Reprised—Betraying the self. Betraying a heroine.

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Wed, 2006-02-01 07:35

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? - Mark 8:36

What makes someone give up their soul? In the decade after the publication of her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand was at the very top of her game and she began preparing another, final, novel, To Lorne Dieterling, in which she hoped to dramatise the answer to that very question. Unfortunately for all of the fans of Rand’s earlier novels, a real life drama got in the way.

The novel’s basic theme, she wrote in her first notes on the new-book-to-be, is “the story of a woman who is totally motivated by love for values—and how one maintains such a state when alone in an enemy world.” The task she set herself was to show “what it means to ‘live for one’s own sake’—shown not on a social-political scale, but in men’s personal lives… [to] show the manner in which men betray their values, and show the results… The issue, ‘to think or not to think,’ takes actual form, existentially and psychologically as the issue: ‘To value or conform.’” In 1964, she clarified the theme in her notes as: “Loyalty to values, as a sense of life.” [Italics are all Rand’s own.]

It was a book that millions of her fans were never to read. It was never completed. Her notes for it run through discussions of the various kinds of value-betrayers she identified—the ”above-zero” types including the idealist-aspirer—the ‘Byronic’ idealist—the ‘glamorizer’; and also the below-zero types: the cynic—the Babbitt, or human ballast—the ‘Uncle Ed’ type of power-luster, who in actuality wants nothing at all—the presumptuous mediocrity who wants the unearned.

The notes end in 1966. Ironically, by then, she had some real life dramas to sort out that parallel the theme and her notes, and the characters that she was mapping out for her novel: a real-life betrayal of values on such a scale that she would spend the next two years trying to unravel it. The unravelling of that betrayal can be read in Ayn Rand’s own Journals, a poor substitute for the book they now have to replace.

The Journals form Part II of a book by author James Valliant—a San Diego prosecuting attorney—that examines the monstrous duplicity of her biographers, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, across almost the entire eighteen years of their time as associates of Rand. It is impossible both to admire Ayn Rand and to read this book unmoved. Valliant the attorney is out to convict, but Valliant the author makes abundantly plain—well beyond reasonable doubt—that Nathaniel Branden exploited Rand sexually and romantically, and that both Brandens exploited her professionally and emotionally, and did so consciously and fraudulently. To this day the Brandens continue with the deception, only now with us as dupes.

To put their story in a nutshell, in order to advance themselves by association with Rand they pretended to be what they were not, and in the end they both got burned by it. All else is obfuscation.

The scale of their duplicity is vast: it stretches almost from the time they first met Rand to the time of her death, and extends even after that with biographies and memoirs published after her passing that, as Valliant shows conclusively, are mired in contradiction and embroidered with tissues of self-serving lies. Rand was and still is a meal-ticket for both Branden, B., and Branden, N.; they have both done their best to consume her for their ends, and to dishonestly denigrate the philosophy and the woman they once claimed to represent.

It now seems clear that neither ever fully understood or accepted the philosophy of Objectivism. To first build and then save their own reputations they took to lying about themselves, then to lying about Rand to save themselves, and at all times distorting Objectivism. Writing in her biography The Passion of Ayn Rand, Barbara Branden says that Rand used psychology like “an Inquisitor might use the rack”; Nathaniel Branden’s memoirs suggest that Rand was literally insane on the subject of himself; both Brandens suggested that after their falling-out with her in 1968, Rand was moved only by a desire to see Nathaniel Branden dead. All these and similar claims are shown by Valliant to be utterly self-serving fabrications.

It was not ‘Rand the Inquisitor’ that was torturing these two; it was their own inability to maintain their lies in the face of reality—of trying to be the people they claimed to Rand to be in order to worm their way into Rand’s esteem. In Branden N.’s much quoted and widely-circulated ‘Benefits & Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand’ (an MP3 download of which still features on his website’s front page for the price of just $9.95) he complains how Objectivism encourages both ‘repression’ and ‘moralizing’; yet as Valliant and Rand’s Journals show all too clearly it was neither Objectivism nor Rand that caused the Brandens’ own confessed repressions—indeed Rand had for at least two years been encouraging Branden N. to de-repress his manufactured emotions—it was their own attempts to fake reality. As Valliant says:

Objectivism was never a description of reality for Branden [N.], it was a ‘theory’ disconnected from acting—except the act that he was putting on for Rand. Objectivism was entirely disconnected from everything else in Branden’s life… The Branden’s blame Objectivism and Rand for ‘making’ them [repress and] lie so much… [but] Branden is here confusing what ‘Objectivism demands’ in the abstract with what he had been claiming about himself to Rand in particular. Whether Branden was ever a ‘traitor to his values’ depends, of course, on the nature of his actual values.

