Michael Stuart Kelly

Weird News about Ayn Rand and Objectivism

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Weird News about Ayn Rand and Objectivism

I was going to open a new section on OL for this idea, but this thread in this section serves perfectly.

I don't know if you have noticed, but I have seen lots of new stories in the mainstream fake news media about Rand popping up. Like most news stories on Rand, there are plenty of howlers of disinformation and inaccuracies.

But I wondered if we could look at them and extract a point or two of legitimate criticism. Or point to a mainstream narrative. Or just laugh at some stupidity or other in them.

I wasn't interested in doing a point-by-point rebuttal or anything in depth. Just by being included in this thread (at least when I do the including), you should automatically assume that, by default, Rand and her ideas will not be correctly addressed. Self-satisfied propagandists don't do that. Ever.

So assume they are wrong as your starting position. There. That saves a lot of time. But, if making short pithy observations on these articles is the standard procedure, highlighting this or that in these weird news articles might be fun.

Once I realized these things are actually read in the culture and believed as accurate, I thought this approach was a great idea. I don't want to be a fly swatter as Nietzsche said. But do you remember an infomercial about a salt gun for killing flies? Zap! And there goes a fly. That's what this thread is.

So here goes. I will start with three. Please feel free to add your own if you like this idea.

 

When Nora Ephron Eviscerated Ayn Rand In The New York Times
by Talya Zax, March 27, 2018, Forward

Zax dug up an article Nora Ephron wrote in The New York Times Book Review, May 5, 1968. Zax apparently thought Harry meeting Sally meeting Howard Roark was a funny idea, so she did an article of her own about it. Here are a few excerpts that speak for themselves (both for Zax and Ephron).
 

Quote

Ephron’s biography, printed in a small, tasteful box at the bottom of the profile’s first page, clarifies that she is a freelance writer, then reads “She has promised herself never to read ‘The Fountainhead’ again.” 

. . .

... a good pan is what Ephron delivered, in style, beginning with a paragraph-long analysis of the famous naked-on-a-cliff laugh delivered by the individualist architect Howard Roark in the first line of “The Fountainhead.”

“It was probably a soundless laugh; most of Ayn Rand’s heroes laugh soundlessly, particularly while making love,” Ephron wrote. “It was probably a laugh with head thrown back; most of Ayn Rand’s heroes do things with their heads thrown back, particularly while dealing with the rest of mankind. It was probably a laugh that had a strange kind of simplicity; most of Ayn Rand’s heroes act with a strange kind of simplicity, particularly when what they are doing is of a complex nature.”

(While copying that sentence I threw my own head back, to see what it might feel like to be a Randian hero. For those similarly curious, feeling like a Randian hero consists mostly of having difficulty reading one’s computer screen. Howard Roark, like many of us, might have struggled in the digital age.)

. . .

 “I deliberately skipped over all the passages about egoism and altruism,” she wrote. “And I spent the next year hoping I would meet a gaunt, orange-haired architect who would rape me.” The comment sounds like a joke, and to some extent it is... Yet it’s also a jab at Rand, for making rape seem like a precipitant of romance. Ephron was likely not the only young woman to read “The Fountainhead” and get the two confused. It’s worth pondering, as well, the effect on young men.

All right, all right, that's enough of that. We can't have young men going around reading the book, then thinking rape is a form of courtship for Incels, can we? :) 

(Doesn't the Social Justice Warrior perspective get tiring? They can manage to start an interesting point, but then they get outright dopey about it. This makes me want to give some of them a hug and say, "There, there. It's going to be all right." :) )

 

On to the next paragon of sophisticated wisdom.

Right-wingers finally got their Ayn Rand hero as president — and it's this guy
by Amanda Marcotte, October 11, 2019, Salon

Marcotte, of course, means President Trump. The article isn't worth reading unless you like typical braindead elitist snark. Here's an example:

Quote

The question that haunts that novel [Atlas Shrugged] is, "Who is John Galt?" Now we finally have the answer: Donald Trump.

It turns out a philosophy of radical selfishness is not sexy or heroic, but comes in the form of a half-literate narcissist, cheered on by a bunch of sweatpants-clad fascists as he commits crimes in service of conspiracy theories he hopes will trick the ignorant masses into electing him again.

