Michael Stuart Kelly

Air brushed Objectivist publications and materials

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I'd like to think that Kira Peikoff, or her stepmother Amy, or both, may be more rational and even-handed about all this when *ahem* the time comes. Such as to offer the original editions again. George Lucas managed to do it, after all.

By the way, those Lenny-introduced editions have a host of egregious typos. One Website (a page of the now-defunct Objectivism Research Center, I think) had been collecting reports about them. This very likely was a side effect of using OCR to convert Rand's books to electronic text, for current printings and for that CD-ROM. Apparently Lenny couldn't be bothered to hire a proofreader or two.

As for that disc, it was produced by Phil Oliver, who is very much an ARIan and whose acid tongue is present in many forums, including that of the Speichers and, formerly, h.p.o.

Apart from the disc's own air-brushed omissions, it has a weak attempt at copy protection, which considerably diminishes its research and reference utility. Even copy-and-paste is inhibited. Though not stopped, as one glance at Gnutella file-sharing listings can attest. Not everyone is inclined to wait for Atlas to enter the public domain in 2052.

(Downloads? Moi? *whistles* {g} ... Why would I bother? I have a whole bookshelf of Rand in bindings already. I find it hard to weep over Lenny's lost royalties, if any, though, given his lack of rational stewardship.)

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Not being a legal professional, I confess utter ignorance when it comes to copyright laws (outside of journalism).

If the Brandens' and others' works are excised in such a manner, what is the status of their intellectual property? Can they republish elsewhere due to the hostility of the current rights holder(s)?

What the Brandens and others wrote remains, or reverts to being, their property. As Passion and My Years reported, Rand made noise in 1968 about challenging their contractual rights to their articles, since copyright was held in the name of The Objectivist, Inc. She later relented, and Nathaniel's writings on psychology went into The Psychology of Self-Esteem.

If such copyrights were not released to the original writers, under U.S. law, those writers could file to reclaim them in the 26th anniversary year of the original copyright being registered by that company. (Copyrights assigned to such an entity had to be registered with the Library of Congress.) The laws have changed for works written in 1976 and later, but such legal rights to reclaim existed for those written earlier.

A different aspect, one of contract, is involved for the essay collections in books. The selections were made by agreements between Rand (alone or with Nathaniel Branden) and the publishers. Those couldn't be changed without mutual consent. New American Library / Signet, et al., agreed to publish the whole package for, say, CUI, not one that excised Greenspan, Hessen, and the others, and paid accordingly.

All bets are off, however, with a new publisher, such as Oliver Computing, which produced that CD-ROM, and clearly had to conform to the Orthodoxy's whims.

(Caveat: Not a legal professional, myself, just one who's followed these issues intensively.)

Edited by Greybird

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Steve; I have the feeling that Rand threaten to sue but very often did not go through with it. There is a story I heard from one of the editors of Reason that back in the 70ths they did an Ayn Rand issue. They were threaten with a suit but when the lawyer for Reason told Ayn Rand's attorney to go ahead and sue. His nest question to Ayn Rand's attorney was when he could come and take Miss Rand's deposition. There was something like the phrase I'll get back to you. Ayn Rand's attorney never called back. It's funny to think because the suit would have been Ayn Rand vs. Reason. Miss Rand had sued over another novel about an architect and had lost. I think the novel's title was Native Stone.

Edited by Chris Grieb

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Among her published letters is one from the early 60s to the editors of the "Saturday Evening Post" in which she threatened to sue over a profile they'd done of her. It wasn't serious, as nothing in it was remotely libelous, even in pre-public figure days.

In a recent thread here at OL was a list of contents of documents from the Branden-Hessen auction. It contained mention of a suit some movie-industry communist had filed against Rand. I doubt that anything came of that, either.

