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Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 9:18amSanction this postReply
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Robert -- Great to have you back posting on SOLO! How are you doing? Very thoughtful analysis of the Valient/Rand book. I've only glanced at it since I'm more interested in the ideas rather than personality issues, but I'll give the AR entries a read.



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Post 1

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 12:06pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

I think your suggestion for reading Valliant's book is the most objective way to go about it:
If you want to know whether Ayn Rand was jealous, read the entries. They begin on page 237 of The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics, and end on page 378.

Skip Mr.Valliant’s comments along the way about what she was thinking and feeling. Don’t linger over his effusive praise of her psychological acumen. After you’ve assimilated what Rand wrote, you’ll be in a position to go back and judge what Mr. Valliant says she wrote.
That is, unless you have some other value or beef at stake than assimilating and evaluating history. If you are convinced that the Brandens are evil scum, then Valliant's comments are extremely valuable (as preaching to the choir, so to speak).

If you don't think that the Brandens are the dirty rotten scoundrels of Objectivism, then those comments get in the way - not by objective analysis, but by a constant one-sided barrage of speculations using adjectives and qualifications like:

"perhaps," "possibly, "it seems," "hardly," "may or may not," "[either of the Brandens]... does not mention," "may have been," even if it were," "remarkably [for sarcasm]," "curiously [for sarcasm]," "it should also come as no surprise," "even if this is true," "... might suggest that..." etc.

all added to another barrage of evaluations of the Brandens, i.e.:

 "fraud," deception," lying," futility," "dishonesty [intellectual and otherwise]," "theft," "exploited," "self-serving," "manipulation," "exaggeration," "falsehood," (and let us not forget the evil rapist at the end), etc. ,

moreover, with all that added to the constant belittling and omission of the achievements and credibility of the Brandens, both before and after the break, and, of course, the constant belittling and omission of plausible alternatives to Valliant's one-sided pro-Rand and anti-Branden interpretations and speculations - even on the smallest and most neutral of issues.

Thus, the simple idea of reading Rand's words first, then going back and reading Valliant's evaluations, is the proper manner for a person to use his own mind. From the way the book is put together, this obviously is not what the author wants you to do. He wants you to digest his evaluations first, then look at Rand's words. He even wants you to digest his evaluations in the middle of Rand's words.

It is refreshing to have such a well thought out alternative to Valliant's interpretations of Rand' journal entries regarding his opinion about Rand being incapable of feeling jealousy. More analyses of this nature can and should be made on other dubious issues.

Thank you for that, Robert.

Michael




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Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 12:43pmSanction this postReply
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Michael—your indifference to the enormity of the deception of Rand practised by the Brandens is mind-boggling. If Valliant had published nothing more than her journals on this matter, my heart would still cry out to her. At the end of the day I'm not concerned with whether she was jealous—it's her valiant, broken-hearted, conscientious efforts to divine the truth about someone who was lying through his teeth to her, for years, & leading her on in the most outrageously, callously opportunistic manner, that capture my sympathy. If the Brandenians showed one zillionth of the solicitude for Rand, who cannot now speak for herself, that they display toward their icons then I'd give some credence to their pretensions to be truth-seekers. Now, to say this, Michael, is to invite your ridiculous caricature, "Rand perfect, Brandens evil." That sort of nonsense, coupled with the fact that you've clearly reverted to being a conduit for Barbara, that very angry person with an anger fixation who smears without remorse, means the credence I give to your protestations of truth-seeking in this matter is exactly zilch. Your mind has been made up since Day One. I much more respect the honesty of Ciro who candidly admits that he'll stick with the Brandens right or wrong, even if he has to go to hell with them.

Linz



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Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 1:56pmSanction this postReply
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So let me get this straight...Ayn Rand was jealous and hurt? Hmmmmmm.

Robert I thank you for this article. It has *increased* my disgust for the way they NB, and BB, treated Ayn Rand, and my empathy for what she must have gone through.

John





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Post 4

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 2:10pmSanction this postReply
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Hmmm, I have a hard time reconciling Linz's above comments with the reality of the person he is raging about.

My wife, Becky, and I met Barbara Branden for the first time last night, and she struck us not as an angry person, but one who was anguished over how much inappropriate anger is unleashed in the world, particularly in the Libertarian and Objectivist movements, and how destructive this is to our attempts to communicate our ideas to others. She also struck us as a person singularly ~devoid~ of having a chip on her shoulder -- unlike...some people.

Perhaps I should have used another word than "struck"! BB seemed like a very gentle person -- a very empathetic, intense, wise, and gentle person. My wife and I both liked her immediately, and we both find it sadly laughable that BB is regarded as an "Enemy of Objectivism."

