James Valliant and "Uncritical Reliance" on "the Brandens"

Neil Parille's picture
Submitted by Neil Parille on Sun, 2007-05-20 20:16

In reading PARC, one gets the impression that all the negative reports about Rand’s personality have their origin in the Brandens’ books and that without these books there is no reason to accept as accurate the description of Rand provided in them. Let’s remember that the most Valliant is willing to concede about Rand is that her anger could be unjust at times and that she made some poor choices.

However, we shall see that Valliant has ignored a large amount of evidence that Rand had personality flaws beyond her anger. These were well documented prior to the publication of PARC.

Valliant makes no mention of Justin Raimondo’s biography of Murray Rothbard, An Enemy of the State, published in 2000. Raimondo quotes a 1954 letter from Rothbard to Richard Cornuelle. Rothbard writes “[George Reisman] found himself under a typical vitriolic Randian barrage, according to which anyone who is not now or soon will be a one-hundred percent Randian Rationalist is an ‘enemy’ and an ‘objective believer in death and destruction’ as well as crazy.” (An Enemy of the State, p. 110.)

Another book which isn’t mentioned is Stephen Cox’s 2004 biography of Isabel Paterson entitled The Woman and the Dynamo. Although I won’t go into the details, Cox’s description of Rand is somewhat negative and he takes Paterson’s “side” against Rand’s claim that Paterson failed to acknowledge that she got some of her ideas from Rand. Cox interviewed Nathaniel Branden, Henry Holzer, and Ericka Holzer.

One book that Valliant does cite is Jeff Walker’s The Ayn Rand Cult. Valliant occasionally uses this as a source, claiming it gives a version of events different than Barbara Branden’s, while attacking its general reliability. There is nothing inherently contradictory about using a book that one doesn’t consider reliable to be accurate in certain cases. However, Valliant doesn’t say why TARC is reliable when it quotes Kay Nolte Smith’s changes to Penthouse Legend but not the critical things she says about Rand. Likewise, why is TARC believable when it quotes Henry Holzer concerning his break with Rand, but not believable when it quotes the Holzers’ description of Rand as “nasty”, “insensitive” and “unkind”?

Incidentally, Valliant does not dispute the reliability of anyone who says anything critical of Nathaniel Branden. Edith Efron is not credible in her description of Rand's anger, but Valliant finds her trustworthy in her denunciations of Branden. (PARC, 65, 77-78.)

Finally, Valliant’s use of the Brandens’ books is contradictory. Valliant says there are “valueless as historical documents.” (PARC, p. 6.) The Brandens' books become quite reliable when they contain admissions by the Brandens. For example, Valliant credits Nathaniel Branden's claim that he became Rand's "enforcer" although claiming that Rand didn't know about Branden's conduct. (PARC, p. 59) And, as Ellen Stuttle has noted, Valliant does not question either Nathaniel or Barbara Branden when it comes to their claim that Rand received Frank’s consent for the affair. Yet they are the only sources for such a claim.

Branden bases much of her account on interviews with those who knew Rand post-1968. Some of these people are quoted extensively. Branden quotes Allan Blumenthal: "She [Rand] was relentless in her pursuit of so-called psychological errors [concerning judgments on art]. If an issue were once raised, she would never drop it; after and evening's conversation, she'd telephone the next day to ask what we had concluded about it overnight . . . It was becoming a nightmare." (PAR, p. 387.) She quotes Joan: "but, often, she would seem deliberately to insult and antagonize us." (Id.) When I asked Valliant about this, he says he doesn’t dispute the Blumenthals’ account or that they have been quoted accurately. I read the Blumenthals account to go considerably beyond a claim of “unjust anger.”

Brian Doherty published a history of the libertarian movement in 2007 called Radicals for Capitalism which discusses Rand extensively. He likewise confirms unfortunate aspects of Rand’s personality and the authoritarian nature of her movement. He interviewed, among others, Robert Hessen, Ralph Raico, Barbara Branden, Nathaniel Branden, and Joan Kennedy Taylor. He also quotes letters from two anonymous “longtime members” of Rand’s “inner circle” attesting to Rand’s “cruel[ty]” and lack of a “benevolent sense of life.” (p. 705.)

In addition to my general point that negative aspects of Rand’s personality have been confirmed by those who knew Rand, Walker, Cox and Doherty have obviously made their own independent evaluation of the credibility of many of the sources used by Barbara Branden. It is thus unfair for Valliant to claim that they uncritically rely on PAR for their negative assessments of Rand.


( categories: )

For the Record

James S. Valliant's picture

Since Neil has started citing Doherty's history of libertarianism and Cox's biography of Isabel Paterson, I will direct readers here and here for my views.

It appears that NP must have

Chris Cathcart's picture

It appears that NP must have gotten busy with other things after JV's 5/29 questions....

[Apparently, given the date stamp, "TARC" is old stuff, so he wasn't scurrying back with yet new point-missing critiques.]

Well! Welly welly welly well!

Chris Cathcart's picture

Ask a straight question and get a straight answer:

[Neil P]
I agree with most of Rand's politics and some of her cultural criticism (I think her critique of egalitarianism is excellent). I think she was a pretty good author, but not at all on the level of, say, Rudyard Kipling. The rest of Rand's philosophy is hit or miss (generally miss). On most issues, you can find better defenses of positions than Rand's.

Pretty well reveals, in the context of his contributions here and at OL, what Neil P is about. Gives very little confidence that he's given much of anything any rigorous thought. Be it from evasion or just screwed-up thinking processes on his part, I see little to be gained from engaging him on the subject of PARC. Evidence of his thought processes? Picking at all these inessentials while not getting around to the main point of PARC, which is no secret to those who give the matter any careful thought.

This is a big, big problem I observed with much of the OL crowd. The lack of proper integration of Objectivist ideas, the lack of clear thinking, the forever missing-the-point. It's at the level of the kind of amateurish silliness that you get on HPO and elsewhere by critics of Objectivism; the only (inessential) difference is whether they profess agreement with Rand's ideas or not.

When someone spends a lot of his time on Objectivism sites and comes up with silliness like "generally miss; on most issues you find better defenses than Rand's," it's a red flag.

(More indepth defenses of what are essentially correct positions that Rand had advocated, yes. Anyone who really understands Objectivism knows this. Better defenses? Well, more indepth, more detailed work is out there. But I don't think that's what NP means by "better." Nice job succinctly revealing your lack of undertanding or usefulness, NP.)

"Endless personal attacks"

Chris Cathcart's picture

Phil, you're just being an idiot, a monotonous sermonizing idiot. You come here and sermonize and sermonize on the same old tired themes, while -- appearances so indicating -- that's not your MO elsewhere when real shit is being flung. There, a "personal attack," but if you had a clue you'd be interested in the substance involved with this "personal attack." It's not us, but you, who would perpetrate an ideas/people dichotomy. Care to consider the substance of that?

What unmigitated gall, to bring up the subject of "endless personal attacks," when -- just from the little excerpts from OL threads provided here -- it seems that this is all that goes on over there, at least when the subject is PARC and the Brandens' dishonesty. Quite fucking amazing, in fact, that you'd use that very phrase, apparently oblivious to this fact.

Have you noticed that almost no heed at all was paid here to whatever was going on over on OL these past several months? No one here really cared. Then Pairille tromps on in here with an agenda, never really addressing the substance of things himself, and it sparks interest in where this agenda may be coming from. Seems that there is plenty attention being paid on OL to "the Valliant issue" on a recurring basis, though, like a scab that keeps getting picked at. I wouldn't care to find out more in detail, though; the little tip-of-the-iceberg reproduced here is enough to turn me off to the prospect. Somehow, despite all your professed revulsion to this stuff, you aren't turned off enough by it on OL to sermonize about it. Here you are, lecturing and sermonzing about the supposed stagnation of Objectivism in the culture over these past decades and how to get to the root causes of this stagnation. Well, you've got a project ahead of you, Phil: extensive sermonizing to the people on OL! Go root out the things on OL that contribute to the phenomenon of stagnation you claim to observe. Will ya?

"Neil had a penchant for

Chris Cathcart's picture

"Neil had a penchant for crapping on freshly baked pies. The apple pie was tragic. The peach, even moreso as there were crust-related complications that magnified the worst aspects of the event. The kidney pie was an unspeakable episode. The mincemeat pie may, some have said, have been an accident. Then there was the mud pie that someone threw at his ass just as he was defecating. And, of course, there was the key lime pie, which may have caused the most pain of all."

Now, in none of those sentences did I actually say Neil deliberately crapped on an apple pie, a peach pie, a kidney pie, a mincemeat pie, a mud pie or a key lime pie. (Yay, I'm Neil! I win!) Yet you got the idea of what I was saying, all the same, and denying that I was using the list of incidents to substantiate the claim that Neil loved to crap on freshly baked pies is a deliberately myopic and deceptive dodge.

Oh, man. I laughed until I crapped!
Laughing out loud

Whoa

Chris Cathcart's picture

Do I understand correctly, that Phil C. has not read PARC? If not, WTF is he even doing participating in this discussion?

Hmmm

Chris Cathcart's picture

Neil P writes:
So, in short, I "believe" that PARC is a piece of partisan agitprop worthy of Valliant's buddy Leonard Peikoff.

What it is, is a work of advocacy in Rand's defense against negative portrayals by the Brandens. So obviously, being a work of advocacy, you need to take that into account; calling it "partisan agitprop" is an act of partisan agitprop.

PARC served one main function admirably well: to present Rand's version of things contra that of the Brandens. With only the Brandens' side of the story, you get a certain picture of Rand; with Rand's side taken into account, that picture is most certainly called into question (to put it most mildly).

You take all of the accounts, integrate them responsibly, and you come up with a picture of the Brandens' behavior -- particularly Nathan's -- that was quite outrageous and justified his explusion from the movement. Nathan's own portrayal of things puts him in a bad enough light as it is, but it's clear that he twisted things to show that Rand engaged in some kind of hysterical, irrational overreaction. It's bullshit, utter bullshit. The pattern continued from those days past up through the time of his memoir; then as now, he can't be trusted.

That pretty much sums up the essential here. Nathan got the ass-kicking and bitch-slapping he deserved. I really don't see what there is to debate here.

100 VOICES: AN ORAL HISTORY OF AYN RAND

mcohen's picture

Readers of Neil's post might be interested to learn that a new book called 100 VOICES: AN ORAL HISTORY OF AYN RAND (Scott McConnell, editor/interviewer) is being prepared -- its projected publication date is 2008.

Eloise Huggins, Rand's housekeeper is among those interviewed.

It is interesting that she was not interviewed by Duncan Scott in his Objectivist History Project, alongside his interviews of the Brandens.

Parille has gone

Kenny's picture

Parille seems to have to gone. He remains, in my opinion and despite Phil's protestations, just a troll trying to create mischief on this site. Good riddance!

