gone beyond the probable and made us see the possible, but possible
only through you. Because your figures are more devoid of contempt
of humanity than any work I’ve ever seen. . . . I came for a simple,
selfish reason . . . to seek the best.
Roark gives Stephen Mallory this pep
talk in the eleventh chapter of the novel’s second book. Here Roark
shows that when evaluating people, he considers only ability and
honesty. Personality and status mean nothing to Roark, who only
connects with “the best”—people who do original and inspiring work.
The visit is “selfish,” for despite Roark’s perfection, he feels
enriched by his connections with good people. The first half of
this quotation sums up Roark’s ethos. He calls the achievements
of artists like himself and Mallory the “possible,” a hopeful contrast
to the boring, plodding, “probable” everyday world. But he stresses
that these achievements can come “only through you”—that is, only
through the individual artist. Roark feels that worthwhile art must
come from the artist alone, with no input from society.