JARS: 2023 Grand Finale Files Submitted!

I am absolutely delighted to report that this afternoon, I submitted to Pennsylvania State University Press the final manuscript for the final double issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. I will keep folks in suspense as to the full Table of Contents, which I will announce in mid-2023. The issue is officially designated as:

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 23, nos. 1–2 (July 2023)

Our grand finale is a blockbuster! It includes my introduction, 7 articles, 6 book review essays, a volume index, and a 2013–2023 Master Index (for vols. 13–23, since we already published a 1999–2012 Master Index for vols. 1–12 here). When it arrives, the issue will most likely be around 400 pages.

As a preview, let me mention that our authors include: Pavel Solovyev, Anastasiya Grigorovskaya, Robert F. Mulligan, David Tyson, Marsha Enright, Roger Bissell, Cory Massimino, Douglas Rasmussen & Douglas Den Uyl, David Beito, Raymond Raad, Aaron Weinacht, Luca Moratal Roméu, and Roderick Long. The contents range from illuminating studies of archival sources to probing discussions of philosophical and cultural issues.

I will keep folks updated on our progress. Indeed, we have a long way to go as we work through page proofs and such. For now, all I can say is: YES!!!

Check out the comments on Facebook.

Ski & Me: Counting Our Blessings

During the week of November 8, 2020, my sister began to experience difficulty standing and walking. She went to see an orthopedic specialist to no avail. By November 12th, she was clearly not feeling well at all. And so I called 911. Accustomed to being a Super Woman, she refused to go to the hospital, opting instead to make an appointment to see our family doctor the next day, who would run a few tests.

That was not to be.

On the morning of Friday, November 13, 2020, I awoke, earlier than usual, to check in on her—and found her laying in bed, the covers thrown off, her face expressionless, as her eyes stared blankly at the ceiling. No matter what I said, how loud I yelled, how hard I clapped my hands, she was completely nonresponsive. I called 911 again, and this time, she was rushed to the hospital.

She lost three days of her life. Somehow, someway, she made it through and came back to us. She was in the hospital for a solid month, but eventually, she underwent life-saving back surgery. Complications set in over time, and by early October 2021, she was back in the hospital, and we were told there was nothing left for them to do. I was shocked. I asked the doctors, “Well, what are you saying? What are you talking about? Does she have a month to live?”

“A month, if that,” one of the doctors replied. But certainly no more than six months. I signed my sister over to in-home hospice care, and brought her home to die. By October 17, 2021, she was indeed, dying. Dear family members stopped in to say goodbye. I called the funeral home and the cemetery and began making arrangements; doctors and nurses told us her death was imminent.

As day melted into night, with my sister laying in that bed again, nonresponsive, I put on some of her favorite music. She loved all genres of music and was always a great dancer. So, former mobile college DJ that I am, I picked one of her favorite R&B dance tracks to keep the mood pleasant. Out of the speakers came the sounds of Shalamar’s memorable 1982 hit, “A Night to Remember” [YouTube link]. As I sat there beside her, telling her how much I loved her, I saw tears forming in her closed eyes, one of them slowly rolling down the right side of her face. And she began mouthing the words to that song: “Get ready tonight … Gonna make this a night to remember.” Her eyes opened. And now, my eyes swelled with tears.

They told us not to put too much faith in this “end-of-life rally“. But these experts didn’t know my sister. I would later joke that Lazarus may have had Jesus, but Liz had Shalamar.

With her strong heart and her strong love of life and her strong will to live, she has somehow confounded every medical authority. More than a year later, two years after she nearly died the first time, she is still with us. She will not surrender.

This is a season of Thanksgiving, and we will surely post some pics around that holiday. But today, we count our blessings that we are here—that she is here—to talk about November 13, 2020, when, at the time, we didn’t think she’d see November 14th.

#GoFundSki

JARS: New December 2022 Issue!

As I announced on September 6, 2022, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be publishing its grand finale in 2023 as a double issue. We are working very hard right now to complete the submission of the full slate of articles toward that end—an elegant conclusion to our 2+ decades of commitment to being the only nonpartisan, interdisciplinary, double-blind, peer-reviewed, biannual periodical devoted to the study of Ayn Rand and her times.

Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of the penultimate issue of JARS (which will be published on both the Scholarly Publishing Collective and on its way to subscribers in hard copy next month). Our December 2022 issue continues another commitment we made when this journal began, that every new issue would feature at least one new contributor to our project. With our newest issue, we welcome three new contributors: Mikhail Kravtsov, Luca Moratal Roméu, and Elizabeth Bissell, bringing our total number of authors to 188, who have contributed 408 articles over the past 22 years. Our 2023 grand finale will add to those totals.

