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 3

4. A Young Man Learns Aesthetic Realism Today

I describe and comment now on the consultations of Daniel Venner. Born in Maine, where, he told us, "I went fishing, hunting, and had many good times," he also cared for the piano, the mountains of Maine, literature, and computers. After he graduated from college in New York, he began to work in the engineering department of a nonprofit organization, where he is valued for his terrific efficiency, his ability to be calm under pressure.

Mr. Venner had a large desire to care deeply for a woman, to be devoted to someone, but, he told us, he was ashamed of angers that seemed to explode out of nowhere, including towards women. He was at the point of leaving New York to see if somewhere else he would feel better—would "figure out what was causing me to feel I had this great void to fill. I ached for happiness," he wrote. [8-14-99] Then, he learned of Aesthetic Realism.

In his first consultation, he told us he wanted to change his "relation to people—and women especially." We saw a cheerful but serious looking young man with a warm smile, glad to be there, who said, factually, "I can feel a rage with people and then shut down—feel stifled and be unable to express myself."

When we asked which was greater--his temperature when he was angry and protecting himself, or his temperature about understanding a woman, he said wryly, "My temperature about understanding a woman wouldn't melt metal." He was in the midst of a man's confusion about coolness and warmth—a confusion that arises from contempt for the world, which he didn't know he had. From this contempt came that feeling of void he wrote of.

We asked him, "Which is more complicated, a woman or the electronic pathways of a computer network?"

     DV. The pathways. To me they are more unpredictable and unknown.

     Cons. That answer, Mr. Venner, shows lack of respect for the self of a woman.

Many men have felt that women were predictable: all they need to be happy is oneself. Dan Venner said women turned to him for understanding. "All my life," he said, I wanted to please women—show I care for them by adoring them—filling their needs at the moment." But there was another side: "If I don't get my adoration in return," he said, "I can get very angry." His previous relationships had failed, and now that he was seeing a woman he hoped to care for, Sharon Kelly, God, how he wanted to be different!

We saw that Dan Venner had a notion of warmth which was simply false. Ellen Reiss describes in The Right Of,

"Our egos define "warm" as "making us the most important thing in the world, the way our mothers perhaps did"; and anything that does not do that seems cold to us." [The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known , issue no. 1300]

This way of seeing began with Dan Venner's boyhood. "My aunt," he wrote, "was always doting on us and her place had fruit trees. Deer came to eat the apples in the fall. It was a wonderland." He felt his devotion was indispensable to her. When we asked why, he said:

     DV. I thought my aunt was missing affection from my uncle and wanted to make up for it with me.

     Cons. Do you think that you made it too easy? You thought what she was looking for from life was you?

What does a woman really want, what is real encouragement, real warmth? To be equipped to answer this question, a man has to become intelligent about the women we first knew—see their inner lives scientifically and artistically. We assigned Mr. Venner to write about his Aunt Tanya: What was she hoping for? Get within her feelings. What criticism did she have of herself? "I see now that I did not care to know her as she hoped," he said. "I looked more for how I affected her."

Daniel Venner had a true desire to be sweet, to be honestly warm—but this was right next to a feeling that he had to be on his guard. He would begin thinking suspiciously about a woman: "What is she up to???" and quickly get to what he called a "misty rage"—at the outset of which, he said, he often would "shut down." We asked if this meant he got to the repose of contempt: "Who cares what I feel—None of you matter—I'm somewhere else." And he said it did.

In one consultation he spoke about a quarrel he had with Sharon Kelly.

     DV. We made arrangements to go to a concert with our friends, but that day, Sharon came down with a bad cold and I had to cancel going out. Meanwhile, she felt well enough to go to work anyway. All I know is I started to get into a bad mood and somehow when she came home, I blew up at her.

      Cons. Let's look at this scientifically. Was there a certain structure of logic that led up to this anger, or is it like a thunderstorm that flies out of the sea onto the Maine coast?

      DV. That's what it feels like.

Mr. Venner told us he had stayed home from work that day to do domestic chores, so Sharon could rest when she got back from work. He cleaned the house, put the laundry in the wash, and waited—but he was saying to himself:

     DV. "This would have been a nice day to go out. But Sharon is sick. And look at what I have to clean! The laundry isn't even done yet—the dryer isn't working. When she gets home she'll probably just waltz out to the concert anyway, and I'll be stuck in the house with wet laundry, trying to get it dry for tomorrow."

      Cons. The cleaning, the laundry—and Sharon's cold ... were you looking to hate one thing after another?

      DV. Yes, I was

      Cons. Did you see them as in a conspiracy to get you?—Then you felt like a hero fighting against some big enemy?

      DV. Boy that's the feeling...it just builds and your adrenaline starts to get going!

      Cons. Do you think Sharon has enough goodness and sense to see what you are doing and appreciate it?

      DV. Yes I do. Thank you. I felt awful.

In The Right Of, Ellen Reiss describes what was going on in him, when she writes:

In our desire for contempt, we hope the outside world is cold, because a cold world is a world to which we, in our sensitivity, can feel superior. If things are truly warm to us, we will have to feel grateful to them! [TRO 1300]

"It really started to get clear in my mind," he told us in a later consultation—"that I have an attitude to the world!"

Dan Venner is changing, because the way he sees the world and the inner lives of women is changing. His colleagues at work have seen he only rarely gets into a "mood." He is studying the opposites in objects, and people, and has written about, for example, freedom and order in a musical composition; heaviness and lightness in an East Side building. The young man who felt, with desperation, that life was a void is coming to feel that the world itself is not the cold, inimical place he had once thought—that, in fact, it can be a warm, and unexpected friend. He and Sharon Kelly have been closer and their conversations are deeper.

My colleagues and I are proud to be part of this ongoing education—and that men like Daniel Venner are learning how to make sense of warmth and coolness in their lives: making them happier and kinder.
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