Nancy Huntting, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
“Truth—Why We Should Love It” is immensely needed—and thrilling to read. Our nation is now undergoing the horrendous effects of various persons’ hatred of truth. But why, so often, do people dislike truth, and twist or disregard the facts? And what can have humanity really love truth? The answers to these questions, with careful logic and great aesthetic criticism, are in “Truth—Why We Should Love It”—the exciting, urgent new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
We are publishing sections of a powerful, vivid, literary, immediate, exciting, urgently needed lecture that Eli Siegel gave in 1974: Truth & Beauty Have a Love Affair. The title is playful, yet it’s also a five-alarm matter. That’s because unless we feel that truth is beautiful, attractive, and to be honored and loved, we are in trouble.
America has been under siege by persons who—far from seeing truth as beautiful—have seen truth as something to hate, make unimportant, submerge, disfigure, and kill, because what is true didn’t go along with what they wanted. Americans have been seeing an attempt, on a massive scale, to turn lies into “truth” and impose them on a whole nation. And millions of people, rightly, find this onslaught against truth loathsome, and dangerous.
Yet few people have, in their own lives, loved truth. In the last issue, I quoted this definition by Eli Siegel: “Truth is the having of a thing as it is, in mind.” If what’s so about something—a fact, person, situation—seems to interfere with one’s comfort, with having one’s way, I’m afraid truth has been resented: there’s a terrific desire not to have that thing “as it is, in mind.” In everyday life, people have gone against truth in thousands of ways, beginning with such quiet dishonest assumptions as: a person who praises me is good; a person who doesn’t seem to like me is bad; things I’m not interested in are unimportant; people who seem different from me are not as valuable as I am.
The seeing of truth in terms of what makes us comfortable and important is basic contempt. Aesthetic Realism describes contempt as “the lessening of what is different from oneself as a means of self-increase as one sees it.” And this contemptuous way of dealing with truth is not only the source of much cruelty—it also makes oneself feel profoundly unsure, self-disgusted, agitated, empty.
Here we have a big reason humanity needs the knowledge of Aesthetic Realism—and that means, centrally, Aesthetic Realism’s understanding of poetry. We need to feel that going after truth, seeing what’s true, honoring what’s true, is not sacrificial, self-lessening, or dull—but is thrilling, self-enhancing, beautiful! The living evidence that it’s the latter, Aesthetic Realism explains, is in all real poetry. And this is what Mr. Siegel is showing in the present lecture.
The Result Is Music
Though John Keats said, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” people haven’t agreed. And Keats, I’m quite sure, could not give the basis for that important statement. The basis is in this description of poetry, by Eli Siegel: “Poetry…is the oneness of the permanent opposites in reality as seen by an individual.” Mr. Siegel explained that whatever the subject of a poem—from a passion to a grass blade, from death to a rose—the writer has been so deeply and widely fair to that thing, has seen it with such a union of accuracy and emotion, that how the world is made, what the world itself is, has been felt truly. And the result is music. We hear in the words-as-sound, and feel in the words-as-meaning, the oneness of opposites, which is reality itself….Read more