Nicholas Dykes

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About Nicholas Dykes

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  • Birthday 08/12/1942

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    Western England

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    Nicholas Dykes
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    Married with grown-up children
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  1. Thanks! Long absence due to general busyness. Tempus fugit and all that. Working on a new novel, a sort of cross between Shangri La and Galt's Gulch. Best to you all. N
  2. Daunce, darling, is your email working yet? Get it going FCS! Love, N
  3. Nicholas - Good to hear from you. I obviously disagree with you. You seem to be persuaded (current human behavior to the contrary) that people can live in modern times without governments. I think you have the prescription for looters running amok. I do not find your arguments on this question at all persuasive. By the way - I have greatly enjoyed the book, otherwise, so far. Bill P Thanks Bill, glad I have entertained you a bit at least! Perhaps when you've finished you could elaborate on your disagreements -- if you've a mind to of course. If you haven't already read them, I'd strongly recommend Bruce Benson's books. It was he who persuaded me to question the Gov't Ltd position -- after i read his ~Enterprise of Law~ in 1993. Perhaps you might find his academic approach more persuasive. BTW: EVERYBODY, MY BOOK -- ~OLD NICK'S GUIDE TO HAPPINESS ~ -- IS NOW AVAILABLE FROM LAISSEZ-FAIRE BOOKS AT US$19.95. Best wishes, Nicholas Nicholas - I've read quite a bit of Rothbard. Does Bruce Benson offer something beyond Rothbard? Bill P Yes indeed: a lot more evidence, different kinds of evidence, and lots of interesting analysis. Most importantly, from your point of view, his chief interest is in how to achieve a voluntary society in modern times. I'd say it was a must read for anybody, regardless of their point of view. Best, N
  4. Nicholas - Good to hear from you. I obviously disagree with you. You seem to be persuaded (current human behavior to the contrary) that people can live in modern times without governments. I think you have the prescription for looters running amok. I do not find your arguments on this question at all persuasive. By the way - I have greatly enjoyed the book, otherwise, so far. Bill P Thanks Bill, glad I have entertained you a bit at least! Perhaps when you've finished you could elaborate on your disagreements -- if you've a mind to of course. If you haven't already read them, I'd strongly recommend Bruce Benson's books. It was he who persuaded me to question the Gov't Ltd position -- after i read his ~Enterprise of Law~ in 1993. Perhaps you might find his academic approach more persuasive. BTW: EVERYBODY, MY BOOK -- ~OLD NICK'S GUIDE TO HAPPINESS ~ -- IS NOW AVAILABLE FROM LAISSEZ-FAIRE BOOKS AT US$19.95. Best wishes, Nicholas
  5. I've read most of the book, also. (I'm currently on page 340.) My main argument is with the author's anarchism. (And with some of the foundations which lead to that anarchism) Whenever I read something from someone in this wing of libertarianism, I'm left with the lingering image of everyone with two six gun holsters strapped to their waist, and the guns in hand about 20% of the time. Regards, Bill P Bill, My favorite aspect of the book was the conversations. Jac playing Devil's advocate to drive some interesting points home (in my opinion, questions the author had with Ayn's standpoint). What I truly see this book is a Q&A session between Nicholas and Ayn (Nicholas playing the part of Jac, writer and seeker of knowledge, and Ayn as Nick, holder of knowledge). I find it amusing that Old Nick is Russian. The parallels make me smile. ~ Shane Replying to Bill P: Ayn Rand published ~Atlas Shrugged~ in 1957. That is undeniable historical fact. Countless historical societies have lived peacefully without government, one example being the gold mining communities of the 19th century US. That is undeniable historical fact. Yet when someone proposes a purely voluntary society, basing his arguments partly on historical examples such as the above, Bill immediately assumes violence, gun law, etc. History and anthropology do not support your view, Bill. What is it with Objectivists? They espouse a philosophy which heralds independence as a virtue, but whenever someone starts to think independently -- outside the limited government Objectivist box -- he or she is immediately dismissed or derided no matter how much their views are based on evidence and logic. Objectivism is a philosophy of ~reason~. Reason only works with knowledge derived from objective reality, also known as ~fact~. And the ~facts~ of reality tell us that the concept of a purely voluntary society is not only proven by historical evidence to be completely valid, it is the only form of society to accord with the Objectivist principle of inviolable individual rights. Ayn Rand was a great thinker and a great writer. I've been a devoted proponent of her ideas for 40 years. But as I have demonstrated in my essays "Mrs Logic and the Law" and "The Facts of Reality: Logic and History in Objectivist Debates about Government"; and recently in my philosophical novel ~Old Nick's Guide to Happiness~, Ayn Rand was mistaken in her view of government. Great as Ayn Rand was, we will not advance her cause by defending her where she was wrong. Nicholas Dykes
  6. Nicholas, I have not yet seen your book, but I will inquire on Amazon.com if they offer it.

    Some of the best essays that I have ever read were your criticisms of Karl Popper's philosophy and your review of Peikoff's book on Objectivism. Both were brilliant. You should publish a collection of all your non-fiction articles. And I look forward to reading your novel!

