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Roark the dynamiter

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intellectualammo
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Even if, say, there was an breach of an actual legally binding contract, and the building was altered when it wasn't supposed to be, do you think that the right action to take would be to go blowing the building up, instead of heading to the courtroom over said breach?

Was it even a legally binding contract that Roark and Keating had?

A contract between us, stating the terms of our agreement. A copy for each of us. It would probably have no legal validity whatever.

“You’ll have to devise your own way of accomplishing it. You’ll have to get yourself an ironclad contract with your bosses and then fight every bureaucrat that comes along every five minutes for the next year or more. I will have no guarantee except your word. Wish to give it to me?”

“I give you my word.”

and if there was any breaches in any of those contracts, one could go to court over those, as well.

What was he charged with for the trail?

Why would the jury find him Not Guilty?

“I am an architect. I know what is to come by the principle on which it is built. We are approaching a world in which I cannot permit myself to live.

“Now you know why I dynamited Cortlandt.

“I designed Cortlandt. I gave it to you. I destroyed it.

“I destroyed it because I did not choose to let it exist. It was a double monster. In form and in implication. I had to blast both. The form was mutilated by two second-handers who assumed the right to improve upon that which they had not made and could not equal. They were permitted to do it by the general implication that the altruistic purpose of the building superseded all rights and that I had no claim to stand against it.

“I agreed to design Cortlandt for the purpose of seeing it erected as I designed it and for no other reason. That was the price I set for my work. I was not paid. “I do not blame Peter Keating. He was helpless. He had a contract with his employers. It was ignored. He had a promise that the structure he offered would be built as designed. The promise was broken.

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It's called poetic license. I don't think Ayn Rand would likely contend that blowing up a building is the best way to resolve a breach of contract. The explosion and subsequent trial served a dramatic purpose in the context of the plot of The Fountainhead.

Rand discussed the climax of The Fountainhead in her 1958 lectures on "The Art of Fiction," and you can read an edited transcript of her remarks in the book version (Chapter 5). She had to devise a climax which underscored and resolved all of the key conflicts in the novel--Roark vs. Dominique, Roark vs. Wynand, Roark vs. 'The Second Hander' (Keating), Roark vs. Toohey (who mobilizes public opinion to denounce Roark's controversial action) and Roark vs. Society. In each of these conflicts, Roark is shown to triumph.

Alll of those conflicts were integrated into the act of dynamiting Cortlandt, and that would not have been the case with a simple lawsuit. I would argue that the use of such exaggerated plot devices is a key difference between naturalism and romantic realism.

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It's called poetic license. I don't think Ayn Rand would likely contend that blowing up a building is the best way to resolve a breach of contract.

There was no breach of contract. Roark had no contract with the owners of Cortland. He only had an agreement with a co-conspirator to commit the fraud of passing off his work as someone else's. Roark intentionally hid his involement in the project from its owners, and he did so for the purpose of denying them their right to not hire him.

Keating had a contract with the owners of the project, but he violated it by passing off Roark's work as his own. When people enter into a contract with the purpose and intention of committing fraud and violating the contract themselves, they don't have the right to claim that their contract was violated by the other party.

The explosion and subsequent trial served a dramatic purpose in the context of the plot of The Fountainhead.

Rand discussed the climax of The Fountainhead in her 1958 lectures on "The Art of Fiction," and you can read an edited transcript of her remarks in the book version (Chapter 5). She had to devise a climax which underscored and resolved all of the key conflicts in the novel--Roark vs. Dominique, Roark vs. Wynand, Roark vs. 'The Second Hander' (Keating), Roark vs. Toohey (who mobilizes public opinion to denounce Roark's controversial action) and Roark vs. Society. In each of these conflicts, Roark is shown to triumph.

Alll of those conflicts were integrated into the act of dynamiting Cortlandt, and that would not have been the case with a simple lawsuit. I would argue that the use of such exaggerated plot devices is a key difference between naturalism and romantic realism.

Yes, The Fountainhead dramatically portrays the idea of an individual's creative independence and integrity, despite the fact that the hero of the novel behaves immorally by Objectivist standards. My view is that the novel is about the hero's artistic integrity, not his ethical lapses. He fits Rand's concept of bad boy heroes illustrating rebelliousness and independence: the idea isn't to focus on any aspects of their behavior that are immoral, but to focus on the sense of life that they portray, regardless of the unethical particulars. Rand's view was that the actions of a "noble crook" in a work of literature are not to be taken literally and as an endorsement of his vices.

