The Silence of Ayn Rand’s Critics

Casey's picture
Submitted by Casey on Sat, 2005-12-03 07:17

EXCLUSIVE to SOLO and The Free Radical. (Subscribe to the print edition and receive a whole lot more.)


"It is clear to me that Ayn Rand was a woman of remarkable integrity, who largely embodied the virtues she espoused. But it is also clear that she had certain other traits often found in great minds who have waged a lonely battle for their ideas: a tendency to surround herself with acolytes from whom she demanded declarations of agreement and loyalty; a growing sense of bitter isolation from the world; a quickness to anger at criticism; a tendency to judge people harshly and in haste. These faults did not outweigh her virtues; I consider them of minor significance in themselves. But they were real, and I thought [Barbara] Branden's book, whatever its other shortcomings, gave a reasonably fair and perceptive account of them.

"All of this is arguable, of course. But it should have been argued, and it wasn't. When the book appeared, I was shocked by the refusal of many prominent Objectivists to discuss the issues it raised, and their tendency to condemn anyone who did."

--David Kelley, PhD, Truth and Toleration (1990, I.O.S.), p. 75

Fifteen years have passed since David Kelley wrote this fateful passage about Barbara Branden’s book, The Passion of Ayn Rand, in an infamous paper that would, after Ayn Rand’s official intellectual heir Leonard Peikoff responded with his paper “Fact and Value,” open a rancorous schism in Objectivist scholarship. Kelley and the Ayn Rand Institute would part ways over this divisive issue and its philosophical implications, with Kelley going on to create The Objectivist Center. The TOC side argued that the biographical portrait of Ayn Rand written by Barbara Branden (eventually extending to the memoir about Rand written by Nathaniel Branden) should be regarded as an objective source of information, while the other side rejected the Brandens’ testimony outright as arbitrary assertions made without regard for the truth.

Many regarded one side as open-minded while the other side resembled close-minded intellectual monks “whitewashing” their goddess, Ayn Rand. No explanation was forthcoming from ARI, and no consideration of the topic would be granted, seemingly vindicating ARI opponents and frustrating ARI supporters, as well.

It was not until this year that we find ourselves at a new crossroads in the debate. Barbara and Nathaniel Branden’s books have now, at last, been given a critical analysis, and one that has been sanctioned by the heretofore silent “other side” of the schism as Leonard Peikoff and the Ayn Rand estate have released the journals of Ayn Rand that deal with her last months with the Brandens to author James Valliant as supplementary evidence for his book, The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics: The Case Against the Brandens.

In Valliant’s book, and in Rand’s own journal entries written during the time the Brandens only retrospectively describe in their books, there is, to paraphrase David Kelley, significant new evidence that should be argued.

And yet, ironically, there has been much resistance to arguing or even addressing this new evidence and critical analysis, even though much of it is from a primary source (the one whose reputation was damaged by the above-referenced books) and was written contemporaneously with the events described many years after the fact in the Brandens’ enormously influential biographical books published after Rand’s death.

The side of the schism that insisted on granting validity to all sources of information has, so far, largely ignored Rand’s own side of the story. David Kelley has not said a word. His organization, The Objectivist Center, has been silent and at least one of its representatives, Robert Bidinotto, stated on the SOLOHQ website on February 8 of this year (well before the book was available):

"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 baskets."

This comment shows a somewhat slavish resemblance to Nathaniel Branden’s comment in his book, My Years With Ayn Rand (p. 364), that Leonard Peikoff had, by publishing journal entries of Ayn Rand, made a “display of imaginativeness that few people would have anticipated” in “converting the Rand legacy into personal cash.” Apparently, Nathaniel Branden’s comments are so authoritative as to make Rand’s literally worthy of the dust-bin. This, while calling PARC a slavish whitewash of Rand’s reputation, just to complete the circle of irony.

(The Ayn Rand estate and Leonard Peikoff declined any royalty or remuneration for James Valliant’s use of Rand’s journals in his book.)

Reason Magazine, whose subtitle, “Free Minds and Free Markets” was cribbed from John Galt’s line in Atlas Shrugged that a “free market is the corollary of a free mind,” has ignored Rand’s posthumous answer to the Brandens after publishing a Rand Centennial issue smoked in the flavor of the Brandens’ rendition of the author and philosopher. Cathy Young, who penned a particularly Brandenian memorial for the magazine, was unresponsive to my own recent inquiry as to whether she had seen The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics since writing her article.

To their credit, libertarian scholars Wendy McElroy and Chris Sciabarra have treated the evidence as significant, though Sciabarra was largely (18,000 words) dismissive in his review, prompting Barbara Branden to remark on the SOLO website, “Chris didn't hack Valliant to death with an axe, he elegantly pierced him in the heart with a stiletto,” a statement with which Chris Sciabarra was sufficiently comfortable to offer his silence. Apparently, scholarly equanimity, even from a scholar such as Sciabarra who prides himself on his ecumenical tolerance of all viewpoints, is subservient to personal loyalties even when one excoriates that attribute among those loyal to Rand.

Such is the state of truth and toleration.

The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics, and the journal entries of Rand published for the first time in PARC, reveal a dramatically different picture of both the Brandens and Rand. It is possible that the silence of Ayn Rand’s critics, those who have relied on the Brandens for so much of their picture of Rand, is a function of inertia—they are still coasting on the fumes of the Branden narratives and have not realized that, like Wiley Coyote, the ground has disappeared from beneath them and they are now pedaling air.

Among its revelations, PARC proves absolutely that Rand was not the irrationally jealous “woman scorned” the Brandens depicted when she broke with the Brandens. Rand was not holding the Brandens’ business relationship hostage to a sexual relationship with Nathaniel Branden. The reverse is true. The Brandens were using the possibility of a sexual relationship between Nathaniel Branden and Rand to insure a business relationship with Rand, as Ayn Rand’s own contemporaneous journal entries conclusively prove. In the notes it is clear that Rand is frustrated by years of being led on by a manipulating bastard to whom she shows more fidelity to truth and toleration than any of Rand’s critics are now willing to show to her. Most ironically of all, Rand herself is the ultimate skeptic as to the Brandens’ bad intentions. She is the one who has to be shown the monstrous truth of a years-long romantic deception before she finally, agonizingly, reaches a personal and professional breaking point.

PARC also proves that the mosaic of an egotistical, authoritarian, and neurotic Rand, the clichéd portrait so many are a priori willing to believe of any artist, is made of fragments with no reliable factual grounding. The whole negative picture of Rand engineered by these details the Brandens provide goes up in smoke upon examination of the evidence for each of the individual claims. Often their conclusions and pronouncements about Rand’s character and its defects are directly contradicted by their own observations buried in other parts of their narratives. The case against the Brandens presented in PARC calls for nothing less than as open and public a reappraisal of Rand the person as that which followed the publication of the Brandens’ books themselves.

The historical implications of Rand’s notes and the revealed dishonesty on the part of the Brandens are huge. Because of this, I believe the significance of PARC is taking a while to sink in before the process of separating what is now an unfortunate legend from what can honestly be said about Ayn Rand can begin.

But a major reappraisal of the Brandens’ works, and of Rand’s character, is now clearly in order. And while others have been notably silent, the first act of that reappraisal has taken place dramatically on SOLO over the months before and after PARC’s publication.

A community of Objectivist-oriented scholars, contributors, and members, SOLOHQ.COM, founded by Lindsay Perigo, is not controlled in the way the content of magazines and journals and other mainstream media are controlled, so it is significant that where the public has had the chance to pay attention, it did. Over a thousand posts on numerous threads vigorously debated PARC. This subject, in fact, set a record on SOLO for the most posts on any single thread in the site’s history—and that was just one of the SOLO threads that have focused on the book. So much for “boring,” and “It’s time to move on.”

During the course of this public debate, several historic events transpired on SOLO both before and after the book’s publication. Since this popular site for those interested in Objectivism featured Barbara Branden herself as a magisterial celebrity presence at the time when the book was published, its community was naturally hostile to the nature of Valliant’s book, and many of its most vocal members chorused a condemnation of its whole thesis well before the book had premiered, including Mr. Bidinotto, who is now affiliated with TOC. But a remarkable thing happened right in front of those who participated in the many threads on the subject and those who observed from a discreet distance: Barbara Branden self-immolated.

The first ominous sign appeared when she tried to answer evidence in PARC that she had gotten wrong the story of how Rand chose her nomme de plume. In their books, Barbara and Nathaniel cited differing stories supporting their claim that Rand got her name from a typewriter. Valliant's book documents how this explanation of her name is impossible, since she chose the name before any typewriter existed with the name "Rand," Remington or otherwise, and since she had revealed in interviews before and after meeting the Brandens that the name was an
abbreviation of her Russian name (which it is). In her book, Barbara claimed she heard it from Rand’s first cousin, Fern. For his part, Nathaniel later claimed that he heard it from Rand herself. On SOLO, we were treated to Barbara suddenly recollecting, after her memory was refreshed by Nathaniel, that she had, indeed, heard this from Rand herself and not just from Rand’s first cousin. Those who had relied on the veracity of her book and its sourcing were dealt the first blow to its credibility. James Valliant so much as predicted that Nathaniel Branden would engage in yet more rewriting of history on page 381 of PARC. (That he would engage in rewriting Barbara’s history was unanticipated.)

