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Post 80

Friday, February 11, 2005 - 2:40pmSanction this postReply
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We Objectivists are supposed to eschew starting from non-reality-grounded premises & moving deductively to a pre-determined conclusion. Let's wait till the thing comes out & we know for real what's in it. My hope is that there won't be a knee-jerk orgy of moralising by partisans on both sides of the Rand/Branden divide. Ideally, this book should be exploited as an opportunity for all parties to acknowledge the past, including their own mistakes, & move on. That's what should have happened in the wake of Barbara's outstanding biography, & did happen on the Branden side as far as I can tell, but the orthodoxy stuck its head in the sand & blew moralistic bromides out of its upturned rectum.

The problem with saying it's the philosophy that matters & forget the personalities is that this philosophy says that its whole point is to be lived by! So Objectivists, including its founder, must expect their conduct to be scrutinised to see if it accords with their philosophy. I don't doubt that in the rules she laid down for The Affair, Rand thought she was acting in accord with her principles - no faking, etc.. People may tut-tut about the craziness of such an arrangement, but I don't think Rand can be called for breaching the principle of honesty. (The same can't be said for Nathaniel's affair with Patrecia, which he concealed from Rand for literally years while promising he would resume their affair soon enough. But NB has acknowledged that. It's ancient history.) Nor do I think there's anything in Objectivism that requires one to be monogamous. Truthful, yes (except to those to whom one doesn't owe the truth). Benevolently concerned not to cause pain to innocent others? Yes. Monogamous? Not necessarily.

I suspect this book will be interesting not so much for new information but for what it reveals about Rand's handling of matters we already know about. Maybe both. But let's wait & see.

Linz



Post 81

Friday, February 11, 2005 - 4:51pmSanction this postReply
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I’ve a theory that we owe Atlas Shrugged to The Affair, at least to some significant extent. It helped Ayn Rand maintain the ecstatic frame of mind that drove her efforts. There had to be some rationalization, because at some level she must have suspected things could not go on; but as an artist, she honestly inhabited her idealized world much of the time.




Post 82

Friday, February 11, 2005 - 8:23pmSanction this postReply
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For what's it's worth.....a pre-review

I just received a review copy of "Critics" in my office mail today after requesting one from Durbhan House, the publisher. It's 11:13 p.m. Eastern here in N.C.  I'm enjoying a nice glass of Argentinan cabernet sav. (Funky Lllama 2003--no kidding).

I'm now on page 4 of Mr. Valliant's opus. Look for an upcoming review. Perhaps I can finish it this weekend..if I want to stay indoors for the entirety.

So far the writing style is crisp and unornamented --- no frills but solid prose. He's rehashing the genesis of The Split/Schism. In perusing the fly leaves, I don't see any direct connection with ARI except his acknowledgement to the estate of Ayn Rand for the unconditional access to Rand's personal journals. Onward..another glass of wine and the printed word.....have a great weekend SOLOians.

JPR




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Post 83

Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 5:15amSanction this postReply
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Her Royal Whoreness Dr. Diabolical Dialectical wrote, re the possible incineration of his private journals:

My concern is less about my "reputation" (how much worse can it be when the founder of SOLO calls you "Her Royal Whoreness" and "Dr. Diabolical Dialectical" among a few other choice epithets?), and more about people who are mentioned in my journals.

Now Chris, you know I had a much better idea as to what to do with those journals than burning them (that would be such a waste—think of all the hilarious denunciations by the ARI we'd be deprived of!). I think you should share my idea with your fellow-SOLOists. :-)







Post 84

Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 5:29amSanction this postReply
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I just noticed that the book is 433 pages long! I wonder how selective can it be. I ordered it.



Post 85

Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 6:18amSanction this postReply
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Ayn Rand was not a whore!!!!!



