“Is there a fight between contempt and respect in every person? How is it shown in ordinary ways? And how can we be better? Read an important commentary by Ellen Reiss and two great essays by Eli Siegel in “How Everyday! How Big!,” the current issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by editor Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
Here are two essays by Eli Siegel, written, it appears, in the 1960s. Both have to do with what Aesthetic Realism shows is the fight within every human being: between the desire to have contempt for the world and the desire to respect it. Part of the greatness of Aesthetic Realism is that it has described this fight in all its massiveness and nuance, and shown it to be the ongoing, principal battle all through history and in the daily life of everyone.
Both contenders in this mightiest and most everyday battle do things with the opposites of self and world. The desire to respect the world is the feeling that in trying to be just to something else we take care of ourselves. From that desire come all art, science, intelligence, and real love. Contempt, however, is the use of a seeming care for self against justice to outside things. Mr. Siegel defined it as “the addition to self through the lessening of something else,” and he showed that contempt is the ugly, cruel principle within humanity. From it has come every horror, including war, racism, all economic exploitation.…Read more