June 27, 2003

The founts of wisdom …

Ayn Rand’s "The Fountainhead" is giving me a lot to think of and also has provided some insights into myself, the world around me and the way I look at the world. It sometimes surprises me immensely to see my own philosophies reflected in somebody else’s writings and to hear something that I felt only as a gut-feeling expounded upon and explained so that I myself can come to understand the why’s and whereto’s of my own feelings and reactions. I finished reading a chapter yesterday which was a revelation, an epiphany in its own way though there was nothing new in what I read – just the way it was presented.

I’ve always been an individualist – I don’t believe in doing something a certain way just because the rest of the world does it that way. I always want a logical reason for doing something a certain way and it doesn’t matter to me that people have been doing it that way from time immemorial, if it doesn’t make sense to me, then I don’t do it that way. I don’t want to make money so that I can lord it over other people, I don’t help others so that I can feel superior to them – everything I do, I do because *I* want to. I know that a lot of people don’t like me going against the grain (including my own parents) but put that down to simple dislike of that which is unusual – out of the norm. However, Ayn Rand puts a new spin on it – she proposes (and I won’t quote her words here but rather, try to put things in my own words the way I understood it – for my own clarification) that people who lie, cheat, ruin and destroy others (all of this on the sly of course) just to be famous or to be accepted/admired by others are selfless because they put others before their own self – that years of dinning into our collective consciousness about altruism and selflessness has resulted in this. That these people are willing to put their own self through the tortures of knowing how despicable they really are just so that others will see them as kind, honourable and altruistic. She also states that a truly selfish man (or woman) cannot be affected by the admiration or approval of others because it doesn’t matter to them at all – that anything they do is purely out of their own selfish desire to please themselves. So I guess that does make me a really selfish person – and in a funny way, it makes sense too :p

But the strangest thing was that I’d been thinking about the very same thing in a different light earlier on in the day (before I read that particular chapter in the book). I was thinking about my friend Robin, he’d bought a new notebook computer and he was going around showing it to everybody and while thinking back upon that and how I probably hadn’t seemed very interested (because a notebook is a notebook – you can see how well it performs but after that I really can’t admire it like a work of art :p), I was reminded of the time I got the P800 and how he went around showing my phone to everybody when I couldn’t care less if anybody saw it or not – because I bought the phone because I wanted it .. not to show it to others or to impress others. Now don’t misunderstand me, yes, I’d show it to a few people that I really liked (if I knew that they were geeky enough to enjoy it :p) but I really don’t buy things or do things to show it off to other people – only because *I* want it. And this too ties in neatly with what Ayn Rand had to say.

Of course, I kept on thinking along the same lines and realized that this might apply to me in another sense too – I mean relationship-wise. All of my relationships so far have not really worked for me (and no, I’m not going to launch into another one of my rambles about how I perceive love and how I don’t think that love the way I think of it might not exist .. so keep on reading <vbg>) and I suddenly realized that this too might have something to do with the same philosophy that Ayn Rand describes. Would I find happiness with somebody who wants the approval of the world or at least, can’t stand upon her own mental feet as far as what she wants is concerned? Because I would always be the kind of person who was frowned upon by society and if my partner wanted the approbation of those around us, she’d never find it and neither she nor I would truly be happy in such a relationship. And if she wanted just to please me, I’d get irritated after a while because I’d want to know what she really wanted and not see a reflection of what I wanted in her. Again, I’ve dimly known this and have always looked for somebody who was like me – somebody who understood themselves completely and wanted to live life first and foremost for themselves. However, I’d again understood this only instinctively – not as a reasoned thought arrived at after due consideration …

All of this actually leads to something else I mentioned a day or two ago – about "who writes the script" and whether life is actually a series of concerted scenes in a drama where you are just a player. My life has a tendency to be cyclical – certain things happen in a certain order and I see that they are happening again in exactly the same mini-sequence that they always seem to, and I’m beginning to think that maybe this insight that "The Fountainhead" has suddenly shown me might be what I need to break out of the cycle and find a new direction .. or maybe I just think too much :p

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Posted by Fahim at 6:10 am  |  No Comments