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I am surprised to be in such a conversation.
December 11, 2012 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Ayn Rand, Jim Henson, Sidney Nolan, and Yoko Ono in Conversation on ARPNET. 17 April 1976 – The transcript presented here records a conversation between four figures from the broad spectrum of culture: puppeteer Jim Henson; Russian-American writer, philosopher and playwright Ayn Rand; painter Sidney Nolan; and artist and musician Yoko Ono. A few months after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, The Agency’s tests with the ARPANET convened these four individuals, each with a distinct sense of, as well as the potential means for, a competing world-view.
posted by Erasmouse (84 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, Ayn Rand comes off about as well as I would expect.
JIM HENSON: Each character is special for me they represent different aspects of myself. Kermit the frog is perhaps closest to me. An altar ego of sorts.
AYN RAND: What does that say about you.
SIDNEY NOLAN: Big laughs. He is exceptional.
JIM HENSON: I dont know. I don’t think too much about it.
YOKO ONO: My favourite is Big Bird. He is so tall and gentle.
AYN RAND: To be honest I find it to be senseless entertainment. I prefer the celebration of men and what they can achieve.
JIM HENSON: Do you have children Ms Rand.
AYN RAND: What do children have to do with what I prefer.

posted by mykescipark at 1:53 PM on December 11, 2012 [58 favorites]


I figured it out. It was an early Turing test and the Ayn Rand one is obviously a computer.
posted by perhapses at 1:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [43 favorites]


Wow. Rand's already a jerk when she introduces herself.
posted by brundlefly at 1:56 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


She's the world's first internet troll!
posted by incessant at 1:57 PM on December 11, 2012 [49 favorites]


Henson almost invented LOL:

JIM HENSON
I think Ms. Rand and my character Oscar the Grouch would have a lot to talk about actually. I am laughing out loud at this idea.


That would have been the best episode. I wonder if he asked her to come on?
posted by Erasmouse at 1:58 PM on December 11, 2012 [39 favorites]


This is the most quotable article I've seen on the internet in hours.

AYN RAND: The empathy you point to obviously serves you well. I am happy for your achievement.
posted by incessant at 1:58 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Okay, I am a bit embarrassed that I thought this was a real thing. Interesting concept, though I wish they had played up the ARPAnet angle, rather than just making it a short dialog
posted by blahblahblah at 1:59 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


She's the world's first internet troll!

I am convinced that the latter half of the 20th century would have been completely different if only Ayn Rand had been popular in high school.
posted by gauche at 1:59 PM on December 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


I totally began reading all of Ayn Rand in the default female computer voice.
posted by perhapses at 1:59 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know, I'm starting to think that maybe Ayn Rand was kind of a jerk.
posted by Mister_A at 2:00 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Henson seems really cool though.
posted by Mister_A at 2:00 PM on December 11, 2012


Hilarious. It would be difficult to think of four similarly mismatched individuals, but a fun party game.
posted by kozad at 2:00 PM on December 11, 2012


They should have Yoko primally screaming the whole time.
posted by goethean at 2:01 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, for the real thing, I will again point to the truly amazing transcripts of early conversations with ELIZA from real people. I heard about the BBN VP one while visiting that company, scroll down to the middle to read it.
posted by blahblahblah at 2:01 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


JIM HENSON to Ayn Rand
He has achieved what I think is the ultimate goal of your way of thinking. Isolation. Contempt for others. A hard heart. Yet even he can muster a bit of empathy every now and then.

Someone call the burn unit.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 2:02 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Here's some background.
posted by neroli at 2:02 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aw boo, is it not real?? I was totally taken in-- disclaimer really should be on the ABOUT section.

Apologies-- Mods, delete if you think appropriate.
posted by Erasmouse at 2:02 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I totally began reading all of Ayn Rand in the default female computer voice.

