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~ This thread is one hell of an example of over(mis?)-analyzing molehills into mountains and seeing what one's filtered oneself to only see.

A child-raiser of a Down Syndrome child, and, who also has hazel eyes and a beard.

LLAP

J:D

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Curiously enough one of her heroes, Henry Cameron, does have a beard. But in AS the heroes are all clean-shaven, so it seems she developed that strange aversion later in life.

I think it was early, in Russia, all the long-bearded religious types there.

Ellen

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It's one of the examples that the characters in the Fountainhead still had human traits and were not merely symbolic puppets as in AS. Another example is Sean Xavier Donnigan, perhaps not a big hero, but definitely one of the good guys, who had a face that was so ugly that it became fascinating.

BTW, her hero Victor Hugo also had a beard.

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It's no coincidence that all her heroes are well-built, strong and healthy and all the villains are ugly, fat, flabby, unhealthty.
I'd like a list of exactly which villains are described as "ugly, fat, flabby, unhealthy." ;-)
Well, "exactly" is a bit too much work, but I can give you some quotes from AS:

If ALL her villains had been described with the full list of attributes you gave, "exactly" wouldn't have been hard to come by.

Question: How did you locate the examples you quoted? Did you find them in the hardcopy text, or did you use a "search"?

What I'm wondering is how close to exhaustive is the list you came up with -- that is, just how many times does she describe someone in terms of "fat," "fattish," "bulging flesh," "pendulous flesh," etc.?

A number of her bad characters are thus described. But notice, in the list you gave, only Paul Larkin, Orren Boyle, and Cuffy Meigs are prominent characters. (Unless the "fat, blank face and the eyes of a killer" and "the vision of a fat, unhygienic rajah of India" pertain to Mr. Thompson; I'm not recalling of whom those descriptions are made.) Mayor Bascom and Dr. Blodgett each appears in only one scene, as I recall. The two women in the list make only "walk-on" appearances and aren't even named.

A number of her villains are described as slim. You quoted descriptions of James Taggart and Philip Rearden; they're both unhealthy but not fat. Lillian Rearden is described as elegant in figure, and not as unhealthy. I don't recall Stadler being described as unhealthy, or Flloyd Ferris.

General question: Is there somewhere, does anyone know, a full list of the named characters in Atlas?

==

Re bad premises causing "illness and deformity," DF wrote -- see:

"In her Utopia, Galt's Gulch, the only doctor there has little to do, as all the inhabitants have the right psycho-epistemology, they're therefore always healthy, illness and deformity are signs of bad premises."

To which I replied -- see:

'Did she ever say that "illness and deformity" generically "are signs of bad premises"? Not that I know of. She thought that cancer was caused by bad premises. She certainly didn't think that cholera, e.g., was caused by bad premises, else she wouldn't have washed dishes in scalding water from residual fears of the cholera epidemics in Russia.'

DF replies -- see -- regarding her belief that cancer was caused by bad premises:

"Well, that's bad enough, I think."

Uh-uh. No cigar. It's a large leap from her belief about the etiology of cancer to the statement you made.

Ellen

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Oh my, you sound like Valliant with your literalmindedness... I think it was obvious that I used a hyperbole figure of speech to make some general remarks. Of course I'd never claim that literally all the villains are fat or unhealthy. I really don't have the time to check the description of every character in AS, but it's clear that Rand very often painted them as physically ugly or at least unattractive in some way, and fatness/flabbiness is one of her negative epithets that stuck in my memory by its frequent use. And that is of course my point: in AS the bad guys are generally painted as physically unattractive in some way, whether it is flabbiness, ungainliness or poor health, and vice versa for the good guys. Lillian Rearden may have been "elegant", but her "face was not beautiful", she had "vaguely pale" eyes, "lifelessly empty of expression". Well, as soon as you read that, you know what you can expect from such a stereotype... In The Fountainhead there was at least still some variety and color, but the symbolism in AS has become pure black-and-white.

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I really don't have the time to check the description of every character in AS, [...].

May I take that to mean that you were looking up the descriptions in the hardcopy, that you didn't do a "search" on a CD-ROM or on Amazon or somewhere?

Ellen

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There might be a reason Rand's villains have the impression of being ugly, even when they are not. During my research for Rand on Adjectives I came across her description of the following writing technique:

The Art of Fiction, 10 - Particular Issues of Style, p. 155:

If you want something to sound attractive, be sure to make your comparison glamorous and attractive. If you want to destroy something, do the opposite.

An example of the latter is the undignified comparison in my description of Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead: his ears "flared out in solitary nakedness, like the handles of a bouillon cup." It would be bad writing to say "His ears stuck out like wings," because the attribute described is unattractive, but a comparison to wings suggests something soaring and attractive. To bring connotations of something good into a derogatory description is the opposite mistake of comparing the lips of a beautiful woman to ripe tomatoes.

It is by means of the connotations of your comparisons that you can do the best objective slanted writing. By "objective," I mean that the reader's mind draws the conclusion—it is not you, the writer, who calls his attention to the fact that a certain person is ugly or undignified. To be objective, you have to show, not tell. You do it by selecting the connotations of your comparisons.

You can do the same with simple adjectives, which have definite connotations or shades of meaning. "The man was tall and slender" is an attractive description, whereas "He was tall, lanky, and gawky" is not. In description by means of comparisons, the field of selection is much wider, but the identical principle applies. You can describe the same quality as attractive or not according to what metaphors you use.