Neil? Comment?

Casey's picture

?

WOW.

Casey's picture

I wonder if certain folks interested in sources will pay attention to what they say.

Barbara, looks like your source on the "rows of bottles" is finally going to get the chance to speak.

FYI

James S. Valliant's picture

Readers of Neil's post might be interested to learn that a new book called 100 VOICES: AN ORAL HISTORY OF AYN RAND (Scott McConnell, editor/interviewer) is being prepared -- its projected publication date is 2008.

Eloise Huggins, Rand's housekeeper is among those interviewed.

Bullshit

Bill Visconti's picture

"The rest of Rand's philosophy is hit or miss (generally miss). On most issues, you can find better defenses of positions than Rand's."

Please. This is patently dishonest and/or plain ignorant. I wish I had a dime for everytime I have heard this crap. "Rand wasn't original." Or "you can find better defenses of reason and capitalism elsewhere." Where? Do tell?

Neil is a characiture of the Rand-hating personality. My guess - a person terrified by what Rand represents and desperate to preserve his own worldview which is nothing more than a house of cards, and he knows it.

Proud Member Of The "Nuke-Them-Till-They-Glow" School Of Foreign Policy

Neil

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Thanks for stating your opinion of Rand so I have a better idea where you're coming from. One of the things I really love about Rand was that she didn't claim expertise in areas where she was not expert. The example of evolution comes to mind. She was also aware of the dangers of overstatement. She called IOE an introduction. She knew she hadn't explicated a complete theory and said so.

Is there a philosopher that you can think of that's come up with a better system than Rand? Also, if you could tell us where you think her weak points were maybe we can address those points.

Jim

Yeah, it is strange...

Casey's picture

Naming your blog after the philosophy of a person you largely disagree with on important issues while not favoring her artistically either IS strange.

What is the fascination? Or is it some kind of Trojan horse gambit to oppose or counter Objectivism? Is this why the Brandens are given such a pass on the things they did to Rand and the coverup and lies they told (the charge that Frank had a drinking problem, just as one example that is fully explained on this thread, could not have been an innocent mistake -- no one told Barbara this, many said it was not true including one of her tangential witnesses, she had no firsthand knowledge of it, and even the hearsay reported by two witnesses comes no where close to supporting such an extreme assertion). And yet you continue to ignore the full picture, to make nothing of this, and don't even try to ponder the implications of it, or the very obvious and real possibility that Barbara Branden is grinding an ax. Is it because you're grinding the same ax?

At least that starts to make some sense... I mean I agree with Ayn Rand on more issues and appreciate her art far more than you, apparently, but I would never theme or name my website after her or her philosophy, as you have.

So what's up?

Correction

Peter Cresswell's picture

"... have it too." Too.

Damned sausage-fingered typing.

Truth in Advertising?

James S. Valliant's picture

It is curious that Neil devotes so very much of his life to Rand in that case... but maybe he thinks that she is the very best or most original political writer, and thinks that politics is the most important subject... or, might it be her audience he covets, you know, from a marketing perspective?

Which is it, Neil?

Inferior to Kipling, is she? (Gosh, I wonder what OL will think of his literary taste?) I guess he could've called it the "WhiteMan'sBurdenblog," or something, but that's not as catchy.

Not an Objectiblog then

Peter Cresswell's picture

So if your opinion of Rand's philosophy is so negative, why do you call your blog 'Objectiblog'?

Trying to eat your Objectivism and have it to?

My Position on O'Ism

Neil Parille's picture

Jim,

I agree with most of Rand's politics and some of her cultural criticism (I think her critique of egalitarianism is excellent). I think she was a pretty good author, but not at all on the level of, say, Rudyard Kipling. The rest of Rand's philosophy is hit or miss (generally miss). On most issues, you can find better defenses of positions than Rand's.

Neil's positions on Objectivism

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Neil has made critical comment not just on the Brandens issue but has also written a critical paper on Rand's view of evolution and other peripheral topics. Neil, what do you think is good in Objectivism and what do you think Rand did right?

Jim

Any statistics?

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Does anyone know the current sales figures of PAR and MYWAR? Is the general public as charged up about these books as many Objectivists are? Inquiring minds want to know.

Jim

Quote, misquote, omit, judge . . .

William Scott Scherk's picture

James S Valliant: "It's obvious you're not familiar with me."

Like I said, we can all occasionally see things that aren't actually there. You are right that I don't have the useful familiarity that comes from real life meetings, extended rants and conversations, etc. You are correct to claim that I am unfamiliar with you in that sense -- we have never had a conversation, never have met, never have exchanged wives. That said, I am very familiar with your online writings -- and that is what I mean to discuss.

James, you led off with the idea that I claimed you were dishonest. Gawd love you for being direct. Only thing is, the claim is wrong.

Your version: "Scherk: "I don't believe you believe that an honest exchange with Neil Parile [sic] or a sustained, point by point, picking at nits together is either possible or of any value to you ... right now I think you are only pretending to respond to Parile's notes."

Contrast, compare the actual version:

"I don't believe you believe that an honest exchange with Neil Parile or a sustained, point by point, picking at nits together is either possible or of any value to you, or in any way of advantage to you and your position -- I may be wrong, but right now I think you are only pretending to respond to Parille's notes."

Parse with subordinate clauses and parentheticals removed, then.

"I don't believe you believe an honest exchange with Neil . . . is . . . . possible . . . or of value to you . . . or to your advantage."

If I am wrong, then maybe you do think such an exchange with Neil (or other critic) is possible, of value, and to your advantage.

Now, I understand if you don't want to go round the mulberry bush with me or anybody else. That is fine. You can say, "I don't trust you to be fair to me or my book, Mr Scherk, I don't find it of value to me or the list." And there it will be left. I would not expect you to engage if you feel such strong bias.

Exchanges with you are not crucially important to me.

Here, again, my honest opinion, laid out in full recognition that it may be wrong: 'To my eyes you tend to operate on an assumption that your challengers are dishonest and/or in league with Satan.'

To which opinion you seem to have addressed this remark: "By no means "all criticism of me."

Good. I will leave you wondering then -- how can we possibly know which of this criticism has not been from Brandenoids/Satan? If there are some critiques of PARC and its methodology that you acknowledge as worthy, then these may be a decent model for a critique here, one that I could follow. I would hope you trust the strength of your convictions and let us know where these 'good' critiques can be found.

As I say, you don't need your above-stated reason to reject me as a discussant. Simple dislike or mistrust will do.

And if I can stab at levity without making Miss Casey Coates shit all over my misuse of humour, I think you see yourself as Judge rather than Prosecutor, with regard to the Rand/Branden tragics. I would start screaming for a jury, me, should I ever blunder into your chambers.

Smiling

WSS

Why not link, Casey?

William Scott Scherk's picture

I don't get to read all the threads at Objectivist Living, so am pleased Casey has provided some material:

He writes, "Poor Laure Chipman or Jim Heaps make a teensy point"

What thread was that in, please?

"[T]hey are immediately doused with icechests full of Gatorade-colored bile from MSK and the usual suspects.

Who are these 'usual suspects'?

"And Neil [ . . . ] he will abstain from returning to the scene of the crime to face any questions or engage in any constructive dialogue."

Got a quote or link?

"[Neil's] rank hooliganism and billious partisanship which may come as a surprise to folks here, is on vivid display over there."

Care to point to the illustrative post, Casey?

"MSK [ . . . ] seizes on a cute piece of doggerel James posted once, with his hyena howl of LOLOLOL, to speculate on James's artistic taste(!) and how it proves some kind of deep-seated derangement and mental deficiency."

Care to back that up with a reference or link?

"[The Brandens'] tactic -- as simple as the schoolyard trick "I know you are but what am I?" -- is to project onto opponents things of their own invention which, not surprisingly since they are things of their own invention, are things that they practice themselves.

Such as . . . ?

"You want to see what a living cult looks like?"

Why yes, I do, thanks. That would be most exciting.

"Check out Objectivist Living!"

Will do, thanks for the headsup.

WSS

James S. Valliant's picture

By no means "all criticism of me."

It's obvious you're not familiar with me.

Scherk: "I don't believe you believe that an honest exchange with Neil Parile [sic] or a sustained, point by point, picking at nits together is either possible or of any value to you ... right now I think you are only pretending to respond to Parile's notes."

If I've "misquoted" you, let me know.

Otherwise, over and out.

"I don't usually respond after being called dishonest"

William Scott Scherk's picture

Coulda fooled me, James, coulda fooled me. In any case, I meant just what I said in the preceding post, and intended no implication that you are any more dishonest than me, Casey or Mr Magoo. You are human, and thus subject to the human foibles. Foibled enough to pretend that I have accused you of dishonesty below, without supporting your claim. If I was cynical, I might say that misreading my argment allows you a plausible reason to evade.

Further, it may very well be obvious to you that I haven't followed your lengthy interactions with Neil Parile closely. It may be obvious to you, but it is not true.

I will diligently search for your earlier references to an Branden persecution complex, and thank you for the correction. I don't expect you to give me a clue where your diagnosis was made, so it might be a while.

Here is the most straightforward response to your present post, given my difficulties with language:

"I am James S Valliant, and all criticisms of me and my book are wrong and dishonest."

Since you may not give a response back, I will let you know I meant to test this jesting hypothesis. I will do my very best to bring back to this thread all occasions on which you accepted criticism of your book as correct and made in good faith.

I hope I find many occasions, because then I would be both wrong about your approach to criticism, and enlightened as to what you think you could have done better with PARC and its aftermath. If I am wrong, and there are few or many instances in which you professionally and thoughtfully thanked a PARC critic for pointing out an error, I will be pleased.

WSS

Need?

Peter Cresswell's picture

"You need ... you need ... "

Phil, no one NEEDS to anything of which you insist.

It's a point that constantly seems to escape you. The NEED is all your own.

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

Personal attacks? I am perfectly comfortable discussing the subject. I can't speak for others, but I don't do it.

"Endless"? Casey provides solid -- meaningful -- contributions, and, something you don't often see, a fresh perspective. Even in the case you complain about, Casey was mocking the personal attacks of others, in some instances playing with their own language. He was ridiculing personal attack, albeit with some of his own.

And it's not a habit for him.

Are you sure you're aiming at the proper target here?

Dodging the Subject by Attacking the Advocate

PhilipC's picture

Once again, guys, I'm going to ask you to focus on the reasons I gave on why to stop the endless personal attacks.

Why don't you address the subject?

The points I made about why it's wrong to constantly focus on personalities and personal attacks? You need to stop doing it because it is WRONG. For the reasons given. Else you need to refute the reasons I gave.

Doesn't matter what Phil Coates said or didn't say or to whom. Or if it was "mild". Or repeated.

Unless you're just uncomfortable with discussing the propriety of endless personal attacks.

