"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:
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?
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.