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Post 60

Friday, October 28, 2005 - 8:09pmSanction this postReply
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And, Phil, Bidinotto would suppress stuff Rand read aloud to others, so, what are we to conclude?



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Post 61

Friday, October 28, 2005 - 8:36pmSanction this postReply
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James,

Shouldn't the issue on disclosure of historical papers be do it right or don't do it at all?

This partial disclosure by ARI stuff - with the air of "trust me because my version is the full truth" after trying to rewrite history (by chopping voices off tapes, downplaying  the influence of Rand's lover on the start of the Objectivist movement in the movie and stuff like that) doesn't cut it.

Don't you think the attitude of "I know and it's nobody's damn business, because I'm not saying" a wee bit better?

Makes you wonder...

Michael




Post 62

Friday, October 28, 2005 - 9:21pmSanction this postReply
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Robert C.: You cannot find alcoholism in the context of dementia. All you can find is the dementia. If we are talking about Frank O'Connor's "alcoholism" no evidence has been presented. It doesn't matter how many people saw him drunk or a demented person appearing to be drunk in the last few years of his life, it is not good witnessing of alcoholism. The only non-controversial observation about this I am aware of is that he suffered from dementia in those years, so we don't know if his drinking got out of control because of his dementia or if he was already an alcoholic and thus remained one or if he even drank in any serious way at all in those last years. Leonard Peikoff should know something about this last at least. He isn't talking as far as I'm aware of. But the bottom line is that the alcoholism of Frank O'Connor has not been demonstrated or proved, only inferred. Since we don't know that he was an alcoholic, we shouldn't be saying he was. I think Barbara Branden needs to re-evaluate the testimony of friends and family who saw and knew Ayn and Frank in those years. I am sure Nathaniel Branden got similar information from his relatives--as opposed to merely repeating what his ex said in PAR.

--Brant







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Post 63

Friday, October 28, 2005 - 11:10pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,

I am really not interested in defending those sinister agents of your imagination. I reject your "guilt by association" approach as absurd. I'm not even really qualified to defend them.

But, I'll give you my perspective on this, if it will help, and perhaps you can then indicate to me what I'm missing here, and why it is morally obvious that any project such as mine which gains the cooperation of Leonard Peikoff is inherently dishonest.

The "facts not in evidence" in your assertion amount to the question, "How long have you been beating your wife, sir?"

"Partial" disclosure? Or, to take our cue from Phil, "do it right" = "include every thrice repeated semicolon for publication because you think Peikoff is a liar anyway"?

I am your eager student: what proof of rewriting history do you possess?

Take the journal material edited by Harriman. In all of the thousands of words and hundreds of pages published, even Chris Sciabarra found very few (if still unexplained) problems. The most serious? The omission of Albert Jay Nock's name. (Given the inclusion of figures like Mencken and others this would seem, as Chris concedes, unintentional -- however important the reference.)

Should this be explained? Of course. Will some continue to have doubts until all of this material can be more widely viewed by scholars (as I believe it will)? Of course. But, in comparison to the many, many more -- and much, much more serious -- "problems" that I have identified in the Brandens' accounts, these are indeed -- and at last -- true trivia.

As I say, even Sciabarra does not find this kind of stuff to have been intentional, just a troubling doubt, unless I've misunderstood him.

Removing the Brandens' voices may be the result of some reasonable legal advice, given Ms. Branden's legal contention (right or wrong) that she exclusively owned every aspect of her taped interviews with Rand, don't you think? Might she not sue with the same claim if her voice had been included -- even just asking questions? Why not try to avoid such litigation? This is just a "for instance" that even an inferior attorney could suggest to you.

Alleged "downplaying" of Branden, of course -- although he is discussed in some detail in that movie -- will depend upon one's overall assessment of Mr. Branden -- something about which I don't expect you to agree with Peikoff. I wouldn't want to guess what percentage of Rand's biography you think he merits.


