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Adam Caruso on The Fountainhead
11 March, 2021
I first read The Fountainhead as a teenager before I had plans to be an architect. It is a long time since I read the book but I remember how Ayn Rand’s seductive prose almost conceals her extreme vision of society. The book’s relentless tale of the righteous battle with the unworthy rhymed a bit too closely with the certainties of a younger version of me, but by the time I got to architecture school, I already had sense enough to realise that the world could not be seen in such stark and opposing terms. The book still occasionally came up, mostly when we made fun of its melodrama: Dominique Francon in her diaphanous blouse on Roark’s construction site was a memorable image. Some classmates still relished its credo of the architect as lone wolf whose fate was to fight the mediocracy of the masses. I think these different opinions about the book gave me an inkling that the ego of the architect was not necessarily a benevolent force. Fortunately the book does not seem very popular amongst my students, but, I am surprised and alarmed to find that Rand’s books continue to be read today by quite a few men in power, and that her philosophy played a significant role in the formation of today’s neoliberal hegemony.