WSS

James S. Valliant's picture

I don't usually respond after being called dishonest, so don't "look forward" to a thing.

It is obvious that you have come into my on-going discussion with Neil only at the late stage of this thread. Also, I did not say that Neil had a "persecution complex" -- I was referring to the Brandens' criticisms of one another, a context of which you may not be aware.

We've come to expect nothing but the most straightforward responses from you, too, I might add.

This is the last response from me that you should expect.

Nits and Picks

William Scott Scherk's picture

James S Valliant asks, apropos of unanswered critiques:

"Am I being "nit-picking" in demanding a basis for opinions and only the truth for facts?"

No. Not at all. And even if you are 'nit-picking' for real, it doesn't matter. It is a good thing in the context of this thread.

Nits are the eggs of lice. They attach to one's hair, and unless one wants lousy hair, one needs to shampoo with Qwellada and then pick through the strands to see if any eggs remain.

I will take your question to mean "Is James V being needlessly nitpicking?"

There I would have to say no, but.

I don't believe you believe that an honest exchange with Neil Parile or a sustained, point by point, picking at nits together is either possible or of any value to you, or in any way of advantage to you and your position -- I may be wrong, but right now I think you are only pretending to respond to Parile's notes.

I believe you are blinded by a self-concept with regard to Neil's questions, and that you are unable to step down and live up to your own advertisements and claims to truth and justice and clarity and fairness and civility and so on.

I really wish that you acted as you explicitly say you DO act, or closer to the manner you tell us you strive to act. I wish you were not a former minor civil servant, but that you had established credentials as an incorruptible judge or arbiter.

For in this thread and all the others in which your book recieves comment, you only extremely rarely respond to criticism in a plain, straightforward manner.

To my eyes you tend to operate on an assumption that your challengers are dishonest and/or in league with Satan. That is too bad, too bad for your reputation. From all that I ave read of you and your critics, you have retained ZERO respect for any single critique or critic. You have achieved near-perfection and nothing anyone says about any part of your work will sway you from this attitude or cause you to admit fault or error. Not one nit remains in either the book or you.

That is a terrible reputation to build. Bad for any pretense to normal, plodding inquiry. Bad indeed for anyone who makes an extraordinary kerfuffle over integrity and commitment to reason.

+++++

That's also too bad for those of us here -- like me -- who wait only for a sign that you will honestly accept free and open discussion. The sure signs have not yet appeared (though they glinted faintly in your initial exchanges with Sciabarra: see my next post), and so the value of engagement approaches nil and the rest of your performance seems but vain posturing and/or Objectivist Butoh.

Or worse, Objectivist Bukkake. Solitary Ojectivist Bukkake.

++++++

"Or, is it reasonable to call into question the biases of folks with persecution complexes and their resulting agendas?"

OR? OR? Either A or B, you mean, and only A or B? I hope you don't intend this forced choice.

++++++++

One of my favourite fallacies (meaning one to which I am subject to in my own thinking) is the Fallacy of the Excluded Middle.

This is also known by other terms, and is also associated with other logical errors, boiled down to 'excluding' evidence. Of course, some extremely influential logicians of the modern age (Susan Kaack) would consider the logical fallacy of your construction here to be a mixture of Non Sequitur and False Alternative -- plus an absence of warrant.

You see, your second question below is only rhetorically tied to the first; it has no logical or necessary connection. Just because one can't call truth-seeking nit-picking, it does not follow that you have established any truths whatsover . . . so you may not safely/logically presume as many things you think you can.

Ask now of the following. Are you confident -- in each logical entailment of your claim -- that:

   a) you have truthfully identified an 'agenda'

   b) you have shown the agenda is a result of 'persecution complex'

   c) your identification of an 'agenda' should be fairly attached to anyone not explicitly identified

   d) the folks you think have a complex actually have one, and that they suffer it in the way you diagnose

   e) you can actually diagnose an archaic and incorrect Freudian notion

   f) you have demonstrated a connection between the diagnosis and the unnamed people ('folks')

   g) the unnamed 'folks' have a bias

   h) that 'bias' is a bad thing

   i) that even 'bad' bias is always and ever unwelcome or unhealthy in debate

   j) you have accurately apprehended any bias

   k) any given bias of your your critics means their criticisms can be fairly dismissed

   l) there is any justification demonstrated that you may dismiss your critics on the basis of the illogic you have let sprawl:

Neil Parile has a persecution complex and a bad agenda and I am seeking good.

See, that is all your paragraph says. Nothing but linked statements the truth of which you have yet not come near to demonstrating. What it could further boil down to is: I am James S Valliant, and all criticisms of me and my book are wrong and dishonest.

I am glad you are actively posting at SOLO again, James. I look forward to exchanges with you in the future.

WSS

Nice

James S. Valliant's picture

My personal favorite?

"ENGEL: ... I long for the day that they pick [Perigo's] bones off the NZ shoreline, what is left of them after the fish get done."

Any problem with this, Phil?

Notice that I can't respond over there -- but Engel can go off like that.

MSK's is not an open forum.

Here, we can see that his standards for inclusion are as refined as his standards for exclusion.

Holy Shit 2!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I missed all that when I did my little visit.To think I might never have seen these benevolent and perceptive insights into James's character. And mine too. Hahahaha!

They should change their name from O-Lying to SOLOSucks.com. Seems that's about all they exist to try to prove. Guess I should feel all warm and fuzzy, giving those folk a purpose in life.

Linz

An OL Sampler for Phil, including an appearance by Phil:

Casey's picture

In chronological order, highlights from the OL thread linked to previously:

QUESTION: I'm curious, has the author of PARC made any attempts at a scholarly rebuttal of Neil's well-organized and straight-forward critiques? MSK: He certainly will not do so here. (Boy, are you a glutton for punishment!)

-AND: MSK: When I came on the Objectivist scene, to my overwhelming delight, I met Barbara online. Her history in the public Objectivist culture goes back half a century, to the very founding. She has been a best seller. Mine goes back to 2005, although I had adopted the philosophy years earlier, and I have yet to write my first book. I am just a newcomer and a nobody so far.

What I saw in the Objectivist culture was appalling. I saw a small band of people representing a group of zealots invading the Internet environment wherever the Brandens were discussed to post voluminous posts trashing them in the vilest terms. They were so obnoxious that most people preferred not to engage them. What remained was a false impression that there were hoards of people and most were in agreement with the bile.

So to do my share and provide one small remedy to this, I (and Kat) established a single space in this new medium, the Internet forum, where that would not happen, where people could learn about the Brandens, and where the Brandens could discuss whatever they wished with people who wanted to discuss things with them. That was my manner of repaying a small portion of that debt.

One small space.

In contrast to how many spaces out there where trashing the Brandens is OK?

Then I read that boneheaded book, PARC, and saw every sort of lie and rhetorical gimmick used to raise the myths once again—in the name of Objectivism. And the case for those myths is so weak that the only way to do rev it up once again was to scapegoat those who were successful and had presented a different view of those myths to the public (the Brandens—then Chris Sciabarra). Well I know the price of those myths. I know what adopting them did to me.

And it is pretty clear what type of people are interested in selling those myths to the public, too. Look what they did to you. Then think about tribes and cults and guilt and self-recrimination and groveling.

 

-AND: MSK: Like I said, much is on the way to prove Valliant's integrity-twisting manipulations of rhetoric.

-AND: MSK: I have no problem if a fact raised in PARC is discussed, regardless of the nature of that fact. I never have a problem with facts. But the boneheaded "spiritual rapist" kind of crap found in PARC and touted by brainwashed has no harbor on OL.

 

-AND HOW ABOUT THIS PROLONGED AD HOMINEM FROM MAWDSLEY: When context is not grounded in fact, it is grounded in the motivational biases of the individual's self-image and emotions. This is what I get from depictions of Valliant, Perigo, and Hsieh. They are contextual distortionists who's context is shaped by their self-images and emotional biases because their intuitive perspective (that shapes one's context) is underdeveloped and not grounded in the evidence, facts, reality, etc. This is an unfortunate consequence of replacing one's authentic intuitive perspective with the fictions contained in books such as Atlas Shrugged or the Bible. One's own personal exploration, identifications, and integrations that shape our authentic intuitive perspectives stop, and context, no longer grounded in facts, becomes malleable. The art of spin doctoring becomes the tool of shaping one's subconscious personal context. Because it is subconscious, it is out of control.

-AND FROM RICH ENGLE: There's a part of me that hopes, for his own edification, that Valliant finds himself in some equally scandalous position, just so he can do the learning process.

But I think he is immune. He didn't write that book to "vindicate" Ayn Rand. He wrote it to sell books and make a name for himself, for chrissakes. Now he's taking on the Bible. No such thing as bad publicity indeed. He gets it. A snake oil salesman got it. It's called sheep-shearing.

 

-AND FROM VICTOR PROSS: I grant Perigo no "intellectual status". Perigo is a pompous squalor of a man who denies his own demons, (unlike yourself who has been very open about it) and he tries to project himself as an Objectivist leader—laughable as that is. There are no "leaders" in a philosophy of individualism. My caricature of him shows him more as he sees himself than how others see him—not that Pergio sees himself as a big spoiled baby wearing diapers, but in that he sees himself as being "bigger" than the blank figures that dance around him in awe and admiration. All the other touches were included for humor's sake.

-AND FROM NEIL: This was a very enjoyable read, and not just for David Brown's comments. (REMARKING ON BROWN’S FLAMING AD HOMINEM BOOK REVIEW OF PARC) I recall that a PARCster wrote an article "The Silence of the Brandens' Defenders" or something like that claiming that PARC's suppoedly strong points were ignored. Obviously people were on to PARC from the beginning.
But did MSK really write this: "I sincerely hope he does better with the New Testament project. He seems to be a very solid researcher and it's a shame to see that kind of rock solid effort that is so badly needed go to waste." Given that Valliant can't even summarize accurately 2 sources, I can only imagine what he will do to 300 years of NT scholarship.

-IN RESPONSE, FROM DRAGONFLY: A good example of how even some intelligent people can be taken in by scammer.

-AND:  MSK: I have been doing a more in-depth analysis of PARC recently for a project and I constantly have to fight depression off. Seriously. I am amazed that someone could do that to his own mind and even more amazed that people swallow it. These people have mutilated their rational faculty.
What has popped out at me more and more is the level of dishonesty in PARC. I don't mean hidden intentions sandwiched in between the rhetoric. I mean outright lies presented on purpose. (I will not list them now because a list will be forthcoming before too long.)

-AND: MSK: These PARCER people, like Valliant, actually have mutilated their rational faculty. I do not intend to gloss over this fact with those boneheads.

-AND: ENGLE: I think his motive was to promote James Valliant as a swanky, insight-filled author/crusader for righteousness. An easy way to do that is target decent people who were involved in a sad thing, and act as an inquisitor.