Branden N.’s whole life with Rand was an act. In attempting to fake reality as he did, the ‘repression’ and ‘moralizing’ he claims to the inexorable hazards of Objectivism can in fact be seen—not as hazards of Objectivism—but as the hazards of trying to live a lie. Branden B’s nervous breakdown, dramatised in the shabby film of her Rand biography as due to Rand’s intransigence, can be seen instead as all Barbara’s own work. And Branden N.’s own repression, his emotional autism, and the claimed dogmatism he still claims to bedevil Objectivism were not in fact endemic to Rand’s philosophy at all, but were personal prisons of his own making. 

What was not allowing the Brandens to eat their cake and have it too was neither Objectivism’s rigidity nor Rand’s “intellectual authoritarianism," as they have both claimed since, but reality. They repressed their “true selves” not in order to “live up to the alleged ideals of Objectivism” but so they could misrepresent themselves to Rand as something they weren’t in order to claim a value they hadn’t earned. Claiming otherwise as they have done since is to hear the whining of small children at the denial and exposure of their unrealistic whims.

Branden B. whines for example that Rand’s authoritarianism required her “to tear out of myself my passionate response to Thomas Wolfe’s novels”—to “repress her true artistic tastes”—yet as Valliant shows, many of Rand’s associates including Alan Greenspan, Alan Blumenthal, Leonard Peikoff and Mary Ann Sures all had artistic tastes at odds with Rand’s, yet rather than repressing them they were simply honest with Rand and with themselves. (Note too that in answer to a recent question of my own, Branden B. conceded “[Rand] thoroughly detested the music of Wagner. But for reasons I can only speculate about, she never objected to my love for it”). So much for Rand’s much-discussed ‘artistic fascism’—it’s clear what Rand was after in her associates was not dishonest agreement, but honest analysis.

Meanwhile, Branden N. whines in chorus with his ex-wife’s bleatings that Rand “was enormously opposed to any consideration of the possible validity of telepathy, ESP, or other psi phenomenon”—fields of charlatanism Branden has since begun to plough all-too enthusiastically (see for example his work with and endorsements of mystic philosopher-psychologist Ken Wilber—“paradigmatic” Branden called him). Rather than argue for these misbegotten notions at the time, like a coward and a flake he repressed his desire to do so; instead of blaming himself for dishonesty and cowardice he blamed Rand for her “rigidity” and “dogmatism.” He concludes his carefully worded self-justification in ‘Benefits and Hazards’ with the comment:

Would I be giving this presentation if Ayn Rand were still alive? Although I can’t answer with certainty, I am inclined to say: No, I wouldn’t… In view of the disgraceful lies that she spread about me at the time of our break, in view of her efforts to destroy me, to ruin my reputation and career—which is a story I do not care to get into here—I would not have wanted to do anything that would benefit her directly while she was still alive.

Cowardly, dishonest—and vindictive too it seems, even fourteen years after Rand found him out as a phony. The fact is that neither his presentation nor his ex-wife’s book nor his own memoirs could have been published while Rand was alive, since there is barely any information in either that can be trusted and that could not have been the subject of a libel trial if she were. As deputy district attorney Valliant demonstrates, the “disgraceful lies” are not Rand’s but are all the Brandens’ own work. Of the Brandens, one is left to ponder their silence since the airing of these charges, and what Mary McCarthy said of Lillian Hellman’s account of her life (quoted by Valliant in his book): “Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the.”

Rand has gone, but fortunately her Journals and prosecutor Valliant live on to speak for her and to finally expose the Brandens’ calumnies and the many, many contradictions in their memoirs, and most importantly to resurrect the real Rand from under the dirt heaped upon her by her ‘biographers.’ In particular, after reading Rand’s own words written at the time and Valliant’s case for the prosecution, there is no doubt of the utter worthlessness of any of the Brandens’ claims to truth, or even any of their descriptions of Rand herself.

As Rand’s Journals now show incontrovertibly, at the time of abandoning her novel on value-betrayers, Rand was up to her eyes with the real thing: offering psychotherapy to a man—her chosen legal and intellectual heir—who had over the years play-acted the role of an Objectivist hero in order to ingratiate himself with Rand, and to literally gain his chance at the big time—at fame, fortune and professional advancement through the sexual and romantic exploitation of a famous and widely-respected woman. That man was Nathaniel Branden. No wonder he hoped the Journals would never see the light of day; they expose him as a con-man and a fraud.

