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Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 10:20pmSanction this postReply
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A characteristically good article by Wendy McElroy on James S. Valliant's The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics. She helped crystalize my own thoughts on this issue.



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Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 10:45pmSanction this postReply
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LewRockwell.com strikes again. 

I already posted on this, but since this new thread might draw different people, I will repeat it here. (Things are pretty desperate when you have to draw blood out of a LewRockwell.com review, but I guess that can't be helped, since the pickings are pretty slim elsewhere). I quote:

Here is a quote from the Wendy McElroy review, which is not completely favorable (albeit more pro than con):
Valliant's book is not a scholarly work that aims to provide a balanced view; nor does it pretend to be. Valliant's book is not written in a "popular" manner that seeks to entertain; nor does it pretend to be. The Passion is best viewed as a legal brief, with all the strengths and weaknesses inherent in that sort of document.
This is said about the first presentation of a collection of Ayn Rand's unpublished written work as if "a scholarly work" and "balanced view" are of no importance in that context.

She gave lip service to objectivity in the following quote:
My point is not that Rand's personal life or character should be whitewashed for the greater good; truth is the greatest good.
But then she went on to say why Valliant's whitewashing is beneficial in her view at this point in time, even saying that she wanted it.

At least she did mention that Valliant presented Ayn Rand's work with a singular and total bias against the Brandens, giving no benefit of the doubt to the Brandens and constantly ascribing ill motives to their actions, even the most minute (which weakens his argument, as she correctly mentions). And she drew attention to Valliant's boneheaded (my term) attempt to psychoanalyze the Brandens, calling it a "major flaw."

She also defends (properly in my view) that Rand's private papers were bequeathed to an heir knowing that they probably would be published - thus they should be. She just doesn't seem to mind the lopsided way they were.

Well I do. "Truth is the greatest good."

Michael





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Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - 11:25pmSanction this postReply
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Stephen, do me the favor of calling me by my name, which is :Barbara.



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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 12:52amSanction this postReply
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"Babs" was fun at first, sort of, but enough is enough. "Nate" is derisive on its face. All McElroy's review did was affirm the value of Ayn Rand's journals on the material covered by Valliant, but hardly anything else he did in that screed. So what was the point of the book he did write except to attack the Brandens? I finally read the part of his book Ayn Rand did write and all that was demonstrated was a narrow, particular focus out of her very broad life. Both of the Brandens' books attempted to provide a context for her life that really addressed who she was in the greater sense. They had to be imperfect for all such from all such always must be for reality cannot be precisely recreated or biases completely transcended. Barbara once said that Ayn loved Nathaniel with "all her heart." That was much more damning to him than Valliant's brief. Nathaniel acknowledged that he terribly hurt Ayn in his memoir and that was much more damning to him than Valiant's brief. Those prissy sissy's at ARI can't take these principal actors' word for what happened--they had to literally bring in a prosecutor--because they refuse to grant either Nathaniel or Barbara recognition or any kind of sanction for their own lives and the contributions they made to the spread of Objectivism and the well being of Ayn Rand. To take in the bad they'd have to take in all the rest. As for Nathaniel, it doesn't seem to matter how he has helped, directly and indirectly, tens of thousands of people to live better more fulfilling lives--happier lives--only that he once hurt Ayn Rand, not that he made himself into a better man.

--Brant




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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 12:54amSanction this postReply
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Stephen (in view of "Barbara's" self-affirming admonition),

What value is gained via substandard objectification of a living human being, Stephen? Or should I call it "Steve-O's overt dissemble?"

C'mon man, there's a line of respect-disrespect -- and you've just crossed it, brother. In my view, an apology (to Ms. Branden) is in order.

Whaddaya' say about this identification of a less-than-benevolent method of discussing the nomenclature / signification of real human beings, Stephen?

Ed



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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 1:08amSanction this postReply
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Ms McElroy's review does nothing to make me wish to purchase Mr Valiant's book in the near future.




Post 6

Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 8:51amSanction this postReply
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Ms. Branden, No offense was intended. I simply used the abbreviated title for this piece that was on LewRockwell.com today.

