Can't Ya Just Feel the Love?

James S. Valliant's picture
Submitted by James S. Valliant on Tue, 2008-06-10 01:48

ObjectivistLiving.com, where smearing Ayn Rand is a full-time job, and where Big Opinions don't require a shred of evidence to support them... Here’s some ripe cherries of Rand-love plucked chronologically out of the latest PARC thread, at least up to Page 8 of 22, which, of course, is still way beyond the recommended dosage limit:

“…[Ayn Rand was] simply using Objectivism as a weapon. This is an example of Rand putting more on her philosophy than is really there... It wasn't Objectivism that damaged her, her husband and the Brandens, it was the private adultery, an adultery steeped in dishonesty and moral relativism.” -- Brant Gaede

The dishonesty and relativism of whom, you might ask.

If the combined speculation and moralism there doesn't grab you, try this one:

“PARC has made Ayn Rand look a lot worse than she did already.” -- Robert Campbell

If you want specifics for the "a lot worse" -- don't hold your breath -- but it sounds like it was pretty bad to start.

Just how evil was Rand, Professor?

And weren't you just saying how "minor" her flaws were the other day...?

And how did PARC "make it worse"? Are they not "minor" anymore?

"Leonard Peikoff's purported defense of Ayn Rand has badly hurt her reputation… [in part because he set out to] emulate most of her worst traits and encourage others to do the same.” -- Robert Campbell

“Morally, as with AR, things have to appear okay on the surface no matter what insanity there is below decks. Thus when one looks in the mirror an image of perfect integrity looks back.” -- Brant Gaede

Right, "below decks"... where they can't even be seen...

“I have no reason to think that Dr. Peikoff has consciously tried to hurt Ayn Rand's reputation… But he's achieved the same results as he would have if he'd set out to discredit her.” -- Robert Campbell

Discredit her? What negative tidbit has been added to the Brandens' portrait of an "Inquisitor using fire and the rack" that wasn't already there?

“They surely know that Rand was not perfect and that PARC is quite far from perfect, but when one is fixated on what one WANTS to see, and when one is desperate to feel admiration…” [We’re left to fill in the blank] -- Jon Letendre

Surely, but...?

“’Branden apologists,’ blech. Talk about the presumption, endemic amongst Objectivists -- and, yes, it started with Ayn Rand -- that anyone who doesn't see it the way you do must be irrationally motivated.” -- Ellen Stuttle

Well... obviously.

”Why is [Valliant] assuming that others' disagreements or criticisms of [Ayn Rand] are efforts to prove that his hero has feet of clay? It sounds to me as if he's very emotionally invested in smearing anyone who dares to question some of the actions of his hero, or to point out the shoddiness of some of her defenders.

“I think a more important question is why does Jim get so upset that others simply recognize that Rand had faults? Why is he so disturbed by the fact that some of Rand's fans openly talk about her mistakes, instead of having to be backed into a corner and act like reality-denying fools until finally admitting that Rand was sometimes irrational, self-contradictory, harshly judgmental or dishonest?” -- "Jonathan"

Who told this fair-minded chap, Jonathan, that he could call me "Jim"? (That's for my friends, or at least someone who knows me, "Jon-Jon.")

Is that what I said or even implied -- that all criticism of Rand is an effort to "find feet of clay," and not just certain critics -- and certain specific criticisms? Naming the actual criticisms and the responses involved seems to be forbidden at OL.

And readers can see the "corner-backing" around here and who's been involved.

”I think we all know that Rand had integrity. Some of us have enough honesty and integrity to freely admit that she was sometimes irrational, self-contradictory, harshly judgmental and dishonest.” -- "Jonathan"

Again, don't hold your breath for any specific contradictions or the like, of course.

“…can anyone find any direct reference to Rand actually making a 'mistake' in PARC? To making a blunder or simple human error that Valliant does not try provide some justification for? I cannot recall one. Likewise, other than one passing reference to her occasional anger, can anyone find an actual reference to Rand having a normal human psychology, 'with all that this implies'? Quite the opposite: there are plenty of instances where Valliant claims she has a superhuman psychology, such as an immunity to female jealousy?” -- noted Rand admirer, Daniel Barnes

"Immune" -- now, how did I miss using that word?

“Dan, On page 30, Valliant says: ‘She was at times depressed, angry and harsh. Presumably, she was, at times, tense, irritable and demanding--as, I fear, most of us are.’ Of course, with respect to her anger, Valliant manages to turn it into a virtue. I don't think he discusses Rand's depression, etc. in his book.” -- Neil Parille

How'd I turn it into a "virtue" exactly?

And, don't I discuss depression? Ellen seems to recall...

“He acknowledges someplace, in connection with a reference in her journal entries, that she did go through a depression post-Atlas.” -- Ellen Stuttle

“I'd like to see the quote. After all, the whole weirdo premise underlying PARC is that a super-ultra-uber-genius like Rand could only be fooled - even temporarily - by two super-ultra-uber-evil-geniuses!..;-)” -- Daniel Barnes

Well, before the first "weirdo" remise can be refuted, Neil chimes in:

“The second ‘weirdo premise’ in [PARC] is that Rand's willingness to stay with Branden for months after diagnosing him as a ‘social metaphysician,’ ‘evil’ and other things is a sign of Rand's ‘benevolence.’” -- Neil Parille

Again, Elllen, with the correction:

“Less than 2 months. The diagnosis was in her July 4 paper; the break was...from memory, August 22 or 23? (I'll have to check now.) [*] 'Course if the truth hadn't been what it was and hadn't meanwhile come out, the working relationship at least might have gone on longer.” -- Ellen Stuttle

Ah, so the personal torment and negative psychological assessment of Branden might have been overlooked by that moralist and moralizer, Rand, if the Brandens' lies hadn't been revealed -- so, what a "weirdo premise," right? (BTW his immorality was still just a working hypothesis at that point, Neil.)

Okay, back to "depression":

“I did a search and depression as applied to Rand in the book occur on pages 30 (already discussed), 139, 160 & 161. On page 139, Valliant reports NB's claim that Rand was depressed post-AS. On page 160-61, there is discussion of Rand being depressed "at the state of the world." There's nothing wrong with being depressed, but from what I can tell, Valliant doesn't seem to consider that Rand's depression was related to poor decisions she made. (Of course, I don't know the details.)” -- Neil Parille (emphasis added)

Why should "knowing details" matter, Neil, you know enough already to judge these things, right?

“Another argument that Valliant uses is that unless 'the Brandens' can produce a transcript of Rand's (or Frank's) thought [?] their judgments about what they were thinking aren't to be trusted. Of course, motivation and the like are often inferred by conduct, body language and what not.” -- Neil Parille

I never cease to be amazed at all that I argued in PARC -- I learn new things about it all the time! This time, I required transcripts, no less.

“Notice especially Valliant's iteration of Leonard Peikoff's description of Rand as ‘indeed, the person she had to be in order to have written Atlas Shrugged.’ Now that, in a sentence, states the primary myth about Ayn Rand, the myth she promulgated (and I think genuinely believed about herself): that she herself was a representative of the heroic characters of her novel.” -- Ellen Stuttle

Not satisfied, she added:

“One further point concerning my own view: I agree with the letter of the statement that Rand was ‘the person she had to be in order to have written Atlas Shrugged,’ but I have a different opinion from Leonard Peikoff's as to the requirements involved. I think that what she had to be was a person who saw life, and saw herself, mythologically -- with a resultant power of grand vision, but with blindnesses to aspects of the reality of actual humans, including herself.” -- Ellen Stuttle

So, Ellen agrees with the "letter of the statement" in PARC -- but somehow knows what Rand "needed" and what PARC was "really" trying to say.

And I’ll leave us with an even funnier one:

“So why all the acrimony over this? I suggest anyone interested go back to the beginning and see where all the hostility started. When people's attempts at identifying are attacked and misconstrued and they are imputed to have malicious intent as a premise, they naturally dig in and get hostile.” -- Ayn Rand Lover MSK

Indeed, MSK, indeed.

Amazing. I could go on and on –- it is just an endless parade of Rand raspberries, snickers, jabs, jibes, suspicions, contempt, etc., etc. -- and none of it given the slightest factual basis.

My adumbration of all this will be seen, no doubt, as my being bothered by the slightest flaw alleged in Rand -- and the very discussion of her mistakes -- but is it unreasonable to ask for the tiniest factual basis for just one of these assertions?


( categories: )

Permission

Brant Gaede's picture

It's instructive and mildly interesting that CP would feel it morally if not legally necessary to go get a permission not needed since the original publication of that statement in 1968. It has been continually quoted for decades without "permission."

--Brant

Peikoff and Checking Premises?

gregster's picture

FOR THE RECORD

September, 1968

We, the undersigned, former Associate Lecturers at Nathaniel Branden Institute, wish the following to be on record: Because Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden, in a series of actions, have betrayed fundamental principles of Objectivism, we condemn and repudiate these two persons irrevocably, and have terminated all association with them and with Nathaniel Branden Institute.

Allan Blumenthal

Alan Greenspan

Leonard Peikoff

Mary Ann (Rukavina) Sures

(Posted [at Checking Premises] with permission of Dr. Leonard Peikoff and the Estate of Ayn Rand. All Rights Reserved.)

Gee darren I have to congratulate you on a diff thread

seymourblogger's picture

about a diff subject. I hope this is not getting to be a habit.

Branden in his Judgement Day, first edition before he got sucked into revisionism, told Rand they wee just Jews obsessed with religion. He meant to sway her to the fact that Objectivism had major religious overtones, altho Dianetics was smarter and made it a legal religion, hence the pile up of untaxed revenues.

They all are in the throes of a religious discourse. They have their priests who cannot be questioned. the factions. Where is Luther with his toilet paper on the john to accompany great insights.

And, of course, once someone is so deemed, Rand's method for dealing with him is also crystal-clear: do not directly debate, discuss, argue, confront, or challenge such person, because (to cite her own rationalization) that would be "sanctioning" him or his argument.

This she took from Nietzsche's remark about refusing to be a flyswatter. Her decision is correct but her reason is incorrect. On some deep level she knows but gives a psychological defense mechanism rationalization for her own rationalizing, first elucidated by Anna Freud in her Mechanisms of Defense.

She intuitively recognized the Dominating Discourse, but Foucault was still a child then and hadn't hammered it into existence so even mass viewers of Moneyball could understand Foucault and this statement of Rand's.

It's all in Moneyball.

You're laughing' outside, gruntster, but cryin' inside.

darren's picture

this from the champion of "design" in nature, an unmoved mover!

