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Barbara Branden's 50th anniversary tribute to "Atlas"

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Now archived on YouTube are the remarks made by Barbara Branden during the 50th anniversary celebration of Atlas Shrugged. Her personal recollections of Ayn Rand's struggle, her achievement, and the depth of her disappointment at the critical response, were profoundly moving.

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The continuation,

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The event was sponsored by The Atlas Society.

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Marvelous!

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Robert;

Thanks to all of you at TAS. It was wonderful to watch it again.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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Now archived on YouTube are the remarks made by Barbara Branden during the 50th anniversary celebration of Atlas Shrugged. Her personal recollections of Ayn Rand's struggle, her achievement, and the depth of her disappointment at the critical response, were profoundly moving.

.

The continuation,

.

The event was sponsored by The Atlas Society.

Thank you for posting this, Bob. Barbara has made the most lucid remarks about the publication of Atlas and how it affected Ayn.

--Brant

Edit: I have just received a communication from someone I am not allowed to reveal, that Bob is to be called Robert!

Okay. Who am I to stand against this Don Quixote and his vain quest? No more Bobs! Down with Bobs!

--BG

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Throughout Barbara's talk, I kept thinking about Rand's play "Ideal", and words from it: "A spirit, too, needs fuel. A spirit, too, can run dry."

Judith

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But who is the idiot who can't spell Barbara's name correctly, even when it appears correctly in the video?

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But who is the idiot who can't spell Barbara's name correctly, even when it appears correctly in the video?

I was wondering the same thing.

That mistake is incredibly stupid. I hope it can be corrected.

Why are You Tube items so short?

Edited by Chris Grieb
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Glad that you all enjoyed the video.

The person who posted it had some exasperating problems with the formatting, which is why an early version didn't quite work and had to be re-posted. The name-spelling error was discovered after the posting, at which time nothing could be done about it, alas.

But the most important thing is that Barbara's great tribute is now out there for the world to appreciate. It was one of the most moving experiences I've ever known at a conference; her words touched me deeply.

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As I said before it is a great tribute. I must say I did not fully appreciate Barbara's comments at the time.

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I'm looking forward to seeing this, on a less hectic day!

Why are You Tube items so short?

YouTube videos are limited to ten minutes apiece — unless a commercial, not personal, "channel" has been set up by paying a fee, which allows longer videos. TAS might look into this, though it may not be worth the money for only occasional events.

I just assembled "Stardust" from 22 such postings ... eh, it'll last five weeks on my hard drive. I've already ordered the DVD (released on 18 December), but I couldn't wait that long to see it again {wicked grin}

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By the way, we figured out how to correct the spelling error; curiously the spelling was correct in the key words. Anyway, enjoy Barbara's remarks!

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Now archived on YouTube are the remarks made by Barbara Branden during the 50th anniversary celebration of Atlas Shrugged. Her personal recollections of Ayn Rand's struggle, her achievement, and the depth of her disappointment at the critical response, were profoundly moving.

.

The continuation,

.

The event was sponsored by The Atlas Society.

Thanks for posting this.

Alfonso

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I'm very pleased with all of your reactions to my talk, and I thank you for posting them. The talk was heartfelt, as I suppose was obvious. I had written out what I planned to say, but when I began speaking I abandoned my notes and spoke instead from my deepest emotions and convictions. I wanted Ayn -- the person, the woman -- not only her work, to be real on that wonderful day of celebrating her achievement.

Barbara

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Barbara; May I say that you succeeded in your goal. BRAVO!

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I'm very pleased with all of your reactions to my talk, and I thank you for posting them. The talk was heartfelt, as I suppose was obvious. I had written out what I planned to say, but when I began speaking I abandoned my notes and spoke instead from my deepest emotions and convictions. I wanted Ayn -- the person, the woman -- not only her work, to be real on that wonderful day of celebrating her achievement.

Barbara

You brought out Ayn - the real person - in your comments. With force and commitment.

Would you be willing to post your notes?

Alfonso

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I'm very pleased with all of your reactions to my talk, and I thank you for posting them. The talk was heartfelt, as I suppose was obvious. I had written out what I planned to say, but when I began speaking I abandoned my notes and spoke instead from my deepest emotions and convictions. I wanted Ayn -- the person, the woman -- not only her work, to be real on that wonderful day of celebrating her achievement.

Oh, I'm SO glad you did! Hearing something read from prepared notes has NOTHING like the impact of being spoken to from the heart. You succeeded beyond anything you could possibly have hoped for.

Judith

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That anecdote in which you quote Rand's quip upon bringing out the completed MS of Atlas--"One word led to another"--was new to me, and I found it delightful!

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I'm very pleased with all of your reactions to my talk, and I thank you for posting them. The talk was heartfelt, as I suppose was obvious. I had written out what I planned to say, but when I began speaking I abandoned my notes and spoke instead from my deepest emotions and convictions. I wanted Ayn -- the person, the woman -- not only her work, to be real on that wonderful day of celebrating her achievement.

