Anne Heller, M.D? [From 'Silence of James Valliant's Defenders' Thread]

Michael Moeller's picture
Submitted by Michael Moeller on Thu, 2009-12-10 21:58

I find Heller's treatment of Frank's drinking to be suspicious, to say the least. I will get to what might be some potential mendacity re her quote on page 357 in a second, but first a few remarks on the passage you quoted from the endnote on page 493. The passage that stems from on page 263 states:

The Brandens later claimed to have discovered that he was drinking heavily in a local bar--an assertion that has been bitterly disputed by Rand's hard-core followers, but that what evidence there is suggests is true

Well, the first obvious question is why does she not give us that evidence? Why is she just asserting it, why not let the reader be the judge of the evidence she possesses? She has substituted her judgment for the reader's here. Is this "suggestion" based on Frank going to The Russian Tea Room after painting class? Who knows.

Now, to anybody who has known an addict or heavy drinker, the signs are often obvious. They are always itching for their next fix, the substance is often lingering around (like hidden bottles), their behavior is very erratic, they sleep late, often miss appointments and break promises, and on and on. By all accounts, these symptoms are missing from the accounts of Frank's behavior. I don't even think Babs has copped to seeing Frank drunk, which would be suspicious considering the amount they saw each other over a long period of time.

This is why I asked Linz if the Reismans had ever seen Frank drunk. According to Linz, George stated he had never seen Frank with a drink in his hand. Again, very suspicious considering they had considerable contact over a long period of time.

So did Heller bother to do what I did? Did she get testimony from others, particularly others without an axe to grind like Babs, regarding their observations of Frank's drinking? It seems to me in a "controversy" that is "bitterly disputed", you have an obligation to seek out this evidence if you think the "suggestion" is correct, especially where the testimony can be easily obtained (like testimony from the Reismans).

In any event, let's get to the good stuff on page 357:

In the fall of 1967, Frank was seventy. Two or three years earlier, he had been diagnosed with a chronic condition whose symptoms included painful contractions in the tendons of his hands, making it difficult to hold a paintbrush. The source of the problem seems to have been Dupuytren's syndrome, a disorder often associated with alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver, as well as with areriosclerosis. O'Connor suffered from two of these three conditions: he drank heavily, and he had incipient arteriosclerosis, or a hardening of the arteries, which gradually reduces blood flow to the brain and body. Neither condition was apparent at the time, when hints of his failing health were limited to thinness, pallor, silence, and the problem with his hands.

First thing to note is: what happened to the "suggestion" that he drank heavily? Here she states it definitively. Did Anne Heller M.D. uncover new evidence between pages 263 and 357? Did she forget to go back and change page 263 and the endnote? Otherwise, I am not sure how the evidence goes from "suggesting" he drank heavily to definitively stating Frank drank heavily.

She states that it "seems to have been Dupuytren's syndrome", naming one symptom. I am sure there are a lot of other things that can cause painful hand contractions. So how did she come upon this diagnosis? She does not cite any sources in the back of the book. I see no medical records nor any testimony stating that Frank had Dupuytren's. Apparently, Anne Heller, M.D., came to this diagnosis via her own medical detective work.

Now, I had no idea what Dupuytren's was, so I did a Google search. The very first site that came up says that the causes of Dupuytren's are "unknown" and "may be associated with certain biochemical factors within the involved fascia". Well, that's not very supportive of Heller M.D.'s causes for Dupuytren's. I then checked The Mayo Clinic, which does not mention arteriosclerosis or liver cirrhosis as "risk factors". Mayo states that alcohol intake is associated with Dupuytren's, "although not everyone with Dupuytren's abuses alcohol". Next I checked Wikipedia. Again, nothing about arteriosclerosis. Wiki mentions people with liver cirrhosis among the primarily affected. Wiki states alcoholism among the "suspected, but unproven" causes.

Let's review Heller M.D.'s three causes in support of the Dupuytren's diagnosis. None of the sites note arteriosclerosis, which Heller uses as one of the two conditions for diagnosis. Only one site notes liver cirrhosis, which Frank did not have anyway according to Heller M.D.. Two of sites mention alcoholism, but Mayo says not all Dupuytren's sufferers drink and Wiki states that alcoholism is a "suspected, but unproven" cause. Hmmm, there seems to be a major problem here with Heller M.D.'s support for a Dupuytren's diagnosis, especially when you consider that hand problems can be caused by any number of things.

But here is what I find to be the real kicker: the one symptom Heller cites in support of the diagnosis is "painful contractions in the tendons of his hands". If you read these sites, Dupuytren's is "rarely painful", "not typically painful", and "usually painless". Furthermore, the first website above says deeper structures like "tendons" "are not directly involved". The disease seems to be characterized by lumps at the surface of the palm.

So the one symptom Heller M.D. cites does NOT support a diagnosis of Dupuytren's. What are these other symptoms she leaves out? Who knows, unless they are the ones she lists at the end of the paragraph, which include "thinness, pallor, silence". These may not be medical at all and could be explained by a zillion things.

I was suspicious when I first read that passage on page 357 because it seemed like an awfully propitious case of connect-the-dots. Hey, Frank had a hand problem, it "seems to be Dupuytren's". And guess what? Dupuytren's is associated with alcoholism. And guess what else? Frank drank heavily!! Voila!

So how did Anne Heller M.D. come to this Dupuytren's diagnosis again? Is she privy to some medical records or testimony she failed to relay? Or is Anne Heller M.D., expert diagnostician, ahead of her time in terms of the medical science on Dupuytren's (at least according to these online sources)?

Here's an alternative hypothesis: Anne Heller M.D. engaged in a some fancy footwork and started by working backwards. That is, Heller M.D. found that Frank had problems with his hands, found a hand disease that was associated with alcoholism, and then used it to support the claim that Frank drank heavily. This is just a hypothesis and maybe Heller has better reasons for her Dupuytren's diagnosis, but something smells just a little bit rotten here.

Michael


Robert

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Barbara says that she was very close to Frank, and in her book as a total I think there is evidence of closeness, maybe even of a "special" closeness. On the other hand, she says things about what Frank was feeling about the affair which her apparent basis for knowing is a self-declared wordless rapport. Valliant raises some good questions about the extent to which she might have really known what Frank was feeling.

The information which is being talked about here isn't "personal information." It was just an issue of where Frank went and what he did on the afternoon and evening when he left the apartment so Ayn and Nathaniel could have privacy for their affair. I've supposed that the sort of vagueness Barbara meant was of this order: Frank's saying "I went to a movie" but not saying *what* movie. Nothing private needing kept from a "busybody."

Some associated questions occur to me, however. Was Barbara there when Frank returned home? It doesn't seem she would have been. So is the vagueness she means that Frank was vague in responding to Ayn's asking what he'd done? If so, would Ayn have told Barbara that Frank was vague? And would Ayn have *accepted* a "vague" answer? I mean, suppose Frank said, "I went to a movie," I would think that Ayn would have asked "What movie?" Not from being nosy, just from being the way she was in seeking precise answers. And I think that if Ayn had felt that Frank was being evasive, rather than just "vague," she'd have pursued questioning.

I do agree that "it's hardly ironclad evidence of anything," one way or the other, whether Frank was "vague" or not, and to whom.

The more the tissue of supposed evidence is examined, the less solid it gets.

Ellen

Ellen,

Robert's picture

Thanks for the clarification. But here's a question for you. What evidence is there that Barbara was a close friend of Frank's?

You see I've met a few people of Frank's vintage - my grandfathers for instance - and looking back, I cannot see them being the sort who would unload personal information to just anyone. Indeed, I'd be extremely surprised if they were that candid at all with any woman who wasn't their wife.

My gut tells me that Frank's vagueness was merely a means of rapidly changing the topic of conversation. Satisfy the busybody with some random data and hope that it will shut her up. Then again, as you suggest the vagueness might have just as easily come from Barbara's memory. Either way, it's hardly ironclad evidence of anything. I've seen more substance on the Hockey-Puck Global-Warming hypothesis.

What a stinking load of bullocks this all is.

Concerning those "piles of bottles" in the closet

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I've been meaning to get around to commentary on the posthumously-found stash.

--

About two years ago, on OL, I made note of the change in Barbara's account of bottles found in Frank's studio from "rows" "each week" to a stash in a closet after Frank's death. (It's possible that both were found.)

Barbara says in Passion:

pp. 365-66:

[After Frank dropped from the roles of the Art Students League, which Barbara says he did by 1971]: He retained his studio in the apartment building where he and Ayn lived, and continued to spend his days there. And each week, when Ayn's housekeeper went to the studio to clean it, she found no new paintings but, instead, rows of empty liquor bottles.

However, on SOLOHQ, she wrote (the post is an email copied by Brant on 9/11/05):

link

It was easy not to be aware of Frank's excessive drinking. He did it mostly in his studio, where he was alone -- and where the piles of empty bottles were found after his death.

And:

link

After Frank's death, Eloise, their maid, found a great many empty liquor bottles in a closet in his studio.

Also, on OL, she wrote:

link

I was told about his drinking by four people (two of whom were close to Ayn and Frank). One, as I believe you know, was the maid who worked for Ayn and Frank for many years and who discovered all the empty liquor bottles in Frank's studio after his death.

She also talks about the bottles in a closet in her Full Context interview: link.

 

A question which has recently occurred to me is: Where did Barbara hear about bottles found in a closet in his studio after Frank's death?

She doesn't list Eloise in the Acknowledgements of Passion as someone she interviewed, and in the OL post linked above what she says she has from Eloise is a letter ("I have letters giving their statements from both Don Ventura and the maid").

None of her other witnesses was still associated with Rand at the time of Frank's death, so none of them would likely have heard about bottles in a closet directly from Eloise.

Might it have been Leonard Peikoff from whom -- via indirect report -- Barbara first heard about bottles in a closet?

 

She definitely knows about Leonard's saying that bottles used for mixing paints were found after Frank's death.

See, e.g. (on SOLOHQ):

Leonard has never disputed this fact -- and gave the unbelievable and embarrassing "explanation" that Frank used the empty bottles to mix his paints!

Leonard, however, didn't use such descriptions as "piles" or a "great many empty liquor bottles." (Here is a transcript of Leonard's 1987 answer at the Ford Hall Forum to a question about Frank's drinking.)

Although I find the idea of mixing paints in long-necked bottles definitely suspicious, neither does Leonard specify that the bottles were long-necked (as has been assumed). And he gives no indication of the number. Maybe he didn't know. Or of the state of the bottles. "Piles" sounds like a large and a secretive stash. But maybe it was just a few bottles sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

I have such a collection on a shelf in a closet in my back room -- a room where, about 5 times per two-week period, I (gasp) drink -- beer, with a bit of wine or dry sherry as a chaser -- and pace and listen to music. Alone. At night.

Were someone to show up at my door (heaven forfend) at an early-morning hour, if I were still awake to answer the door, the someone might smell beer on my breath. If someone other than me were collecting the household trash to take out, the someone might report (if I drank beer in bottles instead of cans) removing bottles (10-12) each week. (Heller reported simply "bottles," dropping the "rows" from Barbara's description in Passion of the weekly removals.)

As to the stash in the cupboard, I used to use bottles as holders for burning candles. I like candle-dripped bottles. I've also saved a number of bottles just because I think they're pretty. Might Frank's cupboard stash have been collected with the thought of painting still-lifes?

Again, as with the question of how many bottles of what type of alcohol were removed each week, information on details might never be obtainable. Eloise, who maybe alone knew, is dead, and maybe no one ever asked her the specifics. The expansion in magnitude, with retelling, of the cupboard find, however, makes that tale sound like a tall tale -- especially if Leonard Peikoff's Ford Hall Forum remarks was the original public source of the story.

Ellen

Phillips & James

Michael Moeller's picture

Philip,
You are welcome, and thank you for the acknowledgement.

James,
Thank you. And I would like to add that your review of Ms. Burns' book is far and away the best and most comprehensive that I have read. Particularly welcome were the host of corrections you made on Rand's ideas. Kudos!!

Michael

Bravo

James S. Valliant's picture

I just wanted to note for the record how deeply impressed I am with Mr. Moeller's entire approach here.

"1) Frank didn't have

Michael Moeller's picture

"1) Frank didn't have Dupuytren's."

No, I think it is a possibility. If Frank had contractions in his hands, he would have been predisposed to the disease by certain risk factors, including that he was old, male, of Irish descent, and a smoker. However, these do not confirm a diagnosis. I was told that there was too little evidence (given in these biographies) and the evidence was too vague to make a diagnosis. It is further complicated by such things as the hand problems coming back, as surgery usually effectively treats the problem. So I really don't know if he had it, but question (3) is really the important one.

"2) The fact that both Babs Heller and Babs Branden claim that he did indicates we should treat any medical claims by them, including alcoholism, with supreme scepticism, if not outright, automatic disbelief."

Yes, I would treat their medical claims with extreme skepticism (including the liberties taken with the Dexedrine story). As I noted, Heller's methodology is highly flawed, which apparently includes using medical sources from 1899.

"3) Even if he did have Dupuytren's, the likelihood of alcoholism being its cause is remote."

Alcoholism is a disputed risk factor and most Dupuytren's patients are not alcoholics. But the most important thing is that Heller's and Barbara's (in particular) timelines do not coincide with Frank being an alcoholic at the time of the hand problems. So where does that leave the justification of alcoholism as a factor? Maybe we will get more evidence that Frank was an alcoholic at that time, but standing on Heller's and Barbara's evidence, the connection does not wash.

"4) The evidence of Frank's "alcoholism" is, as we speak, non-existent."

I would love to see Barbara's interview tapes. We have no idea at this point what they actually say. And the story keeps changing. The problems with Ventura, Huggins, Elayne, and Weiss have been discussed and are significant. For the Blumenthals, we have no idea at all what their conclusions are based on. At this point in time, the case is extremely weak.

Michael

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Am I right to conclude that the import of your splendid post is as follows:

1) Frank didn't have Dupuytren's.

2) The fact that both Babs Heller and Babs Branden claim that he did indicates we should treat any medical claims by them, including alcoholism, with supreme scepticism, if not outright, automatic disbelief.

3) Even if he did have Dupuytren's, the likelihood of alcoholism being its cause is remote.

4) The evidence of Frank's "alcoholism" is, as we speak, non-existent.

?

Outstanding post, Michael.

PhilipD's picture

Outstanding post, Michael. Thanks for taking the time...

Dupuytren's Revisited

Michael Moeller's picture

William Scherk urged me and others to take our criticisms to the source for the purpose of corrections and such, and now we have seen that result. Apparently, Ms. Heller is not too interested in discussing problems and issues in her book. This strikes me as odd, to say the least, as she is the only published source on the Dupuytren's diagnosis. If her book has serious problems with regards to Dupuytren's (and it certainly does), then one would think she would be interested in rectifying these problems for future editions. Anyway, I will respect her wish not to "dissect" these issues any further on the Doubleday site.

