Fountainhead, Part 1: It’s Fountainhorrible!

Well it is.

The fundamental problem I’ve noticed is that Ayn Rand was psychologically unable to view other people’s perspectives as being worthy of respect. If you don’t agree with her, that made you A Parasite, and therefore Wrong. (The part where she proved you Wrong rather than simply asserting it was apparently cut in editing. Either that or she never bothered to write it. Actually my money’s on the second one.) This is bad enough when it comes to philosophy, but when architectural styles are being described within the novel as “weeds” and “crimes” and “mistakes”, it starts to look a bit stupid. (That’s not even a character talking – that’s the narrator describing classical architecture, which, OK, was apparently a bit overused at the time, but seriously, she goes from “not my cup of tea” to “it’s Bad and Wrong and you should feel Bad and Wrong if you like it”?)

Also, it’s very hard to find the main character sympathetic in any way, in much the same way and for much the same reasons as Warsmith Honsou of the Iron Warriors. Honsou, however, at least has the advantage that we’re not supposed to respect him or agree with him, just to find something operatically cool in his villainy. Howard Roark, however, is not operatically awesome, and we are clearly supposed to agree with him.

The proponents of any philosophy or art style that Rand doesn’t like are inevitably crashingly obvious strawmen whose arguments make no sense whatsoever and boil down to dumb assertions made just so Howard Roark looks good. If I’m being honest, making Roark look like anything other than a sociopath takes a lot more work than just having idiots mouth bad arguments no-one could ever take seriously, but since Ayn Rand couldn’t be bothered making this book not-awful, this doesn’t surprise me.

Based on the first hundred or so pages, not only does it not work as literature, it also doesn’t work as tract. Tracts are supposed to convince people to agree with you. Beating them over the head with how they are Wrong and Stupid and Parasitic to disagree with you is not a productive means of doing so. All it managed to do for me was get my dander up.

I’m still going to finish it. But all five of you owe me big-time for doing this thing you never asked me to do.

– OSM out.


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