The Post Modern Rand: Nietzsche's Heir

seymourblogger's picture
Submitted by seymourblogger on Wed, 2011-10-26 00:50

I've been here around three days. At the same time I am rereading Fountainhead. First I want to separate myself from Objectivist Dogma as developed by the Brandens, and to acknowledge my great debt to them for having done so. When I was 25 I never - never - would have been able to absorb Rand any other way. I just was not advanced enough in my thinking to perceive it in her fiction.

An Object does not exist until and unless it is observed - William Burroughs

Paraphrasing Rand: The most difficult thing is to explain the perfectly obvious to those who refuse to see it. (Probably impossible.)

I want to do this here, as I expect to get the most sophisticated arguments here, and perhaps some support. I am out to lay the "object" before you for your observation. I see it all now in her fiction, and every day as I read more, I am dumbfounded. She leaps over the abyss that Foucault stopped dead at. She is in the same camp as Jean Baudrillard. Looking back in precession, it is all Nietzsche. Both Baudrillard and Rand were steeped blood, bone, mind, feelings, down to the Inscription of the Body all the way to the cellular level with the thought of Nietzsche. Foucault came to Nietzsche late. Through Heidegger. And he has said he would never have gone to Nietzsche had it not been for Heidegger.

Baudrillard came from peasants, the first to ever go to university, and he was an outsider all his life. His reading of Nietzsche for his exams must have been radical indeed as they failed him. An aside: Foucault also failed his exams the first time he took them. Two of the major European thinkers of the 20th century failed them. The French system is rigorous, rigid, demanding and authoritarian. It is also subsidized and while not freely available to excellent students, available enough. The Foucauldian grid of power/knowledge. The Objectivist position is government sponsored free education versus unregulated education under a capitalist model. Does the very interesting European University use this model? They have all the good people there, not permanently, but doing seminars and workshops and classes. The College de France is another model that is thrilling but that Foucault found confining after he lectured at Berkeley. He was thinking of moving to California. He died instead.

I will concentrate on what Rand says in her fiction, not on her non-fiction writing about her philosophy. I am ignoring it as it was largely done in collaboration with Branden. So please don't bring it in here, as I won't respond to it. And please do knock me dead with direct quotes from her fiction and from Nietzsche. Foucault and Baudrillard too if you wish as I shall use them too.

Here's Rand: ....Howard, when you look back, does it seem to you as if all your days had rolled forward evenly, like a sort of typing exercise, all alike? Or were their stops - points reached - and then the typing rolled on again?

"There were stops."

"Did you know them at the time - did you know that that's what they were?"


"I didn't. I knew afterward....."(F 25th ed p. 542-3)

This is the first conversation in Howard's office with Gail.

In Foucault's language a stop can be seen as a CUT, although he saves the term for a more elaborate genealogy  rather than a personal instance in a life. IMO it is the micro, so I will use it. The typing rolling on is linear time. The cut or stop is the Event, when time stops, a discontinuous "cut". This is the position of post modernism. Time is no longer linear, progressive, historical. Time is discontinuous, filled with Events that come from elsewhere (seen again in the Cortland dynamiting), unpredictable, without causes, and having consequences spiraling out into the world that astonish. Think 9-11 here.

Yes, this is Foucault. But it is Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals coming through Foucault. It is Nietzsche coming through Rand directly to us.

Now for Baudrillard who is steeped in Nietzsche from early on as is Rand:

The Events (stops,cuts) in a personal life are the times when your Destiny line intersects your historical life. The two are in parallel universes and rarely meet.  This is the kind of thinking Rand would have labeled mystic in arrogance at an Objectivist Q&A, while she asserted it in her fiction. Her love affair with Nietzsche runs deep.

Life is what happens to you as you are carrying out your plans. - John Lennon (It sure did, didn't it for him.)


If you like this sort of thing I will continue. There's really an entire book that could come from this. I'd like to hear from anyone interested. 


( categories: )

I guess I am gonna let this one go

seymourblogger's picture


A lot of Nietzsche on Atlas Society

seymourblogger's picture

I'm in good company with Rand and Nietzsche over there. HIgher level of consciousness, wouldn't you agree? More educated? Savvy? What have so many of you against different ideas or methods?

The POV is that we can't measure it

seymourblogger's picture

How? Events do not connect linearly. They come from elsewhere. Out of the Order of Production and from the Symbolic Order of Seduction. Like Atlas Shrugged. That book came out of nowhere as far as its readers were concerned. It's consequences were unpredicted and still are ongoing and unpredictable.

The above is an example of post modern thinking. No theory. No hypotheses to confirm or disprove the theory. No stats.