Nevertheless, I found the answers she did give highly enlightening, so let's get to that.

Heller's Cited Medical Source

In my questions, I noted some of the problems with her presentation, such as arteriosclerosis not being associated with Dupuytren's. Heller stated she consulted with medical practitioners and medical literature and provided this medical source. (Click on the link in that answer by Heller. Including the url here makes my post go widescreen.)

I assume this source was used to establish the link between arteriosclerosis and Dupuytren's because that what is being discussed on the page she linked to. But there is just one problem with this source: it is from 1899. No, that is not a typo, the source is from 1899.

I asked her for more evidence, and she responds by saying she consulted medical practitioners and medical literature, and then links to a source from 1899? Oh my.

I showed this to one of the doctors I consulted with and he told me not to worry about any of the concepts in that article because it was written long before arteriosclerosis was understood. This makes sense, considering in all the medical sites I looked at, none of them mentioned arteriosclerosis as a risk factor for Dupuytren's. And the doctors confirmed this for me. I would be shocked if a doctor provided her with this source, unless he was 100 years old and hadn't practiced in 60 years.

Heller's Flawed Methodology

Heller stated that the evidence is contained in her book. Fine, but after doing the research and speaking to doctors, I think she has an extremely flawed methodology.

First, let it be noted that she did not present any new evidence in her book. She noted Frank's arteriosclerosis, the contractions in the tendons of his hand, and the fact he had surgery to correct the problem. All this was already given in PAR, Heller simply repackaged in the form of a Dupuytren's Contracture diagnosis. So let's review her support for Dupuytren's Contracture quickly:

(1) Liver cirrhosis. I was told that this is not a strong association with Dupuytren's, and Frank did not suffer from liver disease anyway, according to Heller. So I am not sure why this is even included.

(2) Arteriosclerosis. The doctors confirmed for me that there is no known association with Dupuytren's, which is explains why it is missing from the medical websites. The fact that she cited a medical source from 189--long before arteriosclerosis was understood--was beyond bizarre.

(3) Painful contractions in the tendons of the hand. As Ellen noted, this is imprecisely stated, probably because it comes straight from Barbara's book with "painful" added. However, I have confirmed that Dupuytren's is rarely painful. Also, this is a disease of the palmar fascia in which the connective tissue causes the contractures, but also presses on the tendons to make them contract. At best, Heller has imprecisely stated the nature of the disease, probably (again) because she is working off of Barbara's description.

(4) Alcoholism. As the doctors told me, most Dupuytren's patients are not alcoholics, and some of the studies dispute any significant association. Heller appears to be working in reverse, as I said earlier; that is, throwing out the possibility of Dupuytren's and using that to connect it with Frank's drinking.

However, *IF* Frank had Dupuytren's, the most significant risk factors that would have predisposed him to the disease are that he was old, male, of Irish descent, and a smoker. A lesser contributing risk factor could be overuse or trauma from Frank's painting. I should note here, however, that the presence/absence of any of these risk factors does not prove/disprove the diagnosis. I am told this is a classic clinical diagnosis that is usually diagnosed after taking the patient history, examining the patient, and finding nodules on the palm with contractures in the last two fingers.

In any event, why does Heller not include these more significant factors, as the doctors all told me the same thin--i.e. that these would be the most likely things to predispose Frank to the disease?

And this is the whole flawed methodology. Heller tries to make a Dupuytren's diagnosis while leaving out the most important factors in favor of alcoholism, which has a more tenuous connection to Dupuytren's. If she consulted medical literature and practitioners and wanted to be accurate, I am baffled by her presentation. Heller's presentation reads like she is trying to stack the deck in order to justify that Frank "drank heavily".

And from Heller's brief answers, she has perhaps unwittingly further undermined the connection between Dupuytren's and Frank's alleged alcoholism.

Heller and Barbara Undermined by Their Own Timeline

According to Heller's own book, Frank's hand surgery took place in 1964 or 1965. However, the potentially strongest witnesses are the Blumenthals, who claim, according to Heller, that Frank drank heavily in the 70's.

Heller noted that the Blumenthals supported the Dupuytren's diagnosis and that they confirm Frank drank heavily, too bad they do not go together according to her own timeline.

And it gets worse for Barbara. First read my analysis of her Dupuytren's letter here, particularly under the heading "The Evidence". Barbara is cherry-picking statements from medical websites to make the Dupuytren's/alcoholism connection stronger than it really is based on the medical science. And this is all she provides in stating firmly that Frank had Dupuytren's (in addition to the tendon contraction statement in her book).

Besides misrepresenting the medical sources and the alcoholism connection, there is another major problem:

I did not say he was an alcoholic when the collective was reading ATLAS. It happened much later, only beginning in the final years of my relationship with Ayn. (Barbara on RoR)

I, myself, did not see him seriously affected by his drinking (only, sometimes, what I would have called being tipsy) -- or, if I did, I was not aware of it, since it's not something I was attuned to noticing in people -- but I left in 1968, and I've been told that his really debilitating drinking began after that time. (Barbara on OL)

Barbara has Frank's heavy drinking beginning at the end of her Rand years, or after (1968). Again, his surgery for the hand problems is in 1964-65. So how is she making the connection between his hand problems and alcoholism, when her own timeline has the surgery before the drinking problem?

This is further undermined when examining the timeline of her own witnesses. The problems with Elayne Kalberman's, Barbara Weiss's, and Eloise Huggins' testimonies have already been outlined on this thread. According to Barbara's book, their testimonies are dated somewhere in the mid-to-late 70's, long before Frank's hand problems. Thus, we only have Don Ventura as a witness to Frank drinking heavily at the time of the onset of his hand problems, and we are all painfully aware of the problems with Barbara's reportage on that subject (in addition to the omissions in re Ventura in the Burns and Heller books).

Whether or not Frank had Dupuytren's is irrelevant at this point. It is a possibility if he in fact had hand contractions and given his predispositions of being old, male, of Irish descent, and a smoker.

The connection of Dupuytren's to Frank's alleged alcoholism, however, is in tatters, according to Barbara's and Heller's own timelines. When Barbara used the Dupuytren's link alcoholism, she was not "certainly justified". She contradicted her own evidence, again whittling away her credibility on Frank's drinking. That, too, appears to be in tatters.

Heller on the Blumenthals

Heller claims that the Blumenthals have supported, and support, what she wrote in her book regarding Frank's drinking. I wonder. In the endnote (page 493) to her first claim of Frank's drinking (page 263) she states that the evidence "suggests" his heavy drinking in true. Then in the Dupuytren's instance, she states definitively that Frank "drank heavily" (page 357). Then on page 403, Heller reups it one more time and states he "drank heavily whenever he could".

The Blumenthals embrace all of this, including Heller's own inconsistencies? Interesting.

I combed all the references in all three biographies and in Barbara's online statements. There is no indication as to what exactly the Blumenthals base these conclusions on. Although unclear who "they" refers to, Heller perhaps has JMB going to the Russian Tea Room with Frank after art class (page 359). Barbara also noted in her RoR statement that JMB was a friend on Ventura's. However, this was the early-to-mid 60's, and Heller stated that the Blumenthals confirm drinking in the 70's.

So what, precisely, do the Blumenthals base their conclusions on? All we have is Heller's cofirmation, and reconfirmation, as to their conclusion. Well, that tells us nothing about the evidence, no matter how emphatically Heller states it.

Also, I find her brief statement about the Blumenthals on Duputren's vague, at best.

As to Dupuytren’s, they not only support the likelihood of Frank’s having had it; they recall having been told that Duypuytren’s was the diagnosis at the time. Joan’s father had Dupuytren’s, or something similar, she told me, and was told that, in him, it was the first sign of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

First problem: ALS is not associated with Dupuytren's Contracture. Who told her? A doctor? Somebody who heard from somebody else? They recall, when? At the time of his surgery? Or later when the "somebody" told them?

Bottom line: there is nothing to evaluate with respect to the Blumenthals. All we have is Heller's vociferous confirmations of Frank drinking heavily, and somebody telling them that Frank had Dupuytren's or "something similar" at some unspecified time. Sorry, but I am not predisposed to accepting conclusions (as relayed by somebody else) without evidence.

Robert

Ellen Stuttle's picture

With due appreciation of the sentiment, you're many years removed from the time of the "vague" description, which wasn't a response to a biographer. That's a quote from The Passion of Ayn Rand (pg. 272). It's Barbara's recollection of what Frank said at the time he'd done on the afternoon and evening when AR and NB had their private get-togethers. BB wasn't taking notes for a biography of the story in the mid-50s when it was happening.

Ellen

He was vague with these answers?!??!

Robert's picture

Gee whiz I wonder why? He was only being asked to reveal what were probably his most closely guarded thoughts to someone planning to make a profit by telling them to the rest of the world.

Vague? Frank obviously suffered from being overly polite. Were I in his shoes (being asked personal questions about my love life by a stinking biographer or other assorted busy-body with a loose tongue), I would have emptied the contents of my brandy snifter on her notes and then set them on fire on my way out of the door.

I don't know

Brant Gaede's picture

what he did. I think he did ...

I have no testimony about what actually happened.

--Brant

Some Premise Checking

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Brant inquires (#83265):

"What do you guys/gal think Frank was doing while Someone else was loving his wife?"

He then says (#83278):

"I don't know what Frank did in response to the horrible way he was treated by his wife."

 

In reply to the first question, here, according to Barbara's report in Passion, is what Frank told people at the time he was doing:

"I went for a walk", he would say. Or, "I saw a movie." Or, "I dropped into the bar at the Mayfair Hotel for an hour or two; I know some of the men who go there, and we talked."

She says he was "vague" in these answers, and she then goes on to say that years later "the truth" was revealed (about how much and how habitually he was drinking on those occasions).

"Vague" or not -- and we only have her word for it that he was "vague" -- couldn't it possibly be the case that what he did was just what he said he did?

 

As to the second question, well there an important premise has been slipped in -- which is what the supposed "three and four and five and more" drinks he was supposedly really consuming are presented as evidence for concluding -- that Frank indeed felt he was being treated miserably by his wife. But if the evidence isn't there, how would you know he *did* feel treated miserably?

 

I'd like to comment further on the significance of the point that the testimony Heller provides (after resistance, and without providing direct quotes) from the Blumenthals for Frank's drinking, whether or not "in excess," has now been assigned to the '70s.

A very different psychological picture is presented by these two claims:

Barbara's claim in Passion: "[N]ow [in '55, when the AR/NB affair started] [Frank's] drinking began to be a way of life, an escape from an intolerable reality."

And:

