Friday, October 10, 2014


1. Ayn Rand can't read. My attention has been drawn to a book called Ayn Rand's Marginalia, including the comments she made on a work she can't have been expected to like, C.S. Lewis's moral philosophic treatise The Abolition of Man. What appears to be the complete comments are here, but I was most struck by the one also discussed here (it's from p. 71 of Abolition, 5 pages into chapter 3), at a pro-Rand site, proudly declaring that she "actively judges a writing’s truth and clarity at every stage."

No she doesn't. Truly, she did not read this book, she just glanced through looking for things to ignorantly complain about. In mocking Lewis's claim of "each advance leaves [humans] weaker" she ignores the rest of the sentence ("as well as stronger") even though she underlined it. Nor did she bother to read the previous pages which explained weaker at what. Page 69: "what we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument," and thus while the powerful are stronger, the victims are weaker. In power over their lives, not in physical health. Is this a tendentious argument? It sure is, but it requires a closer reader and a more incisive mind than Rand's to rebut it.

Lastly, by using medical advances like the curing of tuberculosis as the evidence for her mockery, Rand shows she's failed to read the very first paragraph of the chapter, in which Lewis endeavors "to make it clear that I do not wish to disparage all that is really beneficial in the process described as 'Man's conquest.'" And what is his specific example of this beneficence? The curing of TB.

They're all like this, actually, a massive continuing display of not getting it, even when the "it" ought to be easily argued against. Rather than publishing this marginalia, the Rand society ought to have suppressed it in shame.

2. Woodstein's sources. The Watergate investigative reporters have always said that Deep Throat was only one of their confidential sources and not necessarily the most important; he was just the most colorful of those who remained hidden after the publication of All the President's Men. Here's an article on some we didn't know about until now. But even that's misleading, because it's the new revelations that make this surprising. When writing All the President's Men, the reporters contacted many of their confidential sources, asking if they'd now be willing to identify themselves. And some said yes. Thus it's no longer news that Hugh Sloan and Judy Hoback (the CRP bookkeeper) were sources; they were even depicted openly in the movie. But they were equally as vital as anyone whose name didn't come out until decades later.

3. Netflix hacks. I may have to try some of these. You might also find them useful.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the notes on Ayn Rand's comments. Of course her marginalia are her business and not intended for publication, but it does indicate that ideologues tend not to "get" some things that are obvious.