Yes. I figure if it was a convincing enough argument for Aristotle, Aquinas, Newton, and many other creative fountainheads of achievement, it's good enough for me. Modern biochemistry, and the utter failure and implausibility of chemical evolution scenarios to account for the appearance of life in a putative early lifeless universe, make it still more convincing.

The main obstacle to an Objectivist's serious consideration of the model appears to be nothing more than fear of hurting Ayn Rand's feelings, or garnering her displeasure. This is not exactly a group of bold, independent thinkers we're talking about here.

this misses the full context that Objectivism's discovery is the foremost contender to fix the world.

Full context? Sounds more like a subjective opinion.

You know, the Scientology people believe that L. Ron Hubbard's discoveries of Dianetics (a mental health practice) and Scientology (which they call "a religious technology") are the foremost contenders to fix the world. Pursuant to this belief, they began a project a number of years ago to store all of Hubbard's writings and audiotaped lectures in a remote location, away from any possible nuclear armageddon. Should civilization destroy itself with nukes, "the Tech" (as Scientologists call Hubbard's system) will have been safely preserved, and by applying its "eternal principles," civilization and culture can rise again . . . this time on a much sounder and saner basis.

Of course, the Church of Scientology is able to undertake projects like these because it has billions of dollars at its disposal; Objectivism does not. But here's my question:

Assuming TAS, or ARC, or some other Objectivist-oriented organization found financing, would you — Sir Gruntster McFuckwit — leave your current job to help establish an outpost of Ayn Rand's complete writings, protected from possible nuclear annihilation, at some remote location, on some God-forsaken uninhabited outpost far from humanity, like Antarctica, Greenland, or — I don't know — maybe New Zealand?

Just a hypothetical. We The Curious want to know.

And Rand had a crystal-clear method for dealing with assholes.

That begs the question, Sir GM. It isn't her crystal-clear method for dealing with assholes that's philosophically objectionable and (from Objectivism's standpoint) counterproductive. It's her crystal-clear method for deciding who shall be deemed an asshole in the first place. And the method is this: if someone disagrees with Ayn Rand on any fundamental issue of her philosophy, or challenges her on it, then he is deemed an asshole.

And, of course, once someone is so deemed, Rand's method for dealing with him is also crystal-clear: do not directly debate, discuss, argue, confront, or challenge such person, because (to cite her own rationalization) that would be "sanctioning" him or his argument.

This is is a fine old tradition still practiced with enthusiasm by many Objectivists, if not most of them, whether they side with Peikoff, or Kelley, or Hsieh, or TAS, or ARC, etc., regarding the different schisms that have arisen since 1982. I love it and find it all very amusing. Individually, they all hate one another (so no dialogue among them can develop), and collectively, they all hate critics of Objectivism (so no dialogue between the two sides can develop). Result? A complete stall, as far as being some sort of culturally vibrant movement of ideas is concerned.

I'm afraid you're part of that current generation Perigo wrote about earlier that will have to disappear before any real progress can be made in disseminating Objectivism.

Greg

Brant Gaede's picture

"It's tough being a genius."

speak for yourself.

--Brant

Hahahahah

gregster's picture

the inflated opinion most Objectivists have of their own intellectual abilities ...this from the champion of "design" in nature, an unmoved mover!

As for Checking Premises, it is, too, amusing. I can tell, that at Checking Premises, there has been much checking of its own premise.

Chip Joyce made the big contradiction in terms blunder with his Subjectivist Objectivists. Mmmm. He could have used "Subjectivists in Objectivism," or "Subjectivists are not Objectivists," or stayed at home studying some more.

As for your; Objectivists will almost never directly confront or challenge their critics and; No doubt, this practice – which goes back to Rand herself; this misses the full context that Objectivism's discovery is the foremost contender to fix the world.

And Rand had a crystal-clear method for dealing with assholes. You couldn't imagine Darren - it's tough being a genius.

They've put more meat on the

darren's picture

They've put more meat on the bones of their objections to Diana Hsieh


That's a riot! First the tab was named "Current Controversies", and it at least had the honesty to link to articles by Hsieh, so that people could read them and decide for themselves which premises, as well as whose premises, needed checking.


That tab has now been renamed "Commentary", and the links to Hsieh's own writings removed, being replaced by negative criticism of Hsieh in the form of an "open letter" to other Objectivists.


Love it! It's not even an open letter to Diane Hsieh. Many of us have noticed this modus operandi on the part of knee-jerk Objectivists before: Objectivists will almost never directly confront or challenge their critics. Instead, they always "circle the wagons" by immediately seeking the support of other compliant Objectivists to whom they present their arguments. 


No doubt, this practice – which goes back to Rand herself – is responsible for the inflated opinion most Objectivists have of their own intellectual abilities, as well as the myth believed by many that Objectivism is "the best defended philosophy in history."

Funny ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Diana is quite right about transgenderism (about which Peikoff is dead wrong).

Diana is dead wrong about the Ground Zero mosque (about which Peikoff is quite right).

*I* am one of the few who are quite right about both. Oh, what a burden! Eye

But the spectacle of Diana posing as enlightened and rational on sexual matters in light of "unfortunate and sub-optimal" is hilarious, unless she's repudiated that somewhere and I missed it. I got an e-mail from her once where she said she had indeed changed her mind but wouldn't say so publicly *precisely because* I'd been giving her a hard time about it. That's not the hallmark of an intellectual, new or old. It's the hallmark of a grandstanding social metaphysician.

If her mission is to do battle specifically with Peikoff—extraordinary given her Hsiekovian recent past—then that's a battle she will lose. Peikoff, for all that he makes embarrassing howlers on discrete subjects, is much, much brighter than she, and much, much better able to apply Objectivism to discrete subjects, notwithstanding said embarrassing howlers.

Still, this is the way of it. Intellectual advance is messy and erratic, peppered with annoying bastards and vanity-driven pretenders who sometimes have a point in spite of themselves. It's good that Diana is able to be out there, just as it's good to have that site devoted to ringing alarm bells about her (note, this is not moral equivalence). Would we freedom-lovers have it any other way?

Checking Premises

gregster's picture

They've put more meat on the bones of their objections to Diana Hsieh here.

I suspect it was a later one

seymourblogger's picture

as he was out of a teaching job by then with no prospects. One of the biographers said it. Heller or Burns. It sounds like Heller.

How do you like seeing your photoshop art as my avi. Thank you so much gain and again.

There it is. Aren't I loverly

seymourblogger's picture

Thank you darren. How can I ever thank you enough. I know. I'll keep posting it and thanking you everytime I post it. How's that? And even then it won't be nearly enough.

Hi what happened to my avi that darren created just for me

seymourblogger's picture

did it get purged. How come it was OK to post it to insult me but not OK for my avi.

Are their hypocrites here? I thought the hypocrites were the politicians.

Miss Pomowanker

darren's picture

So despite all this "I prefer Petty Girls" nonsense, it turns out you are, indeed, a Vargas Girl at heart!

I knew it.

I knew you were lying, too, you inveterate pomowanker.

Not too long before she died his wife wrote to Hook to help him get a prof job, and it didn't work.

Are you speaking of Susan Ludel? Interestingly, I think I even met her briefly. I was ushering some lectures on Objectivism given by Peikoff (Rand occasionally attended with Frank O'Connor, and would sometimes even conduct the Q&A session) when a woman entered the hotel ballroom (where the lectures were held) and just sort of breezed past me. When I tried to stop her to ask for her ticket (or validation), several others rushed to stop me, quickly telling me something like "It's OK. That's Leonard Peikoff's wife." I even remember Cynthia at those lectures, well before she became the 2nd Mrs. Peikoff.

When may we expect your

darren's picture

When may we expect your memoir? Inquiring and eager minds would like to know.

Well, good grief, Maestro Perigo, how can I resist the lure of the limelight within the community of Miss Rand admirers? T'would require the sort of steely self-control for which I have no natural ability.

I don't even have an unnatural ability for it.

Worry not. I am in media res preparing personal recollections regarding "my life in Objectivism", and will post on my blog in due course.

neil - Peikoff is wearing 2 hats

seymourblogger's picture

He ruined his teaching career because he couldn't stop mentioning Rand in philosophy lectures. I ruined my research career by turning down a NASA grant. That was something you just didn't do in 1965 if you ever wanted to do research in psychology. Not too long before she died his wife wrote to Hook to help him get a prof job, and it didn't work.

He spent many years on the academic edge financially and academically. It shows. He is cautious. He is not about to link Rand with say Nietzsche and ruin his income, Nor is he willing to publicize all the Branden letters. There's just a long blank between those dates in her letters and journal. He is both subject and object. He is not going to publish all the negative stuff she said about him to Branden.

Branden has been a gentleman throughout all this mess.

Darren

Lindsay Perigo's picture

When may we expect your memoir? Inquiring and eager minds would like to know. Eye

Maestro

darren's picture

The point has been made often enough that Objectivism won't flourish till that whole generation has gone

I believe that is a profoundly true statement.

gruntster

darren's picture

N Branden wrote an analysis of Ayn Rand's works "Who Is Ayn Rand" while she was alive. In it was also a biographical study by B Branden.

But nothing Branden wrote in "Who Is Ayn Rand" was unauthorized; neither the biographical sketch nor the philosophical analysis. Rand approved all of it.

"Judgment Day" and "My Years With Ayn Rand" are memoirs, not "unauthorized biographies." He doesn't need anyone's permission or "authorization" to write his memoirs.

Diana gets her own tab called "Current Controversies" to try to disguise the fact that, for now, it is a one-issue attack site.

I completely agree. Furthermore, after reading a number of her blog posts and concluding that she is, at best, an intellectual lightweight, I ask, "Why bother? Why all the fuss?"

Though he might only have been joking, Maestro Perigo made a trenchant point when he stated that he wouldn't be surprised if he found his name on the "Current Controversies" tab, since he is much more of an apostate regarding certain "official positions" made by the Old Guard than is Hsieh, who seems to be in lock-step with all of them.

Dazzler

gregster's picture

Sounds like BS to me. We don't often agree, this is one of those times. I find the site amusing in this beta state that looks rushed.

Diana gets her own tab called "Current Controversies" to try to disguise the fact that, for now, it is a one-issue attack site.

They are free to create whatever they wish, as is Hsieh to write what she does.

Poor error that Neil pointed out. N Branden wrote an analysis of Ayn Rand's works "Who Is Ayn Rand" while she was alive. In it was also a biographical study by B Branden. Chip should have got his facts right re NB's other two books.

Hsieh and Peikoff

Neil Parille's picture

I don't like Hsieh, but her remarks about Peikoff have been mild enough. And she has defended the most egregious thing he has done: the bowdlerization of Rand's posthumously published material.

