Wagons Being Circled


Robert Campbell

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PDS,

Hanlon's Razor is a good rule of thumb.

But what some people do isn't adequately explained by stupidity, incompetence, sloppiness, or even over-zealousness.

Some of those who hang out in Rand-land have gone well beyond over-zealousness. Most likely they've convinced themselves that their cause is so noble, its nobility will rub off on whatever mendacity or sleaze is employed to advance it.

This is hardly unknown in ideological movements.

Robert Campbell

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To follow on one of Neil's points:

It wasn't reading PARC that convinced me that James Valliant is a liar.

It was seeing how James Valliant defended and promoted PARC that convinced me.

Robert Campbell

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Here is Fitts a month ago:

Generally, I'm satisfied with Valliant's quoting and sources, and will say that he should have been less liberal how he quoted others (bordering on paraphrasing, like in the case of John Hospers), and should been more careful in citing his sources, like in the case of Rothbard. If he ever publishes a second edition, I'd certainly like to help in any editing he would need.

http://inductivequest.blogspot.com/2010/05/vampires-of-objectivism.html#disqus_thread

-Neil Parille

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> How can you keep maintaining that Jim Valliant is honest when his book makes misquotattions from, and erroneous attributions to, Barbara Branden's book The Passion of Ayn Rand? These have been documented in great detail by Neil Parille.

Robert,

1. I didn't say he -is- honest; I said I have not seen proof that he -isn't-.

2. It is not intellectually irresponsible of me to refuse to assent to what I don't yet know.

3. I am not about to accept it on your say-so, or that of Neil or anyone else. (This is the major reason, but I have from time to time found claims of immorality by one side or the other to fail to allow for alternative explanations.)

In general I find Oists to be poor at people skills which includes 'people smarts' and pronouncing judgment of people.

3B. When you missword something quite important that I said - "you keep maintaining that Jim Valliant is honest" - I am even less likely to simply accept whatever you say is in the book, what JV did, etc. I'm not accusing you of being dishonest, merely wondering how careful and unemotional an observer on this kind of personal issue...

4. I am under no obligation to read all the bios in order to decide if any of the authors is dishonest.

5. It is quite legitimate to be ignorant in areas one hasn't investigated. My preference is NOT to read books about the personalities in the Oist movement. I am far more interested in the philosophy itself than in who does or does not have feet of clay.

6. Do you equate "misquotation" and "erroneous attribution" in a long treatise with deliberate dishonesty? No other possible explanation?

Edited by Philip Coates
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Looked at in light of Peikoff's obvious frustration in the Arline Mann letter one wonders if there is a schism with the Archives brewing. Peikoff can't be happy with the Burns book and is probably ticked that the Archives gave Heller an advance copy of 100 Voices.

100 Voices is coming out November 2 and, from Heller's use of it in ARWSM, I don't think it's going to support Peikoff's line that Rand's only flaw was occasionally blowing her top. Has LP given marching orders to give PARC a second wind?

-Neil Parille

Edited by Neil Parille
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1. I didn't say he -is- honest; I said I have not seen -proof- that he isn't.

Uh, Phil, maybe you need to tell us what your standard of proof is.

If you won't be convinced by anything less than an FBI-authenticated videotaped confession ("Yes, I did it. I did it. Jim Valliant did it. I pulled the wool over all their eyes, and IT FELT SO GOOD"), you aren't going to get one, and nether are we.

2. It is not intellectually irresponsible of me to refuse to assent to what I don't yet know.

Depends on what you actually know, and what it takes to know it.

See Point 1 above and Point 4 below.

3. I am not about to accept it on your say-so, or that of Neil or anyone else. (This is the major reason, but I have from time to time found claims of immorality by one side or the other to fail to allow for alternative explanations.)

Our say-so isn't worth squat.

On the other hand, Neil's arguments and evidence, mine, other people's ... might count for something.

In general I find Oists to be poor at people skills which includes 'people smarts' and pronouncing judgment of people.

Umm... Pot? Umm... Kettle?

I don't see evidence that you normally intend to irritate your interlocutors, but irritation is what you most reliably accomplish.