P.s. to all out there: my own name is Stephan, not Stephen (not that I'm offended--I'm used to it). Curious no one ever mistakenly calls a girl named Stephanie "Stevenie".



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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 10:24amSanction this postReply
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This post may be redundant--not sure if my previous reply worked. Ms. Branden--I meant no offense. I was just pasting the short title used on LewRockwell.com today for McElroy's article. No offense intended, and I'd be happy to call you Ms. Branden or Barbara instead.

BTW my name is Stephan (sounds like Stefan), not Stephen (sounds like Steven). No one ever mispronounces Stephanie. The mind boggles.

To Brant: "Those prissy sissy's at ARI can't take these principal actors' word for what happened--they had to literally bring in a prosecutor--because they refuse to grant either Nathaniel or Barbara recognition or any kind of sanction for their own lives and the contributions they made to the spread of Objectivism and the well being of Ayn Rand."

I am sorry, but I can't follow this... whenever I see the word "sanction" in an Objectivist site my eyes just involuntarily glaze over, as they also do at terms like "whim-worshipper" or "psycho-epistemology." :)



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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 1:32pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Stephan,

Just a couple of questions. The premise of Valliant's book is that both of the Branden's autobiographical biographies are nothing but lies. So he drums up exactly the same kind of lies he accuses them of (attributing ill motives to every act, insinuating that Nathaniel was a rapist, etc.). If you do not believe me or think I am overly-biased, look at the "objective" review you just posted the link to from LewRockwell.com.

So do you think that the best way for ARI (meaning the heir who authorized this travesty of scholarship) to fight what it deems to be a pack of lies with another pack of lies (or extremely overly-biased insinuations at the very least), but sprucing it up with Ayn Rand's unpublished works?

This bears repeating. Does ARI think that the best way to fight lies is with more lies in Ayn Rand's name?

McElroy at least thinks so. She was loud and clear about it, albeit not in those words.

Another question is more serious. Ayn Rand continues to be a best-selling authoress. Even her nonfiction is best-selling - including posthumous works.

There is no mainstream coverage of Valliant's book and I don't see it in the major bookstore chains - just online advertising and sales and a very few sporadic reviews on sites with low traffic. 

I don't expect we will get too reliable figures from Durban either - what publisher wants to publicly admit to a washout dud? Durban's history is still way too entangled with its very recent start as a vanity press anyway to be all that reliable. Young companies like that have to lean heavily on hype in order to survive.

Ayn Rand's words, by themselves, ever since The Fountainhead have been best-selling works. Not since the first edition of We The Living has a new release of her unpublished work failed to be successful.

The present signs point to someone laying a gigantic egg in public here - in Ayn Rand's name. I hold that it is Valliant's approach that is burying this newly released unpublished work of Ayn Rand. There are oodles of people who want to read her unpublished words without having to wade through Valliant's ranting and partisan fighting. So, in doubt, they simply buy other books by other authors.

Do you have another explanation?

To tell the truth, so long as those responsible for this debacle are using the "lies to fight lies" approach, they might as well get some rich dude to buy up a bunch of copies and put them in a closet or somewhere so that the figures look better.

(There. No "sanction," no "whim-worshipper" and no "psycho-epistemology.")

Just a little capitalistic common sense.

Michael




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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 2:20pmSanction this postReply
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Okay, Stephan, apology and explanation accepted. Thank you.

Barbara



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Post 10

Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 3:57pmSanction this postReply
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Oh for goodness sake.Michael writes,

"This bears repeating. Does ARI think that the best way to fight lies is with more lies in Ayn Rand's name? McElroy at least thinks so. She was loud and clear about it, albeit not in those words"

So, even in your own evaluation, I didn't say that. But -- without saying anything in defense of lying -- I was still loud and clear on the side of lying. Even though I said truth is the greatest good? I know you saw that statement because you quoted it. Wow. A radical interpretation of the text, if I ever saw one.

And, for the record, I have absolutely, literally, 100% NO connection with ARI. Zero. Zip. Nada. Not a red cent has passed between us. They don't even send me a card at Christmas. Those bastards!!

