The Fountainhead: Hooray for Unions

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 9Ayn Rand wasn't one for understatement. When she had a political point to make, she did it with all the subtlety of a big brass band. This makes it all the more noteworthy when she lets a controversial topic pass without comment. And one of those silences, the topic of today's post, is a surprising one.It begins with the city's construction workers going on strike:The strike of the building-trades unions infuriated Guy Francon. The strike had … [Read more...]

The Pro-Slavery History of the Southern Baptists

Last week, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention was thrown into chaos by a proposal to condemn racism and the alt-right. This CNN article has a good timeline of how it played out: The debate began when Rev. Dwight McKissic, a black pastor from Arlington, Texas, called on Southern Baptists to formally condemn the movement's "retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries" and re-affirm its opposition to racism in the aftermath of a presidential election that saw … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: American Eclectic

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 9After months of hitting one dead end after another, Howard Roark finally gets a lucky break in his job hunt - not that Ayn Rand ever acknowledged the existence of luck:John Erik Snyte looked through Roark's sketches, flipped three of them aside, gathered the rest into an even pile, glanced again at the three, tossed them down one after another on top of the pile, with three sharp thuds, and said:"Remarkable. Radical, but remarkable. What are you … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: New York, New York

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 8Jobless again, Roark goes back to pounding the pavement. He makes a list of architects - the ones "whose work he resented least" - and methodically works his way through it, applying to one firm after another. But at each one, he meets with rejection (not surprising considering his interview technique):It was not a judgment passed upon his merit. They did not think he was worthless. They simply did not care to find out whether he was good. Sometimes, … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: As Long As It’s Black

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 8One day at work, Howard Roark is unexpectedly called into the boss' office:"Mr. Keating has been telling me very nice things about you," Francon tried pleasantly and stopped. It was wasted courtesy; Roark just sat looking at him, waiting."Listen... what's your name?""Roark.""Listen, Roark. We have a client who is a little... odd, but he's an important man, a very important man, and we have to satisfy him. He's given us a commission for an … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Remembering Seneca Village

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 7Although Ayn Rand's philosophy wasn't fully developed in The Fountainhead compared to where it was in Atlas Shrugged, there are some things that are consistent across her books. One of them is this: The heroes know they're the heroes, and the villains know they're the villains.This isn't how it really works. The idea that Bad People are aware they're Bad is a trope that only exists in fiction. Other than in rare and exceptional cases, everyone acts … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Selling the Dream

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 7Howard Roark has begun his new job at the source of all evil, Francon & Heyer. As a condition of taking the job, he asked to do structural rather than ornamental work, and Keating kept his end of the bargain. Even so, it gnaws at him:The lines he drew were to be the clean lines of steel beams, and he tried not to think of what these beams would carry. It was difficult, at times. Between him and the plan of the building on which he was working stood … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: A Friend in Need

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 7Howard Roark has been left alone and jobless, again, by the forced retirement of his mentor. Luckily for him, though he's done nothing to deserve it, he has a friend.Peter Keating marches in to see his boss, Guy Francon, and tells him, "I've got to have that man." When he explains Roark's background, Francon agrees:"Oh well... well, speaking structurally, not esthetically, Cameron does give them a thorough grounding and... Of course, Cameron was … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Why So Serious?

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 6It's not looking good for Howard Roark. He's alone in the world again, as his mentor has been forced into retirement with his health failing and his spirit broken.Meanwhile, Peter Keating's star continues to rise. Rand tells us how things are going for him in this clever metaphor:It was Peter Keating's third year with the firm of Francon & Heyer. He carried his head high, his body erect with studied uprightness; he looked like the picture of a … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Privacy of the Dead

[Note: This post contains major spoilers for the S-Town podcast.]I've been listening to S-Town, the popular and controversial new podcast from NPR reporter Brian Reed. It was undeniably fascinating as a work of literature, a modern spin on the Southern Gothic genre. But after finishing it, I shared the concerns that others have had about it, and I wanted to write about why.The genesis of the podcast came when Reed was contacted out of the blue by John B. McLemore, a resident of a rural … [Read more...]