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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 2:39amSanction this postReply
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Jeff:

Thanks for posting this. I just picked up Journals of Ayn Rand yesterday.

I'm fully expecting both insights into Ayn Rand and cases of 'thinking out loud,' where she is exploring ideas, perhaps without regard for how those words might look three-quarters of a century later.

A scan of Prescott's blog suggests one who'd not be favorably disposed to the most generous interpretation of Rand, put mildly.

JOAR surprised me here:

Yes, he is a monster--now. But the worse he is, the worst (sic) must be the cause that drove him to this. Isn't it significant that society was not able to fill the life of an exceptional, intelligent boy, to give him anything to outbalance crime in his eyes? --Page 38.

It surprised me, not for the reasons that Prescott implies (that she is allegedly praising sociopathic behavior), but that she is condemning society for the acts of an individual. She calls society Hickman's "ultimate cause."

I wonder if Ayn Rand would have said anything like this 40 years later, in 1967. Perhaps, but I'd be surprised.

If so, perhaps she was more balanced in her view of the forces which shape people than I would expect. If not, it's too bad that she could not have retained some of the apparent compassion she felt as a young woman for individuals and the real forces which shape them.

I think later in life she was far too simplistic in her view of what makes people who they are, such as "premises." I seem to recall Nathaniel Branden commenting along these lines.

But she, too, was in part a product of her times and circumstances. She was, many Objectivists need to remind themselves, human. A very intelligent human, admirable in some ways, but not infallible, not a goddess of reason, not even psychologically healthy at times.

I'll read JOAR with that in mind.

Nathan Hawking




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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 5:50pmSanction this postReply
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Ayn Rand is not to be condemned for what she wrote in her journals, by way of general principle, any more than the Brandens are. In this case all contexts are traduced. It's time for the scholars, if they can get by the "edited by ...."

--Brant

(Edited by Brant Gaede on 5/31, 7:03pm)




Post 2

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 8:31pmSanction this postReply
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This was a young Rand still formulating her ideas and she came to a really strange conclusion about someone who she tried to rationalize into an "individualist".  This is very similar to the horrifying arguments by many of  the modern orthodox objectivists in favor of indiscriminantly targeting "enemy" civilian populations with weapons of mass destruction.  These are arguements with faulty premises. 

Ayn Rand corrected the error she made in this journal entry in the 1974 essay "Selfishness Without a Self" (published in Philosophy: Who Needs It?) and does so quite convincingly and agressively. She correctly labled this type of social outcast as the "tribal lone wolf".  Here is a quote from the essay (page 50 of PWNI).

"To the tribal lone wolf , "reality" is a meaningless term; his metaphysics consists in the cronic feeling that life, somehow is a conspiracy of people and things against him, and he will walk over piles of corpses -- in order to assert himself? -- no, in order to hide (or fill) the nagging inner vacuum left by his aborted self...  The grim joke on mankind is that he is held up as a symbol of selfishness."
 
 - Jason




Post 3

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 8:42pmSanction this postReply
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Interesting comments. But to be clear: I was suggesting you comment on Mr. Prescott's blog site. He's the one who needs to hear this.



Post 4

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 8:43pmSanction this postReply
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Jason, perhaps you should post this information as a comment to Michael Prescott's blog?



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Post 5

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 9:24pmSanction this postReply
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Prescott's read on Ayn Rand is almost comical.

There is a type of argument that I am starting to discern not only here, but in other places as well. I call it the Argument from "But You Said..."

It goes like this. You acknowledge a person's statement and motives. Then you take strongly stated quotes out of context, forget about the motives and blab on and on and on saying "But you said..."

Here is Ayn Rand's motive in her own words:
It is more exact to say that the model is not Hickman, but what Hickman suggested to me.
Then this gets promptly ignored while Prescott blabs on and on and on about Hickman's atrocious crimes peppered with moralistic interjections of "But Ayn Rand said..."

Well, the Ayn Rand I know and love would never hold a child murderer up as an actual hero. She was merely looking beyond the criminal and the social outrage to his crimes. She was seeing other motives and drives. She was seeing further than one normally sees in these cases.

Now what is Prescott's purpose here? It is obviously to imply that Ayn Rand supported murdering children and other abominable crimes (and by further implication, that her philosophy is one of ax-murderers). Believe it or not, that is it. Read his piece and you can see this jump out of almost any paragraph. Ayn Rand the apologist of serial killing and mutilating children.

But just as obviously Ayn Rand never did support anything like that. You can go "But Ayn Rand said..." all day and all week long and that will not make it so. Why? Because she stated her motive very clearly already. (Also she simply was nothing like that - nor is Objectivism.)

Why do people do this crap? I guess that makes them feel cool or righteous or scratch some itch to be a great thinker when they are not. Maybe Prescott was trying to see further than others and be a genius too and just didn't have too much to look at. Who knows?

Anyway, there are other less polite names for this kind of drivel. Also, Prescott should stick to what he does best - writing fiction about murder. He gets reality all fucked up.

Michael




Post 6

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - 9:41pmSanction this postReply
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Alright -- I went ahead and did as you requested.  I called him out at the end of the post and I suspect he will want to engage in a debate.  I'm leaving in 2 days on a trip to Europe so I would appreciate it if you guys would continue the arguement (if it takes place) in my absence.

