Jeffrey Carduner, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
In “The Self—of Any Age & Time” are answers to deep, important questions every person has: How can I like myself? How can I be my authentic self? You will meet great, exciting, logical knowledge about these urgent questions—and also a beautiful comprehension of children—in the latest issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
Here is part 3 of the stirring, educating, vivid, imaginative, scholarly, often humorous, immensely serious yet delightful lecture The Renaissance Shows Self, which Eli Siegel gave in 1970. The philosophy he founded, Aesthetic Realism, has in it the true understanding of the human self—knowledge philosophers have sought and that every person, longing to make sense of his or her own self, has thirsted for.
Mr. Siegel showed that our dear and puzzling self is an aesthetic matter: our great need is to put opposites together—and notably the constant opposites of self and world. He wrote in 1942:
There is a…duality facing every human being, which can be put this way: How is he to be entirely himself, and yet be fair to that world which he does not see as himself? [Self and World, p. 91]
However unaware of it we are, our deepest need—to take care of our own self and simultaneously be fair to all that’s not us—is insistent in everything we do. Even as we may be untrue to it, that insisting aesthetic need is present whether we’re kissing or voting, learning or arguing, whether we’re by ourselves or in a crowd.
In this lecture, Mr. Siegel is discussing poems from the book English Renaissance Poetry, edited by John Williams. Williams sees the English Renaissance as present from about the start of the 16th century through the early years of the 17th. And Mr. Siegel speaks of the selected poems in terms of what they show about the ways of the human self—about people’s confusions, hopes, tumults.
A Little Girl Is a Self
As a prelude to this section of the lecture, I’ll comment on poems by Mr. Siegel himself. But first I’m going to quote from an Aesthetic Realism lesson he gave, at which I was present with my parents when I was six years old. I am looking at the handwritten notes of that lesson, taken by my mother, Irene Reiss, so many decades ago. And I see that in them is the matter of what the self is: the fact that it needs to make opposites one—care for oneself and justice to what’s not oneself. A girl of six is a self. And the self that each of us was at six is present in our self of now.
Mr. Siegel spoke to me about my grandmother—whom I disliked because she was quite ill-natured. She was part of “that world which [I did] not see as [my]self.” And Mr. Siegel was showing me that I would be really myself through trying to be fair to her. This being fair did not mean glossing over what was not good, or simply giving hugs. It meant wanting to understand her, seeing her as having feelings—feelings as real as my own….Read more