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Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - 11:54amSanction this postReply
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After reading Nathaniel Branden's My Years With Ayn Rand, and his other books on self-esteem and conscious living, I now believe that he was, and is, a significantly more objective and rational person than Ayn Rand.  However, hers was a more fanatic and heretical personality than his, and that is why she was able to pioneer the initial Objectivist approach. 

I think that pioneers like Rand must usually have more of this sort of fanaticism than those who refine and redeem a movement, such as Branden.

I am now convinced that all the events concerning him and Rand, ugly as they were at the time, unfolded in precisely the sort of way that they would have had to, although he apparently couldn't see that the perfect outflow of events and outcomes occurred.

I also believe that we are only now approaching true Objectivism, because we are now beginning to appreciate what Rand could not, but which Branden could:  that the mind alone cannot anticipate all aspects of reality, and that the individual must be open to accepting new phenomena that call for a reformulation of what seems logical:... in other words, paradigm shifts.

The name "Objectivism" contains the word "objectivity", which is a fancy word for truth.  Although Ayn Rand relentlessly produced most of the essential scaffolding of objectivity which Objectivism was built upon, all too often, what Rand practiced was prejudicial thinking and dishonest rationalizations to suit her own personal needs, at the expense of others.

Is Objectivism to be true to what its name really means, and be about the process of logical reality-testing and investigation called "objectivity"?  Or is it to remain a pre-packaged set of forgone conclusions called "Objectivism", whose very name frightens people away from challenging it as truth (and perhaps whose name was chosen for that very reason)?

The latter is what Rand fervently pushed.  But only the adoption of the former can make Objectivism the revered juggernaut of world philosophy that it truly deserves to be. 

(Edited by Danny Silvera on 2/08, 12:18pm)




Post 1

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - 12:18pmSanction this postReply
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It is dismaying that a pack of parasites has found a way to produce paychecks and royalties by rummaging through and selling off the contents of Ayn Rand's attic and wastepaper basket.

Folks, if you have any doubts about the moral status of The Heir and his hangers-on, ask yourself one question:

From everything you know about Ayn Rand (and do try to put yourself in her shoes for a moment), do you think for one minute that she would have wanted her private, intimate letters (or, for that matter, drafts and fragments that she had intentionally expunged from her fiction) to have been tossed into print posthumously, for public consumption?

(Edited by Robert Bidinotto on 2/08, 12:19pm)

(Edited by Robert Bidinotto on 2/08, 12:20pm)




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Post 2

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - 12:26pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

I haven't read her published journals yet.  But I will say this:

To the extent that they flesh out her philosophical ideas and her writings, I don't see them as contemptible voyeurism.  But to the extent that they reveal what were her private thoughts and habits while she was alive... Well, again, another set of questions:

1) To what extent are they relevant to Objectivism, and to what extent are they a seemingly irrelevant "skirt lifting" of what might be embarrassing secrets about her? and

2) Even to the extent that they ARE embarrassing and seemingly irrelevant, how embarrassed can Rand be now?  She is now dead, after all.  How much does she care?  How much CAN she care, in her present condition?

I'm thinking that this is how death really works... it tends to induce a certain apathy in you.  And I'm pretty sure that this was Rand's view on death, too.





Post 3

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - 1:29pmSanction this postReply
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My concern is much more about the kind of mud this book may sling at the Brandens than what this does to Rand's character.   I'll repeat the essense of my initial post:  ARI should be embarassed at themselves in exhuming this corpse.  Mrs. Logic is dead - let her personal vendetta lie with her.

Jason




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Post 4

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - 1:33pmSanction this postReply
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Here are my thoughts:

1. The title of the book indicates that it is a response to those who were the first to throw Rand's private life into the limelight. Once her private life were discussed publicly from the perspective of others, it became necessary to provide her perspective on the matter.

2. The fact that it took those in charge of Rand's archives 23 years since her death to publish her account of her private life  indicates that they were not eager to do so. They were certainly not in a rush to produce royalties and paychecks.

(Edited by Michelle Cohen on 2/08, 1:35pm)




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Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - 2:02pmSanction this postReply
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Jason,

My own response on seeing this was peaked interest.