In '68 or '69 or '70, no longer able to paint, and becoming senile with the progression of arteriosclerosis, Frank began to while away the time by drinking in his studio.

```

 

Below, again, for easy reference, is the oft-quoted passage in which Barbara reveals what she calls "the truth" about Frank's activities "that afternoon and evening each week."

A point to notice which needs further attention -- I've had this on the back-burner for awhile to bring up: We aren't really presented with evidence by Barbara or by Anne Heller that specifically Frank's drinking became "a painful and explosive source of friction between Ayn and Frank."

We're told by Heller that Elayne said that if Ayn answered the door when beer or hard liquor from the package store arrived, Ayn would send it back.

We're told of Frank's becoming angered with Ayn and exhibiting hostility toward her.

But the dots aren't connected, if they were connected. Were Ayn and Frank overheard to argue specifically about his drinking?

 

pp. 272-73

Frank was always vague about what he did when Ayn and Nathaniel were together. "I went for a walk", he would say. Or, "I saw a movie." Or, "I dropped into the bar at the Mayfair Hotel for an hour or two; I know some of the men who go there, and we talked." It was not until years later that the truth about how Frank spent that afternoon and evening each week was revealed. He did go for a walk--just as far as the bar he frequented. He did visit with some of the men at the bar: they were his drinking partners. Frank had always enjoyed a drink or two in the evening--his powerful martinis were guaranteed to elicit gasps at the first sip by an unsuspecting guest--but now his drinking began to be a way of life, an escape from an intolerable reality.

A friend of Frank's--now a recovered alcoholic--who sometimes joined him for the drink or two which became three and four and five and more, was convinced Frank was an alcoholic. None of the friends Frank shared with Ayn were aware, during these years, that he drank to excess. But much later, his drinking was to become a painful and explosive source of friction between Ayn and Frank.

Ellen

Assuming that we did KNOW what....

Robert's picture

Frank did, if we wanted to understand it we'd have to first address the other assumption inherent in your question: that Frank considered Ayn to be his property -- as opposed to a sovereign individual for instance.

For the record

Brant Gaede's picture

I have no intention of partaking in any SOLOP tribal purification rituals.

--Brant

Evading again, Brant ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Your pin-ups say they *do* know. And what they say is lies and smears. Why don't you man up and admit it? Are you going to pretend that you really think that Babs, Campbell and Sewer have any connection to decency and truth? I remain hopeful that there's a spark of integrity within you that will win through. Then again, I thought for a moment that Adonis had a genuine desire to learn about Objectivism.

I

Brant Gaede's picture

I don't know what Frank did in response to the horrible way he was treated by his wife.

--Brant

Tonight I have

gregster's picture

Cloudy Bay chardonnay, on special at $35. Cos I work hard.

Yes, great idea!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

In and of itself, and as a way to thumb our noses at Babs the Bag.

As in, Misery-Bag.

All this reminds me, Peter

Mark Hubbard's picture

All this reminds me, Peter Cresswell has the beer angle pretty well covered in his blog, but I reckon SOLO could do with a wine thread. I'll see to it at the end of next week.

How ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

How would we know?

Doesn't Brant flounce on a

PhilipD's picture

Doesn't Brant flounce on a daily basis, now?

Brant ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Whatever Frank did, we don't know. But you and your revolting pin-ups say they *do* know. Your position is that he drank himself into a stupor comparable to the state in which you present yourself here. Please submit the evidence. Your icon failed miserably to do so, leaving you lamely asserting that her lies and smears were OK 'cos they were purveyed in a biography.

As I said previously, "Whatever drinking Frank did, I hope he enjoyed every last drop, just to spite that small wowserish misery-guts of a smearer who really had the 'failed life' she ascribes to him."

It's nearly Thursday, Brant. Aren't you overdue for your weekly flounce?

Why don't you tell me what he

PhilipD's picture

Why don't you tell me what he did, Brant. Just let me know if it's your 'biography' version of things or what you really think...

What

Brant Gaede's picture

do you guys/gal think Frank was doing while Someone else was loving his wife?

--Brant
curious

Clearly ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... Babs Heller doesn't like to have her reportage challenged. Funny that.

Seems the drinking-to-excess keeps getting moved forward. First the 50s, then the 60s, now the 70s. Personally I wouldn't be surprised if Babs Branden now came out and said it was in the 80s that Frank drank like a fish. Never mind that he wasn't even alive then ... since when has reality gotten in her way?

We continue to note the Silence of the Brandroids. Apart from Brant's it's-OK-if-it's-in-a-biography thing. Still rubbing my eyes over that.

Heller Replies - Further Detail re Ventura

Ellen Stuttle's picture

On the Doubleday site, Heller responded to my questions about when Ventura met the Blumenthals and the O'Connors by saying that he met the Blumenthals in '61 or '62 and Ayn and Frank shortly thereafter.

She then sent me an email in which she corrected the date of the Blumenthals' meeting Ventura to 1960 and positively dated Ventura's meeting the O'Connors as happening in 1962.

Another detail which I hadn't yet mentioned, prior to the previous post below -- I was going to follow up on this in further questions to Heller, if she'd shown willingness to answer my questions -- is that of the date when Ventura became persona non grata in Ayn's eyes. Heller said in the same email affixing the meeting years that it was *1963* when Ayn became angered with Ventura.

This would mean that Ventura's sometimes working in Frank's studio at 120 East 34th Street could at most have been for a matter of months. (The O'Connors and Brandens moved into the building at 120 East 34th Street sometime in '63 -- probably prior to June, which is when the Newsletter started being published from that address.) This leaves a question as to whether Ventura was still seeing Frank at the Art Students League after '63. It also calls into question a detail of the Ventura story as reported by Anne Heller.

 

Taking the second first.

Heller wrote (pg. 358):

Rand's distress about Branden gradually spilled over and affected Ventura, his friends the Blumenthals, and many of the followers they knew. For the sculptor, Frank became "an anchor in a turbulent sea" filled with shifting hierarchies and rampant gossip about who was rational and moral and who was not.

The descriptiion in the second sentence is plausible. However, if Ventura was only around those circles from sometime in '62 to sometime in '63, this was during the phase when the AR/NB affair was predominantly "on hold"; it was prior to Ayn's wanting to resume the affair and NB's subsequent lying trying to keep her at bay. Thus the "distress" referred to is anachronistic.

 

Heller says further on in the Ventura story (pg. 360):

[The bracketed insert "instead" is Heller's; the others are mine.]

[Ventura] was so mortified [by Ayn's denunciatory anger with him] that he moved out of the neighborhood. "I had been seeking an identity, and [instead] I lost myself," he said in 2004.

Frank didn't phone him, nor did Ventura try to call or see his friend. "I thought I was too bad a person to contact him," said the sculptor. But one day, Ventura ran into Frank on a street corner. "I can't tell you how sorry I am about what happened," Ventura told him. Frank looked sad. "It's not the end of the world," he answered, and turned away. He no longer had the power to argue for restraint at home, as he had in the 1940s.

Yet Burns cites Ventura as a source for some particulars of Frank's life in the second half of the '60s:

pg. 222, text (Goddess):

In 1966 [Frank was elected] vice president of the [Art Students] League. This vote of confidence came just as Frank's artistic career was cut short by the decline of his body. Stricken by a neurological disorder, by the end of 1967 his hands shook so badly he could paint no more. 22 [....]

pg. 332, note 22:

Don Ventura, Oral History, ARP; Ilona Royce Smithkin, Oral History, ARP. [....]

Was Ventura still seeing Frank at the Art Students League, although not still getting together with him as a friend?

Ellen

Heller Replies - Part II

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Heller obviously doesn't want any more questions from me, and I'll honor her wish at this point and cease inquiring of her.

The project has been useful, since several important details have emerged:

 

1) Most important is that Barbara's only witness for Frank's reputed (by Barbara, PAR, pp 272-73) starting to drink in excess, seeking refuge from "an intolerable reality," in the '50s -- i.e., Don Ventura -- didn't meet Frank until 1962.

Another detail of chronology which I haven't yet mentioned (that Ventura's fall from grace, according to Heller, occurred *in '63*) raises additional questions which I'll take up in a separate post.

 

2) The Blumenthals, Heller reports, recall Dupuytren's as having been the diagnosis at the time of Frank's hand surgery.

Heller either didn't notice or sluffed aside my pointing out that if it was Dupuytren's (I find her reply on that convincing), then it *wasn't*, as Barbara described it, "a contraction of the tendons of his hands." Heller didn't answer where she got this description (with the added adjective "painful"). I suppose she got it from Barbara and didn't notice that it contradicts the description of Dupuytren's in her own cited medical source. (Dupuytren's is a condition of the palmar fascia.) I wonder if she ever flew the tendon-contraction description past Allan, and if he corrected her. The answer to that, I suppose I'm unlikely to find out.

 

3) Heller says the Blumenthals confirm that Frank drank heavily *in the '70s*.

Note, she didn't mention the '60s, and still less the '50s -- when, according to Barbara, no one in Ayn's and Frank's circle of friends suspected (small wonder if it wasn't happening then).

If Frank's heavy drinking occurred in the '70s, this does seriously call into question any idea of distress about the NB/AR relationship as a psychologically causative factor.

Ellen

Heller Replies - Part I

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Heller replied to my latest on the Doubleday Ask-the-Author thread.

I'll copy both what I wrote and what she answered, to have the details conveniently quotable here.

 

Heller's reply:

link

Anne C. Heller says:
January 13, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Dear Ellen,

Joan and Allan Blumenthal confirm and reaffirm that Frank drank heavily in the 1970s. As to Dupuytren’s, they not only support the likelihood of Frank’s having had it; they recall having been told that Duypuytren’s was the diagnosis at the time. Joan’s father had Dupuytren’s, or something similar, she told me, and was told that, in him, it was the first sign of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

I do hope I have answered your questions. What I have to say on these and other subjects is for the most part contained in my book. You will agree, disagree, conduct further research, interview Frank’s doctors, contact the Blumenthals–just as you please. I do not want to further dissect this matter or become involved in a debate over controversial passages in someone else’s book.

Yours truly,
Anne

 

My queries/comments:

link

Ellen Stuttle says:
January 12, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Further pertaining to Dupuytren's -- since this is a long post, I'll keep questions about what the Blumenthals supported in reports of Frank's drinking behavior for a later post.

Anne, you write that "Dr. Blumenthal SUPPORTS [my emphasis] the presence of Dupuytren's disease in Frank." What does this mean precisely?

Is Dr. Blumenthal the source of your suggested diagnosis?

If yes, did he claim certainty for the diagnosis, or did he raise it only as a possibility?

If no, what led you to the suggestion to begin with?

Was it simply Barbara's report on pg. 334 of PAR -- which page you footnote for your discussion? Barbara writes that Frank "had developed a contraction of the tendons of his hands which seriously interfered with his painting." You yourself describe the problem as "a chronic condition whose symptoms included painful contractions in the tendons of his hands" (pg. 357).

However -- and this leaves me wondering exactly what Dr. Blumenthal supported -- Dupuytren's isn't a contraction "of" or "in" the tendons.

According to the medical source you yourself reference (pg. 285), "It [Dupuytren's] consists essentially of a hypertrophy of limited longitudinal portions or fasciculi of the fascia of the palm and fingers, or a development of new fibres, together with, usually, contraction of the hypertrophied band in a longitudinal direction."

A layman-friendlier quick-reference source gives the less cumbersome description: "an abnormal thickening of tough tissue (fibrous layer) underneath the skin of the palm and fingers."

http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topi...

Furthermore, your own source says (pg. 300) that "The diagnosis of the condition [i.e., of Dupuytren's] from other affections of the hand is usually unattended with difficulty." And (in the same paragraph) that "Contractions from tendon lesions do not exhibit the characteristic surface changes of fascia contraction."

A further complication for your suggested diagnosis is Burns' competing report (pg. 222): "Stricken by a neurological disorder, by the end of 1967 [Frank's] hands shook so badly he could paint no more." Burns cites no medical source for this claim, only something from the Ayn Rand Project's Oral History referencing Don Ventura and Ilona Royce Smithkin (note 22, pg. 332). She doesn't say whether her source is one or the other or both of the two, or how either would have acquired a medical diagnosis -- and she shows no apparent awareness that your suggestion of Dupuytren's, which she then goes on to mention, is a contrary suggestion.

Thus the reports thus far are conflicting and inconclusive, and the sound of it is that no one has a firm diagnosis -- as in, from a doctor who performed surgery and could be expected to have a good idea what he or she was operating for.

If Allan says that he's *certain* that Frank had Dupuytren's, I would take this as indicating that he either examined Frank himself or consulted with the hand surgeon and I'd be inclined to accept the diagnosis as correct. This of course still wouldn't demonstrate anything conclusive about Frank's drinking to excess, since plenty of people get Dupuytren's who drink only occasionally or not at all. At best, there's a possible "association" of Dupuytren's and alcoholism, not any known etiological connection.

Ellen

Too true

gregster's picture

very good post Mr Moeller.
Star Star Star Star Star

Not my "tar baby" Brant ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... but yours. *You* created the situation from which it's impossible to disentangle yourself. Except by the radical approach of honesty, which is beyond you.

The only thing I expect you to kiss—nay, know you will go on kissing—is Babs's butt.

I'd be curious to know how you live with yourself, but on reflection, I suppose the answer is that you don't.

Brant

Michael Moeller's picture

You wrote:

Based on evidentiary rules nothing has been proved to the effect that Frank was ever a heavy drinker much less an alcoholic. That doesn't mean such is necessarily inappropriate for a biography.

Of course it is inappropriate for a biography. People are reading for facts about the person's life, which should be based on evidence. What worth do you place in a biography if it discards standards of evidence when making claims? The pernicious consequence being that lies and smears then spread about the person and are used to unjustly attack that person. This is certainly the case with respect to Rand.

Barbara did not repudiate her claims about Frank's drinking in the 1950s; there is a difference between drinking and being an alcoholic.

She most certainly did repudiate the 50's claims in her book. Please read the passage I quoted from page 272-73 of PAR. In the 50's, she stated that Frank's drinking "began to be a way of life", and "during these years" he "drank to excess". Furthermore, she has a friend "convinced" Frank was an "alcoholic"--a friend who went to the bar with him for "three and four and five and more" drinks. Does that sound like having a couple of beers to you, Brant?

IF the story is once again changing that Frank later told Ventura, then I am not sure what is worse: (1) a fabricated witness to the 50's drinking, or (2) another Texas two-step performance to get around the fact that Ventura was not there and Barbara repudiated claims in her own book. As I stated at the beginning of this thread, even when caught Barbara and the people supporting these claims will not simply own up (which would be the honest thing to do), but rather simply change the narrative. And that is exactly what is happening.

Contrary to your assertion, wrongly maligning a person (even if dead) is an injustice. I am not sure what concept of "justice" allows one to make serious and unsupported allegations about a person (thus damaging the truth about their life) because they are dead. Do you feel the same way about, say, falsehoods told about the founding fathers that are used to damage their legacies and undermine their greatness? Or is it all ok because they are dead?

Barbara compounded the injustice with the implication that Frank was driven to drink by "an intolerable reality" created by the affair. Well, if he wasn't drinking heavily, where does this leave Barbara's claim about Frank's state of mind and the guttersniping at Rand?

