Nathaniel is no longer with us


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My wife told me the sad news of Nathaniel Branden's death when I got home from work.

I just had the occasion to recommend Breaking Free to a new patient who had acknowledged his own self esteem problem tonight.

I met Dr. Branden when he invited me to attend a group he held in Manhattan years ago. It was quite enlightening to watch him work with impressive ingenuity.

Knowing that he exists will now have to be modified to knowing that he existed.

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My wife told me the sad news of Nathaniel Branden's death when I got home from work.

I just had the occasion to recommend Breaking Free to a new patient who had acknowledged his own self esteem problem tonight.

I met Dr. Branden when he invited me to attend a group he held in Manhattan years ago. It was quite enlightening to watch him work with impressive ingenuity.

Knowing that he exists will now have to be modified to knowing that he existed.

I have not the slightest idea who you are but understand you could have serious privacy needs. "Galtgulch" is a made up name, not that you are pretending otherwise. But if you attended a "group" it wasn't one of his intensives. The only group he ran in NYC I'm aware of was Sept. 1975 to Jan. 1977, once a month on weekends. I was there except for 1975. I only remember one professional sitting in a few times. I believe his initials were L.P. L for "Leon," at least. He told me I reminded him of a college prof he had had. He was also a complete workaholic and had a note-taking propensity which upset at least one client there who said so. However, he was not a medical doctor (I think). Since you have patients, the implication is you are. A psychologist has clients. This is not written in stone. My guess is you are a medical doctor, not a psychiatrist and not the aforementioned person I remember. A psychologist or psychiatrist would never just suggest that one book for a self esteem problem and leave it at that. So if you came by my group it was in 1975 before I got there or likely no more than once when I was there. My suspicion is you came to one of Nathaniel's intensives and are calling it a "group."

--Brant

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My condolences to his wife and others close to him.

I heard him speak a couple times. His speech delivery was notably smooth.

I most appreciate whatever he did to make NBI a success, NBI's products, and to encourage Ayn Rand to write nonfiction.

Yes. His delivery was very good. The only time I saw N.B in the flesh was at a leafcture Ayn Rand and company gave at the Ambassador Hotel in Cambridge MA back in 1968. I also saw Barbara Brandon there briefly, sitting in the lobby. She looked rather tired, so I did not go over to her to speak to her (as it might have been a bother to her).

Ba'al Chatzaf

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My condolences to his wife and others close to him.

I heard him speak a couple times. His speech delivery was notably smooth.

I most appreciate whatever he did to make NBI a success, NBI's products, and to encourage Ayn Rand to write nonfiction.

Yes. His delivery was very good. The only time I saw N.B in the flesh was at a leafcture Ayn Rand and company gave at the Ambassador Hotel in Cambridge MA back in 1968. I also saw Barbara Brandon there briefly, sitting in the lobby. She looked rather tired, so I did not go over to her to speak to her (as it might have been a bother to her).

Ba'al Chatzaf

The relationship amongst all three was in the meat grinder at the time and no one properly understood the nature and extent of the stress until it was relieved. Rand was the one most at sea, but the context they were living in was essentially nuts. That The Fountainhead as a play was going into production that summer only piled the pressure on more.

I could find nothing on "Objectivist Calendar" for any trips to Boston pre-1968 break in 1968. However, Rand went in April 1967 and in November 1967 for the Ford Hall Forum. I suspect it was at one of those appearances that you saw Barbara. The first time I went was in the fall of 1968 and, of course, the Brandens were not there.

--Brant

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Wow I cannot believe it (though I have no reason for it) and it makes me realise how lucky I am to have been born in time to exchange a few emails with him. His writings allowed me to make sense faster of Ayn Rad's philosophy and its application to the practical (real) reality of man. As far as I could tell he was kind enough to give some of his time to strangers in distress.

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Thanks Stephen.

NY Times seems to have forgotten "Breaking Free."

A...

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From the Times:

hink i

Mr. Branden, who was 84 when he died on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles County, would go on to change his name at Ms. Rand’s suggestion (it had been Nathan Blumenthal) and to become perhaps her most ardent disciple.

Why did she suggest the change?

I did not think that she suggested it.

First time I heard it.

A...