3B. When you missword something quite important that I said - "you keep maintaining that Jim Valliant is honest" - I am even less likely to simply accept whatever you say is in the book, what JV did, etc. I'm not accusing you of being dishonest, merely wondering how careful and unemotional an observer on this kind of personal issue...

Phil, when someone rejects all evidence and argument in favor of a proposition, and does it over and over again without saying what he would in fact need to convince him of it, the most reliable reading is that he refuses to accept the proposition, come hell or high water.

See Points 1 and 2.

4. I am under no obligation to read all the bios in order to decide if any of the authors is dishonest or immoral.

When they are being charged with bad behavior on account of what they wrote in those biographies, and on account of their manner of writing it, and account of their manner of responding to criticisms of what they wrote, you most certainly are.

What you're not under is any obligation to participate in a discussion of Jim Valliant' purported behavior, or Lindsay Perigo's, or whoever's.

5. It is quite legitimate to be ignorant in areas one hasn't investigated. My preference is NOT to read books about the personalities in the Oist movement. I am far more interested in the philosophy itself than in who does or does not have feet of clay.

If you really mean this, you can easily do what Stephen Boydstun does here, or what Fred Seddon normally does at SOLO.

Just talk philiosophical issues and stay off personalities. Write about a proper theory of induction, let's say, instead of chiding your fellow OLers concerning issues that you keep on telling us don't interest you.

I don't think anyone holds Stephen's or Fred's lack of interest in personalities or in Rand-land politics against them. I don't.

What I see you doing, time and time again, is something quite different: wading right into personalities and Rand-land politics while piously disowning your avid interest in them.

I hope that clears the matter up.

Nope.

Without entirely clearing matters up, Phil has now added:

6. Do you equate "misquotation" and "erroneous attribution" in a long treatise with deliberate dishonesty? No other possible explanation?

Absolutely not.

When the misquoter and erroneous attributer does like Jim Valliant: denies error when it's plainly shown to him, makes up cock-and-bull stories about how his professor taught him to misquote, makes up stories about how his publisher subjected his manuscript to tough editing, makes up more cock-and-bull stories about how the interviews he never bothered to listen to or look at weren't available to him at the Archives, refuses to talk about his prior connection to the publisher when publicly available evidence suggests that he had one, etc. etc. etc., you start questioning his honesty as well as his competence. Enough piles up, and you go beyond questioning to drawing firm conclusions.

It ain't rocket science, Phil.

It ain't Stage 5 post-formal social role-taking, either.

Robert Campbell

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I wrote:

For the life of me I'll never understand why the typewriter issue is supposedly proof of theBrandens lying. Of all the things to lie about this has to be the most minor. It doesn't make them look any better.

Valliant's contention is that, by claiming Rand told them the RR typewriter story, theBrandens are implying that they have the "inside dope" on Rand, dope that Rand would share only with them.

Barbara was Rand's best female friend for 18 years. Nathaniel was her lover and intellectual heir. I don't need a bogus story about Rand's name to convince me that Rand told them things she didn't tell anyone else.

-Neil Parille

Edited by Neil Parille
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What's revealed in the diaries is that Nathaniel was seeking the therapy sessions, as part of his attempt to keep the truth from Ayn.

How would you know that Branden's seeking therapy from Rand was part of his attempt to keep the truth from her? I don't think we can conclude anything about Branden's motives from Rand's diaries. Her account of the events, even if 100% accurate, doesn't allow us to get inside his head and identify his motives.

No, but combining what's in her diaries with what's in his own book provides strong basis.

I think that previously you've said that Branden, at the time, had bought into Rand's views on sex, which included her opinion that he should have continued to have been sexually desirous of her, no matter how old or physically unappealing she might have become, because of who and what she was. So, isn't it possible that Branden was seeking therapy with her because he believed that his dwindling sexual response to her indicated that there was something wrong with him according to her theory?

I think he did buy into her views on sex. See his own book. Also there's Barbara's statement in her 1990 Liberty interview that he was more royalist than the king on the subject.

But did he say to Ayn, when she put out feelers about resuming the affair, words to the effect, "Ayn, I no longer feel sexual desire for you. Also, I'm having an affair with Patrecia"?

