Michael Stuart Kelly

Robert Bidinotto on How to Write a Thriller

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Robert Bidinotto on How to Write a Thriller

 

I'm just now starting to watch this, but I know it has to go here right now before I finish for OL readers who may be interested in writing thrillers.

 

This is exciting.

 

It's so hard to find great fiction writers who come from O-Land. Robert's stuff is stellar and now he is letting people in on his creative thriller-writing values.

 

If I were a budding writer in O-Land wanting to branch out from Rand's style, but still be true to the vision, I would soak this up.

 

 

Bidibob (all right, all right, Robert :) ) does not preach Objectivism in his two best-selling Hunter thrillers (Hunter and Bad Deeds, but soon to be more). Instead, he shows a good dose of Rand's aesthetics and most important of all, what she calls her sense of life. (Think of her love of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and Ian Fleming's James Bond.)

 

One thing's for sure. Hunter is not a man you want to meet in the middle of the night if you are a scumbag.

 

:)

 

Michael

 

 

 

 

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Here's another lecture on creative writing Robert did this year.

 

Apparently he is just now uploading this stuff to YouTube.

 

This looks like a good one, too.

 

 

Michael

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I finished both lectures.

The thriller lecture is far better for writing technique than the second, but in the second, Robert gives some of his personal history. I greatly enjoyed hearing him talk about his feelings after he lost his job at TAS and how he pulled himself up by writing his first novel. Note: He did not mention TAS, Rand, Objectivism or any of that in this lecture. He merely said he lost his job at an advanced age. And I think that's as it should be in this context.

Unfortunately in this second lecture, the camera stopped recording at the very end of it, so that end part and the Q&A are missing. Even so, I enjoyed it a lot.

Let me say here that Robert does something Ayn Rand did not do (to my knowledge). And he talks about it in both lectures. He uses what he calls beta readers for his books. In other words, after finishing them to his satisfaction, but before publishing them, he sends them around to a bunch of readers and gets feedback. Then he incorporates whatever suggested changes he finds worthwhile.

For people wanting to write fiction, I believe this is the best way. Rand was a very stubborn person who insisted on doing things her way, but even she almost threw in the towel during the writing of The Fountainhead. And she got positive feedback that night through Frank. (She wrote about this.)

A good chunk of her motivation was strongly fueled by the Russian atrocities she witnessed and lived, so she could push herself on raw survival energy when the doubts arose during writing and wanted to take root in the middle of the night (as they do with everybody). Most people nowadays live in a technological society and do not have the luxury of having seen the world fall apart around them when they were young (for real, not in this pampered way we have nowadays), nor having formed a reaction to that and the causes of that by judging it as the devil of mankind that must be fought tooth and nail every time it appears.

Most people don't have such a level of rage burning in them. So when the doubts arise from not knowing if they got something right, I believe they experience the temptation to give up a little differently than she did. Just look around at all the TV, Internet, entertainment, art, nonstop news, and so on. And no real danger during the day-to-day living. So it is really easy to get distracted.

But Rand did not need friendly competent feedback to get where she wanted to go with her writing, although I believe in places she could have benefited greatly from it. (She did get feedback from a few intimates.) Her rage was there when the temptation to give up surged from not knowing something well enough to know if she got it right. She demanded of herself that she learn it and fix it herself instead of getting competent help.

That's a lonely path that needs a lot of rage to fuel it. Simple passion is not enough (although it is necessary, too). And if you try this with love, it will lead you to sharing. You will not stay on a lonely path if driven by love. Besides, that would be a contradiction.

If you are a writer or someone who wants to write, I suggest you do not choose Rand's loner path. There is no shame in learning from people better than you, nor is there shame in getting advice from those you respect--even in your creations. Rand's loner path in executing her writing came from an emotional need, not a rational one.

The precious moments of your life will not return if you waste time going by foot when there are trains to ride.

And don't think Rand never got feedback. She worked in Hollywood where they make creative decisions by committee. Granted, a forced feedback experience with hacks who then butcher your work is enough to turn anyone's stomach, but Hollywood is (and always was) chock full of great writers, too. I have little doubt Rand learned--through feedback--from several of them when she was younger. Maybe older, too, and we just don't know much about it.

After all, she did read Atlas Shrugged out loud to the Collective as she was writing it. I wasn't there so I can't say for sure, but I seriously doubt she refused to make changes based on feedback from the discussions. My guess is she made many changes.

