The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

by Catherine Chiu

  •  If one suffers in this world, it’s on account of error.
  • Three eternal qualities: Truth, Love, and Beauty
  • “You know that? And you say it like this? Like you’d say, ‘Hello, it’s a beautiful evening’?”
    “Well, why not? Why worry about it? I love you.”
  • She had never allowed herself to question the future, for a question would have been an admission of doubt.
  • It was like having the clothes torn off his body, and the shame was not that his body was exposed, but that it was exposed to indifferent eyes.
  • As a matter of fact, one can feel some respect for people when they suffer. They have a certain dignity. But have you ever looked at them when they’re enjoying themselves? That’s when you see the truth.
  • To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.
  • What who calls what beauty?
  • “You have to live with people, you know. There are only two ways. You can join them or you can fight them. But you don’t seem to be doing either.”
    “No. Not either.”
  • It was not necessary to wonder about the reasons. It was necessary only to hate, to hate blindly, to hate patiently, to hate without anger; only to hate, and let nothing intervene, and not let oneself forget, ever.
  • But unfortunately, in practical life, one can’t always be so flawlessly consistent. There’s always the incalculable human element of emotion.
  • Oh, come now, we must never lose our sense of humor. Nothing’s really sacred but a sense of humor.
  • A thing is not high if one can reach it; it is not great if one can reason about it; it is not deep if one can see its bottom.
  • One must never allow oneself to acquire an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance. There’s no necessity to burden oneself with absolutes.
  • My dear, you will never be more than a dilettante of the intellect, unless you submerge yourself in some cause greater than yourself.
  • Every human soul has a style of his own, also. Its one basic theme. You’ll see it reflected in every thought, every act, every wish of that person. The one absolute, the one imperative in that living creature.
  • Every loneliness is a pinnacle.
  • We must be kind, Peter, to everybody around us. We must accept and forgive — there is so much to be forgiven in each one of us. If you learn to love everything, the humblest, the least, the meanest, then the meanest in you will be loved.
  • It’s good to suffer. Don’t complain. Bear, bow, accept — and be grateful that God has made you suffer. For this makes you better than the people who are laughing and happy. If you don’t understand this, don’t try to understand. Everything bad comes from the mind, because the mind asks too many questions. It is blessed to believe, not to understand.
  • To achieve virtue in the absolute sense a man must be willing to take the foulest crimes upon his soul — for the sake of his brothers. To mortify the flesh is nothing. To mortify the soul is the only act of virtue. […] Self-abnegation? Yes, my friends, by all means. But one doesn’t abnegate by keeping one’s self pure and proud of its purity. The sacrifice that includes the destruction of one’s soul — ah, but what am I talking about? This is only for heroes to grasp and to achieve.
  • There are two things we must get rid of early in life: a feeling of personal superiority and an exaggerated reverence for the sexual act.
  • “I’d rather be kind than right.” “Mercy is superior to justice, the shallow-hearted to the contrary notwithstanding.” “Speaking anatomically — and perhaps otherwise — the heart is our most valuable organ. The brain is a superstition.”
  • It’s so much easier to pass judgement on a man than on an idea. Though how in hell one passes judgement on a man without considering the content of his brain is more than I’ll ever understand.
  • The statue of a naked woman. […] The human spirit. The heroic in man. The aspiration and the fulfillment, both. Uplifted in its quest — and uplifting by its own essence. Seeking God — and finding itself. Showing that there is no higher reach beyond its own form.
  • He saw man as strong, proud, clean, wise and fearless. He saw man as a heroic being. And he built a temple to that. A temple is a place where man is to experience exaltation. He thought that exaltation comes from the consciousness of being guiltless, of seeing the truth and achieving it, of living up to one’s highest possibility, of knowing no shame and having no cause for shame, of being able to stand naked in full sunlight. He thought that exaltation means joy and that joy is a man’s birthright. He thought that a place built as a setting for man is a sacred place.
  • “If your first concern is for what you are or think or feel or have or haven’t got — you’re still a common egotist.”
    “But I can’t jump out of my own body.”
    “No. But you can jump out of your narrow soul.”
    “You mean, I must want to be unhappy?”
    “No. You must stop wanting anything. You must forget how important Catherine Halsey is. Because, you see, she isn’t.”
  • That is why the mind is so unreliable. We must not think. We must believe. Believe, Katie, even if your mind objects. Don’t think. Believe. Trust your heart, not your brain. Don’t think. Feel. Believe.
  • To say ‘I love you’ one must know first how to say the ‘I’.
  • Isn’t it wonderful and moving! There’s no telling how far the child will go with proper encouragement. Think of what happens to their little souls if they are frustrated in their creative instincts! It’s so important not to deny them a chance for self-expression.
  • 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.
  • “The little people,” said Ike tenderly. “I love the little people. We must love the little people of this earth.”
  • She thought that it was not a matter of desire, not even a matter of the sexual act, but only that man was the life force and woman could respond to nothing else; that this man had the will of life, the prime power, and this act was only its simplest statement, and she was responding not to the act nor to the man, but to that force within him.
  • Two forces, suddenly naked to her in their simple statement — two forces that had fought since the world began — and every religion had known of them — and there had always been a God and a Devil — only men had been so mistaken about the shapes of their Devil — he was not single and big, he was many and smutty and small.
