[Ask the Gulch] How could Ayn Rand be married to a man and claim that she loved and admired him, and have a long term open affair with another man? In Atlas, when Dagny found and fell in love with Galt, her affair with Rearden was over.
Posted by Mamaemma 7 years, 11 months ago to Ask the Gulch
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I think Rand was always looking for her intellectual equal and thought she found that in ( ugh... what's his name?! Barbara's husband. Lol Gah! No memory... oh! Branden!!) But he turned out to not be in the end. Here's the point, Rand did love her husband, very much so. She got his permission to have an affair Branden. (From Barbara too.) There was no deceit. They are the only ones who need to understand that arrangement... it's not anybody's business.
And you are right that it's nobody's business in one sense. I'm just trying to understand. The fact that she had the affair does not affect how much
her writings mean to me and the world.
What you are saying makes sense, and this is what I wanted. Thanks
even carry Rand's Perrier!!! -- j
p.s. if she *had* met her intellectual equal, what a
revolution that would have caused. . takes my
Dagny and Hank have a conversation where he says,
"I understand. . I have met him." . I'll look for it. -- j
Except for dissecting the book.I'll stick with Let's shrug first comment. Objectively
I wish I could give you a second thumbs up.
Regarding the general question, she later emphatically rejected trying to have two such relationships at the same time. In the late 1970s (or maybe around 1980) at Ford Hall Forum in Boston she was asked about this. (I don't think I have ever seen a transcript of this particular Q&A.)
A hush fell over the audience because everyone knew what was rumored about her at the time, but she took the question seriously as always and answered it seriously, with characteristic earnestness in wanting her listeners to understand. She took the question literally as it was asked, and did not discuss her personal situation.
She strongly recommended not to do it, with a brief explanation. "Don't try it!". She gave an example of how it might conceivable come up legitimately as an extremely unusual situation, but definitely opposed it in general. Whatever her full reason for getting into it herself much earlier, multiple relationships were definitely not part of her principles of romantic love and ethics.
There is reason to think that Miss Rand lavished much care and effort on Francisco since he was the image of almost every young girl's early fictional crush and possibly every boy's daydream. We don't lose these early loves, only find that they are simplified and don't include the rest of life. They often give us a vision to fuel us for a life time.
As to her affair with Nathaniel, he was as close to a intellectual companion as she was able to find. There were few men of genius able to follow her ideas let alone add to them who were not older or too different to let her lead. Nathaniel was younger and learned from her before he could add new ideas.
Reading the Branden's books when they first came out, I was angry because it appeared that they bought out the worst in Miss Rand (my hero). Later, I began to see it was a tragic affair that harmed everyone.
Yes, Ayn Rand loved her husband but because she had the view of a wife common to the time she could not totally accept him in that role even if she filled the traditional role of the man. Thus, she had to cook and the like. We don't know everything but details show she was quite human and a woman not totally beyond her time. Thus there was something missing for her that the younger intellectual seemed to fill.
The tragedy is that what should have been a life long friendship, intellectual partnership, and business relationship was sacrificed to a sexual relation that by its nature could not last over a life time. Perhaps, if she had been the younger it would have lasted longer but even then it was too much to crowd onto a single relationship and might well have been even if there had not been other spouses. That and the hiding from the public were final blows. And when the sexual ran out unfortunately he lied and she lost her temper. It is hard to blame either of them for such human reactions to a painful situation. But they and the rest of us paid a terrible price. They each lost their best friend and lover. The world lost NBI and faced the contempt of the public who did not understand. Some of us at the wrong age lost the innocence of believing in romantic notions divorced from the trials of the world. Sad. The best argument against such incestuous affairs. They pile too much on fragile relationships.
Galt had nothing to do with it other than Branden was more like Galt than Francisco or Rearden where Frank O'Connor was more like Roark.
Thanks for the chance to put this in words for someone else. I've thought about it for a long while.
Thank you for a very thoughtful and consistent analysis.
I would like to ask you for help. I could not thoroughly understand the part saying: "Some of us at the wrong age lost the innocence of believing in romantic notions divorced from the trials of the world. Sad. The best argument against such incestuous affairs. They pile too much on fragile relationships."
Would you kindly elaborate on it a bit?
I think Rand fell in physical love with O'Connor, but not intellectual love. Truth be told, he was a very handsome man and she was no beauty by any stretch of the imagination. He turned out to be a person of low intellectual capacity. But he was an excellent gardener, and a good handyman, which was his limitation. He sacrificed his job(s) for her and devolved into a pleasant dependent. Who knows what actually went on in his mind. Brandon and Barbara came to her just as her star was rising and later explode upon the scene. They were young, fresh and had great intellectual capacity. Branden enhanced A.R.'s fame by spreading her philosophy through the Nathaniel Branden Institute and putting out classes and a newsletter.He never did her any harm as he was entranced certainly not by her looks but by her mind. They had an affair, actually two affairs with each other while both were married to someone else. What's the very worst that he did? He had another affair with someone else and was afraid to tell her and when she found out, her rage was way over the top. Keep in mind, that all of that has nothing to do with the fruit of her mind. The greatness of her novels, the brilliance of her philosophy will live on long after we are but memories.
