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Reidy

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Everything posted by Reidy

  1. http://aynrandlexicon.com/about-ayn-rand/faq.html
  2. While the typewriter story can't be true, I can believe that Rand told it to BB among others. She was solicitous of her family's political security in the USSR, and the Remington-Rand explanation would have kept people from prying further and finding out her birth name. The Cyrillic story, while probably true, would have given the secret away.
  3. Rand's recommendation of Hugo paid off handsomely. I struck out on Dostoyevsky and Conrad. The Secret Agent has some amusingly contemporary allusions, but otherwise both authors escaped me.
  4. No, because the money to support these schools was taken from you and others by force. This is not your doing. See Rand's The Question of Scholarships.
  5. My advice is always to read the novels first, then the anthologies - The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism the Unknown Ideal and The Romantic Manifesto - depending on what topics interest you. Then the secondary sources the others have mentioned. One reason to start with the novels is that the non-fiction writings (by Rand and others) refer back to them constantly, revealing their storylines in the process. You won't understand the essays if you haven't read the novels, and you won't enjoy the novels if you already know how they turn out. A reason to read Rand before you move on to Peikoff, Bernstein, etc. is that the secondary literature constantly refers back to Rand's essays. For the New Intellectual, The Early Ayn Rand, the letters and the journals are optional.
  6. A new way to fight the brain drain
  7. This is a quite different statement from the ones she made about Branden. She approved works of Peikoff that she had already seen. By contrast, she said Branden's word was Objectivism and that she approved his future statements in advance. (Come to think of it, "intellectual heir" has a meaning after all, namely this blank-check endorsement that she did not give to Peikoff.)
  8. As far as I know Rand never named anybody but Branden as her intellectual heir. Can you provide a citation about Peikoff? (Not that the phrase means anything anyway)
  9. To get back to the Columbia University tapes, most of them are online. Apparently the ones with Hospers and the Brandens have been memory-holed.
  10. One of Rand's biographers - Heller, I think - talks about her pep pill use and quotes a letter from Isabel Paterson in the late 1940s, warning her strongly to lay off at once.
  11. In Oak Park IL on Thursday the 11th, a rare chance to hear the music that inspired We the Living in the building that inspired Roark's Stoddard Temple: http://www.utrf.org/operetta-in-exile/
  12. I don't see that unfaithfulness requires deception. It simply means having a sexual partner other than one's spouse (or committed partner). She made her marriage the public's business by talking about it. Nor do I see that Peikoff was merely being discreet. Rand and the Brandens had both dishonest by omission in their original explanation. Had Rand merely said, in a sentence or two, that she and the Brandens were going their separate ways, then discretion would have been been due. Instead she denounced him publicly for all manner of depravity, specified or not, while withholding the real reason. By 1986, when BB's biography came out, there was a pent-up demand for the whole story. Rand was a famous and historically important person, and people want to know about her life. If people want to attack you ad hominem, they're going to find a way. What you make public and what you keep private won't change this. For example, some have denounced her for taking Social Security and Medicare in later years, and they didn't need any gossip or personal secrets to do this. I'm not sure. Did Peikoff ever deny on the record that the affair had taken place?
  13. This article, about the anti-revolutionary civil war in the Vendée region of France, might interest a Randian audience, because it was the historical background of Hugo's Ninety-Three, for which she wrote an introduction.
  14. The big shockeroo was the revelation that AR had been unfaithful to her husband. People had gossiped, but this was the first time anybody attested to it on the record. Attendant to that was the revelation that she hadn't come clean to her public about the reasons for her break with NB. Just to speculate, I imagine the book was offensive to Peikoff, implying as it did that either he hadn't known this during Rand's lifetime (despite his claims to have been close to her) or that he had (and had cooperated in the deception). He finally admitted, at one of his Ford Hall Forum appearances, that he'd learned about the affair from her journals shortly after her death. That's the worst of both, if you think about it: she never saw fit to tell her self-appointed "intellectual heir" and he kept it a secret once he found out.
  15. The argument here (identity precludes change) first showed up in Parmenides ca 500 BC. From the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology: On the former path [i.e. of reason] we convince ourselves that the existent neither has come into being, nor is perishable, and is entirely of one sort, without change and limit, neither past nor future, entirely included in the present. For it is as impossible that it can become and grow out of the existent, as that it could do so out of the non-existent; since the latter, non-existence, is absolutely inconceivable, and the former cannot precede itself; and every coming into existence presupposes a non-existence. His writings give us the first example of an explicit premise-and-conclusion argument. Much of Aristotle's metaphysics amounts to an explanation of what's wrong with that argument.
  16. Yes, forced civilian servitude is as bad as you say, but I don't see any evidence that it's in the offing. The proposal has been knocking around since the Theodore Roosevelt / Woodrow Wilson era, never quite dying but never taking wing either. It had a moment in the years after WW2. Ike instructed his troops to write home supporting the idea, telling them that they would get home sooner if new conscripts replaced them. James Conant, the president of Harvard, talked the proposal up in Look in 1950. His version, like so many, gave people a choice between military and not. It was urgent, he said, because by 1954 the USSR would have bombers capable of reaching New York. Like the Soviet bombing of New York, it didn't happen. It had another moment during the Vietnam war. Robert McNamara, Johnson's Secretary of Defense, floated the idea. Again it didn't happen. The draft (military or civilian) and wage-price controls are two policies that are gone for good.
