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Post 20

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 3:09pmSanction this postReply
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I don't think there are many Brandenians, Linz. At least from what I know of NB from experience, he doesn't go for that kind of thing.

I doubt there is a network whereby the Brandens nod off to their loyal, urging them back into the game. I've never known NB to operate that way, ever. If anything, he has expressed disdain to me in the past about that whole kind of dynamic.

I don't believe either Branden requires a defense.First, there must be a legitimate attack.

From my perspective it's pretty funny to be known as a Branden "supporter," or "defender". That's just goofy. NB, for one, is basically about getting people to stand on their own two feet. That's an enormous part what he teaches.

On the whole really enjoyed your article, btw. Oddly enough. Maybe you'll get really wild and read one of his books, now, too... Maybe "The Art of Living Consciously"?

rde




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Post 21

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 3:47pmSanction this postReply
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Linz, thanks for your balanced review and for your admirable mea culpa to James Valliant.

You've demonstrated  your intellectual honesty by confronting the material, despite your initial skepticism, then coming away with your mind changed, and saying so in public.  It takes a big person to do that, and I hope it serves as an example to others.

I can't believe how many people here are still trashing a book they haven't read. If they had your courage, they would at least read it -- especially after a review like yours -- if for no other reason than to see the last unpublished writings from Rand's journals.  Where is their desire to see the facts firsthand?

I think those who complain about Valliant's analysis are being a bit disingenuous: the latter part of the book contains her journals almost entirely unedited, and her words stand eloquently on their own.  Anyone could read that part of the book and reach their own conclusions.  Perhaps some are afraid of what they will conclude.

Kudos to you for doing what an Objectivist should do: looking at the facts first-hand with open eyes. 




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Post 22

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 4:03pmSanction this postReply
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Don't think I've bowed out of this. I happen to be facing an editorial deadline at the moment that will keep me working through the night and into the morning, but Mr. Mouhibian, the debris you are attempting to rain down on this subject shows at the very minimum that you believe Linz to be some kind of dupe to have been persuaded by Valliant's book, or someone who is so blinded by recent events that his critical faculty has completely flown the coup. Interesting that you claim Mr. Valliant has endeavored only to smear the Brandens while you call him sleazy, etc., etc., etc., based on no evidence that you can cite. Mr. Valliant, on the other hand, has produced an entire book's worth of evidence for the conclusions he has drawn about the Brandens. As for the book burning charge, it was, perhaps, hyperbole to claim that was the exact nature of the denunciations of Valliant's book that appeared before its publication at Solo. But the fact that those denunciations premiered well in advance of the actual book was an indication of a rather unfair treatment that has, thankfully, been redressed. There is A LOT MORE in the book that has not been discussed on Solo yet, and this avalanche of crud proves that it is time for the other material to be brought out. If it was the inclination of Barbara Branden and her water carriers to stand back, take a breath, reassess, and say "Yes, it's possible Frank was not an alcoholic, and I was leaping to conclusions," or "It's true that it was wrong for us to tag-team Rand with the bogus story of Nathaniel Branden's sexual crisis to keep hopes for an affair alive with Rand," that would be one thing. But after assisting Mr. Valliant on his research over the last years, such an inclination would have been the last thing I expected. To wit, we were predictably treated to a new (dead) witness to Frank's alcoholism that further weakens her case. No, it is too important for the Brandens to maintain the entire illusion about Rand to concede even the most obvious things. After all, if Rand's own husband was not a victim in the affair, how could the Brandens be victims? Barbara had secret sexual affairs BEFORE Nathaniel INITIATED his affair with Rand (it was Rand who figured that out, too, much to Nathaniel's surprise and dismay when Rand unmasked his wife's infidelity). No, it was essential that Frank be depicted as a victim, and they're not going to give that up no matter how nonexistent the evidence for their assertion. To wit, even Nathaniel Branden, who claims no personal knowledge of Frank's alcoholism, feels free to put on the mantle of an authority on the matter during his "Full Context" interview, in which he pronounces Frank's drinking problem as "serious" and pronounces Barbara Branden's account of it "accurate." THAT is sleazy, and THERE is the evidence. And one more thing, Mr. Mouhibian -- if I were inclined to think the way you do I would suggest that your hyperventilating on this issue may have something to do with the book YOU are writing with Barbara Branden. I'll be back.