Some would say the mud slinging began with the publication of
"Judgment Day: My Years With Ayn Rand".

How is this new book any more inappropriate or without class than those memoirs that it seeks to answer?

John



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Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - 2:02pmSanction this postReply
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Just so there's no misunderstanding here:  I have enourmous respect for Ayn Rand as an intellectual giant.  Her achievement is nothing less than extra-ordinary, and as one committed to such I'm in awe of her as a thinker.  Her actions in her personal life are a whole 'nother matter.  And it's really the actions of ARI that amaze me here - they're what my reaction is against.

Jason




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Post 7

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - 2:13pmSanction this postReply
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Before criticizing this book, I think it is only fair to read through it both with an open mind and a grain of salt.  It is my understanding that this book offers another perspective different from Nathaniel Branden's memoir and Barbara Branden's biography, and in the words of Ayn Rand herself.  If Ayn Rand did not want her personal memorabilia to be published, perhaps she should have given more thought to whom she entrusted her estate to, or at least specified as much in her will.



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Post 8

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - 11:06pmSanction this postReply
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Given the pathologies evident in NB's interactions with others, with myself, and most recently with Diana Hsieh - especially the very public "Hellen" episode on Diana's blog - I look forward to contrasting Ayn Rand's account of events with his. To condemn the forthcoming book sight unseen is precisely the fanatical obscurantism that its sight-unseen, book-unread critics project onto ARI.



Post 9

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 12:02amSanction this postReply
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Ayn talked about her affair with Branden in her journals?



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Post 10

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 6:42amSanction this postReply
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Adam, Shove it up your pompous ass.  I didn't give a damn book review and I didn't condemn the text itself.  I condemn the actions of ARI in bringing all of this out of the dusty closet once again for it to be re-hashed.  If all of the people involved in the whole ordeal were dead (Heaven forbid), that would be one thing - that would be an act of honest "airing" of all available information.  But to bring this up again - at a time when the word "schism" has become a bromide because it's been done so much in the Objectivist community - is highly questionable.

Jason




Post 11

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 6:56amSanction this postReply
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(Edited by George W. Cordero on 2/09, 1:53pm)




Post 12

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 8:00amSanction this postReply
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Let the Ad Hominem arguments begin!

From here: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem.html



"Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of "argument" has the following form:

1. Person A makes claim X.
2. Person B makes an attack on person A.
3. Therefore A's claim is false.

The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made)."

I suspect that with regard to this book we will see much of this. It has started against Adam.

John



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Post 13

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 8:07amSanction this postReply
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It has been pointed out already that ARI was not the first to air out Ayn Rand's "dirty laundry" and that the intent of this book is to provide another perspective on Ayn Rand different from Nathaniel Branden's and Barbara Branden's . . . in the words of Ayn Rand herself.  I have read in some of the promos that there are differences from the story already in the public record.  If that is the case, then they should be addressed and resolved.  And, yes, to answer Danny's question, I have also read in some of the promos that Ayn Rand did write about "The Affair" in her journals, among other things.

I do not know what to make of Nathaniel Branden.  I read his books, including the revised version of his memoir, "Judgement Day", and enjoyed them for the most part (though parts of "Judgement Day" did disturb me).  However, the whole "Hellen" episode on Diana's Noodle Food blog boggles the mind!

(Edited by Byron Garcia on 2/09, 8:09am)




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Post 14

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 8:23amSanction this postReply
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I agree with something Tibor Machen said in another thread. To paraphrase, lets get past Ayn Rand's personal life and on to her philosophy.

Ethan




Post 15

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 8:59amSanction this postReply
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" I have read in some of the promos that there are differences from the story already in the public record.  If that is the case, then they should be addressed and resolved."  [Byron]

My, my, what context-switching, John and Byron.  My reaction was against the synopsis itself that ARI is using to promote the book.  I haven't read any other promos.  That synopsis implies the book is a publishing of Rand's journal writings in which she wrote about N.B.'s psychology and whether he was evil all along or evil just at the end, etc, etc, etc.  THAT kind of stuff is what I see no point in publishing.

