Anne Heller's Rand Biography

Jeff Perren's picture
Submitted by Jeff Perren on Sun, 2009-09-13 21:37

Amazon has a PDF of the first chapter of Heller's forthcoming biography.

Ayn Rand and the World She Made, Chapter 1

Anne Heller's book is in general release as of Oct 27, 2009.

Heller's acknowledgment of me

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Greg: "Also Ellen Stuttle is acknowledged."

I'm acknowledged because she interviewed me, but she didn't use anything from the interview.


Just read that Joe, pg 416

gregster's picture

Also Ellen Stuttle is acknowledged.

And at the very end, explaining the frequent "disagreeable" or "arbitrary" conclusions of Heller that leave a bad taste in the mouth;

"Special thanks to Barbara Branden, who gave generously of her time, knowledge and resources; to Nathaniel Branden, who spoke with me at length, on multiple occasions"

This conventional book's Achilles' heel.

A slice of irony...

Jmaurone's picture

I saw the book today; among the many people acknowledged in the book are Michael Stuart Kelly and James Valliant. Sweet irony.

For Those Who Don't Know . . .

Neil Parille's picture

. . . the book is available today at Barnes and Noble (the store, not just on-line).


Lindsay Perigo's picture

Ayn's World

gregster's picture

Not sure if anyone's yet linked to this article by Stephen Cox. Strangely contradictory.

Off Topic

Jeff Perren's picture

I suppose it's hopelessly idealistic to hope this thread gets back to discussing Anne Heller's book, or anything closely related to it.

Off Topic P.S. Kenny, congratulations on your business success. If you have time, I'd like to gather some details to feature you in a blog post at Shaving Leviathan, and to pass a suggestion to the proprietors of the Heroes of Capitalism blog.

P.P.S. Yes, it's somewhat inconsistent to write the above postscript to Kenny after not-so-subtly suggesting that the topic get back to Anne Heller's forthcoming book. But accomplishments like his deserve a public huzzah.


Kenny's picture

The records on here will show that I have not been in contact with Jim for many months.

What Kenny Claims He Doesn't Care About

Robert Campbell's picture

Kenny declares:

However, I could not care less about Rand's temper, splits or Frank's drinking.

Has Kenny made this kind of statement to Jim Valliant? Mr. Valliant's opus does tend to concentrate on Rand's temper, splits, and Frank's drinking.

Or is Kenny opposed to discussions of these matters only when disagreements with Mr. Valliant end up getting expressed?

Robert Campbell

Perigo's Flunky?

Kenny's picture

Campbell is pathetic. I am supposed to be a flunky of someone with whom I have disagreed vehemently on several issues and never met or talked to. However, due to my opposition to Campbell's (and Parille's) smearing of Rand, I am now Perigo's "flunky". That is taking psychologising to an absurd extreme.

I am only interested in Rand's works. I remain interested in Nathaniel Branden's contribution to Objectivism and look forward to his new book based on his NBI lectures.

However, I could not care less about Rand's temper, splits or Frank's drinking. My only regret is that I never met such a remarkable woman to whom I owe so much. Without her inspiration, I would not have built a billion dollar railroad company from scratch.

It is, of course, no surprise, that her critics and diminishers are so vehement. They enjoy the life of the academic second-handers rather than live in the real world of entrepreneurs and innovators. They are the Ellsworth Tooheys of Objectivism - jealous and determined to destroy it.


Lindsay Perigo's picture

Thanks for letting me know that Kenny is now my flunky, Prof. Perhaps you'd publish a complete list of my toadies - or may we safely assume that anyone who ever agrees with me and disagrees with you about anything is my toady?

There are words for this kind of argumenation, which is common among speaker-banners and book-burners. "Academic rigor" are not among those words. "Intimidation," "ad hominem" and "cultism" are.


Robert Campbell's picture

After his latest fatuous "defense" of Jim Valliant (nearly word-for-word identical with past "defenses" issued by Peter Cresswell and others), there is now no doubt about it.

Kenny has become Lindsay Perigo's flunky.

Robert Campbell

Jim Valliant

Neil Parille's picture


Jim said that soon to be published biographies and archival research was going to support him. I don't think it's too much to ask what his take on the new biographies is.

-Neil Parille

Jim Valliant

Kenny's picture

probably has much better things to do than engage in futile debates with his opponents.

Where's Jim Valliant?

Robert Campbell's picture

On September 13, Lindsay Perigo proclaimed, as you can see for yourself here:

Mr. Valliant will be back in a couple of days. Wot are you going to do then?

Those couple of days have passed. Now wot is Mr. Perigo going to do?

Will his crony Mr. Valliant ever show his face here again?

Robert Campbell

Liberty Review by Prof. Cox

Neil Parille's picture

Is now on-line:


Anne Heller's Research

Neil Parille's picture

Question: Ayn Rand and the World She Made is the first objective, investigative biography of Ayn Rand. What new sources did you use for your research? Did you travel for your research?

Anne C. Heller: The only other biography was written in the 1980s by Barbara Branden, who was Rand’s friend and disciple as well as her young lover’s former wife. The book was partly in the form of a memoir and was also based on limited information; for example, Rand was born and educated in Russia, but at that time the Russian archives were closed. Thus Branden had to take Rand’s word for most of the events of her childhood. I used a Russian research team to gather new details of Rand’s family background, her parents’ professional lives, and her schooling up to and throughout her university studies, some of which contradicted what Rand had said about herself. I used published and unpublished letters and hundreds of hours of taped, unpublished interviews to document many episodes in Rand’s life that she never talked about, including influences she buried and help she later denied.

I traveled all over the United States to work in relevant archives and to conduct interviews with her former friends and followers, many now in their eighties and nineties, who spoke surprisingly candidly about her capacity for cruelty as well as her genius and personal magnetism. I had three lengthy interviews with her long-time lover, Nathaniel Branden, now eighty, and spoke with most members of what used to be called the "inner circle" of her cult following. I also had access to interviews with her elderly Russian sister and with close friends from the 1920s and 1930s, all now deceased.

My opinion, too, Brant.

Ellen Stuttle's picture


"This biography is simply a work of outstanding scholarship, insight and broader cross-referencing. It strongly displays Rand's either-or, her way or the highway, personality and intellectual/moral orientation."

I second that.

Re minor glitches, I've noticed others in addition to those already mentioned. I hope that these can be fixed on a second printing.

I repeat something I've said before: I'm really grateful for this book because of how vivid it makes to me the context of Rand's political work.

I'll add that I found Burns' interpretations of Rand as a person sensitively illuminative. There are some points on which I'd disagree with details. However, I was very impressed by someone being so fair and empathetic to Rand. I consider this book a true breakthrough in presenting and assisting in an understanding of Rand qua Rand.


Burns Quote

Neil Parille's picture


Perhaps you could take a look at my Amazon review of the book, in which I state:

This is not cast aspersions on the current archivists, who are very much aware of - and upset at - the jiggery pokery sanctioned by Rand's estate.



Selective Burns Quotes

Jeff Perren's picture

Funny how Mr. Parille hasn't show up to quote this (from Dr. Burns blog dated 9/26):

September 26 2009

By the end of my research, I had been disabused of many assumptions I had made about the Ayn Rand Archive. Rather than some weird type of cultish organization, it was comparable to a typical university or government archive.

I guess only quotes which reflect poorly on ARI are noteworthy.

There are

Brant Gaede's picture

There are a number of small errors in Burns' text. Kira didn't flee across Siberia, she tried to flee to the West. Page 49 should have been Stony Creek, CT, I thought she came up with the climax to The Fountainhead there, but defer to Burns' scholarship but will list my reference later if I come across it; to the bottom of p. 159 "rathera" should of course be "rather a".

When I reread the bio I'll make a list of all these I find and post it or send it to Burns.

This biography is simply a work of outstanding scholarship, insight and broader cross-referencing. It strongly displays Rand's either-or, her way or the highway, personality and intellectual/moral orientation.

46 yrs into Rand and Objectivism and counting

Ms. Burns ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Welcome along! I look forward to receiving and reviewing your book. I asked Ellen further down a question based on an excerpt she posted. I'd be interested in your response:

I'm curious about the excerpt Ellen has reprinted below. Is it Burns' position that emotions are tools of cognition, that an emotion that clashes with your reason is not something you should confront and get to the bottom of? Is it her position that had Nathan persuaded Ayn of this, that would have constituted "broadening her outlook?" The thing the diary excerpts in PARC showed me was that it was Nathan who was repressed and Ayn who was trying to shake him loose.

p. 236 Goddess of the Market

Jennifer Burns's picture

Thanks for pointing out the error on page 236. This comes from a time when I was using voice recognition software to transcribe my sources, due to a very bad case of repetitive strain injury that made it impossible to type. If the software didn't recognize words, it would go with the best approximation, which it looks like happened here. Still, I should have noticed something was amiss and I appreciate your flagging it. I will have this corrected in any future editions. -Jennifer Burns


Brant Gaede's picture

It's the Willow that's gone as such was referred to by Barbara Branden in The Passion of Ayn Rand. I see nothing wrong with what's there. I'd leave it be. The last time I remember being there was the tenth aniversary of her burial. I left some bluebells I brought from home. I probably visited at least once more before leaving the northeast in 1995. It was a relatively quick trip across the Tappan Zee Bridge.