Three cheers to you, Robert, for using your wounded wrists to type in such a good analysis of the patently absurd denial that Rand was jealous over Patrecia. What lengths some people won't go to, in defending the mythical moral perfection of Ayn Rand. (If you're jealous, you're not objective, so you're not morally perfect.)

I'm sure you're not (any more than I am) denying that the Brandens egregiously deceived AR during the 60s. But my God, this stuff happened almost FORTY YEARS AGO, and people are still up in arms about it. I knew everything I needed to know about the Split in the 80s when the Brandens wrote their books and admitted to the extent of their deception of Rand. Unless one is emotionally invested in finding "evidence" that "they're still lying," and thus not worthy of our respect and appreciation for the good things they have done, what is the point of all this hoo-hah?

Here's an interesting thought to ponder: when one is in doubt about one's own virtue, a standard psychological tactic is to denigrate and attack another whom one disagrees with or who did something one disapproves of, the motivation being to assure oneself of one's own virtue by condemning another. This also becomes a convenient pasttime -- perhaps even a book topic -- when one is reluctant to put one's efforts toward constructive goals. Destruction is much easier than creativity.

I, too, could indulge myself in lambasting the Brandens for how they mistreated AR back in the 60s, if I had nothing better to do. But personally, I prefer to save my venom for Nazis, racists, and fans of Ornette Coleman (just kidding).

REB

P.S. -- I am working on a report on last night's Karl Hess Club meeting, at which Barbara Branden spoke on "Libertarianism, Objectivism, and Rage." Her explosive anger and venomous sarcasm (or was it: venomous anger and explosive sarcasm? or explosive venom and angry sarcasm?) really pissed a lot of people off. And when asked what she thought about Linz, she facetiously replied, "But I don't think about him."...No, wait, I'm confusing fiction with real life, sorry. :-)




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Post 5

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 5:04pmSanction this postReply
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Honestly, at this point it's getting to be laughable how dense the deflector shields are in folks like Roger, who still have not come to understand that the Brandens told no one in their respective books that they had participated in a psychological shell-game with Ayn Rand for YEARS -- that Branden made up a condition to ask her about, a soul-shattering sexual paralysis, that he spun out variation after complication after mutation after red herring after false lead for his phony "condition" in session after session with Ayn Rand, all of it LIES. (He had been carrying a secret affair with Patrecia for four and a half YEARS.) Barbara Branden participated in the charade for at least two YEARS by helping to maintain the idea that her marriage to Branden was still a work in progress, which both of the Brandens knew was untrue. Rand talked to Barbara about Nathaniel's state, and she went along with it knowing it was a lie. Branden continued to hold out a hope to Rand for a sexual relationship throughout. Neither Roger, nor anyone else, read any about any of this in the Brandens' books. What we read about was Rand's irrational jealousy and condemnation, instead. The evidence for all of this is in Rand's journals. So are the Brandens still lying? They never stopped.



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Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 5:40pmSanction this postReply
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Linz,

Let me correct two patently false statements in your post.
... your indifference to the enormity of the deception of Rand practised by the Brandens is mind-boggling.
If you go through my posts on this matter, you will see that I am not indifferent. What you claim is not backed by any evidence, but a result of you "feeling" that I am indifferent, maybe.

I will let my previous posts speak for themselves, since I have written extensively about my position, including the fact that I do not approve of the deception. My position is there for anybody to see - and it is the exact opposite of what you claim. I even got misty-eyed (sappy, but true) over a quote that was posted of Ayn Rand's pain.

The second incorrect statement is:
... that you've clearly reverted to being a conduit for Barbara...
I have the e-mails to prove the falseness of that. More thinking by feeling, from what I gather.

Objectivism teaches us that emotions are not proper tools of cognition. Feelings are not good arguments.

I don't see anything wrong with having a bias, though. You obviously have yours. That should not interfere with objectivity in examining facts, however. So to be clear, let's just say that I refuse to lend my mind to the following:

1. Just because Barbara declared that you drink too much (and I will even agree with you that this is solely your own business), I will not go along with your complete rewrite of her history, eliminating all the good and painting her as an evil lying back-biting bitch while inciting others to do the same.

Have you forgotten the product you still sell - your interview with her? I doubt that the evil lying back-biting bitch evaluation is in that thing. I know my own history with her shows her to be a vastly different person.

btw - If anybody ever tried to do to you what you have tried to do to her, I would be all over them. Once again, check out my posts on Solo for evidence. I have done that. I also have e-mails to prove it.

2. I will not go along with characterizing Barbara as sympathetic with pedophilia - or insinuating such like you do, even yesterday - just because she would not chuck out a 20 year friendship from one minute to the next. I did what nobody else did back then. I sent her material to read.

