Comments on statements in archives

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It occurred to me that some people might want to comment on the information in the locked archives of Ayn Rand's statements and the statements about her from people who knew her.

So here is a thread to make the comments. Sorry for the inconvenience, but I believe that keeping the archives of statements separate from comments about them makes them easier to use by scholars and writers.


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I'll kick this off with a comment about the Rand quotes from her biographical interviews with Barbara.

In addition to calling Nathaniel a genius, this is the first place anywhere I know of that Rand defined the term "genius." I only mention this because I got into a discussion once with a group of Objectivists who were postulating that "genius" was not a valid concept in Objectivism, especially since Rand never defined it.

Well finally here it is. She did define it. And she used it to characterize Nathaniel. I don't think she ever retracted that evaluation either, not even after the break.


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Rand, defining "genius" in her taped interviews with Barbara Branden, said:

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.

I'm not surprised that Rand never retracted her description of Nathaniel Branden as a genius. It would have been a lie! (And she didn't tell lies, did she?)

I don't agree with everything Branden has ever said, and I don't approve of everything he's ever done, but he is a first-rate intellect. I was and am literally in awe of what he wrote in The Psychology of Self-Esteem and The Disowned Self. And he "checks premises" and thinks "outside the box" and does creative thinking better than anyone I know of in the Objectivist movement. He has been a wonderful role model for me in my own thinking and writing and exploring other areas for possible application to problems I am working on.

In reflecting over the various luminaries in and near the Objectivist movement, I am hard pressed to name anyone else that I think fits this description. There are many admirable people out there doing good work, but none that I'd put at the genius level of Branden.

Rand, certainly, was a genius, both intellectually and creatively. But here I'll offer a bit of heresy that just occurred to me: I think that in terms of openness to new, relevant facts, Branden was actually more objective than Rand. He saw the importance of things like evolution and hypnosis and non-judgmental awareness and volunteer government financing either before she did, or when she did not.


P.S. -- No doubt, the Noodle Bashin' folks will distort the above to the point that it is unrecognizable. I can see the headline now: "Conceptual Acid Tank Claims that Vicious Spiritual Rapist is More Objective Than Rand." <sigh> These are the times we live in. But they, too, shall pass away.

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