Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Link: Robert Bass Objectivism Commetary

Commenter Mac on the ARCHN site provides a link to Robert Bass Objectivism commentary. It used to be linked on these two lists of Objectivism criticisms, but those links are now dead. Here's the working link.

Bass is a philosophy professor, so his criticism is all academic and dry. Too long and boring for me, but some of you might like it.

Richard Lawrence of Noble Soul wrote a rebuttal. He also hosts the Objectivism Reference Center which is home to a collection of Objectivism criticism links.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Plot inadequacies in Rand's novels

I agree with many of Rand's premises such as individualism, meritocracy, and free market capitalism to a large degree. However, I think she did a piss poor job trying to prove her point in her novels. Here are parts I find most sorely lacking.

For someone who places such importance on human potential, there is very little in way of illustrating the process by which one comes to actualize the potential. In a highly recommended review, Shane Gline writes: "The most interesting thing about Roark is how little genesis there is in his thinking: there's just the Randian world-view, fully-formed like Athena from the head of Zeus, from page one." Ditto for most of her other characters, especially John Galt. All her characters are introduced to us as these highly productive, perfect people who just knew they were right and living out an ideal life. Their only faults were giving the little people in their life too much credit. Some proponent for the potential and dignity of the common man she was.

Eerily, even during the flashbacks to the past, the child Dagny and Francisco talked and behaved in an unrealistically unchildlike and overly serious manner. Tragically, this is the way Alyssa Rosenbaum remembered her childhood. Barbara Branden said that Rand often said that as a child she was often "disgusted" and "felt contempt" at things and people. Various accounts describe her as a distant and serious child.

One of her big themes is overcoming obstacles in life. Here, she totally misses the mark. Sure, the giants of industry managed to overcome the obstacles that big government and the "public good" had placed upon them, but they also had at their disposal their mammoth industrial empires, and their seemingly unlimited intellectual and physical strength. "Effortless" seems to be one of her favorite words, which she overuses to the point of ridiculousness. In real life, overcoming an obstacle is never "effortless" and the vast majority of people do not have superhuman levels of intelligence and wealth. She eschews the opportunity to show how battles against obstacles are really fought and won in reality.

When I was reading Atlas Shrugged, the most poignant moment was when Cherryl Taggart committed suicide after running away from a liberal, feminist social worker. She was one of my favorite characters that I could really identify with. This was also the turning point for me, when the book changed from being a compelling psychological thriller to just plain ludicrous. Someone who had painstakingly overcome dire poverty in rural upstate New York would not have killed herself over something as silly as discovering that her lover wasn't all she thought he was, or being snubbed by the popular rich girls. That sounds a lot more like something a spoilt heiress with an entitlement complex (hint: Dagny) would do. A real life Cherryl would have had the balls to dump the loser Jim Taggart, told the feminist social worker to stuff it, started her own business enterprise, and found a man worthy of her love. The fact that she killed herself does not compute with what is supposed to be a celebration of the triumph of the human spirit.

Also, the deep psychological bond that Dagny and Cherryl supposedly share needs fleshing out. Ayn says they were "like sisters" in spirit, but Dagny, resplendent in her virtue and resources, doesn't even reach out to Cherryl in her time of need.

I'm confused about this Eddie Willers character. He's supposed to represent common men who benefit when the strong are allowed to dominate the market. However, he seems like a tool and kind of pathetic, whose considers lifelong obsequious worship of the Taggart clan his life's highest calling. He's proud to be their "servant" and lapdog. If Rand had believed in the admirable capacity for common people to improve their situations through hard work and determination, this is an extremely poor execution of the point.

Hank Rearden is another character many identify with. But for all his noble struggles, he, too is shown to be played out for a fool in the end. He loses the woman he worshipped and admired for so long, first to Francisco and then to the sexually ambiguous, virtually disembodied, spirit guide John Galt. The best he and Francisco could hope for is that when Dagny and Galt had sex, "it would be as they would all three be making love together". This is pretty much Rand's wet dream: steamy group sex with multiple hot men.

Also, I found the scene where Rearden expresses "contempt" for his brother by saying he wouldn't even hire him as a janitor particularly strange. Even if he didn't want to hire his brother himself, couldn't he have at least pointed him in the direction of some other firms that were hiring, or helped edit his resume, and post it on Monster.com, or...something?

