NUMBER 1534. — August 28, 2002
Aesthetic Realism was founded by Eli Siegel in 1941 
 
Eli Siegel Day in Baltimore

Dear Unknown Friends:

     In this issue we publish three of the statements presented on August 16 at the Dedication of the Eli Siegel Memorial in Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Siegel grew up in Baltimore. And that day, the hundredth anniversary of his birth, was proclaimed "Eli Siegel Day" in Baltimore by the cityís mayor, Martin OíMalley, and "Eli Siegel Day" in Maryland by the stateís governor, Parris N. Glendening. The Governor wrote, in part: 

WHEREAS, ... his contributions to world thought began with writings completed right here in Maryland; and
WHEREAS, it is most appropriate for ... the citizens of our State to join together as we celebrate the centenary of Eli Siegel (1902-1978) ..., Maryland salutes the memory and life achievements of Eli Siegel.
The mayoral proclamation by Martin OíMalley was published in its entirety in issue 1522 of this journal. And Congressman Elijah E. Cummings entered the whole of that issue into the Congressional Record as part of his Tribute to Eli Siegel. Congressman Cummings said, for example:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor a great Baltimorean poet, educator, and founder of Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel .... His poetry and the education of Aesthetic Realism will be studied in every English, literature, and art classroom across the nation for years to come. [Congressional Record, 26 July 2002]
     The August 16th dedicatory celebration was sponsored by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, in partnership with the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. Memories of Druid Hill Park, Mr. Siegel said, had to do with the beginning lines of his great, award-winning poem "Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana," and six lines of the poem, including those opening ones, appear on the memorial plaque under a sculpted portrait of Mr. Siegel:

Quiet and green was the grass of the field,
The sky was whole in brightness,
And O, a bird was flying, high, there in the sky,
So gently, so carelessly and fairly.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
There are millions of men in the world, and each is one man,
Each is one man by himself, taking care of himself all the time,
and changing other men and being changed by them.

     In Druid Hill Park on August 16th, the speakers commented on the importance of Mr. Siegelís thought for the fields of education, economics, and art; for the solution to racism; for the understanding of love. It was clear to the more than 200 people attending, including government representatives, that something joyfully and grandly historic was taking place. There is so much to be said about the meaning of that event; but since my own Address as Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education is printed here, I shall let it represent me for now and say more in future issues. These will include other statements from the memorial celebration. Published in this issue too are Aesthetic Realism consultants Margot Carpenter and Robert Murphy, about love; and the statement by Chaim Koppelman, designer and sculptor of the memorial plaque. He is one of the most distinguished and respected of American artists, with work in such collections as those of the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National Gallery. He began his study with Mr. Siegel in 1940. It moves me very much to say that I think his sculpture of Eli Siegel is beautiful, and that it conveys what the artist hoped: something of who Eli Siegel truly was. 

On Eli Siegel in Baltimore
By Ellen Reiss

Biographical Information about the Speakers

Iím tremendously happy to join the people of Baltimore in celebrating Eli Siegel, whom I love, with whom I studied for many years, and whose understanding of humanity the world needs so much. Iíll speak a little about his thought and writing in the years he lived in this city. They contain the basis of the philosophy he would found later, and stand for who he was.

     About himself as a young man in Baltimore, he wrote: "I felt that every person owed something to every other person and, indeed, to every other thing[, that] ... the need of every person [is] to be precise about what is not himself." The constant, propelling desire in Mr. Siegel then and always was to know: to see truly things, people, the world itself; to be exact about them. In his 1923 essay "The Scientific Criticism," written in Baltimore, published in the Modern Quarterly, he wrote: "Man should know that there are no limits to his mind .... Only a part of him has been used .... Manís mind was made to know everything." The sincerity of his desire to know made him 1) the greatest of scholars; and 2) passionate that justice come to people ó including economic justice.

     To give just a slight indication of his love of knowledge, I quote from a very early document, written when he was in high school, at Baltimore City College. This is from a letter to his friend A.D. Emmart. Eli Siegel, a month before his 16th birthday, writes about just having finished reading all the works of Shakespeare. And then he writes:

At last! At last! Finally! Finally! I have bought some books. Not a great deal of money expended, it is true, but some. I donít have to get the best editions of the poets, deluxe, morocco, illustrations .... In fact, I prefer old editions to new. The books I have bought are an edition of Shakespeare and a Goldsmith. The sums that I paid are very, very small. The Shakespeare is an old Globe of 1866, but good enough to be read .... If I can ... get my share of shekels, Iíll buy an eighteenth century edition ... and like Macaulay, make comments on the margin. That is all of Utopia in this life that I want.
     Years later, teaching Aesthetic Realism, Mr. Siegel made knowledge ó literature, history, all the arts and sciences ó warm and alive for people. More, I believe, than anyone else who lived, he encouraged people, including me, to love knowledge.