Rand’s account of Branden’s psychotherapy (requested by him, he said at the time, to help solve his sexual impotence and ‘emotional autism,’ but in reality simply to delay his inevitable day of reckoning) offers the same view as does lifting up a rock and watching the cockroaches scuttle around: under the glare of her penetrating analysis he has no hole left in which to crawl, and eventually, painfully, his fraud is exposed, and his worlds—professional, romantic, emotional—collapse around his feet. 

He is left exposed in the wreckage as a thirty-eight-year-old fraud prepared to do anything to try and keep alive his con trick, including ‘confessing’ that if not for his sexual impotence on which Rand had wasted more than two years attempting to cure, his “ideal” would be to have sex with the sixty-one-year-old Rand “up to six times a year.” This at the time as he had been bedding for four years a ‘chorus girl’ he had specifically denied to Rand being involved with, an affair which he had conspired with Barbara Branden to conceal. His eighteen years of deception would end in the sordid, shabby collapse that it deserved.

We’re now in a position to answer the question posed at the start: What does it benefit a man to gain the whole world, but to give up his soul? As Nathaniel Branden’s duplicity shows us about such an attempt, the answer is: nothing at all. In fact, both the world and his soul are denied to such a man. 

In trying to live out the fraud that his life had become, Branden set reality against himself—and that is a game that just cannot be won; reality is the ultimate avenger. In betraying his self and the values in which he claimed to believe he set in motion an inexorable chain of events in which, one by one, he lost and betrayed the business he had built up, the women he claimed to love, and the values and the philosophy he claimed to uphold. At that point he tucked his dick between his legs and scurried off to California with the ‘chorus girl’ he couldn’t give up, the mailing lists from Rand’s magazine with which he began his client list, and the manuscript of his first book that Rand’s ideas had helped him write. Left behind was the business he had built up on the back of Rand’s reputation, the ex-wife who had lied and pimped for him, and the ‘honorable self’ that he had for so long masqueraded as being.

His years of deception had lost him both his soul and the world he had once hoped to win. If man is a being a self-made soul as Rand has convincingly argued, then Branden, N. can be seen to have defaulted on the job.

Years later after he rebuilt his career he was to write another book called ‘Honoring the Self.’ The irony is palpable, and a poor substitute for the last novel Rand was never to complete. In its place now we have James Valliant’s book The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics. It is exactly as merciless as those critics deserve, and just as well-argued as it needs to be. I was persuaded reluctantly to read it; I am now very happy I did. One emerges from reading it with the firm conviction that Rand never needs to be apologised for again—and that one should never have been put in the position of being required to.

The Brandens' biographies of Rand, said Valliant in one interview, have "distracted from Ayn Rand's message. It would be a shame," he said, "if one of the most important writers of the twentieth century went down with the portrayal by these two." Her achievements and her memory deserve so much more.


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Thou dost protest too much

sjw's picture

I'm with James (of course). Robert Bidinotto, Tibor, and sundry others want to claim that this topic has been beat to death and that it's really just a soap opera--when for decades the issue caused a great divide in the Objectivist movement and to this day causes many in the culture to not even want to entertain looking at Objectivism.

The smear campaign against Rand has spanned decades and caused immense damage to the movement--and these people protest about some little corner of a website talking about James' new book too much? They protest too much.

And I find it incredibly ironic. If anything these people should be patting James on the back for doing precisely what they've been calling for all these years: *open debate*. Now it's in the open and they want to hide it under a rock. And let that be a lesson to ARI--if you are in the right, there's no reason not to engage your adversary; if you're right, they'll evidently run for the darkest corner with their tail tucked between their legs and only whimper now and again.

Unless convinving

Hong's picture

Unless convinving facts related to O'Connor's behavior are present, I wouldn't know for sure either way whether he was alcoholic or not. However, paints in wine bottles is in noway a convincing "fact".

Have you read PARC, Hong?

James S. Valliant's picture

Have you read PARC, Hong?

Is O'Connor's alleged alcoholism a "fact" issue?

Thank You

James S. Valliant's picture

Brant,

There are important distinctions to be made between N. Branden and B. Branden and I hope I made that clear in PARC. Perhaps not clear enough.

But, their own relationship, their simultaneous break with Rand, the coordinated responses to Rand in '68, and Mr. B.'s crediting Ms. B's help in altering his "memoir," make them almost impossible to deal with separately.

I can only refer you to the index for help in locating the various contradictions between the Brandens.

But, the courage and integrity you have shown in the voyage you have undertaken here is an inspiration to me.

