I think about creativity, and why we might be here, and how the two are related.
I think about flow, of bending time, of being completely engaged and engrossed.
I think about self, about selfish acts of creation or expression.
I think of losing myself in acts of passion.
I think about motivation.
And I think about how fear clogs it all up.
I’ve been reading a very interesting book that, at times, addresses all of these topics. It’s a monster novel by Ayn Rand entitled, The Fountainhead.
It’s one of those books that I’m going to have to read again with a pen handy from the start. There are so many great passages. So many great messages.
I’m nearing the end now, and the passages are jumping out at me like lightning in a dark night.
They may be meaningless without the supporting context, but I’m going to collect a few of them here anyway. These few passages are relating a conversation between architects. One wants the other to design a project without any credit.
Peter Keating wants Howard Roark to create a housing development and let Peter Keating take all the credit, fame and glory for it–because Peter Keating knows he can’t get the contract. He’s not good enough. Howard Roark is the one with the talent and wisdom. It won’t be the first time Keating has asked for help in this way.
The thing to understand as you read this is that creating buildings and solving the problems of each one is Roark’s passion. He doesn’t do it for money or fame or any result whatever.
He does it to create.
He does it for the passion of creation.
Roark is the selfish one. He creates for himself. For the experience of creating.
Keating, on the other hand, is a parasite. He has always done things for the approval of others. He’s more concerned with social status, opinion, and recognition–the results–than anything else.
The bottom line here is that Keating is asking Roark to save him–again. Both of them understand the other completely. I’ll start with Roark saying:
“Can you think of any reason why I should want to save your life?”
“It’s a great public project, Howard. A humanitarian undertaking. Think of the poor people who live in the slums. If you can give them decent comfort within their means, you’ll have the satisfaction of performing a noble deed.”
“Peter, you were more honest than that yesterday.”
His eyes dropped, his voice low, Keating said:
“You will love designing it.”
“Yes, Peter. Now you’re speaking my language.”
“What do you want?”
“Now listen to me. I’ve been working on the problem of low rent housing for years. I never thought of the poor people in slums. I thought of the potentialities of our modern world. The new materials, the means, the chances to take and use. There are so many products of man’s genius around us today. There are such great possibilities to exploit. To build cheaply, simply, intelligently. I’ve had a lot of time to study. I didn’t have much to do after the Stoddard Temple. I didn’t expect results. I worked because I can’t look at any material without thinking: What could be done with it? And the moment I think that, I’ve got to do it. To find the answer, to break the thing. I’ve worked on it for years. I loved it. I worked because it was a problem I wanted to solve. You want to know how to build a unit to rent for fifteen dollars a month? I’ll show you how to build it for ten.”
Keating made an involuntary movement forward,
“But first, I want you to think and tell me what made me give years to this work. Money? Fame? Charity? Altruism?” Keating shook his head slowly. “All right. You’re beginning to understand. So whatever we do, don’t let’s talk about the poor people in the slums. They have nothing to do with it . . .
“. . . Peter, before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man that can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences. The work, not the people. Your own action, not any possible object of your charity. I’ll be glad if people who need it find a better manner of living in a house I designed. But that’s not the motive of my work. Nor my reason. Nor my reward.