Steven Weiner, Computer Specialist and Aesthetic Realism associate, writes:
What does it mean to see another person truly? And the imagination that makes for authentic poetry—what can it teach us that we need tremendously to know? Read about this, and about one of the best and kindest poems in American literature, in “The Kindness of True Imagination,” the new, exciting issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known!
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
Here is the conclusion of Imagination—It Gathers, by Eli Siegel, a 1971 lecture definitive about a matter central to art, and to everyone’s life. Mr. Siegel has been describing how imagination in art gathers, brings things together—and those things are not only objects and ideas, but the opposing qualities that make up the world itself. This is in keeping with the central principle of Aesthetic Realism: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.”
Eli Siegel is the critic who showed that there are two kinds of imagination, good and bad. And the distinction is: good imagination arises from the desire to respect the world; bad, from the desire to have contempt for it.
In the final section of this talk, he is in the midst of discussing poems from the most famous of English anthologies, Palgrave’s Golden Treasury. He also reads, as representing gathering, two early poems of his own. And since he does not discuss those, it is my pleasure to comment on them now.
A Person & the World
Eli Siegel wrote “Let Fat Men, in Plush Coats, Do as They Please a Little” in, I believe, 1926. It tells about a person who could be seen narrowly—a fat man in a plush coat, who owns a factory and has a lot of money. But he is seen here as inseparably related to the assertive, limitless outside world, represented by January weather. He is seen too as having a world within himself, including thoughts that trouble him.
The way of seeing people that is in this poem is fundamental to Aesthetic Realism: We all have to do with everything. The world, Mr. Siegel said, is “the other half of ourselves.” And our character, who we are, depends on how justly—how deeply, widely, fairly—we see that outside world.
I love this poem, and consider it one of the great poems of America. The reason it is great is its music, which arises from the honesty and might of what is said—from how the writer’s imagination gathered…. Read more