Jeffrey Carduner, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
You will love reading “Now & Always—How Should We See the World?” It has what is most necessary for all of us to know at this time. There are principles that are permanently, beautifully true and so kind while being about what we’re going through right now. It has the magnificent and moving “Liking the World Story”—knowledge everyone desperately needs. And you’ll read about a great woman of French literature, who can encourage us with her passionate and orderly prose. Read this new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
The two subjects of our previous issue continue here. You can read the final section of Eli Siegel’s truly great 1964 lecture Instinct & Madame de Sévigné. And also, in the midst of a terrible pandemic, as millions of people feel anxious, low, depressed, worried not only about health but about their emotions and thoughts—I’ll continue to comment on what does it mean to think about COVID-19 “in a way that strengthens our minds and feelings and makes us proud”?
In our last issue, I quoted a question asked by Eli Siegel. It is central to everyone’s life at any time—intensely so at the present frightening time:
Is this true: No matter how much of a case one has against the world—its unkindness, its disorder, its ugliness, its meaninglessness—one has to do all one can to like it, or one will weaken oneself?
Yes—I have seen through much study—it is true. And in issue 2028 I began to write about ways that this terrible virus can and needs to be used to like the world: to like—not, certainly, the virus itself—but the world, the world from which all flowers, great literature, good songs, true science, delightful food, courageous deeds, friendly smiles also come.
Do People Welcome Contempt?
In every human being, Aesthetic Realism explains, there is a fight going on between two big desires: to value the world, find vivid good meaning in it, versus the desire to have contempt, to feel we’re more if we can lessen and look down on what’s not us. The desire to have contempt is the most dangerous thing in everyone. People go for it every day; but at a time of worry, the temptation to have contempt for the world is gigantic. So humanity needs to learn what contempt—the opponent of respect for the world—is.
Aesthetic Realism has shown that contempt is the thing in self from which all cruelty comes. For instance, racism arises from contempt, and embodies it: racism is the looking down on a person who seems different so as to make oneself superior.
Further: lying, including by someone in high office, is sheer contempt for the world, its facts, and the people to whom the lie is told.
Contempt is in the hideous and preposterous feeling that the world with its wealth should belong mainly to a few people, not all.
Contempt is also the feeling—so ordinary—that other persons’ lives and emotions are not as real as our own. During a health crisis, this feeling can come to be the not caring whether people—patients or healthcare workers—have the equipment they need. “As soon as you have contempt,” wrote Eli Siegel, “as soon as you don’t want to see another person as having the fullness that you have, you can rob that person, hurt that person, kill that person.”
Contempt, while the source of all injustice, is also that in oneself which hurts one’s own mind. Yes, the world has the fearsome, the terrible; but the world is much more than these. And the contempt in us wants to exploit what’s bad in order to give ourselves a miserable superiority. When we use something bad to feel, however unconsciously, “I’m in a world not good enough for me, and therefore I can diminish—not welcome and make vivid—the value of people and things,” we feel anxious and depressed….Read more