My review of the Valliant book expresses what I think is true. Deal with it, Michael. Someone disagrees with you, without being paid by ARI to do so. Indeed, as far as I know, they dislike my politics -- anarchist here, in case you didn't know -- more than they dislike yours.

Wendy McElroy





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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 5:10pmSanction this postReply
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Michael Kelly thinks Nate's and Bab's biographies "are nothing but lies"? 

That's kind of harsh.

MSK quote: "Does ARI think that the best way to fight lies is with more lies in Ayn Rand's name?" X2


MSK:"I'm getting to whether Valliant made his case or not. Believe me, I will deal with it due time. To tell the truth, there are two premises so far where I do not think he did, but I want to finish the book first."

That was on June 9th, you seem to talk the talk but not walk the walk. No, you don't owe me any answer. But you do make some pretty wild assertions in your posts. I presume that who does that is prepared to answer some himself. Sorry I was mistaken.(post119PoARCC)





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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 6:13pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Wendy,

LOL...

Did I misinterpret you? If I did I apologize. However, I sort of connected a few dots. Maybe I'm off the money. Sometimes you get that way in-between the lines. I will illustrate.

(And I really, really, really do apologize for any insinuation that you were following an ARI agenda - that was not my intention and would be inconceivable anyway.)

Here's your "truth" statement in context:
My point is not that Rand's personal life or character should be whitewashed for the greater good; truth is the greatest good. But if the facts have been presented incorrectly or in a manner that renders Rand pathetic, then I want the record corrected so that other 15-year-olds regain the opportunity to admire Rand both as a woman and as a philosopher.
Then later you stated, after giving pretty harsh criticism of Vallinat's approach and style:
Nevertheless, The Passion accomplishes one of the psychological goals Valliant intended. To a significant degree the book restored to me and (I believe) others a better opinion of "Rand the woman."
And ended:

I am pleased to have read The Passion. I intend to re-read it. And I am grateful to Valliant on several points while disagreeing with him on others.


My question is the following: Would Ayn Rand's own words (with footnotes) not have been enough? You are grateful to Valliant and not to Rand (or even to ARI for releasing Rand's material)?

 

That is where I got my idea that you like the "fight lie with lie" approach, despite saying you like the truth. No offense meant, just observing. This jumped out at me.

I sincerely believe that the bare truth would have served you (and others, including me, and including the Brandens, but most of all, Rand) so much better. And I do not see this book taking off as her own words by themselves have always taken off. Therefore I find it reasonable to say that without this heavy-handed hatchet job getting in the way, the book would have had a much healthier publishing life.

Excuse me a second, Wendy.

Oh Glenn. Pipe down and get some real arguments other than out of context quotes.

Ahem... sorry.

Anyway, Wendy, it is a pleasure to interact with you, despite our disagreement here (I admit my bias to Barbara, but I still try to maintain objectivity). I do hope we talk again.

Michael






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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 4:59pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Michael! :)

Just a couple of questions. The premise of Valliant's book is that both of the Branden's autobiographical biographies are nothing but lies. So he drums up exactly the same kind of lies he accuses them of (attributing ill motives to every act, insinuating that Nathaniel was a rapist, etc.). If you do not believe me or think I am overly-biased, look at the "objective" review you just posted the link to from LewRockwell.com.


I would not have purchased it, but someone sent it to me. I read the first couple chapters. I found it to be a hit piece. But I have not read the latter journal stuff. But when Valliant started, in the Preface, his excruciating defense of Peikoff's denunciation of B. Branden's account without having read it, and his defense of the need for non-Peikoffians to have this defense, it becames obvious it was more of the orthodoxy stuff. At least that part. Then I recall later on, there was some passage allegedly showing B. Branden's inconsistency when she at one point said Rand was not maternal at all, then later said Rand would help and guide her. Like that was an aha! moment. As if people could not themselves act inconsistently.

So do you think that the best way for ARI (meaning the heir who authorized this travesty of scholarship) to fight what it deems to be a pack of lies with another pack of lies (or extremely overly-biased insinuations at the very least), but sprucing it up with Ayn Rand's unpublished works?