The same can be said about Peter Keating and Catherine Halsey in The Fountainhead. For the most part, real people aren't such spineless suckers who allow their family and friends to treat them badly for so long. And if they were, most normal people already understand that they aren't exactly ideal role models either.

There seem to be three categories of people in Rand's novels, none of them realistic nor particularly relevant. First there are the demi-gods of superior intellect, who do what they want, other people's interests be damned, and who according to her embody the best within us. Then there are the villains who, despite their glaring incompetence and impotence, manage to subjugate and torment the ones of superior capacity (not sure how that really pans out). Everyone else seems to fall into the final category, of people whose main fault is that they do not quite measure up to the premier paragons of virtue (Galt and Dagny in Atlas, Roark and Dominique in Fountainhead). Rand's opinion of them seems to be that they are pretty stupid even if well intentioned, whose main purpose seem to be to worship and hang on to either the heroes or villains. In layman's terms, they are pretty much SUCKERS.

Rand claimed her novels were about celebrating life and happiness, but she actually does an infinitely better job (not to mention also devoting a lot more pages) with her descriptions and indictments of evil. When she tries to describe happiness, love, and the joy of life -- things she knew little about -- she failed miserably.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More trouble for Founders College

ARCHN Commenter Behemoth linked this article about Founders College, a new private for-profit college with strong Objectivist overtones. I was an undergraduate not so long ago (at a huge evil behemoth public university to boot), and the memory is still fresh in my mind. My years in university were in many ways the best years of my life, and the same is true for many people. Of course my life is pretty good now too, but university was just so much fun. College was also the time I "discovered" Objectivism, but i guess you can't win them all.

I enjoyed immersing myself in learning from people doing groundbreaking research in their fields, interacting with a wide range of people (especially because I went to a huge public school, it's probably less so in smaller schools), having my first serious relationship, and more. Most students are at an age when you're just on the horizon of adulthood, and able to make your own decisions for your life that you couldn't before. Being young, you're full of ideas and enthusiasm for life (which unfortunately also confers a higher susceptibility to Objectivism). I spent many nights spent in intense, intelligent conversation with other bright and pretty young people that left me delighted and high for days.

But more pertinent to the above article, and to the whole Founders college affair, is that these years are also decisive years for young people. Career opportunities, and opportunities for other things in life depend heavily on performance during these years. Most college students are young, inexperienced and immature and look to their professors and other staff for guidance in their lives. As a student I put a lot of trust in my institution and my professors. My professors were some of first positive role models I had that I thought worth respecting and emulating.

This is why I don't think for profit schools are such a good idea, especially when they end up a flop like Founders. I don't think Founders has the resources to offer a sufficiently broad and rigorous curriculum, or the guidance and support young people need. It sucks for the students who decided to invest in Founders for their education, because in the end they're the ones getting screwed.

Ayn Rand and Anna Nicole Smith

One thing James Valliant did in his Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics was defend Rand's menage a trois with her husband Frank and acolyte Nathan. Valliant says that Frank did not mind, and in fact had a cuckolding fetish (where he gets off thinking of his wife with another man). Nathan Branden (or some other Objectivist but I think it's Branden) also mentioned somewhere that it is ok, and not just ok, but your moral duty to gawk at people you find attractive, and tell your partner about it. Your partner, being the paragon of Objective reason that he/she will ipso facto agree with you, and applaud you for your honesty and want to bone you even more for it. Rand herself professed to admire female beauty and not be jealous of other women.

The tabloid paperback Blonde Bombshell writes that Larry Birkhead and Howard Stern made out and did gay things for Anna Nicole Smith's pleasure. I bet Ayn would have enjoyed that too, and maybe she did [!], except she was too homophobic to admit it.



The concept of a threesome or group sex appeals to me too, but I don't think it would work for me in practice. It's natural to be attracted to good looking people other than your partner. I know I am, and I expect my boyfriend would be too. I guess I'm too old fashioned or vanilla, but it doesn't really please me to think of him with another woman now, and I think he feels the same about me. If he comments about a hot girl, I either go "Hrrmmmmm" like Marge Simpson, or talk about some hot guy to even things out.