If there is valid, new, information - concrete events surrounding the affair and the split - then that is a contribution to the history of the Objectivist movement.  Rand's psychologizing and rationalizing isn't.  I quote from the synopsis: "It is highlighted by extensive, never-before-published personal journal entries of Ayn Rand. These passages are immensely valuable, not only in revealing the claims of Rand's critics to be profoundly inaccurate and unjust, but also in showcasing her epochal mind at work resolving complex questions of personal life."

Jason




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Post 16

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 9:18amSanction this postReply
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Jason,

With none of us having read the book, none of us could possibly know whether or not Rand "psychologizes" or "rationalizes" the affair.  The only account we have on the affair is the one on the public record now.  I fail to see how Nathaniel Branden's or Barbara Branden's account is somehow more objective than Ayn Rand's.  I also do not see anywhere on the promo that says it is about Nathaniel Branden's psychology or morality, only that his account may not have been accurate or just.  I am not ARI's biggest fan (I am a contributor to both TOC and SOLO), but I do not see anything in ARI's promo, or any other promo, that is disgusting.

Ethan,

I agree that Ayn Rand's philosophy is more important than Ayn Rand.  It would have been nice if we can turn back time and take Ayn Rand's private life out of the public record.  However, books have been published and a movie made that presents Ayn Rand in a certain light that could possibly not be 100% true.  I do not see anything wrong with someone else presenting a different point of view.




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Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 9:46amSanction this postReply
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Byron,

I do not see anything wrong with someone else presenting a different point of view.

That is true. There really isn't much more to say about this without having read the book. So we can read the book if we wish and comment on it. For anyone interested in the truth about Rand's life and what has been published so far on it, more information is certainly better.

Personally, this is a non-issue for me. I celebrate Ayn Rand for her acheivements and her philosophy. The "attacks on," "defense of," and "airing" of her personal life, and the whole war over Ayn Rand over-shadow her philosophy in such a way that it leaves me sad. The truth is hard to find here. Its hard for me to point at either Nathaniel Branden or Barbara Branden and say that they started airing the laundry out. One could argue that began with "To Whom it May Concern" and continued with various actions by Leonard Peikoff.

I'm going to continue my way through Rand's non-fiction before I ever consider picking up this book, or Nathaniel Branden's. I happened upon Barbara's book in the 90s in a library and read it then, and enjoyed the insight on Rand's life, but the events depicted in there, whatever their validity have no bearing on my embracing Rand's philosophy. My interactions with Barbara Branden on SOLO have been pleasant and valuable to me, so I tend to view her in that posistive light due to personal experience, rather than anything some other interested party may write.

Regards,

Ethan




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Post 18

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 9:59amSanction this postReply
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I think the book could be interesting but the trepidation I have, based on Sciabarra's spot on criticism of the ARI lack of scholarly integrity, is that they could selectively quote Rand in such a way as to misrepresent the context of her comments. There is not much room for us to know the whole truth. I am sure that Sciabarraís radar is up and running while he fine tunes his laser and I sure look forward to those results.

 

Newberry




Post 19

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 1:43pmSanction this postReply
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Newberry makes an important point. This book will not contain ďRandís journal entries about the affair,Ē it will contain those entries that Peikoff gave over to Valliant for this book.

I have read an earlier draft of Valliantís work and exchanged some emails with him. In its form online about two years ago, I thought it was awful work, little more than unimportant nit-picked inconsistencies between Barbaraís and Nathanielís books.

In one passage he tries to show that Nathaniel canít be trusted with truth or facts because he canít even think straight. Supporting this point, Valliant quotes NB saying things like: 1) Rand was not a very good cook. 2) My favorite dish of hers was X, and 3) my absolute top favorite was her stroganoff. And then he goes on about how someone simply canít be trusted, who says he has a favorite AND an absolute top favorite; thatís a contradiction! And from a poor cook, which is logically impossible!

Iíll buy it used. I anticipate many copies will be available used soon after release. Iíll withhold judgment until I see the book, which Iím sure will be different from the drafts I read years ago, but I am anticipating pure entertainment.

Jon



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