Gail Wynand: “what have you been thinking these past weeks?”
Howard Roark: “The principle behind which the Dean who fired me from Stanton.”
“The thing that is destroying thins world. Actual selflessness.”
“The ideal which they say does not exist?”
“They are wrong. It does exist-though not in a way which they imagine. It’s what I could not understand about people. They have no self. They live within others. They live second-hand…”
Excerpt From ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand
They tell you what you want to hear and you are pleased with yourself. They applaud you for your endeavours and you bask in the glory. They tell you what is right and wrong and you thank them for being there. They caution you of what is unforeseen and you are so grateful for that. You’re thanking your stars for ‘them’. You’re being a second-hander. You’re being Peter Keating.
You don’t want anyone to teach you what they know. You’re stubborn in the face of the world that stands together. You are indifference to the criticism they belt out at you. You want to be yourself in the face of every situation whatever it might be. You are being Howard Roark.
A ‘Keating’ is talented. A ‘Keating’ obeys his mother and loves a simple Church girl. A ’Keating’ is good at studies and obedient of his teachers. A ‘Keating’ is a model student and the topper of his institute-waiting to go out in the world and build the best buildings there could be. He is hardworking, has lots of friends, learns the tricks of the trade and climbs the ladder of success. He basks in admiration and glory. He has lots of money and a sexy, enchanting wife whom he marries at the peak of his career. He takes care of his mother and makes a perfect rags-to-riches story. He is Peter Keating. He is a second hander.
A ‘Roark’ is superlative in his work. A ‘Roark’ is expelled from his Institute for disobedience. He has no respect for Classical architecture. A ‘Roark’ is obstinate about his work and tolerates no suggestions. He is neither friendly nor amicable. He has few friends most of which have had their spines broken by something called ‘the world’. A ‘Roark’ has no mass appeal and no support. His has his set of convictions and 2 lawsuits against him. A ‘Stoddard Temple’ to malign his name and a ‘Cortland Building’ to smash his career!
What would you rather be-Peter Keating or Howard Roark? Or neither?
Second-handers are selfless people. Those who have no selfish aspirations. Those who believe that they are not selfish. Yet they have no self.
Why do you want someone else to admire your work when you have no admiration for it yourself? Why do you want fame from people who don’t even know you at all? You would rather do something that is generally accepted rather than have your own acceptance because people think it is right! You would rather kill your won desires to fulfill those of your family or others. You want to keep everyone happy at all times even if it comes at the cost of your own. And after doing all of this you will think that you are some great ‘humanitarian’. You are being selfless. You are not being selfless because before being selfless you have to learn to sat ‘self’. Before saying ‘I love you’, you have to learn to say ‘I’.
Why are most people unhappy in the world? Because they have no personal desires. They have never done something for themselves. They are busy being ‘humanitarians’. They are busy being ‘Keating’ who gives up painting to be an architect because his mother wants him to and also because people will look at him with pride. He derives pride from other people. He has none of his own. He is a second-hander.
Why do most people want admiration from other people for their work? Because they are busy being ‘Keating’ who secretly wants ‘Roark’ to acknowledges his drawing before he can present them to ‘the world’. He is a second-hander.
Why do most people want a beautiful spouse instead of the one they would rather have? Because they are successful and they want a crowning glory. Because they are busy being ‘Keating’ who marries Dominique the very day he promises his childhood sweetheart marriage.
Why do most people want someone to solve their problems? What are those problems? A figment of their imagination? Or a slice of the opinions of those who declare it a problem? Because you are being ‘Keating’ who runs to Ellsworth Toohey everytime he seeks solace. As far as public perception is concerned we all need a Toohey in our lives. As far as I am concerned, Toohey is more dangerous than you can ever imagine. Because Toohey is a leech which sucks out our soul and gives you his in return and in the end all you’re left is with a numbness that is not your own. You’re being a second-hander.
You would rather be ‘Keating’ wouldn’t you? For all the fame, money and luxury. For being obedient. Why not? The world thinks it is right! The world has been Toohey. The world has sucked out your ‘self’ and replaced it with their own. And you think you are right because ‘they’ think you are right! You would rather be ‘Keating’ because being ‘Roark’ would lead to condemnation and no work and money. Being ‘Roark’ would mean no acceptance by anyone. So it is safe to be ‘Keating’ isn’t it? It is safer. It is a shell that is invincible. Invincible until the end- when you realise that Keating beings to decay! Keating will have everything except for his own ‘self’. But that’s ok, because none of the world has it too. If it’s good enough for them then it is good enough for you! And therefore you are a second-hander.
I would rather be Howard Roark and not a second-hander. I prefer being selfish!
P.S.: This is not a book review because I cannot commit such a crime on that wonderful book.
If you wish to read something that is extremely fascinating go read ‘The Fountainhead’. I literally lived with Howard Roark for 6 days. The book held me until the very end.