We can't assume that his involvement with Patrecia is what diminished his attraction to Rand -- that he wouldn't have lost sexual interest in Rand even if he hadn't gotten involved with someone else. So, if he had never developed a relationship with a younger, sexier woman, but had still lost interest in continuing a sexual relationship with aging Rand, don't you think that he would have still sought therapy from her? After all, since he believed her views on sexuality, what else could he do, other than turn to her? No one else was qualified to counsel him on the sexual theories that he had absorbed.

He could have told her the truth about his diminished attraction and sought therapy on that basis instead of denying his diminished attraction and seeking therapy on other bases.

Just because he was deceiving Rand by not informing her of one of his violations of her theory of sexuality (his relationship with Patrecia) doesn't mean that his intent was to deceive her when seeking therapy for another violation (his failing sexual response to Rand). He was in a position where his failing sexual response to Rand couldn't help but be revealed to her, and he had to know that, once it had become an issue that she was aware of, he would be expected to seek her advice on how to root out his alleged errors and find a cure for his diminishing appetite for her, no?

Where do you find his seeking her advice trying to "find a cure for his diminishing appetite for her [Rand]"? At the start he told her other stuff, and then said that he had a sexual dysfunction problem.

Ellen

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Ma. Stuttle has yet to explain what business Ayn Rand had offering psychotherapy to anyone, let alone to her business partner, lover, and subordinate.

But this should not come as a surprise.

Ms. Stuttle has few points to make, and many scores to settle.

Robert Campbell

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["Ms. Stuttle"] has repeatedly denied believing that Rand was morally perfect, as Objectivism understands it or as any other system of thought understands it.

That isn't my own recollection of the little I've said on the moral perfection issue. Basically, I think it's silly, as argued by both sides. I recall once, when you were badgering me on that topic, saying that Objectivism's standard of moral perfection is only doing one's honest best to know what's true and act accordingly -- or something to that effect. I don't recall on what thread or board, here or on SOLO, it was.

Ellen

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Ma. Stuttle has yet to explain what business Ayn Rand had offering psychotherapy to anyone, let alone to her business partner, lover, and subordinate.

You've yet to explain any reason why she shouldn't have. It's not done, so people say. Is that it?

Ellen

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The standard explanations as to why therapist and patient shouldn't have a personal or business relationship outside the office are that the therapist lacks objectivity and the patient won't feel free to confide. The Rand circle had a long history of blurring the lines. Branden treated his wife, and apparently the Collective and his practice in the 50s were the same group of people under different names, like the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops. The way relations ended up among these people is one more reason.

Edited by Reidy
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> How can you keep maintaining that Jim Valliant is honest when his book makes misquotattions from, and erroneous attributions to, Barbara Branden's book The Passion of Ayn Rand? These have been documented in great detail by Neil Parille.

Robert,

1. I didn't say he -is- honest; I said I have not seen proof that he -isn't-.

2. It is not intellectually irresponsible of me to refuse to assent to what I don't yet know.

3. I am not about to accept it on your say-so, or that of Neil or anyone else. (This is the major reason, but I have from time to time found claims of immorality by one side or the other to fail to allow for alternative explanations.)

In general I find Oists to be poor at people skills which includes 'people smarts' and pronouncing judgment of people.

3B. When you missword something quite important that I said - "you keep maintaining that Jim Valliant is honest" - I am even less likely to simply accept whatever you say is in the book, what JV did, etc. I'm not accusing you of being dishonest, merely wondering how careful and unemotional an observer on this kind of personal issue...

4. I am under no obligation to read all the bios in order to decide if any of the authors is dishonest.

5. It is quite legitimate to be ignorant in areas one hasn't investigated. My preference is NOT to read books about the personalities in the Oist movement. I am far more interested in the philosophy itself than in who does or does not have feet of clay.

6. Do you equate "misquotation" and "erroneous attribution" in a long treatise with deliberate dishonesty? No other possible explanation?

Phil, have you read the book? You have been presented with plenty of prima facie evidence that the book is tendentious. Do you not, for example, understand why the doctored cover might be dishonest, or what it implies that one of Valiant's central proofs of the dishonesty of the Brandens is . . . the typewriter story? If you are such a good judge of people, which do you think is more likely, that Rand, who loved a good story, embellished it, or that the Brandens, hoping to make Rand look like a monster, made it up?