Following this, however, was a scene that may as well have been predicted by James Valliant, and which could only be instantly translatable into live theater by the Internet. Barbara Branden became hostile to the host of SOLO, Lindsay Perigo, who had been dismissive of the idea of even reading the Valliant book up until this point. After Barbara Branden defended a man Perigo knew as a supporter of publications advocating child pornography, he roundly condemned her for this action. Barbara Branden, in turn, condemned Perigo’s tendency for fiery moral condemnation as abusive. And then she signed on to a vacuous accusation advanced by one of her friendly agents that Perigo was, in fact, an alcoholic.

It was a repeat of the loose accusations she had made against Ayn Rand and Rand’s husband, Frank O’Connor, acted out in real-time while the debate about these subjects was taking place with a global audience. In the annals of intellectual history, I daresay this was a first: something which Barbara Branden’s defenders denied was possible was re-enacted by Barbara Branden herself in plain view of everyone on the World Wide Web.

On a subsequent thread, in which yet another article, this one in Commentary magazine, relied on the Brandens’ portrait to smear Ayn Rand as a neurotic hypocrite, Barbara got an associate of hers to post her further “evidence” that Frank was an alcoholic—a now-deceased witness whom she neglected to mention in her book and who vaguely witnessed something that was not conclusive in any event. It was also during this record-breaking thread that SOLO’s founder, Lindsay Perigo, was finally persuaded to read The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics for himself.

And intellectual history shifted.

The former defender and friend of Barbara Branden, and honorary scold of ARI, began to change his mind as Barbara, through a sympathetic go-between, chided him for joining the ARI side with Star Wars-like melodrama. Perigo published his review, anyway, in which he apologized for dismissing the book and taking the word of those who had said it was “boring” and focused on “minutiae.” He pointed out that even Barbara’s recent summary of the break on SOLO was grossly misleading. He confessed that the book had changed his opinion about the Brandens’ representation of Ayn Rand, though it was still hard for him to fully incorporate those conclusions with his feelings about Barbara Branden.

Even the noted and estimable libertarian scholar Chris Sciabarra weighed in on SOLO, and in his own somewhat narrow (if long) review of PARC on his own website found no reason to doubt Mr. Valliant’s scholarly integrity in editing Rand’s notes, while minimizing the import of the new evidence that they contain. Later, however, he would concede on SOLO that the book had, indeed, “changed the landscape” of Rand scholarship.

As claims by critics that PARC is a “whitewash” have been dispatched by the contents of PARC itself, which clearly does not attempt to canonize Rand but merely to analyze the credibility of the Brandens’ claims about her, this accusation reveals the ironic fact that the Brandens have been canonized by default, literally, as sources whose word on Rand should be taken uncritically. All that PARC proves is that you must not take any source uncritically, and, after careful analysis, that applies doubly to the Brandens, whose deceits, of implication and omission, include many that can only be considered deliberate. No one could ever guess from either of the Brandens’ books that Nathaniel was serving up a fresh dish of psychological lies to Rand for the many therapy sessions he requested of her to discuss his sexual paralysis (which paralysis did not prevent him from carrying on his secret four-year affair with a young actress student). The elaborate and sophisticated smokescreens Branden spun in these prolonged sessions were supported by Barbara Branden for two years, as well, with all the conversation that must have involved. That must sink in. In addition, the Brandens both held out false hope to Rand that they were still working on their marriage, as the notes also confirm.

(In this regard, the most alarming of the historic moments that occurred on SOLO was Barbara Branden’s essay, posted before her falling out with Perigo, about how she and Nathaniel had lied about this very issue to her dying mother, reporting that Rand herself gave her blessing to this kind of white lie. Using Rand to indirectly justify their deception of Rand herself in such a pre-emptive reminiscence is surely a new low, even for the Brandens, no matter how justified they were in lying to Barbara’s mother.)

The elaborate nature of the Brandens’ deception of Rand was omitted from both of their books. These are not small issues, and omissions such as these now documented in PARC cast the Brandens’ entire accounts into fatal doubt.

Innocent reliance on the Brandens is one thing, but understanding the scope of their ongoing deceptions about Rand and not acknowledging forthrightly that that revelation requires a reappraisal of her character and personal legacy is too much like the airbrushing that libertarians and other rival factions have accused the Ayn Rand Institute of engaging in. (Laissez Faire Books still will not sell The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics, though it contains Ayn Rand’s own words that were written contemporaneous to the events the Brandens wrote about years after the fact in books that they readily offer to the public.)

Whatever errors the intellectual conservator of Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff, may have made, he has honorably come to the defense of his benefactor, whereas other professional beneficiaries have been content to let an injustice to her go unmentioned or have even obscured that injustice through their mention of it. In light of the new evidence and the old evidence that has finally been given a critical analysis in PARC, even a passive stance toward Rand’s moral reputation is a particularly low species of ingratitude from many of those whose silence has been so conspicuous.

What is pernicious about the last two post-Brandenian decades is that they have provided a smokescreen for larceny, a larceny that could be avoided by the simple honorable mention of the person who developed such revolutionary ideas. The simple act of not besmirching her unfairly or disposing of her person to retain her ideas would have sufficed. The Brandens have provided those who wish not to seem like a “cult follower” of Rand with a way to jokingly distance themselves from her. They have also, more disturbingly, forced many who don’t care about fitting in at cocktail parties to distance Rand from her ideas.

Whatever else one thinks about him, Alan Greenspan to this day is said to have stopped on a dime at Washington parties whenever he has heard Rand besmirched and told the offender directly that Rand was one of the most honorable people he has ever known, and that he won't abide insults of her person in his presence. In Washington, as the Federal Reserve Chairman, that takes courage. But he had the benefit of firsthand knowledge to give him what some might consider an uncharacteristic fire in this regard. (At his swearing-in at the White House as the president’s chief economic advisor, he is said to have stated that Rand was his second mother—his first, his biological mother, of his body; his second, Rand, of his spirit. And at his request, both of Greenspan’s “mothers” were present at the ceremony.)

If Objectivism comes up in mixed company, the conversation very soon turns to how Rand was a loon. Wasn’t she? My God! The admirer or follower or scholar of Objectivism quickly nods his head and agrees, of course, she was a loon, granted. But now let's look at some of her ideas, he repairs, because even a broken clock is right twice a day. This seems like a way to sneak the ideas back into play after Rand has been personally smeared. And, in fairness, because of the Brandens, it seemed like the only way to get her ideas back in play during the last 20 years.

But that has now changed. Visitors to SOLO had the chance to witness the change occurring before their eyes as Barbara Branden demonstrated the very tactics that call her account of Rand into doubt and the subsequent retraction of support for her depiction of Rand by her former public sponsor.

After seeing the numerous paltry defenses offered by Barbara Branden’s defenders at SOLO it is quite clear that the substantial and fatal contradictions in the Brandens’ psychological profile of Rand, and her husband, Frank O’Connor, are historically untenable. The Brandens, through their agents, have had ample opportunity to give their best defense, and it has been non-existent, unverifiable, and even more damning as to their standards of evidence. Now they are demanding more evidence for their claims from ARI in order to make their initial case credible!

On the other hand, the reliable evidence, from so many varied sources, has always clashed with the Brandens’ unique claims that she was cold, quick to dismiss friends, living a life of lies, helpless in the face of practical reality, insensitive to personal context, ungracious to benefactors, and humorless, to name a few of their condemnations. The testimony of virtually everyone else who knew her suggests that Ayn Rand was warm, loyal, honest, practical, sensitive, gracious and grateful to a fault, witty and appreciative of humor, and practiced remarkable integrity and devotion to those she loved. Even the Brandens’ own individual recollections contradict their broad negative pronouncements. The evidence from her journals in PARC confirms the observations of the non-Branden sources in spades.

While David Kelley concludes from Barbara Branden’s book that Rand had “a tendency to surround herself with acolytes from whom she demanded declarations of agreement and loyalty; a growing sense of bitter isolation from the world; a quickness to anger at criticism; a tendency to judge people harshly and in haste,” it is curious to note that Leonard Peikoff, the person who required the most convincing of all if we are to trust the Brandens, was chosen to be her intellectual heir rather than the sycophantic Brandens, who claimed to agree with Rand on virtually everything throughout their relationship no matter how false that agreement was.

In terms of moral character and integrity, Rand stood head and shoulders above other celebrated intellectuals, who are not run down personally in conversations about their ideas, whether they be Picasso, Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, or even Karl Marx. It is no doubt antipathy for Rand’s ideas that has led many of her critics to latch on to the Brandens’ portraits with such avid interest, but it is also a fact that Rand claimed to live by her principles. The mendacity of the Brandens has therefore done more than harm Rand the person—it attacks the most basic claim of her philosophy by suggesting that Objectivism is no more practicable than any other clever subjectivist philosophy. Therefore, the revelation that the Brandens lied about such things reveals a malice not just toward Rand but toward Objectivism itself.

PARC reveals that there was never any basis to concede the biographical high ground to the Brandens out of a fear of “whitewashing” Rand. The negative image of Rand conjured by the Brandens was never more than a vicious and elaborate ad hominem justification for their own astonishing mistreatment of her, and is contradicted not only by more reliable witnesses but even by their own narratives, and now, especially, by Rand’s own notes. It is time to defend Rand now, not the Brandens—they have had their two decades of influence, as unjustified as they were.

People like Frank Lloyd Wright or Alan Greenspan or Leonard Peikoff are not mindless drones. The reason intellects such as theirs were attracted to Rand’s ideas is that her ideas expressed what they knew to be true, and that was the only reason for their stated allegiance to those ideas. None of them had any problem crediting her with the great service she had done them by expressing those ideas so completely.

