Thursday, December 18, 2008

the fountainhead: Part II

(written early last year, on my second trip in Hawaii)

I don't know if I am going to make it. I really don't. I'll put down a book because I think it is wasting my time or I'm just not in the right frame of mind to digest it at the moment; normally not a problem. But this isn't just a book which sucks, this is a book which sucks and has a rampant following of people who felt led to adolescent epiphanies by this book's bold declaration that most people are obnoxious and that only the defiant artist (and very few of them) could have true integrity. And being who I am, I'm certain at some point I'll end up surrounded by people whose lives were changed or whose minds were opened by the fountainhead and someone will see me roll my eyes and say, "What?" and I'll answer. And then it would come out that I couldn't finish the book and they'll smugly dismiss my opinion and suggest that I didn't have the strength of character to finish such a noble and challenging book blah blah blah. And I'd rather finish it and be able to say it all was annoying instead of having to listen to someone say that the last little chunk was where it was all tied together and that of course I didn't get it if I didn't finish it.

And I may not finish it, but if I can't, it won't be for lack of stamina but for lack of stomach. I finally took a break and decided to read something else, so I've just finished Battlefield Earth, the longest sci-fi novel in history. I'll write about that separately, but a total joy to read and let no one say it was the length of the novel that turned me off from the fountainhead. I'm trying, I really am.

I still think that the novel is pompous rape-fantasy, which at the end of the day is the most cowardly kind of fantasy, but perhaps also one of the most common. I don't think the prevalence of it as fantasy is acknowledged enough. The desire to be violated. It is the secret dark dream of the pious and holier-than-thou. It is the wish to experience carnal things but without having to experience any of the responsibility for the act. "I was forced!" This is not to make light of rape or to suggest that in real life that people who demurely suggest that they won't go any further are asking for it or that no really means yes; this isn't about that at all. I'm talking strictly in the realm of fantasy and how so many people use secret rape fantasy as the route to accessing taboo desires. If they imagine themselves as violated, then they couldn't be guilty of dreaming about sex or whatever guilty pleasure they dream of, can they? Not that this doesn't have its real world correlaries, with people who aren't yet comfortable in their sexuality seeking out predatory or manipulative types so they can feel compelled into something they desire but still feel guilty about.

Perhaps I am getting off track. I really don't mean this to be simply sexual or for it to all be simply guilt centered. (Unfortunately, I can't remember what the hell else I meant to write about it, though. This is the point where I cut it off when I was originally writing about it and never seemed to get back to it. I've read and reread it thinking I'll one day finish it and so have gone almost a year now without publishing these three essays on the fountainhead, but I've decided enough is enough so here they are in all their unfinished glory).

No comments: