Ellen Stuttle

Members
  • Posts

    6,943
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    63

Posts posted by Ellen Stuttle

  1. Here we go: determinism battle 3 jillion. Talk about talking at cross (pun intended) purposes.

    Back up to Dragonfly's initial comment:

    That neurosurgeon is quite right: every day we make thousands of unconscious decisions. "Unconscious" doesn't mean here "lacking awareness and the capacity of sensory perception", but "occurring in the absence of conscious awareness". In other words: we're not unconscious, but many decisions we make are not the the result of conscious deliberation. If we would do have to deliberate consciously every decision we make, nothing would get done, we just don't have the time for it!

    The definition Dragonfly is accepting from the dictionary cited has an ambiguity problem because of the word "absence" ("occurring in the absence of conscious awareness"). That would better be said "occurring outside of conscious awareness." In other words, the point isn't that one isn't aware, in the sense of being awake and having various goals of which one is aware, but instead that one isn't aware of all the subdetails. Consider the shoelace-tying example. Yes, you're aware that you're tying your shoelaces, but break the activity down into its myriad subcomponents. You don't consciously decide exactly how to move your fingers through all the steps of making a loop in one shoelace, then twisting the other around the first, etc., and how to coordinate all the muscles in your body (so as to bend just thus far, move your arms just to the right angle, etc.) Or in typing an email: you aren't consciously deciding on all the motions, on what words are going to occur to you, etc., etc., etc.

    As to whether your doctor is a determinist, Angie, it sounds as if he is. But I don't think he meant what you're interpreting him to mean by the word "unconscious."

    Ellen

    ___

  2. I'm getting to the part of the Valliant book wherein he discusses the issue of Frank's feelings about the affair between Nathaniel and Ayn, and the question of whether or not Frank sought some solace in alcohol. I've hesitated up till now to speak on this incendiary subject for two reasons:

    (1) because I tend to be of the Szaszian approach on the idea of "mental illness," and on the reality or non- of "addiction." Thus I'm aware that I have differences of viewpoint from Michael's;

    (2) because I don't know the truth of it about Frank's drinking habits.

    However, I suppose that I should say for the record that I think I'd know more of the truth of it than I do, had the thought ever crossed my mind of probing those close to Ayn and Frank, especially Allan Blumenthal (or probably more quickly informative, Joan Blumenthal), as to whether or not Frank did drink to excess. I never thought of probing because I believed that he did. I'd believed as much from the first time I met him, which was during the aftermath conversations following Allan Blumenthal's NYC piano recital in early '70. Frank was there, and I talked with him for awhile. I was struck by a quality of mental "vacantness," and I thought at the time that he seemed like someone who drank too much. Only many years later -- actually, in an elist exchange with Marsha Enright, I think on the original Atlantis list -- did I ask myself if I'd misattributed the cause of the "vacant" quality I sensed, if instead of drinking being the source, the onset of senility was operative (or if both causes might have been involved).

    Ellen

    ___

  3. John:

    The magazine at MIT was ERGO.

    But is that the one Allan Gotthelf and Harry Binswanger wrote in? I thought they had a separte one of their own editing. ERGO, at least for a time, was edited by Erich Vehyl, who I believe was going to school at Harvard (that's what his affiliation was given as in the list of auditors for the epistemology seminar). I vaguely recall there being some kind of philosophic battle between Erich and others at ERGO; don't remember what it was about, and if it was an issue of who was going to control the magazine.

    A detail about the epistemology seminars: Although participants were styled as "Prof [letter]," only a few of them could correctly have been described as "profs" at the time (Nelson, Peikoff, Walsh); most were graduate students.

    Ellen

    ___

  4. BTW, I love "The Sound of Music," despite its unrealism. (E.g., as my husband's thesis advisor -- who left Austria when the Nazis were coming to power -- commented, "The very idea that they could have sung their way out of the circumstances." He had other comments as well; he shared AR's dislike of the movie.) Plus, I set no store on the "benevolent"-"malevolent" business in any case. But the story (along with others -- I'd expect the FW seminar was full of them) indicates that her artistic responses were more complex than sometimes her admirers have thought they'd be.