-AND: MSK: Those convinced by Valliant do not really want to restore Rand, however. They want to restore and validate their own faith. They feel lost without God. I speak metaphorically, but that is the central issue. They feel lost without God and they have scapegoated religion too long to backpedal.

-AND: MSK: Notice that, in general, those loudest in praise of PARC are also loudest in demanding the use of nuclear weapons against Islam as a whole. I see an ugly connection in manner of thinking.

 

-AND: ENGLE: Valliant appointed himself to right some grievous, long dead "wrong." This is all he has to think about in life? I don't think so. I think it was an easy vehicle for him to jump on and propel himself.

What's in it for Valliant? Restoring Rand's good name? I find that ever-so-thin. Self-appointing himself to do that for another (even Rand) sounds a little outside of the classic Objectivism from where he seems to operate. It's flimsy, it's always been flimsy. James Valliant is hungry for recognition, and for that alone I cannot fault him-- it's what he wants for whatever reason. If he wants the guru/intellectual bon vivant masque, well, fine, and he will attract the like-minded.

(AT THIS POINT ELLEN STUTTLE THINKS THINGS HAVE GONE TOO FAR)

MSK’S RESPONSE: Ellen… I did not claim anyone was a mental robot. I don't consider true-believers to be mental robots. I did state that the issue of mind control was operating with PARC. Those who hold PARC up as the gospel truth and bash the Brandens are in with ARI, SLOP, etc. Those who question it are out and are treated by the "in people" as enemies, not only of those organizations, but of Objectivism, reason, justice, etc., altogether.
Valliant's book was written to be read out of focus and it is overly-repetitive—just like the mind control technique I mentioned above. The idea is to convince someone by "the frequent repetition of the same ideas over an extended period of time" in order to form a habit (a "brain imprint" or a "neurological circuit"). Do I believe that otherwise highly intelligent people were affected in this manner by reading PARC?
Hell yes.
And by saying that, I am actually being complimentary because I am giving them an out. I am saying they were affected by a mind-control technique, not that they chose to be part of an intellectual lynch mob on purpose.

-AND: BRANT GAEDE: In that case, Michael, I will comment of Linz's post: If life were a cheap soap opera populated with paper-mache characters, these are the kinds of contrived observations one might make through one's tears. The man's understanding of people is as thin as his understanding of anything else.

 

-AND: ENGEL: Perigo continues to be a phoney. I long for the day that they pick his bones off the NZ shoreline, what is left of them after the fish get done. He is a true horror of a man, because he is such the social metaphysican. He doesn't even do a good job at being a raving homosexual; something I might support. He is so about his own being not a person, but a personality, that it sickens me. The man sickens me, he always has, and as far as things look now, he always will. He is a talent-challenged opportunist, and not a good one at that. I only have gratitude for not having the means to tune into his radio show.

The man is a scoundrel, and on top of that, a talentless one.

AND RIGHT AROUND HERE IS WHERE PHIL MAKES AN APPEARANCE: “…I find when I am trying to work through a problem, either an emotional and personal one or an abstract or theoretical one, taking multiple 'cuts' at it - considering it afresh at different times and in different ways brings fresh insight. And sometimes looking at it -multiple- ways ... i) highly emotionally, ii) 'intuitively', iii) with clinical detachment and almost with a logical 'flowchart' .... provides the broadest perspectives.” (SO I GUESS HIGHLY EMOTIONAL “CUTS” ARE ALRIGHT AND DON’T ILLICIT BLANKET DISAPPROVAL FROM PHIL IF THEY HAPPEN OVER AT OL. HE GOES ON TO MILDLY CAUTION AGAINST PSYCHOLOGIZING WHILE DEMONSTRATING A BREVITY THAT I NEVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE. NO FIVE PARAGRAPH LECTURES HERE.)

 

MSK’S RESPONSE: Phil, With all due respect, there is a HUGE problem with this comparison. Agree or disagree with Peikoff and Barbara, they were intimates of Rand. Valliant is another animal altogether. This is like comparing Rex Grossman, Peyton Manning and a cheerleader for the local high-school football team who Grossman slept with once.

I have taken PARC apart and put it back together. The results will be presented in due time (I have very good reasons for waiting). What was an initial dislike has turned into a full-fledged contempt. And the accusation is dishonesty, manipulation, incompetence and spite. What Valliant did is far worse than it appears. It is an embarrassment as an act of reason. Neil's article is an appetizer.

NEIL’S REPONSE: I would echo what MSK said…

 

CAMPBELL’S RESPONSE: Phil, I agree wholeheartedly with Michael and with Neil on this one…

NO RESPONSE FROM PHIL, THEN MSK QUOTES PHIL’S CRITIQUE OF A POEM JAMES POSTED AND MAKES THIS PRONOUNCEMENT: When I read that, it struck me that Valliant appreciated the poem for precisely the same reasons Phil found objectionable. All you have to do is read PARC and, with a few small modifications like substituting Shakespeare for legal jargon, etc., the attraction becomes clear. Valliant had an immediate epistemological identification.
Then I hit the floor laughing. Who said that a man's artistic tastes does not reveal his soul? Sometimes it does loud and clear!

 

SO EVEN WHEN PHIL’S OWN POST ON SOLO IS USED TO PROMOTE PSYCHOLOGIZING OF THE SORT HE MADE A TINY LITTLE OBJECTION TO, WE HAVE SILENCE FROM PHIL (alas, we aren’t treated to such silence and restraint over here, are we?)

Now this is just a toe-dip into the endless river of bile that has been flowing over at OL for months and months. I used one post to point out what is going on, and suddenly Phil’s had it, it’s gone too far, it’s time for a sermon about the need to end this tit-for-tat sniping, it’s not constructive, blah, blah, blah. Hell, he's even hot under the collar at my lone post on a site that hardly has paid any notice to OL. Hmmm.

Base and ignoble

Lindsay Perigo's picture

It simply notices something that I believe used to be called "hypocrisy."

It still is called hypocrisy. Phil, your militant moral equivalence has you looking past the base and foul and attempting to diminish the noble. Maybe it's time you engaged in some "clear-headed self-appraisal."

Linz

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

No one has said any such thing.

I was myself referring to the history of about two years ago at the old SOLO, where you were utterly silent in the face of just the kind of behavior you now denounce. This is a history I recall well. By itself, this does not imply that you should be "ignored" -- or that it was said merely in order to observe that "they do it too." It simply notices something that I believe used to be called "hypocrisy."

And this is "an answer by substance."

Logic, Guys!!

PhilipC's picture

Linz, James, and Casey,

Even if it were true that I had been 'selective' and never criticized those on the other side of this particular food fight and others (It's not), what you are doing is saying:

I don't have to stop what I'm doing because

a) They started it or they are doing it too.

b) Phil Coates is inconsistent. So if he makes some valid points in a post, I am entitled to simply ignore them if he hasn't criticized my enemies. Or if I haven't read his criticisms.

....

> I fear you lost sight of anything beautiful or noble long ago.

Yet one more answer by ad hominem.

Phil

Lindsay Perigo's picture

And anything that's beautiful or noble (or philosophical in this case) gets lost.

I fear you lost sight of anything beautiful or noble long ago. I went over to that sewer - and that is what it is - yesterday for the first time in yonks to see what Casey was on about. I didn't find that in particular but I did read about 3 pages of about 13 that seemed to consist largely of the most amazing lies about me. Bile-spewing that appeared to have been going on for ages. Now maybe I missed it - perhaps it was on one of the 10 pages I didn't read - but I didn't see your usual sermon in there. And that stuff was just filth. Frankly I don't know how those folk can live with themselves. Your sermonising is extraordinarily, dirtily selective, Phil. I ain't goin' back there. Unclean.

Linz

Phil,

Casey's picture

Read my post again, stop hyperventilating because all the colorful language is about to trigger an epileptic seizure, and realize that every one of my adjectives and phrases is a description of their behavior and their rhetoric, not their persons. Jeesh, do I have to go through each one of them and explain the difference between ad hominem and a critique of their actions? (Ideas are not the only thing worth criticizing and the post was about how they are comporting themselves, philsophically and rhetorically, over at OL.) And if you didn't come along with a pyroclastic flow of lifeless verbage maybe these points wouldn't get buried like the KT boundary you ironically claim's getting lost in the shuffle.

AND ANOTHER THING -- I notice you over there with a smiling nicety interjected here or there in the midst of the most rank ad hominem attacks on James's psychology, etc., and nary once do you see fit to lecture anyone at all about the ugliness they are engaging in and have engaged in for MONTHS ON END -- because you know you would get banned in a heartbeat for it.

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

Oh, Phil, where were you when I needed you about two years ago now -- when a forum you participated at was leveling nothing more than empty, personal invective at me -- without a response in kind from me?

Enough With the Personalities and the Insults

PhilipC's picture

Enough With the Personalities and the Insults

> snakepit... deafening cheers...stinkbomb...ASS HAIRS...conquering hero... rank hooliganism... patronizing... sycophantic...infected place... mutual masturbation...high priest... sickening symbiosis... parasites... mud pie that someone threw at his ass just as he was defecating... [Casey]

Wow, what a flow of loaded images. Casey, I know that you view me as your guru and will do whatever I suggest. So can I suggest to you, MSK, Linz, and many others, that you refute and attack *the ideas* not *the man* (or the website)?

Pretty much no one is interested in or can follow the "personalities" - the endless personal charges and counter-charges and venom except the half dozen or so people posting about them. No one will long remember whether MSK or Casey or Neil insulted (or even misquoted) each other. And what is the point of making post after post trying to get the last word on that for a couple years now? You never get the last word. It just starts a new round of accusations and character attacks. And no one has the time to untangle or read entire threads about personalities and who has more contempt for the other. That's not what Objectivism is about or what Objectivists should be obsessing over.

Worse, all this distracts from presenting the facts about Ayn Rand or about Objectivism or whatever the topic is if that is your goal.

When you raise the heat level on a complex issue, the light is reduced. When you raise the invective or personal attack level, the factual or philosophical issue being discussed gets kicked to the curb. When you start or continue a food fight, your ego and bile gets involved.

It never ends - because the person you slimed will lie in the weeds and attack -you- repeatedly in all sorts of threads or forums. And you'll be looking to find that. And the insults and putdowns escalate and you have to respond.

In a continual (or constantly reawakened) state of outrage.

And anything that's beautiful or noble (or philosophical in this case) gets lost.

Dot

James S. Valliant's picture

One sharp reader has observed that nothing remains of any of Neil's efforts -- with "the exception of the Ellen Stuttle example." I will respond, but must point out, once more, that PARC is not a biography of Rand.

