Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ayn Rand Applied To Dating - The Fountainhead Part 3 of 4 Peter Keating and External Validation

Good morning guys,

I just rolled out of bed after a night of tyring to pickup girls while battling indigestion. I don't recommend that particular combination, though I did get very familiar with the bathrooms of the venue :)

I feel much better this morning, and want to take another step up the mountain of analyzing Ayn Rand when it comes to Dating Science.

So without further ado, let's discuss the interesting case of Peter Keating.

Peter Keating is held up for most of The Fountainhead as the opposite of Howard Roark. He is unsure of himself, not a great architect, a follower, and makes his reputation through social manipulation. He is repulsive sexually to Dominique Francon whom he eventually marries over his sweetheart Katie. A reminder that running away from what you want is NEVER going to make you happy.

Let's look at how miserable Peter Keating becomes because his success is based on others opinion's not his own.

It starts the day he graduates(also coincidentally the day Roark gets expelled). He graduates with the highest honors in his class(The AGA medal). But he finds himself miserable as the honors also comes with a choice betwee going to France to study at a highly regarded architecture program or getting a job at Francon and Heyer, the most prestigious Architecture firm in the country. Peter of course can't make this decision himself as anything that requires moral fortitude or balls is not Peter Keating's forte'. This of course is in direct contrast to Howard Roark and his ability to trust himself and believe in his choices. In terms of dating one of these choices is infinitely more attractive to women and I think you can figure out which one it is.

Keating then quickly ingratiates himself with Guy Francon when he realizes that much like himself Francon can't make decisions. He becomes even more interested when he finds out that Francon has a daughter.

To me this love/loathe triangle is one of the more fascinating aspects of The Fountainhead. See Peter loves Katie who is actually Ellsworth Toohey the literary critic and antagonist of the novel's niece. Katie starts the book as a very simple girl who simply loves Peter and helping those less fortunate than herself. She doesn't really think for herself and instead believes the platitudes written by her coniving uncle. An interesting thing to note is that the only times Peter feels really happy are when he's with Katie. However, because his Mother, Guy Francon and Ellsworth Toohey tell him a man of his stature cannot marry such a simple girl. After all they say, what will people think at parties? So Peter despite being engaged to Katie for years, and in love with her, marries Dominique Francon. Dominique marries Peter to punish herself for trying to destroy Roark. It is only through sharing a bed with a man she has the utmost repulsion for that she can begin to feel like she is repaying her debt to the world.

The last thing I want to touch on with Peter Keating is the idea of selflessness. One of my favorite scenes in the book happens when after what should have been Peter's greatest night of accomplishment the opening of the Cosmo-Slotnick building, he's still unhappy. He comes to Ellsworth Toohey who in addition to encourgaing him to marry Dominique instead of his own niece, tells him that he's unhappy because he's trying to make himself happy. The true path to happiness says Toohey comes through utter selflessness. Only through being miserable can you be happy, Toohey would say. Which is ridiculous and indicative of a scarcity mindset. The world is what you make of it and if you believe you have to struggle, you will. Keating agrees that sexual and personal love are acts of selfishness because they favor some people you love over others you don't. Toohey tries to wrap all of this up in the idea of equality. This idea is very attractive to a man like Peter Keating. Because while he doesn't think about being the equal of all those of less status, he too recognizes the greatness in Roark and is dying to feel like his equal.

The problem of course in being seen as Roark's equal is that the things that make Roark great are his self-confidence, esteem and belief in himself. None of which can be gained by sacrficing yourself for the "greater good." This is something that messes guys up with approaching and meeting women all the time. Guys will not want to interrupt a conversation that's going on, or they will not want to talk to a girl and a guy because they might be together. We forget that we have as much of a right to meet the girl as the girl has to not meet us. You just never know until you try. But by putting the imagined needs and wants of a stranger you're trying to mind read across the bar above your own desires, you are buying into the type of thinking that made Peter miserable. By caring about what strangers you'd never meet if you didn't approach them think, you handicap yourself in a major way. By wanting to be seen by everyone as a "nice normal person" you stop people from seeing you as a great attractive person. So like Peter Keating the choice is up to all of you guys. Stand on your own convictions and let the chips fall where they may, or continue to put on false airs to impress a nameless faceless world.

That's the lesson of Peter Keating and drawing validation from otuside of yourself.



  1. Smiles. You are just on fire, my friend. It's a joy to witness :-)

  2. Anonymous4:42 PM

    "We forget that we have as much of a right to meet the girl as the girl has to not meet us. "


  3. Anonymous5:29 PM

    This whole series has been pretty incredible. The content of your posts, and the depth of your analysis border on academic. Well done.

  4. jason5:32 PM

    yeah dude!

    really insightful! i'm surprised how intelligently your interpretations are, not because i don't think in high regards of you, but because i didn't recognize them myself and i think in high regards of myself :-)

    erika's right. you're on fire right now!

  5. Anonymous10:05 AM

    Maybe next time, you could read the actual book instead of the Cliff Notes version.

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