    Ellen

    ___

  5. Glad you like my little stories, Dragonfly.

    Here's a brief comment I've been thinking of making for the last couple days, but I wasn't sure where to make it. Maybe this thread will do, since the section heading is "aesthetics." It's an incident I've been thinking of in regard to your remark about the old woman in one of the Dutch masters paintings, and your liking that so much better than all the heroic-poses stuff O'ism-influenced people produce. I have the same reaction -- and I think that she would have had also. A snippet of evidence was her being irritated when Allan Gotthelf and Harry Binswanger, in a small mimeographed magazine they were editing in their student days (I'm not recalling the magazine's name), wrote a review of "The Sound of Music," extolling it for its "benevolent" sense of life. AR objected in such strenuous terms, they published a retraction! She didn't like what she saw as the "soppy" sentiments of the movie. (I don't recall her exact words; someplace I think we have them, but where?)

    Possibly someone else has a reference to this story?

    Ellen

    ___

  6. A difference between the seminars (on writing and on epistemology) and circumstances such as the Ford Hall Forum and lectures involving Q and A is that in the former she was dealing with a hand-picked, previously vetted group, all the members of which could be presumed to consider being there a privilege. Nonetheless, there was the occasional sticky wicket, at least in the epistemology seminar, direct reports of which I've heard. One of those was with Larry when he first started attending (he joined the group a few sessions into the sequence). He was introduced to her by Leonard Peikoff -- they were talking privately, before people had taken their seats -- as a physics graduate student who had had a role in helping Leonard during what was called "the Putsch at Poly [brooklyn Polytechnic]" (there'd been one of those incidents, common in those years, of students trying to take over academic offices, etc.). She complimented Larry for his role in that episode. Then she said something about the difficulties pursuing a career in physics because of the intellectual corruption of modern physics. According to Larry's report, she appeared to be expecting affirmation, but he said something about not being so sure of physics being "corrupted." A reply which brought a frown to her face. He backed out of this -- he wasn't eager to be shown the door -- with a mollifying remark along the lines of, well, just because he wasn't sure something was occurring didn't necessarily mean it wasn't. Incident smoothed over. Hearing this tale and similar ones -- including ones said by a friend of John Hospers to have occurred with John in the days when he'd been seeing her regularly -- confirmed my feeling that it wouldn't have gone well if I'd been in circumstances of extended conversation with AR, since I'd have been inclined to stick by my guns and not smooth it over.

    Ellen

    ___

  7. Marsha:

    Also, her manner [in the FW seminar] was very kind and patient - excellent teaching manner, despite all kinds of questions one could get impatient with.  It gave quite a different picture of her than the kind of volatile anger and quick moral judgments I saw sometimes at Ford Hall Forum, or even in person.

    In general, judging from Larry's report and those of others who were there, the same was true of the epistemology seminars. Those of course were also significantly longer than the material included in the book. The full transcripts exist, so I'm told by Lee Pierson, who read some sections of them. Maybe eventually those will appear in an extended book form.

    Ellen

    PS: John, I think part of the difference between people whose anger comes and goes quickly and those who are slow to ignite but then slow to cool down is a temperamental difference. I'm pretty much in the former category, whereas Larry is pretty much in the latter.

    ___

  8. Speaking of penguins -- just a quick tangent; don't get worried, Phil ;-) -- if any of you haven't seen and get a chance to see the movie "March of the Penguins," I recommend not missing the chance. What a marvel of evolution the life cycle of those penguins -- the Emperor penguins -- is!

    Ellen

    ___

  9. Dragonfly:

    [...] I think that John has a good point:
    However, in support of a broader evolutionary angle, I think we could find animal evidence of a tendency to rescue the distressed young of the same species, and sometimes even across species. It would by no means be a universal tendency, but in some species it would be strong.