That O'Connor consented to the affair is explicitly given only by the Brandens. Absolutely. But Rand's private notes do indicate that Ms. Branden was "in the know" about it -- from the start, it seems -- and from Rand's description of the approach that would be required for the possible new affair Rand suggested might be the "solution" to Branden's problem, we can infer her "rules" for such affairs. If those "rules" were not employed earlier, we should have expected Rand to draw the distinctions here, and she does not. Moreover, such aspects of the affair were known to others (at Rand's prompting) long before the Brandens' books, e.g., Dr. Blumenthal, who is no friend of Mr. Branden's. (Even Rand's notes show her bringing him into the situation.) It was something that the Brandens were stuck with.

Last "i" dotted?

Casey

James S. Valliant's picture

In case they're wondering, and if they think that they can make anythng of it, my favorite poets are Yvor Winters and Emily Dickinson...

Here's the link...

Casey's picture

Here's the link to this:

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=2597&st=140

Where you'll find this:

"I had stopped posting on Solo some months ago, but decided to put some of my new posts there. Given that I might turn these posts into a second article, I'm curious what any PARCsters might say. Perhaps someone might find a mistake or two, although that hasn't happened yet. I don't plan on responding, so the PARCsters can take their best shot.

"It certainly is incredible that all the issues and events I discuss are used by Valliant to make his "case", yet when I show that he misrepresents and distorts them, he (and his followers) claim I'm ignoring the "point" of his book. Why did he put all the stuff in there then?"

Well, yes, especially since you won't come back to address the context you have torn away from every one of your points, Neil!

For example, Neil makes much of the fact that the Brandens did not specifically say that each of Rand's breaks with people were caused by her. Stripping away the context of the writing he acts as though, if Barbara didn't reiterate the point with each new example in the LISTING that followed the characterization, she wasn't technically saying that about each and every one she lists.

As an illustration of context, Neil, here is a paragraph:

"Neil had a penchant for crapping on freshly baked pies. The apple pie was tragic. The peach, even moreso as there were crust-related complications that magnified the worst aspects of the event. The kidney pie was an unspeakable episode. The mincemeat pie may, some have said, have been an accident. Then there was the mud pie that someone threw at his ass just as he was defecating. And, of course, there was the key lime pie, which may have caused the most pain of all."

Now, in none of those sentences did I actually say Neil deliberately crapped on an apple pie, a peach pie, a kidney pie, a mincemeat pie, a mud pie or a key lime pie. (Yay, I'm Neil! I win!) Yet you got the idea of what I was saying, all the same, and denying that I was using the list of incidents to substantiate the claim that Neil loved to crap on freshly baked pies is a deliberately myopic and deceptive dodge.

Yet that is the level of Neil's criticisms. That is what is meant by dropping context. The context is richly provided in PARC and there is no excuse for this except willfull evasion. (I actually respect Neil too much to assume he is dense enough for a reprieve on the basis of not being conscious of his own mental method.)

Holy Shit!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Casey, I'm not sure if I found the right thread - I find that place hard to navigate - but on the thread I did find I encountered a tissue of lies, page after page of them, that were disgusting even by that sewer's standards. I know them to be lies because they're about me. I thought those guys would have gotten over their Linz-fixation by now. The most astounding bunch of lies was this, by the MSK skunk, on the matter of the child pornographer Jim Peron, with obvious input from that cockroach itself:

There is one small addition I want to make to your analysis about Peron and how it impacted events. Perigo was one of the founders of the NZ libertarian party. Under his guidance, it floundered and flopped around, but basically stayed tiny and did nothing but yap to a minuscule public. When Peron arrived to help it along, the whole libertarian movement in NZ started becoming organized and actually started bothering the powers that be in very concrete terms, like people getting elected and laws being passed. What used to be a cocktail party joke slowly started becoming an inconvenient force to be reckoned with. Peron did not bow to The Ineffectual One, but instead became The Driving Force. The Ineffectual One, cast aside, became hate-filled and envious of The Driving Force.

Peron needed to be stopped by the powers that be and an ineffectual dude instated once again to lead the libertarian movement (any old dude would do). The Ineffectual One's hatred and envy of Peron was what the doctor ordered. Since the whole ideological foundation of The Ineffectual One's platform was Objectivism and he was being used as a pawn by the powers that be to make their move (but he perceived it as making his own move just as he was supposed to think—and all this was done through an independent agency called The Locke Foundation to ensure deniability for all), it was causing The Ineffectual One acute grief at home to have Barbara Branden (a living icon from the founding days of Objectivism) stand up against the smearing of The Driving Force on The Ineffectual One's own website. That's where the initial underlying tension came from (in addition to the personality disorder you mentioned).

All the rest was window dressing, including the pedophilia thing (although The Driving Force actually was embarrassingly arrogant and inconsistent in his public interviews and tripped all over his own ego).

Just tockin' to myself out loud...

Michael

As with much of the stuff I read, including the skunk's lies about Barbara's departure from SOLO, I had to pinch myself to make sure I was awake.

First, under my guidance the Libz Party got far and away its best vote to date. But no Libz candidate has ever gotten elected or had laws passed, least of all as a result of anything done by the Namblaphile! And I relinquished my position as leader long before the Namblaphile arrived, so I was scarcely worried about any "threat" to my position. I was concerned at the Namblaphile's campaign to destabilise Libz, which was apparent well before all the pedophile stuff came out. The Namblaphile was simply an especially nasty piece of work who managed to alienate some Christian students - the Locke Foundation, mentioned above - with his vitriol on a student network he set up. They were so incensed they went after him and uncovered his former child porn magazine, Unbound, at which the skunk once professed revulsion but apparently now regards as mere window dressing. It was Unbound that got the Namblaphile thrown out of New Zealand, not my entirely justified loathing of this loathsome creature, which was all my own work, or any threat Peron posed to the "Powers that Be" that govern New Zealand. Hahahaha! The MSK skunk knows all this and so, once again, is lying through his teeth in the service of the Brandens, Barbara having absolutely no scruples about her friendship with the Namblaphile or boasting about it. Lowlifes are attracted to lowlifes, I guess.

I don't propose to waste any more time on the skunk's lies, unless anyone reads them and wishes to ask me questions about any of them, in which case I'll be happy to supply the truth. If I can stop laughing!

Linz

You're right, Jim

Casey's picture

This is the forum where all sides are aired -- I dipped my toe in the sewer that is OL today for the first time in months -- and what a snakepit. Woo-hoo-hoo! Lordy!

Poor Laure Chipman or Jim Heaps make a teensy point to dampen the mass hysteria of high-fives and touchdown dances being conducted over PARC and James, and they are immediately doused with icechests full of Gatorade-colored bile from MSK and the usual suspects. And Neil returns from this site, where his posts are not only allowed but stickied, and amidst the deafening cheers at OL assures them that now that he has let off the stinkbomb he will abstain from returning to the scene of the crime to face any questions or engage in any constructive dialogue. Oh no.

(I kid you not, he assured them all he wouldn't be back after one of his hit-and-runs.) So now I understand why he retreats when the whole context is once again filled in around the nose hairs he has plucked and proves that they are ASS HAIRS and he has once again bungled the chain of custody BY DROPPING THE CONTEXT. At that point it becomes embarrassing to the home crowd and his hero points start depleting fast. Time to scram and be welcomed as a conquering hero back home. I didn't imagine anything like this was going on (I didn't even know Neil was a fixture at OL) but the other side of Neil, his rank hooliganism and billious partisanship which may come as a surprise to folks here, is on vivid display over there, and makes the source of this Nile of otherwise incomprensible concerns he babbles with such apparent earnestness finally explicable.

Meanwhile, again and again, MSK unleashes his mudslides on the teensiest squeak of objectivity about the PARC issue, promising his amazingly delayed book report will soon arrive like the apocalypse to annihilate all doubt, and meanwhile seizes on a cute piece of doggerel James posted once, with his hyena howl of LOLOLOL, to speculate on James's artistic taste(!) and how it proves some kind of deep-seated derangement and mental deficiency. It is amazing that a defender of Barbara Branden, who bitterly accused Rand of exactly this behavior, is being defended in precisely those terms by her bulldog.

That is, it's amazing if you don't know the Brandens. Their tactic -- as simple as the schoolyard trick "I know you are but what am I?" -- is to project onto opponents things of their own invention which, not surprisingly since they are things of their own invention, are things that they practice themselves. That's why they know about it, that's why they think it's vile (from personal experience), and that's why they know it would be an awful thing to accuse someone of.

Over at OL, no disagreement with the position that PARC is a hateful lie by a demented liar is considered -- indeed every timid disagreement is gleefully piled on, with patronizing assurances thrown in that MSK's late book report will fill in the dark spaces that might be plaguing the minds of those deceived by Valliant. The sycophantic falling over each other to defend their goddess, Barbara Branden, whose aura hovers like the Friendly Angel in the Star Trek episode "And the Children Shall Lead" over the whole infected place, the artificially sweetened defenses of Rand that would cause cancer on contact with lab rats, the sheer suffocation of individual thinking that is caused by such mutual masturbation, is sad and awful to witness.

You want to see what a living cult looks like? Check out Objectivist Living, where culthood is alive and ill, the cult of the Brandens, with a high priest named Michael Stuart Kelly, whose Christian qualities have found a new temple and needy gods to defend and flatter, a sickening symbiosis that is most appropriate in a Twilight Zone twist of justice: for just as the Brandens fed on Rand in her declining years, flattering her and making their living in the process, MSK and a host of others are feeding on them now. Unlike Rand, however, they've gotten precisely the parasites they deserve and can expect no better.

Friendly Angel 
Friendly Angel
Uriel of Unarius -- remember, Nathaniel did criticize Rand for overlooking ESP!
Cult alert! Remember: Nathaniel Branden did criticize Rand for overlooking ESP! In twenty-five paragraphs or more, defend this criticism! (This is the leader of the Unarius cult, Uriel -- remind you of anyone?)

Yes!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I was about to highlight those two paras too. Some folk wonder why, or dispute outright, that any of this is important. Blackening goodness in its grave is never of little moment. Neither is the exposure of that blackening.

Linz

Bravo!

Peter Cresswell's picture

"25 years after Ayn Rand's death, it is time to end this charade of protecting feelings while greatness gets smeared -- this farce of scrutinizing Rand for the slightest over-statement, while giving a pass to bizarre exaggerations about Rand herself -- this treatment of what is largely a legend as an historical "given" upon which psycho-sociological theories can be built -- this substitution of pure resentment for evidence.

If PARC results in more witnesses coming out with facts and personal experiences -- even ones casting Rand in a negative role -- then I will be very happy indeed. Far better to have all of the actual data spread before the historians of the future, then to have let the fictions of Rothbard, the vague opinions of assorted libertarians, and the lies of the Brandens stand unchallenged."

Bravo, sir!!! You've summed up once again the true import of all these discussions, and of PARC, that soo many so-called supporters of Rand have either denied or blinded themselves to.

PC

Enough!