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Post 23

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 4:33pmSanction this postReply
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Alec can actually complain about the "book-burning" line? It was over-the-top, sure, but he then says himself, that the book makes the "assumption that without the Branden biographies, Ayn Rand would've been sainted by the Catholic Church before Mother Teresa even had the chance." And that's just one example. Now, the attack on the book by some on this site was (and is) unfair, and much of it boiled down to "Don't read it!" O.k., no one was actually going to burn the vanity in a Florentine city square (glad you caught that one, Alec!), but what's with the hyper-hyperbole? And, believe it or not, the book does get into the many nice things the Brandens say about Rand, before saying she was insane, etc., and the nice things they say about O'Connor, before calling him a drunk!



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Post 24

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 4:41pmSanction this postReply
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Casey, sleaze is when you and James make a claim of a phantom silencing crusade *by the Brandens* which was factually non-existent, purely for the sake of hype. That's a sleaziness which no amount of current backtracking can erase. You call it "hyperbole" now because you've been called on it? It's a sleazy lie.

Sleaze is also attributing every action of the Brandens, as Valliant does, to viciousness or financial greed, by deceitfully and narrowly presenting material to support such moralistic conclusions. One example I cited long ago was when Valliant discusses Barbara's break from Ayn, concluding that the only available reason Barbara didn't show up to her "trial" was for financial reasons, while excluding any mention of Barbara's thorough explanation in her biography of why she didn't show up. Namely, that she wanted a one-on-one meeting with Rand, and not a humiliating group trial.

Sorry Casey. I take lies seriously, especially when they are calculated means to reaching self-fulfilling ends. And I don't take hysterics seriously at all. Which is why your hysterical idea that *I* am writing a book with Barbara Branden (!), combined with your claim that you helped Valliant research this book, makes me believe that perhaps Valliant deserves a little less direct blame than I thought.

I will not roll around in the sty with you. People can draw insinuations from that at the peril of their own state of mind. Make of it what you will, I really don't care.

Alec



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Post 25

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 5:07pmSanction this postReply
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Well, since I haven't read the book, nor N.B.'s, nor B.B.'s I have been reluctant to comment at all upon this thread, so I'll nit-pick.

Linz-
I'm puzzled that Andy & Marty belabour the desirability of leaving all this personal stuff behind us, since that's precisely the note on which I end my review! That's a given!

At least with Andy, I did not specifically see him 'belabouring' the point.  He actually acknowledged your desire to leave it all behind.  I saw his post as more of an iteration and sanctioning of that.(Well that was a jolly huge contribution to all of this eh?)

==
And now, one thing that is disparaging to me is the ridiculous use of what amounts to argument from intimidation being tossed at anyone who dares contradict anything in PARC.  Obviously now that Mr. Valliant has set us right and illuminated the abject evil of the Brandens, anyone who has an argument against PARC is merely dismissed as a Brandenian and an ass-kisser of such evil that it's quite alright to just scoff at their arguments rather than present any intelligent counter-argument.  Why would anyone want to even engage in questioning this newfound gosphel-truth when, regardless of the validity of their argument and logic, they are going to be waved off by the cat-call Brandenian.  It is appearing as if people now wish all of this personal stuff to fall by the wayside because it is desirable for Valliant to have the last word.  And now I'm off to read all three books.

(Edited by Jody Allen Gomez on 9/26, 5:32pm)




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Post 26

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 5:23pmSanction this postReply
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Barbara Branden was openly calling the book part of an ARI conspiracy before it was available.

Robert Bidinotto, on February 8, well before the book was available, stated, "It is dismaying that a pack of parasites has found a way to produce paychecks and royalties by rummaging through and selling off the contents of Ayn Rand's attic and wastepaper baskets."

I could go on, but really.

Sorry, I was mistaken about any book project involving you and Ms. Branden. Apparently, this was a baseless assertion. There, that wasn't so hard.




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Post 27

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 5:29pmSanction this postReply
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I was acquainted with Nathaniel Branden for half a dozen years in the eighties. While I have not read the Vallient book, many of the characterizations of NB I have read on this thread--including representations of Mr. Vallient's characterizations of NB--strike me as fantastic. Moreover, my memory of my readings of Nationaiel Branden's memoirs and of Barbara Branden's book simply don't accord with the characterization of either as "vicious". With that said, perhaps I'll get around to reading Mr. Vallient's indictment. If I do happen to reach the conclusion that NB is actually a perverse, smooth-talking imposter, I will hasten to post an announcement on this very website.

Scott DeSalvo's statement that Branden's books read like "New Age egotistical crackpot" boggles my mind. But, of course, I'm impressionable. The Art of Living Consciously and Honoring the Self are each luminously and radically insightful. The first deals with the intersection of psychology and the philosophy of epistemology. The second deals with psychology and the philosophy of ethics.




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Post 28

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 5:43pmSanction this postReply
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Casey you just called Barbara Branden a whore.  That was way out of line.