(Edited by James S. Valliant
on 10/29, 2:07am)




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Post 64

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 12:52amSanction this postReply
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Moreover, it has just occurred to me -- rather dim, I know -- that scholars such as Sciabarra have been offered a chance to view the AR Archive material, but that they have just not been permitted to use it in their work. Whatever the merits of denying Sciabarra use of the material, the substantial verification of its use by other scholars has been, at least, partially, permitted. This causes me to question even the "lingering doubts."

It is certainly to be hoped and expected that one day all scholars will be able to use all of it, but this limited opportunity to view it is significant.

Am I wrong , Dr. D., if you're out there?



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Post 65

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 2:29amSanction this postReply
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The Rand estate has every right to decide how and when Rand's journals are made public ~ in any manner it chooses.

My wonderful husband, MR. Valliant, won't say this, but reading my husband's book gives me a new sympathy for Peikoff's potential skepticism about actively helping any person, like Dr. Sciabarra, who is known to be a dear friend of the Brandens. To what distortion could Rand's journals be subjected?

Given the "learning curve" that Linz and others have experienced about the Brandens lately, this may not have always be necessary, but I sure understand it now.




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Post 66

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 2:50amSanction this postReply
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I agree, Magenta. My "learning curve" has taught me that the Branden camp are contemptible cowards. One thing to your face and another behind your back. And boy, are they good at "behind your back." Whispering shadowlands are what they inhabit. Back-stabbing e-mails back and forth between them. Two-faced, fork-tongued back-chatting hypocrites. When called on it, total retreat to their murk. Use of proxy "useful idiots" to spread their poison and smears. The occasional drive-by shooting by a hit-man for good measure. They're a subterranean sewer. Your husband is way too polite.

Linz



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Post 67

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 5:58amSanction this postReply
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I think this insistence on the release of all notes (and tapes) is just a diversion used to avoid facing the further information about the Brandens that Rand's notes reveal.  One method of avoidance is to state the Brandens already admitted lying to Rand.  This argument fails to recognize the significant difference in the nature and extent of their lies, and that even their “confessions” contained additional lies.

The other method of avoidance is to change the subject, and then discuss why the eviiil Peikoff won’t release everything. 
 
What is this concern with “everything?”  Even if we had every scrap of paper she even doodled on we wouldn’t have “everything.”  We still wouldn’t have every word she spoke, and certainly not her thoughts. 
 
Everything Rand wrote, said or thought is relevant to what she knew and what she believed.  The notes in Peikoff’s possession are just a subcategory of notes that Rand preserved, as opposed to those she lost or threw away.  And Rand’s notes are just a subcategory of everything she expressed which in turn is a subcategory of what she thought.

Even if every note was released, we wouldn’t be much closer to “everything.”  

Have the Brandens revealed everything?  If PARC is criticized for not including ‘every note’ then shouldn’t the Brandens be held to the same standard?  They certainly haven’t responded to the specific new information in Rand’s notes.  They are still alive and could respond, if they wished.  Of course that is their choice; they owe no duty to me.

However, the Brandens’ choice to not respond, while alive, is more significant than the failure to release notes from the dead.  Barbara Branden’s previous comments prove this choice is not due to lack of interest. 

 




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Post 68

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 11:34amSanction this postReply
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For the record, I did not find "very few (if still unexplained) problems" in Harriman's editing of Journals of Ayn Rand.  I was only able to compare one journal entry from that book to the same passage published previously in The Objectivist Forum.  And a comparison of these different versions of the same passage showed inexplicable editing, including the elimination of the name "Albert Jay Nock" from the Journals' version.  I have never seen the actual journals in Rand's handwriting, and I've never seen any other published passages from Rand's journals by which to make a more general comparison.  So, what few problems I identified were only identified because I had a basis for comparison.  With no archival access and no alternatively published versions of the journal entries available, I have no basis for assessing the overall quality of Harriman's editing.

