Nancy Huntting, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
The difference between these two is crucial to everyone’s life, yet not understood: “Individualism—True & False.” You’ll be surprised, relieved, thrilled by this great issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
The great essay by Eli Siegel published here explains something that has confused people enormously, usually without their even knowing it. This thing, seen rightly, has made for all the art, intelligence, justice, science in the world, and, seen wrongly, for cruelty, suffering, and stupidity—both in people’s particular lives and in world history.
“There Is Individualism” was written, I estimate, in the late 1950s. And in it Mr. Siegel explains what had not been explained before: there are two kinds of individualism, one true and one false; one good and one hurtful. He defines the difference with logic that is clear and in prose that is vivid, graceful, often thrilling. For now, I’ll say that the two kinds of individualism arise from what Aesthetic Realism shows to be the two big desires at war within everyone. That is: is our individualism, our sense of our own importance and distinction, based on contempt, the looking down on other things; or is it based on respect—on wanting to see reality with justice and fullness?
History & a Self
To illustrate the difference between two notions of individuality, I comment on an obituary that appeared last month in the New York Times. It has to do with something huge in world history; and while the person written of seems unusual, what went on in him has its likeness to what goes on in everyone. The Times account begins:
Hiroo Onoda, an Imperial Japanese Army officer who remained at his jungle post on an island in the Philippines for 29 years, refusing to believe that World War II was over,…returned to a hero’s welcome in…1974. Read more