'Goddess of the Market' by Jennifer Burns

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2009-11-09 05:38

Let's face it, much of the driving force behind the fever of expectation ahead of the publication of Jennifer Burns's Ayn Rand biography, Goddess of the Market (and the Heller biography) was—whom would it vindicate: Valliant or TheBrandens?

My answer: neither. Neither side in the PARC Wars can crow that this book provides the irrefutable proof of its case, the polemical smoking gun, that was missing before. Rand the Hero is intact (to the eternal consternation, I would think, of the Branden camp); Rand the mistake-maker with flaws is on stark display, too—but the sensible among us were never consternated by her to begin with. A reminder of this portion of the SOLO Credo might be in order here:

We see ourselves most emphatically as being at war with the current culture: the culture of anti-heroes, nihilism, destruction and dishonesty (hence a significant, though by no means exclusive, focus on esthetics here). Yet we acknowledge that Objectivism's critics can be honest, and should be granted more than a perfunctory discussion or two before being dismissed out of hand. We acknowledge that Ayn Rand made mistakes (and should not be expected not to have), that she didn’t answer every question that could be asked (and should not have been expected to), that she was wrong about some matters of considerable existential moment, such as homosexuality (which matter we have already addressed). But we salute her as an epoch-changing giant—comparable to Aristotle—whose mistakes were of little moment when compared to her unprecedented insights, and whose life was indeed a Post-Script to her philosophy, a P.S. that said, "And I mean it."

Normally I cheat when I read a book. I read the last part first. I'd hate to die not knowing how it ends! Had I cheated in this case (which I didn't) I would have read Burns's references to "serious inaccuracies" and "score-settling" in the Branden bios. I would have read: "Clearly colored by personal bias, they also exert a more subtle interpretative power, for instance glorifying the Brandens' importance to Rand at the expense of other significant figures such as Leonard Peikoff and Frank O'Connor." I would also have seen: "Though it often goes overboard in its attacks on the Brandens, James Valliant's The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics (2005) subjects both books to intense scrutiny and offers an alternative account of Rand's break with Nathaniel Branden." So I would have known that Burns had, or at least claimed to have, no horse in the Branden/Valliant race. And having now read her, I believe her. She's calling it the way she sees it.

Indeed, most of the time Burns confines herself to reportage rather than evaluation—and there's so much to report, it makes one's head spin. It's hard to imagine anyone not being impressed by the compact way in which Burns has furnished an entire recent history of the Objectivist/libertarian movement, Vesuvian conflicts and all, and a respectful perspective of Rand's undeniably towering role in it. The balance between detail and overview seems to this reviewer at least to be exactly right, alternately zooming in on fascinating and sometimes hilarious anecdotal material (the Rothbard phobia-curing episode I've already mentioned. Then there's the case of a young anarchist by the name of Bidinotto delivering a speech denouncing hippies and drugs) and then pulling back to remind us just where we are in this whole absorbing narrative.

Randroids wanting hagiography will be dismayed at Burns' claim that Rand derived her legendary emotional energy from uppers. "The Collective marveled at how the opportunity to talk philosophy rejuvenated her, even after a long day of writing. The obvious was also the unthinkable. To keep up with her younger followers, Rand fed herself a steady stream of amphetamines [benzedrine]." The cry has already been heard: Even the Brandens didn't go that far! Maybe Burns is overcooking it; or, maybe the Brandens didn't want to go there (the subject of mind-altering prescription meds) for reasons of their own. I say: if it was zingers that kept Rand going, God bless zingers—and where can I get some?

I am disappointed that Burns repeats the Brandenian line about Frank's "alcoholism" with apparently no more evidence than Barbara supplied: that is, next to none. Burns asserts at one point that Frank spent his days in his painting studio not painting but drinking. Yes, we've heard this before, but it still seems improbable for a reason other than the lack of corroboration: is it conceivable that Ayn Rand would put up with Frank's repeatedly emerging from the studio sozzled?

Frank's drinking, whatever its magnitude, should be a minor matter, and no one else's business, but the "alcoholism" smear is, of course, a favorite tool of Barbara Branden in her quest to diminish Rand, since the blame for Frank's "alcoholism" is directed at Rand. Barbara's acolyte and self-confessed humanity-diminisher Neil Parille reinforced this point just an hour or so ago on SOLO Chat when he said that Ayn would drive anyone to drink. He went on to say, licking his lips, that anything that diminished Ayn diminished humanity. Though he was saying it to wind me and Michael Moeller up, he was stating the stark truth about Brandroidian motivation. It's a pity that on this matter, Burns has offered the Brandroids succour.

Burns does a terrific job of explicating Rand's ideas and the evolution thereof (this latter will cause more quailing among Randroids who believe Rand's own fiction to the effect that there was no evolution). The early influence of Nietzsche is already familiar to us, but much more fleshed out than usual are the interactions between Rand and stellar personages such as Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, H. L. Mencken and Albert Jay Nock. The account of her meeting with Nock is fascinating. She "found him to be fatalistic, mystical and gloomy. Nock was in his seventies and appeared worn down. Freedom was a rare, accidental exception in history, he told the group. Although he wished them well, they didn't stand a chance."

By the time she got to Nock's age, of course, Rand herself was ground down. But the jury is still out on the wisdom of pessimism. What happens from here will depend in large measure on how a certain dualism identified by Burns in Chapter Eight is resolved. For what she says there about Objectivism in the sixties is still true, a half-century later:

There seemed to be two Objectivisms: one that genuinely supported intellectual exchange, engagement and discourse, and one that was as dogmatic, narrow-minded and stifling as Rand's harshest critics alleged.

Be it noted, this dualism is beyond internecine. It's not ARI vs. TAS (or rather, what's left of TAS. TAS, which started out as a rebellion of the first of these Objectivisms against the second, has ended up an enemy of "intellectual exchange, engagement and discourse," under the Rasputin-like influence of avowed non-Objectivists like Robert Campbell, another acolyte of Barbara Branden). Let's be honest—this dualism is an issue for all of us. How to support intellectual exchange, engagement and discourse without at the same time sanctioning and nurturing the indisputably evil; how to scourge the indisputably evil without becoming stifling dogmatists. Ay, there's the rub.

Objectivists, read Jennifer Burns, and do not look to crow; rather, look to pause and reflect—and rejoin the battle for freedom more potently.

Ms Burns—job very, very well done. I'm a journalist by profession, and know whereof I speak. I'd say you're conventional, but sympathetic, and above all, honest. "Conventional" in the sense that you don't quite get "total passion for the total height," do you?—specially in this "cool" world—and so of course you find us Objectivists overwrought and The Fountainhead "strange." You yourself probably don't realize the way in which "Rand the Hero remains intact" in your hands. But hang in there, dear. You too can get passionate about reason and freedom! Smiling


From Rational Capitalist

gregster's picture

'Anti-Rand Backlash: Methinks Thou Doth Protest Too Much'

"With the publication of two new biographies and amid unprecedented world wide interest in Ayn Rand, a predictable backlash has begun emanating from both the left and the right."

[..]

"Meanwhile, the left, as represented by this article and this one, reminds us why, well, they are the left. As usual, we are inundated by vicious ad hominem and snarky ad populum feverishly penned by those who can not be bothered to study her work. As always, we are treated to the anti-Randian uber strawman who evidently yearns to step on the "lice" infested "parasites" who "barely deserve to live." Like a non-fiction Rorschach test, these anti-Rand diatribes reveal more about the writer than the writee. After all, what are we to make of intellectuals who refuse to actually study their subject's work and formulate logical arguments?"

The Rational Capitalist, November 19 2009

Binswanger Speaks!

William Scott Scherk's picture

Although he didn't want his remarks on HBL to get out to Heller, and has seen his Burns remarks removed from SOLO, Harry has broken his chains and roamed the blogosphere. Here. only three days ago, light streamed from the bunker and the dogs were free at The Volokh Conspiracy, where comments glanced off nasty speed-freak implications.

Harry Binswanger says:

I was one of Ayn Rand’s closest friends in her last years. I visited her in her apartment about once a week during the last year or so of her life, and spoke to her on the phone daily. This being a blog, I can only make assertions.

1. Rand had no problem with Dexedrine. She took a tiny amount daily (they even continued to give it to her when she was in the hospital).

2. Both the Heller and the Burns view of her character and personality is wrong: she was a fully rational person, as well as a gracious and charming one. The breaks she made with people were well deserved by them (I knew all the details in most of the cases.) I only wish she had broken with Greenspan.

3. She was very well versed in the history of philosophy, although more through secondary sources for the philosophers she disagreed with. Her knowledge of the history of philosophy is amply displayed in the title essay of her book For the New Intellectual. I’m a professional philosopher (not currently in academia, but I have taught graduate philosophy at U Texas/Austin), and I’m awestruck by the incisiveness of her presentation of the history of philosophy (presented in a highly condensed, masterfully essentialized form) in that essay. Oh, here’s another data point. A couple of years ago, the Ayn Rand Society of the American Philosophical Association had a meeting on her view of Aquinas, and one of the world’s leading authorities on Aquinas (not at all an Objectivist) stated that he was surprised to learn that she got Aquinas’ theory of universals right, as opposed to the claim of a lesser paper-presenter at the session arguing that she got it wrong.

You probably won’t be (and shouldn’t be) convinced by my mere assertions, but I wanted to go on record as giving a diametrically opposite view. You can pretty much judge for yourself by reading what she wrote, and as to her personality, read Letters of Ayn Rand–a fascinating look at her whole life through her letters. Also, highly recommended is the very short book by another of her close friends (Mary Ann Sures, who typed the manuscript of Atlas Shrugged in Rand’s apartment): Facets of Ayn Rand.

January 1, 2010, 9:03 pm

Symposium Delayed

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Ms. Burns has written to James to say that owing to a family emergency she must defer participation in the proposed Symposium.

"...Barnes has a dogma of his

John Donohue's picture

"...Barnes has a dogma of his own..."

I've gone around a few times over there. Last time I went in with an agenda. I decided I would try to maneuver Barnes et al to declare his affirmative. You can do it by focusing on statements he makes that cannot carry weight unless coming from a fixed point of view of his own. Naturally, the result is stonewall. Nyquist won't declare himself. In this respect this I-Won't-Name-The-Sewer is a deeply dishonest blog -- it is not actually about anything, just a lot of boring hot air contra something he hates.

I can't locate that thread, it is buried somewhere in the interminable "Ayn Rand on xxxx" part 746" or something and the blog is poorly indexed. Searching on my name just brings up a few of my older posts, but not the oldest and not the most recent.
[EDIT: I found it, http://aynrandcontrahumannatur... ]

So, Lindsay, what is Nyquist's or Barnes' dogma and how did you discover it?

