Sunday, September 30, 2012

Individualism and Architecture

Individualism and Architecture
      In the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Rand uses architecture as another means of expressing her philosophy. Throughout the novel, there are countless examples of how different methods pertaining to architecture symbolize both collectivism and individualism. We see that most of the architects presented, particularly the ones who work for Francon and Heyer and later Francon and Keating, strictly follow the previously-set standards they learned in school. They either have no interest in creativity or refuse to stray from the social norm out of fear.
       Architects like Peter Keating are frequently praised for their appreciation and usage of specific styles in their designs. They may create tasteful combinations seen from different cultures and periods of time, however they never think to create their own styles because, at that time, it was something unheard of.
       On the other hand, people like Howard Roark are shot down and criticized for their creations. During that time, architects were expected to design buildings using references that were already established. The fact that Roark refused to design anything that wasn't original was taken as insulting. Roark was too innovative and his work was too modern to be appreciated, efficient as it was. When one considers things from a psychological standpoint, most people during that time period disliked change out of fear.
       In today's society, humans still fear change. As human beings, we want to feel like we are accepted. It is rare that we will stray from mainstream concepts because we don't want to be ridiculed. Naturally, people embrace a collective society. Individualism can spell out isolation. For example, many people of faith fear that allowing homosexual couples to wed will ruin the institution of marriage. The idea is different and scary and goes against the social norm, just as Roark's buildings did. Though there was nothing wrong with Roark's designs (or gay marriage), people still fear things that they don't understand.
       I strongly believe that we will never have a truly individualistic society. We, as human beings, are hard-wired to need to be a part of a group. We need other humans for comfort, love, and critisism. However, if no one is innovative, we as a collective society will never progress. It'd be impossible for everyone to follow objectivism as Rand describes it, although I definitely agree that we need put ourselves first in most instances. Luckily, there will always be the Howard Roark's out there that refuse to be main-stream and that means that the world will always be turning.