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


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#21 Judith

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 03:20 PM

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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#22 ashleyparkerangel

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 04:25 PM

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!

#23 Kyrel Zantonavitch

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 11:31 PM

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. :)

'Pure Liberal Fire' -- a radical and challenging new book which contains at least ten important new ideas not found in any other Objectivist writer: www.Amazon.com/Pure-Liberal-Fire-Philosophy-Liberalism/dp/1484872681

#24 Philip Coates

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 12:52 PM

[quotes here are from my notes after listening to and replaying Barbara's remarks-->]

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 [b] 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.

#25 Chris Grieb

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 01:29 PM

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][indent=1]Were there letters in the NYT or Time about the book?



#26 Bill P

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 09:48 PM

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.


I have to say that I see this in many segments of the Objectivist community. Sadly, Objectivists, as a group, have taken on characteristics not dissimilar to some fundamentalist religious communities:

1) Believing, implicitly or explicitly, that the world is "bad, beyond hope" (except for perhaps some sort of supernatural intervention in the case of religious fundamentalists)

2) A fortress mentality - all others are the enemy

3) Existence of taboo subjects or people (need examples?)

etc...

I think I may go back and reread my copy of Eric Hoffer's The True Believer...

Alfonso

#27 Barbara Branden

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 07:41 PM

Phil, I strongly disagree with you.

1. Barriers. Surely, if there were "positive, thoughtful, detailed defenses of the book" by the sort of people Rand spent her life defending, one of them would have gotten into print. And Rand did not require that such a statement appear in the New York Times or an equivalent.

2. Timing. Many people -- among them businessnmen and entrepreneurs and others who did have public voices, even if on a modest scale -- wrote to Rand privately, shortly after Atlas was published, praising the book and deploring the reviews. But they said nothing publicly.

3. Digestion. See point 2.

4. Awareness. See point 2.

5. Age and Window of Opportunity. See point 2.

We are not talking about a requirement that hordes of people take to the newspapers, magazines, airwaves, etc. to publish defenses of Atlas. We are speaking of Rand's need to have some one or two of the type of men and women she defended speaking up publicly for her. Your analysis may explain the absence of hordes, but not of one or two.

Barbara

#28 Philip Coates

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 10:11 PM

> one of them would have gotten into print. And Rand did not require that such a statement appear in the New York Times or an equivalent.

Barbara, supppose one or two of them had, would she have even been necessarily aware of it?

I mean "Noi Vivi", We the Living, was made into a movie overseas in a major country (Italy) and not only that it was a major influence in that country. And Rand and you and others were not even aware of its existence. Until decades later.

Even today, with the availability of the internet and clippings, ARI and TAS are often unaware when a newspaper outside of the major media centers of NY, LA, and "the coasts" publishes one of their op eds. And "letters to the editor", even less so. You are not going to be aware of letters to the Des Moines Register or the Mobile or Boulder papers if you don't live in that state and subsribe to that paper. Not even today; even less so in the 50s.


> Many people -- among them businessnmen and entrepreneurs and others who did have public voices, even if on a modest scale -- wrote to Rand privately, shortly after Atlas was published, praising the book and deploring the reviews. But they said nothing publicly.

My question would be -how many letters- in toto in the first year? And if they were aware that they would be published if they wished, or had an idea where to do so? Even to this day, the surge of articles about Ayn Rand or about her novels centers around 'anniversaries' (specifically, the centennial of her birth and the 50th anniversary of Atlas).

Even in recent decades until -very- recently, and even with the vast growth of fervent advocates, unless an essay collection has come out like CUI or VOS, fans and supporters didn't have much luck getting into print with their defenses of her.

And once again on this point, "one of them would have gotten into print":

Newspapers and magazines don't often continue to publish discussions of topics they have already "covered", or a book or movie their reviewer has already covered, unless there is a news hook, like an anniversary. They would view it, for better or worse, as boring their readers.

> Rand's need to have some one or two of the type of men and women she defended speaking up publicly for her.

I know she needed it. And needed it desperately...and I can feel the depth of this. As do all of us (yourself, myself, etc.) who feel we are sometimes shouting into silence into an empty universe devoid of all life. Marooned on Pluto with the sun only seeming a distant star. Men of genius as a lonely pinnacle, as she put it. Almost a different species.

