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Love and Self-Respect – A Lasting Valentine

By Margot Carpenter
Aesthetic Realism Consultant

In an Aesthetic Realism consultation, Emily Tyler described what many women feel: 
    Love, instead of giving me a joyful feeling, has always made me feel restless and unfulfilled .... Men thought I was nice and enjoyed sleeping with me (but) once I gained the approval of a man ... I felt I fooled him. I never felt truly known .... I also, despite my pretensions, didn't really want to know all about him.
In Aesthetic Realism consultations, women feel comprehended to their depths as they learn for the first time in history what love really is and how to have it. I love teaching with my colleagues Devorah Tarrow and Carol Driscoll, using my life to empower women to achieve their greatest hopes. 

M Carpenter articleWhat I learned from Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy founded by America's great poet and educator Eli Siegel, about love and sex, revolutionized my life and enabled me really to love another person—Aesthetic Realism consultant Robert Murphy, and to be very happily married.  

In 1971, when I was in pain because love once again had failed, Eli Siegel wrote the following in an Aesthetic Realism class, articulating every woman's greatest hope: "Margot Carpenter's Most Important Question: How can I have love for a person, or love from a person, in such a way that I feel I see the world in the best way I can and myself in the best way I can?" 

Right now a woman is weeping bitterly because, though she seemed to get a man's approval, she is furious with him, cursing herself, and can't understand why. 

In his great lecture Aesthetic Realism and Love, Mr. Siegel explains: 

    Our biggest desire is to feel that the big world in which we are is something that makes us grow, something that makes us what we want to be. But we'd also like to think that the world is bad, disorganized, ugly, and that we're superior to it. We would like to be a god in our own right: that is the victory of contempt. We would also like company; so if we can get somebody out of this world and possess that person, we think we have really pulled a universal fast one.
I once thought the way to be happy was to find a man to build my world around. I would say, "A woman should be everything to a man: lover, sister, mother, friend." All I needed was a man who would praise me, cater to me, and accept gratefully my ministrations to improve him.  

Years later, with humor that was tremendously kind, Mr. Siegel said, "Miss Carpenter sees Mr. Carter a little like a pony on her ranch that she has to train." 

When I began to study Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel, who understood humanity, with scientific logic and beautiful, critical kindness, understood me. In one class, he asked, "What makes us not like the way we see someone?" 

"What he brings out of me?" I responded. 

"Your motives," Mr. Siegel said. "Would you like somebody to be devoted to you and depend on you?" 

"I would like that," I answered. 

And he explained, "Do you feel not generous and caring enough?" 

I did. 

Mr. Siegel said: "If someone is devoted to us and we can give happiness to a person, we feel we're not as hard as we thought. This is a very deep matter." And he explained, "Aesthetic Realism says if you are close to a person, you should think more of yourself and the other person. Ecstasy should make one feel that one was good to oneself; otherwise rapture would be the same as self-disparagement .... Sex is a way of not being contracted. A woman can feel if she's liberal as to sex, she'll feel she's liberal with the world. But being liberal to the whole world is more ... comprehensive than that." 

I learned that the purpose of loving a man, being in his arms, touching his body, is to like the world. My gratitude to Mr. Siegel for this and more is beyond measure. 

When Robert Murphy and I began speaking deeply, I was amazed to find out how richly the world was in him. His pleasure in understanding and strengthening young men he teaches in Aesthetic Realism consultations, and his interests—from constructing a building, to Rembrandt and Dickens —stirred me profoundly. In knowing Robert, I feel the meaning of all people is closer to me. And as we kiss, I know he wants me to be kinder, more intelligent, not less; and I want my husband to like the whole world, not just me. And boy—does this make for self-respect! 

Women and men are learning this now in consultations by telephone and in person at the not-for-profit Aesthetic Realism Foundation, (212) 777-4490, aestheticrealism.org and it is what everyone hopes to know! 

—February 8, 2000   


Aesthetic Realism Foundation
141 Greene Street
   New York, NY 10012

Copyright 2000 by Aesthetic Realism Foundation, a not-for-profit educational foundation