Michael

Here's

Brant Gaede's picture

how it works. Linz makes a post and I reply then Linz modifies the post I replied to.

--Brant
"...and quit trying to deflect just because you're in your nightly stupor."

Do

Brant Gaede's picture

you think I'm going to kiss that tar baby of yours?

--Brant

Um ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Brant, your case is that evidentiary rules in law do not preclude, or render illegitimate, lies and smears in a biography. Please confirm or deny and quit trying to deflect just because you're in your nightly stupor.

Do you know

Brant Gaede's picture

what evidentiary rules are, Linz?

Have another.

--Brant

WHAT???

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Based on evidentiary rules nothing has been proved to the effect that Frank was ever a heavy drinker much less an alcoholic. That doesn't mean such is necessarily inappropriate for a biography.

I've seen it all now, Brant. Lies and smears are OK if the context is a biography? Dear Galt!

Like Ayn Rand, Barbara Branden is primarily and essentially a literary person. To be chased after by a lawyer like James Valliant with a prosecutor's brief 20 years after her Rand biography was published must have been grossly traumatic to her. The bio. Peikoff didn't read and essentially invited all other superior people not to read too. Then came James.

Oh, poor, traumatised Babs. Someone finally called her to account for her lies and smears. Boo-fucking-hoo. Send for the counsellors and therapists.

There can be few things sicker on earth than the world of Brandroidia. All of it. The amoralism, the psychobabble, the pseudo-solicitude, the militant esthetic depravity, the currency of lies and smears, the book-burning and speaker-banning, the pomowanking dressed up in Objectivist garb, the wallowing in bad faith ...

Ugh!!

Michael

Brant Gaede's picture

Based on evidentiary rules nothing has been proved to the effect that Frank was ever a heavy drinker much less an alcoholic. That doesn't mean such is necessarily inappropriate for a biography.

There must have been something wrong with Frank physiologically in the last decade of his life as there seems to have been no paintings done in that time, but he did have a studio with empty liquor bottles.

Based on my medical training and experience, diagnoses are the province of the attending physician and not second and third-hand conjecture, even from another doctor.

Barbara did not repudiate her claims about Frank's drinking in the 1950s; there is a difference between drinking and being an alcoholic. It appears, however, the alleged drinking then is a conjecture or speculation based on Frank's 1960s drinking habits as testified to by the elusive Ventura. I doubt Frank told any bar buddy he met in the 60s about how he drank in the 50s, but don't know. If he did drink in the 60s it is a reasonable speculation he drank in the 50s, all considered.

Ayn treated Frank very badly after she got a fixation on Nathaniel. She was a mighty, productive machine and a lot of people got cut up in the gearworks. It may sound queer, but the only things I really fault her for are not getting another apartment for the affair and not ending it after the few years of its natural life. That's because that affair obviously fed a great hunger. It's true Barbara said, if I recall correctly, that it should never have happened in the first place, but that supposes her marriage to Nathaniel should have.

Now, finally, purported truths and fictions won't ultimately matter because various stories and various aspects of truth or even fictions will simply be used for food for thought. If then, if then or that. People become multiple people in multiple scenarios generating object lessons in human conduct. Personal justice for Frank is not possible simply because he is dead. Historical justice is he was part of important and complicated human actions and situations. "Atlas Shrugged" is a great novel, but greater still because of the human events surrounding its creation and how those events and the novel informed each other. Barbara always sensed this and saw the novel within the novel with a plot and a climax only rivaled by that of Hugo's "Ninety Three."

Like Ayn Rand, Barbara Branden is primarily and essentially a literary person. To be chased after by a lawyer like James Valliant with a prosecutor's brief 20 years after her Rand biography was published must have been grossly traumatic to her. The bio. Peikoff didn't read and essentially invited all other superior people not to read too. Then came James.

--Brant
it's a very reasonable conjecture Frank went to a bar after being kicked out of his home--I hope he did

Brant

Michael Moeller's picture

You wrote:

My take is that Ventura has testimony that Frank drank in the 1960s. From that the inference may be made, albeit tentatively, that he drank in the 50s.

I also saw Neil Parille made a claim that Frank could have later told Ventura about drinking in the 50's. But you do realize that Barbara repudiated this claim when she wrote:

"I did not say he was an alcoholic when the collective was reading ATLAS. It happened much later, only beginning in the final years of my relationship with Ayn."

So which story of Barbara's do you believe? Are you going to cling to the 50's drinking claim after Barbara herself repudiated it?

Let's take another look at what she wrote in her book:

Frank was always vague about what he did when Ayn and Nathaniel were together. "I went for a walk", he would say. Or, "I saw a movie." Or, "I dropped into the bar at the Mayfair Hotel for an hour or two; I know some of the men who go there, and we talked." It was not until years later that the truth about how Frank spent that afternoon and evening each week was revealed. He did go for a walk--just as far as the bar he frequented. He did visit with some of the men at the bar: they were his drinking partners. Frank had always enjoyed a drink or two in the evening--his powerful martinis were guaranteed to elicit gasps at the first sip by an unsuspecting guest--but now his drinking began to be a way of life, an escape from an intolerable reality.

A friend of Frank's--now a recovered alcoholic--who sometimes joined him for the drink or two which became three and four and five and more, was convinced Frank was an alcoholic. None of the friends Frank shared with Ayn were aware, during these years, that he drank to excess. BUt much later, his drinking was to become a painful and explosive source of friction between Ayn and Frank.

The key sentence being the friend [Ventura] who joined Frank for "three and four and five and more" drinks. In that sentence, Barbara does not say whether this happened in the 50's or the 60's. The paragraph before refers to the 50's, and the sentence after says "during these years" [the 50's].

Barbara gives no indication that Ventura joining Frank for drinks was later (in the late 60's), and that the 50's drinking was told to Ventura by Frank (i.e. it is hearsay). The paragraphs above leave the impression this person was drinking with him and a witness to the 50's drinking. NOW that it has been discovered that Ventura was not on the scene, the claim is going to be that Frank later told him? What does this say about how Barbara used the witness in the above statement? She would be purposely misleading the reader and omitting important facts.

The mind boggles at the continual jury-rigging of the story to encompass Barbara's ever-growing inconsistencies and contradictions.

Furthermore, now that Barbara has repudiated the 50's drinking claim, what does this say about her use of Ventura as a witness to the 50's drinking? If she misued him as a witness to the 50's and omitted important facts, what does this say about her use of him as a witness to the 60's drinking? What does this say about her overall approach to presenting the evidence when she misleads the reader and omits important facts?

You have it exactly backwards, Brant. The alleged 60's drinking does not support a drinking claim in the 50's, but rather the new revelation about Ventura and Barbara's repudiation of her own claims puts the 60's drinking claim in serious doubt.

And what kind of logic is this: "If I'd have agreed to the affair I would have headed for the nearest bar."

If you were on a jury and the evidence pointed to the accused as not guilty of murder, would you turn around and say: "Well, I would have murdered the person if I was in that situation, therefore I think he is guilty."?

Your first instinct seems to be to defend Barbara no matter the costs. Well, do you not think that Frank and Ayn deserve justice when they've been wrongly maligned?

Michael

Further on the Doubleday Q&A with Heller page

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I just posted this, following up on an answer from Heller to questions by Michael Moeller.

Remember that you might need to hit screen-refresh to get the link to work.

Ellen

If

Brant Gaede's picture

William S. made up words, why not I?

--Brant
obscurigates?
obscures? (Opps!)

Don't stop, Brant!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You seem to have the same relationship with SOLO that you do with the whisky. You keep swearing off it, but keep coming back to it. Ordinarily I wouldn't discourage either, but you really ought to wean yourself off anything that results in "obscuricates." Perhaps Nathan could help with a dose of psychobabsle. But keep going in the meantime—you're the entertainment of the day.

As for "Get her, get her," I'd suggest it's simple justice to rescue the victims of Babs's smears from her smears. They can't answer for themselves; she can. Strange how she doesn't, though.

I've a theory about how she apparently ended up posting on Lying that there was no drinking issue in the 50s, oblivious to her own claims in PAR that there was. It's obvious when you think about it—the old bat is routinely befuddled by alcohol. Eye

My take

Brant Gaede's picture

My take is that Ventura has testimony that Frank drank in the 1960s. From that the inference may be made, albeit tentatively, that he drank in the 50s. Why? is speculation on top of that speculation, but what is so necessarily wrong about drinking? If I'd have agreed to the affair I would have headed for the nearest bar. Not that I'd have agreed to it. I'm a different type of man. Since this is the get-Barbara site, I'd like to point out it might be a better site if it were dedicated to get the facts-right site. Barbara got the big and general picture right, but the premise that Ayn Rand was the greatest and perfectist human being imaginable is false. Any criticism of her other than she occasionally lost her temper (Peikoff) is actually idolatry and essentially denigrates and obscuricates not only her but him. In my mind I see Frank O'Connor. It is the man I saw in 1968 in the flesh just before The Break and several other subsequent public times until 1974. It's all positive, but based on the historical record she did bad by him just as she did bad by anyone between her and what she wanted. If there wasn't such a conflict she was benevolent and good. It is not Rand Diminishers, it is idolatry diminishers. SOLO is the most un-Objectivist Objectivist site in the Internet universe and dedicated to ad hominem maximum deliverium in subjectivium Perigoism Barbara hurt me Oh, Oh, Oh! Get her, get her, get her!

Grow up.

--Brant

Interesting ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Oh, things are becoming clear alright, except in the manner opposite of that asserted by Campbell. Will we at least get a reduction in the timeline from him and others like Parille who have promoted the 50's drinking claim? I would not hold my breath waiting.

Interesting that both Campbell and Parille have flounced as the screws have been turned on them in the wake of the very books they claimed would vindicate Babs and destroy Valliant.

Of course, I could have told folk from direct experience that Babs makes utterly reckless and irresponsible allegations of "alcoholism" years ago. In fact, I probably did. Eye

Now that we know the 50s drinking claims to be a crock, what are we to make of the 60s ones? If Babs gets it so wrong when she was there, how wrong is she going to be when she wasn't??!!

Whatever drinking Frank did, I hope he enjoyed every last drop, just to spite that small wowserish misery-guts of a smearer who really had the "failed life" she ascribes to him.

Frank's Drinking and PAR Revisited

Michael Moeller's picture

Congratulations to Ellen for pinning down the date of when Don Ventura met Ayn and Frank, which is now 1962 according to Heller. This means Barbara's sole witness for the claim that Frank drank in the 50's did not even know Frank at the time. This is not surprising as Barbara herself already repudiated claims to Frank drinking in the 50's, as I noted here and here. As I also noted in those posts, Barbara is apparently unaware that she made these claims in PAR on page 272-73. In light of this recent revelation about Ventura, it is interesting to revisit those pages for claims such as this:

Frank was always vague about what he did when Ayn and Nathaniel were together. "I went for a walk", he would say. Or, "I saw a movie." Or, "I dropped into the bar at the Mayfair Hotel for an hour or two; I know some of the men who go there, and we talked." It was not until years later that the truth about how Frank spent that afternoon and evening each week was revealed. He did go for a walk--just as far as the bar he frequented. He did visit with some of the men at the bar: they were his drinking partners. Frank had always enjoyed a drink or two in the evening--his powerful martinis were guaranteed to elicit gasps at the first sip by an unsuspecting guest--but now his drinking began to be a way of life, an escape from an intolerable reality.

The first thing to notice is that Barbara is painting Frank as a liar. Her sole witness was not on the scene, so how the hell does she know that he was slugging them back at a bar instead of going to the movies or for a walk? She doesn't, but why let that get in the way of a good narrative.

And what was Barbara's transparent motivation for painting this picture? Obviously to show that Frank could not cope with the "intolerable reality" of the affair--the implication being that Rand's actions drove Frank to drink. But Barbara's sole witness was not there, and Barbara herself even repudiated claims that Frank drank in the 50's. So where does this leave the claim that the affair created an "intolerable reality" for Frank and that he drank his days away in order to cope? Nowhere, that's where.

Justice, sweet justice, for Frank and for Ayn.

The requirements of evidence, however, have never stopped people like Robert Campbell (Campbell post on 2009-11-03 21:07) from spreading these smears:

Frank O'Connor drank to excess for the last 25 years of his life, and his drinking appears to have gotten worse over time. Why he did it no one is in a good position to know; that he did it is clear.

Oh, things are becoming clear alright, except in the manner opposite of that asserted by Campbell. Will we at least get a reduction in the timeline from him and others like Parille who have promoted the 50's drinking claim? I would not hold my breath waiting.

Michael

Holzers on their break with Rand

William Scott Scherk's picture

The 26 page rumination by Hank and Erika Holzer offers some qualified praise of Heller, while taking her to task for some items. The story of their excommunication from Rand's orbit is told for the first time.

From the PDF, pages 22 - 24:

Recall the Rand-Branden purges, excommunications and drumhead trials. Not
all the indictments were grandly “philosophical’ in nature. Many were based
on “immoral” thoughts or actions. The Efron trial, for example, was over
some minor matter. What had concerned Rand and Branden was not the
transgression itself so much, but rather that no one had called it to their
attention.

Quoting Joan Blumenthal, Heller writes “Right and wrong . . . moral and
immoral—those were the words being used all the time . . . .” Heller adds
that: “Said a longtime NBI staff member, ‘Moral judgments were required if
you were a moral person. It was terrible.” (Emphasis in original.) As
Heller quotes Hank: “Most people were walking on eggshells. * * * If you
said something that was unknowingly immoral you’d be devastated. She’d look
at you with those laser eyes and tell you that you had a lousy ‘sense of
life’.” Recall, too, that Hank was Ayn’s “intellectual bodyguard,” charged
with not only protecting her from the world at large, but also from
straying friends and admirers.

These considerations—the sin of silence, the presence of immorality, and
his job of protectiveness—led Hank to call to Ayn’s attention something
which gave her an excuse to end our relationship because of Hank’s earlier
reaction that Ayn’s longtime lover was an object of disgust.

For about eighteen months—from the August 1968 Rand-Branden breakup to our
January 1970 “excommunication”—although the Rand inner circle had shrunk, a
few admirers from the periphery were allowed in.

Among them was a person who came to Hank, Ayn’s “intellectual bodyguard,”
with a story that a certain married individual in the circle was having an
affair with someone outside it.

Putting aside the moral, let alone psychological, requirement of fidelity
in a marriage (except of course for the O’Connors and Brandens, who somehow
had been above all that), the question bedeviled Hank as to whether Ayn
should be told that someone personally close to her was having an extra-
marital affair. Had Hank been just another friend, he would have regarded
“who was doing what to whom” as none of his business, let alone Ayn Rand’s.

For weeks Hank and Erika struggled to decide whether he had a duty to tell
Ayn.

Recall that he would not know about the Ayn-Nathan affair until many years
later. Nor whether the insider-outsider gossip was true or false. (It
turned out to be false.)

Hank decided to tell Ayn, and he did.

Ayn called a meeting. She railed at us for breaching the couples’ privacy,
and issued a “qualified” excommunication. Qualified, because she