But it is important to remember that that is a distortion. All of it. There are still good and logical reasons why it has taken so long. And why people are so slow. (And why those who are not men of genius or participants in intellectual publication are not, as a general rule, evaders. Or cowards. And why someone can be a 'top mind', yet compartmentalized, obtuse, backward, or slow-moving philosophically.)

#29 Barbara Branden

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 11:12 PM

> one of them would have gotten into print. And Rand did not require that such a statement appear in the New York Times or an equivalent.

Barbara, supppose one or two of them had, would she have even been necessarily aware of it?

I mean "Noi Vivi", We the Living, was made into a movie overseas in a major country (Italy) and not only that it was a major influence in that country. And Rand and you and others were not even aware of its existence. Until decades later.

Even today, with the availability of the internet and clippings, ARI and TAS are often unaware when a newspaper outside of the major media centers of NY, LA, and "the coasts" publishes one of their op eds. And "letters to the editor", even less so. You are not going to be aware of letters to the Des Moines Register or the Mobile or Boulder papers if you don't live in that state and subsribe to that paper. Not even today; even less so in the 50s.


Phil, when Rand was writing, writers usually subscribed, as she did, to a service that sent them all published articles, reviews, discussions, etc., of their work -- just as one can have Google do today. One can, today, be aware of what is being said about a given subject everywhere, even on the vastness of the Internet. Yes, had such defenses of her appeared, Rand would have been aware of it.

Good grief, Phil, fifteen-year-old admirers of Rand's work from all over the country sent letters to editors danouncing bad reviews and defending her. It doesn't takea a rocket scientist -- although rocket scientists were among the admirers who wrote to Rand privately -- to figure out how to defend someone one admires who is being trashed. I do not accept the idea that a man who, for instance, runs a flourishing business, is helpless to arrive at a means of speaking out about a writer he profoundly admires and respects.

You wrote: "There are still good and logical reasons why it has taken so long." No, there are not good and logical reasons. I am not suggesting that the achievers in society who were so slow to defend Rand, or who didn't defend her at all, were cowards or evaders. I am suggesting that they were wrong, that whatever their reasons, they failed a womam who had never failed them -- and who was able to figure out a means of speaking out in their name.

Barbara

#30 Philip Coates

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 12:38 AM

> Phil, when Rand was writing, writers usually subscribed, as she did, to a service that sent them all published articles, reviews, discussions, etc., of their work [Barbara]

Oh!! I didn't know such things existed back then, or that they could track everything of that nature.

> I am suggesting that they were wrong, that whatever their reasons, they failed a womam who had never failed them -- and who was able to figure out a means of speaking out in their name.

I certainly agree with that (that they were wrong). I spoke out in the name of justice when I was in my senior year in college and after I had read three of her books over five years, which is how long and how many instances it took for me for it to sink in. (Color me 'Slow Phil, the Bottom Mind').

#31 Greybird

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 05:45 AM

[...] I am not suggesting that the achievers in society who were so slow to defend Rand, or who didn't defend her at all, were cowards or evaders. I am suggesting that they were wrong, that whatever their reasons, they failed a woman who had never failed them and who was able to figure out a means of speaking out in their name.

Well, I, in turn, can't agree with this. If, that is, your use of "wrong" is implying that Rand's work imposed a moral obligation of some kind, on those who read and admired it, to defend her publicly. Or that not acting upon that perspective made such people guilty of a moral failing, however small.

Nobody, especially those who are achievers, can or should accept an unearned guilt that's one of the novel's main points. If those who benefited had an impulse to defend her, that was given to her not out of guilt, but out of benevolence and a sense of its being appropriate. Which last, in turn, depends on the forums, audiences, and speaking or writing abilities that were available to such people. All of these were far more constricted fifty years ago.

None of this response would come about because it was morally due her. All that existed, strictly speaking, as a moral debt to her (and her publishers) was to pay for the book. Anything else was a bonus.

I know this is colored by your being her closest friend, and it was hard to witness this. Yet it doesn't change the fact of a public defense being desirable or optimal or pleasing and not due her by moral right, whatever "need" she felt. If she did expect this to come, she was being unrealistic, given what she was fighting. And, I daresay, more expectant than her own ethics gave her reason to be.