Now, have you actually read PARC?

Assuming you understand the implications of the first paragraph above, and the answer to the question in the second is no, then your repeated assertions that you cannot Judge Valiant to be dishonest, or the like, are disingenuous. The proper attitude on your part should be simply to say that you have not read PARC. Your repeated assertions that you cannot pass judgment on Valiant only make sense in the implicit comparison, that you think you are morally superior in your ignorance to those who, having read the book, and dealt with the man, judge him as dishonest based on verifiable words (book, on line) and actions (wikipedia editting).

One doesn't keep repeating one's agnosticism as if it were an epistemologically salient fact. Silence, or a mere admission that you haven't read him are all that is called for. Repeated breathy statements that "Well, I can't condemn him!" as if that were a positive claim amount to moral posturing. Given their frequency, you do protest too much.

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I may have mentioned this before, but I think it bears on PARC's completeness and Valliant's honesty. Here is what Jennifer Burns said on her blog:

[i saw] Notes written by Rand in 1968 about Frank O'Connor and their marriage. I particularly regretted that I was not able to publish this material, for they were a fascinating window into Rand’s changing attitudes about Frank and her rediscovery of his virtues as her relationship with Nathaniel Branden crumbled [emphasis added].

http://www.jenniferburns.org/blog/97-in-the-rand-archive-part-6-on-the-brandens-continued

This material would appear to fall within the time limits of the diaries in PARC. Shouldn't it have been transcribed, or at least acknowledged?

In fact, Valliant implies there isn't more information from this time period than what he transcribed (with the exception of some material that was allegedly too repetitive to be included).

As indicated this material is almost exclusively related to Rand's relationship with Branden, and, in particular, it chronicles the last several months of "psycotherapy" Rand endured with him while he was deceiving her about her marriage, his affair, and his feelings. These accounts provide an extremely detailed record of the period from the Fall of 1967 to the start of August, 1968. (Unfortunately they provide nearly no autobiographical information about other periods in Rand's life.) [PARC, p. 191; emphasis added.]

Rand's evolving views on Frank and their marriage don't provide autobiographical information?

-Neil Parille

Edited by Neil Parille
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the typewriter story? If you [Phil] are such a good judge of people, which do you think is more likely, that Rand, who loved a good story, embellished it, or that the Brandens, hoping to make Rand look like a monster, made it up?

The interminable typewriter. The two possibilities you give leave me wondering if you ever read the discussion on SOLO which followed your "a good story" suggestion OR what Valliant says in PARC either. He doesn't say the Brandens made it up hoping to make Rand look like a monster -- or even that they made it up. He says cousin Fern made it up, but that then NB repeated it as if AR told it to him and Barbara.

The only likely possibility I see for AR making it up would have been to protect her family by keeping people from asking questions about her last name. I believed for a long time that AR had said something off-hand to the Brandens when they inquired about where she got her name -- such as, "From my typewriter."

However, the last time the issue came up on SOLO, I re-read and posted the details of the description from both Judgment Day and My Years with Ayn Rand. Here's a repeat of the post. Even allowing for the faux-dialog technique (at which NB, unlike Barbara, wasn't skilled), I find it unbelievable that Rand would have said what he reported (that she took the name from the typewriter shortly after coming to America, i.e., the story Fern Brown told which can't have been true because the Remington-Rand typewriter wasn't made then).

http://www.solopassion.com/node/7293#comment-86218

Here's the passage where Nathaniel tells the typewriter-name story. It does indicate that Ayn was telling this to both him and Barbara.

pg. 73 Judgment Day

[underscore added]

As the months passed and our friendship with Ayn and Frank progressed, we learned more details of their past--where they had been born, their relationship with their families, and a little about their early struggles.

Ayn was born on February 2, 1905, in the city of St. Petersburg (subsequently called Petrograd and eventually Leningrad), which is the setting of We the Living. "Ayn Rand was not my original name," she told us. "My first name was Alice. I adopted the name Ayn from a Finnish writer and I adopted the name Rand soon after coming to America--from my Remington-Rand typewriter! I never tell anyone my original family name because if I still have relatives living in Russia, they'd be endangered." Many years would pass before I would learn that her original name had been Alice Rosenbaum.