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From the Times:

hink i

Mr. Branden, who was 84 when he died on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles County, would go on to change his name at Ms. Rand’s suggestion (it had been Nathan Blumenthal) and to become perhaps her most ardent disciple.

Why did she suggest the change?

I did not think that she suggested it.

First time I heard it.

A...

I understand she continued to call him "Nathan" too.

New story to me also.

--Brant

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Thanks Stephen.

NY Times seems to have forgotten "Breaking Free."

A...

Not a bad story in spite of the fact the editing wasn't very good.

--Brant

Yes, in balance, with their stance, adequate.

A...

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My hunch is that the name-change remark is a version of the discredited Ben-Rand story that's been knocking around for decades. (It's at least as old as Nora Ephron's 1968 article in the NYT Sunday book review.) The reporter, guessing goes, wasn't quite confident enough go into print with that one, and this is what's left.

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I just found out about Nathaniel's death yesterday and I am still in shock.

I attended some of his small-group intensives when I was in my early- and mid-20s, after having read his books. Having come from a severely dysfunctional family, I was still working through what my life could and should be. Nathaniel had a profound influence on me, not only by what he said, but by his way of being. I learned what was possible from him.

A line from one of Ursula LeGuin's books (perhaps not precisely quoted here) comes to mind: "I give you the gift of yourself."

Thank you, Nathaniel, for my life.

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What an interesting difference of worldviews.

Once you see it, this sets up a choice of what kind of person you resonate with, which underneath speaks directly to what kind of person you are.


From William Yardley's article in the NYT:

In 1989, Mr. Branden offered his own version of the relationship in “Judgment Day: My Years With Ayn Rand.” It was not as well received as his wife’s account.

Reviewing the book in The New York Times, the feminist writer Susan Brownmiller called “Judgment Day” “an embarrassing venture.”

“Renegades from extremist movements are seldom likable in their new incarnations: their justifications ring hollow, their demands for sympathy tend to sound whiny,” Ms. Brownmiller wrote. “Mr. Branden compounds this inherent problem by replacing his Objectivist rhetoric with a massive dose of psychobabble from the California human-potential movement, in whose therapeutic vineyards he has fashioned a second, and apparently successful, career.”


Here's a totally different take on Nathaniel's lifework.


From Joel Wade's article on the To The Point site:

Over the years, Nathaniel was a consistently supportive, sometimes irritable, often impishly playful, always helpful mentor. He let me sit in on his groups, and he took the time to discuss his thinking and strategy with me; and he encouraged me to study a wide range of thought and practice.

One day, as everyone sat waiting for the group to begin, Nathaniel popped his head in, leaned against the doorway, and with his familiar grin said, "You know, I'm getting tired of all this sentence completion business. How about we all go to the pool in the backyard, and I'll just hold each of you under water until you promise to give up your problems?"

There were no takers, so he just shrugged, plunked himself in his chair, and said, "Okay, we'll do it the usual way." Of course he was having fun with this. But humor and playfulness in itself is a powerful intervention. Our troubles grow when we live too deeply inside them.

The kind of mischief Nathaniel brought to his work served to pop people out of themselves, and forced them to come out and play. The world becomes bigger, more expansive, and our problems become smaller in comparison, when we play.

I asked him once, "What's the most important thing you do with your clients." He thought for a moment, and then he said, "I look for the best within them. I look for that part of them, even if they aren't aware of it themselves. I speak to that part, and help them to bring it out."

And he did that. Nathaniel looked for the best in people. Not in some kind of phony, sappy way, but seriously... playfully... relentlessly.

Which of these two authors would you like to eat dinner with?

Like to take care of your kids when you are not around?

Like to have as neighbors?

For myself, I'll take a pass on Mr. Yardley and his feminist friend, Brownmiller. They probably get along well with each other, but too much close contact with them would not work well with me.

I don't want the kind of life where they're at, populated by the kind of people they are. And I certainly don't want to become like them. (Talk about creepy...)

I want the life Wade talks about. I don't know him, but just from this article, I'm sure I would like him.

When we observe the different reactions to Nathaniel's passing, isn't it something that he manages to teach and show us clarity even in death?

(All right, all right, that last comment is a stretch to sound poetic, but it's a good stretch.)

