Wednesday, January 25, 2017

LiveBlog: Reading "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand

I've never actually read either The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged, and yet 'Randian Philosophy' is referred to on a constant basis in the political world.  This made me decide that it was important to go to the source material and try to use it to understand where those who use it as a basis for their outlook are coming from.  I started just taking notes in my Commonplace Book, but when I mentioned it, people on my Facebook page said that they would be interested in seeing my notes.  Thus, here I am, typing them up as I go.

Just a warning, I'm a fast reader when it is fluff, but when it is something I am really trying to digest and am taking notes on, I tend to go a lot more slowly.  So this will probably be a fairly extensive series of blog posts.  I will tag them all with the book title and author, so that if people want to go right to them, they can, and those who want to avoid them can easily do so.

The notes will be typed in here exactly as written in my Commonplace Book, no editing, so you will be able to get my reactions as they were in real time rather than reactions modified by reflection on what I had already written.

So...we begin:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 @ 12:45 p.m.

Ayn Rand's books are the cornerstone of much of the Neo-Conservative philosophy so prevalent in our country today.  I want to read this source material to get a better understanding of where they are coming from.  I will NEVER agree with them, but understanding is the first step toward defeating their mindset.

Introduction, Page X

"The man-worshipers, in my sense of the term, are those who see man's highest potential and strive to actualize it.  The man-haters are those who regard man as a helpless, depraved, contemptible creature - and struggle never to let him discover otherwise." - Ayn Rand

This passage already confuses me.  I am not sure how the Far Right, with their Conservative Christian views of man as a sinner and God as his only path to redemption can reconcile the dissonance between these two stances.  Or do they even try?  Is this one of those conveniently ignored aspects of the whole?

Page 23

"You must learn to understand - and it has been proved by all authorities - that everything beautiful in architecture has been done already.  There is a treasure mine in every style of the past.  We can only choose from the great masters.  Who are we to improve upon them? We can only attempt, respectfully, to repeat." - The Dean

What this says to me at this point is that Rand is setting up "The Establishment" to represent stasis, and Roark to represent change.  She is heavily implying that the past holds nothing of worth and only forward progress is worthy of our attention.

To this I have to reply, "Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." Not in the sense that The Dean talks about, sure that there is nothing better left in man, but in the sense that if we don't take an honest look at the mistakes of the past, we will just keep repeating them over and over.  I do not believe in stagnation, but I also do not believe in change just for change's sake.

Page 27

"He did not care. He had never learned the process of thinking about other people." - referring to Roark

That is a very telling passage, and it sums up the modern Neo-Conservative philosophy very neatly.  They have never learned the process of thinking about other people.  Other people's needs,wants, and motivations are irrelevant to them.  "I have mine, who cares about yours?"

I cannot imagine how hollow life must be when living that way.


That is the end of my notes for Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Feel free to discuss, debate, and mature, rational adults.  Flame wars and personal insults will not be tolerated.

Thank you for your consideration. :)