uncharacteristically “left the door open.” Hopefully, in time, we would see
the error of our ways—doubtless after much soul-searching and even
psychotherapy with one of Branden’s psychotherapist disciples.

Despite Ayn’s unprecedented offer, we chose never to walk through that
door.

Our “best of times and worst of times” with Ayn Rand were finished.

There is an unpleasant, yet revealing irony here. Heller accurately relates
how Ayn forgave Barbara for lying to her about Nathan’s infidelity and
other subjects: “Rand met with Barbara,” Heller writes, “and, in effect,
forgave her for protecting Branden. Where there were divided loyalties, she
[Rand] said, it was understandable that a man-worshipping woman would stand
by the man she had married.”

Barbara was thus off the hook for long complicity in, including lying
about, her ex-husband’s longtime deception of Rand, whom Nathan (and
Barbara, for that matter) purported to love.

But Hank—who at worst had made a good faith error of judgment, who had told
Ayn something he thought he had a duty to tell her—was excommunicated
(along with Erika, for good measure).

We were, of course, excommunicated not because of what Hank had done in
repeating gossip, but because he had earlier expressed his visceral disgust
at the idea of a Rand-Branden liaison, and because the crisis with
Nathan—by then having played itself out—Ayn no longer needed him, or anyone
else for that matter, as an “intellectual bodyguard.”

WSS

Stuttle and Heller on Doubleday

William Scott Scherk's picture

Here's the full text of the exchanges between Ellen Stuttle and Anne Heller. An additional comment is made by Michael R Brown.

Ellen Stuttle says:

DECEMBER 27, 2009 AT 7:34 PM

When did Don Ventura meet Frank? You indicate that it was via Joan
Blumenthal at some point after NBI was formed. Do you have the actual date?

Did you ask Dr. Allan Blumenthal and Joan Blumenthal for any information
they had about Frank’s drinking habits? If you did, why do you report
nothing from them on this question? Did they request what they said (if you
asked and they answered) to be withheld?

Has Eloise Huggins died? If she’s still alive, did you attempt to interview
her?

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

Anne C. Heller says:

JANUARY 7, 2010 AT 5:11 PM

Dear Ellen,

Don Ventura met Joan and Allan Blumenthal in late 1961 or 1962, according
to his recollection. He met Frank and then Ayn shortly thereafter.

As to the Blumenthals, may I ask why you want to know about my interviews
with them? I may be more helpful if I know the nature of your query.

Rand’s housekeeper, Eloise, died in 1997.

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

Ellen Stuttle says:

JANUARY 7, 2010 AT 8:15 PM

Anne,

Thanks for the replies about Eloise and about Ventura — including the email
correction of the date when Ventura met the Blumenthals to 1960 and the
definite assignment of his meeting Ayn and Frank to 1962.

I think my questions about the Blumenthals are clear. Did you ask them for
any information they had about Frank’s drinking habits? I’ll add that it
would seem a strange omission if not, since, as a medical doctor, Allan
would have been the most obviously qualified to express an opinion as to
whether Frank’s drinking was harmful to his health. If you did ask, why did
you not cite their replies? Did they request that their information be
withheld?

A further question: What was your source for the suggested Dupuytren’s
diagnosis of Frank’s problem with his hands?

I wonder if you’re aware that your information about when Frank met
Ventura, if correct, invalidates Barbara’s using Ventura as her sole
witness to Frank’s supposed drinking in a neighborhood bar in the mid 50s?

(See pp. 272-73 of The Passion of Ayn Rand: “A friend of Frank’s [whom she
later identified as Don Ventura -- see: http://tinyurl.com/ylhux8d --now a
recovered alcoholic--who sometimes joined him for the drink or two which
became three and four and five and more, was convinced that Frank was an
alcoholic. None of the friends Frank shared with Ayn were aware, during
these years [the mid-50s, starting in 1955], that he drank to excess.
[....]“)

Ellen

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

Anne C. Heller says:

JANUARY 8, 2010 AT 9:50 AM

Ellen,

I interviewed Joan and Allan Blumenthal (friends of Ayn Rand and Frank
O’Connor from the early 1950s until the late 1970s, ) a number of times, on
a broad range of subjects touching on Ayn Rand. I sometimes asked Dr.
Blumenthal for his medical opinion, including about Dupruytren’s syndrome.

In general, if I don’t cite an obvious source for a particular fact or
observation, it is because there are multiple sources and the cited one(Drunk
are the most definitive or specific.

Thank you for your interest.

Anne

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

Michael R. Brown says:

JANUARY 8, 2010 AT 10:53 PM

ellen – not answering some questions is not “avoid[ing] of the questions.”
it is not incumbent on an answerer to answer all questions asked. it’s
noteworthy that you yourself didn’t clearly answer anne’s questions about
why you asked those pointed, detailed, out-of-context questions. rand was
generally careful to set context and give thorough and at least
proportional answers – a habit worth emulating. your questions had an
abrupt and hostile tone to them, your answer to anne was far too brief and
guarded, and i would have called you on both points were i the author. (by
the way, i think your questions are interesting in themselves, and i know
you have a deep interest in getting objectivist history factually right.)
unfortunately, incidents like this are why some objectivists have a
reputation for being emotionally obtuse, not to mention discourteous.

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

Ellen Stuttle says:

JANUARY 9, 2010 AT 12:42 AM

Michael, the questions Anne avoided answering are important questions for
establishing the facts of Frank’s drinking habits. She’s revealed
information which, if accurate in the dates given, invalidates Barbara
Branden’s use of Ventura as a witness in The Passion of Ayn Rand —
Barbara’s only witness — for the claim that Frank was seeking solace in
alcohol at a neighborhood bar while NB and Ayn were sharing the marital
bedroom in the mid-50s. Anne’s avoiding giving direct answers about the
Blumenthals leaves as a plausible interpretation that they didn’t confirm
the stories of Frank’s excessive drinking — stories for which in fact Anne
only provides one witness, Barbara Weiss (posthumously, from a tape-
recorded interview conducted by Barbara Branden in 1983). The non-specific
evidence of quantities provided second-hand from Eloise and that provided
by Elayne Kalberman is too vague necessarily to be taken to indicate that
Frank drank excessively. And Barbara Weiss isn’t reported as having
witnessed Frank’s drinking.

Thus, what we’re left with amounts to innuendo. Furthermore, the innuendo
not only blackens Frank’s character; it’s used as part of the support for
the most nasty summarization of Ayn in the book, Barbara Weiss’s conclusion
that Ayn was “a killer of people.” And this is far from the only example of
such slanting; it’s just the most obvious. I thus don’t feel kindly
disposed to what was done in the book; you’re correct in detecting a
hostile tone.

I’m not an Objectivist.

Ellen

WSS

The Holzers' essay/review on Heller's book

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Hank and Erika Holzer have written a piece called "'The Best of Times, the Worst of Times': Ruminations by Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer about Ann C. Heller’s Ayn Rand and the World She Made."

He writes of this piece on his blog site:

Link

Erika Holzer and I got to know Ayn Rand a half-century ago. For several years we represented her legally, and during these past fifty years, Rand’s ideas have continued to be a major influence on our lives (and that of countless others).

Until recently, there was virtually no biographical information available about Rand written by people without their own axe to grind. The Brandens, hardly dispassionate observers, have had their say. The Ayn Rand Institute, devoted to the promulgation of her ideas and thus having its own interests to serve, has weighed in. Other biographical writing has been published, but by authors who did little or no original research and provided only superficial analysis of Rand and her work.

In late 2009, a biography by Ann C. Heller entitled Ayn Rand and the World She Made was published. Heller’s book is commendably long on biographical detail and contains some fascinating insights about Rand’s unconventional ideas in the context of her novels (especially The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged), but it is unfortunately a mixed bag when it comes to providing her readers with a satisfactorily balanced perspective from the people who knew Ayn Rand well—particularly in the Sixties and at the time of her break with her then “intellectual heir,” Nathaniel Branden. Some of Heller’s sources, quoted and anonymous, who know better, have nothing good to say about Rand.

For about five years in the late 1960s, Erika Holzer and I were close friends of Ayn Rand. It is from this perspective that we have written our lengthy essay/review entitled, "The Best of Times, the Worst of Times": Ruminations by Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer about Ann C. Heller’s Ayn Rand and theWorld She Made. It can be found HERE.

The piece is in .pdf form, 26 pages.

I've read it. They say little adding positives to what others are reported by Heller as saying about Rand, but their own story -- which takes up the large bulk of the piece -- reveals some pertinent details.

I'm still pretty occupied with other concerns and haven't time for further comment now. ASAP.

Ellen

Well done, Ellen ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

So that's the end of any "excessive drinking" in the '50s. Moral of the story: don't believe anything Babs says. Anyone checking Lying to see if the spider emerges on its web?

Edited to add: btw, fascinating, Babs Heller's evasiveness re the Blumenthals.

Qs & As with Heller on Doubleday site

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I got an answer from Anne Heller about when Frank met Don Ventura. In 1962, she says. (She first said '61 or '62, but then sent an email correcting the date when Ventura met the Blumenthals to 1960 and firmly affixing the year of his meeting Frank and Ayn as 1962.)

Here and here are links to two of the posts in the back-and-forth. (Back up from the first one to find my initial question.) You might have to hit screen-refresh to get the links to work. The site's operation is kind of schizy.

Ellen

The Irrelevant Neil and Neil's Irrelevancies

Michael Moeller's picture

Neil,

I did not say Barbara should answer questions "fast". I said she should lay out her evidence fast--both for the Dupuytren's diagnosis and her statements from Huggins and Ventura. As it seems to have escaped your attention, Barbara's credibility on these issues is neck-deep in quicksand. It is in her interest to provide the evidence, specifically for Dupuytren's and the 50's drinking. But apparently, you are oblivious to the problems when you write:

Branden has said what her witnesses told her and provided her material to Anne Heller. It doesn't look like she has anything to hide.

Yes, 20+ years after the fact she released this information to a biographer. The same biographer (Heller) who does not mention the 50's drinking even though she had access to Barbara's interview tapes. The same biographer that does not have Don Ventura--Barbara's sole witness for the 50's drinking--in the picture until around 1963, according to Ellen's calculation.

The same biographer who supplies a Dupuytren's diagnosis, citing little evidence in favor of the diagnosis and what evidence she does supply appears to contradict a Dupuytren's diagnosis. After being hounded for her evidence for years, Barbara finally comes up with the same diagnosis as the biographer, right when said biographer is writing her book. Barbara even takes it one step further than the biographer and claims the diagnosis as definitive.

Neil, are you not the least bit curious to see what Barbara has in support of Dupuytren's? Are you not the least bit curious to see the Ventura and Huggins statements considering the aforementioned discrepancies?

Apparently not as you have simply retreated behind "it doesn't look like she [Barbara] has anything to hide here". I have no idea how you can say that.

I have to ask you, Neil, at this point where do you stand on the 50's drinking and the Dupuytren's diagnosis? You simply ignored my points in previous post to you, and went on with your typical misdirection:

Has Valliant retracted his claim that there is no Don Ventura, Elayne Kalberman or Barbara Weiss? Has he produced a statement from Peikoff or the housekeeper? Why hasn't he commented on Heller's biography? Has the ARI published 100 Voices? Why hasn't the Archives put the interview of Don Ventura on the web? Why hasn't the Archives issued a statement about Burns' claim that the published versions of the journals, Q&A, and other material have been rewritten?

That is not what Valliant says in PARC, he even deals with NB's using Elayne as a source (pg 145-46). So where are you getting this about Elayne? Where does he say that about Weiss?Valliant does make this statement about (who we now know is) Ventura (pg 142):

Ms. Branden's tenuous reliance on a single, unnamed witness to establish O'Connor's drinking, a witness with credibility issues of his own, is certainly not surprising; but the internal problems with this report suggest that no such witness may even exist.

Remember that he was flying blind as to the identity of the witness at the time he wrote that. He says that the "report suggests" internal inconsistencies, but then goes on to deal with the testimony as if the witness does exist. Well, Neil, Ventura does exist. But it appears he was not a witness to the 50's drinking as Barbara claims in her book. Ergo, he did not exist as a witness to the 50's drinking claim--and this is Barbara's sole witness for that claim.

Look, Neil, I have no desire to debate PARC with you. I only bring this up because you are misrepresenting what was actually said in the book, and people should take a closer look at your largely irrelevant criticisms that you like to self-promote so much.

If you look at the picture and name on this post, you will also realize I am not James Valliant. If you want him to answer questions about statements from Peikoff or why he hasn't commented on Heller's biography or whatever else--go ask him!!! Same for ARI policies or Archive policies or whatever--go ask the people involved with those issues!! I have no idea on earth why you would expect me to answer those questions and why you constantly misdirect the conversation in this manner.

In case you hadn't noticed, Neil, I have not been debating PARC. The only thing I brought up was Peikoff's statement re the housekeeper. If you want to debate that book and why James did X, then go to one of those threads. Barbara bears the burden of proof, and her evidence is what is being examined in light of the two new biographies. So, do you have anything to say about the actual topics brought up on this thread, instead of continually waging your personal vendetta against James no matter how irrelevant to the topic at-hand?

Michael

This has backfired for Brandroids

gregster's picture

It looks to me like Heller took Barbara Branden's teary eyed "I've been done by" hook, line, and sinker.

Which of course means; the Heller bias, the anti-Rand, the non-willingness to even understand Objectivism, the constant negative insinuations/conclusions, came from, or were reinforced by the old hag Barbara Branden.

What has this woman ever done?

Babs Heller

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Babs Heller says:

Your point is one that I try hard to make and document in my biography of Rand. I found that she was as subject to longings, fears, and self-deceptions as any of us are, and that her ideology and characters treat make no provision for such things. They treat what they look on as weaknesses with contempt and moral outrage. In the end, Rand preferred to hold on to her inner world and ideology rather than to live openly and honestly in the real, disorderly world. So my answer to your question is no, I don’t think she lived or could live consistently with her philosophy. I don’t imagine anyone could.

We should remember this is the woman who by her own admission began her bio disliking Rand and fearing she would end up hating her. Her bio is PAR II. Her assessment that Rand refused to live honestly and openly—Rand, who unfailingly advocated and lived "life on the level"—says it all.

I wonder where Babs and Heller get off on this "self-deception" thing? They both repair to it obsessively. Let them speak for themselves, I say!

They both need to drink more.

Heller doesn't imagine O'ism could be consistently practiced

Ellen Stuttle's picture

The post I submitted on the Doubleday ask-Heller-a-question page still hasn't appeared more than 24 hours later. I see no statement on the page indicating that questions are held for vetting, but I think it's likely that they are. I don't know if my post didn't appear because of being rejected, or because of not having been seen yet by a vetter, or for some unknown software reason. I resubmitted it -- below -- asking a couple further questions about Ventura.

 

Meanwhile...

Here's something illuminating about Anne Heller's evaluation of Objectivism, as well as of Rand. It's the first Q and A on the page:

Patrick Dameth says:
October 13, 2009 at 10:45 am

Given the perspective that you have attained by searching and writing this biography, did Rand lived consistently her life according to her Objectivist philosophy?

This might be too broad but I would like to emphasize the possible existence of major contradictions or conflicts in key moments of her life.

 

snash [Heller] says:
October 14, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Dear Patrick,

