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Post 220

Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 10:03pmSanction this postReply
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Casey, well you can ask. It probably is too much, though, because most people do get impressions not based on the rules of grammar during quick reads Hell, even during reads that are not so quick. From the looks of things, they are going to continue that, too.

Reality.

Good marketing recognizes this.

James - Point taken. I should have used other examples to illustrate trivia. I will be more careful of this in the future. Thank you for correcting me.

Precision thing...

Michael




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Post 221

Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 10:24pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,

So, "trivia" would include what?

A baseless claim that O'Connor was an alcoholic?

Or, would it be Mr. Branden's overheated response to the margin notes in Rand's books?

Would it be (in light of Rand's notes) the absurd accusation that Rand was literally insane in her jealousy?

Or, would it be the incredible deductions Ms. Branden is able to make from a single family photo?

Please elucidate.



Post 222

Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 11:57pmSanction this postReply
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James,

It's just stupid stuff that probably should not be debated. Like the hastily applied makeup and snagged stockings thing. You use that to make the extraordinary claim that the Brandens mention this to suggest that Rand had some kind of neurosis about her appearance.

That's trivia treated in a manner that does not warrant it. But let's go at it - as I get the feeling that since I brought it up, this is going to turn into a 15 page screed on splitting the hairs of Ms. Rand's stockings anyway (especially from Casey).

Do you have any particular facts to support your supposition of the Brandens' evil motives to smear Rand through her dressing habits, or was this just your general feeling?

You mention in the next paragraph that they talked about her being "impeccably groomed" on more formal occasions.

Then you say that Barbara "seems to be saying" that Rand was alienated from the material world because of these comments on her dressing habits.

"Seems" to be saying?

Are you making this supposition on the mere fact that she said Rand was a bit unkempt at some times and well groomed at others?

Do you conclude that, from such observations on Rand's different dressing habits for different situations, Barbara was saying that Rand was alienated? Neurotic?

Where did she say that? How did she imply it? Do you have some other kind of evidence, maybe, for your remarkable conclusion here that was not produced?

Strange. Trivial and very strange.

Even so, let's finish it correctly. Is it not possible that the Brandens were simply saying that Rand did not fuss over her appearance because it was just not that important to her - especially with all those wonderful ideas going on in that head of hers?

That would have nothing to do with neurosis and alienation. A simple value judgment. And it sounds entirely plausible to me - both that Rand generally held a non-neurotic low importance for her appearance because other things were more interesting to her, and that the Brandens were trying to say precisely that.

There are many other things like this. I will get to some of them over time.

Michael



Post 223

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 1:03amSanction this postReply
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John Allen,

Your statement that Nathaniel Branden is a "sociopath" is false. Sociopathy is a specific personality disorder, and Nathaniel Branden simply does not meet the current DSM criteria for a diagnosis of sociopathy. There is at least one other personality disorder that he might well qualify for, but sociopathy, definitely not. So you don't have a "truth" defense if he were to sue you for libel. And malice is a very subjective thing...




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Post 224

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 6:13amSanction this postReply
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MSK,

Ms. Branden writes on page 239 of Rand's alleged "overprecision" in the kitchen: "But it seemed to be, as well, an indication of her alienation from the physical world, her sense of helplessness tinged with fear, in dealing with material reality." Her very next sentence reads: "The same alienation was evident in her attitude toward her physical body, the carelessness with which she treated [it]..."

Yeah, that's what she was saying, MSK: Rand was alienated and neurotic from this.

One of my points is also how the Brandens contradict themselves and each other on such matters. But, once more, it their use of such trivia I am noting -- not mine.

There are, indeed, many such instances.

(Edited by James S. Valliant
on 10/21, 6:15am)




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Post 225

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 7:04amSanction this postReply
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James thanks for the quote. This is not your conjecture or opinion, but BBs words which speak for themselves.

It is Barbaras use of trivia to make conclusions about Ayn Rands psychology which is disturbing.

I continue to hold that one does not beat the horse on whose magnificent back one rode into town!!


John







Post 226

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 7:31amSanction this postReply
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James,

There's something I have been putting off for quite a while. I loaned my copy of The Passion of Ayn Rand to a person in Brazil who simply disappeared later. Getting a replacement copy in Brazil back then was not impossible, but inconvenient enough to easily allow putting it off. Since I have been in the USA, my enthusiasm for purchasing Objectivist works (like the CD, OPAR, Lexicon, Kelley's works, etc.) has been so great that I simply did not buy it again yet.

I am correcting this right away.

The only way I will be able to answer something like what you quoted with any kind of objectivity is to look at the full context, so I will need to have the book with me.