Ayn Rand's Gravesite

Gerald's picture

Here is a You Tube clip of her gravesite. It looks more like a maple than a willow so I assume that is one that Ellen is saying is no longer there. (The video on You Tube was posted 2 years ago.) Brant and Ellen, thanks for sharing your memories as it is really helpful to me in painting a picture of what Ayn Rand and the movement was like in the early years.

Thanks again,


I think the willow, Brant.

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I haven't been there; I'm going from a report of someone who was present at the burial and then revisited later.

Which was the largest at the time?



Brant Gaede's picture

Next time I go there, may be a long time, I'll see about a replacement. Is it the maple or willow that's gone?


Larry was there, too,

Ellen Stuttle's picture

when they buried her, though he nearly got lost driving there, but then saw a caravan of cars headed in the generally right direction and followed along with what indeed was the cortege.

When the casket was being lowered, I'm told, a flight of wild geese went across overhead.

Ed Thompson, who was standing next to Larry, said, "One-up-manship on a military salute."

Tears pricking.


PS: Horribly, the tree which was over the gravesite isn't still there.


Brant Gaede's picture

The spring 1982 FHF delivered by Leonard Peikoff after her death was written by her and delivered in New Orleans by her in 1981.

I was there when they buried her

Burns: Rand's final illness

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Burns tells a detail I hadn't heard before -- I'm assuming that what she says is true: how Rand caught the cold which became pneumonia, which resulted in her death.

pg. 277

In the aftermath of Frank's death, Rand had few projects and almost no energy. She became obsessed wtih Hans Gudagast, a German-born movie actor who resembled Frank. While writing the Atlas script she had envisioned him playing the role of Francisco D'Anconia. Then Gudagast, now using the name Eric Braeden, grew a moustache, ruining his resemblance to Frank. Ayn pined for a photo of him without facial hair. When she discovered one in a magazine she had the idea to derive a full-size photo from the small thumbnail. Ignoring the pleas of her solicitous housekeeper Eloise, Rand plunged out into the rain to a photo studio in Times Square. Without a coat or umbrella she was caught in a downpour on her way back home. She fell ill with a cold, a dangerous malady for a woman of seventy-six with a history of lung cancer.

A few days later was the railroad trip to New Orleans, where she gave a speech at the annual meeting of the National Committee for Monetary Reform. By the time she returned from the trip, the cold had turned into pneumonia.

Reading the story about her being caught in the downpour, I thought, well, there's something else (there's quite a bit in my opinion) Rand had in common with that "giant of the malevolent sense of life which is the opposite of mine [Rand's]": Beethoven also died of pneumonia resulting from inadequately clad exposure to inclement weather.


Ford Hall Forum 1970

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Earlier I wondered why there wasn't a 1970 FHF talk by Rand. None is listed for 1970 in the lecture set sold by ARI. Below, again, is the URL and the listing.

Burns' stating -- see my post "Burns: Rand on environmentalism (and Apollo 11)" -- that "The Anti-Industrial Revolution" talk was given at the FHF in 1970 sent me off to The Objectivist to look. The talk was printed in 2 parts, in the January and February 1971 issues.

The lecture is identified as having been "given at The Ford Hall Forum, Boston, on November 1, 1970."


Here's the list of her Ford Hall Forum lectures from the ARI site:

Ayn Rand - The Ford Hall Forum Lectures - Complete Set (CD)

by Ayn Rand
Lectures given 1961–1981

by Ayn Rand

Lectures include:
The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Our Age, with Q & A (1961)
America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business, with Q & A (1961)
Is Atlas Shrugging? (1964)
The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus (1965)
Our Cultural Value-Deprivation (1966)
What Is Capitalism? (1967)
The Wreckage of Consensus (1967)
Of living Death with Q & A (1968) Apollo and Dionysus (1969)
The Moratorium on Brains (1971)
A Nation's Unity (1972)
Censorship: Local and Express (1973)
Egalitarianism and Inflation (1974)
The Moral Factor (1976)
Global Balkanization (1977)
Cultural Update (1978)
The Age of Mediocrity (1981)

(Audio CD; 28-CD set; 22 hrs., 52 min., with Q & A)


Burns: Rand on environmentalism (and Apollo 11)

Ellen Stuttle's picture

In Chapter Nine, titled "It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand" (a title borrowed from a 1971 book of that name by Jerome Tucille), Burns discusses at length the complex issues of Rand's influence on and often-strained relationships with the post-Atlas libertarian movement.

I'll quote at length a section which begins with some general comments, then describes Rand's enthusiasm for the Apollo 11 launch, then seques to her views on environmentalism.


pp. 260-62

[non-bracketed ellipsis is in original]

[....] Rand's ubiquity [as an influence in the libertarian movement] made her a convenient target for disgruntled and sarcastic libertarians. In a disapproving article SIL News noted a new phenomenon, "the Anti-Randian mentality," or the growing practice of libertarians "gaining apparent psychological enjoyment and esteem from making publicly a disparaging snide or comical innuendo about Ayn Rand or certain Objectivist jargon." Although there indeed might be "humorous aspects" to Objectivism, the newletter declared that it was harmful to single out Rand for ridicule since she remained "the fountainhead" of libertarianism.

More substantively Rand's patriotism and her reverence for the Founding Fathers were controversial in a movement that considered the Constitution a coercive document (because it claimed jurisdiction over even those who had not signed). Rand's account of the Apollo 11 launch crystallized this difference for many. In the Objectivist she described how she had been invited to a VIP viewing of the rocket launch. Shepherded past the masses to within three miles of the take-off, Rand was awestruck. Apollo 11 was "the concretized abstraction of man's greatness," and as she saw the rocket rise she had "a feeling that was not triumph but more: the feeling that that white object's unobstructed streak of motion was the only thing that mattered in the universe." It was a masterful piece of writing that became one of Rand's personal favorites.

Reading her account, Jermoe Tuccille was incredulous. In The Rational Individualist he asked, "Has Ayn Rand been co-opted into the system by her new role as White House 'parlour intellectual'?" To Tuccille NASA was a bunch of "bandits operating with billiions of dollars stolen from the taxpayer--'rational' bandits, perhaps, achieving a superlative technological feat--but bandits nonetheless." Libertarians might make peace with Rand's endorsement of limited government, but singing the praises of NASA made Rand's antistatism seem superficial, a belief to be cast aside when convenient. Nor was the article an isolated incident. Apollo 11 became an encouraging sign of the times for Rand, who referred to the launch repeatedly in the years that followed.

What libertarian critics of the "moon jaunt" missed was how Rand's appreciation of Apollo 11 was tied to her ever-present worry that the United States was going backward, regressing to Petrograd circa 1920. Her fears were stirred anew by the emergence of the environmental movement, which she viewed as a virulent atavism that would drag mankind back to primitive existence. In her 1970 lecture to the Ford Hall Forum she attacked environmentalism as "the Anti-Industrial Revolution." She imagined a grim future where a middle-class everyman made his morning coffee on a gas stove, electric percolators and ovens having been banned, and endured a two-and-a-half hour commute on the city bus, cars now likewise forbidden. "His wife washes diapers for hours each day, by hand, as she washes all the family laundry, as she washes the dishes--by hand, as there are no self-indulgent luxuries such as washing machines or automatic dishwashers." As usual Rand was unwilling to accept the claims of a political movement at face value, convinced that hidden agendas drove the environmental movement. "Clean air is not the issue nor the goal of the ecologists' is technology and progress that the nature-lovers are out to destroy," she told her listeners.

Nature was not benevolent to Rand, but a force to be kept at bay by man's reason. Petrograd under the Communists had fallen to nature, regressing from a citadel of European culture to a city stalked by starvation, where survival was a daily struggle. Now environmentalists seemed to be questioning the basic achievements of industrialization and commerce, the discoveries that had lifted man above the beasts. Collectivists, previously focused on inequality and injustice, were "now denouncing capitalism for creating abundance." In this context Apollo 11 stood out for Rand as a bright sign of hope; it was not the powers of the state that she celebrated, but the wonders of technology and human achievement.


Burns goes on to discuss that whereas Rand "focused relentlessly on what historians call conservation environmentalism," there was another strain, called pragmatic or countercultural environmentalism, which was influenced by Rand and emphasized "invention and innovation." An example of a rather odd blend (my description) was "[t]he survivalist Whole Earth Catalog, a hippy-techno-geek bible" founded by Stewart Brand. "Brand's ability," Burns writes, "to freely mingle Rand's ideas with futuristic themes like moon colonization foreshadowed the emerging culture of cyberspace, which was strikingly libertarian from the beginning."



Meanwhile -- this is me talking now, not Burns -- holdover Marxists were infiltrating the environmentalist movement. Marxists have long practice at infiltrating.

Eventually things got to the place at which one of the co-founders of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, felt impelled to leave. In the "Great Global Warming Swindle" movie he recounts that, among other developments, there was talk of an attempt to ban flourine. "But guys," he bemusedly told them, "I don't think that's in our jurisdiction! To ban a whole element?!"