Life is complicated and the heart wants what it wants.
Just because she was a Genius doesn't mean she was perfect.
She thought she could avoid the moral sin by doing it openly. But she was wrong. People were hurt. Of course.
It was not a mutually agreed arraignment. Those on the outside were coerced to agree by their love for their spouse. The bottom line was "accept it or else".
An open marriage is fine so long as it is entered into knowingly by both sides. Hell, it might even work for some.
But I've never held it hard against her. Who among us is sinless.
I'm not saying it's impossible - only that I've never met one.
I understand, there was no deceit by her, at least.
Maybe she thought she was in love with Branden,
but didn't want to send Frank O'Connor out into the
cold to live. And, maybe, once she was done with Branden, she realized that O'Connor was
the right man for her after all.--It does not affect
the truth of the ideas in her philosophical ideas; if they
can be demonstrated to be true, then they are
true.---Personally, I wish it had not happened;
I think it was a bad mistake; I believe in monogamy,
and lifelong monogamy is what I would want
Insofar as Ayn's real life affairs are concerned, I find nothing reprehensible about her having multiple consensual lovers overtly. It is only the need to be sneaky and deceptive and covert that is demeaning. Certainly, our own culture is developing in the direction indicated in Ayn Rand's novels...having a series of lovers was much more scandalous in the 1950's than it is now.
Based on her Objectivist principals, Ayn Rand and the two men involved apparently had a specific set of pre-defined values, and by value I do not mean morals, but a value for value exchange in how their relationships benefited each other.
All were consenting, all must have believed there was a value each was receiving that satisfied themselves.
Did you ever read where the two men openly complained about their "value" in the relationship?
Also Reardon satisfied Dagny's desire, and she satisfied Reardon's. When she met Galt, Dagny found more value in Galt, than Reardon,and Reardon accepted his value proposition to Dagny was not as much.
"Failure...when your best just isn't good enough."
The 'gaps" are merely small segments of her life that should be of little interest to, and are unknown to others.
No shame intended; just had to object to such bromides as "cult."
Speculation by definition is not an evidence based process. Speculation is prompted by some knowledge of fact, but the rest is just that: speculation.
But of course only you have knowledge of AR. Afraid you're in the wrong place for that sort of argument.
I can stay on topic, but it seemed to change. I'm ok with that, but others- not so much. you used charged words, such as "closed." Closure in a philosophical system is contraversial and I am curious whether Rand herself referred to Objectivism in such a way.
Would it not be better to ask the author if they are implying something, rather than assert with certainty that you can read their mind? Just asking.
2." Of course, if you are not gay then how would you know he was?" what??
3. Rand was heavily influenced by her brother-in-law Nick Carter (who was gay). however, that does not mean Frank was
4. there is an extraordinary circumstance of a husband seemingly content with being cuckolded for years. That is highly unusual. My speculation goes a long way to explaining it. .
It is, indeed, hard to truly understand many, if not most, people. I tend to think that this is because we virtually never know many, much less most of other people's thoughts and feelings. Way too many people are parented in a way that teaches them that hiding one's thoughts and feelings is necessary in life. I think that it causes serious damage.
I went off on a tangent, as usual. Sorry!
And I've never been convinced that Rand wrote herself into any of the characters of AS.
Now a growing number of people are coming to realize that sexual monogamy is quite irrational and that very often (I would even go as far as to say fundamentally and inherently) it is just a method of emotional control and coercion. Just like God, Fiat Money and Democracy, Monogamy is another one of those things the world has been brainwashed about.
Also, I believe the word "affair" implies cheating and dishonesty. This wasn't at all the case with Rand's completely ethical and honest polyamorous relationship.
Rand was a trailblazer in many ways, some which she isn't quite credited for yet even by her fans! She seems to have independently invented ethical polyamory. She was obviously quite immune to brainwashing and was able to see things for what they actually were. To her, and in reality, there's simply nothing wrong with having multiple romantic / sexual relationships at the same time as long as one is honest about it.
Rand made many mistakes in her writings, and she was internally inconsistent at times. For example, Rand’s more explicit sex scenes seem to be rape fantasy oriented, including the initiation of the use of force. The theme is clear in both “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas.”
Wikipedia says ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_fantas... ): “Studies have found rape fantasy is a common sexual fantasy among both men and women. The fantasy may involve the fantasist as either the one being forced into sex or as the perpetrator. Some studies have found that women tend to fantasize about being forced or coerced into sexual activity more commonly than men.”