I am not at liberty to speak for her on this, but I will say that she expressed thoughts to me that are vastly different than she had before she read the material. She simply would not be swayed by the "I WANT YOU TO CHANGE YOUR MIND NOW - IMMEDIATELY!" approach that you demanded at the time.

3. I will not seriously entertain absurd notions like a painter using empty booze bottles as part of his artistic equipment.

4. I will not make light of the work of an eminent writer and founder of the Self-Esteem school of psychology, having sold over 3.5 million books in 18 different languages (according to the blurb on the back of the 32nd anniversary edition of The Psychology of Self-Esteem, presumably by 2001). You should see how Valliant belittles this in PARC, or have you forgotten?

5. I will not agree with the one-sided approach presented by Valliant in PARC (which, incidentally, eloquently presents the "Rand perfect, Brandens evil" position that you consider to be a ridiculous caricature).

6. I will not agree that erasing the voices of the Brandens on historical recordings and selling them that way is rational or good.

7. I will not chuck out the magnificent lyricism of PAR and wonderful things Barbara said about Ayn Rand in it.

8. I will not call Nathaniel Branden a rapist.

I could go on and on and on, but the list is too long.

I don't need to do any of that stuff - nor blank-out contexts like people are now fond of doing now - to empathize with Ayn Rand's pain on being deceived.

What happened to her was horrible.

I don't need to pollute my thinking with crap in order to say that.

If your idea of truth is needing to subject your mind to those kinds of things, then we have vastly different standards for objective truth. Coming from standards like that, a "zilch credence" evaluation of my position is fine by me. I bear it with honor.

Michael




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Post 7

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 7:55pmSanction this postReply
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OK, Mister I-Need-Proof-Before-I-Hoodwink-Myself-Into-Believing-Anything:  PROVE, just as one for instance from your list of nonsense claims, point number 5:

"5. I will not agree with the one-sided approach presented by Valliant in PARC (which, incidentally, eloquently presents the "Rand perfect, Brandens evil" position that you consider to be a ridiculous caricature)."

Can you point at one statement to that effect in PARC? Even one piece of evidence? You believe that rather strongly, apparently. You must have proof, according to your own grandiose credo. What is it? (Let me save you the trouble of looking for a quote -- you have no evidence. I know every line in PARC, and it's not there. Zip, nadda, zilch. There are a lot of concessions that Rand was not perfect, however -- that she made mistakes, that her anger was sometimes misplaced, etc.)

What PARC does prove is that Rand was innocent, and the Brandens were guilty (Rand's journals prove that the extent of her innocence and their guilt was far worse than the Brandens ever "confessed"), and PARC also proves that the Brandens have no reliable proof for their claims, and that the Brandens' claims are self-contradictory, self-serving and omit vital information (much revealed in the journals) to such an extent that they are worthless as a basis for any conclusions about Rand's character. The fact that they smeared her character to excuse their own reprehensible chicanery and fraud after she died makes them, yes, evil, on top of being guilty of the initial exploitation and deceit. The fact that they continue to stand by their "Answers" to Ayn Rand, which are packs of lies, to this day is even more reprehensible. They are incorrigible deceivers who are still claiming the devil made them do it, and their loyalists continue to believe the worst about Rand in order to believe the best about the Brandens in the face of glaring evidence to the contrary.

But this whole dodge of claiming that Rand was "perfect," whatever that means, has nothing to do with it. You suffer from the sickening Brandenian brain-rot that seems to assume that everyone is a shade of gray, everyone commits evil, there is no "perfection" and it is somehow unrealistic that Rand could have been morally above reproach. Such a view leads to the foul notion that everyone is rotten sometimes, and the notion that Rand was not is somehow tantamount to making some kind of mystical claim that is impossible for humans to attain on Earth. The Brandens would love everyone to believe that. And as long as you do, I'm sure they'll behave like perfect saints to you and Roger and anyone else who believes that, too.

To all of those who have audited this ongoing debate, please read PARC. You will understand, only then, why Linz and others who were formerly friendly to the Brandens are now ANGRY at them. There's no magical whiffle dust in the pages that wafts out and possesses people's brains. There are just facts and the words of the Brandens and the words of Rand. All of these protestations of needing evidence are just a cover for people who don't want to read the book and want desperately to continue believing in the Brandens. Anyone who would rather cash in their rational faculty and evade the evidence than renounce their faith and loyalty in the Brandens should never open the cover.  