As we all know, a better target than flourine was soon provided: carbon (specifically carbon-based fuel). An idea which might have been made in heaven for Marxists was proposed, that the burning of fossil fuels would cause climate catastrophe. The idea of economic planning was suffering an eclipse with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall. How much more embracing an idea, to control the energy sources of industrial civilization. As Dick Lindzen aphoristically put it in his plenary talk at the March Heartland conference: "If you control carbon, you control life."



Brant Gaede's picture

"O'Land" is anywhere Lindsay isn't.

--Brant Evil


Ptgymatic's picture

"I keep seeing posters "around" O'land or commenting about O'land saying he did..." quote from Ellen Stuttle.

What is O'land?


I was there too

Brant Gaede's picture

I was there too having met Capuletti earlier at the Hammer Galleries where many of his very expensive paintings were on display. One I liked was priced at 20g. Today that's be 120g with inflation. I doubt they are that valuable today, but don't know. I couldn't stay for the recital. As I left Allan was banging away on the piano. I now wonder why he started out so big.

Capuletti had signed a brochure for me that contained representations of his paintings. I still have it.

(I recently obtained a copy of Frank O'Connor's "Diminishing Returns", unsigned, which I intend to put up on eBay with a $500 reserve. It's not nearly as valuable as the signed and numbered copies of which there were 100. I got it cheap on eBay because it wasn't listed under Ayn Rand but Frank O'Connor only. Very good condition. I won't be selling it outside the US or Canada. These prints are very hard to find. An art dealer who used to post on SOLOP told me he had only seen one signed copy almost 20 years ago and sold it for over $1700.)

The year

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I think it has to have been '69. As you say, '68 would have been too early, but I don't remember at what time of year.

It was definitely before spring 1970, since at the time of that opening Peikoff lecture, after which I found myself staring at Joan Blumenthal, I'd never seen her before.

Spring 1970 was the recital at which I met Allan -- a gala event, Capuletti and Pilar attended as well as AR and Frank and what was left of the Inner Circle, though maybe not Greenspan; I don't think he was there.

I went to the recital in a sour mood, expecting a performance by someone who thought that being an Objectivist substituted for being a musician. I exquisitely fine musician.


No, Ellen

Brant Gaede's picture

I'm pretty sure Rand wasn't there. If she had been it would have been to learn about logical fallacies? I don't think so. Also, too close to the break. When Holzer gave lectures on law she showed up and took notes on standard sized index cards. I sent Holzer a witty formulated question that he read aloud and the audience laughed and applauded including Ayn Rand. I don't remember the question and context well enough to repeat it here tho I did many years ago, probably on the old Atlantis. Holzer didn't like it too much for it was rhetorical and he had nothing to say. Hence the audience reaction. I was getting the applause but anonymously.

Now that I think of it, I don't know who was selling the BPO lectures for Nathaniel. It must have been Academic Associates.

End of lecture 1 sounds right, for the Q n A. I think LP made an announcement as opposed to answering a question that he had learned NB was selling the records and that blah, blah, blah (probably unauthorized by AR, not a spokesman for Objectivism, etc.).

The refund would apply to anyone who had paid for more than the first lecture, I assume.

Do you remember the year? I'd guess early 1969 but I keep thinking it happened in the fall or spring. The fall of '69? The fall of '68 was much too early for NB couldn't have begun to ramp that up that fast. I've got it around somewhere with the course notes in my storage shed along with +1000 books and other stuff.


Brant, another question

Ellen Stuttle's picture

"It was a large and very full auditorium. [...] I was seated way over on the left side."


I was seated toward the back and couldn't see the rows near the podium in which AR would have been seated if she was there. Do you happen to know if she was?



Ellen Stuttle's picture

"LP stated from the podium that he didn't want anybody taking the course who had any truck with the Brandens--anybody who even thought of buying Nathaniel's BPO course (sold by AA). If you had you were invited to leave and get a refund on your way out."


I don't think he said it until the end of the lecture. The first lecture people could attend who hadn't signed up for the whole course. He wasn't asking people who had attended ~that lecture~ to leave if they'd had any truck with the Brandens. Had he done that, I would have had to leave. The issue of a refund would have been if you'd already paid in advance for the full course.

I'm glad to have confirmed that he didn't ask for a signed statement. I keep seeing posters "around" O'land or commenting about O'land saying he did, but as best I could recall, it was on the honor system, nothing requested in writing.

Question: Are you sure the recordings of BPO were available by then? Do you know the date of the course?

So...once again you and I were in the same audience.



Brant Gaede's picture

The course was a course on logical fallacies, not the broader subject of logic.

LP stated from the podium that he didn't want anybody taking the course who had any truck with the Brandens--anybody who even thought of buying Nathaniel's BPO course (sold by AA). If you had you were invited to leave and get a refund on your way out. It was a large and very full auditorium. Nobody moved. I thought, wouldn't this be a great place to do a John Galt walking out of the Twentieth Century Motor Company? I couldn't do the grandstand--not that I was going to or wanted to--because I was seated way over on the left side. Thus "evil" thoughts came to Objectivism.

No one was asked to sign any statement.


Burns: NB and the Winged Victory

Ellen Stuttle's picture

pg. 248

Nathan's early [post-split] work remained highly derivative of Rand, notwithstanding the photo on the book's back cover, which showed him towering over a headless statue of a winged goddess.


Te-he. Snide, but clever. I hadn't registered the possible symbolism. Might it have been intended? Probably not. Now the idea's been might become another O'ist urban legend, along with the (false) story of "Branden" having been intended as an anagram for "Ben Rand" and MYWAR, the acronym for "My Years with Ayn Rand," being deliberate.


Burns: Rand's post-split teaching

Ellen Stuttle's picture

pg. 250

[....] Nathan's transgressions had profoundly damaged Rand's willingness to popularize her work.

Instead Rand restricted her teaching to a small group of students, most of whom were pursuing graduate degrees in philosophy. These students were primarily interested in Rand's theory of concepts, which she laid out in The Objectivist in 1967 and would publish in 1979 as Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. In these smaller courses Rand often discussed topics she did not write about, leading to the development of an Objectivist "oral tradition" carried forth by this remnant of the larger movement. Her lectures and Peikoff's extension of her ideas provided fertile ground for later Objectivist philosophers, but Rand had little new published work to offer. In 1971 she released her last two nonfiction books, The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution and The Romantic Manifesto, both collections of previously published articles.


Oh, dear. I suppose she gets the "primarily interested in Rand's theory of concepts" from Rand's giving the Epistemology Workshop, but the group of academically-oriented persons eager to talk with Rand were interested in the whole kit and caboodle of Objectivism. Also, I think that the Epistemology Workshop is the only thing which might loosely be called a "course" which she gave post-split (unless the non-fiction workshop was post-split).

Although there were only 2 nonfiction books of Rand's work published post-split (while she was alive), there were a handful of significant new articles in The Objectivist or The Ayn Rand Letter -- and The Romantic Manifesto released in 1971 was a reissue to include the 1971 article "Art and Cognition."


Burns: Peikoff consent agreements

Ellen Stuttle's picture

pg. 249-50

[Peikoff] began to offer private courses in Objectivism. He and Rand were wary of recreating NBI, so his courses were not offered by tape transcription, only in person. Students had to sign a consent agreement stating that they would not associate with Nathan or Barbara Branden. Eventually The Objectivist would advertise a smattering of courses led by Rand's remaining associates, including several that had been recorded, but the level of activity never approximated NBI's.


With the first course Peikoff gave after the split, I believe a course in logic, he stipulated at the end of the opening lecture (which people could attend without signing up for the whole course) that he didn't want persons who were giving support to the Brandens to take the full series of lectures. I don't remember if he asked for a signed statement or an honor-system implicit agreement -- I think it was the second.

However, at least as of the time he began to offer his post-split courses on the history of philosophy, he'd dropped making any mention of a no-trafficking-with-the-Brandens request.


PS: A personal detail. I attended the first lecture of that first Peikoff post-split course. After his announcement, which came at the end, I was standing there fuming inwardly and I suppose glowering outwardly. I was so intent on being angered, at first I didn't noticed that someone was glowering back at me. I then became aware of a woman who seemed to be trying to stare me down. Upon inquiring of the friend with whom I'd attended the lecture who the woman was, I was informed: Joan Blumenthal.


The good old days

Neil Parille's picture

Jim also said, "Have you read PARC." He also accused me of having a "reading problem."

His favorite was claiming that everyone was "missing the point."


The edited transcripts tame her.

Ellen Stuttle's picture

They lose the fire. And the excitement.

I prefer my Rand the way she was, temper and all.

I remembered the 1971 FHF answer in which she said (quoting RC's quoting of the tape):

"You, erh, graduate from being a student when you no longer have to use the name of your teacher."

Cacophonous applause followed, whistles-included sort of applause.

I can hear her voice, as she was saying it and inflecting it, from the direct transcription, not from the smoothed-out one.


"Bring up this topic"

Ptgymatic's picture

James Heaps-Nelson: The post in question doesn't read like "bringing something up," but rather like putting something down.