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Post 86

Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 6:23amSanction this postReply
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I would hope that a book on Rand’s critics would focus on … well, Rand’s critics: the left, some conservatives, some academics, etc. I view Barbara Branden as an admirer. If the book is focused on the Brandens, who have themselves exposed Rand’s and their own personal failings, it will be another disappointing distraction. We’ll have to see.




Post 87

Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 7:18amSanction this postReply
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Kat,

Lindsay wasn't talking about Rand. He was talking about Dr Sciabarra :-)




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Post 88

Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 7:45amSanction this postReply
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Since Linz has practically given me permission, I shall quote him directly. Upon my suggestion that I should burn my journals, he wrote:

Nonsense, my dear. You should have them published now. "Confessions of a Whore." Would make you a *fortune*!! I should write the Foreplay ... er, Foreword :-)

I suspect he's talking about something other than my scandalous intellectual adventures.  :)




Post 89

Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 3:05pmSanction this postReply
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Back to the matter at hand: see the News Flash I have just posted above.

Linz



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Post 90

Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 4:43pmSanction this postReply
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I'm new here, but at this point I'm a middle aged person who went to AR's funeral, did the audio recording on a couple of LP's tape lecture courses, was one of the intial two students at the American Renaissance School, and so on. I kind of got sick of all the BS related to Objectivism about 7 or 8 years ago.

And speaking of BS - whew...

The very fact that Jimmy Valliant felt the need to write this book, and that he was given permission and access - well, that kind of points to the problem.

I could care less about the affair, except for the fact that AR lied about it as being the reason for the split, and subsequently lied about it afterwards. And - she did. Anything after that is chickens coming home to roost, really.

I'm not pro Ayn Rand. I'm not particularly 'pro Branden' on this. I like to think I'm just in reality on it. But of course, the problem is that everyone feels that way.



Post 91

Monday, March 28, 2005 - 1:54pmSanction this postReply
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I think we can all agree that whatever actual AR's flaws, they don't invalidate Objectivism, and that's the most important point.

However, that doesn't mean that one's view of AR herself means nothing, and I don't think it's possible to read either of the Brandens' books without having that view affected negatively. While those books do show some of her genius, they also include some rather ugly portrayals. Whether true or false, those portrayals affect the reader's judgment of AR, as well as provide ammunition to people who want to trivialize her and mock contemporary Objectivists.

Valliant's book provides a response to the Brandens' accounts based on real evidence. If he can show, logically, that AR's character and state of mind at the time was most likely different than is described in the Brandens' books, it would certainly improve my own concept of AR personally, and I'd be grateful for it.

If, on the other hand, Valliant does nothing but irrationally jump to conclusions to prove his case, then obviously the book has little value other than providing a glimpse into snippets of AR's thoughts at the time. 

Bottomline: no one can know what the contents of the book actually are before they read the book.




Post 92

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 - 8:23amSanction this postReply
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One difficulty in distinguishing Ayn Rand (the person) from Objectivism (the philosophy) is that Rand held that one's philosophical premises and convictions were inevitably bound to guide one's actions, whether one intended them to or not.

In other words:

If Rand's personal life, in every aspect, was a manifestation of Objectivism, then Objectivism is pretty screwy (assuming that even a few of the stories related by members and associates of "The Collective" are true).

If Rand's personal life was NOT in every aspect a manifestation of Objectivism, then Ayn Rand was either not an Objectivist (an argument I think we can reject out of hand), or else she was wrong about at least one implication of Objectivism (i.e. it is possible for an Objectivist's life to not perfectly reflect every jot and tittle of Objectivist ideas at all times without deviation or error).

In my opinion, ARI's problem is that its leaders are philosophical "Fonzies." No matter what they do, they can't just spit it out: "Ayn Rand was wr .... wrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr .... wrrooooooooong" -- about _anything_. _Ever_. _Period_.

From ARI's perspective (a perspective simultaneously created by, and shaping, the conflict between ARI and other Objectivist individuals and organizations), Ayn Rand was (HAD to be) the living, perfect embodiment of Objectivism, and Objectivism implied exactly whatever she said it implied (or by her actions _implied_ that it implied).