-NP

I wonder ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... to whom they are alluding? The point has been made often enough that Objectivism won't flourish till that whole generation has gone—not by way of wishing them dead but by way of acknowledging the merit of Nietzsche's (?) observation that the greatest obstacle a philosopher faces is his first generation of disciples. Who explicitly has said he or she hopes Peikoff dies soon? There seems to be an awful lot of psychologising in those remarks about subjectivist Objectivists.

Subjectivist Objectivists

Neil Parille's picture

. . . . are those who don't worship Leonard Peikoff, the judge of mankind:

Dr. Peikoff is what they fear and resent, fundamentally. For he is the person who most vociferously claims he does know more than they, and that he can and will judge them for their claims of applying Objectivism.

Have you wondered why some Subjectivist Objectivists, who claim to respect Peikoff, have said they hope he dies soon (or at least fades away)—and why many more silently agree? They want to get him out of their way so they can be free to be subjectivists while riding on Objectivism's coattails. They would happily mouth their respect to a deceased Peikoff who can no longer judge them.

http://checkingpremises.org/su...

PARC

Neil Parille's picture

Well at least Jim Valliant can be happy that we've seen about the first favorable mention of his silly book in the last couple years.

_________

The Brandens

[MORE TO COME]

Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden were close associates of Ayn Rand but she later morally condemned them. The Brandens both wrote unauthorized biographies of Ayn Rand--after her death in 1982.

The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics, by James Valliant:
http://www.amazon.com/Passion-...

_________

Of course Nathaniel didn't write a biography, he wrote two memoirs.

I've heard of only one of the people associated with the site.

-Neil Parille

Darren

Lindsay Perigo's picture

"After all, when it comes to Peikovian 'metaphysical assaults on reality,' you are a one-man blitzkrieg."

I'm not sure if you mean I'm a one-man blitzkrieg against reality or against Peikovian assaults on reality—the former, I suspect—but I say this to my fellow-Objectivists: the small number of folk within our ranks prepared to speak out against Peikovian assaults on reality is one of the reasons progress is so painstakingly slow. Nay, non-existent. Peikoff concludes OPAR with, "To save the world is the simplest thing in the world. All one has to do is think." Quite so. But would he seriously contend that his diatribe against transgenderism is the result of thought? And if, my fellow-Objectivists, you regard Objectivism as a philosophy of reason—logic applied to facts—why do you remain silent when the world's premier Objectivist spouts such rubbish? Is it because you are not really reasonists at all, but cultists, as our enemies (like Darren) would portray us? Why are you all such cowards??!!

BTW, that "Checking Premises" site reads so much like a spoof of Objectivist rationalism and anal-retention I can't help being suspicious that it is a spoof.

They now give their reasons

darren's picture

They now give their reasons here.

Thanks for pointing it out.

Frankly, though, it's a riot. The site creators claim that Hsieh's blogs on issues are the only current controversies . . . but they're open to the possibility that there might be more from other bloggers at some indeterminate time going forward! Sounds like BS to me. What also sounds like BS is their arbitrary assertion that someone who might still be checking his own premises and thus led to that site, must take their word for it that so-called "past controversies" — David Kelley, The Brandens, perhaps John McCaskey — are closed, over and done with, with nothing more to be said about it. Says who? Why? In other words, they're all for someone checking his premises, as long as such checking does NOT include checking into the Kelley and Brandens controversies and concluding that they are not history after all.

LOL! "Checking Premises" my New York arse! What they mean is "Adopt our premises."

It's a poorly structured Web site. If, in their asinine judgment, Kelley and The Brandens are closed issues, over, and nothing more than history, then WHY give each of them a unique tab? Kelley, Brandens, McCaskey, and everyone else they consider "tried and executed" should all be combined onto ONE tab called "Historical Controversies", and the individual tabs should then be used for those individuals who really represent "Current Controversies."

Someone should tell Leonid to tell Larissa that the logic employed by the creators in designing the site is as clumsy as the logic employed by Peikoff in many of his position statements on various issues. (Who knows? Maybe the site was really Peikoff's idea. Maybe he even designed it.)

Anyway, it would certainly liven things up a bit if they added Perigo's name to the "Current Controversies" tab. Better yet: redesign the site and give him his own tab!

I wonder if this new site

darren's picture

I wonder if this new site will denounce me for my article about Peikoff's hideous bigoted ignorance re transgenderism.

Probably. After all, when it comes to Peikovian "metaphysical assaults on reality," you are a one-man blitzkrieg.

The Way We Were

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm glad Diana has stopped being a Hsiekovian. I think she took a wrong turn when she embraced Leonard's fatwa. And of course there was her infamous but probably-immortal description of homosexuality as "unfortunate and sub-optimal"—Peikoff's view exactly. It's good that she's reclaimed her independence.

I wonder if this new site will denounce me for my article about Peikoff's hideous bigoted ignorance re transgenderism. I shall be seriously miffed if they don't. It's here guys, and it reveals serious flaws in my thinking methods, including the fetid heresy that one should always start with and proceed from reality.

I don't know about current controversies, but I am suddenly nostalgic for the old ones! I looked up my definition of Hsiekovian:

Hsiekovian: A subscriber to the batty view promulgated by Leonard Peikoff, supported by Diana Hsieh, that 1) should the Republicans remain politically dominant they will establish a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in America "within our lifetime"; 2) the only way to avert this threat is to vote Democrat across the board; 3) anyone who doesn't get this is deficient in his understanding of Objectivism and the role of philosophy in history; 4) anyone who gets it and doesn't vote Dem across the board (or who abstains from voting altogether) is acting immorally in that instance. When it's charitably posited that they are endorsing this lunacy only because it emanates from Peikoff, since no sensible person could possibly subscribe to it independently, Hsiekovians tend to throw hissy fits and flounce off. (Note—spelling with extra 'h'—Hsiehkovian—optional.)

Ah, we just don't have 'em like that any more. Ferocious, no prisoners. 'Tis an unfortunate and sub-optimal state of affairs. Eye

Why is it called "Current Controversies"

gregster's picture

They now give their reasons here.

combined with an innate naive

darren's picture

combined with an innate naive respect for all individuals


LOL! But we know better.


But why should a tab that does nothing except link to her articles not be called the "Diana Hsieh" tab, just as the other tabs are called "The Brandens" and "David Kelley"? Why is it called "Current Controversies" if the sole controversy appears to be her blog posts?

Thanks for the links. Did I

darren's picture

Thanks for the links.

Did I say Ms. Hsieh was a "lightweight"? I meant "twit." Her blog posts on SOLO are underwhelming, to say the least.

I'm glad to see, though, that when Peikoff holds up a hoop, she jumps through it with great alacrity.

Caballero, I take it, is one of the creators of the CheckingPremises site. I thought I recognized another name on the "About Us" tab: Larrisa Fainberg. Is she not related to our very own Leonid (the "Nid") Fainberg? Perhaps I'm mistaken.

FYI

Richard Goode's picture

I'm not completely au courant

darren's picture

I'm not completely au courant with the Objectivist schism-du-jour, but McCaskey's use of the word "gravitas" is not out of place. "Gravitas" — which he italicizes in his email to Harriman — is simply the Latin word for "heaviness", which Harriman (according to your excerpt from page 42 of his book on induction) admits is the working concept Galileo would have had at the time of his researches.

What I find surprising is why McCaskey should question this at all, since it is well known that the definition of "gravitas" in Galileo's day — a definition that had remained constant since the Middle Ages — was "heaviness." This concept itself derives from the Aristotelian view of terrestrial physics: the property of objects on Earth called "heaviness" (i.e., an object's "gravitas") is what causes that object to seek, or be attracted to, the center of the universe (and since the working model at the time was geocentric, the center of the universe, of course, would coincide with the center of the Earth). Galileo was not a geocentrist, but if he was working with the ancient concept and definition of "gravitas", then he would no doubt have accepted the old model that the inherent property of "heaviness" ("gravitas") of an object is what causes it to seek the center of the Earth (even if the Earth were not the very center of the universe).

Mmm

gregster's picture

Having said that, I see Diana has a substantial post on Checking Premises:

Objectivists will disagree with each other on occasion that's inevitable. To be happy in our own lives, as well as promote rational ideas in the culture, we must keep those disagreements in perspective. We must take care to practice the virtues and respect them in others. By doing that, we can create a vibrant, healthy, and friendly community of Objectivists. That will attract others to our ideas, and enable us to be better advocates for Objectivist principles in the culture.

I'll continue to promote that kind of Objectivist culture -- and to fight for reason, egoism, and rights in America. I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far, and I'm eager to do even more in the years to come. Surely, I'll err on occasion -- but I'll always strive to correct my errors and do better in the future. I appreciate substantive arguments against my views, but I'll pass on the circular firing squad. I've got too many positive values to pursue and too much statism to fight for that kind of silliness.

Again, if you have any burning questions, please e-mail me privately.

She's probably not too bad at all.

Lady Diana

gregster's picture

So who's this Diana Hsieh gal, and why is the CheckingPremises.org site so concerned about her?

I don't know enough to correctly answer that. I know that from what I see, though she tries her best, she is sometimes inconsistent for me. She seems infected by a politically correct cultural relativism causing her occasional libertarian-intrinsicist outbursts. I'd hazard a guess as to its root - a hangover from tertiary education combined with an innate naive respect for all individuals.

The example here below shows a dropping of context. The epistemic missing link is somewhere in; Islam < Islam's aims < Islamic practitioners. Her statement that Islam is a religion is thereby fallacious. It is a political force, and its aims are clearly detrimental to freedom, not to mention stone-age.

On Facebook, I've been involved in some heated debates on the proposed building of a mosque near the World Trade Center lately. They were spawned by Ed Cline's note in support of conservative Pamela Geller's since-resolved dispute with PayPal. (For the record, I find Geller's use of Playboy'ed Atlas Shrugged images for her conservative politics offensive in more ways than I can count.)

Here's the problem: Geller wants to use the power of the state to prevent the mosque from being built, even though it's private property. That's wrong.

For people to protest the building of the mosque at that site would be entirely proper. (They could write letters to the editor or picket the site, for example.) For the government to investigate the builders of the mosque for any ties to terrorism is likely warranted. (Mere foreign funding is not evidence of terrorist ties though.) However, to forcibly block the construction of the mosque by using unjust laws that violate private property rights is morally wrong, not to mention politically dangerous.

People should not be judged guilty by the law and stripped of their rights just because they accept or advocate certain ideas. A person has the right to hold whatever beliefs he pleases -- however wrong -- provided that he does not attempt to force them on others. He has the right to practice the religion of his choosing, so long as he does so without violating the rights of others.

