Saturday, September 20, 2008

Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method

This week's issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known is about education. The understanding of children and of the subject of education here is new, kind, very hopeful, and true. It is completely anti-prejudice.
In it, editor Ellen Reiss writes:
"Aesthetic Realism explains that the purpose of education is “to like the world through knowing it.” And the fundamental interference with learning, the thing that has a child not want to learn, or be unable to, is a dislike of the world which has gone deep in that child. Eli Siegel has described the world as all “that begins where our finger tips end.”

I see this as true about every child I've ever taught; and as true about myself of once. As a child I had difficulty with chemistry, advanced mathematics; and I even had trouble remembering facts about history on a test I had "aced" just the previous day. My accuity did not go deep because with all my brightness and high scores on tests, I had a dislike of the world as such.

There is so much more in this journal. It is light years ahead of anything I learned in teachers' college. It should be the basis of every class for teachers. For instance, Ms. Reiss writes:
"Take a boy of 8, whom we can call Marcus. In his short life he has come to feel that what's-not-himself will likely hurt him, is something he should be suspicious of and hide from or try to fool. Then Marcus is in a classroom, and every subject presented to him is an aspect of that outside world. Arithmetic is that world taking the form of numbers. History, plainly, is about the world—the world as past. Letters and books were created by strangers—they're ambassadors of that wide external reality.
"Though Marcus hasn't made the decision consciously, he has made it deep within: he doesn't want the representatives of a disliked, distrusted universe to get inside him, lodge within his mind. Therefore he has a “learning difficulty.”

One more quotation from the commentary:
". . . persons who speak about improving education in America but aren't interested in having every child own justly the wealth of America, are hypocrites."

As a teacher for over twenty-five years -- of which most of that has been teaching in the inner-city, I saw "Thank you, Ellen Reiss. This is the education America needs."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rock 'n' Roll, in its technique, opposes racism

I've just had the honour to take part in the greatest tribute to Rock 'n' Roll that I know of. It is "Rock 'n' Roll, the Opposites, & Our Greatest Hopes -- A Celebration!"

With songs from 1954 up to this very millennium, we present what Aesthetic Realism explains; that all art is for justice, for life, and against cruelty.

Eli Siegel, founder of Aesthetic Realism, gave a lesson in the 1960's to a rock musician, and in it he explained the meaning and purpose of rock 'n' roll. A person's private, often painful, thoughts are made public, made into a rip-roaring celebration of organised (and often wild!) sound. A purpose of rock 'n' roll, he said, is to shatter what he called "The Ordinary Doom" -- the feeling in every person that what we feel to ourselves will never be known.

This presentation shows that rock 'n' roll by its very nature is ethical. Singers and instruments join with each other, add to each other's meaning -- they don't diminish each other, even when they conflict; the purpose is to bring out meaning, to show this is a world with a structure that makes sense. This is so different from what happens in racism, where one person builds himself/herself up falsely by making less of another.

Do not miss our next performance: Sunday, September 28, at 2:30 pm. Call ahead for reservations to be sure of a seat: 212 777 4490.

For more on how Aesthetic Realism sees the great subject of Rock 'n' Roll, see:
Ellen Reiss on the meaning of music, including the Rolling Stones
Kevin Fennell on the life and art of Elvis Presley
My article on The Beatles' "She Loves You"
The Opposites in Music class taught by Barbara Allen, Anne Fielding, and Edward Green

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known

The current issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, which is titled "People, Literature, & Evolution" includes another section of Eli Siegel's magnificent lecture, "Poetry Is of Man." There is also a very funny, very ethical essay by Carol McCluer, actress and writer.

Every section of this journal opposes racism. For instance, the opening commentary by the editor, Ellen Reiss, takes three famous characters from literature and shows how each is described as aesthetic; that, I have learned, is what every good novelist does.

"The one effective opponent to the having of contempt for people," Ms. Reiss explains, "is aesthetics. It is to see that reality's opposites—such as rest and motion, high and low, mystery and everydayness, hope and fear, wildness and containment, complexity and simplicity, history and the moment—are richly, vibrantly, inevitably in every person we may meet or hear of, from our uncle, to a stranger on the street, to a person with a different skin tone a continent away."

