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I was looking at my saved letters to the old Atlantis and found the following. Wow, was BB ever ticked off! Peter

BBfromM Wed 8/23/2000, 2:48 AM to Atlantis. Here we go again! Ellen Moore wrote, The simple fact is that I do not believe that Barbara wanted to 'humanize' Ayn Rand. I do not believe that love and admiration was, or is, her purpose. I had a meaningful but brief association with Alan and Joan Blumenthal, with Barbara's sister-in-law, with MaryAnn Sures, with Leonard Peikoff, with Edith Packer and George Reisman, as well as with many other friends of Rand over the years. None of them treat Ayn Rand's personal characteristics with the maliciousness of the Brandens. There are still many left who can "tell the tale," and they knew the Brandens too. I know how to judge the difference between objectivity and subjectivity when the facts are retold by those from all sides of a conflict. Most of the people on Atlantis naively believe only the Brandens, so I judge them as being willing dupes of malicious intent."

How nice of Moore to judge most of the Atlantis members as being "willing dupes." Is it just possible that such "dupes" recognize the truth when they see it, and are no one's "willing dupes?" No, love and admiration for Ayn Rand, although I feel them, were not my purpose in writing PASSION. My purpose was to tell the truth. Ellen's "meaningful but brief association" with the people she names need to be more meaningful and less brief. She will find that, particularly but not only in the case of the Blumenthals, their understanding of Ayn Rand is perfectly consistent with mine and in fact their judgments are more harsh than mine. Why don't you find out, Ellen Moore? That's a rhetorical question; I know perfectly well why you don't find out.

Moore also wrote, "Remember that Rand withdrew from him {Nathaniel Branden} personally when he wrote her a repugnant letter in July '68. . . "

Do you care to say what were the contents of that "repugnant letter," Ellen? Apparently not.

The letter was a tortured effort to explain, as you well know, that the age-difference of twenty-five years, now that Ayn Rand was in her 60's and he still in his 30's, had become an insuperable barrier to a sexual relationship, despite his love and admiration for her. She had wondered if that were the reason for his emotional withdrawal, and he confirmed it. Surely most women would have accepted and understood the inevitable change in their relationship. Ayn Rand did not. Ellen Moore states that Ayn Rand "repudiated" me when she learned of my past lies and deceptions. Not so. She did not repudiate me when she learned that I had been covering for Nathaniel; she accepted that and made excuses for me that I would not have made for myself. It was only when I refused to attend a kangaroo court of her choosing that she repudiated me. It's a good idea to have your facts straight, Ellen, before you hurl accusations. But then, you might not be able to hurl them, and what would be the purpose of your life if that were taken away?

Ellen wrote, "And even if Rand had been hurt by the truth that he loved Patrecia, that fact could have been resolved between them by some private agreement."

You must be joking! It was precisely when Ayn Rand learned of Nathaniel's love for Patrecia that she turned on him and informed him that if he had an ounce of morality left he would be impotent for the next twenty years!

Ellen wrote, "I have never understood, and I disagree with those who condemn the 'Affair.' I understand their agreement about having an affair, and I do not think that the affair destroyed their relationships."

Oh, Ellen, there go the facts again! Of course the affair destroyed our relationships. How do you think Frank O'Connor felt, as only one example, when Nathaniel twice-weekly walked into the apartment Frank shared with his wife and he had to go out in order to allow them to experience love and sex? Despite Nathaniel's repeated suggestions, his pleas, Ayn Rand had refused to allow him to take an apartment--in the same building if she wished, since she was terrified of the affair being known--where they could have time together without putting Frank O'Connor through the hell Ayn Rand insisted on putting him through. Who, I wonder, has the greater allegiance to Ayn Rand and Objectivism--you, who insist on ignoring the facts and/or twist them out of all recognition, or I, who am concerned only with the facts? Although this letter is addressed to Ellen Moore, I know better than to think she is open to reason. It is intended, rather, for "the willing dupes" of Atlantis whom I respect and many of whom I admire, and who wish to separate facts from Moore's fantasies.


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  • 2 months later...

Ellen Moore wrote and quoted: *matching* refers to the concept "similarity, as differences yet of the same kind".  We perceive the first one, identify it, and that identification is integrated and stored in the subconscious. Second time, we perceive another uniquely different object and/or characteristic. Then we are still perceiving all the differences and we can identify these as similar, different yet alike in kind, as the first time perception, and that is integrated and stored. Consciousness is instantaneously aware and able to identify all differences stored in the subconscious - the differences "matching" is in the similarity in range and kind. In that sense, identification is similarity matched and is given in perception.