That phrase "best objective slanted writing" is a real gem. In nonfiction this would be called propaganda.

:)

For fiction, I think I prefer Poe's "single effect." Even though Poe used this as a standard for short stories, it can easily be applied to descriptions in all fiction.

Michael

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There might be a reason Rand's villains have the impression of being ugly, even when they are not. During my research for Rand on Adjectives I came across her description of the following writing technique:

[....]

That phrase "best objective slanted writing" is a real gem. In nonfiction this would be called propaganda.

:)

For fiction, I think I prefer Poe's "single effect." Even though Poe used this as a standard for short stories, it can easily be applied to descriptions in all fiction.

Michael

That excerpt states just what I would have said she was doing! Neat. Thanks.

My hunch about her describing characters as "fat" and related terms is that she didn't, percentagewise, describe as many of her villains thus as she might seem to have done in memory.

About the "pale eyes" descriptions, she wasn't meaning light-colored eyes but instead lack-lustre, without spark and life. A number of her heroes -- I think most of her heroes whose eye color is mentioned -- have light-colored eyes.

I don't know what Poe's "single effect" means.

Thanks for the Cliffnotes link. The list there probably has all the main characters but it doesn't include the bit players.

Ellen

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I don't know what Poe's "single effect" means.

Thanks for the Cliffnotes link. The list there probably has all the main characters but it doesn't include the bit players.

Ellen

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================================================================================

==============

The Short Story According to Poe:

In his review of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales (1842), Poe established the first rules for the short story. He advocated a prose tale (Poe's term for a short story) as a narrative that could be read at one sitting, from a half an hour up to two hours. He was adamant that such a story should be limited to "a certain unique or single effect" to which every other detail was subordinate. This concept emphasized unity of mood, time, space, and action working together to achieve the "certain unique or single effect."

================================================================================

============

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Ellen,

We would be remiss in the extreme if we did not mention Atlas Shrugged: The Cast Of Characters by Robert Bidinotto. It does not give all the bit players, though, and is called a "selective listing."

I am surprised you are not familiar with Poe's standard of the single effect for short stories (which he called "prose tales"). I thought all schoolchildren were required to learn this in America. (Teachers like this one because it is easy to point to with Poe's stories: sheer horror.) If you Google it, you will find many term papers for purchase on this theme. (What a product! Fake education...)

(EDIT: I just noticed that this might sound terrible if read a certain way. My meaning is that I am surprised you were not taught this standard, not that you are a dummy for not knowing it. :) )

Here is where Poe elaborated on the idea. The quote below is from Excerpt from a review of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Twice-Told Tales" (see the full text here: Review of Hawthorne -- Twice-Told Tales).

... But it is of his [Hawthorne's] tales that we desire principally to speak. The tale proper, in our opinion, affords unquestionably the fairest field for the exercise of the loftiest talent, which can be afforded by the wide domains of mere prose. Were we bidden to say how the highest genius could be most advantageously employed for the best display of its own powers, we should answer, without hesitation–in the composition of a rhymed poem, not to exceed in length what might be perused in an hour. Within this limit alone can the highest order of true poetry exist.

We need only here say, upon this topic, that, in almost all classes of composition, the unity of effect or impression is a point of the greatest importance. It is clear, moreover, that this unity cannot be thoroughly preserved in productions whose perusal cannot be completed at one sitting. We may continue the reading of a prose composition, from the very nature of prose itself, much longer than we can persevere, to any good purpose, in the perusal of a poem. This latter, if truly fulfilling the demands of the poetic sentiment, induces an exaltation of the soul which can not be long sustained. All high excitements are necessarily transient. Thus a long poem is a paradox. And, without unity of impression, the deepest effects cannot be brought about. Epics were the offspring of an imperfect sense of Art, and their reign is no more. A poem too brief may produce a vivid, but never an intense or enduring impression. Without a certain continuity of effort–without a certain duration or repetition of purpose–the soul is never deeply moved. There must be the dropping of the water upon the rock. De Beranger has wrought brilliant things–pungent and spirit-stirring–but, like all immassive bodies, they lack momentum, and thus fail to satisfy the Poetic Sentiment. They sparkle and excite, but, from want of continuity, fail deeply to impress. Extreme brevity will degenerate into epigrammatism; but the sin of extreme length is even more unpardonable. In medio tutissimus ibis. [You travel most safely the middle road.]

Were we called upon, however, to designate that class of composition which, next to such a poem as we have suggested, should best fulfil the demands of high genius–should offer it the most advantageous field of exertion–we should unhesitatingly speak of the prose tale, as Mr. Hawthorne has here exemplified it. We allude to the short prose narrative, requiring from a half-hour to one or two hours in its perusal. The ordinary novel is objectionable, from its length, for reasons already stated in substance. As it cannot be read at one sitting, it deprives itself, of course, of the immense force derivable from totality. Worldly interests intervening during the pauses of perusal, modify, annul, or counteract, in a greater or less degree, the impressions of the book. But simple cessation in reading would, of itself, be sufficient to destroy the true unity. In the brief tale, however, the author is enabled to carry out the fulness of his intention, be it what it may. During the hour of perusal the soul of the reader is at the writer's control. There are no external or extrinsic influences - resulting from weariness or interruption.

A skilful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents–he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very initial sentence tend not to the outbringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. And by such means, with such care and skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction. The idea of the tale has been presented unblemished, because undisturbed; and this is an end unattainable by the novel. Undue brevity is just as exceptionable here as in the poem; but undue length is yet more to be avoided.

