On this website I’m glad to bring to people some of what I’ve learned from Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy founded in 1941 by the great American poet and critic Eli Siegel.
Aesthetic Realism is true about the human self—our hopes and possibilities. It explains, as nothing else has been able to, the questions we have about life, happiness, love. You will find here articles by me that have been presented to audiences at public seminars in NYC, about what causes pain in love, and what love truly is, the fight between selfishness and generosity, and much more!
I grew up in the village of Glendale, Ohio, northwest of Cincinnati, graduated from Denison University, and moved to New York City. That’s where I first attended an Aesthetic Realism seminar. I was electrified by the honesty & scholarship of the speakers, and what they were saying about art and life.
What is Aesthetic Realism?
I began to study these principles, stated by Eli Siegel, which are the basis of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism:
1. The deepest desire of every person is to like the world on an honest or accurate basis.
2. The greatest danger for a person is to have contempt for the world and what is in it….Contempt can be defined as the lessening of what is different from oneself as a means of self-increase as one sees it.
3. All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.
They are true—and through them and thrilling Aesthetic Realism consultations, I became happier, kinder, more the person I hoped to be. I recommend the book Self and World: An Explanation of Aesthetic Realism and many other works by Eli Siegel in the Online Library.
COVID-19 : How To See It?
At this fearful time I urge you to read the international journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, edited by Ellen Reiss. Here’s a quote from and link to her commentary in a recent issue:
“Decades ago, Eli Siegel asked the following vitally important question:
‘Is this true: No matter how much of a case one has against the world—its unkindness, its disorder, its ugliness, its meaninglessness—one has to do all one can to like it, or one will weaken oneself?’
I have seen, through many years of careful looking, the answer is: Yes, it’s true. So I’ll mention 4 aspects of that needed thing, using COVID-19 to like the world.
1) Evil (which the coronavirus stands for and has) is certainly real. But what is good in this world is just as real.” read more, TRO #2028
What Are Men and Women Hoping For?
Attending classes in the formal and exciting study of Aesthetic Realism, I was understood by Eli Siegel, seen with good will, and my life and mind were encouraged immensely. Here’s just one example of his tremendously kind, true understanding of men and women—an essay I love, and up-to-the-minute relevant:
The Ordinary Doom
By Eli Siegel
Preface: The best thing about the present tendency in the world to tell all and show all in sex, is that it is an acknowledgment of man’s desire to be known; and also his desire to know. We haven’t yet come to the courage needed to have ourselves be seen and to see another fully. We make up for this by carnal nudity and subtlety.
The thing to be seen, though, is that nudity is not yet honesty. Skin takes the place of brave, graceful desire. Our bodies can glide, stalk, prance about all day in a state of non-vesture; but we ourselves hang on to wrappings.
A nymph of 600 B.C. by a Greek brook could show herself in one way quickly, entirely, by twitching off an ancient habiliment. We can still do this. We can prance around in unshielded epidermis.
But showing our feelings is something else. We cannot show our feelings unless we like what represents the world possibly seeing these feelings. We have to think that what is to know us deserves to know us before candor will be cared for by us adequately or used adequately. Our attitude to the world is still one of fear, one of contempt, and one of aloofness. This means that whomever we know, our attitude to that person will be one of fear, contempt, aloofness. Wrestling in bed does not annul this. Elaborate proximity of sections of body will not annul this.…read more