The passage is somewhat altered in stylistic and punctuation details in MYWAR. The information is added that it was from Barbara that NB learned Rand's original name. (Also that Leningrad's name was reverted to Saint Petersburg.)

pg. 61 My Years with Ayn Rand

[underscore added]

As the months passed and as our friendship with Ayn and Frank deepened, we learned more details of their past--where they had been born, what their relationship with their families was like, and a little about how they had struggled in earlier days.

Ayn was born on February 2, 1905, in the city of Saint Petersburg (subsequently known as Petrograd and then Leningrad before once again becoming Saint Petersburg), which is the setting of We the Living. "Ayn Rand was not my original name," she told us. "My first name was Alice. I adopted the name Ayn from a Finnish writer, and I adopted the name Rand soon after coming to America--from my Remington-Rand typewriter! I never tell anyone my original family name, because if I still have relatives living in Russia, they'd be endangered." Many years would pass before I would learn (from Barbara) that her original name had been Alice Rosenbaum.

Ellen

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Ellen,

Are saying Nathaniel or Barbara are lying about having heard some version of the typewriter story from Rand? Do you think Fern made it up?

Unfortunately Jennifer Burns didn't answer my request for clarification of her statement that:

That said, there were several aspects of Barbara Branden’s memoir which material in the archive definitely falsifies: the most famous of these is the typewriter story. Material from the archive indicates this legend is long established in family history and originated with Rand herself, though it is unclear if the youthful Rand was experimenting with tales of origin, or if the distortions of memory played a role (think of a game of telephone, stretched across generations).

http://www.jenniferburns.org/blog/79-in-the-rand-archive-part-5-on-the-brandens

The italicized version is hard to square with the previous part.

One explanation would be that Rand occasionally said something like "I enjoyed typing so much when I came to the US that I could have taken my last name from a Remington Rand typewriter." This could have been misremembered by Brown. When Fern told Barbara it could have jogged Barbara's memory, but in an equally erroneous direction.

-Neil Parille

Edited by Neil Parille
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The standard explanations as to why therapist and patient shouldn't have a personal or business relationship outside the office are that the therapist lacks objectivity and the patient won't feel free to confide.

Yes. And of course the Rand circle didn't think these objections applied to them, as you go on to indicate:

The Rand circle had a long history of blurring the lines. Branden treated his wife, and apparently the Collective and his practice in the 50s were the same group of people under different names, like the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops.
The way relations ended up among these people is one more reason.

Post facto.

Ellen

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the typewriter story? If you [Phil] are such a good judge of people, which do you think is more likely, that Rand, who loved a good story, embellished it, or that the Brandens, hoping to make Rand look like a monster, made it up?

The interminable typewriter. The two possibilities you give leave me wondering if you ever read the discussion on SOLO which followed your "a good story" suggestion OR what Valliant says in PARC either. He doesn't say the Brandens made it up hoping to make Rand look like a monster -- or even that they made it up. He says cousin Fern made it up, but that then NB repeated it as if AR told it to him and Barbara.

The only likely possibility I see for AR making it up would have been to protect her family by keeping people from asking questions about her last name. I believed for a long time that AR had said something off-hand to the Brandens when they inquired about where she got her name -- such as, "From my typewriter."

However, the last time the issue came up on SOLO, I re-read and posted the details of the description from both Judgment Day and My Years with Ayn Rand. Here's a repeat of the post. Even allowing for the faux-dialog technique (at which NB, unlike Barbara, wasn't skilled), I find it unbelievable that Rand would have said what he reported (that she took the name from the typewriter shortly after coming to America, i.e., the story Fern Brown told which can't have been true because the Remington-Rand typewriter wasn't made then).

http://www.solopassi...3#comment-86218

Here's the passage where Nathaniel tells the typewriter-name story. It does indicate that Ayn was telling this to both him and Barbara.

pg. 73 Judgment Day

[underscore added]

As the months passed and our friendship with Ayn and Frank progressed, we learned more details of their past--where they had been born, their relationship with their families, and a little about their early struggles.

