• An Aesthetic Realism Discussion of Sargent's "Madame X"

    There is a thrilling Aesthetic Realism discussion by Lynette Abel, about a portrait I've admired for a long time. Titled Sargent's "Madame X"; or, Assertion and Retreat In Woman., it can have every man deeper and more thoughtful about a woman, how she sees; her questions to herself.
    Madame X
    This is also a perceptive and revealing critical analysis of a famous and loved portrait. As I read and think about this, I have more respect for women, for art, and for John Singer Sargent, the American artist who painted "Madame X".

    This talk is a good opportunity to see what Aesthetic Realism is. It is education of the widest kind, about everything from art to mathematics, from history to science to poetry to music and the lives of individual people of today and yesterday. But that's too much respect for some people apparently, and consequently there are lies about it on the Internet. I passionately object to these falsehoods, which are calculated to scare people away and prevent them from seeing Aesthetic Realism for what it simply is: an exciting, critical, thought-provoking education of the highest class. As a friend of mine said recently, "Aesthetic Realism is FUN!" You can read more about the reason for the attacks at Countering the Lies.

    I think we were born to have more respect for and greater feeling and knowledge about the world, including the people in it. That's why I'm grateful and proud to be studying Aesthetic Realism. I'm learning how to be a better and more fulfilled human being! And, yes, this is a study based on principles such as this one by Eli Siegel that Ms. Abel quotes in her talk: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves."

  • Aesthetic Realism, De Gaulle, & Our Debate About More or Less Feeling

    I've just read a terrific web article titled "The Debate in Every Person: to Have More Feeling or Less?" It's by writer and Aesthetic Realism Associate, Michael Palmer. He takes up and makes vivid this contest in self which we all have but mostly aren't aware of.

    He also writes about the important international figure of the 20th Century, General Charles De Gaulle.

    De Gaulle

    The article is profoundly moving as the author interweaves descriptions of his own early life; what he learned from Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism and from the Chairman of Education, Ellen Reiss; scholarly historical references to the life and emotions of General De Gaulle; and the history of his beloved country, France.

    DG at Arc de Triomphe

    I remember back in the 1960's that my sister's French penfriend was fiercely devoted to De Gaulle, and I remember the friction this caused in my family. How could she love this person who seemed to be so against what Britain wanted? Reading Michael Palmer had me understand Sylvie, myself, De Gaulle, and the nation that is one of my absolute favourites in the world -- La France!


  • Aesthetic Realism on Art and Life

    What if there were a way of relating all the arts in a deep and true way? And of learning from poetry, singing, acting, painting, and others how to have a happy life?

    Well, there is, and at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation that is what is taught, in the most exciting, intellectually-satisfying classes I've ever attended. I have taken a great number of classes in my life, and I know what I'm talking about here.

    In Self and World, Eli Siegel, poet, philosopher, and founder of Aesthetic Realism writes:

    "There is no limit to how art can be used to make life more sensible. To see art as making life more sensible it is first required of one that he respect art, know what it is, not make it less than it is."

    Respect for art is exactly what Aesthetic Realism has, and every class taught with this basis is a testament to that fact.

    You can find out about this new way of seeing:

    --New York City landmarks -- their beauty and importance, by Aesthetic Realism consultants Faith and John Stern

    The High Line in NYC

    --Poetry, with classes taught by the Chairman of Education, Ellen Reiss

    -- Acting -- with links to papers on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Ophelia, and “I Believe This about Acting,” by Anne Fielding, actress, consultant, and Director of the esteemed Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company.

    Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company

    -- Papers on the visual arts and architecture:

    "Art Opposes Injustice: Picasso's Guernica -- For Life," by artist and consultant Dorothy Koppelman


    “Gerrit Rietveld's Red and Blue Chair & What I Learned about Rest and Motion in Myself” by architect Anthony Romeo.

    Rietveld Red and Blue Chair

    -- Music, including jazz, classical and more – how does music put together opposites? Why does a particular instance of music move us so deeply? Find out here!

    -- Photography Len Bernstein and others on what makes a photograph good or great?

    Bernstein Woman Exiting Subway Station

    -- Anthropology, including the groundbreaking work of Dr. Arnold Perey

    Gwe by Arnold Perey

    Here are many links to other writings and commentaries.

    Aesthetic Realism Can End Racism -- the name speaks for itself, and how important this fact is at this time.