Will coming to the defense of Rand, as a person, make her admirers sound like cult worshippers? It was always a fallacious charge to begin with. It denies something so fundamental as to concede the whole battle to the opponents of Objectivism without a real shot ever being fired. To fear that defending her ideas or person will be called cult-worship is to belie a fear that it is not the truth of her ideas that can merit defense, but only her oracular status—that the only reason to defend her ideas or person must be a religious devotion to someone's arbitrary intellectual primacy (one's own or someone else's), divorced from objective truth.

This is giving everything away to the philosophical opposite of Objectivism; it is an utterly irrational concession to subjectivism without regard to any objective evidence in the name of avoiding being “cultish.” (Irony on top of irony.) This kind of automatic belief, that there must be a negative side to Rand’s ledger that is being suppressed and for which the Brandens should be considered valid sources, and that all argument from the contrary is dishonest, is the very mental prerequisite of a new cult—that of the Brandens! It is the perfect platform from which to advance the notion that they must be right and that all opponents must be deluded. Moreover, it implies a positive belief that there is no objective truth available to be discovered by any genius at all, for, if objectivity is possible, Rand is possible, and a Rand who lived by her principles is possible. To think otherwise prima facie is to reject Objectivism fundamentally.

Furthermore, to refrain from defending Rand's person from unjustified calumny concedes that there is no truth about a person that is objective, either—while throwing out objective standards of evidence in the bargain.

Far from suggesting the impracticality of her philosophy, Rand’s life is a spectacular proof of that philosophy’s efficacy. Ayn Rand deserves objectivity in the consideration of her legacy. As has been proved in The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics, she did not get it from the Brandens or from those who accepted the Brandens’ testimony uncritically. It is still a question whether she will get it from many of her beneficiaries who are so silent now. But in the long run, the truth revealed in PARC, and the enormity of the Brandens’ deceit, will slowly sink in.

And the history that transpired on SOLO will be remembered as the first turning point on that long road.


The Free Radical

PARC

Wayne Simmons's picture

Hello Everyone,

I can hardly wait to read PARC for myself. I went out and purchased a copy and I'm now waiting for it to be delivered.

And

eg's picture

I can do as good a job of "proving" Ayn Rand was a "social metaphysician" as anybody can prove Nathaniel Branden ever was or is one. That my "proof" would be essentially garbage matters not. What really matters is that she created heroes who were anything but. And I think the same can be said of the work of Nathaniel Branden, especially if we focus on his theoretical and psychotherapeutic work. I don't recall him ever trying to teach me the virtues of social metaphysics and dishonesty. He didn't write a book entitled "The Virtue of Social Metaphysics" complete with suggested sentence-completion exercises.

--Brant

Well

eg's picture

Ayn Rand described Dominique as herself "in a bad mood."

I think you guys should stick to calling Nathaniel Branden a "liar" since that is concrete and not controversial in regard to the last years of his relationship with AR. This "socal metaphysics" stuff is to abstract to pin the tail on a donkey--and a slippery slope.

--Brant

BTW, James, you used "The Ayn Rand Cult" as a source for PARC. The author is less credible than how you depict NB. Now Edith Effron calling NB a "con man" and a "social metaphysician" accord to that source doesn't at all cut it though it sounds like something she could have said. She was very intelligent, but sometimes inclined to go over the top. I have a 1962 Newsweek with her letter to the editor complaining about how a story treated AR, that says since you behave like cockroaches, be prepared to be treated as such. Bad hyperbole even then.

Kinda

James S. Valliant's picture

Brant,

I'm not a psychologist, but I tend to agree that "social metaphysics" would not be a very useful concept in psychotherapy. The concept itself, however, is very useful. The Fountainhead's idea of psychological dependency, spiritual "selflessness," is the very same concept, though, isn't it?

As for Dominique, she is the most interesting case, isn't she? Her positive values are self-determined, but she is still psychologically dependent on the values of other people. Her frustration at those who would hang their laundry off of the Stoddard Temple actually leads her to want to end Roark's career, rather than fight for the values in question! In that sense, she is actually governed by values not her own at a deep psychological level. Her own happiness depends on the values of others. So, in a sense... yeah.

Social Metaphysics

eg's picture

Casey, Nathaniel Branden told me several decades ago that "social metaphysics" was a term he used as a psychological shorthand or shortcut and that it had little value in psychotherapy, the implication being that more concrete subcategories, which might or might not be social metaphysical--could be worked with but that since it was a big fat dead-end negative it should be avoided as a label. Obviously, someone in fiction like a Peter Keating is a social metaphysician.

I think it is a controlling label. A threat.

If you live a lie you are living in the mind of the lied to and that seems to be social metaphysical. NB in the 60s? But if so then Ayn Rand might also be described that way because of her desire to keep the affair private. I would simply say honesty is, generally, by far the best policy for reality is truth and a lie is pretense of truth..

If you take a trip down the social metaphysical river, I don't think that that necessarily makes you a social metaphysician. I think that what makes you that is continually disowning the self, for it needs to be replaced with something. I don't think Nathaniel ever was one, for if he was he wouldn't have continued to see himself as a victim of Ayn Rand expressed to us, the public, as anger. That didn't reflect well on him, but it was him, not an emptiness. Peter Keating ended up completely deflated.

As for sentence completion, I don't know about Ayn Rand, but it was around long before NB picked it up, gave it stucture, developed it and ran with it. It's his creation. You can see it essentially develop in "Breaking Free" and then mature in "The Disowned Self." It then became a "technique"--his technique, his invention. And I can testify that it works--oh, boy, does it!

--Brant

2nd Hnders

eg's picture

Casey, do you include Dominique as a second hander?

--Brant

Brant,

Casey's picture

You should take advantage of the rather thorough index in PARC.

The entry for "Branden, Nathaniel, social metaphysics of" lists cites on the following pages: 65,223,256-257,292-293,307-308,323-324,336-350,372-373, and 383.

Mr. Valliant also mentions the interesting coincidence of Mr. Branden's refinement of this concept, though Rand identified it with her term "second-hander" in the character of Peter Keating from "The Fountainhead." Indeed all the major characters in "The Fountainhead" apart from Roark are meant to be versions of the psychological second hander, which is why she was going to call the novel "Second Hand Lives." It is most interesting to note that Rand has a fleeting worry in her journal entries that Branden associated himself with Keating when he first read "The Fountainhead" as a young man. Her notes actually demonstrate that it was Branden who first suggested to Rand that he was a social metaphysician, a conclusion she came to reluctantly! Have you noticed also how Branden in Rand's notes queries her about word association type random stream-of-consciousness techniques, which he would later make famous in his "sentence-completion" technique, or how Rand lectures him on the "drunken driver premise," which appears so eerily related to his "art of living consciously?"

And when you refer to Rand's claiming that Branden's theoretical refinement of the concept went beyond hers, remember that even the Brandens claimed Rand was overgenerous in her compliments of them. I wonder how innovative and original Branden really was when looking at the evidence of her psychological contributions to him such as these journals, the contents of which he has concealed so completely all these years.

And isn't the whole "Disowned Self" story the very story Rand's journal tells as she advises Branden to reclaim his true self from the wreckage of his repression and his failed attempt to live up to his image as an intrincist-rationalist "Objectivist hero"?

TOC Summer Seminar

nevin's picture

Linz,

Of course I look forward to seeing you again, this time in California. I hope we see Andrew, Alec, Lady Caroline, Madeleine,... the whole gang. We'll have a big enough posse the forces of darkness won't be able to touch us. And I'll probably drive this year like I did to UCLA, which means I can bring a stereo, and a blender for preparing frozen concoctions. Galt's Gulch meets Margaritaville!

I got the idea for the word 'slinker' from the recent actions of the Brandens themselves, namely, their professed 'boredom' at the prospect of having to defend their respective reputations from James' book.

-Bill

Irony

eg's picture

Nathaniel Branden denied is Nathaniel Branden magnified. If he is a "social metaphysician" how can this be? He invented the term. Ayn Rand said it took her concept of the second hander to a much deeper level. Was it introspection on NB's part that led to this creativity? What is going on here? Can a creator and a social metaphysician exist in the same person each to a significant extent? Knock him down and he gets up bigger than ever. NB revealed--thanks James Valliant--is--more interesting than ever. This has to be the reality of the actual, objective situation. Thanks to PARC he and Rand are going to be linked together in a way that she and Frank O'Connor will never be: mythologically through the ages. Deservedly so. Life is not a court of law. A court of law is only a small, perhaps distorted, slice of life. All PARC ends up telling us about Rand, apart from her own words, is that (maybe) Frank O'Connor in the spirit of an AR hero agreed to be or let himself be cuckolded. An appeal of "intrincicism" directed against doubters won't carry the day.

--Brant

Half

eg's picture

It seems that we are having something of a psychological/philosophical discussion. Can intrincicism appertain to the psychological? Or to a generalization about human nature particularized? Note, I am not asking this question to support what I have said earlier--not yet--but for it's own sake. My question doesn't precisely fit the discussion.

--Brant

Half of Brant's Argument Was Missing

eg's picture

Where's--Oh, God!--where's the rest of me? Smiling

--Brant

I agree

sjw's picture

Yes, half of Brant's argument was missing, and I should have said that. It's certainly not a given that the status quo view of marriage is the proper one, it's something that needs to be argued for. And likewise, it's not true that the status quo version is improper just because it's volitional.

The proper view of marriage is an open area of debate as far as I'm concerned, but there are bigger fish to fry. It'd be nice to get the culture to argree to some semblance of the idea of individual rights before worrying much about how people view marriage.

Half of Brant's argument was missing.