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Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 8:37pmSanction this postReply
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This curious paragraph in Robert's article is the key to understanding where Robert and others are confusing jealousy with moral judgment:

"I don’t have room to reproduce the opening pages of Rand’s entry of July 8, 1968 (pp. 350-353). Just keep the context in mind when Rand denounces NB as "a man who professes a passion for a ‘stylized universe,’ and then rejects all of it because he feels a sexual urge for the bodies of chorus girls!" (p. 351), or thunders that he wants "to bring a whore into the church, put her up on the altar and proclaim that she is a goddess!" (p. 352). She has already identified herself and Patrecia (or, at least, the Patrecia type) as the contenders for NB’s soul." [Emphasis mine.] 

Does anyone else really think Rand is contending for NB's soul here? That she is jealous and wants him?

The fact is, if Branden wasn't lying to Patrecia, than Rand was right -- Patrecia WAS dishonest. And remember that BRANDEN HIMSELF told Rand his low opinion of Patrecia -- while he was conducting a secret affair with her!

I think at some point people were accusing Valliant of cherry-picking. This paper is an excellent specimen of what cherry-picking really looks like.





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Post 9

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 8:43pmSanction this postReply
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Michael—it pains me as much as I'm sure it does you to spend time on this stuff, but since PARC seems destined to have an impact similar to PAR (I hope historians have fun with the acronyms) on the Objectivist movement it behoves us to be especially scrupulous in dealing with all relevant matters, central or peripheral. I'll take you at your word on your first two points, but the remainder contains distortions you must know are distortions. Let me dissect:

I don't see anything wrong with having a bias, though. You obviously have yours. That should not interfere with objectivity in examining facts, however. So to be clear, let's just say that I refuse to lend my mind to the following:
1. Just because Barbara declared that you drink too much (and I will even agree with you that this is solely your own business), I will not go along with your complete rewrite of her history, eliminating all the good and painting her as an evil lying back-biting bitch while inciting others to do the same.


Now you know full well that she didn't simply claim that I "drink too much." She endorsed the proposition that I am an alcoholic. An alcoholic is someone helplessly dependent on, & routinely, seriously impaired by, alcohol. That's a very serious thing to say about the head of an Objectivist organisation and someone who is a public figure independently of that as well. Especially when it's not true. Confronted with unsolicited testimonials from friends that it's not true, she refused to retract or reconsider in any way, shape or form. Did she stop to think for a second what might happen if the New Zealand media picked up on her allegation? (Probably not much, as it happens, since my fondness for red wine is well known, but no one has suggested that I have a problem with it. However, she wasn't to know that.) Or, imagine that someone said a similar thing about Ed Hudgins. Every time you read one of his posts, you'd be asking yourself what stage of inebriation he was at. (In actual fact, of course, Ed's problem is that he doesn't drink nearly enough.) That sort of thing can seriously dent the credibility not just of the person but the organisation. And BB at the time, remember, was a SOLO staffer supposedly looking out for the good of SOLO.

On its own, her allegation would have been puzzling; coupled with the very pertinent questions PARC had raised about the reliability of her similar claim about Frank O'Connor, it became positively sinister.

As for the back-biting, you yourself have acknowledged this part of her modus operandi to me in private—and I have the e-mails to prove that.



Have you forgotten the product you still sell - your interview with her? I doubt that the evil lying back-biting bitch evaluation is in that thing. I know my own history with her shows her to be a vastly different person.

Nope, I haven't forgotten it, nor the good times with BB generally. I've written about it & them wistfully since the estrangement occurred, as you well know. Do you think for a second that I didn't treasure my friendship with her, that it was easy just to drop my "bias" (the same one as yours at the time) & acknowledge I'd been wrong about the Valliant book? Think again, my friend.



btw - If anybody ever tried to do to you what you have tried to do to her, I would be all over them. Once again, check out my posts on Solo for evidence. I have done that. I also have e-mails to prove it.

I haven't tried to do anything to her. This was all her own work, alas.



2. I will not go along with characterizing Barbara as sympathetic with pedophilia - or insinuating such like you do, even yesterday - just because she would not chuck out a 20 year friendship from one minute to the next. I did what nobody else did back then. I sent her material to read.

I am not at liberty to speak for her on this, but I will say that she expressed thoughts to me that are vastly different than she had before she read the material. She simply would not be swayed by the "I WANT YOU TO CHANGE YOUR MIND NOW - IMMEDIATELY!" approach that you demanded at the time.


Again, as you well know, I haven't said BB is sympathetic to pedophilia. I faulted her for defending a promoter of it when the evidence that he was was on the Flannagans' web site for all to see, well before you sent her any material. Mr. Cresswell rather trenchantly reminded her of it at the time, as I recall. If she has backed away from defending him, she hasn't said so publicly as far as I know.



3. I will not seriously entertain absurd notions like a painter using empty booze bottles as part of his artistic equipment.

I have no view on that, except that empty booze bottles don't prove alcoholism. They merely indicate someone drank the booze.