The December 2022 issue features the following articles and contributors:

Introduction – Chris Matthew Sciabarra

ARTICLES

Archival Discoveries Related to Ayn Rand’s Residences in Saint Petersburg
(Petrograd/Leningrad) – Mikhail Kravtsov and Mikhail Kizilov

Objectivism and Libertarian Political Thought: A Comparative
Introduction – Luca Moratal Roméu

Chosen or Proven Ethics? – Robert Hartford

Error, Free Will, and Freedom – Kathleen Touchstone

Where There’s a Will, There’s a “Why?” Part 2: Implications of Value
Determinism for the Objectivist Concepts of “Value,” “Sacrifice,” “Virtue,”
“Obligation,” and “Responsibility” – Roger E. Bissell

REVIEWS

Ayn Rand, Nihilist? (review of Aaron Weinacht’s book, Nikolai Chernyshevskii and Ayn Rand: Russian Nihilism Travels to America) – Elizabeth Bissell

“Atlas Shrugged” Explored (review of Edward W. Younkins’s book, Exploring “Atlas Shrugged”: Ayn Rand’s Magnum Opus) – Fred Seddon

Index to Volume 22

Check out our article abstracts and our contributor biographies. Subscription information is available here. (This announcement has also been posted to Facebook here.)

Only one more (double) issue to go! Don’t miss out!

Sharon Presley (1943-2022), RIP

My dear friend, Ellen Young, announced today that Sharon Presley, lifelong libertarian feminist writer and activist, died on Monday, October 31, 2022, at the age of 79. Her partner Art—who has had his own share of health challenges—was able to be there to say goodbye to her.

Sharon had been suffering from serious illnesses for quite a while. In the wake of eviction from her apartment and the loss of her cats, she was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes for over a year.

Sharon received her B.A. in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, her M.A. in psychology from San Francisco State, and her Ph.D. in social psychology from the City University of New York. She taught on the psychology of women and other gender-related courses at California State University, Iowa State University, the College of Wooster, and Weber State College. Her published research included historical papers on women resisters, a study of Mormon feminists, an edited collection of essays on nineteenth-century individualist feminist Voltairine de Cleyre and the 2010 volume, Standing Up to Experts and Authorities: How to Avoid Being Intimidated, Manipulated, and Abused. Sharon was also a national coordinator for the Association of Libertarian Feminists and Executive Director of Resources for Independent Thinking.

Her frail state over these many months was quite a contrast to the rambunctious fireband whom I met way back in 1978, when I was an undergraduate student at New York University. She and John Muller had helped to launch Laissez-Faire Books, which offered a treasure-trove of classical liberal, libertarian, and anarchist literature in the heart of Greenwich Village. As a cofounder of the NYU chapter of Students for a Libertarian Society, I spent a lot of time at that bookstore, especially in 1980, when it became a virtual warehouse of antidraft placards and pamphlets that we distributed in Washington Square Park, joining with other student groups to protest Jimmy Carter’s reinstatement of Selective Service Registration.

From the very beginning of our friendship, Sharon and I had our differences, but it never interfered with her willingnesss to step up and speak out in an uncompromising, principled way on many controversial topics. She gladly accepted our invitation to speak at an NYU-SLS-sponsored event, delivering a fiery lecture in support of reproductive freedom. Given that Ayn Rand’s work played such a key role in initially sparking Sharon’s political radicalization, I was delighted, many years later, when she accepted an invitation to be among the diverse group of contributors to Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand (1999), which I coedited with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, for the Penn State University Press series, “Re-reading the Canon.” That volume, prominently featured among anthologies on thirty-five major figures in the Western philosophical tradition, brought Rand’s work into critical engagement with various feminist perspectives. Sharon’s essay, “Ayn Rand’s Philosophy of Individualism: A Feminist Psychologist’s Perspective”, was one of its gems.

My very deepest condolences to all those who knew her. I will miss her.

Sharon Presley (1943-2022)

See comments on Facebook.

Happy Halloween!!!

No matter how crazy life is, Ski embraces every holiday!

#GoFundSki

Bwaaahahahaha!

Check out comments on Facebook here and here.

Anne Conover Heller, RIP

I was very saddened to learn this morning that my dear friend and colleague, magazine editor and journalist Anne Conover Heller, passed away on October 10, 2022. We had been in touch over the summer, and I knew she had been battling cancer. She lost that battle at the age of 71. As the NY Times legacy page tells us: “She is survived by many many friends from all corners of life, her dear sister Peggy, and David, her devoted husband. A memorial celebration will take place at the Church of the Holy Trinity in December.” My very deepest condolences to all those who had the pleasure of knowing her.

Over the years, Anne had been the managing editor of The Antioch Review, a fiction editor of Esquire and Redbook, features editor of Lear’s, and the executive editor of the magazine-development group at Conde Nast Publications. She would go on to author the probing biography, Ayn Rand and the World She Made (2009) and the insightful Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times (2015).

She was one of the most curious, tenacious, and courageous scholars I’ve ever known. She was also a very sweet, caring, supportive, and loving friend.

We first met many years ago, when she was researching her book on Rand. She was very deeply impressed with my own book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (1995, first edition), and was embarking on major research on Rand’s Russian background. Aware of my previous work on Rand’s education at Petrograd University and my discovery that Rand had studied at the Stoyunin gymnasium—including my essay “The Rand Transcript,” featured in the 1999 debut issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies—Anne worked diligently to provide further documentation of many aspects of Rand’s Russian beginnings that became more transparent over time. She gained access to materials that I did not have when I first put forth my theses.

