Aesthetic Realism Is True about Our Lives

Learning about Oneself & the World

Nancy Huntting on a road trip along the Hudson River on the Jersey side
Looking at Hudson River wetlands

I grew up in Ohio near Cincinnati, and after college moved to New York City, where I first attended an Aesthetic Realism seminar.  What the speakers said about art and lifewhat they’d learned and how it changed their own liveswas thrilling. On this site is some of what I’ve learned through studying Aesthetic Realism in consultations and in classes I had the honor to attend with poet and critic Eli Siegel, its founder, and with Chair of Education Ellen Reiss.

Aesthetic Realism enabled me to be more the person I hoped to be, freer, happier, kinder, more intelligent. My opinion, very carefully come to, is that it’s  the knowledge most needed by the world. Studying it, testing its principles, makes for ever-increasing respect for its depth, width, subtlety, truth about the world, ourselves, the arts and sciences. 

What Is Aesthetic Realism?

Aesthetic Realism was founded in 1941 by the great American poet and critic Eli Siegel. It’s a comprehensive and wonderful education, logical, scholarly, and kind, about the world and the human self, our hopes and possibilities. Aesthetic Realism answers, as never before, the  questions every person has by being alive—about ourselves, love, work, people, about our hopes and worries, and more.

The Aesthetic Realism Foundation provides many exciting classes in the arts, education, anthropology, and marriage by video conference; and also individual consultations. 

The Principles of Aesthetic Realism

These principles stated by Eli Siegel are the basis of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism. It is my careful opinion they are true, and urgently needed by humanity for the world to be safe, kind, truly civilized: 

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.

It was through studying these principles in Aesthetic Realism consultations and classes, and later having the honor to study with Eli Siegel, that I became wider, deeper, happier, and a much kinder and more useful person. And I continue to study now in thrilling professional classes taught by Ellen Reiss, the Chair of Education. My best possibilities were brought forth, encouraged, strengthened. I believe everyone deserves to know and study Aesthetic Realism, and that the world urgently needs this universally true education. I recommend Self and World: An Explanation of Aesthetic Realism, and many other works about Aesthetic Realism in the Online Library

Many of the articles I’ve written and presented publicly in Aesthetic Realism seminars are published here. They’re about my life, questions I heard and things I learned that enabled me to change, as well as about notable women of the past, and in literature and film, and ways they  provide evidence of the universal value of Aesthetic Realism.

A Major New Website!

oil on canvas (detail)
Dorothy Koppelman, Blue Plane Crash

The Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman Foundation website presents many art works by Chaim Koppelman (1920-2009) and painter and founding director of the Terrain Gallery, Dorothy Koppelman (1920-2017); and a selection of their writings on Picasso, Pollock, Matisse, Magritte, Van Gogh, Saint-Gaudens, Munch, Velazquez, Hogarth, and morebased on their study with the great American poet, critic, and philosopher Eli Siegel.

TRO: Homer—& What Can End War

The international journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known (TRO) is published every two weeks. TRO #2122 prints part of a landmark lecture by Eli Siegel, The Poetic Trinity; or, Poetry—Whence, How, Whither?  Mr. Siegel is speaking about the source, or “whence,” of art as he looks at a great poetic work, Homer’s The Iliad. And Ellen Reiss writes in her commentary: “Affected by events of our own time, I say this: The Iliad, it is well known, is about war—the most famous war in world literature. But what has not been known these millennia and is shown only by Aesthetic Realism, is that the answer to war is in it. The way of seeing which can have war not be—which can have justice be—is in every true work of art, and is certainly in authentic poetry.”  read more

Reprinted from the Santa Cruz Sentinel

A home should be an inalienable right

By Nancy Huntting
Reprinted from the Santa Cruz Sentinel of June 18, 2000, Santa Cruz, California, USA:

I just read “Middle-class buyers qualify for subsidies” (Sentinel, June 11) and also “Furious Debate Rages on Sleeping in Public,” (New York Times 5/28) which tells of  Santa Cruz as well as other cities across the country having hundreds, sometimes thousands of men, women, and children who don’t have a place to sleep at night. More and more Americans cannot afford rent. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that homelessness has doubled and even tripled in the last two decades. That people are homeless in the United States of America is a horror, an outrage—and I respect every person working to have this horror end.

The Sentinel article said “homelessness looms even for those with jobs,” telling of a single parent of two children, working full time, who “the region’s housing crisis has left… homeless for four months.” The Times article tells that in the safe sleeping zones just voted on by the [Santa Cruz] City Council “structures, tents, or other camping accessories like stoves would …be illegal. People would not be allowed within 300 feet of any home. And after three nights… would have to move to another spot at least 500 feet away.” Every man, woman, and child who has to lay his or head down on a sidewalk is flesh and blood, has a mind, feelings, hopes and fears that are real; each has possibilities that are being stifled. And when you lose a job, or work long hours and still can’t make ends meet, you not only are not free, you are also in great danger. The Times article says, “recent studies showed that homeless people are 4 to 12 times more likely than housed people to be the victims of attacks.”

Meanwhile, what these articles don’t deal with is the reason why, in a land so wealthy, in an economy supposedly doing so well, there are thousands of people—many of them families with young children—without a basic necessity of life, a home!

I want your readers to know there is an answer. It was given by the American economist and critic Eli Siegel, the founder of the education Aesthetic Realism. He is the person who had the greatest knowledge of history and the greatest compassion for people. He said that any economy in which one child is hungry is a failure. He showed, beginning in 1970, that our economic system, in which a few owners and stockholders make profit from the labor and life needs of others, had irreparably failed, would never recover; the contempt for people at its basis had at last shown itself to be so inefficient it could no longer work. Siegel defined contempt as “the addition to self through the lessening of something else.” And he also explained so importantly: “If people really cared that poverty not be, it wouldn’t be. But once you can feel you’re superior by thinking others are poorer than you are, it will be.”

The idea that people can’t have a decent place to live unless someone can make profit from them is immoral. Recently, I attended an event that should have been reported on the front pages of every major newspaper: a seminar titled “Housing: A Basic Right, An Urgent Need, an Architectural Priority” at the American Institute of Architects national convention in Philadelphia. It featured the powerful public service film against homelessness and hunger “What Does a Person Deserve?” by Emmy award winning filmmaker Ken Kimmelman, based on this fundamental ethical question asked by Eli Siegel: “What does a person deserve by being alive?”

The honest answering of this question by everyone—every city council member, mayor, and government official in every city in America—will end homelessness. That film ends with these words by Siegel: “The world should be owned by the people living in it. Every person should be seen as living in a world truly his. All persons should be seen as living in a world truly theirs.”

Nancy Huntting is a writer and teacher at the nonprofit Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City,