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Post 180

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 1:34pmSanction this postReply
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Ellen,

I don't know how well you knew Rand. Being in New York at the same time does not mean you knew her well or even at all. You are quick to pass judgment on journals you have only read cherry-picked samples of, so I'm already dubious about how much personal contact you are basing your other judgments on.

She certainly did not "control" you, so I'm not sure what your first-hand experience offers here at all. And I have yet to read anywhere all of these "others" who confirmed the Brandens' allegations -- certainly there are none concerning the affair. Plenty of people who knew her MUCH better than you are on the record refuting the Brandens' allegations, in detail, concerning Rand's personality. The ones who do claim she was controlling are the ones she refused to control anymore, ironically, by showing them the door.

Since you consider yourself friendly with Branden, that certainly must color your impression of Rand, regardless of when that relationship formed, to whatever extent that it did.

I don't accept any argument from authority. "I was there so take my word for it" doesn't count AT ALL with me. We've already seen some folks who charged in strong on that horse and rode out with their tails between their legs with no substance to back any of their claims. Actual experiences which do not contradict everyone else or are somehow corroboratable would be a start, as far as persuading me. But considering how much evidence there is for Rand being nothing like what the Brandens' claim, it would take a strong case -- not just "I was there in New York City."

The psychological notes in Rand's journals are some of the most compassionate and insightful I have ever seen and they affected me greatly.

Let me tell you about true shivers up the spine when it comes to psychological counseling. Nathaniel Branden gave marriage counseling to Patrecia and her husband -- yep! And Branden delighted in sharing the most intimate problems of patients at parties while his patient was standing right there. Yep. And according to Branden, he was the main psychological enforcer at NBI who would deliver "in a cold, deadly voice" (his words) the verdict of "social metaphysics" while conducting his little trials of people. The Brandens report only one such "trial" where Rand was present (the same one) in which she chuckled. That's the extent of her participation according to the Brandens. So if you have such an opinion of Rand while befriending Branden, I would say you definitely have a warped agenda.

(Edited by Casey Fahy on 11/28, 1:36pm)




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Post 181

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 1:51pmSanction this postReply
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Ellen, thank you for your response. I'm sure you'll understand if I don't just accept all you say about particular people as truth. I don't know anything about you except that you claim you knew everyone involved in some way and now are friendly with Nathaniel Branden.

Yes, of course I meant that Rand's response was rational given her view of romantic relationships (and her philosophy in general). This was a philosophy to which Nathaniel Branden claimed to subscribe fully, and even taught to other people for money. It's no wonder AR would be shocked and upset that NB didn't in fact share her perspective, given AR's informed judgment of Patrecia as intellectually unserious. However, that alone doesn't prove that AR was "jealous" of anyone, which was my main point.

Finally, you claim that Patrecia had a great sense of life. Well, one's "sense of life" is just one's emotional response to existence. Individuals tend to gravitate toward other people who share their own sense of life, but that's certainly not a sufficient basis for a serious romantic relationship. That's clearly the most esteemed relationship possible to a human being and it should be treated that way, especially by those who claim (or once claimed) to be Objectivist heroes. 




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Post 182

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 2:26pmSanction this postReply
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Jon Trager said:
Finally, you claim that Patrecia had a great sense of life. Well, one's "sense of life" is just one's emotional response to existence. Individuals tend to gravitate toward other people who share their own sense of life, but that's certainly not a sufficient basis for a serious romantic relationship. That's clearly the most esteemed relationship possible to a human being and it should be treated that way, especially by those who claim (or once claimed) to be Objectivist heroes.
This is what Peikoff said of Rand's relationship with her husband, Frank O'Connor, in “My Thirty Years With Ayn Rand: An Intellectual Memoir”:

She loved her husband of fifty years, Frank O'Connor, a sensitive, intense man, not nearly as intellectual as she but just as independent and deep in his own quiet way. He is the exception to my statement that she never found an equal. Frank did not have her mind; but his dedication to his work as a painter, his extravagant Romanticism, his innocent, sunlit sense of life, and, I may add, the visible joy he took in her work and in her person—all this made it plain that he did share her soul. [Emphasis added.]

So, can anyone who knew Frank O'Connor well tell me how he was qualified for "the most esteemed relationship possible to a human being" when that human being was Ayn Rand?




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Post 183

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 2:47pmSanction this postReply
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Glenn,

LOLOLOLOL...

You don't get it. Frank was intrinsically different than the rest of the world with respect to sense-of-life issues...