Interesting fact: the female text-to-speech voice included in Mac OS 8 was actually not synthesized and instead used an audio recording that Ms. Rand made of herself reading the entire American Heritage Dictionary, 1st edition.
posted by theodolite at 2:03 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


AND THE RIGHT WING HAS HAD IT IN FOR BIG BIRD EVER SINCE.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:04 PM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


Jane Fonda = Godot
posted by juv3nal at 2:05 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


A couple of days ago I was looking for some chicken coop plans. I googled something like "building chicken coops" and the only, absolute only, hit I got was a link to The Fountainhead.
posted by mareli at 2:06 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Too bad it's fake, but it's still funny! I say we keep it.
posted by Mister_A at 2:06 PM on December 11, 2012


That this is not "real" is not important. As Steve Martin said in LA Story, "Forget for this moment the smog and the cars and the restaurant and the skating and remember only this. A kiss may not be the truth, but it is what we wish were true."
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:07 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't really thing that generalizes to Strawman Ayn Rand, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:10 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm actually relieved that it isn't real. I can't tell you why, but I think it's something to do with not wanting to be so sure I was right about my impressions about people I've never met. I really don't think I'm ready to be that right about anything.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


But it may just be that I'd be annoyed that the Internet has been around for so long and that this was the first we heard of this supposed conversation. Because that would call the whole purpose of the Internet into question.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:13 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ayn Rand: ... I am happy for your achievement.

That's the line that gave it away, for me.
posted by General Tonic at 2:13 PM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


AYN RAND
As you know I am a philosopher and a novelist.


END TRANSMISSION
posted by Splunge at 2:14 PM on December 11, 2012


There's got to be some kind of a Reverse Ayn Rand Turing Test program out there, where you are talking to either a) Ayn Rand, or b) some kind of highly advanced chat algorithm programmed with contempt for any kind of other-regard, and your job is to decide, in a finite amount of time, which of them would be a worse kindergarten teacher, or something.
posted by gauche at 2:14 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


This cannot possibly be real, can it?
posted by edheil at 2:19 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


in b4 someone reminds us all that Ayn Rand at some point in her life accepted government money.
posted by gertzedek at 2:19 PM on December 11, 2012


An altar ego

*primal scream*
posted by infini at 2:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


RON PAUL 1976
posted by not_on_display at 2:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"philosopher"
posted by Flunkie at 2:31 PM on December 11, 2012


Hoax.
Also it's "ARPANET" (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network).

ARPNET would be a chatroom for ARP synthesizer geeks, which would be awesome.
posted by w0mbat at 2:32 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


God knows I love making fun of Ayn Rand, but this was just a bit too on the nose.
posted by cthuljew at 2:34 PM on December 11, 2012


this is so awesome.
posted by Bwithh at 2:39 PM on December 11, 2012


Huh. I thought fake Yoko came off the worst in that discussion.

I still prefer my fake Ayn Rand from Forum 2000.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:40 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I still prefer my fake Ayn Rand from Forum 2000.

I've spent the last 20 minutes trying to remember the name of the Conversatron and Forum 2000. Those were wonderful sites.
posted by figurant at 2:42 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]




"The happiness of others makes one a slave."

If there's a better Ayn Rand quote, real or fake, I'd like to see it.
posted by Fnarf at 2:44 PM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'm also relieved it's fake. I'm having a hard time imagining Rand and Henson in the same room as one another and the universe not ending in a matter-antimatter annihilation.
posted by loquacious at 2:47 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ayn Rand is a terrible person. Reading her [fictitious] comments makes me hate Paul Ryan even more.
posted by zerobyproxy at 2:53 PM on December 11, 2012


ARPNET would be a chatroom for ARP synthesizer geeks, which would be awesome

Slight derail: actually, ARPNET could almost be a synonym for Ethernet. ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) is what ties an IP address to a specific network card.... it's the glue that lets Ethernet carry and deliver IP traffic.

You're ARPing all the time, whether you know it or not. In a vague, handwavy sort of way, it can be argued that the Internet is mostly overlaid on a whole bunch of local ARP nets.
posted by Malor at 2:58 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


That this is not "real" is not important.

Yoko Ono, quoting her late husband, remarked "nothing is real".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:58 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


If there's a better Ayn Rand quote, real or fake, I'd like to see it.

If you're going to criticize Rand, at least criticize her for what she actually said, instead of what someone wishes she said.
posted by Malor at 2:59 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Slight derail: actually, ARPNET could almost be a synonym for Ethernet. ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) is what ties an IP address to a specific network card.... it's the glue that lets Ethernet carry and deliver IP traffic.

That's how I read it. Arpnet jokes:

KNOCK KNOCK
Who's there?
WHERE ARE YOU?
Where are you, who?
WHERE ARE YOU?
WHERE ARE YOU?
WHERE ARE YOU?
posted by GuyZero at 3:02 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Fnarf is not criticizing Rand. Fnarf is lauding a criticism of Rand.
posted by darksasami at 3:02 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Real Ayn Rand quotes on happiness:

Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.