Commentators Hostile to Ayn Rand and Objectivism?

Robert Campbell's picture

Ever the obliging zealot, Mr. Cresswell quotes Tore Boeckmann's ready-made condemnation of "commentators hostile to Ayn Rand and Objectivism."

There's one small problem here.

The "truthfulness or scholarship" of several highly placed members of the Orthodoxy has been called into question.

It was David Harriman who rewrote Ayn Rand's journals.

It was Robert Mayhew who rewrote Ayn Rand's off-the-cuff answers and her lectures on nonfiction writing.

And it was Tore Boeckmann who rewrote Ayn Rand's lectures on fiction writing (while commenting on a draft of Bob Mayhew's rewriting of her answers).

Did they do all this rewriting because they were secretly "hostile to Ayn Rand and Objectivism"?

For how many years will everyone else have to double-check what they wrote?

I've already acknowledged my one error concerning Rand's comments on canceling subscriptions.

When will they admit all of theirs?

Robert Campbell

The good old days

Ellen Stuttle's picture

"The only thing missing was Jim Valliant chiming in, 'Have you read PARC?'"

That was Casey's refrain.


Linz, re the Burns passage I quoted

Ellen Stuttle's picture


"I believe I am being sent, by the publisher, a copy to review.

I'm curious about the excerpt Ellen has reprinted below. Is it Burns' position that emotions ~are~ tools of cognition, that an emotion that clashes with your reason is ~not~ something you should confront and get to the bottom of? Is it her position that had Nathan persuaded Ayn of this, that would have constituted "broadening her outlook?"

The thing the diary excerpts in PARC showed me was that it was ~Nathan~ who was repressed and Ayn who was trying to shake ~him~ loose.


I warn against getting hung up on the specifics of her wording in that paragraph. She doesn't talk about what she thinks on the issues, or how she's interpreting the meaning of the O'ist stock phrases which she referenced. I will hazard a guess that she read the material Nathan wrote on psychology, maybe listened to his lecture courses, plus read a lot of letters and interviews in which people talked about his influence, and that she's using those phrases -- of which he made play in a way that was damaging -- in terms of the results on the students, and, yes, on Nathaniel himself. I thought when Breaking Free came out, Yeah, well, he should know what there is to be broken free of; he taught the constraints!

I think Burns is right in the key thing she's getting at there, that he was elaborating Objectivism in ways which weren't good psychologically, that Rand wasn't well-served in this regard by her 2nd-in-command.

A general comment about the Burns book -- I've read more of it. I'm finding it something for which I'm very grateful with the way it situates Rand in the context of the wider politcal developments. The book provides a panorama in the setting of which Rand's importance to political thought stands out. Burns isn't a philosopher, or psychologist, or literary historian. She doesn't much go into aspects of Rand's thought which are important to a full picture of Rand's work. What she focuses on, however, is an aspect which no one else has presented the way she's done.


"The moral here is that one

Peter Cresswell's picture

"The moral here is that one always has to check up on these kinds of
allegations oneself, not rely on the truthfulness or scholarship of
commentators hostile to Ayn Rand and Objectivism.

Very true. Both truthfulness and scholarship are entirely alien concepts to Mr Campbell, as is taking responsibility for the muck he slings.

Mindy, Rand's treatment of

James Heaps-Nelson's picture


Rand's treatment of homosexuality for one, it's being brought up on several threads. Her general theory of sex for another. And no, I don't consider these a problem with her philosophy, but she did consider her opinions of these topics important enough to devote time and pages to.

Neither Rand nor Nathaniel Branden have spent significant time with neuroscience. I think that that perspective belongs in any discussion of thinking and behavior. Other Objectivists have taken up cognitive science but less and less recently.

I stayed vague to depersonalize the issues here and hopefully start an open-ended conversation. I'm decidedly pro-Rand so I thought that I could bring up the topic for discussion without too much fur flying. What is your position on Rand's grasp of psychology, Mindy?


Who is struggling?

Ptgymatic's picture

"Objectivism is still struggling with the nuances of the balance of reason and emotion, virtue and value and other contextual conundrums..." James Heaps-Nelson, 9-28.

What, exactly, are the "conundrums" regarding reason and emotion, and regarding virtue and value, James? Are you sure you mean to characterize the philosophy as having these problems, rather than one or more people as having a problem with Rand's positions?

Kind of you to find it in your heart to excuse Rand's supposed inadequacies in psychology. I am curious, what in "evolutionary psychology" you find relevant but missing in her philosophy?

Certain people, who know Objectivism well, are faulty in a vague sort of way you feel satisfied to call "truncated?" Obviously a fair and balanced judgment...whatever it means, whatever you observed...whoever you are talking about...

What did Rand manifestly NOT understand about human psychology, James?


A human life can and most

Ted Keer's picture

A human life can and most certainly should be stylized. Simply not at the detriment of other people, which is in no case ever necessary.

Transcendence/Exaltation/Ecstatic States

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Terrific post, Robert. I think Rand recognized your point. Roark had his "stops" and his rock quarry. I also think Rand was very perceptive without the benefit of a lot of the current positive psychology and evolutionary psychology literature. Rand also made a choice. If you are going to do the things she did and write the novels she did, you have to understand the psychology of the climbers of pinnacles and their nemeses. I think she had too much on her plate for a complete understanding of the human psyche.

By the way, people that go through extensive education in the objectivist philosophical method sometimes also come out truncated in a weird sort of way. Our brains evolved with ability for both selectional and logical problem solving. An emphasis on one to the exclusion of the other is not a complete or adequate realization of human potential.

Objectivism is still struggling with the nuances of the balance of reason and emotion, virtue and value and other contextual conundrums and these are playing out in the movement around us.


Transcendence/Exaltation/Ecstatic States

Robert Campbell's picture

Ms. Stuttle was right, downthread, about Nathaniel Branden not using the word "transcendence" in Judgment Day. That's a word that I've used, including in a conversation with Dr. Branden, but not his word.

I also agree that the volume needed an index. Grrr. Barbara Branden's book has one, even though it could have been more thorough.

"No one can understand Ayn, or her appeal to people, or the force that held all of us together back in New York, who doesn't understand that there exists in human beings that need for an ecstatic state of consciousness. That's what Ayn transmitted through her novels, and that's what we fell in love with and fought against leaving, because it was through her that we first entered that other plane. It was a spiritual hunger. A hunger that inspired the best in us, and sometimes the worst." (p. 435)

There is even a hint in this passage, maybe not intentional, of Ayn Rand functioning as a spirit guide.

My personal view of this is that attaining a pinnacle is wonderful, but no one can live on a pinnacle all the time. There's a book with a marvelously cautionary title: After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. It was written by a Buddhist, but much of what he says can be generalized well beyond his beliefs and practices.

In the diary entries that ended up in Mr. Valliant's opus, Ayn Rand frequently talked of living a "stylized life," as though that's what she was doing... and what Nathaniel ought to be doing.

A work of art can be stylized. A human life cannot.

Robert Campbell

Yes, Blank Out

Robert Campbell's picture

I was aware that a different statement, expressing a fractionally milder judgment of homosexuality, was selected for inclusion in Bob Mayhew Answers.

On p. 18, Rand's edited comments on homosexuality and bigamy from Ford Hall Forum 1968 are presented.

In Mayhew's rendition (I haven't heard the original), the judgment of homosexuality is "I do not approve of such practices or regard them as necessarily moral..."

Quite possibly the questioner in 1971 had heard of Rand's remarks in 1968; Rand had not published her condemnation of homosexuality.

I call substituting the 1968 remarks for the harsher 1971 remarks (the book is short; there was room to run them both) a blank out.

Robert Campbell

The Good Old Days

Neil Parille's picture


I enjoyed the post and the comments.

Ah, the good old days when the likes of Diana Hsieh and Casey Fahy graced this virtual Galt's Gulch. The only thing missing was Jim Valliant chiming in, "Have you read PARC?"


Not quite "blank-out"

Lindsay Perigo's picture

There is an answer on homosexuality, but a different one. I comment on this in my review, 'Riveting Rand,' which I've re-stickied just for you, Prof.

1971 Ford Hall Forum: Homosexuality

Robert Campbell's picture

Right before her comments on sainthood and people talking about Objectivist ethics without authorization, Ayn Rand gave an answer that has been notorious ever since.

I couldn't resist including it.

12:13 through 14:05 on the recorded Q&A...

Here's my transcription.

Q: I read somewhere that you consider all homosexuality immoral. If so, why?

A: Because it involves psychological flaws, corruptions, errors—or unfortunate premises—but there is a psychological immorality at the root of homosexuality. Therefore, I regard it as immoral, but I do not, uh, believe that the government has the right to prohibit it. It is the … privilege of any individual to use his sex life in whichever way he wants it. That is his legal right, provided he is not forcing it on anyone. And therefore the idea that it is proper among consenting adults is the proper formulation, legally.

Morally, it is immoral, and, more than that, if you want my really sincere opinion, it’s disgusting.

[Judge Lurie chides some members of the audience for hissing.]

And what's in Ayn Rand Answers?