4. I will not make light of the work of an eminent writer and founder of the Self-Esteem school of psychology, having sold over 3.5 million books in 18 different languages (according to the blurb on the back of the 32nd anniversary edition of The Psychology of Self-Esteem, presumably by 2001). You should see how Valliant belittles this in PARC, or have you forgotten?

As you know, I don't give a damn about that stuff. It's for Californian cripples with more money than sense. But my view on it has no bearing on my view of PARC.



5. I will not agree with the one-sided approach presented by Valliant in PARC (which, incidentally, eloquently presents the "Rand perfect, Brandens evil" position that you consider to be a ridiculous caricature).

I believe I made my own observations about "Prosecutor Valliant's" approach. His case is strong nonetheless—and it doesn't rest on a "Rand perfect" foundation.



6. I will not agree that erasing the voices of the Brandens on historical recordings and selling them that way is rational or good.

Neither will I, as I made abundantly clear & as you know full well. Why lump me in with the voice-erasers? I called them "Stalinists" did I not? Do you seriously think I admire Kremlin-style history-rewriters?



7. I will not chuck out the magnificent lyricism of PAR and wonderful things Barbara said about Ayn Rand in it.

Neither will I. But I can see now that's not the full story.



8. I will not call Nathaniel Branden a rapist.

Er, the term was psychological rapist, was it not? I think it's a pretty good term for the comprehensive mind-fucking of Rand Branden did with his years & years of the most appalling lies.



I could go on and on and on, but the list is too long.

I don't need to do any of that stuff - nor blank-out contexts like people are now fond of doing now - to empathize with Ayn Rand's pain on being deceived.

What happened to her was horrible.


Get it right, Michael—what they did to her was worse than horrible.




If your idea of truth is needing to subject your mind to those kinds of things, then we have vastly different standards for objective truth. Coming from standards like that, a "zilch credence" evaluation of my position is fine by me. I bear it with honor.

Well, bear it with honour, then. But to my mind what I've quoted here is ample illustration of why you have a credibility problem with me.

Linz


(Edited by Lindsay Perigo
on 11/22, 9:04pm)

(Edited by Lindsay Perigo
on 11/22, 9:11pm)




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Post 10

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 7:27pmSanction this postReply
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Michael, without necessarily agreeing with you on any one point, you have done a much better job of defending Barbara and Nathaniel here and representing your position generally than the time in the not so distant past when I complained you weren't doing so well that way--so I bonked you. I still don't like that Turning piece you did, though.

--Brant




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Post 11

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 7:36pmSanction this postReply
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I thank Robert for his article. I have a hunch that this is going to be a rather long thread. I am working on a review of PARC, but I have decided to expand its scope. I won't publish it until it's ready. I'm still doing a lot of reading and will probably have to get material out of storage. There is one thing I must say right now, however:

If Barbara Branden hadn't interviewed Ayn Rand in 1961--40 hours of tapes--what real understanding and appreciation of Ayn Rand would we have today? I say, thank you, Barbara Branden.

--Brant




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Post 12

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 8:50pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

Your misrepresentations of my work and motives are somewhat disappointing.

I am sure that Rand was capable of jealousy, and, either way, this has, of course, no bearing on the truth of Objectivism, as I say in the book -- and weary of repeating. Come down off of that very tired hobby horse and join the conversation, for heaven's sake. (And, yeah, it's "vini, vidi, vici" until you do.)

One can believe all of this to be true and still think that Rand's life is an important object of study.

And, you ignore so much context, it is difficult to know where to begin.

Let me just say this: Branden presented himself as being in the grip of a psycho-crisis of his own construction for Rand's benefit. He told Rand that if he ever found the right woman, it would be like a "prison." (From this we can can see that he himself assumed Rand was comfortable with not being his romantic ideal.) He told Rand that Patrecia was his "Eddie Willers," and at another time, someone lacking his "intellectual weapons." Rand's opinion in many respects, and certainly in this one, relied on Branden's own descriptions of her, as these entries make clear. By Branden's account, Petrecia was also deceiving Rand throughout this period. (Patrecia's own expressed desire for Rand's counseling in this period is worth noting here.)

No, soon after Branden said, in effect "You're too old for me, Ayn," she was suggesting that he look for the "Emma Peel" type.

It is Rand who was ever trying to break with Branden, but, as she says in her notes, he begged her to give him more chances.

In any event event, you seem to skip a bit that bears on your thesis...


(Edited by James S. Valliant
on 11/22, 10:16pm)




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Post 13

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 9:24pmSanction this postReply
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Casey,

Like Linz, you also have it completely wrong about me. If you had taken the time to read my previous posts, you would have read that I find the concept of moral perfection as a state of being to be a useless concept, but it is a good standard for judging specific decisions (i.e., it is possible to make a morally perfect choice, but not possible to exist 24/7 in some Platonic morally perfect state).