J

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I agree with Dennis and Johnathan. A great example of this "forget the details, look at the big picture approach" can be seen in the movie Gattaca where the protagnoist constantly commits fraud to demonstrate his tremendous abilitities and virtue.

That is because he was up against a highly unjust system. When the opposition plays dirty, all get are off. When one is up against the Bad Guys, then one has to kick, bite and cheat.

ruveyn1

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Are you going to make a thread about every single action or statement by Rand or one of her characters that you disagree with? This is the tenth such thread of yours that I count in the past month:

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24592

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24603

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24604

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24646

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24687

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24721

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24743

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24744

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24820

Many of these threads consist of you taking some action or statement by a character in a specific situation, and pretending that Rand is advocating that as a general practice or would advocate such a thing in real life. What is the point of this exercise? Rand provided a detailed enough statement of her philosophy and its principles such that it's not hard to figure out that she wouldn't advocate killing teachers, or blowing up buildings, or letting the world burn when you could save it with a simple philosophical speech. She was a novelist. She wrote fictional accounts of fictional people doing and saying fictional things, in order to illustrate through her works the practical consequences of ideas. Why is that difficult to grasp?

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Are you going to make a thread about every single action or statement by Rand or one of her characters that you disagree with? This is the tenth such thread of yours that I count in the past month:

http://forum.objecti...showtopic=24592

http://forum.objecti...showtopic=24603

http://forum.objecti...showtopic=24604

http://forum.objecti...showtopic=24646

http://forum.objecti...showtopic=24687

http://forum.objecti...showtopic=24721

http://forum.objecti...showtopic=24743

http://forum.objecti...showtopic=24744

http://forum.objecti...showtopic=24820

Many of these threads consist of you taking some action or statement by a character in a specific situation, and pretending that Rand is advocating that as a general practice or would advocate such a thing in real life. What is the point of this exercise? Rand provided a detailed enough statement of her philosophy and its principles such that it's not hard to figure out that she wouldn't advocate killing teachers, or blowing up buildings, or letting the world burn when you could save it with a simple philosophical speech. She was a novelist. She wrote fictional accounts of fictional people doing and saying fictional things, in order to illustrate through her works the practical consequences of ideas. Why is that difficult to grasp?

I can understand intellectualammo's questioning the details of the behavior of some of Rand's fictional characters. After all, she did say that her idea in creating her fictional heroes was to project the concept of her "ideal man." With such statements, it is understandable that people would need to explore exactly what she meant.

In Rand's judgments of other artists, she assumed that their characters were speaking for them, and she believed that the artists must have been advocating what she interpreted them to be advocating, so I think it's only natural for people to then ask if the same standards of aesthetic and moral judgment should apply equally to Rand's art.

Additionally, Rand's heir and his associates have made comments and published written essays in which they've claimed that the heroes in her novels were morally correct, and that their actions, such as blowing up buildings over mere aesthetic disagreements, were morally justified according to Objectivism.

So, to answer your question -- "Why is that difficult to grasp?" -- it is difficult for people to grasp because receiving mixed signals is always difficult to grasp. When one is being fed contradictory information, or witnessing the selective application of double standards of judgment, it is only natural that one would need to ask questions to work through those contradictions and double standards. I would say that it is quite Objectivist to do so.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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Many of these threads consist of you taking some action or statement by a character in a specific situation, and pretending that Rand is advocating that as a general practice or would advocate such a thing in real life.

I did no such thing as in pretending Rand is advocating those things as a general practice or advocate such things in real life. I simply had questions on them.

Edited by intellectualammo
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I did no such thing as in pretending Rand is advocating those things as a general practice or advocate such things in real life. I simply had questions on them.

Consider the question of why Steven Mallory tries to kill Toohey, or why Rearden feels a desire to kill the past teachers of the Wet Nurse. You ask, well why don't they just feel the urge to speak out against these people, rather than kill them; wouldn't that be a more rational and appropriate reaction?

The faulty assumption is that every action or thought by a Rand character 'should' represent a well-reasoned and philosophically consistent Objectivist statement. Without this assumption, these things aren't confusing; Toohey and the teachers were doing something bad, and Rand's characters wanted to punish them and stop them from doing it again.

Or consider Roark's dynamiting of Cortlandt, or Galt's statements about his 'highest moral feeling' being to kill the man who would ask Galt to live for him, or Dominique's statements about hating the rest of the world. It's not hard to understand these as literary devices intended to convey particular points to the reader; it's only when you try to integrate every action and every word of each of these characters, taken literally, into a mature, consistent, reasoned philosophy that you get the troubles you've run into.