The genealogy of measurement is one genealogy that Foucault took on in minute detail and it is fascinating. The loss of representation in art, the behavioral sciences, psychology, language, economics, history, etc preceded its emergence on the scene of the world.

Measurement empowers government. Stats are its rationalization.

People know what they do.
Frequently they even know why they do what they do.
But what they don't know is what they do does. - Michel Foucault

I think Rand knew why she did or rather said what she said in Atlas. I think she even hoped what it did. I also think she didn't know fully what it/she did. But then how could she? How could anyone? It was an Event, coming from elsewhere, unpredictable, radical, unique, and totally individual.

actually post modernism is not a theory

seymourblogger's picture

it's a non-authoritarian way of thinking. It designates a time period from 1950 on when modernism began to disappear. Fictionally Rand began to disappear modernism with Fountainhead in its 1943 publication, but obviously she was working on that thought years before its publication. But then Rand is a Nietzschean, and Nietzsche is a post modern thinker and a post modern writer.

Sorry it has taken me so long to reply to you but things had to calm down a little bit here for me. Squeaky door and oiling thing?

I do want to get into Zizek on Rand

seymourblogger's picture

and from the little I have read on him in that subject, I have rethought my position on the Nathaniel Branden affair. Now I am seeing it through Baudrillard's Symbolic Exchange and Death.

Seems I am not alone on this reading of Rand

seymourblogger's picture

JARS has quite a number of links to this topic. I am definitely in the wrong place.

I've read Paglia. Why do you think I haven't?

seymourblogger's picture

Oh, because I didn't want to rebut your link on Paglia point by point.

Interpretation. Doesn't go anywhere. Boring. Doesn't interest me to do it.

Merquior has very informed reviews on his book by informed writers. From the few pages I looked at it was solid and yes I would like to read it.

I am not the only person in the world who thinks Paglia is a lightweight and a flake. I don't think she is a flake, especially when she stays with the image. Now Sontag can write about anything in words and I will read her. I don't, however, think she has the savvy modern image down the way Paglia does, but, no I am wrong on that. Sontag does and is always worth reading no matter what she says.

Paglia doesn't like Sontag.

I agree. Why do you think I don't?

seymourblogger's picture

with darren about filmmaking.

You're confused . . .

darren's picture

. . . about the difference between "the story qua story" and "the technical craft of filmmaking."

You can have a great story, ineptly shot and edited;

You can have a weak story, expertly shot and edited.

And you can have anything in between.

Doesn't inspire confidence.

darren's picture

You haven't read Paglia, but she's a "lightweight." You haven't read Merquior, but he's a "heavyweight."

Such knowledge. Such wisdom.

Bad Filmmaking?

seymourblogger's picture

Nah. That's where the money is boy! Are you taking an artistic position versus a money one? Egad! Careful.

For the post modern Foucault haters

seymourblogger's picture

José Guilherme Merquior
2 Reviews

University of California Press, 1985 - Biography & Autobiography - 188 pages
00 In this concise, witty critical study, Merquior examines Foucault's work on madness, sexuality, and power and offers a provocative assessment of Foucault as a "neo-anarchist." Merquior brings an astonishing breadth of scholarship to bear on his subject as he explores Foucault using insights from a range of fields including philosophy, sociology, and history.
More »

Emphasis mine. Haven't read it. Looks like he agrees with me tho.

If you want to attack Foucault

seymourblogger's picture

Paglia is too lightweight. Only Baudrillard has done it successfully, completely, actually has murdered him dead, and at the same time, has confirmed everything he said, made Foucault more radical than he ever thought of being.

From his Interviews

seymourblogger's picture

It's probably from Burroughs Live: The Collected Interview of Wiliam S. Burroughs, 1960-1997 (Double Agents) [Paperback] ed by sylvere Lotringer and it's about 1000 pages.

Actually I am sort of with you on this, or I was. I could never read his books and I tried. I avoided seeing the DVD of Naked Lunch but did when I became interested in Cronenberg because he is doing Cosmopolis and and and...

Cronenberg's commentary on the DVD is astonishing. The most profound, accessible thought on Burroughs and much of his thought that I have ever heard. The DVD is worth getting ahold of just to listen to Cronenberg go through the film for you. It is brilliant, very funny, no CGI in-your-face crap, puppets of Burroughs imaginary characters the mugwamps that are exquisitely lovely. I scolded myself for avoiding it so long.

Yes, Burroughs goes off on space tangents and other stuff but he has the most rational, well thought meditation in there on drugs, govt prohibition, the problem, the solution that I have ever heard or read. And from him, you are getting it from the proverbial horse's mouth.