What I did say, in my initial essay on Harriman's editing (see here), however, was not that Harriman was being dishonest in his editing but that the introduction of these alterations, with no explanation, leaves scholars in the position of having to question their authenticity in part, or in toto.  This is a totally unnecessary problem that emerged, which could have been very easily addressed by those responsible for the editing of Rand's personal papers.  Unfortunately, the problem has never been addressed by Harriman or anybody else.  (That's not quite correct; one blogger recently addressed some of these issues, but I think the questions this blogger raises only compound the problem.  See Notablog here).

I should state that whatever objections people have to Jim Valliant's parenthetical remarks in his publication of Rand's personal diaries, I praised him, from Square One, for having published the material raw and for having indicated every change he made with proper use of brackets and bold emphasis.

As for the issue of the Brandens' accounts:  Jim has, no doubt, found a number of inconsistencies and conflicts within each of the Branden accounts and between them.  But most of these conflicts revolve around "subjectivity" issues:  how each person, deeply embedded in the interpersonal dynamics that constituted The Affair, interpreted the other person's thoughts, feelings, motivations, etc. in the context of that Affair.  I am not saying that The Affair is unimportant; I just continue to maintain that it relates less to the philosophic system that is Objectivism than, say, an understanding of Rand's intellectual development (which has always been of more interest to me). 

As for the removal of the Brandens' voices from audio lectures, such as Rand's lectures on fiction-writing:  All this would be put to rest if those responsible for the editing simply provided us with an explanation.  But this practice of airbrushing people out of existence once they've broken with Rand or her immediate followers is not restricted to the Brandens.  See this lovely demonstration at the Free Radical site, for example.

I have a problem with practices that alter the historical record; differences such as those that exist between the Brandens' accounts of The Affair and Rand's own journals can at least be placed in the context of motivational or interpretive differences.  Jim V and I can disagree over the motivations of the players in question on any number of issues; but at least Jim V decided to approach the issue head-on, rather than bracketing out the existence of the Brandens from public discussion.

When people simply disappear from an historical record, there is something important that is being eliminated, something that partially explains that record or provides a richer context for understanding it.

As for my use of the archival material in the possession of ARI:  I was in touch with Leonard Peikoff briefly prior to the publication of my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical.  He refused to provide me with any photos for my book because he had had a bad experience with the use of a photo by James Baker for a book that Baker wrote on Rand.  Not only did I understand his apprehensiveness, I actually raised the issue of the Baker book before he had a chance to.  He explained that unless he really knew the people involved, he would not share such material.  That was his right.

I had also asked him relevant questions concerning Rand's relationship to Professor N.O. Lossky, which he was unable to answer, but he had promised me at the time that if he came into any information about the case, he'd get in touch with me.

After the publication of my book, I received a number of letters from people at ARI who were pleased with the seriousness that I brought to the study of Rand.  This didn't imply agreement with my work. But they were completely aware of my relationship to the Brandens (they saw in my book my extensive treatment of the Brandens' contributions as well as photos provided to me by the Brandens), and this never stopped them from continuing a correspondence.  In fact, they were fascinated by my uncovering of information about Rand's early education at the Stoiunin gymnasium and secured from me a photo of Lossky for use in the documentary "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life."  I actually received a screen credit (along with Boris Lossky, N. O. Lossky's son) in that film.

Moreover, at the time, I had invited some ARI-affiliated scholars to contribute dissenting material to the volume Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand; they declined.  Perhaps, in that instance, the presence of both Brandens in the volume posed a problem.  But this was not the explanation they offered.

All I know is that I was on the verge of receiving a faxed copy of Rand's college transcript when they suddenly told me that I could do the research, provide them with my evaluation of the material, but never publish on the subject.  They gave me no explanation as to why I would be denied the right to publish my findings; at first, I simply thought that they would want to make the "big splash" and that it was a "timing" issue.  But that was not the issue, and they never explained why it was that I would have no right to reap the benefits of my own work.  As it turned out, I sought those archival documents elsewhere, and eventually published my findings in the first issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

Let me stress my agreement here with Magenta Hornet, however, that "The Rand estate has every right to decide how and when Rand's journals are made public ~ in any manner it chooses," even if it has never been expressed to me, implicitly or explicitly, that I have been denied access to those archives because of my relationship with the Brandens.  In any event, such would not explain the denial of access to many other scholars, like Mimi Gladstein or biographer Anne Heller.