There's also the McCaskey controversy. Hsieh links to the emails McCaskey wrote to Harriman during the writing of The Logical Leap. This criticism led to McCaskey’s resignation from the board.

But in the first email linked I can spot a possible gross error by McCaskey.

He writes “I can’t yet get my head around the claim you make on page 42 that Galileo lacked the concept of gravitas as an interaction between earth and object and so it never occurred to him to vary the pendulum’s location.”

But page 42 reads; “In Newton’s era, momentous consequences would follow when scientists used pendulums to discover such gravitational variations. But this possibility never occurred to Galileo because he lacked Newton’s concept of “gravity.” Galileo still thought in terms of the simpler concept of “heaviness,” which merely referred to the property of earthly objects that causes them to press downward and fall to Earth. He lacked the idea of an unseen interaction between the object and Earth. Given this modern idea of force, it is reasonable to think of the interaction weakening with increasing distance between the bodies.”

“Gravitas” is not mentioned. But it is obvious that Galileo was investigating the attraction of bodies.

And the next page describes Galileo’s experiments in dropping differently weighted lead balls from the Tower of Pisa, and then wooden and lead balls, to demonstrate the same rate of fall.

So her query "Why did Peikoff morally condemn McCaskey, as opposed to merely thinking him mistaken? Why didn't Peikoff seek out McCaskey for a discussion of these matters?"

it seems that, unless the book has been revised since, McCaskey misrepresented at least that much.

What's the rumpus?

darren's picture

So who's this Diana Hsieh gal, and why is the CheckingPremises.org site so concerned about her?

I've surfed her "NoodleFood" blog a bit. She seems like a non-entity and intellectual-lightweight to me.

Dazzler

gregster's picture

While you are content to snivel about the motivations of the Ayn Rand Institute's staff, while at the same time displaying a lack of sanity in proposing the intelligent designer, they are making gains which far outweigh your feeble criticisms.


“Atlas Shrugged” App Takes Top Prize

Dazzler, you point to three

darren's picture

Dazzler, you point to three good websites run by ARI. For what purpose?

To prove that the purpose of the Checking Premises site is not to encourage anyone to check his premises but simply to propagandize on behalf of the official version of Objectivism sanctioned by Peikoff and Co. Where are the links to critical sites and critical articles? Blank out.

“The purpose is not to encourage readers to "make up their own minds" — that would require linking to articles by Kelley”

He has his own section Dazzler!

Kelley has a tab with his name on it; that's what you mean by "his own section." There are no articles by Kelley at the link you provided, just Peikoff's "Fact and Value" screed, which, is critical of Kelley. The "More to Come" message lets other True Believers know that more articles critical of Kelley by more Duly Faithful Objectivists will soon be linked to that page.

What does any of that have to do with encouraging anyone to "make up his own mind"? Nothing. The site creators don't want fence-sitters to "check their premises"; they want them to adopt the premises of the Duly Faithful — those who don't think critically about Rand and her system but instead have found intellectual and emotional contentment in revering them.

Same with the other tabs. The tab marked "The Brandens" will not, of course, link to articles by the Brandens, quite possibly critical of Rand, her philosophy, or her views on emotions, homosexuality, etc., but will simply have links to articles by various Duly Faithful Objectivists that are critical of the Brandens. Same with Heller and Burns. There will be plenty of articles by the Duly Faithful critical of them, but not articles critical of Rand and her system by Heller and Burns.

Congratulations, comrades. You'll soon have a Website with an Officially Sanctioned Enemies List so you'll know whom it is safe to like and whom you are expected morally to condemn. This is no different from other cult groups like Scientology. They also have Web sites with Official Lists of Enemies (i.e., those who criticize L. Ron Hubbard and his system).

Given the fact that most Duly Faithful Objectivists abandoned independent thinking long ago (just about the time they really started revering Rand and her system rather than critically evaluating it), it must be very nice to have this all decided for them by elites like Peikoff, Schwartz, et al., — whom to like and whom to condemn. It takes the burden of responsibility for making independent moral judgments off one's shoulders — no need even to shrug like Atlas; instead, Peikoff and Co. will gladly take that nasty burden off one's shoulders.

How comforting.

I disagree, my intrinsicist 'friend'

gregster's picture

"This site is being created by serious students and proponents of Objectivism in response to the danger that some, who may seem in agreement with the philosophy, are in fact subverting it.

Translation: This site has been created by Objectivist True Believers who unflaggingly side with Peikoff on any interpretation of "official doctrine.""

Darren, your perhaps legitimate criticism is noted by the Context page, and Peikoff writes:

“Objectivism” is the name of Ayn Rand’s achievement. Anyone else’s interpretation or development of her ideas, my own work emphatically included, is precisely that: an interpretation or development, which may or may not be logically consistent with what she wrote. In regard to the consistency of any such derivative work, each man must reach his own verdict, by weighing all the relevant evidence. The “official, authorized doctrine,” however, remains unchanged and untouched in Ayn Rand’s books; it is not affected by any interpreters.

ARI repeat that Objectivism was Rand's alone. You misrepresent.

And “in response to the danger that some, who may seem in agreement with the philosophy, are in fact subverting it.”

This is laudable, especially in these days of newly-sainted Ron may-as-well-be-a-leftie Paul.

It is critically important to make the distinction between, for example, libertarians and objectivists. Just as it is important to propound capitalism against the relentless, groundless opposition from supposed allies. Britain's Cameron, New Zealand's Brash, Coddington, Key...

Just as capitalism will gain an undeserved ‘worse’ reputation by its innumerable misrepresentations, especially if libertarians are its exemplars, so will Objectivism be tarnished by a lack of criticism of its malcontents.

Dazzler, you point to three good websites run by ARI. For what purpose? Is this to suggest that there is already enough information out there, and that we do not need another site? But later in your post you suggest that Checking Premises is part of that ‘orthodoxy.’

“The purpose is not to encourage readers to "make up their own minds" — that would require linking to articles by Kelley”

He has his own section Dazzler!

“books by the Brandens” They get their section too!
“Ann Heller, Jennifer Burns, et al.”

Having read those, one a Barbara Branden incantation, the other a good attempt by Burns learning well as she went, why should they be mentioned?

“none of which appear on the site — but, rather, to steer them away from these sites and those authors”
So, they do appear, they haven’t been whitewashed as you suggest, and those authors are not worthy of recommendation, in my opinion.

Rendering this; “and to cultivate in them a proper reverence (!) — not healthy critical appraisal, mind you, but REVERENCE. These are definitely a bunch of sick puppies!” a non-sequitur.

“In other words, this is a site for keeping the flame of Objectivist Fundamentalism burning.’

That is disproved by the above, and I’d be interested if others agree with you there.

“All religions and cults have similar Web sites set up by their Faithful for precisely the same purpose.
[..]
“Just don't confuse it with an attempt to encourage admirers of Miss Rand's fiction to "make up their own minds" about Objectivism. The "Checking Premises" Web site is a place for steering newcomers and fence-sitters away from what its creators believe to be heresy and thus stem the rising tide of apostasy.”

I more accurately describe it, so far, as a reaction against the Rand-diminishers, of which there are many, and "an attempt to encourage admirers of Miss Rand's fiction to "make up their own minds.""

The idea for the site is for

darren's picture

The idea for the site is for individuals to make their own minds up how best to interpret Objectivism.

Ayn Rand's Novels:
http://aynrandnovels.org/

The Ayn Rand Institute:
http://www.aynrand.org/site/Pa...

The Ayn Rand Lexicon:
http://aynrandlexicon.com/

Leonard Peikoff:
http://www.peikoff.com/

The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics, by James Valliant:
http://www.amazon.com/Passion-...

This site is being created by serious students and proponents of Objectivism in response to the danger that some, who may seem in agreement with the philosophy, are in fact subverting it.

Translation: This site has been created by Objectivist True Believers who unflaggingly side with Peikoff on any interpretation of "official doctrine." The purpose is not to encourage readers to "make up their own minds" — that would require linking to articles by Kelley, books by the Brandens, Ann Heller, Jennifer Burns, et al., none of which appear on the site — but, rather, to steer them away from these sites and those authors, and to cultivate in them a proper reverence (!) — not healthy critical appraisal, mind you, but REVERENCE. These are definitely a bunch of sick puppies!

In other words, this is a site for keeping the flame of Objectivist Fundamentalism burning. All religions and cults have similar Web sites set up by their Faithful for precisely the same purpose.

Nothing wrong with that, by the way. Just don't confuse it with an attempt to encourage admirers of Miss Rand's fiction to "make up their own minds" about Objectivism. The "Checking Premises" Web site is a place for steering newcomers and fence-sitters away from what its creators believe to be heresy and thus stem the rising tide of apostasy.

Checking Premises

gregster's picture

The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics is linked to from a site Checking Premises. This is in the section "The Brandens." The idea for the site is for individuals to make their own minds up how best to interpret Objectivism.

I'm not sure ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... what Brant's purpose is in reviving this thread—perhaps he's had too little to drink again—but it serves to remind me what a learning curve exposure to the likes of him and his poster-things Babs, Michael Sewer Kelly, Jim Peron and Robert Campbell was. I truly had no idea of the depths to which sub-human entities in human form could sink. I still find it hard to believe.

Lest we forget indeed.

Well well well I think Rand is one of the great post modern

seymourblogger's picture

philosophers. Phish to all the non-fiction Objectivist garbage. Go past Go directly to her fiction. Her greatness as a philosopher is all there. Just as Cronenberg's is in his films. And DeLillo? I am thinking about it. All the Objectivist stuff was just for Branden. Her "gift" to him.

Good Soldier

gregster's picture

I don't ever forget that Objectivist Lying is the cesspool that it is.

Lest

Brant Gaede's picture

Lest we forget.

--Brant

Robert

HWH's picture

I admit to jumping to an unproven conclusion, but if Anne's derogatory tone from that old article is anything to go by...I will bet you ten to one against that this is indeed no more than another smear.

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

Old Article

James S. Valliant's picture

This was written by Ms. Heller before even proposing her biography -- 2003 -- it keeps "popping up" to her surprise.

All I will say is: make no assumptions, my friends.

[I've been quite ill, but intend to get back to SOLO soon in full force...]

Forthcoming smear?

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. HWH has now proclaimed Anne Heller's book biography of Ayn Rand to be a smear.

How he could know this is unclear to me, as the book is not due to be published till February 2009, and he doesn't claim to have seen the manuscript.

Besides, I thought that Mr. Valliant was going to be sent the galley proofs of Ms. Heller's book.

