The Architecture of Creativity Part 2

I wasn’t intending on writing a part two to this post. However, as I’ve been reading The Fountainhead more, I’ve had more thoughts about creativity. If you haven’t read part one yet (I recommend it), click here. In today’s post I will go over briefly one scene that I think will help define creativity.

Being a Shell of Others

Howard Roark’s architecture office has been open for some time. Shortly after completing a house for a high profile client, a woman from Long Island comes into his office. She explains that after seeing what he’d done for the high profile client, she’d like him to build her and her husband a Tudor style house. Remember, Howard Roark was kicked out of architect school for his “fringe”, “modernistic” and “progressive” style of designing home. Creating Tudor style home is clearly something he doesn’t do. Confused, he asks her if she’d even seen the house of his last client. She says no. After showing her, she replies that it isn’t her style and that she wants a Tudor style home because, “My friends tell me I have the Elizabethan personality” (190).

Roark attempts to explain to her that she doesn’t want a Tudor style home but she refuses to listen. The lady assures him that she has good taste, knows plenty about architecture (after having taken a course at the local club), and knows more about architecture than a great many architects. Naturally, Roark refuses to take the job. The lady is shocked.

Being Your Own Man

Howard asks her why she came to him if he knew he wouldn’t design her house. She says that she thought he’d like the opportunity and she thought it would be nice to have a house designed by a famous architect. In short, she wanted him to design her house for the prestige she’d gain among friends. Here’s what Howard did:

“He tried to expalin and to convince. He knew, while he spoke, that it was useless, because his words sounded as if they were hitting a vacuum. There was no such person as Mrs. Wayne Wilmot; there was only a shell containing the opinions of her friends, the picture postcards she had seen, the novel of country squires she had read; it was this that he had to address, this immateriality which could not hear him or answer, deaf and impersonal like a wad of cotton.

‘I’m sorry,’ said Mrs. Wayne Wilmot, ‘but I’m not accustomed to dealing with a person utterly incapable of reason. I’m quite sure I shall find plenty of bigger men who’ll be glad to work for me. My husband was opposed to my idea of having you, in the first place, and I’m sorry to see that he was right. Good day, Mr. Roark.’

She walked out with dignity, but she slammed the door. He slipped the photographs back into the drawer of his desk.” (191)

This quote summarizes the main point of the book–not being anyone else’s man and doing things for yourself, not others. However, this quote also expands upon what we talked about in the last post.

A More Complete Definition of Creativity

The definition of creativity I came up with based on the last post was:

Creativity…is writing a modern original story that doesn’t copy the ideas or plot of another to boost its credibility.

Combining this definition with the above quote, we come to understand creativity is producing material for yourself. There is no building on the shoulders of others or writing for the sake of prestige. You might say creativity is guileless. You create because you not only have the ability to do so, but also because you have the right motivations.

Next time you start to design, write, or do anything else creative, examine your motivations. Are you doing this for someone else and to gain prestige? Or are you doing it for yourself?

I’d welcome discussion on the topic. If you are wondering about reading The Fountainhead, go for it!

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