Casey's picture

I was pointing out that claiming Ayn Rand went against "reality" by engaging in the affair was assuming that one set of ideas about such things are not ideas but merely "reality" while her ideas about it were "unrealistic." I was pointing out that BOTH attitudes are equally based on ideas. It was the intrincicism Brant was claiming for his set of ideas and values concerning this issue that I was objecting to. That kind of projection I do not participate in when judging other people's consensual sexual relationships.

I should narrow the focus here to this idea that all open marriages or exclusive arrangements other than monogamous relationships are doomed intrinsically to fail and therefore Rand was offending the god of nature. In the realm of sexual arrangements, there is a range of perfectly healthy relationships as varied as the individuals involved.

There is a danger that my broad comment could be exploded in a number of directions that were not intended, so I thank you, Shayne, for pointing that out. I don't mean to say that everything people think of is good or acceptable. Marriage is often a terrible idea, given the context of the individuals involved, for example. Though the Brandens participated in that conventional and socially approved institution, it was disastrously innappropriate for them and resulted in secret betrayals and affairs. We should not infer from this, however, that all marriage is inherently doomed to fail and that they were engaging in an idea that was intrinsically anti-reality. The fact that the Affair did not have that effect on Rand's marriage is further proof that there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea of the Affair -- or with the idea of their marriage.

Half your argument is missing

sjw's picture

Casey, half your argument is missing. Sure, it's true that marriage is a human invention. So is the concept of individual rights. And sure, other cultures have polygamy and such, but they also have dicatorships.

I myself don't have a good argument one way or the other, but I do have to object to what amounts to pure subjectivism. You're not answering the issue, you're just sweeping it under the rug.

Well,

Casey's picture

I'm not talking about eye-blinking, obviously. I mean cultural behavior. And that is obviously learned. Attitudes about monogamy, etc., fall into this category. There is no innate knowledge.

Also, I am giving a hypothesis ("I think") about why Branden did not understand, by his own confession, the relationship of Ayn and Frank and then projected onto Frank the psychology of a man who was tortured by the arrangement even though there was no evidence at all for this assertion. I'm basing that on the evidence for Branden's social metaphysics ("8,000 square feet in the Empire State Building... I wanted that!" etc., etc.)

The Brandens are not attempting to understand Rand in their pronouncements about her psychology (or Frank's), since they are making up the "evidence" they then psychologize about -- in order to justify their own mistreatment of her. (No scars from anti-semitism means she was deeply scarred by anti-semitism, no problems with her parents means she had deep unresolved problems with her parents, etc.) Their efforts don't even rise to the level of psychologizing. They're just lying -- and then concocting a psychology that can contain the gross contradictions they are dishonestly claiming to have existed in the person they lied about, while omitting vital information about their own behavior towards her. To call what they did "psychologizing" assumes an honest if impossible attempt to understand Rand by ascribing psychological motives to her actions. There is too much proof that they were lying to describe their efforts as "psychologizing."

Psychologizing

eg's picture

Casey, if you are free to psychologize Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden can't be criticized by you (and Jim?) for doing the same to Ayn Rand--not unless you are only interested in the difference between accurate and inaccurate psychologizing.

All human behavior is "invented" is quite a claim, which you are welcome to try and prove. I personally have little interest in the nature/nurture debate because I know so little about the facts of the matter.

--Brant

Ashley,

Casey's picture

You're welcome!

And Brant,

It's a pleasure to debate issues with someone who is both thoughtful and does not take personal offense to strong disagreement.

Casey

Marriage Is Invented

Ashley's picture

Casey wrote:

"Whenever I see someone assert some sexual choice that others have made isn't "natural" my thought is, "speak for yourself!" Imposing one's view of sexual relationships on others is pure and utterly baseless projection. I would never presume to speak for the human race about such issues. My own life keeps me quite busy making those choices without being burdened with deciding these issues for others, thank you very much."

Casey, thank you for this post. I had been glazing over a bit on the PARC issue, but this woke me up and made me cheer.

Comment

eg's picture

I think all have pretty much made their points, including me. I'll add something later as something may come up of interest--at least to my way of thinking, and I want to think some more about these things. So thank you for your comments.

--Brant

Bravo, Bill Nevin!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Bill, you wrote to James & Casey of PARC:

Anyway, it is a great book. Please let me take back the unkind things I said about the earlier online version. I hope this book opens a new debate on the Brandens and, more importantly, on Rand's character. I don't agree with every single point that I have read so far, but in overview the book is very enlightening, and such a debate is long overdue. Without some dramatic new (and credible, this time around, all you Brandenian slinkers out there,) evidence from their side, I think that the Brandens are finally going to be consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong. Which is where Ayn Rand always wanted them to go since 1968.

I would also like to second Andrew Bissell's suggestion on Peter Cresswell's "Betraying a Heroine" thread not to have N. Branden speak at any more TOC events. I have never seen what their fans see in the Brandens, but now the dynamically defrauding duo seem creepier and creepier with each new page, and I don't want them associated with any group that I belong to.

May I applaud your candour?! And your choice of words! "Slinkers" is an admirably accurate term for the Brandenians (who live under rocks but occasionally crawl out to sneer, smear & diminish in emulation of their icons); "creepier & creepier with each new page" & "dynamically defrauding duo" are equally admirably accurate for the Brandens. I look forward to renewing our acquaintance at TOC. Please try not to get lynched before I arrive! Smiling

Linz

Brant's comments on NBI Theatre

nevin's picture

Brant,

In commenting on the Brandens' stage effort, I wasn't concerned with whether it was artistically worthy or commercially viable. I was instead pointing out how James had unearthed the logic of the hidden connections underlying the Brandens' lies to Rand, her accusations against them in "To Whom It May Concern," and then their further shameful lies to the public.

It turns out that each of her accusations against them, while discreetly avoiding mention of the sexual relationships that formed the backdrop to events, contained a sharp barb pointed right at one of their many deceptions. This pattern was not clear to the Objectivist public in 1968, and I don't believe the totality of it was clear until the publication of James' book.

I'm only too happy not to have any "tactile memory" of the Brandens. I did shake N. Branden's hand once when I was introduced to him in 2002 (by none other than Diana Hsieh, irony of ironies,) but other than that I have never touched either one. One doesn't have to have a memory of what was going on back then to read things he wrote before the break, the thing he wrote at the time of the break, and things he has written since and, by comparison, to realize that he was a chronic liar. This is especially true if you have an expert guide like James.

If your point is that Branden made positive contributions to the Objectivist literature and movement, and that he has written path-breaking books in psychology, I would agree. Aside from the direct evidence supporting this, it would paint Ayn Rand in a very bad light if the guy she recommended so highly for so many years was a complete drone. (I am unaware, however, of any contributions of similar value by B. Branden.)

If your point is that the ongoing problems of fracture and drift in the Objectivist movement since 1968 have as much to do with bad attitude, bad habits, and bad public relations on the part of the Orthodox brass in the intervening years as they do with the Brandens' original misdeeds, I would agree with that too. But no blunders on Peikoff's or anyone else's part in the time since excuses the Brandens for their immorality.

-Bill

Edited for punctuation. -B.

Thank You

James S. Valliant's picture

Brant,

I still think you're mired in the tired cliches and stereotypes of the Brandens' thinking, but I appreciate your thoughtful response. And, yes, I had hoped that my book would help to get more first-hand accounts to come out. PARC pratically pleads for more credible sources and data.

While first-hand accounts remain our primary sources, closeness has its drawbacks and distance its advantages.

Rand once agreed with Donahue that if you see a personality over time on t.v., you will get to know them pretty well. She said that t.v. appearances are often more revealing than in-person encounters. I'm not sure that I'd go as far as Donahue or Rand, but I do know that my own view of Rand has been shaped by many sources, including listening to many who knew her well, and to the signal achievement of the Brandens interraction with Rand -- those taped autobiographical interviews they conducted with her in the early 60's -- and, of course, her own work, including her recently published letters and literary journals.

I don't need more eyewitnesses to form my basic generalizations, however. That is formed by a consideration of all of the evidence.

Brant,

Casey's picture

I completely reject that. Marriage is just as invented and artificial as any other human relationship. It is no more "real" than polyamorous relationships or polygamy or any other form of romantic relationship. I think you're imposing your values onto them, but your sensibilities are the product of your choices and values just as much as theirs were.

I think the Brandens were relying on conventional attitudes when they spun their tale for public consumption. Frank O'Connor married Ayn Rand. He was not a conventional man. And Ayn Rand was not the aggressor who forced her values on anyone. Nathaniel Branden was the aggressor. He claimed he did not understand the relationship that Rand and Frank had -- I believe him. I think as a social metaphysician himself, he thought bedding another man's wife, even one of his own patient's wives (Patrecia) was some form of victory over the other man. Frank didn't feel that way, which left Branden bewildered.

It is interesting that most derive their conventional views on marriage and monogamy from the bible, which is filled with polygamy and even has instances where husband's are allowed to have sex (with the Lord's blessing) with partners outside of marriage. There's nothing "natural" to human behavior or attitudes. All of it is invented. Just because some people passively receive their attitudes from those who invented them and other people actively invent them does not make one or the other more "real."

There are entire cultures in which sexual jealousy simply does not exist. Is that in their genes? Or is it simply because they never learned that the relationships two people have with each other count as a put-down to others they have relationships with? If such behavior does not count as a put-down and there is zero social shame felt by anyone as a result of sexual relationships, where would this jealousy come from? Someone who felt such jealousy and possessiveness over another person would be shamed for being unreasonably controlling and desirous of something that he cannot, by definition, share -- namely, other people's relationships.