     In a 1944 article in the Baltimore Sun, Donald Kirkley wrote this about Mr. Siegelís purpose 20 years earlier:

He thought "all knowledge was connected ó that geology was connected with music, and poetry with chemistry, and history with sports." ... He wished to find ... some principle, unifying all the various manifestations of reality.
Eli Siegel found that principle, and it is the basis of Aesthetic Realism: "The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites."

     Now I read a short poem he wrote here in Baltimore in 1922. Itís about the hope to know things exactly ó which is what he means by the word "objectively." Itís called "A Man in a Far Countree." Itís about him:

There was a man in a far countree
And he saw things objectively.
And he was as merry as he could be,
Considering the state of this far countree.
This says what Mr. Siegel taught and lived always: that seeing things justly makes one happy.

     While still a young man, Eli Siegel expressed with logic and passion something itís urgent for people to see now: that every person, past or present, is as real as oneself is. In a 1923 Baltimore essay published in the Modern Quarterly and titled "The Middle Ages, Say," he writes:

There were people who lived in the Middle Ages and, who, so, suffered and enjoyed; the one difference between us and them is that their pains and pleasures are over and ours are not. These people are our fellowmen over the years.
He saw that all the cruelty in the world came from personsí making others less real than themselves. He saw in Baltimore what later he saw elsewhere ó that people were robbed of what they deserved, because what should belong to all people was owned by just a few. He hated this, and fought against it early and all his life with the greatest eloquence and greatest feeling. I quote him at age 20; from the Modern Quarterly:
Mind needs nourishment, care and training all by itself .... And ... millions and millions of people from the beginning of the world ... have not got this mindís nourishment, care and training. Their lives were forced to be led so, to get food enough for their stomachs, was all that they could do .... Now if nobody made the land, it is evident, to a really normal human, that everybody living has a right to own it and should own it. 
     Iím going to read now another poem, written in 1923, when he lived in this city. Itís called "Trees in Rain." And it has in it something he would teach in Aesthetic Realism: that each of us is related to the whole world; we have realityís opposites. Therefore this is not a world we should try to get away from or have contempt for. In this poem, the way a girl has gone from triumph to feeling low is like the way trees can be: soaring, yet dripping in rain:
      Trees in Rain

The sky is grey with mist;
Dark in mist is the sky;
Much rain has fallen,
And this is why
The leaves of the trees drip
Slowly and sadly.

And now a girl walks;
Her feet crashing against the wet grass;
And sheís in grief.

Love, love again.
Now it pains her;
And there was a time
When bright it was
To her.

Mark, mark the grey
Of the sky.
Mark, mark the way
The wet green of the leaves
Seems strangely sad
Now after rain has fallen
And the sky is grey and dark.

     I love this poem. The musical justice to the girl in it is a prelude to something new in history: Mr. Siegelís deep, wide comprehension of a person in Aesthetic Realism lessons. I am a person who was understood to my core, magnificently by him. And now, in Aesthetic Realism consultations, because of the principles he came to, this new understanding of people continues.

     Beginning in Baltimore, Mr. Siegel caused enormous love and respect in people. But he was also met with anger, because he had so much knowledge and was completely honest. People in established positions, and others, were furious they had so much to learn from him and couldnít feel superior to him. Therefore this memorial celebration stands for ethics and the future of America, because it says: Weíre proud to respect whatís honest and great; weíre proud to honor Eli Siegel!


Eli Siegel Explained Love
By Margot Carpenter & Robert Murphy

One of the greatest contributions to humanity is Eli Siegelís understanding of love. What love is and why it fails have eluded people for thousands of years, but no more! The purpose of love, Mr. Siegel stated, is to like the world. Through loving another person, we should care more for everything ó our families, justice, objects, history, books, the feelings of people near and far. Weíve studied and taught this principle for over thirty years, and seen, without exception, it is true, and it meets peopleís hopes to love another and feel they deserve to be loved.