The posts are there for all to see. They completely contradict your claims.

But to go over some of the same ground, philosophy for me is a guide, not a straight-jacket. I don't hold this view because I believe we are all corrupt (as you falsely claim), but simply because human beings all have a specific nature and we must make choices everyday of our conscious lives. This nature includes a universal spectrum of emotions, and jealousy is one of those universal emotions.

The overwhelming amount of influences in human life, both internal and external, requires moral principles in some form or other for being able to choose and act. I strongly reject consciously chosen valuing without conscious identification of facts first. That is what "moral perfection" is all about. The "morally perfect" stance means never valuing the "wrong" thing (unless based on incorrect information or identification) or never feeling a "wrong" emotion.

Bullshit.

Random emotions are part of the human experience (and even part of the canine, bovine, feline, etc., experience). The subconscious (just as one influence) can lead anyone to make a horrible choice once in a while. Denying the existence of this because of "moral perfection" or "above moral reproach" or whatever is just plain silly. How emotions and poor decisions are dealt with is a far better indication of moral competence (a word I VASTLY prefer over perfection) than the obliteration of any emotion from the human psyche.

Obliterating an emotion is not heroism by a long shot. Dealing with overpowering emotions most certainly can be.

About the proof you asked for, it will be forthcoming. I still intend to do my own review of PARC and I will present it then.

Just for now, let me say that the "Rand perfect/Branden evil" caricature is not stated outright in PARC. However, it is strongly insinuated through a rather heavy-handed use of rhetorical devices. I intend to untie some of those knots and show how it is done. (Hint: I started to do it a bit in my first post on this thread.)

Some posters on Solo were recently invited to leave because they constantly overused some of the exact same rhetorical devices to "prove nothing" and insinuate that nothing can be proven. But they always covered their asses somewhere for when things got ugly. (Sound familiar?)

Apropos, do you have any qualms against a reader completely skipping the first half of PARC, reading only Rand's journal entries and skipping ALL of Valliant's comments during the journal parts on the first read, then going back and reading Valliant's contributions? Or do you prefer Valliant to tell the reader what to think first?

Or how about this? Reading or rereading The Passion of Ayn Rand right after reading PARC and the reader seeing for himself if it is the smear job that it is purported to be?

Michael





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Post 14

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 10:04pmSanction this postReply
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OK, I'll put the hip-waders on:

Michael said:

"Like Linz, you also have it completely wrong about me. If you had taken the time to read my previous posts, you would have read that I find the concept of moral perfection as a state of being to be a useless concept, but it is a good standard for judging specific decisions (i.e., it is possible to make a morally perfect choice, but not possible to exist 24/7 in some Platonic morally perfect state).

The posts are there for all to see. They completely contradict your claims."

ME: I have no idea what you are trying to say. There is no Platonic state. Perfection either exists or it doesn't. If it means anything at all, it must mean something here on Earth. Unfortunately, those Platonists who hurl the word around with a sneer are implying it cannot exist on Earth, and therefore Rand cannot be said to be morally perfect. All that is required, however, for someone to be morally perfect here in reality is to live by the trader principle while reaching for one's fulfillment in life. Rand cannot be said to have ever violated this principle. The Brandens cannot be said to have done so. (Here come the Platonist's sneers.)

Michael said:

But to go over some of the same ground, philosophy for me is a guide, not a straight-jacket. I don't hold this view because I believe we are all corrupt (as you falsely claim), but simply because human beings all have a specific nature and we must make choices everyday of our conscious lives. This nature includes a universal spectrum of emotions, and jealousy is one of those universal emotions.

The overwhelming amount of influences in human life, both internal and external, requires moral principles in some form or other for being able to choose and act. I strongly reject consciously chosen valuing without conscious identification of facts first. That is what "moral perfection" is all about. The "morally perfect" stance means never valuing the "wrong" thing (unless based on incorrect information or identification) or never feeling a "wrong" emotion.

Bullshit.

ME: You took the word right out of my mouth. BULLSHIT. Everything you said.

Michael said:

Random emotions are part of the human experience (and even part of the canine, bovine, feline, etc., experience). The subconscious (just as one influence) can lead anyone to make a horrible choice once in a while. Denying the existence of this because of "moral perfection" or "above moral reproach" or whatever is just plain silly. How emotions and poor decisions are dealt with is a far better indication of moral competence (a word I VASTLY prefer over perfection) than the obliteration of any emotion from the human psyche.

Obliterating an emotion is not heroism by a long shot. Dealing with overpowering emotions most certainly can be.

