Michael Stuart Kelly

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  1. The policy of OL is to present the truth as it is, neither sanitized nor distorted. That especially applies to Ayn Rand's history as our members remember her. Still, many of the memories are mixed with controversies, thus charming and admirable aspects of what they saw in Rand do not get emphasized in the telling. The purpose of this thread is for those of you who knew Rand, or saw her or heard her in recordings, to give your favorable impressions of her. I'm not aiming at censorship or sycophancy here - merely a place where things like her kindness, intelligence, humor and so forth can be specifically expressed. Michael
  2. Robert, I have to laugh when I read your posts because it is so striking to me how much we think alike. Psychologize? That is one hell of a term. You know, I have a strong aversion to using the Objectivist jargon because it is "loaded" to sound learned and sophisticated, but many of the people who have used words like that with me over the last year have thought very shallowly about the concept behind them, but have posed as experts. I agree that anti-concept is a useful designation for "psychologize" - and I extend it to much of the way the Objectivist jargon is used (but not to the original concepts behind the words). I think that Rand's 1968 journal entries are going to have far more weight for Rand-haters as evidence against her person than anything in print so far. The Objectivist right-wing shot itself in the eye with that one. (Not foot. That's too cliche. Remember a cartoon character who pulled the trigger of his shotgun, it did not go off, then he turned it around to look down the barrel? He shot himself in the eye. I find that to be a perfect metaphor for releasing those journal entries with the Branden-bashing analysis.) I want to add to your own comments about the author of PARC. He not only "wants people to worship Rand, not to understand and appreciate her philosophy," he also scapegoats (er... psychologizes a lot about) the Brandens in order to prove Rand's perfection. And finally, this is my own speculation, but I think he wants to be a guru in his own right as some kind of "moral avenger." Michael
  3. Paul, Thank you. That may be only 98, though, because two of our posters have emails that bounce and they never visit (one is even from "Occupied Palestine"). Se we will probably delete their accounts after a while for housekeeping and if the people who registered them are really interested, they can join again. Still, it is heartening how many good people are joining. Joseph-612, It's great to see you. If you are like I used to be, you have been part of "The Silent Contingency" for a while because interaction with Objectivists was just too complicated. You sound very friendly and that is a top value here. Welcome aboard. I look forward to your discussions. Michael
  4. Barbara, That was a beautiful thought! Thank you. Playmate of the stars is a perfect description of how I see Kitten inside myself. As to love - one of the greatest ironies I have found so far in Objectivism is the need so many people have of defining it strictly in consciously selfish terms - and then failing miserably at it. On a humorous note, if I am consciously selfish only - and being a member of a species is an unimportant detail - then why bother choosing another member of my own species? How on earth do I account for that kind of love? Why not choose a dog, who is often a whole lot more loyal? I agree with the psychological visibility principle as a good part of the drive. Still, it will be interesting to see what will happen once cloning people becomes a reality. Under a concept of psychological visibility principle being 100% of the cause for love, a person's own clone would give him the greatest psychological reflection - it would be him. Thus he would have no need for others, much less members of the opposite sex (when applicable). How about that simple herding and mating instinct that is pre-wired in our brains? I am convinced that this is a part of the whole thing, too. I agree that this is complicated. A also see where alignment of virtue level is an important part. In short, any attempt to boil love down to one thing only will end up being an oversimplification. Michael
  5. Ellen, At the start of this thread, you cited a discussion on another forum and a poster there. To be clear, I have extracted the part of your post that refers to that person, and the entire paragraph following it. What I am looking for in this quote is some kind of insult or slight. I simply can't find it. You accurately paraphrased her post and then commented that "the issue of Rand's character is of great importance" to some Objectivists (implying that she was one of these people - based on the tenor of her own post) and that for them, "something crucial is at stake on the issue of Rand's personal character." I still can't find the insult. You received some attention, though, Ellen. Jennifer has called you "some random woman" in a rather cocky "put-down" type answer (apparently aimed at insulting your intelligence) and later stated that she was "challenging such a ridiculous accusation" because she had her "name sullied." I just looked again at your post and I simply can't find an accusation, much less a ridiculous one - and no insult. Once again, you accurately paraphrased her post. Then you used that thought as a starting point for an analysis of Branden hating. The only thing you implied in essence was that she took her own words seriously. Dayaamm! What makes me sad is that Jennifer is a good person and a productive one. But she is now starting to buy into the idea that insulting people for some imagined slight (or for differences of opinion) is "rational passion," among other wrong ideas propagated on that site (especially the Virtue of Bickering). Well... actually, I exaggerated. I too have my rhetorical moments. The truth is I'm not really all that sad. It's just not that important. I merely mention it because you are my friend and I don't like to see you gratuitously insulted. (Call it a gentleman thing.) It's all the Brandens' fault, anyway. //;-)) Michael
  6. Chapter 24 – Master Plot #18: Wretched Excess This type of plot is one I find particularly fascinating since addiction fits into it (and I have had experience in dealing with addiction in my life). I found the title “Wretched Excess” funny, though. But this plot is not only about addiction. It covers people who have passed the “limits of acceptable behavior, either by choice or by accident.” This kind of person – one who inhabits the margins of society – continually fascinates audiences. Frankly, I believe that it is a good choice for Objectivist literature, since it cuts right to the psychological roots of volition. Obviously it is a character plot. From the book: “This plot is about character driven to extremes and the effects of those extremes.” Tobias mentions that the protagonist is usually a normal person who receives a curve ball in life, like losing his job and family after 20 years. From the book: “The real tension inherent in this plot comes from convincing the readers that whatever the excess, it could happen to them too.” Stephen King has pointed out that true horror lies in the commonplace. Monsters and vampires are good scary tales, but real horror that cuts to the core of the soul comes from “everyday people and everyday events.” From the book: “The wretched excess plot is about people who have lost the veneer of civilization either because they are mentally unbalanced or because they have been trapped by circumstances that made them behave differently than they would under “normal” circumstances. Another way to put it: normal people under abnormal circumstances, and abnormal people under normal circumstances.” (My emphasis.) I emphasized this last phrase because I think this should be one of the first decisions you make on deciding to write this kind of plot. Is the protagonist going to be normal and pushed to the edge, or is he going to be unbalanced and try to find his way to sanity? For Objectivist literature, I see all kinds of possibilities from both angles – basically testing the limits of character a person forms by the philosophy. From the book: “The battleground can be alcoholism, greed, ambition, war or any number of other difficulties. These characters have been pushed to extremes, and almost anyone of them, under the right circumstances, could be us.” Tobias analyzes Othello, which is not a plot about revenge (Iago) so much as it is about descent into extreme jealousy (Othello). One thing jumped out at me in the analysis is that Iago’s thirst for revenge is way out of proportion to the slight he received. He has a mean nature and a thin skin. (This got me to thinking that a disgruntled hardcore-type Objectivist would make a good villain because some are pretty mean and callous, and they have the traditional thin skin.) Iago is also an excellent judge of character and easily finds people’s soft spot to exploit them. Iago does bad things and the audience does not empathize with him, because he is simply bad. Othello does far worse things, but the audience feels for him. That’s because he’s basically a good guy. Shakespeare used a literary device called a tragic flaw, which leads good guys to commit excesses. An important plot observation is about the mystery element. If the audience had been kept wondering whether Desdemona did betray Othello or not, we would not be able to concentrate on sympathy for him. By knowing that she did not, the focus stayed on Othello’s descent into pathological jealousy. This illustrates that the emotional focus of this plot is to evoke sympathy from the audience. Tobias makes one other highly important point. From the book: “Wretched excess is in fact an emotional disease.” Works mentioned Hunger by Knut Hamsun Othello (play) by William Shakespeare King Lear (play) by William Shakespeare Hamlet (play) by William Shakespeare Macbeth (play) by William Shakespeare Movies mentioned The Little Foxes Mildred Pierce Lost Weekend Monsieur Verdoux Network Apocalypse Now Wall Street Act 1 (or