EDITED: Note: in fairness although Barnes and Nyquist spit on the idea that they need say what they stand for, Michael Prescott did give a précis of his root beliefs. While I call that act admirable, this acknowledgment should not be construed to mean I support anything Mr. Prescott has ever said.

Ellen ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You ask of Scherk, in preposterous mock-hope:

Don't you think, William, that truth in recounting might have required you to provide a date for the ARCHN post by me you cite, instead of implying with your "Stuttle and Barnes discuss another disagreeable facet of Objectivism" that said discussing is current?

Waiting for Scherk to be honest in argumentation is like waiting for his demolition of Objectivism. (Wot's the problem, William dearest? Need help from "Dan"? Or just too busy ferreting out schismatic tidbits?)

These past couple of days I've had the misfortune to stumble upon his and his smirk-twin Parille's mutual jack-off sessions on Chat. One would think they might display some self-restraint on a platform provided by one of the objects of their snideness-spray. Then again, knowing them as one does, one wouldn't think that.

Berner - pesky detail correction

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I wrote: "(Note also, Berner is elsewhere in Passion described as Rand's good friend -- there's a passage which goes something like, Rand's good friend Berner had died, so Rand had a partner of the firm check a legality -- I think this was in the Nora story, haven't time to try to find it at the moment. The point is that, as with the people about whom Rand said negative things because their musical tastes didn't agree with hers, she DIDN'T, autocrat though she's presented as having been, break off relationships."

Once a copy-editor, always a copy-editor. I looked up the references to Berner in both Passion and World. Neither uses the adjective "good," and of course -- silly me; really, I knew that -- Berner was years dead at the time of Nora's visit. The point about Ayn not breaking off the friendship, even if she did "[fly] into a rage [with] Berner, at his suggestion that everyone, including herself, had at some time done what they knew to be wrong," remains accurate.

Passion just says "friend" in describing Rand's and Berner's relationship:

pg 123n:

Ayn was represented at the arbitration [with Woods] by Pincus ("Pinky") Berner, a renowed theatrical attorney, who was to become a friend and to remain her attorney until his death in 1961; after he died, Ayn stayed with his firm; in her will she appointed among the executors of her estate Paul Gittlin and Eugene Winick of the firm Berner had headed.

pg. 139:

One day, Ayn's attorney and friend Pincus Berner and his wife invited the O'Connors to attend a lecture at The New School for Social Research. The speaker was to be Harold Laski [whom Rand then used as a strong model for Toohey].

Heller uses the description "old friend":

pg. 369:

Her attorney and old friend Pincus Berner had died in 1961, but she called his partner, Eugene Winick, and set a date to cut Branden out of her will.

It was Winick whom Ayn consulted, according to Burns, "to assure herself that Nora would not automatically inherit any of her money when she died." (pg. 397)

Ellen

Retrospective Doubts?

Neil Parille's picture

I think all agreed that Binswanger said that he had doubts about Greenspan in 1970:

http://aynrandcontrahumannatur...

The question was whether Rand had the insight into Greenspan's compromises that Binswanger had. I believe Heller said that Rand her doubts as well.

-Neil Parille

A Convenient Tool of Untruth

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I never quite realised how quintessentially Babsian is the phrase "implicitly clear." Anyone else would regard it as an oxymoron. For Babs it's legit, and a license to attribute any view to anyone who never expressed such a view and probably didn't hold it, on the grounds that it was "implicitlyclear."

Her cult followers then insist that "pomowanker" can mean, notwithstanding that it was I who coined the term, only someone who explicitly embraces Postmodernism.

Go figure.

In the meantime, ain't Scherk got fun?

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Don't you think, William, that truth in recounting might have required you to provide a date for the ARCHN post by me you cite, instead of implying with your "Stuttle and Barnes discuss another disagreeable facet of Objectivism" that said discussing is current?

The post you link -- see -- is from 7/23/2007.

I quit posting on ARCHN quite some while ago, having grown fed up with the "let's get Rand any way we can, never mind fair" attitude of the place.

I think the last time I posted on ARCHN was just an interjection to counter something Daniel said about Harry Binswanger's having acquired retrospective doubts about Greenspan. The doubts weren't retrospective; Harry was accurate in saying that he'd had doubts about Greenspan back when.

Ellen

The Barnes review - plus AR authoritarian?

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz: "[...] in adopting their priestly attitude towards independent Rand biographies such as Burns's and Heller's, [ARI's] leading luminaries give credibility to the claims of people like Barnes that the ARI is in fact just a personality cult. Barnes quotes Peikoff and Binswanger on Burns and Heller with relish. As well he might. [....] On this matter HE HAS A POINT which the lumpen cultists among the orthodox ignore at their peril."

I am the "someone" who sent Linz a link to the Barns review (which is titled "A Convenient Untruth").

My reason for calling attention to it was precisely the point on which Barnes does have a point: That the orthodoxy, by refusing to read and to answer the new books, is engaging in the continuation of a stupid policy.

If anyone reading this site is an ARI person, or has contacts with ARI persons, I urge trying to get those of the old guard who knew Ayn Rand to answer things they know to be factually wrong in the new books. Of course, to do that, they'd have to read the books.

At minimum, I urge disregarding Leonard Peikoff's advice to ignore the books.

 

One cavil Id' like to enter, though, even about the primarily valid point Barnes makes. He says of "the personality cult" which formed around Rand:

" [...] the jejune cult of personality that surrounded the writer, and that Rand herself endorsed from its earliest beginnings."

Is it true that she "endorsed" such a cult?

Among the issues on which I think PARC raises good questions is on that one. To what extent was Rand herself aware of and encouraging toward the "culture of conformity" which developed? I don't doubt that such a culture did develop, since I was there and I saw plenty of instances of it. But how much, in fact, did AR know of it and encourage it?

In this connection, I'll quote a passage from The Passion of Ayn Rand. This comes from a 12-page stretch which is a sort of nucleus of the negative picture of Rand presented in Passion. I recommend that anyone who has the book read the whole section, starting from the last paragraph on page 267 through the end of the chapter on page 279. I was going to post an excerpted version of those pages, but couldn't manage to compress enough -- there are just so many details in those pages which sketch AR the authoritarian (and the insensitive one toward her husband and friends).

Barbara writes:

pg. 271-72, Passion

The distance between the self-created myth of Ayn Rand and the real woman who lived and acted outside the world of her study, was growing steadily greater. In retrospect, it is evident that none of Ayn's young friends, including Nathaniel and myself, were helping Ayn to deal with the tensions that drove her. No one achieves power who does not seek it; had she not insisted upon being viewed as a goddess, she would not have been so viewed. Nevertheless, the adulation she received was a great disservice to her. She needed to be challenged when she applauded a young woman's agony--or when she spoke of Aristotle as the only thinker in history from whom she had had anything to learn--or when she demanded, in her affair with Nathaniel, that a set of rules be held as applicable to her that were not applicable to others--or when she flew into a rage, as she did with her attorney, Pincus Berner, at his suggestion that everyone, including herself, had at some time done what they knew to be wrong--or when she made it implicitly clear that any criticism of her was an act of treason to reason and morality. But had the attitude of her friends been different, it is likely that she would have renounced them and surrounded herself with people who would give her what she needed. It was not chance that her chosen friends were so many years younger than she--as it was not chance that her lover was so many years younger than she.

Well, is it true that: "No one achieves power who does not seek it; had she not insisted upon being viewed as a goddess, she would not have been so viewed"?

Or that: "[...] she made it implicitly clear that any criticism of her was an act of treason to reason and morality"?

Or even that: "she applauded a young woman's agony"? (Was it the young woman's agony she was applauding? Is it even true that she was applauding? What was Barbara doing? And Frank? What did Barbara say to the young woman [Daryn Kent] when she went to help her pack her belongings and move out of Leonard Peikoff's apartment?) This is a perfect example of the sort of incident on which Leonard Peikoff could be of some use. He was there that night. It was his girlfriend who was being "psychologically counseled." What's his remembrance of the event?

And what of these statements? "[S]he demanded, in her affair with Nathaniel, that a set of rules be held as applicable to her that were not applicable to others." Did she?

And: "[S]he flew into a rage [...] with her attorney, Pincus Berner, at his suggestion that everyone, including herself, had at some time done what they knew to be wrong." Assuming the accuracy of the report of the "rage," what in fact did Berner say, how did he express the point, was it with one of those insistences -- of course, you, too, have sinned? (Note also, Berner is elsewhere in Passion described as Rand's good friend -- there's a passage which goes something like, Rand's good friend Berner had died, so Rand had a partner of the firm check a legality -- I think this was in the Nora story, haven't time to try to find it at the moment. The point is that, as with the people about whom Rand said negative things because their musical tastes didn't agree with hers, she DIDN'T, autocrat though she's presented as having been, break off relationships.

Ellen

Everyone knows Metanarrative

Ted Keer's picture


Everyone knows Metanarrative is a town in Madagascar, about half way between Ambalavao and Hellville.

PomoPigmies On Parade

Neil Parille's picture

According to Lindsay Perigo and the world he makes, is there anyone who is not a pomowonker?

Interestingly enough, one of the aspects of postmodernism is the "metanarrative." Quoth Wikipedia:

_____

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M...

In critical theory, and particularly postmodernism, a metanarrative (from meta-narrative, sometimes also known as a master- or grand narrative) is an abstract idea that is thought to be a comprehensive explanation of historical experience or knowledge. According to John Stephens it "is a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge and experience". The prefix meta means "beyond" and is here used to mean "about", and a narrative is a story. Therefore, a metanarrative is a story about a story, encompassing and explaining other 'little stories' within totalizing schemes.

______

If this applies to anyone, it is Leonard Peikoff (the kind of person who wrote Atlas Shrugged tells us what the real Rand is like) and, to a lesser extent, Lindsay Perigo. Mr. Perigo's narrative is that Ayn Rand is the ultimate hero and anyone who suggests otherwise is a "diminisher." Anything else is a Brandroid smear.

-Neil Parille

The Pitchfork, The Pomos, and The Point

William Scott Scherk's picture

Lindsay is far too kind to Daniel Barnes' review on the We Hate Ayn Rand hellhole site. Far too kind. Beyond being a self-contorted freak of deliberate bad faith who obeys the imperative to diminish Ayn Rand and demolish Objectivism, spewing his "sceptical" bile and worse -- ignoring Lindsay's own review of Burns -- it is clear to all moral persons that self-styled "critical thinkers" intent on obsessive, ignoble humanity-diminution are, well, pomowankers**. Thus Barnes, Dragonfly, Hutching, Scherk, etc are pomowankers† even when they utter truths. It doesn't matter that Barnes in the review makes the same point better than The Principal. Barnes is still vile beyond description. It doesn't matter that Barnes is a good writer. Evul is Evul, and you got that straight from the pulpit.

