Violent Femmes & Humor in The Fountainhead

In these past two weeks I’ve found myself listening to the Violent Femmes self-titled debut album (1983) – in the car, and loud. (Many undergrad boys are out of town, someone has to take their role.) Quite therapeutic. Also, I was in a mood to appreciate the album Marquee Moon (1977), by Television. Is it good or bad that I’m rarely in such a mood?

From music to literature, I’m rereading The Fountainhead for the first time in about ten years. Acording to my notes on the inside cover, I read the second half of it when I lived in California, but I can’t remember that. Damn, it’s good! I’m recording all the funny parts, too. (Part of the humor is that Rand can be funny. Really!) The parts that have affected me most are when Roark meets defeated versions of himself. His architectural hero, now old, defeated, and cynical, Henry Cameron (Book I, Chapter 3), almost melts when he sees Roark’s drawings. The other when he meets the young sculptor Steven Mallory, young, defeated, and cynical, who can’t believe Roark truly appreciates his work, and therefore, himself. The start of this scene I found humorous. Roark says to his secretary:

“Get me Steven Mallory.”
“Mallory, Mr. Roark? Who…Oh, yes, the shooting sculptor.”
“The what?”
“He took a shot at Ellsworth Toohey [pure evil], didn’t he?”
“Did he? Yes, that’s right.”
“Is that the one one you want, Mr. Roark?”
“That’s the one.”

Surely Roark sees no humor in this exchange, as it would be out of character for him even to acknowledge, even to himself, that Toohey is pure evil.


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