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Friday, October 29, 2004 - 12:13amSanction this postReply
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Gary Hull is among the more ridiculous of the Orthodox Ones - and that's saying something. He's a Peikoff clone, aping Leonard's mannerisms in the most exruciatingly embarrassing way. More importantly, he displays the fundamental attribute of the True Believer: the willingness to fake reality & rewrite history. These unthinking, heel-clicking rote-learning yes-creatures are a travesty of Objectivism.

Linz



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Friday, October 29, 2004 - 1:53amSanction this postReply
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I see what you're saying.... He's rewriting history, by writing any credit due to Nathaniel Branden for the use of the archetypes of Attila and the Witch Doctor, out of Objectivism.

On one hand, for him to say that "I have, of course, made no changes in AR's own words." is a lie, but on the other hand, did not Rand herself clearly indicate in one of her other nonfiction books that Nathaniel Branden was no longer endorsed by or affiliated with Objectivism?

Perhaps it is in that spirit, that Gary Hull excised mention of Nathaniel Branden from his book.

I'm not saying it's morally right for him to do so; all I'm saying is that perhaps -- in keeping with her previously stated wishes -- he is adhering to what he saw as Rand's wishes regarding Nathaniel Branden by doing so.





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Friday, October 29, 2004 - 2:02amSanction this postReply
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Isn't hagiography and intellectual dishonesty one of the great hallmarks of ARI? They're like the worst of the catholics discussing their "saints" or the worst of the communists discussing their working class "heros." Their work always seems to give us a whiff of the nazis and the Taliban. 
 
Samuel Johnson spoke of the virtue and value of biography which portrayed people as they really were, "warts and all." I think this Enlightenment liberal ideal has been lost to the ARIan folks. They're just like the early Pythagoreans: making very real progress in some areas, but doing so in a warped cult atmosphere with a warped cult attitude.    
 
I think there's a desperate need now by all aging and authoritative Objectivists to systematically and rigorously expose and record their fraud -- not just assume future generations will somehow know and understand.  




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Friday, October 29, 2004 - 2:04amSanction this postReply
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Then he still shouldn't say he hasn't altered her words. There's no such thing as lying in the "spirit" of the truth.

Linz





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Friday, October 29, 2004 - 2:06amSanction this postReply
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Oooops! My last post should be seen as flowing on directly from Orion's. Clearly Andre & I were responding simultaneously, & he posted first! :-)

Linz



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Friday, October 29, 2004 - 2:22amSanction this postReply
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Orion, you wrote: "Did not Rand herself clearly indicate in one of her other nonfiction books that Nathaniel Branden was no longer endorsed by or affiliated with Objectivism?"

Linz pointed out that a lie was involved, but even more important is this: It wouldn't matter if it was Ghengis Khan who had contributed to the concept of Attila and the Witch Doctor; acknowledgment would still be required. What sort of morality allows one to profit from someone's thinking, to use that thinking -- but to decide that the person is not "worthy" of being acknowledged?

For years, I've seen many people do precisely this with Ayn Rand's ideas. That is, they use her ideas in their speaking or writing -- but prefer not to be embarrassed by giving credit to the originator. After all, she may not be popular with their audience, so why make trouble for oneself? I've seen whole books made possible only by Rand's ideas, but the writer is much too careful of his reputation to acknowledge the source. If ARI would despise someone who did this to Rand, why is it any better to do it to someone they don't like?

The fact of the matter is that we are talking about plain, garden variety theft. Not of money, but of earned acknowledgment. It is the attempt to make reality unreal.

Barbara



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Friday, October 29, 2004 - 8:02amSanction this postReply
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Barbara,

In the context of the editing of Rand's writings:
I have been wondering about the absence of reference by Rand to her change of heart about Nietzsche. I could not find such a reference in the "Journals of Ayn Rand" and "Letters of Ayn Rand."  There are positive remarks about him, then there is a gap around the time of WWII, then there are negative remarks. But there is no entry by her referring to her change of heart about him. Can you let us know if she referred to this change of heart?

Thanks.

P.S. Ronald Merrill did a good job of tracking this change of heart in Rand's fiction.




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Friday, October 29, 2004 - 10:19amSanction this postReply
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Then he still shouldn't say he hasn't altered her words. There's no such thing as lying in the "spirit" of the truth.
Yes, Lindsay, I totally agree with you, and think you're completely right about that.  Good eye.




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Friday, October 29, 2004 - 10:30amSanction this postReply
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Ms. Branden,

You said this: 
For years, I've seen many people do precisely this with Ayn Rand's ideas. That is, they use her ideas in their speaking or writing -- but prefer not to be embarrassed by giving credit to the originator. After all, she may not be popular with their audience, so why make trouble for oneself? I've seen whole books made possible only by Rand's ideas, but the writer is much too careful of his reputation to acknowledge the source. If ARI would despise someone who did this to Rand, why is it any better to do it to someone they don't like?
I couldn't agree more, and I'm glad you actually put this out on the table.  Even Rand herself was admirable enough to give credit to those before her that she owed a debt of gratitude to, like Aristotle.  Too many people don't mention or keep track of who their philosophical mentors are, and create the illusion that they have created something new out of nothing that came before, as if they were God or something. 