  • Don’t help me or serve me, but let me see it once, because I need it. Don’t work for my happiness, my brothers — show me yours — show me that it is possible — show me your achievement — and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.
  • In the sense of that personal answer. What you feel in the presence of a thing you admire is just one word — ‘Yes.’ The affirmation, the acceptance, the sign of admittance. And that ‘Yes’ is more than an answer to one thing, it’s a kind of ‘Amen’ to life, to the earth that holds this thing, to the thought that created it, to yourself for being able to see it. But the ability to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ is the essence of all ownership. It’s your ownership of your own ego. Your soul, if you wish. Your soul has a single basic function — the act of valuing. ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ ‘I wish’ or ‘I do not wish.’ You can’t say ‘Yes’ without saying ‘I.’ There’s no affirmation without the one who affirms. In this sense, everything to which you grant your love is yours.
  • “Howard, that ‘Yes’ — once granted, can it be withdrawn?” […]
    “Never,” Roark answered, looking at Wynand.
  • There’s so much nonsense about human inconstancy and the transience of all emotions.
  • I was thinking of people who say that happiness is impossible on earth. Look how hard they all try to find some joy in life. Look how they struggle for it. Why should any living creature exist in pain? By what conceivable right can anyone demand that a human being exist for anything but his own joy? Every one of them wants it. Every part of him wants it. But they never find it. I wonder why. They whine and say they don’t understand the meaning of life. There’s a particular kind of people that I despise. Those who seek some sort of a higher purpose or ‘universal goal,’ who don’t know what to live for, who moan that they must ‘find themselves.’ You hear it all around us. That seems to be the official bromide of our century. Every book you open. Every drooling confession. It seems to be the noble thing to confess. I’d think it would be the most shameful one.
  • To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul — would you understand why that’s much harder?
  • It was the only thing I ever really wanted. And that’s the sin that can’t be forgiven — that I hadn’t done what I wanted. It feels so dirty and pointless and monstrous, as one feels about insanity, because there’s no sense to it, no dignity, nothing but pain — and wasted pain. . . . Katie, why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world — to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage.
  • Yes, I think it’s agreeable to look back occasionally. But one’s perspective widens. One grows richer spiritually with the years.
  • “Aren’t they all acting on a selfish motive — to be noticed, liked, admired?”
    “– by others. At the price of their own self-respect. In the realm of greatest importance — the realm of values, of judgement, of spirit, of thought — they place others above self, in the exact manner which altruism demands. A truly selfish man cannot be affected by the approval of others. He doesn’t need it.”
  • Your ego is your strictest judge. They run from it. They spend their lives running. It’s easier to donate a few thousands to charity and think oneself noble than to base self-respect on personal standards of personal achievement.
  • You don’t think through another’s brain and you don’t work through another’s hands. When you suspend your faculty of independent judgement, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life.
  • We have never made an effort to understand what is greatness in man and how to recognize it. We have come to hold, in a kind of mawkish stupor, that greatness is to be gauged by self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice, we drool, is the ultimate virtue. Let’s stop and think for a moment. Is sacrifice a virtue? Can a man sacrifice his integrity? His honor? His freedom? His ideal? His convictions? The honesty of his feeling? The independence of his thought? But these are a man’s supreme possessions. Anything he gives up for them is not a sacrifice but an easy bargain. They, however, are above sacrificing to any cause or consideration whatsoever. Should we not, then, stop preaching dangerous and vicious nonsense? Self­-sacrifice? But it is precisely the self that cannot and must not be sacrificed. It is the unsacrificed self that we must respect in man above all.
  • The soul, Peter, is that which can’t be ruled. It must be broken.
  • Anything may be betrayed, anyone may be forgiven. But not those who lack the courage of their own greatness. Alvah Scarret can be forgiven. He had nothing to betray. Mitchell Layton can be forgiven. But not I. I was not born to be a second-hander.
  • The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive. To a creator, all relations with men are secondary.
    The basic need of the second-hander is to secure his ties with men in order to be fed. He places relations first. He declares that man exists in order to serve others. He preaches altruism.
  • But the man who enslaves himself voluntarily in the name of love is the bases tof creatures. He degrades the dignity of man and he degrades the conception of love. But this is the essence of altruism.
  • Man was forced to accept masochism as his ideal — under the threat that sadism was his only alternative. This was the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on mankind.
  • The choice is not self-sacrifice or domination. The choice is independence or dependence. The code of the creator or the code of the second-hander. This is the basic issue. It rests upon the alternative of life or death.
  • He does not exist for any other man — and he asks no other man to exist for him. This is the only form of brotherhood and mutual respect possible between men.
  • Men exchange their work by free, mutual consent to mutual advantage when their personal interests agree and they both desire the exchange. If they do not desire it, they are not forced to deal with each other. They seek further. This is the only possible form of relationship between equals. Anything else is a relation of slave to master, or victim to executioner.
  • The first right on earth is the right of the ego. Man’s first duty is to himself. His moral law is never to place his prime goal within the persons of others. His moral obligation is to do what he wishes, provided his wish does not depend primarily upon other men. This includes the whole sphere of his creative faculty, his thinking, his work.