The Fountainhead: Capturing Our Creative Spirit

The Red TowerNo two buildings have the same purpose. The purpose, the site, the material determine the shape. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one simple theme, and to serve its own single purpose. A man doesn’t borrow pieces of his body. A building doesn’t borrow hunks of its soul. It’s maker gives it the soul and every wall, window and stairway to express it.
– Howard Roark, The Fountainhead

How does what you read, listen to or watch  influence your creative process?

Participating in a blogging community expands my thinking and creative capacity, but only so much. During those weeks when I only read blogs, current news, status updates, and Tweets mingled with the scriptures and lesson material for my religion class, my focus narrows as much as when I am reading nothing at all.

On the other hand, when I read a monthly book form my lifetime pursuit of literature list or something written in a different setting than the current media, my vision broadens. I learn about circumstances outside of the issues at hand and connect or apply the things I learn to my current context.

This opens my eyes to not only understand; it opens my spirit to create.

In the past, I’ve invited my blog readers to read with me in an online book group and discussion.  My Try-It-With-Me-Tuesday challenges—books or other challenges—brought inspiration to me. Some readers have expressed the same.

Now, however, I’m refining my blog approach and want to dispense with any pressures for people to contribute. I’m still reading and seeking truth, from sources outside the current events stream, including a monthly book from my list. And I’ll still share the truths and connections I find. If you want to comment, I welcome the discussion. Otherwise, just enjoy the light I’m hoping to reflect here.

My February selection from my lifetime pursuit literature reading list is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.  I see evidence of our current culture in the characters of Peter Keating, Dominique Francon, Ellsworth Toohey, Gail Wynand. The leaders and the followers. So many leaders who are seeking power in their own way—some with a mask of altruism, others with money. And then there are so many followers who are just following to follow. The story brings out the worst in most, and the best in a few with themes of creativity, integrity and free will.

Howard Roark, the architect protagonist, whose creativity builds from a purpose, reminds me of the times when that creative spirit has grown in me. Even more broadly, he represents the creative spirit within each of us.

Roark is the only one, in the end, that stays true to this spirit. We’d like to hope we were all Roark, but in reality, we’re each a little bit like every other character. We need approval. We imitate. We follow. We deny the source of creativity.

I love to create and offer my writing to readers. Lately, thought, I sense that the blogging community, like any other, is just a microcosm of the world Rand described. And I’m torn in my participation. I want to draw wisdom and inspiration from other writers, but the light of my creativity comes from above. When I become too involved, my ability to create wanes. Still, I want to share that light within me and receive the offerings of others, but I do not want to become Keating-like and adorn my writing and website to gain acceptance.

Roark gives his best at a very high cost. In our culture, even with the proliferation of media, we still do not value creation or respect the costs paid in its offering.  Will the best of our age be lost in the muddle of mediocrity? If so, maybe it will be safer there, away from the ever-changing top layer, until another generation can dig it up and connect it to their own.

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1 Comment

  1. ph
    Feb 25, 2009

    The book really isn’t about architecture. Only tangentially so (I’ve heard anecdotally that Roark was modeled after Frank Lloyd Wright – famous for saying “Truth against the world!”

    But it does make you think… how true to yourself are you?

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