Mind you, Barnes and Perigo agree on a couple of other matters -- with Peikoff's embarrassing fatwa, and the roots of the eternal schism. Hell, even I agree with Barnes and Perigo here.

Stuttle and Barnes discuss another disagreeable facet of Objectivism at ARCHN the nasty, repulsive, hate site, in A Short Theory Of Objecti-schisms:

Ellen Stuttle said...
Daniel wrote:

"Everything is reducible to philosophy."

I think there's a still further step, a kind of lynch pin of the whole pattern you're describing, Daniel. The further step is the claim that the philosophy a person holds results from the extent and consistency of a person's choosing to think, or not. Hence a person of superlative moral character, a person who persistently and consistently thinks, will come to form the most correct philosophy (Rand's). Thus a continuing philosophic disagreement is taken to indicate a characterological flaw on the part of one or the other (or it could be of both) the disputants.



WSS
_______________

** Pomowanker is not only inscribed in the SOLO article "Linzisms," it has made it into the online Urban Dictionary as coined by Lindsay Perigo himself . . .

___

† Perigo and Barnes go back a ways, and Barnes credits Perigo with his entree into the world of Rand.

*I see Perigo describes our site as "pomowanker." Well, this is
yet another example of why I find him hard to take seriously. There are
no examples of anything like Derrida, Baudrillard, Kristeva, Deleuze etc
in Greg's book or on this blog. Neither Greg nor I subscribe to
postmodernism (tho I do have a soft spot for Foucault among the derisory
herd). Labels don't really matter, but for the record Greg describes
himself roughly as a "truculent naturalist", I as you know am mostly
influenced by Karl Popper. Rather you are more likely to find E.O Wilson,
Steven Pinker, Santayana, Popper, Pareto, and much more. Take a look for
yourself sometime.
[link]

By ;only' he means ...

Frediano's picture

Gene H. Bell Villada says:
By "individual liberty," Randroids mean only one thing: the liberty of a few handsome, jut-jawed, rich white capitalists to do whatever they want. They have no interest in individual workers, blacks, Hispanics, gays, or any other non-rich folks.

By 'only one thing' he means 'including,' which is an impediment to paying for the free-for-some that some are intent on trying to finesse.

He indicts 'has no interest in' as if it were a crime. In paradgims based on forced association, maybe.

What is so great about forced association? I mean, other than, that variant of slavery is an absolute necessisity for the Herdists.

The Novelist Who Hated Ayn Rand

Jmaurone's picture

http://www.amazon.com/review/R...

Gene H. Bell Villada says:
By "individual liberty," Randroids mean only one thing: the liberty of a few handsome, jut-jawed, rich white capitalists to do whatever they want. They have no interest in individual workers, blacks, Hispanics, gays, or any other non-rich folks.

His own review is here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/m...

I've given him too much attention, I'll say no more.

Barnes and Ignoble

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I wouldn't normally draw attention to those self-contorted freaks whose purpose in life is to negate the proposition that heroes are possible—in the process of which they, in deliberate bad faith, falsely attribute to the proposition's affirmers the view that heroes, to be heroes, must be flawless. Daniel Barnes is such a one—freak, I mean, not hero—constantly exercised as he is by the imperative to diminish Ayn Rand and demolish Objectivism. He contributes to the site called Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature; someone has just sent me a link to his review there of the Burns book. Now, most of it is simply Daniel spewing his "sceptical" bile, as I've heard him do ad tedium in the flesh. But there's something he says I partly agree with. To wit:


Jennifer Burns’ new biography, Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Market is a genuine event: the first independent, scholarly biography of one of the 20th century’s most widely read novelists and thinkers, arriving right in the middle of her biggest revival in decades. Goddess has been acclaimed from the mainstream of Time magazine to the margins of Mises.org, and been plugged from the left of The Daily Show to the right of the Economist. But there’s one place where it literally doesn’t seem to exist: over at the organization Leonard Peikoff founded in 1985, three years after Rand’s death, the Ayn Rand Institute. Searching their website turns up only some fine-print references to it in relation to the Ayn Rand Archives; officially the ARI has not even mentioned it, let alone promoted it.

A Convenient Untruth

The reason for this is simple. The Ayn Rand Institute’s mission is not to further intellectual enquiry into but instead to perpetuate the jejune cult of personality that surrounded the writer, and that Rand herself endorsed from its earliest beginnings. The Rand personality cult portrays her as the greatest human being who has ever lived, her novel Atlas Shrugged as the greatest human achievement in history, and the adoption of her philosophical system, Objectivism, as essential for mankind’s continued survival on earth.

Now, the ARI's mission is to promote Objectivism. In many respects it pursues this mission admirably. But in adopting their priestly attitude towards independent Rand biographies such as Burns's and Heller's, its leading luminaries give credibility to the claims of people like Barnes that the ARI is in fact just a personality cult. Barnes quotes Peikoff and Binswanger on Burns and Heller with relish. As well he might. Never mind that Barnes has a dogma of his own (he ignores my own review of Burns, of course, because it doesn't fit with his dogmatic thesis), that he's one of the world's most boring monologuers, that he's just another of those self-styled "critical thinkers" who confuse thinking critically with obsessive, ignoble humanity-diminution—that he's a pomowanker, in other words. On this matter HE HAS A POINT which the lumpen cultists among the orthodox ignore at their peril.

My take

Brant Gaede's picture

Not for here.

--Brant

Heller

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I am not going to do a formal review of Heller, since I can't be bothered and she doesn't deserve it. Instead I'll post a few remarks on this thread—which remarks, incidentally, anyone is free (and encouraged) to quote any time any place.

Suffice it to say that it's unsurprising that Babs Branden endorsed the Heller bio: Babs could easily have ghost-written it. Like Babs's effort—her solitary claim to infamy in her sorry-assed waste of a life and talent—it's well-written, and diminishes Ayn Rand parenthetically, in the "stiletto" style of Babs's favoring. The result is still a hatchet job, but one that doesn't succeed, except in the minds of those who already want it to. Unlike the Burns book, which is honest, Heller's is an exercise in Branden-channelling that cannot be innocent. (If it's innocent, then Heller is stupid ... and she writes too well to be stupid.) Again, no surprise that Heller singles out both Brandens for special, effusive thanks in her acknowledgments.

If Harry Binswanger thinks "The [Burns] book has the same overall view of Ayn Rand as that promoted by the Brandens' book [sic]. While praising, from time to time, the power of AR's mind, the overall portrait (or ugly caricature) of AR that this book promotes is that she was a sad, neurotic, unpleasant creature who devoted increasingly more of her energies to deceiving herself," then he ought to read Heller to see what a book such as he describes is really like.

The usual diminutions are no better documented than they were by Babs, though there's a story in there about Ayn claiming to have seen a UFO that I don't believe we've heard before (this, to reinforce Ayn's being confused in hospital by the reflection of a drip-feed apparatus she thought was a tree. This, in turn, to show she was batty). If we have heard it before, I for one couldn't care less. Frank's "drinking problem" is as under-documented as ever, with Heller's leap from the fact that Frank drank to the claim that he was an alcoholic as simultaneously shameless and shameful as her mentor's (see Michael Moeller's stunning post on this matter here). Additionally, we are newly presented with Ayn the Smelly, a woman neglectful of hygiene, with no attempt to reconcile Ayn the Smelly with Ayn the Germophobe of whom Babs frequently informs us and no doubt informed her protege. The more familiar Ayn the Ayatollah is fleshed out a little with testimony from one Daryn Kent, though so little detail is given of the inquisition conducted against her (by Nathan, and attended by Babs) that, as I've observed downthread, the case to indict Ayn as Ayatollah would be laughed out of court if it ever got there.

The worst thing about this bio is its intellectual paucity. Burns made an excellent fist of trying in good faith to grasp and report Rand's revolutionary ideas, even though she, Burns, was and clearly remains, conventional. Heller barely goes through the motions. Or rather, she does go through the motions, but somehow her non-empathy and non-interest show through. At the end of her non-effort, incongruously, we get this mush:

"But her extraordinary achievement extended far beyond the collapse, later in the decade [of Rand's death] of the Communist tyranny she abhorred, and still informs our thoughts about the competing values of liberty and safety, individual rights and the social contract, ownership and equity, and the sometimes flickering light of freedom."

What the hell, Heller, is that supposed to mean? Her achievement "informs" our debate? Have you been taking lessons in Polish from Sciabarra? Whatever you think Rand's "extraordinary achievement" is, you don't tell us. And these references to "safety," "the social contract" and "equity" as contra-indications to Rand's philosophy are the first we've heard from you of such matters—we get them as a token nod in the direction of the epoch-changing nature of her unconventionality in the last paragraph!

Heller's exercise in diminution fails for the reason Babs's does. It's impossible to tell Rand's story without its being clear to anyone with half a brain that her achievements were beyond extraordinary, even when recounted unsympathetically (or with sympathy of the 'stiletto' variety). If she were cranky on account of the disgraceful failure of those who should have known better to speak up in her defense, she had every right to be. The simple fact is that this world is awash in traitors and cowards, and conventional humanity did not and does not deserve Ayn Rand. Nor did, or does, she deserve humanity as it was and is, as opposed to how she portrayed it—how it might be and ought to be. Quintessential as opposed to conventional.

Certainly, Ayn Rand, quintessential human, deserves far better than Heller's PAR II.

Post-Script: now we have Heller's interview with Kim Hill. In it, Heller confirms the exact suspicions I've expressed here. She thinks Objectivism breaches our "social contract" and gives permission for us to indulge the worst in us. The current financial crisis is the result of "Ayn Rand behind Gordon Gekko." Rand's life "demonstrates the flaws in her philosophy." EXACTLY WHAT THE DIMINISHERS WANT TO HEAR!! She was afraid when beginning the book she'd end up hating Ayn Rand so much she wouldn't do her project justice. She did, and she didn't.

She even *speaks* the way Babs does!

