Jonathan

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Posts posted by Jonathan

  1. There once was slusher named Bissell

    Who played his pump clear as a whistle

    In a moment of artifice

    He posted as Artemis

    Which caused many an O'ist to bristle

    There once was a dame named Barbara

    Who angered a nasty grudge-harborer

    She snuck out the door

    During SOLOC4

    And got narked on for smokin' a Marlb'ra

    There once was a lady named Ellen

    Quite adept at grammar and spellin'

    She cut through the muddle

    With notions so subtle

    They often caused pain in my melon.

    There once was a fella named Branden

    His studly young arms he held Rand in

    They tiddly-winkled

    But when she got wrinkled

    Branden abandoned the grandam

    J

  2. Ellen,

    I took MSK's advice and read Sciabarra's Notablog review of PARC. In Sciabarra's rejoinder (http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/nota...ves/000641.html) to Valliant's reply in the comments section, he quotes Walker's book and offers comments:

    -----

    Valliant admits to using unnamed anonymous sources to corroborate Walker's claims with regard to the break between Kay Nolte Smith and Ayn Rand because Walker is "the only published source" on the subject. Valliant is right that Walker did not invent these claims. But a comparison between Walker's exposition and Valliant's exposition is instructive.

    In his discussion of the Rand-Smith break, Valliant (2005, 400 n. 57) cites page 35 of Walker's book. In part, here is what Walker says:

    "Kay Nolte Smith was excommunicated in the mid-1970s for making unauthorized changes to ~a few lines of dialogue~ for a public performance of Rand's play PENTHOUSE LEGEND (NIGHT OF JANUARY 16TH). [in an interview with Walker,] Smith concedes she shouldn't have done so but insists it was not a big deal. ~For that one mistake~ she was drummed out, 15 years of prior devoted association notwithstanding" (~ indicates ~emphasis added~)

    Here's Valliant's rendering of the story, on pages 75-76 of his book:

    "In the 1970s the Smiths produced an off-Broadway revival of Rand's play, PENTHOUSE LEGEND. When the play had been originally produced under the title, NIGHT OF JANUARY 16TH, about forty years previously, Rand had waged a difficult battle to keep her dialogue intact. This history was well known to the Smiths. ... Such a famous reputation might be counted on to provide caution to those who would take liberties with this author's text. Not so with Kay Nolte Smith and her husband, who, ~in an act exhibiting unbelievably reckless judgment~, changed the dialogue in their production of PENTHOUSE LEGEND without authorization from Rand. In such ~an instance of systematic and personal betrayal~, a break was at least understandably in order, simply on the basis of their callous indifference to Rand's personal history, if not to her artistic integrity" (~emphasis added~).

    We have gone from "that one mistake" of changing "a few lines of dialogue" in Walker's rendering to "an instance of systematic and personal betrayal" in Valliant's rendering. Now, unless Valliant has other information from ~his~ anonymous sources that would provide us with a whole litany of other instances, which would add up to "systematic and personal betrayal," I'm at a loss as to how he reached that conclusion.

    -----

    J

  3. Thanks for the replies.

    From the bits and pieces that I've read in comments online about PARC, I understand that Rand's thoughts were directed toward grappling with the mixed signals that she was receiving, but I was expecting that there would also be some self-examination: Rand seriously confronting her own errors, lies or deceptions, and pondering how they may or may not have contributed to the problems that she faced with NB.

    The righteous tone of Rand's views on topics such as cowardice, second-handers, appeasement, social metaphysics, courage, independence, betrayal, sacrifice, etc. keeps ringing in my ears (just one example: "It is understandable that men might seek to hide their vices from the eyes of people whose judgment they respect. But there are men who hide their virtues from the eyes of monsters.") I have a difficult time imagining that, when marshaling her thoughts and constructing "case studies" about her relationship with NB, the woman who repeatedly scolded the world on the moral depravity of caring what nameless, faceless others think would not contemplate her need to hide one of her highest values not only from the eyes of "monsters," but also from the eyes of her closest friends and associates, and what effect that might have had on her relationship.

