Is there a taken-for-granted feeling in people that life doesn’t have enough meaning? Why can a person so often feel separate from things and people? Learn about the cause—and how this way of seeing can really, authentically change. “We’re Related to Everything” is the thrilling, enormously kind new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by editor Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
We are serializing The Self Is, a great lecture of 1970 given by Eli Siegel. What is the self; what is its nature?—that seems to be a philosophic question, and of course it is. But it is also an immediate question, inseparable from the daily life and most intimate feelings of everyone. The rightness or wrongness of every choice we make depends on whether the choice is true to what the human self as such is, the self which has become so particularly our own. Just as we’ll sabotage our own body by eating something incompatible with how the human body is made, so we sabotage our own life by going after things that are not in keeping with the purpose and structure of our self.
Aesthetic Realism is the philosophy to explain that the human self is an aesthetic matter. That is, with all our diversity, the following principle is true about every one of us: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.” Fundamentally, inexorably, our self is a oneness of two opposites: individuality and relation. There is no one just like us—and yet we have to do with everything. And it is through all the other opposites in reality that we are related to every person and every thing. In Aesthetic Realism: Some Central Notions, Mr. Siegel explains:
A card is flexible and firm. We are flexible and firm, and we mean to do a better job as to the relation of these two adjectives….The structure of what thing cannot illuminate our own structure? Does not a sheet of paper in its wideness and narrowness bring some essential likeness to us, to ourselves? Is not a twig, on or off a branch, in its simplicity and complexity, continuity and discontinuity, an abstract and tangible presentation of what we are?… Separation and junction look to be one in ourselves. Separation and junction are likewise to be seen in the ridges of the walnut shell.
…Every thing, let alone every person, says something about us, explains ourselves….Education, principally, is the pleasant finding out of how things can help us know who we are as we see them.
I love that description. And Aesthetic Realism is great in showing that the terrible and everyday mistake of everyone, the ongoing falsification of ourselves, is our trying to use our particularity against our relatedness. This falsification is contempt, the going after an “addition to self through the lessening of something else.” >> Read more