Phase 1) – Setup The protagonist is shown how he is before the problem starts. Tobias warns against dwelling too long on this aspect as there is no tension. Then there is a catalyst event that will start the protagonist on the way to loss of control. Tobias makes an interesting parallel with the story of the Garden of Eden and the serpent of temptation. He says to present the idyllic scene, then for the catalyst event, “introduce the serpent.” Act 2 (or Phase 2) – Complications This phase shows the gradual loss of control and how it affects both the protagonist and those around him. Obviously it should get increasingly worse. Act 3 (or Phase 3) – Climax and resolution This phase starts where the protagonist loses control and can no longer contain himself. It can end two ways. Either the protagonist is destroyed (severely damaged) or he has a turn-around and starts the healing process. Checklist 1. The wretched excess plot is about the psychological decline of a person. 2. The decline should be based on a character flaw. 3. The protagonist’s decline goes through three stages: (1) how he was before the decline, (2) how he gradually deteriorates, and (3) how he is at the crisis point where he loses control – and he either gives in completely to the flaw or recovers from it. 4. Present the protagonist in a manner designed to evoke sympathy. Tobias cautions against presenting him as a raving lunatic. 5. The character of the protagonist needs to convince the audience that (1) he is real and (2) he is worthy of their feelings (sympathy). 6. Avoid melodrama. Do not force emotions beyond the limits the scene can carry. 7. Be straightforward about plot information. Avoid mysteries that do not focus on the flaw. 8. In order to maintain audience sympathy for the protagonist, do not have him commit crimes out of proportion to what he is, or even gruesome or disgusting crimes. 9. At the crisis point in Act 3, move the protagonist toward wither destruction or redemption. Audiences are not satisfied if he is left “swinging in the wind.” 10. All action should be in relation to the protagonist. The reason things happen is because the protagonist does or does not do something. 11. It is extremely important to understand the nature of the excess to be able to write about it convincingly. Either have personal experience to draw on or do a lot of research. My comments I remember a few minor characters in Rand’s fiction having problems with wretched excess (alcohol in particular), but she avoided portraying events where protagonists completely lost control. The hardest part of understanding and applying Objectivism in life is getting the psychology and philosophy balance correct. Too many people get one or the other all wrong, with disastrous consequences. They become caricatures, descending into constant bickering with posed arrogance. Writing is the same. If the psychology and philosophy balance are off, fictional characters will become stick figures. They will not only be unbelievable, they will be boring. I see enormous possibilities in the process of an Objectivist protagonist who is in psychological trouble struggling and transforming into an Objectivist hero. I remember Rand once complained about Mike Hammer being portrayed with a drinking problem at the start of a book. I personally see nothing wrong with it as Mike chose life and action over pain. The drinking problem part merely showed how much he was hurting. I find the fact that he came out of it an extremely heroic denial of the importance of pain. Denial of the importance of pain is such an Objectivist theme that it hurts.
  7. (I'm still laughing, Ciro. I also liked that cactus.) Here's a mother-in-law funeral Brazilian style: A man was standing at a snack bar in São Paulo having a small cup of espresso in the early hours of the morning. He was surprised at the lack of traffic, since it was getting near rush hour. (São Paulo has close to 20 million inhabitants, so rush hour is brutal.) Then he saw a funeral procession in the distance very slowly coming up the street, with a huge traffic jam behind it. In the front was a black hearse. About 10 yards behind that was another black hearse. About 10 yards behind that was a blind man with sunglasses and a seeing-eye dog. Behind him was a line of about 100 men. Since the procession was so slow and so strange, the man became curious. When the blind man got near the snack bar, the man went out into the middle of the procession and started walking beside the blind man. Man: Excuse me. Who is this funeral procession for? Anybody famous? Blind Man: My wife. She is the hearse up front. Man: I'm so sorry. What happened to her? Blind Man: See this dog here? She accidentally fell on the dog and WOOF! The dog killed her. (Long silence.) Man: Excuse me once again. Who is in the second hearse? Blind Man: My mother-in-law Man: I'm sorry to hear that. What happened to her? Blind Man: When she saw her daughter being attacked by the dog, she jumped in and WOOF! The dog killed her too. (Long silence.) Man: Could I borrow your dog after the funeral? Blind Man: Get in line.