However, I think that in certain occasions where I might want to get a very important one of Rand's ideas across without setting off some knee-jerk, prejudicial reaction in people by mentioning her name, I could say something like this in a speech, until actually questioned for the source of the quote:

A great 20th century writer and philosopher once wrote:  "Contradictions do not exist; whenever you think you are faced with a contradiction, check your premises.  You will find that one of them is wrong."
This way, I could pre-emptively get past their invalid and prejudicial objections to what they have been told by others that Ayn Rand is really all about, and succeed in presenting to them a liberating new approach to life. 

Once I've presented the idea, if someone were to say to me afterwards, "Hey, I really loved that quote; where's it from?"  I could then say the name Ayn Rand to them, at which point they would either be hearing a wonderful new name, or hearing a name that they only thought they knew. 




Post 9

Friday, October 29, 2004 - 12:48pmSanction this postReply
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The important citation should be made in written works. In speeches and everyday conversation, one doesn’t track down and give credit to every originator. I find it utterly obnoxious when someone keeps inserting, “as I learned from Jesus,” “Marx wrote in Das Kapital,” or “to paraphrase Ayn Rand.” I can usually tell the influences of others even if they are completely unaware, I don’t need a constant reminder.

However, in an extended opus of written works, it is sad to see the continual omission of Rand, Brandens, Sciabarra, and others who have clearly contributed important material.




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Saturday, October 30, 2004 - 1:10amSanction this postReply
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I have a very old edition of For the New Intellectual (it looks like it comes from the seventies), and the footnote is definately included. That's not to say later editions haven't been "corrected."




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Saturday, October 30, 2004 - 4:08amSanction this postReply
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Stephen, I didn't say that the acknowledgment of Nathaniel was removed from FOR THE NEW INTELLECTUAL. It was omitted by Peikoff when the "Attila and the Witch Doctor" section was excerpted in THE AYN RAND READER.

Barbara



Post 12

Saturday, October 30, 2004 - 4:09amSanction this postReply
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Andre, you wrote: "I think there's a desperate need now by all aging and authoritative Objectivists to systematically and rigorously expose and record their fraud -- not just assume future generations will somehow know and understand."

Stay tuned.

Barbara





Post 13

Saturday, October 30, 2004 - 4:14amSanction this postReply
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Andre:" In speeches and everyday conversation, one doesn’t track down and give credit to every originator. I find it utterly obnoxious when someone keeps inserting, “as I learned from Jesus,” “Marx wrote in Das Kapital,” or “to paraphrase Ayn Rand.”

I agree. However, if most or all of a speech consists of someone else's ideas, then clearly credit should be given.

Barbara



Post 14

Saturday, October 30, 2004 - 3:06pmSanction this postReply
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Michelle, you asked if Rand referred to her change of heart about Nietzsche. I assume you mean if she referred to it in print. Not that I can recall offhand. But she did discuss it with me, and I describe it in THE PASSION OF AYN RAND. It began when she read THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY,and discovered, as she said, that he was "statedly anti-reason," and continued with her increasing discomfort at his presentation of "the superman."

Barbara



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Saturday, October 30, 2004 - 10:38pmSanction this postReply
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Barbara, I certainly sympathize with your concerns on this.  Were I unaware of the context of the controversies within the objectivist circles over the years, I might guess that the issue revolves more about style than substance.  Writing for the popular press usually precludes the use of footnotes and references.

Paine is a classic example of this.  Unless the reader is familiar with the wide range of deist thought, you would not know the sources of many of his later writings and recognize that Paine was quoting from earlier English deists rather than coming up with the ideas himself.

Paine, who was the greatest master of the popular style, knew and understood that clarity is best maintained by limiting his language to fundamentals and then expanding from this point on.  If you open up any of Paine's writings and begin reading at any spot--anywhere--you will understand precisely what he is saying.

However, this is clearly not the case with the ARI writings (and probably lectures, although I can only conjecture on this) where important advances (such as by Nathan and yourself) in general objectivist thought and developments in scholarship (such as with Cox--with "The Woman and The Dynamo", Machan and Sciabarra) are intentionally ignored.  ARI thus trivializes any real progress and work that ARI may have done on objectivism.  This violation of basic principles of scholarship can only harm Ayn Rand's legacy.  I can only think that if ARI is remembered in the long term, it will be for this.

Admittedly, my vantage point is from historical analysis and although I believe that ARI has done some good theoretical work as well, I am little interested in much of what they have done.  It may be forgotten as a wrong turn.

Ah well, as it is said, "Who is Sterling Silliphant," anyway?

Just a thought.
Just Ken
kgregglv@cox.net
http://classicalliberalism.blogspot.com/




Post 16

Sunday, October 31, 2004 - 7:45amSanction this postReply
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Ms. Branden,

I know you were referring to the omission in The Ayn Rand Reader. I merely pointed this out to confirm your claim that it was in fact omitted and that the credit has appeared in print.

I wonder if the deletion is exclusive to ARR, or if all new printings of "Attila and The Witch Doctor" lack the credit due to Dr. Branden.




Post 17

Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - 12:42amSanction this postReply
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Thanks for your understanding, Ken. And yes, ARI's policy on such matters is indeed damaging to Rand's legacy. They make themselves ridiculous.

Barbara



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