Monday, July 23, 2012

The Fountainhead. . .

             This past January I took on the challenge of reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and writing a 1200 word essay. Reading is my life, my passion, and my love, but tackling (literally that's what I had to do) The Fountainhead almost ruined me. It doesn't help that it's 800 pages, with miniscule font, but the complexity of her characters and theories literally blew my mind (okay, not literally). Anyway, after finishing the book, taking extensive notes, and re-writing my essay at least three times, here is my final masterpiece for you to completely not understand but hopefully appreciate. Ladies and Gentlemen... my essay.

The Fountainhead

            The altruist and the egoist, destined rivals in Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead, move through life intertwining with each other in an intricate battle of superiority. Howard Roark’s bold theses of the two personalities express themselves through the motives and methods of four complex beings, including himself. During their lives, Peter Keating, Ellsworth Toohey, and Catherine Halsey embody the role of the altruist through manipulation, parasitic behaviors, dependent minds, and a lack of self-respect while claiming to act only upon the virtue of selflessness. Howard Roark’s desire to thrive through his passion of creation and his determination to have an independent spirit and mind allows for him to leave this world as conqueror of the parasitic man. “No man can live for another. He cannot share his spirit just as he cannot share his body” (712). The ability to excel in life does not come when feeding off of the inspiration, beliefs, and work of others; the independent man exists through his own mind and stands as a victor while the parasitic slave lies humbly at his feet.

            Ellsworth Monkton Toohey learned from a young age to please the public through manipulation. Toohey’s crude philosophy of selflessness teaches man to “feel small” and to “feel guilty” for his individuality (665). He accepts as truth that man should care not about his own self, but to submit his self to the service of others.  His hunger for power and strong will differentiate him from the typical altruist; however, “there are several such altruists in the world today”(632). Toohey’s main principle destroys man’s aspirations and integrity through “internal corruption” and convinces man of his own insignificance. He testifies that the ideal man should “take orders”— which philosophy results in Toohey’s abhorrence and fear of Roark. Toohey becomes Roark’s adversary, for he cannot convince Roark that he is “incapable of [selflessness]— what man has accepted as the noblest virtue” (665). Roark’s spirit thrives through creation, and selflessness is not in his nature. Toohey’s hunger for power and his lack of self-respect become the source of his altruistic motives and methods. Toohey is a “parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves” (712).

            Catherine Halsey’s admiration for her uncle Ellsworth and her desire to achieve selflessness overpowers her ability to have a mind of her own; her insecurities allow for her to feed off of others. Catherine’s character is degraded by how she behaves, how she works with others, and how she presents herself. Her countenance screams insecurity at everyone she meets and forces others to view her as she views herself. In consequence to her choices, Catherine understands that she “must forget how important Miss Catherine Halsey is” and rid herself of “the most stubborn of roots, the ego” (375). Her obsession with pleasing her uncle forces her to believe that her efforts are worthless; she will never be ideal in the eyes of the world. Catherine retreats from her selfless desires, begins to “demand gratitude” from others, and hates those less fortunate than she (373).   She acts cruel and bitter towards those she loves, and depends upon those she grew to despise. 

            “Howard, I’m a parasite. I’ve been a parasite all my life…. I have fed on you and all the men like you who lived before we were born” (601). As Peter Keating realizes his popularity is fading, he runs to Roark for help. By doing so, he submits to his parasitic tendencies and loses what he has left of his dignity. Keating’s previous fame and fortune came from the deceptive ways of Ellsworth Toohey and the powerful mind of Howard Roark; he rarely made a decision of his own. Keating depended upon the talents of others to carry him through life and bring him success. His first house, the Cosmo-Slotnick building and Cortlandt Homes were all designed by Roark, but Keating took the liberty of receiving the credit. His ability to feed off of others rewarded him with money, popularity, and publicity; but like with all sins, resulted in his rapid downfall. Keating claimed to have “nothing to give,” but he lacked the courage to try (601). His fear of failure, ironically, pushed him towards his lonely and unsuccessful ending; his priority of acceptance and his lack of genuine self-esteem pulled him away from the only woman he ever loved. Peter Keating “degrades the dignity of man and the conception of love” through his motives and behaviors.  His choices are made, not based upon his desire to create or excel, but based upon his obsession of beating Howard Roark no matter the circumstance. His physical and personal charm gave him a head start, but when they cease to exist, he has nothing left by which to benefit others. Keating “uses altruism as a weapon of exploitation” and succumbs to the belief that “dependence is a virtue” (712).