ME: What in god's name are you blathering about? Feeling things has nothing to do with morality. Ethics is the province of human action, not feelings, "overpowering" or otherwise.

Michael said:

About the proof you asked for, it will be forthcoming. I still intend to do my own review of PARC and I will present it then.

ME: Promises, promises. You seem to have a whole lot of objections without any bases you can cite. Shouldn't facts come before the conclusion? (That's a rhetorical question, please don't answer it.)

Michael said:

Just for now, let me say that the "Rand perfect/Branden evil" caricature is not stated outright in PARC. However, it is strongly insinuated through a rather heavy-handed use of rhetorical devices. I intend to untie some of those knots and show how it is done. (Hint: I started to do it a bit in my first post on this thread.)

ME: You "started" nothing of the kind.

Michael said:

Some posters on Solo were recently invited to leave because they constantly overused some of the exact same rhetorical devices to "prove nothing" and insinuate that nothing can be proven. But they always covered their asses somewhere for when things got ugly. (Sound familiar?)

ME: It sure does!

Michael said:

Apropos, do you have any qualms against a reader completely skipping the first half of PARC, reading only Rand's journal entries and skipping ALL of Valliant's comments during the journal parts on the first read, then going back and reading Valliant's contributions? Or do you prefer Valliant to tell the reader what to think first?

Or how about this? Reading or rereading The Passion of Ayn Rand right after reading PARC and the reader seeing for himself if it is the smear job that it is purported to be?

ME: You can evade anything you want to if you're uncertain of your ability to judge for yourself what you are reading. And reading PAR after PARC, if one must read PAR, would be IDEAL. In fact, it's the only way to arm yourself for such an assault on truth as Barbara Branden's. (I see you're conceding Nathaniel's book is off the charts now and doesn't even require a mention? Not enough lyricism there for you to believe that it's true, eh?)




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Post 15

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 10:23pmSanction this postReply
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Linz,

Dayaamm! Things have started heating up. Rather than go through your post item-by-item, I just want to make a few comments.

My list of weird things to accept was presented merely as something I refused to do. I'm sorry if there was an insinuation that you held all those positions. I didn't mean to imply that. I was merely making a list off the top of my head of the absurd things I have seen written and defended recently in the name of reason.

You are also correct about the fact that I should have used the word "alcoholism" instead of the phrase "drinking heavily." I remember James Kilbourne making that accusation in his article, however, and Barbara applauding the fact that you posted the article, with the implication that you would get help (thus an insinuation, not an outright stated charge of alcoholism). Still, it is a serious and damaging charge and unfortunately for all concerned, it was left unresolved.

About Frank O'Connor, I have stated elsewhere that I will leave my own judgment suspended for now. There are other biographers who are doing a whole lot more donkey-work type research on Rand's life than has ever been done before. I believe that their conclusions will go far in vindicating Barbara's claim or refuting it for once and for all. I prefer to wait. Anyway, it makes no difference to me one way or the other with respect to Rand's ideas. To me it is just an historical curiosity.

On Nathaniel Branden, you really should look at his work before making foolish statements like the "California cripples" thing. As I understand it, many of his clients and patients have been some of the most powerful executives in corporate America. Those who achieve in real life and out in the marketplace.

Also, a good portion of the particular book I mentioned (The Psychology of Self-Esteem, in its 32nd printing), was published previously in The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist and declared by Ayn Rand to be an official part of Objectivism. The temptation is to make a wisecrack about Objectivist cripples.

On the rapist thing, Valliant said that Branden's psychology was akin to the psychology of a rapist, but that he had "nothing less than the soul of a rapist." Normative evaluation. The cognitive fact (admitted by Valliant) is that he did not rape ("While his behavior was not, technically, rape...").

This is a cognitive blank-out of the first order and a horrible "fact-less" moral condemnation.

How does a "soul" become separate from the man? Isn't Objectivism all about fighting a false mind-body dichotomy? So there is a soul of a rapist but the man himself is not a rapist?

Pure bullshit.

That kind of crap is precisely what I do my damnedest to avoid in my own thinking.

One last point. What the Brandens did to Rand was horrible, but it happened within a context. It takes two to tango and it always has (three or four in their case, depending on how you look at it). I refuse to blank-out that context as Valliant tried to do with rhetoric.

Once again, just what was what and whose personality was what will be doggedly researched and presented in other upcoming biographies of Rand. One thing is for sure. There are many people other than the Brandens who remember a highly authoritarian aspect of her personality that surged once in a while.

Also, I hope to see something about the nature of master-disciple relationships - and how this was present with Rand and the Brandens - that has been completely ignored in this debate.