In fact, to my knowledge, no non-ARI scholars have been allowed to use the Rand Archives.  Jim V may be the exception, but he had a relationship of sorts with Leonard Peikoff and his intellectual conclusions were certainly in sync with the negative assessment of the Brandens that Peikoff himself shares.

Such control over archives is not unusual; the Freud estate, the Nietzsche estate, and so many other estates, in their infancy, attempted to control the flow of information as a way of protecting the legacy of the person in question.  But, over time, that control just doesn't work.  Scholarly pursuits will not be held back no matter how many litmus tests are put in place to guide those pursuits.

I agree fundamentally with Jim on this point:  "It is certainly to be hoped and expected that one day all scholars will be able to use all of it ..."




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Post 69

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 11:48amSanction this postReply
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James,

Let's get something clear. I state what I state, not what you state. Your arguments did an admirable job once again of going off topic, putting words in my mouth and spinning right back into the same place you always argue from.

The fact is that Rand's papers are now historical documents. They are not yet being offered to the public or scholars in their entirety as such, merely selectively. However, a very definite version of Rand's history is being offered by the holders of those documents.

Whether this version is honest or dishonest, I have not stated. Frankly, that is a shame, too - i.e., that I would have doubts. (And the unfortunate situation that such doubts are held also applies to the public.) I sincerely wish that you would stop saying that I believe the ARI version to be dishonest because I keep pointing out that it is highly selective. I do entertain doubts, though.

Why doubts? I will not write a full book (for the time being), but there are reasons.

I will only address one point in your post right now on the appraisal of how important the Brandens (especially Nathaniel) were in getting Objectivism going as an intellectual movement (which was downplayed in the movie). This is enough to cause anyone who thinks for himself to doubt.

But let's not use your appraisal, nor mine. Let's use Ayn Rand's appraisal - and in the worst possible public document in terms of her criticism of them. How's that for fair? Let's look at "To Whom it May Concern" in the May 1968 issue of The Objectivist.

About Nathaniel Branden's organization, NBI, which Rand stated that that she had no share in, she stated:
My interest was strictly and exclusively intellectual: I permitted Mr. Branden to use my name and my ideas, in the sense that his organizations were to teach my philosophy and could recruit students from among the readers and admirers of my books; I retained intellectual control over the content of what was to be taught.
NBI was give exclusive permission to teach her philosophy - with her sanction and her approval. NBI meant Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden. Nobody else was given this permission back then, as far as I know. This was given over a series of years, also.

About The Objectivist, she stated:
THE OBJECTIVIST (formerly THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER) was an independent venture, entirely separate from NBI and its affiliates. It was originated and owned jointly by Mr. Branden and me. Our incorporation agreement stated that all policy decisions were to be made by our unanimous consent. We also agreed that we would write an equal number of articles and receive an equal salary. I did not take any remuneration for the use of my name, even though my name constituted the main commercial asset of the publication. I was to do the final editing on the articles of other contributors, and Mr. Branden was to do preliminary editing and to supervise the financial-business aspects of the publication.
All policy decisions were to be unanimous. I am not aware of any other place where Rand granted that kind of power in her own business ventures.

Furthermore, they were supposed to write an equal number of essays each. That means that her appraisal of him in terms of understanding Objectivism was extremely high - so much so that she agreed to a 50-50% level in writing official articles in the official Objectivist publication. Morally, she denounced him, but intellectually, she complained that he had not contributed his share - which means that the content of those articles had her intellectual sanction.

The final point is that she was to do the final editing on the articles of other contributors. Their agreement was not that she also would do the final editing on his own contributions - at least she did not state that. Once more, her appraisal of Branden's intellectual importance to the Objectivism educational movement was extremely high - very close to her own.

