Aesthetic Realism Consultation of Nancy Huntting
As a young woman of 27, I began, really, to understand myself through Aesthetic Realism consultations—and to be able to see other men and women much more deeply and accurately, including my parents.
I had a degree in English literature, had been an editorial assistant at Newsweek magazine, then an antique store owner, and was very pained about love. Through consultations, instead of being consumed by doubts about whether a man loved me enough and would continue to, I began to learn what love really was. I was freed to use my mind to see meaning and value in the world as I never had before—including in men.
Also, after years of scorn and fighting with my mother, we had new respect and kindness—could listen to each other, and begin to know each other. This means a very great deal to me. These central changes in my life began in this consultation.
The desire and the ability to understand people different from me, and to understand the world as such, came alive in me in a way it never would have otherwise, through the education I received in consultations.
The questions I was asked show a knowledge of humanity, literature, and art so respectful of the depths, possibilities, hopes all people have. That knowledge is Aesthetic Realism, and I know it is the comprehension women and men are thirsting for today. —Nancy Huntting
Consultants. What would you say you have most against yourself? Another way of thinking about it is, if you could change something in yourself, what would you like to change?
Huntting. I would like to change an attitude I have that I’m not able to do things.
Consultants. What kind of things?
Huntting. Just learning and doing something that will help me to learn; for instance, going back to school.
Consultants. Have you finished school?
Huntting. Yes. I have a BA.
Consultants. What was your field?
Huntting. English literature.
Consultants. Do you work?
Huntting. I have an antique store right now.
Consultants. From what you have said so far, do you feel there’s some way you would like to be more energetic about things?
Consultants. What do you think makes you not so energetic?
Huntting. I think part of it is a mental attitude that things sort of overwhelm me.
Consultants. What’s the big competition to interest in other things?
Huntting. A sense of insecurity.
Consultants. Do you think the big competition is interest in oneself?
Huntting. In a way. I feel I have a need, an emotional need for a man. The thing I’ve been most interested in is my pursuit of my relationship with a man.
Consultants. Is that true of other women?
Huntting. Possibly. I feel I have been sort of desperate about it.
Consultants. Have you achieved this pursuit or are you in process?
Huntting. I think I’ve achieved it.
Consultants. This means there’s a man you are involved with deeply?
Huntting. Yes. His name is Russell Cameron.
Consultants. Have you felt the pursuit was in some way too much?
Huntting. I felt it was too much, it was to the exclusion of everything else.
Consultants. Aesthetic Realism says that every person has an attitude to the world and the only way we can like ourselves is to like how we see the world. What would you say you thought of the world in general?
Huntting. I didn’t think of it in general.
Consultants. Is that already an opinion? If we feel something is worth thinking about, we think about it. You felt the world was not too worthy of your deep, constant consideration?
Huntting. I was mostly concerned with myself.
Consultants. What writer has stood out for you?
(NH mentions Thomas Hardy and Jude the Obscure.)
Consultants. What is in common in the novels of Thomas Hardy and what you have already told us about yourself? Is there in Thomas Hardy a very big sense of a person driven by something which they may not immediately see as proportionate? There’s a big sense of people affected by love in a way they don’t understand.
(NH is silent. There is a tendency to wait a long time before responding.)
Consultants. We know you are nervous, but do you think there’s something in you that prefers being in yourself rather than giving out and participation?
Huntting. Yes. I think I’m what’s called reserved.
Consultants. Do you think what you call being reserved has in it an attitude to the world?
Huntting. I think I’m kind of afraid of the world.
How Do We Come to Our Attitude to the World?
Consultants. How do you see [your fear of the world] as beginning?
Huntting. I think my parents were that way also.
Consultants. Do they live in New York?
Huntting. My father died a few years ago and my mother lives in Ohio.
Consultants. How do you see them?
Huntting. My mother suffered a great deal from sort of becoming a hermit. My brother was in a wheelchair and she stayed home and took care of him.
Consultants. Is your brother alive?
Huntting. No. He died when he was about 20.
