• Gwe: a novel against racism

    I love this book by Aesthetic Realism 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
    Enjoy!

  • "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.

  • 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."   

    *CV

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

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  • 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.

  • 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 Simeon Jackson*, 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.

    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!

    *I'm a Gillingham fan

  • 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? . . ."

     Spark
     "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. 

    The website of Ann Richards and myself: Aesthetic Realism & Our Lives

    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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