“The Fountainhead” Book Review: The hung jury speaks from the past

“I don’t work with collectives, I don’t consult, I don’t co-operate, I don’t collaborate.” These are the words of Howard Roark from the 1943 book The Fountainhead, a book that has now become my favorite novel, and replacing the Nietzsche classic Thus Spoke Zarathustra as my most treasured all time book which is no light achievement.

How I managed to move through 44 years of my life without running into this book at some point is beyond me. I have searched through book stores and libraries all my life. In fact, besides the game rooms, and movie theaters, it was the book store that I spent all my time in as a youth, and somehow I never ran into this classic novel.

I am fully aware that millions of people over the years have read this novel, and loved it dearly. But I can only say that I feel The Fountainhead was written by Ayn Rand all those years ago while on a remote island of thought and she placed the novel into a bottle addressed to me and sent it to sea to be read by my eyes only, because that’s how I feel about Howard Roark and the overall message of the novel.

I have lived that life of Roark in much the way that Roark has lived it, and until I read this novel, I had never heard or understood that anyone else in the human race had comprehended the conclusions I had arrived at on my own. It is not a book that will be understood widely by the masses, even though they may find enjoyment in it. It is a great work or art that is the skeleton key of American civilization and is absolutely remarkable.

I will admit that after I read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, I did not think that The Fountainhead would be nearly as good, so I simply put it on a list to read at some point in the future when I finally got around to it. I didn’t want The Fountainhead to ruin the taste of Atlas Shrugged for me. Also, I was already being accused of being too Randian by my political enemies, so I avoided reading the novel so to avoid the unparalleled comparisons with objectivism that I also write about.

Reading the words were like drinking water after walking in the desert for over 40 years, because as long as I’ve been alive I have thought like Roark, and been every bit as stubborn as Roark in a quest for freedom. The above quote from the architect Howard Roark as he was being interviewed for a committee to design for the World’s Fair, where he was to serve on a panel of the world’s greatest architects, was a commission that would have brought fame and fortune to him. He turned it down stating that he would work alone or not at all, that committees do not work. Of course he was told to take a hike, which he happily did in order to maintain his integrity and freedom.

I don’t mind saying that out of all my years I have heard from no place else, these kinds of values held to the same type of standard I have always lived by, so to say that I love The Fountainhead because of the way it was written, or the complex story, or the historical context, is to sell it short of what my actual feelings are. I can see why many on the political left fear Ayn Rand with a terror that seems insane, because every one of those motives were covered in The Fountainhead.

Ayn Rand I think went much further than she did in Atlas Shrugged which many consider to be her greatest novel. The Fountainhead is a piece of work that is deeply meaningful. As I read it I kept reminding myself that when this book was written and published in 1943, John Wayne was a box office star, and Superman was a very popular comic. Society had signs of great strength that is completely vacant today. I love old movies, old songs, and old books because I do not like what has happened to the world over the last century, a trend that is called The Great Beast in The Fountainhead. But Ayn Rand doesn’t just name “The Beast” in The Fountainhead, she shows in intricate detail how it works against the ideas of individualism and society in general to destroying the idea of Superman.

The truth about individualism is that those who possess such traits function on their own. They do not need validation from society, or even from a book. I could have functioned the rest of my life just fine not reading The Fountainhead. But it is refreshing to see that at least one other person in human history feels the same way about things as I do.

My wife bought me the book for our 24th wedding anniversary while we were out at our favorite book store. I was waiting for my own novel called Tail of the Dragon to come out in book stores soon, so I wanted to read something deeply intelligent and thought-provoking that I haven’t yet read. So it seemed like a good time to read The Fountainhead. After all, my work at Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom had already drawn the comparisons with Rand, so there was no reason to avoid reading another book of Rand’s just so I could say I hadn’t read all her books. There was a part of me who wanted to keep my ideas completely mine, and to not be confused with another writer, even one from the distant past. And that seemed like a stupid reason to avoid a really good book, which I thought The Fountainhead would be. But I had no idea it would become my favorite book. It said what I had been doing for many years was not isolated to just myself. Roark is a character in The Fountainhead who does not look back and regret anything, he is a character who loves himself, and is therefore capable of loving others fully, he is a character of complete self-assuredness, he is a unique talent simply because he does not look to anyone else to measure himself against, he is in all practical purposes a perfect person.