Consultants. Do you think that from a pretty early age you felt that the world would hurt you some way?
Consultants. What did your father do?
Huntting. He was a manufacturer’s representative.
Consultants. Did you think either of your parents was sensible?
Huntting. I think I thought both of them were sensible when I was young and then I grew to have quite a bit of contempt for my mother. I always felt my father was very sensible. Only my mother and father separated and then I started to see he had some faults.
Consultants. What did you like in your father?
Huntting. He never got angry, never got terribly emotional like my mother.
Consultants. Did he make a fuss about you?
Huntting.. Not exactly but he was very kind and approving.
Consultants. Did you feel in some way your family was picked out for some kind of tragedy?
Huntting. I think my mother did, so maybe it was passed on to me, but I don’t feel that way now.
Consultants. Would you say your view of life as a whole is tragic or hopeful?
Consultants. Is that the way you appear?
(NH doesn’t answer.)
Consultants. Do you think you are that particular aesthetic mingling of hope and fear?
(NH doesn’t answer.)
Consultants. What have you been most afraid of?
Huntting. I’m afraid of appearing stupid.
Consultants. You think you make a better impression quiet?
The Desire to Like the World—Including in Love
Consultants. What do you think, if you have one, is your deepest desire?
Huntting. To learn.
Consultants. Aesthetic Realism says the deepest desire of every person is to like the world. Do you think that’s true?
Huntting. I think it’s a big desire in me.
Consultants. Do you know how large it is?
Huntting. Probably not.
Consultants. Do you think in pursuing a man that your purpose is to like the world?
Huntting. I don’t think it is.
Consultants. I disagree. Anytime a woman spots a man and says, This is for me–do you think through him she feels the world will be in such a way that she will like it? Do you think that in being interested in English literature your purpose is to like the world?
(NH doesn’t answer.)
Consultants. You indicated there might be some other desire that could be deeper. What’s the competition?
Huntting. I don’t know what my deepest desire is. To be happy.
Consultants. You said your deepest desire is to learn. Does that show a desire to have the world more of one?
Consultants. Do you think in some way you have used a man against what you felt you saw in your family? Did you feel that what went on at home was so confusing, there was a tendency to go to that which could seem more comforting? If we find something of reality that really looks good to us, we can decide that’s what we want to like and tell all the rest of the suffering world, Go your way. But according to Aesthetic Realism, we can’t like ourselves on that basis because it is too narrow, it doesn’t include enough. Would you like to make some relation between your desire to be close to a man and your family?
(NH doesn’t answer.)
Consultants. Do you think it’s a relevant question?
Huntting. I’m not sure how I can relate the two.
Consultants. What is it you are most worried about as to this man you are concerned with?
Huntting. I’m most worried about my relation to him because I feel he has a capacity for growing and learning and changing that’s greater than mine. I’m afraid that we are going to grow apart.
Consultants. What is his interest?
Huntting. He’s an architect. He’s a very active person.
Consultants. What’s your biggest criticism of him?
Huntting. That he’s selfish, but I’m not so sure that’s fair all the time.
Consultants. You can say that pretty fairly about any person. What’s his biggest criticism of you?
Consultants. Could he have the same awful criticism of you you have of him?
Huntting. I don’t think he sees me as selfish.
Consultants. Do you act like he’s the biggest thing in your life? Does he believe it?
Huntting. He doesn’t like it so much; he thinks it’s a burden. He would like me to be more involved in other things.
Consultants. What do you think he really thinks?
Huntting. I think in some ways it makes him happy that I depend on him.
Consultants. Is the dependence honest?
Huntting. In what way?
Consultants. You said your mother stayed at home and took care of your brother—did you feel her kind of total devotion was just as it should be? Do you think her interest in other things could have been more?
Huntting. Yes. I think she used it as an excuse.
Consultants. Did you feel there was some reason for that devotion which wasn’t wholly about him? Was there some need in her that came from something else? Do you think Mr. Cameron feels as you are devoted to him, he is such as he deserves that devotion? Does he feel there’s some need in you that doesn’t have too much to do with him? Is he suspicious?
