Friday, July 14, 2006

Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, writes against racism

Ellen Reiss, in addition to teaching the Aesthetic Realism Explanation of Poetry Class, teaches classes attended by Aesthetic Realism consultants and associates, including myself. To be an Aesthetic Realism consultant requires the highest ethical standards. The consultants who taught me in consultations gave many examples of what they had learned and questions they had been asked by Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism. For instance, they asked: "Do you grant to other people the depths you give yourself?" "Are your students good enough for you to really think about? Wouldn't you rather be working on your novel?" (I had told them I was interested in writing) and "Don't you think other people have a lot of nerve not being you?!" These questions and hundreds of others, while not specifically about how I saw people of other racial backgrounds, set the groundwork for seeing everyone I met more fairly. As I changed, including by seeing where I had been unfair, I became more passionate about fighting injustice everywhere, including racial prejudice.

When I studied in consultations I learned how to see my friends, family, situations at work and at home with more justice--and I learned how to see myself with more perspective and more critically. Ellen Reiss puts into practice the ethics asked for by Aesthetic Realism in every class I have ever attended.

This includes her understanding, through the principles of Aesthetic Realism, 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:
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?

One of my favourite links is to syndicated columnist Alice Bernstein. Her writing against racism has Aesthetic Realism as its basis.

Injustice can certainly 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. And she shows the immediate relevance of this mis-seeing to our own lives and time.

Read Ms. 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.

See the amazing essay of art criticism, Simplicity and Complexity: Roy Lichtenstein's “Stepping Out” (scroll down). Also read articles about the opposites of Comfort and Justice, Coldness and Warmth, in a man's life, at union offical and Aesthetic Realism associate Steve Weiner's webblog--plus the essay "The Pleasure and Perils of Conceit."

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.