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Branden and Olcott

Jun 26, 1998 06:34 AM
by K Paul Johnson

I found Annette's parallels between Rand and Blavatsky
interesting.  Having found Randians in college always the
weirdest and least compatible of the various cults represented, I
never read any of Rand's books except for the short one-- Virtue
of Selfishness?  Anyhow, rather than intellectualize my reaction
I will just say that it is a YUCK that reverberates from some gut
chakra or other.  Chacun a son gout.

But I have read reviews of all the recent books about Rand, and
dipped into both Branden's accounts.  I think it's disingenuous
to talk of Nathaniel Branden "disappointing" Rand without
acknowledging that this young married man was seduced by this
older and not particularly appealing married woman, that their
sexual affair lasted for years, and that when he stopped
satisfying her sexually she declared him an apostate to her
philosophy.  I see some abuse of power here on her part.

Although there is no evidence of any sexual relationship between
Olcott and HPB, I think the parallel is an interesting one.
Since you brought it up, Annette, I will add that the standard
view in non-Adyar Theosophical groups, and increasingly within
the Adyar TS, is that Olcott "disappointed" HPB.  No one seems to
give a moment's thought to how she might have disappointed him.
She certainly seduced him mentally and spiritually, although not
physically.  Set out to charm him and get him involved in her
cause, induced him to turn his life upside down to serve her
purposes (and/or her Masters.)  When, after the Hodgson report,
he declared his independence more or less, Olcott "disappointed"
HPB.  And it seems popular among Theosophists to condemn him for
his change of attitude toward her.  But let me close by asking
this: if you had disrupted your entire life to follow someone,
devoted ten years of your life to furthering their every wish,
proclaimed their virtues to the world; if you were then
confronted by what seemed to you to be strong evidence of fraud
on that person's part, along with a letter in which that person
ridiculed you for your loyalty, called you a "psychologized baby"
who was under her control-- would *you* be disappointed?

(Not to get into a wrangle about whether Olcott was right in
suspecting HPB of fraud.  But that he did so is evident from her
own letters and implicit in some of his, and this is serious
business coming from the number one favorable witness to her
powers and her Masters.)

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