Jeffrey Carduner, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known has brought honest, vibrant new seeing to the world—including in these months as America is in the midst of so much. The latest issue, “What America Is Hoping For,” has in it what people desperately need to know in order to comprehend ourselves and each other, to end prejudice and racism, to have democracy itself thrive! You’ll be thrilled to read this urgently practical and beautiful new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
Here is part 2 of the important 1975 lecture What Was Going On, by Eli Siegel, one in his landmark Goodbye Profit System series. In those talks he showed—with rich, vivid, wide-ranging evidence from history and human life:
There will be no economic recovery in the world until economics itself, the making of money, the having of jobs, becomes ethical; is based on good will rather than on the ill will which has been predominant for centuries.
Now it is many decades later. Over these years, Americans have been told often that we’ll soon be in, or are in, or just slipped out of, an “economic recovery.” But anyone can see that the economy has not recovered. There has been, since the 1970s, that ever-increasing terrible division: fewer and fewer persons own the vast proportion of our nation’s wealth; more and more live in poverty. People who call themselves middle class are in lines at food banks to get nourishment for themselves and their children. (And that was so before the coronavirus pandemic.)
In recent issues of this journal, I’ve written a good deal about the atmosphere and happenings in America these days, and the feelings of people. In this issue I’ll comment on five paragraphs by Eli Siegel, from the preface to his second book of poetry, Hail, American Development. They are about America, what she deeply is and how we should see her. These paragraphs can seem, and are, philosophic; yet they have in them how Americans must see ourselves and each other and our nation if America is to be herself and true to herself, and if democracy is to be safe in this land—and real, and complete. They are the opening paragraphs of the preface. And their basis is this 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.”
The First Paragraph
The first paragraph is one sentence. It is a great sentence, in its surprise and quietude:
If the sameness and difference of America were to become musical, it would be poetry.
Eli Siegel loved America. He saw its oneness of sameness and difference as magnificent, and as embodying ethics. America has perhaps more geographic differences than any other nation, with (for example) its soaring mountains and flat plains; its southern heat, and its ice and snows; its rivers, both slow and speedy, and its desert land; and the often wild crashing of two oceans onto beaches of smooth sand. These are things so different from each other. Yet they’re of the same country, and can be felt as calling to each other, saying: “We’re not only different; we’re of each other, akin.”
A big part of the aesthetics of America, her oneness of sameness and difference, is her people. It’s still true that people of more different backgrounds constitute the United States than make up any other country. This fact is beautiful, though persons’ conceit has kept them from liking that beauty.
We need to see what the sameness-and-difference makeup of America means, and why it matters so much. All art, Aesthetic Realism shows, is sameness and difference felt as one thing. Every shape in a painting is just itself, particular; yet if the painting is art, these different shapes say to each other, “I am like you too, inseparable from you, as I am just me.” That occurs in a good poem. Every phrase, idea, word, while having a rightness as itself, joins with, is inseparable from, the other phrases, ideas, words. And through this inseparable difference-and-likeness, the poem is alive: it has music….Read more