“Our Self: Known & Unknown”
Number 1989. October 3, 2018
Dear Unknown Friends:
It is an honor to publish here, in a condensed form, a vitally important, sheerly logical, beautifully remarkable lecture by Eli Siegel. He gave it on June 24, 1966, as part of a series on mental health. Our concise version of the talk can be titled What Impels Us—& Should We Want to Know It?
This lecture of 1966 was about the human mind of every year, and it was also topical, about events of then. Today it is about our minds—and about some of the largest matters in America right now.
Mr. Siegel speaks about the unconscious: what it truly is. And it is not the thing Freud described—lurking, darksome, shabby, lurid, and rather lewd. For much of the 20th century, Freud’s presentation of the unconscious both impressed people and had them feel that the depths of self were creepy and ignoble. The big thing, though, is that the Freudian “unconscious” was untrue: it did not correspond to what exists.
In his book Self and World, Eli Siegel explains, “The unconscious is, most deeply, what we want which we don’t know we want” (p. 112). He gives two related definitions in the present lecture. And he shows that the unconscious is an aesthetic matter, in keeping with this principle: “The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites.” Our consciousness and unconscious are forms of the known and unknown, clearness and mystery, that are in the world as such.
And Aesthetic Realism describes the central matter in the unconscious: it is “the fight between respect for reality and contempt for reality” (TRO 151). In the lecture published here, Mr. Siegel is showing how a fundamental form of contempt, so much in the personal lives of people, can also have a national meaning and hurtfulness….Read more
The Right Of is edited by Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, who is author of its commentaries.