The villains of the book I have met all before—every single one of them in real life. Their motives are no different from from The Fountainhead, and I have never read such a description of characters anywhere in any piece of literature fictional or non-fictional, film or play. There is a truth in this novel that cuts through to the invisible barriers that holds back everyone.

Like Roark I have always been told that my lack of “sharing” was wrong, and that I needed to “get with the program,” and my response has always been just like what Roark said and that includes my political work with No Lakota Levy, that I have been so well-known for. In that group I had a free hand to run the campaign the way I wanted, but recently, there were attempts to change the direction a bit. I tried to play along nicely, but I just couldn’t do it. I had to call my political enemies Latté sipping prostitutes to keep things right in my mind knowing it would probably end my relationship with the rest of the No Lakota Levy group because the assemblage had become more inclusive.

My hatred of public education itself is rooted in this idea that committees do not work. Many minds cannot achieve anything but a mess, and our society reflects it. Professionally, I have always excelled when left in the sole leadership position, but I have lost interest when I have to consult with others. I gave up my desire to be a film director when I realized I did not have it in me to be a “collaborative” person which traditionally is the roll of the film director. Instead I have decided to write books, for all the reasons that Ayn Rand did, because I wish to report to nobody, I want the world to be done my way, and I consult nobody to do it.

I have worked in business long enough to learn to work with other people without compromising myself, and Roark learns to do this also in The Fountainhead. The wonderful aspect of this story is that he does not bend his integrity to do it. Such a concept is very difficult, but Rand pulls it off wonderfully in this novel. I cannot say how many times I have heard that integrity must be bent to “compromise” my beliefs to merge with others, and I have never done it. Like Roark, I have never identified myself with groups, or any form of collectivist mentality, and this has given me an authenticity that I value very much in my life now. Unlike Roark, who simply avoids all groups through his life, I was told by everyone around me that I had to be a part of them. I have been an active member of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, V.P. of the Suzuki Owners of North America, Ohio Chapter, participated in many writing groups and taken courses including one of Sol Stein’s regiments, I’ve been a member of the Society of Whip Artists, the Wild West Arts Club, numerous local liberty groups, high adventure groups, tax fighting groups and in every instance I find a way to sabotage myself on the rise to the top, as all the members of these groups tried to make me their leader, or collaborate with me on a level that I felt confining.

I always start pulling away from groups when they start inviting me to lunch, and start wanting to spend time around me not because I dislike their company, or even their groups, but I find the clutter of their lives conflicting with my daily intentions. My favorite thing to do in a day is to “think” and I love to be alone with my thoughts. In every professional capacity I’ve ever been a part of I always turn away from any collaboration with others. I have only ever been interested in top down leadership or nothing. I know how to respect the opinions of others without being needlessly imposing because I have never had a desire to rule other people, even when I’ve had many employees working under me. Being the ruler for the sake of power was never interesting. But having the ability to mold an idea from my head to a product guiding the people under me has been a successful formula many more times than once, and it has always worked best when I alone made all the decisions.

Once you are successful, you find a parade of moochers who are suddenly your friends and want to share in your success. That is when they offer for you to join a group of their making, and when they want to be involved in a committee of which you are a part. What they really want is to share in the success of your thinking, which makes them a simple looter.

I once infuriated one of my past employers by ripping to shreds the validity of Six Sigma as a means to creating more efficient production methods. I stated that Six Sigma was garbage and would not yield positive results–that big companies had simply fudged their numbers to get the results they desired, to show that collectivism like Six Sigma would actually work in companies. I have been in a lot of companies, and it doesn’t work. It can only be made to look that way on paper. It does not work in reality because workers must buy into Six Sigma and invest their individual value into their work, which does not happen without applying some sort of fear.

I have wondered many times if I was the only person on the face of the earth presently or in the past who thought these things, because everyone, everywhere I went seemed to think the same kind of things—their thoughts were rooted in collectivism. Mine never have been and I have never cared a damn what somebody thought of what I did and because of it I have always found myself in some type of conflict with someone.

Ultimately my resolution after all these years is to completely give up on groups. I have tried to get along and play nicely, and it never has worked. I have observed that it’s not just because of my opinion or preference, but because the science of collectivism is a failure right out of the gate, and my desire to work alone is due to the realization that only individuals create anything worthwhile. I have seen this process up close and personal at every level of human endeavor and it NEVER works.

Yet our society and our world today are corrupted with the belief that it does, and it has infected virtually our entire population. The 20th Century is the century of communism and the infection of the virus called Marxism.