James S. Valliant's picture

The general character of Neil's original post (above) is illustrative of one of PARC's central themes: the opinion of any witness can be expected to be colored by that witness's own experience, but what we, the outside observer, need for a fair evaluation are facts.

Many of us are well aware of Rothbard's ~ opinion ~ of Rand and her circle -- and the sometimes made-up facts he marshals to support this opinion. Of course, many of these sources are nothing like the "fictionalizers" that Rothbard and the Brandens are -- but what their opinions, however much they reveal about the witness's attitude to the general subject of Ayn Rand, give us nothing useful without examples, i.e., evidence. (The only ones Neil provides above are the recycled examples of Dr. Blumenthal that PARC makes no attempt to dissect, but which are still less than satisfying as demonstrations of their claims.)

When assessing an historical record, we must be careful to distinguish these two things -- an opinion and the foundation of evidence upon which that opinion rests.

PARC is not a biography of Ayn Rand. It is, however, an ample demonstration of the vast chasm between certain published opinions and the existence of facts to support them. Ms. Branden's claims that Rand, "wanting him dead," was literally out to destroy Branden following the break, or that Rand could use psychology as "an Inquisitor might use the rack and fire," are good examples.

Of course, much of this legend does come complete with pure invention. O'Connor's "alcoholism" is just a classic case in point. Tuccille's "use" of Mr. Branden in 'Alan Shrugged' is another. Rothbard's liberties with the truth are still another. The movie version of PAR is perhaps the crowning achievement of all of this.

Am I being "nit-picking" in demanding a basis for opinions and only the truth for facts? Or, is it reasonable to call into question the biases of folks with persecution complexes and their resulting agendas?

Is it fair -- to history -- to silently let slide lie after lie, important omission after important omission, exaggeration after hyperbolic exaggeration, about such an important figure as Ayn Rand out of fear of (reality-inverting) labels like "cultist," "Randroid," etc.?

Neil will write post after post of detailed criticism of PARC -- all nonsense, all missing the point -- but would it ever occur to him to check the raging flood of hostile mythologizing about Rand? If an ARI-type gave the equivalent of Neil's "I just don't use Rothbard or Tuccille or Walker myself," about "not using" the Brandens, I think we all know the squawking we would have to endure about it.

As SOLO remains the open forum for the broadest range of opinion, Neil will huddle with Robert Campbell, MSK, and all the other anti-Objectivist bigots dripping with resentment and hurt feelings over at OL, posting whatever immaterial musings he likes here, while ignoring anything said in rebuttal, and call himself a "scholar." Count on it, Case, they haven't failed us yet.

A grave injustice has been going on for essentially POLITICAL reasons, and I'm not talking about government. The personal lives -- the beefs and breaks and biases -- of certain individuals not only color their opinions and histories, they silence a network of friends, academic allies, publishing arrangements, and intellectual compatriots. I've heard things like "Of course he's exaggerating ['got the facts wrong,' 'left that out,' etc.], but you know HIS history with Branden [or Rand, or Rothbard, etc.], don't you?" And we're all just supposed to let it go at that 'cause now he or she is "our friend" and showing up at our conference.

One libertarian said it best once to Linz without knowing it: give Barbara Branden a break, for gosh sakes, since, "after all, she's a woman in her 70's," if I recall correctly. Feelings first, and fuck the facts, is that it?

Nauseatingly anti-Fountainhead -- and anti-the-feelings-of-anyone-else -- this is the social metaphysical reality I have observed among libertarian intellectuals practically my whole life.

Well, 25 years after Ayn Rand's death, it is time to end this charade of protecting feelings while greatness gets smeared -- this farce of scrutinizing Rand for the slightest over-statement, while giving a pass to bizarre exaggerations about Rand herself -- this treatment of what is largely a legend as an historical "given" upon which psycho-sociological theories can be built -- this substitution of pure resentment for evidence.

If PARC results in more witnesses coming out with facts and personal experiences -- even ones casting Rand in a negative role -- then I will be very happy indeed. Far better to have all of the actual data spread before the historians of the future, then to have let the fictions of Rothbard, the vague opinions of assorted libertarians, and the lies of the Brandens stand unchallenged.

Where are they now?

Casey's picture

Jon and Neil seem to tease details and nitpicks out of their context to imply that PARC is wrong, but whenever their objections are put into the full context of PARC, they disappear, only to re-emerge when the full context has safely faded to latch onto tiny things taken out of context again.

I would swear that they are beholden to something other than their own minds and the facts clearly presented -- what is causing this? What (or who) is preventing them from conceding that in the full context, as presented once again by James, what the Brandens implied about O'Connor stinks of a baseless and agenda-driven smear on Ayn Rand (and Frank). Come on, guys. Start talking about the leaves again while everyone can see the forest, for once. Or are you now heading for the tall grass?

Let's Review

James S. Valliant's picture

For those -- unlike Jon -- not aware of the discussion to date, let's take a quick refresher course.

Ms. Branden said in her biography that Frank began drinking to excess because of the pain he endured from his wife's affair. Yes, he could have easily left his wife, but he did not.

The only witnesses to any alleged intoxication -- whatever -- confine their reports to the last years of O'Connor's life -- when O'Connor was suffering the mental effects of both disease and age. Ms. B. has revealed recently that there are two such witnesses. The number of such occasions is still not known for some reason.

Full stop.

With all of her own experience, with all of her other sources, not one witness to even seeing the man intoxicated until, say, 1976-1979, i.e., the suffering-filled final months of his life, exists.

Not one. Not once.

This has led many others, apart from me, to question the Brandens' claims here, since they deny any personal knowledge whatever. Ms. B. explicitly tells us that "none" -- that's right, "none" -- of the friends of the Brandens and the O'Connors even "suspected" -- that's right, "suspected" -- O'Connor drank too much, and that she did not learn of this until "much later."

Full stop.

Doesn't this disassociate what evidence of intoxication she has from its alleged cause, Frank's emotional suffering?

Did this stop the makers of the film based on Ms. Branden's book from depicting O'Connor being discovered passed-out drunk in a phone booth in the 1950s? Well, no more than it prevented Ms. B. from adoring the film and declaring that Fonda "was" O'Connor.

Nope, no mythology under construction here, right?

Can someone be seriously diagnosed an "alcoholic" if any -- repeat, any -- intoxication was only during this limited period of his life? And, aren't there other explanations for the accounts of such witnesses as Ms. B. has (neither of whom had much exposure to the O'Connors at the time) in any case?

The only witness to the very existence of bottles is the housekeeper we are discussing, who, according to Peikoff and his wife at the time (and Rand's secretary), angrily denied that O'Connor drank to excess. I have heard this from them myself in the presence of others. Curiously, the housekeeper is not quoted by Ms. Branden, who provides us merely her somewhat ambiguous paraphrase of the discovery of "rows" of bottles in O'Connor's art studio.

In her book, Ms. Branden names none of her sources on this topic. Only when challenged on this (and after one of her witnesses had died), did she reveal any names. Of interest, it was at the same time that we learned these names that we were able to determine the very late and limited time frame for these witnesses' observations -- and got Ms. Branden's concession that her evidence of alleged intoxication was from, in her words, "the last weeks" of O'Connor's life.

Jon and (perhaps) the Brandens appear to be the only folks remaining on the planet who are both aware of all this and still passionately argue for O'Connor's alcoholism.

Jon

James S. Valliant's picture

No, you misunderstand me, Jon. I was asking about the source of the inside dope you had offered. You have no qualms about your source's feelings, it seems, so cough it up pronto.

Peikoff is clearly not gonna do it for you, so I am working on something more extensive for you, Jon. Sit tight.

But, and in any event, why should I not demand that you account for the discussion to date before lifting another finger? Isn't it a big mistake to attempt to appease evasion like this?

The Source

Jon Letendre's picture

“Will you allow me the time to obtain the appropriate permission, since this is not a public source?”

Of course!

“You can, of course, ignore my bracketed comments in the meantime.”

Of course.

“Although why I should take such trouble for one of my most egregiously hostile "critics" is beyond my own capacity to reckon... As to yours?”

My what? My capacity to reckon why you should take such trouble? Because you offered it in discussion! And what “such trouble” are you talking about?! The housekeeper has allegedly already “angrily denied” a belief in Frank’s alcoholism—why the secret about her also feeling misrepresented as to the details of what/when/how she found in the studio? I can only hope this will become more clear when you come out with it.

Who is the source for the claim that the housekeeper angrily denied a belief in Frank’s alcoholism?

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

I believe only one thing with certainty about this, Neil: even the slightest alteration of THIS author's text -- given her well-known (and by then well publicized) struggles on Broadway and in Hollywood (and on publisher's row) to keep her words intact -- would be met with just the reaction it got.

Jim

Neil Parille's picture

Jim,

I'd like to know if you dispute the version of the Smiths. If you have heard other versions, which do you think is most credible?

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

I take issue with this being "an inevitable omission." Indeed, to judge Rand negatively for her breaks, to include the Smith on such a list, and then to omit ANY of this, is hardly "inevitable," but, rather, irresponsible. Nor, in my view, does this make Rand "look bad." Absent the facts not provided by Ms. B., e.g., why Rand might have considered this line important, we are a long, long way from that assessment. I will not assume the laboring oar that you and Ms. Branden have failed to row.

Indeed, the very suppression of this information may suggest that your assessment is precisely backwards. BB was far friendlier with Smith than Rand at the time she wrote PAR, right?

Jim

Neil Parille's picture

A biographer cannot include everything, even those things that his subject may consider a big deal. The question is whether the inevitable ommissions cast doubt on the accuracy of the book. In the minds of most readers (I assume), Rand's breaking with the Smiths for changing one or two lines in the last performance of the play (apparently at the behest of an actor who found the line akward) probably makes Rand look bad. And it is not, as you put it, "changing the dialogue in the production" but something far less.

So again, I'd like to know if you dispute the version of the Smiths. If you have heard other versions, which do you think is most credible?

Then...

James S. Valliant's picture

...may we take it that you regard BB's omission as a problem, Jon?

Jon

James S. Valliant's picture

Will you allow me the time to obtain the appropriate permission, since this is not a public source? You can, of course, ignore my bracketed comments in the meantime.

Although why I should take such trouble for one of my most egregiously hostile "critics" is beyond my own capacity to reckon...

As to yours?

Jim,I heard that she said

Jon Letendre's picture

Jim,

I heard that she said she was accurately represented.

Of course, it would be willfully irresponsible for us to engage in this stuff without disclosing what we heard and from whom.

You first.

Gentlemen...

James S. Valliant's picture

Now, as to the cumulative effect of these and many other glaring omissions...?

Jon

James S. Valliant's picture

Ms. Branden should have asked the housekeeper -- who should never have been surprised at being used in that way.

This is not only willfully irresponsible, it is a classless and distorting manipulation of sources.