More distantly, she was involved in a legal action in the late 50s that had to do with a fraudulent gold-mining company. The name was Cornucopia Gold Mines. According to a story or two that the NY Times ran, she made a deposition with the SEC. Cornucopia asked her to be on the board, apparently wanting the gold-related prestige and celebrity value of "Atlas Shrugged." She told them she'd think about it and not to proceed in the meantime. They proceeded anyway to publish a prospectus with her name, collected from investors and collapsed.

Part of Holzer's job in the old days was to write official-looking but legally toothless cease-and-desist letters to campus Objectivist organizations. One famous incident concerned Jarret Wollstein at the U of Maryland. Another letter, published in "The Objectivist," concerned a club at the U of Houston.

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A different aspect, one of contract, is involved for the essay collections in books. The selections were made by agreements between Rand (alone or with Nathaniel Branden) and the publishers. Those couldn't be changed without mutual consent. New American Library / Signet, et al., agreed to publish the whole package for, say, CUI, not one that excised Greenspan, Hessen, and the others, and paid accordingly.

All bets are off, however, with a new publisher, such as Oliver Computing, which produced that CD-ROM, and clearly had to conform to the Orthodoxy's whims.

Hmmm.

I had read the statements by Rand after the break that said that all pre-break works by the Brandens were officially 'ok' and part of Objectivism. Hence the reason, I assume, of their works still continuing to be in her collections.

From your comments, one could suspect that this declaration was more to coverup why AR didn't remove their works from her collections.

With the CD-ROM, considering the owner's anti-Branden stance, one could understand the remove of non-Rand materials (except leaving in Peikoff). Personally, this makes the CD useless to me.

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Reidy; Charles Sures also did enforcer work. He was sent to one of Jarret's meetings to make sure Jarrett read a statement.

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Michael,

While contractual obligations involving the publisher played a role, I'm also convinced that Rand wouldn't have wanted to publicly repudiate material that had been published with her approval. The implication would have been that she had allowed bad articles into print.

The CD-ROM, whatever its technical flaws, is mighty tempting for the Rand researcher. I agree, though, that by including only works by Rand and Peikoff on the CD-ROM, Oliver indulged in some major historical revisionism. I think that the Ayn Rand Institute crowd would much prefer reliance on the CD-ROM instead of the published nonfiction collections and the bound volumes of The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist.

It's impossible to pick up a collected edition of either periodical and not be struck by the percentage of content contributed by Nathaniel Branden. Leonard Peikoff and his acolytes can't help noticing, which is why they want to minimize reader exposure to all of those articles by Dr. Uncitable.

Robert Campbell

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Robert; I would still think the exposure to Rand comes from the books so if someone read a nonfiction books one gets articles by Nathaniel Branden.

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I don't think anyone mentioned that Mayhew admitted in the Q&A that he changed Rand's responses slightly to some questions. Also, I think it's debatable whether Rand would have wanted her Marginalia published.

Edited by Neil Parille

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DF,

Thanks.

I'm a bit late to this party, so perhaps people have mentioned these as well:

1. Only 1 mention of BB or NB in the Journals.

2. In Gotthelf's On Ayn Rand, p. 24, he portrays NB as only promoting Rand's philosophy.

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Not being a legal professional, I confess utter ignorance when it comes to copyright laws (outside of journalism).

If the Brandens' and others' works are excised in such a manner, what is the status of their intellectual property? Can they republish elsewhere due to the hostility of the current rights holder(s)?

What the Brandens and others wrote remains, or reverts to being, their property. As Passion and My Years reported, Rand made noise in 1968 about challenging their contractual rights to their articles, since copyright was held in the name of The Objectivist, Inc. She later relented, and Nathaniel's writings on psychology went into The Psychology of Self-Esteem.

If such copyrights were not released to the original writers, under U.S. law, those writers could file to reclaim them in the 26th anniversary year of the original copyright being registered by that company. (Copyrights assigned to such an entity had to be registered with the Library of Congress.) The laws have changed for works written in 1976 and later, but such legal rights to reclaim existed for those written earlier.