Consultants. Is there some justification?
Consultants. Do you think if you liked the world more your care for a person would be more proportionate?
Consultants. As Mr. Cameron feels you like him very much do you think he feels what you felt about your father, that you don’t really know him? Could that make a man question in some way?
How Important Is the Desire to Know a Person?
Consultants. What do you think devotion is? Suppose someone were to devote himself to Nancy Huntting, what would that mean?
Huntting. Knowing me honestly?
Consultants. What would that mean?
Huntting. Being interested in me.
Consultants. In a way a consultation is a form of devotion. We devote ourselves to you and are trying to be fair to you. Do you think in order to know you we have to know all the things you have had to do with?
Consultants. We would want to know how you see everything. In order to know that we would have to want to know the meaning of all that. We would also want you to be as strong as you could be. So, true devotion is what Aesthetic Realism calls good will, the desire to have another person be as good as he could be and to know what that would mean and to encourage all the ways that could take place. Do you think in order to be devoted to Mr. Cameron you would have to know and be devoted to anything else?
(NH doesn’t answer.)
Consultants. Do you think we could know you unless we wanted to know people as such? Do you think you can know Mr. Cameron just by himself? Women make the big mistake of thinking they can know one person out of the universe and not have to know anyone else deeply. Mr. Siegel once said to me that I could never have a good effect on a man unless I could like the way I see women.
Consultants. Do you think all these various things you have mentioned are all in your mind?
Consultants. So, if they are one in your mind do you have to understand the relation of them better and if not, the chances are you will use one against the other. Do you think along with liking Mr. Cameron that he represents something of a safe harbor for you in this world?
Consultants. Do you think that’s somewhat in competition to wanting to really know him and relate him to other things in your life? Have you been very afraid that you would be left alone?
Consultants. What do you think that comes from?
Huntting. From my inability to like people in general.
Consultants. If a person has too much contempt for what’s outside of themselves could they get very lonely?
Consultants. Do you think you came to a picture of things that had too much contempt in it?
Huntting. I don’t think I would have seen it as contempt.
Consultants. We don’t, but it’s a means of separating ourselves from the world. Is it possible that went on with you?
Consultants. In your feeling your desire to be of a man was excessive, what do you feel was missing?
Huntting. There was a lack of interest in other things.
Consultants. Why do you think you felt bad about that?
Huntting. Because I felt it made me very narrow.
Consultants. Do you think you would have felt bad if the deepest thing in you were not to like the whole world? Do you think your feeling bad was a sign of what you really wanted?
Consultants. Do you think you have a whole world in you? Would you like to understand better the world you have in you and the world Mr. Cameron has in him?
Consultants. Do you know you look very sad?
Why Are We Afraid of People?
Consultants. Are you generally frightened?
Huntting. I think I’m generally frightened of people.
Consultants. Why do you think you are? We have been trying to have you see that you haven’t liked the way you see the world as a whole, and part of that is not liking the way you see people in it. And the thing you haven’t liked in yourself is a certain proclivity to think less of people. There has been a feeling of separation from the world, which has taken the form of what you call a “desperate” need to be close to one person. This is the outline of what you have been saying. When you are very close to one person you can continue a separation from the world.
Huntting. The thing I don’t really see is that my separation from the world is a result of contempt, I see it more as a fear and I don’t think those two are the same thing.
Consultants. Do you think there’s any relation between contempt and fear?
Huntting. There could be.
Consultants. Suppose reality has come to us pretty early in such a form that makes us feel we can’t like it, which means we have to arrange it or dismiss it. That’s a form of contempt. If one has dismissed the world too much, could one be afraid of the very thing one has retreated from?
Consultants. If there were a situation or a person you were fair to, would you feel afraid of that? Is there a greater chance of being afraid if one was unfair?
Consultants. Where do you think Mr. Cameron’s field of interest comments on what you need to see about yourself? Do you like architecture?
Consultants. What is the main thing in it?
Huntting. How space affects people.
Consultants. Do you like space?