Michael

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Nice post, Michael, but I think you overdid it with her "rage." I think it was lumpy and on a variable continuum and not all from her experiences in Russia with the communists. Barbara Branden thought she was gold when she first met her. All in all I'd call it a very complex subject and impossible to much objectify. Writing Atlas Shrugged must have taken a lot out of her and her expectations for it were in many ways wrong as to quality of philosophical content, extent of its intellectual cultural effect and the time for that. There was too much of the world fit her and not her the world she did not understand. You can get pissed at that for sure. That's quite okay with me, for the alternative is, "Ayn Rand--who? Never heard of her."

There is another problem: hype. Hype as in subjective social--might only be one other person (romantic love?)--re-enforcement such as she got from The Collective (and they from her) and her publisher. Publishing is all about hype. So is movie distribution and advertising. It can be dangerous not to understand this as it's happening to you but it's also good as it leaves no room for cynicism except the innocence, real or faux, eventually gets slapped hard. When your world changes that way you may get depressed for you can't deal with the anger so you repress it or, if the transition is even more abrupt--as in 1968--the anger can't be held in and it all comes in a terrible rush.

--Brant

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It didn't help to surround herself with a circle of callow Neanderthals.

They were pretty good people insofar as I personally experienced some of them. Most of them didn't run completely off the tracks like Leonard Peikoff did with the manifestation of his post-1968 comportment, especially after 1986 when he had the chance for significantly improved behavior. Considering all that happened respecting him and Rand and the Brandens starting in 1968, everyone I can think of would have given him a pass for those years but not for then continuing with Randian moral dictatorship, which is separate from the simplicity of mere right and wrong. He actually admitted to being an intellectual second-hander to Rand, not realizing you don't have to match her to come up with good, original stuff on your own. This attitude made him un-qualified to write a book about her philosophy, which he did anyway, and I think it's essentially why Sydney Hook didn't write a letter of recommendation for employment after he got his Doctorate. That's pure speculation. Maybe Hook just hated Rand and Rand's ideas, but that's hard to believe. So LP ended up in the English Department at Brooklyn Poly after a stint at the University of Denver (where my brother-in-law was teaching anthropology).

--Brant

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Nice post, Michael, but I think you overdid it with her "rage." I think it was lumpy and on a variable continuum and not all from her experiences in Russia with the communists.

Brant,

Consider my comments thinking out loud.

This is a topic I think really creative people will understand, though. The rage part, especially. And even that is tied to a core story that one uses to guide one's life.

The problem with emotions is that they come in two flavors with respect to action. The first is called high-valence and it make people act (rage, excitement, the relief of catharsis, and so on). And the second shuts people down (sadness, contentment, satisfaction, etc.).

If the core story they live by is full of high-valence emotions, these emotions are a great wellspring to drink from when the 3:00 AM doubts come knocking. If their core story is more complacent, where life is more regulated and routine, they're screwed at such moments if they try to go it alone.

Everyone who tries to make a large or important work of art (or entertainment, for that matter), at one time or another, ends up in that three o'clock place where it all looks like shit. You have to have something to carry you during that moment, otherwise that feeling takes root and off you go into procrastination-land, or worse, a depression.

And there were plenty of reasons for doubt with Rand. Her technical obstacles, without considering the philosophy, were considerable. Starting with the fact that English was not her first language.

(That was more thinking out loud.)

There is something I want to clarify on making changes from feedback. I certainly don't think anyone believe Rand would overhaul her exposition about a concept like altruism from feedback. I want to mention this, though, because some bonehead or other will think that's what I'm talking about.

If you look at The Art of Nonfiction, Rand went into her revision process. (I'm presuming Mayhew's rearrangement and chopping up her lectures for the book did not botch this.)

She called it "editing in layers." She claimed the conscious mind could not hold everything in focus all at once, so a writer needs to read his or her writing from different mental focus frames during rewrites and revisions. She had three main ones, although she said passing over a first draft three times in this order was not a hard and fast rule. But she considered the following three the main editing frames for nonfiction rewrites.

1. Structure,

2. Clarity and content, and

3. Style.

In other words, after the first draft, the writer rereads the work to see if the chunks of text--in the order they are in--work or if they should be rearranged. In the next reread, the focus is just on the ideas and if they are expressed clearly. And the third is for prettifying the language (my word, not hers :smile: ).