    I was also thinking in that direction. [it] may in certain situations be evolutionary advantageous to care for the young even if they are from different parents. Or the prewired program that causes parents to protect their offspring (which certainly has an evolutionary advantage) is not sophisticated enough to distinguis their own offspring from that of others and may even have effects across species: we tend for example to be far more protective of animals with relatively big eyes (like seals), which gives them a baby-like expression, than of others like rats or cockroaches.

    That sounds like a plausible evol-psych-style hypothesis. I have read of studies which indicated that there are cues -- from the relative size and shape of the head compared to body proportions, and of the eyes -- which result in sketches of animal (especially mammalian animal) forms being described as "cute" and eliciting nurturant attitudes (especially in females). I've also read of studies in which some species of mammals would be protective not only to their own young but also to that of other species members, and even of other species. (On the other hand, there are species in which the offspring is marked by smell -- or recognized by a particular cry -- e.g., penguins recognizing their own infant amongst the cacophony, to human ears at any rate, of a flock of penguins -- and any other offspring except their own will be neglected or even killed. But I think we can safely assume that humans aren't that type of species.)

    Ellen

    ___

  10. I wrote, re the about $60 being charged for The Ayn Rand Letter:

    An uncharitable, suspicious hypothesis: to deter all but the committed from buying those?

    That was flippant. Being serious, I think that the more likely possibility is that they don't realize how bad a lot of those Letters are and they're charging what I consider an excessive price because they expect they can get it from her admirers - i.e., that they're engaged in shrewd pricing.

    Ellen

    ___

  11. Roger:

    Yes, Ellen, The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist are available in bound hardcover editions from The Ayn Rand Book Store for approximately $40 and $55, respectively.

    I'm reassured to learn that those can still be obtained. And the price seems reasonable -- for those.

    There is also a deal for the combined periodicals including The Ayn Rand Letter for about $154. There is also shipping and handling, of course.

    But why they'd add about $60 (adding up the prices minus shipping and handling) for the AR Letters? An uncharitable, suspicious hypothesis: to deter all but the committed from buying those? IMO, mostly the Letters don't present her in a flattering light, as, mostly (though not entirely), they exhibit her moralizing tendencies without the accompanying substance of the earlier articles. (I started to find The Ayn Rand Letter embarrassing as it progressed and felt glad when she stopped publishing it, though sadden by her waning powers.)

    Ellen

  12. Jody:

    [The Act of Creation and The Ghost in the Machine are] now on order.

    Joining in with the enthusiasm for those books after you've already sent for them: Koestler is a big favorite of mine. It isn't an issue of agreeing or disagreeing with his theories, but one of the imaginative, erudite, and doors-of-thought-opening way in which he weaves his views. I find him a joy to read, and -- each time I return to him -- always a source of new questions.

    Marsha Enright, who recently became a member of OL, is another Koestler fan.

    Ellen

    __

  13. Dragonfly:

    I think you'd better study evolutionary psychology [to find the source of the moral sentiments involved].

    Do you have an evolutionary psychology type mechanism in mind that you think would account for the urge to assist a stranger's abandoned child? Biological kinship with the child isn't being hypothesized, so what benefit might saving the child be thought to confer on the perpetuation of the adult's genes?

    Ellen

    ___

  14. LOL. Are you accusing me of evasion, Dragonfly?

    I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on two points. (You might be right about what you describe as "the lynch mob on RoR." That discussion was mega-long, and I only caught the tail end of it. I did think that Michael was being fuzzy between the moral and legal issues, and that that was at least part of why he was receiving so much flak.)

    You write:

    [...] the moral issue is standard fare, already treated in The Ethics of Emergencies.