As Rand wrote in ITOE, p. 150-2, "No, you do something else volitionally . . . . Do you know what you will?  You will to observe. You use your senses, you look around, and your will is to grasp, to understand. And you observe similarities.  Now, you don't know yet that this is the process of abstraction . . . But you are engaged in it once you begin to observe similarities."  On the next page, she said, "As he discovers certain things, he begins to direct his sensory apparatus, and that is volitional."

Rand defined "integration" as, "a blending of the units [which she defined in ITOE] into a *single*, new *mental* entity which is used thereafter as a single unit of thought (but which can be broken down into its components units whenever required."

end quote

Brant, those thoughts are typical of Ellen.


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  • 7 months later...

Some old, saved letters. I may have posted them before. Peter

From Barbara Branden. 3/10/01 Re: ATL: RE Godlike‏: My own difficulty with John Galt is not that one COULD NOT be like him, in essence -- that is, a person of great accomplishment who embodies the Objectivist virtues, the apotheosis of the human potential -- but that in certain respects one SHOULD NOT be like him. Galt, like Howard Roark and like Rearden, (Francisco is the exception to this) is a man who deals with people, even people whom he loves, in an almost totally cerebral way; one knows by other means that he is a man of great emotional passion, but one sees it only in his sexual encounter with Dagny. One understands deductively the passionate commitment that has driven him all the years of his strike, but one rarely hears it in his words.

I believe that the emotional repression of Ayn Rand's heroic male characters is one of the reasons that so many of her admirers came to see repression almost as a virtue and not to fight it in themselves.

Ayn Rand further buttressed this error in her male characters by having her people make remarks to the effect that they would never allow a woman they love to see them in pain. This was Rand's own philosophy; she told me that when she first had met Frank O'Connor, she did not tell him of all the miserable and mindless jobs she had to work at -- because she never wanted to face him in pain. It seemed she felt that to show her suffering to the man she loved would be the equivalent of demanding his help, even his pity. Why she believed that, I do not know. And perhaps it was all the hidden and repressed pain in her life that caused her, in later years, to talk about little except her suffering. Barbara

On the movie, “Atlas Shrugged.” I saw the movie for the second time on Friday. It probably is against the law -- and certainly a sin -- to have as good a time as I had. It was playing in Westwood Village, a college town, and the audience was predominantly young people -- with a mix that was fascinating to me of onetime NBI students. What a strange feeling it was to see so many familiar faces from so very long ago! The house was completely sold out for the 7PM performance that I attended and for the 9:40 performance that followed. It was a joy to see a long line of people waiting to get in for both performances. Clearly, the audience I saw it with loved the movie -- and at the end, the manager came out grinning from ear to ear to announce that it would run for two weeks.

After the performance, I stood outside the theater with some friends and with some of the NBI students, and we simply gloated happily and talked about our favorite scenes. None of us wanted to leave. I don't intend to argue with anyone about the movie or to defend it or to think about what may be its deficiencies. What I care about is that I watched the first run of the John Galt Line, and it was not 2011, it was 1950 and I was sitting in Ayn's living room reading the incredible scene in manuscript with tears running down my face -- and the world was a place of limitless possibilities. And that's what it was again on Friday night. And it remains so. Barbara

Thank you, Steve. You'll be glad to know that Nathaniel -- who was with me Friday night -- reacted to the movie just as I did. It means a great deal to both of us. And almost the first thing I said to my friends when the movie ended was: "How I wish Ayn could have seen it!" Barbara

A response to Peter Reidy.

BBfromM  Thu 5/4/2000, 1:56 AM atlantis

Peter wrote: <<An evil thought would be one which, by virtue of your having experienced it, makes you culpable, as an evil action is one whose doing makes you culpable. An evil idea, by contrast, would be the sort of thing Dwyer is talking about -- one that has bad effects if we believe it and act on it.>>

How in the world can a thought make you culpable? And any idea that is mistaken can have bad effects if we believe and act on it. What is added by calling the idea "evil?"

Peter also wrote: <<there's plenty of evidence that AR and her circle believed, despite pro-forma denials, that people can be good or evil  in virtue of the thoughts and emotions they experience. . . >>

There is indeed plenty of evidence for this. I can't speak for others, but please omit me from those who believed it.

Peter wrote: <<In "Atlas Shrugged," Rand repeatedly goes into her characters' consciousness and judges them for what she finds there.  Dagny is incapable of a fundamental feeling of guilt.  Galt's face is without pain or fear or guilt.  Much of what we know and dislike about James Taggart is his unsavory mental life. >>

I believe that Ayn Rand meant--and I've said that she was inconsistent in this area--that Dagny was unable to experience guilt because she had lived a life in which she did not take actions that would inspire guilt. And that Galt's face was without pain, fear, or guilt for the same reasons.