Robert Mayhew reviews Burns in the Objective Standard

William Scott Scherk's picture

It looks like the Ed Cline review of the Heller book will be appearing next year.* In the meantime, an ARI-approved voice has spoken out on Goddess of the Market. Mayhew is the editor of Ayn Rand's Marginalia, The Art of Nonfiction, Essays on Ayn Rand's "We the Living," Essays on Ayn Rand's "Anthem" and Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q&A. **

Mayhew does not find Burns's book of any particular value:

Jennifer Burns’s Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right is the first biography to appear since the Brandens’. As Burns has no personal ax to grind, is a professor of history, and had nearly unprecedented access to the Ayn Rand Archives, those interested in Rand had reason to expect Burns’s book to tell much about the life and thought—especially the political thought—of the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. And although, in the 21st century, it may be too much to expect an academic biography that “canonizes” Rand, it is reasonable to hope for a portrayal that steers clear of vulgarization. Unfortunately, those who have such expectations will be disappointed.

WSS

________

* Cline has a minor exchange with Anne Heller at Doubleday's "Ask Ayn Rand's biographer a question' web page.

Q: I have not read the book or the galley (the announcement was a
suprise to me), and may review it for The Objectivist Standard. Did you
have access to the Ayn Rand archives in California? And did you know that
someone affilaited with ARI is completing a biography of AR up to the
publication of Atlas Shrugged? Have you read any of the "Essays" series on
her novels?

Q: I am familiar with your fiction and nonfiction and am pleased
that you wrote to me. In answer to your question, I was denied access to
the Ayn Rand Papers and to the Ayn Rand Archives. I was given various
reasons, including that Shoshana Milgram had been promised exclusive use of
the archives for her pre-1957 biography. Instead, I made use of Russian
archival researchers and a number of other previously underused or
overlooked resources to document the significant events of Rand’s life.
Toward the end of my research, the head archivist at the Ayn Rand Institute
agreed to answer factual questions that I could not otherwise answer. I
found the Essays–Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living, Essays on Ayn Rand’s
Anthem, and Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead–rich with information
that was most helpful.

I’d be pleased if you wished to review Ayn Rand and the World She Made for
The Objectivist Standard.

_________

** at The Other Place, transcripts of Rand's Q&A as recorded have appeared. Those who believe Mayhew to have unnecessarily tidied and altered Rand's actual words can see notable differences here.

Moeller and Green

Ted Keer's picture

Even though I have met and been gratuitously insulted by Binswanger, I would gladly have continued to receive his list mailings for free. Hell, when I was required to attend mass as a child I sat and listened to and tore apart the priest's sermons weekly. Binswanger, like Peikoff, is either right or, when he's wrong, it's usually at least interesting and fun to figure out why.

I do happen to be largely sympathetic with Lindsay's opinion of Binswanger, but I am glad you recognize, William, that you had attributed to me arguments I didn't make and lumped me in with a clique "OLying" the reality of which (outside the mutually reinforcing loathing of MSK and LP) I doubt, and membership in which I certainly do not have.

Michael, in case I was too subtle above, you quoted my remark "In this case it's kind of hard to call Binswanger a cant-slinging cultist with low regard for his audience if you don't quote him" as if it was my intent to argue that Binswanger was a cant-slinging cultist and that I needed the quote to do so. No, It was Lindsay who had already called him a dogmatic erudite nincompoop and who needed the now-deleted Binswanger quote to illustrate his point.

Paradoxically you say, Michael, both that you will let my "words speak for themselves" — a wise decision, since I choose them carefully, but then you also predict that I will use my words "as a springboard to rant and rave about Binswangers 'orthodoxy' and 'deformities'." Well, yes, I did use those two words, but where, prey tell, is the ranting and raving? Unless it is my use itself of those two words which constitutes the ranting and raving which you intend to let speak for itself? Are you accusing me of being about to rant and rave? Of the intent to rant and rave?

That's a rhetorical question. My attitude is amusement. I feel really happy to know that if I were actually looking for an argument, not just automatic gainsaying, that I've found a place where one is available.

It warms my heart almost as much as knowing that Michael Stewart Kelley is lurking here, now, reading my every word.

Actually ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The Principal just returned from a few days away. He summoned Mr. Green to his office. Mr. Green has just left the Principal's office. With a smile on his face. (Well, there just aren't that many places you can get good discipline these days ...)

I was initially told the HBL guidelines allowed for folk to post stuff from the list to up to 3 outsiders, with no stipulation as to what happened next. I just now checked the guidelines myself and saw this one, of which, for some reason, I was *not* informed:

3) Forwarding even one post (unless written by you) to a blog or list is a special case, because it's mass distribution. So, to do this, you need to get HB's permission by sending an email to hblist@hblist.com with your request.

Since there's not the slightest chance that HB would give me permission were I to ask him, I shan't bother, and accept that posting even the 3 paras that I did out of the 20-plus was a breach of copyright, since rectified.

My opinions of what Binswanger wrote, remain, of course, unaltered. What with "Don't read those naughty books, you'll get corrupted" and homosexuality being "incorrect" there seems to be some rearguard Randroidism going on, just when we thought it was dying out.

Ted

As staff I choose to discipline Linz (and to receive my discipline Evil ) in private. If you read the second paragraph you see that I made my different view clear Smiling

As to Peikoff's podcast a more objective subject list with links can be found here.

Well, I just couldn't help

Ted Keer's picture

Well, I just couldn't help myself. I was driving down the road, accidentally made a left turn into the Barnes & Noble parking lot and next thing you know I was walking out with a copy of Burns' book.

B&N has a generous return policy.

Well, in that case you better

Ted Keer's picture

Well, in that case you better not read what Linz has written:

Word reaches me that that rationalist-on-stilts Binswanger has dissed the Burns book, in essence because it's not by an Objectivist. Harry should grow up and spend some time in the real world of which he's never been part. His brand of castles-in-the-air loyalty-oath dogmatism, anti-emotionalism and erudite nincompoopery leads to howlers like:

Removed for copyright violation.

Ted

Michael Moeller's picture

I know exactly what your case is. What I am trying to explain to you is that your fair use analysis is faulty. You have taken a few bricks from the fair use doctrine and declared it a fair use house.

I will try once more to explain the flaws, but you have not exhibited any desire to comprehend what I am saying. You are merely repeating the same arguments over and over. I will try one more time, but I have a feeling this will be to no avail as you seem to have tunnel vision.

(1) Yes, Ted, I get that you don't think this harms Binswanger's commercial potential. However, as I tried to tell you multiple times, this is not the entirety of the test the courts use for the market potential factor. You can look at many of the main cases (see, e.g., (Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.) and you will see how the court analyzes market potential. The court holds that when examining market potential, you do NOT just consider the "particular actions of the alleged infringer", but also whether this conduct by the alleged infringer would harm the market potential if it was "unrestricted and widespread".

Ted, if many individuals on his list decided to copy and distribute his posts under the shroud of "scholarly debate"--if they individually made the very conduct here "widespread"--it would affect the market potential. People would not have to sign up because they could get the content free of charge as a result of these actions being widespread. Ergo, your arguments are not in line with how the court treats the potential market factor. I've tried to point this out to you ten ways from Sunday, but you seem intent on repeating this same thing over and over. Ah well.

(2) "Scholarly debate". I think it should be obvious that republishing a essay and saying that you are putting it out there for "scholarly debate" would scarcely prevent anything from be subjected to fair use. A discussion of virtually any essay has the potential to be "scholarly". You understand this point, right?

Your "scholarly debate" argument here falls under the factor of "the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit education purposes". The analysis does not end by merely stating "I am using this for scholarly debate".

What the courts mainly look to for the purpose aspect, Ted, is whether the use is a transformative use, a parody, or a news outlet. The reproduction of Binswanger's post is none of those. Without going into detail on those three, they even have their limits if they borrow too much from the work, or they present nothing new, or they constitute the "heart of the matter" of the underlying copyrighted work. The court deems the main purpose, in those instances, to be merely a republication of the work.

In terms of a critical essay (as in a book review), the general standard (as laid out by the House Report on fair use legislation) is that quotation of short passages is ok to illustrate or clarify the author's observations for the purposes of comment. For a general rule of thumb, if you are using "substantial portions" "verbatim" with little or no comment you are NOT going to be protected by fair use.

Your own snip was taken down before I could see what you posted. I don't know how much you posted and I don't see any in depth analysis along with it. You linked to Campbell and he apparently reposted the whole email without any comment. Simply reposting an entire essay and saying: "Hey, I am putting this up for scholarly debate and for people to comment on it" doesn't wash, Ted. Again, if this were the standard, republication of virtually any essay on any topic would jump right over the fair use hurdle.

On the character of the work, one of the things the courts look to is the "propriety of the defendant's conduct" and the courts stipulate that "fair use presupposes 'good faith' and 'fair dealing'". In other words, Ted, the manner in which the publication is obtained is relevant under this factor of fair use analysis, contrary to your assertion. Another thing they will look to is whether permission was asked. Did you ask permission, Ted? Needless to say, obtaining the material in defiance of the express provisions of the contract does not bode well for "good faith" and "fair dealing".

Being a third party does not get you off the hook when you know the manner in which it was obtained. Think about it in terms of real property. If somebody obtained a watch under the crime of false pretenses and you knew the manner in which it was obtained, and he gave it to you and you sold it, you would be an accessory.

(3) Amount taken. I have no idea why you are arguing that I am demanding the reprint of "an encyclopedia". Where are you getting that from? As I stated previously, the amount is taken is analyzed in proportion to the whole. The whole could be a page, or it could be 2000 pages--you analyze in terms of the proportion. Three-quarters of a page would be "substantial" for a one page essay, but not for a 2000 page book.

I did not see how much you reposted or whether it was "substantial", but the link to Campbell apparently reposted the whole of his email. You don't even need to analyze the proportion and decide whether it was substantial or not. Even in the case where an amount taken may not be "substantial", fair use may still not be a defense if the part taken constitutes "the heart" of the underlying work.

The courts will also look to the amount of comments associated with the reproduction. In other words, interspersing sparse comments along with the reproduction will not make it fair use.

(4) The last factor is the nature of the work. This isn't very relevant here as the analysis usually looks at whether the material taken from another are facts or factual compilations in the public domain. Here, we are dealing with Binswanger's opinions re Burns book.

To be frank, Ted, I don't get the impression you have a good understanding of the in and outs of fair use, and I don't think you are very interested in understanding the contrary arguments, even if you disagree with them. You seem primarily concerned with using Binswanger's post as a springboard to rant and rave about the "orthodoxy" and "deformities", as you have illustrated for us.

Michael

Ted--An Aside

Michael Moeller's picture

Where, oh where, are you getting an argument that Binswanger should be respected merely because he is a member of the "orthodox" or "church" or whatever? This is nothing but a diversion from the arguments. Newsflash: I would make the same arguments if the publication were by Karl Marx or you, Ted.