We have said that the tale has a point of superiority even over the poem. In fact, while the rhythm of this latter is an essential aid in the development of the poem's highest idea–the idea of the Beautiful–the artificialities of this rhythm are an inseparable bar to the development of all points of thought or expression which have their basis in Truth. But Truth is often, and in very great degree, the aim of the tale. Some of the finest tales are tales of ratiocination. Thus the field of this species of composition, if not in so elevated a region on the mountain of Mind, is a table-land of far vaster extent than the domain of the mere poem. Its products are never so rich, but infinitely more numerous, and more appreciable by the mass of mankind. The writer of the prose tale, in short, may bring to his theme a vast variety of modes or inflections of thought and expression–(the ratiocinative, for example, the sarcastic, or the humorous) which are not only antagonistical to the nature of the poem, but absolutely forbidden by one of its most peculiar and indispensable adjuncts; we allude, of course, to rhythm. It may be added here, par parenthese, that the author who aims at the purely beautiful in a prose tale is laboring at a great disadvantage. For Beauty can be better treated in the poem. Not so with terror, or passion, or horror, or a multitude of such other points. And here it will be seen how full of prejudice are the usual animadversions against those tales of effect, many fine examples of which were found in the earlier numbers of Blackwood.* The impressions produced were wrought in a legitimate sphere of action, and constituted a legitimate although sometimes an exaggerated interest. They were relished by every man of genius: although there were found many men of genius who condemned them without just ground. The true critic will but demand that the design intended be accomplished, to the fullest extent, by the means most advantageously applicable.

* Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, founded in 1817, was known for publishing Gothic tales. Poe had an ambivalent attitude toward the magazine; he imitated tales that appeared in it and also wrote "How to Write a Blackwood Article," a satiric parody of the Gothic extravagance of its stories.

I don't know if Rand was familiar with Poe's excerpt, but she had to have been familiar with the single effect standard. In fact, her manner of structuring a novel could almost be called a series of short stories, each with a single effect (but, of course, interconnected with the others and leading to a climax).

Apropos, getting off into the classics, this research whetted my appetite for reading Hawthorne's tales. I never did.

(EDIT: My post crossed with Bob's above.)

Michael

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I am surprised you are not familiar with Poe's standard of the single effect for short stories (which he called "prose tales").

Actually, I am. I just didn't connect with what you were talking about. Once upon a time I read almost everything Poe ever wrote, plus a lot of biographical works about Poe; and I memorized some 2 thousand or upward lines of his poetry, a fair amount of which, if I get in the right mood, I can still recite. I was in 8th grade at the time of my Poe project. My English teacher told my mother that she would worry about me with all the interest in Poe if I weren't such a cheerful sort. I was fascinated by Poe's use of language, by the music of it.

As it cannot be read at one sitting, it deprives itself, of course, of the immense force derivable from totality. Worldly interests intervening during the pauses of perusal, modify, annul, or counteract, in a greater or less degree, the impressions of the book. But simple cessation in reading would, of itself, be sufficient to destroy the true unity. In the brief tale, however, the author is enabled to carry out the fulness of his intention, be it what it may. During the hour of perusal the soul of the reader is at the writer's control. There are no external or extrinsic influences - resulting from weariness or interruption.

In coming to that part of the essay, I thought: Atlas Shrugged is an exception, despite its being very long. The "immense force derivable from totality" is an important factor in what gives it its strong imprinting power. Re "simple cessation in reading": I've often read reports of people being so captured they didn't stop reading, except for pauses to sleep, until they were finished.

You express a similar thought yourself:

I don't know if Rand was familiar with Poe's excerpt, but she had to have been familiar with the single effect standard. In fact, her manner of structuring a novel could almost be called a series of short stories, each with a single effect (but, of course, interconnected with the others and leading to a climax).
Epics were the offspring of an imperfect sense of Art, and their reign is no more.

He's leaving out an important fact in the waning of the Epic. Epics were primarily composed in the days before movable type. Some date back in verbal form to before there was even writing with which to codify them. The linguistic conventions used helped with remembering tales that were mostly heard as spoken tales not read. The development of movable type enabled the development of the novel and short story forms.

Ellen

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Apropos the initial subject of this thread, Jonathan's being banned from ObjectivismOnline for some posts which weren't in fact examples of "Rand bashing," Ross Barlow just today posted something on A2 a particular comment from which I'll quote:

Most here [on A2] are not the tamed "Objectivists" that you may find in abundance on other lists, although many of us have had incalculable educational contributions from Rand's thinking. That we have profited by reading Rand does not mean that we do not have other influences or independent thoughts equal to or greater than her philosophical input, as far as importance to our individual lives is concerned.

This was in partial reply to a poster who periodically shows up to chide the A2 membership and had shown up to chide again in a post titled "Why not focus on doing better things" [sic - no question mark used].

Ross' description "tamed 'Objectivists'" connects to something I've been wondering about ever since I started to meet Objectivists. WHY are so many of them so "tamed," such earnest goody-goody diligently by-the-book sorts -- the last type of people I ever expected to encounter amongst persons influenced by Ayn Rand, persons so at variance with the kind of people she wrote about?

'Tis a puzzlement. Any speculations as to the whys?

Ellen

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My hunch about her describing characters as "fat" and related terms is that she didn't, percentagewise, describe as many of her villains thus as she might seem to have done in memory.

