Few books offer as resounding a manifesto of the individual’s value and potential as The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. The image of Howard Roark, the serene architect who refuses to build anything that does not meet his criteria of esthetic excellence, who takes on the culturally prevailing attitudes of collectivism, compromise, and mediocrity, and wins, is a tribute to one man’s determination in resisting the gargantuan pressures exerted by his society to render him just like everyone else.
The Fountainhead presents a masterful philosophical exposition of the mind of the creator-individual as the root of all human accomplishments, and as a treasure that one must not allow to become tarnished by the impulse to conform. It additionally provides a model for how rational men can interact with one another, as value-traders who seek from each other, rather than blandness and conventionality, the profoundest and most impeccable work their minds can produce.
The Fountainhead teaches that the source of man’s productivity lies within himself, and Roark’s struggles have demonstrated that adhering with integrity to the desire to be productive and independent often involves overcoming great obstacles. Nevertheless, with the proper fortitude, consistency, and resolve, the creator-individual will have his way.
The journey of the creator-individual from struggle to ecstatic accomplishment is, too, reflected in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Beethoven’s monumental, dynamic, and logically intricate passages are capable of conveying both struggle and tension in the first three movements and an outpouring of joy, benevolence, and triumph in the fourth.
The symphony is a tribute both to Beethoven in particular, as he had written this ultimate of compositions a time when he was wrestling against crippling cases of deafness and disease, and to Man in general, for man’s proper occupation, in his life and in his work, is to struggle and to prevail. The vigor of man’s resistance against gloom, chaos, and decay will bring about a directly proportional result of glory, happiness, and accomplishment.
The works of Ayn Rand and Ludwig van Beethoven celebrate those creators and creations which affirm the highest possibilities open to man, and provide the intellectual fuel for audiences to pursue them. What Roark built with steel and concrete, what Ayn Rand captured in words, is also what Beethoven expressed through music. Using his or her medium of choice, the creator-individual strives to transform the world in an ennobling, enlightening, life-affirming manner – inspiring other creators to further heights of accomplishment.