What have I stated anything that would support such an assertion? If you had bothered to ask me my thoughts on Binswanger's post, you would realize that I do not share his sentiment in many respects. I would state that the books should be read, the evidence should be analyzed, and claims should be refuted to the extent they are not supported by the evidence. I think he should make public his thoughts and I would welcome a more extensive analysis from him debunking the errors. However, that is not up to me nor you nor anybody else, Binswanger controls the terms publication and those terms should be respected. Using fair use as a shroud to blather about the "orthodoxy" does not get you beyond this basic point.

So please, dispense with this impugning of motives unless you can provide at least some evidence to back it up. I could do the same in regards to you--with a lot more evidence. Given your statements here, are you really that interested in scholarly debate? Or are you using fair use as a cover for the unauthorized copying of Binswanger's post so that you can rant and rave about O'ist religiosity and prattle on about cults and whatnot? I'll let your comments here speak for themselves, such as this one that gives us a glimpse behind the motivation veil:

"In this case it's kind of hard to call Binswanger a cant-slinging cultist with low regard for his audience if you don't quote him."

Michael

Talk about Straw Men

Ted Keer's picture

Please have the decency to portray my views accurately, William.

You said:

The idea that his reasoned argument is some sort of argument from authority (as characterized on OLying and here by Ted and others) is laughable.

But his is what I have said of Binswanger's argument:

Binswanger's comments are in the form of a scholarly argument about Burn's work, which he quotes extensively. His quotes of her comprise as much of the post as do his own comments. There is no justification for treating this as anything but a textbook case of fair use. Here is a link to Campbell's citation at Objectivist Living.

and

Binswanger's caution that his acolytes should not read Burns for fear that their soft brains will not be able to discern rumor from truth speaks volumes about Binswanger's view of his paying audience. I suggest that everyone sign up to his HBL for a free one-month trial so each can judge for himself the value of what Binswanger offers.

This, in the midst of my criticisms of the bios:

I have listened to Burns, and am not impressed with her childish demeanor, her facile use of terms like "gateway drug," her willingness to insult Rand to play up to her audience, or her Zelig-like ability to take on the viewpoint of her interlocutors.

Binswanger's quotes of Burns show that Burns is far more "unfriendly" to Rand than Heller. It seems that both biographers fail in the same way. Apparently they both present conventional critiques of Rand's controversial positions without providing a proper explanation of what Rand's position is, and how she would respond to the conventional criticisms based upon her positions. Heller, for example, says that Rand has proposed a radical new ethical theory, but nowhere does she spend even one paragraph attempting to explain why the concept of value can only arise in the context of a being that faces a struggle for existence. The same problem arises with Rand's theory of concepts. A biography of Rand that doesn't devote even one page or one paragraph to explaining Rand's theory of conception formation or the stolen concept fails to appreciate her completely. Heller's biography has some other technical and scholarly flaws, such as problems with Russian transliteration, but they are minor.

Yet here is what Perigo said:

Word reaches me that that rationalist-on-stilts Binswanger has dissed the Burns book, in essence because it's not by an Objectivist. Harry should grow up and spend some time in the real world of which he's never been part. His brand of castles-in-the-air loyalty-oath dogmatism, anti-emotionalism and erudite nincompoopery leads to howlers like: [Removed for copyright violation.]

Please note the you-can't-be-trusted-to-read-it-and-decide-for-yourself, priestly arrogance of the last para. I hope folk tell him to go fuck himself and the intrinsicist horse he rode in on. It's people like him who lend credence to the stereotypes Ms. Burns evidently accepts. He is right in the penultimate para—but why not let folk figure it out for themselves? And there is a way of dealing with it that doesn't involve impugning Ms. Burns's integrity when she's so obviously bent over backwards to proceed in good faith—unlike the Brandens.

Binswanger is definitely part of the problem identified by Burns as quoted in my review: "There seemed to be two Objectivisms: one that genuinely supported intellectual exchange, engagement and discourse, and one that was as dogmatic, narrow-minded and stifling as Rand's harshest critics alleged.

So why does he not come in for your criticism, while I am lumped in with "O-lying"? Why not start talking of Sewerigo?

Note that I provided both the link and the suggestion to patronize Binswanger before you did. Nowhere do I say his criticisms of the biographers are based on an argument from authority. Obviously you have, for some reason, categorized me, perhaps because I think the copyright justification for not quoting Binswanger is bogus, and hence don't think you have to pay attention to the details. But wild surmises don't trump reality. That's lazy. That's not Objectivism.

Drinking game

Frediano's picture

I'm wading through Burn's spraypaint job, and have turned it into a drinking game.

Everytime she over-uses the word 'society' or 'social' I sip my beer. The lens through which she paints "The Toe Fungus of Ayn Rand" is clearly by one who has been thoroughly and totally 'socialized.' it is the only truth a Burns can ever see, the only meaningful context in the religious theocracy that is Western academic thought.

But, is it heretical of me to quietly wonder, is it actually necessary, on every page, to remind the reader that these events are taking place in the universe? The cosmos? The solar system? The Planet? In an atmosphere made up of mostly Nitrogen, Oxygen, and of course, deadly CO2? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. Several readers have actually already figured that out, before even opening up the book. It would be jarring to be endlessly reminded of the context in which this retro active paintjob over Rand's grave was being sprayed.

But "society" ... "social" context? Why, please, go right ahead, remind us on every single page, because we've forgotten the obvious.

So far, this droid clearly has 'social' Turrettes, it shows in the first few chapters. I'm hoping she starts to trust her readers more, and it tones down a little, otherwise my liver is toast.

Her spin on Rand is informative. Just, not so much about Rand's actual words, more Burn's reaction to those words.

And, except for the beer, I'm wondering why I should be interested in Burn's reactions to Rand's words...

Bios

How could anyone who knew Miss Rand as closely as Dr. B and Dr. P be anything but disappointed by a biography done by today's 'academic' press? They approach their subject with such a mixed bag of premises -- especially on their view of what is possible for man. In an earlier post on HBL Dr. Binswanger said he had nothing to gain and something to loose by reading such a slanted biography. The idea that his reasoned argument is some sort of argument from authority (as characterized on OLying and here by Ted and others) is laughable. Examine the quotes he provides in the earlier post (those of you with an HBL subscription). Those of you who don't have one, get a free trial and read it in the archives yourself. I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Miss Rand and will continue to know her primarily through her writing and speaking. Until a decent biography comes out, I probably will not read any of them (PARC has demonstrated the fallacies in the other popular ones).

Linz I do not agree with your characterization of Dr. Binswanger. My experience with him on HBL and at OCON don't match with your description of him.

Not exactly. Criminal

Ted Keer's picture

Not exactly.

Criminal activity cannot claim the shield of privacy. The actions revealed in the CRU emails include admissions of intentional violations of the British Freedom of Information laws as well as multiple multimillion dollar grant frauds, to say the least. People were fraudulently put out of work, at least one man has resigned in shame, many should lose their shirts and given the sums, spend time in jail.

As for Binswanger, there is no criminal activity to reveal, only deformity.

The view from a molehill

William Scott Scherk's picture

So, what results from Harry Binswanger's cult-list announcement of his repudiation of Jennifer Burns, and from his announcement that Heller had misused him as a source? What's left on the table from the orthodoxy?

Basically, an upcoming (2010) review by Ed Cline in the Standard, the NO DON"T READ THEM EVER! outburst from Leonard Peikoff, and the memory hole for Binswanger's exceedingly private and taboo opinions. Which opinions, we might recall, despite the 'removed due to copyright violations' that has replaced them, said Bad, Awful, Don't Read, Will Soil Your Mind.

I think we get the message from on high, notwithstanding the hushing of Binswanger's words here. Binswanger's words are currently still available to be criminally perused over at That Awful Other Place in any case.

It is kind of funny that SOLO must cloak Binswanger notes on Burns/Heller, while at the same time gives rebel yells to the CRU hacker/whistleblower. The whole thorny point for me has been the lack of engagement by ARI intellectuals with the current biographies. Leonard cries don't read them, Harry gets to go back behind the curtain. A podcast, a spotlighted opinion from HBL, now gone. Nothing else. No distribution, no discussion, the resources of ARI to influence current opinion go back into the castle.

Good moves for a cultish outfit, bad moves for a philosophy.

WSS

Michael, I don't exactly know

Ted Keer's picture

Michael, I don't exactly know what you think my case is, but it's simple. (1) Distributing his posts in any manner is a violation of his terms of use, grounds for him to cancel your membership without refund. But (2) quoting his post in part in order to address his review of Burns, where he quotes her at length, is fair use, and hence not a violation of copyright. Two separate issues. Respecting Binswanger because he happens to belong to an orthodox sect of our church, more than we would, say, some evil anarchist like Stephen Kinsella, strikes me as a particularly chauvinistically Old Testament way of thinking. More honest to say that Binswanger's quote was removed for fear or from respect of the man than due to any real understanding of copyright law.

"Since when is the fact that something is allegedly "scholarly" the sine qua non of the fair use defense?"
The point is that the item quoted is part of a scholarly debate and is addressed in that manner. You seem to think that I mean that anything that is allegedly "scholarly" could be reused at length, as if one could simply quote and reprint an entire encyclopedia. No. The point is that the quote is a necessary part of a scholarly debate. We are not simply attempting to resell him for commercial gain at his expense. In this case it's kind of hard to call Binswanger a cant-slinging cultist with low regard for his audience if you don't quote him.

I quoted Wikipedia because you implied by your question that quoting him for scholarly reasons was not an example of fair use. Much of what I quoted was relevant to either the scholarly or non-injurious, non-competitive parts of the fair use doctrine. I think that adds value to this thread. My purpose is not necessarily to convince you in your solicitor's wig, but to be convincing and informative. I simply saved people interested in the topic from having to do the basic research themselves.

Don't worry

Brant Gaede's picture

Don't worry, Linz; Peikoff has put both bios on his shit do-not-read list. Now we get to see how Valliant deals with that and Burns'.

--Brant
I really think Peikoff has gone over the cliff's edge.

Finished ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... the Heller. I'm undecided whether to do a separate review or just add a few comments to this thread. Either way it'll have to wait till tomorrow when I'm back at my desktop and not in an internet cafe full of noisy smelly aliens. Eye

It sounds

Brant Gaede's picture

It sounds like you know what you are talking about, Michael. I wouldn't have passed it around no matter my estimation of Binswanger. Thanks for the education. (I might paraphrase it if I came across it.)

Does this mean SOLOP should kill Ted's link a few posts back?

--Brant

Ted

Michael Moeller's picture

You don't have to snip Wiki entries for me, I am well aware of the cases on fair use. What, by the way, do you think helps your case in that Wiki snip?

