Foodpie's Reviews > The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
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Apr 18, 2008

did not like it

This book is easily described as garbage. Poorly imagined, poorly conceived and poorly written it is only exceptional in the lengths it will go to justify the morally, ethically and socially reprehensible behavior of the central character who's vaunted genius amounts in the end to nothing more than being a willful disobedient ass. He is neither original or exceptional, he is simply an ass, and is treated as an object of admiration for it. A thoroughly disgusting piece of writing.
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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Archer This is a terrible review. Consider yourself POLARIZED.

Foodpie If that's the best you can do I'm not exactly shaking in my boots here.

Archer It's not the best I can do. Are you wearing boots?

Foodpie As a matter of fact I am. Now if you have anything substantive to say about the review or the book in question I'm all ears, otherwise I have the rest of the dross that Rand passed off as literature to get too.

Archer Ha! Dross... That has a weighted significance for me, (see "after the city")
For starters, I would offer as a hypothesis your review as being based upon a reaction in true Randian spirit. She has mastered you, whether you know it or not. (I expect a vehement rejection from you) The truth is that the philosophic bent of this book is so spartan (and yes, misguided) that the only reaction that Ayn would probably approve of is of complete devotion, or complete rejection. This is a supposition, but I would guess that you yourself were so caught up in the story that your only recourse to reading it and then disagreeing with the moral precepts was a complete rejection of the entire work, and successively of Rand's entire ouvre.
I would say that no one could deny that this is a good story. The characters, although undilutedly allegorical to Ayn's vision of the world, are compelling, and the drama between them rich. These are not natural people, and this is clearly the point of the book. Rand fabricates them out of whole cloth, which in itself as a project undertaken is worth some praise. (The modern era anyone? The recreation of the world through capitalism? This book is a fascinating historical document of its time and culture. Have you BEEN to NY? Why do you think they built those buildings?)
My sum total view of this book is not complete rejection or complete acceptance. The characteristics that she portrays in the extreme are present in all of us on varying levels. This is the pure ego after all, and although he has been watered down, Freud has been largely proven. I say that if you take this book for what it is, a dogmatic and moral parable of the objectivist philosophy, then you can proceedingly enjoy it and what it engages in. (You can still read the Bible for the amazing depth of humanity it represents, while not accepting its teachings)

message 6: by Foodpie (last edited Jun 18, 2008 10:25PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Foodpie Freud has in fact been virtually completely debunked, and so has Ayn Rand preposterous attempts at a philosophy. I don't reject these characters because they offend me, I reject them because they are so obviously the imagining of a juvenile and immature mind that they bore me to tears of blood. There is nothing of the hero in anyone past the age of 16 who isn't a psychopath. I am not reacting to objectivism because there is nothing to react to. The philosophy is at best a joke and at worst nothing more than a delusion. The very concept of something being Randian is ridiculous. The woman wrote 2 books of note and had no real literary legacy. None. I would posit a question. What time would you say this book is describing? I am willing to bet that you and Rand would disagree. I know what she would say, and I know what most people would say, and I know they are very different because of her immense ignorance of the world she lived in. This is not a period piece. It's pulp literature that doesn't have the good grace to end after the usual requisite 400 pages. There's no0thing here to value, nothing here to enjoy, just endless justification and childish excuses for the Mary Sue adventures of a handsome hero going through the motions of Ayn Rands favorite but barely understood profession.

message 7: by Archer (last edited Jun 18, 2008 10:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Archer Whether I, or you, agree with Rand is not is the issue, and it is the key to understanding the book in a way that is not a equally dogmatic rejection of its dogmatic fable. And stating that Freud has been "Debunked" seems to me to be a ridiculous assertion. How can you say that someone who was elemental in the creation of an entire field of study and a cultural phenomenon be "debunked." His ideas and influences may have mutated, but much of what we attribute to the field of Psychoanalysis, and for a large part the elements of this field that have been accepted and popularized in the larger culture, derive from Freud. Or are you denying the wisdom of popular culture, you Randian scholar you?
I would say that this book is not to be understood solely as a "period piece" as this was not its intent. Nevertheless it is a fascinating description of a certain idiomatic style in world cultural history, the American individualist. Call it a "religious" version of Horatio Alger.
It is also a good story, and well written. I would encourage you to engage with your own thoughts more substantively, for example, what does this sentence mean besides being a crude and blunt gesture. "The philosophy is at best a joke and at worst nothing more than a delusion." A commentary on your interpretation of this delusion, its causes and its effect, would be more helpful than all this sound and fury.