Robert Campbell

Scum a droolin over at ARCHN

HWH's picture

Over at ARCHN the "squalid leprous pygmies" are salivating over Hellers upcoming smear of RAND. 

This from Daniel Barnes over at Archn -

Anne Heller's much awaited new biography is scheduled for February 09.
For a flavour of Heller's style, which appears to be a refreshing
change from the fervid toadying of likes of James Valliant, try this
New York Observer piece.

The New Yorker's Diary

by
Anne Heller  | 

February 8, 2004

This article was published in the February 9, 2004, edition of The New York Observer.

MORE
The New Yorker's DiaryPhallic-Symbol City! Taking Back Streets Of Ayn Rand's Manhattan

The formula still works: 'Metaphysics, morality,

economics,

politics and sex.'

Not so long ago, Ayn Rand was a visible New York presence. When I
first moved to the city in the 1970's, the Russian-born author of
best-selling anticommunist novels-including The Fountainhead and Atlas
Shrugged -still lived, wrote and held court here. Her short, dark,
chain-smoking figure, often trailed by an adoring entourage, was a
frequent, and divisive, sight on college campuses and local TV talk
shows. She died in 1982, and after that her influence seemed to
wane-even in the midst of the Reagan "revolution," which borrowed
heavily from her notions.

But her influence never waned for Fred Cookinham. He met the queen
of capitalist fiction in 1978 and became a proponent of Objectivism,
her system of ethics, which can be summed up by the title of one of her
nonfiction books, The Virtue of Selfishness . He began collecting
details of her life and work, and now knows more about her than almost
anyone who wasn't a follower or friend. So, four or five times a year,
he leads walking tours of the settings that were important to Rand and
her "heroic individualist" characters. On Monday, Feb. 2-the 99th
anniversary of her birth-he led a special birthday tour.

Having recently reread The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged , I
decided to take Fred's tour, and I joined him and a few other walkers
in front of the Waldorf Astoria hotel. As I arrived, Fred was
explaining that the 1931 Art Deco landmark apparently served as the
real-life model for the Wayne-Falkland Hotel in Atlas Shrugged ; that's
one of the places where the novel's heroine, an indomitable railroad
heiress named Dagny Taggart, conducts a high-minded but unmistakably
sadomasochistic affair with a rugged industrialist named Hank Reardon.
I was reminded that Rand is famous for her power-driven sex scenes; in
The Fountainhead , whose dominating (phallic) symbol is a New York City
skyscraper (presumably partially modeled on the 1931 McGraw-Hill
Building on West 42nd Street, Fred told us), the architect hero, Howard
Roark, courts the heiress heroine, Dominique Francon, by slipping into
her weekend house and raping her. (It was "the kind of rapture she had
wanted," the author assures us.) Rand once described her novels as
capitalist propaganda and her fictional formula as "metaphysics,
morality, economics, politics and sex." It's a combination that still
works with readers. Everyone on the tour, ranging in age from 15 to 61,
agreed that reading her books was a "mind-altering experience," as an
N.Y.U. student, clutching a copy of The Fountainhead , articulated it
for the group.

We formed a ragged line behind Fred and followed him east and south
on Lexington until we reached the Chrysler Building, where Henry Luce-a
model for the tragic character of newspaper mogul Gail Wynand in The
Fountainhead -briefly had an office. As we stood and stared, our
15-year-old called out, "Hey, there's Atlas!" We peered into the dimly
lit lobby at a mural of Atlas painted on the ceiling. Fred explained
that Atlas was a favorite Art Deco symbol of man's power to invent,
very apropos of Rand.

Fred is a kind of poet and street professor of Randianism, which you
might think would still be in decline, given communism's fall, but is
actually on the rise. Altogether, almost 11.5 million copies of her
novels have been sold, and in the last few years sales have been
heading up again, to an amazing 260,000 copies in 2002. When the Modern
Library asked readers to list the 20th century's 100 greatest novels in
1998, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead showed up as Nos. 1 and 2,
trumping everything from 1984 to The Great Gatsby .

Both Objectivism and Libertarianism, another Rand offshoot, are
thriving, especially on college campuses. As a case in point, Craig
Milem, a 25-year-old stock analyst who walked beside me, said he first
encountered Rand at Hunter College. Now he leads an Objectivist study
group and recently ran for City Council against Gifford Miller on the
Libertarian Party line. His campaign partly focused on repealing the
city's smoking ban, which "unjustifiably interferes with the rights of
property owners," he told me.

As the group moved on to Park Avenue and 42nd Street, we paused to
admire the statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt atop Grand Central Terminal;
this is considered the inspiration for the bust of heroine Dagny
Taggart's "robber baron" grandfather in Atlas Shrugged . Likewise,
explained Fred, Grand Central Oyster Bar may have doubled as the
cafeteria where Eddie Willers, Dagny's loyal assistant, and inventor
John Galt, Dagny's future lover disguised as a lowly railroad worker,
met to exchange information about her struggle against the socialist
"looters and moochers" who were trying to steal her railroad.

Soon we arrived in Murray Hill, the tour's holy of holies. Here's
where Rand lived, on and off, for 40 years. Fred showed us three or
four apartment houses she inhabited, including the red-brick structure
now housing the Kitano New York hotel. Then he led us to 2 Park Avenue,
at 32nd Street, where for a few months in the late 1930's the young
novelist worked for that building's famous architect,ElyJacques Kahn,
and pumped him for information about his colleagues; the gossip she
gathered appeared, slightly veiled, in The Fountainhead . (Fred has
tracked nearly every architect portrayed in that book and can point out
most of their buildings, too.) In fact-thrills all around-we were
actually standing on the very spot where Rand is said to have made her
biggest Objectivist breakthrough.

Fred elaborated. "One day, on her way home from the old Bellmore
Cafeteria on 28th Street," he said, pointing south, "Ayn Rand realized
that there is a natural scientific basis for the idea of right and
wrong-for a morality that's not dependent on God or religion," which
she loathed. "And that basis is simply life and death!" We all nodded.
Having read Atlas Shrugged , we understood that this is the foundation
for her famous moral defense of capitalism: Because capitalism, and its
cousin selfishness, enhance the individual citizen's life, they are
good; because communism and "altruism" require people to sacrifice
their individual interests to those of others, they are evil.

The tour ended in front of Rand's last residence, the Murray Park on
34th Street and Lex-a noisy, nondescript corner of the city she loved.
The final years of her life were a bit nondescript, too. A one-sided
love affair with a younger, married follower ended badly. Her husband
of 50 years, a mild-mannered actor named Frank O'Connor, developed
Alzheimer's disease and died. The Objectivist movement she'd founded
splintered and seemed to dwindle. In her last few years, according to
one follower, she spent a lot of time watching TV, especially Charlie's
Angels . Fred said he thinks that Farrah Fawcett and her sidekicks must
have reminded Rand of feisty Dagny Taggart.

The other legs of the tour-from "The Skyscrapers of The Fountainhead
" to "Ayn Rand's Broadway" (she was a playwright, too)-completed the
picture of what inspired Rand. But it was Fred himself who proved how
thoroughly Rand inspires others. He first read Atlas Shrugged at age 13
in 1967. "If I had read any other book at that age, I would probably be
a liberal Democrat," he said. "But I didn't, and I'm not."

 

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

Business card scanner 

Mr. Scherk

James S. Valliant's picture

Well, a single example of my failure to "properly cite" (on a website post, my friends!) might be nice.

It's hard to understand you -- but are you actually claiming that Brant Gaede hadn't said that Rand's adultery was "steeped in dishonesty" and that Branden's dishonesty was self-destructive?

You saw the latter but it is still not clear that you see the former.

Ellen Stuttle's claims about Rand's alleged belief that "anyone who doesn't see it the way [she did] must be irrationally motivated" is a "grandiose" and baseless opinion, sir.

Daniel Barnes' assertion that "the whole weirdo premise underlying PARC is that a super-ultra-uber-genius like Rand could only be fooled - even temporarily - by two super-ultra-uber-evil-geniuses!..;-)” is bizarrely grandiose and unfounded.

Jonathan's psychologizing of Mr. Heaps-Nelson is a rather stunningly grandiose and baseless bit of theorizing.

Unless you care to supply the substance that they did not...?

And, please, I won't impute Campbell's fantasies to you, if you can somehow restrain yourself from irrelevantly attacking the language of other people in your answers to me.

Remember, you are the one who keeps refusing to set aside the name-calling.

The joy of fisking, or, on the search for honourable criticism

William Scott Scherk's picture

[Following the argument of James Valliant, with special reference to context and progression of certain signal statements that have raised ire and attention. We are on a search for substance, and incidentally for a reason the OL thread in question has had 472 follow-up posts and has been read 11,935 times. If we can offer some paltry flesh to the bones of "grandiose judgements," "vague and baseless references" of those unnamed but awful ugly trolls in the sewer at OL, perhaps a higher level of discussion may be advanced, notwithstanding the occasional passionate heights of "Brendan the Cunt" and "Butt-licking Barbara" from the also-rans.]

JSV, in a first incursion into the massive, dense and horrifyingly stupid and wrong and baseless and bad and awful and so on OL, quoting but not offering a link to Brant Gaede:
“…[Ayn Rand was] simply using Objectivism as a weapon. This is an example of Rand putting more on her philosophy than is really there... It wasn't Objectivism that damaged her, her husband and the Brandens, it was the private adultery, an adultery steeped in dishonesty and moral relativism.” -- Brant Gaede

The dishonesty and relativism of whom, you might ask.

WSS, in response: Surely you might ask, and reading the ellipses and the following and preceding paragraphs, you can find out: Nathaniel Branden, that's who . . .

JSV, relaunching the same vessel or similar vessel, answers:
BTW, Brant wasn't clearly excluding Rand from his "dishonesty" stuff, and his vagueness won't vanish with your say-so.

-- Now, as the first sour cherry picked from OL, the Gaede quote was designed to illustrate the main contention of this Feel the Love thread, ergo OL is a place where: smearing Ayn Rand is a full-time job, and where Big Opinions don't require a shred of evidence to support them

Okay, the exemplarily odious 'Big Opinion' of Brant was twofold, a vile heresy that Rand at one time used Objectivism as a weapon, and that the affair damaged Rand, Frank and the Brandens, rather than that Objectivism damaged Rand.

In the second instance, we expect James to agree. "Dishonesty and moral equivocation, check. Damaged Rand, check. Damaged Nathaniel, check. Damaged Barbara Branden, do research. Damaged Frank O'Connor, don't know, probably not, I previously averred that he found the affair thrilling and bore no bruise or blemish from it or its aftermath."