When I was younger I used to see it like a salt crystal, that just because you formed an ionic bond with one moiety, it doesnt prevent you from having ionic interactions with other charged moieties, and you finally get a crystal.
But as time goes on I think a successful relationship is more like a covalently bonded molecule


Photos from People Magazine

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Barbara Branden, Objectivist Madonna

Barbara Branden (nee Weidman) probably just started out as a typical teenage girl who liked to do typical teenage girl things like read erotic BDSM novels. She somehow got thrust into the world of Objectivism and stuck on a pedestal as second foremost disciple (after her husband) and Objectivist beauty queen.

Once the world of Objectivism shattered after The Break [between Rand and Nathan Branden], and continues to fragment into smaller and smaller pieces, she has assumed the job of being mother and female role model to many disenfranchised Objectivists. This is a great service to young Objectivists and ex-Objectivists who often badly need such a figure in their lives, which is often one of the reasons they turn to Objectivism (or other cults) to begin with.

Having being hurt by Rand and Nathan Branden herself, she is able to empathize and counsel many Objectivists and former Objectivists who have also been hurt by the movement. When I was trying to get out myself, I contacted her and she wrote me back promptly and sympathetically, and I appreciated it very much. The only thing was, she told me not to read The Ayn Rand Cult and spoke poorly of other Objectivism criticisms, and instead directed me to David Kelley's The Objectivist Center. But by then I'd had it up to here with Objectivism, and cults in general, and wasn't interested in getting into The Objectivist Center thing, even if it was just Rand-Lite.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Today I made orange flavored cupcakes. Weekends are baking days.


They taste better than they look.

"I break for Randians"

Have you ever wondered about the Objectivist tendency to make a mountain out of a molehill of...everything? Objectivist are constantly posting tl;dr (too long, didn't read) rants about their very public and embarassing feuds that often started over something extremely trivial?

Chris Wolf wrote an article called "The Dishonesty of Stephen Speicher" because Speicher "claimed that [Wolf] attended an elegant banquet, dressed in rags and smelling like a pig" on the Objectivist usenet. This is apparently important enough to devote two pages denouncing Speicher to entire world as though they care.

And what about Objectivists' silly habit of publicly "breaking" with people? Stephan Kinsella of Lew Rockwell blog, admittedly a libertarian frother himself (I tried to find a link that said the same thing that wasn't from a libertarian frother, but couldn't), posts this amusing article I Break for Randians. To make the Randians' lives easier and save them some time so they can get on with more important things, like steam cleaning their personal Rand shrine, he proposes a form letter "Why I Am Hereby and Henceforth Breaking with _____ (And Why You Should Care (And Why I Should Care That You Should Care)--And If You Don't I'll Break With You Too"

When I was in middle school, after an argument with my sister Marie I told everyone "I'm excommunicating her!" Victor then told me, "I think only the Pope can excommunicate people."

Most people are aware that interests, personalities, and life situations change, and friendship may not be forever. The normal reaction is to take this as a part of life, move on, and form new friendships with other people you have more in common with, with little pomp and circumstance. Alternatively, you could get your mom to e-threaten the apostate jerk.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Book Review of Atlas Shrugged by Robert Slade

One purpose of my blog is to consolidate all my favorite Ayn Rand criticisms into one place. Here's one I like by "a grandfather in British Columbia who pities John Galt and his friends" in their childlessness. A former railroad engineer, he knows that Atlas Shrugged is no way to run a railroad.

Hailing from beautiful BC he knows Rand's contempt for the beauty of nature "has to flow from ignorance: on a night only twenty four hours after a full moon the moonlight will easily be bright enough to walk down a railroad track." He goes on to say that her contempt and ignorance extends to the natural workings of the human body. "There would be no need for them [productive movers and shakers] to "disappear:"in the real world they would be dying off at an extraordinary rate. If cancer didn't get them, they would all, Type As that they are, behaving coronaries left, right, and sideways.)"

