This past spring I hosted a guest blog series called Anthony’s Navel, featuring stories about favorite books, films and music by friends and fellow writers. Chauncy just finished his piece (better late than never!), which I’m proud to feature today: it also makes me nostalgic for the one-time meeting we had in Amsterdam two years ago, the first blog-friend I met in real life. Enjoy his story, and check out his blog here.
by Chauncy Gardiner
Ask me for my favourite anything and I’ll give you the favourite child answer. Ask me for a list of movies, books or albums that have influenced me and I answer in the singular, the movie The Fountainhead.
I’ve tried many times to write about it.
The facts are simple: I was thirteen, it was the Saturday Midnight movie and I immediately adopted the iconoclastic Howard Roark as a role model.
Next was the book. Followed by the rest of Ayn Rand’s fiction. I adopted the belief that, even as an ideal, communism was a bad idea. A wonderfully contrarian point of view for my iconoclastic identity.
I stalled on the non-fiction. Somewhere I had seen the adjective ‘amateur’ attached to her philosophy. I ignore the swathes of Atlas Shrugged that I can only skim through and I pronounce that her ideas are best expressed through her fiction.
The complicated part is that I no longer identify with a lot of her philosophies.
I want to give long nuanced explanations of each renounced Fountainhead belief every time I write about the movie’s effect on me.
I tried when I first started the blog. I kept the draft around for years.
I tried again. Then once more as an answer to a prompt. Then again.
The last time I tried using a Mork & Mindy reference and advancing the premise that I am Orkan.
As I grow older my politics are moving to the left. I had a long explanation describing what I meant and how that did not mean I was now a socialist.
I start mentally outlining the next bits. Add the quote on Socialism. Then close with “it’s highly unlikely that I am both heartless and witless, ergo ….”
Time to find the quote (getting it wrong is not an option).
Google tells me quoteinvestigator.com has researched the quote. Good. Until I see the results.
I see the version I remember If a man is not a Socialist at 20 he has no heart, but if he remains one at 30 he has no head attributed to King Oscar II of Sweden. Unfortunately it is just one of many versions of the quote and the original is about French Républicans.
(“Celui qui n’est pas républicain à vingt ans fait douter de la générosité de son âme; mais celui qui, après trente ans, persévère, fait douter de la rectitude de son esprit.” or “He who is not a républicain at twenty forces one to doubt the generosity of his soul; but he who, after thirty, persists, forces one to doubt the soundness of his mind.” – Anselme Batbie)
Implying that the wisdom of age will lead to royalist beliefs bothers me.
I start reconciling the versions. The French Républicans of the period were left of center. I explore the idea that the politics, via their egalitarian principles, are a metaphor for idealism. This becomes the twenty year-old should be an idealist and life’s lessons should turn you into a realist by the age of thirty. I like this interpretation. I think it captures the essence of the quote.
However, now I have lost the bad joke that was going to frame my long-winded explanation of how The Fountainhead influenced me.
I mull the quote more.
Ah hah! The quick and easy explanation of the effect the movie had on me.
I never grew up. I still want to be an iconoclastic idealist only now I have my own values.