Therefore, in order to hold themselves out as Objectivists, they are forced to defend the notion that Ayn Rand was perfect in every way, shape, manner and form -- that she never erred, never evaded, never gave in to any temptation to fake reality, etc. And, of course, to attack, excommunicate ... "blank out" ... anyone whose recollections might give lie to that notion.

Since their portrayal of her -- and sometimes of her ideas or of the importance/relevance of one of her particular ideas -- is at variance with reality, they've painted themselves into a corner. In order to maintain their position, they have to demand acceptance of their portrayal of Rand and of her ideas rather than exploration of the ideas or attempts to understand the person. They have to exclude any competing portrayal. They have to "guide" those whom they approach down "the right path" with a forceful hand -- and throw out people who persist in taking "wrong" turns -- because their arguments can't withstand competition.

Personally, I find the "real" Ayn Rand as I understand her -- a brilliant human being and a great writer, whatever her faults -- more compelling than ARI's plaster saint. Reading _The Passion of Ayn Rand_ and _Judgment Day_ didn't cause me to dismiss her ideas, or even to dislike Rand herself. It motivated me to pay more attention to exploring the ideas. It kept me from _worshiping_ Ayn Rand and allowed me to view her as a human being of incredible accomplishment, which is a much more valuable thing than another God to stick in the closet.

Tom Knapp



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Post 93

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 - 9:02amSanction this postReply
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For those of us who where there, the "mud-slinging" or "truth-telling" began with the last line of Nathanial Branden's "Open letter to the readers of The Objectivist" (the title, if memory serves, of the letter I received) which he wrote in response to AR's article in the journal they had been publishing together.  My initial reaction, which lasted for many years, was disbelief, given my context of knowledge. I certainly had no personal reason to believe either of the Brandens on this matter. On the other hand I did have reasons -- some but not all, no doubt, neurotic -- for believing Rand.



Post 94

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 - 3:58pmSanction this postReply
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Takeyes Forananswer said:
For those of us who where [sic] there, the "mud-slinging" or "truth-telling" began with the last line of Nathanial Branden's "Open letter to the readers of The Objectivist" (the title, if memory serves, of the letter I received) which he wrote in response to AR's article in the journal they had been publishing together.
I wasn't one of those "who were there", but I imagine that for some who were, the "mud-slinging" began with AR's article.

Glenn




Post 95

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 - 5:24pmSanction this postReply
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I was there - and it did.



Post 96

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 - 6:08pmSanction this postReply
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Glenn,

You're absolutely right, some who were there would say that.  I was merely responding to the claim that the ''mud-slinging" about the affair began with Mr. Branden's Judgement Day, not making any attempt to show that one side or the other was exempt.  There was and is a lot of rancour on both sides.  The task for us, I think, is to sift through the rancour and jokes and personal attacks to judge the philosophical significance, if any, of the facts we know. My own view is that there is very little here of significance philosophically, and that we should, if we can't "bury the hatchet" just let it go and go our seperate ways to our own pouting corners.




Post 97

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 4:19pmSanction this postReply
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Since Valliant's book is now out I'm bringing this thread up to date for those who wish to comment on it, presumably after reading it. I'll have something to say in a day or two after I finish it.

--Brant




Post 98

Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 3:57pmSanction this postReply
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I am not ready to comment at length on Valliant's book, but I am ready to comment on the most disgusting piece of near-libelous psychologizing I have ever read (p. 382):

I have deleted the actual quote. It is a reductio ad absurdum of the entire book. I have no desire to post further on this book; I feel it is a labor of Hercules.

--Brant

(Edited by Brant Gaede on 5/20, 3:58pm)




Post 99

Monday, May 23, 2005 - 11:21amSanction this postReply
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I'd be interested to know if the author, while researching his book, ever approached Dr. Branden for comments. Whether Dr. B. declined or accepted is his option; I'd imagine the important thing to do was for the author to do is ask.



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