Whenever I see someone assert some sexual choice that others have made isn't "natural" my thought is, "speak for yourself!" Imposing one's view of sexual relationships on others is pure and utterly baseless projection. I would never presume to speak for the human race about such issues. My own life keeps me quite busy making those choices without being burdened with deciding these issues for others, thank you very much.

Which Ones

eg's picture

James, I was thinking particularly about your (or was it Casey's?) estimation of how Frank O'Connor could well have reacted to the proposed affair between Nathaniel Branden and Ayn Rand, which struck me as similar to how Ayn had Frisco react to the news that Dagny was going with Galt, also unreal. I find the Brandens' view to be the more credible. If Frank had been that kind of man Ayn wouldn't have had a felt need for the affair.

In "We the Living" Kira has an exchange with her sister to the effect that she, Kira, preferred the artificial to the "real." I think that Ayn Rand put too much energy into constructing real-life human situations that should have been left well enough alone, for people aren't that plastic or at all "artificial." The entire plot structure of "Atlas Shrugged" collapses when you realize that in real life Frisco would never have gone on strike if it meant giving up Dagny in the first place or that it meant no sense that he hung out with these other two guys in college talking about extremely important things with their philosophy prof and that Frisco didn't share any of that with her. In short, Ayn Rand mixed up her fiction with her non-fiction and created a rationalization for an affair that shouldn't have happened except, perhaps, spontaneously and with only their knowledge, at first--MAYBE! Etc.

If I am right, the Brandens' works re Ayn Rand aren't going to dry up and blow away in spite of the evisceration of PARC, for their feel of that situation is not artificial but first-hand. People might well be saying a generation from now that they weren't credible, thanks to you, but their understanding of who AR was as a person is still mostly going to be the implicitly accepted one.

It's very important that others who had knowledge of what AR was like make a record of that as a counterbalance. This was done, for instance, by the Sures. Interestingly, one of the best ways to be exposed to AR is to read "Ayn Rand Answers, the Best of Her Q & A," ed. by Robert Mayhew. The answers are extemporaneous and very well done. This is not AR in depth, but AR concise and to the point. I was present when some of these questions were asked. The one I best remember was asked by a beautiful little girl who was up on the stage with her at the Ford Hall Forum (some of the audience overflow ended up on the stage, including a flock of nuns and yours truly). As soon as she asked her question Ayn Rand and then the entire audience applauded her. Page 125: "Why is so much money spent on helping children with mental problems, and so little on bright children, who would have more possibilities?" Only the question is in the book.

--Brant

Thanks, Bill

Casey's picture

It really makes it all worth it when people decide to check out the book for themselves.

Thank You

James S. Valliant's picture

Nevin,

That's what I was trying to do: start a critical discussion, one long overdue. If it were only the nasty falling out between the Brandens and Rand, I should have thought that the biases, perspectives and credibility of the Brandens' biographical efforts would have been a major historiographical concern -- if nothing else -- already.

Which Ones?

James S. Valliant's picture

Brant,

Re: PARC, which judgments did you have in mind? OKAY, I'll wait!

NBI Theater

eg's picture

The Objectivist movement in the 60s was a culture unto itself. Nathaniel Branden's interest in theater goes back to his teenage years. NBI theater was a natural part of the mix in those days. That the foundation of NBI was weak because of NBs deceptions of AR was somewhat besides the point. Qua theater, these people--the Smiths, the Brandens, all who were involved--knew what they were doing. One thing I'm not sure about is the kind and amount of financing that was available. (And I have no way of judging Barbara's playscript from the standpoint of commercial viability. One bad review from the New York Times and you were finished.) I suspect--I strongly suspect--that any adaptation of a novel to a play is as about as risky a proposition as one can imagine. Some years later when I walked into the McAlpin Rooftop Theater to see "Penthouse Legend" I was greatly disappinted to see that the jury wasn't going to be actually seated on the stage, but to the side, stage left. That killed everything right there. Not enough money. That play should not have been produced except as the vanity production it was for the entertainment and elucidation of AR fans. There was no thrill for members of the audience to be put on the jury and occupy the stage with the actors. Bummer. I did enjoy the production, however.

People who weren't there are too quick to form judgments about Branden this and Branden that for they have no tactile memory and understanding of what was going on with Objectivism in those years. This is also a problem with PARC.

--Brant

NBI Theater

nevin's picture

Dear James and Casey,

I just made it to page 111 this evening. Wow! I read "To Whom It May Concern" and "Answer to Ayn Rand" in 1986, which coincidently was the year PAR was published. But I somehow I never connected Rand's accusations wrt B. Branden's stage adaptation of The Fountainhead with N. Branden's interest in NBI Theater and the fact that his other squeeze was an actress. I guess it just never occurred to me that the play written by his wife might star his young mistress. But maybe that's just the kind of bold, original thinker Branden is. If he wanted to do something that brazen right when he had the new financial obligations from the Empire State Building deal (and he and his wife were worried that Rand might trip to his deceptions at any moment,) then he must have been locked into a downward cycle of self-destruction by then.

Or maybe he just got bored with exploiting an older member of the opposite sex to further his career. And as a change of pace he decided to be exploited to further the career of a younger member of the opposite sex instead!

Anyway, it is a great book. Please let me take back the unkind things I said about the earlier online version. I hope this book opens a new debate on the Brandens and, more importantly, on Rand's character. I don't agree with every single point that I have read so far, but in overview the book is very enlightening, and such a debate is long overdue. Without some dramatic new (and credible, this time around, all you Brandenian slinkers out there,) evidence from their side, I think that the Brandens are finally going to be consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong. Which is where Ayn Rand always wanted them to go since 1968.

I would also like to second Andrew Bissell's suggestion on Peter Cresswell's "Betraying a Heroine" thread not to have N. Branden speak at any more TOC events. I have never seen what their fans see in the Brandens, but now the dynamically defrauding duo seem creepier and creepier with each new page, and I don't want them associated with any group that I belong to.

-Bill

OK

eg's picture

Well, I just got over the flu, which almost killed my Mother, so I'll be getting on this soon, Casey, but it will be a while before anyone seens anything for I will have to go the F and V and T and T as originally explicated upon by their authors and review them as such as well. Thank you for your interest.

--Brant

Hmmm...

Casey's picture

I immediately got what you are saying, Brant, and am intrigued about how you would elaborate.

Therefore, I think you should write something futher about it, since it's something you have a bead on and I see what you're after.

See?

eg's picture

Another hit and run. I'll think about doing an article after I get over the flu. Thanks for the suggestion, Linz.

--Brant

Really disappointed

Merlin Jetton's picture

A "bit fragmented"? Are you getting namby-pamby, Linz?

Brant, if your "Clarification" (what a misnomer!) posts had been even a little clear, I would not have responded the way I did. Why you expect "substantive discussion" of nonsense is beyond me. If you or anyone else can demonstrate what you said wasn't nonsense, I will apologize. I did not apologize because I did not accuse, but merely asked.

Brant ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Your thoughts are a bit fragmented & one never knows if you're going to change your mind the next day. Why don't you write an article?

Linz

Really disappointed

eg's picture

I'd hoped to have some substantive discussion about my "Clarification" posts, but only got two hit and runs. The first asked if I was drunk, the second accused me of psychologizing and making cheap remarks. I've backtracked and apologized before when I thought I was wrong, but it is obvious that some are never wrong--certainly not apologetic.

--Brant

Psychologizing

eg's picture

I was talking about a doctrine called "Truth and Toleration," Bill. I psychologized no one. I stated why I considered it social metaphysics: the implied eqivalence between truth and toleration. You can have truth and toleration if you keep toleration in its place, which is subordinate to truth. "Fact and Value" has logical and necessary eqivalence, as I explained. I also explained that for many years I was in the truth and toleration camp and that I wasn't a social metaphysician then, now or ever and I explicitly said that no one else in that camp can necessarily be considered a social metaphysician. Therefore your attack on my position is actually to the man.

--Brant

Good question

Merlin Jetton's picture

Deleted. Moved to correct thread "Why do some people hate the Brandens?"

Social metaphysics

William Dwyer's picture

"Truth and Toleration" is social metaphysics incarnate.
--Brant

To which Casey replied, "You're making some of the most astute comments on this thread. It's good to see words written by someone who actually knows what they're talking about written clearly and succinctly."

It's remarks like this say more about their authors than about the object of their criticism. Brant's remark is unwarranted psychologizing, and Casey's supporting remarks are embarrassing, especially for someone as bright as he is, who should know better.

I read "Truth and Toleration." I don't agree with everything it says, but to label it "social metaphysics" is ridiculous. It's very clear what Kelley was trying to do in this monograph, and I applaud his efforts, even if I don't agree with all of his arguments. There was, prior to his explusion, a very repressive atmosphere among the people he was associated with--an overly harsh, knee-jerk condemnation of anyone who had the slightest misgivings or disagreement with any aspect of Objectivism. What Kelley was trying to do is to break with that mold and interject a more tolerant, benevolent approach to those who, while largely agreeing with Rand's ideas, may have had certain minor differences with them. He was trying to cultivate a more open, less judgmental atmosphere in the study and presentation of Rand's philosophy. Social metaphysics had nothing to do with it, and it is astonishing that anyone would make--or anyone else applaud--this kind of cheap, groundless accusation.