message 8: by Foodpie (last edited Jun 19, 2008 11:56AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Foodpie There's nothing to understand, and there is no sound or fury. The book is an overly long childrens book. If you knew anything about psychology and psychiatry you'd know that the entire field of psychoanalysis as it is commonly understood has been completely debunked and fallen in to total disuse. This is fact. As for the wisdom of popular culture, there is none, so I have nothing to deny. I'll take your failure to respond to my question as an acknowledgment that you really had no idea what you were talking about when you said this was a period piece. As for this being a description of the American individualist, the total lack of any and all historical data to back up the very concept of the American individualist should give some sign to the informed person that the concept is nonsense. As for it being well written, that is the one thing that there can be no disputing on. This book is very, very, very poorly written. The prose is confused and explosively elaborate without purpose and terse when greater detail would be called for. It is utterly and disturbingly worshipful of the "hero" and totally dismissive of the raft of villain and quasi villains and demi villains that fill out the cast, joyfully proclaiming them as not even human. This is not the choice of informed and willful writer. This is the choice of Ayn Rand, a woman who any informed person know displayed every sign of being thoroughly disturbed and damaged throughout her life, ignoring, for the moment, her constant ignorance and stupidity about current affairs and history whenever it disagreed with her preconceived notions. The failure of any imitators to arise in the thoroughly incestuous business of literature should be a strong sign of just how bad this book really is, so your idolization of it is quite baffling to be honest. This book is neither important in a literary sense, a historical sense, a cultural sense, a philosophical sense, or even any sense at all. It's only exceptional progeny is a cult of half wits that got splintered because Rand became jealous of where her lover diverted his attentions to and a couple generations of teenager who spend a few years under the delusions that their puerile antics are somehow justified by the simple existence of their desire to commit them. Anything else?

Archer At the risk of greater frustration, sure.
First, I would like to point out that you are not evaluating this book in any way, nor are you thinking very deeply about it. Your game here is about nothing but the most pugilistic and indeed puerile dismissal of the book as possible. You are considering nothing that I have brought to the fore, and are effectively repeating your own position and distorting mine. I purposely stated in my previous post that I do NOT idolize Rand or this book, but see it as lying in a certain place on the broad spectrum of cultural thought. Your continued refusal to spout anything but unconsidered polemics proves nothing but how much you believe in your own judgement, and also insinuates the validity of my original point about being polarized in Randian fashion. (another sign, your dismissal of the wisdom of popular culture, we are inherently of it, and so to completely deny it is a fallacy)
Considering a fuller explication of the "period piece" argument, let me argue for the disavowal of the objective, which you so heartily invoke. (that is to say, the misuse of "facts" and "evidence" when referring to such nebulous topics as cultures and literature) This book does not fit into the category of a "period piece", and nor did I claim that it did. It has not been dismissed at irrelevant to our current time, and this finds its proof in its continued readership and influence on its many readers. (try searching goodreads) What I meant to say is that any book is inherently of its age and context, and in reading it we can learn something of the time and culture it was written in. What I mean to say about the individual was merely that the concept of the individual is inextricably tied up with the concept of the "American Dream" and with America's destiny in the world, which was involved dramatically in 1943, what with the dual challenges of the Great Depression and WWII. That you cite a lack of "historical evidence" for something as broad and complex as the concept of the individual in American society is further evidence of a viewpoint that misinterprets the use of "facts" and "evidence."
Also, the further assertion that psychoanalysis has been completely debunked continues to be ridiculous. I will take as proof of this teachings of my numerous professors and the existence of hundreds of thousands of psychoanalysts around the world.
Also, if the prose was as bad as you claim, and it is not, how were you able to draw yourself all the way through it. Why did it capture the American imagination so much at the time that it was made into a movie? Why did so many read it then and continue to read it today?
I am not an advocate of this book in any sort of pure sense. It has multiple problems, some of which you have so clearly extracted and painted. The grounds for a dismissal as complete and ridiculous as yours though, do not exist. I would argue that this book is indeed important in a literary sense, in a historical sense, in a cultural sense, and in a philosophical sense. Your vehement denial of all of these does nothing but prove you wrong and Rand right.