 - Jason




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Post 7

Wednesday, June 1, 2005 - 8:54amSanction this postReply
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Jason - you didn't give him a link to Solo. So I posted there also. Here is what I wrote:

Michael,

I don't know if you are aware of it, but a link to your blog entry was posted for discussion on the Solo site. Here is a link to there, if you are interested: http://solohq.com/Forum/NewsDiscussions/0720.shtml#0

Solo stands for Sense Of Life Objectivists and this site gets pretty wild at times, not your run-of-the-mill place where blind veneration of Rand and dry finger-pointing of "evasion" and whatnot and is about all you see. Just as two examples of how it completely differs from other Rand sites (there are more), (1) homosexuality is defended from an Objectivist standpoint, and (2) the wedding of reason and emotion is fostered, leading to amazingly passionate material, wonderfully inspiring insights and "calls to rise" - and even Homeric misfires. To me it is a hotbed of ideas for all walks of life, but obviously from a pro-Rand posture. Solo is quickly growing into a major Objectivism intellectual clearinghouse.

I would like to invite you to take a look over there - at least see what people are saying about your comments on Rand (but encourage you to click around a bit). I personally was a bit harsh on your take on Rand, but then I see that you are a bit harsh on her.

Still, this is nothing that men and women of good will cannot reasonably talk through if they are so inclined - especially by lively interaction.

One positive result that this posting has prompted is that you will sell at least one more book. I have recently returned to the USA after having been in Brazil for over 30 years. I have been pretty much out of it culture-wise. I don't know your work yet, but now I will buy a book of yours and check you out for real.

Michael
He sounds like a live one and it will be interesting to see if he is interested in discussing this for real, or if he is merely content with his own opinions. He certainly does not come off to me as a dastardly villain - he sounds intelligent and like he deeply cares about people. He does his research. And this thing to me seems more like a misfire than outright hostility to Rand's ideas.

Let's wait and see.

Michael




Post 8

Wednesday, June 1, 2005 - 9:29amSanction this postReply
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So you know ...

Michael Prescott is an ex-Objectivist who is quite knowledgeable about Rand and her ideas. (He and I were participants in a regular weekly gathering of Oists in the late 80s, early 90s.) He has changed his ideas over the years, but his views are always well researched and well reasoned. I generally disagree with his conclusions these days (as I do, strongly, in this case) but he is a man of good character and quite reasonable.




Post 9

Wednesday, June 1, 2005 - 12:14pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff P., how did he become an ex-Objectivist? Did he get religion or something?



Post 10

Wednesday, June 1, 2005 - 1:10pmSanction this postReply
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Lanai,
I suggest you ask him. He won't bite you.




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Post 11

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 3:50pmSanction this postReply
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Something for my future detractors to use as a smear against me:

I admire Barack Obama. Not the Barack Obama who actually exists, not the narcissistic, constitution-destroying, arrogant, America hating Marxist, but the figure that Obama represents to me: the handsome African American President, freed of the shackles of historical racism, serene and untroubled-- post racial-- He sends a thrill up my leg. I will someday write a novel called "The Little Street" in which I use my personal vision of Obama as inspiration for a hero who is not a Marxist, not a smug little statist, not a racial rabblerouser, not a liar and crook who hangs around with the likes of Tony Rezko, not a shady creep with ties to Reverend Wright and the Weather Underground-- no, I will use the pile of crap that is the actual man as material to imagine something nobler, better-- something that might have been.

There-- now my detractors in a hundred years can write a similar smear about how I once admired a piece of garbage.



Post 12

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 4:17pmSanction this postReply
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One's garbage is another's soup...



Post 13

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 5:31amSanction this postReply
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It was interesting to see Nathan Hawking.  We live on via the archives.

Nathan Hawking was not liked here.  When he died, there were some polite good-byes, but Luke Setzer said, "Good riddance."  Hawking originally owned the URL "Objectivist Living" which he redubbed "Objectivist Dying" when he was diagnosed.  After he passed, Michael Stuart Kelly bought the domain name with the understanding that he would not be continuing anything of Nathan Hawking's works.

I tried searching this in the Archives here, but as it was from SoloHQ days, it is not easy to find.




Post 14

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 5:56amSanction this postReply
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The link at the start of this thread goes to Prescott's blog, not to a part about Ayn Rand.
This link is more specific, but he has written about her many times. Here is another link.

(Edited by Merlin Jetton on 8/04, 6:09am)




Post 15

Friday, August 6, 2010 - 10:18pmSanction this postReply
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The story Michael Marotta tells in post #13 is all mixed up. Nathan Hawking's site was called "We the Thinking," changed to "We the Dying" when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"Objectivst Living" never had any connection to Hawking's domain.

See this post by MSK for the real story of OL's history:
http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=9054&view=findpost&p=104367

Ellen



Post 16

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 8:43pmSanction this postReply
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Mr Gleaves:   I see what you are getting at and I bow to your cleverness. You contrive, for rhetorical effect, to idealize a man (Obama) whom in reality you view as a narcissistic, constitution-rending America hater. Oh, and a Marxist to boot. Seems a little hyperbolic, but if by next year private property has been abolished and the means of production handed to the proletariat, then I will apologize to you. Anyway, you explicitly detest the man, and do so for reasons which may or may not be provable in any rational or emperical way. Which brings us to Prescott's most salient point: Rand actually DID idealize Hickman; she did so with full knowledge of his actions and seemingly without irony; she expressed no detestation of the man, for she evidently found nothing detestable in his actions; furthermore, Hickman actually DID kidnap and murder a young girl for both profit and sport, and this fact IS provable in an entirely empirical way. See the difference?



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Post 17

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - 4:29pmSanction this postReply
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Good grief, Bruce.  Rand never "idealized" that guy. Get real.  She was inspired by the notoriety to develop a FICTIONAL story.

And Obama is a card carrying Marxist. Get over it.




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