            Howard Roark, on the other hand, fights the world and its altruistic inhabitants with the vitality it takes to succeed. His egoistic spirit adds to the fire burning within him to “live for his work” and excel through his “own mind” by breaking through the enclosed ideals of modern architecture. Roark’s theory of the creator needs no other man, for “his main goal is within himself.” Compared to the parasite who “exists in order to serve others,” the creator embodies a soul that is entirely his own and watches as the parasite becomes the slave that feeds off of the superior man. Roark stands as a victor before men with knowledge that the natural man cannot succeed unless he “survives through his own mind” and explodes through life with a sure testament of his individuality (712). The free spirit and mind one must possess in order to succeed becomes a necessity for Roark as he is forced to come face-to-face with the inevitable battle between the egoist and the altruist, the creator and the parasite.

            Through the lives of Ellsworth M. Toohey, Peter Keating, Catherine Halsey, and Howard Roark, new light is shed on the controversial themes of altruism and egoism and their definitive determinacy of failure or triumph. In the course of Roark’s life he is faced with obstacles that would destroy most men, but because of his determination and his firm foundation in his own principles and philosophies, Roark becomes immortal in the sense of his creations and his character. “Then there was only the ocean and the sky and the figure of Howard Roark” (727). The ideal man stands tall with an independent spirit of strength, value, and prosperity, and runs with full speed to his triumphant ending. Howard Roark, conqueror of dependence, exalts over the Earth’s inhabitants as the ideal man.  


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Time Flies . . .

Why does summer always seem so short? Is it because we look forward to it the whole year and it doesn't even compare in length to how long school is? Or maybe it's because time flies when you're having fun. I have definitely had a summer to remember. It all started on June 4th when my Mom, Stockton, Harlee, and I left for Park City and spent a week laying by the pool, shopping, eating at kneaders, doing yoga in the mornings, and taking long drives through the beautiful mountains. On June 12th, my parents, Shae, and myself got on an airplane and flew 13 hours to the Heathrow Airport in London, England. We spent 5 days in London touring on the Big Red Buses, shopping at Harrods and Regent Street, visiting Buckingham and Kensington Palace, riding bicycles through Green Park, seeing two Broadway shows, eating marvelous food, and visiting all of the major historical sites such as Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Kings Cross Station (shout out to Harry Potter), Oxford, Stratford upon Avon (another shout out to Shakespeare), Windsor Castle, and so much more. That Saturday, we hopped on the Eurostar and took a train ride to Paris. We spent a little less than a day trying to accomplish as much as we could. We saw the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Ponce de Leon, the outside of the Louvre, and were occasionally bothered by teenage gypsies trying to pickpocket us. I tried to run into my dear friend Emily Brown, but failed. Paris is Paris. I loved it. On Sunday, my dad flew home to boring old Utah while the three of us took a train ride and a ferry to Ireland. We spent 5 days relaxing at the Ritz Carlton on the Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry. We rode bikes through the gardens, walked along the sea front, ate dinner at Johnny Fox's pub, and became friends with the nicest and most hospitable people. Ireland is truly beautiful in every way. After our amazing trip to Europe, we came home to Utah. I spent a week being home, the, headed off to Girls Camp at good old Mia Shalome. I had a way more enjoyable time than I thought I would. The day after I got home, my whole family (Dad, Mom, Riley, Shae, Addie, Harlee, Stockton) went to Nauvoo and Chicago, Illinois. We went through the whole church history experience in Nauvoo, and then went on to Chicago where we rode bicycles through the city, spent a day at Six Flags, ate at Ed Debevic's, shopped on Michigan Avenue, and saw Harry Potter!! This was definitely a trip to remember. After this vacation, we had our annual Green family reunion in Fairview. Next week will be our annual Hunsaker family reunion in Park City. ......... and then school starts. Overall I would say that this summer has been very educational, relaxing, and entertaining for me. I feel like I've done everything from staying in the Ritz Carlton in Ireland to staying in a trailer in Fairview. I'd say I've had a pretty well rounded summer. When I think back to these past couple months, its not the places that made the memories, its the people. When I think of my trip to Europe, I don't think of the time I first walked into Harrods, or ate my first real scone, or watched the Queen of England drive away from her Castle, but I think of the time my mom, Shae, and myself danced like fools in a random Ferris Wheel overlooking Windsor Castle, and when Shae and I rolled down the hills at Powerscourt Gardens. Had I spent this whole summer with people I didn't know, or even by myself, it wouldn't have been have as rewarding as it was to spend the whole summer with the people that I love the most. My summer turned out to be simply perfect.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Gates!

