Monday, 4 December 2017


I re-read The Fountainhead often. Usually in times of uncertainty, change, angst, or just moments when I am in need of affirmation. I also re-read Atlas Shrugged as, if not more, often but that is another post for another time. 

However, this time's re-read of The Fountainhead has been one of the most enriching. I am suddenly seeing deeper into some of the characters and pieces of the puzzle that remained only vaguely understood have become clearer. One of these is the character of Dominique. 

Dominique's quest for self-destruction has always fascinated me. More so perhaps because I can never quite fathom such hopelessness. But the last year, one of the most trying ones in life so far, gave me new appreciation for her angst. Her utter hopelessness in being able to reconcile her idealism and her dream of the perfect man with the halfway that exists in reality plunges her into despair and when we meet her, she has already decided that the world is deserving only of mockery, that a to live a life well, fully and consistently and emerge victorious is impossible; for the terms of battle are those that she cannot accept. 

And so, Dominique Francon, Femme fatale, the love interest of three men who stand at counterpoints to each other, chooses to expose the pretence that the world expects by pretending openly and consciously. She is contrarian in everything she does, flinging the unexpected, making a mockery of the rules. In all this she is amused yet miserable. Miserable for the lost ideal, the wasted potential, the indignity of fighting imbeciles at their stupid games to make place for those who should not need to fight at all. 

I've always found Dominique puzzling for how can one of her obvious intelligence be so held by the opinions of others? She of all people should know better than to care. But she does. She does because what she really wants, deep down is to be proven wrong. She wants to see Roark succeed even though she does everything she can to ensure otherwise. She believes she is protecting him from the pain of falling by not allowing him to rise at all.

This fierce desire to protect, to not be used by those unwilling to even acknowledge their need of you is something I've felt in some measure. The pain at having to explain oneself to those one believes to be inferior, to have to justify decisions, and demand acknowledgement because they don't know better. To make allowances for their ignorance and then finally coming to the realisation that lies at the crux of The Fountainhead and of Dominique's transformation by the end of the novel - that one needn't base one's estimation of success or failure by the standards set by others. That one's pain and one's happiness is for one alone to define. To know, with absolute certainty, that other's failure to recognise is not a failing in oneself, that one is not obliged to fight in order to be able to acknowledge that inner sense of being.

That is my lesson from Dominique for 2017. And as usual, I am absolutely dying to discuss some of this with the few people who I know will get it.

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