Copyright is not justified solely by commercial value--that is one aspect of infringement. The justification is that the work is the author's creation and it is within his exclusive rights to set the terms of publication and use and the entire "bundle of rights". He may not profit a cent, but that does not mean he loses his rights to control the terms of publication and distribution.

Further on commercial value, consider that you sold pirated copies of a recent popular movie to 10 people. This is not going to significantly affect the commercial value, but it is still a violation of the owner's rights to distribute. The further argument being that if people were allowed to do it on a small scale because it does not significantly harm the commerical value, the aggregate of many people doing it on a small scale WOULD diminish the commercial value.

It is certainly not your right to distribute his ideas based on your calculations of commercial value. The creator controls the rights of distribution. Fair use provides a defense in certain circumstances, but you have to meet the standard.

Again, "scholarly use" (which is not a term or art) is not a defense by itself, much less an obvious one. It is one factor of the fair use defense that the court considers in a totality of the factors described in the Wiki entry that you cite. In other words, a work can be used in an educational context and still fail to qualify for the fair use defense. Often, teachers are not scrupulous enough in making sure their use of another's work does not exceed fair use.

And this is not an educational context--this is not a classroom or a news outlet--this is Binswanger's private letter where he distributes his ideas and people pay money to receive the publication of his ideas. If that is considered strictly "scholarly" (as opposed to a commercial venture), then most anything would meet the standard. Say that National Review Online charged to see the content, would it be considered "scholarly" simply because it comments on scholarly subjects, and thus those who sign on to the website are free to distribute the content at-will? I think not, and that is not any different than what Binswanger does on a smaller scale.

And yes, third parties can be held liable when a third party knows of the infringement. This is referred to as contributory infringement. This is how Grokster and Napster were held liable for the violations of their users.

On a basic moral level, Ted, you know this against Binswanger's terms and dishonest. You should have greater respect for another's rights.

Michael

My name is Ted, Michael.

Ted Keer's picture

My name is Ted, Michael.

Please do not address me as if I were the member of some sort of faction.

Of what relevance is the matter of Sciabarra's private emails, which I understand were private remarks about personal relationships, not philosophical arguments or book reviews relevant to fair use doctrine?

So far as I can tell, as a layman with an amateur interest in the law, Binswanger has an open and shut case to justify terminating the mole's account without refund for violating the terms of use. There is no case to be made that publication of the quote here diluted the commercial value of Binswanger's work. Indeed, if anything it's free (if embarrassing) advertising.

Wikipedia:

Fair use is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as for commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship.

Fair use under United States law

The legal concept of "Test copyright" was first ratified by the Kingdom of Great Britain's Statute of Anne of 1709. As room was not made for the authorized reproduction of copyrighted content within this newly formulated statutory right, the courts created a doctrine of "fair abridgment" in Gyles v Wilcox, which eventually evolved into the modern concept of "fair use," that recognized the utility of such actions. The doctrine only existed in the U.S. as common law until it was incorporated into the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107.

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
the nature of the copyrighted work;
the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.[1]
The four factors of analysis for fair use set forth above derive from the classic opinion of Joseph Story in Folsom v. Marsh, 9 F.Cas. 342 (1841), in which the defendant had copied 353 pages from the plaintiff's 12-volume biography of George Washington in order to produce a separate two-volume work of his own. The court rejected the defendant's fair use defense with the following explanation:

"[A] reviewer may fairly cite largely from the original work, if his design be really and truly to use the passages for the purposes of fair and reasonable criticism. On the other hand, it is as clear, that if he thus cites the most important parts of the work, with a view, not to criticize, but to supersede the use of the original work, and substitute the review for it, such a use will be deemed in law a piracy…

In short, we must often… look to the nature and objects of the selections made, the quantity and value of the materials used, and the degree in which the use may prejudice the sale, or diminish the profits, or supersede the objects, of the original work."

Once these factors were codified as guidelines in 17 U.S.C. § 107, they were not rendered exclusive. The section was intended by Congress to restate, but not replace, the prior judge-made law. Courts are still entitled to consider other factors as well.

Fair use tempers copyright's exclusive rights to serve the purpose of copyright law, which the U.S. Constitution defines as the promotion of "the Progress of Science and useful Arts" (Art. I, § 8, cl. Cool. This principle applies particularly well to the case of criticism and also sheds light on various other limitations on copyright's exclusive rights, particularly the scenes à faire doctrine.

[edit]Purpose and character

The first factor is about whether the use in question helps fulfill the intention of copyright law to stimulate creativity for the enrichment of the general public, or whether it aims to only "supersede the objects" of the original for reasons of personal profit. To justify the use as fair, one must demonstrate how it either advances knowledge or the progress of the arts through the addition of something new. A key consideration is the extent to which the use is interpreted as transformative, as opposed to merely derivative.

When Tom Forsythe appropriated Barbie dolls for his photography project "Food Chain Barbie," Mattel lost its claims of copyright and trademark infringement against him because his work effectively parodies Barbie and the values she represents.[2] But when Jeff Koons tried to justify his appropriation of Art Rogers' photograph "Puppies" in his sculpture "String of Puppies" with the same parody defense, he lost because his work was not presented as a parody of Rogers' photograph in particular, but of society at large, which was deemed insufficiently justificatory.[3]
However, since this case, courts have begun to emphasize the first fair use factor—assessing whether the alleged infringement has transformative use as described by the Hon. Judge Pierre N. Leval.[4] More recently, Koons was involved in a similar case with commercial photographer Andrea Blanch,[5] regarding his use of her photograph for a painting, whereby he appropriated a central portion of an advertisement she had been commissioned to shoot for a magazine. In this case, Koons won; the case sets a favorable precedent for appropriation art where the use is deemed transformative.

The subfactor mentioned in the legislation above, "whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes," has recently been deemphasized in some Circuits "since many, if not most, secondary uses seek at least some measure of commercial gain from their use."[6] More important is whether the use fulfills any of the "preamble purposes" also mentioned in the legislation above, as these have been interpreted as paradigmatically "transformative." Although Judge Pierre Leval has distinguished the first factor as "the soul of fair use," it alone is not determinative. For example, not every educational usage is fair.[7]

[edit]Nature of the copied work

Although the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the availability of copyright protection should not depend on the artistic quality or merit of a work, fair use analyses consider certain aspects of the work to be relevant, such as whether it is fictional or non-fictional.[8][citation needed]

To prevent the private ownership of work that rightfully belongs in the public domain, facts and ideas are separate from copyright—only their particular expression or fixation merits such protection. On the other hand, the social usefulness of freely available information can weigh against the appropriateness of copyright for certain fixations. The Zapruder film of the assassination of President Kennedy, for example, was purchased and copyrighted by Time magazine. Yet their copyright was not upheld, in the name of the public interest, when they tried to enjoin the reproduction of stills from the film in a history book on the subject in Time Inc. v. Bernard Geis Associates.[9]

Following the decisions of the Second Circuit in Salinger v. Random House, Inc.[10] and in New Era Publications Int'l v. Henry Holt & Co.,[11] the aspect of whether the copied work has been previously published suddenly trumped all other considerations because of, in the words of one commentator, "the original author's interest in controlling the circumstances of the first public revelation of his work, and his right, if he so chooses, not to publish at all." Yet some view this importation of certain aspects of France's droit moral d'artiste (moral rights of the artist) into American copyright law as "bizarre and contradictory" because it sometimes grants greater protection to works that were created for private purposes that have little to do with the public goals of copyright law, than to those works that copyright was initially conceived to protect. This is not to claim that unpublished works, or, more specifically, works not intended for publication, do not deserve legal protection, but that any such protection should come from laws about privacy, rather than laws about copyright. The statutory fair use provision was amended in response to these concerns by adding a final sentence: "The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."

[edit]Amount and substantiality

The third factor assesses the quantity or percentage of the original copyrighted work that has been imported into the new work. In general, the less that is used in relation to the whole, e.g., a few sentences of a text for a book review, the more likely that the sample will be considered fair use. Yet see Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios for a case in which substantial copying—entire programs for private viewing—was upheld as fair use. Likewise, see Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corporation, where the Ninth Circuit held that copying an entire photo to use as a thumbnail in online search results did not weigh against fair use, "if the secondary user only copies as much as is necessary for his or her intended use." Conversely, in Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enters,[12] the use of fewer than 400 words from President Ford's memoir by a political opinion magazine was interpreted as infringement because those few words represented "the heart of the book" and were, as such, substantial.
Before 1991, sampling in certain genres of music was accepted practice and such copyright considerations as these were viewed as largely irrelevant. The strict decision against rapper Biz Markie's appropriation of a Gilbert O'Sullivan song in the case Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records, Inc.[13] changed practices and opinions overnight. Samples now had to be licensed, as long as they rose "to a level of legally cognizable appropriation."[14] In other words, de minimis sampling was still considered fair and free because, traditionally, "the law does not care about trifles." The recent Sixth Circuit Court decision in the appeal to Bridgeport Music has reversed this standing, eliminating the de minimis defense for samples of recorded music, but stating that the decision did not apply to fair use.

[edit]Effect upon work's value

The fourth factor measures the effect that the allegedly infringing use has had on the copyright owner's ability to exploit his original work. The court not only investigates whether the defendant's specific use of the work has significantly harmed the copyright owner's market, but also whether such uses in general, if widespread, would harm the potential market of the original. The burden of proof here rests on the defendant for commercial uses, but on the copyright owner for noncommercial uses. See Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios,[15] where the copyright owner, Universal, failed to provide any empirical evidence that the use of Betamax had either reduced their viewership or negatively impacted their business. In the aforementioned Nation case regarding President Ford's memoirs, the Supreme Court labeled this factor "the single most important element of fair use" and it has indeed enjoyed some level of primacy in fair use analyses ever since. Yet the Supreme Court's more recent announcement in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.[16] that "all [four factors] are to be explored, and the results weighed together, in light of the purposes of copyright" has helped modulate this emphasis in interpretation.

In evaluating the fourth factor, courts often consider two kinds of harm to the potential market of the original work: First, courts consider whether the use in question acts as a direct market substitute for the original work. In the judgement of the Supreme Court in Acuff-Rose Music they decisively stated that, "when a commercial use amounts to mere duplication of the entirety of the original, it clearly supersedes the object of the original and serves as a market replacement for it, making it likely that cognizable market harm to the original will occur." In one instance, a court ruled that this factor weighed against a defendant who had made unauthorized movie trailers for video retailers, since his trailers acted as direct substitutes for the copyright owner's official trailers.[17] Second, courts also consider whether potential market harm might exist beyond that of direct substitution, such as in the potential existence of a licensing market. This consideration has weighed against commercial copy shops that make copies of articles in course-pack for college students, when a market already existed for the licensing of course-pack copies.[18]

Courts recognize that certain kinds of market harm do not oppose fair use, such as when a parody or negative review impairs the market of the original work. Copyright considerations may not shield a work against adverse criticism.