  • The NHS, Ethics, and Aesthetic Realism

    NHS strike
    There was a four-hour strike today by NHS workers in the UK. These are the people who care for the sick, perform often back-breaking work in hospitals, bring babies into the world safely, respond to 999 calls, save lives every day in emergency wards, visit the homes of the elderly to see they are OK! The government has pushed them to the edge with its rejection of even the paltry board-recommended 1% pay increase. And this while MP's complacently grant themselves 11%!
    0% 11%

    It's not only the pay; over recent years the NHS has been drastically underfunded while at the same time millions have being funneled to private corporations whose prime interest is profits for shareholders, not patient care. This is barbaric! The state of mind impelling this is described to a t by Eli Siegel: "The greatest danger or temptation of man is to get a false importance or glory from the lessening of things not himself; which lessening is Contempt." Contempt, I've learned from Aesthetic Realism, is the basis of profit economics. Contempt is what has a person decimate vital services, endangering the lives of millions of people, so that they and their wealthy families and friends can profit financially -- all the while calling it "efficiency," "cost-cutting," "modernization" and the like.

    NHS Children's Hospital closed

    Meanwhile, all over the country groups have sprung up representing regions, counties, cities, and individual hospitals and clinics, galvanizing support for the NHS. Marches organized by the Darlo Mums and others have shown and added to the love that Britons have for the NHS. They represent what Aesthetic Realism has shown is the force of ethics working in people and reality.

    Darlo Mums rally in Trafalgar Square

    In the lectures he gave in 1970 and later, scholarly, passionate analyses of economics and people's lives, (with evidence from history, literature, current events, and much more) Eli Siegel said this, which I love: "Ethics is a force like electricity, steam, the atom -- and will have its way."

    There are many moving, passionate tributes to the NHS on Youtube, such as this one of a flash choir singing thanks to the NHS.

    Dismantling the NHS is a crime, a return to the Dark Ages, and people will suffer and die so that a few others can reap profits from their need for health care. I've lived with for-profit health care for over thirty years and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It is not civilized. AND it is not good enough for people, for what people are and deserve. Eli Siegel said "There will be no economic recovery until economics itself, the making of money, the having of jobs, becomes ethical; is based on good will rather than on the ill will which has been predominant for centuries." (Reprinted in "The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known" #1519, "Self, Ethics, and Oil")

    This is the start of an article I wrote some years ago about why I am so grateful to the NHS, and why there is such a grassroots, unquenchable objection to for-profit health care:

    "In early March I got the call every child of an elderly parent dreads: My mother, Kathy Balchin, age 80, had fallen, breaking her left wrist and right leg. Coming home was out of the question. She needed hospitalization, nursing home care, then physical therapy. She was in a state of shock...."

    Read more at the Aesthetic Realism Online Library.

  • Aesthetic Realism Looks at New York City: Poetry

    I like this beautiful poem (below) by Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism, very much. It still amazes me that Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy which teaches people how to like the world on an honest basis -- and how to truly like themselves as a result-- began with poetry classes! You can find out more about that at the Aesthetic Realism Online Library

    Meanwhile, here is the start of the poem. I think it's one of the most charming and deep things I've ever read, intimate and wide, funny and poignant, written a good deal in ordinary language, the language of people talking, but yet, how musical!

    Love Lurches Along

    In love, you don't know what you're getting in Elizabeth, N.J.,
    And you don't know what you're getting in Pottstown, Pa.
    So why should New York be different?
    Since when was New York heavensent?

    See you tomorrow, if I can make it, dear.
    So you don't want to see me; I could have known it long ago.
    Not tonight, Elmer, I just don't feel like it...

    Continue reading the wonderful "Love Lurches Along" at Aesthetic Realism Looks at New York City: Poetry

    Couple in Prospect Park, Brooklyn

  • Self and World

    Oxford skyline

    I still remember walking down Logic Lane in Oxford, near the philosophy library during the late 1970's and thinking about Thomas Nagel's essay "What it is like to be a bat."

    Logic Lane

    The idea, which Nagel discusses, that another living thing had real consciousness was a revelation to me. But ironically I didn't carry this over to my thinking about other creatures more closely related to me such as humans! I was a snob, and my lack of seeing that other people have feelings just as deep and complex as my own -- which I think represents a lot of people -- made me lonely and cruel. I really didn't see the philosophy I was studying at Oxford as having anything to do with my own personal feelings and thoughts.

