Archive | July, 2011

Way Long Gone, Part 3

I got back from my voyages on Monday (I announce belatedly).

Roger's Campground

PorcFest was anarchy in miniature: people were smoking weed, packing heat, selling unlicensed food and alcohol, and generally behaving in a peacefully unauthorised fashion. There were pistol safety classes, gay dance parties, and sessions on everything from polyamory, transhumanism, and cop avoidance to alternative currency, alternative medicine, and planning the revolution. C4SS, S4SS, ALL, AltExpo, Fr33 Agents, and SFL were all represented. In addition to my previously mentioned talks I was on a panel on agorism with Brad Spangler, Dan D’Amico, and Bob Murphy. If I go again next year I’ll bring some copies of Kevin’s Homebrew Industrial Revolution; PorcFest seems like the ideal crowd for it.

After that came the IHS seminar at Towson. The students were great, and I spent a lot of time talking with them about philosophy, libertarianism, and science fiction – which (as will come as no surprise to my readers) are three of my favourite subjects. One of the students was wearing a t-shirt with my picture on it! The topics of my lectures were approximately the same as last year. The other faculty were Dan D’Amico, Brian Doherty, John Hasnas, George Selgin, and Amy Sturgis, so it was an even more radical lineup than last year. We found a good Cuban restaurant; I also got a chance to see Jesse Walker, who lives nearby.

My next gig will be Mises University here in Auburn, July 24-30. And then of course there’s always the APS in September and Libertopia in October.

Fright Night

1. Ayn Rand’s play Night of January 16th is a dramatised trial with two endings, depending on whether the audience votes for the guilt or innocence of the protagonist, Karen Andre. As originally written, Andre when declared guilty announces:

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you. You have spared me the trouble of committing suicide.

Night of January 16th

Toward the end of her life, Rand made some revisions to the play in connection with a revived stage performance. Most of the changes were apparently minor, but one was not: Andre’s last line, in the event of being found guilty, is now:

Ladies and gentlemen, I will not be here to serve the sentence. I have nothing to seek in your world.

And this is the ending that currently appears in Night of January 16th: The Final Revised Version and Ayn Rand: Three Plays.

I think this change is unfortunate; the original strikes me as more dramatic and poetic. Rand may have changed it to reflect the fact that under changes in New York law, Andre would no longer have been eligible for the death penalty. But if so, that’s an oddly naturalistic reason for the change, and the play doesn’t plausibly update to a more contemporary setting anyway.

But my real gripe is not just that Rand changed the ending, but that the original line is getting lost down a memory hole. Nowhere in the current published versions of the play is there any information as to what the original line was: not in a footnote or appendix or anything. This seems to be yet another case of the Rand estate’s mishandling of her writings.

2. I’ve never seen the entire movie version (1941) of Night of January 16th. I watched about ten minutes of it once and couldn’t keep my attention on it. Rand once wrote of the film:

There is nothing of mine in that movie, except the names of some of the characters and the title (which was not mine). The only line of dialogue from my play which appears in the movie is: “The court will now adjourn till ten o’clock tomorrow morning.” The cheap, trashy vulgarity of that movie is such that no lengthier discussion is possible to me.

So I’m guessing she didn’t like it.

Judging from this synopsis, the movie’s connection with the original play is indeed tenuous. But what struck me in the synopsis is something I’ve never seen mentioned before: that a “statuette of Atlas supporting a globe” plays a crucial role in the film’s plot (which it certainly does not in the play). Given that Rand hadn’t started writing Atlas Shrugged at that time, it’s an intriguing connection.

An Ambiguous Dystopia

Under the Violet Sun

Going through old papers I find this gem from my Randian past: a very short sf story that I wrote in (but not for) college, titled “Under the Violet Sun.”

Some of my stories actually had plots (hopefully I’ll dig them up eventually). This one, not so much.

It Makes a Fellow Proud, Part 3

And now Tom Knapp is in CounterPunch, explaining how the Casey Anthony trial was a failure of justice regardless of whether she was guilty or innocent.

You can also hear a clip from Kevin Carson being interviewed by Iranian Press TV here, on the role of big business in war. Those of us who have long suspected that Kevin Carson and Walter Block are the same person will find vindication in the graphic that Press TV chose to represent Kevin’s face.

In related news, Homer Simpson endorses Kevin’s “Labor Struggle: A Free Market Model”:

Lisa, if you don’t like your job you don’t strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.

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