    I really can't imagine myself being a famous, deeply philosophical novelist, loving my supremely valuable, ideally heroic wife, having an affair with another, much younger woman who, although supremely valuable and ideally heroic enough for me to love passionately, intimately and perhaps risk the possibility of damaging my ideal marriage over, was not quite supremely valuable and ideally heroic enough to be worthy of my willingness to face negative public opinion, and then, when pondering my lover's problems, mixed signals or possible lies, not asking myself why, if I truly loved her and believed that what we were doing wasn't wrong, I was behaving as if the affair was something shameful. What kind of signal did that send, what effect might it have had on our relationship? Regardless of what reasons or excuses my lover was giving me, I can't imagine not making it a priority to seriously examine how my role in creating a secretive, deceptive, mixed-signal atmosphere may have resulted in my receiving mixed signals.

    Regarding James Valliant, I don't doubt that he was meticulous in putting together PARC, but it seems that he can be a bit slippery or lawyerly with the truth, including on this thread. Does anyone here understand what his answer to me means? When he claimed that my questions are all answered in PARC, did he mean that if I read his book I'll discover that the answer to my questions is "No, Rand doesn't address those issues, therefore you didn't need to read the book since the only type of entries you expressed interest in are not in it"? Or does it mean that he thinks that ~he~ addresses those issues in the book, which is not what I asked? Instead of answering my questions with a simple, honest "no," it appears to me that he's trying to mislead me into believing that the book contains what it doesn't. Is that the type of maneuvering that I can look forward to in the book?

    J

  4. A few questions for those who have read PARC:

    Does Rand ever comment, in those sections of her private journals which Valliant selected for publication, why it was important to her to keep The Affair a secret? (Btw, am I remembering correctly that even Rand's closest intellectual associate and legal heir hadn't been informed of the truth by Rand, and that he had to wait to discover it in her private journals after her death?)

    Does PARC reveal whether or not Rand confessed to having second-hander fear of what others would think about the affair? In her journal entries, does she ponder why she felt it was necessary to hide her blazing romantic passion for one lover yet it was admirable to publicly boast about her romantic passion for the other?

    Does she contemplate the meaning of marriage and what she had agreed to socially when she married Frank? In American culture, matrimony is universally known to be a declaration of a couple's acceptance of an exclusive romantic union. In PARC, does Rand recognize that in getting married, she and Frank sought ~public sanction~, that their contract was not just with each other, but involved acquiring a specific type of ~public status granted by society~? In PARC, does Rand confess to her willingness to ~lie~ to society by excluding it from the renegotiation of her marital status, and to ~fake~ that public status by actively maintaining the illusion of an exclusive husband/wife relationship?

    If Rand contemplates these issues in her journal entries which were included in PARC, I might be interested in reading the book.

    J

  5. Thanks for your responses, Michael and Kat.

    Perhaps I could have been more clear in outlining the context of our fictional freelancer. She would be in the advanced stages of converting to Official Objectivism, which implies that if the opportunity arose, it would be completely unacceptable to her to even consider taking an assignment, no matter how briefly, as the sole technical rescuer of Barbara or Nathaniel Branden's broken websites. She would see doing so as an unforgivable act of enabling evil. In that context, wouldn't it be odd for her to hold to the view that, as an informed, active Objectivist, she was not in error to have accepted freelance employment as the sole rescuer of a national, influential, environmentalist organization's website?

    And, sorry for belaboring the point, but the practical issue of her needing the money really wouldn't be a consideration since her work would be ~extremely brief and minimal~. She'd receive a pittance in exchange for giving her environmentalist client a hell of a lot of value. In fact, the issue of payment is an argument ~against~ her accepting the work. If she were to refuse the project, the tiny amount of money that she would miss out on would be a very small price to pay for the hardship that she would cause her philosophical enemies. In seeking to hire her, her client would be asking her, in effect, "Since you worked on our website when you were previously employed by Web Company X, you're more familiar with it than anyone else and may even have a backup copy of it in its original, unbroken condition. Will you please accept some pocket change in exchange for effortlessly restoring our propaganda machine so that we don't have to spend a significantly larger amount of money hiring someone who is unfamiliar with the site to struggle to restore or completely redesign it?"

    In that context, would ~you~ accept the project? I'm far from being fervently, Officially Objectivist, yet even if I were living in a pile of gunny sacks under a bridge, I can't imagine not relishing the opportunity to tell the client to get lost.

