Completing The Fountainhead

January 12, 2006

Last night, I finished up Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead". There probably couldn't have been a better time for that book to find its way to me. I have a feeling Travis knew this when he recommended it and provided me with a copy.

My job is a good one and allows for me to exercise the creative part of my brain in bursts I doubt most people are afforded. However, it's still a corporate job nested inside a partnership with another organization.

One of my main responsibilities is to create new elements for the site. However, with our current structure, I only get to complete the initial steps of the creative process. I conceive of an idea, create the first drafts, and flesh it out to a working prototype. To make an analogy in the art world, this is where an artist has finished all their initial sketches; they have the complete vision in their head, and are ready to begin working in their medium.

Instead of moving to the final phase and brining the vision to light, this is the point where I hand it off to others. An entirely different company, literally.

My work is pulled apart, forced into their existing structure and slapped back together again. The craftsmanship I put in gets deformed. Elegance turns into Average. Refinements to create quality reduced to Just Good Enough.

This is the corporate process. This is the way it works. This is the way that it's always been, and I accept that. As long as I kept taking things as far as I could before throwing them into the corporate machine, I kept a good balance.

I've said for as long as I can remember that one of the main things I want to do in life is to build elegant works. Or, as I usually say it out loud, to make cool shit. In my current corporate world, this manifests itself in taking something as far as I can before handing it off. But over time, I stopped pay attention to the corporate process and it has been wearing me down more than I was aware. It wasn't a conscious thought, but in the back of my brain I knew the vision in my minds eye would not make it to the light of day.

I started to short circuit myself.

No one other than me would be able to tell since the reduced corporate output was effectively no different, but once I stopped a process short the tension of creativity couldn't find a release. The result, not surprisingly, was that the creative core of my mind started to atrophy. Since that part of my mind is my driving force, the outcome being that I really haven't been myself for a while.

The good news: all it's taken for me to get my head screwed back on right is an excellent story that reminded me that I need to create as much as I can and keep those mystical creative juices flowing.


Quote on E-mail length

January 11, 2006

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I've found the time it takes to reply to emails is a rather steep function of their length. Two-liners I often respond to immediately. Very long emails can take me six months to get around to answering. – Paul Graham


Dad's Bio

January 10, 2006

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There is a local radio show called Music from the Electro Lounge that I listen to a lot on the local NPR station. Tonight they are doing and 80s edition with music and some interspersed audio clips. One of the clips was the announcement of the assassination attempt of President Reagan. This, got me thinking about the book my dad wrote with/about Dennis McCarthy. I remember him as "Denny" who was one of my dad's friends when we lived in D.C. He was also the Secret Service agent who tackled Hinckley when he fired on Reagan. Anyway, I pulled down a copy of the book and just flipped thru it for a sec. On the dust cover is a bio for my dad: Philip W. Smith was born in Fayetteville, Tennessee, and attended the University of Southern Mississippi for one year before joining the Huntsville (Alabama) Times. In 1971 he became the paper's Washington correspondent and spent the next twelve years in the capital working for Newhouse Newspapers. He now lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with his wife, Susan, and their ten-year-old son, Alan.


Being carded

January 09, 2006

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Tonight I went out with a few friends for a quick drink after work to celebrate my 31st birthday. I got carded and no one else (most younger than me) did. Makes me laugh just a little.


A new/old word: bromide

January 08, 2006

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Toward the end of Rand's "The Fountainhead", the word "bromide" is used a lot. I've only ever heard it used in its chemical reference before. Never would have guessed it had a second meaning. bro·mide n. 1. a. A binary compound of bromine with another element, such as silver. b. Potassium bromide. 2. a. A commonplace remark or notion; a platitude. See Synonyms at cliché. b. A tiresome person; a bore. In the book it's used as both 2a and 2b. Mainly the former. Each time I come across it in the text, I become aware of the fact that I'm reading and I realize I wasn't seeing words until I hit it. It's not unlike a speed bump that you didn't notice and it jars you out of auto-pilot.


Another Fountainhead Quote

January 08, 2006

I like this one a lot. From chapter 6 of Part Four. Howard Roak in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead:

"Look, Gail" Roark got up, reached out, tore a thick branch off a tree, held it in both hands, one fist closed at each end; then, his wrists and knuckles tensed against the resistance, he bent the branch slowly into an arc.

"Now I can make what I want of it: a bow, a spear, a cane, a railing. That's the meaning of life."

"Your strength?"

"Your work." He tossed the branch aside. "The material the earth offers you and what you make of it…"


Using Google to Find Thing You Can't Remember

January 05, 2006

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Justin sent me a link today about the announcement of the new Lego Mindstorms NXT. That's right, soon you too will be able to build your own wirelessly controlled lego robot. I was trying to remember the name of an 80s movie where little robots went around killing people and causing general havoc. Couldn't remember the name of it, but I remembered there were spider like robots and some type of heat seeking bullets in it. Turning to google, I just typed in "robot spider movie heat seaking bullet". The first link from the results, had the name I was looking for. The Internet is cool.


Quote from Ayn Rand

January 05, 2006

Last week, I finally started on a book that Traivs had suggested.

Came upon a nice quote by Ayn Rand's character Kent Lansing in The Fountainhead:

"Men are brothers, you know, and they have a great instinct for brotherhood - except in boards, unions, corporations and other chain gangs."

Didn't know a thing about the book before I started reading it, which is my preferred way to go into something. If I have been given 20 guesses I never would have come up with Architecture as being a main element.


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