But yet have we found Brant carrying out his fulltime job of smearing Ayn Rand? Well, in James' reading, perhaps, for he pointedly remarks on Brant's vagueness as smear, that Brant left unclear whether he meant Branden was dishonest, and that Branden was guily of moral equivocation.

Again we must repair to the textual source.

Robert Campbell: Ellen and Brant,

The two sentences preceding this passage are just as important:

"If Mr. Branden never intended to correct his contradictions, then he made a mistake about the philosophy he chose to profess: he should have chosen Existentialism, which, recognizing no general principles, gives ample scope to contradictions, to self-exemptions from general rules, to undefined feelings and unknowable whims. If such was the case, he did not belong in Objectivism."

The SOLOPpers are pretending that Ayn Rand's insistence on total acceptance of her ideas was simply a matter of "protecting the brand." What they are overlooking is her obvious belief that anyone who is not a true Objectivist is, or will soon be, foundering in a swamp of irrationality.

Campbell was noting two preceding comments by Stuttle and by Gaede.

Brant Gaede replies:
Could be, but in this case she is simply using Objectivism as a weapon. This is an example of Rand putting more on her philosophy than is really there. Official Objectivism will do to you just what she said it would, but true philosophy is passive: reality, reason, self interest and individual rights, not everything Rand ever said and published. It wasn't Objectivism that damaged Rand when she sacrificed her life to the god of Atlas Shrugged, it was the sacrifice. It wasn't Objectivism that damaged her, her husband and the Brandens, it was the private adultery, an adultery steeped in dishonesty and moral relativism. It wasn't Objectivism that damaged Nathaniel Branden (and Rand) in the 1960s, it was his dishonesty.

But, wait! What about the smearing? What about the grandiose judgements and vague and baseless references?

JSV: BTW, Brant wasn't clearly excluding Rand from his "dishonesty" stuff, and his vagueness won't vanish with your say-so.

Ah, vagueness! Yes, JSV has truly cornered the rat, no?

But wait! What was the Gaede creature uttered, by way of smearing Ayn Rand, again? -- It wasn't Objectivism that damaged Nathaniel Branden (and Rand) in the 1960s, it was his dishonesty.

Vague! Vague! Smears! Equivocation!

As for the first instance, that Rand used Objectivism as a weapon, well -- what was the instance raised by the vile Gaede?

Consistency is one of the cardinal requirements of Objectivism, both philosophically and psychologically. It is a dangerous philosophy to play with or to accept half-way; it will stifle the mind that attempts to do so. In this respect, Objectivism, like reality, is its own avenger.

I regret that the demonstration of this fact had to come in so tragic and ugly a form.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Now we get on to picking the scab of James' non-engagement with Ellen Stuttle. In the first instance, below, we noted only his inability or indifference to cite properly, and his reluctance to offer any but a truncated, ellipsed and other wise redacted sampling of the ugly trolls and worse.

So, as this is already a lengthy post, I will return anon with an examination of the alleged perfidy of the sewer-dweller, Ellen Stuttle. We will re-examine the bizarreries claimed by James, determine the blot on reason, and excise it.

WSS

Eli ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I knew there had to be a reason I let you back on.

*That* was very funny.

Smiling

Opps...*blushes*.... Yeste

Elijah's picture

Opps...*blushes*....

Yesterday I wrote the following..." On Objectivistliving.com there is one chap..some slimey grub from Arizona (wherever that is)... called Beau Geste who seems to be engaging in a personal attack on James Valliant (and others).."

The "and others" was me.

One of my staff members has (apologetically) just informed me that I am in error, and the specific post which greatly offended me was not written by this chap, Beau Geste (or whatever his name is), but in fact by that failed pop star from Canada, William Tosspot.

I therefore apologise to Mr Geste...eekkkk...my hotheaded nature rather got carried away...gosh....I read a post which annoyed me, went ranting and raving and smashing china around the house and wrote that previous post..and...yes, gosh, was condemning quite the wrong chap.

ugh...now I feel like a complete fool..gosh...*blushes*

Elitism, forever!

The Astonishing Thing

James S. Valliant's picture

The astonishing thing, Chris, is that Mr. Scherk actually thinks that he's provided context in rebuttal. He gives us a bunch more goodies, then thinks he's "refuted" something.

But, really, Mr. Scherk, all you've done is provide me with more of the same -- and, yes, another example of how you simply ignore the stuff you want to ignore, but more importantly, of how your mind works.

Rand is just so evil in these posters' imaginations that they are satisfied with the most vague and baseless reference in order to fly off with grandiose judgments.

You're good, too: you hint darkly at Rand's behavior in "therapy sessions" when Ms. Branden, for example, only showed Rand "clapping" and "chuckling" during one meeting being conducted by Branden which he called an ethics trial, not a therapy session...

And, see, we still don't have any "contradictions," or even "harsh judgments," only claims about such things.

You haven't added that "tidbit" -- you've added more assertions which require at least a tidbit of evidence in support.

So, let's get this straight, MSK can threaten and urge baseless law suits against me -- which, of course, he did for quite some time -- but he's not a "thug"? Only me, when I turn the tables on him?

Just as Ms. Branden can speak of Rand's "special antennae" -- and Mr. Branden can "marvel" at Rand's psychological insight -- but, for some reason, I'm forbidden from doing anything like this.

No, you can't imagine that your "context" proves them to be more balanced, more positive about Rand than I had claimed. Nor can you believe that chit chat about "dad the dentist" was vital, either. (From the volume of the screams, I think it's my drill that's been hammering away steadily -- and, sorry, if I've hit a few nerves.)

You must really imagine that this is some kind of substantiation for the claims made, rather than just more unsubstantiated claims.

But we still don't have a "tidbit" more than the Brandens' provided, sir -- just more unconsidered allegations. See, we need those "exact words" Ms. Stuttle doesn't have handy -- we'll need to see if Rand ever morally judged the physically handicapped at all outside of other people's mentions of it -- and we will need to see a whole lot more fancy footwork for me to see a "contradiction," much less to morally judge Rand from her comments on architecture as an art form.

BTW, Brant wasn't clearly excluding Rand from his "dishonesty" stuff, and his vagueness won't vanish with your say-so.

Ms. Stuttle's quotations hardly prove her bizarre claims about PARC or me, personally, of course, and quoting them back won't make them do so, either. They do not imply "perfection" in any way, for example, even in some "operative" sense.

One thing you did get right -- and I got wrong -- the relevant "Jim" in that quote. It's just so hard for me to see Mr. Heaps-Nelson as a "zealot" (yes, that's the bizarre claim that now must be maintained) that I assumed they must have meant their favorite "zealot," me.

Most of that text from PARC can be found here at SOLO, of course, and more is on the way.

You act as if it's all res ipse loquitur, as if the other material you present speaks for itself in rebuttal.

In its quality of thoughtful analysis and marshaled evidence, yes, it does.

In establishing its wild-eyed assertions, it does not.

And I am just so flattered at all the fuss and attention -- those numbers were impressive.

I waded through all 23 pages of that thread

Chris Cathcart's picture

The only thing that left a significant impression was the excerpt from Dr. Hospers' memoirs about his discussions with Rand. Somewhere in the late-teens page numbers of the thread IIRC, to narrow down searches.

"Oozing slime from every pore ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... he oiled his way through the door," to paraphrase a Henry Higgins line in a way that reminds me of none so much as Kelly, who just itches to Christianise Objectivism and made his way in from the gutter by licking Babs-butt and being glued to it by her as a reward for his sycophancy. What is supposed to be the point of telling that story? That Objectivists wouldn't give the boy a chance? That there should be a law forcing them to (wasn't that what he argued on RoR with respect to feeding starving babies or something?)? To show that he, Kelly, is a "caring" human being who wells up at touchy-feely stories? (Ugh!)

Wasn't Wayne Dyer one of the early psychobabslers?

I find it interesting that Peikoff, the foremost advocate of this "uncaring" philosophy, says in that same podcast that he thinks a tennis partner who doesn't call an ambulance when his opponent has a heart attack should be sued, possibly for criminal negligence!

I also found it interesting that Ellen Stuttle, as quoted here by Scherk, got the point about perfection consisting of living conscientiously by one's convictions and not knowingly breaching them, a point that that whole crowd evade (although the ghastly Jonathan acknowledges it at least implicitly when he accuses Rand of [unspecified] dishonesty).

Brant Gaede, fruitcake, another Branden butt-licker, should retain the "I am not an Objectivist" signature. Strictly speaking, that whole site should be called AOL (Anti-Objectivist Living), though I believe that one is taken. Smiling

They paved paradise and put up a PARCing lot

William Scott Scherk's picture

James Valliant has been cherry picking on OL, it seems. The bitter cherries, of course, cherries from a 12 page thread about him and his book, "Why Nobody Takes PARC Seriously Anymore." Even if James himself has not read its 459 posts, and so can only number once or twice among its 11,489 reads, it is worth considering that he will at least fork up some remnants about what the awful ugly trolls and worse, Ellen Stuttle, are actually on about.

JSV, quoting but not offering a link to Brant Gaede:
“…[Ayn Rand was] simply using Objectivism as a weapon. This is an example of Rand putting more on her philosophy than is really there... It wasn't Objectivism that damaged her, her husband and the Brandens, it was the private adultery, an adultery steeped in dishonesty and moral relativism.” -- Brant Gaede

The dishonesty and relativism of whom, you might ask.

Surely you might ask, and reading the ellipses and the following and preceding paragraphs, you can find out: Nathaniel Branden, that's who . . .

JSV, quoting but not giving context to Robert Campbell:
“I have no reason to think that Dr. Peikoff has consciously tried to hurt Ayn Rand's reputation… But he's achieved the same results as he would have if he'd set out to discredit her.” -- Robert Campbell

Discredit her? What negative tidbit has been added to the Brandens' portrait of an "Inquisitor using fire and the rack" that wasn't already there?

Well, the quoted section belongs where? You cite it in the pages of PARC:

Base[d] on this one example, Mrs Branden would have us believe that
psychology was a weapon which Rand used "as an Inquisitor might use
fire and the rack (16)."
[pg 58]

[context provided:]

"Who would not have paid dearly to take part in a small group therapy
session which included Rand -- providing, of course, that the
psychologist conducting it was trustworthy."
[pg 57]

Mind you, you did not provide the crucial parts of the Branden line: "it was her new theorizing in psychology" that led to ugly and untoward group-therapy sessions.

-- as for negative tidbits, the context is pointed. Campbell and his interlocutor are discussing some particular statements, against the shared assumption that the publication of Rand's 'psychoepistemological inquiries' in PARC detracted from Rand. Campbell is maintaining his opinion that the release of the Break-era journals did not add lustre to the crown of Rand. Of course you disagree, but distilling and mis-citing does not add lustre to your crown. Here is Campbells' full approbation for the particular statements of Gaede's:

You know, Brant, my father was a dentist, as was his father before him. Perhaps I have taken up the family trade, in my own way Smiling

I think you are right on here, in every respect.

