MSS and Roy Posner
Analysis based on
the consciousness approach to life
Roark, a brilliant young architect, is expelled from his
architecture school for refusing to follow the school's outdated
traditions. He goes to New York to work for Henry Cameron, a disgraced
architect whom Roark admires. Roark's schoolmate, Peter Keating, moves
to New York and goes to work for the prestigious architectural firm Francon & Heyer, run by the famous Guy Francon. Roark and Cameron
create beautiful work, but their projects rarely receive recognition,
whereas Keating's ability to flatter and please brings him almost
instant success. In just a few years, he becomes a partner at the firm
after he causes
Francon's previous partner to have a stroke. Henry Cameron retires,
financially ruined, and Roark opens his own small office. His
unwillingness to compromise his designs in order to satisfy clients
eventually forces him to close down the office and take a job at a
granite quarry in Connecticut.
Connecticut, Roark feels an immediate, passionate attraction to
Dominique Francon, Guy Francon's temperamental and beautiful daughter.
Society disgusts Dominique, and she has retreated to her family's estate
to escape the mediocre architecture she sees all around her. One night,
Roark enters the house and rapes her. Dominique discovers that this is
what she had needed, but when she looks for Roark, he has left the
quarry to design a building for a prominent New York businessman.
Dominique returns to New York and discovers Roark's identity. She
realizes that he designed a building she admires. Dominique and Roark
begin to meet in secret, but in public she tries to sabotage his career
and destroy him. Ellsworth Toohey, an architectural critic and
socialist, slowly prepares to rise to power. He seeks to prevent men
from excelling by teaching that talent and ability are of no great
consequence, and that the greatest virtue is humility. Toohey sees Roark
as a great threat and tries to destroy him. Toohey convinces a
weak-minded businessman named Hopton Stoddard to hire Roark as the
designer for a temple dedicated to the human spirit, then persuades the
businessman to sue Roark once the building is completed. At Roark's
trial, every prominent architect in New York testifies that Roark's
style is unorthodox and illegitimate, but Dominique declares that the
world does not deserve the gift Roark has given it. Stoddard wins the
case and Roark loses his business again. To punish herself for desiring
Roark, Dominique marries Peter Keating.
Gail Wynand, a brilliant publisher, who has lost his early idealism and
made his fortune by printing newspapers that say exactly what the public
wants to hear. Wynand meets Dominique and falls in love with her, so he
buys her from Keating by offering him money and a prestigious contract
in exchange for his wife. Dominique agrees to marry Wynand because she
thinks he is an even worse person than Keating, but to her surprise,
Wynand is a man of principle. Wynand and Roark meet and become fast
friends, but Wynand does not know the truth about Roark's relationship
with Dominique. Meanwhile Keating, who has fallen from grace, asks Roark
for help with the Cortlandt Homes, a public housing project. The idea of
economical housing intrigues Roark. He agrees to design the project and
let Keating take the credit on the condition that no one makes a single
alteration to his plan.
Roark returns from a summer-long yacht trip with Wynand, he finds that,
despite the agreement, the Cortlandt Homes project has been changed.
Roark asks Dominique to distract the night watchman one night and then
dynamites the building. When the police arrive, he submits without
resistance. The entire country condemns Roark, but Wynand finally finds
the courage to follow his convictions and orders his newspapers to
defend him. The Banner's
circulation drops and the workers go on strike, but Wynand keeps
printing with Dominique's help. Eventually, Wynand gives in and
denounces Roark. At the trial, Roark seems doomed, but he rouses the
courtroom with a statement about the value of selfishness and the need
to remain true to oneself. Roark describes the triumphant role of
creators and the price they pay at the hands of corrupt societies. The
jury finds him not guilty. Roark marries Dominique. Wynand asks Roark to
design one last building, a skyscraper that will testify to the
supremacy of man.