Sometimes bad things happen to good people, but why does such a bad thing have to happen to such a good person? Less than twenty-four hours before my cousin Gates was to be sent on an LDS mission, he broke his neck in a snowboarding accident. He is now paralyzed from the chest down. Gates has been in the hospital for over three months, and he has already made great progress. He can use his left hand to a great extent, and is starting to be able to use his right hand as well. His neck brace has been removed and he can stand his head up without any support. We are all hoping that Gates can progress each and every day, and he has not let us down yet. He has his hard times, but Gates is the most determined kid I know. This past Saturday, my family and I went up to Bountiful to help run a booth for Gates in a fourth of July carnival. We had great success and Gates even got to come down from the hospital to make an appearance. Gates is probably the most well-liked kid I have ever met. After the carnival, we continued on to Gates's home and had a barbecue to celebrate the fourth of July, and most importantly, Gates's birthday. Gates will be turning twenty years old! Happy Birthday Gates! After the barbecue, we all sat out on the porch to watch the fireworks from the carnival. Gates got to lay down on the grass that night. People who are apart of horrible accidents can all relate to one another. Some of the outcomes are a little more extreme, but they all suck nonetheless. My Aunt, Gates's mom, said the other day, "Lots of people break their necks, why does this have to be so bad?" Heavenly Father gives us certain challenges in life to test our faith and to see how we progress from then on, and sometimes he gives us these obstacles to make a difference in the lives of others. Everything happens for a reason. Keeping Heavenly Father close to us is the only way we can maintain a positive outlook to the bad things that happen to us. This earthly body is only temporary, and "temporary" may be a very long time for some people. For Gates. All we can do is pray and continue to love and support those in need. Gates has already made a difference in the lives of hundreds and I know that he will continue doing that for a very long time. Gates is still the most hilarious, positive, and amazing person I know. And nothing can change that. I love you Gates.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Romeo and Juliet . . .

Why does the most romantic story in history have to be the saddest as well? When ever I watch or read Romeo and Juliet, afterward, all I can say is, "This sucks!". It's just completely unfair. I honestly want to kill the delivery boy that couldn't get the dang letter to Romeo in time. He ruined everything. And don't even get me started on the stupidity of the two star-crossed lovers. I understand the phrase "I can't live without you" though I do find it rather dramatic, but these two took it to another level. Shakespeare is an evil genius when it comes to this story. Not only was Shakespeare the greatest poet/writer in history, but I'm pretty sure he was a psychic on the side. Teenagers these days have been getting more dramatic, more stupid, and more pregnant, (although the "pregnant" part doesn't have to do with much, I just thought I'd throw it in for good measure), he must have known that people in our time would need this example of undying stupidity. Some people describe their lives as the story of Romeo and Juliet in the sense that two people love each other and their parents won't let them be together. I thought that my life was like this for a short period, but then I realized how dramatic and stupid I was being, and then after going through things, I realized that I didn't want my life to be like theirs. Sure it sounds so romantic, but they kill themselves at the end. Now how romantic does that sound? I changed my perspective altogether. If you lose a loved one, mourn for a while, anyone deserves that, but don't take it to extremes. Life moves on, and you are going to see them again someday. Romeo and Juliet were so in love, so naive, and so catholic that they didn't understand the full effect their decision was going to have. Now this is a serious case of "act before you think". Lets all learn from this beautifully heart wrenching story and give Shakespeare a hand for writing a play so insightful and foretelling, because without Shakespeare, we all might be dead.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hermione Granger . . . .

Do you ever have that feeling that people are watching you? Not in the sense that dead people follow you around and watch you at night, but like your whole life is being projected onto a huge screen and millions of people are watching it all play out? It would be like the Truman Show, but instead, called the Addie Show! I wonder if anyone would think my life was as interesting as I do? .....Probably not. It's a natural thing for a persons life to revolve around them. Sure we all worry about others and we say that our lives don't revolve around us, but that's not true. How I see it is that I am the main character in a novel someone has written, or the leading actress in a movie. That doesn't mean that I'm the center of the world, just of my life. Maybe I'm crazy, or maybe I just have this strange desire to be in a movie. At least once in their life, every girl has wished that they could be the girl in the movie who always ends up with the hot, dreamy boy with the nice abs. Be it Bella Swan, or that lucky girl in Thor. But in my case, it's Hermione Granger. Not because she gets the hot boy, but because..... well, who wouldn't want to be in Harry Potter? She's a wizard who's best friends with The Chosen One, she gets to go on all the adventures with Harry and Ron, and she's.......a wizard for crying out loud! She's kind of a big deal if you didn't know. But enough on that tangent, sometimes life isn't entirely fair. We can't always be Emma Watson and be as fortunate as she is, but last time I checked, I'm doing just fine being Addison Hunsaker. And who knows, maybe one day I'll be a big deal to a young girl like myself. Let's pray that that day comes soon!