    As for Rand working in Hollywood, did ~she~ propagate ideas which she thought were false or evil (by, say, converting novels about the glories of communism into screenplays), or did she work for studios which employed others who produced some "false or evil" films in addition to the non-evil projects that she worked on?

    J

  6. In her essay, The Question of Scholarships, Ayn Rand wrote,

    "The principle here is as follows: it is proper to take the kind of work which is not wrong per se, except that the government should not be doing it, such as medical services; it is improper to take the kind of work that ~nobody~ should be doing, such as is done by the F.T.C., the F.C.C., etc. But the same limitation applies to a man's choice of private employment: a man is not responsible for the moral or political views of his employers, but he cannot accept a job in an undertaking which he considers immoral, or in which his work consists specifically of violating his own convictions, i.e. the propagating of ideas he regards as false or evil."

    So here are my purely hypothetical questions:

    Should a dedicated Objectivist accept projects from her private employer in which her responsibilities are to create and/or keep operational a website whose sole purpose is to promote ideas which she has publicly declared herself to be vehemently opposed, such as, say, those of an environmentalist organization which lobbies government to pass environmental laws?

    Additionally, if after her employment with that private employer comes to an end, she accepts an assignment from the same environmentalist client on a ~freelance~ basis to restore their completely broken website, has she betrayed her Objectivist beliefs?

    If, after she has publicly berated other Objectivists and their organizations for what she believes to be their false positions on Objectivism, she is questioned about having worked on the environmentalist website on a freelance basis, and she responds by downplaying the significance of having single-handedly restored the environmentalists' completely broken website by stating that her involvement was brief, minimal, distant, and purely technical, what implications does that have in regard to the career choices that ~I~ may make and still consider myself a good Objectivist?

    If I keep my involvement in the projects brief, minimal, distant and purely technical, can I accept, for example, freelance projects in which I print and distribute brochures advocating murderous communism or Christian-inspired government censorship and still shriek about the evil of other Objectivists because I disagree with their views on one thing or another?

    According to Rand's official, closed-system Objectivism, if I only work for a mere 5 hours on a project in which I repair Islamic radicals' completely broken television signal transmitters -- through which I know that they intend to continue to broadcast nothing but their advocacy of the initiation of physical force against innocent people (specifically, Americans) -- when questioned about my repair work, would I be correct in holding to the position that I do not accept that my actions were any kind of error?

    J

  7. Thanks for your comments, Roger. If I can find the time over the next few busy days, I'll reply to a few points. But in the mean time, it occurs to me that in keeping with the spirit of this forum, I should have prefaced my earlier remarks (and my late night, groggy semi-silliness) with an expression of my appreciation for your essays on art. I've mentioned it now and then in other forums over the years, but I think it bears repeating that your insights have been very stimulating to me, and I'm sincerely grateful for all that I've learned from you -- not only in regard to aesthetics, but philosophy in general. I think your ideas on art as microcosmic, and your supporting arguments, are very powerful, much more so than other approaches that I've seen within Objectivist circles.

    Best,

    J

  8. OK, I've been working all night and I'm admittedly a little punchy, but:

    If Objectivists were to successfully mate with bats (which I think in some cases in New Zealand and Colorado might actually work), and their offspring were to use their powerful echo-location abilities to develop a new form of music which aurally "depicted" precisely discernible entities engaging in completely identifiable fictional activities, would they abandon regular music? Would these Batjectivists insist that, with their ability to create for themselves very realistic, aural illusions of things from reality, subtler, more abstract kinds of aural re-creations of less discernible aspects of reality are not proper art?

    G'night,

    J

  9. Roger wrote,

    "There definitely IS representation of reality and expression of metaphysical value-judgements in architecture -- at least, so I argue -- and I continue to be puzzled as to why Objectivists don't get this point."

    I don't know that they don't get the point. I think it's much more likely that they're reluctant to accept it because they're worried about its implications regarding abstract painting and sculpture, which they don't want to recognize as art.

    Speaking of which, Roger, am I correct in assuming that you believe that the type of abstract art Rand wrote about in the quote Michael provided above is art according to your views, and should be considered art even according to Rand's?

    After all, in seeing laughter and defiance in abstract lines, circles, triangles, squares and their relationships to one another, she was describing moral qualities, feelings and intentions as reflected in actions, events and situations. She grasped the shapes as powerful imaginal symbols that represent fundamental abstractions by means of stylized embodiment, or as virtual persons engaged in certain kinds of virtual motions and actions to which she sympathetically responded as if they were a real or fictional persons, no?