Peter notes that we do not find in Ayn Rand's other novels the writer going into her character's minds or feelings to show that they are good or evil. Her judgments, before ATLAS, were based predominantly on their actions. I believe that what happened in the writing of ATLAS, and that resulted in an inconsistency about moral judgments, was that her view of people was souring, and so she began to turn, in fiction and in her life, in the direction of denouncing people for the contents of their minds.

I wrote in an earlier post that when I was thirteen, someone I respected told me that under communism no one would be hungry. That sounded great to me, and I decided I must be a communist. Did that idea make me evil? Was it an evil
thought? Barbara

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  • 4 months later...

Some background for my question. Barbara Branden wrote around 2001: The question has often been raised on Atlantis: What is wrong with Objectivism that it attracts so many true believers -- people with a psychological need to accept every word Ayn Rand said on any issue as gospel, and who wield Objectivism like a club over the heads of those who do not. end quote

George H. Smith responded: Objectivism transcends True Believers. As with Science, Objectivism is demonstrably and repeatedly true. The only faith we require is good faith. (And this is precisely why we should retain the traditional view that knowledge is justified *and* true belief. Justification is relative, whereas truth is absolute. Ghs)

And then I had my say. Without faith a philosophy needs truth at its core, and to discover truth we need inquiring and open minds, which is why we argue so much. Gradually a consensus is reached in areas of contention, because one answer is usually best, with the current exception of human psychology. Psychology is the most complex issue Objectivism addresses, yet even human psychology should eventually yield to Contextual Certainty. (Note the advances in “Profiling” criminals and targeted advertising.) The study of Consciousness is in its infancy but it is growing :O) 

My 2018 question is: Has Objectivism or small o objectivism continued to be contextually true and scientific? Peter

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4 hours ago, Peter said:

My 2018 question is: Has Objectivism or small o objectivism continued to be contextually true and scientific?


That depends on whether you seek knowledge and an instruction manual for how your mind works, so to speak, both alone and in conjunction with others, or a religious-like code of rules to live by and not question--not just for you but for everybody.

I think an answer in the collective would be a mistake. This is an individual issue based on what each person, as an individual, seeks.

Rand put enough core elements in her writing to meet both objectives well.

btw - A discussion of Rand's core elements that encourage the religious view (the true believer part of people) bears teasing out one day. I think Barbara's question still remains unanswered in fundamentals. But that's partially because the focus of the question is too narrow.

(I don't believe I am disagreeing with Barbara! :) Barbara, Barbara... Wherever you are, you gotta give me a pass on this one. :) )

It's like seeing there are bullies and live-and-let live people everywhere, but only asking why there are so many bullies on the left as if trying to attribute the urge to bully to leftwing ideology. A correct approach to find the answer is to zoom out from the ideology and first ask why there are so many bullies in the world period. I mean you find bullies in all ideologies, religions, and groups based on all sorts of criteria. What's the human nature involved? And do we all have the urge to bully at times? (The answer is that we do, some more than others.) Then, to continue, the correct approach is to zoom back in and look at where the leftwing ideology creates opportunities for the bullying side of human nature to flourish. 

Ditto for true believing and Objectivism.


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Rand and drinking and Rand on depression. Thanks BB.

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Ayn Rand and drinking Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 20:33:51 EDT Ayn Rand did not drink, simply because she disliked the taste of liquor, but she had no objection to other people drinking -- assuming they did not reach the stage of drunkenness. She very much liked the concept of some drinking and much gaiety and good will at parties -- it was what she had thought would be true of parties in America. She had gathered this while still in Russia, from the American movies she saw. But was deeply disappointed to discover that parties generally held little gaiety and that people too often drank in order to become soddenly drunk and to make that an excuse for the sort of out-of-control behavior that they assumed would not be judged since they were "drunk."

She was convinced that no one HAD to be out-of-control, no matter how much they had to drink, that it was a "luxury" they allowed themselves as an escape from rationality.  To demonstrate this, she once downed a large glass of straight vodka -- sufficient to make almost anyone hopelessly drunk and, since she did not drink, sufficient presumably to make her helplessly drunk.  She felt the effects of the vodka strongly, she felt physically wobbly and mentally fuzzy -- but by an act of will she was able to remain herself and to continue speaking with the clarity and precision that was her trademark. There's a moral to the story. Barbara In answer to my question, Jeff R wrote: <Basically what Szasz says about depression is what he says about all "mental illness" -- that there is, strictly speaking, no such thing; that what we are really talking about here is problems in living and the different ways different people deal with them. Calling "depression" a "mental illness" or a "medical condition" is to “medicalize" unjustifiably an emotional reaction to the problems in one's life and one's estimate of one's ability to deal with them. In Heresies (1976), he defines "depression" as "self-accusation and self-pity." >>

If Szasz is correct, and since you agree with him, how would you explain the fact that antidepressant medication has saved the lives of many people who were so depressed that they were considering suicide? And that in less extreme cases, the medication alone -- without therapy and without intensive self-analysis -- has lifted the depression and restored people to their normal state. One could say that such people recovered because they believed they would recover, but there is no real evidence of this. Depressed people who thought that nothing could alleviate their misery, found that the medication, to their surprise, did just that.

