Thursday, December 16, 2010

Barbara Branden, In a Nutshell

In the interview with Cynthia Peikoff for 100 Voices, there is a new twist on Barbara Branden's visit with Ayn Rand in 1981. From Ms. Branden's biography, the meeting was happy and benevolent. What Ms. Branden fails to mention is that shortly after their meeting - not during the meeting - she sent a letter to Rand informing her that she was going to write a biography on her, and asked if she could have Rand's support or input on it. The whole episode left Rand disgusted; the point of the meeting was to gain some kind of validation that Ms. Branden could then exploit for her book. Nice going, Babs.

It's also worth noting that Rand was most unimpressed with Ms. Branden after their visit; there just wasn't much there.

I would also like to bring up Ms. Branden's account of Rand's appearance on the Donahue show in 1979. Ms. Branden hones in on one unpleasant episode in the show (see here starting at 8:15), where a woman begins her question by insulting Rand. Rather than defend Rand, Ms. Branden characterizes the episode as Rand attacking this "young girl" even though Rand explained why she would not sanction such a form of disrespect. It's telling, psychologically, that Ms. Branden would identify more with the "young girl" here.

Apparently, Ms. Branden's fear-motivated behavior during her years with Rand - "walking on eggshells" and all that - was a problem on Rand's part - just as Rand's reaction of disgust to Ms. Branden's 1981 vulture-style behavior was Rand's problem, she would expect us to believe.

Nathan's behavior in regard to Rand - from the mid-'60s up to the present day - can be described as nothing short of monstrous. Ms. Branden, meanwhile, might best be characterized as flaky - morally, emotionally, intellectually, etc. Given the behavior of these two vultures, I don't know how they can be believed about anything in regard to Ayn Rand absent independent corroboration and context. Short of that, the thought of entertaining their tales and insinuations is disgusting. Some of us got burned with their first round of biographies and memoirs back in the '80s before the Estate got around to issuing its devastating response (see James Valliant's The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics); never again.

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