And my favorite part:
"Marriage vows in an objectivist church would probably run along the lines of "Do you promise to attempt to dominate and subdue this woman until such time as you grow bored?" "Maybe." "Close enough. And do you promise to applaud this man`s production until such time as you find someone with a bigger ... corporation?" "Whatever." "By the power vested in me by having scammed you guys out of a marriage license fee, I now pronounce you man and appendage. May you be unencumbered by small persons."

And there's plenty more that I didn't spoil for you. Also this link isn't even on these two lists of Objectivism criticism.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The value of intelligence

Bobby Fischer, Cold War chess champion and enigmatic recluse, died in Reykjavik, Iceland yesterday. Like Ayn Rand, he was intelligent, abrasive and Jewish, although he developed a strong antipathy towards Jews and America. His fate, rather than the unrealistically happy endings of Rand's novels, is typical for people with a high IQ who remain stubbornly inflexible and refractory to change.

Time Magazine article "Are we failing our geniuses?" contends that America is not doing enough to support gifted children in education. Ayn Rand would have agreed that it is an outrage that we spent ten times more on special education programs than on gifted education programs. I personally think it's kind of excessive too. There definitely is an anti-intellectual trend among school age children. Only in America is it ever cool to be dumb and smart people are thought of as freaks (like me and my boyfriend Victor were when we were in school, and no doubt all the misunderstood Randian geniuses). It would be good if that could change. Other countries seem to have less of that problem.

However, I totally disagree with the notion that being "gifted" (or thinking you are gifted) makes you more important and deserving of special treatment, or precludes you from having to learn to function and contribute to society. Barbara Branden said that Ayn Rand placed great importance on being intelligent, almost to the point of worshipping it, as do many immature, socially isolated teens. I used to be like that too, probably because school was the one thing I consistently succeeded in and managed to validate myself that way to overcompensate for other things that were lacking in my life. Thanks to Victor, and also other life experiences, I no longer think that way. Often in our arguments he would say that he doesn't see himself as better than other people just because he is smart, that intelligence in itself isn't necessarily a virtue. I never understood it and would even get offended. But I've since come around.

I still respect and value intelligence highly, and it is definitely a great trait to have to succeed in the world. But it is far from the only, or even the most important factor of success. Members of Mensa come from all walks of life. While I was still in college, my dad told me that it has been shown that success in one's career only depends 15% (i dont know how he got that number) on your technical skills and qualifications. I was shocked, even outraged. But after having more experience working in different environments, I understand first hand how important it is to be able to get along with people and have a positive environment at work in order to succeed.

When I was a kid I had a plaque that said, "What you are is God's gift to you. What you become is your gift to God." I no longer believe in God, but this statement has a meaning even aside from the God stuff. There are two components to a person, your innate characteristics you were born with, and what you choose to do with it. No matter how brilliant you are, you still need to put in effort and be humble enough to learn in order to actualize yourself and your potential. I knew someone who was brilliant and creative but became bitter, withdrawn, delusional and ended up alienating a lot of people, and finally killed himself. A friend remarked that, well his gift to God was a lump of coal.

Intelligence is a tool that can be used to achieve great ends, rather than a end in itself. As Greg Nyquist said, one might as well worship a mop or a hammer rather than intelligence. I guess some tools are pretty impressive, and maybe there is an emotion approaching awe when one regards a particularly nifty invention, but to worship the Hubble telescope or a confocal microscope is just odd. Maybe its possible and aesthetic to admire intelligence for its own sake, but for Rational and pratical purposes it is far more important what one does with one's intelligence.

Maybe some of these people, Bobby Fischer included, can't help being that way, strange and socially awkward, or that's just their personality. Maybe in a perfect world, everyone would be recognized for their gifts and be able to contribute according to their abilities and recieve according to their needs. But I'm not holding my breath for it to happen.

The article describes a precocious little girl.

"People are, I must admit it, a lot of times intimidated by me," she told me; modesty isn't among her many talents. She described herself as "perfectionistic" and said other students sometimes had "jealousy issues" regarding her."

This isn't something anyone should tolerate, make excuses for, or much less encourage. This sounds almost Randian:

"Often the kids are wasting away in average classes, something that drives Bob Davidson crazy: "I mean, that's criminal to send a kid [who already reads well] to kindergarten ... Somebody should go to jail for that! That is emotional torture!""