  8. Robert, After much interaction with him and his crew and much reading, this is the only point where we disagree. I do not believe in his sincerity and I do not believe in his stated goal. I could psychologize I guess, but the motive no longer interests me. The irrational viciousness and distortion of Objectivism that those people practice certainly is a curiosity. Hsieh apparently has turned omniscient and has become a mind reader. Frankly, I was surprised today at how little her biography interested me. I had to force myself to read that thing to keep up (some good links were the saving grace). I am heartened that the impact of so much effort is restricted to such a small group of people. I even get the impression that some responses on her site and on the other one are forced a bit via email. (I know this happens because many times - via email - I was solicited to post on the old SoloHQ.) I am continuing my research on all this, and I am putting things up as I go along, but it is an unpleasant, albeit necessary, duty. Those people are control freaks and the one thing I did that most earned their hatred was to make this site a haven for the Brandens. I stated publicly that they want to control people's minds, but they can't have it here. (That - and the fact that this site is growing - really gets them riled up. //;-)) ) Michael
  9. Dayaamm! (I certainly would be pleased that both science and I were wrong.) Michael
  10. I would go further than tolerance, which to me is a minimum for maintaining a relationship. Objectivists use the word "benevolence," but I prefer the old-fashioned "good will." (Love is a presupposition here.) For instance, if the woman I love has an interest in life that is something I dislike intensely, I will not only tolerate her interest, I will see that she is well served because I want her to be happy. And because I know she wants to share at least some of that interest, I would search for things I could honestly like in it, and even if I did not find them, I would groove on her happiness while I "tolerated" a minimum involvement. That to me is good will. On her side, I would expect her to understand that I do not like that interest and not insist on sharing more than what satisfies her urge for attention and not feel neglected. I hate the attitude of a person in a relationship who piously says, "I want to be completely honest with you because I respect you so much," before being highly callous and cruel. Trying to make your partner happy is a very good thing to do - and if truth be told, it is a very selfish thing to do. Probably one of the most selfish things in love. Giving and receiving like that is pure heaven on earth. Michael
  11. Dragonfly, Just for the record (since it could be confused by readers), Rand was not 8 at the time, her cousin Fern was. Rand would have been around 20 or 21. She went to Hollywood in August 1926 (the first written record of her using the name Rand apparently is a studio pass for DeMille Studio in 1926). She lived with her cousin Fern in Chicago before that. Nathaniel Branden wrote about this in Judgment Day (p. 73). The time would be around 1950-1951 and the following statement by Rand happened during visits with him and Barbara to the residence of Ayn and Frank. (Leonard Peikoff had been visiting for the summer, but the narrative implies that he went back to school by this time). To qualify, in the "Author's Note" (p. ix) NB wrote: As Barbara stated that she heard the same story, either they both heard it or they were trying out an early version of that stuff she said she put in the water of certain Objectivists later to turn them into flaming moralizers. I speculate that others probably heard the story too over the years (and that there might have been a time when Rand stopped telling it), but given the anti-Branden agenda and all the bruhaha now out in public, I don't expect any person related to ARI coming forth if they did. Michael
  12. Dragonfly, Me? Or in general? I'll answer for me: Yup. A little disappointment comes up, I guess, because of the past effort. If the idea was really out there, there might be some embarrassment at times. But whenever you find out for sure that you are wrong about something, you also find out something for sure that is right. That's always a cause for celebration. It can get quite exhilarating. It depends on what you value: the idea itself or always being right. I'll stick to the ideas. I love them. Anyway, always being right always got me in trouble... Michael