Where Then?

James S. Valliant's picture

Dr. Machan,

You had no problem, then, when the Brandens focused on the same topics?

Just when they get criticized about their work on these topics do these topics become "off limits"?

No problem with the "tabloid" Ms. Branden's book became on cable television?

Even as you implicitly endorse Ms. Branden's work, do you now give it more than an uncritical nod by throwing your weight into the assault on any critical analysis of it?

Surely, even if it were only their biases and persepctives at play, this critical attention would be necessary. But don't be taken in by the criticis -- read PARC for yourself -- at least before taking sides...

PARC is about a lot more than an affair -- as are the Brandens' books. Until you've read it, you cannot know who might be whistling in the dark here, sir, and about what.

This is one of the very few places that will even permit a critical dialogue on the Brandens' biographical works at all -- and demand has been pent up for so long.

Indeed. Congratulation,

Hong's picture

Indeed, congratulation, Peter, for winning the high praise of Diana Hsieh. BTW, who is Hsieh?

 

I have read Barbara’s PAR. What you said about her book is beyond my comprehension.

 

You know, my 8-year-old son started to learn an extremely important concept in his 3rd grade: to distinguish between a fact and an opinion. When I was reading PAR, I was acutely aware of what are the facts, and what are the subjective opinions of the biographer.

 

You wrote in your article “Barbara Branden says that Rand used psychology like “an Inquisitor might use the rack”?

Is this a fact or simply Barbara Branden’s opinion?

Then you said “All these and similar claims are shown by Valliant to be utterly self-serving fabrications.”

 

If the statement "Rand used psychology like “an Inquisitor might use the rack” is an opinion and not a fact, how could it be a fabrication?! How could one fabricate one’s own opinion??

 

It appears to me that so many grown-ups and self-claimed Rand defenders do not even have the intelligence of an 8-year-old and need to go back to relearn their 3rd grade lessons!

 

Among all the bluhahahas, I’ve seen few that really dispute the facts in both Branden’s biographies. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions given the same facts. I would not necessarily trust all Branden’s opinions and I would not even trust all Rand’s opinions, especially those about herself. Frankly, the lack of perspective in your opinions is quite astonishing. No wonder people who were actually “in the fold” are not even bothered to get into all this.

Amen

Jody Gomez's picture

"I am really tired of even knowing that so many people revel in this kind of discussion. Where is substance? Where are good ideas? Where is what really matters? I had a chat about this with someone who was in the fold back then and he says BB actually was too nice to Rand in her book and Rand was a bitch during that time and that all these attempst to whitewash her nasty temper and personality is wishful thinking, whistling in the dark. Given how I was treated by that bunch when she was in full command, I tend to agree. But I don't really care -- what bothers me is to see Solopassion become a tabloid."

Tibor. Thank you. Linz you need to step up and guide this site in some direction other than the one it is taking. I have friends here, and I wish Linz the best, but if this is the total height of passion, then I simply deny it.  I'll climb greater heights than this on my own.  I did not sign up for this site to sit around and participate in a circle jerk in adoration of bashing others.  This has nothing to do with being pro-this person, or pro-that person, but rather anti-stagnation.  This site is stagnating.  Machans posts are damn near the only ones on this site that offer up food for thought, rather than vitriole towards others.

The Basic Fallacy of PARC

eg's picture

The basic fallacy of PARC is that Nathaniel Branden's memoirs can be considered to be just that--his story, mostly about his relationship with Ayn Rand, but it was published 3 years after Barbara Branden's biography. In no important way that I know of does he contradict his ex in regard to AR, although she considered him to be too harsh on AR overall as well as many of his former friends, especially Dr. Blumenthal. I heard, but cannot cite any sources--it's just a memory of mine--that those former friends thought that Barbara wasn't harsh enough on Ayn Rand in her bio. Those same friends are many of her unnamed sources. Regardless, when it comes to AR only PAR really counts. It is part memoir and part bio. Yet James Valliant too easily lumps Barbara and Nathaniel together in regards to credibility. PAR is more important, but Judgment Day and My Years With Ayn Rand are less credible because of the way NB lived and breathed deception in regard to AR in the 60s, much, much more than Barbara ever did.

I have yet to do my own review of PARC, however. I have some other serious issues with it, but I suspect a more general overview of the entire situation is called for than we have seen yet. We can say, objectively, that Valliant has made the maximum possible case against the Brandens. What I now think is that some of that case, maybe 10% or so, can be rightfully challenged. Unfortunately, that probably won't change anything in any important way--I still choke on that "psychology of a rapist"--but I am motivated to better understand these people and their times. I have to give Valliant credit for blowing the doors off my lack of critical thinking in regard to the Brandens, their works on AR, the break of 1968 and my relationship to the Objectivist movement. And my regard for Leonard Peikoff has gone up more than a little.