A defense is just that, a defense. In civil court one is entitled to present a defense. There is no guarantee of success. (I am not aware of the effects of non-disclosure agreements, but they are not binding on third parties.) In this case, however, scholarly use (is this a website dedicated to entertaining works of fiction?) is an obvious defense, as is lack of effect on the work's value.

The administrators of this site are free to do as they wish, and I have no problem with their voluntarily deciding to honor Binswanger's wishes.

Uh, Teddy

Michael Moeller's picture

Since when is the fact that something is allegedly "scholarly" the sine qua non of the fair use defense? I think that would be news to publishers of scholarly books, journals, essays, and op-eds. I doubt that the NYT book review, for instance, would take kindly to reprinting one of their book reviews because it contained quotes from the author and was "scholarly".

Whether the copyrighted material is used for educational purposes (read: "scholarly") falls under just one factor of the fair use defense. And the purpose and nature of his letter is clearly NOT educational, Binswanger charges money to be a part of the letter--it is a for-profit venture. Imagine a bunch of people on the list decided to repost his emails because they believed it fell under fair use, would that not harm the potential economic value of his letter? Yes, it would.

Secondly, because the post contains substantial quotes from Burns does not provide it with a fair use defense. The amount factor of the fair use defense is the amount taken (from the author) relative to the whole. That is, the amount taken from Binswanger relative to his whole publication. Here, the publication would be the email and the whole thing was reposted. The "heart of the matter" test does not even come into play because the whole thing was reposted.

The fact that Binswanger's post contains quotes from Burns is irrelevant, except as to whether his quoting of Burns is fair use. Again, you would not be allowed to republish a NYT book review because it contained quotes from the book being reviewed. Obviously, the purpose of reposting the email was to relay Binswanger's statements, not the quotes from Burns; otherwise, the people could have just copied and posted the quotes from Burns alone.

Now, I do not think much of loyalty oaths and whatnot and am not a part of his list as a result, but I find that people violating the express provisions of his contract unconscionable.

Was it not The Prof who screamed bloody murder when Sciabarra's private emails were brought to light? Publishing private emails is an "on your honor" kind of thing, unlike here where republication requiring consent is one the express terms for signing on to Binswanger's letter. Yet, "a mole" is directly violating the terms to which he bound himself. And far from an unknowing third party recipient, The Prof is well aware of the terms of the contract and proceeds with an unauthorized reposting--oblivious to his own hypocrisy and participation as a willing accomplice to dishonesty.

I guess the principle of honesty and binding oneself to the terms of contract go out the window for such people when it suits their own purposes (of grinding axes).

Michael

Heller, not Burns ("AGW" & "Galambos" LOL!)

Ted Keer's picture

I have read Heller but not Burns.

I have listened to Burns, and am not impressed with her childish demeanor, her facile use of terms like "gateway drug," her willingness to insult Rand to play up to her audience, or her Zelig-like ability to take on the viewpoint of her interlocutors.

Binswanger's quotes of Burns show that Burns is far more "unfriendly" to Rand than Heller. It seems that both biographers fail in the same way. Apparently they both present conventional critiques of Rand's controversial positions without providing a proper explanation of what Rand's position is, and how she would respond to the conventional criticisms based upon her positions. Heller, for example, says that Rand has proposed a radical new ethical theory, but nowhere does she spend even one paragraph attempting to explain why the concept of value can only arise in the context of a being that faces a struggle for existence. The same problem arises with Rand's theory of concepts. A biography of Rand that doesn't devote even one page or one paragraph to explaining Rand's theory of conception formation or the stolen concept fails to appreciate her completely. Heller's biography has some other technical and scholarly flaws, such as problems with Russian transliteration, but they are minor.

Lindsay Perigo's bizarre fulminations regarding "Babsism" are the comic result of a fevered mind, a personal grudge, and an idée fixe — not a reasonable reading or attention to the facts. The technical term is opera buffa.

Heller admires Rand's accomplishments, and is as sympathetic to Rand as credible testimony allows. If true believers want to argue that Rand never broke with people and she did so only for good reasons then they shouldn't let Heller's testimony get in their way.

Binswanger's caution that his acolytes should not read Burns for fear that their soft brains will not be able to discern rumor from truth speaks volumes about Binswanger's view of his paying audience. I suggest that everyone sign up to his HBL for a free one-month trial so each can judge for himself the value of what Binswanger offers.

I can't really recommend that readers familiar with Rand spend $39.95 to read Heller, (maybe $14.95) but the book is an engaging and fluid six-hour read and certainly worth a trip to the library. Her account largely follows Barbara Branden's and Chris Sciabarra's except where such things as the origin of Rand's name are concerned. The two major revelations are that Rand had an abortion in the 1930's for which she borrowed money and which O'Connor, who wanted children, must have come to regret, and the fact that before she had met Nathaniel Branden Rand had conferred the title "Intellectual Heir" upon Albert Mannheimer, remembered as the Academy Award nominated screenwriter of Born Yesterday who, depressed, would later commit suicide. Objectivists will be annoyed by, but should be able to read past the conventional (mis)interpretations of Rand. Members of the Valliant cult, which Heller refers to obliquely in a paragraph or two, will not find any support there.

With every passing year

Steve Reed's picture

... Harry Binswanger looks more like Andrew Galambos.

ARI

Neil Parille's picture

Ellen,

If a friend of mine were smeared by some biographers, I'd be the first to read these books and point out the alleged errors.

I think most people would get the impression that there probably is more truth to the negative accounts than Peikoff let on in 87 and that is the reason for the silence.

In any event, there should be some response to Burns' claims about the doctored journals and other material.

-Neil Parille

"The government does not enforce..." - facetious reply to Ted

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Ted: "The government does not enforce loyalty oaths or promises not to tolerate tolerationism."

You mean, unless they pertain to breaking the ranks re AGW? Sorry, being a bit "out of context" with thoughts of the extent to which there are those who would like to see a world government enforcing conformity on the supposed "consensus."

Concerning the subject: I think that Harry is a damned fool for not publishing as widely as he can any information he has which counters statements made by Burns, and doubly so for not reading the Heller and addressing any issues in that book about which he has direct information. Whether people would necessarily believe what he says is one question. But how can anyone judge if he withdraws into silence and refuses even to find out what was said?

Re the legal technicalities, I agree, Ted, the only legally binding problem in quoting Harry's comments would be that of violation of "fair use," which clearly his quotes don't infringe.

Ellen

Gregster

Neil Parille's picture

That NB lied to Rand prior to their break is of course true. I don't see anything specific in the diaries that proves Branden's account in MYWAR and JD is dishonest, much less Barbara's.

I'm not sure what you mean that she was not "concerned with him." Witnesses indicate that Rand spent a lot of time thinking about the break and what went wrong, as I recall.

If you have specific page numbers then you should list them.

-Neil Parille

The purpose of copyright is

Ted Keer's picture

The purpose of copyright is to protect the monetary value of the text, not to protect feelings, or keep secrets, or stifle dissent.

The government does not enforce loyalty oaths or promises not to tolerate tolerationism. Such things are religious matters, and that is why they are dealt with by inquisitions, excommunications and ostracisms rather than the police.

The use of curses to punish oath breakers is as old as the written word. We have two inscriptions of the Phrygian language that survive. They are both curses. Here is one:

ios ni semoun knoumanei kakoun addaket
gegreimenan egedou tios outan
akke oi bekos akkalos tidregroun eitou

Such magic still works on believers.

Pariah

gregster's picture

Gregster,
Neither you nor Valliant have shown any specific lies by theBrandens.
-Neil Parille

As I've pointed out to the Prof previously, PARC is conclusive because Rand's diary is devastating. It disproves that she was concerned with him after the break despite what NB wrote. (Haven't read MYWAR and don't think I'll bother, maybe if the library has it.)

NB in particular lied multiple times about his sexual dysfunction and Patrecia alone.

Ha

Brant Gaede's picture

Maybe the post was deleted out of respect for Burns' copyright. Burns is about 75% of Bins. post, no less than 2/3rds. I think Ted is exactly right.

--Brant

I'll defer, but

Ted Keer's picture

Binswanger's comments are in the form of a scholarly argument about Burn's work, which he quotes extensively. His quotes of her comprise as much of the post as do his own comments. There is no justification for treating this as anything but a textbook case of fair use. Here is a link to Campbell's citation at Objectivist Living.

Fair Use

Ted Keer's picture

There may be a case for violation of contract (but I doubt it would stand up) and as for copyright, the content was scholarly and the quotation was fair use.

HBL Quote

That is an HBL quote, part of a long review by Dr. Binswanger and part of a much larger conversation. I'm sure if you email him you could ask permission to post it.

3) Forwarding even one post (unless written by you) to a blog or list is a special case, because it's mass distribution. So, to do this, you need to get HB's permission by sending an email to hblist@hblist.com with your request.

Bins

Brant Gaede's picture

The Binswanger quote was put up on OL by Robt. Campbell who got it from a "mole" subscriber on Bins list. Except for here and there and there, I don't know where else it has appeared.

--Brant

Binswanger

Neil Parille's picture

If Ayn Rand has been maligned by Burns, then why doesn't Binswanger tell everyone how? Why doesn't he tell us what the mistaken or skewed facts are?

-Neil Parille

The source of the Binswanger quote

Rick Pasotto's picture

is probably his subscription email list. Check out his Policies page, especially the sections #6 "Re-publishing HBL material" and #8 "Philosophic issues" and its "Loyalty Oath" subsection.

What is the source of this?

Ted Keer's picture

The following quote is attributed to Harry Binswanger above. It apparently exists nowhere else in public on the web. What is its source?

Copyright violating post removed by webmaster

Ellen ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

No, I haven't seen the end-notes. But I absolutely disapprove. If someone is going to be quoted saying a thing like that, her name should be right there in the narrative. And the author quoting her should make some effort to resolve the apparent contradiction between "unclean" and "germophobic."

If you'd check page-by-page, you'd find that some of the most acidulous comments made by anyone come from a 1983 interview, conducted by BB, of Barbara Weiss.

Thanks for the heads-up.

Ellen

Brant Gaede's picture

I saw Barbara Weiss at the offices of The Objectivist in '71 or '72. She was heavy of course, but her appearance was clean and sharp. I had the impression she carried her weight well. She was also prone to say "Absolutely!"

I read somewhere that she is deceased. I don't consider her to be that good a witness or, especially, evaluator of an Ayn Rand dealing with her own declining health and that of her husband's.