The appropriate metaphor for The Fountainhead is the occupation of architecture as its primary theme. I know a few of those types and have fired my share of Peter Ketting’s for all the reasons he was a worthless piece of garbage in the novel, so I know something about architects. I was looking recently at the skyline of Cincinnati the last time I was down there and I thought about all the cities across the nation. Cincinnati’s skyline hasn’t changed much since I was a child, and that’s the case with most of the big cities. Occasionally, a new skyscraper is put up, and there used to be a healthy competition to see which city could boast the largest skyscrapers, because they were a symbol of that city’s economic power. Most of the skyscrapers in the cities of America were started long ago when the nation was functioning as close to pure capitalism that there ever was, and now bits of socialism have diseased our cities growth as communism has been knocking on America’s door. It is clear to me that the threat of communism has stopped the growth of those skylines. It is in that stoppage that America’s growth has been reflected. The newest skyscrapers in the world are now in Dubai, and China, not in America and this is part of the global socialism push, to spread the wealth to the far reaches of the earth by implementing “fairness” at the expense “growth.”  America should have ten Donald Trumps for the one we have now.  It has only been Trump that have built anything in America recently.  The other potential men and women of Trump’s nature have been consumed by communism. 

I could literally write a 2 million word essay on just The Fountainhead. The themes and wisdom of the book are simply unparalleled. It is the great American novel. It is everything that Americans should strive to be, and it accurately portrays the terrible evil that is eating our country and has destroyed entire civilizations for centuries. If I had to say what book most accurately reflects my personal beliefs, I would now have to say it is The Fountainhead.

It is because of the themes in The Fountainhead that I write here every day. I don’t do it for money when many have asked me why I do not sell advertising, or solicit funds to keep it going. I write here because I do it for myself, because I wish to own my words without the influence of anyone. I am very possessive of my thoughts because they belong to me with the same passion that Howard Roark felt about his architectural drawings. It’s worth more to me than personal wealth, again for all the reasons of Roark, and very few people understand that. In fact there are only six people who understand my feelings about these types of things, my wife, my two daughters, my son-in-law, and Ayn Rand as confirmed in this message she sent me in a bottle over time called The Fountainhead.

As I closed the book I felt as though a public trial over my life consisting of four decades had just concluded and all the members of the jury had decided that I was guilty of radical individualism and a yearning for personal freedom that was dangerous to society and the only one on the jury to speak out in my defense was Ayn Rand in her wonderful novel The Fountainhead. And because the jury could not come to a unanimous decision, I am able to go free.

After reading this book I feel autonomy to double my intentions. If I knew before that I was right in my thoughts, it is now that I have confirmed my suspicions. In many ways I am glad I did not read this book any earlier, because it cannot be said that it influenced my direction in life. I’ve lived my life as authentically as possible, and been told that I was wrong to do so, which I never believed, but certainly felt the crushing weight of their judgment. I always told myself that it was truly the masses that were wrong, that millions upon millions were wrong and that possibly only I was right. I now know that at least one other person shared those thoughts with me because I received the message in the bottle on my anniversary, and it was the confirmation of a hung jury with Ayn Rand being my only supporter, and that means a lot. Actually, I take that vote as a commission to really pour it on now; because the real enemy, the “second handlers” are clearer to me than they have ever been before, and it’s time to slay the beast once and for all. It’s time to hunt the “second handlers” where they live and eradicate them from the terror they intend upon the human mind.

Unfortunately, if The Fountainhead is to be enjoyed, the book must be read. The 1949 movie starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, screen written by Ayn Rand herself is quite good, and can be seen below. It’s a great film, but only touches on the surface of the novel’s themes. For me personally, there was a line in the novel that struck me particularly hard—“how do you like it now superman,” in relation to the torture that Howard Roark had to endure at a particularly dark moment in the story. For the entirety of my life in every phase, and at every occupation I have been given almost that exact line—“why do you work so hard superman,” “who do you think you are superman,” “you are making us look bad—superman.” It is because of those lines that I named Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom what I have and committed my own versions of modern “supermen” to literature, because they need a voice too. I’ve never desired to be anything else or to apologize to anyone to be it. And that type of conviction in another human being I have never seen before anywhere until I read this fantastic novel.


____________________________________________________________

This is what people are saying about my new book–Tail of the Dragon

Just finished the book and am sweating profusely. Wow, what a ride !!!  Fasten your seat belts for one of the most thrilling rides ever in print.