Well, here is a list of descriptions of the villains that haven't been mentioned in my previous list (based on Bidinotto's fairly complete list of characters):

Wesley Mouch had a long, square face and a flat-topped skull, made more so by a brush haircut. His lower lip was a petulant bulb and the pale, brownish pupils of his eyes looked like the yolks of eggs smeared under the not fully translucent whites.

He learned that the tall, stoop-shouldered man with a crew haircut was Mr. Wesley Mouch.

Mr. Thompson, the Head of the State, was a man who possessed the quality of never being noticed. In any group of three, his person became indistinguishable, and when seen alone it seemed to evoke a group of its own, composed of the countless persons he resembled. The country had no clear image of what he looked like: his photographs had appeared on the covers of magazines as frequently as those of his predecessors in office, but people could never be quite certain which photographs were his and which were pictures of "a mail clerk" or "a white-collar worker," accompanying articles about the daily life of the undifferentiated—except that Mr. Thompson's collars were usually wilted. He had broad shoulders and a slight body. He had stringy hair, a wide mouth and an elastic age range that made him look like a harassed forty or an unusually vigorous sixty.

Floyd Ferris:

He had an air of immaculate grooming and a ballroom grace of motion, but his clothes were severe, his suits being usually black or midnight blue. He had a finely traced mustache, and his smooth black hair made the Institute office boys say that he used the same shoe polish on both ends of him. He did not mind repeating, in the tone of a joke on himself, that a movie producer once said he would cast him for the part of a titled European gigolo.

Simon Pritchett:

Then he noticed a gangling figure in the second row, the figure of an elderly man with a long, slack face that seemed faintly familiar to him, though he could recall nothing about it, except a vague memory, as of a photograph seen in some unsavory publication.

Fred Kinnan:

They turned to him. He was a muscular man with large features, but his face had the astonishing property of finely drawn lines that raised the corners of his mouth into the permanent hint of a wise, sardonic grin.

Balph Eubank:

He sat upright on the edge of an armchair, in order to counteract the appearance of his face and figure, which had a tendency to spread if relaxed.

Bertram Scudder stood slouched against the bar. His long, thin face looked as if it had shrunk inward, with the exception of his mouth and eyeballs, which were left to protrude as three soft globes.

Mr. Mowen, of the Amalgamated Switch and Signal Company across the street, stood by, watching. He had stopped to watch, on his way home from his own plant. He wore a light overcoat stretched over his short, paunchy figure, and a derby hat over his graying, blondish head.

a slim, slouching man who looked like a rat-faced tennis player and was introduced to him as Tinky Holloway.

Kip Chalmers had curly blond hair and a shapeless mouth.

Ivy Starnes sat on a pillow like a baggy Buddha. Her mouth was a tight little crescent, the petulant mouth of a child demanding adulation—on the spreading, pallid face of a woman past fifty. Her eyes were two lifeless puddles of water.

Slagenhop was not tall or heavy, but he had a square, compact bulk, and a broken nose.

Lee Hunsacker:

He needed a shave; his shirt needed laundering. It was hard to judge his age: the swollen flesh of his face looked smooth and blank, untouched by experience; the graying hair and filmy eyes looked worn by exhaustion; he was forty-two.

At seventy, he was an obese old man with retouched hair and a manner of scornful cynicism retouched by quotations from the yogis about the futility of all human endeavor.

Eugene Lawson sat at his desk as if it were the control panel of a bomber plane commanding a continent below. But he forgot it, at times, and slouched down, his muscles going slack inside his suit, as if he were pouting at the world. His mouth was the one part of him which he could not pull tight at any time; it was uncomfortably prominent in his lean face, attracting the eyes of any listener: when he spoke, the movement ran through his lower lip, twisting its moist flesh into extraneous contortions of its own.

Dave Mitchum was six-foot-two and had the build of a bruiser

Ben Nealy was a bulky man with a soft, sullen face. His eyes were stubborn and blank. In die bluish light of the snow, his skin had the tinge of butter.

Betty Pope:

She was a lanky girl, all bones and loose joints that did not move smoothly.

She had a homely face, a bad complexion and a look of impertinent condescension derived from the fact that she belonged to one of the very best families.

Rearden’s mother:

The wrinkles of her soft chin trickled into a shape resembling a sneer.

His name was Mr. Weatherby, he had graying temples, a long, narrow face and a mouth that looked as if he had to stretch his facial muscles in order to keep it closed; this gave a suggestion of primness to a face that displayed nothing else.

Robert Stadler:

He was not tall, and his slenderness gave him an air of youthful energy, almost of boyish zest. His thin face was ageless; it was a homely face, but the great forehead and the large gray eyes held such an arresting intelligence that one could notice nothing else. There were wrinkles of humor in the corners of the eyes, and faint lines of bitterness in the corners of the mouth. He did not look like a man in his early fifties; the slightly graying hair was his only sign of age.

She had not known that a face could age so greatly within the brief space of one year: the look of timeless energy, of boyish eagerness, was gone, and nothing remained of the face except the lines of contemptuous bitterness.

I couldn't find any descriptions of Clifton Locey and Mort Liddy. My hunch was correct: nearly all the villains have negative physical traits, and a large part of those fall in the category fat, flabby, soft, shapeless, slack, and if they are thin, they have a rat-like face or protuding mouth and eyeballsand a moist underlip. They are no real characters but stereotypes.