101 stuff.

[btw, since the release of PARC, I have heard that the housekeeper did say that she was misrepresented.]

Jim,You wrote, “Ms.

Jon Letendre's picture

Jim,

You wrote, “Ms. Branden should have mentioned the housekeeper's opinion as such -- and, in fact, explored its basis.
This is a true flaw and no less than willful distortion by a biographer.”

Yet that opinion came later did it not? As I understand it, the housekeeper read PAR and was angry that readers might think she meant to label Frank an alcoholic. We don’t know that the housekeeper, during interviewing with Barbara, said, ‘I found lots of empty booze bottles, and by the way it’s not my opinion that he was an alcoholic.’ Perhaps she said only the first part.

You can’t say it was willful distortion to leave out an opinion that, so far as we know, came after the book’s publication!

And in any case, Barbara does not write that the housekeeper thought Frank an alcoholic, rather she writes only the first part, the true part, the part the housekeeper doesn’t deny—the part about finding lots of empty booze bottles.

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

Since, by Rand's standards, it was a big deal, its inclusion was mandatry. And since that is the case, a responsibe biographer should have provided all of the details you and I yearn for (but which I excluded, having heard a great variety of accounts).

Just from what we've covered here, Neil, none of your alleged instances of "misquoting" can be seen as having the slightest impact -- even if what you say is fair -- on anything PARC actually says.

As I have also said before (sigh), Doherty covers more substance in a single footnote than you have to date -- speaking of "empty rows."

Jim

Neil Parille's picture

I am not an uncritical defender of PAR. For example, I have said that Barbara should have put the details of the split with the Smiths in the book. But if it was only one change once, then I think the omission wasn't such a big deal. If you are saying that it was so bad what the Smiths did, then why aren't you giving the details?

As I said before, your contention is that if someone analyzes the Brandens books and compares them among themselves, they are shown to be lies. I think I have shown that you are so careless in your citations of the books that your case collapses. So, yes, I think I have discussed your point.

Jon

James S. Valliant's picture

Ms. Branden should have mentioned the housekeeper's opinion as such -- and, in fact, explored its basis.

This is a true flaw and no less than willful distortion by a biographer.

This is the sort of thing PARC observes and Neil and Jon persistently evade.

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

What I think "happened" was not the point. No, the changes never made it into the final production. It was the manner of Rand's discovery that was thoughtless, from what I can tell, and as I have said. The point was that no account of anything happening was given in PAR at all. That Rand herself perceived this as a serious part of the problem -- and that Ms. B. did not even mention it at all -- are the things one needs to carry away from this.

Again, and for the last time, doesn't this raise a question for you?

I must take issue with your summary of Ms. B here. As I mentioned in PARC, but you seem to have ignored, it is not clear from her account (as you have already quoted it below) whether we are to believe that the alleged "rows" (since BB is not directly quoting from her source for some reason) were cumulative or what. This ambiguity in PAR is precisely one of the things I allude to. Just another implication you seem to have missed altogether.

Again, and for the last time, when will you take these issues head-on, as someone else put it here?

Jim doesn’t accurately

Jon Letendre's picture

Jim doesn’t accurately summarize anything.

Casey wrote “the housekeeper angrily denied Barbara's description”

And James wrote “Indeed, it is ONLY an insinuation of Ms. B's, in light of what Ms. B failed to mention... FAR more significant is Ms. Branden's omission that the housekeeper angrily denied the suggestion Ms. Branden tried to twist her into supporting.”

You guys make it sound as though Barbara wrote that the housekeeper thought Frank an alcoholic, but she wrote no such thing.

And you make it sound as though the housekeeper denied what Barbara wrote about the bottle discoveries, but the housekeeper did not deny it.

The housekeeper “angrily denied” any intention of labeling Frank an alcoholic, she never denied finding lots of empty booze bottles.

Jim

Neil Parille's picture

Do you believe that the changes to Penthouse Legend were made (or attempted to be made) in the production of the play or in the last or almost the last showing? Are you saying that George Reisman's version of this incident (which is similar to Smith & TARC) is not reliable or only part of the story? What do you think happened?

Also, whether correctly or incorrectly, Barbara Branden quotes the housekeeper as finding rows of empty liqour bottles "each week." (p. 366.) Isn't it true that you change this "after O'Connor's death"? My point is not that Branden's account is accurate or even that she has accurately quoted the housekeeper. My point is that you do not accurately summarize what Branden says.

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

As I have already suggested, it is the context which determines whether the changes were "minor" or not. "Given Rand's history," or words to that effect -- both here and in PARC -- should make this clear to you. What would be thoughtlessly irresponsible in one situation might not be a problem in another. It is your capacity to read that remains in question, sir.

And, Neil, since I do not rely on any source not mentioned in the book -- but do use published sources when I know them to be correct -- no matter how dubious the source -- e.g., the Brandens or Walker -- what's your problem? By its very nature, the book was to mention dubious sources. And its purpose was helped by mentioning in footnotes various other writers, such as Tuccille and Walker, who do erroneously RELY on the Brandens. But even Tuccille may have said something that WAS true, right? Just as Tuccille and Walker may have contradicted the Brandens or added information they left out -- right?

The sole effect was to demonstrate the ball of contradictions (or, in this case, important omissions) the existing sources on Ayn Rand consist of, and it was never my purpose to write a biography of Rand. As I have repeatedly stated in many ways: do not use PARC -- except the Rand notes themselves -- as substantive biographical information on Rand -- merely a demonstration of the inadequacy of the Brandens and other sources reliant upon them.

The point here was that Ms. Branden didn't mention Rand's side of the story AT ALL. 'Twas no detail, but the whole thing, Neil. Doesn't that raise a question for you?

It is this manner of evading what PARC actually IS trying to say that is most frustrating, Neil. It is this manner of evasion that causes me to ignore you.

And, of course, you have not shown that the housekeeper was quoted incorrectly, or that PARC misquotes Ms. Branden. You have only suggested that something important was left out, rendering it misleading. But PAR says what PARC says it says, and the left out parts, as indicated below, are without significance, in any case.

Now then, can we take it that you concede the rest?

And, when can we expect you to address the substance of PARC?

Jim

Neil Parille's picture

Considering that you aren't able to read PAR or your own book accurately, I'm not surprised that you aren't able to understand my comments.

But let me give just a couple of examples.

For example, in PARC you say that the Smiths “exhibit[ed] unbelievably reckless judgment, changed the dialogue in their production of PL.” You said it is “systematic and personal betrayal.” You now say:

“It WAS a minor change, as far as I am concerned -- and I have heard so many versions of this story from eyewitnesses that I am certain that it really did happen (are you suggesting that it did not?)”

Of course, I don’t deny that there was a minor change, apparently one or two lines in the last showing of the play. But you are now backtracking by saying it was “minor” when you described it as much more serious in both PARC. And in Sciabarra’s blog you said:

“In the few instances where I rely on Walker, such as Hospers’ report on Rand’s difficult youth and the ‘break’ with Kay Nolte Smith, I do have other, corroborative sources, providing independent, if anonymous, verification. Unlike Ms. Branden, I do not rely on anonymous sources as my only source for something, but I will allow multiple, credible sources to remain unnamed where they serve as mere corroboration. Walker is cited because he is the only published source for them. Hospers has confirmed this testimony, if not in published sources, and the reported account of the Smith break, involving changes to the dialogue of a play by Rand they were producing, has been in circulation for many years, indeed. I should have, perhaps, included the fact that the changes made to Rand’s play were removed before its opening (although ~ how ~ Rand discovered these changes in the production remains the essence of the charge), but my own anonymous sources here are credible contemporaries to the event�and their reports to me long pre-date Walker�s book. As Sciabarra must know, Walker did not invent this.”

So were the changes minor nor not? Were they “before its opening” or in the play's final showing or not? Do you disagree with Kay Smith, Phil Smith and George Reisman? Why didn’t you mention in PARC that you allegedly have anonymous sources?

Or take for example my discussion of what Branden reports the housekeeper as saying. I never said that she quoted the housekeeper. I simply said that your quote of Branden's book was wrong.

Yep...

James S. Valliant's picture

... and admire his rational passion as much as I do.

Umbrage

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

James V,

I know. I've turned the gain down on my umbrage amplifier after the first "bleep off". But then it's also harder for you because you know Linz personally.

Jim

> My goal, Jim, is to one

PhilipC's picture

> My goal, Jim, is to one day be capable of taking umbrage as often and as intensely as Rand herself did.

Now, that's funny! If you're this funny in your book, I'm going to have to go out and buy a copy tomorrow Smiling

Umbrage

James S. Valliant's picture

My goal, Jim, is to one day be capable of taking umbrage as often and as intensely as Rand herself did. A lofty aim, I know, but I keep trying. When Linz is so reasonable, however, he makes this a real challenge. Smiling

Offense

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Phil, I've taken no offense in what you've said. If I took offense easily or umbrage as Lindsay calls it, I probably wouldn't be posting at SOLO Smiling.

Jim

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

Okay, Phil.

And, yes, take no one on faith. When you read PARC, you will see that 90% of Rand's every word from her "Branden notes" is reproduced "raw" -- and the exceptions (and their reasons) are precisely identified.

But, of course, you will not be fully satisfied until all of the Rand notes are seen by more scholars. I have urged Peikoff to make these available immediately. To my knowledge, no one has yet made any request to see the originals -- which, for the record, I would enthusiastically support.

Rand and Branden

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Phil,

I agree with the see for yourself method and the need for epistemological standards, but there are two separate defendants against defamation here: Rand and Nathaniel Branden. For a number of reasons after reading the Branden biographies as a juror, I would have found Rand innocent (I will not use the legal term not guilty). I will try to revisit all of the material and crosscheck it, but the point is that any reasonable person would find reason to give Rand the benefit of the doubt after reading PARC.

Jim

No insults intended Jim.

PhilipC's picture

No insults intended Jim. What i mean to say is I'm not going to trust either you or Neil or anyone else.

,,,,,,,,

I don't have time to do this thoroughly, but:

1) I'd need to read full quotes at paragraph lengh from Rand's journals and not as selected by you....but EVERY journal entries where she discussed NB.
2) And I'd need to hear the defendant. Nobody listens only to the prosecution in a courtroom: "Okay, we've heard the D.A. Case closed."
3) And I'd need to see the "timeline" -was he having and affair before, during or after...and the like

Jeepers!

James S. Valliant's picture

Phil, what is one to make of gratuitous and empty insults from someone who admits to such comprehensive ignorance?

epistemology and validation issues

PhilipC's picture

> PARC makes clear that Nathaniel was asking for Ayn Rand's help in therapy sessions for years in resolving a bogus psychosexual impotence problem while carrying on a romantic relationship with Patrecia. The journal entries have Rand analytically trying to work through Nathaniel's "problem" while being in the dark. [Heaps]

Wow.