While you wait for Tail of the Dragon, read my first book at Barnes and Nobel.com as they are now offering The Symposium of Justice at a discount which is the current lowest price available.

Rich Hoffman
https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

10 thoughts on ““The Fountainhead” Book Review: The hung jury speaks from the past

  1. six sigma is a joke!!! when writing my thesis, I learned that you can make numbers say whatever you need them to say. You are not alone in many of your thoughts….you are simply the one brave enough to speak them.

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    1. In addition to what was said above, Six Sigma is too complicated. I’m a huge fan of KISS: “keep it simple stupid”. In my experience most errors and inefficiencies are caused by over-complication in some or many areas. Many times the overcomplicated processes are implemented for one of two reasons: to hide flaws in other parts of the system or process, or to make the guy who came up with the overcomplicated system look more important or intelligent than he is. The road to efficiency is not over-complication. They are antithetical.

      Anyone else have “Behavior Based Safety” at their company? Mine has bought into it big-time. My supervisor assigned every person in our group to lead a discussion based on a chapter in the BBS book this year. My first turn was a couple of weeks ago. The chapter described how processes are deemed to be unsafe: a group of workers can come to a consensus about whether a behavior is “safe” or “unsafe”, and once agreed on, the recommended way of doing the task would be the policy of the company. I used my time at the meeting to shoot holes in the BBS in theory and in practice. My supervisor kept looking at me with a displeased look as he took notes. He doesn’t like me very much.

      It was determined by “consensus” that holding a cell phone up to your ear (not using a hands-free device) is unsafe, and is now a terminable offense, but our truck drivers who use the old-style “push to talk” hand mics (like old CB radio mics) are exempt. When policies make no sense they will not be followed. It’s also policy that you must wear safety glasses with side shields while driving with your drivers-side window down because one employee in North Carolina had a rock come in his side window and hit him near the eye. I’m guessing the the next consensus will be that wearing helmets while driving is even safer.

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      1. Yes, there’s no KISS in Six Sigma. I find that stuff mind-numbing and so ineffective. It drives logic from the mind and is all about shared responsibility to get to some root cause that everyone uses to play the hot potato game. It’s terribly evasive. It’s only good for industry politics because so many people believe in it. The reality is about making everything so complicated that more employees are need just to deal with the complications.

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  2. Hey! I thought for sure I was going to get a mention there: “…only seven people who understand my feelings about these types of things, my wife, my two daughters, my son-in-law, my friend Phil, and Ayn Rand as confirmed in this message she sent me in a bottle over time called The Fountainhead.” As Wayne Campbell once said, “…Denied!” 🙂

    I’m also a huge fan of Fountainhead because one of my idols is Frank Lloyd Wright. You can clearly see his influence on Roark’s character.

    I’ve got a another great example of this truth of which you write: the Chevrolet Corvette. The best Corvettes in my opinion were designed by one man: Zora Arkus-Duntov. After he left the program in the mid-70’s the Corvette turned into a group project, where every designer at GM kissed the appropriate ass to have their hand in the Corvette design committee. The result, the 1984 ‘Vette, was a bland, pale imitation of the great Stingrays that preceded it, watered down by group-think and compromise.

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    1. Great point about the Vette. You’re right, and you are one of the people who understands, as we discussed today. But there aren’t many though. Most don’t and are too afraid of their own shadows to care about anything. It’s strange that I’m reading this book after you and several others around here already beat me to it. This is a great book!

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  3. I’m a big fan of the movie adaptation too. You can’t go wrong with Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal! They did change a few things from the book but the essential plot line and message is the same. Roark’s speech at the trial scene was better than the ones in the recent Atlas Shrugged movie in my opinion. It very succinctly expresses Rand’s (and our) views about individualism, the evil of the collective, and the value of a man’s intellectual property and labor. I’m a big fan of 1940 and 1950’s culture and this is no exception.

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    1. You guys are killing me here….studying for work, reading “Atlas Shrugged”, “brave new world “and I read fountain head years ago….gotta get that on my kindle too–oh, And Rich’s latest book, which is awesome by the way:):)

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  4. Didn’t I see that guy “Rasarik” (who “reviewed” The Fountainhead in your embedded video above) on TV crapping on a cop car at an Occupy rally? Seriously, d00d, admit it…you didn’t even read it, did you?

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