He loathes govt in all its forms:intrusiveness, surveillance, brutality, and he is certainly not socialistic at all, but he is aware of all the illegalities of corporate actions. After all, he was cheated out of his Burroughs Corp inheritance.

I only got the Interviews because of Lotringer. And I started and stopped a number of times. But once I got in deep enough I couldn't stop. All the interviewers are respectful, know his work, and ask intelligent questions. He answers very truthfully, doesn't spin, is direct but non-confrontive. So I found a very different Burroughs than I expected, entirely different.

You see, I am coming from a very liberal political position of years. Before my Objectivist position where I turned down a NASA grant and ruined by graduate career unknowingly, but killed it nevertheless. My liberal thinking was disrupted by Foucault and Baudrillard, so don't think of them as socialists, because they are not.

What changed me completely was doing a genealogy on two captives. Girls. Jaycee Dugard taken in 1991 and Eunice Williams taken in 1704. In the fold of that genealogy, which takes place over about 300 years, lies everything you want to know about American culture, how it has changed and deteriorated, how government has thrown sand in everyone's functioning at a molecular level. This is why Foucault told a grad student doing a dissertation on him, to skip him and do genealogies. When you do one it leaves you breathless.

I like it that you know Zizek. The Desert of the Real.


gregster's picture

I would be. I treat him as an entertainer. Characters he created such as drunken ship's doctor Benway; ".. (dropping ash from his cigarette), "Sew her up! Can't be expected to work under such conditions." Have you a link?

But even Zizek acknowledges Rand as the foremost defender of capitalism.

Burroughs and Rand are saying the same thing

seymourblogger's picture

And you would probably be very surprised to hear just how much Burroughs agrees with Rand on economics and government.


gregster's picture

LIke to fight? Name call? Using lots of sound bites I see? Watch FOX news all the time?

I can't see any fighting or name calling. Sound bites is a term used by avid news watchers (where you picked it up?).

You quoted Burroughs stealing someone else's line on an Objectivist-oriented site. I take it you don't care to be taken seriously.

And the Burroughs is nonsense. Or is it post modern like all the other tosh?

Aggressive aren't you?

seymourblogger's picture

LIke to fight? Name call? Using lots of sound bites I see? Watch FOX news all the time? Pleasant little boy you are. Not getting laid enough?

You're welcome.

darren's picture

Citing various authors and taking what she wants out of context, accurately or not as I have read some and not others and am not opening books looking for quotes. Perhaps she just went to google and got them.

To check quotes and context is called "research." If you're not in the mood to do it (or too lazy to do it), that's your problem. You can always fall back on "I'm a real-estate agent, not an academic!" excuse.

Her essay is composed in the old, linear, accepted, taught, approved Dominating Discourse of academia.

You mean that old-style linear writing that uses complete sentences and tries to construct arguments with a beginning, middle, and end -- basing conclusions on premises, and premises on evidence? That old thing? You're right. That's SO passé.

Interpretation and citing authorities to prove your point is a dead end. It will and can and does go on forever.

How awful! An ongoing dialogue! We can't have that! We must have definitive, final answers to the big questions. Jawol! I'm not surprised you take this position. So far, the only names you've dropped have been Nietzsche, Rand, and some superficial French structuralists whose reputations have been hyper-inflated far beyond what they deserve. It's obvious that as far as knowledge of western intellectual history is concerned, you don't know much.

A really fun game that never ends and you get to show how smart you are.

Cool. It's a game you have yet to play. We patiently await your entry.

And maybe you even get a PhD and get tenure at an art school as Paglia has done.

Or maybe you even get a real-estate agent's license. Either way, the proof is in the posting. So far, we haven't seen much in yours.

Yeah. I know I'm nasty.

You're not even very good at that.

Interesting, thanks.

seymourblogger's picture

I have liked Paglia from time to time. Her analysis of Paula Jones telling the truth based on her pic was accurate and hilarious. Jones has a porno mouth. And she does. Pure visual image. Perfect. Hillary usually does not. Chelsea does. Displacement? I'm not gonna go there.

Your link is a different Camille. Citing various authors and taking what she wants out of context, accurately or not as I have read some and not others and am not opening books looking for quotes. Perhaps she just went to google and got them.

Her essay is composed in the old, linear, accepted, taught, approved Dominating Discourse of academia. Within that dialectical discourse she is correct and this essay awaits someone to come along and rebut her point by point, citing different references etc. The someone else will come along and disagree with both POV. And so it goes, as Vonnegut would say.

Interpretation and citing authorities to prove your point is a dead end. It will and can and does go on forever. A really fun game that never ends and you get to show how smart you are. And maybe you even get a PhD and get tenure at an art school as Paglia has done. A secure future with good retirement and benefits.

