March 13, 2006

Three Gilded Balls.

I was reading random bits from the Fountainhead and this was one of the passages that I read.

Kent Lansing (who tries to get Roark the commission to build the Aquitania) is speaking to Roark.
When facing society, the man most concerned, the man who is to do the most and contribute the most, has the least to say. It's taken for granted that he has no voice and the reasons he could offer are rejected in advance as prejudiced - since no speech is ever considered, but only the speaker. It's so much easier to pass judgement on a man than on an idea. Though how in hell one passes judgement on a man without considering the content of his brain is more than I'll ever understand. However, that's how it's done. You see, reasons require scales to weigh them. And scales are not made of cotton. And cotton is what the human spirit is made of - you know, the stuff that keeps no shape and offers no resistance and can be twisted forward and backward and into a pretzel. You could tell them why they should hire you so very much better than I could. But they won't listen to you and they'll listen to me. Because I'm the middleman. The shortest distance between two points is not a straight line - it's a middleman. And the more middlemen, the shorter. Such is the psychology of a pretzel...

...Do you think integrity is the monopoly of the artist? And what, incidentally, do you think integrity is? The ability not to pick a watch out of your neighbor's pocket? No, it's not as easy as that. If that were all, I'd say ninety-five of humanity were honest, upright men. Only, as you can see, they aren't. Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea. That presupposes the ability to think. Thinking is something one doesn't borrow or pawn. And yet, if I were asked to choose a symbol for humanity as we know it, I wouldn't choose a cross nor an eagle nor a lion and unicorn. I'd choose three gilded balls. [Emphasis added by me]

A bit of Googling tells me that the three gilded balls are a traditional (native American?) symbol for pawn shops, which represent the free and voluntary trading between human beings.


At 8:16 PM, June 16, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent passage, but the gilded balls line missed me completely, but now it seems to fit with the repetitve philosophy of Rand perfectly.

At 2:40 PM, November 25, 2011, Anonymous sanu said...

Excellent words....These quotes will remain valid as long as humans are live.Thanks to Ayn Rand for this fantastic lines....Sanu.

At 10:42 AM, February 22, 2012, Blogger Mike Hayne said...

I believe, although I can't find that source, that the Three Guided Balls predate pawn shops to a time when free trading merchants had to advertise.


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