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JamesShrugged

Barbara Branden has passed away 12/11/2013 RIP

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I met Barbara in 1989 and had numerous lengthy discussions with her.  I regarded her as a good friend.  She was always an inspiration to me, beginning with her years at NBI in New York.  I believe her numerous contributions to the Objectivist philosophy will eventually be given the importance she deserved.

 

She will be missed.

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.

Dr. Harry Binswanger here joins the grave-pissing club:  Mark Hunter, George Smith, etc.

 

I respect Binswanger’s philosophical work, but his remark on the death of this woman he despised is sewer. The personal animosities among Rand and her circle will be gone to dust in two decades more, notwithstanding the efforts of the old folks to perpetuate them in the young. 

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"Grave-pissing" isn't necessarily bad or in bad taste. I don't remember the issues between this woman and Rand, nor did I know her personally. Thus, I'm indifferent to her passing and I'm not privy enough to judge Binswanger's tweet.

Binswanger was around Rand a lot near the end of her life. He was like "Peikoff 2.0." He is obviously going to know more about the situation, and also side with Rand.

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I think there is a case for advancing 'grace' and 'graciousness' to an Objectivist sub-virtue (that is, if it's not already implied).

Especially whenever and to ever judgment descends to becoming authoritarian/intrinsicist in nature, and therefore, judgmentalism.

Edited by whYNOT

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Jaskn,

 

I also did not know Barbara Branden, never met her. I've not read her biography of Rand. Binswanger's grave-pissing continues the sewer of Mark Hunter's piss on the death of David Lewis and of George Smith's piss on the death of Allan Gotthelf. They all had their histories bringing them to this contempt and to the desire to condemn or ridicule and to pain friends and family of the deceased. Their grave-pissing is one and all ignoble (as was that of William Buckley on the death of Ayn Rand). The good news is that there are many others in Objectivist subculture who had come to despise Rand or some person in her circle, yet on the death of these celebrities, those many others simply remained silent. That is decent, and there is much decency in this subculture.

Edited by Boydstun

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I guess the question is, then, why is death a line you draw? These people weren't private about their contempt before the deaths, right?

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James: The very problem is with "sides" in the first place.

Rand needs no defence - what she wrote, spoke and acted upon is an end in itself, as was her life.

But yet I admit I have at times felt the need to 'defend' her personally. (Not only her philosophy).

The same goes for Peikoff, N.Branden, et.al. -I will feel sad when any of them dies. As a sum total of a life's work, each provided things of great value which I'm still learning from, and to demand perfection from any goes against my grain.

However, Barbara in particular, was - if anything at all - more wronged than wronging. That is what I don't get.

It is not a matter of knowing (or not) the inner situation which may absolve an Objectivist from judgment, but seeing him/her through his own eyes, experience and mind: As the aggregate of a life and consciousness, most of which is private and hidden from everybody.

On this, I will not entertain anybody's authority over my personal recognition and pleasure of a woman of evident character, virtues and principle.

When gratuitous 'defence' of one individual turns to 'contempt' of another, that's the very intrinsicism I try to be on guard against.

Edited by whYNOT

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Jaskn, it is not a line drawn at death with forever thereafter silence on the negatives of the deceased. It is a silence in lieu of denigration in a band of obituary-time, for a few days following the death. It is also an ever-after ban of the “Good, glad the witch is dead, hope she suffered horribly” type of grave-pissing. These are conventions of decency in our culture, like the convention of not beating up persons much smaller than yourself or the convention of shaking hands as a sign of good will. These are not designed rules in the way that the Constitution is designed or the structure of a corporation and its rules are designed, with their clear reasons. They have their anthropological roots, such as displaying that you’re not bearing arms in the case of the handshake, but in this culture, our own one for living well, we simply have the conventions and, whatever their roots, judge their breach ignoble.

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I had the chance to meet Barbara once briefly at Freedom Fest, back when I use to go annually, and she was very nice.

 

 

I have never read the books or bothered with the drama to be honest so I can’t comment on it.  But I can comment on what I perceive. The thing that stood out for me with Barbara is that the several times she attended that event, she spent most of her time defending Rand from criticisms you would expect from a mixed conservative/libertarian crowd.   It was very eye opening to see her defend Rand while knowing the kind of bile piled on her by people involved in promoting the same ideas, and yet she did it warmly and honestly. 

 

Compare that to what I have perceived from Binswanger and you get your answer.  I’ll leave it at that. 

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HB shows just what a vile creep he is here. Without Ayn Rand he'd be a retired tax accountant in a suburb somewhere.

 

Meanwhile, Barabara Branden's movie is on HBO several times a month and is virtually the only exposure to Ayn Rand there is in the popular culture right now. Live with that, Harry...

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The problem I have with people like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, et al is that they decide, in their formative years, that they are going to work in politics in some capacity, and that becomes an end in itself.  How they get/maintain their involvement in politics - ie: which ideas they hold - is secondary.  A means to an end.  So it goes with philosophers.  There is only so much of Ayn Rand's legacy to go around.  Only so many people who can make (or at least substantially supplement) a living by being Objectivists.  But, because such people made it up in their minds long ago that they were going to be professional intellectuals, they will violate their own principles in order to ensure that that happens/continues.  They will invent or exaggerate flaws in their competitor's ideas and/or character simply to make/ensure room for themselves.  This, unfortunately, is what happened with The Brandens.  Whether or not you agree or disagree with what was said about them (and I agree with much), nothing they did deserves the kind of sarcastic callousness that Binswanger expressed at the news of Barbara's death.  Save that for the Clintons and Obamas of the world, Harry.

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At a lecture many years ago, Nathaniel Branden spoke about a few "Objectivist intellectuals" (the kind often referred to as pencil-necked geeks) for whom Ayn Rand expressed profound contempt.  She had conveyed her true feelings about these individuals in confidence, and Branden indicated they never knew of her disdain.  He didn't name names, but if you've ever seen Binswanger in person, there's little doubt about whom she was referring to.

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The Binswanger story I remember best is that he wrote a rave review of The Sound of Music (movie version) and, when AR said she found the movie sappy, published an abject retraction - the kind you'd have expected to see in Mao-era China.  I saw the review but not the retraction.  Can anybody back this up?

Edited by Reidy

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At a lecture many years ago, Nathaniel Branden spoke about a few "Objectivist intellectuals" (the kind often referred to as pencil-necked geeks) for whom Ayn Rand expressed profound contempt. She had conveyed her true feelings about these individuals in confidence, and Branden indicated they never knew of her disdain. He didn't name names, but if you've ever seen Binswanger in person, there's little doubt about whom she was referring to.

And yet, according to Binswanger in the book 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand, they spent a lot of time together alone in the last years of her life.

Do you have proof of anything you wrote, or just "I heard that he heard..."?

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And yet, according to Binswanger in the book 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand, they spent a lot of time together alone in the last years of her life.

Do you have proof of anything you wrote, or just "I heard that he heard..."?

 

I was present at Branden's lecture and heard him make this comment.  I recall thinking that Binswanger was liikely the main person he was referencing, but since he didn't name names, that is obviously speculation on my part.

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I once heard NB say, at some post-banishment appearance or other, that Rand had great contempt for her fans.  I don't know if Binswanger would have been in this category.

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I think Rand would have been horrified by the cheap remark by Binswanger. It's one thing to give a critical evaluation of the life of a person who has just passed away, but quite another thing to be a jerk saying that he's glad that that person is dead, at least when it doesn't concern some mass murderer or a similar criminal. Someone like Lindsay Perigo, who hasn't been Barbara's friend for many years (to put it mildly) at least gave a decent reaction on his site.

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