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Post 29

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 5:46pmSanction this postReply
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Ms. Branden's revelation of the part of the truth that she finally shared with Rand was immediately followed by Ms. Branden drawing-up a business plan to take over NBI. Her truth-telling almost gave to Ms. Branden control over her estranged husband's business. Ms. Branden did not start maligning Rand until the very day of Rand's unexpected rejection of this business plan. And, she had lied to Rand about this subject for TWO YEARS, in fact, she was running interference for Branden in the course of his own psycho-babble lies to Rand. And, Ms. Branden only revealed this little thing when Rand was already more than red-hot in her suspicions.

And, Lindsay, cut Jim some slack, his disagreement with Firehammer on homosexuality was even mentioned here at SOLO.




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Post 30

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 5:48pmSanction this postReply
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No, you just called her a whore.



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Post 31

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 6:10pmSanction this postReply
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Jody, Brandenian is not meant as a pejorative term. It's simply shorthand for The Brandens & their defenders in this current argument. I for one am not going to type it out in longhand every time. And I wasn't complaining about Andy's & Marty's posts. Au contraire. These two are among SOLO's most cherished new acquisitions! I was just, as I said, "puzzled" that they wanted to reiterate something I'd already said very strongly in my review, to the point in Andy's case where it's his reason for not reading the book. That's all. Settle! :-)

Linz



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Post 32

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 6:16pmSanction this postReply
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Magenta Valliant wrote:

And, Lindsay, cut Jim some slack, his disagreement with Firehammer on homosexuality was even mentioned here at SOLO.

Noted, but I'm sure Jim realises now he should have been more picky in where he peddled his wares. Slumming it that shamelessly made him look like a bigger whore than Her Royal Whoreness Sciabarra. :-)

Linz









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Post 33

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 6:39pmSanction this postReply
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Thank you, Linz, for checking it out for yourself. Thank you for your insight. And, thanks, most of all, for what really took some courage.

Our objectivity is most sorely tested when it comes to judging those we know -- objectivity comes easily when it's a stranger. In the context of a warm relationship, can one be sufficiently critical? What was ignored as non-essential in a friend may take on new meaning when new evidence comes to light. In the context of a recent dispute, can one be fair? Every flaw seems to be magnified. To do both takes real courage. Linz-type courage.

Yes, I could quibble, and wouldn't even be quibbling. The exposure of distortion and falsehood is, of necessity, a "one-sided" project. A, after all, being A.

Ms. Branden wrote some lyrical stuff, no doubt, but objectivity cannot permit us to accept the Branden-accounts uncritically, however entertaining their writing. (They did learn from a master.)

I am afraid that those who are presently assured of my own malice without having read the book or having met me, will soon see your own obviously sinister agenda, as well. Your effort to be fair and balanced here will not go unpunished, my friend, as we discussed earlier over highballs at ARI-HQ.







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Post 34

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 7:01pmSanction this postReply
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Linz,

You wrote:
The Branden partisans should read the entirety of my review. It includes, for instance, a bullet-pointed section about the non-Ayatollah Ayn who emerges from her journals. Encountering her was emphatically not of no value, for me at least.
Much before I will characterize myself as a Branden partisan or a partisan of any one person, let me state LOUDLY that I am a TRUTH partisan. I will not defend Drooling Beast, but I will not defend a character assassination of Barbara either - especially after all she has done in life - and more especially one that states that only a bad Ayn Rand is presented in The Passion of Ayn Rand.

Let me go through your bullet-pointed list, extracting the universal points by leaving out the Branden particulars.

* A Rand who gave endlessly of her time and intellect to those she cared about.

*A Rand who saw the fallacy of rationalism and repression in problems of those she cared about and lovingly sought to haul them out of those traps.

*A Rand who encouraged those she cared about to understand their own realities and contexts, regardless of how much it conflicted with their stated values.

*A Rand who for all the years of her life erred on the side of the most charitable explanation of those she cared about, stating that "love is exception-making."

*A Rand who contemplated and engaged in professional associations with those she repudiated personally, especially movie and theater producers.

*A Rand who, to herself, wished “best premises—in the name of the best within” for all human beings who held high value for the rational.

Tell me honestly if this Rand is also not present in Barbara Branden's biography. Or even Nathaniel Branden's two books? Did you not see it? I sure as hell did - years ago. I still do.

James Valliant now says it is not there. He wrote a book to prove it. What do you say?