Three villains are different:

1. Robert Stadler - he is not a villain by birth, in fact he is a genius, so he has no negative physical traits. He is an exception: a character who chooses to be a villain (at least in Rand's terms).

2. Fred Kinnan - he is a cynic who doesn't evade the truth, so no flabby bulges or loose mouth. In a sense you could say that he also chooses to be a villain.

3. Floyd Ferris - he is a bit too "beautiful", the type of a gigolo.

About the "pale eyes" descriptions, she wasn't meaning light-colored eyes but instead lack-lustre, without spark and life. A number of her heroes -- I think most of her heroes whose eye color is mentioned -- have light-colored eyes.

Oh no, Rand knew what she wrote, when she used "pale" she did mean color. Lillian's eyes "they were vaguely pale, neither quite gray nor brown," - the "neither quite gray nor brown" is obviously an elaboration on the "vaguely pale". Even more explicit is the description of Mouch's eyes: "the pale, brownish pupils of his eyes looked like the yolks of eggs smeared under the not fully translucent whites." Observe that the eyes are not "brown" but "brownish". Having eyes with a color that is a bit undefinable is apparently sign of a bad character. Rearden's eyes may have "the color and quality of pale blue ice", but they would never be like "the yolks of eggs smeared under the not fully translucent whites". This is of course quite ironic, as eye color is a completely genetically determined trait, which contradicts Rand's statements about being born with a blank slate. I wonder how Objectivists will try to weasel out of this.

About that blank slate: when searching in AS I was struck by the following passage about Francisco d'Anconia: "It was as if the centuries had sifted the family's qualities through a fine mesh, had discarded the irrelevant, the inconsequential, the weak, and had let nothing through except pure talent; as if chance, for once, had achieved an entity devoid of the accidental."

Compare this with her statement: "'No one is born with any kind of 'talent'". If that isn't a contradiction...

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Ross' description "tamed 'Objectivists'" connects to something I've been wondering about ever since I started to meet Objectivists. WHY are so many of them so "tamed," such earnest goody-goody diligently by-the-book sorts -- the last type of people I ever expected to encounter amongst persons influenced by Ayn Rand, persons so at variance with the kind of people she wrote about?

'Tis a puzzlement. Any speculations as to the whys?

Ellen

Hi Ellen,

I would suggest that they, like everyone else, are human first, and o'ists second. By that I mean that they do not have the background in philosophy/critical thinking to actively, and accurately apply o'ist or philosophical principles to everyday life.

For example, when I first read AS (probably 1991 or 1992 after it appeared on that Book of the Month Club "Most Influential" list), it was a miracle! Here was everything I had been thinking my whole life, wrapped up in a book that I could read and it wasn't "National Review" or some philosophy textbook.

But by no means did that book show me the way to learn to think, not by a long shot. Now, 16 years later, I know a LOT more, but I still don't have all the answers. More to your point, I KNOW I hit what some would consider the "blank out". Not because I'm not willing to go farther, but because I don't know how, or I don't understand a "why" somewhere--I'm not blanking out, I'm hitting a wall.

Additionally, it can be hard to get help past that wall. On any number of these sites or lists, asking questions or making a point is really just an invitation to get attacked, or for others to grandstand about you. I don't take that personally, I find it kinda funny really and that crap isn't worth the electrons used to display it, but wading through all that can be a lot of work to NOT find the help you needed.

So for a lot of people who are pretty sure they really aren't going to come across deep philosophical dilemmas in their day to day life, delving into the deep deep details, or reading "free will" discussions on Atlantis II in detail isn't that important to them. They may have either free will or the illusion of free will, but either way it is sufficient for them to live their lives happily.

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My hunch about her describing characters as "fat" and related terms is that she didn't, percentagewise, describe as many of her villains thus as she might seem to have done in memory.

Well, here is a list of descriptions of the villains that haven't been mentioned in my previous list (based on Bidinotto's fairly complete list of characters):

Wesley Mouch had a long, square face and a flat-topped skull, made more so by a brush haircut. His lower lip was a petulant bulb and the pale, brownish pupils of his eyes looked like the yolks of eggs smeared under the not fully translucent whites.

He learned that the tall, stoop-shouldered man with a crew haircut was Mr. Wesley Mouch.

Mr. Thompson, the Head of the State, was a man who possessed the quality of never being noticed. In any group of three, his person became indistinguishable, and when seen alone it seemed to evoke a group of its own, composed of the countless persons he resembled. The country had no clear image of what he looked like: his photographs had appeared on the covers of magazines as frequently as those of his predecessors in office, but people could never be quite certain which photographs were his and which were pictures of "a mail clerk" or "a white-collar worker," accompanying articles about the daily life of the undifferentiated—except that Mr. Thompson's collars were usually wilted. He had broad shoulders and a slight body. He had stringy hair, a wide mouth and an elastic age range that made him look like a harassed forty or an unusually vigorous sixty.

Floyd Ferris:

He had an air of immaculate grooming and a ballroom grace of motion, but his clothes were severe, his suits being usually black or midnight blue. He had a finely traced mustache, and his smooth black hair made the Institute office boys say that he used the same shoe polish on both ends of him. He did not mind repeating, in the tone of a joke on himself, that a movie producer once said he would cast him for the part of a titled European gigolo.

Simon Pritchett:

Then he noticed a gangling figure in the second row, the figure of an elderly man with a long, slack face that seemed faintly familiar to him, though he could recall nothing about it, except a vague memory, as of a photograph seen in some unsavory publication.