But the end is interesting:

Quote

Despite the high-minded rhetoric, the lived reality of selfishness as a philosophy is less like the fictional figures of Howard Roark and John Galt, and more like the incoherent, small-minded sociopathy of Donald Trump. The great man of the Objectivist imagination has always been a silly fantasy. But it's particularly rich and satisfying that now that the Ayn Rand fanboys finally have a leader who lives out their supposed ideals, the result is the comic, pathetic and catastrophic figure now disgracing the White House.

Idiot snoots like Marcotte would never look at President Trump's vast number of major achievements and call them achievements. Then again, she would not call Atlas Shrugged or anything done by Rand an achievement, either. But isn't it something that she can see the Trump-Rand connection whereas the Guardians of Official Objectivism over at ARI can't or won't see it?

She knows her intellectual enemy. And it ain't the ARI gurus. All that snark in the article shows she is scared to death of Rand and Trump. The ARI folks should check that premise and see what is right in front of their noses that they are missing.

 

For the final round, we have: 

The Last of the Ayn Rand Acolytes
This year's Objectivist Conference revealed that her cult of hyper-capitalism has a major recruiting problem: All the young people want to be socialists!
By Alexander Sammon, August 14, 2019, The New Republic

Who is the last person on earth who could give an objective report on an Objectivist conference? How about a leftie elitist from The New Republic? And that's exactly what we get with Sammon. The event was the ARI conference in June in Cleveland, Ohio.

I am a huge supporter of Nathaniel Branden, but the biggest howler in this article gave him a bit more credit than it should have. Sammon is discussing Atlas Shrugged:

Quote

... Branden’s propaganda campaign helped turn Rand’s novel, against all odds, into a word-of-mouth best seller.

Nathaniel is the reason people bought Atlas Shrugged and read it? Really?

Dayaamm!

Where do people like this Sammon dude come from?

Don't they know anything at all about the people they report on?

Double dayaamm!

What's the best way to drive an ARI fundie up the wall bellowing in rage? (Not all people at ARI, merely the fundies.) I can't think of anything more effective than attributing NB with the credit for Atlas Shrugged's success and meaning it. 

:) 

What's worse, this socialist idiot, Sammon, from his lofty perch at the top of his nose, would have loved this effect on the true believers at ARI if he had been aware of it. But from his writing, he was obviously oblivious. What a dope.

(How I love it when the sanctimonious are idiots. :) )

You can read the the article if you want to torture yourself. It's really awful due to the high number of basic errors.

But I have to mention one other thing this hard-hitting no-holds-barred reporter did to expose the evils of the Objectivist world. Sammon wanted to report on a lecture, but he had a time conflict between three different ones. He had to make a choice on which lecture to report on as typical of the Randian world.

Did he go to “Logic: The Cashing-In Course”? Nope. How about “Duty as Anti-Morality”? Double nope. Sammon want for the gold. He wanted to mercilessly probe the depth's of Rand's cultural and philosophical appeal. So he chose “Appreciating Ayn Rand’s Tiddlywink Music.”

:) 

I kid you not. A good chunk of this article is devoted to it.

I suppose that's appropriate for his tiddlywink brain.

Michael

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I wonder what those critics initial thoughts and feelings were when they first read Rand's fiction? I doubt they were consistent with their later, slanted thinking. And the fact that they are still pondering Ayn means they are still under her influence, even if negatively. Or so they tell themselves, to jibe with their latter day, collectivist world views.      

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I started looking around on Twitter for some news articles on Rand.

Guess what I found?

When I type "Ayn Rand" into Twitter's search engine, I get about 95%+ leftist crap and snark. See for yourself:

"Ayn Rand"

I'm tempted to post some of those things here, but I don't want to call attention to trolls. There is one troll I want to mention, though. She's a bonehead who Tweets like rabbits humping, She chose the handle of AynRandPaylRyan, so she gets the "Ayn Rand" keyword luv from Twitter. She spends a lot of her posts bashing Rand.

Also, curiously, some radical feminists seem to want to punch Ayn Rand in the face. They get passionate about it. Weird...

:) 

There is lots and lots and lots of snark. Then add some more snark.

This tells me Ayn Rand is scaring the crap out of them.

I see more than this, though. 

I see an audience.

Do you want to know why organized Objectivism is not spreading too well? Where are the tweets from ARI or TAS? They shrugged, I guess. They walked off the field and just left Rand's very name to those who hate and fear her.