You quote Szasz, as follows: <<Consider the millionaire who finds himself financially ruined because of business reverses.  How shall we explain his "depression" (if we so want to label his feeling of dejection)?  By regarding it as the result of the events mentioned, and perhaps of others in his childhood?  Or as the expression of his view of himself and of his powers in the world, present and future?  To choose the former is to redefine ethical conduct as psychiatric malady.>>

But very often prolonged depression occurs in the absence of any unusual negative events in one's life, and in the absence of any discernible cause. Life was pretty much going along as usual -- until depression hit. There may very well have been a number of difficulties in one's life before the depression hit, but not ones the equivalent of which had not occurred before without causing significant depression.

A great many people commonly experience self-pity, even wallow in it – but that does not necessarily result in severe depression. And people who do rarely experience significant self-pity have experienced serious depression. I am not suggesting that prolonged and deep depression is a psychological malady. Quite the opposite. I wonder -- because the above issues I raised seem to point to it -- if it is not almost totally the result of an aberrant brain chemistry. Depression, not necessarily severe, almost always is a problem that begins in youth and continues on and off throughout ones life if one does not take antidepressant medication.

I have read, although I don't know if it's true -- and this might contradict the idea that ONLY brain chemistry is involved -- that depression is quite common among writers. For instance, William Styron, who was almost physically, emotionally, and intellectually paralyzed by it. And many other great writers, throughout the centuries, have also experienced severe and prolonged depression. For instance, Ayn Rand. Her disappointment in the reception to ATLAS SHRUGGED and her break with and disappointment with Nathaniel (and with me, to a lesser degree) could be taken as the causes; but she had experienced much worse in her life -- such as the constant fear of imminent arrest and death in Russia, years of semi-starvation, and the loss of Leo, the young man who was her first and passionate love – without sinking into depression. She was unhappy over these events, terribly unhappy, but that is not the same thing as depression.

Another possibility is that the chemistry of the brain -- or, at least, of some brains -- can handle a great deal of pain and unhappiness, but then it breaks down at some point when even a more minor unhappiness, that one would otherwise take in one's stride, has a cumulative effect that the physical brain cannot handle. As is obvious, I am thinking on paper as I write. But Jeff -- and George – I am very interested in your reactions. Barbara

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Question for BB, NB or others... Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 11:34:45 EST Tom Devine asked: <<In what ways did Ayn Rand's fiction reflect her own suffering?  Are Roark and Galt's painful isolation from their loved ones a reflection of Rand's own melancholy?  Is there particular significance to be found in the fact that her work glorified happiness to such an extreme while she experienced so little happiness in her own life? Is there special meaning to her romanticizing of smoking in her fiction in regards to her own bad habit?>>

These are very interesting questions, to which I'm happy to respond. 1. <<In what ways did Ayn Rand's fiction reflect her own suffering?>>

I think that, especially in ATLAS SHRUGGED, it did reflect her own growing bitterness and near despair with the state of the culture. Fiction is autobiography, whether the writer intends it or not. And as she grew more bitter, so did her work. Yet, in all of her fiction, including ATLAS, one sees her unconquerable worship of joy that I believe was more basic to her than any suffering or bitterness. The external world created the suffering; Ayn Rand created the love of joy.

2. <<Are Roark and Galt's painful isolation from their loved ones a reflection of Rand's own melancholy?>>

I don't think so. They are, instead, a reflection of her love of drama and conflict in fiction. If there is also an autobiographical element, I believe it was a reflection of her own isolation in different ways from the men she loved in her lifetime.

3.  <<Is there particular significance to be found in the fact that her work glorified happiness to such an extreme while she experienced so little happiness in her own life? >>

No, I don't believe the two are retial part of her view of life, both philosophically and personally. Let me add that I would not say she experienced <<so little happiness in her own life.>> But her happiness came mostly from her work, much less so from her personal relationships. Although her early years with Frank O'Connor and her early months with Nathaniel Branden brought her much joy. As did her friendship with Nathaniel and with me, and later with the collective.

4. <<Is there special meaning to her romanticizing of smoking in her fiction in regards to her own bad habit?>>

Not directly. She truly saw smoking as <<fire tamed at man's fingertips>> which is probably why she began smoking when she did. And she did not see her habit as a bad one; in the years in which she glorified smoking, much less was known about it than is known today, and it was not unreasonable for her to say that there was no scientific proof that smoking was dangerous to one's health. Barbara

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