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Neil Parille

New Interview of Rand biographer Shoshana Milgram

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14 hours ago, Neil Parille said:

I think she read some Kant, but there isn't any evidence she did.   I don't think Milgram quotes Rand as saying she read Kant.

But if you have only passing knowledge of someone it seems a little irresponsible to call him the most evil man in history.

In the fall of 1970 Ayn gave a talk to a fairly crowded auditorium at a NYC community college and during the following Q and A session was flat out asked if she had ever read a book by Kant. She went blah blah blah but did not answer the question though with something--if I remember correctly--of a rebuke.

It was typical of her not liking the question to attack the questioner. Hard to blame her; everybody seemed to attack her in those days, usually with a snear or a smear, if they didn't use their favorite tactic of decades of ignoring her. Then they started more and more not to ignore her but to just let her have it. That was the second stage. The third stage is today. Today the left is so non or anti-intellectual she's completely beyond their comprehension, even as an enemy.

--Brant

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10 hours ago, Max said:

I've read the interview with Milgram, and my conclusion is that her Rand biography will be another hagiography.

Max,

I haven't read the interview yet, but I'm expecting a high quality book from Shoshana. I've listened to some of her lectures and she tends to know her stuff down cold. Not just Randian material, but literature of a wide range of authors.

I do agree her hero worship of Rand was front and center in what I heard (one lecture course I recall was about mystery and thriller novels, as for the others, it's been a while--I need to bone up on them--you can get them at the ARI estore and there are quite a few).

I don't recall her high opinion of Rand ever bothering me in the lectures I listened to. What that means is that I did not notice her replacing facts with opinion or rewriting any history--and my antenna tends to be constantly attuned to that angle with ARI people. There may have been some monkey business, but nothing jumped out at me in the lectures I went through. As I said, it's been a while and I haven't been through all her stuff yet, so there's that.

All in all, based on what I know of her work, I think her bio of Rand will be much more credible than a hagiography. I do expect some gushing--after all, how can there not be? But if she write a really good book, she will have earned it. :) So I'm looking forward to her bio.

Let's wait and see.

Meanwhile, I'll read the interview. If I change my opinion, I'll come back here and talk about it.

Michael

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6 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

In the fall of 1970 Ayn gave a talk to a fairly crowded auditorium at a NYC community college and during the following Q and A session was flat out asked if she had ever read a book by Kant. She went blah blah blah but did not answer the question though with something--if I remember correctly--of a rebuke.

Well, Milgram didn't mention this...(she probably would have found Rand's anger justified).

In the past I was dumb enough to buy those ARI books about Rand, her journals, marginalia, whatever, thinking that those would give me interesting information about her. It turned out that these were not just edited, but altered to hide less desirable statements by Rand. They may not have been literally biographies, but the hagiography was there. Oh yes, I also bought then that slimy sense of life DVD. So I'm skeptical about anything that comes from ARI.

 

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The edited work is next to worthless. If worthless is a zero it's negative numbers.

Rand did something similar with her first novel. That was okay except she lied about it's significance. The worst thing she did that way was to neuter the definition of selfishness in the VOS.

I don't care care too much now about this stuff. I now look at Rand primarily as a cultural force with her ideas as a big historical spike into the liberal intelligentsia circa the 25 years following the publication of AS. That intelligentsia is dead thanks to her and the bloody hands of tyranny. What's left is savage goofballs running around on moral inertia consisting only of an overwhelming sense of righteousness. Or, chickens with their heads cut off.

--Brant

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3 hours ago, Max said:

In the past I was dumb enough to buy those ARI books about Rand, her journals, marginalia, whatever, thinking that those would give me interesting information about her. It turned out that these were not just edited, but altered to hide less desirable statements by Rand.

For this upcoming biography, the worst case is that Milgram has uncovered bombshells (and firecrackers) that she's going to omit in order to avoid making Rand look bad.  When she includes something negative but gives a slanted presentation we should be able to see through it easily enough.  My point being that we're not going to know what was omitted.  It'll probably be decades before another biography is written by someone with full access to the archives.  That author will be in a position to disclose what Milgram leaves out.  Meanwhile, Milgram is not one of the people accused of past tampering, so it's a bit premature (and also unfair) to dismiss her by association with earlier ARI-sanctioned productions. 

I'm hoping for a really good book. 

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Milgram will have access to documents that neither Branden, Burns or Heller had.  It's hard not to conclude that it won't be good, although it will have to be used with caution.

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13 hours ago, Neil Parille said:

It's hard not to conclude that it won't be good, although it will have to be used with caution.

Did you mean to say "it's hard to conclude it won't be good", or "it's hard not to conclude it will be good"?  The way it stands is odd; if you expect the book to be a stinker, then instead of "although" you'd probably use "and". 

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6 minutes ago, 9thdoctor said:

Did you mean to say "it's hard to conclude it won't be good", or "it's hard not to conclude it will be good"?  The way it stands is odd; if you expect the book to be a stinker, then instead of "although" you'd probably use "and". 

Always tricky, those double negations...

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