Dipanjan MUukherjee Log

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Imagine you are standing on the shore of an ocean. It is night time and an ever slight breeze is pushing you towards the ocean. You walk, barefooot, on the sand until the cool water brushes lightly over you. Once the tingles subside, you notice a large wave approaching. It comes to you in the shape of an attempt, one that you know will not win you over, but will merely wet your ankles by the time it reaches you. And so it happens. The first wave blows past, making your feet sink in the now melting sand.

As you feel the breeze gain courage, a second wave is visible. The froth is more menacing on this one. It is more focussed and decisive. It looks like it will move you, but by the time the wave reaches you, it is spent on the low floor of the ocean and only manages to sink you a little deeper into the sand.

You now bend over to feel the water in your palms, to see it slip away the same way it always does, leaving behind only a moist, cool sensation. The last wave recedes with surprising intensity. It almost moved your feet this time.

You look over at the moon, now peeking from behind a cloud. A child like innocence you can’t quite place. It goes darker as the moon recedes. You can hear a wave that you have not seen or heard before. It comes up suddenly, as if it drew its energy from you by exemplifying your faults, by pointing out everything you disliked about yourself.

The wave that just met you is actually just a wavefront for a larger, complimentary wave, and before you realise it, it sneaks up to you and washes all over you. Peculiarly, these wavefronts have a lot in common, yet are so distinct, almost as if the source of their combined power lay in their differences. The crest of one perfectly matching the trough of another and making the sum invisible, but dreadfully powerful. You can feel the resonance of the two waves as many small nudges remind you of the power of the two receding fronts.

As they are pulled back into the ocean, they leave you behind wondering. Wondering about the stark differences in the waves that have hit you so far and touched you because they were not waves as much as traits. Traits that you come across everyday but only more distilled, almost pure.

The Fountainhead is about four men, men who are idealizations of the traits they represent and their interactions with a masochistic woman and themselves.

The books is divided into four parts, each part an exhaltation of one of the men, dominated entirely by the individual’s personality and carrying mere undercurrents of the others.

It is a daring novel because it reasons with you as it goes along. It inspires and provokes thought about your ideals on individualism. It, in my opinion, exposes false altruism and firmly criticizes collectivism as a principle that devalues the human nature. All of this while gripping you in a well-knit story line.

December, 2013