//;-)

Michael




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Post 184

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 3:51pmSanction this postReply
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Glenn,

Do you think that Peikoff quotation contradicts what I said? It doesn't. In fact, it supports me.

I never claimed that sense of life isn't important for a serious romantic relationship. I said that it isn't ENOUGH.

However, that doesn't mean that a genius must search for many years for an equivalent genius to date. A person who isn't a genius but is "independent and deep," such as O'Connor, fits the bill. A person who's shallow, insecure, and fake (AR's judgment of Paterica based on their conversations) doesn't come close.






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Post 185

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 4:31pmSanction this postReply
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MSK:

Every individual is intrinsically different with respect to sense of life issues. Don't you understand that?




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Post 186

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 5:35pmSanction this postReply
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Ellen,

You see what happens when you try to be honest with true believers?

THEY ARE JUST NOT INTERESTED IN SEEING ANYTHING DIFFERENT THAN WHAT THEY BELIEVE.

That's why they will call you a liar like that (tidied up, of course, as being against "argument from authority" or some other euphemism).

They are not really bad people, but they are immune to any evidence that contradicts their own.

Casey - Of course everybody's different. But Frank seems to be completely exception-making to you guys - meaning the whole world as one thing and Frank as something else, not that everybody is different.

But you don't need to go that far. Just admit that you believe that Nathaniel was born with original sin and be done with it. Many people already have gotten that gist...

Michael






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Post 187

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 6:40pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

You are a three-ring circus of logical fallacies. And you don't even know it. Color me stupefied.




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Post 188

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 7:24pmSanction this postReply
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I don't think so, Casey.

I remember very clearly the statement in PARC that Branden's soul was not what he professed to Rand - as a matter of fact it was the soul of a rapist. The first part was hammered home time and time again throughout the book.

But Objectivism is a philosophy of the self-made soul - and Branden was severely criticized in PARC precisely for trying to make his own soul. He was called intrinsicist, if I am not mistaken. He was trying to be what he wasn't - er... that is... you know... make his own soul become different than that of a rapist, I guess.

The only logical reason for such a failure - with such an admittedly strong attempt to do better on his part - next to such a grand stimulus as Rand is that he was born with original sin. He was born a rapist. I can't find any other reason that fit's this equation.

Now THAT, under the guise of Objectivism, is a circus, but no where near three rings.

But back to Ellen, if you want to go argument from authority, I believe your claim was that yours was bigger than hers. Authority, I mean. Right?

Michael

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 11/28, 7:58pm)




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Post 189

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 7:48pmSanction this postReply
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So I'm a "true believer" now?

A random poster on SOLOHQ whom I know nothing about says she knows that Patrecia wasn't a "shop girl," contrary to AR's description of her. I should just accept that as a fact? That's a strange position for an "Objectivist" to take. (I wonder if MSK would accept a random poster's allegations about the Brandens being evil because that poster claimed to have known them 40 years ago.)

Further, that poster merely says that Patrecia had a terrific sense of life. Well, I know dimwits who have a terrific sense of life as well. The two aren't mutually exclusive. A sense of life is emotional; it's not a substitute for ideas.

I already said that I'm not certain what Patrecia OR Frank were really like. But what I HAVE heard and read about Frank from people on both sides of this dispute consistently portrays him as a man who clearly lacked AR's intellectual ability, but who was still a serious and thoughtful person with reasoned convictions. There's a huge difference between a genius having a romantic relationship with that kind of person vs. a person who's shallow and superficial.

Doesn't that make sense?



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Post 190

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 7:52pmSanction this postReply
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Yes, Jon, it makes sense.