Isn't that fine?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Eli Siegel, Ellen Reiss, and "Poetry Is of Man"

There is a recent issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known titled titled "Humanity: One and Many." It begins the serialization of Eli Siegel's landmark lecture Poetry Is of Man. This lecture is a gold mine for history teachers such as myself. Eli Siegel shows the poetry, the aesthetics, of the development of man. This lecture, together with the companion editorial writing by Ellen Reiss, is one of the most anti-racism texts I know. It is a true, scientific, joyous celebration of the existence of people in all our diversity and deep unity.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Justice, Beauty, & Our Lives

"All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves." -- Eli Siegel

I have studied this principle of Aesthetic Realism for more than twenty-five years. I've learned how it's true about a song by Billy Joel; about Shakespeare's immortal play Hamlet; about the hills, trees, and hedgerows of Kent, in England, where I was born; about the monuments of Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn where I live now -- and about me. (See "Aesthetic Realism Is True")

This principle explains not only what beauty is and why it stirs us, but also the greatest opposition to racism. Justice is indivisible, according to Aesthetic Realism. It's not only a social goal or campaign, but it begins in the thoughts of every person, with how we see the world not us, including people.

How can you learn more? Find out at the following events:

Aesthetic Realism seminars for July and August

-- On JULY 10

Speakers: Meryl Nietsch-Cooperman, Ann Richards, Devorah Tarrow

-- On AUGUST 7
Speakers: Avi Gvili, Matthew D'Amico, Bruce Blaustein

Saturday night presentations

-- On JULY 19
What Does It Mean to Be True to Oneself?
On Eugene O'Neill's Beyond the Horizon, the Beatles' She Loves You, an Aesthetic Realism lesson given by Eli Siegel to an actor -- and more!

-- On AUGUST 16
The Thrilling Relation of Art & Life!
Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, a lesson about what love is, Lewis Carroll's The Walrus and the Carpenter -- and much, much more!

AND - - -

Special Event on Rock and Roll!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

May 17 Event at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation

"Ethics -- the Answer to Our Troubled Economy," will take place Saturday, May 17 at 8 PM at 141 Greene Street in SoHo. It will include a lecture "How Do People Want to See People, Or, It Has to Be Aesthetics!" by Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism. In it he discusses, among other things, a moving, compassionate story by James Stephens, The Wolf at the Door, about how a man feels who loses his job while he has a family to support. It's the kind of story that you never forget. This lecture affects the way you think about the people you see every day and those we read about in the news as we hear about job cuts, foreclosures, extended hours, downsizing. It can make every one of us kinder and it helps us make sense of the turmoil in America today.

In this presentation there are songs from the musical "Goodbye, Profit System," and there is an excerpt from an Aesthetic Realism lesson in which Eli Siegel asked a man, "Which is more important to you -- to be all you can be, or to beat out other people?"

There is also an important commentary that editor Ellen Reiss wrote in the journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known in which she takes up the ethical meaning underlying our economic problems today, which are afflicting so manyh people, including as to banks and mortgages.

The profit way of seeing people is really equivalent to racism, since in both cases you take the life out of a person and see them as existing simply in order to make you important. Both are contempt. Come and learn about the way of seeing that can end racism and have people of all racial and cultural backgrounds truly kinder to one another as we undergo these difficult economic times.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Eli Siegel, Aesthetic Realism, Barack Obama, Arnold Perey

I am very glad for the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, and for the speech he gave recently on the subject of race in America. I think he was trying to be honest on one of the most difficult and controversial of subjects. I admire him.

What does racism come from?
See Aesthetic Realism: The Solution to Racism, the article in The Black World Today, by anthropologist and Aesthetic Realism consultant Arnold Perey. He quotes one of the greatest passages against racism I've ever read -- it's by Eli Siegel. This is it, in part:

"The reluctance to give meaning to the possible thoughts of others is one of the great victories of contempt and therefore one of the great disasters of man .... Contempt is present wherever some people know other people who are different from themselves. Contempt is in the race question, is in the nationality question, ... is in the youth and age question, is in the parents and children question."

Eli Siegel shows that the subject of racism is part of a larger, even more prevalent and very ordinary evil. Dr. Perey's article brings wide knowledge of human society and culture to Aesthetic Realism's explanation of racism. It is a must-read for anyone interested in ending racism.