Dunno, I have not gotten yet round to forming an opinion on this weighty matter.

The present signs point to someone laying a gigantic egg in public here - in Ayn Rand's name. I hold that it is Valliant's approach that is burying this newly released unpublished work of Ayn Rand. There are oodles of people who want to read her unpublished words without having to wade through Valliant's ranting and partisan fighting. So, in doubt, they simply buy other books by other authors.

Do you have another explanation?


Er... no, not at hand. An explanation for exactly ... what, sorry?

(There. No "sanction," no "whim-worshipper" and no "psycho-epistemology.")

Just a little capitalistic common sense.


And who said Objectivists have no sense of humor.

... but... I fail to see what your reply has to do with, umm, capitalism...



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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 7:47pmSanction this postReply
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Dayaamm Stephan!
I fail to see what your reply has to do with, umm, capitalism...
It's simple, man. Selling books.

My argument is that Rand's literature has a history of selling exceptionally well all by its little lonesome. Along comes Valliant and throws his voice on a higher plane of importance than hers, and now the book ain't doing too good. He took a valuable property (Rand) and considerably depreciated it (1) sales-wise, (2) exposure-wise, and (3) scholarship-wise.

Bad market practice. Bad for a stellar defender of capitalism. An abstract being illustrated by a concrete event, which is: A valuable property must be respected, if not, it will lose its market value.

Just look and see what is happening.

Rand never let anyone explain what she "really meant" before. This wasn't just philosophical and artistic integrity either (well mostly). But she knew her audience too. I think her own words are enough to get her own meaning across. Apparently her public does too, and they are expressing their disapproval clearly at the buying time.

Sometimes I forget that others are not aware of the realities of the publishing industry.

To be fair, the only real thing this book does positively is to give people who hate the Brandens a good chuckle. There is some lip service to "now the truth is told," but the real thing is getting at the Brandens. The Branden-haters kind of get off on the court room metaphor.

There is one other benefit, but it is much harder to derive. If you can cut through the constant bombast and harping and try to maintain some sense of balance, you might get what Rand herself is saying and get another view of what actually happened in her life according to her. (Wendy did that, I think, or tried to. I give her credit for trying. Valliant constantly exercises his formidable stentorian voice blaring all over the place in constant denouncements and snide innuendo, so it gets pretty hard to stay focused on Rand.)

btw - What was that about humor? You like? I got loads of lawyer jokes...

//;-)

Michael



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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 8:13pmSanction this postReply
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Wendy, welcome to Solo. It is great to see you here.

It is unfortunate that I have had to *thunk* my dear Michael over the head with a frying pan for his not so warm welcome.  Dayaamm!!!   Honestly, he has been in Brazil for 30 years and did not know who you were.  He was not at all familiar with i-feminism and that you are someone I admire greatly. I hope you stick around this place.  We usually are pretty friendly.

Anyway, about that damned book.  Our issue is that Ayn Rand's previously unpublished personal journals were released in the form of a direct and undeserved attack on Barbara, who is a friend and a greatly respected and admired member of our small but mighty online objectivist community.  Rand's unpublished work was mutilated and in order to read her side of the story we basically have to go digging through piles of crap.  I agree with you that having giving the journals to an heir implied that she could expect that it be published, but the manner in which it was done, tarnishes her name as well as ARI and the parties involved.  All the bitterness involved does get in the way of many people taking any parts of the philosophy seriously.

Why couldn't these journals be published much the same as others?  Why the prosecution, the picking sides?  Why couldn't it have been presented objectively?  I personally would love to see the unannotated version and let Rand's writing speak for themselves.  The sole purpose of writing the book was not to release unpublished materials, but to crucify the Brandens, dividing the objectivist movement even further when after all this time, we should be healing these wounds and finding common ground and applying Ayn Rand's wonderful philosophy for living a productive and happy life. 

Kat




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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 9:24pmSanction this postReply
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Michael, sorry to slap you around--again, but sales wise its been selling more copies then most of her non-fiction at Amazon since at least February. Now Borders stores are starting to stock it this week. Oh, the Kirkus Reviews review is on the back cover, you know, the book you read. 

