You guys just bonked me right on up to one Atlas statue.
Barbara, I have waited for over 30 years to make contact with you. Even with my above post, I was not sure how you would react. And I sure didn't expect your first words to me to be so complementary. Quite frankly, they took my breath away for a moment. Thank you so very much. I feel like I have received a highly treasured present and I will cherish this message of yours always.
Robert, I really appreciate your kind words and welcome. I think that I just might write some more.
Rodney, thank you for your interest in my experiences. As this is a thread on The Passion of Ayn Rand, I don't really want to talk a great deal about myself. But my trip to "Mecca" might have a little bearing on things.
At that time (the early 1970's), I only knew of Objectivism from paperback books (practically all of them) and The Ayn Rand Letter. I was fairly poor back then and was studying music at Boston University on scholarship. I didn't have much money to buy back-issues of any previous publications. I also avoided the "Ayn Rand" people in Boston, who were real pieces of work arrogance-wise, at least the ones I met. So I actually had no idea that a split had even occurred. To tell the truth, I was hoping to get a glimpse of Ayn Rand, Nathaniel or Barbara when I visited the office in New York (my Mecca). And I can tell you, with the funds I had back then, a trip to New York during a school year for something like this was a really big deal for me.
In New York, I saw the Night of January 16th. I pretty much enjoyed it, with small a reservation or two, but I was confused about the audience. With the exception of the applause, everybody seemed more like they were at a funeral. Very little talking going in and even less coming out. A really uptight crowd. Maybe a few furtive glances.
I couldn't help thinking, where did the joy go? The enthusiasm? I basically got the Ayn Rand ideas down, so now where were the people? The role models? After all, this is an "Ayn Rand" event. Oh well, maybe they didn't go that night and these were normal people who did not identify with Objectivism. No matter, I was going to the OFFICE the next day and pay my due homage.
I used to wear my hair fairly long at that time - nothing really outlandish, just sort of Beatle-ish. It was the fashion for my generation. But I am pretty sure that this was one thing that spoiled the first impression I had on those office people.
On the way over I started feeling terrible, something I ate. But no sacrifice was too great for my pilgrimage. I had to walk about 15 blocks to get there. So, when I finally went in the building, I was dizzy and very close to vomiting.
As I entered the office, I felt an immediate frosting over, sort of like when you go into a room where everybody is talking and there is sudden silence. There were several people inside, I don't really remember how many. A rather attractive young lady asked if she could help me, but her tone of voice suggested that she wanted nothing more than for me to walk right back out the door.
I forced myself to stop feeling bad and asked her how I could find out information on whatever activities and publications were available. I also mentioned that Ms. Rand had announce that a film version of Atlas Shrugged had been negotiated and that I held a dream of somehow being able to contribute to the music. I don't remember the exact words, but the impression in my memory of her reaction is something like: HOW DARE YOU? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? And on and on and on. And I remember her being really mean. I was dumbfounded and could not speak. Everybody just stayed frozen, staring accusingly at me as if I had come in from a hostile planet.
Of course, I was completely embarrassed and I came extremely close to vomiting. That would have really put the cap on it. So I mumbled something about just wanting some information, that's all, sorry and everything, and I tried to get out of there fast. Then another young man called out, "Sir!". That stopped her tirade and made me turn around. In a nice tone of voice, he suggested that I contact the motion picture producer. I nodded thank you and left. I never did get the information on the publications or activities, though.
I thanked my lucky stars that I had not been given the opportunity to reveal my name. I wanted to keep receiving the Ayn Rand Letter. So I slunk back into the "Silent Contingency" and stuck to the books and pamphlets. They, at least, wouldn't bite my head off over nothing - and I could even nourish my dreams with them.
So there you have it. Mecca. After that, it was several years before I discovered that a split had occurred. I wasn't too interested, though. I loved the writings of Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden (and a few other of the "Chosen") and that was all that really mattered. People-wise in the Objectivist camp, I saw for myself that everybody was crazy, so I thought it was probably a good idea to keep a distance.
Now I feel vindicated, though. BARBARA has spoken to me. And so have others - cordial and nice, not rude. And I love it.
Sorry to be so long. Just one last item. Yes, I have met the Girl from Ipanema. Her name is Helô Pinheiro and she inspired the lyrics of Vinícius de Morais and the music of Tom Jobim walking on the beach in a bikini one day. Don't ask her to sing, though.