The moral cannibalism of all hedonist and altruist doctrines lies in the premise that the happiness of one man necessitates the injury of another.

No one's happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy.

Neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as a man is free to attempt to survive by any random means, as a parasite, a moocher or a looter, but not free to succeed at it beyond the range of the moment - so he is free to seek his happiness in any irrational fraud, any whim, any delusion, any mindless escape from reality, but not free to succeed at it beyond the range of the moment not to escape the consequences.


Honestly, attributing "The happiness of others makes one a slave" to her is letting her off easy.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:04 PM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, I wish this was real.
posted by GuyZero at 3:30 PM on December 11, 2012


The fakeness of the article should be in the FPP, I'd think.
posted by JHarris at 3:34 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ayn Rand was a muppet.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


"in b4 someone reminds us all that Ayn Rand at some point in her life accepted government money."

That little factoid bears endless repeating. It is the cherry of hypocrisy on top of her big turd sundae.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Poop. I thought this was real, too, until I came back here after the first page to see if everyone was going all like 'WTF AYN,' which I'm happy to see they were.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:38 PM on December 11, 2012


"I prefer the celebration of men and what they can achieve."

It looks like she was ahead of her time and making the first attempt at cybersex.
I mean, they're all there: the Furry, the deviantART hipster (who apparently turns griefer), the guy pretending to be an Asian chick.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you're going to criticize Rand, at least criticize her for what she actually said, instead of what someone wishes she said.

"I can see Russia from my house." WIN
posted by dhartung at 3:41 PM on December 11, 2012


12 November 1898 – The transcript presented here records a wireless telegraphy conversation between four figures from the broad spectrum of culture: Governor-Elect Theodore Roosevelt; red-hot playwright George Bernard Shaw; H.G. Wells, renowned writer of fancies; and George Cohan, vaudevillian and Irishman. A few months after the successful conclusion of the Spanish-American War, Nicolai Tesla remotely convened these four individuals, each with a distinct sense of, as well as the potential means for, a competing world-view...

Roosevelt:
BULLY STOP ALL HAIL THE BULL MOOSE STOP

Cohan:
COHANS THE NAME STOP VAUDEVILLES THE GAME STOP

Shaw:
ONE FEELS SOME PROTOCOL IS IN ORDER STOP SOME SET DRESSING IF YOU WILL STOP YOU ARE TO CONSIDER ME IN MY MODESTLY APPOINTED STUDY STOP A MAN OF MIDDLE YEARS AND EXPANSIVE FRAME WELL SATISFIED BY A RECENT DINNER OF BRAISED PARNSIPS THE DETRITUS OF WHICH MAY BE SEEN ON A BLUE CHINA PLATE NEXT TO THE WILTING CANDLE ON MY DESK STOP

Wells:
IS THIS ON WHAT YOU DO WITH IS THIS ON I NEED HELP HELP PLEASE MR TESLA

Cohan:
HACHACHA STOP
posted by Iridic at 3:51 PM on December 11, 2012 [18 favorites]


Aw boo, is it not real??

If one was to use realism as a reason to delete from The Blue - it would be a very empty place.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:56 PM on December 11, 2012


If I had the power to create computerized personality reconstructions a la the John Keats character in Dan Simmon's Hyperion, conversations such as this between incongruous personalities would be the sort of mad villain fun I would have. And oh, what fun it would be.

I smell the logical end point of reality TV in there somewhere.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 4:04 PM on December 11, 2012


If you're going to criticize Rand, at least criticize her for what she actually said, instead of what someone wishes she said.

If I were to submit to this external standard I would be less than true to myself. Ayn would be disappointed.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:13 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think Ms. Rand and my character Oscar the Grouch would have a lot to talk about actually. I am laughing out loud at this idea.