I've never seen someone so excited about how a book is selling or being reviewed, by someone who doesn't like it.   

But Valliant's scholarship seems to be where you really fall on your face. I mean you haven't been able to come up with any corrections? Or maybe an example of where he changed the meaning of Ayn Rand's notes? Something. Anything. Your getting close to looking pathetic. I must hand it to you, when you blow up, you blow up good. Valliant must be having a good laugh at you not being able to stay focused because of his editing, his voice blaring all over the place.  




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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 10:13pmSanction this postReply
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K-dog--

Look, leave the humor to the professionals.

Just kidding.

You said, "He took a valuable property (Rand) and considerably depreciated it (1) sales-wise, (2) exposure-wise, and (3) scholarship-wise."

I have no idea what you are jabbering about. But I had no idea Ayn Rand--whom I thought was dead--was property, much less "a" property. What valuable property exactly are you talking about? The Randians I grew up with were at least very precise.

"Bad market practice. Bad for a stellar defender of capitalism. An abstract being illustrated by a concrete event, which is: A valuable property must be respected, if not, it will lose its market value."

And your point is, exactly...?

"Rand never let anyone explain what she "really meant" before. This wasn't just philosophical and artistic integrity either (well mostly). But she knew her audience too. I think her own words are enough to get her own meaning across. Apparently her public does too, and they are expressing their disapproval clearly at the buying time."

Er... okay, and...? So?

"Sometimes I forget that others are not aware of the realities of the publishing industry."

Interesting. Tell us more about what your forget, and remember. If it's on point, anyway. I, for one, am extremely curious.

"To be fair, the only real thing this book does positively is to give people who hate the Brandens a good chuckle."

Honestly, I doubt anyone who hates the Brandens is the type to have a "good chuckle." The O-so-serious crowd usually don't chuckle.

"(Wendy did that, I think, or tried to. I give her credit for trying. Valliant constantly exercises his formidable stentorian voice blaring all over the place in constant denouncements and snide innuendo, so it gets pretty hard to stay focused on Rand.)"

Hmm, lots of purple prose to pick thru there. Should I gather you do, or do not, like Mr. Valliant? You seem to commend him for his formidable talents, on the one hand, but also seem negative about him. Maybe just spell it out, instead of using metaphors? Just a favor to me. I dislike poetry.

"btw - What was that about humor? You like? I got loads of lawyer jokes..."

If you got the time, I got the crime.



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Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 10:22pmSanction this postReply
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Dayaamm Glenn!

You really are humiliating me. I feel so ashamed.

Amazon sales ranking? OK let's look. The Valliant book right now is ranked 51,270.

Well the Amazon.com ranking system is based on an algorithm and not actual book sales. It works so that the lower the number, the higher the sales. And it changes once a day for books in Valliant's category (once an hour for the lower numbers, i.e., higher sellers).

According to my little chart here (which is only approximate), 10,000-plus number (up to 100,000) indicates probable sales of  between 1 to 10 whole books a week.

Sounds like it is going through the goddamm charts to me. And that doesn't even include major retail chains!

Doing all right by Ayn Rand's memory, whaddya think? An outright homage!

Oh, I forgot to ask. Is this hot new release outselling books released in the 1960's or the 1970's?

Now here is where you really got me - the mainstream review that I tried to find from Kirkus Reviews. Dayaaamm! I never thought of looking on the back of the book itself. Should make the book sell a million from all that public exposure, whaddya think?

After that humiliating beating you just gave me, I think I'll tuck my tail between my legs and go sit in the corner.

Michael



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Post 19

Thursday, June 23, 2005 - 10:16pmSanction this postReply
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Kat -- "Ayn Rand's wonderful philosophy for living a productive and happy life."

Serious question--have you ever really observed any trend of Objectivists living a more productive and happy life than others similarly situated who are not Objectivists? I mean, does Rand's philosophy really, in practice, help people leada "more productive and happy lives"? This is not rhetorical; I am curious waht you think. In my own observation and experience, I have not seen this happen. To the contrary, if anything. But maybe I don't know the right ones yet.



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