A Rand meme project is waiting--right there--for a talented meme maker. (One who is truly funny, not just a preacher.) From what I see, the market exists.

I might think about this one myself.

Michael

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On 11/30/2019 at 1:29 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I see an audience.

Do you want to know why organized Objectivism is not spreading too well? Where are the tweets from ARI or TAS? They shrugged, I guess. They walked off the field and just left Rand's very name to those who hate and fear her.

They don't have any originality or talent. And they don't have the courage to step out into the open. They know that they suck, and that they have to therefore limit themselves to appearing only on ground that they hold and control. Rand'a legacy has been left to weaklings and cowards, and she bears significant blame for empowering fifth-rate turds as her "heirs."

You're right, though, that enemy territories out there on Twitter et al are perfect opportunities. 

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21 hours ago, Jonathan said:

They don't have any originality or talent. And they don't have the courage to step out into the open. They know that they suck, and that they have to therefore limit themselves to appearing only on ground that they hold and control. Rand'a legacy has been left to weaklings and cowards, and she bears significant blame for empowering fifth-rate turds as her "heirs."

You're right, though, that enemy territories out there on Twitter et al are perfect opportunities. 

I wish I could disagree with you. I’ve been following Atlas Society’s Instagram feed and it is.pathetic. 90% is just ten year old recycled memes of the theme: socialism is bad and it’s for dummies. Shitty cartoonish memes that were obviously authored by teenagers with little life experience. The feeling is that you are in a place by teenagers for teenagers who are on an anti-collectivist spree but who are not very serious, deep or philosophical. Collectivists are retards who put their fingers into electrical sockets, that sort of thing. Over and over.

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Here is one from this morning.

See, socialists are dumb, just like a square sponge who lives under the sea and burns the constitution for warmth.

But not a word on the entire feed about the constitution being shredded right now, in the impeachment hearings of a duly-elected President who has committed no offenses. Schiff is shredding the Constitution. Pelosi is shredding the Constitution. But good luck finding those names in the Atlas feed. No, the impression you get is that SpongeBob, who represents “socialists” is shredding the Constitution.

 

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21 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

I wish I could disagree with you. I’ve been following Atlas Society’s Instagram feed and it is.pathetic. 90% is just ten year old recycled memes of the theme: socialism is bad and it’s for dummies. Shitty cartoonish memes that were obviously authored by teenagers with little life experience. The feeling is that you are in a place by teenagers for teenagers who are on an anti-collectivist spree but who are not very serious, deep or philosophical. Collectivists are retards who put their fingers into electrical sockets, that sort of thing. Over and over.

I hadn't visited their site or social media in a while. Jesus. It's gotten even worse. Some of it is cringe-worthy. 

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23 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I caught this meme out on the Interwebs.

This is so wrong, but it is funny.

Image may contain: 2 people, possible text that says 'THE EARLY 1E AYN RAND A SELECTION OF HER CHILDHOOD WRITINGS INCLUDES "MINE, MINE MINE" AND THE RENOWNED "YOU DON'T GET A DOLL'

:)

Michael

Yeah, the opposite is true. It's the Bernie Bros and Warren Wenches who are all "Mine, mine, mine," and "You don't get a doll" (especially if you are the one who created the doll).

It's just a continuation of the canards behind economic anti-semitism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_antisemitism).

As the popular memes sum up Marx, "Gibs be dat for free."

J

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On 12/1/2019 at 3:24 PM, Jonathan said:

They don't have any originality or talent. And they don't have the courage to step out into the open. They know that they suck, and that they have to therefore limit themselves to appearing only on ground that they hold and control. Rand'a legacy has been left to weaklings and cowards, and she bears significant blame for empowering fifth-rate turds as her "heirs."

You're right, though, that enemy territories out there on Twitter et al are perfect opportunities. 

Check this out, though. She plans to get up on stage pretending to be Ayn Rand and engage in a Q&A session. Never mind how disrespectful that is going to be. Never mind that she would murder on the spot anyone arrogant enough to do this. I hope the estate sues. And never mind that this is Jennifer Grossman doing the pretending and she is a beginner, beginner, beginner at Rand, philosophy, economics, Objectivism — this fact becomes beyond obvious when you simply read her Instagram comments.

Total fucking train wreck in the works ... 