Can anyone say Entitlement Complex?? Expecting special treatment just because you're "gifted" is expecting people to do you a favor for nothing in return, which is omg... altruism.

It would be good if more could be done to help talented people achieve their potential rather than becoming unfulfilled and antisocial. It would be good for the country and economy. That's why our graduate schools, especially in science and engineering, and our research labs are filled with foreign nationals, because people in America are just too dumb and lacking in educational rigor. But until that happens, we of superior intelligence just need to hang in there, and make the best of it. The universe isn't always fair and benevolent, so there's no point waiting around for it to be. An elitist attitude adopted by the people in that article, and Objectivists only confirm the image that smart people are freaks and incapable of social function.

Many teenagers go through a phase of being arrogant about their intelligence. Although there is no need to fault or criticise them too much for it, because it is part of growing up, it is not an attitude that should be encouraged from people old enough to know better. When I was a teenager I ran around saying "I am the most intelligent person I know! I am the prettiest! I am the Cosmos, I am the Universe and my aura encompasses everything!" Rand, and Marx, never progressed from this stage.

Maybe some of these people, and maybe Bobby Fischer, couldn't help being eccentric. I'm not blaming them. I'm even kind of eccentric myself. But an inescapable reality of life that you can't fake or evade is that being excessively eccentric makes getting along with people and getting by in life rather difficult. Therefore is in one's best interest to try to not be so weird if and when it is possible.

RIP, chess champ.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Nathaniel Branden (I think it was) said that Rand hits the spot for many people because she addresses the desire or need for transcendence, something sorely lacking in the world today. Even Jeff Walker in The Ayn Rand Cult says in his introduction that although there are many negative things about cults, they are not always 100% negative, and they sometimes fulfil needs and problems that normal society does not. I can agree with that. Rand definitely pitched an emotional appeal to her readers' desire for transcendence.This might well be the case for many believers, and more power to them I guess. If it works for you and makes you happy, that's great (although I doubt this is the case for many Objectivists).

Chuck Palahniuk said "Our Generation has had no Great war, no Great Depression. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives." This quote depresses me immensely (no pun intended). Chuck Palahniuk depresses me immensely. It must be his malevolent sense of life. Anyway, to the extent that it is true today, especially in developed countries, this unfulfilled desire for transcendence must be real. That probably contributes to why people become religious, or otherwise acquire other strong beliefs that dominate their lives.

Maybe it's because I'm not as lucky as those Chuck Palahniuk fans (and Ayn Rand fans) who were born into middle class America and have the time to pretend to be depressed and worry that transcendence is lacking from their lives. Or maybe it's just that I have the gratitude and humility to recognize what is good in my life and appreciate it. To me, happiness and transcendence is being with my Socialist boyfriend Victor. I know he is an evil socialist looter and moocher and we disagree about a lot of things, but these abstract philosophical things don't matter in the grand scheme of things. We've known each other forever and nothing makes me happier in life than being with him. I might post more about my Socialist boyfriend in future.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ayn Rand and the Blumenthals

Here's a part of The Passion of Ayn Rand by Barbara Branden that made me laugh. I don't have the book with me so I can't provide the exact quote or page number. Ms. Branden tells the story of why the Blumenthals stopped talking to Ayn Rand. One of the reasons was that she would have long quarrels with them in her apartment, and as soon as they got home she would telephone them to continue the argument until late into the night. The next morning she would call them again to talk and ask if they had thought about the subject of the quarrel, and if they said they hadn't, she would ask them why they hadn't. And finally they just couldn't take it anymore.

For the lucky clueless few...

...who have never been personally afflicted with Objectivism or observed loved ones and friends succumb. I notice I've been getting a bunch of hits, and it occured to me that maybe some of my visitors may not be familiar with the subject matter and wonder WTF this site is all about.

