Book Review: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand | #SmartReads

TheFountainhead
TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
May 7, 2017

There are writers.  And then there’s Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand was a very unique individual; an individual that isn’t afraid to stand by her convictions, no matter what anyone said.  That’s what made her so beloved and hated.  Even more so, that’s why people were so bifurcated about her books.

Knowing that, then it isn’t shocking to realize that The Fountainhead was written with her very own ideals embedded within every page, within every character, within every thought.  In that sense, she is rather unique because not only did she create an amazing story, as many authors have, but she went a step beyond and used the book with the essence of her philosophy, which was, and will always be, a  truly daring endeavor for any writer.

The Fountainhead has been described in many ways, but at its core it is about The Individual vs. The Collective; about Freedom vs. Conformity.

With characters that are gripping, settings that are par excellence, and dialogue that displays incredible depth, the book is a well rounded synthesis about the nature of individualism and what it means to be human.

The leading characters all flow through their roles seamlessly, and whether you love them or hate them, you can feel the realism in them, even if at times they are the epitome of Rand’s ideal.

Anyone who values individuality will value this book.  Those that seek to conform will undoubtedly hate it.  That’s the nature of the beast, and always will be.  What Rand did though, perhaps better than anyone else, is show both sides of the coin – Individualism vs. Conformity – in a manner that nobody else had brought about through fiction.  This is why the book is so engaging, because you hate the villains as much as you love the characters you gravitate towards.  It is rare when a book has you personally invested in nigh every character failing or succeeding, but this book accomplishes that in spades.

Ayn Ran went to war for the Individual against The Collective in a torrential manner in a way almost nobody does.  Through her characters, Rand did a salient job of showing the wide range of latitudes within human nature.   All of this was, of course, was to highlight the importance of Individualism.

As Rand herself elucidates in the following passages, the last of the three which is in her own words, the prior two through her characters:

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their vision.  Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, their vision unborrowed, and the response they received – hatred.  The great creators – the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors – stood alone against the men of their time.  Every great new thought was opposed.  Every great ne invention was denounced.  The first motor was considered foolish.  The airplane was considered impossible.  The power loom was considered vicious.  Anesthesia was considered sinful.  But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid.  But they won.”[1]

“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.”[2]

“And for the benefit of those who consider relevance to one’s own time as of crucial importance, I will add, in regard to our age, that never has there been a time when men have so desperately needed a projection of things as they ought to be.”[3]

Rand stated those words decades ago, and they apply even more so now.  Given that humanity keeps snowballing down a hill in a world where morality, common sense and virtues keep getting swept under the rug, such statements and their ramifications should be pondered at length.

Whether you love the book or you hate it, it will give you much to ponder about, especially if you value Freedom and Individuality in any way shape or form.

__________________________________________________________
Sources:

[1] Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, p. 710.
[2] Ibid., p. 711.
[3] Ibid., p. vii.  Written in the Author’s Introduction to the 1968 Edition.

___________________________________________________________
This article is free and open source. You are encouraged to share this content and have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His other blog, BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com features mainly his personal work, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information nigh always ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

Advertisements

Conformity Crisis: Curiosity Vs. Conformity

Conformity
TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
April 11, 2017

“Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism.  It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved.  It is a type of confidence.  And it is fragile.  It can be blackened by fear and superstition.”
– Bernard Beckett

“The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is curiosity.”
– Edmund Burke

Children are the most inherently curious people on earth by far.  This is in their very nature, like breathing is to people.  Watching a youngling carry on and about, asking questions about everything in sight is a wondrous sight.  It matters not what lies in front of them, there is no mountain to high, or not valley to low.  They are capable, because their curiosity hasn’t been dampened by society.  In their nascent stages, a child’s imagination is boundless; this prompts children to see reality itself as boundless, which allows them live in a world of vibrant stories and endless journeys which have not been stultified.  In fact, they believe they are so capable they often get themselves in trouble, as we have come to know.

Because children are inherently curious, they act as little sages, they are like little philosophers.  Ironically, philosophy means the love of wisdom.  Children, by using their curiosity as a platform for understanding the world, are attempting to gain wisdom of reality and its inherent intricacies.   There is much to be learned about that.

From the full breadth and scope of human history, two of the best philosophers to learn from Socrates and Descartes.  The former is known as “the Father of Philosophy” and represents best classical philosophy; the latter is known as “the Father of Modern Philosophy” and represents best of modern philosophy.

What all children have in common with these two great minds is their ability to question.  Just like Socrates and Descartes employed the ability to question everything, so do children.  This is a great gift, because it yields many results in gaining knowledge of the world, and more importantly, of the self.