Blank out.

Robert Campbell

1971 Ford Hall Forum: Sainthood

Robert Campbell's picture

I took advantage of the publicly available recording of Ayn Rand's 1971 Ford Hall Forum speech to transcribe another key answer, on whether Objectivism requires sainthood.

Any transcription errors are strictly my responsibility.

The passage runs from 14:06 to 17:45 on the recording of the question and answer session. Again, I've cut Judge Lurie's relay of the question.

Q: It is claimed by these students of Objectivism that ethics no longer requires saints.

A: Uh, it doesn’t require what?

Judge Lurie: Saints.

A: Saints. [Audience titters.]

I know as little about such nonsense as I do about any such group, and, if you have observed how carefully I tried not to sanction, not to permit the san … sanction of my name to be stolen by any group, to the point where I sometimes may have to offend innocent young people trying to study Objectivism, rather than sanction the guilty ones.

In an intellectual matter, it matters—and this kind of issue is the perfect … ehh … proof of it.

What on earth do they mean by being students of Objectivism, if that is what they do? It is too early for them, until they have really learned it, to talk about moral pronouncements. You, erh, graduate from being a student when you no longer have to use the name of your teacher.

They do not help… [interrupted by applause; tape drops out or is awkwardly spliced here].

My main objection, and I hope this information will be transmitted to whoever … whomever it might concern, my objection to all groups of this kind is as follows: There is nothing wrong in using ideas—anybody’s ideas—provided you give appropriate credit. You can make any mixture of ideas that you want; the contradiction will be yours. [Audience snickers.] But why do you need the name of someone with whom you do not agree, in order to spread your misunderstandings, or, worse, your nonsense and falsehood?

I don’t know what the concept of a saint means. If it means, in the strictest sense, a religious figure, then how could it ever be appropriate to Objectivism? Objectivism is an atheist philosophy; we do not recognize saints, angels, or [laughter and applause build up]… or God.

But the word has also been used in [sic] a secular term. By “saint,” people very often mean a person of perfect moral character, or a moral hero. And that is what Objectivism requires of its first novices, just of the buck privates. We don’t want anybody but saints, in the moral sense—which is open to each man, according to the extent of his ability.

But, please, anything which you do not hear from me or read under my name, do not accept it as in any way emanating from or representing Objectivism. If you want to know what Objectivism is, learn it from me and my publications. Nobody else is authorized to speak for me. And if he doesn’t want to speak for himself, then you know what to think of him.

Now, as rendered by Robert Mayhew in Ayn Rand Answers, p. 131

I have tried very carefully not to sanction any such group, so that I sometimes offend innocent students of Objectivism rather than sanction a single guilty one. In intellectual matters, this is important. Why are they students of Objectivism, if this is what they do? Until they really learn Objectivism, it’s too early for them to make moral pronouncements. You graduate from being a student when you no longer have to use the name of your teacher.

There is nothing wrong in using my ideas, provided you give me credit. You can make any mixture of ideas you want; the contradictions will be yours. But why name someone with which you disagree in order to spread your misunderstandings or falsehoods?

Now, to what does the concept “saint” refer? If it refers to a religious figure, then it can’t be appropriate to Objectivism, which is an atheistic philosophy. But the word also has a secular usage: “saint” means a person of perfect moral character—a moral hero—and that is what Objectivism requires of its novices and its buck privates. I want nobody but saints, in the moral sense. This is open to each man according to his ability.

Do not accept anything that didn’t come from me as in any way representing Objectivism. If you want to know what Objectivism is, learn it from me and my publications. Nobody else can speak for me—and if he doesn’t want to speak for himself, you know what to think of him.

Dr. Mayhew has done a lot of cutting and polishing on Ayn Rand's answer.

He has excised "nonsense" again (he must not approve of that word choice).

He seems to suppose that accounting for there being two kinds of saints requires Rand to speak in the language of her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, so he plugs in formal epistemological discourse where she didn't employ it.

Although the edited version of Ms. Rand's answer still comes across as harsh and scolding, the anger in the original remarks is significantly attenuated.

Robert Campbell

PS. Dr. Boeckmann may be getting a little defensive these days, as Dr. Mayhew credited him with commenting on the entire draft manuscript of Ayn Rand Answers.

Emotions and Cognition

Robert Campbell's picture

Jennifer Burns is not a psychologist and does not pretend to offer her own theory of emotions.

The closest she comes to offering an alternative is a passage farther down the same page:

"Objectivist psychotherapy was not unusual in its rational investigation of emotional patterns. What made Nathan's form of therapy truly destructive was its emphasis on judgment, another inheritance from Rand. The emotions that Objectivist therapy uncovered were to be judged and changed rather than accepted and understood."

As for Ayn Rand's journal entries proving that Nathaniel Branden was repressed (and, apparently, that Ayn Rand was not), Mr. Perigo seems to have forgotten to read the actual entries and jumped straight to Jim Valliant's "helpful" exhortations to the reader.

How does the diagnosis that someone has accepted a "Kantian goddess premise" help that person to de-repress?

Robert Campbell

1971 Ford Hall Forum: Cancelled Subscriptions

Robert Campbell's picture

I've now listened to the entire Q&A from the 1971 Ford Hall Forum speech, for the first since I heard the live broadcast.

I apologize to Drs. Mayhew and Boeckmann for not double-checking Roger Bissell's transcription before quoting it.

Here's my transcription of the stretch from 46:37 to 48:22 on the recorded Q&A (minus Judge Lurie's repetition of the question).

Q: [Preface about her right to dispose of her property as she see fit. Quip from Judge Lurie.] Is it true that you cancelled subscriptions to The Objectivist because of letters that some subscribers sent to you? Is this true, and for what reason?

A: I don’t know whether it’s, uh, taken place recently because I don’t read those letters. My office has a certain instructions and they’re carrying them out… my staff and attorneys taking care of that…

Yes, I most certainly cancel subscribers, for the following reason:

Not if they disagree with me. It’s their loss, uh, if they write a lot of nonsense, fine. If they want to express themselves, I don’t have to read it.

It’s when they are rude and crude, and begin a letter, uppup, something like, “Well, you know you are wrong!” and go on up from there. Uh, those letters, go to a cancelled subscription.

Not literally those words, but it’s the pretentions and the presumption of rudeness. It’s not an issue of ideology, it’s an issue of manners. I do not accept the modern manners, and I don’t think I have to engage in conversation or offer a service to somebody who doesn’t know how to disagree with me—if that’s what he wants—politely.


This is very close to Dr. Boeckmann's transcription, though we disagree about which sentence "It's their loss" belongs to. Rand's intonation suggests to me that "It's their loss" goes with "if they want to express themselves."

Here again is what Robert Mayhew actually put in print:

“I don't read those letters, but my office has instructions and carries them out. I don’t cancel subscriptions if someone disagrees with me--that's his loss. But I do when the letters are rude and crude. It's not an issue of ideology, but of manners. I reject the modern conception of manners; I don't have to engage in conversation with, or offer a service to, anyone who doesn't know how to disagree with me politely.”

What Dr. Mayhew has done is significantly trim what Ayn Rand actually said, and make her sound less dismissive of disagreement. The word "nonsense" is no longer in her answer. The implication that disagreements with Ayn Rand are mere self-expression has also disappeared.

Robert Campbell

Burns book

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I believe I am being sent, by the publisher, a copy to review.

I'm curious about the excerpt Ellen has reprinted below. Is it Burns' position that emotions are tools of cognition, that an emotion that clashes with your reason is not something you should confront and get to the bottom of? Is it her position that had Nathan persuaded Ayn of this, that would have constituted "broadening her outlook?"

The thing the diary excerpts in PARC showed me was that it was Nathan who was repressed and Ayn who was trying to shake him loose.

Burns: "It was Rand's loss...."

Ellen Stuttle's picture

pg. 225:

[my bold emphasis]

Nathan's problems were compounded by his development of Objectivist psychology, which denied the autonomy and importance of emotiions. Working with the base materials of Rand's novels, Nathan constructed an airtight model of the psyche that downgraded emotions to a subordinate position. Rand trumpeted her distrust of emotion in almost all her writing. In For the New Intellectual she declared, "Emotions are not tools of cognition," a statement that would resurface repeatedly in all Objectivist writing. To Rand an emotion "tells you nothing about reality" and could never be "proof" of anything. In his radio speech Galt declares, "Any emotion that clashes with your reason, any emotion that you cannot explain or control, is only the carcass of that stale thinking which you forbade your mind to revise." It was Rand's loss that her primary intellectual collaborator did little to broaden her outlook, shake her loose from her inherent emotional repression, or introduce her to the teachings of modern psychology. Instead, captive to Rand's mind since meeting her almost twenty years before at age nineteen, Nathan pushed her philosophical ideas into the realm of psychology, with devastating results.


There have been references in posts here and on OL to Burns' negativity toward Nathaniel and her attributing aspects of the problems in the NBI world to his teachings about psychology.

Please don't take this reminiscence to blanket stamp what Burns writes in the above paragraph. The clause I've bolded strikes strong memories. It's what I thought too, from the distance of Illinois. (Recall, I arrived in New York just after the split between AR and NB, in early September '68.)