  13. This thread is in homage of Marsha Enright, who suggested it. I started to become interested in this area when I was the Psychology Leader of the old SoloHQ. I once got into an argument about mind and body and a person hit me with the phrase "nonphysical existence." My mouth dropped open. Nonphysical existence? I then heard some of the most incredible arguments that practically bordered on mysticism. So off I went, thinking about studying this with the experts. Maybe I would find out what the physical connection was and maybe what the physical form of consciousness was. My thinking was that consciousness manifests itself through physical chemical and energetic reactions and that if you chemically alter the "support" of consciousness (brain cells), you alter its functioning. (As an ex-druggie, I knew all about that.) So I bought an amazing book called Neurophilosophy by Patricia Smith Churchland. I have not had time to delve into it, but I will post the basic contents here, as they serve as an excellent stimulus for topics: I think the only way I am ever going to get through this thing is to devote an hour a day or so to it. Talk about big words - 546 pages of them! Two other names keep popping up in Objectivist discussion on consciousness also: Karl Popper and Daniel Dennett. I frankly need to read some more of them, Dennett especially, from what I gather. Nathaniel Branden has had a lot of recent interaction with Ken Wilber, who also looks extremely interesting science-and-philosophy-wise, but from a "big picture" kind of view. (I provided Wikipedia links, as the articles are pretty good introductions and come with a host of links.) As many of Ayn Rand's observations came from looking, thinking and proclaiming, it is important to check what can be checked by scientific inquiry and validate or revise them in light of testing and evidence. I hold that no idea is so sacred that it cannot be checked by a sovereign independent mind. Good ideas and premises stand on their own merits. I know that not all Objectivists like to think this way, but I sure do. A quote by Arthur Koestler: I would also add that nothing is more exhilarating than finding out through science or other hard proof that your thinking is right. Well, this is a start. Michael
  14. Ellen, The hardest thing in the world for certain types of people to do is to think and judge with their own minds. I'm not talking about intelligence - this goes all the way down into Rand's constant clamor to check your premises. The way people approach hero worship is a good indication of how much independent thinking they do - how they check their premises. A person must never hold a hero above the judgment of his own mind. On the contrary, he must arrive at the conclusion that the hero is a hero because he arrived at that conclusion independently. The existence of people with the urge to follow a leader and suspend their minds on the premise level goes back to the beginning of recorded history. They have a herd mentality and they clamor for a king. (Notice among the Objectivists with this mentality how some who wish to be king are among them.) I have been vilified by some of these people for examining a few principles of Christianity favorably (or at least differently than wholesale condemnation) through the lens of Objectivism. They proclaim that Rand's greatest contribution was to debunk the Judeo-Christian tradition of centuries. Their kind of mentality is not to check any premise, but to condemn anything with the Christian moniker because someone else has done their thinking for them. Then I pick up a copy of Britting's Ayn Rand and see that her favorite painting was a modern surrealistic Dali depiction of the crucifixion of Christ. Not only was it her favorite, it is written clearly in the ARI-sanctioned biography that she spent long hours contemplating it. Can you imagine the howling that would have ensued if that information had come from the Brandens? So how does the Christianity-hating Rand-worshipers see this fact? They don't think about it. Blank-out. The whole Rand whitewash that is being proclaimed using PARC as a basis reminds me of a lesson about humanity I learned in the Bible from childhood Sunday school classes. The people of Israel (I just looked it up on the Internet). From Samuel 8: If "Reason" is put into the place of "LORD," we have a very interesting parallel. "They are rejecting me as their king..." and "... deserting me and worshiping strange gods." Some people will always want Rand (or some other king) instead of reason to rule their thinking. It is my strongest conviction that they do Rand dishonor by not using their own minds and twisting logic to suit their desire for such a mental king. Mankind's whole history has been marked by by people giving their minds over to some cause. They don't have to think about it anymore once they accept it, just act on it. And it's funny how such causes always boil down to a person. Can anyone imagine Nazism without Hitler worship? (For the record, let's say that I - and others - can imagine Objectivism without Rand-worship.) For a Rand-worship person, PARC is like discovering a map to Eldorado (a few centuries ago) or new "proof" that there is an afterlife for a Christian. One of the benefits for mankind, though, is that it will set a divide in Objectivism. As Objectivism is a philosophy for using your own mind, many take this part seriously and do so. Thus PARC will highlight people who favor turning off their minds on the premise level (and they can be duly brushed to the side and