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    Excerpts from an article published in The San Antonio Register
Part 1
Mistakes Men Make about Power & Love
By Ernest DeFilippis

While growing up in Brooklyn, New York and later as I lived in Kentucky, Iowa, Oregon, and Florida, I hoped to love a woman. But, I didn't understand why every relation I had failed, even though sex had seemed to be successful. I didn't know that my idea of what would make me powerful, including in sex, stopped me from having the real, lasting love I wanted. Then I learned from Eli Siegel, and Aesthetic Realism, about the mistake I was making about power, love, and sex and was able to change! I'm very glad to tell of some of the greatly kind education I've gotten the knowledge men have yearned for since they first walked on earth! 

Power: the Ability to Affect and to Be Affected

In Self and World: An Explanation of Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel explains:  Power is not just the ability to affect or change others; it is likewise the ability to be affected or changed by others. If a person's power is only of the first kind, his unconscious will be in distress. He must see that the existence of others is not in competition with his own. He must see that his own well-being depends on a simultaneous giving of himself to things and acting on things. I saw power as being able to have a big effect on people, change them while I remained essentially unaffected, unchanged, and in control. I saw other people as competitors I had to beat to prove I was superior. If I couldn't put a person in his place, whether it was on the athletic field, in a conversation, or in my mind, I felt it was a sign of weakness. 

In college, after baseball practice as we rode home on the subway, a teammate and I would have a contest to see how many girls we could affect by making eye contact with them. When either of us would get a girl to look at us, we'd laugh triumphantly. But by the time I got home I'd feel dull and would wonder why I was weary so often, even as I prided myself on being in top physical shape. 

"The self", writes Mr. Siegel, "does not want to be strong by the weakness of others. It wants to be strong by what it is, rather than by what others are not." My life, I'm so happy to say, shows Mr. Siegel is right! When I learned that what I most wanted was to know and be affected by the world the feelings of a person, words on a page, objects and, to have a good, strengthening effect on people, I felt a new, larger power and excitement I hadn't even known existed! And a lifetime is not enough to express my gratitude, including for my marriage of 11 years to the woman I love, Maureen Butler. 

Power and Sex

Men have wanted to care for and be stirred deeply by a woman and have hoped sex would be an expression of tender and powerful feeling of real love. But men have not understood, as I didn't, that what we see as our passionate desire for a woman is often a desire to use a woman and sex to have power over a world we feel is against us. 

Said Mr. Siegel: 

    Any power that a human being has over another that doesn't make the person it is exerted on stronger and the world in which the power takes place look more beautiful, is bad power.
This is contempt which Mr. Siegel defined as the desire to get "a false importance or glory from the lessening of things not [one]self." I am one lucky man to have learned how contempt worked in me and to hear the honest, thirsted-for criticism of it in Aesthetic Realism classes taught by Eli Siegel which had me understand myself and change in ways I had so much hoped to change. 

When I was attracted to a woman, I would imagine her melting in my arms, unable to restrain herself. I'd try to get her to notice me by using how I looked and my "unique personality." Then I'd look at her as if I had found my dream at last. 

In a class Mr. Siegel asked me, "Which do you appeal to the strength of women or their weakness?" I appealed to the weakness in a woman. I made her feel special, hoping she'd be in a tizzy about me. If she gave me her telephone number and we made a date, I'd praise myself thinking, "You've really got it, Ernie!" The demands of work and worry about money, the humdrum of everyday life, friends, my family, all seemed to fade into the background as I kept reliving in my mind the picture of her worshipping me. Who this woman was, I was not interested in. I didn't see women as real, as having feelings, hopes, mind. 

Then on a date I'd often feel ill-at-ease; I'd feel I had to entertain her or console her, while underneath I felt annoyed that we had to talk at all. And if she was critical for example, of my insensitivity to what she felt I saw it as a misunderstanding on her part and would try to make her forget her "insecurities" that is, shut her up by taking her in my arms and trying to please her through touch. However, if there was sex, afterwards I'd often feel so ashamed and disgusted with myself that at times I did not want to get up to face the next day. "You wanted to please a woman," Mr. Siegel said, "but not for the purpose of respecting her more." 

Sex: Power or Perception?

I felt I was mean, driven by what I once referred to in a diary as "the beast determined to overpower his prey to satisfy his lustful appetite." As time went on, sex became less exciting, almost mechanical. I thought the solution was to have, as the magazines of today so ignorantly advise, more intricate and "better" sex with the "right" woman. And when I did, I felt even more hopeless. Mr. Siegel explained the mistake I was making. He asked me, "What would be the big thing in sex power or perception?" I felt the big thing was power that is, having a woman succumb to me. I didn't think perception had anything to do with sex. Said Mr. Siegel:  Right now quite a few men are tired of talking to a woman and want to grab her....Would you like to stop thinking about Miss Gianetti and grab her? Grabbing is the desire to stop intellect from working in a woman because it's boring,...You want her to become like a palpitating bird. Isn't that what you want? "Yes," I answered, and Mr. Siegel asked, "Have you felt you could triumph if you could take all the thought out of sex?" I did! I wanted to get to "ecstatic" blankness, to shut down my mind in sex and not have to think about anything, including the woman I was with. I was seeing that it wasn't that I was "taken over," as I had thought, by a "beast" I couldn't control, but, that I was making a choice to go after conquest rather than the wider, larger, exhilarating power I've come to see is in knowing a woman. 

How wonderfully different I feel now with my wife Maureen! As our bodies are close, I want to think more deeply about her, understand what she feels and how she sees, to have my mind and hers be keener. I want to have good will which Aesthetic Realism describes as "the desire to have something else stronger and more beautiful for this desire makes oneself stronger and more beautiful." Mr. Siegel said: 

When good will is seen as a factor in sex truly, without mush, it would be something for the world. We have to see good will has an effect. If there is to be a deeper feeling you have to ask, "Does this person want me to be stronger?" I have seen first-hand in my marriage that good will definitely has an effect. It has made for what I once thought was impossible to have sweeping pleasure and self-respect. As I talk to Maureen, hold her in my arms, I feel it's really she I'm affected by, a person eager to like the world, who has feelings and desires of a whole life, whose mind I respect and want to know and strengthen! We are two of the most fortunate people alive to be studying in classes taught by Ellen Reiss, the Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism. Men and women will have the deep good time they hope for when they are able to study these sentences of Miss Reiss from The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known #1251 which I am so glad to be learning from: 

Sex is what it was meant to be when a person feels about another: "You stand for a world I want to know and never stop knowing. Because I respect so much how you see the world, I see knowing you as deeply joined to my knowing the world itself. As my body meets yours, I am saying with tremendous tactual symbolism, I want my thought about you about your thought, your feelings, your life to be vivid and deep and full. As our bodies meet, I don't want you to feel I'm the most important thing in the world, I want you to feel the world which I stand for is your friend. I want you to know me, with fulness, as a means of knowing the world."

July 15, 1999

Ernest DeFilippis played baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization. He is now an Aesthetic Realism consultant.

To be continued in Part 2: Click here

What Men Are Learning in Aesthetic Realism Consultations about Power & Love By Ernest DeFilippis

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