    That is why studying Aesthetic Realism means so much to me. I learned that the root cause of my trouble was contempt, building myself up falsely by making less of other people and things -- and this is a hurtful drive in every person. What I've learned from Aesthetic Realism, through literature, history, current events and more, has given me a new way of seeing people, including the people I knew at Oxford, with more depth, accuracy, and warmth. This includes my parents, Kathy and Robin Balchin, my sister, Heather Robertson, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and the young people I've taught for more than 32 years in New York City.

    I began studying via consultations, and now I'm learning in the greatest classes in the world, taught by the greatest teacher I know, Ellen Reiss, the Chair of Education. Yes, I said “greatest”!

    Self and World, an Explanation of Aesthetic Realism, by Eli Siegel, has been my guide these past three decades and more . I am proud to recommend the book that has made me kinder, happier, and has given me true pride!

  • World War I: What does it say to us today?

    I was moved to see the Last Post being played before a Premier League football game this past Saturday, with both teams bowing their heads in recognition, the whole stadium full of 30,000 - 40,000 fans silent. World War I still affects Britain and the world profoundly in 2014, yet wars continue and people suffer and die. How little we seem to have learned! Yet, as a history teacher for many years and as a person who has had the benefit of living in two different countries, England and the US, I am convinced after much study and thought that there is an answer to the seemingly eternal scourge of war. The world needs to know it.

    Here is a letter I wrote which expresses a little of my feeling about the war. It was published in The Independent over the summer:

    As with John Lichfield (“How memories of the Great War live on”, 31 July) my own great uncle, Cyril Gutteridge, died in the carnage of the First World War as a British soldier.

    I’ve been riveted by that war since I was 10, but what I didn’t know for years is that the reason millions of English, German and French ordinary people cheered when war was declared has a cause that is in me and in every person, and it needs to be studied.

    Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism, identified the cause of all cruelty thus: “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.”

    Contempt is as common as mocking someone else inwardly, or a husband riding over his wife’s opinions, thinking she’s too emotional to be rational. But “ordinary” contempt leads to cruelty in social life, economics and between nations. When we rob another person of their humanity, there is no limit to our cruelty.

    The study of contempt – which can finally end the thirst for war – is urgent for the world today as we mark the centennial of the First World War.

    Christopher Balchin
    Brooklyn, New York

    Eli Siegel gave a lecture in which he read from and discussed a 1930 play "The Miracle at Verdun." This lecture is one of the most important things of culture that I know -- powerful, deep, and sincere -- and it deals centrally with the meaning and forms of contempt. Here is a report of it by Lynette Abel, who was there to hear it:

    The Miracle at Verdun

    French soldiers at Verdun

  • How Musical Can Sadness Be -- or, Grief, Anger, Hope

    The title of this post alone can give everyone more hope about our lives, and that our emotions can be seen in relation to a wide world, the world of poetry. In Leila Rosen's report of a remarkable class by Eli Siegel, she writes:

    Aesthetic Realism shows that art has the resolution to the questions of our lives, because in it, the opposites which can confuse us are made
    one. “Poetry,” Mr. Siegel said, “is a great gathering of illustrations that grief with form can please, and music is, too.”

    Read more here.

  • Louis Armstrong's "I Can't Give You Anything But Love"

    One of the great performances in the history of jazz, this is also one of those pieces of music that just makes me smile. I know I've got a lot of company! Why does this affect people so much? When I read jazz musician and Aesthetic Realism associate Alan Shapiro's critical analysis of this 1929 recording I learned why I love it -- AND I cared for it even more as a result. See if the same doesn't happen to you!

    Young Louis Armstrong

  • Gwe: a novel against racism

    I love this book by consultant and anthropologist Arnold Perey, PhD. It tells of life in Papua New Guinea and of the young American who travels to do field work there, with deep feeling, sincerity, and style. It moved me the first time I read it and does now as I think of it again. Anyone who wants to have large emotions and new knowledge about the world and oneself has a big treat in store. Moreover, this book has the key to understanding and ending racism.

    See my blog here.

  • Joy to the World, and why I love it.

