Joe Manganiello is living proof that the reader-response theory is the truest form of literary criticism.
Reader-response theorists share two beliefs: 1) that the role of the reader cannot be omitted from our understanding of literature and 2) that readers do not passively consume the meaning presented to them by an objective literary text; rather they actively make the meaning they find in literature” (154). In this way, reader-response theory shares common ground with some of the deconstructionists discussed in the Post-structural area when they talk about “the death of the author,” or her displacement as the (author)itarian figure in the text.
Joe Manganiello, a gift that God has given all of us with both hands, has written a book about transforming the body using the power of the mind. This is all well and good. Joe Manganiello has transformed his own body using the power of his mind. Therefore the system works. He is the experience that proves the theory. His mind transformed his body; there are no barriers; the tautology is doxology.
Joe Manganiello, who has as much face as eight lesser men, who was not born of woman but broke through the granite crust of Mount Rushmore to bring a message of physical fitness and luxurious hair treatments to the people, has read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. His takeaway from reading this book was to quit his job and work in a quarry.
I had always loved the book The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, which is loosely based on the life and personality of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. At one point in the story, the protagonist’s personal life and career as an architect completely implode. He is forced to close his office, and he decides to take a job breaking rocks all day at a quarry. I was always confused by and in total awe of that gesture. The fact that this highly trained, brilliant architect would lower himself and take an entry-level manual-labor job had perplexed me for years. Why would he do that?
Joe Manganiello, rising softly from his bed in the night, careful not to disturb the river-nymph lying beside him, punching holes through pine trees and weeping at a pitiless sky, asking Why? Why, Howard Roark? You could have taken a top job at any fictional architectural firm in the country. What did you seek, in the quarry?
I decided to find out for myself.
YES. YES, OF COURSE YOU DID, JOE MANGANIELLO.
I took a job at a masonry company working long days, shoveling sand and gravel from seven in the morning until four in the afternoon. In my mind, my acting career was over. No one would return my phone calls, and I’d been rejected by every agent and manager in town. There was something about driving the truck in the morning, picking up my orders, and shutting off my brain and shoveling for hours.
Are you picturing Joe Manganiello as the star of an Objectivist, live-action version of Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel? For ah my foes, and oh my friends, I am picturing that.
Slowly but surely, I began to understand why the hero in The Fountainhead took the job at the quarry. The monotonous, repetitive physical labor was a cleanse of sorts for my head and my soul. I was alone in my bubble every day finding out exactly what I was made of. I was taking inventory and digesting everything I had been through. I still thought my dream of an acting career was over, but in the meantime, I was going to be become the greatest shoveler, cement mixer, and jackhammer operator of all time.
Bless his heart with a thousand blessings. Joe Manganiello read The Fountainhead and the conclusion he drew from it was “Work at a quarry until you become Happy.” And he did, and it worked, and now it can work for you, too. You jittery, self-conscious neurasthenics plagued with imposter syndrome; you palpitative neuralgics riddled with Office Skin and cigarette-induced self-doubt, you big-city atheist lypemaniacs; all of you can benefit from the Ayn Rand Workout Plan.
I can only imagine the publicity tour for this book went something like this:
INFERIOR PHYSICAL SPECIMEN: “Joe Manganiello, what is The Fountainhead about?”
JOE MANGANIELLO, THE HUMAN MANIFESTATION OF STICK-TO-IT-IVENESS: “How people should work in quarries, I guess.”
If any one of you dares to tell Joe Manganiello otherwise – if a single one of you hopped-up dandies with immoral facial hair attempts to sully the blank purity of Joe Manganiello’s mind with further explanations or philosophies – I will have you crushed to death. With rocks.
The ultimate moral of Objectivism is this: Crush as many rocks as you can, professionally. Joe Manganiello understands this, and he has achieved the body he desires.
Before enlightenment, crush rocks. After enlightenment, crush rocks.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.