    J

  10. Bicentennial Man listed as a favorite film in Artemis' extended profile was what had confirmed my suspicion that you were in drag again, Roger. I know of no one else who recommends the film (I haven't seen it, but now that I know that a kindly elderly woman like Artie regards it as a favorite, perhaps I should rent it soon). I had gotten the Diana part but not the carriage/shay/Hsieh bit -- I was assuming that that part of the joke was merely a typical Bissell groaner: Ms. Kerridge = miscarriage (Diana Miscarriage, or something like that).

    Anyway, it was fun to watch while it lasted, you evil, dishonest prick. :-)

    Best,

    J

  11. Hey Kat,

    I guess I've never thought of substituting something for the wine, but I'm thinking that grape juice and/or ginger ale would work well with the other flavors in this particular recipe.

    Best,

    J

  12. Seeing Rand's recipe for Stroganoff here reminds me of one of my favorite dishes to prepare and share with others. With its sour cream sauce, you could say that Rahmschnitzel is a somewhat lighter, German version of Stroganoff. It's often prepared with a breading much like that described in Ciro's breaded pork chop recipe listed in this section, but I prefer this version's lighter coating. It's delicious and very easy to make.

    Ingredients:

    4 large slices of veal (or pork)

    1/2 cup of flour

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    1/2 teaspoon paprika

    1/3 cup butter

    1/3 cup dry white wine

    4 oz mushrooms, sliced

    1/4 cup chopped scallions

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

    1 1/4 cup (or 1 can) chicken broth

    1/2 cup sour cream

    Instructions:

    Pound veal slices to 1/4" thick.

    Mix flour with salt, pepper & paprika. Dip veal slices in mixture, shake off excess.

    In a large frying pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Place veal slices in pan, fry for 3-5 minutes per side until lightly and evenly browned.

    Pour in wine and bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove veal slices from pan and place on a serving dish, keeping it warmed in oven while making sauce.

    Add remaining butter to the pan and melt. Add mushrooms, scallions, salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook over medium heat until tender. Add broth and simmer. In a small bowl, mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of leftover seasoned flour mixture with a small amount of water, then pour mixture into sauce and stir. Heat for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

    Pour sauce over veal and serve with spätzle.

    Serves 4

  13. I thought this bit from Linz on the SOLOP PARC thread was interesting:

    "What also incensed me yesterday was the suggestion that because debate on this matter flourishes, the rest of SOLO is stagnating."

    He's right. SOLOP isn't stagnating ~because~ of the PARC debate, it's stagnating ~in spite of~ the temporary, minor attention that the PARC debate has brought to SOLOP.

    Ciro wrote a post on the same thread which came very close to nailing it:

    "Holly, pleaseeee, I though that this forum was created with the intent to change the world, and not to have you and your associates standing on pride rock shouting at the world how bad the Brandens are. I thought that Linz wanted to go solo, in the real meaning of the word, but, it seems that he lacks the courage to do so; he needs someone to accompany him all the time. Bravo Linz, keep letting this people use you, at the end, they get want they want--leave you, and you remain the usual nasty bad guy as always been. But, as always, before they do that, you are so smart to have new parasites ready for the feeding hiding behind you! Do you lack the courage to shrug???"

    I think Ciro is only slightly off in that he has misidentified the particulars of the host/parasite relationship. He should have written that Linz and his acolytes (like Cresswell) were smart enough to have new ~hosts~ ready for the feeding. Linz has destroyed a hell of a lot of friendships recently, and without all of his ex-friends' names to drop and their respected reputations to borrow from, I think he and his little gang have resorted to leeching off whatever they can get. Without shoving themselves into Valliant's tiny, fading spotlight, SOLO Passion would be SOLO Embarrassingly Inactive & Irrelevant.

    Anyway, I've never liked Linz, but, for what it's worth, I can't say that I've enjoyed watching him self-destruct. It's been rather sad watching him continue to crap all over himself, his accomplishments and, worst of all, his friends. I feel for those of you whom he's crapped on.

    J

    Btw, am I the only one here who has been surprised at Tibor Machan's anosmia? God, I hope he's finally been cured of it.