    I love the carol "Joy to the World." I just sang it a few hours ago in a big church in Downers Grove, Illinois, with several hundred other people. I like the interplay between high voices and low voices on "And heaven and nature sing." That's sameness and difference, right there. The parts agree but they also contrast, and it feels so satisfying. We don't have to feel we're either at odds with other people or else going along like sheep and mindlessly agreeing with everything another person says! Music shows we can agree and disagree at once, and it's thrilling!
    And the words "Let every heart, prepare him room" have been used in presentations by the Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company to show that our hearts may not be ready, that we're not good enough just so, to welcome beauty. We need the criticism we get from a good friend in order to be the person we want to be, and in order to have hearts that are warm and faithful. It's so good to sing this carol knowing that you're singing about wanting to welcome the world more than you already have done. Now there's a Christmas gift.
    And here is another one: a link to the Opposites in Music class at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation.
    And one more -- "The World, as Such, Is Present in Jazz" by Eli Siegel

  • "Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?"

    This Scottish/Irish song, which has been recorded by many, many artists, has been on my mind lately. I like the melody a lot, with its fallings and risings that bring to mind the magnificent Scottish Highlands. And I really like the words. In the first verse a man describes a world that looks beautiful:

    "Oh the summertime has come,
    And the trees are sweetly blooming,
    And the wild mountain thyme
    Grows around the blooming heather.."

    And then he invites a woman to join him, not to get away from the world, but to "pull wild mountain thyme all around the blooming heather" --and this is not just the two of them, as he sings "And we'll all go together..."

    I think one reason it's affected people so much is that it satisfies our desire to have care for one specific "Dearie" go along with care for the wide world, including other people. It reminds me of the comment by the Aesthetic Realism Theater Company about a song from Brigadoon,which has been sung so beautifully by Anne Fielding and Timothy Lynch. The man in that song wants the woman he cares for to go out with him to see "The Heather on the Hill." And that's how the song gets its name!

    Out of the versions I've heard so far, my favourite is the one by The Corries.

    Thank you Heather, for loving this song and introducing me to it! And thank you Aesthetic Realism and Eli Siegel for explaining that any beautiful thing, any thing that we care for, puts together opposites that we want to put together in our lives.

    The Corries

  • Honest writing about unemployment -- the cruelty of it.

    Today, so many people I know are worried about their jobs.  More and more I'm meeting people who don't have a job and can't get one.  Just today I learned that a friend has been locked out of his work, while his wife can't find a steady job.  With the for-profit health care situation in the US, they have had to CANCEL DOCTORS' APPOINTMENTS FOR THEIR TWO CHILDREN.  The husband's employers, ConEdison, froze their health benefits when they locked them out.  This is barbaric.    

    I was moved and grateful to read the following sentences about unemployment, from the current issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, and I think every person who's unemployed should be able to read them.  Moreover, every person who's fortunate enough to have a job in these days of economic cruelty should read it in order to get a sense of what it's like to be unable to find work:

    Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss writes:

    "Among the effects of unemployment . . . is hunger, including the hunger of children across the land who cannot get the food their little stomachs need because their jobless parents are unable to purchase it. And there is this effect: every person who wants a job and cannot get one, feels a certain way. When a person sends off a resume* and gets no response or is turned down; or goes for a job interview, then learns he has been passed over; or, after working someplace for years, is told his services are no longer needed—there is tremendous feeling. Millions of people are being made to feel that they cannot be of use, that America does not need what they can do. That feeling is horrible. And it comes from a lie."

    People in England should know that, though it's true that the US has been the bastion of capitalism for many years (though that is changing) there is also great and increasing feeling against this brutal way of seeing and using people. To learn more about how Aesthetic Realism sees economics, go to this article called "Reality vs. the Profit Motive."   


  • Aesthetic Realism Search Engine -- Find out how this philosophy sees love, poetry, economics, our emotions -- and more


  • Aesthetic Realism podcast: Toughness and a Feeling Heart-- Can a Man Have Both?

    Wow! There is a new Aesthetic Realism podcast and it's great. Consultant Bennett Cooperman talks about what he's learned about toughness and having a kind, feeling heart. These twenty-odd minutes have the answer to a quandary that I think has plagued just about every man -- including me. See for yourself: "Toughness and a Feeling Heart--Can a Man Have Both?"

    Get ready to have a big experience, especially if you care for Jack London and/or dogs!

    PS: Here's a link to Bennett Cooperman's website, which he shares with his wife, Meryl Nietsch-Cooperman.

