Henry Cameron said to Roark,
“You love your work. God help you, you love it. And that’s the curse. That’s the brand on your forehead for all of them to see. The substance of them is hatred for any man who loves his work. That’s the only kind they fear. I don’t know why.”
“You’re opening yourself up, Roark, for each and every one of them.”
~ The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand.
Question: Dear Acharya Ji, Pranaam! What does ‘opening yourself up’ about Roark is Cameron talking about?
Acharya Prashant Ji: It’s vulnerability that Cameron (one of main characters in Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’) is talking about.
All of us live lives of hidden, quiet, silent indignation, humiliation. Internally all of us know that we are not living rightly, internally all of us know that we have surrendered to the wrong forces. Internally we are all ashamed of ourselves.
When somebody like Roark (the protagonist in Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’) comes across us, then he rubs salt on our wounds. Our usual consolation is – “You know I went down, I compromised, I gave up because it is not possible to win. I didn’t fight because it makes no sense to fight. I went down, I laid down my arms, I started crawling on my knees. And that’s alright because everybody else is doing it.”
That’s our usual alibi, that’s what keeps us alive. Otherwise the humiliation of an abject Surrender would have not allowed us to live. But we find a convenient alibi. And what is that?
“If I did it so does everybody else. If I didn’t fight stoutly, it is because it is impossible to fight.” And living upon such arguments we chance upon somebody like Roark. Now how do we feel? We feel as if one tight slap has been imprinted on our cheek.
Roark is a clear proof that all our arguments in support of weakness are dishonest. And we all have arguments in favour of our weaknesses.
“What do I do, I am just a kid?”
“What do I do, I am not from the right background?”
“What do I do, I am just twenty years old?”
“What do I do, nobody helps me?”
“”What do I do, it is humanly impossible to fight the society?”
These are the arguments we live upon. Don’t we? All the ones who are crawling on all fours do find some grace, some dignity in these hollow arguments. And then Roark comes as a living proof that all your arguments are false and dishonest.
You say that you don’t have a background, Roark didn’t have a background, still see what he is doing. You say you are still 23 or 24 years old therefore you are so meek and weak, look at how Roark is at 21. Your dishonesty is exposed. Your argument is fallacious.
You say, “O, well everybody in this world has to surrender and compromise. What can I do?” The myth has been broken. Your propaganda has been torn apart. Look at Roark. Is he surrendering? Is he compromising? Is he yielding to all the things that are lowly and mean? But you have yielded, you have sold yourself out.
So Roark is a humiliation to most people, and therefore they resent him. That’s what Henry Cameron is pointing at here.
He is saying, “Anybody who lives a right life is an insult to the world, and therefore the world will avenge itself in some or the way other upon him.” What’s worse is that the world will not say that it is avenging itself because it feels humiliated, the world will conjure some other reason to punish that man.
The sight of Roark might be offensive to woman, let’s say. Somebody. Will she say that she hates Roark because Roark reminds her of all the dishonesty in her life? Will she say that? No. But she will want to hurt Roark in some way. So her mind consciously or sub-consciously, will keep searching for some way to hurt Roark and seek revenge against Roark. And sooner than later she will discover some way to attack him.
That’s what Cameron is warning Roark against.
He says, “You’re opening yourself up, Roark, for each and every one of them.” He is saying, “They will hate you. They will hate you, attack you, and punish you. They will not even tell you that they hate you, because they worship you. They hate you because they clearly see that you are far-far above all of them.”
What do you think that when we come upon someone who is really a resident of the Skies, we feel delighted? We turn green in envy. Superficially we might be worshipping the Gods, internally we all want Gods to be fallible. Therefore we really celebrate it the moment we see that a god has fallen.
It’s a great chance. We lap it up – “Ah! A god has fallen. That’s great. That’s what I was internally always hoping for this.”
That is why there is an equal abundance of both kinds of literature. There is literature that glorifies the God, and there is literature that denigrates Gods.
Have you never wondered what kind of satisfaction people find in denigrating Gods? They will say, “You know there were a thousand flaws in Krishna’s character. And Ramakrishna, he was just a epilepsy patient probably. It was not Samadhi , he was having fits.” There have been people who have been saying these things. “And Jesus, he was just a wandering loafer. And not even wandering, he was carrying a concubine, Mary Magdalene.”
Have you ever wondered what kind of perverse pleasure people find in denigrating Gods? The pleasure is – “If I am not high, why should I allow you to remain high? You must be pulled down, because as far as I am concerned I refuse to rise up. I refuse to rise up so I will try to pull you down.”
That’s what Cameron is warning Roark.
There is no pleasure bigger than spitting at a clean place.
Pleasure of spitting at a clean place is unequalled in it’s intensity.
Figure this out.