I thought that Rand was naive about psychology. Not, as I've discussed before on this or the "Simple Exercise" thread, that she didn't have penetrating archetypal insights (I didn't know the word "archetypal" then), but that there was an awful lot she didn't know about the dynamics of actual people. But Nathaniel, I thought, as a psychologist ought to know. I viewed him as misleading Ayn, with the result being features I thought damaging in his psychological writings in the Newsletter and spillover into things she wrote.

I had the intent -- verily, verily, talk about naive, I was to think later -- of trying to rescue her from him when I moved to New York.

I don't know if the quoted paragraph is the only place Burns says something about Nathaniel's negative influence on Ayn. I've read all of Chapter Eight, "Love Is Exception Making," but I skipped from Chapter One to there, out of curiosity to see if I could find what people were referring to in their remarks about damaging effects of NB's teaching.


except for Harry Binswanger who stayed to redeem himself.

Ted Keer's picture


He became an adept in the same method, as I have seen from personal experience.

Eric Mack it is

Ellen Stuttle's picture

The source is Full Context May 1997, pg. 1

She botched one sentence -- I was wondering if she'd quoted it right, if the interviewee had really said "categories of sense data."

Burns wrote, p. 236:

"The topic I most clearly remember," he said, "was phenomenalism--objects are really just categories of sense data."

The actual quote is:

"The topic I most clearly remember was phenomenalism--the view that material objects are really just congeries of sense data."

In the interview the paragraph continues (I'll pick up with the sentence Burns left off with):

"This went on for quite a while and we were all thoroughly abused. Branden finished up, Rand smiled radiantly and asked whether there were any questions--because after all, she said, we don't want to discourage questions. Of course, we were all shell-shocked and there were no questions. We all left silently--in retrospect, I think, with considerable dignity--except for Harry Binswanger who stayed to redeem himself."


Probably Eric Mack

Ellen Stuttle's picture

He did start at Rochester, too, according to the insert blurb advertising his FC interview.

The excerpt is interesting:

I'll look for the paper version (if we have it; we're missing a few).


Eric Mack . . .

Neil Parille's picture

was (is?) at Tulane.


Burns: Who really said this?

Ellen Stuttle's picture

On pp.235-6, Burns writes:

A college student who would pursue a philosophy doctorate at the University of Rochester, and then a professorial career at Tulane, took Leonard Peikoff's NBI lecture series in the summer of 1965. He and several students met separately with Peikoff for "what turned out to be an excellent, exciting, open-ended, philosophical discussion." "The topic I most clearly remember," he said, was phenomenalism--objects are really just categories of sense data." The group was then told that for their next meeting they would meet with Rand and Nathan. Seeing this as a promotion based on their enthusiam and expertise, the students were shocked when at the meeting, Nathan "began a long harangue about how grotesque it was for people to claim to have read Rand's works and still raise the sorts of philosophical [questions] Peikoff had reported to them. This went on for quite a while and we were all thoroughly abused." [*] It was a sudden reversal of fortune for the class, which did not understand Nathan's charaterization of their questions as villainy.

*The footnote number is 52. She gives as the source "NBI, Basic Principles of Objectivism flyer, 27-06-A; Reedstrom, 'Interview with Laurence I. Gould,' 1." (pg. 334)

How she picked up an NBI flyer as a reference for that paragraph, I don't know. The reference to Larry's Full Context interview, she must have picked up from having quoted him a bit earlier -- see footnote 49. Larry of course was a physicist, as she correctly quotes him saying in the earlier reference.

Who was the "philosophy doctorate at the University of Rochester" who then pursued "a professorial career at Tulane," does anyone know off-hand?

I remember reading that description in one of Karen's interviews, and I have the feeling I'll immediately think, dumb of me for not knowing who it was when I find out, but I'm currently drawing a blank.

A funny detail about Larry's interview. I looked to double check if she'd gotten the quote right, even though I remembered it practically verbatim. I read a speck further in Larry's interview, the part where he identifies the letters he knew then of the epistemology Workshop participants. He says he checked three of them against "what George Walsh told [him] in June of 1990." Then, a bit further, he says "I don't know who is 'Professor F.'" (He made the mistake, presumably a mistake it was intended for people to make, of thinking that "Prof." was an abbreviation for "Professor," when actually it was an abbreviation for "Professional," since only a few of the attendees were professors.)

Professor F was George Walsh. Larry forgot to ask and George forgot to say which one George was when they compared notes.


Tore Boeckmann on Ayn Rand Answers

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Fawstin has probably not been following the discussions of this particular issue, and I have no idea whether he practices what Mr. Perigo preaches and refuses to read ObjectivistLiving.

So, for the record:

(1) The side-by-side comparison and the following paragraph were from a post on OL by Roger Bissell. I clearly identified him as the author of the post, quoting a whole paragraph in addition to the two-column comparison.

(2) I personally have not made A-B comparisons of that particular audio recording and Dr. Mayhew's book. I will do my own cross-check, now that the audio recording is available on the site mentioned by Dr. Boeckmann.

(3) Tore Boeckmann will have to decide for himself whether Roger Bissell is "a commentator hostile to Ayn Rand and Objectivism."

(4) Mr. Bissell and I were in error about the origin of Ms. Rand's comments about politeness.

(5) As transcribed by Dr. Boeckmann, the actual answer is still noticeably different from Dr. Mayhew's edited rendition of it. The edited version does not contain extraneous material, but Dr. Mayhew has made substantial cuts from the full answer, making it sound more elegant and less harsh than the original.

(6) On p. 293 of her new book, Jennifer Burns includes Ayn Rand Answers in her roundup of "books [that] are derived from archival materials but have been significantly rewritten." Does this remark do Robert Mayhew an injustice?

Robert Campbell

PS. Mr. Fawstin gives no source for Tore Boeckmann's statement. Is it on the web? Was it circulated by email?

I fixed it Bosch ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture


I think we all know not to take any of Nambla-Campbla's claims seriously.

P.S. Any formatting errors

Bosch Fawstin's picture

P.S. Any formatting errors below are mine, was limited to my iphone in posting.

Boeckmann responds to Mayhew's critics

Bosch Fawstin's picture

I finally have a good reason to return to this thread and here it is:

"On the web site, an injustice is being done to Professor Robert Mayhew, in the discussion thread “Anne Heller’s Rand Biography.” Psychology professor Robert Campbell alleges that Dr. Mayhew’s book “Ayn Rand Answers is a . . . publication (2005) that . . . inserts material . . . that is not on the publicly available audio recordings of her speeches and lectures. Where these insertions might have come from is known only to Bob Mayhew, the editor.”

To support his allegation, Professor Campbell supplies a purported transcript of an answer by Ayn Rand from the Q&A session following her 1971 Ford Hall Forum lecture “The Moratorium on Brains,” which he compares with the text given in Ayn Rand Answers, pp. 131-32. The questioner asks if it is true that Ayn Rand has cancelled some subscriptions to her magazine in response to letters from subscribers.

Purported transcript:
“I don't read those letters. My office has certain instructions and are carrying them out. My staff and my attorneys are taking care of that. Yes, I most certainly cancel subscribers for the following reason: Not if they disagree with me. If they write a lot of nonsense, fine, if they want to express themselves, I don't have to read it. It's when they are rude and crude and begin a letter something like, "Well, you know you are wrong" and go on from there.”

Edited text in Ayn Rand Answers:
“I don't read those letters, but my office has instructions and carries them out. I don’t cancel subscriptions if someone disagrees with me--that's his loss. But I do when the letters are rude and crude. It's not an issue of ideology, but of manners. I reject the modern conception of manners; I don't have to engage in conversation with, or offer a service to, anyone who doesn't know how to disagree with me politely.”

Professor Campbell concludes that “What Bob Mayhew put in his book is not what Ayn Rand said during her question and answer period. It's not even close.” Professor Mayhew has supposedly added these passages: (1) "That's his loss." (2) "It's not an issue of ideology, but of manners. I reject the modern conception of manners." (3) "I don't have to engage in conversation with, or offer a service to, anyone who doesn't know how to disagree with me politely."

“So far as I know,” Professor Campbell comments, no one has succeeded in “tracking down the source for the passages that Dr. Mayhew inserted.” And: “In any event, presenting such material as though Ms. Rand said it on this particular occasion is grossly misleading.” But in actual fact, there is nothing misleading about these passages, which have not been “inserted” into Ayn Rand’s answer, but have been there all along—as a little exertion of effort reveals. Here is an accurate transcript of her answer, occurring 46 minutes into the Q&A session of her lecture, which is available to the listening public for free on the web site.

Accurate transcript:
“I don’t know whether it’s taken place recently, because I don’t read those letters. My office has a certain instruction and are carrying them out -- my staff and my attorneys taking care of that. Yes, I most certainly cancel subscribers -- for the following reasons. Not if they disagree with me; it’s their loss. If they write a lot of nonsense, fine. If they want to express themselves, I don’t have to read it. It’s when they are rude and crude and begin a letter something like “Well, you know, you’re wrong” and go on up from there -- those letters go to a cancelled subscription. Not literally those words; but it’s the pretentious and the presumption of rudeness. It is not an issue of ideology, it is an issue of manners. I do not accept the modern manners, and I don’t think I have to engage in conversation or offer a service to somebody who doesn’t know how to disagree with me -- if that’s what he wants -- politely.”