--Brant

Daryn Kent - also Barbara Weiss

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Neil: "The source for the account in the Heller biography is Daryn Kent herself."

The source for the direct quotes from Daryn Kent is Daryn Kent. The source for interspersed evaluative comments is Barbara, almost verbatim but without attribution.

Linz, are you aware of the end notes? The notes are done in the page-by-page referencing to a line of text style, a frequent method when there are a great many notes.

If you'd check page-by-page, you'd find that some of the most acidulous comments made by anyone come from a 1983 interview, conducted by BB, of Barbara Weiss.

Weiss was the last of the old guard who left. She resigned as Ayn's secretary shortly after Elayne Kalberman and Ayn had a blow-up and the Kalbermans left, which wasn't long after the Blumenthals left.

Funny thing regarding that uncleanliness comment, I always thought that Weiss -- who was heavy and unprepossessing -- looked negligent of cleanliness. A couple other remarks she's quoted as making are echoes of things someone I knew who knew Weiss said about Weiss. The pattern leaves me with a suspicion of projection, but with nothing I could verify. I'm not currently in contact with anyone who knew Weiss whom I could ask for further details about her.

Ellen

What

Brant Gaede's picture

What I'm retiring from, Linz, is a discussion of Valliant's forthcoming review of the Burns' bio--if it ever arrives--because I didn't care to mix that up with PARC as Neil seems determined to do. When Neil jumps on Valliant about PARC I don't think I want to participate. In any case, Valliant on about Burns or anything else is a matter of complete disinterest to me. FYI Barbara did post on OL that she liked Heller's bio. very much. Now feel free to march all over that.

--Brant

Rand "A Bit Paranoid"

Neil Parille's picture

So says Jennifer Burns at the Miller Forum at University of Virginia on iTunesU. The discussion is at 49:30.

-Neil Parille

Wrong Again

Neil Parille's picture

Linz,

You are wrong again. The source was not anonymous. It was Barbara Weiss, pages 264 & 493.

-Neil Parille

Daryn Kent

Neil Parille's picture

Linz,

The source for the account in the Heller biography is Daryn Kent herself.

-Neil Parille

As usual, Brant ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... I have no idea what your silly little crypticism is intended to mean. You're a waste of space. I thought you were retiring from this discussion? Since you clearly have nothing to say, apart from "PARC is dead" at your mistress's command, why don't you keep your word?

Oh

Brant Gaede's picture

Linz, are you the Murray Rothbard who would have stayed?

--Brant

Daryn Kent

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I've just read this part of Heller. If the intention is to indict Ayn as Ayatollah, THERE IS TOO LITTLE INFORMATION. It would be laughed out of court. This story appeared before, without Ms Kent's name being mentioned, no? Was it in one of the Branden bios? It has all the hallmarks of Babs.

I wonder ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... where anyone gets off on anonymously alleging that "Ayn wasn't very clean. I couldn't picture Nathan in her bed." And how it's supposed to square with Ayn the Germophobe.

Ha, Hubbard! :-)

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I love the picture of Rand on page 1.

I used to have a framed copy of that one. Dunno where it is now. Anyway, there's a lovely full-page close-up of it in the Heller book, as I've just discovered. Smiling

Meant to make this point ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... ages ago on this or maybe another thread, re Mr. Perren's "sodomy-with-a-broomstick" thing. Rand makes it superlatively, as quoted by Heller, P 187:

"An abstract theory that has no relation to reality is worse than nonsense; and men who act without relation to principles are worse than animals. Those who say that theory and practice are two unrelated realms are fools in one and scoundrels in the other."

It's no defence of Rand to say that the truth of her philosophy stands regardless of her own character, and it's the last defence she'd want. Her character is the "and I mean it" part of her "philosophy for living on earth."

Brant

Neil Parille's picture

Brant,

In reading most of the reviews of the new biographies I'm struck that there isn't any hint that there is controversy about Rand's life. One blog review mentioned Valliant, only to shoot him down. The only explicit mention of Valliant's arguments in the new biographies is his disputing the Branden claim that Frank drank too much, which they both reject. Neither Ed Cline nor Binswanker mentioned Valliant.

The archives newsletter referenced books that had utilized the archives and omitted PARC.

PARC has been a big flop.

EDIT: See also http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

-Neil Parille

Neil

Brant Gaede's picture

The PARC wars are over, thanks to you and these new bios. Might as well toss PARC into the dumpster. The iconic Ayn Rand is gone with the wind along with its orthodoxy of Objectivism. Just a dead end. The legit public criticisms of the three major bios save one are relatively trivial for people getting on with their lives. (What Rand still needs is an outstanding intellectual bio.) I have yet to read one bad/horrible review of Rand that bottom line only would want the un-brain-dead to go out and read her.

--Brant

The Typewriter

Neil Parille's picture

Brant,

I think its importance is limited to the PARC wars. Jim used this as his jumping-off point for his nutty attack on theBrandens. He should have done some archival work before he accused Fern Brown and theBrandens of lying. But research isn't Jim's strong point.

-Neil Parille

Why

Brant Gaede's picture

Why is the typewriter story important as opposed to only very mildly interesting? Rand was bigger than a typewriter by an almost infinite factor.

--Brant

Neil

Jmaurone's picture

Yes. Have a cookie.

Joe

Neil Parille's picture

Have you read Anne Heller's biography?

-Neil Parille

Smelly?

Jmaurone's picture

No, it was Rand who was smelly, according to the "excellent biography." Sick

Brant

Neil Parille's picture

Not necessarily. For example, Burns said recently that the typewriter story goes back to Rand herself, but she doesn't mention this in her book.

-Neil Parille

But

Brant Gaede's picture

But that material's in Burns' already, no?

--Brant

Heller

Neil Parille's picture

Brant,

I don't think the Heller needs to be revised, but I imagine that there is material in the archives that could be incorporated.

-Neil Parille

Heller

Brant Gaede's picture

Heller needs to be revised?

--Brant

All in All

Neil Parille's picture

Brant,

I wouldn't say one is better than the other. I think they should be read together. Burns had accessed to the archives, which Heller didn't. On the other hand, Heller did more interviews. They also have different scope.

If Peikoff wants to save what little of his reputation is left after the Valliant disgrace and the jiggery pokery with the published journals (and other materials) he should allow Heller into the archives for a revised version.

-Neil

All in all

Brant Gaede's picture

All in all the Burns' bio is superior to Heller's, but that dust jacket photo is the best I've ever seen of Rand. The inside photo of her in lower Manhattan in front of the Federal Reserve bank was taken in 1964, not 1967. It was on the cover of TVOS which came out in 1964. The cars in the foreground are a 1958 Olds and an early 60s Dodge and Pontiac. The facade right behind her no longer exists.

--Brant

Branden Lies

Neil Parille's picture

Gregster,

Neither you nor Valliant have shown any specific lies by theBrandens.

-Neil Parille

Pariah Neil Parille

gregster's picture

Excellent!

Excellent!

Neil, who's been salivating about this sub-reality book for about 2 months.

The Heller amounts to another hatchet job against Rand, taking its cues from the conventional, arbitrary Branden LIES.

Control your salivation Parille. The book's worth fuck all in your quest against PARC.

Heller has it all wrong because she's a traditionalist and a humanity diminisher like yourself.

This won't be the last time a biographer couldn't understand Rand.

Get a life man!

Joe

Neil Parille's picture

Yes, Michael Sewer Smelly was mentioned in the acknowledgments, but so was Jim Valliant.

I wasn't mentioned, which was not a blow to my self-esteem since I don't have any.

-Neil Parille

Nathaniel Branden

Neil Parille's picture

Linz,

The Heller biography is excellent and I don't see a big difference between it the Burns.

Heller isn't in a thrall to Nathaniel. She is fairly harsh on him.

-Neil Parille

I suppose ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... the other bios mentioned it, but Heller is very particular about the mutual allure between Rand and a succession of attractive young men. Good for her. Rand, I mean. A pity the one she consummated it with was such a psycho. And that Heller is in such thrall to him.

Just posting this for members

Mark Hubbard's picture

Just posting this for members interest.

New York Magazine's (not New Yorker) Sam Anderson uses a supposed review of Heller to launch one of the most bitchy attacks on the person of Rand I have read.

http://nymag.com/arts/books/fe...

I love the picture of Rand on page 1.

[Oh, Heller / Burns, think I've got the wrong thread ... no time to find an appropriate place. Not keeping up again.]

Linz

Jmaurone's picture

You should have known when MSK was listed in the acknowledgements. Puzzled

Ellen ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I doubt that I'll dignify her with an "answer" now that her game is clear to me: smuggle in the snide Babsisms in parantheses and then bllthely, nonchalantly, innocently proceed as though nothing has happened. The method is as Babsian as the content.

Burns was honest. This woman has an agenda (or has allowed herself to be used by those who have). I don't doubt Babs had her cliched plaudits ready before the thing even came out.

I'm looking forward to your own assessments. Climategate will be with us always, you know. Eye

Actually, in both matters one is dealing with the drooling beast. That thing that eyes you maliciously, unreachable, impervious to reason, proceeding on its wanton way (which you're in) regardless ...

Here's the thing, though—it's precisely the Binswangers of this world, people who knew Rand, who *should* be reading these things and if need be ripping them apart. Airily to say Rand's philosophy is bigger than her diminishers and will survive accordingly is ... well, yet another instance of intrinsicism.

Ross—I've not yet come across anything that indicates Heller doesn't understand Rand. I suspect the problem is that she does understand her all too well, and knows an enemy when she sees one. This aside on FDR may be instructive:

(Rand apparently never considered that one of Roosevelt's accomplishments may have been to stave off a Russian-style insurrection.)

To continue or not to continue

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz: "It's the snide little Babsian insertions that are driving me to the point where I don't know if I'll bother continuing."

I hope you'll soldier on. One can't properly answer what one hasn't read.

Ellen

Evidently...

Ross Elliot's picture

"This woman does not like Rand."

...this woman does not *understand* Rand.

What's new?

More stiletto-ing ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

It's the snide little Babsian insertions that are driving me to the point where I don't know if I'll bother continuing. Rand's frustration in the face of her having to return to the metaphorical quarry, the slaughter of Jews and the advance of tyranny, is characterized thus:

Personally, Rand felt powerless, although she characteristically expressed her powerlessness in anger and self-pity: 'If I were a defender of Communism, I'd be a Hollywood millionaire by now, with a swimming pool and a private orchestra to play The Internationale,' she wrote to a businessman acquaintance in September.

On the next page Rand is a "demanding and entitled child."

This woman does not like Rand.

I do not like this woman.

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