Ayn was born on February 2, 1905, in the city of St. Petersburg (subsequently called Petrograd and eventually Leningrad), which is the setting of We the Living. "Ayn Rand was not my original name," she told us. "My first name was Alice. I adopted the name Ayn from a Finnish writer and I adopted the name Rand soon after coming to America--from my Remington-Rand typewriter! I never tell anyone my original family name because if I still have relatives living in Russia, they'd be endangered." Many years would pass before I would learn that her original name had been Alice Rosenbaum.

The passage is somewhat altered in stylistic and punctuation details in MYWAR. The information is added that it was from Barbara that NB learned Rand's original name. (Also that Leningrad's name was reverted to Saint Petersburg.)

pg. 61 My Years with Ayn Rand

[underscore added]

As the months passed and as our friendship with Ayn and Frank deepened, we learned more details of their past--where they had been born, what their relationship with their families was like, and a little about how they had struggled in earlier days.

Ayn was born on February 2, 1905, in the city of Saint Petersburg (subsequently known as Petrograd and then Leningrad before once again becoming Saint Petersburg), which is the setting of We the Living. "Ayn Rand was not my original name," she told us. "My first name was Alice. I adopted the name Ayn from a Finnish writer, and I adopted the name Rand soon after coming to America--from my Remington-Rand typewriter! I never tell anyone my original family name, because if I still have relatives living in Russia, they'd be endangered." Many years would pass before I would learn (from Barbara) that her original name had been Alice Rosenbaum.

Ellen

Yes, when forced by reality to retreat, Valiant retreats. But why are you telling me what I already know? Why not make Fitts aware of the truth? Note that Fitts' "review" does not reference the on line concessions:

To get an idea of what I mean, let's consider some of the things Valliant proves in PARC:

http://inductiveques...w-of-james.html

(1) The origin of Rand's American name. Both Nathaniel and Barbara Branden claim that Rand (originally Alice/Alyssa Rosenbaum) changed her name to that of her Remington-Rand typewriter which she brought with her from Russia, with Rand's cousin Fern Brown as Barbara's source. Barbara even claims that Rand never told her family her new name, suggesting a kind of callousness and betrayal of a family who had cared for her enough to help her get out of Russia—fitting perfectly with their portrayal of Rand as manipulative. But these are all lies. As Valliant demonstrates, the Rand Kardex company didn't merge with the Remington company (i.e. the one which manufactured typewriters of the two) until 1927, a year after Rand arrived in America with her typewriter; in fact, Remington-Rand typewriters weren't even made in the 1920's, according to the Remington-Rand company itself. In a letter to a fan, Rand states that her first name is an American version of a Finnish name, and in a New York Evening Post interview she states that her last name is an abbreviation of her Russian surname. (Evidence of this is provided at the ARI site.) In any event, there's no proof that she took her name from a typewriter that didn't even exist at the time she had actually invented the name "Ayn Rand," (sometime around 1925), besides the claims of the Brandens. Furthermore, there are letters from Rand's family in 1926 that explicitly call her "Rand," which were sent beforeshe communicated with them in America, meaning she told them her new name before leaving, contrary to Barbara's claims. A small point, but that the Brandens felt the need to lie about this, and to even suggest that Rand was unfair to her family and left them in the dark about her life in America, is unforgivable and revolting. (PARC, p. 12-14; "How do you pronounce "Ayn?" and "What is the origin of "Rand?"; the "Objectivism Reference Center" speculates that Rand herself may have spread the story of the typewriter, if N. Branden's story is correct. His dishonesty generally, and her accounts of her name being an abbreviation of her Russian name to both theEvening Post and The Saturday Evening Post, however, suggest another instance of Branden simply lying.) [Emph. added.]

Let us know when you post a corrective comment at the bottom of this pile of crap.

Edited by Ted Keer
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Ellen,

Are saying Nathaniel or Barbara are lying about having heard some version of the typewriter story from Rand? Do you think Fern made it up?

-Neil Parille

Neil, I think it's completely implausible that Rand told NB and BB what NB says she did. She wouldn't have invented a story about taking her name from a typewriter which included the detail about adopting the name from that typewriter (which wasn't in existence then) soon after she came to America. I think that NB has to have gotten the report he gives, presenting it as said by Rand, from Barbara's story in Passion.