  • "Michelle" by the Beatles

    I like the song "Michelle" very much, as I do most of the other songs by the Beatles. Eli Siegel, the poet and philosopher who founded Aesthetic Realism in 1941, came to this principle: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves."
    Michelle begins with that lovely, steady guitar introduction and then you hear Paul McCartney singing, coming in on the same note -- but the key seems to have changed! There's a feeling of wonder and newness immediately. This is exactly what we are looking for in love -- to see the world as fresh, to find new interest in something we thought we know, to have wonder and big feelings that we didn't have before! And we want security. We want to feel we can count on the person we love, and we want to feel we can be counted on too.
    This is what I hear in the very first bars of "Michelle." It gets me every time! Even the guitar intro isn't only steady of course. The high note stays constant most of the way through, while the lower note is descending.


    As to the rest of the song, three pairs of opposites I hear in particular are sameness and difference, logic and emotion, and strength and yearning.
    Play the song and do let me know what you hear.

    PS: I love it that it's in English and French. It's a second Entente Cordiale, with a better purpose. Or maybe an Entente Amoureuse...

    The Beatles!

  • Aesthetic Realism on "Mind, Violence, & Movies"

    Why do so many film-goers delight in horror films, in violence on the screen, in thrillers where the quiet man next door turns out to be a human monster? And what does it have to do with ourselves?

    Eli Siegel said in a lecture he gave at New York City's Steinway Hall: "To see how in a person there can be the desire to pour tea and be nice and also a desire to snarl, some notion of the opposites in a human being needs to be had."

    Find out more by reading

    Mind, Violence, & Movies
    , the latest issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.

  • Aesthetic Realism and Football

    I love football, and since the new season has started it's a great time to talk about the opposites in "the beautiful game." "All beauty," according to Aesthetic Realism, "is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves." Every person who loves football is affected by opposites.

    1. Strength and Grace; Assertion and Yielding. When you see Danny Welbeck, say, leaping high in the air and getting onto the end of a curving cross from the left wing, meeting the ball just right and nodding it sharply and precisely into the back of the net -- you, my friend, are being affected by strength and grace, assertion and yielding, force and accuracy, straight line and curved line, near and far. These are opposites in case you hadn't noticed! Very often people feel yielding is weak, and then when they assert themselves they feel unkind. We lay down the law without thinking about what is good for the other person. If you tried to play football that way you'd mis-kick it, and your header (if you touched the ball that is) would go sailing over the crossbar.

    Danny Welbeck in action

    2. Continuity and Discontinuity. The whole game is continuity and discontinuity. Forty-five minutes of almost non-stop action, but there are corner kicks, throw-ins, goal kicks, and, if you're lucky, a penalty for your team. One of the marvellous things you can see when a team's playing well, is the stringing-together of one pass after another, some across the field, down or back, some diagonal, shorter passes, longer passes, and sometimes a quick one-two. Every person wants to feel that the world is coherent, that it makes sense; and that it can surprise us, has sharp edges. Otherwise it's boring. This is something I see as a teacher -- that young people want to feel that the lessons they attend have something to do with each other, and that school has something to do with the rest of their lives; and how they want change! Football satisfies our desire for continuity and surprise, especially when it is played well!

    3. Individual and Collective Football is a team sport! Everyone depends on his/her team-mates, and we all know how frustrating it is when one person hogs the ball, tries to take on the whole opposing team, then loses control or is tackled just when the goal was beckoning with a teammate unmarked, just a few feet away. I think it's one of the reasons why Becks/David Beckham is so great. It's not just his precision, it's the fact that his bread and butter is passing the ball to teammates. This is like the Aesthetic Realism definition of good will; wanting other things or people to be stronger and more beautiful because this desire makes oneself stronger and more beautiful.

    Check out Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites, by Eli Siegel. Next time you see a game, look for opposites!

  • Aesthetic Realism Understands Anger Part Two

    If you're reading this in the UK you probably aren't going to be able to hop on the plane and come to the seminar. But you can go to the homepage of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, or to the Online Library to read poems and essays by Mr. Siegel, or to the Terrain Gallery to see visual arts with comment about beauty, opposites and the questions of our lives.

    And next time you do cross the pond, come to 141 Greene Street to see for yourself. Call ahead to make an appointment for an Aesthetic Realism consultation, the new form of education which shows how the questions of self are related to art and all of culture.