Fred Kinnan:

They turned to him. He was a muscular man with large features, but his face had the astonishing property of finely drawn lines that raised the corners of his mouth into the permanent hint of a wise, sardonic grin.

Balph Eubank:

He sat upright on the edge of an armchair, in order to counteract the appearance of his face and figure, which had a tendency to spread if relaxed.

Bertram Scudder stood slouched against the bar. His long, thin face looked as if it had shrunk inward, with the exception of his mouth and eyeballs, which were left to protrude as three soft globes.

Mr. Mowen, of the Amalgamated Switch and Signal Company across the street, stood by, watching. He had stopped to watch, on his way home from his own plant. He wore a light overcoat stretched over his short, paunchy figure, and a derby hat over his graying, blondish head.

a slim, slouching man who looked like a rat-faced tennis player and was introduced to him as Tinky Holloway.

Kip Chalmers had curly blond hair and a shapeless mouth.

Ivy Starnes sat on a pillow like a baggy Buddha. Her mouth was a tight little crescent, the petulant mouth of a child demanding adulation—on the spreading, pallid face of a woman past fifty. Her eyes were two lifeless puddles of water.

Slagenhop was not tall or heavy, but he had a square, compact bulk, and a broken nose.

Lee Hunsacker:

He needed a shave; his shirt needed laundering. It was hard to judge his age: the swollen flesh of his face looked smooth and blank, untouched by experience; the graying hair and filmy eyes looked worn by exhaustion; he was forty-two.

At seventy, he was an obese old man with retouched hair and a manner of scornful cynicism retouched by quotations from the yogis about the futility of all human endeavor.

Eugene Lawson sat at his desk as if it were the control panel of a bomber plane commanding a continent below. But he forgot it, at times, and slouched down, his muscles going slack inside his suit, as if he were pouting at the world. His mouth was the one part of him which he could not pull tight at any time; it was uncomfortably prominent in his lean face, attracting the eyes of any listener: when he spoke, the movement ran through his lower lip, twisting its moist flesh into extraneous contortions of its own.

Dave Mitchum was six-foot-two and had the build of a bruiser

Ben Nealy was a bulky man with a soft, sullen face. His eyes were stubborn and blank. In die bluish light of the snow, his skin had the tinge of butter.

Betty Pope:

She was a lanky girl, all bones and loose joints that did not move smoothly.

She had a homely face, a bad complexion and a look of impertinent condescension derived from the fact that she belonged to one of the very best families.

Rearden’s mother:

The wrinkles of her soft chin trickled into a shape resembling a sneer.

His name was Mr. Weatherby, he had graying temples, a long, narrow face and a mouth that looked as if he had to stretch his facial muscles in order to keep it closed; this gave a suggestion of primness to a face that displayed nothing else.

Robert Stadler:

He was not tall, and his slenderness gave him an air of youthful energy, almost of boyish zest. His thin face was ageless; it was a homely face, but the great forehead and the large gray eyes held such an arresting intelligence that one could notice nothing else. There were wrinkles of humor in the corners of the eyes, and faint lines of bitterness in the corners of the mouth. He did not look like a man in his early fifties; the slightly graying hair was his only sign of age.

She had not known that a face could age so greatly within the brief space of one year: the look of timeless energy, of boyish eagerness, was gone, and nothing remained of the face except the lines of contemptuous bitterness.

I couldn't find any descriptions of Clifton Locey and Mort Liddy. My hunch was correct: nearly all the villains have negative physical traits, and a large part of those fall in the category fat, flabby, soft, shapeless, slack, and if they are thin, they have a rat-like face or protuding mouth and eyeballsand a moist underlip. They are no real characters but stereotypes.

Three villains are different:

1. Robert Stadler - he is not a villain by birth, in fact he is a genius, so he has no negative physical traits. He is an exception: a character who chooses to be a villain (at least in Rand's terms).

2. Fred Kinnan - he is a cynic who doesn't evade the truth, so no flabby bulges or loose mouth. In a sense you could say that he also chooses to be a villain.

3. Floyd Ferris - he is a bit too "beautiful", the type of a gigolo.

About the "pale eyes" descriptions, she wasn't meaning light-colored eyes but instead lack-lustre, without spark and life. A number of her heroes -- I think most of her heroes whose eye color is mentioned -- have light-colored eyes.

Oh no, Rand knew what she wrote, when she used "pale" she did mean color. Lillian's eyes "they were vaguely pale, neither quite gray nor brown," - the "neither quite gray nor brown" is obviously an elaboration on the "vaguely pale". Even more explicit is the description of Mouch's eyes: "the pale, brownish pupils of his eyes looked like the yolks of eggs smeared under the not fully translucent whites." Observe that the eyes are not "brown" but "brownish". Having eyes with a color that is a bit undefinable is apparently sign of a bad character. Rearden's eyes may have "the color and quality of pale blue ice", but they would never be like "the yolks of eggs smeared under the not fully translucent whites". This is of course quite ironic, as eye color is a completely genetically determined trait, which contradicts Rand's statements about being born with a blank slate. I wonder how Objectivists will try to weasel out of this.

About that blank slate: when searching in AS I was struck by the following passage about Francisco d'Anconia: "It was as if the centuries had sifted the family's qualities through a fine mesh, had discarded the irrelevant, the inconsequential, the weak, and had let nothing through except pure talent; as if chance, for once, had achieved an entity devoid of the accidental."