Beyond this, Philip has some valid points. You, yourself, admit that "fifteen-year-olds" wrote in to defend the book and its author. They had far less altruism and irrationality to unlearn. Especially with their not having yet been corrupted by their college schooling. (As distinct from "education." Rand gave me more of an education in one novel than in any hundred books I read at college.)

I'd also note the role that the "About the Author" page very likely had in shaping the public response. It was written in the first person, which was (and is) nearly unheard of in publishing. It also gave the distinct impression that Rand, personally, neither needed nor particularly wanted public support. She was, she maintained, making and proving a larger point by its having been written and published. She didn't need further proof of her "ideal man," of either gender.

Given that expressed confidence, I'd have to ask and did ask myself, upon reading that last page of Atlas once again, after your biography came out: Why would Rand expect any particular supportive response, when every line of that page told the readers that she didn't need one?

#32 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 08:10 AM

Steve,

I agree with most of what you said except for one point. I certainly agree with the fact that reading and admiring a book does not morally obligate someone to step into a public arena where he will probably suffer the same public stoning in terms of vituperation and slander as the author he so admires received. His business, family and social standing were built over years and to risk them is a hard thing to ask just for reading a book.

However, I have no sympathy at all for those who wrote to Rand praising the book (and her) to the skies and did not speak out in public against the public injustice perpetrated against her. I detect cowardice when a person thinks he has achieved some kind of moral good by privately (meaning hidden from public view) sending a letter of admiration to a controversial author, then congratulating himself on somehow doing his share to abate the public stoning. He did nothing of the kind. He made a gesture of moral appeasement to himself.

I speak not from an opinion, but from a position of habitually putting myself on the line in public for the things I believe in. When I witnessed that contemptible and disgusting crucification of Barbara that was carried out on SoloHQ, and the battery of so-called fans, friends and admirers who suddenly turned against her like cattle following the lead of the head steer, I did something in public. I love and admire Barbara so I stood up for her and did not waver. It was not all that much when you compare it to publications like the New York Times (or even to what little audience those boneheaded "head steers" had back then), but it gave courage to others. It grew.

Just as loud smears will gather a following, so will a loud defense. I don't have much respect for that thing in men that keeps them silent while the values they hold dear are being trashed in public. I can't respect that. Of course, I hold the trasher crowd manipulators beyond lack of respect. I hold them in total contempt.

Michael

Know thyself...


#33 Brant Gaede

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 11:41 AM

I don't think standing up for Rand in public was so much a matter of attacking her attackers as stating in a public way that Atlas was a great novel because it sanctioned businessmen creating wealth against parasites feeding on them. Even today the standard Hollywood swill is the evil businessman, the more successful the more evil. Even today most businessmen don't defend themselves, but publicly appease, like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, with Buffett being the most eggregious of the two. They are afraid of envy. Rand should have gone after envy, not just altruism. That is, the businessman is seemingly not disarmed by altruism; it is his weapon against envy. The parasites are not using altruism as their main weapon but envy. Once they get real power they dress it up with altruism or use it as a rhetorical device to gain and keep the moral if not intellectual high ground. The irony is that the more businessmen (and other victims) use altruism to defend themselves, the more they are enslaved because of their wrongful choice of weapons. Or, this is the trick: We hit you with (fear of) envy, you appease with altruism. We got you coming and going, with you thoroughly stuck to our tar baby. That's why Rand wasn't publicly defended. Those who might have felt the fear of envy and didn't know what it was. It made them cowards, maybe innocent cowards but cowards nonetheless. If you are 15 years old you might be envied for your brains or individualism, but you haven't done much or made much or had much.

--Brant

edit: I am not saying Rand didn't deal with envy in her novels, just not enough. Altruism is more to the philosophical, envy to the psychological.

Edited by Brant Gaede, 25 November 2007 - 11:50 AM.

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#34 Bill P

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 04:54 PM

[...] I am not suggesting that the achievers in society who were so slow to defend Rand, or who didn't defend her at all, were cowards or evaders. I am suggesting that they were wrong, that whatever their reasons, they failed a woman who had never failed them and who was able to figure out a means of speaking out in their name.

Well, I, in turn, can't agree with this. If, that is, your use of "wrong" is implying that Rand's work imposed a moral obligation of some kind, on those who read and admired it, to defend her publicly. Or that not acting upon that perspective made such people guilty of a moral failing, however small.