Unfortunately, later in life, children’s curiosity gets shoved brashly aside.  One could even go as far to say that curiosity is surgically removed from the individual’s repertoire and only a ghost of curiosity’s former self remains.  Whether by parents, public schooling, church, or any other way, children are asked to: [1] conform to standards imposed on them stifling their uniqueness and creativity, [2] to trust authority unquestioningly, and by trusting authority they are ‘taught’ [which in other vernacular is called indoctrinated] into [3] not questioning authority.  That triumvirate of nonsense [sn] leaves kids, like a ship with a busted rudder unable to sail in the sea, unable to be free in mind as they would be if they weren’t forced to conform.  Moreover, these children grow into adults that are incapable of questioning anything because they do not have the curiosity that’s the fuel for seeking truth and employing critical thinking.  We also know that critical thinking does not get taught in public schooling.

All of these above issues cause a great imbalance, because the individual forfeits their natural path that they would have originally followed had they not been stultified

While adults have a much harder time posing questions beyond superficial ones, if they even do so at all, children are vastly capable until their creativity is corralled.  Before the creative consciousness of individual gets sealed away in a vault, it’s important not to allow that ever to take place.   Curiosity needs to be fostered and cared for in continuous fashion.  It’s the inherent curiosity that children feature which the adult world lacks in droves.

Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, in their quintessential How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading, put it best:

The child is a natural questioner.  It is not the number of questions he asks but their character that distinguishes him from the adult.  Adults do not lose the curiosity that seems to be a native trait, but their curiosity deteriorates in qualityThey want to know whether something is so, not why.  But children’s questions are not limited to the sort that can be answered by an encyclopedia.[Bold Emphasis Added][1][Emphasis Added]

Adults, however, seem to lack this very type of curiosity, the boundless type.  Admittedly, adults are ‘curious’ about the weather, or about other superficial issues, but it’s not even close to the same magnitude.   Part of the reason is because as adults, we have been taught not to question and we have been indoctrinated to follow orders and always follow authority.  Trust authority is something that gets hammered in our youth, like nails.  This is why adults follow orders en mass in modern days, even though over a century ago this wasn’t always so.

What makes it worse is that when adults see other people ask questions and get reamed by for it, as if questioning authority is a deadly sin, the learn to retreat into a state of fear and conformity falling back into ‘official reality’ – the one in which you must not question.  Continuous conformity continues to tow the party line of via this mass societal engineering with nigh no end in sight.

Regardless of how people ended up losing curiosity and end up conforming, if an individual never leaves the confining, restrictive and stultifying part of the system, the individual will never be able to become an incisive, questioning, critical thinking individual.  And those who never arrive at their full potential will only living life at a fraction of their capabilities when compared to the full breadth and scope that is to be had if an individual is robust and self sufficient.

We should seek to go beyond the confines of conformity and be our own very inherent authentic selves.

The individual needs to be open-minded enough to see when someone is trying to put them in a box, and brave enough to stop those that seek to halt their conscious awareness of issues, no matter who it is.

Only through achieving unbounded awareness of what one is capable of are individuals to free themselves from the confines of conformity and reimplement the original constitution of curiosity they were endowed with.  Then, and only then, will individuals follow their inherent curiosities into new journeys, into a new life.

If individuals are to master themselves, if they are to be able to get in tune with their deepest self, they will need to be allowed to make their own mistakes – children and adults equally.  If individuals are not allowed the opportunity to make mistakes and go through obstacles opportunities for growth, they will never master themselves. 

The only way to breakaway into conscious creativity with curiosity is through the employment of imagination and ceaseless curiosity.

Via imagination, life becomes boundless – an ocean to be traveled upon.  Thereafter, the embers of curiosity are reignited, and the ideas start to take place, possibilities ensue – wonder begins .

From there, an inquiring individual can go through life, searching, willing, and able to journey on their path in search for life’s hidden treasures, venturing towards their personal mysteries.  Or they can remained stultified just as the system has made many become.

Curiosity or conformity.

Freedom, or societal subjugation.

The beauty of this conundrum is, it’s merely a choice.  One way or another, everyone always decides.

Every.  Single. Day.
___________________________________________________________

[1] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book, p. 264.
___________________________________________________________
This article is free and open source. You are encouraged and have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His own personal blog is BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com where his personal work is shared, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

The Individual: The Foundation Of Society

Individual2
TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
April 26, 2017

“They [conformists] think society wiser than their soul, and know not that one soul, and their soul, is wiser than the whole world…Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members….Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist…. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The collective is often promulgated as the vanguard of society – the gears that keep society moving forward.  Truth be told, nothing could be further from the truth.  This is because any collective, or any group, is nothing without the individual – it doesn’t even exist.  It can’t even exist.

At society’s core, the individual is the main gear that makes the world go round.  Like imagination is the foundation of creativity, the individual is the foundation of society.

It’s crucial to comprehend this concept of Collectivism Vs. Individualism, because it’s not something pondered deeply in society nowadays.  Individuals are often given a bad rap, as if wanting to be your own being is a bad thing.  The term ‘lone wolf’ is often bandied about in negative light regarding individuals.  But individuality is not about living life alone, but about maintaining your identity – your individuality, what makes you distinct from everyone else.