All I can say right now is that your quote is from page 239, pretty late in the book, but I am not sure that this was the first or only time Rand's grooming habits were mentioned. Those are Barbara's words, though. I even remember the gist of the argument. I remember my impression at the time I read this line of reasoning, too (it has been too long to remember all the small details). I definitely did not get the impression of Barbara trying to smear Rand and wreck her reputation because (1) she wanted revenge, (2) she hated Rand, (3) she was pissed because her NBI income was severed, and/or (4) she was a gleeful participant in spiritual rape.

I remember attributing Barbara's speculations to an attempt to understand Rand, looking for reasons to explain the things she had observed over the years, trying to make sense of everything. I read the book in that context. I'm not so sure that I alone provided that context or that it was just some random benevolent good vibes on my part in the face of unspeakable evil or hidden spite.

Thus, I am interested in comparing what Barbara said the other times she brought Rand's grooming habits up against this particular quote (since we are going the trivia route).

I need to get her book again anyway before I write my review. Maybe My Years With Ayn Rand also. (I have Judgment Day.)

Gotta wait a bit, but I will return to this issue. May reason prevail.

Michael

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 10/21, 8:05am)




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Post 227

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 7:42amSanction this postReply
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Is it too much to ask that people's "quick reads" are not so quick as to skip the rules of grammar?
 
It's not too much to ask, unless you are asking them to do so in a dedicated format (for instance, dust jackets) that is not there for that purpose.

In contrast to the book proper, the jacket text represents, by its nature, a highly-compressed media-byte.

It's rife for precision errors because of that fact. It is my experience that when such things are written, they inevitably end up getting the main points across the writer wants gotten across- it is a very harsh process of reductive editing, if you think about it. Dust jackets used to be quite a bit different in the old days, and generally I preferred them. As marketing tools, I think there are different principles at play when people do them now- faster, compressed, poppy, more rat-a-tat-tat like everything is anymore.







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Post 228

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 8:32amSanction this postReply
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Michael you wrote: "I remember attributing Barbara's speculations to an attempt to understand Rand, looking for reasons to explain the things she had observed over the years, trying to make sense of everything."

I'm afraid we disagree big time here my friend.

What is there to "understand", on BBs part (about Ayn Rands behavior - in the kitchen of all places!!!), and why?

What is there to make sense of, and why the need? I am not dropping context here, BB was writing about a specific set of behaviors, and drawing outlandish conclusions from them.

BB claims that Rand was
1) alienated from the physical world,
2) helpless
3) helpless tinged with fear
4) treated her body carelessly (as a result of being alienated from the physical world)

These are pretty serious things to assert about the cognition of the woman who put together Objectivism, dont you think?

regards
John





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Post 229

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 8:36amSanction this postReply
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I always had the impression from those descriptions that they were just portraying her as a little uncomfortable in her skin. Very similar to descriptions I've heard of other great literary types... That's all I got from it.



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Post 230

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 8:56amSanction this postReply
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I have not read Valliant's book and have a question for those who have.

Does the book include only negative things the Brandens said about Ayn Rand and no positive things they said about Ayn Rand?




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Post 231

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 9:21amSanction this postReply
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John,

I was not talking about only that specific instance. I remember that part being from a sequence devoted to a general overview of motivational speculations by Barbara, not an in-depth discussion of kitchen and dressing habits, but I need to get the book. The context I was referring to was how Barbara had positioned Rand in other similar places throughout the book.

Merlin,

Some good things the Brandens said about Rand are included in Valliant's book, but always with disclaimers as to their sincerity, logic in light of other things they said, and so forth. The Brandens are attributed with base motives, confused thinking or blind ignorance when they say good things about Rand (like trying to cover up their "real" motives, etc.) - thus the idea is that their good remarks must never be taken seriously.

When they say bad things, of course, this is presented as proof of base motives, confused thinking or blind ignorance.

Michael




Post 232

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 9:32amSanction this postReply
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When they say bad things, of course, this is presented as proof of base motives, confused thinking or blind ignorance.
 
Which I think I'm to understand is done as part of the "counterbalancing" process (?)






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Post 233

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 11:04amSanction this postReply
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MSK,

It is true that I question the credibility of both the praise and condemnation of Rand, but I do not ascribe all of their errors to bad motives. As I have said before, if it were merely the Brandenian distortions that I identified in the first couple of chapters of my book, one would have to conclude (from most of them, at least) that these errors and distortions could have been the result of psychology and bias, rather than intentional lies or malice. The evidence provided in the subsequent chapters, however, adds a dimension which must condition our understanding of everything else.

P.S. It never was a question of "white-washing" Rand's character or trying to prove only the "good" parts or trying to prove Rand's "perfection."