Your point is one that I try hard to make and document in my biography of Rand. I found that she was as subject to longings, fears, and self-deceptions as any of us are, and that her ideology and characters treat make no provision for such things. They treat what they look on as weaknesses with contempt and moral outrage. In the end, Rand preferred to hold on to her inner world and ideology rather than to live openly and honestly in the real, disorderly world. So my answer to your question is no, I don’t think she lived or could live consistently with her philosophy. I don’t imagine anyone could.

Yours Truly,
Anne C. Heller

 

Here's the expanded post I submitted about 8:00 pm est Monday, December 28:

[This was originally submitted at about 6:30 pm est Sunday, December 27. Since it hasn't yet appeared, I've resubmitted it. I've added a couple questions about the rupture between Ventura and Ayn Rand.]

When did Don Ventura meet Frank? You indicate that it was via Joan Blumenthal at some point after NBI was formed. Do you have the actual date?

Also, do you have the date of Ayn Rand's accusations against Ventura? If yes, and if this was before the split between Ayn Rand and the Brandens, did Ventura say anything about whether or not Barbara and/or Nathaniel joined in shunning him?

Did you ask Dr. Allan Blumenthal and Joan Blumenthal for any information they had about Frank's drinking habits? If you did, why do you report nothing from them on this question? Did they request what they said (if you asked and they answered) to be withheld?

Has Eloise Huggins died? If she's still alive, did you attempt to interview her?

Ellen

Questions posed to Heller

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Thanks for the tip re the Doubleday site, WSS.

I just posted the following; it hasn't yet appeared:

When did Don Ventura meet Frank? You indicate that it was via Joan Blumenthal at some point after NBI was formed. Do you have the actual date?

Did you ask Dr. Allan Blumenthal and Joan Blumenthal for any information they had about Frank's drinking habits? If you did, why do you report nothing from them on this question? Did they request what they said (if you asked and they answered) to be withheld?

Has Eloise Huggins died? If she's still alive, did you attempt to interview her?

Ellen

Doubleday's Ask The Author

William Scott Scherk's picture

Looks like Anne Heller answers questions put to her at the Doubleday site. She also has a Facebook page dedicated to her book.

Wondering how the findings of Moeller/Stuttle can be put to Heller in the form of a question or questions. I don't know that any valiant seeker, orthodox or otherwise, has put it to Heller that she made a couple of errors in the telling of Frank's Drinking. Would it not also be useful for the assembled jurists to confront the witness Burns?

http://doubleday.knopfdoubleda...



WSS

Neil's Christmas potion

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Neil, I see that you've made acidulous remarks on several threads over the Xmas-eve-Xmas interlude. Are you in an especially bad mood? Or do you just have extra time?

You write of Frank: "I don't think he tried to fake reality."

You just think that he tried to drown reality in an alcoholic fog. (Or have you concluded that there isn't by a considerable distance sufficient evidence to support such a conclusion?)

"I think Frank was the only one of the original O'ist bunch who had a truly beneveolent sense of life."

I'm interpreting your "benevolent" (without the spelling error) in a standard-usage way, not in AR's special meaning. I.e., I'm taking you to mean a kind, good-willed-toward-others connotation.

If I'm interpreting you right, how insulting you are toward people none of whom you ever met. Allan Blumenthal, for instance -- major for instance -- I remember as one of the most kindly people I've ever known. I never heard anything from him which was less than kind. Or from Elayne, though I had far fewer interactions with her than with Allan. Or from Harry Kalberman -- likewise about the number of interactions; and Harry was a "street-wise" sort who could make some pithy, shall we say, remarks; still, I never detected anything less than good will from him.

Joan every now and then, yeah. She could be acerbic. But even she, on occasions when I was present, would sometimes restrain a caustic remark with a more charitable impulse -- and I think that, deep down, she's a kind person, too. I don't think that she and Allan could have been married for as many, many years as they have been if she weren't.

I don't think of Leonard Peikoff as unkind either, not in basic disposition, however extreme some of the things he's said have been.

OR Ayn Rand either. She could be very kind. And the whole thrust of her philosophy is the attempt to liberate people from the bonds of mutual-sacrifice guilt.

Alan Greenspan I never met, so I can't comment. Mary Ann (Rukavina) Sures, likewise, although I did see her on one occasion, though no conversation with her. Larry, who had taken a course with her and liked her quite a bit, thought that she was a kind person.

Ellen

Well

Kasper's picture

said Gregster.....

....and Lindauer? I know it's a recession but I'm sure you can do better than that! Eye

Frank's Personality

Neil Parille's picture

WSS,

I think Frank was the only one of the original O'ist bunch who had a truly beneveolent sense of life.

I don't think he tried to fake reality.

-Neil Parille

Merry Christmas

Neil Parille's picture

Merry Christmas to you Gregster,

http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

-NEIL

Shit deserves no response

gregster's picture

You're a weirdo HDer pariah Parille.

I lower myself to reply to your ejaculations.

The discussion you maintain, attacking Frank, is beyond mindless.

The Brandens remain hangers-on, Rand maintains her sales and influence.

FUCK YOU.

WSS

Brant Gaede's picture

I hope this is my last post, but WSS just put up put-down garbage dumped on Frank O'Connor, the real Frank O'Connor.

--Brant
calling stomach-turning spade a spade

Frank's personality

William Scott Scherk's picture

The internet doesn't have a lot of information on Francis Charles O'Connor, husband of the novelist lady whose legal name was Alice O'Connor. He was circumspect, left no letters, was a quiet, reflective man. But he does have a number of pages devoted to him at Celebrity Galore, which includes this astro/numero personality profile:

Frank O'Connor appears strong and powerful. He has an impressive personality and can influence
and even intimidate through sheer force. He has natural authority. Frank's competence and
enthusiasm attract people with resources.

O'Connor radiates confidence. People defer to him because they sense his sureness and
effectiveness. Frank O'Connor also exudes a kind of controlled benevolence. People sense that he
is generous, once he is convinced of the worthiness of the cause.

It is important for Frank to dress well. O'Connor radiates a kind of raw power and able-ness,
which needs to be refined and enhanced by his clothing. Frank O'Connor may even dress a bit
flashy, but that will not harm him. Quality is among Frank's highest priorities, and should
reflect in his clothing.

Although most eights have a strong constitution, they can be prone to indigestion, ulcers, and
heart disease due to their reckless eating and drinking habits and their propensity to be
workaholics.

His Achilles heel is Frank's capacity for an egocentric attitude. The negative side of his
personality can cause O'Connor to be ruthless, greedy, and intensely lonely.

Conversely, Frank O'Connor can be spontaneous and excited. He is essentially warm and jovial. In
his heart of hearts, Frank wants everyone to be as excited and as happy as him. Those who are
around O'Connor often sense this, and his coworkers and employees usually like him.



WSS

Since Linz

Brant Gaede's picture

Since Linz has wrongly inferred, albeit understandably, why I left here I'll state why: it was the Ellen/James love fest. I was trying to come up with something about that but all I could come up with was my leaving. I had my reply screen open for 20-30 minutes before I posted and then discovered several more posts had interceded in the meantime. That's all. If not for that I wouldn't have left. As for five different people coming up with many different versions of Frank's alleged drinking/alcoholism--none of them actual witnesses to anything--I don't really participate in that except to say it appears that he may have had an intermittent drinking situation if not problem, especially in the 1970s, and the idea he was mixing paints in liquor bottles is strange to say the least. My other opinion is if he was driven to drink he did the driving except perhaps in the 1950s, if he drank then. A speculative case has been made for the 1950s during the height of the Rand/Branden affair and a more substantive one for the 1970s. I'd like to point out that no one I've read yet has mentioned the 1960s before the 1968 break. A lot of people must have had various types of contacts with him who would have been aware of a drinking problem then. Since alcoholism is considered a moral breach and expression of weakness by many, I don't see how such stigma can be attached to an elderly man in declining health and ascending dementia no matter how much he might have drank in his last years. Like I said, I'd have bought him a drink.

--Brant
Frank O'Connor: The man who saved The Fountainhead who thus saved Atlas Shrugged

still not intending to come back, but no ill will to those who post here--I just wish someone would step up and take out Chavez and Mugabe

Twenty-Three Years And Counting

Neil Parille's picture

Michael Moeller wants Barbara to answer some questions "fast." Perigo seconds the motion. With the exception of Barbara Branden it doesn't seem anyone is moving at other than glacial speed here.

In 1986, Barbara Branden published The Passion of Ayn Rand in which she claimed that Frank had a long-standing drinking problem going back to the mid 50s. She cited an unnamed drinking buddy of Frank's and an account of Rand's housekeeper finding booze bottles "every week" in Frank's studio.

In 1987, Leonard Peikoff said that Frank did not consume alcohol to excess. Although not having read PAR, he apparently thought that the source for the story was something the housekeeper said. Peikoff decided to keep the details to himself.

In 1997, Michael Paxton directs Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life movie. Supported by the ARI with interviews with, among others, Harry Binswanger, Leonard Peikoff, and Cynthia Peikoff. No discussion of Frank's drinking habits.

From 1987-2000, Barbara Branden gives interviews and repeats her claim that Frank consumed alcohol to excess.

By 2000, the Ayn Rand Archives has conducted approximately 300 hours of interviews of people who knew Ayn Rand and Frank O'Connor. These interviews cover "every aspect" of the O'Connor's lives.

In 2001, the Archives' Oral History Project publishes Facets of Ayn Rand by the Sures. Oblique criticism of the Brandens, but no mention of Frank's drinking.

In 2004, official archivist Jeff Britting published mini-biography of Ayn Rand. No mention of Frank's drinking.

In 2005, James Valliant publishes The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics. He accuses Barbara of making the whole thing up. He implies that there was no drinking buddy who told Barbara anything about Frank's drinking. He claims that the housekeeper told Peikoff that she had been misquoted. No statement from Peikoff or the housekeeper was produced, notwithstanding Valliant's friendship with Peikoff and complete access to the archives.

In 2006, Branden identifies her sources. She reveals that Frank's drinking buddy was Don Ventura. She mentions three other sources: Elayne Kalberman, Barbara Weiss, and the housekeeper.

In 2008, Neil Parille publishes The Passion of James Valliant's Criticism in which he calls Valliant out on numerous mistakes and misrepresentations. PARC gradually disappears from anti-Branden screeds on the web.

From 2006-09, we get assorted crapola from Valliant implying that Anne Heller is going to support PARC and 100 Voices is going to validate him on the drinking issue. When asked by Parille what the housekeeper said or what other evidence there is (or isn't) in the Archives about Frank's drinking, Valliant refuses to respond.

In 2009, Valliant's Wikipedia shennanigans are exposed. Peikoff says on his website that he will defend Valliant's book on "any forum." Shortly after Parille and others invite LP to their respective forums to ask a few questions about Valliant's claims (including his knowledge of Frank's drinking), he removes the statement from his website.

In 2009, Jennifer Burns and Anne Heller publish biographies of Rand. While not clear on when Frank's drinking started, they side with Branden on the general claim, specifically rejecting PARC on this point. Heller has Barbara's interviews and statements, or so it appears. Burns had access to the archives and references Don Ventura's archive interview, although it's unclear if it's used as support for her conclusion that Frank likely consumed alcohol to excess.

In 2009, T-1000 ARIans Harry Binswanger and Robert Mayhew review Burns. They claim that the book is riddled with mistakes, but no mention of the drinking issue. Why not? Mayhew has produced books using archival material (not that he hasn't taken significant liberty with that material). Binswanger says that the orthodox will have to wait for Shoshana Milgram's authorized biography to sort out the alleged mistakes. Why not get the Archives on the horn?

In 2072, Shoshana Milgram's grandson publishes the Authorized Biography. There is a nebulous discussion of Frank's drinking based on notes for Leonard Peikoff's unpublished DIM book.

Branden has said what her witnesses told her and provided her material to Anne Heller. It doesn't look like she has anything to hide.

Has Valliant retracted his claim that there is no Don Ventura, Elayne Kalberman or Barbara Weiss? Has he produced a statement from Peikoff or the housekeeper? Why hasn't he commented on Heller's biography? Has the ARI published 100 Voices? Why hasn't the Archives put the interview of Don Ventura on the web? Why hasn't the Archives issued a statement about Burns' claim that the published versions of the journals, Q&A, and other material have been rewritten?

-Neil Parille

Btw, re Barbara Weiss

Ellen Stuttle's picture

WSS is himself guilty of "Valliantquoating" in putting in quote marks, as if it were a direct quote from me, something which I didn't say:

It seems hearsay (whether Ellen's "Barbara Weiss is untrustworthy" or the quoated and unconfirmed Peikoff comment) to me, [...].

I have doubts about Weiss' trustworthiness but didn't make the quoted assertion.

Ellen

Dupuytren's

Ellen Stuttle's picture

MM: "Essentially, the only justification we are left with is the contraction of the tendons. From what I can gleen from this websites, contractions from Dupuytren's do not result from the tendons. The lumps or cords formed from the diseases are themselves what cause the fingers to contract. I am not a doctor, so if a doctor is in the house and can give a good explanation of the nature of the contractions that would be helpful. But if correct and Dupuytren's does not cause the contractions via the tendons, then we are talking about a different disease as the cause of Frank's hand problems. So how did they come upon this diagnosis again?"

It isn't the tendon itself that contracts. Instead, the tendon is pulled forward, as if by a rope pulling on it.

Barbara might simply have been being imprecise, however, in describing the tendons as contracting.

Another detail needing cleared up is Burns' reporting that the reason Frank stopped painting was because of a neurological disease that made his hands shake:

 

pg. 222, text:

In 1966 [Frank was elected] vice president of the [Art Students] League. This vote of confidence came just as Frank's artistic career was cut short by the decline of his body. Stricken by a neurological disorder, by the end of 1967 his hands shook so badly he could paint no more. 22 [....]

pg. 332, note 22:

Don Ventura, Oral History, ARP; Ilona Royce Smithkin, Oral History, ARP. Anne Heller suggests that Frank may have suffered from Dupuytren's syndrome, which is often linked to alcohol abuse. Anne C. Heller, Ayn Rand and the World She Made (New York: Doubleday, 2009), 357.

As far as I know, Dupuytren's doesn't cause the hands to shake. It isn't a neurological condition, but instead a condition of the fascia, as the material you cited described.

Ellen

Oh, and ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... Scherk: are you saying that Babs's sudden repairing to Dupuytren's in the 2008 post on Lying that Michael has dug up was mere coincidence?

Just how gullible can "critical thinkers" be??!!

At least Babs's other poodle, Gaede, had the good grace to flounce and mean it when he saw where the evidence was leading.

Ugh!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The only thing worse than a rushed, sloppy, biased, lazy, and incurious judgement is one that has no effect on the miscreants or the practical world.

Then how awful it must be for you, Scherk—your judgments fall in both categories. Except that to "rushed, sloppy, biased, lazy and incurious" one should add: "dishonest—and mindlessly, cultishly, uncritically Babsian."

The only value in having excrement like you around is the self-display of your excremental nature. Where is the "debate" you claim to value? Low-quality snark is not debate, you know.

Edit—BTW: didn't you flounce off this thread, or was that some other one?

Excited utterances

William Scott Scherk's picture

When examining the materials in this thread, a judge might ask, have I heard what I need to hear? Have I examined all I need to examine?

He might inquire, hmmm, what do the Blumenthals say? What did Weiss say in those three tapes? Shall I actually ask Ventura some questions? Should I contact Peikoff to go on the record?

Lots of things a curious inquirer could follow up on. He could inquire of the archives, access 100 Voices, contact Mrs Branden with some questions, and acquaint himself with tapes and documents that exist from her researches. He could make a query of both Burns and Heller -- if not to claim a right to examine their interviews, then to question them on several details of interest, to express the particular concerns of the inquiry.