At this point I'm definitely doubtful that Rand ever did tell anyone the story. Fern might have connected the name "Remington-Rand" with memories of Rand typing in her family's living room and Rand's saying that she was using the pen name "Rand" (which she'd already adopted before coming to America).

Another possibility is that NB got it screwed up in his providing dialog and he imported details which Rand didn't say. He did make a lot of time-line and other screw ups in Judgment Day.

Ellen

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Yes, when forced by reality to retreat, Valiant retreats. But why are you telling me what I already know? Why not make Fitts aware of the truth? Note that Fitts' "review" does not reference the on line concessions:

HUH? What on line concessions are you talking about? The passages I quoted were from Nathaniel Branden. Valliant said nothing about NB telling the typewriter story to make Rand look like a monster, as you claimed. The reference to what Barbara said about Rand's Russian family never being told her name is a separate thing.

Ellen

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You've yet to explain any reason why she shouldn't have. It's not done, so people say. Is that it?

Ma. Stuttle can't figure out why acting as therapist to your (possibly estranged) lover might not be a good idea?

It's not as though this has never been talked about before.

It was one of the first issues I raised with Jim Valliant on SOLOHQ, five years ago.

But never mind....

What might go wrong with serving as therapist to your (possibly estranged) lover who "presents" with the complaint that he ought to feel sexual desire for you, but he no longer does?

What might go wrong if you, while serving as therapist, also have a business partnership with your client, and are the leader of a movement in which your client plays a major but definitely subordinate role?

You can hear the fuse fizzing,

Is Ayn Rand in her role of therapist going to tell Nathaniel Branden in his role as client that it's OK for Nathaniel Branden in his role of possibly estranged lover to reject Ayn Rand in her role as lover, sexually or romantically? What are the further implications for Nathaniel Branden in his roles as business partner and Disciple Number One?

You don't have to read the diaries to know how it turned out. But reading the diaries makes the conflicts even more painfully obvious.

As Peter noted, it was precisely because stuff like this went on in some circles, during the 1950s and 1960s, that the ethical guidelines now in effect for therapists were adopted.

As I've asked a number of times, just how would Rand have reacted if Nathaniel Branden had turned down her "offer" of therapy?

Is that so hard to figure out?

Beyond the conflict-of-interest issues, which are massive, there is the question of Rand's competence as a therapist.

Reading the diaries, with their endless, strained analyses of "meta-selfishness" and the "Kantian goddess premise" and the "stylized life," will quickly dispel any notion that Rand knew what she was doing.

So, here's the picture:

Nathaniel Branden was keeping information from his therapist, who was also his lover, business partner, and his superior in the movement, and lying to her.

He was using the "therapy" to stall and stave off the inevitable disclosure of his relationship with Patrecia Scott and the consequences that were bound to be attendant on that.

Ayn Rand lacked competence as a therapist.

Even if she had acquired the necessary competence, it would still have been a recipe for disaster for her to serve as therapist to Nathaniel Branden.

Overall, it makes for an awful picture.

Jim Valliant and Leonard Peikoff imagined that publishing the diaries would make Nathaniel Branden look bad (not just bad, worse than his own memoirs already made him look) while Ayn Rand would emerge from them looking good.

That's not how it has worked out.

Nearly everyone besides Jim Valliant and Leonard Peikoff has understood why.

Robert Campbell

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Ted,

This was my discussion from SOLO:

On page 12 of PARC, Valliant says:

“’Ms. Branden also tells us: Ayn Rand never told her family in Russia her new name . . . they never knew she became Ayn Rand.’ Ms. Branden may be trying to insinuate that Rand was being neurotically secretive, perhaps even turning her back on her family. This is the sort of vague impression we will see the Brandens persistently attempt to create. Ms. Branden certainly claims that this was an important reason why Rand lost contact with her family shortly before World War II—they did not know her name.” [Ellipses in the original PARC.]

What Branden said in full is:

“Ayn never told her family in Russia the new name she had chosen. She had no doubt that she would one day be famous, and she feared that if it were known in Russia that she was Alice Rosenbaum, daughter of Fronz and Anna, her family’s safety, even their lives, would be endangered by their relationship to a vocal anti-Communist. Through all the years that she corresponded with her family, until just before World War II, Russia refused entry to mail from the United States and she lost track of them—they never knew she had become ‘Ayn Rand.’” (PAR, 71-72.)

