Saturday, November 12, 2005

Here is a letter I wrote which was published yesterday -- Veterans Day -- in the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, New York:

Combating racism

"I applaud the community of Kingston for resisting attempts to stir up racism there ("Fanning the flames," Oct. 29). As a high school teacher myself, I want parents, teachers, superintendents, community leaders and anyone involved with young people to know that the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method combats racism, encouraging students to respect each other as well as people they've never met, and this happens as they learn the facts about science, English, mathematics and social studies. Eli Siegel, founder of Aesthetic Realism, explained that racism doesn't begin with how we see another person; it begins with how we see the world itself. A young person (or an older person) who sees the world as an enemy is not likely to be kindly disposed to a person who looks different and represents that world. That is why it is crucial for teachers to do all we can to present the world, through each subject, as truly likable, showing them that there is indeed sense, order, beauty, in reality."

Christopher Balchin
Co-author, "Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism"
Yankee Lake

More about Aesthetic Realism:
Ellen Reiss, in addition to teaching the Aesthetic Realism Explanation of Poetry Class, teaches classes attended by Aesthetic Realism consultants and associates, including myself. I have seen and marveled at her unfailing desire to understand every person and every situation. For instance, look at the class in which she discussed a newspaper article about what is known as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). She said, "The question is whether this trouble of a child—trouble keeping his attention on a thing, which may be joined by a desire to race around—comes from a way of seeing the whole world. Is there a fight about the world in this child? Whether you're seventy-nine or a boy of four, you have an attitude to the whole world." There was such respect for the mind of a child, as Barbara McClung and Lauren Phillips describe in their account of the class. Read more here.

Ellen Reiss has also been commenting, using the principles of Aesthetic Realism, on the upsurge of racism in these years. To see more about this, read the article by Alice Bernstein. Also, in Racism Can End Ellen Reiss writes about about how a way of seeing the world affects a person's way of seeing someone whose culture or ethnic background is different from one's own. What could be more important for people to understand in today's world?

Some of my favourite links are the following:
Read Ellen Reiss's critical observations about the poetry of Robert Burns (one of my favourite poets). She shows how relevant what Burns was writing about 200 years ago is to what is going on today. His poetry has the terrifically just way of seeing people that is needed by government leaders and every one of us.
Aesthetic Realism explains that in order to really respect any person, whether someone of another culture or your own husband or wife, is to see that person as representing nothing less than the world itself. How can we see a person that way? Look at Eli Siegel's Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites? Ask yourself, does this person have opposites? Do they have every one of these fifteen pairs? (And more besides?) Is he/she trying to make sense of how they have these opposites?

Injustice can be based on race, but it can also be based simply on seeing another person's way of meeting the world as different from one's own, and therefore less valuable. And about this, a person can be monumentally wrong. A classic instance of this in literary history is taken up by Ellen Reiss in relation to the great poet John Keats. She also shows the immediate relevance of this mis-seeing to our own lives and time.

One of my favourite links is to columnist and civil rights advocate Alice Bernstein. (See her article above) Her writing against racism has Aesthetic Realism as its basis. To see what Aesthetic Realism is--and what it is not--see the website devoted to accuracy, honesty, justice--the plain truth!: Countering the Lies.

The Aesthetic Realism Online Library has poems, lectures, reviews, essays, and selections from other major works by Eli Siegel. There are also articles in the press and media about the founder of Aesthetic Realism.

Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology is the website of celebrated cultural anthropologist and novelist Arnold Perey, PhD.

At Aesthetic Realism Resources there are articles on many subjects that concern people today such as love, self-expression, current events, economics, the arts, racism and much, much more.

The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known is the international periodical read by everyone who wants to understand what is going on in America today. Edited by Ellen Reiss, The Right Of serialises lectures by Eli Siegel and shows how they comment on current events such as the unprecedented growth of personal debt as well as our own questions and hopes as individuals.

See photographs with moving commentary and technical insight at Len Bernstein: Photographic Education Based on the Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel

Important writings on economics, history, the questions of women, art, literature and more can be seen at Lynette Abel: Aesthetic Realism and Life.

The website of Aesthetic Realism Consultant Miriam Mondlin is here: Aesthetic Realism Encourages Self-ExpressionFor teachers especially, we suggest you get to know the work of noted educators Rosemary Plumstead and Donita Ellison. They are two of the finest teachers we've ever known.

To find out what is true about the kind, intellectually-rigorous philosophy that is Aesthetic Realism go to this website which sets the record straight and has, for the public record, the assessment of dozens of noted critics, poets, cultural icons, social scientists, civil rights leaders, artists, teachers, and more, and more: Friends of Aesthetic Realism--Countering the Lies

Find out more about Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism.

Click here to see other important links

See the website of myself and Ann Richards: Aesthetic Realism & Our Lives