not taken seriously). To be clear, if I had to choose one general quality about the style of PARC (not the part by Rand), it would be that the book is made to be read out of focus. If a person focuses, he comes to the conclusion that there is an overdose of pettiness and lopsided reasoning in it. This opinion has been vioced by many prominent independent Objectivist thinkers and is documented in reviews and comments at different places on the web (see the second post). However, if you let yourself go into Rand-worship mode and put your mind in a drift, you get the feeling that a grave injustice is being redressed by an uncompromising moral avenger who has done all the thinking for you. You are free to focus only on statements that support your emotional "worship" predisposition. You don't have to think at the premise level. Rand can be perfect after all. This dude proved it. When a person asks about such "proof" to these people, all he gets are opinions and speculations pronounced in PARC, and hardly any facts at all. Look at all those long irritating discussion threads that have cropped up. Who has the patience to read through all that? The overdose of boneheaded speculations is the reason. I strongly agree with you that after Rand's journal entries are analyzed by different serious thinkers, the ultimate effect will be the exact opposite of what PARC was intended to do. As for the irrational worshippers (Charles coined a term in an email that I absolutely loved: the Anti-Objectivists), there will always be some around to make noise, but I predict that they will never have much influence with the culture. Reason may have had a hard go of it in mankind's history, but it tends to prevail over time. Michael
  15. Charles, I feel your pain. To be frank with you, when Kat set up OL, I gave her a little grief because I was starting to write a book at that time (which I now work on from time to time) and I knew this place would take time to do right. I have since become grateful that she did precisely because of the cesspool reason. If you wish to see a cesspool, I made a list of names I have been called on other forums (scroll to the 11th post). I get a kick out of it, actually, but the sad part is that is a true indication of what others choose to do with their discourse. Every name came from a post. And this "cesspool" that was extended to me is habitually extended to others, sometimes in even worse terms. Simply stated, I don't want this kind of crap in my life unless it is humor within a proper context (on OL, that means done with talent, of which there is oodles). Thus, I have chosen not to respond in kind, although I used to do that. A question grew in me: Would you like to share an intellectual community with your loved ones where many people call you asshole on down when they disagree? Then came a second question: Can you blame people for running to churches in droves for nurturing their moral needs if this is the alternative? Here on OL, I have tried very diligently to encourage a certain type of person - one who does not always agree with me, but one who takes ideas seriously. I am proud of our little community - the quality of person is very high. The regular posters here do not distort facts and logic, neither ignore issues, because they are selling a bill of goods. They are all keenly and honestly committed to ideas and they know that the others are also. Growth and learning are deliciously rampant. When I look at the bickering level of practically any other Objectivist forum, then I look here, I get the feeling - not just the metaphor - of Atlantis, but the oasis aspect of it. I feel relieved. I have seen several places try this, but they go after an elitist environment - a Galt's Gulch where each one is one ia s Randian hero). The bickering gets quite bitter since none of them are. Strangely enough, merely looking for a place out of the rain where good discussion about Objectivism and the ideas Objectivism raises could ensue, I think an elite group of people has gathered - a moral elite - people devoted to rational ideas and good will toward each other. I admire the people here, both intellectually and spiritually. I can say without reservation that every poster here has enriched my life - and you know you, especially, are one of them. Michael
  16. Charles, That was one fine post! I'm still laughing. Very similar to a guy I knew in Brazil who claimed he had been a big shot in Ghana (I think his name was Nagidudo). He used to tell me that all drugs should be legal. His argument was from serenity (as was yours). Let's do it right: There! That's better! Mr. Nagidudo said that between 10-20% of humanity is hopelessly perturbed. Don't put them in your taxi-cab as a driver because they will wreck the car. Don't put them in your factory because they will destroy the machinery. Don't put them your stores because they will crap on the merchandise. They are perturbed. The only time they are at peace is when they are asleep. And they are the ones who most seek drugs. So let them leave their misery. Let them get high and stay that way. Thus they will be physically unable to bust up stuff. //;-)) Michael
