The Fountainhead

First published in 1943 this novel, by Ayn Rand, became an instant classic. It is the story of a brilliant young architect whose unwavering integrity results in a violent battle against conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him. If you have’ read it yet, you should fix that problem.

“I came here to learn about buildings. When I was given a project, its only value to me was to learn to solve it as I would solve a real one in the future. I did them the way I will build them. I’ve learned all I could learn here – in the structural sciences of which you don’t approve. One more year of drawing Italian postcards would give me nothing.”

“Here are my rules: what can be done with one substance must never do with another. No two materials are alike. No sites on earth are alike. No two buildings have the same purpose. The purpose, the site, and the material determine the shape. Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it’s made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose. A man doesn’t borrow pieces of his body. A building doesn’t borrow hunks of its soul. Its maker gives it the soul and every wall, window, and stairway to express it.”

“I don’t intend to build in order to serve or help anyone. I don’t intend to build in order to have clients. I intend to have clients in order to build.”

“It takes two to make every great career: the man who is great, and the man -almost rarer- who is great enough to see greatness and say so.”

“Traffic lights restrain your freedom to cross a street whenever you wish. But this restraint gives you the freedom from being run over by a truck. If you were assigned to a job and prohibited from leaving it, it would restrain the freedom of your career. But it would give you freedom from the fear of unemployment. Whenever a new compulsion is imposed upon us, we automatically gain new freedom. The two are inseparable. Only by accepting total compulsion can we achieve total freedom.”

“Second-handers have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They’re concerned only with people. They don’t ask: “Is this true?”. They ask: “Is this what others think is true?” Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Notability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull. What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, and produce? Those are the egoists. You don’t think through another’s brain and you don’t work through another’s hands. When you suspend your faculty of independent judgment, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life. Second-handers have no sense of reality. Their life is not within them, but somewhere in that space which divides one human body from another.”

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