Jeffrey Carduner, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known has been, since its beginning, on the leading edge, the front lines, of telling the truth, standing up for truth. This issue, “The Appeal of Lies & the Grandeur of Truth,” explains not only why people may lie—but why others want to believe those lies. It explains this through (for instance) a very surprising story about love—a story that’s a means of understanding what America is in the midst of now. You have a moving and honestly enlightening experience in store for you as you read “The Appeal of Lies & the Grandeur of Truth,” the magnificent new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
Here is the first part of the magnificent lecture Truth & Beauty Have a Love Affair, which Eli Siegel gave in 1974. As we read it we are in the midst of philosophy, excitingly and strictly. We’re in the midst of what art and science are. We’re also learning about the intimate, hoping life of everyone.
How we see truth is the biggest thing in our lives. And truth versus lies, lies versus truth, is also a blazing national matter. Throughout the centuries, lying has certainly been much present in politics. People have joked about it, and been disgusted by it. But in recent years and months there is something that feels, sickeningly, new: the gigantic and continuous falsification, the blatant and multitudinous dishonesty, the fabrications one after another, issued from high places.
I’ve written in some recent issues about matters America is in the midst of. Here, I’ll comment on this fact: Aesthetic Realism explains, as nothing else can, what a lie comes from in the person who tells it, and also what a lie appeals to in others—why there can be a huge readiness to “believe” a lie.
Truth vs. Contempt
In his Definitions, and Comment, Eli Siegel defines truth as “the having of a thing as it is, in mind.” Truth is always a oneness of the two biggest opposites in everyone’s life: self and world. It is always a self’s seeing justly some aspect of the world-not-oneself, making that world-thing one with oneself, having it “as it is, in mind.” All the trouble about truth arises from that in us which Aesthetic Realism shows is everyone’s constant danger: contempt, “the lessening of what is different from oneself as a means of self-increase as one sees it.”
Contempt sees everything—man, woman, happening, fact—not in terms of what is this? what is so about it? but in terms of what will make me important? what will make me comfortable? what will give me my way? “The first victory of contempt,” Mr. Siegel writes, has been people’s feeling “that they had the right to see other people and other objects in a way that seemed to go with comfort” (Self and World, p. 3). That is what impels any person, from child to politician, to tell a lie or go along with one—the feeling that what matters most is what will make me comfortable, important, superior. In fact, as Mr. Siegel describes in the lecture we’re serializing, there’s a desire in people to feel, What soothes me and aggrandizes me constitutes truth. That equation can run a life. And sometimes it has run a nation.
We need to see what lying and the welcoming of lies comes from in order to have truth really win. And in order to love truth, we need to see that it, truth itself—“the having of a thing as it is, in mind”—is what makes us important, gives us individuality, ease, and self-expression. The evidence, Aesthetic Realism shows, is in every instance of authentic art.
Two big fields in which people have welcomed lies are politics and love. I’ll comment a little in relation to the second field. My comment is in the form of a story. And of course, if one wants to take what’s said of the protagonist and apply it to another field of life, one is free to do so…. Read more