  • Aesthetic Realism Understands Anger

    This coming Thursday -- August 6, 2009 -- there will be a seminar, "What Do Men Most Need to Know About their Anger?" It's at 6:30 pm at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in downtown New York City -- 141 Greene Street, SoHo.

    Aesthetic Realism explains this intense and urgent subject, with logic, compassion, and critical humor! It’s been a great pleasure working on my paper and learning more about the difference between anger that is for justice and anger that is narrow.

    I will be speaking about the life of Nye Bevan, founder of the British National Health Service, and what I have learned about two kinds of anger in my own life. My colleagues, Dr. Jaime Torres, and Joseph Meglino, Aesthetic Realism consultant, will be speaking respectively about Puerto Rican nationalist and abolitionist Dr. Ramon Betances, known as the "Father of the Puerto Rican Nation," and a popular self-help book "Facing the Fire; Experiencing and Expressing Anger Appropriately" by John Lee.

  • Harry Potter revisited

    With Harry Potter back in the movies -- and in the news --  this is an excellent time to read what Ellen Reiss, the Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism, wrote in "Nature, Romanticism, and Harry Potter." She looks at the great appeal of this amazing series of books by J. K Rowling, using this principle of Aesthetic Realism: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves."

    Ms. Reiss explains that the main opposites that the Harry Potter series puts together are the strange and the ordinary -- and those are the same opposites that Wordsworth and Coleridge were dealing with in their Lyrical Ballads of 1798! This is the greatest true honouring of Ms. Rowling's work that I've seen.

  • Rock and Roll, the Opposites, & Our Greatest Hopes -- A Celebration!

    The greatest tribute I know to rock ' n' roll will take place at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation on August 24 and September 28: It is Rock and Roll, the Opposites, & Our Greatest Hopes -- A Celebration!

    Why do people love rock 'n' roll?  Why has it lasted?  What makes a song beautiful?  What does it have to do with me?  That's what you'll learn, and more, while classic, moving, rip-roaring hits from the 1950's to this very millennium are performed.   

    This show, which I'm thrilled to take part in, is based on a lesson Eli Siegel, founder of Aesthetic Realism, gave to a rock musician in the 1960's.  I heard notes of that lesson years later in The Opposites in Music class, and I knew what he said explained why I loved groups like The Beatles, Hollies, Herman's Hermits, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Elvis Presley, and later Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison and so many others.  In the lesson he asked, among other things, "Is there [in rock and roll] the utmost pain and the utmost assertion?  Is it the blare of agony?"  Personal feelings, things generally kept private by people, are made public, sometimes with beautiful form, turned into what Mr. Siegel referred to as a "train-call"!  This satisfies our desire to have the opposites of inside and outside make sense, instead of hiding what we are and feeling forever that there is a part of us we can never show to the world.  (Read the announcement at the link above and you'll find out more of what Mr. Siegel said in that lesson).  

    One of the greatest thrills of my life is learning in the Opposites in Music, taught by Barbara Allen, Anne Fielding, and Edward Green, why music stirs people; what is it, technically, that notes on a page (or not on a page!) -- played on guitar, keyboard, or sax, put to words and sung by one singer or many singers -- do to us?   For years I had no idea -- I just liked it!  Now I'm studying why, and the asking and finding out adds so much to my feeling.  I feel like I'm in heaven during every class, but with comprehension and rigor that satisfies my mind because it's based on principles that are TRUE!  "All beauty," Eli Siegel stated, "is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves."  

    Next time you listen to music -- any music -- ask yourself, "Am I hearing emotion together with a structure?  Is there something definite -- perhaps rhythm -- at the same time as there is change -- perhaps, but not necessarily,  melody?  And does the rhythm itself has change even while it is steady?  Does the melody have steadiness even as it rises and falls?  Does this satisfy my desire to see reality as exciting, in motion, but also reassuring, to-be-counted-on?"  In my fortunate experience, the answer is Yes.          

  • Aesthetic Realism Online Library

    At the Aesthetic Realism Online LIbrary you can read poems, essays, and lectures by Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism, as well as works by other critics including people who study and teach this philosophy.

