Steven Weiner, Computer Specialist and Aesthetic Realism associate, writes:
We all know that complaining and seeking consolation go on a great deal among people. But are there two different kinds of complaint? Also, two different kinds of consolation? And does one kind strengthen us, and the other kind weaken us? What’s the criterion for good or bad complaint—and for good or bad consolation? And does it have centrally to do with art? These questions, vital for everyone, are answered in “Complaint, Consolation, & Art,” the current issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
We continue to serialize the wonderful lecture that Eli Siegel gave on August 3, 1966, about complaint in poetry. What is in it, every person needs mightily, even urgently, to know.
People see their inner complaints—their dissatisfactions, their feelings of injury, of having been let down—as ever so personal, intimate, just-their-own. Yet Aesthetic Realism shows that each of us has to do, all the time, with the whole world: the world of happenings, facts, things, history. And we need to try to see our own feelings as related to other people’s feelings, as related to a world of feelings. If we don’t, we will be wrong about ourselves. Our thought about what goes on in us will be narrow, inaccurate, deeply ugly. And that is what usually happens.
But in this lecture, we see that complaint—so intimate to ourselves—is a SUBJECT It is about many things, has many aspects and qualities, takes in centuries. For example, at the start of the class Mr. Siegel spoke about poems by the Chinese poet Chu Yuan (c. 332-296 bc). Next, in the section printed here, he speaks about Thomas Wyatt (1503-42) and Emily Brontë (1818-48). How different these three people are—yet poems by each of them have complaint. As we see this, we see ourselves and humanity newly.
There is the all-important fact that the complaint being looked at is in poems. They contain that way of seeing something which is the art way: the object (here, a complaint) is seen with such fullness, accuracy, relation, that there is form; there is music. These poems are described by the principle at the basis of Aesthetic Realism: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.” For example, the Emily Brontë poem, as both statement and sound, is a oneness of truculence and tenderness. It is a oneness of pride and humility. And we hear—together—the Brontë assertion of her individual self, and deep wonder about the world… Read more..