(Note: Underlined items are links to related Growth
Self-Directedness and Non-Reaction are Spiritual-like Qualities
A novel [The Fountainhead] with an
architect as a hero was published in 1947 in Britain, written by a
Russian immigrant [Ayn Rand] who became an American citizen. It became a
success and ran through twenty impressions and still remains a worldwide
best seller. Howard Roark is an architect who is devoted to
architecture. It is his entire life. He sees a building as a whole
gaining an integrity of its own. The society hounds him out of
existence. The society does not exist for Roark. He passes
through hell, works in a quarry as a day labourer but awaits for Life to
Respond. The long awaited Response comes late in life, but when it
comes, it comes in all its splendour and richness.
How the fraternity of architects treats
him, how the unthinking social mass disowns him, how much he suffers are
all in character -- what every pioneer or sage has undergone without
exception. What is exceptional is Roark does not react, does not even
respond to defend himself. He hardly notices what is being done to
him. It was not as if reaction arose in him and he suppressed it. No
reaction issues from inside. Even Yudhishthira says that though he does
not express his anger, anger does issue from inside. Roark does not
react, does not seek any reward for his work and is utterly truthful. All of these are spiritual qualities. The Rishis are known for their
curses. How many Rishis can rise to the level of Roark's equality is a
question. He who does not react is one who rises above the Mind, as
reaction is a characteristic of Mind. Individuality is precious.
Non-reacting equality is its hallmark.
Roark as Example of
the Emergence of a True Spiritual Individual
The hippy movement originated in the USA
as a revolt against the establishment. It was the distance beginning of
the emerging individual. Though they were absorbed by the society later,
the spirit of their revolt is still alive.
The 20th Century was called the century of
the common man. The 21st Century will be the century of the spiritually
free individual. The novel Fountainhead was published in 1947 by a
Russian emigrant who became an American citizen. The hero of the novel
is Howard Roark, an architect. To him architecture is his life. He
speaks of the integrity of the buildings because he sees them as a whole
integrated with every aspect of the environment. Though architecture is
an insignificant part of life, for a civilization that is physical,
architecture and the buildings are a major part.
The hero has all the characteristics of a
society responds to his pioneering effort as of old. What is new in
Howard Roark is his detachment, non-reacting equality, ability not to
seek anything, even the woman he is passionately in love with. He never
wavers from truth. All these are preeminently features of the spirit.
How many rishis [Indian spiritual seekers] will past the test of equality
[i.e. non-reaction to positive or negative] is a valid question. In
that sense, Roark exceeds the rishis. The author portrays him as a
supreme egotist. He describes himself as a selfish man. He is obviously
without the vital, mental ego. He is not aware of the spiritual
character of his endowments.
If such a character is produced in a novel
written in 1947, though it is written by a Russian emigrant, it means in
the collective -- USA as well as the world
-- there must be a readiness to
produce many more of his type.
(Note: underlined items are links to related Growth
Howard Roark, a True Individual and Personality
In Ayn Rand's The
Fountainhead we see one individual, Howard Roark,
expressing his true individuality by thinking for
himself, not being swayed by the herd. We
can say that such a person is in contact with his inner
Personality and True Self, as opposed to others who rely
on the social imperative. When that inner force is weak
though true, relative to the world around him, society
tends to crush him and his ideals. If
it is strong, as it was in the case of Roark
or a Churchill or a Gorbachav, it can change the course
of the world around them.
How many of us think for ourselves, instead of being
determined by the herd around us, the social view, the
collective views expressed by media and popular culture?
How many of us seek to know the true truth, the many
sided truth, instead of the part and convenient truth
that the world presents to us on the surface or that we
are attached to within ourselves.
The true Individual in that sense is spiritual because
he seeks identity with the full object of knowledge
which the limited
normal mind of man cannot perceive. Limited, normal mind perceives an
exclusive truth, whereas the logical and better-still
illumined and intuitive mind are powers of spiritualized mentality that seek the inherent truth in
the object of inquiry. There is knowledge by identity
with the object. There is no separation between the
knower, the knowing, and the known. The influence
of the social herd clouds that identity, as does the
normally divided mind of man. Only when we seek the
deeper consciousness within, do we move to the wider
truth by identity.
never initiated, a spiritual-like quality which
attracted life to him.
He used the
methods of Silent
soft/reduced speech to attract life towards him.