 

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This actually started tonight, at George Mason. Tomorrow at George Washington is also scheduled.

A comment posted just now by Alex Mironov on Atlas’ Instagram:

”Ms Grossman gets the Toohey award for single-handedly killing any interest in Objectivism any George Mason student might have had tonight. Her crazy, erratic behavior was characterized as whacky by the students.”

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8 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

Check this out, though. She plans to get up on stage pretending to be Ayn Rand and engage in a Q&A session. Never mind how disrespectful that is going to be. Never mind that she would murder on the spot anyone arrogant enough to do this. I hope the estate sues. And never mind that this is Jennifer Grossman doing the pretending and she is a beginner, beginner, beginner at Rand, philosophy, economics, Objectivism — this fact becomes beyond obvious when you simply read her Instagram comments.

Total fucking train wreck in the works ...

Disrespectful and bizarre - as if she could imitate the real Rand (and is she going to attempt to imitate some of the famous Rand explosions?).

People would come from distant places and line up for many hours to get into a real Rand Ford Hall Forum appearance.  The performance was worth the travel and the wait.  I wouldn't go to see Jennifer Grossman try to imitate Rand if she were doing it next door.

Ellen 

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I'm not so disdainful of Jennifer doing this, but that's because I kinda see what they are doing.

If I believed for a minute that she was trying to somehow pass herself off as a guru and take Rand's place, or assume major disciple statues or something like that, I would condemn this. But I'm seeing two different things. Note: I don't know Jennifer except at a huge distance, so I might be wrong.

 

1. The first point is something called multimedia storytelling (sometimes called transmedia storytelling). This is a real thing these days.

The idea is to have the same story running on different media and different platforms, but using different story forms suited to each. I think Disney started this idea way back in the day with using characters and stories from public domain works to make movies with altered characters and stories, in animation at that, then building theme parks with the same characters and implied storylines. Then came the toys, the board games, the comic books, and so on. 

In modern form, the focus is on digital media more than other media, but non-digital media is not discarded, and the idea of providing both fixed stories and interactive experiences within the story world are just the same as back in Disney's beginning.

Since TAS has recently expanded its reach in social media, memes, etc., I believe an interactive evening with an actress doing the part of Ayn Rand is part of this same transmedia storytelling approach.

I'm not saying doing Rand herself is good or bad, or if it is well produced and performed. I'm just saying I believe there is a creative reason it is happening that has nothing to do with the philosophy or the normal issues within O-Land. In other words, I don't see this as an attempt to spread Rand's ideas by supplanting Rand. I see it more as an attempt to spread the story of Rand, which will create curiosity for people to seek out her works.

That's the way transmedia storytelling works--each modality supports the overall story and all story parts lead to a central point. In the case of Ayn Rand, they point to her works. In the case of Star Wars, they point to the movies. In the case of Lost, they point to the TV series. In the case of the Marvel cinematic universe, they point to an entire fictional universe populated with superheroes. And so on. Transmedia storytelling is an early art form and I imagine, over time, there will be many transmedia stories about historical figures. Frankly, they work well as education tools. That's where I see Jennifer's shindig playing Rand. At least right now.

 

2. If I'm not mistaken, Jennifer comes from LA, which is the home of frustrated actors. :) If she is one, which I think is reasonable to assume, then she's doing a role in a venue that is available to her. There may be no Hollywood blockbuster or Broadway play in the cards for her, but at least there's an interactive theater for a niche public with an interesting character. And I don't see anything wrong with that if that is the case. Actors and actresses have represented all kinds of philosophers, artists, religious figures (including Christ), and so on since forever. 

 

Now, like I said, if her intent is to take a guru position, that, to me would be a total misfire and embarrassing (sort of like what happened to Leonard Peikoff). But right now, I don't think that's the reason for this thing, nor her reason for doing it.

I'm curious to see how the public resonates with this.

Michael

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I have nothing against Grossman, and perhaps the Rand imitation bit could be used well if it were delivered in small doses, and if it were well-crafted aesthetically. But, with the example that I see online after doing a vid search, 42 minutes in anti-romantic/anesthetic pretend interview mode is a flop of an idea, especially since what we're seeing is soft, pretty, make-believe Rand, rather than hard, deadly serious Rand. It's kind of like seeing a Disney princess version of Rand.

J

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