Michael

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My hunch is that the name-change remark is a version of the discredited Ben-Rand story that's been knocking around for decades. (It's at least as old as Nora Ephron's 1968 article in the NYT Sunday book review.) The reporter, guessing goes, wasn't quite confident enough go into print with that one, and this is what's left.

Back in the 1970s I asked Nathan about the "Ben-Rand" story. (I think I had read about it in Albert Ellis's book Is Objectivism a Religion?) Nathan said the story was absurd, and he didn't say anything about Rand suggesting the change. When I inquired about the fact that "Rand" is contained in the name "Branden," he claimed that was pure coincidence. Nathan said that he skimmed a phone book until he found a last name that he liked.

I recall that Nathan did tell me why he wanted to change his name, but I cannot remember the story offhand. It wasn't very dramatic in any case. I think he just didn't like his last name.

Ghs

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My hunch is that the name-change remark is a version of the discredited Ben-Rand story that's been knocking around for decades. (It's at least as old as Nora Ephron's 1968 article in the NYT Sunday book review.) The reporter, guessing goes, wasn't quite confident enough go into print with that one, and this is what's left.

Back in the 1970s I asked Nathan about the "Ben-Rand" story. (I think I had read about it in Albert Ellis's book Is Objectivism a Religion?) Nathan said the story was absurd, and he didn't say anything about Rand suggesting the change. When I inquired about the fact that "Rand" is contained in the name "Branden," he claimed that was pure coincidence. Nathan said that he skimmed a phone book until he found a last name that he liked.

I recall that Nathan did tell me why he wanted to change his name, but I cannot remember the story offhand. It wasn't very dramatic in any case. I think he just didn't like his last name.

Ghs

If he read The Fountainhead--the constant companion of his adolescence (might be an exact quote if you substitute "my" for "his")--40 times before he even met Rand, he might have decided he'd rather have a more Rand-like character name, especially after he met her. When a brilliant but unseasoned mind meets a seasoned brilliant mind, changing your name is the least of it.

--Brant

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Yech, it's so smarmily putrid it is hardly worth any attention but to reveal the condition of British intelligentsia.

It is so obviously cobbled together from second- and third-hand sources.

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Nathan said that he skimmed a phone book until he found a last name that he liked.

What, a second-hand name for a first-hander? Why not create a name? Like, say, "Nedril" or "Pruvia" or "Luwest"?

Okay. It's time for your remedial training in first-handerism vs second-handerism and third-handerism. What Nathaniel did was third-handerism. Third-handerism is second-handerism transmogrified into first-handerism as in a virtuous circle. This is necessary because fourth-handerism represents infinite regress which is a theorectical construct and excludes redemptionism in Objectivism. Or, if you find yourself in shit get out of it. Note too that social metaphysics, which is Branden's improvement on second-handerism--so said Rand--doesn't fit the infinite regress model even though all the second-handers that mattered in The Fountainhead got flushed in the story. Again, that's the Branden improvement. Nathaniel Branden brought sin into Objectivism by showing how de-sinning was possible. This was unacceptable to the Orthodoxy who demanded no sinning at all so pretend not to be a sinner--that is, perfect. The irony is it all made them second-handers including Rand as they were so concerned about appearances. Or, as a famous physicist once said in the title of one of his books, What Do You Care What Others Think?

--Brant

rant, rant, pant, pant

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.

Notice from Brits

Not too bad for a superficial overlay, but that makes it fairly worthless. There aren't too many factual errors all considered except the overall analysis, such as it is, is nothing to speak of. The British are great with this stuff because if they ever thought deeply they'd have to accept that the system they live under is crap and they are responsible for that. This is their natural default kind of thing. My grandfather wrote a book published when he was 80, The Bill of Rights, its Origin and Meaning, filled with stories about the great English heroes who made possible the American expression of the Lockean natural rights tradition. Some gave their lives. These heroes don't exist any longer. There is no British Ayn Rand. There are a few smart ones when it comes to economics. That's about it. The Brits intelligentsia are simply and deliberately purblind to political and moral and rational philosophy. The French are worse. Their intelligentsia are mostly evil Marxists who gave Cambodia Pol Pot.

--Brant

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