"Heartfelt" -- but intellectually rich too. Food for thought.

I truly thank Ed Hudgins, The Atlas Society, and their camera crew -- for capturing this magic on video, and the great generosity of publishing it for free. :)

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Barbara Branden: "...That book had motivated so many people to reach for the best within them...It didn’t motivate them to defend the person who had taught them this. Nobody defended her in print. This for her was worse, much worse than the negative reviews – the silence. It did something permanent to Ayn....She had to have a sense there were minds out there she could reach, and she didn’t have that for sure any more...In the years that followed, I saw her sink deeper and deeper into depression and rage, finally striking out vainly at a world that had disappointed her so bitterly. She had spent her life depending the men of ability, of achievement. Where were they, when she needed them?"

....

Ayn Rand made a major mistake.

It was a tragic error of psychological judgement for her -- and for so many Objectivists since who have copied her on this point -- to have reacted in the way she did to the *extent* she did, to the extent it killed her sense of hope, to the extent it killed her ability to ever write fiction again. There are other, more common sense, explanations besides [a] cowardice or a wasteland without any top minds in existence to explain the public silence when Atlas came out.

Here are a few:

1. BARRIERS. It's entirely possible there were positive, thoughtful, detailed defenses of the book, but they were simply not published. Most publications, prior to the internet and the huge increase in available 'space' have room for one critic to write one review one time. Not for endless discussions or "counter-reviews" by others.

2. TIMING. Reviews byn literary critics and magazine writers to a new book are "early". They comment on books before almost anyone has read them, and this book was very slow to find its audience. Plus it takes a while to read and digest a thousand-page book. Moreover, if I read a great book months or years after the critics have had their say, I am unlikely to remember what some critic said. And also, if I'm the kind of person whose life is changed by Atlas, I am likely to be the kind of person who is not even aware that somebody prominent said something distorting. Keeping up with the intellectual magazines, often with their offensive or shallow content, or what the "literati" think, whether of the right or the left, is less likely to be an interest of the kinds of people who respond to Atlas.

3. DIGESTION. The book challenges everything and cause massive, time-consuming examination. Especially for the older, more prominent person. Even if (or especially if) he is a 'top mind', this is not a non-trivial task. He has developed his views over a lifetime and, if he sees more, he realizes he has a lot to integrate, untangle, wrestle with. He may honestly not be ready to publish his reactions to the book till he can sort out what is visceral and what is rational.

4. AWARENESS. Many people don't take seriously what the critics say or feel the need to publish a rebuttal.

5. AGE AND WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY. The younger person who has less to unlearn, hasn't spent a lifetime acquiring bad premises or bad 'brainwashing' from professors and the intellectuals that has to be untangled after reading Atlas, has less ability to get published than the older, more sophisticated person who is far less likely, even though a 'top mind', to be able to experience an instant conversion and thus write a powerful defense of the book. I'll use myself as an example. After reading Atlas in college, it would have occurred to me to start an Ayn Rand club on campus (and lots of students did - there is your response by the 'top minds'). It would never have occurred to me to wonder at that time what other people, what the culture was saying...or even that there was such a thing as 'the culture'...or to worry about it.

The most powerful reason that there was silence is the most obvious of all: people, virtually all intelligent readers, were still digesting it. The 'top mind' is often very legitimately a slow-moving, cautious one, that takes its time to digest and integrate things, especially something life-changing. Hundreds and hundreds of questions arise.

That is why, decades later, we see prominent people -- many whom still have not resolved issues like conservatism or how laissez-faire would work or early religious hangups -- emerging to offer tributes.

It simply took them a long stretch of years to look back and realize what an influence and impact the ideas had had. At the time they were busy with their careers, busy with single-minded Rearden-like dedication to their work so that they didn't take time to think through difficult, complex philosophical issues. Or whether their love for a novel's characters was objective or merely youthful emotionalism.

It would be the subject of another post, but many or most, Objectivists have, very tragically, allowed themselves to be "defeated" by the culture -- or to jump to oversimplified and ungenerous conclusions -- in a similar, if perpaps lesser, way Barbara described.

It's a form of malevolence caused by a failure to understand people and how their minds operate.

And to cut them some slack. A teacher (of which I am one) would be a lot less llkely to make this mistake.

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Phil;

Good post! I need to digest it. Your point about people who may have had a better opinion of Atlas being out the media is a good one.

I think that there were people who liked the book but they not been literary critics who would have been lpublished.

[i have never looked at the issues of National Review to see if there were readers who disagreed with Chamber's review. I have been told Rothbard wrote a letter but I don't know if it was published. Can anyone enlighten me on this issue?/indent]
Were there letters in the NYT or Time about the book?

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