March 22, 2017
We continue to serialize the wonderful lecture that Eli Siegel gave on August 3, 1966, about complaint in poetry. What is in it, every person needs mightily, even urgently, to know.
People see their inner complaints—their dissatisfactions, their feelings of injury, of having been let down—as ever so personal, intimate, just-their-own. Yet Aesthetic Realism shows that each of us has to do, all the time, with the whole world: the world of happenings, facts, things, history. And we need to try to see our own feelings as related to other people’s feelings, as related to a world of feelings. If we don’t, we will be wrong about ourselves. Our thought about what goes on in us will be narrow, inaccurate, deeply ugly. And that is what usually happens.
But in this lecture, we see that complaint—so intimate to ourselves—is a subject. It is about many things, has many aspects and qualities, takes in centuries....more
March 8, 2017
In his class of August 3, 1966, Eli Siegel spoke on complaint in poetry. And it is an honor to begin serializing that great lecture. In the opening section, published here, his text is a book he had been discussing for several weeks: The White Pony: An Anthology of Chinese Poetry, edited by Robert Payne. Now he is in the midst of looking at lines by one of the eminent poets of China: Chu Yuan, who lived from about 332 to about 296 bc. In some of Chu Yuan’s writing there is that huge thing in life, complaint, and as the lecture continues, Mr. Siegel will comment on poems by people who could seem quite unlike Chu Yuan but who also express complaint: for example, Emily Brontë, Lord Byron, John Milton.
What makes a good poem about complaint vastly and magnificently different from how we complain in life, is, Aesthetic Realism shows, urgently important for everyone. Eli Siegel is the critic who has explained the difference and why it matters so much—and I’ll say something about that later....more
February 22, 2017
We are very glad to publish here a short discussion by Eli Siegel on the big subject of lying. It’s part of a lecture he gave in July 1973, and is ever so needed now, at a time when the matter of lying and truth is being talked about and fought about in a way that’s new in our land.
As I comment on the subject, I’m looking at it not in any political way but in terms of ethics, and an intensity about ethics in America. Every day, people of differing political views are accusing others of lying and being accused of lying themselves. One could use all this to feel truth is up for grabs, since anybody can claim to have it and claim an enemy does not. But one would be wrong to use what’s occurring that way.
What is more accurate is: even amid a certain hideous fakery, there is now in America a fury at lying; there is a new sense that truth matters, is important, that the twisting of it should make one indignant and irate....more
February 8, 2017
Here is the final section of the landmark 1973 lecture we have been serializing: The Scientific Method in Feeling, by Eli Siegel. It is about the opposites of knowing and feeling, opposites that have seemed to people to be at war within them. Today, as in other times, men and women have (though they may not articulate it) an abiding sadness, shame, anger because as they’re stirred with emotion they don’t seem to themselves to be logical, to be the same person who reasons. And when they go for careful reason, they feel they must be unstirred, lack warmth.
Aesthetic Realism magnificently—and logically—shows that knowing and feeling are aesthetic opposites: that 1) both are always in us in some way; 2) they can be beautifully, proudly one in us; and 3) it is our deep need to try to have them be....more
The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known online:
Current Issues: The most recent issues in which Aesthetic Realism explains the news, happenings in people's lives, events in history, and some of the most moving works in literature.
National Ethics: What honest criteria can we use to be good critics of ethics on the national and international levels? Aesthetic Realism looks at ethics as to loyalty, international affairs, & more.
Literature / Poetry: Discussing many great works of poetry and prose. Criticism, wrote Eli Siegel compactly, is showing "a good thing as good, a bad thing as bad, and a middling thing as middling."
Love: How Aesthetic Realism describes the purpose of love—"to like the world honestly through another person." Discussion of what interferes with having real love—today and in history.
Racism—the Cause & Solution: The Aesthetic Realism understanding of contempt as the cause of racism, and the place of aesthetics in respecting, pleasurably, people different from oneself.
The Economy: Why our economic system has failed to meet the needs of the American people, and the Aesthetic Realism understanding of good will as the basis for successful and fair economics
Education: The success of the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method in having students learn to read and write—learn science, social studies, art, every subject—and be kinder, less angry, less prejudiced.
Eli Siegel Day in Baltimore: Talks given on August 16, 2002, Eli Siegel's Centenary, placing Mr. Siegel and Aesthetic Realism, his work, in terms of world culture and history.
Art: "Aesthetic Realism sees the purpose of art as, from the beginning, the liking of the world more..."
Archives: The rich education provided by Aesthetic Realism in issues of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known which are online.
The most comprehensive source of information about Aesthetic Realism is the website of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation—and the sites connected to it, including this one. You can start, for instance, at the Foundation's home page. Then, go on to biographical information about Eli Siegel, who founded Aesthetic Realism in 1941. You will see how the education he began teaching in those years continues now in Aesthetic Realism consultations and in public dramatic presentations and seminars at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation—as well as in the Foundation's Outreach Programs for seniors, young people, libraries, teachers. Meanwhile in the schools of New York, the dramatically effective Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method has enabled students to learn, to love learning, and to pass standardized examinations for four decades. And artists since 1955 have exhibited at the Terrain Gallery for which many have written commentaries (including on their own works), based on the philosophic principles of Aesthetic Realism. You can read about Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, online, as well as about every person on the faculty of the Foundation. As editor of TRO her commentaries are in every issue (see, e.g., "Nature, Romanticism, & Harry Potter"; "Clothing and Emotion"; and "Jobs, Discontent, and Beauty"). In the Aesthetic Realism Online Library, you'll find the largest single repository of reviews, articles in the press, lectures, poetry; and The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known. In 2002, Eli Siegel' s centenary, the Governor of Maryland and the Mayor of Baltimore, the city where he grew up, wrote on the meaning to America of Aesthetic Realism and its founder. So did the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, in the U.S. Congressional Record.
People in America's diverse professions—the humanities, the arts, education, the social sciences, medicine, labor—have written on the value of Aesthetic Realism. They describe the way Aesthetic Realism teaches people how to understand themselves more accurately; how the ability to be just to other people is enhanced; how one's professional attainments are augmented. Language arts teacher Leila Rosen, for example, writes on the Aesthetic Realism teaching method. Anthropologist Arnold Perey writes on the way Aesthetic Realism opposes prejudice and improves international understanding. And there are many others. Historically, new knowledge has often been met unjustly. This was true about the new, innovative thought of Louis Pasteur and John Keats, Beethoven and William Lloyd Garrison, Jonas Salk and Isaac Newton. And it has been true about Aesthetic Realism. Documenting and opposing this, the website "Friends of Aesthetic Realism — Countering the Lies," written by more than 60 individuals, refutes the falsehoods of the few persons who have attacked Aesthetic Realism and lets the facts speak for themselves. People who want to express their opinion of Aesthetic Realism, and have the knowledge to back it up, have created blogs and websites and have written numerous articles. See, for example, composer and educator Edward Green; essayist Lynette Abel; photographer Len Bernstein; teachers Ann Richards, Christopher Balchin, and Alan Shapiro. Others are listed in "What People Are Saying." The education of Aesthetic Realism enables a person to understand oneself more exactly than has been possible before, and to like the world honestly, authentically.
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