If you’ve read The Fountainhead, then you know Howard. If you haven’t, you’ve yet to fall in love with a man named Howard Roark; an idealistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. I read The Fountainhead for the first time in 2011, in the midst of my first semester at Parsons. While I was already a budding minimalist at the time, Howard Roark’s character was a major source of inspiration for me and helped me to better understand simplicity and my craving for it. I even created a collection called Roark Aesthetic.
Ayn Rand gets a lot of flack for her political views, but there is no denying the beauty of a person who believes in what they’re building so much that they’re willing to stand alone in order to create it.
Here are a few excerpts as inspiration:
“But you see, I have, let’s say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I’ve chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I’m only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find the joy only if I do my work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards—and I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one.”
“Now, talk. Talk about the things you really want said. Don’t tell me about your family, your childhood, your friends or your feelings. Tell me about the things you think.”
Mallory looked at him incredulously and whispered: “How did you know that?”
Roark smiled and said nothing.
“How did you know what’s been killing me? Slowly, for years, driving me to hate people when I don’t want to hate… Have you felt it, too? Have you seen how your best friends love everything about you—except the things that count? And your most important is nothing to them, nothing, not even a sound they can recognize. You mean, you want to hear? You want to know what I do and why I do it, you want to know what I think? It’s not boring to you? It’s important?”
“Go ahead,” said Roark.
Then he sat for hours, listening, while Mallory spoke of his work, of the thoughts behind his work, of the thoughts that shaped his life, spoke gluttonously, like a drowning man flung out to shore, getting drunk on huge, clean snatches of air.
“It’s said that the worst thing one can do to a man is to kill his self-respect. But that’s not true. Self-respect is something that can’t be killed. The worst thing is to kill a man’s pretense at it.”
“To get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences. The work, not the people. Your own action, not any possible object of your charity.”
“The only thing that matters, my goal, my reward, my beginning, my end is the work itself. My work done my way.”
“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the 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 new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The first 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.”
“What you think you’ve lost can neither be lost nor found. Don’t let it go.”