Let's say he did make all those necessary inquiries. What's the next step?

Well, some might say to contact the two authors with the results. Why? Well, to have the authors correct any misinformation derived from the Branden account.

And why oh why would a person do this? Isn't being a judge simply issuing a verdict and smugly congratulating oneself?

I don't think so, not when the reputation of Ayn Rand is at stake, and some very well-received books are on the shelves that extend the trope of Frank's Drinking. If that is the issue, and that is the crime, then how will it be punished?

Lots of fluffing of wings and beatings of chest here in this thread at SOLO make no mark where it needs to be made, should Heller and Burns need correction.

So, are we finished in this inquiry? Is it yet time for The Judges to bell the cow, pull up assizes and instruct the authors what is wrong and what is right?

The only thing worse than a rushed, sloppy, biased, lazy, and incurious judgement is one that has no effect on the miscreants or the practical world.

If the Judges on this SOLO panel have completed their work, it is time for them to impose it on Burns and Heller.



WSS

Very Good Mr Moeller

gregster's picture

I thank you for the effort you put in.

Is this the only forum, I wonder, standing up for truth against the Rand-diminishers? I'm not sure, but it is important that this is done. Truth meaning; if incontrovertible evidence was presented either way, honest observers would change opinions accordingly.

I'm still seeing the smears as being groundless from where I sit.

Bad-Faith Babs

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Michael concludes:

Giving Barbara the benefit of the doubt, the letter may not have contained all her evidence for Dupuytren's. If Barbara has more information that Frank definitively had Dupuytren's, then she needs to come out with the evidence--and fast. Otherwise, the aroma is really starting to smell like Dupuytren's was a cooked-up piece of corroboration.

Well, let Babs come out with the evidence. I'll lay money on it now: she doesn't have it. I'll lay money on it that Michael's hypothesis is exactly right. "Cooked up piece of corroboration."

Nail. Coffin. Babs's credibilty. Last.

She's the LSLLB I said she was when myself smeared by her. I only wish I had the words to do her real justice.

Sherk's Bad Faith...Part 100

Michael Moeller's picture

I debated with myself whether to respond to Scherk's verbal discharges at all. As Ellen noted, his emissions are nothing but "nuisances", and that is putting it politely. Nevertheless, Scherk emits some interesting statements, and his bad faith does need (once again) to be demonstrated.

Scherk writes:

Valliant subsequently had a few more things to say, of course. He introduces the notion that Barbara's relating of Eloise Huggins** is not to be trusted (in fact, none of the four cited by Barbara are to be trusted -- not Elayne Kalberman, not Eloise Huggins, not Don Ventura, and not Barbara Weiss. let alone the Blumenthals.

And later:

But why does Barbara get the heat for lifting the lid on what people told her?

Ponder on that for a second. Scherk, in the first statement and in a couple of other places, mocks for distrusting the statements of the witnesses. But who, then, bears the blame if Barbara's claims turn out to be bunk? The people who "told her"--i.e. the witnesses!! Scherk has issued Barbara a get-out-of-jail-free card should it turn out her allegations of Frank's alcoholism are false.

Why should Barbara take the "heat" for lifting the lid, Scherk asks? I will tell him why. Barbara is the one who make the allegations public, Barbara is the one who bears the burden of proof, and Barbara should take the heat if the allegations are groundless. She had no business making such allegations if she had insufficient proof, especially when she now claims she was "certainly justified" in her allegations against Frank.

The mistake we can make in being scrupulous to reproduce paragraphs and notes from which to judge the awfulness of either Branden, Branden, Heller, Burns for believing in the bottles' dire message -- is that the essential evidence, contra Moeller, is uninvestigated before it is judged admissible.

Contra Moeller nothing. Where, oh where, did I state we should judge the admissibility of evidence before it has been investigated? Quote me on it. The statement is ridiculous on it's face.

I only judged the admissibility of one piece of evidence--the nature of which and the circumstances under which it is was given have been disclosed. We have the statement from Barbara Weiss: "Eloise Huggins later disclosed to a confidante...". We know that she did not perceive the bottles directly, she was told this by Huggins--i.e. it is hearsay. Since it was "later", it does not fall under such exceptions to hearsay like present sense impression, excited utterance, or dying declaration, nor does it meet any of the other exceptions like business records or admissions by a party-opponent or anything else. It is perfectly valid to judge this disclosed evidence.

Scherk simply put words in my mouth and completely evaded what I was actually addressing. His claim as to what I was saying was pure fabrication. What is particularly fascinating is that while he is urging people to wait for more invesitgation on such pieces of evidence, he is also citing Huggins as a witness to buttress Barbara's case. Fascinating.

What Ellen, Michael, Valliant and the rest of the PARC Glee Club does, by laying at TheBrandens©' feet all the tales of Frank's Drinking, is smooth over and take focus off the testimonies. We must not only actively disbelieve that Barbara could make a good faith effort to sketch the latter years of Frank -- we also have to actively disbelieve all the voices from which Barbara constructed her awful tale: the Kalbermans and Weiss and Huggins, Ventura and the others who remarked on what they saw and believed. Lord Justice Moeller may opine on the Federal Rules of Evidence and assorted matters, but has reviewed nothing that would allow to arbitrate the claims fairly.

In what way have I smoothed over the evidence or taken focus off the testimonies? He cites nothing from me, Scherk simply asserts it. In fact, my use of "The Federal Rules of Evidence" was to shine a light on the nature of Weiss' testimony, and why it is unreliable. Empty mockery from Scherk.

In what way has my analysis been unfair? No answer is given again, Scherk simply asserts it. And that sums up Scherk's whole approach. He will cite evidence in favor of Barbara's allegations, then when contrary analysis is brought forth, he simply asserts how the approach is false and unfair. He quotes nothing and gives no counter arguments regarding what was actually stated by his interlocutors. So on the one hand we have: "Look at this evidence in favor of Barbara's allegations". On the other hand, when it comes to contrary evidence, we have: "Let's wait for more, and in the mean time--look away, look away, look away."

It seems hearsay (whether Ellen's "Barbara Weiss is untrustworthy" or the quoated and unconfirmed Peikoff comment) to me, but perhaps only evidence that besmirches Barbara Branden's motives can be accepted, no matter its source . . . be it by Lord High Justice Moeller or by Madame Arbiter Stuttle.

And

James Valliant is the only source for the contentions that Huggins was angry with Barbara's suggestions about Frank's Drinking; mind you, the former prosecutor utters hearsay on hearsay: Valliant says Peikoff says Huggins says blah blah blah. No doubt Justice Moeller will huff out an opinion that we must accept this kind of 'evidence.'

In addition to putting past arguments in my mouth, Miss Cleo is able to put future arguments in mouth. Did I even remotely say what he has me saying in the first quote?

All I said was that the Huggins statement can be (and should be) put in doubt. Weiss' statement is inadmissible hearsay, so it is unreliable evidence to begin with. Peikoff's statement is also hearsay that is contrary to what Weiss' claims. I did not weigh the two statements at all based on the credibility of the witnesses. Can Scherk quote me on this? Nope.

Where you have one piece of hearsay contradicted by another piece of hearsay, the statements are surely in doubt. The evidence simply is not reliable. I think that is all one can objectively say about the matter re these disclosed statements without being able to question Huggins, Weiss, or Peikoff.

My point to Michael Moeller was that if he acts as Justice, then he should take off the prosecutor robes, mount the bench and shut up until the case is heard. Unless operating as a shitty European style examining magistrate, he is anything but impartial, and anything but informed.

Now Scherk is dressing me up in various clothing--how nice of him. Does he quote me at all or make counter-points to my arguments to prove that I am not "informed"? No, he just let loose some more verbal discharges.

I think *I* will determine when I am done speaking on a matter. Scherk and suggestion can go fly a kite.

Michael

Ellen

Michael Moeller's picture

I saw on the OL Dupuytren's thread where you suggested that Barbara release the statements from the housekeeper and Ventura. I think this is a great idea, and with the 50's drinking claim now severely in doubt, Barbara would do well to release them. Ventura's would be particularly pertinent not only because of the 50's drinking claim, but he is also still alive and could verify the accuracy.

Michael

Throw a Stone and Watch the Ripples Flow

Michael Moeller's picture

Regarding the Dupuytren's diagnosis, I came across this letter from Barbara on OL, which certainly makes things more interesting.

The Conclusion. The first thing to note is that Barbara states the diagnosis definitively: "The name of Frank's disease was Dupuytren's Contracture". She takes it a step beyond Heller ("may have been"), so what is Barbara privy to that makes her diagnosis definitive?

The Timing. Notice the timing of the letter--February 14, 2008. This is exactly when Heller was writing her book. Did Barbara come up with the diagnosis during an independent investigation of the evidence? When Heller and Barbara were apparently in close contact while Heller was writing of her book? After all the years she was urged to produce evidence? Right when Heller's book was being written--the same book that states Frank may have had Dupuytren's?

What are the odds!!

Given the timing, it is also equally unlikely that Barbara informed Heller, and Heller would have been irresponsible not to cite Barbara as the source (no source is cited in the book for the Dupuytren's diagnosis).

Therefore, given the timing of Barbara's letter and the statement in Heller's book, I think it is a fair assumption that Heller informed Barbara, or possibly a third party informed them both. But what does this say about Barbara's firm diagnosis that Frank had Dupuytren's? Certainly seems like Barbara puffed up the conclusion of Dupuytren's so that she could state she was "certainly justified" in claiming Frank was a drunk, even though Heller herself only tentatively states Frank had Dupuytren's. Barbara has taken it to a new level, which makes one ask if she is privy to more evidence--so let's look at that.

The Evidence. Notice that Barbara gives less detail than Heller. She merely cites her own statement in PAR about Frank's contractions in the tendons of the hand. Then Barbara goes on to cite medical sources on Dupuytren's. However, without further evidence, her connection to Dupuytren's is circular--it already assumes Frank was an alcoholic. She is working backwards, she is not citing other evidence that shows Frank had Dupuytren's and thereby connecting the diagnosis with alcoholism. Barbara is simply using the alcoholism as a justification for the Dupuytren's diagnosis (in addition to the contraction of the tendons).

And she even misrepresents what those medical sources say about Dupuytren's. Mayo, under "risk factors", does not state what she says it does. Maybe Mayo changed the website since she wrote that letter. Mayo states that although alcohol is associated with Dupuytren's, but not everybody that has the disease abuses alcohol. And this is assuming Frank even had Dupuytren's. Even in Barbara's quote, Mayo states that it could be due to liver damage, not drinking causing the liver damage. According to Heller, Frank did not have liver cirrhosis, nor does Heller (or Barbara) mention any other liver damage.

As for the Barbara's use of Wiki, Wiki does not say "correlation" with those risk factors, including alcoholism. Wiki mentions alcoholism among the "suspected, but unproven causes". Assuming Frank even had had Dupuytren's, some of the other more definitive causes could have explained the disease, such as Frank being old or having a family history. The article also mentions some "speculation" that the disease is caused or triggered by over-exertion of the hands, which means the onset could have occurred from painting. Again, IF he even had the disease.

Barbara also uses Felisa Lewis from Walter Reed. Who even claims Frank had alcoholic liver disease? Again, Heller does not use this, and says he did not have liver cirrhosis. Further, Barbara leaves off this sentence at the end: "The reason for this [alcoholic liver disease increasing the risk of Dupuytren's] is unknown, and some studies[16, footnote] have disputed the association." Gee, I wonder why she didn't include that last sentence?

Barbara's fourth cite is quoted accurately. But read the whole thing, this is among a list of associated conditions, associated diseases, and incidence factors--any of which could cause Dupuytren's IF Frank had it. And I highly doubt Barbara was reading long discussion papers such as this one, then happened upon a Dupuytren's diagnosis. Most likely, these last two sources were fed to her.

Essentially, the only justification we are left with is the contraction of the tendons. From what I can gleen from this websites, contractions from Dupuytren's do not result from the tendons. The lumps or cords formed from the diseases are themselves what cause the fingers to contract. I am not a doctor, so if a doctor is in the house and can give a good explanation of the nature of the contractions that would be helpful. But if correct and Dupuytren's does not cause the contractions via the tendons, then we are talking about a different disease as the cause of Frank's hand problems. So how did they come upon this diagnosis again?

A Hypothesis. Obviously there are many possibilities here. However, given the timing of Barbara's letter and the release of the Dupuytren's diagnosis in Heller's book, there is a very probable way of how this played out. Heller was aware of the hand problems from Barbara's book. Either she or somebody she knew informed her about Dupuytren's. Heller, being in close contact with Barbara, informed her of this potential diagnosis. Barbara, itching for vindication, snatched at the diagnosis and claimed it as a definitive diagnosis. Heller, in contrast, knew the case was weak from the evidence concerning Frank (i.e. the contractions in the tendons of the hand). Therefore, Heller only made a tentative diagnosis of Dupuytren's. Heller tried to beef up the case with "painful" contractions and arteriosclerosis. However, Heller was either sloppy or did not figure people would notice that Dupuytren's is rarely painful and that arteriosclerosis is not associated with Dupuytren's.

Now, there are many possibilities and, again, both Heller and Barbara could have better reasons. Giving Barbara the benefit of the doubt, the letter may not have contained all her evidence for Dupuytren's. If Barbara has more information that Frank definitively had Dupuytren's, then she needs to come out with the evidence--and fast. Otherwise, the aroma is really starting to smell like Dupuytren's was a cooked-up piece of corroboration.

Michael

I

Brant Gaede's picture

I liked you the best, Greg.

--Brant

Good (?) Soldier

gregster's picture

"I'm leaving here because I cannot stay.

You've contributed nothing other than poison. Good riddance.

That's that

Brant Gaede's picture

I'm leaving here because I cannot stay.

--Brant
logging out

Oh my!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

That's not anti-climactic at all. It may prove to be the last nail in the coffin of Babs's credibility. Very well spotted, Ellen.

Can someone in the States track down this Mr. Ventura and see if he'll step up? Seems to me that's the only way we'll get certitude here.

What's already clear is that Babs made a reckless accusation that doesn't stack up. And as I know from direct experience, it wasn't to be the only time.

Ventura: When did he and Frank meet?

Ellen Stuttle's picture

[This is anti-climactic after the surprise of the developments below. However, I'll go ahead and post it. It was already written ready to post when I came on-line.]

I've discovered a further problem pertaining to Ventura's testimony, reported by Barbara in Passion (though Ventura isn't named there), that he was a drinking buddy of Frank's during the early part of the affair between Ayn and NB.

Judging from what Heller says about Frank's and Ventura's friendship, the two of them didn't meet until after NBI was formed:

pg. 357-58, my underscore

Beginning in the painful years when Rand was writing John Galt's speech, painting had diverted and protected [Frank] from full immersion in his wife's affairs. Through Joan Blumenthal it also introduced him to other artists, including a young sculptor named Don Ventura. Bright and friendly, although shy, Ventura had been working as an electrologist when Allan Blumenthal discovered him. Allan introduced him to Joan, who took him to NBI lectures and parties and encouraged him to pursue his vocation as a sculptor. [....]

Frank and Ventura liked each other. On Monday nights they, Joan, and an actor named Phillip Smith attended Robert Beverly Hale's lectures on artistic anatomy at the League. Afterward, they went to the Russian Tea Room for cocktails. When Frank learned that Ventura couldn't afford to rent a studio, he occasionally invited the younger man to work in his small studio on Thirty-fourth Street.