Yeah. I know I'm nasty.

Read Foucault in the original or a good translation if you want to know what he said. And how he said it. Dazzling prose, powerful and clear and convincing. Unlike Paglia's sloppy shit in your link.

I agree it's bad filmmaking and so was Atlas Shrugged. What you get is what you see with Peikoff controlling things.


seymourblogger's picture

I can't give you a sound bite for it.

Foucault, et al.

darren's picture

Hollywood has speeded up so that a film is composed of jump cuts and in your face punches

Otherwise known as "bad filmmaking."

Camille Paglia has some "nice" things to say about Foucault in her scathing analysis of academia, "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders", some of which appears here:

What does "post modern" mean?

Elijah Lineberry2's picture

What does "post modern" mean? Shock - it sounds like a wank term to me...

Time and its relativity

seymourblogger's picture

As a sound bite from Einstein: Time goes very fast when you have a pretty girl on your lap and very slow when you have your hand on a too hot stove.

Your analogy of 1/77 is true as perceptions go. BTW it is also true as money goes. When you have a great deal of money 10% is not so much. When you have an amount close to the poverty line, 10% is a great deal. This is what's wrong with the Flat Tax. It is proposed from the POV that it is objective, the same for everyone, etc. But it is not, except on a factual level, an elementary arithmetic level.

Nathaniel and Rand. The fact was that she was an old woman, in appearance anyway, no Sophia Loren, and she was not sexually alluring at all in 1960-62 when I saw her in Q&A times. And Nathaniel was very hot at that time. I've been there and Rand thinking allowed me to be objective about my own situation. Demi Moore needs to be also. It is just a fact. That doesn't mean the same two people can't have a lasting relationship but it has to be based on something else besides hot sex. To spend so much time opining because he couldn't get it up for her was ridiculous. But he was not an experienced man either.

What was she thinking?

These are the great flaws in her philosophical thinking within the dialectic. Which is exactly why I want to stay away from everything she and the Branden's wrote and said about Objectivism. There are plenty of others to do that. No one is placing her within post modernism, where I want to put her.

She's a post modern philosopher. Direct from her fiction. And I wish you would take me up on my offer about that.


Burnsy's picture

I thought time speeds up as you get older, because of Einstein's law of relativity (or was it gravity- can't remember). I.e 1 year out of 77 is so fast compared 1 year in the life of a 5 year old. But my mate, Bruce down on the farm reckons the government's to blame; along with with their nefarious hand in global warming and the global financial mess.

Material world we are conscious of?

seymourblogger's picture

I don't think so since you used the word "conscious". We are moving and embracing simulated reality at breakneck speed. When simulated reality is total, then we will be in Virtual Reality, from which there will be no escape. We will be in real time then, a misnomer if there ever was one in order to confabulate our thinking.

Oh oh I'm being marginalized I think

seymourblogger's picture

No one has anything controversial to say about this. Or a wow insight.

My pic

seymourblogger's picture

I don't want to take the time to compose a new one. This one was taken in 08 I think. Before my love affair with Foucault. I was reading Toynbee's History of the World. His history is not something to read when you are 77, and reading about the Growth of Civilizations and the Disintegration of Civilizations. Toynbee is relentless in his logic and data, the last generation to receive a truly classical education in Greek, Latin, Arabic, French, German etc etc

So to be a European and especially an American living in Western Civilization during its time of disintegration is completely demoralizing. I lived in a state of depression while I was reading it, and I got sick too. I knew he was right. All the signs were loud and clear.

And then....and then I found Foucault at a thrift shop where the universe had put him for me and I remembered his name from the mid 70's and my studies with El-Zein in structural anthropology at Temple which I stopped to make a fortune in real estate. For the best as I hadn't acquired all the additional reading since then. The more you know, the more Foucault orders your mind. It feels like someone scrubbed the inside of your brain with steel wool and then put everything back in in order. It felt wonderful. And I was happy again. And I still am. So maybe I will get around to posting a happy pic.

Linear time is a construct

seymourblogger's picture

Our perception of time has changed. Time used to be slower as in Proust's In Search of Lost Time. It has been speeding up and now that we are in real time quite a bit, it is instantaneous. Virilio says that the last world war is being fought. It is speed. Without slow time, contemplation cannot be experienced. Hollywood has speeded up so that a film is composed of jump cuts and in your face punches. It feels this way too.


Burnsy's picture

You're right. The notion that time is linear, is the result of an imperfect human construct. It can help us make sense of time (E.g measurement) as it relates to the material world we are conscious of.

Comment viewing options

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