The moral here is that one always has to check up on these kinds of
allegations oneself, not rely on the truthfulness or scholarship of
commentators hostile to Ayn Rand and Objectivism."

Tore Boeckmann



Neil Parille's picture

A little while ago I posted 10 issues that Valliant raised viz-a-viz the Branden books. At the time I hadn't seen the Burns or Heller books (I've read only Dr. Burns' book). It looks like Jim is batting zero (or close to it), at least on the issues that are directly touched on by Goddess of the Market. (I did somewhat mangle the diet pill issue. Barbara didn't think, for the most part, that the diet pills hurt Ayn.)

1. The Brandens’ claim that they heard the Remington Rand story from Rand is false. The story was created by Fern Brown and Rand had no role in creating it or passing it along.

--> Not touched on directly, although Burns says the typewriter story isn't true. She says Rand gave contradictory stories about her name in the 30s. No mention if others heard the typewriter story.

2. Frank O’Connor did not drink alcohol excessively, or at least the Brandens do not have evidence of this. Barbara Branden has no witnesses to Frank’s allegedly excessive drinking in the 50s.

--> Burns thinks Frank drank too much, in the 50s and later years. There are two interviews in the archives that testify to Frank's excess drinking (Don Ventura and Iliona Smithkin). Valliant could have read these, but didn't.

3. Nathaniel Branden authorized a loan in 1967 from The Objectivist to the NBI that depleted the cash reserves of the The Objectivist.

--> Burns mentions the loan and also says that Henry Holzer stated that there was no financial wrongdoing by Nathaniel. No details are given, but Burns doesn't credit Rand's claim of financial jiggery pokery.

4. In this, and other respects, Rand’s 1968 statement is correct and the Brandens’ statements false.

--> Burns finds NB's statement misleading on the romance issue, but doesn't appear to credit Rand's statement in general.

5. The allegation that there were trials in which people were purged from the Objectivist movement is untrue or exaggerated.

--> Burns mentions trials and the like.

6. Rand did not engage in any “aesthetic policing.” Claims that she gave people a hard time over their taste in art, literature and music are untrue.

--> Burns said Rand got more difficult in this area in later years.

7. Rand praised O’Connor’s intellectual abilities beyond what they were.

--> Not sure about that, will check.

8. Rand’s only character flaw was excessive anger.

--> Burns disagrees. Rand mistreated her husband and the collective, for example.

9. The story that Rand told about herself and her life (such as “no one helped me”) was correct and not intended to deceive or a product of

--> I'm not sure if Burns discusses this directly.

10. There is no evidence that Rand’s use of diet pills caused her any harm. The Brandens mention of this is purely to repeat gossip.

--> Actually, Burns disagrees with both Barbara and Valliant on this. She does think Rand abused diet pills. I think NB suggests that Rand may have overdone it in this area.

So Valliant isn't looking good here.

Burns: The late 30s & We the Living

Ellen Stuttle's picture

This is so good on the intellectual atmosphere at the time when Rand was trying to get We the Living published. And I know Burns is right. As it happens, at one point I had access to reams of research documents about that period. I was doing an editing cum ghostwriting job for someone who'd collected bookshelves, closets, and overflow piles of boxes full of source documentation.



Goddess of the Market
Jennifer Burns
Oxford University Press, 2009

pp. 34-35

[my bold emphasis]


There was a sense of inevitability about it all [the progression toward Communism]. In educated, reform-minded circles it became conventional wisdom that the United States would simply have to move toward Communism or, at the very least, socialism. Whittaker Chambers, a Communist since the 1920s, remembered the Party's sudden surge in popularity: "These were the first quotas of the great drift from Columbia, Harvard, and elsewhere...from 1930 on, a small intellectual army passed over to the Communist Party with scarcely any effort on its part." Many who did not join remained sympathetic fellow travelers. During the Popular Front period of 1935-39, when the Communist Party encouraged an alliance with the American left, well-meaning liberals flocked to myriad antifascist, pro-labor front organizations. Far more than just a political party, Communism was a whole climate of opinion.

Nowhere was the mood more pronounced than in New York's artistic and literary circles. One of the Party's most powerful front groups was the American Writers' Congress, which called for a "new literature" to support a new society, and even convinced President Roosevelt to accept an honorary membership. "The Stalinists and their friends, under multiform disguises, have managed to penetrate into the offices of publishing houses, the editorial staffs of magazines, and the book-review sections of conservative newspapers," wrote Phillip Rahv, founder of Partisan Review, in 1938. The result was de facto censorship, he asserted. Not that Rahv was opposed to Marxism; indeed, he led the charge of the Trotskyites, a rival Communist faction. The debate was not about the merits of Communism; it was about what form of Communism was best.

Rand had fled Soviet Russia only to find herself still surrounded by Communists. None of the talk about a new economic order impressed her. Her struggles in Hollywood only reinforced her belief in individualistic values, and she remained committed to the competitive market system her father had thrived under during her youth. Even now, in the depth of the depression, Rand scoffed at any collective solution to the country's economic agony.

She was particularly outraged by the glowing reports about life in Russia. The Rosenbaums' letters made clear that conditions had only deteriorated in the years since she had left. Even her highly educated and extremely resourceful family was just scraping by. Her artistic sisters were working as tour guides and dutifully attending political meetings to keep their employment. In his new role as house husband Rand's father scoured the streets for days in search of a lightbulb. The household rejoiced when Anna Rosenbaum was once able to purchase an entire bag of apples. Rand had a manuscript that exposed the horrors of life under Communism, but wealthy New Yorkers who had never been to Russia only sniffed at her testimony.



The Burns book

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I'm enchanted by it so far. "So far" being all of through page 22. Before starting at the beginning, I'd first read the five pages about the split -- RC had provided the page numbers, thus I knew where they were. I thought the account was fair and factual.

Burns makes vivid the privations of Ayn's (Alisa's) early life in Russia. (She spells the original name with a single s.) One detail I wonder about is what was going on with the rest of the extended family while Ayn's immediate family -- her parents and Ayn and her sisters -- were in the Crimea. Maybe Heller's book will provide details on that question.

Burns seems to me, so far, to have a keen sensibility for Ayn's psychology.

How's this for a memorable statement about the name "Ayn Rand"?

"It was the perfect name for a child of destiny." (pg. 19)


"Transcendence" vs. "Exaltation"

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Mindy, I'm just about sure that what NB said was "exaltation" or a variant, not "transcendence," which could have a more religious quality, as in leaving behind the dross of the flesh, that kind of meaning, which wouldn't have been what he meant.

I don't recall exactly where he said it, and his memoirs aren't indexed. They'd have been hard to index because of the narrative style, but trying to find something in them is a chore unless one remembers approximately where one saw it.

All I can offer at the moment. I thought that what he was saying was accurate as a description in the context where he said it.


"Transcendence" vs. "Exaltation"

Ptgymatic's picture

I understand what an exalted state of being is. I do not exactly understand how the term, "transcendence" is being used. Somebody make a brief statement as to what is being transcended? Thanks.


Glory/ "hooked on transcendence"

Ellen Stuttle's picture


"Glory is commonly a military concept. I've really not heard it used elsewhere. Not much, anyway."

Chuckling: Broaden your horizons? (That's meant kindly, Brant.)

"[...] the glory that was Greece, and the grandeur that was Rome."

"And glory shown around [...]."


I repeat, what I'm getting at is the ~emotional~ high which was sought. "Status" is an evaluation of respective rank; it isn't the emotional charge as such.



"In Judgment Day, he says that he and Ayn Rand were hooked on transcendence. Not a bad way to put it.

Did he say "hooked on transcendence" or "hooked on exaltation"? I've remembered it as the latter. Maybe he said both. I think that either is a good way of putting it. I don't share J H-N's reading of the description as "insidious," with negative connotation intended. I think it was quite exact. Also that that state was aroused in ever so many of Ayn's readers, that it's an important factor in what attracted people to Objectivism to begin with.

The "force field" was still palpable 10 years ago, at a one-day TOC (the name then) seminar in NYC. Not the high-voltage of '63, but still potent.


Well Said, Jim

Jeff Perren's picture

Or, as someone else around here has put it from time to time: "The total passion for the total height."

Robert, The hooked on

James Heaps-Nelson's picture


The hooked on transcendence metaphor is insidious because it smuggles in a conclusion that wouldn't be admitted otherwise. Human beings are born curious and wanting the startling, the new, the best. To compare the natural human affinity for growth and exploration to an addiction is just another way of saying the road to self-betterment (at some level) is too hard and fraught with peril to attempt, that people who aspire to greatness will lose perspective and the cost of that aspiration will necessarily be too high. Individualism requires that everyone make that assessment for himself, seeking guidance from reality along the way.