Further indicating that the date was well after the 1955 start of the AR/NB affair, Frank's Thirty-fourth Street studio, according to Heller, was acquired in late 1963 when the Brandens and the O'Connors moved into apartments "in a brand-new high-rise at 120 East Thirty-fourth Street at Lexington Avenue" (pg. 338). Prior to that, Heller says, O'Connor "had been working in a rented studio on East Twenty-eighth Street" (pg. 339).

(Frank started painting sometime "in 1955" according to Heller, pg. 278. On pg. 281 of PAR, Barbara seems to indicate it was near the end of the year, shortly after Galt's Speech was completed, that Frank became absorbed in painting -- Heller, pg. 268, gives the completion date of the Speech as October 13, 1955).

If Frank didn't know Ventura when Frank was supposedly frequenting the bar at the Mayfair Hotel during NB's twice weekly visits in 1955, then Ventura can't have been testifying about Frank's drinking habits back then.

Ellen

I'm very glad ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... to see this. I thought James was being negligent and churlish in not giving credit where it was due, and told him so months ago. In his defense, he has had other issues going on, but now he's put this matter right. And no, his post had nothing to do with me—I'm as agreeably surprised as anyone.

"May the truth emerge victorious" indeed! And long may there be folk with the courage to go with the evidence.

James

Ellen Stuttle's picture

"Will you accept my apology and my sincerest thanks?"

Yes, of course -- and thank you both for the apology and thanks and for your other remarks.

I'm sitting here blushing and rather at a loss for words -- I signed on to post something about Ventura, which I will post in a moment, and had no expectation of seeing such a statement as you wrote; I'm taken aback by surprise.

What can I say? May the truth emerge victorious?

And on with the quest...

Ellen

Thank You

James S. Valliant's picture

I have just been catching up with the discussions here at SOLO. And I am blown away.

Ms. Stuttle, you are the reason I wrote PARC.

We have never met. We have exchanged a couple of brief emails, but, apart from that, all of our acquaintance has been online here at SOLO.

And I have been less than friendly during most of that exchange. I wrongly associated you with those at that other website whom I know to be less than honest.

Yet, you have displayed the all-too-rare honesty, rationality and courage of an independent mind, coming to your own conclusions about each of the charges leveled for and against Rand. You have approached the subject with a critical eye and a demand for evidence, and with the temperament of a wise appellate Justice.

Agree with what I say or not, you have displayed nothing but the qualities of someone seeking the truth, not the fulfillment of a pre-existing ideological agenda.

This, more than anything else, is what I had hoped to inspire with PARC. Although we've never met, you have given me a profound sense of visibility as an author.

Will you accept my apology and my sincerest thanks?

2 Points

Neil Parille's picture

Ellen,

I'd say that "drinking his days away" is emphatic.

Michael,

Regardless of what you or I may conclude if we ever read the interviews and statements, I think we can safely say that Valliant's claim that Barbara fabricated all the stories that Frank drank to excess is untrue.

-Neil Parille

Ellen

Michael Moeller's picture

Yes, that's true, it is a sentence up. It is not a direct cite to the drinking claim. Thanks for the correction.

MM: Burns doesn't cite archives for later drinking

Ellen Stuttle's picture

MM to Neil:

You [Neil] further wrote:

"I do think Burns is a careful scholar and that she wouldn't make an emphatic claim like this without evidence."

How does that work? She is a "careful scholar" who omits sources for her claims, according to your speculation that such evidence exists?

How does that square with the fact she does cite the archives for claims to Frank's later drinking? Why would she cite it in one case and not cite it in the other, if the evidence was in the archives for the claim to his 50's drinking?

Two points:

1) Burns' claim isn't what I'd call "emphatic." Instead she says "it is not unreasonable to conclude that Frank's use of alcohol was, at the very least, unhealthy."

2) Her cite to the archives isn't for claims to Frank's later drinking. She cites Ventura and Smithkin for Frank's being elected vice president of the Art Students league and for when and why Frank could no longer paint (shaking hands, Burns reports, instead of contracted tendons).

Note the position of the footnote. (Neil argues that it's misplaced.)

The mention of the Dupuytren's suggestion is a reference to Heller, not to the archives. The sentence about Frank's drinking his days away has no citation.

Here again is the quote from Burns:

In 1966 [Frank was elected] vice president of the [Art Students] League. This vote of confidence came just as Frank's artistic career was cut short by the decline of his body. Stricken by a neurological disorder, by the end of 1967 his hands shook so badly he could paint no more. 22 Once playful and witty, Frank now became sharp and snappish. He withdrew to the sanctuary of his studio, where he drank his days away.

pg. 332, note 22:

Don Ventura, Oral History, ARP; Ilona Royce Smithkin, Oral History, ARP. Anne Heller suggests that Frank may have suffered from Dupuytren's syndrome, which is often linked to alcohol abuse. Anne C. Heller, Ayn Rand and the World She Made (New York: Doubleday, 2009), 357.

Ellen

Ted: pg. 273 - "shocking insensitivity"

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Pre-note: pg. 268-279 of Passion provide a fairly compressed overview of the case made against Rand. I'll type up excerpted highlights. Meanwhile...

 

Ted,

The adjective I was thinking of in my earlier post wasn't "callous" but "shocking." Although I didn't use quote marks, I had the memory of a particular phrase from The Passion of Ayn Rand, a phrase I've subsequently found. The "callous" got substituted through a mix-up with James Valliant's using that adjective.

 

Here, again, is my post, the description in which you've been questioning:

#82128

I have no doubt that Frank drank.

The question is whether AR's supposed callous insensitivity and even cruelty to the husband she said she loved drove him to drown his sorrows and ruined life in an alcoholic miasma, which is the picture Barbara Branden presents in The Passion of Ayn Rand.

The issue is what Frank's drinking supposedly says about Ayn Rand and the reality of her relationship with Frank.

 

Next, here is the passage where Barbara uses exactly the words "shocking insensitivity" (not "callous"):

pg. 273

Perhaps some part of Ayn's shocking insensitivity toward Frank in matters involving her relationship with Nathaniel was, subconsciously, a means of punishing the husband who had failed her expectations. And perhaps a part of it was the hope that he would, at last, assert himself--that he would say: Enough! and forbid her the relationship. Apart from the indignity visited upon Frank by the private meetings in his home, there was, when the four of us were together, an element of flaunting their sexual feeling in Ayn and Nathaniel's manner, an unnecessary touching and hand-holding and gazing into each other's eyes, as if they were throwing their passion into Frank's face and mine, as if they were saying: You would not give me what I wanted, but now I have it despite you.

 

And here is Valliant's full depiction of the alleged allegation (including the "callous"):

pg. 141, PARC

The principal remaining ethical objection to this affair, at least from Rand's own philosophical framework, involves the apparent indifference to the feelings of their respective spouses of both Branden and Rand. If the Brandens are to be believed, this affair took a heavy toll on both Ms. Branden, who suffered at least one major anxiety attack early in the affair, and Frank O'Connor, who, we are told, slowly became an alcoholic. Their inarticulate, emotional objections, according to the Brandens, were simply swept aside with callous, reckless and, perhaps, malicious abandon by Rand and Mr. Branden.

Certainly, the average contemporary husband would find such a situation intolerable, and the Branden portrait is designed to emphasize the victim status of O'Connor and to cash in on many tired clichés. Indeed, we shall see that the Brandens are heavily invested in the notion of Rand's alleged callousness in regard to her husband's feelings. But, we shall also see that O'Connor's actual opinions and emotions about sex were given an inadequate analysis by the Brandens, and that the evidence of O'Connor's "suffering" is open to quite considerable doubt.

Their strongest basis for contending that O'Connor suffered unbearably is his alleged alcoholism.

Neil

Michael Moeller's picture

You wrote:

While Barbara is emphasizing that Frank's drinking took a turn for the worse near 1968, I don't think her two accounts are as different as you suggest. She is describing a progression, something that "began" in the 50s:

Neil, please read the statements you quoted:

"but now his drinking began to be a way of life [1950s], an escape from the intolerable reality." (PAR)
"It happened much later, only beginning in the final years of my relationship with Ayn." (ROR)
"but I left in 1968, and I've been told that his really debilitating drinking began after that time." (OL)

How many "beginnings" can a "progression" have? Did it begin in the '50's? Yes, according to Barbara. Did it begin in the late 60's? Yes, according to Barbara. So when exactly did it begin? It began twice, 10+ years apart? You tell me.

What kind of "progression" has Frank starting with drinking as "a way of life", a friend "who sometimes joined him for the drink or two which became three and four and five or more, was convinced that Frank was an alcoholic", and drinking "to excess"? How does one "progress" from being alcoholic to being...an alcoholic? You tell me, Neil.

I do not see anyway to read those OL/ROR statements besides repudiating Barbara's claims to Frank drinking heavily in the 50's (given in her book on page 272-73). Couple this with the fact that Heller omits this from her book, even though she had access to Barbara's interviews. If she wanted to make the case, why would she omit this? Further, Burns only source for the 50's drinking is Barbara. Where does that leave you, Neil?

Oh, but you have a neat little way of dealing with Burns, don't you? First you wrote:

I find it significant that Burns -- who had access to the archives -- is even more definitive on this than Heller, in particular on Frank's drinking beginning in the 50s.

So you note that Burns had access to the archives and that she supports the claim Frank drinking in the 50's, but there is just one problem here: Burns does not cite the archives for the source of her claim, she cites Barbara on page 272-73. You simply spliced together two disparate facts as if they go together. That was, until your latest:

As I pointed out below, Burns may be using Ventura (from an archival interview, not Barbara) as a source for Frank's drinking.

What are you trying to say, Neil? Do you mean to say that Burns purposely withheld information from the archives--information that would support her claim?

You further wrote:

"I do think Burns is a careful scholar and that she wouldn't make an emphatic claim like this without evidence."

How does that work? She is a "careful scholar" who omits sources for her claims, according to your speculation that such evidence exists?

How does that square with the fact she does cite the archives for claims to Frank's later drinking? Why would she cite it in one case and not cite it in the other, if the evidence was in the archives for the claim to his 50's drinking?

Oh, I fully realize the position this leaves you in. Either you have to abandon the 50's drinking claim, which you are desperately clinging to in spite of Barbara's repudiation. And we both know the big hit Barbara's credibility takes in that case, as if it hasn't already with her repudiation. Or you have to claim that Frank's drinking both began in the 50's and began again in the late 60's, and let us watch as Barbara's contradiction saws you in half.

You wrote:

In any event, given that both Heller and Burns concluded that Frank drank too much, we can reject Valliant's claim that Barbara made all this up.

We can? You mean to say we should just accept it because they say so? Contrary to your claim, the new biographies are producing gaping holes in the Barbara's claims to Frank's drinking, as has been laid out on this thread. So we should stop examining the evidence and accept their conclusions as a fact?

I can only imagine what the world be like if everybody applied this level of scrutiny.

Michael

Scherk's bad faith again ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The congenital improviser says:

I had stated: "Ellen has had a falling out with Barbara and so finds herself impugning Barbara's integrity. To what end? What is the payoff here? Who gains and what paltry winnings are waiting?"
Apparently things are as they were between Ellen and Barbara, they are just not communicating, and nothing precipitated the present quietude between them, at least according to Ellen's correction upthread. Fair enough -- I thank her for clearing that up. To the murkiness of Ellen's judgements on Weiss is now added further murk. ... I'll take a break from the thread. I suggest the assorted Judges retire to chambers and have a stiff one or two. They can remount the bench at any time, but I am not interested.

This should read:

I had stated something that was complete crap. I made it up. I knew it was complete crap, but I threw it into the mix anyway. (This is what we pomowankers do, you know. All's fair in "debate" and word-games.) Damn Ellen for denying it. Damn her for not playing along! Just for that, I'll throw some more crap into the mix and then recuse myself from being answerable for it, by having a hissy fit and flouncing off the thread.

The devilry of the details, the bottles and the tittle-tattle

William Scott Scherk's picture

I had stated: "Ellen has had a falling out with Barbara and so finds herself impugning Barbara's integrity. To what end? What is the payoff here? Who gains and what paltry winnings are waiting?"

Apparently things are as they were between Ellen and Barbara, they are just not communicating, and nothing precipitated the present quietude between them, at least according to Ellen's correction upthread. Fair enough -- I thank her for clearing that up. To the murkiness of Ellen's judgements on Weiss is now added further murk.

At the other place, in February of 2008, she wrote "I think that it's time for Barbara to cite the maid's actual testimony unless there's some compelling legal or personal reason (such as the maid's objecting) not to do so. (Actual citing of what the other witnesses said would help, too.)."

I am not able to judge Barbara's crimes in this instance until I see what the four people I have named had to say, in fact. As for the puckish "Peikoff isn't the only source claiming to have heard it from Huggins," yuck. If I want to find out the details of the Ventura, Weiss, Huggins, Kalberman material, I can do so, as can Ellen. If she wishes to name the corroborating witness[es], great. If she prefers to keep such trifles hidden under a cute little devil icon, superb -- it just adds a fresh level of kookiness and seeming hypocrisy to the old trope of the Glee Club. Impeach Barbara and besmirch what 'witnesses' she has, while sniggering at her own secret knowledge. How appealing.

I wrote:

What Ellen, Michael, Valliant and the rest of the PARC Glee Club does, by laying
at TheBrandens©' feet all the tales of Frank's Drinking, is smooth over and take
focus off the testimonies. We must not only actively disbelieve that Barbara
could make a good faith effort to sketch the latter years of Frank -- we also
have to actively disbelieve all the voices from which Barbara constructed her
awful tale: the Kalbermans and Weiss and Huggins, Ventura and the others who
remarked on what they saw and believed. Lord Justice Moeller may opine on the
Federal Rules of Evidence and assorted matters, but has reviewed nothing that
would allow to arbitrate the claims fairly.

Sure, it might be that we should distrust Weiss, since Ellen says so. And we
should perhaps distrust the Blumenthals, on Ellen's or James' say-so, and Roy
Childs or George Smith, but must we trust Peikoff's third-hand relation of
Huggins on both their say-so?

It seems to have annoyed Ellen that she is grouped in with the PARC Glee Club. To my eyes she is singing the same songs, the sweet gospel of Barbara Lies and Novelizes, and the rocking Barbara Is Raddled By Bias, the lilting Barbara Is Bad, the waltzy Brandens Go To Heck.

My point to Michael Moeller was that if he acts as Justice, then he should take off the prosecutor robes, mount the bench and shut up until the case is heard. Unless operating as a shitty European style examining magistrate, he is anything but impartial, and anything but informed.

And what if I was to judge Ellen Stuttle as she judges Barbara Weiss? That she is unprepossessing, and I had heard she was untrustworthy, and so on?

Do judges say such nasty things about witnesses? Do judges drop smileys as they allude to Crown witnesses who have not appeared in the record?

I have contempt for a pose of impartiality, for a pose of Justice. There has been some nasty Objectivish moralizing and slurring in this thread, and it hasn't come from Barbara Branden or her book or her 'witnesses'.

We may not hear from Barbara Branden again. She has been recently hospitalized (and released) and is slow to read her email and respond. She is not paying attention to the sing-along on Frank's Drinking.

I'll take a break from the thread. I suggest the assorted Judges retire to chambers and have a stiff one or two. They can remount the bench at any time, but I am not interested.



WSS

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