Nobody, especially those who are achievers, can or should accept an unearned guilt that's one of the novel's main points. If those who benefited had an impulse to defend her, that was given to her not out of guilt, but out of benevolence and a sense of its being appropriate. Which last, in turn, depends on the forums, audiences, and speaking or writing abilities that were available to such people. All of these were far more constricted fifty years ago.

None of this response would come about because it was morally due her. All that existed, strictly speaking, as a moral debt to her (and her publishers) was to pay for the book. Anything else was a bonus.


I have a different take on this, Greybird.

I think it is an appropriate and selfish response to praise things which we admire. To praise magnificient accomplishments. If you find the vision of the author of Atlas Shrugged to be compellingly attractive, then it is in your interest to say so. To do so attracts positive attention to the novel and its author. To do draws in more readers, and more who are affected by the vision presented in Atlas Shrugged.

And that is a good thing. A very good thing.

Want to see more of those things which you admire? Talk about them to others.

Alfonso

#35 Philip Coates

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 01:10 AM

> If, that is, your use of "wrong" is implying that Rand's work imposed a moral obligation...

Greybird, in normal language wrong just means amiss, mistaken, in error, unsuitable. If I say "it was wrong of you to do that", I am not specifying whether I mean morally unless I explicitly say so

#36 Philip Coates

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 01:27 AM

> We are speaking of Rand's need to have some one or two of the type of men and women she defended speaking up publicly for her. Your analysis may explain the absence of hordes, but not of one or two. [Barbara]

Barbara, I was just referred to this on a website about Rand:

""Among the few favorable reviews of Atlas Shrugged, was one by John Chamberlain in the New York Herald Tribune. He compared it to a Dostoevsky philosophical detective story. The Daily Mirror said "Rand is destined to rank in history as the outstanding novelist and profound philosopher of the twentieth century." Other critics praised her striking narrative power, and "breathtaking suspense which carries the reader headlong."

If so, that -would- be at least one or two, wouldn't it?

(Assuming this happened within, say, a year of publication, enough time for the sales to pick up from the very slow start in which people hadn't had time to read it or know of it thru word of mouth.)

#37 Barbara Branden

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 01:28 AM

[...] I am not suggesting that the achievers in society who were so slow to defend Rand, or who didn't defend her at all, were cowards or evaders. I am suggesting that they were wrong, that whatever their reasons, they failed a woman who had never failed them and who was able to figure out a means of speaking out in their name.

Well, I, in turn, can't agree with this. If, that is, your use of "wrong" is implying that Rand's work imposed a moral obligation of some kind, on those who read and admired it, to defend her publicly. Or that not acting upon that perspective made such people guilty of a moral failing, however small.

Nobody, especially those who are achievers, can or should accept an unearned guilt that's one of the novel's main points. If those who benefited had an impulse to defend her, that was given to her not out of guilt, but out of benevolence and a sense of its being appropriate. Which last, in turn, depends on the forums, audiences, and speaking or writing abilities that were available to such people. All of these were far more constricted fifty years ago.

None of this response would come about because it was morally due her. All that existed, strictly speaking, as a moral debt to her (and her publishers) was to pay for the book. Anything else was a bonus.


Steve, I agree with Michael and Alfonso on this. The issue is not one of moral obligation to Rand, but of personal integrity. That is, if you value something, and that value is threatened, it is an issue of integrity to fight for it and not sit on the sidelines while it is being attacked and distorted. It is an issue of selfish concern with one's own interests, which surely lie in the preservation of one's values. I have always found the idea of being "above the battle" -- which means, in practice, hoping that others will fight for one's values, to be exceedingly repugnant.

Barbara

#38 Barbara Branden

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 01:32 AM

> We are speaking of Rand's need to have some one or two of the type of men and women she defended speaking up publicly for her. Your analysis may explain the absence of hordes, but not of one or two. [Barbara]

Barbara, I was just referred to this on a website about Rand:

""Among the few favorable reviews of Atlas Shrugged, was one by John Chamberlain in the New York Herald Tribune. He compared it to a Dostoevsky philosophical detective story. The Daily Mirror said "Rand is destined to rank in history as the outstanding novelist and profound philosopher of the twentieth century." Other critics praised her striking narrative power, and "breathtaking suspense which carries the reader headlong."