  17. Charles. Dayaamm! This isn't the place to say this, but not with hillbillies either (my background). There's an old joke: Son: Pa, I broke my engagement to Mary Lou. Pa: Why, son? Son: She's still a virgin. Pa: Well I'll be. That's a good decision, son. If she ain't no use to her kin folk, then what use is she to you? Still, this aversion to sex between siblings and parents (or surrogates) is extremely widespread and documented. One point Nyquist made was that an innate trait can be overridden by conscious choice up to a point. Royalty would be a case of this (keeping power and land in the family). In Brazil, in the Northeast, there are innumerable cases of birth defects among traditional families who have insisted on marrying between cousins in order to keep the inheritance (mostly land) in the family. This custom goes back to the Capitancies (state-size new-world land endowments from the King of Portugal) of the colonial period. Michael
  18. Dragonfly, When Barbara used to post on SoloHQ, she wrote a series of articles called "Holding Court." In one of them, she wrote the following: That was in Holding Court - June 14, 2005. Michael
  19. Ellen, I will grant the familiarity idea as plausible - or at least one component of sexual indifference. However, I don't find it convincing for revulsion and taboo. And, for that to be true, family bonding at least has to be preprogrammed (as a general trait or "instinct"), since it is so prevalent in most all societies. That is one idea that is not in Nyquist's book. Michael
  20. Roger, I agree with just about everything you said, except for the fact that an 8-year-old would be writing screenplays in Russia in 1913. That completely defies credibility - mine at least. Even the ARI-sanctioned Ayn Rand by Jeff Britting states it like the following: Barbara mentioned in PAR (with Rand inspired by French magazines): Barbara mentioned that Rand decided to become a writer at the age of 9, after her contact with Cyrus (a magazine character in adventure serials). Back to Britting (writing about Rand in 1915): Barbara did not mention that Rand was writing "novels" at that time, but that she was devising stories. For the level of detail that Britting gives, either there are documents or he heard that from Rand. This jump from stories to "screenplays" and "novels" is pure hype to me. I will revise my former post to make it less offensive, simply because I do not want to bicker about this (and I'm not talking about you). However, I wonder how many "novels" (and not magazine serial installments) Rand read by the age of 10, as it is reasonable to assume that she would have to have read one novel at least to be able to write one. I see no reason to carry Rand worship to that extreme. Look at the tape and see if what she said was not meant to impress. She repeated it just to make sure. For that remark, we do have taped confirmation. For the typewriter thing, that is my speculation (so far) and it would be wonderful to have some kind of taped confirmation. For now, we have Barbara's word. I stand by Barbara for my own conclusion. Michael
  21. Quote from The Objectivist Newsletter While going through The Objectivist Newsletter, I came across a very pertinent passage at the end of "A Report to our Readers" by Nathaniel Branden in the December 1963 issue (it was his first such report). After citing facts and figures and several incidents, he ended with the following: These words echo throughout the years and I now look at what the Objectivist movement is today. Hmmm... Some premises need checking. Michael
  22. Ellen, Dialectical? LOLOLOLOL... I am going to comment on the following more at length later, but on one of the TV interviews I saw (I don't remember which right now, but I will watch them all again and give the interview in my more elaborate comment), my mouth simply dropped open. The interviewer asked Rand about her school days and, after asking whether he really was interested in this, she proceeded to blow her own horn, stating that she had been Number One in her classes. Up to here, I have no problem, since being Number One is something to be proud of. Her intelligence is beyond doubt. But then she stated that she had been terribly bored with school. She had a large book that she would open and to pass the time, she would use it to hide the fact that she was writing behind the book. What did she write? At ten years old, novels. This of course was an advance over her activity at eight years old, which was merely writing screenplays. I can't type this without laughing. I watched, thinking, "I didn't just hear that; she didn't just say that." But I did and she did. She even repeated it. OK, she was making up stories back then. But novels? And screenplays in Russia during the years of the birth of the motion picture industry in the USA? Let's be clear. Rand was born in 1905. So we are talking about an eight-year-old girl