    I have never thought that the moral issue was well addressed in any of the Objectivist literature. The Ethics of Emergencies seems to me only to scratch the surface. And David Kelley's Unrugged Individualism places the brunt of the argument on a potential of trade. I mean it when I say that I would like to see the source of the moral sentiments involved explored. (I'm not convinced that those sentiments can be encompassed within the Objectivist viewpoint on human nature.)

    However, as to the legal issue, I'm in synch with Objectivism since I can see no way in the real world of jurisprudence that one could frame such a law as you desire and keep said law safely constrained to the sort of once-in-twenty-years-of-blue-moons circumstance you want that law to address. Nor do I see what help such a law would be in such a circumstance, since by stipulation in the original scene, no one else except the child and the adult is there to know. If the adult in the scene is so callous as to pass by the starving child, what difference would a law make?

    But I really do wish that instead of trying -- straight out of the chute, as it were -- to argue about whether or not a law would be a good idea, people would explore what the source within them is which produces the sense of moral revulsion.

    Ellen

    ___

  15. Michael:

    One thing is evident to me, though. This issue comes with a high emotional charge for many people. I have experienced a tremendous amount of difficulty in getting it on the table for discussion with Objectivists.

    Michael, I suggest that at least part of why you have such difficulty is because of the ease with which you revert to the legal issue instead of keeping the focus on the moral issue. (You see, you've even done that on this thread, while saying you weren't going to do it.) I think a discussion that kept the focus firmly centered on the strong sense of moral revulsion -- the feeling that that's wrong -- might produce some insight. Where does your (and I'd venture to believe the vast majority of other people's) intense feeling of wrongness come from? What's the source of the feeling?

    Ellen

    ___

  16.  

    [works missing from the CD-ROM]

    - The Objectivism Research CD-ROM, "The Philosophy of Ayn Rand"  

    The Objectivist Newsletter  

    All works by Barbara Branden and Nathaniel Branden were omitted.  

    - The Objectivist  

    All works and entries by Barbara Branden and Nathaniel Branden were omitted.

    [....]

    - The Objectivist Newsletter  

    All works and entries by Martin Anderson, Joan Blumenthal, Edith Efron, Alan Greenspan, Beatrice Hessen, Robert Hessen and Joan Meltzer were omitted.  

    - The Objectivist  

    All works and entries by John W. Bales (reader), Molly Bartholomew (reader), Allan Blumenthal, Joan Blumenthal, Avis Brick, Roger J. Callahan, Robert Efron, Alan Greenspan, Beatrice Hessen, Robert Hessen, Erika Holzer, Henry Mark Holzer, Phyllis Holzer, Henry Kamm, Susan Ludel, John O. Nelson, George Reisman, Wilfred Schwartz, Kay Nolte Smith, Jeffrey St. John, Mary Ann Sures, George Walsh and Barbara Weiss were omitted.

    Today is the first time I've looked at this thread. I'm appalled upon reading that only AR's works from The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist were included on the research CD-ROM. Without the "full context" of the complete publications, a person who wasn't there then would be at a loss to acquire a proper sense of what it was like then, as the ideas and the Objectivist culture were developed in process, month by month, with new articles appearing -- or to acquire a sense of the extent to which especially Nathaniel's articles were crucial to the world view in formation.

    Are the original, uncut magazines available in hardcover anywhere, does anyone here know?

    Ellen

    ___

  17. As it turned out, the meeting I was scheduled to attend today was postponed, so I wrote a little commentary on why I suspected from my first knowledge of Ayn Rand (in June 1961) that there was a romantic aspect to her and Nathaniel's relationship.

    I shared John Enright's "nightmare" perspective on how such a relationship would work out in practice, but a difference between my and John's crystal balls was that I didn't share his assessment of Ayn Rand as possessing the insight to foresee the likely progression herself. My understanding of Ayn Rand has from the start included as an important element the adjective "naive." I began to think of her as "naive" while I was reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time.

