Monday, February 12, 2007

A Final Word on PARC

The internet is wonderful, and the ability to debate ideas in "real time" is exciting. On the other hand, there is always the tendency to want to get the last shot in. This will probably be my final response to Valliant, . . . for now . . .

Anyone who has read my review knows full well that it is not a defense of either Nathaniel or Barbara Brandens’ books. I make it quite clear that my critique is limited to PARC's use of the Brandens' books as sources. I explicitly state that I am not vouching for the accuracy of their books. However, I have not concluded, as Mr. Valliant alleges, that there are “many” mistakes in Ms. Branden’s biography. The Passion of Ayn Rand is roughly 425 pages long and it contains some errors. I have no reason to think that it contains more errors than the typical book of its length and kind; but again, this isn’t the focus of my review.

Given the purpose of my review, an intelligent critique would take an issue I discuss and attempt to show that my contention that Mr. Valliant has not accurately evaluated the Brandens' books is mistaken. For example, with respect to the surprise party, one might attempt to show that: (1) it really was an attempt to control Rand's "context through deception"; (2) although Rand's husband was part of the "deception" (having invited Rand out on the pretext of a quiet dinner), the Brandens' conduct was nonetheless culpable; and (3) Mr. Valliant's contention that Random House threw the party is correct, notwithstanding the lack of documentation.

Likewise, with respect to the Blumenthals, one would provide evidence to refute my contention that Mr. Valliant is wrong to say that Branden conceals the fact that it was the Blumenthals who left Rand. I see that Mr. Valliant contends that I have engaged in selective quotation, yet in PARC he quotes Jeff Walker’s book and not Branden’s biography concerning this particular split. So who is the “selective quoter” here?

As a final example, Mr. Valliant might attempt to support that his claim that Branden accuses Rand of being “self-delusional” in her 1959 Foreword to the new edition of We the Living. Branden describes Rand's conduct as conscious and deliberate.

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