Aesthetic Realism and Self-Expression
Miriam Mondlin, Aesthetic Realism Consultant

Consultant Arnold Perey about an aspect of self-expression—warmth and coolness...

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Aesthetic Realism: Some Beginning Notes—

Aesthetic Realism is the philosophy founded in 1941 by poet and critic Eli Siegel. He was by then already famed as a poet, for in 1925 he had won the much desired Nation magazine poetry award. Aesthetic Realism is kind and scientific — see "About Aesthetic Realism" on the Aesthetic Realism Foundation Online website, which tells you more.

Eli Siegel —

In my paper on the subject of stuttering (see How My Stuttering Ended) I tell how Eli Siegel's philosophy Aesthetic Realism encourages self-expression. This large overall matter — expressing oneself and what interferes — is my theme. Where the economy is unjust, the fullest self-expression of many, many people is interfered with. I am for a just economy and say so, with colleagues of mine, in articles reprinted here.

"The Ordinary Doom" by Eli Siegel

In studying Aesthetic Realism, at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, the great interference in every person to expressing just who he or she is, is understood. When we don't know what keeps us from showing ourselves we have "The Ordinary Doom."

Sunday JUNE 12, 2:30pm
Special Event at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation:
A Dramatic Reading of Selections from GWE Young Man of New Guinea a novel against racism by Arnold Perey, PhD, Anthropologist, Aesthetic Realism Consultant
—with slides and music—

for announcement, click here

TERRAIN GALLERY 50th Anniversary Exnibition through September

Wed-Sat 1-5 pm
In 1955, the Terrain Gallery opened. I remember the New York art scene was filled with lively discussions about art. Beauty, it was felt, couldn't be defined. Courageously, Eli Siegel asked: Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites? Since 1955, the Terrain Gallery has had shows of many different styles of painting, sculpture, mixed media--with artists participating in discussions. These exhibitions have been of the highest calibre, showing that whatever style of art was popular, what Eli Siegel saw and explained about the meaning of beauty is true. He showed the value of art for our everyday lives--what happens technically on a canvas or in marble, is a means to know how we want to be.
Highlights from 50 Years at the Terrain Gallery

Aesthetic Realism Can Resolve the Confusion in Men about Warmth and Coolness—including in Love and Marriage


By Arnold Perey, PhD

Part 2

2. Warmth and Coolness in an Etching and Life

Unlike all the disciplines I looked into—without finding the self-knowledge I hoped for—Aesthetic Realism understands the human self, and central in that understanding is its showing how we see the world affects everything in our lives, including sex. In order to understand myself better, I brought an etching in to a class with Eli Siegel only days after beginning to study.

As he looked at it, Mr. Siegel, referring to the eye in the upper center, began to ask about the coolness and detachment that had confused me so much. "What you would like to do, is gaze at everything?"

     AP Yes.

     ES There is an eye here that seems rather uncomfortable and alone—it also seems to act as if it's the wisest thing going.

     AP That eye is being swallowed by the bird.

     ES I don't think this would be swallowed because you make that bird ineffectual....If I looked into the allegory, I would say the bird, being Arnold Perey, wanted to swallow his desire to be one-eyed Arnold Perey looking too composedly at things.

This was true.

Then Mr. Siegel asked, "You are against yourself for being just an observer, but you also don't like to participate?"

"Yes," I said.

And he pointed out the way to solve this is not to do away with being composed, or with observation, but to join those with the desire to be active, energetic—and have a good effect. Mr. Siegel said, "The eye, instead of simply looking, also wants to be somewhat more like these whirling globes." This oneness of observing and actively participating is good will—the encouraging of other people's lives, with the hope that they be stronger and more worthy of respect. This desire is true warmth, and because it is also exact, it has a right coolness, too.

3. Good Will Brings Cool and Warm Honestly Together, in Love

A man can change how he sees the world and women. My life, and my marriage to Barbara Allen, are witness to that. I learned that the purpose of love is not the ownership and conquest I was after, it is to use a woman to like the world with. I changed fundamentally as I learned what this means. I heard beautiful, tough criticism for my unjust and really brutal way of seeing— wanting to possess a woman, have her absorbed exclusively in me and not have a mind that ranges far and wide, comes to new knowledge; wanting to use her to complain about other people and have her soothe all my presumed hurts by monumental praise of my brilliance—and agreement with me in all matters.

In one class, early in my study, Mr. Siegel explained:

You have the feeling that you, in some way, have conquered the world because a woman is, in a silly fashion, solicitous towards you....[she] fixes the bandages with a little kiss.

And he also said:

You'd like to have a situation with a woman like that with your mother: you'd torment her, she'd forgive you, and life would go on.

Had this not changed I most assuredly would not have the marriage I am grateful to have now.

Shortly before Barbara and I married, I met Mr. Siegel as he was taking an evening walk. It was early spring and the sun, surrounded by glowing red clouds, was setting. Eastward the sky was blue. Mr. Siegel looked up and said—"My hope for you in your marriage is that you be like the sky—as cool as that blue (he pointed) and as passionate as that red."

I love him because my Aesthetic Realism education has made that emotion possible. The lack of bodily feeling in sex that troubled me so much, ended. This is a magnificent change for which I am unboundedly grateful. I love my wife, both body and mind, with a fulness and physical completeness that means so very much to me. I love her depth of thought—her desire to be just to the grandest and subtlest thought in history. I respect what has come from that desire: a new understanding of music and of the flute's capability to cause melting and stirring beauty as she plays it; and the way she teaches what she has learned to men, women, and children. And I am proud to be able to be close to her.  

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