Unlike those who had access to certain archives but who had refused to share these materials with others without stipulations that were meant to crush independent inquiry, Anne openly shared with me key documents on Rand’s education at Petrograd University. In collaboration with such scholars as the esteemed philosopher and intellectual historian, the late George Kline, I was able to provide Anne with a thorough exploration of the materials. The results of that investigation—“The Rand Transcript, Revisited” (JARS, Fall 2005; republished in the 2013 expanded second edition of Russian Radical)—were used by Anne in her 2009 Rand biography. In later years, I was able to revisit that material and expand on it greatly, in collaboration with my dear friend and colleague Pavel Solovyev. Our coauthored essay, “The Rand Transcript Revealed” (published in the December 2021 JARS), utterly delighted Anne. None of it would have been possible without the pioneering steps taken by her.

As a friend, she had this unique ability to lend a heartfelt word of support when times were tough and to laugh through the tears. And laugh we did. Our countless hours of conversation over the years were the source of great joy to me. I am greatly indebted to her—for so much. I will always honor her immense generosity of spirit. And I will miss her.

RIP, dear, dear friend.

Posted to Facebook with discussion.

#GoFundSki !!!

Nearly two years ago, in November 2020, my sister, Elizabeth Sciabarra—“Ms. Ski” to her students—nearly died. She has gone through agonizing hell for two years now, through surgeries and crippling illness. By October 2021, near death again, she was placed on in-home palliative care, under the assumption that she would not last six months. She confounded medical authorities and now must be re-certified for palliative care every two months because she refused to die on Medicare’s schedule.

With my sister living on a pension, Social Security, and dwindling savings, ineligible for Medicaid, we began a #GoFundSki campaign on March 25, 2022. As a testament to the impact she made as an educator of fifty years, influencing the lives of thousands of people, we exceeded our $150,000 goal within ten days. That money was designed to keep my sister at home, with the assistance of 24/7 home health aide coverage. We projected expenditures of approximately $15,000 per month on aides and other non-insured supplies to turn our home into a hospice. Unfortunately, $15,000 could not even cover our home health aide assistance; with supplies and other necessities, we have been averaging $20,000 per month, as inflationary pressures rose across the board. Nevertheless, our #GoFundSki campaign raised enough money (clearing $165,000+) to sustain my sister thru January 2023.

It was to my sister’s profound embarrassment that we had to pitch a #GoFundSki campaign to begin with. But at this juncture, we are faced with some very tough decisions. My sister is stable and has a strong heart. With a very strong will to live, she has no intention of dying anytime soon. Once the current money runs out, we will have no choice but to place her in a Medicare-insured inpatient hospice—as long as that choice is open to us and that she is not de-certified from palliative care simply because she’s outlived Medicare guidelines.

It is our conviction that my sister has survived this long precisely because she’s been at home getting loving, superlative, top-notch care that she would never have gotten in any inpatient facility, be it a hospice or a nursing home.

We are therefore raising our #GoFundSki goal to $325,000, which means that we’re hoping to clear an additional $160,000 with this extended campaign to cover her care way beyond January 2023. To be blunt: If Ms. Ski outlives the additional finances raised for her, we will not extend our #GoFundSki campaign. And difficult choices will be made for her.

We have updated this campaign several months before the current money runs out and do not presume that we will be able to raise the same amount of money we asked for at the end of March 2022. But this goal has been set—and we will be eternally grateful for anything we can raise toward meeting it.

Fully aware of the increasing economic pressures that have impacted so many people throughout this country, we thank every single person who has already contributed to my sister’s welfare—and all those who might still be able to contribute.

Sincerely,
Chris Matthew Sciabarra (on behalf of my sister)

Posted to Facebook.

#GOFUNDSKI

Ms. Ski celebrated her 70th birthday on September 2, 2022

Song of the Day #1968

Song of the Day: Star Walkin’ (League of Legends World Anthem) features the words and music of a host of writers, including Lil Nas X. The song was released last month for the esport 2022 League of Legends World Championship, but its been played during baseball’s postseason on ESPN as well. I hear hints of “Turn the Beat Around” [YouTube link] in the melodic line, and I love the spirit of the lyric: “Don’t ever say it’s over if I’m breathin’, Racin’ to the moonlight and I’m speedin’, I’m headed to the stars, ready to go far. I’m star walkin’.” Check out the animated video on YouTube.

Song of the Day #1967

Song of the Day: Loser, words and music by Charlie Puth and Jacob Kasher Hindlin, was released today along with Puth’s third studio album, “Charlie“. The album has an ’80s throwback groove, as Perfect Pitch Puth provides some emotionally raw content of unrequited love and loss. Rolling Stone praises the album as “terrific, cohesive” and “expertly crafted”. And Vulture praises Puth for incorporating a remarkable inclusiveness into his “font of musical knowledge.” The official video is hilariously ambitious, but it ain’t no spaghetti Western (Sergio Leone‘s legacy is preserved). Check it out here [YouTube link]. And check out an acoustic version, live from the Howard Stern Show [YouTube link].