Michael


btw - Time to own up. You mentioned the "Jewish mother" remark. That was me. But since you mentioned it, let's also mention the rest and my conclusion. You were supposed to be the "bad boy." All this to set a playful tone to lighten up and get the issues out in the open in a manner that you both could talk about them without getting at each others throats. The problem with getting you to even consider that line of harmless and humorous role-playing is that YOU wanted to be the Jewish mamma.   //;-)



Post 35

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 7:05pmSanction this postReply
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Linz-

Jody, Brandenian is not meant as a pejorative term. It's simply shorthand for The Brandens & their defenders in this current argument. I for one am not going to type it out in longhand every time.
I appreciate your response to my post.  I do believe you when you say it is not pejorative, but I still do not understand the use for a label(short-hand or long-hand) in lieu of addressing the specific arguments.  Isn't it feasible that someone could despise the Brandens yet still have qualms with Valliants book?  I do not ipso facto see those who are criticizing PARC as being 'defenders' of the Brandens.  This is not the Valliants vs. The Brandens, it's a search for what the truth really is.  At its best at least(which is how I saw your article-fair and 'at it's best').  I don't deny that both Randroids and Brandenroids exist, but I've seen some sincerity here that has been prematurely swept under the 'Brandenian' rug.  And keep in mind that I say all of this not knowing which side I will come down upon.  As I said, I have yet to read any of the books: the Brandens or Valliant's.  I have never had any significant personal dealings or warm and fuzzy friendships with any of the parties involved.




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Post 36

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 7:18pmSanction this postReply
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I quote from the Introduction of The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics:

"We shall see that rhetorical maneuvering, insinuation, failure to name sources, uncorroborated, self-serving assertion, and extensive internal contradiction, render even the positive things the Brandens have to say about Rand -- which might be regarded as credible considering the authors' obvious hostility toward her--of little value as well. Any praise they offer seems, in the end, a mere acknowledgement of the observations of far more honest sources."

And I might add, of which there were many.




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Post 37

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 7:26pmSanction this postReply
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Casey,

That's good!

Valliant says that neither Branden has anything good to say about Rand - only "mere acknowledgment of the observations of far more honest sources."

I had no idea that Valliant was a mind reader. I guess I have to read the book even more closely now.

Thank you.

Michael





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Post 38

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 7:30pmSanction this postReply
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Alec, thank you for responding benevolently. I had feared that you were so invested in outcome as to not be willing to debate. I was wrong to be fearful, you are a bigger man than that. I will take your advice and read the book -- before directing any other comments toward your reasoned arguments on this matter.

Ed



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Post 39

Monday, September 26, 2005 - 8:09pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

With so much glowing praise of Rand's virtues available from SO MANY SOURCES (really, the Brandens exaggerrate terribly the central role they played in her life) how could they expect their books to be considered credible unless they acknowledged what so many other people had said about her, and, to an extent, what they had said about her themselves? If they hadn't said these things their accounts would have been incredible, and their negative claims would have carried no weight. Are you really arguing that the flimsy tissue of "evidence" they provide to make claims that she was out of touch with reality, alienated from the physical world, repressing familial and social scars, incapable of human warmth, humorless, authoritarian, insanely jealous, driving her husband to drink, driven by the one motivation, at the end, to see Nathan destroyed, etc. etc., ad nauseum, is CREDIBLE? The onus of proof is with you, my friend, and the Brandens aren't going to be able to back you up on this one. While evidence is one thing none of these claims has in common, their motive certainly is: she broke with us and repudiated us not because we were hoodwinking her personally, financially, and intellectually, but because she couldn't take being replaced by a younger woman -- she was a woman scorned! Everyone's gonna believe that, right? Right, unfortunately for Rand. Even though the evidence now available proves that even after Branden told her that he had been lying for years about his physical attraction to her and that the age difference had become what he later termed "an insuperable barrier" she continued to deal with him and searched for a way to continue their business relationship. And that it was only AFTER she found out about the affair with Patrecia that had gone on throughout the bogus counseling sessions and back 4 and 1/2 years that she blew her stack.

I bet that most folks at Solo don't know that Barbara had affairs, secret from Nathaniel while she was married to him, BEFORE he ever initiated an affair with Rand. Yep. That casts the "terrible pain" she suffered from Rand's honest and open affair with her husband in a different light, I bet? Now the need to cast Frank as a victim becomes a bit more obvious, doesn't it? If Frank was a happy husband, continuing to soiree his wife around Manhattan for dinners with Mickey Spillane, etc., that would not fit the template of a heartless and callous Rand, would it? It is the Brandens' specific and unique negative assertions about Rand, not the positive ones, that clash with everyone else's testimony about her. Some of their negative assertions echo those of others who criticized her movement, of course -- a movement whose character was largely established by the Brandens themselves in terms of cultish authoritarianism, etc.




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