A different aspect, one of contract, is involved for the essay collections in books. The selections were made by agreements between Rand (alone or with Nathaniel Branden) and the publishers. Those couldn't be changed without mutual consent. New American Library / Signet, et al., agreed to publish the whole package for, say, CUI, not one that excised Greenspan, Hessen, and the others, and paid accordingly.

All bets are off, however, with a new publisher, such as Oliver Computing, which produced that CD-ROM, and clearly had to conform to the Orthodoxy's whims.

(Caveat: Not a legal professional, myself, just one who's followed these issues intensively.)

Presumably, then (just thinking aloud) it would at least in theory be possible to produce a CD-ROM, complementary to the ARI one, containing all the missing Branden/Greenspan/other contributions?

Whether this would be commercially worth anyone's while is perhaps another question.

Edited by Adrian

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Harry Binswanger's compilation, The Ayn Rand Lexicon, provides evidence of an intermediate stage of air brushing.

I recently obtained a copy because I wanted to be able to quote official transcripts from Leonard Peikoff's 1976 lectures on Objectivism (Dr. Binswanger relies heavily on these).

Dr. Binswanger provides the obligatory misleading statement: “Material by authors other than Miss Rand is included only if she had given it an explicit public endorsement […] or if it was originally published under her editorship in The Objectivist Newsletter, The Objectivist, or The Ayn Rand Letter” (pp. ix-x). He also includes four articles from the first two years of The Objectivist Forum.

The other contributors to Rand’s periodicals whose material was excerpted were Alan Greenspan, Edwin A. Locke, Susan Ludel, George Reisman, Mary Ann Sures... and, of course, Leonard Peikoff and Harry Binswanger. Drs. Locke and Binswanger got in solely on account of their articles in the Forum.

Authors whose material was not excerpted included Allan Blumenthal, Joan Mitchell Blumenthal, Edith Efron, Robert Efron, Beatrice Hessen, Robert Hessen... and, of course, Barbara Branden and Nathaniel Branden. (For a full list of those not excerpted, see Michael Stuart Kelly's earlier post).

Obviously, in 1986 Alan Greenspan, Susan Ludel, and George Reisman had not yet been relegated to the Orwellian memory hole.

When I ran this check, my focus was on which authors were being quoted and which were not. There is no index to the volume, so going page by page is the only way to do this.

In my next post, I will comment on some work-arounds of uncitable authors that I noticed. I suspect there are more, because I haven't checked every entry that is likely to employ them.

Robert Campbell

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Two of the work-arounds in The Ayn Rand Lexicon pertain to well-known sore points in the canonical Objectivist literature.

In his entry on "Stolen Concept" (p. 478), Dr. Binswanger leads with a footnote that Leonard Peikoff obligingly inserted into "Philosophy: Who Needs It" when Rand's essay was included in the 1982 anthology of the same name. This enables him to avoid the awkwardness of citing that Objectivist Newsletter article by Nathaniel Branden. Of course, the definition that Dr. Peikoff gives in the footnote is virtually identical to NB's, but who cares...

Under "Psycho-Epistemology" (p. 392), the second excerpt is another footnote that Dr. Peikoff inserted into Philosophy: Who Needs It? This one was attached to Rand's essay on "The Missing Link"; it paraphrases a definition originally offered by Dr. Uncitable.

The entries on "Determinism", "Free Will," "Psychology," and "Self-Esteem" are a little undernourished, but no outright work-arounds were deemed necessary.

A completely unexpected work-around materialized when I lit on the entry on "Imagination" (p. 210). Here a one-paragraph statement about the relationship between imagination and cognition is credited as follows (where TO stands for The Objectivist):

[Ayn Rand, quoted in "The Montessori Method," TO, July 1970, 7]

Hmm... that's odd... that article on "The Montessori Method" wasn't anonymous, was it?

Nope, it was by Beatrice Hessen.

I guess Dr. Binswanger was in danger of being traumatized, if he had to mention her name.

I'd fully expected the omissions and the work-arounds when it came to "the Brandens."

