Aesthetic Realism and the anthropology of Africa
By EDWARD GREEN
"There is no doubt all the world's people arose from Africa, and not so very long ago," Dr. Perey told me. "And therefore, every person in America and the world is closely related to the people of Africa." Dr. Perey had the honor to study with Eli Siegel, the great historian, poet, and social scientist who founded Aesthetic Realism. He described how much it means to him to learn from Mr. Siegel that the deepest feelings of all people, everywhere, are more alike than different. "And," he said, "you can see this through studying African culture."
Some of the subjects he intends to look at are: "War and Peace in the Tribe and in Yourself;" "Art Makes Sense of Our Deepest Conflicts: Sculptures from the Dogon, Fang, Songye." This class will be at the Museum for African Art in New York City, and will be taught with Marcia Rackow, Aesthetic Realism consultant and instructor of the class "The Visual Arts and the Opposites."
There will be a class entitled "Can African Animism Teach Us to Feel More Deeply?" About this class, Dr. Perey told me: "The depth of religious feeling in Africa has not been understood — and I'll try to encourage people to understand it."
The course, as a whole, begins with a class entitled, "Africa Is Related to the Whole World" — a study using Homer's The Odyssey and The Iliad. A first in world scholarship!
In 1973, with the sponsorship of Margaret Mead, Columbia University awarded Arnold Perey his doctorate for the ground-breaking thesis Oksapmin Society and World View. Using field work he had earlier done in Papua New Guinea, this was the first thesis in anthropology to have as its stated basis the principles of the philosophy of Aesthetic Realism, including the central statement by Eli Siegel:
To get information about how to register for this series of classes, or permission to audit individual classes, you can call the not-for-profit Aesthetic Realism Foundation (212)777-4490, or visit its web site: www.AestheticRealism.org. Dr. Perey's course meets on alternate Wednesday evenings (6 PM) and begins May 19.
Edward Green, a professor of world music at Manhattan School of Music, is a regular feature columnist with the international magazine, "U.S. African Eye."
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