Say what you will about LOLspeak, the need must have been evident from very early on.
posted by anazgnos at 4:50 PM on December 11, 2012


I'm so thankful I read these comments before I sent that link to a big Rand fan, prior to my reading the disclaimer.
posted by surplus at 4:54 PM on December 11, 2012


I'll admit, I thought it was real until I read the comments. I'm actually relieved that it isn't; there was something quite unpleasant, dystopian, and disturbing about the thought of the conversation actually having taken place.
posted by treepour at 5:18 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I WANT TO BELIEVE.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 5:44 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, I am a bit embarrassed that I thought this was a real thing

I was half willing to believe but hadn't finished reading it before I started reading comments. Thanks for cutting to the chase; who has time?
posted by Miko at 5:45 PM on December 11, 2012


Ayn Rand vs. Jim Henson in Epic Rap Battles of History
posted by TMezz at 6:43 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


If I had the power to create computerized personality reconstructions a la the John Keats character in Dan Simmon's Hyperion, conversations such as this between incongruous personalities would be the sort of mad villain fun I would have. And oh, what fun it would be.

I smell the logical end point of reality TV in there somewhere.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 7:04 PM on December 11


Steve Allen used to have a TV show pretty much like that (...with actors, not computerized reproductions) recreating improbable dinner parties with historical figures: Meeting of Minds.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:48 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If there's a better Ayn Rand quote, real or fake, I'd like to see it.

Personally, I have always loved the Ayn Rand scene in Tobias Wolff's novel Old School:

Headmaster: If you had to name the single greatest work by an American author, what would it be?
Rand: Atlas Shrugged.
Headmaster: Your own novel.
Rand: Is there another?
Headmaster: And after that?
Rand: The Fountainhead.
Headmaster: Is there really no other American author whose work you admire?
Rand: There is one. I am interested in the novels of Mr. Mickey Spillane. His metaphysic is perhaps rather instinctive but quite sound nevertheless…I would particularly recommend I, the Jury. In Mike Hammer, he has created a true hero, one who doesn’t torture himself in the current fashion with decadent niceties. Mike knows evil from good and destroys it without hesitation or regret. Most unusual. Most satisfying.
posted by naoko at 7:15 PM on December 11, 2012


Here's a short interview with Jeremy Beaudry about the project. His project site.
posted by unliteral at 7:22 PM on December 11, 2012


Fake Ayn Rand is the best Star Trek villian the series never had.
posted by bicyclefish at 8:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ask yourself whether hell's heart and hate should be waiting for us in our graves – or whether it should be stabbed and spit at thee here and now and on this earth.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:56 PM on December 11, 2012


Like Neil Gaiman wrote in Sandman, "A thing need not have happened to be true."

Personally, my favorite Fake Ayn Rand is in Matt Ruff's Sewer, Gas, & Electric.
posted by MrBadExample at 9:47 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


w0mbat: "ARPNET would be a chatroom for ARP synthesizer geeks, which would be awesome."

Could also be a place for people who like to note peculiar galaxies. "Ooh, here's a weird one; it looks like a little green bean."
posted by jiawen at 11:31 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I miss the Ayn Rand from Forum 2000 sooooo much. Asking questions of Forum 2000 was one of the defining features of my undergrad.

There hasn't been a worthwhile mathematician since Aristotle. A is A.
posted by painquale at 12:22 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


And yes, Fake Ayn Rand from Sewer, Gas, & Electric comes a close second in the Fake Ayn Rand race.
posted by painquale at 12:23 AM on December 12, 2012


"I figured it out. It was an early Turing test and the Ayn Rand one is obviously a computer."

Yoko Ono asks : "I am surprised to be in such a conversation. It feels like a deliberate test."
posted by stratastar at 12:35 AM on December 12, 2012


I wish they had left the timestamps and the original computer names in.

This reminds me a lot of #philosophy on the irc server I used to frequent... down to the Randian who used to piss everyone off.
posted by Joe Chip at 3:14 AM on December 12, 2012


Truthy
posted by the_artificer at 3:49 AM on December 12, 2012


It's interesting that even Ayn Rand satire is dead boring and unfunny.
posted by Miko at 6:05 AM on December 12, 2012


"Wouldn't you rather pick up the phone and call. All this damned typing." - R. Reagan
posted by snottydick at 6:47 AM on December 12, 2012


"I am surprised to be in such a conversation. It feels like a deliberate test."

Cleverbot says the same thing.
posted by surplus at 7:44 AM on December 12, 2012


Strawman Ayn Rand

Strawmaynd.
posted by windykites at 8:12 AM on December 12, 2012


Thanks, Ayn Rand.

Thaynrand.
posted by not_on_display at 11:44 AM on December 12, 2012


Oh my god I remember Ayn Rand from Forum 2000. My nerd friends and I used to hang out at school after classes were over to try to push her buttons.
posted by miyabo at 11:49 AM on December 13, 2012


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