If so, that -would- be at least one or two, wouldn't it?


Chamberlain also, in his review, criticized Atlas for its departure from the insights of the Sermon on the Mount.

Barbara

#39 Greybird

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 03:24 AM

[...] The issue is not one of moral obligation to Rand, but of personal integrity. That is, if you value something, and that value is threatened, it is an issue of integrity to fight for it and not sit on the sidelines while it is being attacked and distorted. It is an issue of selfish concern with one's own interests, which surely lie in the preservation of one's values.

I'm still going to have to demur with you, though, and allude to an issue that David Kelley identified in "Truth and Toleration": the unrecognized difficulty of making valid moral judgments, regarding nearly everyone whose life is not an open book of public activity.

Because you're still talking about a moral obligation, even if it isn't or wasn't to Rand. What neither you nor I can see readily within someone else is every aspect of how one chooses, or is able, to thus "fight." You don't know what nearly every one of these people who wrote to her did — in private. Whether they stood down those bearing or advocating destruction in their families, their companies, the State apparatus, the schools they fund, the charities or projects they oversee.

Personal integrity is a moral iceberg. We only see the deliberate public acts. We can try to infer, from such acts, as to consistency or ability to carry out what one espouses — again, in public. Yet the remaining ninety percent of human interactions are nearly always, short of a Boswell or a Theodore White, left unseen and unchronicled.

We also, to extend the metaphor, can make fatal navigation mistakes by assuming that public actions must match private evaluations. Or that it is even possible to match them. Every circumstance is different.

You seem to be suggesting that not supporting Rand in public, the fact as such of not doing so, as against what they said to her in private, is a prima facie indicator of hypocrisy and of a lack of personal integrity. If you are, I simply cannot agree.

I know what can impinge on such decisions, as to opportunities, means, and ability, and so do you. Many of the "titans of industry" or of science were, and are, remarkably inarticulate. Not everyone can get an effective forum who wants one — even now, the Blog Revolution is still largely potential. And the mass-media gatekeepers, even down to op-ed letter-editors, have by no means been routed from their positions.

You appear to be calling for a moral-judgment shortcut, one that has more parallels than I would like to see to Peikoff's notion of "inherently dishonest ideas." Private lives and circumstances are just that. We don't know what impinges on such individual choices. We also have only rare occasion to make it worthwhile to try to find that out. If we manage this in our own family circles, it's a rare achievement.

I have always found the idea of being "above the battle" — which means, in practice, hoping that others will fight for one's values, to be exceedingly repugnant.

And how many who consoled or encouraged Rand privately, but did not follow through publicly, actually expressed this to you?

Again, you seem to be assuming that one's not following through, as such, means that one bears such a hope. That lack of such success signifies a lack of effort, intention, or taking responsibility. If you are, that, to me, is a quite crabbed view of the rest of humanity.

It's far easier to thus follow through, electronically or otherwise, in 2007 than it was in 1957. Part of this ability was made possible by Rand's own novel getting hundreds of thousands of readers in each of those fifty years.

Philip Coates is right: Taking in these ideas, and disrupting one's mental and social networks to make such changes, takes time, thought, and accumulated mental capital. It isn't the work of a moment. A few weeks or months at the end of 1957 was, well, a historical moment.

Edited by Greybird, 26 November 2007 - 03:41 AM.


#40 Greybird

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 03:35 AM

[... John Chamberlain in the New York Herald Tribune] also, in his review, criticized Atlas for its departure from the insights of the Sermon on the Mount.

And when someone of the writing ability, classical-liberal insights, and urbanity of a Chamberlain makes such an aside — which had almost nothing to do with the rest of his review — does that make his comments worthless? Did it make them that way for Rand?

Considering the moral weight given to Christianity at the time, which has sharply diminished since, I'm surprised that Chamberlain was this comparatively mild in such a comment. I was even surprised 30 years ago, when I read that review in a microfilm search of reactions to Atlas.

When you're "challenging the cultural tradition of two thousand years" — Rand's words, not mine — such a review comes, in any objective sense, from an ally. If Rand didn't see it that way, and draw some courage to heart from that review, it was — I'm sorry to say — her mistake, and a needless one at that.

Edited by Greybird, 26 November 2007 - 04:01 AM.





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