Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Aesthetic Realism Arts and Sciences Class given by Eli Siegel; Part 1 of a report by Lynette Abel

Here is Part one of an early class I reported on nearly 30 years ago.

"The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites." The Arts and Sciences class of June 13, 1975, exemplified this principle of Aesthetic Realism, when Eli Siegel showed the relation of music to love, to ethics, and to the world.

Continuing his consideration of Leonard Bernstein's book The Joy of Music, Mr. Siegel said, "I want people to really know what is meant by the opposites." Leonard Bernstein asks, why does music have such power over us and move us so deeply? Bernstein feels that one enters into a mystic or even magic area when the subject of music is broached. It has been felt generally that the effect music can have on a person is something which is unexplainable. Referring to music as being a combination of mathematics and magic, Bernstein writes, "We are still in our own day, faced with this magical block." People have not seen, what Aesthetic Realism shows, that the relation of opposites that make for beautiful music corresponds to the relation of opposites that make for a happy person.

In a discussion with Sharon Pickering, Mr. Siegel asked, "What happens when you change words to music? Which is more impersonal: speaking or singing?"

Sharon Pickering: I think singing is more impersonal.

Explained Mr. Siegel, "The large difference is that in singing, a person feels he is singing not just for himself. Mr. Siegel told an interesting anecdote of a person who stuttered when he spoke, but never did when he sang. "It is because when he sang, he felt the world was with him."

Continuing, Mr. Siegel stated: "Every object and situation can be seen in three ways corresponding to three ways of seeing the world: monistic, dualistic, and pluralistic. This picture of the world is precisely what is in music." To illustrate how a person is seen in these three ways, he explained, "when someone is walking tomorrow, he'll be tired or not tired but in the meantime he consists of many corpuscles." Every person is one, two, and many.

To show that people are coming to see that having two separate purposes is a large thing in marriage, Mr. Siegel read from an ad in the New York Times about a recently published book:

"Are you and your mate growing in your relationship? Do you have meaningful personal relationships outside your love relationship? Is your love free to pursue independent interests without your feeling resentful? Would you prefer your lover to be happy elsewhere rather than be with you?: If your answer is no to most of the questions, then you should read Love and Addiction by Stanton Peele."

Out of these questions, followed an important discussion with Adrianne French. Mr. Siegel asked her, "Are you and your mate growing in your relationship?

Adrianne French. I don't know.

Eli Siegel. There are two things that love can be judged by, 1) Am I getting to be a more complete person? 2) Do I respect myself more through how I see this person? The idea of growth is important. There are many persons having a good time through another person, but they aren't getting to be more themselves. This has caused persons so much agony.

Mr. Siegel then asked her, how is the word "growing" a flagrant example of opposites?

AF. I'm not sure.

ES. It changes to be more itself. Growing is motion that makes the thing more itself. One justification for Aesthetic Realism is that it encourages true growth in a person. Are you tired of growing?

AF. Yes.

ES. Every person has a terrific desire to be bored. Being bored is the same thing as trying to prove nothing has done one any good. To be bored is to be a conquerer.

The large thing to ask is, is Aesthetic Realism true," said Mr. Siegel. "Truth never runs out. Contempt has been the key to many a dreary door. My purpose is to extend your horizon and intensify your impression."

The names of persons in the class have been changed.

Check back for Part 2 of this moving, important class. In it, Mr. Siegel will discuss a chapter titled "What Became of the Man I Married," from the book Mrs. Success, A Report by Lois Wyse.

Until then,