Maybe Rand portrayed her rape fantasy in her writing and acted out her animal desire for sexual variety with Branden and others not yet known or whose identities were suppressed to keep the idol from having clay feet. I suppose it depends upon the fantasy of the participants.
As Rand said of the scene: “If it was rape, it was rape by engraved invitation.”
Roark already knew for a fact that Dominique wanted him, from the objective evidence of the "crack" she had attempted to manufacture in the stone to serve as an excuse for calling him over. He also then made sure to get double-confirmation as well - from her reaction when he sent someone else over to actually replace the stone.
Besides, anyone who tries to use this scene as a way to call into question Rand's opposition to the initiation of physical force is also dropping context in a major way. Dominique was no ordinary character. She was clearly a bit psycho - she routinely destroyed art she loved and made major decisions that were in direct contradiction to her actual values (e.g. marrying Peter Keating). It was completely in character for her to act in a way that contradicted her true desires. And for a novel to make any sense, characters need to act in accordance with their nature, which is what she did in her initial expression of her attraction for Roark as well.
Dagny is very different from Dominique in this regard, and the sex scenes she's involved in are all very clearly and explicitly consensual.
Another piece of context-dropping is that The Fountainhead was a novel celebrating artistic integrity and individual creativity, which was written before the full development of the Objectivist philosophy. The Fountainhead wasn't supposed to be a novel about Objectivism (which wasn't yet in existence as a philosophical system). That was Atlas Shrugged, and in Atlas Shrugged no character behaves in any way that could even be slightly misinterpreted. When Dagny shoots the guard at the SSI, the reasoning and justice of it is clearly detailed right there.
In contrast, there are other elements in The Fountainhead which could be considered in violation of Objectivist ethics and principles, for example Roark's blowing up Cortlandt. I'm not sure Rand would have defended that as completely consistent with Objectivist ethics, but it happened before Objectivist ethics were a thing, so it isn't supposed to be a representation of Objectivist ethics, and people who drop context to pretend that it is are simply intellectually dishonest weasels.
No it isn't. There is nothing in Atlas that can be construed to be on this theme as far as I'm aware. If you can provide any specific example from Atlas which can be in any way described as a "rape fantasy" please do.
Perhaps I unintentially added personal experience from my first wife whose parents were part of Rand's "Inner Circle." She enjoyed playing the fantasy of rape to act out scenes in Rand's writings and never feared pregnancy (these were days before the pill) because nobody in Rand's books got pregnant. To me the theme was clearly rape. But, perhaps not---I always leave that option open.
The fact that Frisco got so mad at her is evidence to Dagny that he cares greatly about her, which is why she treasures the memory. The whole thing is super romantic and not at all what the author of the article is trying to twist it into by dropping context.
In reality, Frisco slapping Dagny was just "tough love" - perfectly appropriate in that context given their very close relationship and non-contradictory with Objectivism's non-initiation-of-force principle.
I find it very interesting that Rand's critics always accuse her of being too black-and-white and non-nuanced, while constantly missing all the many nuances of the different characters and contexts or turning around and trying to re-frame them as evidence of contradictions in her work.
"Confessions Of A Serial Rapist"
Personally, I could almost accept Aaron Sorkin's line, that he gave to Col. Nathan R. Jessup USMC in "A Few Good Men." I'll never forget hearing Jack Nicholson deliver it: "There is nothing on this earth sexier...than a woman you have to salute in the morning. Promote 'em all, I say, because this is true. If you haven't gotten [f______o] from a superior officer, well, you're just letting the best things in life pass you by....Of course, my problem is, I'm a colonel. So I guess I'll have to keep on taking cold showers until they elect some gal President, heh, heh, heh."
Sorry I am back and I quit. I just thought this was an interesting subject.
I like your pointing out that what kind of spouse would agree to this arrangement? My sense of self would not allow me to do so.
If I were married to one man, even if I loved him, if I wanted to have an ongoing meaningful affair with another man, I would get a divorce.
I then stated that it was truly sad Rand had not seemed to find anyone in life who could influence her to, as she so often admonished others, "check her premises." He asked, "what do you mean?" I then asked him in view of his current knowledge and what subsequently transpired from their initial relationship, would he now choose to respond to her desires differently than he had at the time? He then pointedly asked, "have you read my book!?" I indicated I had. His tone and manner then indicated that the conversation was over........
It is my judgment that Rand allowed her imagination to create "personal realities" that conflicted with existential reality. She at times acted on, as we all at times do, desires that are in conflict with facts. Her marriage to Frank O'connor is one example. Further, the manner in which her ideas and work were received must have been as crushing a blow as anyone might ever experience. It certainly had its "enduring" effect on her. She was, just as are all of us, subject to error.
Wow, this gulch has gone to the dark side.
"Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man’s sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy on life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he’s taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment–just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity!–an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire." AR
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