The issue is whether or not we can accept the Brandens' accounts uncritically.

(Edited by James S. Valliant on 10/21, 11:24am)




Post 234

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 12:01pmSanction this postReply
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I agree. We must not take the Brandens' accounts uncritically.

Must we must not take the Valliant speculations uncritically either.

Fair enough?

Michael




Post 235

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 12:03pmSanction this postReply
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MSK: "I agree. We must not take the Brandens' accounts uncritically.

Must we must not take the Valliant speculations uncritically either."

Fair enough, Michael. To continue the courtroom analogy, Since the Branden's were the prosecutors, and Valiant the defense, who will play the judge? The jury?







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Post 236

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 12:22pmSanction this postReply
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Joe,

Frankly I do not want to play that courtroom game. I don't like that approach to finding truth because the focus is not on truth. I have long stopped expecting lawyers to be interested in things like justice and truth - they usually are interested in just in winning cases.

I prefer the approach of deciding truth for myself and expending efforts to ensure that the the truth is present for others to see. I would love to hear from more old-timers who knew Ayn Rand, for example. (John Allen sure was a very pleasant surprise, not merely because he thinks like I do, but because he has a first-hand account to tell.) I am interested to see if they feel that the Brandens' versions of Rand are basically accurate or are distortions - and where.

Also, I have not posted a review of Valliant's book because it really does need a rock-solid study based on rational objectivity to do it properly. (I mean that in the strict sense, too.)

I'm taking my time, but it will be done. To tell the truth, I have a few other priorities that are competing for my interest right now.

Michael


(btw - I'll be getting to Orpheus and music in awhile...  //;-)

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 10/21, 12:24pm)




Post 237

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 12:27pmSanction this postReply
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Dr. Reed, is it?

I did not state that IN FACT Branden was anything, not even a liar, as Mr. Valliant did on what seemed like just about every other page of his boring book.  Then, again, anyone can sue for anything, and frequently does.  Those are called "nuicense suits."  But, you knew that, right?  (too bad my grammar is better than my spelling -- sorry.)  And, of course, the DSM changes from time to time, or what's a study for?  (the grant money, naturally, which keeps so many dressing and eating far better than they otherwise would)

You might wish to re-read my post on Branden's personality disorder, unless somebody has edited it for me -- which is why I make hardcopies that, of course, are time-stamped.

And, btw:  thanks for the "tip" about the CINDY award site.  I was there months ago, after which I paid a visit to the site of the production company.  One might think I could detect a family business, after my nine year sojourn in New York.  But my nose isn't what it used to be.

Do, please keep the tips coming, though.  I don't expect to become omniscient 'til medicare sets in, at least.  8-} >>




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Post 238

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 12:40pmSanction this postReply
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We are all the judge and jury. But we must examine the evidence before passing judgement. To take Valliant's speculations critically, one must first "take them," as it were. One must read the book before criticizing it. There's been enough shooting from the hip already. While this gives me and James plenty of opportunities to demonstrate the evidence James's book meticulously bases its conclusions upon, it would be far more interesting to debate this with informed participants who offer informed opinions and criticisms. So far I've seen precious few of these. Only one comes to mind, actually: Adam's illumination of a corroborating source for the name "Fronz," though even his providing of the corroborating source did not explain Barbara Branden's unique decision to refer to Rand's father exclusively by this name, since Rand did not do so and no other record does so. While James's footnote speculating that Barbara used the name to further her theory about Rand's relationship to her father and to Frank remains an interesting point even with the corroboration provided by Adam, Adam's point was informed and valuable.

So far, we've seen attacks on the publisher, the writing style, the book flap, the editing of Rand's notes (without a single citation of a problem with those edits), the style in which the edits were presented (which were made in the standard, accepted form for such edits), irrelevant references to Rand's rhetoric concerning other philosophers, etc., and we have seen a lot of gross generalizations about James's motivations for writing the book (to paint the Brandens as total monsters and construe every one of their errors as "gleeful" participation in spiritual rape or to set Rand up as some flawless goddess, or to make a fast buck, or to set himself up as an Objectivist hero), ARI conspiracy theories, etc. I have had about enough of that stuff. So Michael, when you have the evidence in front of you and have the time to examine it, jury deliberations can begin.The rest I would regard as a rush to judgement in a kangaroo court were it not for the fact that the judge and jury are those who are witnessing these proceedings and I trust their ability to honestly weigh the evidence and separate reasonable doubt from objectionable cross-examination techniques. 




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Post 239

Friday, October 21, 2005 - 12:42pmSanction this postReply
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Oh yeah, I forgot that one: the claim that the book is boring.



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