-- PARC has made Nathaniel Branden look worse than he did already

-- PARC has made Ayn Rand look a lot worse than she did already

-- Leonard Peikoff's purported defense of Ayn Rand has badly hurt her reputation, in the years since her death. If your goal was to make her look bad while concealing your true intent, you couldn't plan it any better. First, spend 18 years refusing to respond to an unflattering biography. Then, hand the rebuttal over to a third-rate author who doesn't do any scholarship, has to go to a shady publisher to get his book out, and doesn't know the difference between calling people names on discussion forums and publicizing his opus. In the meantime, emulate most of her worst traits and encourage others to do the same.

Like light from a distant star, points 2 and 3 will eventually reach the zealots.
[pg 2 of the large cherry orchard from which James has collected his basket of mal mots.]

-- and what had Brant Gaede proclaimed about Peikoff and PARC?

A basic complaint against PARC is it is a prosecutor's brief--Valliant threw in everything including the kitchen sink. Now he's threatening Michael with lawyers, sounding something like a thug. I guess yesterday's Internet pressure got to him and he snapped. It seems that he read Michael's article for the first time yesterday. Both Michael and Neil are like dentists who won't stop drilling with Robert dropping in now and then with special instruments.

None of this is my style or comfort zone, but neither was PARC. What goes around comes around. PARC proved Nathaniel Branden was much worse a louse to Ayn Rand than what he admitted to in his memoir and he admitted a lot. It also denigrated Ayn Rand by publishing her notes and thoughts that should have been evaluated and used by serious and competent scholars, not a lawyer. Both Branden and Rand were much better people in those days than you'll find in PARC, which rips them out of their broader contexts both as human beings and regards their work. Whatever their flaws, the Brandens' memoir and biography tried to honor those contexts with Barbara striving mightily with the humanity of it all.

It is not the Brandens who have been avenging themselves on Ayn Rand all these years, it is Leonard Peikoff, who never got to have a life of his own--a life not under the thumb of a real, then as an imagined, Ayn Rand. The proper life of an individual as a human being is not the Eddie Willers of Objectivism.
[post 44]

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JSV, misreading while citing but giving no reference to the relevent quote:
”Why is [Valliant] Jim assuming that others' disagreements or criticisms of [Ayn Rand] are efforts to prove that his hero has feet of clay? It sounds to me as if he's very emotionally invested in smearing anyone who dares to question some of the actions of his hero, or to point out the shoddiness of some of her defenders.

“I think a more important question is why does Jim get so upset that others simply recognize that Rand had faults? Why is he so disturbed by the fact that some of Rand's fans openly talk about her mistakes, instead of having to be backed into a corner and act like reality-denying fools until finally admitting that Rand was sometimes irrational, self-contradictory, harshly judgmental or dishonest?” -- "Jonathan"

Who told this fair-minded chap, Jonathan, that he could call me "Jim"? (That's for my friends, or at least someone who knows me, "Jon-Jon.")

No. You misread Johnathan **, who was addressing James Heaps Nelson. How odd of you to overlook the actual context . . . an important question was how you misread the obvious intendant:
QUOTE(JHN)[ from SOLO node 4130]
I don't have a lot of time for this topic so I'll ask a question that's been nagging at me for some time: Why is it so important for some people to find fault with Ayn Rand?

. . . Jim's really starting to sound like a zealot.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JSV, quoting but not referencing Ellen Stuttle:
“Notice especially Valliant's iteration of Leonard Peikoff's description of Rand as ‘indeed, the person she had to be in order to have written Atlas Shrugged.’ Now that, in a sentence, states the primary myth about Ayn Rand, the myth she promulgated (and I think genuinely believed about herself): that she herself was a representative of the heroic characters of her novel.” -- Ellen Stuttle

Not satisfied, she added:

“One further point concerning my own view: I agree with the letter of the statement that Rand was ‘the person she had to be in order to have written Atlas Shrugged,’ but I have a different opinion from Leonard Peikoff's as to the requirements involved. I think that what she had to be was a person who saw life, and saw herself, mythologically -- with a resultant power of grand vision, but with blindnesses to aspects of the reality of actual humans, including herself.” -- Ellen Stuttle

So, Ellen agrees with the "letter of the statement" in PARC -- but somehow knows what Rand "needed" and what PARC was "really" trying to say.

Well, no. You misread the argument. Here is the necessary context:

OK, regarding talk on SOLO that Valliant's book PARC doesn't qualify as hagiographic, and pertinent to questions Daniel asked regarding any details given in PARC of Rand's making mistakes, here is an extensive passage from the "Introduction" to PARC.

Notice especially Valliant's iteration of Leonard Peikoff's description of Rand as "indeed, the person she had to be in order to have written Atlas Shrugged." Now that, in a sentence, states the primary myth about Ayn Rand, the myth she promulgated (and I think genuinely believed about herself): that she herself was a representative of the heroic characters of her novel.

I don't consider the heroic characters of her novel human exemplars, but a lot of Objectivists do thus consider them. I don't think that any humans in fact could be exactly the sort of persons she projects as heroic ideals. But a lot of Objectivists take those fictional figures as realizable ideal figures, and I think it's important to a lot of Objectivists to believe that Ayn Rand was such a figure. Some Objectivists have even said outright that it would cast doubt on the philosophy in their eyes if Ayn Rand wasn't such a figure.
[-- Ellen's point is further extended below***, providing, oh, a background and context for her argument.]

JSV: My adumbration of all this will be seen, no doubt, as my being bothered by the slightest flaw alleged in Rand -- and the very discussion of her mistakes -- but is it unreasonable to ask for the tiniest factual basis for just one of these assertions?

The foul and leprous beings of Objectivist Living have been alerted to your patrol!

WSS

Footnote 16: Passion of Ayn Rand, p 269

** And here's a simple example of Rand being irrational and self-contradictory:

She defined art as a recreation of reality and said that it cannot serve a utilitarian purpose, yet she categorized architecture as art, despite stating that it served a utilitarian purpose and despite claiming that it does not recreate reality.

As for "harshly judgmental," I'll refer readers to her many comments on the moral and psychological status of a variety of thinkers and artists and their works. Her comments on Dali, Vermeer, Degas, Beethoven and Parrish come to mind off the top of my head. I'd have to get back to you with her exact words. Other than that, there are a wide variety of comments that she made on many different issues ranging from the handicapped, as we've been discussing here on OL recently, to homosexuals ("immoral and disgusting,") etc., that I would think would easily qualify as being "harshly judgmental."

___________________________

***Ellen continues. Valliant, today, keeps disclaiming any belief that Ayn Rand was "perfect." Linz says that all he, Linz, means in evaluating her as "perfect" is that she attempted to live by her own standards and never consciously breached them. A great deal of semantic debate can occur -- and has occurred on earlier threads on SOLOHQ, and RoR, and SOLO, and I think on this list also -- over the operative meaning of "perfect."

The following passage I think makes clear Valliant's actual "message" on the subject of Ayn Rand's moral status: the message that she indeed was such a figure as those she projected as ideals.

One further point concerning my own view: I agree with the letter of the statement that Rand was "the person she had to be in order to have written Atlas Shrugged," but I have a different opinion from Leonard Peikoff's as to the requirements involved. I think that what she had to be was a person who saw life, and saw herself, mythologically -- with a resultant power of grand vision, but with blindnesses to aspects of the reality of actual humans, including herself.

QUOTE(Valliant)
The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics
"Introduction"
pp. 4-8
References omitted

Leonard Peikoff, the foremost authority on Rand's thought, and many others who were closely associated with Rand, have declared the Brandens' biographies to be nothing more than arbitrary assertions, and on that basis they have dismissed these books without further consideration. Peikoff defines an arbitrary claim as one for which there is no evidence, that is, "a brazen assertion, based neither on direct observation nor an attempted logical inference therefrom." Because of Peikoff's wholesale dismissal of these books--and a general disgust for the Brandens among Rand's defenders--no comprehensive critical response to these books has yet appeared in print.

However, only an analysis of the biographies themselves makes possible the conclusion that they are largely arbitrary and often demonstrably false. For those of us who never met Rand, to dismiss entirely and without consideration those critics of Rand who knew her would be a mistake--no matter how much credibility Rand has earned from her readers.

Moreover, even if there is no truth to be gleaned from these works and they are wholly arbitrary, the necessary dirty work of exposing them remains, since they are published as historical records by primary sources, and future generations will not have the benefit of Rand's contemporaries to dispute their specific allegations.

For myself, such an analysis was necessary, and I would not be stopped even by the sincere and prescient advice of Leonard Peikoff.

During my own 1995 interview of Peikoff for the television show Ideas in Action, he admitted that, while Rand was, indeed, the person she had to be in order to have written Atlas Shrugged, it is impossible "to project" all that Rand was "from just reading her work."

Yet her work had made me want to know more of what she was, to glimpse more of the genius who had achieved such greatness in the very act of defending human greatness. I was curious to know more about Rand, for the sheer inspiration and fascination and delight of it, and my projection of what kind of soul she must have had gave me confidence that even her critics could not help but provide valuable observations of what must have been a remarkable and unique human being.

I had no illusions that Rand would be without fault or flaw. We will see that Rand herself admitted to being mistaken about something (or someone) on more than one occasion, and even her staunchest defenders have admitted that Rand's anger could sometimes be unjust.

My mind was certainly open to what Rand's critics had to say.

[....]

[W]hen I first opened the pages of the Brandens' books, I was fully prepared to learn about the negative side of Rand's ledger, and I presumed that the Brandens, so close to Rand for many years, would be the ones to reveal it.

What I found upon careful examination and comparison of both of these authors' works, however, was that they had erected monuments of dishonesty on a scale so profound as to literally render them valueless as historical documents--and that Rand's critics have been building on a foundation of historical sand in their widespread reliance on these works.

Despite the claims these biographers make that their memoirs are drawn from personal experience, it will be seen that their intense personal animosity towards Rand--which emanates from that experience--has scarred all aspects of their work.

We shall see that rhetorical maneuvering, insinuation, failure to name sources, uncorroborated, self-serving assertion, and extensive internal contradiction, render even the positive things the Brandens have to say about Rand--which might be regarded as credible considering the authors' obvious hostility toward her--of little value as well. Any praise they offer seems, in the end, a mere acknowledgement of the observations of far more honest sources.

[....]