She had a few more frames for fiction, although I'm not sure if there is any place where they are enumerated. But they exist. For example, from the biographies of her, we know she liked to read a passage of her writing out loud to herself right after she was satisfied with it to see if the rhythm of the words was clunky. That counts as a "layer."

I mention all this because I seriously doubt any changes she made from feedback from others were on the structure level. Structure means large chunks. The only case I know of is her cutting out Vesta Dunning in The Fountainhead from the publisher's feedback.

As for clarity and content, I can easily imagine her changing her text because people didn't understand it the way she wanted. Not to mention to correct eventual errors.

Believe me, you can read something a gazillion times and still miss an obvious mistake. Robert mentioned a case where he had a character put on a seat belt in the beginning of a scene and had him put it on again a little later. He said he read that passage too many times to count after writing it and simply didn't see the error. And lots of beta-readers missed it, too. But one didn't, so he was able to fix it.

I don't see Rand immune from that kind of small error. And, in my mind's eye, I can easily see perplexed members of the Collective asking timid questions after Rand read the day's passage of Atlas Shrugged to them and catching an error here and there. Not great feedback, but still something.

As to style, I'm merely speculating, but I don't think she made many changes from feedback except, maybe, to smooth over some dialogue and rejigger a metaphor once in a while.

I hope this discussion is helping some budding writer out there. These topics are critical to their development.

For those who think just reading Rand and figuring out the rest on their own is enough, that's a mistake. In my opinion, Rand was too intimidating (both in life and in her works) to be a good writing teacher for beginners and intermediates.

Michael

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I'm glad Vesta Dunning was cut. It tightened everything up. For Rand too many women would have been a literary problem, not too many men as there were a lot of them. Let's see, Dagny snagged Francsico, Hank and John. Eddie would have been a problem, so Ayn left him out of that loop. Kira had what?--two guys and Dominique had three herself. All those men only had one woman, or did I miss something? Ayn had two--maybe three. Three in her head anyway. Now a male novelist might reverse all this, especially considering how fast men are to get up and go sexually.

I kinda wished Howard had had some teenage flings--not grown up with Vesta--for that would have made him a more interesting and complete character without detracting from his Dominique involvement as Vesta would have. I said "kinda." You don't screw around with Rand's fiction without ruining it.

--Brant

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~Thread Drift Alert~

I do not concur with the refrain at this site that rates Leonard Peikoff as not competent to write a book on Objectivism. He was and is very knowledgeable in that philosophy, and to some extent, in some other philosophies. He delivered the good presentation of Rand’s philosophy I had hoped for, for many years, in his book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Other good systematic books laying out and defending the philosophy could be crafted, from other angles, by gifted appropriately trained minds, such as that of David Kelley. There are serious errors in that philosophy, in my view, and these were all promulgated by Rand, Branden, and Peikoff. I noticed today that I have been writing pieces, many very substantial, on these internet posting sites for ten years now. However much I have and shall point to their errors in philosophy and its history, not for a moment do I think those three were not all exceptionally bright and diligent thinkers, who had great wrestling and understanding of the philosophy Rand developed and further refined partly in communication with Branden, Peikoff, and likely Gotthelf (judging from interactions in Rand’s epistemology seminar).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS

I'd like to mention that there is one repugnant thing in OPAR. That is the vivid bit from Joyce's Ullysses that Peikoff included near the end of his book. I'm not going to write it out here, or anywhere for that matter. It can be looked up. That inappropriate sort of bit also occurred once in the journal The Objectivist in a review of the film Chinatown by Susan Ludel (deceased some years now). Her visceral imaginative image (you can find it, but no serious reason to) was beneath a review in that journal, contrary Rand's editorial decision.

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OPAR is a good resource of many more than several for anyone wanting to write a better book on Objectivism than LP did. Whether that will result in a better book is problematical. It's big virtue is its attempted comprehensiveness. There are three good sources of that: Galt's Speech, Basic Principles of Objectivism and OPAR. Special mention to AR's non-fiction books.

--Brant

not contradicting my post 7 for the other two mentioned are only better themselves for they were "sanctioned"--the first by necessity considering who wrote it and the second by the author of the first and if I were new to Objectivism I'd start with the novel maybe without reading the speech, then I'd read OPAR after Rand's collections of essays (the problem with the speech is hacking your way through the dramatic moralizing), etc.

