Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Fountainhead

"...he wondered whether the peculiar solemnity of looking at the sky comes, not from what one contemplates, but from that uplift of one's head..."

I just finished reading an excellent novel. At the risk of sounding petulant: I realize that it is much easier to read a short blog that simply says something about its author having gone to the mall recently or having seen a good movie over the weekend, and that when the choice is made not to talk about such supremely important matters, most people give up after reading the first paragraph or two. You might realize this as well, so perhaps that will make it easier to fight against.

Gail Wynand: "We have never made an effort to understand what is greatness in man and how to recognize it. We have come to hold, in a kind of mawkish stupor, that greatness is to be gauged by self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice, we drool, is the ultimate virtue. Let's stop and think for a moment. Is sacrifice a virtue? Can a man sacrifice his integrity? His honor? His freedom? His ideal? His convictions? The honesty of his feeling? The independence of his thought? But these are a man's supreme possessions. Anything he gives up for them is not a sacrifice but an easy bargain. They, however, are above sacrificing to any cause or consideration whatsoever. Should we not, then, stop preaching dangerous and vicious nonsense? Self-sacrifice? But it is precisely the self that cannot and must not be sacrificed. It is the unsacrificed self that we must respect in man above all."

Ellsworth M. Toohey: "Do you see? Men have a weapon against you. Reason. So you must be very sure to take it away from them. Cut the props from under it. But be careful. Don't deny outright. Never deny anything outright, you give your hand away. Don't say reason is evil―though some have gone that far and with astonishing success. Just say that reason is limited. That there's something above it. What? You don't have to be too clear about it either. The field's inexhaustible.
'Instinct'―'Feeling'―'Revelation'―'Divine Intuition'―'Dialectical Materialism.' If you get caught at some crucial point and somebody tells you that your doctrine doesn't make sense―you're ready for him. You tell him that there's something above sense. That here he must not try to think, he must feel. He must believe. Suspend reason and you play it deuces wild. Anything goes in any manner you wish whenever you need it. You've got him. Can you rule a thinking man? We don't want any thinking men.

Howard Roark: "Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. Man has no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons―a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man―the function of his reasoning mind."

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