I believe that the portrait presented by both Barbara and Nathaniel were their honest and best recollections. This is denied by Valliant.

I will not swallow his opinion that they purposely distorted facts in their works. I do accept that memory is not as reliable a source as donkey-work is and that they had lived through many of the emotionally charged events they wrote about. It is obvious that certain biases are present in their works. But not outright deceit.

One last thought. Robert Campbell did a masterful job of showing a different interpretation of Rand's words - all taken directly from Valliant's book. I sincerely hope that more works of that nature will follow - and that even someday those journal entries will be published as stand-alone. (I'm not holding my breath, though.)

Michael


Edit - Frankly I don't remember stating that Barbara engaged in backbiting. I do remember writing some criticism of her at the time I was trying to get you two to make peace, however. There was lots of acrimony between you two that I was trying to cut through. Still, I don't think you will find backbiting (or backstabbing) in my e-mails.

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 11/23, 12:09am)




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Post 16

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 10:40pmSanction this postReply
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Casey,

I will not comment on your non-arguments over nothing. You really are running out of gas, though, aren't you?

I will only state that I did not mention Nathaniel Branden's memoirs not because it is "off the charts." It is merely because I have only read Judgment Day, not My Years with Ayn Rand.

Frankly, I enjoyed Judgment Day. I took it for what it was - a personal memoir, not a biography. Also, over half the book is about Branden's relationship to other women. Basically it is a work focused on him, not Ayn Rand, although she does figure importantly.

Barbara strongly believes that her own work is of a different nature than Nathaniel's and does not like the two being lumped together. I know and love Barbara. I have yet to correspond - even by e-mail - with Nathaniel. So it is natural that I give more attention to her work than his.

But hell, insinuate away. That's about all that is starting to be left-over for your arguments, so give it your best shots.

Michael




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Post 17

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 11:15pmSanction this postReply
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Robert:

      Good to see you back to posting, and everything turned out ok. Guess you don't need that typist I suggested. Anyhoo, to your post... 

      One of, if not 'the' 1st, post I wrote to SOLO specifically referred to the fact that re Valiant's book, no one discussed what Rand had said therein. Good to see a couple threads now oriented at this aspect, whatever they're pro or con about.

      Now, I have not read Valiant's book...yet. B&N will call when it comes in (I'm still leery about c-c use on the Web...even on Amazon). But, I've certainly read enough about it, here as elsewhere. Nothing like multiple review-analyses to see different perspectives...and biases.

      I must admit, that after reading the Brandens' books, all I could see re poor Rand was anger-at-deception, mainly, with jealousy added as a topping. We all know what Rand thought of as to being deceived. I have no doubt that that was the PRIME source of her anger. It clearly was not something that she really suspected until way later.

      I must admit that I'm a bit perplexed re your post that you really nowhere 'argue' that Rand was jealous; you merely repeatedly rhetorically innuend that she 'must' have been. I have a problem with this style of...presenting a case. At any rate...

      It wasn't until I read your initial post in this thread that a question occurred to me: a question which I should have wondered about years ago after reading BB's book and surmising that jealousy was an element in Rand's attitude.

      If Rand was 'jealous' about Patrecia...why was Rand apparently never so re Barbara? I presume that Rand had no presumption that NB and BB stopped sharing a bed when the menage started. --- If she wasn't, (and, for that matter, BB didn't really hint at being so, either), then, why jealousy over ONLY Patrecia?

     I'm seeing the liklihood of Rand's anger, your rhetorical comments nwst, as having the icing not of jealousy (per your quoting of Valiant's book), but of her own analysis of NB and, thereby, her disappointment, hence sadness, hence additional anger at his showing he's no longer (if he ever was) the kind of person Rand thought he was.

LLAP
J:D




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Post 18

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 11:22pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

The context that you ignore in the case of Patrecia is bad enough, but if you are claiming Rand to have been a jealous person generally (something else relevant to your position that you seem to ignore), you are on still shakier ground. It's not just Peikoff -- even Ms. Branden (for what it's worth) says that Rand's "open delight" in the beauty of others had "not the slightest tinge of jealousy." Nor had Rand been jealous when it came to Ms. Branden's relationship with Branden. Finally, the attitudes and perspectives of Objectivism did not just happen to fall from the sky one day: they were the product of Rand's own soul and thinking. If Objectivism views jealousy negatively, then, one might suppose, this may actually reflect something that Rand sincerely believed herself.



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Post 19

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 11:46pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

It has been pointed out that my earlier post might not have been clear on one point: the fact that Branden is complaining to Rand at the time of his fear of falling for an "inferior value" cannot be ignored. While his affection for Patrecia is becoming more obvious to Rand, this is Branden's own stated fear. What else was Rand to conclude?



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