Unfortunately I had added considerable material to the above, lost to the lack of basic Site stability. Not the first time.

I'll try to recap with a precis.

If one wants to study Objectivism as a newbie, I'd start with Rand's non-fiction then OPAR then Galt's Speech with the novel (not in The New Intellectual). Objectivism is primarily out of the Rand-Branden intellectual dynamic of the 50s and 60s. Peikoff was essentially out of that loop though not completely. ("The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy"). He had the brains and knowledge to do a good representation of the philosophy. I've never compared it--at least yet--with Branden's Basic Principles of Objectivism. It's not that OPAR is bad or not valuable, it's that it is not the type or quality of work I'm interested in respecting the philosophy and I never personally needed it. I don't need another viewpoint from within. That said, I'll not be writing anything better respecting its overall representation of what Rand created. I'm not qualified. I'm not an academic. Rand, Branden, Peikoff--not academics either but good for their place and time. Time to move on. Even if his brain were still young and fresh enough, Peikoff would never move on. When it was, he didn't. For those moving on the recapping is over. But do understand moving on is not leaving Objectivism, it's building more structure both in the ethics (morality) and politics in which ideological reasoning for all its uses is hardly enough, especially for action imperatives, such as Enjolras at the barricades.

--Brant

a little wine equals a little garble (see above)

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.I do not concur with the refrain at this site that rates Leonard Peikoff as not competent to write a book on Objectivism.

Stephen,

I've never held or expressed that view (at least I don't ever remember thinking or saying that).

Brant did above, but I don't recall anyone else saying it.

Do you recall anyone else saying Peikoff was not competent to write a book on Objectivism? Not just on OL, but anywhere?

I would hardly call that a "refrain."

I do have serious disagreements with Peikoff's DIM hypothesis (not so much the core idea around integration, which is clever, but what I see as a weird implementation and oversimplified overextension), his demonization of Barbara and Nathaniel, and things like that. I have expressed these clearly over the years.

Also, plenty of people have said many good things about Peikoff on OL. Even when Barbara was alive. I can come up with a ton of links if you are interested.

Michael

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No, Michael, mainly Brant and to some extent Jerry Biggers as I recall. "Last man standing" from you (and Ninth?) next to Brant's refrain suggests that little of substance was left. I say "refrain" because it is repeated so often (even if only by Brant) that it carries the day as to the flavor of the site for the visitor. I don't mean to reform Brant's perspective, only to register another, my own, and now and then expose that countervailing view for the visitor. But as you can imagine, I have little time, and really should probably omit further interjection on such a topic. I'm pretty sure that the general deep-set impression of this site is (among impression of other more serious things!) one of regular bashing of Leonard and associates, notwithstanding any occasional voices to the contrary. Barbara Branden (in writing), Nathaniel Branden (in interview), and David Kelley (in writing) all applauded the competence of Leonard in the presentation of the philosophy in his book OPAR even as they took issue with total correctness of it. Though I've linked to their remarks in such interjections in the past, that is understandably lost in a day by the nature of the medium, and their views of the book are next to nothing, pretty sure, in comparison to the negativity on that book one is likely to see expressed here.

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Stephen,

The "last man standing" comment was a standard quip Barbara, Nathaniel and several others made over the years. They never said that in reference to Peikoff's competence to write about Objectivism, though. It was always in reference to Rand making Peikoff her legal heir and usually in answer to a question about why she did that and did not include anyone else in her will.

That's what I have witnessed.

In fact, if you look at my comment above, you will see it was in reference to a "legal heir" comment by Francisco.

Peikoff ended up mucking up the heir stuff in public by insisting he was Rand's intellectual heir, not just legal heir. And he did that right as he issued his decree of formal excommunication of David Kelley (see Fact and Value on the ARI site with the following quote by Peikoff: "... a request that I make as Ayn Rand’s intellectual and legal heir").

Rand never made that designation of intellectual heir to anyone except Nathaniel Branden in the early days--at least nobody on the Peikoff side, him included, has ever presented any such designation from her. Peikoff merely assumed this title and presented it as fact to the world in print (ironically in a work called "Fact and Value"). People bashed him for it. They still do. I don't blame them. It's not fact. It's dishonest.

People generally bash Peikoff for that kind of crap, not for the substance of OPAR.

That's what I have seen.

