The Tao of Roark Experience


Over at The Atlasphere, Kurt Keefner has written a thought-provoking review of my book The Tao of Roark. What I like most is this: Kurt understands and appreciates that the book is best experienced more as a piece of music than as a discursive exposition. Some of this effect is achieved subconsciously, for in many places I built up the text from motifs and short phrases and even single words that appear in The Fountainhead, in ways that only someone intimately familiar with the novel would notice. Some of the effect is more obvious: the variations on the theme that I introduce early on, the repeated triads of individual, social, and spiritual analysis that I bring to the virtues in the middle section, the slow crescendo leading up to the end.

Thus The Tao of Roark is perhaps better absorbed by osmosis than analyzed intellectually. As Irfan Khawaja put it an earlier mini-review, I have "a unique take on Objectivism that has to be experienced ... to be experienced." (He also said that I'm "the ultimate way-out-of-the-movement-quasi-Objectivist"; I take that as a compliment!)

Far be it from me to say that this is the only way or even the best way to write and read philosophy. It is simply how this particular book turned out, perhaps because it gestated within me for so long and was written with ninety-proof ink. Yet I do think there is great value to be had in, as Kurt puts it, "giving the reader an experience of a sensibility" (or more fundamentally in giving the writer that experience). Poetry does that, too. And although The Tao of Roark is not a poem, there is nevertheless something poetic about it. I hope to achieve a similar effect with my next book, Songs of Zarathustra.

Peter Saint-Andre > Journal