Nancy Huntting, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
“Ethics, Beauty, & the Civil War” has thrilling clarity about a crucial time in America’s history and its large meaning for our own time. And a contemporary American man writes with honesty (and humor) about a big fight in himself and everyone. Read this great, urgently needed new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
We continue to serialize the great lecture Poetry and Space, by Eli Siegel. And accompanying this third section is part of a paper by Aesthetic Realism consultant Bennett Cooperman, from the recent public seminar “A Man’s Big Question: Can I Be Strong and Kind at Once—and Do I Want to Be?”
We have come, in the lecture, to Mr. Siegel’s discussion of a poem that is also a famous Civil War song. He is reading it to show some of the feeling people have had about space, that tremendous thing in reality. Meanwhile, what he says very swiftly here about the Civil War and the racial injustice that has continued after it, is so vivid and deep, has such a oneness of perspective and passion, is so eloquent in its sincerity, that I want to comment on it. Though brief, it stands for how he always spoke and wrote on the subject.
Here, Mr. Siegel is speaking in August 1949. That is before the civil rights movement is generally seen as beginning.
I am grateful to have written about the Civil War in issues of this journal, with what I learned from Mr. Siegel as my basis. And during the 150th anniversary of the war (2011-15), the Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company presented, at labor union conferences in both the North and South, its great show The Civil War, Unions, & Our Lives! An Event of Song & Education. The Aesthetic Realism understanding of the Civil War—what it was about—is needed mightily by America today. And so I am going to quote some statements from that Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company event, and have them meet and continue what Mr. Siegel says in the 1949 lecture we’re serializing.
The Question Then—& Now
For example, the performers said:
Central to the Civil War was the question To whom should America belong—to all people or just some people? That question is raging in our nation now in another form.
The Company sang, magnificently, many songs, including “John Brown’s Body,” “Hold the Fort,” and “No More Auction Block for Me.” There was tremendous emotion in the audiences—and also clarity about this: Aesthetic Realism is the education that identifies the source of all injustice. The source is contempt, the feeling, I’ll take care of myself and be important by looking down on and lessening what’s different from me.… Read more.