--Brant

Too much of this stuff here

removed's picture

I am really tired of even knowing that so many people revel in this kind of discussion. Where is substance? Where are good ideas? Where is what really matters? I had a chat about this with someone who was in the fold back then and he says BB actually was too nice to Rand in her book and Rand was a bitch during that time and that all these attempst to whitewash her nasty temper and personality is wishful thinking, whistling in the dark. Given how I was treated by that bunch when she was in full command, I tend to agree. But I don't really care -- what bothers me is to see Solopassion become a tabloid.

True Smut

James S. Valliant's picture

Jon,

Rand, of course, did not know Branden at 13, and, because of Branden's deceptions, their relationship appeared to be based on the highest spiritual and intellectual values. That's what you were seeking to obscure here, right?

If you can still uncritically accept the Brandens' accounts of O'Connor's drinking -- and attitudes -- after reading my book, then there is little to be said. I must say, however, that I share with Rand a much less restrictive view on the appropriate potential contexts for an "exalted" sexual relationship than you appeaar to possess. Nor, frankly, does your approach inspire confidence that you are any sort of expert on the "exalted." I was going to discuss examples from literature like Cyrano, but, in answer to you, this of course would be "smutty" -- indeed, blasphemy.

Laure writes:She knew that

Ciro D Agostino's picture

Laure writes:She knew that many people hold that sort of casual, smutty view of sex, and that they just wouldn't "get" what it meant to her.  To her, it was the love between a great man and a great woman, it was grandeur.

I wonder why you write things like  this on a forum whose owner thinks that love can exist even among people of the same gender? Why don't you go to ARI to write shit like this?

Ciro D'Agostino

Shayne, Ayn Rand was a great

Ciro D Agostino's picture

Shayne, Ayn Rand was a great thinker--but also a very SELFISH person--in the real meaning of the word. Why she did not accept Nathaniel to have an affair with Patrecia just as Frank accepted hers. And talking about chorus girl, she AR, married a man who was not a chorus man, but a flower man. How do you explain that!! Hero warship my ass. Am I too malign to think that she married Frank for the permanent visa?

All her philosophy , and what she believed that was worth living for, at the end,was put in practice in her bedroom having Nathaniel spanking her ass on the same bed where she was sleeping with her husband--whose sex desire improved, she said, since she started having an affair with NB. Nothing wrong with spanking asses, but, the rest is pure depravity!!

 

Ciro D'Agostino

Smutty

Jon Letendre's picture

Laure,

I don’t hold the view of sex that you attribute to me. It’s just that I am crass and crude and blunt. I share your exalted view of sex, but I reserve it for sexual behavior that really is wholesome and exalted.

You and I appear about the same age. I will get a lot of “ick”s, “yuk”s and “ugh”s for this post, but let me ask you this: How many times a week do you think I send my wife to the street so I can fuck thirteen year-olds? Of course, this comparison is completely unfair, because while the age differential is accurate, I am not yet a senior citizen. And I haven’t been the Maid of Honor at that thirteen year olds' eventual wedding, and my husband wasn’t best man. But that IS quite smutty, if not outright icky.

How icky is defending said behavior by suggesting that Frank, after a long day of mixing oil paints in Jack Daniels bottles, probably ENJOYED being sent out for drinks while she fucked said grown-up thirteen year old in peace? Really, really, really frickin’ icky, that’s how icky.

I say there was icky and yucky to go around and around.

Your camp says she is perfectly absolved. My official response to this assertion…Yuk!

Jon

Holly,  I go by sales

Ciro D Agostino's picture

Holly,  I go by sales figures!!! Eye)

Ciro D'Agostino

 Casey, go on my web site

Ciro D Agostino's picture

 

Casey, go on my web site at http://cirosnypizza.homestead.com to the  history page, there is a picture of me there,look closely at the picture, behing me you will see a copy of PARC.

Or maybe you mean to say that I didn't understand what I read? Is this  what you mean?

 Ciro D'Agostino

This "great review of a great review" trashes this site's owner

Tom Matassa's picture

Is Mr. Perigo still planning on speaking at this year's TOC summer seminar? If so, then, according to Diana, he is "either dishonest, irresponsible, or a coward."

You're kidding, right?

sjw's picture

Ciro, you gotta be kidding. You claim that Ayn Rand "professed that evil has no power" and therefore she's invulnerable to all evil? Where do you get this crazy stuff?