writing screenplays in Russia in 1913. One thing I have noticed, even in my Randroid days, was Rand's love affair with publicity (sometimes even bordering on hype). With all those years in Hollywood, how could it be otherwise? (I will write more on this over time.) Rand's meaning cannot be construed as a mistake in the interview. She laid out what she said VERY CLEARLY and repeated it. She also got that look on her face (that I know so well from knowing other famous people who embellish their own legends in public) of daring the interviewer to contradict her. So, to me, if she was capable of saying that, she was certainly capable of saying that "other thing" about getting her name off of a typewriter. Barbara stated that she heard this story from Rand's own lips. I believed Barbara when she wrote that, but after watching Rand's performance, no shred of any kind of doubt could ever arise. It has been proven that the typewriter did not exist when Rand adopted the name. That does not mean that Rand never claimed that the name came from the typewriter. My specualtion for now? Sure. And the way I see it, Rand helped to create her own legend with exaggerations and things that she simply made up. Proof is on the video of one exaggeration. Practically all famous people do that (even the non-famous). I still love her and admire her for her works. She was one hell of a lady and one of mankind's great thinkers. I even think she was entitled to a little "extra" publicity. After all, she learned her trade in the entertainment industry, not the academic world. Michael Edit - Because of Roger's post below, I decided to tone this one down a bit. It was too rhetoric-heavy and could have been interpreted as me holding contempt for Rand, which I do not.
  23. Angie, My suggestion is don't worry about all that. (I don't.) You're a good person. Did you give any thought toward organizing your material in terms of a self-help book? I see two versions already. One for beginners and one for more advanced. Any thoughts? Michael
  24. This image does not appear on my screen. Kittennnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!! Michael
  25. Angie, I am still wrapping my brain around your approach. Frankly, I think you are on to something. One thing that is missing Objectivism-wise is a good self-help book. (Robert Ringer came close with several best-sellers), but he is not an Objectivist and did not root his advice in Rand quotes. Nathaniel Branden is more from a psychology approach, although Six Pillars of Self Esteem and a few of his other books are very good self-help-wise.) I believe that you should think in this direction. I'm just planting a seed right now, but have you ever thought about writing a book? One approach I have noticed in your discourse at times is that it comes off as preaching to the choir, since most everybody here has read Atlas Shrugged several times over. But, a structured approach, not trying to "teach" a person what Atlantis is, for instance, (saving that kind of language for beginners), but trying to enhance the skill of thinking in principles and cleaning out mental garbage, could be a very interesting project. More coming later on this. I just wanted to let you know that you are being seen. I merely have had some severe time constraints. About posters who do not share Objectivist values, I have been selective in encouraging people who find ideas to be important. That is top value to me. Some posters on OL hold ideas that are not in agreement with mine, but I am convinced that they are very honest about what they think. I vastly prefer one of these people to a person who agrees with me, but whose interest is in power or being a preacher or selling hatred or something like that. You can find these kinds of people easily on many Objectivist forums. I believe that an honest intelligent person who disagrees with me will strengthen my mind and my convictions much more than yes-men ever will. The problem that sometimes arises is that practically all the regular posters on OL have been subjected to severe verbal abuse for their ideas over time. "Idiot" would be the lightest insult. Much of the insults has involved obscene language. Nobody, not even me, can endure that for long without becoming resentful. Thus, when an argument arises that is similar to one where a person was contemptuously cussed out, this resentment also comes with it and the urge to state some kind of redress pops up. That is why you see anti-Objectivist remarks at times. I assure you, though, that these people do not include me in that sentiment, and they are aware that I am an Objectivist. I predict that this behavior will lessen over time and disappear as the poison drains out and people become comfortable with the civility we are all trying to foster. I do expect to see this out of newcomers, though, as they will come with their own poison that needs draining. Anyway, I hope you consider OL to be an intellectual home and that you meet good people here who will enrich your life, as you will ours. Michael