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Post 191

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 8:20pmSanction this postReply
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Jon Trager wrote:
So I'm a "true believer" now? A random poster on SOLOHQ whom I know nothing about says she knows that Patrecia wasn't a "shop girl," contrary to AR's description of her. I should just accept that as a fact? That's a strange position for an "Objectivist" to take.
Ellen Stuttle, a "random poster"? Heh-heh. You probably aren't aware that her husband, Larry Gould, was one of the panel on Rand's epistemology seminars (1979-81) that are now part of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (even though that material is not part of Objectivism, since she didn't approve it -- so go figure!). Ellen was part of the Rand milieu during that time period. You weren't, and I wasn't. Also, Ellen "didn't have any dog in the hunt," meaning that I would be more inclined to accept her description of Patrecia than I would Rand's. 
(I wonder if MSK would accept a random poster's allegations about the Brandens being evil because that poster claimed to have known them 40 years ago.)
Well, MSK does (as do I) accept the idea that the Brandens were evil 40 years ago, because they themselves admitted that they behaved in an evil fashion. Your hypothetical is way out of date!
Further, that poster merely says that Patrecia had a terrific sense of life. Well, I know dimwits who have a terrific sense of life as well. The two aren't mutually exclusive. A sense of life is emotional; it's not a substitute for ideas. I already said that I'm not certain what Patrecia OR Frank were really like. But what I HAVE heard and read about Frank from people on both sides of this dispute consistently portrays him as a man who clearly lacked AR's intellectual ability, but who was still a serious and thoughtful person with reasoned convictions. There's a huge difference between a genius having a romantic relationship with that kind of person vs. a person who's shallow and superficial. Doesn't that make sense?
Frank was "serious and thoughtful...with reasoned convictions." Yes, and he was in his 70s at the time of the split. By that time, one could reasonably be expected to have some sort of philosophy of life worked out. Too bad Patrecia did not survive to her 60s so that we could see how she turned out.

For that matter, how much does anyone know about Frank's philosophy of life or the status of his "reasoned convictions" when he was Patrecia's age (his 20s), or even in his 30s when Rand met and fell in love with him? I mean, let's not be comparing apples and oranges here!

Was Frank "serious and thoughtful" in the 1920s -- or a "shallow and superficial" dimwit with a terrific sense of life -- or neither? Who do we have comparable to Ellen Stuttle, and others who have a basis in experience to affirm her judgment of Patrecia's character, that could testify similarly about Frank's character when he was Patrecia's age and Rand first took up with him? This is the only fair standard for comparison.

I think it is a serious mistake to accept at face value the obviously emotional pot-shots of a jealous woman against her rival as being an accurate assessment of her rival's character. Doing so may not make one a "true believer," but it certainly makes one a bit too gullible, in my book.

REB




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Post 192

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 8:56pmSanction this postReply
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Roger,

It's a question of whom you take at face value, I suppose.




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Post 193

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 9:28pmSanction this postReply
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I think I'll borrow MSK's trademark expression:

LOLOLOL [etc.].

First Casey accuses me of accepting on faith what Nathaniel says.

I then point out to Casey that, unlike him, I'm not in a position of needing to rely in forming my opinions about Rand and circle and The Split, etc., on what anyone wrote about it, since I have considerably more direct sources of evidence.

Casy then in essence accuses me of pulling an argument from authority.

Look, everyone, I have no expectation whatsoever that anyone will believe anything I say simply because I say it. (Furthermore, I wouldn't approve of anyone's using so poor an epistemological procedure.) I was merely pointing out to Casey the error in his presumption as to the basis for my own views.

Ellen S.



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Post 194

Monday, November 28, 2005 - 11:08pmSanction this postReply
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Even if you lived with Nathaniel Branden you would still have to be accepting his word on faith as to the events that transpired between him and Rand.

This is the problem with the argument from authority. I saw it, so never mind. It's not an argument at all. So why bring it up? I could say the same thing about UFOs or Elvis. You saw her from a distance, and she looked like a hard-ass. So all this other stuff must be true, take it from me...

No thanks.

Sorry, Ellen, but you're too willing to believe glowing things about Patrecia and nasty things about Rand for any of your evidence ("I saw them") to justify. You have to have some other stake in deciding who to give credit to and who to blame than the kind of evidence you have offered. Little observed nuances aren't enough, unless you're of the Barbara Branden school of shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later.




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Post 195

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 - 4:19amSanction this postReply
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Casey,

Let me ask something that's been on my mind for a little while and something I don't understand. Ayn Rand is a historical figure to me, like Victor Hugo or Aristotle. She died when I was 11 years old. I admire the genius but have little connection to the person. If she had wanted to write an autobiography and be known for her personal and private life she would have. Why is this stuff so personal to the younger people?

I've met Barbara and Nathaniel Branden briefly, but they won't be more than passing aquaintances due to their interests and mine so what does it matter in the end if I think good or ill of them beyond evaluating their arguments and their writings?

I don't generally pry into the kinds of things being discussed even when they happen within my own extended family. In the end we have our own lives to live and this kind of vicarious, Walter Mitty attachment to events that happened decades ago seems strange.

Jim




Post 196

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 - 7:17amSanction this postReply
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Roger,

It would be easier to tell which posters did and did not know Patrecia, if they would deign to use their real names instead of pseudonyms.




