there are any recordings anywhere. I know she spent the last bit of her life giving speeches.

Truthology huh. That doesn't sounds like the word they want. That just sounds like the study of truth. Which would be a good pursuit, but not what culture is trying to define. Is truth capital "T" or small "t"? And is fact ever something that is absolute? How can we make those words synonomous again? Should we want them to be?

I definitely thought a lot of her ideals were timeless but yet there were a lot of things said that really don't apply in our current culture. I would be so curious to hear her thoughts on the current state of our country and even what she would think of the current state of her country, Russia.

Again Cory, missing the shifting.

andy said...

wow, this smells of ideashift...a post from cory, a quote from a great author and thinker, questioning what is truth and fact.

makes me remember the way the shift used to be. "back in the day, back back in the day" (for 5 points)

fine, anne gets the 5 points. (i just assume she will answer this first and get it right anyway)

anne said...

You made me laugh out loud right here at work!! You'd be so proud of me, baby!!

Just like you're proud of me every morning. But someday you'll answer the phone when it's over.

heather said...

maybe truthology is the right word - studying truth and seeking it out since it doesn't align with facts right now.

i think some of ayn rands speeches are published...and she wrote some specific books about objectivism, which would be similar to hearing her speak.

sorry to break it to you, cory, but the best book ever written is not atlas shrugged, it's huck finn. just thought i'd let you know. :)

anne said...

Aha! Well, there you go then. And you can't argue with a teacher.

I believe I have never actually read through Huck Finn. I know, I know. I am shamed.

I can adhere to Truthology. I think it needs studying and searching. I think that is why we question and always want to know "why?"

heather said...

you're lucky - you just barely escaped getting an afterschool detention, miss ferris.

anne said...

Would you believe that I never had a detention? It's true.

Jean said...

It's because of your sad eye making and little bonnet... :)

anne said...

Ok now. I didn't wear bonnets in high school, all right?! GOSH!