Let's Take a Poll

Holly Valliant's picture

Ciro,

Greenspan, for whom PAR was something of a revelation, may not have read PARC yet, either.

Evil can triumph to the extent of a whole Dark Age.

But, for you, is truth determined by opinion poll or sales figures, or what?

A great review of a great review

Casey's picture

Diana Hsieh has written a great review of Peter's review at Noodlefood: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog....

Ciro and Jon, you haven't read PARC. That's all I can say to you.

 She was a human being and

Ciro D Agostino's picture

 

She was a human being and there was an emotional toll extraced from her by the Brandens

Shayne, Ayn had always professed that evil has no power.

The Brandens are loved by millions of people all over the world, Allan Greenspan made positive comments on the book the "Passion of Ayn Rand" Nathaniel Branden was named one of the best ten thinkers of the century etc... does this means that evil has prevailed over good?Or is "finally" the other way around?

Ciro D'Agostino

Ridiculous

sjw's picture

Jon, your stance is ridiculous. Rand wasn't a robot, she couldn't just shrug off this many-year relationship and move on with her work. She was a human being and there was an emotional toll extraced from her by the Brandens (and that's not mentioning the efforts stemming from her heroic benevolence and consequent benefit of the doubt in the face of this as demonstrated by her journal entries). This is what they took from her, and indirectly, from all of us.

And your protestations that Valliant and others are doing her a "grand disservice" by recognizing this is just a bald-faced Orwellian use of language.

Yuk

Holly Valliant's picture

That's too rich!! Any "friend," and this included Ms. Branden btw, who could lie through the course of solicited psychological counseling, about opinions on art, about affairs, about philosophical matters of substance, etc. etc., was no "friend" a all. To lie like this in order to keep a fat living, as the Brandens admit, is repulsive exploitation. Yeah. Then to lie about all of those lies in 1968 and in their more recent memoirs in order to "whitewash" those other lies is make you the dupe this time, Jon. Rand made mistakes with regard to the Brandens -- who's denied this? -- but you seem hell bent on whitewashing the Brandens. You have yet to specify anything that might have been "horrendous," for example, but give all of their behavior excuses time and again.

Also, you don't understand the book. These notes are almost entirely reproduced. Whole dates and big chunks. The book preserves Rand's very notations in as "raw" a form as any edition is ever likely to give us, and we are given almost every single word of them, and the few omissions are clearly defined by the editor.

I can't help adding that the Brandenians love to credit them with the creation of a "movement" (the sort of thing Rand never really wanted), but still can't even imagine the "opportunity costs" of their charades on Rand.

Branden: Destroyer of Novels

Jon Letendre's picture

No doubt some label me a “Brandenian.” This is false. I do not deny the horrendous ethical failings and poor choices.

My issue is with the approach of James V., Casey, and now Peter, who whitewash Rand’s failings. It is not a service to her, and it just doesn’t work.

This 'He robbed us of another novel' nonsense is a good example. She was foolish to waste so much time on him. Let’s say that and move on, can’t we? No. Apparently we cannot. Apparently we have to fantasize there was nothing wrong with her choices—it was all someone else’s fault that she was diddling with his problems instead of what you wanted her to be doing. This is a naked attempt to absolve her utterly and it ends up implying she sacrificed her career or wasn’t taking responsibility for her actions and choices. It is a low-grade, dumb-looking move that is, in actuality, a grand disservice to her. That’s my issue.

Don’t tell me to read the book. I will consider reading her diary when I can see all of it, in original. Until then I shall remain aware that selective quotation can produce the truth, though not all of it—but can also produce, well, anything.

Jon

Ciro and Jon's comments are

Ciro D Agostino's picture

Ciro and Jon's comments are the kind of thing that Rand rightly sought to avoid by not going public with the affair

LOLOLOLOLOL was she afraid of chefs!!! I thought she wrote atlas for the big industrialists

and of course for people like you!!!

Ciro D'Agostino

I wouldn't dismiss Ciro's

Robert's picture

I wouldn't dismiss Ciro's comments too hastily. He is right on one point, Rand could have saved herself a lot of heartache if she'd just crossed her legs and gone home to her husband.

I've never read any of the works authored by the Brandens. Thus Rand's reputation hasn't been diminished one bit in my eyes. Given this context and the fact that Rand my general distaste for L'affair, is there anything else in PARC that might be of benefit to me?