Consultants. A principal thing is relation. Everything has to be in the right relation to everything else. How do you like relation?
Huntting. I think it’s very interesting.
Consultants. Do you think you need more of it and are also very afraid of it?
Consultants. This is what we are talking about. What do you think in you doesn’t like relation?
(NH doesn’t answer.)
Consultants. Do you think the world you are in is good enough for you?
Consultants. Is that a pretty big statement against relation? If you are in a world that’s not good enough for you, why bother? Have you come to that decision on a basis that’s complete?
Huntting. Probably not.
The Opposites in Antiques & a Mother
Consultants. Why do you think you like antiques?
Huntting. They have a quality of history, of people. There’s a lot to be learned about people from them.
Consultants. Do they present a world that’s more mellow and warmer than the one you are in?
Huntting. In some ways they do. It’s selective.
Consultants. There can be a quality that this has remained, which usually makes it less fearful than something else.
Consultants. Do you think antiques are a very beautiful instance of relation? Do you think that’s one of the reasons they are beautiful?
Consultants. What would be in it for you to be more related to things? We are not going to have to do with things unless we feel it will do us good.
Huntting. I feel it would do me good.
Huntting. That’s harder.
Consultants. If you felt it would do you good you would be in more relation to things.
Huntting. I think one part of me is very fearful of people and, on the other hand, I can feel hopeful about people.
Consultants. Would you say people are more like you than different?
Huntting. I think I have evidence of that but there’s still something in me that says they’re very different.
Consultants. Do you think every person you see during the day is trying to put opposites together?
Consultants. Do you think every person, Mr. Cameron, you, your mother, are faced with the very first big duality, which is how to make a one of themselves with what is not themselves, or the world? Do you feel you are a certain mingling of hope and fear?
Consultants. Can Mr. Cameron in his way have hope and fear?
Consultants. Do you think you are always trying to put together organization and something more abandoned or free? Do you think Mr. Cameron is trying to find the best relation in himself and in his world of organization and freedom?
Consultants. You don’t have to be aware of putting opposites together to do it. Do you think physically the body is trying to put outside and inside together the way it takes air? Does the body try to maintain a oneness of hardness and softness?
Consultants. Opposites are more basic to a person than blood because blood is based on them.
Consultants. Even cancer is a bad relation of freedom and order.
Consultants. Are there outstanding memories of people having a tragic view?
Huntting. My mother would speak about the various things that happened to our family and the feeling was that more had happened to our family than anyone else. She didn’t know very many people.
Consultants. Did you somewhat agree with her?
Consultants. At the same time, you thought she had a certain rather determined desire to be tragic?
Huntting. I think eventually it got to be that way.
Consultants. Is there a closeness between your mother and Thomas Hardy? He sees life as tragic and ironic. Has he seen enough where life can be hope-giving in a way that’s not taken back the next month?
Consultants. His novels are good, but his world view is not complete and he suffered in his own life from that. The way Wordsworth could write about a flower was something Hardy couldn’t do. The question is whether that’s accurate or not.
Consultants. Whose mother, of a literary figure, do you think yours is somewhat like? Do you know anything about the life of Nathaniel Hawthorne? His mother secluded herself in a house for about twenty years and she had a pretty tragic view of things. Could it do you some good to think of your mother in relation to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s mother?
Consultants. An assignment we will give you is. every day to write a sentence about something you liked that day. Along with that, write a sentence about something you were critical of or didn’t like. The purpose is to try in a fundamental way to make some relation of where you are for the world and where you are against it.
Consultants. When a person feels that the world is essentially bad, does he like himself for thinking that? If you are hopeless and you really think you are seeing truly and are pleased with yourself then one could say you are right, the world is bad. But do you think your mother liked herself for how she saw the world as tragic?
Consultants. If we say the world stinks and that’s not true, we will feel very bad about ourselves. Your feeling bad is a sign of the world’s being better than you thought it was.
Consultants. You should read “The Guilt Chapter” in Self and World, by Eli Siegel. Do you feel this consultation was useful?
Huntting. Yes. Thank you.