- Bill

Clarification

eg's picture

The fact that I think "Truth and Toleration" is social metaphysical does not mean that I think that those who support it are social metaphysicians. I was in that context for over 3 decades myself and I never was any such thing. If I went to Mars and back to Earth, that would not make me a Martian. Nor do I think that those who have read what I have written and still embrace "Truth and Toleration" are thereby social metaphysicians. But I cannot embrace "Fact and Value" in its essential attributes and jump back into the world I left Barbara Branden and many others in. I can't have the "Fact and Value" world and eat it too. I still highly esteem Barbara Branden and I still think that her biography of Ayn Rand is extremely valuable. This whole affair for me has been very painful. Looking back, my corruption to the "Truth and Toleration" world began in early September when I started examining the particulars of Frank O'Connor's alleged alcoholism.

--Brant

Deleted Post

eg's picture

Ah, Linz, I don't have a copy. I can only recreate it piecemeal. And I'm not sure it was just or right.

--Brant

You damn bunch of drunkards.

Jody Gomez's picture

You damn bunch of drunkards. I can relate, my sobriety is questioned nightly.

On a serious note though, this does deserve anger. When someones argument is met with what amounts to argument from intimidation("Oh, surely you were drunk when you wrote that!"), this smacks of dishonest evasion. I am disgusted with the slander of inebriation being used in lieu of argument.

Despicable

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Merlin, that was disgusting. You don't like what someone says, so you question his sobriety rather than address what he says. In the loathsome tradition of Brandbourne.

Brant, the deleted post was your best. You nailed it. If you were drunk when you wrote it, I say - get drunk again, quick!

Linz

Drunk

eg's picture

Truly unbelievable. I speak the truth and somebody asks me if I was drunk.

--Brant

Drunk

eg's picture

Now I'm begining to understand why Linz was so upset and remained so upset about "Drooling Beast." When are people going to understand it's not who said it and in what state, but what was said?

--Brant

Drunk

eg's picture

No. All of my "Clarification" posts were cold sober. The "deleted" post was not. I do tend to post in the late PM. I also do my drinking, if any, then. I have significantly edited several posts that were lubricated by alcohol during the last year on SOLOHQ to make them conform to what we may term "rational sobriety and re-consideration." I have posted hundreds of times. Please do not do to me what Barbara Branden and James Kilbourne did to Linz for that is argumentum ad h. BTW, alcohol makes one tend to truthfulness and openness as opposed to screwing over somebody out of malice and revenge. My Father was truly an alcoholic and he went negative under the influence, a complete personality change, but there wasn't an ounce of malice in all that negativity. Just stupidity magnified.

--Brant

Clarification

Merlin Jetton's picture

Brant, you have admitted to posting while inebriated on other forums. Is that what you are doing here?

Thanks

eg's picture

Thank you, Casey. I didn't intend to make multiple posts, but one led to the next.

--Brant

Brant,

Casey's picture

You're making some of the most astute comments on this thread. It's good to see words written by someone who actually knows what they're talking about written clearly and succinctly.

Compared to the MSK approach (start randomly blabbing in the middle of some issue just to hear his head rattle, and then wallow around to make a point, qualify that point, qualify that qualification and then belly-laugh at the whole mess he's made), you offer refreshingly terse statements that stand alone and actually bear thinking about. Thank you.

Clarification

eg's picture

"Truth and Toleration" is social metaphysics incarnate.

--Brant

Clarification

eg's picture

Where is the social metaphysics in all this? It's there, all right.

--Brant

Andre

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Andre most emphatically does not speak for SOLO, any more than any poster here necessarily does. He actually attacked SOLO at the Phunny Pharm. He has made a donation to the new SOLO, but that does not oblige us to acquiesce to his over-the-top rampages.

Thin Line Between Sarcasm and Reality...

Holly Valliant's picture

I'm sorry for the sarcasm. It was not all SOLO'ists that I was blowing off, just Andre.

Clarification

eg's picture

While "fact and value" refer directly and obviously to axioms, the act of valuing takes us also straight into the Objectivist Ethics, if we rotate our perspective 180 degrees. What could be more selfish than a single mind's judgment and rectitude--more individualistic? What are the requirements of such a mind? A morality of self-interest. Of course, the details are overwhelming if we lose track of the basics--the principles involved. Many details await discovery and explication and I suspect always will.

--Brant

Clarification

eg's picture

"Fact" may be seen as metaphysical and "Value" as epistemological with the combination representing both. "Fact and Value" is thus the supreme value and Objectivism incarnate.

--Brant

Clarification

eg's picture

"Fact and Value" refers to objective reality and a person's moral relationship to that reality. One goes with the other in logical equivalence and interaction. "Truth and Toleration" is fact moderated by an inferior, derivative value, toleration. There is no necessary congruence. In truth and toleration, toleration may conflict with the truth. It must therefore be anti-value because of the unjustified equivalence. It is a very bad standard to do business with and will leave one in a very wrong place, eventually. Of course, if one starts out in the wrong place it may be seen as a safe haven, not as a pit full of vipers called "facts."

--Brant

Clarification

eg's picture

In re-evaluating PAR re rereading PAR and PARC I never applied the veracity standard to PAR or Barbara Branden. I never got as far as "Judgment Day" or NB's credibility. I simply found PAR deficient in regard to many particulars, especially Frank O'Connor's alleged alcoholism. PAR's defenders have not and are not examining these particulars because if they do they will end up where I have ended up: on the outside of the Branden/TOC social pseudo-intellectual complex inhabited by many prominent people. Barbara Branden wants as many as possible to be under her TOC-like umbrella called "Truth and Toleration." But consider Ayn Rand's basic position--basic to Objectivism: Truth. It doesn't matter how many times she may have come up short, which is probably a lot fewer than TOCers claim. All her so-called followers: she wasn't a cult leader and she followed no one. So why follow her? Where is your individualism and rectitude? I no longer think that ARI represents, basically, any cultism, but that TOCers do: the cult of the anti-Ayn Rand phonied up as something else.

--Brant

response

atlascott's picture

Holly, don't write off SOLOists because of what Andre writes.  Please.

James, thanks for clarifying that you do not speak for ARI in your book.  I'm getting it for Christmas.  I'll give you some (more) hell (or not) after I've read it.

Alec Baldwin is a fine looking man.  It is my photo place holder til I can get a nice pic of myself posted.  I posted it for its humor value.  Those who know what I really look like would concede that i LOOK exactly Like Alec Baldwin--after he was severely beaten about the face with a baseball bat...

True love is hard to find, sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded like a goddamn magic show ready to double team your girlfriend...

Poor Andre

Holly Valliant's picture

"Empty" means without substance. This was a simple observation of fact.

But... "a tad personal"?! Given the polite and professional approach you've taken yourself, I'm sure you've come to expect so much more...

And, with such a intellectual approach, it's no wonder that you speak for all SOLOist everywhere!

Once again

eg's picture

Anybody who has anything they want to say to me can write me.

A bit much

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

In a comment warmly entitled Poor Andre, Holly Valliant writes:

Larding empty venom with more empty venom shows just how little the critics of PARC have to say. Unable to use logic or facts, they have been reduced to sputtering and foaming in their desperation. Notice, too, how important "consensus" is to Andre, something he accurately senses is slipping away. But all he has is that same, tired old script to work from, so guys, be kind to Andre.

He must need it right now. His inner anguish is screaming at us loud and clear.

Gee, that's a tad personal, don't you think? And as for my diminishing consensus and interior anguish -- perhaps SOLO and myself are made of sterner stuff that you suppose. At any rate, I thank Holly for her psychological perspicacity, benevolent heart, and friendly observations. :-)   


 

No, Just For Myself

James S. Valliant's picture

Just for the record: I do not write or speak for ARI or Leonard Peikoff or anyone except myself. When Dr. Peikoff became aware of my book, his first thought was, he tells me, "Am I going to have a fight with Valliant now?" Hardly surprising to me at the time. I was not the one to first show it to him, either. Although I had already urged the publication of Rand's private notes, it was his idea to give me unrestricted access to them. This decision speaks for itself. However, the entire revised text was not read by him until after the book's publication.

The only occasions I have ever been at ARI have been scheduled visits to examine material held at the Ayn Rand Archive to which I was also allowed access.

Will Robert B.'s new publication, or any other forum in any way associated with TOC, permit the very "argument" that David K. thought so shockingly absent -- now that it has been engaged?

Baldwin photo

Jeff Perren's picture

Sorry, anyone posting as their photo the vile Mr. Baldwin has to be ex-communicated immediately.
Linz, get to it.

Thats fair

atlascott's picture

Your responses are fair.  I took for granted that James was essentially speaking for ARI, given his preferred status in access to documents, but I have no other evidence, so I am willing to concede that he may not speak for ARI.

But how does Dr. Kelly factor in?  Hasn't he dedicated his life to studying, spreading, and expanding Ayn's philosophy?  Can we agree that he must esteem at least her mind for so valuable a product?  So, implicitly, I tend to think that Robert B. and David K. have a similar outlook on Ayn's personal foibles--or lack thereof.  Not significant.

Old Script

Holly Valliant's picture

You ask why this subject is important to the defenders of PARC -- and the "issue," of course, is much bigger than an affair, but also a whole portrait of Rand, her work and her soul -- but the question then remains: why was it so important to Dr. Kelley?

And, who ever denied the affair? Still haven't seen any proof of that.

And, ARI still hasn't "responded," Scott. If the decision had been left up to them, we wouldn't be having this discussion right now!

Why?

atlascott's picture

"Then, in your view, why are those associated with TOC, past and present, not addressing Mr. Fahy's point?:

Why did it take ARI over a decade to respond to B. Branden's book?

"Seldom has a specimen so

atlascott's picture

"Seldom has a specimen so flawed, duplicitous and dishonest come about in the first place..."

How about ARI denying the affair ever took place?  Is that equally, or more, flawed, duplicitous and dishonest?