Dear Holly, the chorus girl

Ciro D Agostino's picture

Dear Holly, the chorus girl was smart, and had a love for life like no other in the group. It seems that the entire discussion here is not Patrecia, but to prove that NB is not the giant he is? BTW, looking at your picture I would choose you over Ayn Rand. You seem attractive, beautiful, very feminine. These qualities, I think, reflects what you are inside, no?Patrecia was not only beautiful but very intelligent too. To be beautiful one must per force be intelligent too!   Barbara and Nathaniel had put Ayn in a position to show them the door, they wanted to leave and live!!! Capischi Holly. Ayn besides being a great philosopher she made everybody's life miserable. Look at Peikoff, who became intellectual heir by default, the price he had to pay remaining with her to the end of her life. And no!!! Ayn didn't show Peikoff the door, because he had already chosen the window!!!

Ciro D'Agostino

The Fountainhead

eg's picture

Integrity.

Doesn’t add up

Jon Letendre's picture

If someone I consider a friend is wasting my time, I tell them: “Stop wasting my time, friend.” Do you really believe she lacked the assertiveness to do that? She didn’t want him, desperately? She just wanted to be left alone to write another novel…but she, what? Forgot to tell him she had better things to do? She intentionally sacrificed for a clown she only wanted to be friends with? None of this has the right ring.

In fact, blaming someone else for novels not written sounds a bit like a failure to take responsibility. I doubt she would have appreciated being painted as someone who didn’t take responsibility.

Ciro and Jon's comments are

Laure Chipman's picture

Ciro and Jon's comments are the kind of thing that Rand rightly sought to avoid by not going public with the affair.  She knew that many people hold that sort of casual, smutty view of sex, and that they just wouldn't "get" what it meant to her.  To her, it was the love between a great man and a great woman, it was grandeur, it was the total passion for the total height.  She should have known that "life isn't like that", but she was not a cynic!  She held on to her idealism, even after this great betrayal.

There was a time when I would have thought that the anti-Branden comments on this thread were over-the-top, but after reading PARC and thinking about it more, I am pretty much in their camp.  And the original article in this thread points out a reason for us all to take this issue personally.  We probably could have had another Ayn Rand novel, if it weren't for this clown wasting hour after hour of Rand's time, getting "help with his psychological problems" and all the while lying about it all.

Friendship, of course!

Jon Letendre's picture

Then his friendship with the chorus girl couldn’t have helped, either.

Ditto

Holly Valliant's picture

Believe it or not, at first friendship, then, a rational teacher of her ideas, then, merely sanity, and, then, absolutely nothing.

He kept needing and wanting and writing about Rand, though, long afterwards...

And, no, Casey, he can't afford it.

And, yeah, Branden could've used another reading of her work -- badly.

She wanted Nathaniel to read The Fountainhead again?

Jon Letendre's picture

She couldn't have wanted me to read it again.

I’ll wait for Holly’s answer.

Jon Letendre...

Casey's picture

To quote Rockefeller, if you have to ask "you can't afford it."

(Otherwise it's summed up well with "DUHHHH!")

But that will remain just as mysterious, I'm afraid.

Read "The Fountainhead" (again?) and ask yourself what its author might have actually wanted. ("DUUUUH!" again comes to mind.)

It's not only getting ridiculous, it's getting disgusting. I certainly hope there are SOME others who will state the same thing here after reading PARC as opposed to the regular smear-merchants who so readily spread the Branden bilge with no opposition whatsoever. Indeed, they feel superior about themselves for spreading such garbage, apparently, as though they are hewing closer to the "real" nature of human beings by denigrating her actual biography.

Just READ PARC, folks. Arm yourself against these idiots and their god and goddess of mediocrity.

OK, I'm biased, after seeing the facts revealed over so many years of research. Just read the book yourself before you pile on Rand. I would feel awful if I did so before knowing the truth. You should, too.

Stopped wanting?

Jon Letendre's picture

Then what did she want?

Found it ...

VSD's picture

... thanx for the tip - on my CD of her journals it starts with a short introduction at the beginning, but the major notes only begin around p. 706 ... pity she didn't get around to write the book - the main themes introduced sound fascinating ...

Icky

Holly Valliant's picture

Ciro,

I will take Cyrano over Christian any day -- or night -- of the week, thank you very much. Enjoy your chorus girls! (But may I suggest that you keep a good book handy.)

THE BRANDENS did not "take their lives back" -- it was they who were shown the door by Rand, WHO TOOK HER LIFE BACK in that act of heroic self-liberation of giving them the boot. The Brandens would still be fawning over her if she hadn't given them the heave-ho.

BRAVA, MISS RAND!

