Steven Weiner, Computer Specialist and Aesthetic Realism associate, writes:
Are there two ways of going after individuality—one that makes for real meaning and a true ease in our lives, and another that weakens us and makes us dislike ourselves? This urgent question is answered in “Care for Self: Relation vs. Contempt,” the current issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
We are serializing Eli Siegel’s great 1970 lecture The Self Is. And he is the person in the history of thought who has described truly what the self is, that self which is everyone’s own. In the talk he uses a collection of essays by a writer he respects: David Riesman. Yet Riesman did not see what Aesthetic Realism explains: the self is an aesthetic situation, a oneness of the opposites individuality and relation. Each of us is a point, particular, specific—and at the same time we are related to the whole world, from words to food to history to people on our block and on other continents. The way we come to be increasingly individual, who we are, is through welcoming our relation to what seems different. That is what education is about. It’s what love is about.
Eli Siegel is the philosopher who saw and described this. And he identified the thing in every person which weakens that person and is also the source of all cruelty. It is contempt, the making less of other things and people as a means of aggrandizing oneself. Though in having contempt we feel we’re making ourselves important, we’re actually stunting ourselves, making ourselves smaller, duller, emptier, unintelligent—because the way to be ourselves is through finding meaning in all that to which we’re related: the outside world.
In this issue we include part of a paper that Aesthetic Realism consultant Ernest DeFilippis presented last month at a public seminar. The topic was “A Man Wants to Be Comfortable, but Also Respect Himself: What’s the Solution?” As you’ll see, he’s speaking about the self, and the mistake we make about it.
What Is the Attraction?
Any moment in history can be used to study that false notion of self which is contempt. Our present moment can. And as I comment on something that has affected people intensely in the election campaigning these months, I’m not doing so “politically,” to advocate for or against a particular candidate. I’m doing so as a means of illustrating the self…. >>Read more