Compare this with her statement: "'No one is born with any kind of 'talent'". If that isn't a contradiction...

Slanting characteristics is a tool of romanticism. "But real life isn't like that" is not relevant, though I think you can find referents in reality to confirm extreme examples of slovenly, psychotic, or lying manipulators vs. conscientious, benevolent, or hard working people.

It is a great tool to help viewers/readers keep the different characters clearly in mind. If you had the positive traits for the bad guys and negative traits for the good, then it becomes confusing. Or if everyone has both good and bad traits, then it wouldn't be artistically economical, because one would have to take huge amounts of space to develop secondary characters.

If it bothers you that you might resemble many with the negative physical characteristics you can entertain eating well, working hard, doing exercise, sharpening your visual perceptional awareness, and developing introspective skills. If it doesn't bother you, then no need to worry about it. (wicked grin)

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My hunch was correct: nearly all the villains have negative physical traits, and a large part of those fall in the category fat, flabby, soft, shapeless, slack, and if they are thin, they have a rat-like face or protuding mouth and eyeballsand a moist underlip. They are no real characters but stereotypes.

I wasn't disputing that "nearly all the villains have negative physical traits" (or that they aren't real characters but stereotypes), but you initially made the claim that "all the villains are ugly, fat, flabby, unhealthy." Of course then, when I challenged you on the statement, you said that obviously you didn't mean it as written and that "Of course [you'd] never claim that literally all the villains are fat or unhealthy." As you've demonstrated, a number of them are slim, even gawkish (and not all of them are unhealthy) -- and even some with features described in terms of soft, shapeless, slack aren't described as being fat and/or flabby.

Thanks for typing in the passages; those are handy to have.

About the "pale eyes" descriptions, she wasn't meaning light-colored eyes but instead lack-lustre, without spark and life. A number of her heroes -- I think most of her heroes whose eye color is mentioned -- have light-colored eyes.

Oh no, Rand knew what she wrote, when she used "pale" she did mean color. Lillian's eyes "they were vaguely pale, neither quite gray nor brown," - the "neither quite gray nor brown" is obviously an elaboration on the "vaguely pale". Even more explicit is the description of Mouch's eyes: "the pale, brownish pupils of his eyes looked like the yolks of eggs smeared under the not fully translucent whites." Observe that the eyes are not "brown" but "brownish". Having eyes with a color that is a bit undefinable is apparently sign of a bad character. Rearden's eyes may have "the color and quality of pale blue ice", but they would never be like "the yolks of eggs smeared under the not fully translucent whites". This is of course quite ironic, as eye color is a completely genetically determined trait, which contradicts Rand's statements about being born with a blank slate. I wonder how Objectivists will try to weasel out of this.

I don't agree with your reading there. The context pertaining to the eyes on this thread was people's mock-worrying about having hazel eyes being a bad sign for Rand hero-dom. It wouldn't be.

Eyes like Lillian's and Mouch's I'd take as a character sign. She might not have well enough described what I'm getting from the description. Character does show in eyes. It isn't really the color though. It's a missing light.

About that blank slate: when searching in AS I was struck by the following passage about Francisco d'Anconia: "It was as if the centuries had sifted the family's qualities through a fine mesh, had discarded the irrelevant, the inconsequential, the weak, and had let nothing through except pure talent; as if chance, for once, had achieved an entity devoid of the accidental."

Compare this with her statement: "'No one is born with any kind of 'talent'". If that isn't a contradiction...

The passage about Francisco is in glaring contradiction to her statement that "No one is born with any kind of 'talent.'" The contradiction was pointed out on that SOLOHQ thread about her "blank slate" views, if you remember the thread I mean -- you were a participant. But some of the posters attempted to "reconcile" the opposite views. The Francisco description is the one which is in keeping with her usual references to "talent" or to "ability" ("the men of ability"). Her claim about no one being born with any kind of "talent" is the odd-man-out claim. It was made in the context of skill at writing, I think in her introduction to the re-issue of We the Living.

Ellen

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I think that you're overlooking (a) a nicety of grammar; (b ) Rand's city of residence.

Notice she's quoted as having said "those so-called kneeling buses." "So-called" indicates non-literal usage; "so-called" and scare quotes are equivalents. Rand knew English grammar well. Further, she said "those so-called," which sounds as if she had a visual image.

Sure, but a person might also use "so-called" if she thought that "kneeling buses" was slang or a nickname for buses which might properly be known as something like "lift buses," "riser buses," or "seatless buses," much in the way that someone might call a brush axe a "so-called kaiser blade" or a "so-called sling blade." Someone who didn't know what "kneeling buses" were, and incorrectly believed that children had to kneel or sit on the floor because all of the seats had been removed to accommodate wheelchairs, might refer to the buses as "so-called" kneeling buses because she had heard others use the term and assumed that it wasn't the formal or technical name.

Rand lived in New York City, and she didn't keep completely within the confines of her apartment, though she didn't get out a lot. I can't recall exactly when the trial fleet of kneeling buses was put into operation, but I think it was before the Donahue appearance and that she'd likely have seen actual examples of the buses, not just photos in the newspapers. (I'm not industrious enough, at least at the moment, to try to track down when kneeling buses started to appear in NYC.)