But could someone from the Leonard Peikoff Institute please explain how the fate of Western civilization depends on... denying credit to Beatrice Hessen?

Robert Campbell

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Obviously, in 1986 Alan Greenspan, Susan Ludel, and George Reisman had not yet been relegated to the Orwellian memory hole.

Has Susan Ludel been relegated there? I'm pretty sure that somewhere in an ARI announcement, in the last few months, I saw a mention of Susan...can't think in what capacity, though: giving a talk at the Summer meet? An op-ed? I recall commenting in surprise to Larry that it looked as if Susan and Leonard were still on friendly terms, but I'm drawing a blank about specifics.

Ellen

___

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Ellen,

I was going with Barbara Branden's statement about Susan Ludel, up-thread.

I've never heard that Ms. Ludel was excommunicated. Her contributions are not included in the "Objectivist" (i.e., Rand-Peikoff) CD-ROM, but then excluding her work may have been seen as a minor side effect of the policy adopted.

Robert Campbell

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A friend of mine has told me Susan Ludel died some years ago. I would be happy to supply her name if someone would contact me.

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A friend of mine has told me Susan Ludel died some years ago. I would be happy to supply her name if someone would contact me.

Yikes. If she died, I'm sure sorry to hear that. I liked her. I thought the reference I saw was to something recent, though maybe it was to something older -- I'm still drawing a blank as to what the reference was; I only recall that it was in an ARI connection. I'll send you a PM.

Ellen

___

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A friend of mine has told me Susan Ludel died some years ago. I would be happy to supply her name if someone would contact me.

Yikes. If she died, I'm sure sorry to hear that. I liked her. I thought the reference I saw was to something recent, though maybe it was to something older -- I'm still drawing a blank as to what the reference was; I only recall that it was in an ARI connection. I'll send you a PM.

Ellen

__

Seems to have died in 1999. Father was named Wolly?

--Brant

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This seemed about the time my friend had heard about her death. Sometimes Google is so easy.

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I think when all the facts come out about Sue Ludel this will not be one of Objectivism finest hours.

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Adrian;

One quick comment and I hope we can get confirmation about Ayn Rand and her lawyer threatening to sue individual s for breaches of copyright and use of her name. People who would not knuckle under to these tactics frequently would have Miss Rand and her lawyer saying in effect "Never Mind." I know of story involving Reason back in the 70ths where these were tried and failed.

I wonder if the various threats with the Brandens were similar.

Edited by Chris Grieb

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~ Jeez! I was aware a while back of the 'stalinization' in the CD-ROM (which I think too many nubees rely on for 'accuracy'), but this...airbrush-policy...seems to have reached ludicrous proportions (like, 'chickens coming home to roost'?) which any self-styled O'ist would have a prob with.

~ Not that I'm too involved in exegetic comparing of originals with later, er, copies ('para-copies'?), but, am I glad I have the originals of THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER (bound) and the whole volume-set of THE OBJECTIVIST (and FORUM).

~ Short of the rabid anti-Branden types, who really uses this cd to actually refer to anyway?

LLAP

J:D

Edited by John Dailey

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~ Jeez! I was aware a while back of the 'stalinization' in the CD-ROM (which I think too many nubees rely on for 'accuracy'), but this...airbrush-policy...seems to have reached ludicrous proportions (like, 'chickens coming home to roost'?) which any self-styled O'ist would have a prob with.

~ Not that I'm too involved in exegetic comparing of originals with later, er, copies ('para-copies'?), but, am I glad I have the originals of THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER (bound) and the whole volume-set of THE OBJECTIVIST (and FORUM).

~ Short of the rabid anti-Branden types, who really uses this cd to actually refer to anyway?

LLAP

J:D

Well, I do. I'm not a rabid anti-Branden type - actually neither rabid nor anti-Branden - and I find an electronic search often to be preferable to a physical one through pages... Want "all the occurrences of . . .?" Best way to get it.

Of course, wish we had the whole body of the various periodicals, etc... not the excised versions.

Alfonso.

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