Ayn Rand can be described as author of extremely wordy and cheezy science fiction novels, and even wordier and cheezier philosophical self help books. Her fanbase consists mostly of socially inept, angsty young nerds, or people who started out as socially inept, angsty young nerds (if this describes you, do not panic, it is a phase most successfully emerge from). They call themselves "Objectivists" although most normal people think they are a cult, or at least a very odd group of people. She inspires her readers to fancy themselves the most rational people alive. By the power of their rationality they believe to have proven that Selfishness (especially their own selfishness) is Good, and that socialism, welfare, or even asking someone for help or admitting you are sometimes fallible are abominations of the highest degree. This leads to very strange, often annoying (if you are on the receiving end of it), sometimes amusing, sometimes very sad behavior among their ranks. This blog is dedicated to documenting and commenting on the phenomenon.

That was a very brief description of Ayn Rand and Objectivism. There are plenty of resources that go into much more detail, and I'll leave the rhapsodizing to them. I will even review some of these sources on the blog, and make my recommendations if you are so inclined to find out more. My blog, however, serves Rand comedy in easily digestible short pieces. I have a short attention span and low tolerance for boredom and tl;dr (too long, didn't read).

The stories and commentary would be especially poignant and humorous to people who have firsthand experience of the cult, but hopefully I will be at least somewhat successful at making it interesting for everyone.

I will link this from the sidebar along with my introduction post so new readers will have a better idea of what this site is about.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ayn Rand and Britney

Britney is my favorite celebrity to keep tabs on. I read all the latest news on her that I can get my hands on. Aside from Ayn Rand, who of course is the most rational person to want to follow around and gossip about, I love Britney.



I think I see some kind of resemblance. Or maybe it's just the similar angle of photography, and that they're both totally bonkers.

Here is a slightly old link from Objectivist porn site Body in Mind (of course it touts its wares as "artistic nudes"): Britney can teach us semiconductor physics!

"Is it alchemy? No. It's advanced beauty physics. The fellow who created the site knows the value of mixing sexuality with one's highest values - with moral values like, in this case, intelligence, science and engineering, though the same is true in any case, whatever your highest values might be...

Can one learn semiconductor physics from Britney Spears? Why not? Nothing conducts female beauty better than an alloy made from equal parts of sexuality and morality."

I actually emailed the webmaster of the site while i was still an Objecti-fembot about some of the stuff he posted, and he asked me if i wanted to be a "spokesmodel" for Objectivism IE pose nude for his website. Bleurgh.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

James Valliant, Esq.

Objectivists with an independent brain, which mostly means non-Orthodox Objectivists, are quick to denounce and distance themselves from James Valliant and his book The Passion of Ayn Rand's critics. Even some more mainstream Objectivists of varying degrees of Orthodoxy are nixing it. Greg and Daniel at ARCHN even ran a contest for the most cringeworthy moments in the book.

So I bought the book (second hand) expecting to be entertained by how hilariously bad everyone was saying it was. I was disappointed. It really wasn't that bad.

James Valliant isn't a dumb guy. He did a really great job with the material he had to work with. That is, he had the job of discrediting the Brandens, and having Rand come off smelling like a rose. That's a pretty tall order. Mr Valliant has been a public prosecutor in California for sixteen years. He didn't get and keep that job by having bad polemical skills. His arguments are cogent and clearly expressed. The only thing is that we (at least most of us whose brains aren't completely Rand-addled), don't agree with his premises and his conclusions, so we find them amusing.

So when you pan PARC as being ridiculous, or trash, remember that it isn't an isolated case of someone misinterpreting Objectivism or Rand's life. It is a logically consistent* defense of someone who admits to the facts of Rand's life (ie, her affairs, her inability to accept criticism) but yet chooses to believe that Ayn Rand lived a life beyond reproach.

I believe that many Objectivists are quick to distance themselves from this book because it has gotten such bad reviews from the public in general. But those Objectivists should "check their premises" again, because what makes their position so different from Valliant's? If they can do a better job whitewashing and justifying Ayn's every misstep and temper tantrum, I'd like to see it.

*Logic, in this case is used in the strictly mathematical sense, where one defines the axioms and then goes on to perform logical induction. This "logic" does not include what most people would refer to as common sense, such as the intuitive knowledge that most people would not be thrilled to find their partner in bed with their cradle robber. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, logic is in the mind of the reasoner.