I understand. Rand may very well have had an accurate view of what kneeling buses were. All I'm saying is that her lack of proportion -- her view that kneeling buses would drag everyone down to the level of the handicapped -- can give the impression that she either believed that non-handicapped children would be made to kneel and otherwise physically suffer, or that she deeply hated the handicapped, and perhaps for little more than superficial aesthetic reasons. When listening to her comments, I think the average non-Objectivist is likely to wonder why she was so outraged about something as benign as kneeling buses, and one of the potential explanations that pops into mind, as it did in Michael Prescott's mind, as well as others I've talked to, is that she may have misunderstood what the buses were.

J

Edited by Jonathan
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Ross' description "tamed 'Objectivists'" connects to something I've been wondering about ever since I started to meet Objectivists. WHY are so many of them so "tamed," such earnest goody-goody diligently by-the-book sorts -- the last type of people I ever expected to encounter amongst persons influenced by Ayn Rand, persons so at variance with the kind of people she wrote about?

'Tis a puzzlement. Any speculations as to the whys?

Ellen

Hi Ellen,

I would suggest that they, like everyone else, are human first, and o'ists second. By that I mean that they do not have the background in philosophy/critical thinking to actively, and accurately apply o'ist or philosophical principles to everyday life.

For example, when I first read AS (probably 1991 or 1992 after it appeared on that Book of the Month Club "Most Influential" list), it was a miracle! Here was everything I had been thinking my whole life, wrapped up in a book that I could read and it wasn't "National Review" or some philosophy textbook.

But by no means did that book show me the way to learn to think, not by a long shot. Now, 16 years later, I know a LOT more, but I still don't have all the answers. More to your point, I KNOW I hit what some would consider the "blank out". Not because I'm not willing to go farther, but because I don't know how, or I don't understand a "why" somewhere--I'm not blanking out, I'm hitting a wall.

Additionally, it can be hard to get help past that wall. On any number of these sites or lists, asking questions or making a point is really just an invitation to get attacked, or for others to grandstand about you. I don't take that personally, I find it kinda funny really and that crap isn't worth the electrons used to display it, but wading through all that can be a lot of work to NOT find the help you needed.

So for a lot of people who are pretty sure they really aren't going to come across deep philosophical dilemmas in their day to day life, delving into the deep deep details, or reading "free will" discussions on Atlantis II in detail isn't that important to them. They may have either free will or the illusion of free will, but either way it is sufficient for them to live their lives happily.

Hi, Rush.

It's been awhile. I hope life is generally going well for you.

I'm feeling at a loss about how to answer your post. I think that it's not talking about what I was meaning, and I don't know what to say about what it seems you are talking about. You seem to be addressing Objectivism's not providing answers to life questions, which, no, it doesn't provide. But the sort of people I have in mind talk and act as if they believe Objectivism has provided all the answers.

A question: Have you met many Objectivists?

I looked up your profile; I find this description of your list participation:

I used to be on the old SOLO e-mail list, have been a part of the various Atlantis e-mail groups, the NB Yahoo group, et cetera[.]

What's the "et cetera"? Have you been on ObjectivismOnline? ForumforAynRand fans?

I don't know what the old SOLO e-mail list was like, since I was never on that. NB's group had quite a mix of people. The Atlantis crowd, the main crowd, is a tough bunch. Few of the main posters are Objectivists. They're mostly well-read and hard-arguing -- give no quarter. Not the place to ask for supportiveness. (A2 is pretty much a ghost town these days, as I expect you know; you've posted a few things recently. I'm talking more about its heyday; but there are still folks posting there with whom you...don't jibe too well.)

Your comment about "blank out": What she meant by that was a refusal to think. You seem to be talking about reaching a place in your thoughts where you don't know how to go farther.

I think you'd probably find, if you wanted to pose questions here, that you'd be minimally attacked or used as an opportunity for grandstanding. Not that those activities are never engaged in here, but not nearly so often as on more typical O'ist lists.

Nice to hear from you again!

Ellen

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The after ban block will only last 48 hours, tops. After that, feel free to sign up again, they don't track IP addresses so you won't be noticed.

Its sad I know that.

However, being banned so many times from the site I have it down to a science.

I now appear to be unbanned at OO, the address from which I posted to the site is no longer being blocked, and my post about Rand's views on Norman Rockwell's paintings has now been posted, though the post on the "kneeling buses" thread which got me banned remains deleted. It's nice to see that the moderators aren't quite the zealots that I took them to be.

Meanwhile, I see that there are still no additional posts from Dan Edge on this thread. I was hoping that he'd reply to Dragonfly's and my responses to his comments and accusations.

J

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I believe Ellen and Dragonfly overlook two important words in the quote from Ayn Rand about Francisco d'Anconia -- "as if".

Also, not directed only at them, I believe many people misinterpret the analogy. "Blank slate" does not mean "no slate".

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I believe Ellen and Dragonfly overlook two important words in the quote from Ayn Rand about Francisco d'Anconia -- "as if".

Also, not directed only at them, I believe many people misinterpret the analogy. "Blank slate" does not mean "no slate".

I understand that "blank slate" doesn't mean "no slate" -- as Locke used it -- and generally Rand talked as if she understood that. I don't overlook the "as if" in the Francisco quote; I read it as her speaking metaphorically of "centuries" as an active force "sifting." I don't think it means that she thought there wasn't such a thing as native talent. She sure talks "as if" she did other places. (And see further details of the Francisco passage -- haven't time to find them now, but they are somewhere on this site.)

Ellen

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