  7. Michael, I think you opened the wrong door with this one. Making that kind of repellent garbage directly available on the site is demeaning to OL. What's wrong with 'Hey guys, want a laugh?' plus a link. LOL? Not me. Nicholas.
  8. I believe the bubonic plague which wiped out about 1/3 of Europe was spread by rats. If this is the case, one can understand why people will still have an aversion to rats and mice. It is irrational now, but there was a time when such a fear was rational. You are actually onto something, Rich. When guys like Osama bin Laden are taking on multiple wives, it means that some guys definitely are not getting laid. That energy has to go somewhere. The same thing happened with Cho at Virginia Tech. It was obvious that sexual frustration was one thing that motivated him. Incidentally, he put three bullets into one of my distant cousins--she survived. If this guy had simply gotten laid a few times, 33 people might still be alive today. I believe recent thinking posits that the Great Plague of 14th century Europe was more likely caused by the Ebola virus, or something like it. Apparently, the reported pattern of the spread of the disease does not accord with that of bubonic plague. In any case, the earlier theory wasn't about rats, it was about an infection carried by the fleas which infested the rats: 'Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em, and little fleas have lesser fleas and so on, ad infinitum'. That's a ditty I've know since my teens. Nicholas
  9. You're confusing Anthem with We the Living. Anthem was first published in England. --Brant ~We the Living~ was also published in England. Quoting from my JARS article: The first mention in England of Ayn Rand as an author came in The Bookseller on 6 January 1937 when We The Living (WTL) was announced in their regular column “Forthcoming Books.” The novel was launched the next day by Cassell, a famous and old-established British publishing house, at the sum of eight shillings and sixpence, a fairly upmarket price in those days. Cassell seldom advertised and, as far as I could see from the periodicals I examined – including The Spectator (an intellectual weekly, usually conservative in outlook, which recently celebrated its 175th birthday), The New Statesman, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian as well as the two already mentioned – Cassell did not advertise any of the three Rand books they published. They did have a rare ad for “Spring Books” in The Bookseller on 3 February 1937, but WTL is not mentioned. The company’s book sales seem rather to have been accomplished directly by publisher’s representatives or by printed flyers. However, any early records of advertising, sales and/or correspondence with Rand would have gone up in smoke on the night of 11 May 1941 when a German bomb scored a direct hit on Cassell’s offices and destroyed virtually all their files [Nowell-Smith 1958]. Records from later years went less dramatically. They were apparently thrown out when the company was taken over by Orion Publishing some years ago. Former Cassell employees now working for Orion have no knowledge of any records being retained. Modern British publishers are a pretty unsentimental lot. The first public reaction to a Rand novel in England appeared in The Spectator on 15 January 1937. It was written by a gentleman called William Plomer, and was less than complimentary: “One often wishes that writers would yield a little more to their satirical inclinations, and that goes for Miss Ayn Rand. From internal evidence one would guess her to be a middle-class White or Whitish Russian living in exile in America, and We the Living (a title of no particular significance) is so frankly counter-revolutionary that it ought to annoy readers of Red or Reddish sympathies. Writing, often graphically, of life in Leningrad in the ’twenties she seems anxious to show the corruption of those newly-raised to positions of authority. The story is simple. Kira, her bourgeoise heroine, falls in love with a surviving young man of upper-class origins and White sympathies, and in order to get money to send him to the Crimea and so save him from tuberculosis she prostitutes herself to an admirer in the GPU. The difficulties of obtaining board and lodging during the period of the story are entered into at great length and with every appearance of verisimilitude: ‘Vasili sold the mosaic table from the drawing room … fifty million roubles and four pounds of lard. I made an omelette with the egg powder we got at the cooperative.’ “Miss Rand’s account of the social upset following the Revolution is detailed and likely enough; she makes a certain amount of rather bitter fun of the workings of the new bureaucracy and of the lapses of the new orthodox into such unorthodoxies as private trading. But towards Kira, who stands for individualism and those little things like scent and lipstick which Mean So Much to a woman, Miss Rand is altogether too partial. If Kira had played the game with nice Red Andrei instead of nasty White Leo (who had ‘a slow, contemptuous smile, and a swift gait, and in his hand a lost whip he had been born to carry’) we might have liked her better. Just listen to Miss Rand on Kira’s mouth: ‘When silent, it was cold, indomitable, and men thought of a Valkyrie with lance and winged helmet in the sweep of battle. But a slight movement made a wrinkle in the corners of her lips—and men thought of an imp perched on top of a toadstool, laughing into the faces of daisies.’ What’s in a mouth? An opera, it seems, or a silly symphony.” The novel was also reviewed, briefly, in the TLS on 27 February 1937. Given the literary temper of the times – naturalism was in and romanticism out, and T.S. Elliot and Virginia Woolf were regarded as great writers – the review is quite mild, and only mildly patronising. It is chiefly interesting for the extent to which it misses the point of the novel. The reviewer is anonymous: “This is a long and elaborate story of Russian conditions during the period 1922-25 by a Russian woman who writes irreproachable English. It opens very promisingly with the account of a train journey, lasting a fortnight, from the Crimea to Petrograd. The opening, however, is easily the best thing in the book. Although there are occasional descriptions of a vivid and suggestive character still to come, the interest of things evidently witnessed and experienced at first hand is swamped by an inexhaustible flow of conventional romanticism. The chief source of trouble is the young heroine, Kira Argounova, who is all charm, wisdom, suffering, originality and so on. The temptation to make her as glamorous as possible was apparently hard to resist.” There follows a brief outline of the plot, including the rather quaint expression that Kira “was ready to count the world well lost” for Leo, before the all-too-brief review closes with: “The material at the author’s disposal afforded the opportunity for a more interesting and certainly more revealing story.” It is possible that other reviews exist, but I have not found any. Nor was I able to find any solid information on how the book fared. Leonard Peikoff, in his “Introduction” to the 60th Anniversary paperback edition, presumably basing his judgment on material in the Ayn Rand Archives, says that the book achieved “great success” in England. Cassell’s themselves would seem to have agreed, for in the company’s official history, The House of Cassell, there is this comment for 1937: “Another important novel which appeared in that year was We The Living by Ayn Rand” [Nowell-Smith 1958, 221]. The sentence was probably written by the company’s then retired Chief Editor, Arthur Hayward, who wrote the bulk of the chapter on the 20th century, so the remark is doubly significant. As Chief Editor, Mr Hayward would hardly call a book “important” if he did not think it merited such an assessment and, as a publisher, he would be unlikely to remember and comment on a book published nearly 20 years before if it had not sold." There is more in the article on ~Anthem~ and ~The Fountainhead~. Nicholas
  10. Reidy: Unfortunately, the records of the publisher were destroyed by a German bomb in 1941, and the archives of other possible sources, eg, Rand's UK agents, were inaccessible, at least to me. N
  11. Thanks. How come you're so knowledgeable about this? Sounds like a lot of research time has been invested. Are you involved in architecture/design? It struck me because when I was researching my article "Ayn Rand in England" for JARS (2004, 5/2) the only obituary I could find was in a relatively minor architectural journal, ~Building Design~. Here's what I wrote: Buried inside on the bottom right-hand corner of page 9, next to an advertisement for plumbing and drainage systems, the piece is very typical of British ambivalence about Rand: honest enough to admit she created something special, yet reluctant to accept her radical stance, and therefore scoffing at a philosophy, and at an art form, that the unnamed writer plainly does not understand. After noting the fact of her death, the piece acknowledges that The Fountainhead is “probably the most famous example of the architect as hero.” It also confirms that most students of architecture in the US have read it and that some chose their profession due to its influence. The piece continues: “The brave and beautiful purity of the hero Howard Roark as he struggles against the overwhelming tide of traditional architecture to a land where a new architecture will rise uncompromisingly is indeed stirring. “Rand’s philosophy was called objectivism, which was a simplistic version of romanticism; ‘a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do’.” (Sometimes one clenches one’s fists while doing this kind of research). It is most unfortunate that Wright did not do the buildings for the movie, because the writer, not knowing the troubled history of the drawings, is able to sneer at the film’s sets: “What a master of style.” Commenting on the blowing up of Cortland, the sneering goes up a notch: “What a hero, what a superman, and of course in the end he gets to build the world’s tallest building, a temple in the Palumbo tradition. “Objectivism had a certain vogue, especially among the far right anti-liberal faction. The glorified self-determination was all that mattered and the implication that without it you are nothing makes her philosophy unpalatable. “Her books are full of parodies of people to whom she allows only this one facet, and generally philosophy makes poor fiction. But somehow in this age of compromise, cutbacks and redundant architects, it is wonderful to read what might have been, and very interesting that she should have chosen architecture as the vehicle.” I could dig out the piece if you are interested. Nicholas
  12. Thanks very much for drawing our attention to the Rand house photos, and hence inspiring Barbara's recollections. Does anyone know who the other people are with Ayn and Frank? Nicholas
  13. Well, here I am playing in my own play-pen again. For parents: Bedtime goes more smoothly if it is routinized. No-one in their right mind would have their child say the classic Christian bed-time prayer, not only for its superstitious associations, but because it mentions death. What a way to settle down and get ready to have the light turned off... "If I should die before I wake..." Even as a child, kneeling with my sisters and repeating this prayer, I thought to myself that it was the wrong thing to be thinking about! So, when my daughter came to be of an age to be able to understand such things, I worked on a poem for her to say before sleep. There are, I believe, both philosophical and psychological factors to letting go of the day and letting oneself go to sleep. I tried to address those in my piece. Since there is a parenting contingent here, it might be of interest to those who have young children. "Lay me down to sleep" Now I lay me down to sleep, This day is done, and mine to keep. Tomorrow is another day, For adventure, work, and play, But now I'll rest, so I may be, The best, tomorrow, I can be. Turn out the lights, prepare my bed, For I've become a sleepy-head. Soft's my pillow, snug my nest, Dreamland is my only quest, There to wander, peacefully, Until tomorrow comes for me. = Mindy 'Night Mom. Love you.
  14. It means master of cheekiness. Master of chutzpah. Ba'al Chatzaf I like that! Le chaim! Nicholas