The key to all these questions is: it's a novel. It's not a philosophical treatise. It has imagery, metaphor, character progression. Some of these characters are still undergoing character development. Some are facing contexts fundamentally different from contemporary American life. Some are acting on emotion alone. Some are making philosophical points through their actions that are more complex than "this exact thing would also be okay to do in real life."

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The key to all these questions is: it's a novel. It's not a philosophical treatise. It has imagery, metaphor, character progression. Some of these characters are still undergoing character development. Some are facing contexts fundamentally different from contemporary American life. Some are acting on emotion alone. Some are making philosophical points through their actions that are more complex than "this exact thing would also be okay to do in real life."

Very well said. I've copied your post and will probably link to it in the future when I see people judging art and artists with much less rationality and good will than you display here.

J

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Dennis and others have this quite right. Dramatic licence, creating tension with plot

device, the illustration of principles in action - and so on.

I think (as with other commonly-heard objections: Was Roark a rapist?, or Did that guard have to die?) all the fuss denotes a lack of distinction between Romantic Realism - and simple "Literalism".

If the novel is read as a "re-creation of reality according to..."etc. - it has an entirely different impact from taking it - well, as a text-book.

You extract from it "a man of principle whose integrity is an inspiration to me"; not "I want to be a man exactly like Howard Roark".

Edited by whYNOT
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I think (as with other commonly-heard objections: Was Roark a rapist?, or Did that guard have to die?) all the fuss denotes a lack of distinction between Romantic Realism - and simple "Literalism".

I disagree. I think "all the fuss" denotes attempts to apply Rand's stated method of objective aesthetic judgment to her work.

If you read The Romantic Manifesto and listen to Rand's recorded Q&A comments on the subject of aesthetics, you'll see that she believed that everything that is contained in a work of art "acquires metaphysical significance by the mere fact of being included, of being important enough to include."

She argued that an artwork contains what it contains, and means what it means, regardless of its creator's stated intentions.

In other words, Intellectualammo is following her style and method while analyzing and judging her art. He is assigning metaphysical significance to everything that Rand included in her art. He is ignoring the "outside considerations" of her assertions about what she intended her art to mean, and is instead judging it based only on what it actually contains, and all that it contains. He is taking her advice to give importance to everything that was important enough to be included in the art.

J

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Representation is distinct from literalism.

Essentially I think Rand was saying there is nothing arbitrary in a work of art.

The dynamiting was Rand's exposition of rational egoism, evidently. Roark's design was

as sacrosanct to him as his own mind and body. The 'need' of men was not his concern, but his need to create, was. To compromise and distort his building was to sell his soul, and the destruction of that aberration - illegal, 'unethical', whatever it's called - was as natural to him as its creation by him.

The morality of the individual which does not recognise any other.

Rand meant that we take the morality literally - NOT the scenario.

Astounding for me, is that this should be called "a fatal flaw" in the story, by a poster.

I think it was Roark's (and The Fountainhead's) finest hour.

Edited by whYNOT
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Why didn't Roark go off and build a new society, realizing (like Dagny, Galt, and Rearden finally did) that the decaying world he lived in needed to die before it could be reborn?

The Fountainhead depicts the plight of the individual, as does Atlas, but it also shows that the individual can triumph in spite of it all. I think that's why I like TF more than Atlas.. Roark rebuilds society (or makes progress, anyway, towards the end of the book- which is a triumph in itself) instead of leaving it and letting it crash and burn.

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Well, in AS, I would definitely argue that they didn't just "leave it and let it crash and burn", IMO.

I think that in 100Voices:An Oral History of Ayn Rand, I think it was a young girl, can't remember her name, or exactly what she said, but she said to Rand that she thought she wrote TF just for that courtroom speech. She affirmed it. To me, that fatal flaw, him destroying the building, destroyed that whole rest of the book for me. I'm not discrediting the speech, as such, I'm not talking about that, it just does not flow literally well, or morally, or legally.

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W To me, that fatal flaw, him destroying the building, destroyed that whole rest of the book for me. I'm not discrediting the speech, as such, I'm not talking about that, it just does not flow literally well, or morally, or legally.

Well, nobody's going to tell you that you should approve. That's your prerogative.

But it cries out for the question : what did you like/appreciate about the novel?

Its central theme is man vs. the collective, and apart from that it's what.. a love story,

a narrative of a guy who worked hard?