[Upon examination of Rand's private journals], I found that this material only strengthened the original analysis [posted on the web], exposing still more flaws in the Brandens' accounts of the very kind already identified, and confirming several of the original theses. In particular, this material demonstrated the degree to which the Brandens have suppressed information vital to a fair assessment of their own behavior and Rand's, and, far from revealing personal hypocrisy on Rand's part, are testimony to Rand's integrity and consistency.

Even more, these journals provide the fascinating account of how an extraordinary mind systematically unmasked the systematic deceit of a rather extraordinary deceiver, and they provide a tragic chronicle of how a romantic soul was cruelly manipulated by a man to whom she had given her highest trust and affection.

[....]

In the process of attempting to understand Mr. Branden's various psycho-pathologies, Rand has also left us many invaluable insights into human psychology that will no doubt be of more lasting value than the exposure of the Brandens' deceptions.

[....]

The acuity of Rand's mind--and the intensity of her anger--on the topic of Nathaniel Branden is bracingly apparent in these journal entries; frequently, and despite the pain this topic involved for Rand, they sparkle with a crystal clarity and radiate a ruthless honesty so familiar to Rand's readers.

[....]

In the course of what follows, we will also find something else: the profound truth about Ayn Rand and the meaning of her life, the very truth in danger of being lost to the character of a legend invented by the Brandens.

Two Quotations

James S. Valliant's picture

"Yes, there are things to criticize in Nathaniel's behavior; but what Valliant makes of those things is badly out of proportion. It's clear that he wants Nathaniel barred from Objectivist meetings; he wants Nathaniel basically 'ridden out of town on a rail' from any respectability in the O'ist world. He hasn't presented anything like a case which would justify the verdict he seeks.” - Ellen Stuttle

What Ms. Stuttle believes might be worthy of "criticism" in Branden, she leaves us to guess -- leaving the appropriate reaction also nebulous.

How on earth she just knows that I want Branden "ridden out town on a rail" is itself somewhat puzzling -- and how she gleaned it from PARC remains a mystery, too.

In any event, my friends, this was Rand's position on the appropriate sanction, for what it's worth:

“This is to inform my readers and all those interested in Objectivism that Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden are no longer associated with me or with my philosophy.

“I have permanently broken all personal, professional and business association with them, and have withdrawn from them the permission to use my name in connection with their commercial, professional, intellectual and other activities.

“I hereby withdraw my endorsement of them and their future works and activities. I repudiate both of them, totally and permanently, as spokesmen for me or for Objectivism.” – Ayn Rand

P.S.

Jmaurone's picture

 In fairness to the poster at OL whose signature I quoted, here's his response, unedited, in his defense:

Joe Maurone is on my case again about my signature line. For the record I did not delete it because of him. I deleted it before his original post about it. I did put up my new signature line partially in response to that post. His beef is he thinks you're not an Objectivist if you're not in the Orthodox tribe. Maurone does me the honor of not mentioning me by name. I suppose he's trying to make me a generic representative of posters on OL, turn OL into another tribe. Sorry, it's tribe vrs not a tribe. BTW, Maurone, I don't use the word "selfishness" in regards the Objectivist ethics because Rand totally and completely misused it for polemical purposes by changing its definition, although she said hers was the "dictionary definition" never yet found by anyone but her.

--Brant 

Could it be any easier?

Jmaurone's picture

To make the point? It seems they're begging to prove Peikoff right... 

MSK: "Now here is the idea I want to chew on. The following story is sentimental to the point of sappiness, but it gets to me. I read it and still choke up with tears that want to come out. It is practically the opposite of everything I love in Objectivism, yet deep within me, something of value is touched on a fundamental level and I know this is the good. This certainty goes beyond feeling.

Why is that? I refuse to deny it because it does not align with the philosophy I love. The certainty is real. So I need to understand this."

( That's great, MSK. Do what you must. I won't analyze you, the contradiction is yours, not mine. )

 While Ellen Stuttle contrasts the story MSK tells (which she doubts is real, incidentally) to Peikoff's podcast comments.

 The problem? The assertion that kindness is at odds with Objectivism to begin with. The insinuations in MSK's sentences, well, what more can I say that hasn't been said a thousand times already?

 That said, thank you again, James, for PARC.

 (P.S.: Appararently there are a couple of people on that site who are at odds with MSK's appraisal of the story, so here's the story by Wayne Dyer as quoted by MSK. Posted here as an excercise, to demonstrate that this is not simply a clash of personalities, but an issue of philosophical importance. I've no interest to argue WITH MSK, et. al. Again, we all know where we stand.)

 ......................................................................................................

In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning-disabled children. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school career, while others can be mainstreamed into conventional school. At a Chush fundraiser dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After praising the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, "Where is the perfection in my son, Shaya? Everything God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God's perfection?" The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father's anguish, and stilled by the piercing query. "I believe," the father answered, "that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that he seeks is in the way people react to this child."

He then told the following story about his son, Shaya.

One afternoon, Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked, "Do you think they'll let me play?" Shaya's father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya's father understood that if his son was chosen to play, it would give him a sense of belonging. Shaya's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shaya could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, "We're losing by six runs, and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team, and we'll try to put him up in the ninth inning."

Shaya's father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play in center field. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya's team scored again, and now had two outs and the bases loaded, with the potential winning run on base. Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shaya was given the bat. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn't even know how to hold the bat, let alone hit with it. However, as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shaya could at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came in, and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya's teammates came up to Shaya, and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shaya. As the pitcher came in, Shaya and his teammate swung the bat, and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field far beyond the reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, "Shaya, run to first. Run to first." Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running!!

But the right field understood what the pitcher's intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head. Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second!" Shaya ran toward second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases toward home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third." As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, "Shaya, run home." Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate, and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a 'grand slam' and won the game for his team.

"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "those 18 boys reached their level of God's perfection"

 

Proving Peikoff's Point

Jmaurone's picture

Another point from Peikoff's same podcast says of the people who wanted Rand to soften her blows, they say: "Don't say 'selfish,' say that you stand for self-fulfillment. Then nobody's going to get mad at that! Of course, self-fulfillment can include doing some sacrificing, because that's what you find fulfilling. Or don't say that, say prudence, because nobody will be against you, plus, it's prudent to help others sometimes because otherwise they'll be antagonistic...But to say selfish, it would hit the person on the head, and there would be no way out, and that's what they hate..." 

The said signature on OL has changed, in reaction, from "I am NOT an Objectivist," to "My Kind of Objectivism: Reality, Reason, Rational Self-Interest, Laissez Faire Capitalism."

 The pretzel logic: "All it was was an attempt to distance myself from practically everybody else calling themselves Objectivist whose views frequently clash with mine re what Objectivism is or should be. It's not, for instance, Orthodox Objectivism which essentially is if Ayn Rand said it it is part of Objectivism. It is not Objectivist esthetics which is a bunch of opinions not really integrateable into the philosophy the way the metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics are. There is no basic principle of Objectivist esthetics."

 So he's not an Objectivist. No, wait, he's an Objectivist, but not THAT kind of Objectivist. Obviously, A is A is not applicable here... 

 Peikoff continues on his podcast: "If these people were given the phrase "Ayn Rand advocates the Virtue of Selfishness..."they would say 'well, she would advocate the virtue of selfishness tempered by niceness..."...Well, tell me where you get with that, you get a bunch of disgusting followers."

 (Of course, they're NOT followers of Ayn Rand at OL, oh, no...sure, they CALL it Objectivist Living, and SURE, they have a picture of AYN RAND on the masthead, but they're not followers. And of course, they're not hero worshippers, either...Dedicated to Ayn Rand? I'm sure she's thrilled.)

Sounds like Peikoff is nailing it on the head, provided with a nice object lesson.  

 

 

What I don't understand...

Jmaurone's picture

is WHY they call it "Objectivist Living" when a prominent member there has, proudly, as his signature, "I am NOT an Objectivist," while others echo it. And to have Ayn's picture on the masthead, that's the lowest. What Rand said about libertarians makes a lot of sense here: "I don't want their help and didn't ask for it." Can't wait to see the pretzel twisting to explain that. 

Joe

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Leonard Peikoff had a relevant question that he answered on his podcast today. The question was: did Ayn Rand ever regret using the kind of provacative tone that may have made it harder for some people to warm up to her philosophy? To which he replied, emphatically,
"NO!TO THE CONTRARY! SHE WANTED TO BRUSH THOSE PEOPLE AWAY OUT OF HER DOMAIN! SHE WANTED TO SAY WHAT SHE KNEW EXACTLY AS IT WAS! AND IF PEOPLE DIDN'T LIKE IT, TOUGH ON THEM! THEY WERE EVIL FOR NOT WANTING IT TO BE SAID ACCURATELY!"

Boy, do we need that! "The world is perishing from an orgy of weasel words."

O-Lying should be left to their lies, smears and sickening psychbabsle. But they should remove the word "Objectivist" from their masthead. The fact that they use it shows they are bereft of the skimpiest modicum of decency. Not that we didn't already know that.

On Objectivistliving.com

Elijah's picture

On Objectivistliving.com there is one chap..some slimey grub from Arizona (wherever that is)... called Beau Geste who seems to be engaging in a personal attack on James Valliant (and others) and, gosh, why do these chaps just not sling their hooks and stick to their own website?!?! Puzzled

Elitism, forever!

Dividing Lines

Jmaurone's picture

Leonard Peikoff had a relevant question that he answered on his podcast today. The question was: did Ayn Rand ever regret using the kind of provacative tone that may have made it harder for some people to warm up to her philosophy? To which he replied, emphatically,

 "NO!TO THE CONTRARY! SHE WANTED TO BRUSH THOSE PEOPLE AWAY OUT OF HER DOMAIN! SHE WANTED TO SAY WHAT SHE KNEW EXACTLY AS IT WAS! AND IF PEOPLE DIDN'T LIKE IT, TOUGH ON THEM! THEY WERE EVIL FOR NOT WANTING IT TO BE SAID ACCURATELY!"

"They wanted was the same idea but put deluded, soft, without controversy, blurry, without clear definition, without offense." (rest at peikoff.com, podcast June 9th.)

 This explains a lot, doesn't it? "Objectivist living, indeed. 

I just visited the site

Elijah's picture

I just visited the site for the first time...(cannot say I had even heard of it before today)...and, gosh, what a lot of malcontented chaps there Shocked

All they seem to do is criticise solopassion.com ...how odd. 

Elitism, forever!

Dear Galt!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

A fevered feeding-frenzy of Rand-diminution by "squalid leprous pygmies trying to tear down a giant." And not a fact in sight. As I've said, in exasperation, my names for these creatures don't begin to do justice to their vileness.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.