     Mr. Siegel showed that love fails because we use a person to get away from and even despise the world. Both of us once saw love as a haven from a dull, often cruel world ó where we could be adored and superior to everyone. Then in Aesthetic Realism classes, Mr. Siegel taught us that this contempt was the cause of the fighting, sarcasm, and hopelessness we thought inevitable in love. We heard beautiful questions. For instance, he asked me [Margot Carpenter]: "Do you see a man as someone to know or to show off with?"; "What do you want to depend on ó who you are or how pleasing you can make yourself?"; and "Do you want to manage a man or use him to see the whole world better?" And Mr. Siegel asked me [Robert Murphy]: "Do you use a woman to feel you have a victory over the world?"; "Do you believe you deserve to have a woman like you?"

     Love, Eli Siegel taught us ó and people learn in consultations ó is good will: "the desire to have [another person] stronger and more beautiful, for this desire makes oneself stronger and more beautiful." Itís the oneness of approval and criticism ó not unconditional approval. Because we love someone, we want to see that person exactly, be intensely for the best thing in them and against where they are unjust, so they can be "stronger and more beautiful."

     We love Eli Siegel for his honesty, his courage, his immense knowledge and personal kindness, which we saw firsthand and which shine through everything he wrote. He brought sanity and dignity to love and showed its relation to all culture, science, and art.


What I Wanted to Show
By Chaim Koppelman

I am tremendously moved and honored to have designed and sculpted this memorial to Eli Siegel with whom I began to study as a young artist in November 1940. I want this bronze, which I first modeled in clay, to add to the true knowing and celebrating the grandeur and depth of his mind and utter good will in how he saw all people, including myself.

     My idea began with a simple pencil sketch of a plaque mounted on a rock. I wanted a combination of a sense of earth and the permanence of truth. I wanted the plaque to have a classical shape, dignified and also warm, a rectangle with a curve on top. I centered Mr. Siegelís head above his great lines from "Hot Afternoons." On his right, I wanted, through the low relief of many figures, to give a sense of the humanity he so magnificently understood and was fair to; and on his left, to symbolize his unparalleled love of scholarship and books.

     I looked at photographs of Mr. Siegel, taken over the years, as I knew and remembered him. Modeling his noble forehead, his face, sculpting his cheek, I wanted to get within his deepest self, to show his honest eyes, his mouth, his ears, and have him made tangible and lovingly real. As I sculpted Mr. Siegelís mouth, I wanted his lips to show his honesty, sincerity, sweetness, charm, fierce love of truth, humor, and that he had the same purpose talking to a child and speaking on Kantís Critique of Pure Reason. It is a pleasure with this memorial to join the people of the city of Baltimore in honoring Eli Siegel, great poet, critic, and more than ever needed teacher of America and the world.
 

Aesthetic Realism is based on these principles, stated by Eli Siegel:

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.

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PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS

First Thursday of each month, 6:30 PM: Seminars with speakers from Aesthetic Realism faculty  

Third Saturday of each month, 8 PM: Aesthetic Realism Dramatic Presentations
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The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known (TRO) is a biweekly periodical of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation.
Editor: Ellen Reiss • Coordinator: Nancy Huntting

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Online Library:  Poetry  |  Essays  |  Lectures  |  Reviews  |  Books  |  Articles in the News  |  TRO  |  Collection  |  Site Map
Ellen Reiss, Commentaries in TRO:
The Mideast  |  Poetry of Eli Siegel  |  Unions
Lord Byron |  Harry Potter  |  Sherlock Holmes
Robert Burns  |  The 'criticism' of John Keats
Racism & Its Solution

Aesthetic Realism Resources
Aesthetic Realism Consultations
Two Biographies of Eli Siegel:
[1] Aesthetic Realism Foundation
[2] Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company Site
Friends of Aesthetic Realism—Countering the Lies

Art and Literature
The Terrain Gallery / Aesthetic Realism Foundation
The Place of Aesthetic Realism in Culture & Literature

The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method
Lesson Plans in Diverse Subjects
Teaching Indian Culture in the United States:
The Aesthetic Realism Method

Further Resources:
Essays and News Pieces about Aesthetic Realism
Photographic Education: the Aesthetic Realism Viewpoint
A New Perspective for Anthropology: The Aesthetic Realism Method
Self-Expression and What Interferes: an Aesthetic Realism Discussion
John Singer Sargent's Madame X, an Aesthetic Realism Discussion

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