message 10: by Archer (last edited Jun 19, 2008 09:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Archer Sigh. The simple fact is this. If Rand's work was enough to create such strong opinions contrary to it, then she has succeeded, and the book is valid on some level. Anyone who denies that partial validity so blatantly can be easily seen as subject to its spell, in a quite simple way. What it preaches is not negotiation, not grayness, but total truth. Total acceptance or total rejection. Your rejection of this book follows this dictum. Black and white. Thusly you act like Randian characters in your simplistic and total rejection of Rand. Don't you see? The world is gray, things in reality are never as stark and perfect as they are in fiction. This is Rand's error. This is not a criminal offense. It is in a sense the backbone of fiction.

Tyler The issue may go a bit beyond whether or not the book itself is polarizing. The reviews on it certainly are, with five star shaken like fairy dust across about half of them, and sometimes extraordinary claims made about what's in the book, the oddest being that it's philosophy.

Archer, I see what you mean about Ayn Rand succeeding in a negative way. Now it's also the case that the book has taken on a life of its own due to an artificial resusitation effort that would make proponents of "Dianetics" blush.

So the larger question seems to be whether a cult can grab public opinion by the throat. It appears so, and that factors into the equally negative reviews of a book that should spark mostly indifference. That being the case, can it be said that it's simply Ayn Rand controlling a person negatively, or is the negativity justifiable on the more solid grounds that a graver danger lurks behind the book?

message 12: by Foodpie (last edited Aug 03, 2008 06:44PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Foodpie 1. As a book binder, writer, and reader of every single scrap of writing I can get my hands on, let me promise to you, that I have applied the most honest and in depth literary analysis to this book and found it wanting in every respect that merits my attention. It is neither well written, nor instructive, nor was it literarily or historically important. Give me a single book of importance that you can say would not exist without Ayn Rand and I will concede a portion of this point.
2. If you can't see this piece as a period piece and virtual pulp fiction you need new glasses, and there isn't much more I can say. It is what it is.
3. The fact that a book sells well and is popular does not make it good or significant. By your metric RA Salvatore and Anne Rice are among the most significant writers of the 20th century.
3. Psychoanalysis in the Freudian sense has been dead for a very long while. As that is what you mentioned, and what Rand espoused, you are both supporting a dead technique. Anyone currently teaching it is holding on to their license by their fingernails.
4. Yes only good prose captures peoples imagination. And only good books get made into movies. Let us ignore Tom Clancy and Eragorn.
5. I don't need to prove Rand wrong. She took care of that for me by espousing a philosophy of letter and morals that proposed to disprove string theory. And this isn't a battle between me and Rand. I'm alive and middling, and she is dead and wrong. There's no fight to be had. I dismiss this book because at the end of the day the significance you ascribe to it is a paper tiger I can brush away by waving my hands in your direction. The only people who think this book is good and significant in any establishment of note anywhere somehow happen to always be those very same people that agree with the philosophy it expounds. Now either the vast, vast majority of the philosophical and literary establishment is being intellectually dishonest because they feel threatened by the works of a dead woman who couldn't even keep a cult of idiots together, or the people who keep propping her literary corpse up are full of shit. Which is more likely?

Sheila The Fountainhead revels humans for what they are, cattle,They do not think for themselves. I've noticed those who do not like to be exposed,get offended there for refuse to be open minded to what they are. They do not want except, they create a wall of ignorance and end up not understanding the moral concept of a great novel. Their is not many good writers, Ayn Rand was great. Nowadays I find the book shelves crammed with garbage. "What is the difference between a man and a parasite? A man builds, a parasite asks, 'Where's my share?' A man creates, a parasite says, 'What will the neighbors think?' A man invents, a parasite says, 'Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God...'"

message 14: by Crista (new)

Crista Sheila, you sound creepy. i would not want to meet you in a dark alley. It looks like you might try to turn me into a hamburger!

message 15: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Pittman viii Sheila, I hope that you were trying to mock rand, otherwise you were just acting as a "moocher" by superficially taking her thoughts and saying them back at other people. I enjoy what she writes as an intelectual exercise, I think thats what she really wanted her readers to treat her books as.

Jason Rand was a humanist, and I despise humanists. How can one look at some buildings, no matter how artistic or tall or whatever, and think humanity heroic when compared to the horrible atrocities we cause. Humans are the most vile creatures on this planet.

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