    Here are links to some of my favourite poems. (I've included their beginning lines): 

    Dear Birds, Tell This to Mothers
     "Fly, birds, over all grieving mothers.
      Tell them, if they know more,
      They will grieve less . . "

    To Dylan Thomas
    "I hope that where you are
     (I think so, too)
     People, including literary people,
     Will see you more as you were;
     And not get you so angry
     You'd die sooner than you had to.
     You wanted criticism for everything you did, . . . "

    Something Else Should Die: A Poem with Rhymes
    "In April 1865
     Abraham Lincoln died . . ."

    The Dark that Was Is Here
    "A girl, in ancient Greece,
     Be sure, had no more peace
     Than one in Idaho.
     To feel and yet to konw
     Was hard in Athens, too.
     I'm sure confusion grew
     In Nika's mind as she, . . . "

     Somewhere This
     (These are some later lines)
     A man going into a library;
     A shout from somewhere.
     "Chicken I want," says someone near.
     "O, what do I care," says a girl.
     "He loves me, I'm sure," says a girl.
     "What the hell do I care," says a boy.
     "What did he do then?" says a man.
     The elevated comes roaring by.
     Rain falls quietly.

    Note: The "elevated" was the old  New York City elevated tube, or subway.

     Twenty-one Distichs about Children

    "1. Bernice thinks a little.
    Bernice is two months old; the world is new for her.
    Ah, will her parents' angry world quite do for her? . . ."

     "I am a spark,
      Which always goes out,
      For it needs another spark . . . "

  • Aesthetic Realism Online Library

    It is my pleasure and honour to study in professional classes taught by Class Chairman Ellen Reiss at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York. She is a marvellous teacher, because (1) she always tries to be fair to the subject under discussion, and (2) she uses the principles of Aesthetic Realism, which were come to be Eli Siegel, in order to shed light upon it.

    These classes are serious, because the purpose is always to see more true meaning in the world, and at the same time they are so lightsome, humourous, charming -- because the purpose is always to see more meaning in the world!

    The recordings we hear of lectures given by Eli Siegel in the 1960's and 1970's are the greatest educational experience of my life. Here are the titles of some of Mr. Siegel's lectures, which you can read at the Aesthetic Realism Online Library:

    Poetry and Women

    Ownership, Strikes, Unions

    Animate and Inanimate Are in Music and Conscience

    There Are Two Freedoms

    Aesthetic Realism and Nature

    Poetry and History

    Educational Method Is Poetic

    Selves Are in Economics

  • Ellen Reiss on Harry Potter

    Have you seen what Ellen Reiss, the Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism, wrote about Harry Potter?  Look at "Nature, Romanticism, and Harry Potter."   She writes, in part (referring to the first in J. K. Rowling's series, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," the importance of this novel, its goodness, and the enthusiasm about it are explained by the following principle, the basis of Aesthetic Realism: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves." And the chief opposites that Ms. Rowling has made inseparable are the opposites that are central to romanticism, that new way of feeling and showing the world which began in Europe at the end of the 18th century: the opposites of the strange and the ordinary."

    She goes on to describe how these same opposites, the strange and the ordinary, affect every person's life. The more beautifully we see them, the better our lives will be.

    Very often we divide the world into two parts -- what is dull, which we already know (or think we know) and what is wonderful or strange. There's your job, then there's the summer holiday. That's not the way to be happy because it's not accurate!

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  • Aesthetic Realism Is True

    "Test it, test it--you'll see that it's true," said Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism. That is what I have done, for over 24 years, and I've found that yes, it is true.

    It is true that, as Eli Siegel stated for the first time, "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves."

    Here is an example: "The Four Seasons," by Vivaldi, which I've cared for since I was a boy, is extremely organised. There is a structure you can see even without looking at the sheet music. It has order. But how free it sounds!  Structure and freedom are opposites that all music deals with, but every instance has these opposites in a different way.  The greater the music, the more intricate, puzzling, satisfying,beautifully, these opposites are one.  In Beethoven's 5th, for instance, what structure there is!  But how can you separate the structure from the freedom?  You can't. 

    Do we feel when we are organised that we are letting go?  Most people don't. 

    Do we feel when we are letting go that our feet are on the ground?  Usually not.  This is the message of music for our lives.  More than sixty years ago Eli Siegel wrote these sentences:

    "The question is, whether art gives order, intensifies life, makes it greater.  If art makes life greater, cannot what is in art be used as a means of making life more sensible?  Life, in other words, makes art; cannot art be used in turn on life, and how? 

