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Michael Stuart Kelly

AR Quotes from Biographical Interview with BB and other

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I received scans of two partial transcripts of the taped interviews that Ayn Rand granted to Barbara in preparation for her title biographical essay in the 1962 book, Who is Ayn Rand? by Nathaniel and Barbara Branden.

I am reproducing them here as they are, without any changes, including the grammatical errors and pauses that normally occur during speech as they were transcribed. The only exception is that I leave out mention where words (obvious mistakes made during transcription) were crossed out.

I am also including the inscription Ayn Rand made to Barbara's parents on their copy of Atlas Shrugged.

These transcripts were presented in "In Answer to Ayn Rand" by both Nathaniel (Part 1) and Barbara (Part 2). The source was not mentioned in those documents, but with the transcript, we now know that they came from the biographical interviews.

This thread is locked because it is an archive - and in the hopes that other additions might be added over time.

Michael

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Biographical Interview with AR; interview #18

The discussion was of the post-Atlas period, of AR’s shock over the state of the culture, which appeared to her worse than she had known, her shock over the fact that there was no one to oppose the attacks. Her question was to whom she was addressing herself. “And in this respect, and for the record, Barbara, I think the man who saved my life in this period was, of course, Nathan, because it was conversations with him and his sense of the culture, his understanding, that helped me to make up my mind or to clarify or to identify things, because otherwise I must say I was almost paralyzed, above everything else by disgust and contempt… If I feel contempt for the whole culture, it doesn’t make sense to even want to write. Now I knew that this was a journalistic feeling and not metaphysical, but I couldn’t for a long time identify either how to judge the state of the culture and how to judge my own premises. It [sic – I] would have had a problem regardless of the reception of Atlas as to where to go after Atlas, but feeling that I’m really living in the last days of the Roman Empire made it worse. And it’s only Nathan that kept a steady point in a Hegelian universe in the sense that he could judge the culture and the situation much better than I could at that time.”

“As culture signs, I think the thing that really changed my whole mind is NBI. It’s the whole phenomenon of Nathan’s lectures. As you know, when he first started I wasn’t opposed to it, but I can’t say that I expected too much. I was watching it, in effect, with enormous concern and sympathy for him, because I thought there was a very good chance of it failing. I could not see, since the culture in general seemed totally indifferent to our ideas and to ideas as a whole, I didn’t know how one could make a lecture organization grow. Also, the first few classes I was very disappointed and depressed in the nature of my followers. They seemed, you know, well-meaning but emotional, we did not discover any particularly great mind, and so I thought that my fans disappointed and depressed me worse than my enemies. But with the passage of time, two things happened. One, and it’s very important, I began to see how even the least promising of Nathan’s students… were not the same as they were before they started on the course, that Nathan had a tremendous influence on them, that they were infinitely better people and more rational even if they certainly were not Objectivists yet… What I saw is the cultural phenomenon of the influence of ideas and to what extent none of them… will be the same after Nathan’s course than they were before… That ideas take in a manner which I did not know… Then the whole enormous response to Nathan, that gave me a preview of what can be done with culture. And seeing Nathan start on a shoestring with the whole intellectual atmosphere against him, standing totally alone and establishing an institution, that was an enormously crucial, concrete example of what can be done.”

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Biographical Interview with AR; #19

"As far as you’re concerned, career-wise, the turning point was when I saw the first few pages of that short story which you started and didn’t finish. It was those pages that convinced me that you’re going to be a great writer, and, as you see, I was right… Up to then, I thought that you were very intelligent, and since you talked about writing intelligently, that you probably would be a good writer, but one has to see the real work. And it’s those pages that made me think that this is something of enormous size.

“As to Nathan, I thought he was a genius from the first evening. And I really mean genius. In that sense, I have never pronounced that judgment on someone I know, not that immediately, not that objectively… From intelligence alone, it’s not yet enough for the title genius. You know what’s necessary there? It’s a creative intelligence, it has to be an initiating intelligence, not merely philosophical or abstract or quick to understand or being able to deal with abstractions… When you conclude that someone is really a genius, it’s total independence, the first hand look of a creative mind, a mind that is constantly active on its own power.”

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This thread is locked because it is an archive - and in the hopes that other additions might be added over time.

All I did was bury this thread over time by locking it, so I just unlocked it. If anyone is curious, I came across it on a Google search and I am quoting from it elsewhere. That's why I even remember it was locked.

Michael

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