Valliant creates a totally different impression of what Branden is writing through the use of the ellipses. He omits Branden’s assertion that Rand (allegedly) did not tell her family in Russia that here new name was “Ayn Rand” for concern for their safety. Had this been true (which it apparently wasn’t) it would have been a perfectly reasonable concern on Rand’s part. So while Branden may be mistaken on the name issue, nothing she says implies that she considers Rand to have been “neurotically secretive” much less “turning her back” on her family in Russia. In fact, Branden is saying the opposite. Rand corresponded with them often and would have continued had it not been for a change in Soviet policy shortly before World War II. Had Valliant included the material in the ellipses this would have been clear. Finally, although a minor point, I don’t read Branden as claiming that the new name resulted in her family in Russia losing track with her. I think “they never knew she had become ‘Ayn Rand’” refers back to the opening statement of the sentence about the correspondence (as Valliant appears to read it in his first sentence quoted).

http://www.solopassion.com/node/1435

I added in my completed essay that Barbara has Rand crying when she left her family and telling them that she would bring them to the US. She mentions Rand crying when she learned that Nora was alive. So much for Valliant's BS about Barbara implying that Rand turning her back on her family.

On page 14 Valliant said that the Brandens were sold a "bill of goods" by Fern and that they then each did some "embellishing." There are no honest mistakes for Valliant.

-Neil Parille

Edited by Neil Parille
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Neil, I think it's completely implausible that Rand told NB and BB what NB says she did. She wouldn't have invented a story about taking her name from a typewriter which included the detail about adopting the name from that typewriter (which wasn't in existence then) soon after she came to America. I think that NB has to have gotten the report he gives, presenting it as said by Rand, from Barbara's story in Passion.

At this point I'm definitely doubtful that Rand ever did tell anyone the story. Fern might have connected the name "Remington-Rand" with memories of Rand typing in her family's living room and Rand's saying that she was using the pen name "Rand" (which she'd already adopted before coming to America).

More fudging and foozling from Ms. Stuttle.

Ms. Stuttle imagines that Ayn Rand wouldn't have made up a certain story, ergo it must be true that Rand didn't make up that story.

All this proves is that Ms. Stuttle wants to believe something, or wants others to believe that she wants to believe it, or some such iteration.

One important fact about all of Rand's junior disciples: none of them spoke or read Russian.

Rand could have edited out certain features of her early life and altered others. Her disciples wouldn't have been inclined to question her accounts—for instance, to look up the scattered press clippings on her from the 1930s, or to check out the history of the Remington-Rand.

And even if they were inclined to ask questions, they wouldn't have been able to read the letters she'd received from her family from 1926 through 1936 (and where were these being stored, in the 1950s and 1960s?).

It was nearly a decade after her death before the Peikovians, who one might think would overlook no opportunity to cast discredit on Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, paid any attention to the Russian-language letters.

Robert Campbell

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You've yet to explain any reason why she shouldn't have. It's not done, so people say. Is that it?

Ma. Stuttle can't figure out why acting as therapist to your (possibly estranged) lover might not be a good idea?

It's not as though this has never been talked about before.

It was one of the first issues I raised with Jim Valliant on SOLOHQ, five years ago.

But never mind....

What might go wrong with serving as therapist to your (possibly estranged) lover who "presents" with the complaint that he ought to feel sexual desire for you, but he no longer does?

What might go wrong if you, while serving as therapist, also have a business partnership with your client, and are the leader of a movement in which your client plays a major but definitely subordinate role?

You can hear the fuse fizzing,

Sure, I can figure out what might go wrong with it. However, you're presuming, are you not, that they should have figured out what might go wrong with it? If they thought it was fine for NB to be Barbara's therapist concerning her romantic problems with him, why would they think it wrong for AR to help Nathaniel -- especially since, contra your description, NB didn't "present" with the complaint that he ought to feel sexual desire for AR but no longer did? Instead, he "presented" with misleading complaints which it would have seemed reasonable for her to help him with.

Ellen

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