He was willing to
consciousness of the individual (as opposed to the vital/emotional
or mental) cannot wait, as we see in Mrs. Bennet in
Pride and Prejudice, which is the opposite of Roark. I see my
own position as half way in between, even as I value Roark's status
as my own personal goal.
As a result of
waiting, he got the commission he wanted to build the first
building, and in the same way attracted
from life the woman who would become his wife
He attracted her
when he took the quarry job. She came to him.
He was wiling to
go to the depths of poverty to fulfill his ideal. There he attracted
instantly fell in love with one another on site from a distance,
because the power of self does not require any courting. It is
She was the
suffering side of Roark who saw that his ideal was too pure for this
world. His strength of ideal even overcame her suffering for him.
He stood up for
the integrity of self.
not influenced by the collective will.
He had the
strength to stand up to the greatest pressure through the
strength of his ideal of self, which was real to him almost at the
physical level. That's why he was never intimidated.
That strength was
built on an utter conviction of his individual self.
At one point in
the film, full individuality of self was equated with
expressed his philosophical view in full till the court case.
critic railed about the social need publicly before hand. However,
Roark had the final word, in court.
expressed in full his view.
He was expressing
the author's view.
The author was
anti-Communistic, having flown from it, which supported her
It was not that
alone made her idealize the individual; she saw its value in action
in America, her adopted home; perhaps seeing its as the cause of its
The settlers had
the idea of Europe in mind, and so they recreated it. But they also
had to execute it collectively. The
US is also the story of organization (again an idea in mind), as
well as people from varying cultures (i.e. immigrants) working
together, which is a collective influence of the whole and the
multiplicity of the whole..
The Life Divine in the chapter on "The
Eternal and the Individual"
that individuality is great, but a truer individuality occurs when
we open to the higher consciousness, the Purusha, with its myriad of
multiplicity. Then we are armed with a greater type
Wynand, the owner
of the paper committed suicide in the film because he saw Roark
stand up in court, hold to his ideals perfectly, and then win,
whereas Wynand gave in to the pressures of his board of directors
and allowed compromise on the housing development. As a result, he
saw himself less of a man than Roark, losing all self-respect.
The blowing up of
the building was one action I seriously questioned as an extension
of self. Maybe he should have accepted the condition and moved on.
But then there would have been no case in which he could have
expressed his opinions. It was almost a device of the author, but
maybe it's true to life.
[MSS Comments: The problem can be suffered in silence or
overcome by violence. These are two ways of meeting a problem.]
Rand's view is
that creative self-vision is greater than self-sacrifice.
powerfully expresses the notion that the Idea in the minds of true
individuals alone has moved the world. One man's idea has enabled
all progress in the world. (This is a BIG point. I enjoyed this.)
Roark IS in his
status of self, attracting all the world to him. He waits on the
world like a guru awaiting for disciples to come to him so that he
can dispense the wisdom that the Divine wishes to impart. The Divine
waits for man through the Guru's waiting.
Rand was an
atheist, though it was probably a reaction to religion than to
spirituality, where one can find the True Self, Individual,
Personality. Perhaps she was not exposed in her life to the latter.
In a 50th
anniversary essay, written around a decade ago, a writer said Rand
would be against today's pious conservative politicians in the US
preaching self-righteous morality and religion on the one hand, and
the ivory tower intellectuals who in the US teach multi-centralism
to point out the victimhood of other cultures at the hands of
Western oppressors (read colonialism) on the other. I agree on the
former and somewhat on the latter. In the latter, people also turn
to multi-culturalism because there are truths in other cultures that
are not mere truths of victimization. E.g. In Indian culture there
is The Gita that knows great truths (including that of True Self,
ironically!) found nowhere in western culture.
Perhaps people in
science are attracted to the rationality of Rand.
science overcame the earlier superstition only to become the new
superstition that is intolerant of the unmeasurable and the provable
overwhelmed by the propaganda of consumerisms. We do not think for
ourselves. Rand says we must think for ourselves in the extreme to
get away from the collective view of the herd. In Roark's
non-initiating, reacting character we see the true basis that will
prevent the outer from ever determining our lives. Perhaps that
is Rand's greatest contribution; that
the inner ultimately should, and does determine.
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