    The description "naive," in my usage, refers to a discrepancy in the negative direction between chronological age and the extent of knowledge of the ways of human nature that on average a person of a given age might be expected to have acquired. In other words, in saying that someone is "naive," I mean that he or she seems significantly less aware of typical dynamics of human behavior than I'd expect someone of his or her age to be. I was struck by such a gap between chronological age and psychological awareness in the author of Atlas Shrugged.

    I knew next to nothing about Ayn Rand before I started to read Atlas. I hadn't previously heard of her or of any of her works. I had no preconception except one: the story I was about to begin had badly upset a college friend of mine. This friend, one afternoon, had "stomped" -- rather than "walked" -- into my dorm room, holding what I could see was a large book at arm's length, as if attempting to keep this book far from her body, and had said, without her usual politeness, no "please" in her words or nuance: "Would you READ this and tell me what it means?!" When I began to read (about a month later), my only expectation was that something in the tale didn't sit well with my friend.

    I was impressed from soon into the narrative by the author's intense sincerity. I felt the words "And I mean it" long before I came to those self-descriptive words in the postscript. And I was impressed as of the first paragraph by the author's artistic maturity. Even if I hadn't seen the photo on the back cover, I'd have assumed that the novelist I was reading had been practicing her craft for a long time, that her years were well beyond my own. (I was eighteen and a half. Upon some discussion which occurred here of various photos of Ayn, I've come to think that the photo on the original back cover of Atlas was taken closer to the time when The Fountainhead was published than to that when Atlas appeared; still, she looks in her forties, a good number of years older than I was.) But I couldn't imagine myself "mean[ing] it" in regard to some of her psychological depictions. I felt that my own understanding of psychology was advanced beyond hers. Hence the adjective "naive" became from the beginning one of those with which I described Ayn Rand.

    Then, almost two years later, in spring 1963, I learned that there was a lecture organization -- NBI -- devoted to teaching "her philosophy" (this was also the first I learned the name she'd given the philosophy), and that there was a magazine which she coedited. I subscribed to the magazine (which was still called The Objectivist Newsletter) and acquired all the back copies to the date of my subscribing. Again, I was struck by what I considered to be a lack of knowledge of psychological dynamics, this time on both her and Nathaniel Branden's parts. He of course wrote more which directly addressed psychology than she did, but she was endorsing everything he said. Thus, the "naive" impression was reinforced. (I also developed a degree of mistrust of Nathaniel because I felt, whether rightly or wrongly, that as a psychologist he ought to know better.)

    In terms of my entertaining suspicions as early as my first reading of Atlas that her and Nathaniel's relationship included a romantic component... I was assisted by some personal background. As it happened, I knew of two circumstances from amongst my own circle of acquaintanceship in which an older woman was romantically attracted to a younger man. (Also, I'd seen that movie about Chopin in which Merle Oberon plays George Sand, and I was aware that sometimes an older artist, whether male or female -- though more typically male, will form a romantic attachment to a younger "protege" or admirer.)

    One of the cases I knew of from personal experience involved my own mother. There was a man we knew in the horse world, someone who owned and ran a livery stable, a man eight years younger than she, to whom she was attracted. No affair ensued, but the relationship became messy. The other example also involved persons I knew in the horse world. In that case the male was a "kept man," and his "mistress" ("masteress"?) was twenty years his senior.

    Given this personal background of comparison examples, I already wondered "What's going on here?" when I read the "About the Author" postscript to Atlas Shrugged. Describing someone as one's "intellectual heir" seemed to me really weird, and the glowing terms in which she spoke of him sounded generally excessive (a greater degree of flattery than would quite be accurate of anyone). The "intellectual heir" designation, and the description, combined with the dedication of the book -- to her husband AND to Nathaniel Branden... I'll tell you exactly what I thought, but please keep in mind that I was a horse addict in those days and spent just about as many hours as I could around horses. I thus often heard language like this: "He's probably some young stud she has a thing about," was the estimate which occurred to me.