I'm afraid this can't be cherry-picked. Without rational egoism, the book is less than

nothing. Objectivism is radical (I consider it, revolutionary) - and it is not going to

fit into any safe, conservative agenda.

(Nor are Rand's novels going to be 'literal', no matter how close to modern reality we find

them to be.)

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Why didn't Roark go off and build a new society, realizing (like Dagny, Galt, and Rearden finally did) that the decaying world he lived in needed to die before it could be reborn?

Roark did not have the human material to work with. In AS there were enough Heroic Producers or Heroic spirited folks to at least start a partially self sufficient community. This was not the case in TF

ruveyn1

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Roark did not have the human material to work with. In AS there were enough Heroic Producers or Heroic spirited folks to at least start a partially self sufficient community. This was not the case in TF

I think that's the wrong analysis. In my view, The Fountainhead is simply more optimistic about American society at that point than is Atlas Shrugged. Roark makes his case before the jury, and is acquitted. In The Fountainhead, beneath all of the ridiculousness of high society and the scheming of Ellsworth Toohey, the average American has respect for the integrity of a creator and for the sanctity of the individual and his creative work. Thus, Roark is able to make his case, and the public identifies with and accepts it.

We see similar scenes in Atlas Shrugged; for example, when the crowd at Hank Rearden's trial bursts into applause at his statements, or when masses of people volunteer for the trial run of the John Galt line. However, the formal system is too far gone by that point, and Galt has to form his own system and demonstrate the moral bankruptcy of the prevailing system through a strike. Roark can make his appeal within the system and be left free to build on his own terms; but by Atlas Shrugged, Galt cannot.

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Is he philosophy fiction? Her morality fictional? Wasn't Ayn Rands Objectivism, "a philosophy for living on earth"? We're any of he novels in any way vehicles for he philosophy? Or was it just fictionalized philosophy for only fictional characters in a fictionalized world to "live" by? Does her Objectivism involve the application of it to our own lives, to our own world, to our own character? Should we disregard, dismiss everything her characters say, do , feel, think, desire simply because they are fictional "living" in a fictionalized world? Or do we just try to understand bow they apply he philosophy in their own world, their own "lives", in their own world? How that applies in any way to us, in ours? Should we even study the characters, their fictional world, what they say, think, feel, desire, do, then - if it's all fictional? Or do we look for any relevance at all to us, our world our lives?

These are rhetorical, but feel free to answer.

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Is he philosophy fiction? Her morality fictional? Wasn't Ayn Rands Objectivism, "a philosophy for living on earth"? We're any of he novels in any way vehicles for he philosophy? Or was it just fictionalized philosophy for only fictional characters in a fictionalized world to "live" by? Does her Objectivism involve the application of it to our own lives, to our own world, to our own character? Should we disregard, dismiss everything her characters say, do , feel, think, desire simply because they are fictional "living" in a fictionalized world? Or do we just try to understand bow they apply he philosophy in their own world, their own "lives", in their own world? How that applies in any way to us, in ours? Should we even study the characters, their fictional world, what they say, think, feel, desire, do, then - if it's all fictional? Or do we look for any relevance at all to us, our world our lives?

... You really see no option other than either to judge all of her characters' thoughts and actions as the paragon of virtue, or to disregard everything in her books? Nothing between those two?

Edited by Dante
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intellectualammo,

I presume you are addressing me. ["Is her philosophy fictional..."]

It seems you will not distinguish between the literal and the representational.

I repeat what I said in #15 : Rand meant that we take the morality literally - NOT the scenario.

Her novels are dramatic vehicles for her philosophy, as enough posters have reminded.

So you don't approve of Roark blowing up his building? it's not for you or I to 'approve', but to understand,

and see WHY she had him do that (as with any literature.) And if we don't understand, then we probably don't

get rational selfishness, as Rand portrays it in her fiction - or non-fiction..

And then, if a reader still doesn't get it, then it's possible he does not approve of the morality - and he must criticize that, THE

MORALITY, not the acts of the hero.

What, btw, would you have Roark do? Challenge Keating to a duel? Shrug, and forget about it? Sue the builder, and

head off with Dominique to the Bahamas??

The novel is a "given", like any work of art - and it should be taken as a whole. BUT, it's up to the reader

to make the necessary separation between 'vehicle' and 'contents'.

All your objections amount to you knowing better than Rand what a rationally selfish man would do.

Roark was her creation, and the author knows best.

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