I do agree that OL will never be seen as a site where this kind of stuff gets ignored as people joyously sing the praises of Peikoff like they do elsewhere. In compensation, they don't seem to act that way with TAS folks, either. I recall recent harsh words about Kelley, Hudgins, etc., over Harriman speaking at TAS, another running bash-fest over the AS movies, and so on.

I do try to keep it all factual, though, and make sure when someone expresses an opinion, it's clear that it is his or her opinion, not OL's opinion. Ditto re those who write well about Peikoff.

Michael

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Thanks for the overall contours in #17, Michael. A point about the detail “intellectual heir,” which I’ve seen referred to often here, but don’t recall if I ever threw in my two cents until now: Philosophers and psychologists have intellectual heirs all the time. The phrase and concept was around and frequently referred to in print in histories of those subjects before Rand mentioned it. The difference in the concept in her use of it was that she intended to include in the idea that there would be only one intellectual heir and that he had been selected and trained by her. Though she evidently dropped the phrase after Branden was out, all of her talk about Peikoff’s lecture series “The Philosophy of Objectivism” and the future book he would write from it pointed to continuation of her earlier concept and preparation for a primary, focal intellectual heir and that her new selection and trainee was Leonard Peikoff. Pleased to say, she actually had and has quite a number of competent intellectual heirs.

I do not think that there had to come some sort of agreement among her inner circle at the time of her death as to who among them could and should be the primary philosophical spokesperson for Objectivist philosophy. They all knew the plan and expected he could and would deliver the book she had so long spoken of and had in old age passed from making herself to its making by Leonard. I was far from her circle, and I knew the plan too from back in ’77, which was my last discussion with any of that Objectivist set, with one exception, until around 1990.

The one exception was a letter of encouragement I wrote to Leonard on 13 June 1987. I think it reflects the primary-intellectual-heir in place in my mind and in many others far outside Rand’s personal circle concerning the Rand/Peikoff intellectual relationship and mission, without using the phrase intellectual heir. This letter was written at a time I had discontinued my circulation in Objectivist and libertartarian circles for some years (since ’77 and ’84 respectively), though I evidently subscribed to one Objectivist serial and to some libertarian magazines.

Dear Dr. Peikoff,

Thank you for composing the remembrance of Ayn Rand that was published in the June ’87 issue of “The Objectivist Forum.” I discovered Ayn’s works twenty years ago. I was 18. Atlas Shrugged was the most liberating book I ever read. I remember that first reading. I remember reading it late at night, I remember crying in the night and asking “Why hasn’t anyone said this before?”

I never met her, but when she died I cried for a week. You are the only one I have encountered who has spoken of what really mattered about her. I have complained to friends that the commemorations I have seen were overly political, as if that were all she really cared about. So I was terribly pleased by your paragraph on Aristotle/Aquinas v. Jefferson.

You have spoken of the Ayn Rand I knew. Thank you especially for sharing that moment on Madison Avenue. I shall treasure it too.

I took your course “The Philosophy Objectivism” in Evanston in the fall of ’77, and I am looking forward to your new book—the long awaited and never doubted. It is so important.

Affectionately yours,

Stephen C. Boydstun

Leonard’s secretary responded 20 September 1987:

Dear Mr. Boydstun:

Dr. Peikoff asked me to write and thank you for your letter. He said that it was a pleasure to read something intelligent and friendly. He gets a fair share of hostile mail and it is refreshing to receive a letter such as yours.

Once again, thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Diane LeMont

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Strictly speaking Leonard Peikoff is Ayn Rand's "intellectual heir," but not in the way Nathaniel Branden was. Nathaniel was more a creative force and Leonard didactic. I'm referring to a primary orientation. They both taught a lot. Anybody can be Rand's intellectual heir, but frankly it's appropriately private. Nathaniel never said he was I'm aware of. That was Rand putting a crown on his head. Leonard crowned himself. He was marking off his territory and excluding any possible competition about who was the pre-eminent authority on Objectivism continuing on what Rand had been. One can posit part of his motivation was to protect the philosophy and his investment in it. There may be great irony if any truth in two observations by one or two people, I think Joan Blumenthal at least, that Objectivism was Rand's gift to Branden and that Objectivism was Rand's psychotherapy for herself. I think Objectivism is what you get from Rand's personal philosophy plus a Nietzschean bleachout. I also think Rand's and Branden's personal philosophies matched up quite well explaining a lot about their relationship and what happened to it when Rand's alpha suddenly understood Branden had gone alpha respecting her leaving neither enough room.