Then, of course, there is the obvious quote on her sanction of his (and Barbara's) intellectual contribution to Objectivism:
I must state, for the record, that Mr. and Mrs. Branden's writings and lectures up to this time were valid and consonant with Objectivism.
The time she mentions is the moment she asked Nathaniel to remove himself from The Objectivist. Let me repeat those words, because they will not go away: up to that moment, their "writings and lectures" were "valid and consonant with Objectivism." We are talking about years and years of contributions.

Rand's words, not mine.

This appraisal of Nathaniel's vast intellectual importance to Objectivism is given in Rand's harshest public criticism of him.

If that appraisal can be there, why on earth cannot those who followed her accept it? Why was it practically written off in the biographical movie of her?

I have reasonable doubt because of this.

Michael

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 10/29, 12:03pm)

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 10/29, 12:58pm)




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Post 70

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 12:14pmSanction this postReply
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In addition to what Chris says, I think there are a couple examples of other changes made.

First, in The Ayn Rand Reader, the editors (Hull and Peikoff) omit the footnote from FTNI in which Rand thanks Branden for his contributions to the "Atilla" & "Witchdoctor" ideas (including the names).  I assume that FTNI was reprinted during Rand's life post-68 and this footnote wasn't removed.

Second, I believe there is a later anthology which omits a reference to Branden in an article.

Finally, I think what the ARI (or whoever it was) did in permitting Peter Schwartz to re-edit The New Left to add his own stuff (under the new name Return of the Primitive) was unfortunate.  Rand edited this work herself at the request of a reader.

To the extent that any of this creates an inference that the Journals, etc. aren't trustworthy (and I'm not saying this -- I don't know) Rand's estate could resolve questions by allowing scholars to examine the originals.

(Edited by Neil Parille on 10/29, 12:33pm)




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Post 71

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 12:33pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Valliant,

Your explanation for removing the voices of Nathaniel and Barbara Branden (and others!) from tapes of Ayn Rand's lectures relies on speculation.

Removing the Brandens' voices may be the result of some reasonable legal advice, given Ms. Branden's legal contention (right or wrong) that she exclusively owned every aspect of her taped interviews with Rand, don't you think? Might she not sue with the same claim if her voice had been included -- even just asking questions? Why not try to avoid such litigation? This is just a "for instance" that even an inferior attorney could suggest to you.
You're assuming that Barbara Branden is prone to file meritless lawsuits.  Do you have any evidence for that?  How precisely would her claim on tapes of her interviews with Ayn Rand extend to tapes of AR's lectures?  Would she or NB or John Hospers actually prefer that their voices not be on tapes sold by Peikoff and company?

I don't have a problem with speculation, so long as there is an effort to back it up.

What I do have a problem with is treating speculation that favors your position as a legitimate argument, and speculation that doesn't favor it as arbitrary assertion or fantasy.

Besides, there is at least one person who doesn't have to speculate.  Leonard Peikoff has to know why the voices were cut out of the tapes, because it couldn't have been done without his OK.  It would be easy for him to offer a public explanation, and it is hard to believe that he anticipates a downside from explaining to the public why he did what he regards as the right thing.  Yet the standard response, from the ARI-affiliated, is "moral and legal reasons" that are never specified.

Robert Campbell

 




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Post 72

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 12:50pmSanction this postReply
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Chris,

Thank you for your response.

It is hardly surprising that you would not agree to just give away the results of your findings to the AR Archive without also getting the permission to use those findings. Totally understandable.

But it's not suspiciously secretive of them, either. They significantly, then, did allow the examination of the materials you requested, just not their use, as I thought. Thank you for that. And for confirming that you do not contend that Harriman acted in bad faith.

As I say, even the reference to Nock is important and requires explanation, but the journal material previously published in 'The Objectivist Forum' was a bit more extensive than you imply, wasn't it? And, has anyone made a request to view or verify the rest?

I do not know the background on the Reismans -- at all. Do you?

I do know that references to, and citations of, and associations with them and their work are not treated in the same way that the Brandens have been. Andrew Bernstein's newly released 'Capitalist Manifesto' cites Reisman where appropriate.

