The Fountainhead

by Ayn Rand

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In The Fountainhead, what is the meaning of Toohey's footnote about Henry Cameron?

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Ellsworth Toohey's book on architecture does not name architects in the text, claiming that to single them out would be dishonest and immoral. Instead, they are named in footnotes. One of these footnotes mentions Henry Cameron, the man who acts as Howard Roark's mentor:

One note referred to Henry Cameron, "prominent once as one of the fathers of the so-called modern school of architecture and relegated since to a well-deserved oblivion. Vox populi vox dei."
(Rand, The Fountainhead, Google Books)

With this dismissal, Toohey demonstrates his belief and expectations that the will of the people, and more importantly the collective memory, counteracts the will of the individual. The Latin at the end translates to "The voice of the people is the voice of God," and in this context means that if Cameron is forgotten in public memory, he will no longer matter even to history. Essentially, this is an attempt to marginalize and trivialize Cameron and his work, and since many people will read and quote the book, Toohey's opinion will be echoed and even believed by the public as a whole. In this manner, he keeps public opinion focused on "traditional" architecture based on old principles and old designs.

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