--Brant

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS

I'd like to mention that there is one repugnant thing in OPAR. That is the vivid bit from Joyce's Ullysses that Peikoff included near the end of his book. I'm not going to write it out here, or anywhere for that matter. It can be looked up.

While I recall him denouncing Ulysses in other contexts I just checked my copy of OPAR (a first printing hardcover, price $25.00 on the inside flap*) and I don't find it. Joyce is not in the index, and I scanned the Art chapter and don't see it. Which chapter is it in? Binswanger did a piece (which I would certainly characterize as repugnant) comparing Ulysses to Atlas Shrugged; it appears in the essay collection on AS from ARI writers, maybe you're thinking of that?

In scanning the Art chapter I noted his reference to Kant's Critique of Judgement. It's totally unsupported, communicates nothing, and is dreadful qua scholarship. But this is Jonathan's well-trodden terrain.

*Funny story, I studied in a group with a real Peikoff fan-boy. His copy had a different, higher price on the inner flap. He wanted to buy my copy from me, at a modestly higher price (maybe double), just so he could have the lower flap price and the associated bragging rights of having bought it on the first day (or week, whatever, I got it as soon as it came out). This would have been about 1993.

I do not concur with the refrain at this site that rates Leonard Peikoff as not competent to write a book on Objectivism.

"Last man standing" from you (and Ninth?)

I wouldn't say he's not competent, he's often quite a good communicator, but I agree with Nathaniel Branden's view:

Q: What do you think of Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand?

Branden: That book wouldn't influence anyone who was not already a believer. There is no attempt to build a bridge from other perspectives to Rand's. Very disappointing. Here is the first major non-fiction work to introduce Objectivism to the world -- and it's stilted, pedantic, totally non-inspirational. No fire and no sense of joy. I had hoped for more from Leonard.

Observe that in the preface he gratuitously insults the academic community, yet he wants that community's support, or else why would the book be advertised in academic journals? So, like a person with an inferiority complex, he beats the academics to the punch -- rejecting them before they can reject him. The book that this one started out to be still needs to be written.

http://mol.redbarn.org/objectivism/Writing/NathanielBranden/FullContextInterview.html

I really must acknowledge, however, that before today I haven't picked up that book in a long time. Years, to be sure. If I reread it I might change my mind. Like I did about Ulysses.
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On the theory that Robert Bidinotto may be monitoring this thread: You have a customer here, waiting for the audiobook of your second novel. I wrote your first review on Audible, I gave you five stars. I'll give you what you deserve next time too. C'mon, hop to it!

http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Hunter-Audiobook/B0099SUQT4/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1429834823&sr=1-2

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On the theory that Robert Bidinotto may be monitoring this thread: You have a customer here, waiting for the audiobook of your second novel. I wrote your first review on Audible, I gave you five stars. I'll give you what you deserve next time too. C'mon, hop to it!

http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Hunter-Audiobook/B0099SUQT4/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1429834823&sr=1-2

Robert posts frequently on Facebook with lots of good stuff he's interested in, especially thriller writing.

--Brant

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Page 458.

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Page 458.

Thanks. I was scanning for "Joyce" or "Ulysses", not "Molly Bloom". Oh, and it's in the chapter on Plato vs. Aristotle, so I was in the wrong place anyway. Yeah, I totally agree with you about it.
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Dennis,

I'm going from memory, but I think Stephen might be referring to the "tongue in the asshole of Molly Bloom" (or however James Joyce worded it). And, if I remember correctly, Peikoff emphasized this more than once.

He did this same shock with vulgarity technique in one of the essays in The Ominous Parallels. When you read it, he's going along in his normal professorial style, then suddenly he quotes someone who said, "Art is shit." And he later repeated that in a couple of other strategic places for rhetorical emphasis. (I'm going from memory, so I don't recall how many. But I can find quotes if need be.)

I'm not as well-versed in Peikoff's writing to know if he used this technique in other places, but he sure did in these two. What's more, it actually does shock the audience. It's like resetting your brain when you come to an unexpected big honking foul language word and image like that in a Peikovian context. If your mind was drifting, that cures it. :smile:

(EDIT: Our posts crossed.)

Michael

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