No matter what societal structure, job, or group the individual is in, the individual that maintains their identity will be one step ahead of the curve because they will hold the ability to think like an individual, rather than forgo their mental faculties for the group.  This is vital, because many times the mental faculties of individuals wither within groups, which is rather deleterious.

For instance, we all have heard of group brainstorming, the epitome of collectivism.  Group brainstorming is one form of collectivist structure that seeks creation ‘by the group’ at the expense of the individual.  However, this tool is fraught with issues.

Focusing on why brainstorming often fails, author and psychology researcher Susan Cain explains in her milestone book, Quiet – The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking:

“Psychologists usually offer three explanations for the failure of group brainstorming.  The first is social loafing: in a group, some individuals tend to sit back and let others do the work.  The second is production blocking: only one person can talk or produce an idea at once, while the other group members are forced to sit passively.  And the third is evaluation apprehension, meaning the fear of looking stupid in front of one’s peers.”[1][Bold Emphasis added, Italics Emphasis In Original]

How many individuals suffer from such a system?  It’s certainly not optimal, although the illusion of it is always pushed as such.  Furthermore, due to all those reasons, the imagination and creativity individuals could employ otherwise remain stagnant, rarely if ever used except in rare circumstances.

Moreover, the larger the group becomes, the less efficient it is.  This, of course, makes individuals mere cogs in a machine when they could be harnessing their own endless creative potential.

Regarding large group inefficiency, Cain further notes:

“…some forty years of research has researched the same startling conclusion.  Studies have shown that performance gets worse as group size increases: groups of nine generate fewer and poorer ideas compared to groups of six, which do worse than groups of four.   The “evidence from science suggests that business must be insane to use brainstorming groups,” writes the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham.  “If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity and efficiency is the highest priority.”[2][Emphasis added]

Furnham’s words boil down this particular issue to the individual.  It’s at that level that individuals shine the brightest.

Hearkening back to issues regarding individuals taking part in groups, Malcom Gladwell, author of the book The Tipping Point, states:

“…when people are asked to consider evidence or make decisions in a group, they come to very different conclusions than when they are asked the same questions by themselves.  Once we’re part of a group, we’re susceptible to peer pressure and social norms and any other number of other kinds of influence…”[3][Bold Emphasis Added]

As we can gather, the collective is not where an individual’s maximum potential lies.

When the individual becomes part of the collective, creativity suffers, and thus, his imagination.

That is why it’s up to the individual to make sure they retain their identity if they are ever forced to work in a group, such as in school or work.

Ultimately, what choices an individual makes are dictated by what they see available.  When the availability of choices is forcefully narrowed down, the path the individual walks on is limited rather than boundless, and the individual’s choices are less than optimal to say the least. 

There is a great saying: “Knowledge is power. Lack of knowledge is lack of power.” A corollary to this would be: Individual potential is based on choices; lack of choices create lack of power.  The most significant ways an individual will lack power is when they merge with a group, as the example above detail.  As we have learned, brainstorming sessions in large groups are not terribly efficient.

Furthermore, as the individual identifies with the group, they tend to merge with the group mind and rarely ever voice their opinion, for various reasons. This is also highly inefficient because the whole point of group work is to cultivate idea and possibilities.

The ironic part is that group brainstorming, on paper, is about imagination, and yet group brainstorming is antithetical to it since it doesn’t maximize on the potential imagination of every individual and only employs a fraction of it.  On the opposite side of that spectrum stands the individual and their maximum potential, every single time.

Individuals which use imagination are self-sufficient in many ways.  The Individual that uses imagination not only seeks solutions, but creates them.  They don’t take anything at face value.  They check, recheck – they research.  Why?  Because individuals realize they control their own path and are responsible for it.  They live a better life, a healthier life, because they imagine better possibilities and put them into action.

These individuals don’t allow themselves to be stopped because they’re incapable of being stopped.  That’s not within their DNA.  It’s not part of their reality structure

Curiously, the proclivity to create is so ubiquitous in creative individuals that not creating seems rather foreign.  They always seek create beyond the lines, outside ‘the box’ – always in action, always creating.  This is why ultimately the individual is the foundation of society.

The canvas of endless possibilities is there for everyone.  It requires the desire to create to the nth degree coupled with conscious action for the canvas to become something more than a mere possibility.

What would happen if we all realized our canvas is reality itself?

As the philosopher Sun Tzu once intimated:

“Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?”

__________________________________________________________
Footnotes:

[1] Susan Cain, Quiet – The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking, pg. 89.
[2] Ibid., pg. 88-89.
[3] Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point, pg. 171.

___________________________________________________________
This article is free and open source. You are encouraged to share this content and have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His own personal blog is BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com where his personal work is shared, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.