Jeffrey Carduner, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
How much we hope to express ourselves—to have true expression! But is there a way we ourselves interfere with it? Does the way we see the world and other people determine how well we’ll express ourselves? And what do these questions have to do with poetry, and the need to see what poetry really is? The answers are in “Expression—the Real Thing—in Poetry & Life,” the thrilling new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
We begin to serialize a lecture Eli Siegel gave in 1972 on what I consider the greatest subject in the world: the showing by Aesthetic Realism of what poetry really is, what distinguishes a true poem from something else, and why this matters vitally. The lecture’s title is We Approach Poetry Variously. The basis of Aesthetic Realism itself is in it: the principle “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.”
As a prelude, I quote from Mr. Siegel’s 1964 essay “The Immediate Need for Poetry.” The essay is with the best criticism of the centuries—including that of Horace and Coleridge, Matthew Arnold and Boileau. Yet what he explains in it, in sentences that are beautiful, no critic before him saw. “Poetry,” he writes,
is a picture of reality at its truest, most useful. …It happens that our deepest desire is to make sense of the contrarieties in this world… [and] the forces in us. We want to move, and we want to be quiet; we want to assail and we want to be secluded; we want to be delighted, and we want to be self-satisfied; we want excitement and we want repose….And it is poetry that makes [these] jarring, separating propensities to act as one. [TRO 758]
Poetry, Eli Siegel showed, does what we want to do. And we’ll never see clearly what we want, or what it means to accomplish that, until we are seeing what poetry is—really is.
A Woman of Our Time
Included here is an article by Maureen Butler. As she describes herself of once, we see a person who is particular yet represents the tumult in each of us; a person trying to express herself, and at last, through Aesthetic Realism, finding out what that would mean—and how it can be. Ms. Butler is a technical writer, and this article is part of a paper she presented at a recent seminar titled “We Want to Feel Truly Expressed—but What in Us Interferes?” What interferes, Aesthetic Realism shows, is contempt, the most hurtful thing in us: the desire to get an “addition to self through the lessening of something else.” Contempt for the world is exactly that which poetry does not have.
Poetic Music, & an Example
Early in his lecture, Mr. Siegel speaks about poetic music. He is the critic who showed that when a person, through words, is deeply, widely, mightily just to what he or she is dealing with, a sound comes to be which has in it the structure of the world, the oneness of opposites. This music is the definitive thing in true poetry.
He mentions as an example “Pease Porridge Hot,” that seemingly non-mighty nursery rhyme; and he says it is great. So I’ll comment on it just a little.
Every person, including every child, can feel stuck, sodden, drearily languid; and pease porridge (a porridge made of peas) can stand for that feeling—especially if the porridge has been sitting around awhile. Even the sound of the phrase “pease porridge” has that unpleasantly runny-yet-thick, coagulating quality. But there is the rhythm! It puts soddenness in terrific motion. It makes the words simultaneously leap and stick. It makes the word “in” burst out. It makes the line “Nine days old,” with its sinking wretchedness, also rise in triumph….Read more