How about ARI redacting peoples' names from writings, and ingoring that they ever existed? Is that equally, or more, flawed, duplicitous and dishonest?

Bravo, Robert.

atlascott's picture

"Contrary to your belief and Mr. Fahy's, it is perfectly possible for one to retain enormous admiration for Ayn Rand as a person, or to have a mixed assessment, or to think poorly of her -- yet to judge her ideas on their own merits, without having the slightest interest in further probing her intimacies. Or in reading your book about them. Your working premise -- that Rand's personal stature and the validity of her philosophy are so tightly tied that they rise or fall together -- is one that I completely, emphatically reject. In fact, it is that false premise that has caused so many whom I have known over the years to cling ferociously to a goddess image of Rand -- an image not of a towering human being of extraordinary talent, character, integrity, and brilliance, but of an absolutely flawless person, as the omega of human evolution."

Bravo.  Who cares who wins the contest of 'who is the bad guy' in the whole situation?  Even assuming that Ayn occasionally fell to an ill-considered emotional impulse, this would not diminish her in my eyes one whit.  EVERYONE does ill-considered things concerning affairs of the heart, or when they feel betrayed.  The real questions in my estimation are:  WHY are these alleged personal trifles so important to ARI and Mssrs. Fahey and Valliant?  WHY did they deny even the affair, and HOW could sovereign minds countenance purges, revisionist history, forced disassociations from friends?  And how could ARI supporters expect those evaluating their claims to ignore these repeated acts of dishonesty when the claims are supported only by secret ARI documents none of the rest of us get to read?  Are we to assess ARI and ARI-associates integrity without reference to past conduct?

Poor Andre

Holly Valliant's picture

Larding empty venom with more empty venom shows just how little the critics of PARC have to say. Unable to use logic or facts, they have been reduced to sputtering and foaming in their desperation. Notice, too, how important "consensus" is to Andre, something he accurately senses is slipping away. But all he has is that same, tired old script to work from, so guys, be kind to Andre.

He must need it right now. His inner anguish is screaming at us loud and clear.

Good grief

Casey's picture

Thanks, Pete.

Dear lord...

Casey's picture

Well, thank God, Brant. Do you see what I'm up against? Eye

For a moment after your deleted post I thought I could rest a while.

Smiling

I'm Still Here

eg's picture

I'm not going anywhere, Casey. I was only referring to that one post.

--Brant

Slight correction

Michael Stuart Kelly's picture

Linz,

I am not, nor have I ever been, a "conduit" for Barbara. When I have posted information from an e-mail from her, I have stated it as such (with due explanation or apology for not having any other means of addressing a point). The cases have been 3 or less if I remember correctly. And I have posted extensively.

Frankly, I have oodles of stuff that I have not shared. (She has been very generous in answering my questions.)

I defend her - and truth - 100% from my own convictions and about 99% from my own research. Andre's quote from me was 100% me. (btw - We are not in contact off line. I had no idea that he was going to post that. I am very pleased, however, to see that all that hard work I did has been read and considered, hopefully by others, also.)

Michael

Kant, Peikoff, et al

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Lindsay, I appreciate your comments. I certainly find them sincere and well-meant. Here's what you wrote:

Regretfully and regrettably, Andre, I have to agree with Mr. Cresswell's assessment - the above post, at least, is unhinged, like your usual anti-ARI diatribes equating Peikoff with Kant & the like. A sense of proportion is crucial here. I find fault with both ARI & TOC, but neither organisation is outright evil. That's just preposterous. And your gratuitous psychologising of Fahy & Valliant is preposterous also. They are decent, honourable men doing a decent, honourable, overdue deed, & you should at least read the result - the book - before charging off on one of your maniacal rampages. I think they're mistaken to defend "intellectual heir," airbrushing, etc. & I've made that plain enough. But they have presented a strong case - and no attempt is being made to answer it by those against whom it is made.

As I've already pointed out, I find the silence of Barbara Branden, Nathaniel Branden, and TOC disturbing and illegitimate. I think they at least need to write a serious book review or general consideration, however scathing. Otherwise, it repeats the crime of ARI regarding the two Branden memoirs. 

As for my seemingly outrageous and impossible comparison of Kant and Peikoff, I certainly don't expect many or even any to agree. But consider: Both are serious and important philosophers who are supposedly champions of wide-ranging and profound reason. Their truly formidable works will live on, for good or ill, long after they're gone. But, all things considered, will a new Age of Reason more come about because of them, or in spite of them? Ideas matter terribly. In my judgment, abstact, recherche ideas of this type are overwhelmingly influential, even if little consciously noted.  

Altho' reasonable and virtuous people might well be baffled by my hostility to all things ARI, I have a few humble questions for them:

How many of you ARI semi-fans continually visit their various web sites? Because I do. How many regularily attend ARI lectures, conferences, and functions? Because I do. How many have read PARC and most of the SOLO discussion threads thereof? Because I have. How many have spoken privately on questions of import and controversy -- and in a friendly, supportive manner -- with Yaron Brook, Harry Binswanger, and Gary Hull? Because I have. How many of you regularily participate on objectivismonline.net and 4aynrandfans.com? Because I do. How many of you take and consider the views and nature of ARI seriously? Because I do.

Based on my judgement -- however hilariously wrong, fatuously considered, and maliciously intended -- I find them to be a rather anti-Objectivist organization. On net balance, I think they do more harm than good. I think the world would be better off without them. I think Objectivism, rational philosophy, and ascending Western liberalism would advance faster without their influence and help. I think it would be a blessing on mankind if they tranferred ownership of Ayn Rand's works and papers to SOLO, RoR, or TOC. I think -- courtesy of what I regard as rather enormous religiosity and cultist irrationality -- that they hold Objectivism up to ridicule and make it something of a laughingstock to the world.

No don't!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Andre - significantly, the two people you quote were both acting as conduits for Barbara at the time. Barbara had slung her hook and was operating on SOLOHQ via proxies. Brown's tirade is just a litany of abusive accusations, unsubstantiated; MSK is always going to defend BB come hell or high water. Or truth. Around here, it's not the biggest crime on earth to defend Rand, for once. The Valliant book argues persuasively that the Brandens portrayed her unjustly. The Brandens have chosen not to front up to the argument. Brant had BB sussed in the post he's now deleted.

Andre, coming on here & accusing other posters of dishonesty without furnishing the evidence - & abusive quotations from others are not evidence - is clearly against the posting guidelines. Continue in this vein & you're outta here.

Linz

No don't!

Peter Cresswell's picture

"I could go on at great length, of course..."

For Galt's sake, No! Don't.

You can finish up here and go now. Don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way to the phunny parm.

Surprized

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

     I'm a little surprized by the recent remarks of Peter C. and Lindsay. Is my contempt for PARC really so outlandish? 

     On May 24th, David M. Brown in the 'The Passion of the Critics of Ayn Rands' Critics' thread wrote:

    

I think [my] venom comes from the fact that Valliant is such a dishonest jerk on every page of his tendentious and sycophantic book. If I failed to make that clear [in my book review] to those who are claiming "bias" on my part, I repeat it now. His book is dishonest, tendentious, sycophantic. Valliant lies. These are good things?

 

     The one thing missing from Valliant's blinkered blithering, notwithstanding his shibbolethic hailing of the concept, is "context." My ISIL column <http://www.isil.org/books-n-stuff/book-beat/ayn-rand-on-nb.html> should have and did make clear that I think there was plenty of blame to go around in all that business; also that, not being a party to the mess, I hardly think it incumbent upon me to arrive at juridical conclusions about other people's 40-years-in-the-past exploded marriages and love affairs. Valiant thinks he's got it all down pat despite the yawning lacunae in the evidence he's willing to consider and in the logic of the assessments he's willing to make. He has, however, mastered the hectoring Randroid's tone of omniscient incontrovertibility, which is going to dupe those readers desirous of being duped.

 

     As to whether I should have considered each single one of Valliant's overblown, irrelevant and/or already universally conceded accusations seriatim in my column...uh, sorry, but I just did not have time to write the trillion-word rebuttal. That's another weary trick of this tedious twerp. Just yap and yap and yap and yap and yap, pile sub-clause upon sub-clause upon irrelevant sub-clause, and who can possibly refute it all? Who has the century of spare time?

 

     Even when one would agree with Valliant on a specific point, his deliberately dimwitted approach makes you want to kick him in the groin anyway. That anyone familiar with the history and factions here can wallow in all he avers and emerge with two giddy thumbs up is not a comment on my own capacity for objectivity.

On November 22nd, Michael Stuart Kelly in the 'Ayn Rand? Jealous?' thread wrote:

     [the book features] a constant one-sided barrage of speculations using adjectives and qualifications like:

     "perhaps," "possibly, "it seems," "hardly," "may or may not," "[either of the Brandens]... does not mention," "may have been," even if it were," "remarkably [for sarcasm]," "curiously [for sarcasm]," "it should also come as no surprise," "even if this is true," "... might suggest that..." etc.

     all added to another barrage of evaluations of the Brandens, i.e.:

     "fraud," deception," lying," futility," "dishonesty [intellectual and otherwise]," "theft," "exploited," "self-serving," "manipulation," "exaggeration," "falsehood," (and let us not forget the evil rapist at the end), etc. ,

     moreover, with all that added to the constant belittling and omission of the achievements and credibility of the Brandens, both before and after the break, and, of course, the constant belittling and omission of plausible alternatives to Valliant's one-sided pro-Rand and anti-Branden interpretations and speculations - even on the smallest and most neutral of issues.

     I agree with David and Michael.