Hi everyone,
I just realized that I had comments set to "only Google users". That was the default setting that came with Blogger. I had always wanted to allow anyone include anonymous comments. I just changed it. Sorry about that.
- Meg

Friday, January 11, 2008

Barbara Branden : Iconic Blonde

Barbara Branden on the Passion of Ayn Rand movie:

"Months ago, when the producers and I were discussing casting, they asked whom I’d like to portray me. I said, "I don’t know most of today’s young actresses, so I can’t choose — so long as she’s breathtakingly beautiful!" I got my wish."

She says this without a hint of irony. I mean, I think she's beautiful too, but you have to be a special kind of self absorbed to say something like that about yourself. She really is an older Paris Hilton after all. Paris did say "Every decade has an iconic blond like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana, and right now I’m that icon." I think Rand's excessive praise of her got to Ms. Branden's head, and really stuck.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ode to hermithood

More Objectivist oddities from the ObjectivismOnline forum:

"David Blaine" says:

In a world where world is concerned only with world,
where people are concerned only with people, [whatever that's supposed to mean!]

...where quite people concentrated on living their life are being looked down lower than the street beggar,

ummm.. I don't know what kind of "world" you are referring to here lol

where as much as you try to escape the 'formalities' of the society... you're not allowed to survive or exist unless you follow it...

Ok, I don't even need to go on. How about we dump his ass on a mountain middle of nowhere, miles away from the nearest human being? He'll be allowed to "survive and exist" without the "formalities of society" to his heart's content.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ayn and Kant follow up

I got a couple comments on my post Ayn the closet Kantian? and realized I could have been clearer.

My point was that Rand keeps saying she is anti-Kant and he is the most evil man in the history of the world, ETC, but as Greg Nyquist in ARCHN and others pointed out, she shares a good bit of common ground with Objectivist Satan.

Philosophic thought can be divided into teleological or goal oriented/utilitarian (ie the ends justify the means), or deontological (that motives and intentions determine the morality of the action). Kant belongs in the deontological camp. Rand claims to oppose Kant, but yet emphasizes values, motives, and the necessity of living your life according to certain principles, like "reason".

As commentor Jay said:
Peikoff explicitly stated: "Virtue is not automatically rewarded, but that does not change the fact that it is rewarded."

The emphasis here is on virtue, that one must first be virtuous and subsequently one can hope to be rewarded. This fits into the deontological perspective, that the means in itself are what make an action good or bad.

And Michael Prescott said:
Well, Rand did say:"Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions."

So she believes that rationality is a prerequisite to happiness, that this method of finding happiness is key, and could not accept that there may be many ways to achieve happiness. Put simply, the rationality of an action determines its worth and value, which places her alongside Kant in the deontological camp.

Rand also opposed utilitarianism, and denounced libertarianism for being utilitarian, although they were the political party most aligned and sympathetic to her views and still hold her in high esteem.

Jay also says:
Her leap of logic is that holding reason as one's absolute will, ipso facto, make you permanently happy.
That's a lie. Here's the Ayn Rand Lexicon link containing every (major) mention of reason she made in print.

I was just trying to give Rand the benefit of the doubt to redeem her non-Kantian position, by supposing that maybe she equated practicing reason with happiness, but you're the Objective boss, Jay!

Rand's philosophy therefore has little in common with the true diametric opposite of Kant's deontology, which is telelogism or utilitarianism, and she admits as much. Perhaps if took a breather from screeching from her soapbox once in a while and looked at things from a calm, rational, perspective she might have figured this one out, and reevaluated her positions accordingly.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Happy New Year

So it's the start of another great Objective year for all !



Does anyone else think Barbara Branden looks like an older Paris Hilton?


The photo of Barbara at her wedding looks even more like Paris, but I don't have a copy of it on hand. I mean it in a good way of course, I admire and envy Paris. Didn't Rand also call Barbara Branden "the most beautiful woman in the world"?

I apologize for my hiatus over the past week or so; I was soaking up the sun on vacation. Maybe Rand should have done that a bit more, then she wouldn't have been so uptight. I'll get back to posting new posts and responding to comments as soon as I can.

Happy New Year everyone ! Have a rational 2008

Photo of Nathaniel and Barbara from The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics by James Valliant
Photo of Ayn Rand from The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand
Photo of Paris Hilton from Yahoo TV