As I indicate in my book, even Mr. Branden's name and essays continue to be published in Rand's anthologies. This seems odd if one is trying to alter an historical record.

And, an ethical point must be made here: a personal conviction that someone is not honest, or is harmful to one's own work, in my view, fully justifies an active effort to avoid promoting that person's work. The removal of those voices on the tapes, for instance, may not have been just a reasonable effort to avoid the real possibility unreasonable litigation, but an effort to end any further promotion of those persons.

Without knowing the nature of the Reisman situation, I am in no position to judge it, but I refuse to denounce people for having moral opinions just because I am not privy to their basis. Screaming about moral intolerance, or the like, in this state of evidence, for me, is as irresponsible as any other irresponsible moral judgment or intolerance or "judgmentalism." (Why isn't THAT called "moralism," I wonder?)

You may be frustrated by lacking the explanations you desire, but such explanations are not always "owed" to anyone, either.

Most importantly, and as we have already discussed at Notablog, your mischaracterizations of my book unfortunately continue when you say that "most of [problems with the Brandens' accounts]... revolve around 'subjectivity' issues: how each person, deeply embedded in the interpersonal dynamics that constituted The Affair, interpreted the other person's thoughts, feelings, motivations, etc. in the context of that Affair."

Nonsense -- dressed up in dialectical lingo. A great many of these problems involve straightforward and important factual errors and factual omissions (that are not dates and numbers) by the Brandens. A great many -- even from Rand's notes -- involve WAY more than the Affair. The bogus counseling, the false pretenses about the Brandens' marriage, and such other issues connected to the Affair, are are also profound -- and still, by themselves, far more significant than the problems you've located in Harriman's editing. This is not to evaluate the relative importance of biography over philosophical or literary matters -- merely a comparison of the quality of their results.

My sincere apology to Dr. Harriman for even making this grossly unfair comparison -- but I am confident of the nature of that comparison.





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Post 73

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 12:56pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Campbell,

I completely disagree. It is reasonable to try to avoid even unreasonable litigation. Ms. Branden's legal position, as I am told, was that she owned every aspect of those taped biographical interviews. This alone justifies the reaction, in my view, but, of course, I have no personal knowledge of the reasons. This is something anyone could have quite reasonably supposed to be the case, however. (The other ethical considerations involved in the Brandens' records are discussed at length in my book.)



Post 74

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 1:11pmSanction this postReply
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Prof. Campbell,

Was Dr. Hospers' voice removed?  He permitted that excerpts of letters he wrote to Rand be included in Letters of Ayn Rand (with a brief comment by him) so I would be surprised if he would not give permission viz-a-viz his voice on the tapes.




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Post 75

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 1:27pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Parille,

At the risk of being "way too polite," let me say that at least the first two points you raised in Post 70 are ones that I have not yet considered. However, I would regard these as more significant if they were not merely references of credit to Mr. Branden which the Rand estate may have reason to believe that Ayn Rand would have reconsidered herself. As you say, we cannot be certain.

I have even less of a problem with the addition of the Schwartz material that did not exist when Rand edited the original version. She liked his work and it was relevant.


(Edited by James S. Valliant
on 10/29, 1:29pm)




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Post 76

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 1:57pmSanction this postReply
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Jim, you wrote:

But it's not suspiciously secretive of them, either. They significantly, then, did allow the examination of the materials you requested, just not their use, as I thought. Thank you for that. And for confirming that you do not contend that Harriman acted in bad faith.




No, you misunderstand. They actually did not allow my examination of the material. They wanted a verbal agreement from me before they faxed the material to my home that I never write on the subject. So, in truth, I never saw any of the material. Not until years later, after I'd spent tons of money and months upon months using research assistants to find another copy of the Rand transcript in the archives of the University of St. Petersburg.


I don't know if anybody else has asked to review the material from The Objectivist Forum, but I can tell you that I did find quite a few additional editorial changes in the passage comparisons that I did see.  None of this implies dishonesty on the part of Harriman or anybody else; but it introduces unnecessary confusion.