Human beings are fallible. They are subject to stress, hardship, their judgment is subject to error and their health can sometimes fail, but those circumstances are something to be fought and dealt with: sometimes successfully, sometimes not. That, however, is not a reason to disparage transcendence no matter how dearly bought. It is for each person himself to choose his values and purposes and to count the cost. There is a presumption from the outside looking in that the price of striking out alone in the world is too high. But what of the price of not staying true to your own vision?

Look at repeat innovators like Steve Jobs, Gerald Edelman, Albert Einstein and others. Their lives are not always easy but they are/were all in some way "addicted to transcendence". Let's hope they and like minds stay that way.


The Force Field

Robert Campbell's picture

I agree with Ms. Stuttle about the "electricity" that Nathaniel Branden gave off in his NBI days. I wonder whether any film or video survives, but it comes through a little in some of his still photos.

Much more recently, after Dr. Branden's vigor had notably diminished, I heard a reference (not meant entirely favorably) to "the force field that surrounds Nathaniel Branden." It has stuck in my mind.

I wouldn't, however, disparage status as a motive. People will often do what sensible observers perceive as costly or foolish, in order to remain big fish in a small pond.

In Judgment Day, he says that he and Ayn Rand were hooked on transcendence. Not a bad way to put it.

Robert Campbell


Brant Gaede's picture

Glory is commonly a military concept. I've really not heard it used elsewhere. Not much, anyway.

Status within Objectivism and as one of its two prominent spokesmen.


I don't, Brant,

Ellen Stuttle's picture

think that "status" would be the better word.

1) What status? In a small circle. The intellectual world at large thought AR and Objectivists were kooks. Again, as with money, if status had been the primary goal, there were better ways to get it.

2) My emphasis is on the emotion, the exultation. Remember how he says they were all seeking an exalted state of being, AR and the collective?


Glory, Ellen?

Brant Gaede's picture

I think status might be the better word here.


Fortune or Glory?

Ellen Stuttle's picture


"The topper was when [Nyquist] said that questions of possible financial motivations were 'raised merely as pretexts for discrediting the Brandens by people who have already made up their minds ahead of time and don't have any hard facts to back up their views.' My comment was a riff on those earlier remarks. [....]

I've told folks at ARCHN before that I don't take kindly to negative insinuations about my character while I'm right there in the thread. [....]"



I hope you'll see this post. I'm posting it here because, for one thing, I'd like for more people to read it than will read it on ARCHN. For another, I long ago grew disinclined to post there because of the sort of negative insinuations to which you refer.

Insinuating -- not quite outright stating but insinuating -- deficit of character, and/or intelligence, and/or maturity, and/or worldly knowledge, and/or objectivity is a well-oiled method Greg uses. (Daniel's upfront and outrightly mocks.) The long and short of the message conveyed is: If you have a more favorable view of Rand personally and/or of her philosophy than the ARCHN view, there's something wrong with you.

Of course the opposite message is often conveyed here: If you have any negativity about Rand, you're defective. But at least the SOLOists don't insinuate their opinion. They hurl it with imprecations.

Well, I do have a more favorable view of Rand personally, and of her philosophy than is regnant on ARCHN. However, I don't really agree with the weight you give to "possible financial motivations" as a cause of Nathaniel's behavior (or of Barbara's either, but I'm going to talk about him). I don't think that financial incentive was a strong factor in his motive-mix.

As best I recall, I haven't seen anyone except Nathaniel himself, in hints in his memoir, discuss what I see as strongly motivating him: the quest for glory. Glory-quest can be an intense drive. Nathaniel didn't need Rand financially. He could have made, and did make after the split, more money by focusing on private practice -- but he couldn't have gotten the glory without the audience NBI provided.

I'm not sure how old you are, and if you ever saw him in NBI days. I only saw him twice prior to the split, but both occasions gave good opportunity to witness his charismatic power in holding an audience. One was at the McCormick Place lecture Rand gave in Fall '63; he introduced her (after being introduced himself by Ed Nash). The other was about a month afterward when he came back to Chicago to give the opening talk of the Basic Principles course.

Nathaniel had fire and crackle, an electric style of charisma -- as if a high voltage aura emanated from him. (I felt that one might be singed in direct proximity.) I think he grooved on that charge which he produced and transmitted, and that not wanting to let go of his podium for the high he obtained speaking to an audience was a big factor in his motives.

Another thing is that he, too, as did Ayn, believed her theories of sex, not with the utmost conviction of her belief but strongly. He kept hoping that he'd come to his heroic senses and revert to feeling sexually passionate toward Ayn. Hence he was stalling for time.

James Valliant's idea of Nathaniel as a "master deceiver," I think is way off the mark. What comes through to me in the diaries is the degree to which Nathaniel was making it up as he went along, patch-and-paste ad hoc (the way folks are holding together the Big Bang theory these days -- wicked grin). (No, I'm not going to elaborate; I just threw that in for fun; NB's ad hoc fixes do remind me of what's happening in cosmology.)

In sum, I'm at variance with both the "jealousy" description of Ayn's motivations and the "manipulator for financial gain" description of Nathaniel's.


Goddess of the Market

Neil Parille's picture


I don't see Burns as arguing that NB's motivation as being based on money.

Burns, quoting Henry Holzer, doesn't credit Rand's statment that NB defrauded Rand or enaged in financial mismanagement. So she disagrees with Valliant on this point.

She also thinks that Frank drank too much. In fact, she bases this on interviews in the ARI archives (Don Ventura and Ilona Royce Smithkin). What prevented Valliant from consulting these interviews? He even implied that there was no Don Ventura.


Just to confirm, yes, my

RL0919's picture

Just to confirm, yes, my comment was sarcastic. Remarks were made by Greg Nyquist earlier in the discussion about "Rand's pathological jealousy", and that it was "psychologically improbable" for Branden to have financial motivations for maintaining his relationship with Rand. The topper was when he said that questions of possible financial motivations were "raised merely as pretexts for discrediting the Brandens by people who have already made up their minds ahead of time and don't have any hard facts to back up their views." My comment was a riff on those earlier remarks.

As to why I was sarcastic: Since I was the one who mentioned the issue of financial motivations earlier in the thread, Greg's comment was a nice bit of well-poisoning. I've told folks at ARCHN before that I don't take kindly to negative insinuations about my character while I'm right there in the thread. In this case I responded with a dose of sarcasm (in an earlier post, not the one quoted here). That prompted a sarcastic reply in turn by Daniel Barnes, at which point I opted to drop out of the discussion. But after reading that passage from Burns, it was just too tempting as a counterexample to Nyquist's claims, so I came back for a final salvo.

Richard Lawrence
Visit the Objectivism Reference Center

A Complex Portrayal

Robert Campbell's picture

I just got Jennifer Burns' book this afternoon. Richard Lawrence has read more of it than I have, apparently.

But his "ARI cultist" comment is sheer snark, coming after some trading of pokes between himself, Neil Parille, and Daniel Barnes.

A quick glance at Burns' pages on the big break and its aftermath (pp. 239-244) suggests that she is fairly rough on both Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden for their behavior during this period—but she really doesn't like Nathaniel much.

Should make for interesting reading.

Now I'm going to continue from the beginning of the story....

Robert Campbell

Odd - "a woman betrayed"

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Here is a post I just read on a thread I've been following on the ARCHN blog:

Richard said...

"More than the fury of a woman scorned, it was the fury of a woman betrayed. For nearly five years, Nathan had lied to Rand ... In the meantime, ... Nathan had become famous and wealthy speaking in Rand's name." Jennifer Burns, Goddess of the Market, pp. 241-242

Another ARI cultist speaks, providing a psychologically implausible cover-up for Rand's pathological jealousy.

9/22/2009 09:46:00 AM


Two odd features of this -- or, rather, three:

1) "Woman betrayed" is just what I think is a better description than "woman scorned." Although when I first read "To Whom It May Concern" -- in galleys as it was being typeset -- the thought which came to my mind was "Hell hath no fury...", I later came to think that the operative emotion was "betrayed," that it wasn't jealousy, as I think of the meaning of jealousy, but instead outrage at Nathaniel's choosing someone whom Ayn considered so unworthy: How dare he choose THAT? The Burns quote highlights other aspects of the sense of betrayal -- NB's lying to her (Ayn considered being lied to anathema) and a feeling of having been used.

2) I'm surprised if the quote -- which is just an excerpt; I don't have the book yet to check the context -- is Jennifer Burns' conclusion. I've gathered, maybe incorrectly, that she doesn't much like Rand, so I wasn't expecting a "sympathetic reading" of Ayn's reaction to finding out about NB's affair with Patrecia.

3) I'm suprised by Richard Lawrence's describing the comment as coming from an "ARI cultist" -- which certainly Jennifer Burns isn't -- and accepting the idea of "Rand's pathological jealousy." (I'm not giving away an identity by providing the full name of the "Richard" who made the comment. The name on the post is linked to the Objectivism Reference Center.)


EDIT: I'm informed by an off-list note (not from Richard Lawrence) that Richard might have meant the comment tongue-in-cheek, i.e., as precisely pointing out that Jennifer Burns ~isn't~ an "ARI cultist" and yet came to an interpretation sympathetic to Rand.

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