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Post 197

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 - 7:51amSanction this postReply
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You are so right, Andrew!

I mean, I was just saying to my friend Lysandra the other day: who are Casey Fahy and James Valliant and Jon Trager kidding with those obviously phony names, huh?  :-)

Achilles

(Edited by Roger Bissell on 11/29, 7:53am)




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Post 198

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 - 9:22amSanction this postReply
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In my opinion Casey Fahy's sanitized view of Rand is akin to Rand's rose-colored views of her husband and, early on, N. Branden and B. Branden. She exemplified "love is exception-making."
     Like Casey I don't believe a desire for privacy equals deception, but consider the wider context including Ayn Rand's rose-colored views. In N. Branden she acquired a sycophant 25 years younger barely out of college, judged him to be the embodiment of one of her fictional heroes, and so began an extra-marital affair with him. What rational basis was there for her rose-colored view of Branden? I suspect that a sizable part of the real basis is that he stroked her ego, and he had an ego and an appetite for moral condemnation that matched hers.
     She then broke it off during her post-AS blues. After being inspired again by the success of NBI -- Branden's initiative -- she assumed she could resume the affair like nothing had changed. But N. Branden didn't want to and lied to Rand, with B. Branden's complicity, about his romantic love for Rand and his relationship with Patrecia. When Rand later found out, her rosy image of Branden burst, she was very angry, and destroyed NBI.
     I read PAR many years ago, being curious about what happened. At that time nearly nothing had been disclosed. I have not read N. Branden's books nor PARC. I'm not interested in soap operas, even if they are real life and involved Rand. I value her ideas. The soap opera aspect of her life has no value for me. It has no effect on my life, except for the annoying, incessant barrage of others arguing about it. 
     I have not heard one word from readers of PARC about Rand's journal having any entries that question, or express any regret about, her own role in the tragic affair. (On second thought, I don't expect they would be in PARC if they did exist.) It seems that when anything went wrong, Rand always blamed it entirely on somebody else, herself none. A very common trait, I must say.
     Casey's and Valliant's views expressed on SOLO (that I've read) put the entire blame for the tragic affair on Branden lies and pretense. In other words, they mimic Rand. I'm no admirer of the Brandens, but don't see how demonizing them sanitizes Rand. Apparently it somehow does to many.




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Post 199

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 - 9:28amSanction this postReply
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You probably aren't aware that her husband, Larry Gould, was one of the panel on Rand's epistemology seminars (1979-81) that are now part of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (even though that material is not part of Objectivism, since she didn't approve it -- so go figure!).
No, Roger, I wasn't aware of that. That's irrelevant, however, considering that I never denied that Ellen was there. My point is: Does her being there that mean I should accept as a fact her claim about Patrecia? If someone else who was there, but who you knew nothing about, posted to SOLOHQ that Patrecia was a big idiot, would you simply accept that as a fact on that basis alone, contrary to someone else's description? I hope not. 
Frank was "serious and thoughtful...with reasoned convictions." Yes, and he was in his 70s at the time of the split. By that time, one could reasonably be expected to have some sort of philosophy of life worked out. Too bad Patrecia did not survive to her 60s so that we could see how she turned out.
You and I seem to have different views of human character, Roger. I don't think a typical person's character changes fundamentally from age 30 to age 70. People learn a lot more during that period, and they may change their positions on certain issues, but they don't go from being frivolous and shallow to being thoughtful and deep. Your character is the product of your basic premises, which tend to be adopted at a fairly young age. That's why most Objectivists first embraced the philosophy when they were teenagers, and why Ayn Rand thought it was crucial to reach students and create "new intellectuals."
I think it is a serious mistake to accept at face value the obviously emotional pot-shots of a jealous woman against her rival as being an accurate assessment of her rival's character. Doing so may not make one a "true believer," but it certainly makes one a bit too gullible, in my book.
Well, that's the question, isn't it? Namely, are the passages cited in this article the "obviously emotional pot-shots of a jealous woman against her rival"? In my view, the answer is NO. If Patrecia were indeed a shallow person (which isn't disproved by Ellen saying Patrecia had a good sense of life), then decrying Patrecia as a shallow person in that context isn't a "pot-shot" and doesn't prove AR's jealousy. It only proves that AR felt betrayed by NB's romantic interest by a woman such as Patrecia, and that AR was indignant about being lumped into the same category with her. That's all.

As for being a bit too gullible in your book, I guess I'm fortunate that your book means nothing to me, aren't I?




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