    "There is no limit to how art can be used to make life more sensible. To see art as making life more sensible it is first required of one that he respect art, know what it is, not make it less than it is."     
                                               --Self and World

    This has the hope of the world in it, of all of us!  Getting back to Vivaldi, I love "Summer" particularly. "Summer" is so intense, but it has that structure you can count on. Freedom and Order, or Structure, are opposites, and in this music they are beautiful.

    Then you hear the opposites of slowness and speed. How the strings are languid! How they drag, even, but you feel there is excitement, a quickening of life somewhere under the hot sun. Sure enough, a storm is approaching. The music speeds, and as the torrent begins, the opposites of falling and rising as the violins descend in octave patterns (see freedom and order again?!) are gorgeous.

    Is the way we rise and fall as beautiful as the way Vivaldi's music does? A man can go from insufferable arrogance to abject (and equally insufferable) self-abnegation. I know because I did this! And studying Aesthetic Realism has changed the way I shuttled from high to low. I am HAPPY, and the happiness is based on principles that anyone can study.

    So that you can see for yourself more about Aesthetic Realism, I'm putting links on this blog to things other people have written about it.

    What exactly is Aesthetic Realism? It's a philosophy, based on principles, that states that a person's deepest desire is to like the world on an honest basis. There is so much more to say, and I don't have time to write more now.  But you can read some of Eli Siegel's essays, lectures, poems, and excerpts from books he wrote at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation Online Library.

    More about Aesthetic Realism:

    The Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism, Ellen Reiss, teaches classes for consultants and associates.  She also teaches the Aesthetic Realism Explanation of Poetry.  To know more about Aesthetic Realism classes read about a class in which Miss Reiss discussed ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). She encouraged every person to ask seriously why a child comes to develop this problem, and to see the child's difficulty as related to our own lives.  Read the report by parents and teachers Barbara McClung and Lauren Phillips.
    Aesthetic Realism Resources has articles on the questions of men and women, love, social and economic justice, the arts, and more. 

    What attitude in a person could lead to racism?  Read Racism Can End Ellen Reiss's definitive analysis of this issue?

    In 1955, Eli Siegel published 15 questions about beauty that are a guide as to how to see any painting, print, or sculpture, from the Renaissance to the latest work at the Tate: Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites?
    A website that shows more how Aesthetic Realism sees life, art, history, and more is: Lynette Abel: Aesthetic Realism and Life.

    Miriam Mondlin, Aesthetic Realism consultant, tells about issues as diverse as economic justice and everyone's desire to be truly expressed at Aesthetic Realism Encourages Self-Expression

    What happens when a literary critic is monumentally wrong, and what does it have to do with us today? Ellen Reiss discusses this in relation to the great English poet John Keats

    Columnist Alice Bernstein's website takes up issues regarding race, history, and the lives of people. 

    Go to the Aesthetic Realism Online Library for poems, reviews, lectures, essays, and other works by the founder of Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel.

    Anthropologist and author Arnold Perey's award-winning website can be seen at  Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology.  

    The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known edited by Ellen Reiss has the most important insights into what is going on in the world today.  It serialises lectures by Eli Siegel and includes articles by people who study Aesthetic Realism and tell of its value in various fields.  There is an article about imagination written by me in the current issue.  (August 10, 2006)   

    Len Bernstein: Photographic Education Based on the Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel discusses how Aesthetic Realism can improve one's photographic technique and one's life.

    Rosemary Plumstead and Donita Ellison have important websites documenting their use of the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method.  

    Housing: a Human Right, is by Ken Kimmelman, Barbara Buehler, Dale Laurin, and Anthony Romeo. 

    At Friends of Aesthetic Realism--Countering the Lies, you can see more about what takes place in Aesthetic Realism classes.  You can also read critics' assessment of this philosophy, and of the importance of Eli Siegel and the value of Aesthetic Realism.   

    More about Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism. 

    See the blog of educator and actress Ann Richards Teaching The Miracle Worker

    And see my blog, How Can Racism End? 

    Here is a new blog: The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method

    Don't miss Marcia Rackow's charming and deep look at a beloved children's author: 'Wonder and Matter-of-Fact Meet--the Imagination of Beatrix Potter'
    I'll be writing more shortly.


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