[PW] Quote credited to Ayn Rand about evading reality

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Fri May 1 14:03:51 PDT 2015

Way back in November 2012 Nina Gilbert posted a question about a quotation
attributed to Ayn Rand on the Wombats mailing list as part of her endeavor
to help improve the quality and accuracy of Yearbook quotations. I sent a
message to the list about the saying in November 2012 and Suzanne Watkins
responded with valuable information.

The Quote Investigator website now has an entry on this topic. But there is
certainly room for improvement and feedback is welcome. Here is the title
and a link.

Title: You Can Avoid Reality, But You Cannot Avoid the Consequences of
Avoiding Reality


[Begin excerpt from article acknowledgement]

Great thanks to Nina Gilbert whose inquiry on the Wombats mailing list led
QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration. Special thanks
to Suzanne Watkins who located the 1961 paper on the aynrand.org website.
All yearbook editors who request citations deserve praise for their
dedication to accuracy.

[End excerpt]

With appreciation,

Garson O'Toole

On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 4:09 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
> wrote:

> On November 26, 2012 Nina Gilbert posted a collection of potential
> yearbook quotes together with attributions and asked Wombats to
> examine their accuracy. The following was listed eleventh:
> [Begin excerpt of message from Nina Gilbert]
> 11. Did Ayn Rand say: "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the
> consequences of avoiding reality."
> [End excerpt]
> Recently, I was sent a request via twitter to check a variant phrasing
> of the same basic quotation. The words were, once again, attributed to
> Ayn Rand:
> [Begin excerpt of tweet]
>  "We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of
> evading reality" Ayn Rand?
> [End excerpt of tweet]
> At the Ayn Rand Lexicon website I located a relevant passage (shown
> further below) that might have been paraphrased to yield the
> quotations above. Here is a fragment from the Ayn Rand Lexicon website
> that displays a partial match to the target quotations:
> [Begin excerpt]
> He is free to evade reality, . . . but not free to avoid the abyss he
> refuses to see.
> [End excerpt]
> http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/free_will.html
> Below is a longer excerpt that, I think, shows a strong conceptual
> match to the target quotation.
> [Begin excerpt from "For the New Intellectual", Page 14, according to
> Ayn Rand Lexicon]
> He is free to make the wrong choice, but not free to succeed with it.
> He is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and
> stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the
> abyss he refuses to see. Knowledge, for any conscious organism, is the
> means of survival; to a living consciousness, every "is" implies an
> "ought." Man is free to choose not to be conscious, but not free to
> escape the penalty of unconsciousness: destruction.
> [End excerpt]
> Here are two possibilities:
> Possibility 1) Ayn Rand may have written or said one of the quotes
> given at the top of this message. The existence of the passage above
> in "For the New Intellectual" suggests that the target quotes above
> were consonant with her thinking. To explain the lack of a match in
> databases such as Google Books one simply notes that these databases
> are incomplete.
> Possibility 2) Someone may have constructed one of the quotes above as
> a paraphrase of the passage from "For the New Intellectual". A second
> person may have placed quotation marks around the paraphrase and
> improperly created a new quote that was assigned to Ayn Rand.
> Of course there are other possibilities.
> If some Wombat finds another relevant citation I would love to hear
> about it. Thanks
> Garson

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