Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ayn Rand: chance events, lucky breaks and unseen influences

After reading through Barbara Branden’s biography The Passion of Ayn Rand yet again, I noticed that she had some lucky breaks in her life. Although she knew what she wanted and was very pro-active in preparing herself for and going about getting it, her life might have been very different and we might never have heard of her without some fortuitous incidents that helped her along her way and got her through some key stages in her life.

Reprieve from university expulsion
When Ayn Rand was studying at university in Russia, there was a plan to expel some socially undesirables. Ayn was on the list; she would not be permitted to attend any other college ever again; being without a degree would have been a death warrant for her future plans. Luckily, a delegation of foreign visitors heard about the proposed purge and they were very indignant about it. In an attempt to make a good impression on the prominent visitors, the expulsions were cancelled for some of the students, including Ayn. A reversal of this kind was a unique occurrence.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Robin Jarvis’s witchmaster Nathaniel Crozier: Part III

The return of Nathaniel Crozier
A Warlock in Whitby ended with the defeat and destruction of Nathaniel Crozier. He left two devastated people behind him; Jennet is shattered emotionally and Miss Boston physically.

The Whitby Child, the final book in the Whitby Witches trilogy, describes Crozier’s efforts to return from the dead. He has done a deal with an evil supernatural entity: he will be restored to life in return for Ben’s death.

Crozier uses his coven of witches to perform rituals and run his errands, which include more attempts to murder Ben. Jennet is drawn into the coven; Nathaniel has left her in such a bad state that she has no defences against their plots.

It all – eventually - ends well for most of the characters, after a lot of action, horrific incidents, suffering and supernatural intervention, both malign and benign.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rudyard Kipling, nationalism and our children’s future

Many disappointed and resentful people who voted to Remain in the EU call those of us who voted to Leave stupid, uneducated, racists, fascists and bigots, traitors who have ruined this country’s and ”our children’s” future.

Emotional over-reactions, hysteria even, from self-declared broken-hearted people are common; attempts by such people to understand why rational people who are obviously not stupid or bigoted would vote to Leave are not. 

A prophetic poem by Rudyard Kipling helps to explain how people who support sovereignty and nationalism, people who think that enough is enough and prefer to live among their own kind, feel. He even mentions the influence of alien religions and the effect that too much diversity would have on children in the future: 

The Stranger within my Gate 

The Stranger within my gate, he may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk - I cannot feel his mind
I see the face and the eyes and mouth
But not the soul behind.

The men of my own stock, they may do ill or well,
But they tell the lies I am wonted to, they are used to the lies I tell;
And we do not need interpreters
When we go to buy and sell.

The stranger within my gates, he may be evil or good
But I cannot tell what powers control, what reasons sway his mood;
Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
Shall repossess his blood.

The men of my own stock, bitter bad they may be,
But at least they hear the things I hear, and see the things I see;
And whatever I think of them and their likes,
They think of the likes of me.

This was my father's belief, and this is also mine:
Let all the corn be one sheaf, and the grapes be all one vine
Ere our children's teeth are set on edge
By bitter bread and wine.

Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ayn Rand: some more thoughts about her life

Barbara Branden’s biography The Passion of Ayn Rand has inspired three articles so far. It is uncanny how so many aspects of her life resemble mine.

Some more similarities
Ayn Rand loved light classical music and operettas; so do I. When she first encountered them, they provided a magical form of temporary escape from a life of squalour, poverty, fear, pain and humiliation; this was my experience too. She would queue for hours in freezing weather to get the cheapest tickets, walking miles to save her fare money; I did exactly the same.

Ayn Rand pinned all her hopes for the future, for escape from a life of blank nothingness, for freedom, for any kind of life, on one thing: moving to the USA; I did the same with the profession of computing. She knew that she just had to go there; I knew that too.  The terrible suspense, the hopes, fears and disappointments and uncertainty that she had to live through before she finally got what she wanted are very familiar; I endured all that too.

She felt at home in New York as she loved the city lights, the city streets, the buildings and the big city atmosphere; I feel exactly the same about city life, as opposed to the suburbs and the countryside. Just knowing that it is all there, just outside the window, really does give fuel to the spirit.

While her mental energy was limitless, she always struggled with the problem of low physical energy; I have the same problem. She once worked continuously for 30 hours with no sleep; I used to do that all the time.

Ayn Rand almost never drank alcohol, disliking both the taste and the effect; I am the same. She disapproved strongly of the drug culture; it didn’t make sense to damage or destroy one’s most precious attribute, the clarity and precision of one’s rational mind; I share her views. She was a heavy smoker though; I have always been a non-smoker.

She had a few lessons, but was unable to learn how to drive a car; I have never even wanted to learn.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The life of Ayn Rand: some more familiar features

Barbara Branden’s biography The Passion of Ayn Rand provided the source material for the article about some familiar features from

There are many more examples of characteristics, viewpoints and experiences that Ayn Rand shares with other people, including me, to be found in this book.

Some more basic elements of Ayn Rand’s personality
There is little evidence that Ayn Rand possessed a sense of humour. She may not have had much common sense either. This is very reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor’s character Angel.

She needed to control others.

She could be selfish and thoughtless, for example when she uprooted her husband from a life he loved and that suited him perfectly because she wanted to move to New York. This is very like what Angel did to her mother.

Just like Angel, Ayn Rand lacked introspection and showed no humility.

Ayn Rand considered herself to be the supreme authority on what had worth and what did not and what was right and what was wrong; she judged people by her own standards and was contemptuous and intolerant of and dismissive towards people who didn’t make the grade.

Where she saw no unusual intelligence – nor the capacity for dedicated productive work that she believed to be its consequence – she saw no value.

She had little understanding of family ties, emotional connections and people’s feelings. Very few people mattered to her in a personal way. To the end of her life, she dismissed anyone who had a deep need for the company of other people as being essentially without value.

Ayn Rand was passionately anti mysticism and pro reason.