Jeffrey Carduner, Aesthetic Realism Consultant, writes:
Complaining is a big part of life. But is there some complaining that weakens us and some that strengthens us; some that has us like ourselves and some that has us despise ourselves? Is there a criterion for complaint? And what does it have to do with art, with poetry? You have a chance to read something central to—and thrilling about—yourself and art: it’s “Complaint and Beauty,” the magnificent new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
In his class of August 3, 1966, Eli Siegel spoke on complaint in poetry. And it is an honor to begin serializing that great lecture. In the opening section, published here, his text is a book he had been discussing for several weeks: The White Pony: An Anthology of Chinese Poetry, edited by Robert Payne. Now he is in the midst of looking at lines by one of the eminent poets of China: Chu Yuan, who lived from about 332 to about 296 bc. In some of Chu Yuan’s writing there is that huge thing in life, complaint, and as the lecture continues, Mr. Siegel will comment on poems by people who could seem quite unlike Chu Yuan but who also express complaint: for example, Emily Brontë, Lord Byron, John Milton.
What makes a good poem about complaint vastly and magnificently different from how we complain in life, is, Aesthetic Realism shows, urgently important for everyone. Eli Siegel is the critic who has explained the difference and why it matters so much—and I’ll say something about that later.
A Favorite Subject
Complaint is a favorite occupation in people’s lives. It may be expressed verbally, to another or to oneself in one’s own mind. It may take the form of a sigh, a groan, an expletive, a grimace. But complaint can go on from the moment one wakes up. It can take in scores of things: for instance, the traffic, and how somebody in the office looked at one—and also the feeling one isn’t loved enough, one doesn’t know enough, one is in a world that’s confusing.
Some complaint is beautiful. Every fight for justice began with complaint, and gave form to it….Read more