  17. Can you give us a quote? She said in The Objectivist Ethics that pleasure and pain are the lowest-level signals of whether we are being affected for good or for ill, but I don't recognize the claim you mention. Hunger and satiety are built-in, automatic signals, but they aren't enough to tell us what to eat or how to obtain it.
  18. This isn't very informative, but Nathaniel Branden has spoken well of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
  19. Competition implies that the lesser performers lose market share and revenue (as the USPS has of late). This may even be a tautology (since lesser performance is failure to gain market share and revenue). Competition doesn't entail that they'll go out of business, though. Otherwise we'd have only one TV network or make/model of car. Second- and third- and nth-place performers can still prosper.
  20. The internet has been competing with the feds for mail delivery since the 1990s, and most successfully.
  21. Regardless of who said it, and whether or not it’s true, the quote states a matter of profoundest conviction for Rand, and I think it’s a key to the enduring hold she has over her readers. When we meet a character in one of her novels, we get a physical description as we do in just about any novel. We come across Roark immediately in The Fountainhead and James Taggart and Dagny Taggart very early on in Atlas Shrugged. Rand’s descriptions are largely in terms of acquired, character-revealing traits such as facial expression, carriage, posture or eye focus. The impersonal narrator makes these matters of fact like hair color or eye color. On a few occasions we get this indirectly, through the words or thoughts of a character recollecting a first sight (Rearden’s first sight of Dagny Taggart, Galt’s first sight of Rearden). What these descriptions and the many others like them have in common is that they are never wrong. Rand’s characters turn out to be just what they first seemed to be. Sheryl’s first impression of James Taggart doesn’t fit this pattern, and she misjudges him disastrously, but: (a) she sizes him up on the strength of his name, not of his visible air; (b) we first saw him a couple of pages into the book, and he has amply lived up to the expectations that his appearance gave him. In her theory of art Rand spoke of eliminating the inessential: in life, one ignores the unimportant; in art, one omits it. False visual clues are among those forgettable contingencies that have no place in her art. In the Randian universe, our first impressions are correct. People don’t let us down in this respect. This habit spilled over into her personal life. In her obituary for Marilyn Monroe, she says Monroe had “the radiantly benevolent sense of life, which cannot be faked”. Readers have quoted this remark many times over the years, more times, I venture, than Rand expected. Yet I’ve never seen anyone ask why it can’t be faked. Monroe was an actress. Faking what she didn’t feel was her job. Elsewhere in the same column Rand says she “brilliantly talented” at it, but here she says Monroe couldn’t act. She wanted MM to be the person she saw up on the screen, and convinced herself that she was. Rand herself and her biographers have told various stories of how often this acquaintance or that public figure “disappointed” her. She wanted people to live up to her expectations, and their failures to do so were a personal hurt. We’ve all known this feeling, and we’ve all been glad to meet somebody finally who is what we hoped, but it doesn’t loom as large for most of us. Barbara Branden tells a story of Rand’s girlhood once in her 1962 biography and again in 1986. Young Alisa admired a schoolmate and wanted to get to know her. She asked, point-blank, what is the most important thing in the world to you? She replied, My mother, and Rand walked away in disappointment. That was the end of that. In her earlier telling, BB makes this the other girl’s fault for not being was Alisa wanted her to be. In the later version, she says it’s typical of Rand’s failure to consider other people’s context before judging them. This failure on her part, and her idealism, may be closer than we realized.
  22. Your advice is good, but, despite what a lot of sources say, the quote doesn't come from Aristotle. It originated in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Crack-Up: "the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." Aristotle says that a good intellect will not require more or less rigor than a topic allows. Nichomachean Ethics I 1 1094b23: "The mark of the educated man is to seek precision insofar as each class allows it, so far as the nature of the subject-matter admits. To accept probable argumentation from a mathematician is like asking a rhetorician for formal proof." I.e. the two are equally absurd. Philosophers other than Rand observe what they call the principle of charity: when in doubt about how to read a text, prefer the interpretation that makes it come out correct.
  23. Like Doug Morris, I'm unsure what you mean by "government charter". Specifically, is the Red Cross the creation of governments or does it simply cooperate with them, as it does in case of floods or earthquakes? You're right that Rand would disapprove of either. This would not make the Red Cross unworthy of support, though, any more than government involvement in schools or roads entails that we shouldn't use them. In the US, at least, it relies largely on voluntary support. Non-coerced and non-sacrificial donation of money, goods or blood would not clash with Rand's advice. In his Playboy interview, Milton Friedman (Objectivist-disapproved, but that's a separate topic) pointed out that the major charitable organizations - Red Cross, SPCA, Shriners, Goodwill, etc. - all date from before the age of welfare statism; what has come along since - labor unions and professional cartels - are organizations devoted to redirecting wealth from society at large toward their own members.
  24. Reidy

    An Ally Emerges

    Rodrigo Duterte, crackpot Philippine dictator, has questioned theism and original sin. I wonder if Trump, a professed admirer of Duterte, will follow his lead.
  25. Two of Rand's inspirations for the character were The Scarlet Pimpernel (novel and movie with Leslie Howard) and the Fairbanks Mark of Zorro. In all three cases, a man passes himself off as a frivolous lightweight while up to a much more serious enterprise. As for Bond, have you tried the novels?
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