    My suspicion was heightened upon reading the magazine when I subscribed to that. Again, there were tones in the sound of the praise (in this case mutual praise) which I found suggestive of romantic beguilement. Then, when I saw the two of them together in fall of '63, I was watching (from a vantage point just to the right of the podium facing the podium) for those little details of body language which might reveal physical intimateness (little ways in which people who have had sexual relations with each other show an awareness of each other's bodies, e.g., the ways they sort of "meld" in whispered exchange or in a hand touch). It seemed to me that there were such details. I didn't feel entirely sure. I wouldn't have -- as the saying goes -- "bet my life" on the accuracy of my belief. But I felt pretty sure that there'd been a sexual relationship between them at some stage. (I would learn later that by then their affair was no longer active and that meanwhile he'd become attracted to Patrecia, though he hadn't yet started the affair with her. In [i/]Judgment Day, Nathaniel writes that there was a temporary improvement in his and Ayn's ease of relating during the lecture tour they were on when I saw them.)

    Ellen

    ___

  18. "Ms. Marple," otherwise known as ES, has become definitely curious about the timing in John's and Marsha's and my respective remembrances.

    At this point I'm not sure of the event.  We did used to do all her Ford Hall Forum appearances.  We left New York in May of 1980.  After all these years it is possible that I have some of the setting wrong, but I think I would remember if Harry had asked that question [meaning the "had AR and NB had an affair?" question].

    I suppose I'll have to try to ascertain the dates of FHF appearances. I don't think they were in deep winter, and since Frank died 11/9/79, if you and Marsha left NYC in May '80 and if you heard the "evasion" remark at FHF before then, it would have had to have been in spring of '80 (if it was after Frank's death) -- or it could have been during LP's Objective Communication lectures, which you say you think were done in 1980. Thus you might have heard at least some of those before you left.

    I recall being surprised that the [affair] question was asked, and I half-expected her to blow up, but she didn't, and she got a laugh from the people listening with her smart-alecky reply, and I completely believed her.

    Well...I sure wouldn't have if I'd heard her, since I suspected something romantic between the two of them before I even saw the two of them together (the one time I did see the two of them together) at her McCormack (or is it MacCormack?) Place speech in late '63. A detail of Valliant's book which I chuckle at as being (perversely) correct is his remark on page 139: "Some secret." And I thought that AR had announced the "secret" to the whole world with "To Whom It May Concern" -- which, as it happened, I read while it was in process of being typed. I'd arrived in NYC from the Midwest just about a week before then and had happened to meet the typesetter, and she'd invited me to keep her company while she was typing the document. It wasn't until the last week of November of that year when (through a chance encounter) I was introduced to a group of AR's admirers that I learned that most of them didn't see the subtext which I'd thought was obvious.

    Reading PARC is reawakening all those memories, most of the details of which I haven't thought about for a long while. I suppose that exact dates for some of my memories might be of use for the historical record -- if I can dredge up those dates.

    (Meanwhile, I won't be home for most of the next two days and probably won't have time to check for listposts till Monday. Have a good weekend, all.)

    Ellen

    ___

  19. John:

    By the way, Ellen, it's spooky you mention Miss Marple.  Rand told him that whatever he'd written was sitting on her desk or something, but that all she could do lately was read mystery novels.

    Yeah, Evan also said Harry'd told him that.

    We think this was after Frank had died.

    At what event, though? When would you have seen her after Frank died? (I forget when you two moved to Chicago.) Frank died November 9, 1979. The time when Evan told me the tale had to have either been in late '79 or (I now realize, adding up the bits and pieces) in 1980. I was taking one of the pair of courses which were the first set Allan gave when he and Joan returned from an abortive move to Palm Springs after they split with AR. I was mostly living in Philadelphia by then (though I didn't completely close down my apartment in Brooklyn till the end of 1980), and what I usually did was to take a late train to Philly after one of the class sessions. But the night when Evan told me the Harry stories, I'd stayed over in New York at his place and we talked till the very wee hours (the sun already rising before we got a bit of sleep). He'd been reading the Frank Sulloway biography of Freud, Freud, Biologist of the Mind, I think it's called, much of which I'd also read. He was very struck by the similarities between Freud's ways of acting with his close associates (and the consequent attrition of those associates) and Rand's, and we got going for a long time on the comparisons. But among other topics were those two quotes he reported from Harry, the one about evasion and the other about Harry's questioning AR re NB.