Here is the method that I would use when and if I wanted to thoroughly satisfy myself about it: That is such a strong claim that I would have to read the all related journals about NB themselves...and hear the testimony of the "defendant" - NB. What he said on this very matter...and the timing of his relationships - was this at the exact same time. I wouldn't rely on a second hand book.

But I have not yet bought "Journals of Ayn Rand" and when I do, I'll read those journal entries there. In context.

I do have to say that on these discussion lists, there often seems an ENORMOUS amount of heat and invective rather than light, venting, overstatement, omission [I'm not talking about by you, Heaps].

So it's best to post EXACT QUOTES AT AT LEAST PARAGRAPH LENGTH --such as from Rand's Journals-- as opposed to paraphrase, hearsay, etc. just like in a courtroom since I'm not sure I would trust emotional partisans such as Neil or Jim V to either advertently or even inadvertently not 'stack the deck'.

I'm not going to take anyone's word for what Rand said in her journals or what the background facts were. I'll listen to *Rand's own words*, not their characterization or selective presentation or paraphrase by Mr. Heaps, Mr. Parille, Mr. Valliant.

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

Neil, I am in such good humor that I will even respond to you! Your own dishonesty has been well-establish by refusing to respond to any refutation of your points -- and once more, of course, you do not disappoint.

However, to your instant list of nonsense:

6. Because it doesn't matter in the slightest that Gotthelf (or anyone else) was previously taken in by the Brandens, does it? What exactly does that establish about the Brandens' credibility? And besides, why kick a guy who's correcting the error of that "reliance"?

5. I do not "misquote" her at all. That the housekeeper "found" no "new paintings" isn't even worth mentioning without the context (which BB fails to establish) that she had previously ever observed new -- or old-- ones. Also, Ms. B. is NOT directly quoting the housekeeper here, anyway, so how do you know she even said precisely this from BB's paraphrase? Indeed, it is ONLY an insinuation of Ms. B's, in light of what Ms. B failed to mention... FAR more significant is Ms. Branden's omission that the housekeeper angrily denied the suggestion Ms. Branden tried to twist her into supporting. Seems to me that THAT is a real distortion of sources, right?

4. The ellipses used on page 12 omit only the very point covered in the paragraphs preceedeing it.

The whole quote reads: "Ayn never told her family in Russia the new name she had chosen. She had no doubt that she would one day be famous, and she feared that if it were known in Russia that she was Alice Rosenbaum, daughter of Fronz and Anna, her family's safety, even their lives, would be endangered by their relationship to a vocal anti-Communist. Through all the years that she corresponded with her family, until just before World War II, Russia refused entry to mail from the United States, and she lost track of them--they never knew she had become 'Ayn Rand.'" (PAR, pp.71-72)

AFTER saying that Rand changed her name in order to protect her Russian family, I render it: "Ayn never told her family in Russia the new name... they never knew she had become 'Ayn Rand.'" (p. 12)

Your problem, Neil?

My issue with BB here is the simple fact that they did (and early on) "know" that she had become "Ayn Rand." Period.

3. Speaking of misquotes, I do not say BB "concealed" this -- I suggest an impression is left. As shown in my review of Doherty's history of libertarianism, BB seems to have left the very impression -- at least on some -- that I suggested.

2. It WAS a minor change, as far as I am concerned -- and I have heard so many versions of this story from eyewitnesses that I am certain that it really did happen (are you suggesting that it did not?) -- but I am not Ayn Rand and I do not have her history on Broadway and in Hollywood... And THIS is the only context needed to conclude some very bad things about those behind the change, as far as I'm concerned.

1. I have heard this story from various sources -- that's "why." But, Neil, since neither I -- nor any of Rand's critics -- make anything of this, why are you so very troubled here?

If Ms. Branden can erroneously claim that Rand met Isabel Paterson and Rose Wilder Lane through her friend Channing Pollock (when she did not met either of them through him, and Lane not until years later), for example, does that shatter her whole project? I don't think so. She made a sloppy mistake about these things... (See Cox's bio of Pat and Rand's letters to Lane.)

See, Neil, some judgment is needed in selecting your examples, if they are to have any effect.

Indeed, your triple and quadruple standards, ardent advocacy that would make an ambulance-chaser blush, and multiple instances of misquoting PARC, don't serve you well, Neil.

Don't get spoiled and expect continued responses to such continued nonsense.

I was just in a good mood today.

One example

Neil Parille's picture

Casey, I take no position on the alcohol issue. My point is simply that Jim has misquoted Branden's book in this instance. Do you deny it?

I'll just address one item...

Casey's picture

5. Why do you often misquote Branden's biography? For example, Branden says that “each week” Rand’s housekeeper went to Frank’s studio and “found no new paintings, but instead, rows of empty liquor bottles.” (PAR, p. 366.) Why do you change this to “’rows of empty liquor bottles’ . . . which Rand’s housekeeper is said to have found there after O’Connor’s death.” (PARC, p. 144.) Why do you omit the part about there being no new paintings?

So asks Neil Parille. If you want to include Barbara Branden's second hand description of what the housekeeper said as some kind of gospel, even after ample evidence throughout PARC that Barbara is grinding an ax, and even after the housekeeper angrily denied Barbara's description, then I don't know what to say to you except you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

I hope you eliminate this "example" of whatever you are trying to say from this list so that I can stomach reading the rest of them.

(Don't mutilate your own honor, man, with this garbage! It's hateful to behold.)

Casey

Jim

Neil Parille's picture

I quote a letter from Rothbard in the Raimondo book because it is a contemporanous account. Whether Rothbard's later accounts are "fictionalized" I don't know, so I don't use them. I've never used the Tuccille book.

As I understand your book, you concede that Rand could be angry. I read the Blumenthals account as going beyond anger. They report that Rand was insulting to them, didn't want them to have a life apart from hers, harranged them over their artistic tastes. (Incidentally, in the grand scheme of things, I don't think these flaws are all that major.)

Also, I don't think you've answered my detailed discussion of how your book distorts and misrepresents the Branden books. For example:

1. Why do you say the surprise party was thrown by Random House when your sources say it was the Brandens/collective?

2. Are K. Smith, P. Smith and (apparently) George Reisman mistaken about the small change to the dialogue of Penthouse Legend? Your only source is TARC. What proof do you have about the nature of the changes to the play?

3. Why do you say that Barbara Branden conceals the fact that the Blumenthals left Rand, when she explictly quotes Joan Blumenthal, "I telephoned Ayn and said we no longer wished to see her"?

4. Why did you use ellipses on page 12 of PARC to change the sense of what Barbara Branden said?

5. Why do you often misquote Branden's biography? For example, Branden says that “each week” Rand’s housekeeper went to Frank’s studio and “found no new paintings, but instead, rows of empty liquor bottles.” (PAR, p. 366.) Why do you change this to “’rows of empty liquor bottles’ . . . which Rand’s housekeeper is said to have found there after O’Connor’s death.” (PARC, p. 144.) Why do you omit the part about there being no new paintings?

6. Why didn't you tell your readers that, regardless of what Gotthelf found out about the typewriter story, that in his book he repeats Branden's account?

These are just a few of the problems I've found in checking your footnotes. And then there are the methodolgical problems, such as why do people who are not credible in their accounts of Rand suddenly become credible when they say something negative about Nathaniel Branden?

Neil's Mission

James S. Valliant's picture

Neil is your classic "libertarian on a mission." The more thoroughly each of his "arguments" are rebutted, the more strident he becomes. The more he ignores the rebuttals, the more he relies on name-calling of me and "my buddy," Leonard Peikoff.

Here, he once more misrepresents my position. Rand, by all accounts, could be difficult and no reader of PARC could claim I suggest otherwise. It's the specifics, of course, where the current screed collapses. He trusts Rothbard -- well-known author of "fictionalized" histories of Objectivism? And I'll bet he also trusts Tuccille as a "good" scholar of the subject, too (see Jennifer Limber's thread on the subject.)

Jim,

Casey's picture

(Deafening silence.)

That should take a while to sink in, though, I suppose.

Thanks for saying exactly what I would have pointed out.

This is what's in PARC that changes everything, Phil, in terms of the glib assumptions that have accrued since the Branden mythology has seeped into the lore.

I don't make a dime off the book, but I do get some satisfaction anyway from reminding folks like you that you ought to read it. You are more affected by the Brandens' myths than you realize. You will be glad that you read the book.

Sincerely,

Casey Fahy

PARC

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Phil,

PARC makes clear that Nathaniel was asking for Ayn Rand's help in therapy sessions for years in resolving a bogus psychosexual impotence problem while carrying on a romantic relationship with Patrecia. The journal entries have Rand analytically trying to work through Nathaniel's "problem" while being in the dark.

Jim

> Now what upsets me even

PhilipC's picture

> Now what upsets me even more is to learn that Rand was the one who was mistreated and in a way that she was embarrassed to reveal and those sworn not to reveal it, revealed part of it after her death in a way that concealed crucial facts.

Jim that sentence is so abstract, I'm not sure I'm clear on what specific mistreatment/embarrassmen/secrets/revelations you are referring to. Not having read the books or kept up is this something new or that I wouldn't have heard of? Or is it that NB was deceiving her or what exactly?

Doherty's Book

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Neil,

You bring up an interesting question about Doherty's book. My question is: why do so many people in the libertarian movement and elsewhere focus more on Rand's personal life and demeanor than her philosophical ideas?

This didn't happen before the Passion of Ayn Rand was published. Rand was smeared or misrepresented before, but it was a misrepresentation of her ideas and answerable. Now what they say is that she was a mean, crazy old lady who slept with her protege, drove her husband to drink and routinely treated people poorly, wink wink. Now what upsets me even more is to learn that Rand was the one who was mistreated and in a way that she was embarrassed to reveal and those sworn not to reveal it, revealed part of it after her death in a way that concealed crucial facts.

1. Do you feel Rand deserves the treatment she receives in the press?

2. If Rand promoted a less controversial set of ideas, would she be treated this way?

Jim

Mr. Parille

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Why do you care what I "believe"? I care about the truth. I think I've shown that Valliant's book is unreliable; that it consistently misquotes and misrepresents the Brandens' books; that it enages in double standards; that regardless of what one may ultimately decide about the Brandens vis-a-vis their critics, anyone who thinks that Valliant is a "scholar" ought to be ashamed of himself. So, in short, I "believe" that PARC is a piece of partisan agitprop worthy of Valliant's buddy Leonard Peikoff.

You've shown no such thing.

Further, I believe you didn't in fact ask me "what do you believe?"
Incidentally, I believe that what you did ask me was this: to keep what you and Casey Fahey were discussing, and who you were talking about, to myself.
So I also believe your memory is not so reliable.

I asked you both of the above. When I asked the second question you buggered off.

Linz

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