As for the Reismans:  I don't know the whole background; I just have a real problem with altering documents that were already published.  I could be wrong, but it was my impression, for example, that even Edith Packer's lectures in Peikoff's brilliant course, "Understanding Objectivism," are no longer part of that course.  Whatever the reasons are:  Packer was a part of that series, and the lectures she gave were, in my view, indispensable to that series, the same way Branden's essays are indispensable to Rand's anthologies (which, thank goodness, for the most part, have not been altered... except one cannot find Branden's essays from Virtue of Selfishness or Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal in the searchable CD-ROM of Rand's books).

I am happy to hear that Andrew Bernstein cites Reisman appropriately in his new book; that's quite a difference from, say, Salsman, who is now at intellectual odds with Reisman and virtually the whole Austrian school of economics in his most recent series of articles in The Intellectual Activist.  (On this last point, see my essay with Larry Sechrest in PDF form here.)

I understand your point, too, Jim, about not wanting to promote the work of those individuals whom one considers immoral.  But I'm speaking strictly from the perspective of an intellectual historian:  I don't want to see any alteration in a book or a tape once it has been published or produced.  I would sooner appreciate an editor stating at the outset that Person X is no longer associated with me or my philosophy... while still publishing the essays that were part of the anthology to begin with. This is, in fact, what Rand herself did.  Her followers should have done the same thing.  It would have preserved the integrity of the historical record, while allowing them to "set the record straight" in a postscript or preface.

And that's what irks me:  For all I know, the principals in any of these conflicts may have been in the right in morally condemning any number of people with whom they were previously associated.  But the historical record is what it is; a scholar can contextualize it in a new edition, but erasing a contribution that was part of the record is just not the scholarly thing to do.  And, no, nobody owes me or any other scholar an explanation; but then they should not be upset when people speculate wildly about their motives.

As for the issue of your book and your views of the Brandens:  I'll not revisit it here, since we've both discussed it here.  All of it, in my view, still revolves around the Affair and the personal interactions of these people, including "the bogus counseling, the false pretenses about the Brandens' marriage, and such other issues connected to the Affair ..."  I never paid much attention to this Affair prior to your book.  It constituted a couple of sentences in my entire Russian Radical, and no more than a couple of paragraphs in a subsequent essay on the documentary, "Ayn  Rand: A Sense of Life."  I just don't focus on it because I don't believe it is essential to my understanding of Objectivism or Rand's intellectual development.  (That's quite apart from the fact that I applauded you for bringing her private journals to light; I found that material very worthwhile reading.)

(Edited by sciabarra on 10/29, 2:17pm)




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Post 77

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 2:22pmSanction this postReply
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Chris,

No, I think that you still misunderstand my point. You did have the opportunity to view and at least verify the material -- upon your agreement not to use it. Thus, the viewing and verification were not being denied, just the use of it. This is the distinction that I was making. It is an important one.

Also, you keep saying that it's "all" about The Affair. Give it up! Mr. Branden's "issues" -- even by his own limited admissions -- involved much, much more. So do Rand's notes about him. The Affair was "over" in Rand's eyes almost from the outset of these notes, and she proceeds on to other more interesting matters. My book has a still greater scope.

This empty mantra of yours sounds like a politician's "talking points"...

Nor has the effect of the Brandens been so limited as you also continue to suppose. I'm glad that you have had the wisdom not to allow the Brandens to become a major source for your own work, but this has not been the case for other writers, alas!



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Post 78

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 2:31pmSanction this postReply
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Nathaniel Branden threatened to sue Ayn Rand if she published "To Whom it May Concern." He also threatened to sue Ayn Rand if she made public any of his correspondence. More recently, Barbara Branden has threatened to sue Regi Firehammer if he published any of her emails to him.



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Post 79

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 1:11pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,

So, can you give all that "significance" of Mr. Branden a percentage of Rand's life? That way I can compare. More than the attention given in the movie to the writing and ideas and development of 'The Fountainhead'? Of 'Atlas'? Of the combination of the two? I'm still no closer to your point.



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