     I could go on at great length, of course, but let me simply note: It's widely agreed within Objectivist circles that the most intellectually dishonest major book ever written about the philosophy is Is Objectivism a Religion? by Albert Ellis (1968). Having read both books (and at great pain of boredom) it simply has to noted that Valliant's book is more intellectually fraudulent and dishonestly intended by far. Can anyone who has read both books seriously argue otherwise?

Brant, best wishes

Casey's picture

Best wishes to you, Brant.

I can tell you that James and I focused on the pain PARC would cause those who believed in the Brandens and decided that the pain they had caused within that community was far greater than the pain it would cause them to find out they were wrong. This was not why James decided to do the book, but it was certainly something considered along the way.

I'll miss your valuable testimony, and wish it would continue on occasion, especially now. But that's me, I guess: after a long battle it is good to have a voice come forward, like yours, to help confirm the reasons for engaging in such a battle. Yours were most heroic statements, and historic. Most of them, except for your last one redacted, are recorded now in the archives and will help contribute to an important side of the ledger, historically.

And that is good for Objectivism.

Best to you,

Casey

Brant's Deleted Post

eg's picture

Well, anyone who read it is welcome to use it without attribution, but I will not defend it. I shouldn't have posted it; I'm not in the attack Barbara Branden game. Sometimes the logic of a situation runs away from the reality. I can't now stand by what I wrote. Maybe I can in a year. I am incredibly raw about these PAR PARC things and my new perspective is painful; the shades are continuing to go up for me even though too much sun too soon is potentially a shock to the system if not bad in itself. I have decided to do something about the public perception of Ayn Rand through what I think will be a popular blog. Details after I purchase the domain name and necessary software.

--Brant

Brant

Casey's picture

I wish you hadn't deleted that email, too. It was right on, and an important testimony. Too bad it's gone from the record.

Just Don't Know

James S. Valliant's picture

Neil,

I'd definitely bet that they have rather strict rules about who gets invited to speak at their events, although I honestly do not know what those rules are.

Any stories to share?

Unhinged and unwelcome

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Regretfully and regrettably, Andre, I have to agree with Mr. Cresswell's assessment - the above post, at least, is unhinged, like your usual anti-ARI diatribes equating Peikoff with Kant & the like. A sense of proportion is crucial here. I find fault with both ARI & TOC, but neither organisation is outright evil. That's just preposterous. And your gratuitous psychologising of Fahy & Valliant is preposterous also. They are decent, honourable men doing a decent, honourable, overdue deed, & you should at least read the result - the book - before charging off on one of your maniacal rampages. I think they're mistaken to defend "intellectual heir," airbrushing, etc. & I've made that plain enough. But they have presented a strong case - and no attempt is being made to answer it by those against whom it is made.

I wish Brant hadn't deleted his last post. He got to the nub of something there.

Linz

Etc.

Neil Parille's picture

Jim,

My point is that even if the Brandens never existed, Peikoff would still be making strict adherence to his view of Objectivism mandatory for those who associate with the ARI (to the extent that he runs the ARI).

For example, if someone associated with ARI wrote a piece in JARS defending Objectvism but indicating, say, that Kant wasn't the most evil man in history or that Rand misunderstood Kant, that person wouldn't be invited to ARI events.

Unhinged and unwelcome

Peter Cresswell's picture

Andre, you said: "It's clear that Valliant and Fahy -- the Stan and Ollie of ARI -- fundamentally venerate and worship Ayn Rand. They don't actually respect or admire her. To them, privately, she's a kind of oppressive monster and horrific incubus. In many ways, Valliant and Fahy are straight-up Satan-worshippers."

None of what you say is by any means clear. What is clear however is that you are unhinged. Perhaps you could consider posting somewhere else where your contributions would be more at home.

Andre, I have reservations

Adam Buker's picture

Andre, I have reservations about whether PARC is objective in that at a superficial glance it appears to be a vendetta against the Brandens. To be fair I have not read it and thus I have not yet made a judgement of its merits, and I am willing to revise my initial position if I am wrong about the book. However, due to Barbara's and Nathaniel's close relationship to Ayn Rand and the tumultuous break, couldn't you at least consider the possibility that their accounts are not fully objective?

The Real Issue

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

     Altho' Fahy ostensively writes about the disturbing and illegitimate silence of Barbara Branden, Nathaniel Branden, and David Kelley in response to PARC, the essence and psychology of this article seems to be something different. Certainly the essence and psychology of all the recent SOLOHQ commentary from James Valliant and Casey Fahy is very different.

     It's clear that Valliant and Fahy -- the Stan and Ollie of ARI -- fundamentally venerate and worship Ayn Rand. They don't actually respect or admire her. To them, privately, she's a kind of oppressive monster and horrific incubus. In many ways, Valliant and Fahy are straight-up Satan-worshippers.

     And because their pseudo high regard for the religion of Objectivism -- and its Christ, Ayn Rand -- is a kind of divine faith, they crudely and fatuously suppose that anyone who criticizes "the one true faith" and "the one true god" must, in turn, have a kind of opposite religion. What else could it be? It simply doesn't occur to them that the opposite of Shi'itism isn't Sunniism but rational atheism.

     Hence all the strange and unlikely elocutions in this article and elsewhere. Valliant and Fahy never tire of bizarrely talking about those who "worship" the Brandens -- a phrase they've now successfully make sound like an obscene epithet. They repeatedly talk about mysterious people who are "fanatical loyalists" to, or who "uncritically adore," the Brandens (uhg!); people who take their memoirs "on faith."

     Of course, no such individuals actually exist -- except, perhaps, as golems in their disturbed minds. No SOLOist or TOCer can accurately be described thus. (Name one.) This warped, sad, odd-lot terminolgy of theirs is almost certainly pure-- and devastating -- psychological confession. This whole rediculous, monstrous approach and attitude of theirs is how they genuinely (if secretly, even from themselves) regard AR and ARI. Thus they instantly and sincerely conclude that any Doubting Thomases must belong to a similarly rediculous and monstrous cult favoring "the Brandens" or TOC.

     The whole notion of someone taking a distant, disinterested, appraising look at AR, NB, and BB -- and PAR, JD, and PARC -- and then impartially sifting for the truth is alien to them. They've never done it for a moment! The whole philosophical ideal of ascending the ivory tower and being above it all --  and of the Greek goddess Justice blindly weighing the scales without fear or favor -- is a concept that literally never occurs to Valliant and Fahy. As pseudo-Objectivists, pseudo-philosophic thinkers, and pseudo-reasonists, these two never for a moment consider what the objective truth about Rand's character and personality might be. Truth is simply irrelevant -- indeed inimical -- to their creed. They don't seek it on this matter or on any matter of Randian or Objectivist controversy or dispute.  James Valliant and Casey Fahy don't know, don't care, can't be made to care, and are honestly astonished anyone might actually request that they do!

Brant's post

eg's picture

deleted

nope

Adam Buker's picture

No it wouldn't. The main dispute remains a philosophical one over the ideas of toleration, sanction, evil, honest error, et. al.

That and they like Libertarians.

I wouldn't doubt if someone

Adam Buker's picture

I wouldn't doubt if someone is working on a response. I'm guessing that many over there may be interested in doing other work rather than going through Rand's private life. However that's just a guess. I really don't know or care. Those who are on the side of either Barbara or Nathaniel, should respond to your work. All I'm interested in is if those that do support either of them respond. I am aware that they have spoken at TOC functions, but I still have not seen TOC as an institution endorse their books or yours. That's why I'm still inferring that there is no official position, and that there probably will not be. The fact remains that the bulk of TOC's work revolves around scholarship and media outreach programs as well as educational forums. Their work is mostly good, and I agree with much of what Kelly says in Truth and Toleration. (though I must add that I believe Objectivism at the fundamental levels in the branches is closed not open. The application of the fundamental principles into new contexts is what is 'open' but I will save that for another day)

My own take on PAR is that as a biography, it fails because Barbara ultimately cannot carry out her own stated intentions of writing it to portray Rand as fairly as she possibly could. I don't think she was completely motivated by malice, benevolence, justice, or even the desire to cash in on Rand's legacy. It's obvious that despite the inaccuracies and the more outlandish charges she makes, that she still held some degree of admiration and respect for Rand. However, it's also obvious that the break is still a bitter memory that has greatly colored her view of Rand. I don't find any value in looking at it as a factual biography. I found value in it as her take on a difficult situation although I don't agree with it fully. What bugs me is that according to Brant's post she's not willing to look at the flaws of her book. This and her support of stupid and unwarranted assertions of Linz's alcoholism (He's not an alcoholic. Alcoholics go to meetings Sticking out tongue lol) tells me that she is willing to distort and lie when it suits her. Upon rereading her book, I think it paints a more unflattering portrait of Barbara than it does of Ayn.

As of right now I have not read all of Nathaniel's writings on the subject. Nor do I intend to. The little that I have read puts me in the mind that he is writting out of bitterness. That's not to say that I dislike him. I think he's done some good work with psychology, but his personal accounts of Rand leave a lot to be desired in terms of fairness. While I think Barbara was ( in her mind) trying to be fair as she could to Rand, and not let any bitterness get in the way (which it did)

As to your book, I have not read it simply because no bookstore around here carries it. I will read it.

Thanks, Kath!

Casey's picture

Fancy hearing from you here. It's been my proud pleasure to help your brother. Lots of love to you.

Etc.

James S. Valliant's picture

Neil,

Oh, no, let me be clear: the philosophical differences between Peikoff and Kelley are broader than one judgment. But the one judgment at issue here was the first and therefore perhaps an instructive difference.

As to your second question, do I count?

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