    Could both of those have occurred at the Ford Hall Forum? I thought that the evasion question was at a lecture Leonard was giving, and that the NB question was something Harry said he'd asked her privately. But now you tell me -- you're a goldmine, John ;-) -- that someone asked her at the Forum and she made the "not my type" reply there. Was this a separate incident of the same reply, or was that when Harry asked her? (I don't think it would make sense for Harry to have asked her in public, unless that was set up in advance.)

    Ellen, Marsha says hi!

    Hi again, Marsha!

    Ellen

    ___

  20. Roger:

    [....] I have a newfound respect and appreciation for the man. More details, if anyone is interested.

    Just don't let on to him that you're on friendly terms with the Brandens if you want to remain on such with him. ;-) I assume he'd consider a friendship with either of the Brandens even worse than one with David Kelley. And there's recent evidence of how he'd view the latter, provided by a brief exchange between Larry (my husband) and Harry following the ARS session in December.

    Arnold Baise, who was watching this incident, told Larry afterward that Larry should write down what happened while both Arnold and Larry exactly remembered. The story is short:

    Larry (walking up to Harry after the meeting and holding out his hand): "Hi, Harry."

    Harry (not holding out his hand): "Aren't you my enemy?"

    Larry: "Am I? Do you have so many enemies you can't keep track?"

    Harry: "Aren't you a friend of David Kelley's?"

    Larry: "Yes."

    Harry: "Then you're my enemy."

    Larry: Laughter.

    Harry: "I'm serious."

    Larry (said in sacrastic tones while walking away): "That's nice, Harry."

    ES

    PS: I'm nonetheless interested in hearing about what he said in the talk. Harry is smart, though he can be silly.

    ___

  21. Receiving confirmation (from John Enright, a source I trust) after all these years that Harry Binswanger reported accurately a comment he said AR made about evasion has tipped the balance in regard to my repeating something else Harry said he was told by AR. I've debated about telling this but always decided against -- I've never before repeated it to anyone -- because I've always wondered if Harry might have made it up (perhaps in the belief that he was doing AR a service). Again, I got this during the late '70s at second remove from Evan Picoult. Harry told Evan that he once asked AR herself, straight out, the question left begging by Nathaniel's response to "To Whom It May Concern": Had she and Nathaniel had an affair? According to Harry's account, she replied, "No, and he wasn't my type." I.e., instead of becoming angry with Harry for even asking such a question (as Hessen said she did with someone else in another incident -- that incident during the Q and A period after one of LP's lectures), she answered directly, in the negative.

    I can understand why she would have lied (assuming she did) in response to being queried outright regarding her relationship with Nathaniel by a fairly close associate (Harry was part of what in those days was often called "The Second Inner Circle"), but only on the supposition that it was important to her that the truth be kept secret -- as both of the Brandens have said it was.

    Ellen

    ___

  22. Then she added: "I know that I'm evading, but at least I'm conscious that I'm doing it, so it's not as bad."

    Ellen, Marsha and I heard this exchange as it happened. We were quite struck by it.

    John

    Gasp of pleased astonishment: So all this while I've wondered if she really said that, you and Marsha were witnesses!! Wow. Thanks for telling me. (I'm reminded of an Agatha Christie mystery wherein Jane Marple finally solves it after thinking of asking the right person, someone who just happens to know a detail of information needed to explain the motive for a seemingly motiveless crime.)

    Good to "see" you, if only in listland, John. And please say hi to Marsha for me.

    Ellen

    ___