Jon,

Rand had stopped wanting any such thing from the bombastic and arrogant Nate long before he stopped pleading his extreme and extremely creepy lust for Rand.

So, you think that Nate's sexual deception was a clever tactic to take with her, or what?

ICK!!!!

Ciro and Jon Letendre

Casey's picture

Ugh.

That’s right, Ciro!

Jon Letendre's picture

It appears he was even willing to keep fucking the old bag now and then, had she just quit wringing her hands about the chorus girl. How many seniors would you or I be so gracious toward?

Don’t answer that!

Lucid

Tim S's picture

PC

This article is a masterpiece in lucid writing. And it's persuasive! The arguments certainly seem to make more logical sense than the alternatives on offer in the past.

I would switch Ayn Rand for

Ciro D Agostino's picture

I would switch Ayn Rand for the ‘chorus girl’ in an heart beat!!! You can keep the original manoscript of atlas too.

Patrecia, was beautiful, and Nathaniel Branden loved her.

Had I been Nathaniel Branden's father at that time, I would have flown to NY and told the philosopher to take her hands off my son. He had his fucking life to live.

I take my hat off to Mr Branden to have had the courage to take his life back!!!

Bravo Nathaniel!!!! Brava Barbara!!!

Ayn Rand...? hummmm!!! she enjoyed screwing the collage kid, that's all!!!

Had I been Frank, I better stop here…

 

Ciro D'Agostino

Thank You

James S. Valliant's picture

Thank you, Peter.

And, do feel free to act as my "proxy" on this subject anytime, anywhere.

"Courage," did you say? Just look in a mirror, my friend.

Thanks for your praise

Peter Cresswell's picture

Thanks for your praise everyone. Naturally, I think the praise should be directed to James himself for his courageous book -- but I'm more than happy to take a bow as his proxy. Smiling

Vera, you can find some of her notes on her final, unwritten novel (and much more besides) in the book 'The Journals of Ayn Rand,' edited by David Harriman.

Brilliant

sjw's picture

Peter: I second John's compliments--what a brilliant, passionate, perfectly essentialized and reasoned article. A perfect epilogue to PARC.

Peter this piece contains

John M Newnham's picture

Peter this piece contains some of the most scathing, and passionate comments I've read to date about the Valliant book and the events detailed within. If we are not passionate about *our* values, and righteously angry at the people that stand still today, against our values, then we do lose our souls. I will save this article. Thank you. Well stated, well written.

John

Thanks, Peter

Casey's picture

Now you can see why I have exerted so much energy to defend Valliant's book and Ayn Rand. Any honest reading of PARC should provoke anyone who has consorted with the pretentious, duplicitous snakes that are the Brandens to take a long hot shower with plenty of soap. But most of all, one walks away with something they took away from so many people -- the respect and admiration for Ayn Rand undefiled and intact again. The ugliness they splattered her with is revealed to be nothing more than the Brandens' own petty ugliness projected onto Rand in the most disgusting, treacherous and ungrateful manner imaginable. Strike that -- it's because the scope of their vicious duplicity is UNimaginable that they have gotten away with their ugly lies for so damn long. The sheer scale of their dishonesty makes those who would point it out seem hysterical or, as those who run with the Brandens would say, idol-worshippers of Rand. In reality, those who cling to the dirty bathwater of the Brandens are willing to throw the baby out just to keep wallowing in their filth for another bit of pseudo-Objectivist flattery from the false idols they have chosen to worship. We'll never have that book about holding true to your values in a hostile world; instead we got two books smearing Rand as someone who failed to live up to her own values, which so many are eager to believe. But in the real-life novel they tried to write in place of Rand's never-realized novel, in which the compromised, valueless, mediocrity-worship of her two worst enemies almost defeated the heroine, Valliant provides the only happy ending possible and demonstrates, once and for all, that she was right, that evil is impotent, that lies cannot be victorious, that truth can transcend its corruptors, that life on Earth achieving the highest values is possible, that the universe is not malevolent, after all, that we don't have to settle for the gray porridge of hero-smearing, that the heroism Rand spoke of is not only possible but that, as she herself said, she MEANT IT. I, too, thank Valliant for not letting them get away with what they tried to get away with.

Rand's unfinished book

VSD's picture

... can you point me to some material as to her unfinished book?

the basic theme “the story of a woman who is totally motivated by love for values—and how one maintains such a state when alone in an enemy world.” sounds just like what I thought missing after Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

I have the research CD-ROM, so theoretically all her writing should be on there, but maybe you can point me to some specific references without my having to wade through all her journals and letters.

Thanx

VSD

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